Tag: Barack Obama

I Can’t Even…

 

Rather than dwell on this week’s inauguration (i.e., the monstrous legitimization of humanity’s most base and vile impulses), I will focus on the future — even though that future may be poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Perhaps the biggest quandary facing our country — in a cavalcade of complex and stomach-churning quandaries — is what our healthcare system will look like.

You see, the GOP has made it clear that Obamacare is the gravest threat facing America (well, other than the constant dread that grizzly bears will burst into our nation’s schools and eat all the students, but I digress).

So the Republican Congress is working feverishly to replace the Affordable Care Act with something more free market-like, with less big government and more choice and more freedom and blah blah blah. Yes, they have had years to come up with an alternative, and have failed miserably to do so. But to be fair, all their energy was taken up with hating on Obama. So you can see how some minor details — like a coherent proposal on a life-or-death issue — might have slipped through the cracks.

In any case, I have a question, one that I am frankly shocked that our highly paid media pundits are not asking.

Here it is: Why do we have to replace Obamacare with anything?

After all, when the ACA was first being debated, one argument we heard from the GOP and everybody at Fox News was that the America — and this is a direct quote from multiple conservative sources — had “the greatest healthcare system in the world.”

Again, we are not talking about the distant past. This was just a few years ago.

 

Now, at the time, many liberals pointed out that this was nonsense. A five-minute Google search would reveal undeniable statistics that showed the USA spent way more than other industrialized countries, got far worst results, had unhealthier citizens, and ranked shockingly low in terms of nationwide health.

But Republicans insisted that “the greatest healthcare system in the world” cliché was the pure truth, and not just bald-faced bullshit designed to rile up the ignorant and the racially insecure.

So now, years later, the Republican Party should be forced to answer a fair question.

If that was so very true, why not just repeal Obamacare and go back to “the greatest healthcare system in the world”? Surely we can just revert to a system that every American loved and never caused any problems and that got such amazing results.

Can’t you just hear every citizen clamoring for that?

Hmm, that is indeed strange. Because it seems that, even as it faces certain death, Obamacare has never been more popular.

Even many Trump voters don’t want it repealed. Of course, one has to wonder why they would vote for someone who said that he would cut off their healthcare. Perhaps it’s because they didn’t take him seriously and brushed it off as campaign rhetoric, which oddly enough, is not what they thought when they heard him babbling about building a wall or deporting every Latino and Muslim in the country.

Apparently, only the threats that applied to other people were to be taken seriously.

But speaking of Latinos, it’s clear that Hispanics have greatly benefitted from the ACA and will be punished severely if it is repealed. In fact, about 4 million Hispanics have obtained health insurance through Obamacare, and the percentage of uninsured Latinos has gone down.

That hasn’t stopped the GOP from attempting its own form of Latino outreach, which I would say is breathtaking in its cynicism and contempt for Hispanics, but come on, look who we are talking about here. The bar is pretty damn low. Hell, the bar is wedged underground at this point.

In any case, the good news is that if Obamacare is repealed, 18 million people will lose coverage the first year, and health insurance premiums would spike up to 25 percent.

You might ask, how is that good news? Well, if the ACA dies and is not replaced, “within 10 years, 32 million more people would be without health insurance [and] healthcare costs would continue to rise every year.”

That’s the bad news.

So again, I have to ask, were Republicans lying when they said America had super-duper healthcare that was the envy of the world? And if so, why the hell should we trust them now?

Clearly, they expect the American people not to remember their mendacity and horrible judgment.

Sadly… that’s a pretty good bet.

 


A New Day is Darkening

So I was standing in line to vote yesterday, and I was feeling cautiously optimistic. As it turned out, of course, I should have placed more emphasis on the “caution” than the optimism.

In any case, a woman exited the polling station and, perhaps brimming with civic pride after casting her ballot, spoke to all of who were waiting in line.

“Just remember,” she said. “Whether your candidate wins or loses, tomorrow we will still be the United States of America. And we all need to come together.”

ihearts

And I thought her sentiment was nice — and also naïve and ridiculous.

After all, we have just elected a racist, misogynistic bully who will be the only president in history with no government or military experience, and who has total contempt for the US Constitution.

I mean, what could go wrong?

Well, for example, I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s first trip overseas ends with him snapping at Angela Merkel to go fix him a sandwich or he’ll nuke Germany.

Now, there are those who say that Trump’s obnoxious behavior will disappear once he is inaugurated. But saying Trump will calm down once he is in office is like saying your boyfriend will stop punching you once you get married.

