Tag: Congress

Bang and Blame

So I just got back from a conference in amazing New Orleans (always one of my favorite cities). The conference featured lots of breakout sessions where the presenters encouraged us to seize the day and live our passions and grab the bull by both horns while seizing your passion every day and so on and so on.

In any case, I noticed something odd about the breakout sessions. For the most part, during the short Q&A portion at the end of each presentation, the women would raise their hands and ask questions. In contrast, the men pretended that they were asking questions, but most of them just made statements.

During session after session, the women seemed more interested in having an expert answer their inquiries and/or engage in a conversation. The men seemed more interested in asserting their expertise, contradicting the moderator, and in general just declaring how super fucking awesome they were to a room full of captive strangers.

 

On the penultimate day of the conference, some lunatic shot at several congressmen in Washington D.C. Much has been made of the fact that the shooter wasn’t a right-wing nut job. He was ardently anti-Trump.

Sadly, I wasn’t too surprised at this. You see, a pro-Trump man with anger issues has less reason to open up on Congress, because his guy is in charge right now. Oh, he might consider taking a shot at a leading Democrat or a pesky journalist, but ultimately, he will likely decide that it’s not worth it. After all, Trump will have all those traitors thrown in jail soon enough, right?

Now, if Hilary Clinton had won… well, let’s just say that one of the few pluses of Trump’s appalling victory is that we may have been spared from even more violence than we see now, most prevalent in the form of surging hate crimes. Yes, it could have been even worse if Trump’s fans felt robbed and ignored, rather than smug and empowered.

This brings us back to the loser who opened fire on people playing softball. You see, he was a guy who felt victimized, and like many men, he decided that violence was the obvious solution.

The only difference between him and many of his peers is that he correctly identified the people who were fucking with him. He knew it wasn’t immigrants or gays. It was the rich guys who rigged the game.

But other than this insight, he had the exact same reaction as do so many other old guys with access to firearms. He didn’t believe in looking at his own life decisions, or working to improve the system, or helping out his community. No, he believed in punishment and fear and hatred and searing rage. He insisted that, as a white man in America, people were going to listen to him, damn it. He was going to make people pay, and everyone would know how great he was.

That’s what he was thinking. That’s what many men are thinking.

And the objects of their scorn may vary, but their solution is consistent. And that is fucking terrifying.

 


One Christmas Wish

More people seem to be praying this year.

Oh, I know that Americans pray year-round, and this odd habit intensifies around Christmas. That’s because you have the standard prayers for peace and love on Earth, plus prayers for a prosperous new year, and prayers to survive your uncle’s drunken ramblings at holiday gatherings, and so on.

But even more people than usual seem to be falling on their knees and clasping their hands and fervently mumbling their hopes and dreams and fears — or just flat-out wailing their distress.

 

And I’m pretty sure this is because we have elected a scatter-brained neo-fascist to the White House.

Yes, that’s a good reason to pray.

But the problem with all this praying and yearning is that it accomplishes nothing. And even worse, it just revitalizes that most pernicious of ills: false hope.

You see, the day after the election, many of my fellow progressives started wishing for some kind of divine intervention to save us from four years of insanity and xenophobia.

First, it was supposed to be the state voting recounts that rescued us. But aside from keeping Jill Stein in the spotlight for an extra week, that achieved nada.

Then the Electoral College voters were supposed to do their duty and keep the presidency away from a demagogue. I remain incredulous that any thinking American truly believed emailing the delegates and signing petitions would convince 38 of them to vote against Trump. In the end, exactly two of them swapped their votes, which means that 304 Republican delegates (99.3% of them) didn’t give a fuck about your pleas.

And the latest liberal hail-Mary pass is predicting that Trump will be impeached — possibly even on his first day in office.

Hey, that’s more likely than the other scenarios, considering the guy is awash in corruption and conflicts. However, I have yet to hear of a realistic scenario where Congress — made up of Republican majorities in both houses — suddenly declares, “We’ve never actually removed a president from office in history. But Trump is out.”

And even if Trump gets impeached or quits in a huff (which I think is actually more probable), we’re stuck with Mike Pence as president and the same band of sociopaths that we started with.

So what again are we praying for?

You know what? Here’s my holiday wish.

Let’s stop believing that Trump isn’t going to be the next president. Let’s stop denying reality, and quit the idea that some magical happenstance will spare the nation the pain of Republican leadership. Let’s just stop with all the childish hoping and praying.

We can’t fight bigotry if we spend all our time just wishing.

 

 


Fourth and Goal

Yes, we’re all getting ready for the Super Bowl this weekend (even though my team was eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs, which sucks).

kickoff-1a

So I’m not going to dwell on this study that points out how far Latinos have to go to achieve political power that is commiserate with our growing population.

