Tag: conservative

Pass the Wine

Yes, it is indeed challenging in Year One of the Orange Despot to find anything to be grateful for.

Normally, at this time of the year, we would offer thanks for what we have and all the positive developments that are happening for us as a nation.

However, the consensus among sane Americans is that, this year, we should instead give gratitude for the things we don’t have and the horrible acts that have not occurred.

For example, we don’t have a war with North Korea, or a collapsed economy, or a rescinded First Amendment, or a total absence of healthcare for all except the super-rich — at least not yet.

So let’s all shout, “hallelujah” over these amazing gifts.

But there is one group of Americans who are truly grateful this holiday season. Now, I’m not talking about the mega-wealthy one percenters, or the plutocrats who are devouring our country. Although they’re doing great, those bastards are never grateful for anything, because their whole lives are relentless, insatiable quests for more, more, more.

No, I’m referring to the Trump true believers. I’m talking about those fabled white working-class voters who love Trump and live in places like rural Pennsylvania — you know, the people who decided the election and overwhelmed your vote.

Politico recently ran an article profiling the president’s most fanatical supporters. The article found that for these voters, their “satisfaction with Trump now seems untethered to the things they once said mattered to them the most.”

In other words, last year, these people said they were voting for Trump because he would bring back the coal industry, end the opioid epidemic, build that fucking wall, etcetera.

Almost a year later, Trump hasn’t accomplished any of those things, or even tried particularly hard to do so. And yet, his fans don’t hold it against him. Indeed, “it’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.”

Yes, for these voters, it doesn’t matter that we have a bumbling man-child dragging the country into massive discord. He is their guy, and he shares their rage and hatred and ignorance and incoherence. So damn it, they’re sticking with him.

And how does one reason with such superhuman levels of denial and delusion?

Well, it’s simple really. Don’t even try.

You see, the hardcore “Trump supporter is living in a state of downplayed disappointment — like a child taking a bite of black licorice thinking it was chocolate, feeling regret, then accepting the candy anyway.”

I mean, these are people who trust Trump more than they trust Jesus Christ.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, that should tell you something — a whole lot of somethings, actually.

So this Thanksgiving, if you’re stuck sitting next to die-hard Trump supporters, realize that there is quite literally nothing you can say to them to get them to change their mind about the guy.

As such, just skip the chitchat and double up on pumpkin pie. Trust me, dinner will be far more enjoyable that way.

 


Um… Thanks?

We have all heard the adage “better late than never.”

It’s a quaint concept, indicating that there is always time to correct a wrong, and that forgiveness is a virtue. Yeah, it’s all very uplifting.

But here’s another adage you may not have heard: “Deathbed confessions will not be accepted.”

Well, that one is not so much an adage as a dire warning. You see, in certain sects of both Christianity and Islam, a person cannot live a vile life, and then right before they kick off, get to say, “I repent.”

Sorry, you don’t get into paradise that way. The idea is that redemption doesn’t come cheap.

However, many Americans are fine with the political equivalent of deathbed confessions. That is the only way to explain the lusty cheering and teary-eyed thanks that many liberals are shouting at those few Republicans who are finally admitting that Trump is a disaster.

I mean, it has been perfectly obvious — after almost a year of nonstop presidential degradation — that the GOP standard bearer is less elder statesman and more vindictive racist liar in over his head who may get us all killed.

And yet the GOP is only now getting this.

It’s too bad nobody ever pointed it out to them.

In any case, before we trip over ourselves proclaiming how sanity is finally returning to the Party of Lincoln, let’s keep a few things in mind.

First, it’s worth noting that “the only elected representatives of the Republican Party in Washington who are willing to speak out against the dangers posed daily by Trump are either suffering from brain cancer or retiring from office.” No, standing up for your principles doesn’t mean as much when you do it while running out the door.

Second, even those Republicans who despise Trump’s malevolence tend to agree with his agenda. So they’re not terribly upset about, say, Muslims getting harassed or banks being allowed to screw over consumers or millions of Americans losing their health insurance.

They just wish that Trump would be a little more low-key about it, so he doesn’t scare off the average American by revealing the truth about the GOP’s brand of right-wing nuttiness. Oh, and many Republicans also don’t like it when Trump personally insults them, but they come crawling back anyway.