Still, the country will survive this travesty. It is not the end of the world — well, hopefully not. And I’m sure many lessons about politics and progressivism and racism and delusion and class conflict and all the rest will illuminate us in the future.

And we have to imagine that this future will be brighter than today is.


The Pivot That Wasn’t

He did not turn over a new leaf. Instead, he planted another disease-ridden, toxic tree.

Yes, last week, the GOP nominee for president gave a much-anticipated speech on his favorite topic — immigration — that was supposed to illustrate his softer, more nuanced approach to the issue. In theory, we would see a Trump who was free of vitriol and rage and more respectful toward immigrants and Latinos.

Ha-ha, just kidding — the guy double-downed and “baited a fired-up crowd with red-meat rhetoric” about all those illegals before trotting out his dumb-ass idea about a giant wall.

Now, anyone who has actually paid a millisecond of attention this campaign season should not have been surprised that Trump was never going to abandon the right-wing base that has gotten him this far.

And yet, there were people who were shocked — shocked, I tell you — that Trump didn’t get all nicey-nicey.

woman-with-shocked-expression-gesturing-with-hands

In particular, “for many Hispanic conservatives who had advocated passionately for Trump, the speech was not merely a disappointment, but a betrayal.”

I don’t know what is more perplexing: the idea of Hispanics advocating passionately for Trump, or the fact that these same self-deluded souls really believed Trump was ever on their side.

Apparently, many Republican Latinos seriously thought that Trump would “address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately” and “lay out a plan for dealing humanely” with undocumented immigrants.

Excuse me for getting snide, but I must ask these Latinos the following: What the fuck ever gave you that idea?

I’m truly baffled how anyone could be confused about where Trump stands on immigration. And I’m awestruck at the mental contortions that a conservative Hispanic had to undertake to read something into Trump’s words that implied he would ever be reasonable about the issue.

It’s as if the previous year of relentless racism and belligerence wasn’t enough for them. What part of “they’re rapists” is vague to you?

To be fair, there does seem to be genuine confusion about the specifics of Trump’s approach. Indeed, Trump’s advisors have tripped over themselves trying to ascertain whether there will or won’t be a deportation force.

Quick aside — say what you will about Obama or Clinton, but I don’t recall a time when their advisors were forced to painfully decipher their policy positions to the American people. I mean, Obama and Clinton are adults, and they can speak for themselves. As opposed to Trump, who is nonstop when it comes to insults and threats, but needs others to explain his actual ideas. Of course, that’s exactly how one deals with a toddler.

In any case, maybe Latino conservatives can drop the wishing, hoping, praying that the GOP will finally listen to them. They need to just be honest about their self-loathing, like everybody’s favorite Hispanic, Marco Gutierrez, who founded Latinos for Trump. As we all know, Gutierrez recently warned us of an ominous future where taco trucks are on every corner, never putting together that this might actually be pretty cool.

Hey, the guy may be a laughingstock and horrific human being, but at least he knows what he stands for.

 

 


Now or Never

So the 2016 presidential election will come down to Latinos… or millennials… or Latino millennials who live in purple states and have flirted with veganism and have bought at least one Kayne West album. Who really knows?

However, the best predictors we have are that the so-called Trump factor has increased Hispanic voter registration, especially among young Latinos. This would seem to spell doom for the GOP, except that, as many Americans have seemed to forgotten, “Hispanics have historically turned out on election day in lower rates than other groups — a factor compounded by the high percentage of young people, who also vote less frequently than older Americans.”

Yes, there’s an undeniable appeal to the image of millions of 18-year-old Latinos standing up, saying no to racism, and eagerly casting their ballots against a megalomaniacal billionaire. But it’s unlikely to happen in the real world.

Still, Hispanics will have a stronger impact in 2016 than they have previously. For example, some experts say Latino turnout will top 13 million this year, up about 17% from the last presidential election. And this would also represent about a 9% increase in the Latino share of the vote. Those are all good numbers.

Furthermore, “this is bad news for Republicans given that a recent analysis shows that even if 60% of the white electorate votes for the GOP (which hasn’t happen since 1988), Trump would still have to get between 42-47% of the Latino vote to win (Mitt Romney received only 27%).”

In addition, “hardline immigration policies and racially charged rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates have all but ensured that Latinos will turn out for Democrats in the general election.”

Wow, this thing looks to be over before it’s even begun.

But we’ve seen predictions like this before, especially regarding Latinos. In fact, Hispanics been referred to as a sleeping giant so many times and for so long that perhaps we should create an ethnic flag and make that image our insignia.

the_sleeping_giant_by_yngvemartinussen-d7idiwi

As such, it truly seems that 2016 is time to put up or shut up. Either Latinos are finally going to vote in numbers more indicative of our strength, or we’re going to continue leaving the fate of the country to octogenarians who are inexplicably more motivated.

