Tag: Iraq War

So Emotional

Remember back when liberals were widely known as bleeding hearts and crybabies and hypersensitive wimps who would, if they could, create a Constitutional amendment that forbade anyone from getting their feelings hurt?

Yeah, those days are long gone. Because according to many conservatives, modern liberals are nothing but a bunch of heartless Antifa thugs who will crush your skull if you even mumble the words “free market.”

So liberals aren’t relying on emotions anymore, but you know who is? That’s right — Republicans. Much to our national shock, the GOP has become the party of feelings.

No, I don’t mean soft, useless feelings like empathy and compassion. I mean the manly, hardcore, non-cuck emotions like anger and contempt and hatred. They are very much in touch with those feelings.

This move to prioritizing emotions over thoughts has been prevalent in the Republican Party for at least a decade. Recall that George W. Bush, the loveable war criminal, famously led with his gut and eschewed scientific analysis or hard data in favor of whatever appealed to his intuition.

Yes, that’s how we got the Iraq War and truthiness and the idea that climate change was open to debate. Good times…

In any case, the current GOP has doubled down on the use of feelings over facts. During the presidential election, we heard that it didn’t matter if crime was down. All that mattered was that people felt crime was up. It didn’t matter that the economy had improved substantially under Obama. Conservatives felt that it hadn’t.

And now, during the reign of the most id-driven, unthinking rage-aholic in presidential history, we see the full effect of this approach.

We have an America that is not just illogical. It’s anti-logical.

I’m not just talking about conservative hostility toward higher education, scientific inquiry, and the very concept of facts. All that is proof enough of GOP’s preference for knee-jerk reaction over careful analysis.

No, I’m talking about our glorious leader himself. All rational Republicans should see that Trump has “every quality they described as a deal breaker under Obama” and withdraw their support immediately. But while there is “virtually no personality defect that conservatives accused Obama of possessing that Trump himself does not actually possess,” more than two-thirds of Republicans still back him.

And the reason is simple: the GOP, as a whole, feels like Trump is doing a great job, despite the fact that the man has startlingly few accomplishments. They feel it in their right-wing bones.

But of course, that leads us to the latest Republican triumph: the passage of massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

This panacea of conservative thought, this epitome of GOP dreams, is and has always been trickle-down economics writ large. There is no evidence, of course, that giving more money to rich people stimulates the economy. Republicans just feel like it should, and so now we’re going to do it, despite the fact that the vast majority of America thinks this is a terrible idea.

Of course, Republicans have a secondary objective (again, one based on pure emotion), which “is to screw over Democrats.” The GOP tax plan “will almost exclusively hurt residents of high-tax blue states like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California.”

This is the just the latest, most egregious example of what has become the bottom layer of the GOP’s pyramid of principles. It is clear that conservatism “as practiced by most Republicans is an ideology built on one single principle: pissing off the liberals.” And this motivation is based on the feeing, the gut-level revulsion that “liberals are subhuman scum, and that hating liberals… is far more important that minor concerns like preventing war or economic destruction.”

In such an environment, it doesn’t matter that most economists — including conservative ones — agree that the Republican tax plan will not have any beneficial effects on the economy.

It doesn’t matter that the CBO has calculated that the plan will add over a trillion dollars to the national debt, which was anathema to a political party (long gone) that billed itself as brimming over with “deficit hawks.” Instead, we have GOP leaders — not working-class Republican voters, but full-time leaders of the conservative movement — who look at these facts, glance at these numbers, and dismiss “the findings as an accounting gimmick.”

It is not possible to have a true debate with people who, when confronted with overwhelming statistics, verifiable facts, or irrefutable evidence about clear truths, will simply set their jaws and proclaim, “No, I don’t believe it,” just because that’s the way they feel.

The only proper response to such people is to say, “Well, fuck your feelings.”

 


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.

 


Quick on the Draw

Recently, I wrote how everyone (except for you and me) is prone to furious outbursts of racist invective at the slightest provocation.

That got me thinking about a related issue.

Namely, why are conservatives so quick to defend someone who spews racist, homophobic, or otherwise hateful speech?