Finally, and most important, it’s not like any Republican is prepared to actually do anything about the lunatic they gleefully put in charge of the nuclear weapons. After all, they are “not advocating Trump be removed from office.” Nor have any Republicans “shown any signs that they’ll stand in the way of the Trump administration’s agenda.”

Yes, even after this most mild of public rebukes, Trump is still the man in charge of the GOP, and that will not change any time soon.

So forgive me if I refrain from applauding.

 


Pick a Side

Good news — there is a 35 percent chance that the country will descend into open civil war within the next decade.

Now, you may ask, why is that good news?

Well, personally, I thought the odds of a second Battle of Antietam erupting within the year were around 50/50. So a risk of just 35 percent is positively optimistic.

Hey, nearly four out of five Americans “believe the nation is divided on the most important values.” And some experts claim that the nation is really a mash-up of almost a dozen different cultures where people “increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.” And, of yeah, in recent years, residents of both Texas and California have sincerely endeavored to secede from the union.

Naturally, we’re all wondering about the root causes of this internecine madness. Well, as is usual when nations start rotting from the inside, the main problem is the age-old malady of bigotry.

Yes, many social scientists have concluded that America is “vulnerable to racism, tribalism, and conflicting visions of the way forward for our nation.” And it certainly doesn’t help that our deranged president “modeled violence as a way to advance politically,” which feeds right into the narrative of the hardcore right wing and fuels talk of armed conflict.

Indeed, ever since the protests at Charlottesville, it should be perfectly clear to even the most idealistic person that “white fear of demographic change is a powerful force” and that “there are several lines of evidence converging on the idea that America is becoming a more hostile place for immigrants and outsiders.”

If you need further proof, “research does find that in the age of Trump — the age that started with an assertion that Mexicans were sending rapists to the US — it’s becoming more acceptable to be outwardly prejudiced.”

It’s all very depressing, of course, and we are correct to wonder how America has so quickly devolved into a nation where racists feel pretty good about themselves, and hatred toward Muslims is shrugged off a conservative value.

Hell, there was a time (not so very long ago) when “psychologists feared that ‘social desirability bias’ — people unwilling to admit they’re prejudiced, for fear of being shamed — would prevent people from answering questions about prejudice truthfully.” But in this terrible new America, “people will readily admit to believing all sorts of vile things. And researchers don’t need to use implicit or subliminal measures to suss it all out.”

This willingness to be horrible only verifies what progressives and ethnic minorities have been saying for years about a large subsection of America.

And yet, many media outlets still indulge in delusional thinking about Trump and his supporters. Despite mountains of anecdotal evidence — and in some cases, actual data-driven research — many commentators still dance around the issues of racism and xenophobia that characterizes Trump’s most ardent fans.

I mean, how many more studies do we need that show fictional “discrimination against whites was a core concern of Trump’s base”? No, it wasn’t a weak correlation or a side issue. It was a “core concern” of Trump’s support.

How often do we have to hear that “changing racial demographics of America contributed to Trump’s success as a presidential candidate among white Americans whose race/ethnicity is central to their identity”?

The truth is that there are millions of Americans who dream of an all-white country, one that is presumably 100 percent straight and Christian as well.

These are people who have never faced governmental or cultural oppression, and “who sat through the unit on the Second World War in their history class and looked at images of concentration camps and gas chambers and burning books and Anne Frank’s attic and still thought, well, hang on, maybe those Nazis had some interesting ideas.”

And they are all for Trump — to the point that he can no wrong and will never lose their support.

Now, in contrast to the bizarre enthusiasm that Trump supporters have of their man’s performance so far, more than half of all Americans and more than two-thirds of Latinos disapprove of the guy.

These are fundamental differences. One might even say that they are irreconcilable.

And since we’re using that kind of language, let’s admit a basic fact — one that may help us avoid open warfare.

We’re 240 years into this marriage, and maybe it’s time to admit that we’re no longer happy in the relationship. We have clearly grown apart. In fact, it’s worth asking if we ever really got along, because after all, there have been more than a few rocky times and bumps in the road over the decades.