After all, this year we have a bigoted loudmouth insulting us to our faces. What more do we need?

 


Not Exactly a Golden Age

So here’s a question: Are you among the half of Americans (49 percent, to be precise) who say racism is “a big problem” in society today?

I know I am.

And I also know that I would prefer to be among the 7 percent of Americans who say racism is “not a problem at all.” When referring to those people, I speak for the rest of us when I say, “I’ll have what they’re having,” because they clearly possess some serious alcohol.

Drunk-guy

The recent survey revealed that prejudice and bigotry remain societal ills, and “in every demographic group surveyed, there are increasing percentages of people who say racism is a big problem — and majorities say that racial tensions are on the rise.”

The percentage of Americans who feel this way is higher than it was 20 years ago, when 41 percent said racism was a big problem. As recently as 2011, that percentage was down to 28 percent, suggesting a rebound effect, or perhaps racial good feelings simply plateaued a few years back.

Of course, Americans may agree that racism is worse, but as the report states, they often “disagree profoundly on who the targets and victims are.”

Ethnic minorities have historically been the objects of racial prejudice. However, white Americans often feel that they are being discriminated against, a perplexing development that, according to the report, can be traced to “simmering rage fueled by the backlash of Obama’s election, the economic struggles of lower- and middle-income whites, and demographic shifts across the country.”

Because of this, the report says, “latent racism is becoming more open, because a lot of people are feeling threatened.”

Now to be clear, most white Americans do not feel that they are the targets of racial scorn. In fact, just 43 percent of white people say racism is a huge concern.

But 64 percent of my fellow Latinos say racism is a big problem, slightly less than the 66 percent of blacks who say the same thing.

Those numbers should tell you all you need to know about how race is perceived in America.

So is there hope for the future? Well, supposedly, the Millennials were going to eliminate racism once and for all because they’re all, you know, ethnically mixed and down with diversity and come from multiracial families, and are in general far hipper than Gen X or the Baby Boomers could ever dream of being.

Um…but another recent study showed that “despite the Millennial reputation for inclusiveness, young white Americans don’t have especially multicultural friend groups.” In fact, two-thirds (68 percent) of whites age 18-34 say, “they overwhelmingly associate with other whites.”

By the way, the same is true of just 37 percent of Millennial Hispanics and 36 percent of Millennial blacks.

So this might take a while.

 


WTF, Indeed

Yes, that was me driving down Sunset Boulevard while listening to a podcast on grammar. I was keepin’ it real.

Although I’m usually blaring an audio book, I’ve recently gotten into listening to podcasts, which I know puts me behind the curve, but who’s keeping track of such things?

In any case, I tuned into a few episodes of Marc Maron’s WTF. I listened to the much-hyped interview with President Obama (very cool to hear the leader of the free world in a relaxed setting) and also tuned into the Robert Rodriguez interview (that guy is a one-man Latino empire).

But for me, the most intense moment of my WTF crash course was Maron’s interview with Sir Ian McKellen.

Ian-McKellen-magneto-gandalf

I’m a big fan, of course. In fact, if I had to have my life narrated, I would choose his voice to do the honors.

McKellen ended his interview by performing a Shakespearan monologue. And he didn’t go with an old favorite like Richard III’s opening speech or King Lear’s crazy talk.

No, he picked an obscure passage from Thomas More (not really a Shakespeare play) that was all about… wait for it… immigration.

I have to believe that someone has socially conscious as McKellen did not pick this speech by accident.

As others have pointed out, McKellen “managed to make a strong moral point, important to the current social and political situation… merely by doing what he is most famous for, reciting Shakespeare beautifully.”

Here is the beginning of McKellen’s monologue:

Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,

Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,

And that you sit as kings in your desires,

Authority quite silent by your brawl.

 

It goes on, asking the listener what he would do if he had to leave his country:

As but to banish you, whether would you go?

What country, by the nature of your error,

Should give you harbor?

 

And it ends in breathtakingly powerful fashion:

Would you be pleased

To find a nation of such barbarous temper,

That, breaking out in hideous violence,

Would not afford you an abode on earth,

Whet their detested knives against your throats,

Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God

Owed not nor made not you, nor that the elements

Were not all appropriate to your comforts,

But chartered unto them, what would you think

To be thus used? This is the stranger’s case;

And this is your mountanish inhumanity.

 


Wishing and Waiting

I’ve edited over 100 books, from thriller novels to dense histories to self-help diatribes. Only a few of those books have lodged in my memory.