After all, it wasn’t liberals who said, “Hey, that’s cool, Mr. Oldman. Tell us more about your sophisticated sociopolitical outlook.”

bram-stokers-dracula-gary-oldman1

Nope, it’s primarily conservatives who say it’s no big deal, or that the First Amendment protects such language, or that it’s time to take a bold stand against the insidious forces of political correctness.

Now, I’ve written entire posts about how pulling out the First Amendment or bashing PC is a loser’s lament, so I’m not going to repeat those points here. And to be clear, there are plenty of conservative libertarians who support the right to free speech. Just as there are plenty of liberals who would like to see Bill O’Reilly legally forced to shut up. However, these perspectives are not so closely aligned with the general philosophy of right wing and left wing.

What I’m talking about here is your basic social conservative, particularly when it comes to hate speech. It is a bit disturbing how swiftly these individuals rush to defend — or even praise — idiotic, racist bullshit.

I would like to think conservatives are earnest lovers of the concept of free expression. However, in many cases, these are the same people who threaten legal action if someone says, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” And remember back during the Iraq War, when up to 40 percent of conservatives believed that protests against the conflict should not be allowed (and that was constitutionally protected free speech, no less).

In fact, there is some evidence that this issue pops up in the ultimate justice-is-blind venue: the US Supreme Court. A recent study found that “liberal justices are (overall) more supportive of free speech claims than conservative justices,” and that “conservatives on the court are far more inclined to bias than their more liberal colleagues.”

Conservatives have historically shown little love for the idea of allowing people to speak their mind, and in truth, live and let live is not traditionally associated with the conservative movement. Whether it is gays getting married, or a mosque being built down the block, or some anarchist burning an American flag, there are usually conservatives there denouncing and demanding and denigrating. Rarely do you hear a Fox news anchor defend such actions.

But if some washed-up action star says that Mexicans are wetbacks, then conservatives abruptly clutch the flag to their chests and say, “It’s his right, damn it.”

But once again, we have to ask, why is this?

Well, maybe it’s because defending morons gives conservatives the perfect opportunity to appear principled and astute. Or maybe it’s because so many of their heroes are actually, well, racists. Or maybe it’s because these comments reveal what so many of them are really thinking.

Damn, I hope it’s not that last one.

 


A Matter of Confidence

Well, Obamacare has rolled out, and the results thus far aren’t exactly spectacular. This fiasco has illustrated the vast gap between liberals and conservatives.

Now, I’m not talking about ideology, or even about Obamacare specifically. I’m referring to the differing mindsets of the opposite ends of our political spectrum.

Simply put, conservatives are perennially more confident and exhibit greater faith in their causes. Liberals, in contrast, seem perpetually on the verge of giving up.

white-flag

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Exploitation, Melodrama, and More

My cousin (Cousin #6)  is one of the more than 83,000 immigrants who have become citizens since the September 11 attacks by embracing “a wartime edict to entice immigrants to join the military in exchange for rapid naturalization.”

The program has its critics. Some claim allowing non-citizens to enlist in the military “injects the armed forces with an increased security risk” and is “just like the Roman Empire, not to get too melodramatic about it.”

melodrama_7456

Yes, the last thing we want in any discussion about immigration is melodrama. After all, the debate has been nothing but calm, logical, and respectful to this point.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


The Difference

As we careen, cartwheel, and plummet into the finale of this interminable election season, one refrain we hear many times is that Republicans and Democrats are one and the same.

Indeed, there is ample evidence that both parties are indebted to big business and the status quo. And as Latinos know, Obama’s original immigration policies weren’t much of an improvement over Bush’s approach.

Still, there are differences between the two men running for president— besides the fact that one is a communist Kenyan and the other is a money-grubbing fascist (hey, that’s what the internet told me).

 

For those who have inexplicably not paid attention, Obama is pro-choice, while Romney is pro-life. Obama is against the death penalty, while Romney is fine with it. The president has come out in support of gay marriage, while Romney believes marriage is a straights-only deal. And Obama doesn’t share Romney’s opinion that the US government is inherently inept, corrupt, and/or evil.

I have to admit, those seem to be fairly large differences to me.

Even progressive icon Daniel Ellsberg, no fan of Obama, thinks the president is substantially different from Romney.