Perhaps everyone would be happier if we called it quits and promised to stay in touch — you know, to negotiate intercontinental trade deals and stuff like that. But this whole idea that we are a unified nation and a cohesive culture… well, come on.

Who are we kidding?

 


I Bombed Korea Every Night

When I was a kid a million years ago, during the 1980s, our president was a doddering simpleton who really, really hated communists.

The Gipper once made a “joke” that the United States was going to nuke the Soviet Union. He didn’t know the mic was on, and the chiste didn’t go over so well. In fact, the comment was “taken seriously by the Soviets who stood on alert for 30 minutes.”

As horrific as this gaffe was, at least Reagan wasn’t serious.

The same cannot be said for the current GOP inhabitant of the White House. Trump wasn’t joking, and he knew full well his microphone was on, as he stood in front of dozens of world leaders and threatened “to totally destroy North Korea.”

As many people have pointed out, the man is no Reagan.

In any case, most of the sane people in the world had a decidedly negative reaction to an ill-tempered buffoon with access to nuclear weapons spouting off about starting a cataclysmic war.

But to the minds of conservatives, well, the United States can never have enough death and destruction.

You see, over half of Republicans “support conducting airstrikes on North Korean nuclear facilities.”

That action would, of course, lead to a full-on war, with disastrous consequences for our allies, South Korea and Japan, and possibly massive casualties for America.

At the very least, it would cost us a lot of money, but then again, those would be special war dollars, and we have an infinite amount of them (as opposed to, say, healthcare dollars or education dollars or infrastructure dollars… but I digress).

Regardless, what’s interesting about this latest manifestation of right-wing warmongering is that it comes immediately after many conservatives had declared this whole North Korean thing over and done with.

Remember way back when North Korea was threatening to attack Guam, and Trump tweeted out some belligerent nonsense, and the entire world was on edge because it looked like two sociopathic narcissists were going to plunge the whole planet into hellish nuclear annihilation?

Yeah, we can all laugh about it now.

Oh, wait, it’s only Republicans who can laugh about it. You see, this all went down mere weeks ago. At the time, many conservatives insisted that Trump’s hostility had paid off, and that North Korea had “blinked,” which seems to have meant, “They haven’t nuked Seattle yet.”

Yeah, I’m not hearing any of that talk now — especially because that supposedly cowed country is threatening to detonate a hydrogen bomb over the ocean, in direct response to be being taunted.

So maybe that wasn’t the best strategy after all.

But according to conservatives, all we really need to do is take out that pudgy guy in Asia. He needs a warhead dropped on him — like now!

Of course, we can talk about the GOP predilection for international violence. They truly seem to believe there is no issue that can’t be solved with a hastily planed, poorly designed invasion.

But for people obsessed with preserving the past — from resurrecting a mythical era to putting up statues of their treacherous ancestors — conservatives have no grasp of history. And I mean recent history, from the last decade.

I would like to ask all those people who are clamoring for war with North Korea the following question: “Weren’t you saying the exact same thing in 2003, but about Iraq?”

Yes, for conservatives with poor memories, it was the GOP who insisted that marching into the Middle East was a great idea, and would make the world safer, and would pay for itself, and that we would never ever regret it.

Well, it’s not even a generation later, and we all pretty much regret it (to the point that we even lie about supporting the war in the first place).

So why would bombing Korea be any different than launching missiles at Iraq? If anything, it would be far worse, with an even more predictable result of massive death and chaos.

Maybe Republicans just like to talk tough and act out their perpetual anger. Or maybe their nostalgia for the 1950s has hit a new low.

After all, from 1950 to 1952, we issued “rain and ruin by the US air force. Pyongyang had been razed to the ground, with the Air Force stating in official documents that the North’s cities suffered greater damage than German and Japanese cities firebombed during World War II.” Oh, and by the way, the Korean War also killed 37,000 American troops.

And yet here we are, over 60 years later, still insisting that we can bomb our way out of this mess. We’re still demanding more blood, and more rah-rah, super-patriotic, can-do American warfare overseas.

Because this time it will solve all our problems, despite all the recent evidence to the contrary in Iraq and the evidence of the actual fucking war in Korea decades ago.

Yes, apparently even God himself wants us to bomb North Korea.