But basically, if Hispanics had representation in Congress that matched our actual presence in the nation, there would be 90 Latino representatives or senators. Instead, there are 37. Just nine of those are Latinas.

Like I said, it’s too depressing to rant about at length. So you may now return to your preparations for the big game.

I’m betting on a Seattle upset.

 


No Relaxing Allowed

As I’ve written before, we Hispanics are known for our fierce work ethic.

Think of immigrants slaving away at grueling tasks that native-born Americans refuse to do. Or consider that last year, “the number of Latino entrepreneurs grew more than white, black, and Asian entrepreneurs.”

Yes, we sure like to work. It’s unfortunate, then, that so many Hispanics who reach old age have nothing to show for it. This is because “fewer than half of … Latino workers have retirement plans on the job, leaving the vast majority of them with no savings designated for their golden years.”

hammock

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Yeah, Right

So the United States has resumed its wild, impetuous stab at having a functioning government. After this latest farce, internet sites are alive with comments along the lines of the following:

“We need to kick out every member of Congress and start fresh.”

I know we live in a country where nearly half the citizens people can’t name the vice president, but I find it hard to believe anybody is so ignorant of the political process that he or she thinks voting out all 535 members of Congress is a realistic option.

capitol

We’ll start with the fact that elections are staggered (hence the term “midterm election”). As such, I doubt anybody’s rage is going to last another five years or so, which is how long it would take to excise all the offending congressmen and women. And we’ll add on the stat that while most people hate Congress, they tend to like their own reps, so we will likely see most of these supposedly toxic incumbents return.

This idea is even less practical and more insane than the delusional belief, which I’ve written about before, that we can easily deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

In the interest of saving time, here are some other political ideas I’ve heard recently that appear just as likely to happen.

“We need to separate into two different countries. Red states and blue states.” (I’m pretty sure we fought a war about this, and the outcome was rather conclusive. We appear to be stuck with one another for the foreseeable future.)

“We need a task force of really smart leaders who will come up with bipartisan solutions to our problems.” (That’s what Congress is supposed to be.)

“We need to mandate IQ tests to make sure people are smart enough to vote.” (Anyone who thinks an IQ test accurately measures political acumen probably doesn’t have a very high IQ.)

“We need to confiscate every gun in America that’s not in the hands of the police or military.” (It amazes me how liberals think that Second Amendment advocates—many of whom are paranoid and all of whom are armed—will somehow go along with this idea.)

“We need to use Jurassic Park-type technology to reanimate the Founding Fathers so they can tell us their original intent regarding the Constitution.” (OK, I made this one up, but wouldn’t that be cool?)


Up and Running

As we know, the Affordable Care Act went into effect this month.

So-called Obamacare “is particularly critical to Latinos, who have the highest rate of being uninsured in the nation.”

Yes, about nine million more Hispanics will now be eligible for health insurance, and this thought terrifies the Republican Party, which sees nine million more voters who will think positively of the Democratic Party.

So we just had to have this shutdown nonsense, so that the GOP could stop its collective foot and scream, “Socialism!” one more time, for nostalgia’s sake.

boehner

Interestingly, many Americans blame the Democrats for this mess. While I have my own issues with the Democrats, which I’ve written about in the past, I am stumped over how this cannot be construed as a 100% GOP-manufactured crisis.

As many people have pointed out, the ACA passed Congress, was signed by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court, and put into effect. That’s the way our country works.

We don’t say, “Hey, the minority party, which overwhelmingly lost the last election, doesn’t like the law. So we have to negotiate.”

What in fuck’s name is there to negotiate?

It’s the law. Deal with it.

 


Well, That Was Easy

When two-thirds of the US Senate is in favor of a bill, one might assume that it’s a pretty popular measure.

bill law

So when the Senate passed an immigration reform bill by a lopsided vote of 68 to 32, it indicated that nothing could be simpler than coming up with a way for undocumented people to gain a pathway to citizenship.

But of course, the US House (home of the crazies) is already talking about passing its own version of the bill. I assume that one will require new citizens to recite the Declaration of Independence, name all the presidents in order, and get a US flag tattooed on their foreheads while singing the Star-Spangled Banner (taking care to hit all the high notes).

As such, it is not time to celebrate just yet. The hard part is yet to come.

 


Another Round

So there I was, blasting away at the bull’s-eye with a .22 rifle. When I was done, I handed the gun back to its owner and wondered if I should feel exhilarated or manly or something. But I just felt indifferent.

I was fourteen, and that’s the only time I’ve ever fired a gun. In the decades since, I’ve had no desire to repeat the experience.

I don’t own a gun, a fact that aligns with a larger statistic. We Latinos are the ethnic group least likely to own a firearm. Just 18 percent of us are packing heat. In contrast, more than one-third of white people (and a sky-high 61 percent of Southern white men) are armed.

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