Archive for February, 2017

The Fault in Our Stars

Self-flagellation is never sexy — not even when sexy people do it.

I’m talking about individuals like Latina actress Zoe Saldana, who said that Hollywood liberals like her “got cocky and became arrogant and… became bullies.” She implied that this behavior led people to vote for Trump.

 

Of course, Hollywood celebrities have recently been wailing and gnashing their teeth over Trump’s victory. Because so many of them are liberal, this is perfectly understandable. What is mystifying, however, is the object of their scorn: their fellow progressives.

In addition to Saldana, there is celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who said, “the utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible” for Trump.

Wow, that is quite the self-indictment. And then there is our old friend Bill Maher, who believes “liberal culture’s preoccupation with language helped put Trump in the White House.”

Indeed, many people believe that endorsements from liberal celebrities “don’t matter anymore [and] more likely and long-term: They hurt.”

Yes, there is no shortage of celebrities who are admitting their culpability in Trump’s rise, even if they themselves are ardent touchy-feely progressives. Hell, it’s apparently because they’re touchy-feely progressives in the first place that we are in this mess.

But there is one little flaw with this apology tour: All of it is bullshit.

In a way, it is just more celebrity self-aggrandizement. Celebrities are saying that their opinions have the power to convince everyone how to vote — especially those knuckleheaded Neanderthals in the Rust Belt.

However, celebrities who humble brag about their cultural power are only the most visible manifestation of an insidious development in our society.

I’m talking about progressives who are so busy blaming themselves for Trump that they are not focused on fighting right-wing demagoguery.

And yes, that forms the perfect segue to my next post. So stay tuned.


All an Act

Yes, it’s a unique issue for ethnic minorities. Questions about authenticity hound, pester, poke, and prod us.

You see, many of us constantly face accusations of whether we are Latino enough, or black enough, or truly Asian, or a real Native American. I’m pretty sure nobody ever asks if someone is white enough… unless of course, there is an Aryan Nations initiation rite going on.

For nerdy ethnic minorities, the problem can be even more pressing. After all, we know full well that African American students who academically excel are ostracized for “acting white” — right?

Well, it turns out that we don’t know that.

A recent study has debunked this myth, showing “there’s no research that explicitly supports a relationship between race, beliefs about ‘acting white,’ social stigma, and academic outcomes.”

In fact, “studies suggest that the highest-achieving black students are actually more popular than the lowest-achieving ones” and that “black students have more positive attitudes about education than white students.”

Well, that’s a plot twist.

Now, the study didn’t examine whether Latino students are mocked for “acting white” if they get good grades. However, from my personal experience, I can answer this question.

And the answer is…

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Choose Your Dystopia

Within the landslide of inanity, insanity, and alternative facts that has gushed from the Trump administration thus far, one true statement has miraculously emerged.

This was when the Minister of Misinformation said that Trump would renege on his campaign promise to release his tax returns because “people don’t care.”

And she is correct. Most Americans don’t give a damn about Trump’s taxes, nor do they care that he is breaking his word. Hey, most Trumpkins don’t even see it as the tiniest bit problematic that the president has myriad conflicts of interest and doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution and that pesky Emoluments Clause.

So it’s clear that Americans are just fine with the executive brand functioning as a get-rich-quick scheme for a select few. Hey, I wouldn’t be surprised if shilling for the Trump brand becomes an overt job duty for administration officials… wait, what? Oh, that has already happened.

This is plutocracy, where the ruling class derives its power from its wealth, with no regard for what’s best for the nation.

But wait a second. I thought we were heading into neo-fascism. That’s where a horde of grotesque political movements — ultranationalism, populism, anti-immigration sentiments, nativism, xenophobia, and so on — coalesce into a situation where an unpredictable strong man runs roughshod over liberal democracy. Good thing, then, that Trump has nothing but respect for our system of checks and balances, such as his adoration for our judicial system… yup. So maybe this is a more accurate indicator of our national predicament.