So I’m sure it will all work out just fine.

 


Shame Shame Go Away

The great state of Texas is underwater, and our president thinks that desperate, devastated Americans who have lost everything — maybe even a loved one — are coming out to cheer for him.

Unfortunately, this is not a surprise, coming from the sociopath in chief.

The previous non-shocker, of course, was Trump’s pardon of the infamous Joe Arpaio.

Now, there’s not much analysis I can add to the sorry spectacle of Trump’s shady, rushed act clemency that undermines the judicial system, upends presidential tradition, and shows contempt for both the Constitution and the very concept of law and order (which is supposedly a GOP value).

Because while Republicans play their usual song and dance about being outraged but doing nothing, the rest of us wonder if this a is a test run to undermine the Russia investigation.

At the very least, we all know that this is another example of Trump’s authoritarian tactics.

It might even be an impeachable offense (a phrase that has been ascribed to Trump’s behavior so often that I have lost track of his potentially criminal actions).

Furthermore, we know that Trump’s pardon sends a clear message to bigoted cops and prejudiced government officials everywhere that there are no — as in zero — consequences for even the most xenophobic and oppressive behavior.

We also know that Arpaio isn’t just a middling bigot, but is in fact “viciously racist” on a level we haven’t seen in public officials since the Civil Rights Era.

And finally, we know that Arpaio — in addition to being a hate-filled racist and scourge to Latinos everywhere — is also an incompetent cop and flat-out evil man.

So what do I have to add to the discussion?

Nothing, really. I just want to make sure that everybody is aware of all of the above.

And if you still support Trump, think about the company you keep.

 


Where Do We Even Begin? 

Nazis are bad.

There, was that so damn difficult to say?

Well, yes, if one is a black-hearted egotist whose only concern is keeping a clammy, slippery grasp on power. In that case, it can be quite difficult.

As we all know, our straight-talkin’, tell-it-like-it-is president was unusually quiet last weekend, when fascists, racists, and violent thugs descended upon Charlottesville. The man who tweets every umbrage or perceived slight had nothing to say when the KKK started throwing punches, and white supremacists chanted Hitler-era slogans.

He then came out with a baffling, condescending condemnation of “both sides” of the violence. I suppose he was trying to be fair to both homicidal bigots driving their cars into people, and the demonstrators who should be blamed for… well, I don’t know what — perhaps for violently putting dents in the car or cracking its windshield when the vehicle plowed into them. Yeah, both sides are clearly to blame.

Of course, Trump did eventually come out against white supremacy, which proves that he will indeed take a moral position — provided that both sides of the political spectrum, millions of Americans, and every half-respectable media outlet scream at him for days to denounce fucking Nazis, which let’s face it, is the absolute minimum qualification for being considered a decent human being. But hey, he did it, right?

No, because he changed his mind the next day and went back to equating sign-carrying liberals with deranged Nazis who murder people, setting off a shitstorm of outrage and disbelief. So there was that.

Now, there are only three possible motivations for Trump’s false-equivalency nonsense:

  1. He is an impulsive man-child who lashes out at others even if it is detrimental to his own cause.
  2. Some dark part of his soul — perhaps a bigger part than his followers would like to admit — agrees with the white supremacists.
  3. He is a chickenshit politician who is scared of offending his base, which is ironic when one considers that he is supposedly the anti-politician who is not afraid to speak his mind.

All three of these options are terrifying. In all three scenarios, the guy who is the face of America, and its political and even moral leader, has abdicated his responsibility (and possibly his humanity) so that hate-filled men shouting anti-Semitic slurs can feel good about themselves.

Of course, it’s perfectly obvious to me that someone should have told the president that the fascists in Virginia had mocked his tiny hands, or pointed out his dismal approval ratings, or brought up his disastrous leadership skills. If that had happened, he would have lacerated those bastards in a furious speech before they could finish saying, “Seig Heil.” But that didn’t happen, and now we have to wonder about the following:

Is this a turning point?

I don’t mean that in the political sense. We all know the gutless GOP will not turn on Trump unless and until he has outlived his usefulness to them. Otherwise, they will just keep apologizing for his maniacal outbursts and ugly tirades, or looking the other way, or somehow coming up with a twisted rationale for it (like, “liberals made this happen”). Hey, I guess it helps them sleep at night.