So who are the people yelling that Obama and Romney are clones? I mean, besides Lupe Fiasco?

Well, there are true believers who think a leftist or libertarian chief exec is a possibility (it’s not). Then there are self-proclaimed radicals who dismiss the entire American system as corrupt or bourgeois or just plain icky. And finally, there are voters who simply say, “It don’t matter none.” 

But of course it does matter. And for Latino voters, it’s crucial.

Hispanics are the least likely ethnic group to have health insurance, a situation that the infamous Obamacare may alleviate.

On immigration, Obama has endorsed the Dream Act (belatedly, of course), while Romney is still trying to explain how self-deportation would work.

And when it comes to economic policy, Romney’s tax cuts would benefit the upper classes, which are not exactly awash in Latinos. Keep in mind that according to some experts, Romney “cannot deliver all the tax cuts he promised to the wealthy without raising taxes on the middle class.” One can presume that Hispanics will not be among the direct beneficiaries of his tax plan.

However, perhaps some Latinos still believe that it doesn’t matter who wins. Well, think back to those distant days of 2000, when Bush was elected. At the time, many Americans voted for Nader because Gore and Bush were apparently too similar. Therefore, we have to assume that under President Gore, the September 11 attacks, the Great Recession, and FEMA’s horrific response to Hurricane Katrina would have all occurred. Those are rather huge assumptions, to say the least.

But the Iraq War, an obsession unique to neo-cons, certainly would not have happened. So for the families of 4,500 dead US soldiers, there was at least one fundamental, very real difference between the candidates.

By the way, approximately 500 of those soldiers were Latino.

 


Anticlimax

Iraq isn’t our problem anymore. Who cares. Good riddance.

—Internet commentator

USA! USA! USA!

—The same guy, nine years ago.

Future generations will never confuse it with VJ Day. This time, there were no jubilant crowds in Times Square or iconic photographs of sailors kissing nurses or a cross-continental outpouring of relief and exuberance.

Instead, there was a collective shrug as a military convoy rolled through the Iraq desert. The war that began with Shock and Awe ended with Confusion and Indifference.

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Marketing 101

Many thanks to everyone who has recently commented on my posts. You’re all in the running for copies of Raul Ramos y Sanchez’s novels as part of my latest giveaway.

I have to admit, however, that Emmasota’s comment about the Dream Act’s demise conjured up an unpleasant memory for me.

You see, last year I worked with a nonprofit to advocate for the passage of the Dream Act. I knew the odds were long, and of course, the legislation ultimately didn’t pass.

But I would feel better today about fighting the good fight if I hadn’t known, at the time, that our approach was doomed. I had a queasy sensation early on, when I saw one of the video packages that the nonprofit put together (I wasn’t involved with that stage of the campaign).

The video featured kids who would directly benefit from the Dream Act’s passage. Much of it was good, with heart-tugging stories from all-American, clean-cut teens.

But then the bottom fell out. The voiceover threw around terms like “fairness” and “justice.” And one of the teens stated that he “deserved” the rights that the Dream Act would confer.

I knew it was over as soon as the kid said that word.

Americans don’t want to hear that anybody deserves anything. Hell, many citizens will lose their minds if one implies that they deserve basic healthcare (and that’s in their own self-interest!). They certainly don’t want to hear that some whiny kid who wasn’t even born in this country “deserves” his rights.

Sending a video to media outlets and political leaders that featured this tone-deaf tactic just stunned me. Clearly, many advocates of immigration reform haven’t learned the importance of basic marketing.

They continue to push the compassion angle, or back up their assertions with facts that impress no one.

But if the Bush years taught us anything, it’s that sympathy is for suckers. More important, we learned that the truth is irrelevant. Or it’s at least a distant second to proper messaging.

How else do you think conservatives got an overwhelming majority of Americans to embrace a war that made absolutely no sense?

Other progressive movements have learned this tactic.

For example, gay rights are also issue of fairness and basic justice. Yet, advocates of repealing the DADT Policy went easy on this essential truth. Instead, they successfully presented the issue as one that was necessary to America’s well-being.

The message was, basically, “We need all the help we can get establishing a strong military and intelligence network. This will keep America safe, so drop your prejudice in favor of simple self-preservation.”