Among them was a manual written by a prepper. If you don’t know this term, it refers to someone who makes active plans to survive a catastrophic disaster, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies, and/or by creating some kind of well-protected shelter.

Preppers anticipate calamities ranging from a worldwide economic collapse to a military coup d’état to a Katrina-style cataclysm to, well, just about anything big and scary.

The book was well-written, and the author was intelligent and polite. And even if I found his worldview to be a bit, shall we say, paranoid, it would be incorrect to write him and his peers off as lunatics.

After all, if there’s ever an extinction-level asteroid impact or a zombie attack, then preppers will have the last laugh.

 

o-ASTEROID-IMPACT-facebook

But what struck me about the author’s mindset wasn’t his fear-based attention to detail and insistence that sooner or later, all the shit will hit all the fans.

No, it was my realization that at a certain point, he was no longer preparing for a worst-case disaster. He was actively hoping for it.

You see, if his doomsday predictions never materialize, he has wasted a great deal of time, money, and effort for absolutely nothing. Indeed, he will have squandered a solid chunk of his life, while pinning his very self-identity on nonsense.

So a lot of preppers aren’t just waiting for end times. They are counting on catastrophe to justify their life’s work, even if this wish is subconscious.

How does this relate to the current political climate?

Well, look no further than the renewed demonization of immigrants and, by extension, all Latinos.

We have major political candidates (who shall not be named) who imply hordes of Hispanics are swarming into this country for the express purpose of raping and murdering Americans — that is, when they’re not pumping out “anchor babies” and stealing jobs.

Of course, fear-based campaigning — especially among conservatives — has a long and effective history.

 

And it’s tempting to dismiss GOP shrieking as a side effect of the party’s reliance on religious fervor and apocalyptic thinking. Keep in mind that about 20 percent of Republicans honestly believe that Obama is the antichrist.

But while building upon those ignoble foundations, this new conservative mindset amounts to something else.

You see, those on the right wing who despise Latinos (and there are many) aren’t just motivated by personal gain. They are true believers, who sincerely think America is doomed if Hispanics continue to increase their political, cultural, and demographic influence. To this contingent, the “browning” of America is the beginning of its end.

 

But what if this never happens? What if recent Latino immigrants become an integral and beneficial part of American society, just as so many other immigrant classes have?

 

In that case, a lot of conservative leaders have wasted a great deal of energy on nothing. Their predictions have failed to come true. And all that screaming and ranting and raving added up to nada.

Nobody wants to see his or her life’s work rendered irrelevant, or worse, dismissed as histrionic, wrong-headed idiocy.

To prevent that, many conservatives have morphed into extreme preppers, warning everyone of the coming Armageddon, while secretly hoping that it will arrive right on time to prove them correct.

The good news for right-wing preppers is that they have an inexplicable degree of influence in this country. So instead of working to prevent the coming apocalypse, they can help to usher it in, via self-fulfilling prophecies and overt policy decisions.

For example, Latinos have lower graduation rates than other ethnicities, so rather than improve public education, right-wing preppers try to gut it.

 

Hispanics have higher rates of poverty, so rather than balance the playing field, right-wing preppers reinforce an economic system that is rigged for the upper classes.

 

Latinos have limited socioeconomic power, so rather then look at institutional barriers, right-wing preppers deny that racism even exists.

Yes, there’s lots of ways to ensure that we get the America that some conservatives envision — the future that they supposedly fear but are weirdly attracted to at the same time.

Fortunately for me, I’ve made back-up plans. You see, I’ve recently built this secret bunker stocked with guns and water, and when the time comes…

Never mind, I’ve said too much.


Many Languages, One Voice

When my cousins from El Salvador first came to America, they didn’t speak English. Of course, they were kids, so they rapidly learned it. Today, everyone in my family, except for my abuela, embraces English as their primary mode of communication. My cousins’ children (and mine) will have to make an effort to be bilingual and not leave Spanish in my family’s past.

But other families don’t face the dilemma of losing the mother tongue. In fact, about 5 million children in the United States don’t speak English as their primary language. This constitutes 9% of all US public school students. Now, that number includes a lot of kids who speak Tagalong or Russian or Mandarin or something else that most of us don’t recognize.

But it’s fair to say that many of the children who speak English as a second language (ESL) communicate only in Spanish.

best_kid_raising_hand

Because we’re hearing more Spanish than ever in the country’s schools, the Obama administration recently issued the nation’s first set of federal guidelines on the rights of ESL students. The guidelines remind school districts across the country of their obligations under the law.