No, I’m talking about a cultural turning point.

After all, there can no longer be any doubt — if there ever was — about the kind of man Trump is (i.e., the kind who coddles Nazis). There could not be a clearer contrast between his delayed scripted words of false comfort and his spontaneous, appalling endorsement of racism.

Similarly, those who have excused his abhorrent behavior to this point have finally run into a non-negotiable, unambiguous, swastika-shaped look into his loathsome mind. Any defense of his stance goes beyond the usual pathetic, infuriating, illogical, baffling excuses that Trump supporters have offered for other transgressions (and there have been a lot of them).

This is so sickening, so reprehensible, so concrete in its evil that it threatens to permanently brand anyone who defends it as either a spineless coward or a sociopathic villain.

Witness that prominent conservatives, corporate CEOs, and military leaders are all blasting Trump. These are hardly liberal snowflakes getting riled up by fake news.

So it’s fair to ask if this is Trump’s Katrina moment. Could this be the final outrage that pushes his casual supporters over the edge and solidifies his calamitous reputation?

Already, a majority of Americans — not just progressives, but most of the country — is aghast at their president’s unhinged craziness. A full 40 percent want his impeachment.

Those numbers will only increase. The sense of disgust will only snowball. And because Trump burned up so much good will mere months into his presidency, it is difficult to imagine the trend ever reversing.

For Trump supporters, after this point, there is no turning back. Which of them wants to be the last deplorable standing, waving his Make America Great Again hat around as the rest of the nation looks away in shame and horror?

 


Plays Well with Others

We’ve heard a lot of shouting about “safe spaces,” and how liberal college students across America are pampered little snowflakes who crumble at the slightest sign of conflict… while simultaneously being violent thugs who will gladly pummel the first conservative they see.

Yes, like a lot of conservative tropes, this one relies on contradictory oversimplifications.

In any case, right-wingers are clearly not fans of higher education — or, it could be argued, of education in general.

Damn that ivory tower.

Valley News – Shawn Braley

However, for those conservatives who still value learning, knowledge, and non-alternative facts, there is good news.

A recent study has shown that there is a way to improve the effectiveness of elementary school education. Grade schools that possess one specific trait tend to have more productive students.

Yes, it turns out that the best way to make a campus safer for its students is to embrace that most feared of liberal schemes: Diversity.

You see, the study found that kids “who attend racially diverse schools feel safer, less lonely and less picked on than their peers at more homogenous schools.” And by the way, this was true of all kids, including the white ones.

The researchers say that the emotional well-being of children “is important because their state of mind affects their ability to learn” and that “if you’re afraid in school, you’re not even going to raise your hand in class.”

This makes sense, of course. But the news that racial diversity is good for all kids — not just ethnic minorities — is bound to upset some people, sort of like the fact that racially diverse movies tend to be bigger hits (which is true, by the way).

In any case, by embracing racial diversity in education, we can do what’s right for kids while acknowledging a simple fact about changing demographics — a double whammy of societal goodness.

Wow, it’s never that easy. So let’s savor this one.

 


What? Us Worry?

It’s over now. There is no doubt that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.

Bigger questions (e.g., how much did they collude, what info did they gain, did this info sway the election, etc) are the next frontier in this never-ending freak show of incompetence, corruption, hubris, and possible treason.

It is no longer liberal paranoia to ask about impeachment, or the 25th Amendment. At the very least, all patriotic Americans should be demanding answers and an end to blatant lies spewing from the White House.

But of course, that is not happening.

Instead, conservatives are telling us that working with a hostile government to undermine democracy and then covering it up, while distasteful, is not as bad as, say, lying about a blowjob. Or they are telling us that collusion is actually a good thing.

Hey, many Trump supporters insist that Jr’s meeting with the Russians never happened — despite the fact that he admitted it.

“It’s time to move on,” the White House has been saying for a couple of months now, and many of your friends on Facebook no doubt have said the same thing.