It worked. DADT is history.

Immigration-reform advocates need to adopt this strategy. Instead of pointing out about how unfair or irrational our policies are — which is true but a loser’s lament — hit people in the wallet by making it clear that a massive-deportation philosophy will cost them money. Or hammer home the idea that policies such as the Dream Act will improve the economy and strengthen the military.

In other words, let’s see more about how immigration reform will benefit current citizens, instead of pleading that civil rights be extended to strangers.

It may not be pretty, or even that principled. But it has to be more effective than what we’ve accomplished so far.


Cousin #6

He has regaled us with tales of his paratrooper jumps and told us about digging shrapnel out of people and mentioned the tense brushes he’s had with hostile citizens of foreign countries. Of all of the members of my family, he has seen the most of the world – although much of it was through the prism of humanity at its worst.

Cousin #6 came to America as a child. He didn’t become a citizen until his second tour of duty in Iraq. His paperwork was lost twice, and when he reapplied a third time, he was told to report to the county courthouse for the exam.

“But I’m in Iraq,” he said to the civil servant at the other end of the very long-distance phone call. “I can’t make it to the courthouse.”

Strangely enough, Cousin #6 believed that getting shot at in the service of one’s country was adequate proof of his patriotism. But he was initially told that this was insufficient, and it took my mother’s intervention, and the connections she had in local government, for him to receive his citizenship.

A few years ago, Cousin #6 married a fellow soldier. I mean no disrespect to her military background when I say that she is truly adorable. His wife calls him on his newfound cockiness and the swagger that he has developed in adulthood, insisting that one reason she feel for him was his awkward charm.

“When we met, he was such a dork,” she says, and they both laugh.

I remember him as less of a dork and more of a hesitant presence. As a child, he didn’t project the quiet intensity of his brother, Cousin #3, or the charisma of his fellow troublemaker, Cousin #7. Instead, he came across as a boy who wasn’t quite sure of his potential. He had a mischievous steak, to be sure, but he seemed unwilling to call too much attention to himself, and thus avoided serious trouble.

He has caused us sufficient concern, however, in the subsequent years with his overseas postings. While no fan of the men who sent him to Iraq, he remains dedicated to the Army itself. A band of tags around his wrist serves as a memento of his friend who was killed in Iraq. Cousin #6 has no plans to put the item into storage.

After multiple tours of Iraq, he enjoyed a “vacation” in Afghanistan. Although he and his wife recently had a daughter, he is heading back to that godforsaken country as part of the latest surge. We all hope that he returns safely and never has to be shipped to another war zone.

If he does get deployed somewhere else, however, we all know that he will continue to be a great representative of our nation overseas. And of course, he carries our country’s best qualities with him always.


Are They American Enough?

As pointed out here, the first U.S. service member killed in the Iraq War was an immigrant from Guatemala.

The Marine profiled in this news story is from my mother’s home country of El Salvador, and he is not a U.S. citizen.

There are more than 20,000 “green-card warriors” in the U.S. military, and many of them are getting shot at in the Middle East. They fight under the U.S. flag, even as millions of citizens back home debate the best way to kick them out of the country.

It may surprise some people that non-citizens are allowed to fight in the U.S. military. But we have always embraced immigrants when they are convenient – when they can mow the lawn or take care of the babies or step up to be cannon fodder. After they have served their purpose, we give long speeches about how the sanctity of the nation demands that they be banished, and quickly before they take over.

Now, should a non-citizen die in combat, he or she receives automatic (albeit posthumous) citizenship. This has happened several times during this war. Nobody has protested this policy, because of course, a deceased Mexican-American will never move in next door to citizens and make them nervous. It seems to be our country’s way of saying, “Some of you have to die before we’ll agree that you’re fit to live among us. Ironic, isn’t it?”

Personally, I think anybody willing to face death in the service of America should get immediate citizenship upon induction, no paperwork needed. I have other ideas about the citizenship process, but that will have to wait for a future post.

Also, at some point I will go into detail about my personal stake in this story: My cousin was on his second deployment to Iraq before his citizenship papers came through. Again, I’ll talk more about him and his adventures in a future post.


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