Now, you might ask, “But what about all this Orwellian nightmare stuff I keep hearing about? Isn’t that what’s going on now?”

 

Well, it’s true that Trump and his flunkies have mastered doublespeak. For example, they can claim massive voter fraud (despite a complete lack of evidence), while simultaneously insisting Russian hacking is a myth (despite an overwhelming amount of evidence). Hell, they can insist the sun was shining when we know it was raining.

By the way, the president insists that “he has ‘solved’ Latinos’ fears of being under attack by his administration.” That, my friends, is impressive 1984 jamming.

Of course, it’s also possible that we are also living in an autocracy, which is a system of government where one person rules with absolute power.

As some commentators have pointed out, “Trump will try hard during his presidency to create an atmosphere of personal munificence, in which graft does not matter, because rules and institutions do not matter.” And this approach “will create personal constituencies, and implicate other people in his corruption. That, over time, is what truly subverts the institutions of democracy and the rule of law.”

More bluntly, America has handed “power to a man who has spent his whole adult life trying to build a cult of personality around himself,” and that “everything we know suggests that we’re entering an era of epic corruption and contempt for the rule of law, with no restraint whatsoever.”

OK, that’s pretty grim. So let’s try another direction. Maybe all this is just America’s flirtation with kakocracy. You know, that’s rule by the absolute worst.

If so, it will not end well. Many commentators believe that with this group of reckless clowns, impeachment or removal of the president under the 25th Amendment are real possibilities. But even if that happens, Trump “will do much more damage before he departs the scene, to become a subject of horrified wonder in our grandchildren’s history books.”

And even some conservatives are saying that Trump’s presidency “will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars.”

At that point, we will enter a whole new dystopia — maybe one that doesn’t even have a name yet.


So Far, So Horrific

We are now approximately 1% of the way through the Trump presidency. That means, mathematically, it will only get 100 times worse.

To be fair, things are actually going great… for white nationalists and people who think immigrants are plotting to kill them in their sleep.

For the rest of us, not so much.

You see, the start of the Trump era is, by many accounts, “the most alarming in the history of the American presidency.”

 

The rate of Trump’s grotesque actions outpaces our ability to react to them. Are we really supposed to call our congressional representatives and organize protest marches and boycott companies and sign petitions every single day?

Hell, we barely have time to unboggle our eyes and force our slackened jaws shut before another monstrous executive order comes washing over the American landscape. The best we can manage most days is to force down our vomit.

But here’s one thought that will keep us focused. One inescapable truism that we should keep in mind at all times.

And it is simply this: Trump means everything he says.

All the talk about whether we should take him literally but not seriously, or vice versa, was overcomplicated nonsense from the start. It should have been apparent long ago that when a wannabe dictator says he’s going to do something, he fully intends to do it.

Trump is not capable of metaphor. I doubt the man even knows that word means. I’m serious — the guy boasts about never reading books.

You see, our tiny-fingered, small-minded president does not engage in subtlety, and the only time that he backs off on some of his more egregious pronouncements is when he no longer has any interest in them and/or because they no longer serve a purpose (e.g., prosecuting Hillary Clinton).

Otherwise, he is remarkably consistent.

This does not mean that he will succeed in his endeavors. For example, that fabled wall with Mexico is never going to be built. But this is only because reality will intrude. This barrier might take the form of logistical issues or— it’s possible — political resistance.

But he will not stop of his own free will. He will not moderate his views. He will not listen to reason or decency.

I have never understood why any sane person would think otherwise.

For example, some conservative Latinos voted for Trump under the bizarre assumption that he would be more respectful to Hispanics or even compromise on immigration. That idea doesn’t look so bright now.

Of course, that’s not as bizarre as Middle Eastern immigrants who just assumed his talk of banning them was, I don’t know, some oddball banter from a kooky billionaire.

Heed their regret. And please remember this for the next four years. He means everything that he says.

That makes it even scarier, doesn’t it?

 


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