Yes, it is indeed strange how the crowd that still wants Hilary Clinton thrown in jail is very eager to let bygones be bygones when it comes to Russian hacking. And speaking of the former presidential candidate, we all know the outcome of her email fiasco. No charges were brought against Clinton, and while you may not have agreed with that conclusion, it was clearly the result of a thorough investigation that came to a definitive end. It wasn’t the result of some benign collective urge to “just let it go.”

No, my GOP friends, you don’t get to tell us that it is time to move on. We have to stay on this to the bitter — and I do mean, bitter — end, regardless of where it leads us.

Of course, you may think that the latest avalanche of disturbing facts is still not grounds for impeachment, or even for criminal charges. I do not agree, but we can have a civilized debate about this.

But to imply that the Trump/Russian collusion is no big deal, to insist that nobody in the Trump administration has done anything the slightest bit shady, to say it’s all a media conspiracy… well, that’s just grotesque hypocrisy and flat-out unpatriotic.

Or crazy — it might be that too.

Oh well, at least your healthcare is safe… for now.

 


Full Count

We’re at the All-Star break, and my team is currently in first place. This is a major deal to me.

Yes, like a lot of Gen X Latinos, I’m a huge baseball fan. In fact, I recently achieved a fatherhood milestone when I took my 4-year-old son to see his first big-league game (he enjoyed it, even if he kept yelling, “safe!” and “out!” — usually at random).

I’m also a fan of science, which is one reason I’m not a Republican. Ha, just having fun there, my GOP friends… anyway…

Among my favorite science writers was the late Stephen Jay Gould. He wrote an intriguing essay titled, Why No One Hits .400 Anymore, in which he argued that while .400 hitters were fairly common in the early days of baseball, it’s become nearly impossible to reach that milestone today.

 

 

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The End Is Near… Supposedly

 

Is there anything more gauche than quoting yourself? Well, maybe starting an article with a rhetorical question is worse, but…

In any case, here is an excerpt from something I wrote last summer: “If there is one thing that the candidacy of Donald Trump has taught us, it is to never count him — or his followers — out.”

I was writing about the latest polls at that time, which showed that Donald Trump had as much chance of winning the election as Noam Chomsky did of landing a triple salchow to clinch the gold.

I mean, it was absurd to think Trump might capture the Electoral College — just ludicrous. Ha ha ha ha.

Ha ha.

Ha…

Yes, we’re all still laughing five months into this monstrosity of a presidency. Our laughter is not joyous, of course, nor is it resigned or world-weary. It’s more like the collective lunatic howling of the damned, which I guess still counts as laughter nonetheless.

 

Regardless, my point in that article was to be skeptical of all the experts who assured us that Trump would flame out in spectacular fashion and that America would never hand over the car keys to a man who isn’t even qualified to be the assistant undersecretary in the Federal Bureau of Weights and Measures, much less the fucking chief executive of the nation.

No, we were all a little too relaxed about the possibility of a Trump presidency. And I’ve written before about the liberal tendency to insist that this time — really, really, really this time — it’s all over for Trump.

As you recall, he wasn’t going to win the nomination, he wasn’t going to win the election, rogue electors were going to deny him the presidency, he would get impeached on his first day, he would resign in disgust immediately, and so on and so on. He would this, that, and the other thing.

All of this would prevent us from living in a world where the president of the United States repeatedly insults an ally just hours after that ally has suffered a terrorist attack, or makes America the undisputed bad guy in the history of climate change, or just in general resembles an evil, sputtering old man planning to slip razor blades into apples next Halloween.

And just today, we have confirmation of what we all knew, which is that this president is even more corrupt than Nixon and thinks “obstruction of justice” is some kind of fancy French dessert.

Well, here’s the truth: None of this really matters, because Trump’s base doesn’t care about any of this.

Hell, white supremacists and conspiracy nuts and right-wing hatemongers are all for the man, more than ever. And until just about everyone else in America says, “Enough of this shit,” his supporters are numerous enough to keep Trump’s wobbly, haphazard administration upright. The alt-right and the bigoted will not be dissuaded. They are a multitude of furious fire ants keeping the anthill from toppling over, even after repeated sprayings from the flummoxed homeowner.

And so, none of these scandals are nearly enough to end our nightmare.

Of course, the impeachment-o-meter is hovering around 40%, so what do I know?

 


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