Among other things, all schools must identify ESL students in a timely manner, offer them language assistance and provide qualified staff and resources to help them learn English. In essence, ESL students have the same rights to a quality education as students who speak English, and schools must avoid segregating English learners from other students.

I know this is a shocker to the nativist crowd, but you can’t just yell, “Speak English, damn it!” at perplexed kids.

The decision makes clear that students who speak Spanish, or other languages, are becoming more common, and the American educational system has to meet their needs. The Obama guidelines are a welcome indicator of that fact.

Of course, it’s a little sad that anyone has to be reminded of this in the first place.


The Even Greater Outdoors

Few demographics are more environmentally conscious than Latinos. I mean, we are more likely to lead green lifestyles, buy green products and support efforts to fight climate change. And on a personal note, let me remind you that I was once a Boy Scout, and I can still start a fire without using matches… probably.

Anyway, the point is that we really love nature. So maybe it’s not a big surprise that Latinos are also taking the lead in creating new national landmarks and preserving natural spaces.

When President Obama declared part of the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California to be a national monument, it was with the hearty support of Latinos. Polls showed that almost 90% of local Hispanics supported the San Gabriel Mountains designation. You can’t get 90% of Hispanics to agree that salsa is better than ketchup. But when it comes to nature, we’re overwhelming in our agreement.

Cook_Lake_Bridger_Wilderness

Yes, there are even organizations like Latinos Outdoors, Green Latinos, and HECHO (Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting and the Outdoors), and they have worked for the protection of areas like the San Gabriel Mountains and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico.

So why do Hispanics show all the love for mountains and streams and lakes and trees and such? Well, one theory is that our legendary focus on family drives our desire to maintain the environment for future generations. Another is that because we tend to be recent immigrants, or the offspring of recent immigrants, we have more of a connection to the pristine environs of Latin America.

That certainly makes sense. But I also think it’s because we’re less likely to be right-wing industrial polluters who only care about the bottom line and think climate change is a left-wing conspiracy.

But maybe that’s just me.

 


Living in the Past

Right around Christmas, President Obama freaked everybody out by announcing that we are normalizing relations with Cuba. That’s right — Cuba, the home of this guy.

Fidel_Castro_PNW

 

It’s not like we’re going to be all buddy-buddy now. I mean, who does Cuba think it is? Our real friends are places like Vietnam, where we fought a long, bloody war that killed thousands of Americans for nothing. And then there is Saudi Arabia, which isn’t hostile or repressive or hosting tons of people who would love to slit our collective throats — nope, not our good allies.

It’s Cuba that has vexed multiple presidents, tantalized us with its proximity yet unapproachable nature, and provided the storyline for at least one X-men adventure. And now the United States will begin discussions with the nation to re-establish diplomatic relations. America plans to re-open an embassy in Havana, and the Obama administration will allow some travel and trade that had been banned under the decades-long embargo.

The move is hugely popular with Latinos. In fact, 75% of Hispanics support re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba, compared with 64% of Americans overall.

But some Latinos, especially Cuban exiles, are infuriated. These are the people who fled Castro’s regime and took enough cash with them to set up a staunchly conservative community in Florida. For as long as I’ve been alive, Cuban natives have been the one subgroup of Hispanics who vote Republican.

So when Obama announced his decision, the predictable protests erupted in Florida. Senator Rubio declared that we were coddling dictators, and to hear some people talk, we would all be legally required to wear those annoying, pretentious Che Guevara t-shirts six days a week.

However, there’s something funny about Florida’s Cuban American community. Yes, polls show that 53% of Cuban immigrants oppose Obama’s plan, which I think is actually low. But there is a clear generational split, because 64% of U.S.-born Cuban Americans support Obama’s policy. That means almost two-thirds of the Cuban Americans who were born here — and who have little or no direct experience with Cold War politics — are saying, “It’s been half a century, so give it a rest.”

Of course, the older generation is aghast at this. They had Castro on the ropes… in that he is ancient and will soon die peacefully in his bed. But still, we just needed to give the embargo a little more time! Another decade or two would do it.

Leave it to the younger Hispanics, the ones born and raised in America, who are willing and eager to change the failed policies of the past. If they hurry, they might make it to Cuba and see the authenticity of their homeland before Starbucks moves in.

Here’s hoping.


  • Barrio Imbroglio (An Abraxas Hernandez Mystery Book 1)
  • Calendar

    January 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    3031  
  • Share this Blog

    Bookmark and Share
  • Copyright © 1996-2010 Hispanic Fanatic. All rights reserved.
    Theme by ACM | Powered by WordPress