Tag: U.S. Constitution

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.

 


No, We Don’t All Need to Get Along

Good intentions abound. That’s the only reason people still embrace misguided ideas like “colorblind society,” despite the powerfully negative connotations that such phrases conjure up.

The latest nicey-nicey concept I’ve encountered (and no doubt you have as well) is the absurd notion that, for America to succeed, we need to put aside our differences. In essence, we all need to get along.

Where in the hell did this strange idea come from?

For the overwhelming majority of American history, we have not all gotten along.

For example, Hamilton and Jefferson didn’t say, “let’s be pals” when they were hashing out what kind of government we should have. They had more important things to do.

Even during the so-called Era of Good Feelings, America’s many slaves weren’t feeling the love and joining in group hugs.

Speaking of slavery, America didn’t even reach its centennial before we started shooting at each other over that touchy topic. And it was another century of violence and antagonism before the government said, “Maybe we should be nicer to ethnic minorities.” At no point in that process did we all get along.

Yes, one could argue that the country was united during World War II, but even in that case, all it took to bind us together was a global conflagration where millions of people died and the very survival of democracy was in question. In other words… good times.

More recently, we’ve come to blows over Vietnam and Iraq, over abortion and affirmative action, over gay rights and healthcare.

So when was this mythical time when Americans were of one mind? And why does anyone think this is a necessary condition in order for the country to thrive? Obviously, we’ve found a way to work around our internecine loathing.

The truth is that a nation as vast as ours — with its myriad subcultures, each enjoying a large degree of freedom — is never going to be truly united. To believe otherwise is to embrace the thinking of a child.

However, this Kumbaya concept is more than a pathetic pipe dream. It features an insidious aspect snaking below the surface.

We see this in the earnest pleas, even demands, for liberals to shut up and support Trump. Of course, conservatives would like nothing better than for progressives to give Trump a chance (which many liberals, inexplicably, are quite willing to do).

But why would leftists agree to a right-wing agenda that goes against every principle we have, and that could lead America into chaos? Apparently, we should do so out of blind patriotism and for the sake of the vague, abstract concept of “unity.”

According to this idea, striving to be friends supersedes the threat of decimating the country.

“Yes, thousands of people are dead now because Obamacare was repealed, but at least we’re all getting along, and that’s the most important thing. Yup.”

This is clearly insane.

And aside from the specifics of the current era — where a wannabe fascist seeks to make the nation great again for white supremacists — the fact remains that striving for unity at all costs is spectacularly naïve, even destructive.

The US Constitution is the result of Founding Fathers threatening to duel each other to the death. Slavery was abolished through warfare. Civil rights came only after decades of people refusing to back down, and not settling for getting along.

One of the virtues/flaws of American culture is our hyper-competitiveness. As such, one idea or principle usually emerges triumphant. Sometimes it’s a good idea… and sometimes it’s not. Still, as we know, the moral arc is long but bends toward justice (at least we hope it does).

However, progress is delayed even more when we smile and act polite in the face of idiocy or fanaticism or demagoguery. And there is no need to do so.

Because we have never all gotten along.

And we never will.

 

 


Choose Your Dystopia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Crystal Ball

I admit that my powers of prediction are so-so.

After all, I didn’t think the racist misogynist would win. However, in my defense, I was the only progressive in the country who was merely surprised — as opposed to shocked, flabbergasted, and devastated — when Trump clinched the White House. I had always acknowledged it as an unpleasant possibility.

But now I’m going full-on psychic when I say that Trump will not turn America into a dictatorship, or provoke a nuclear war, or imprison every intellectual, or fulfill any of the other alarmist predictions you’ve seen from my fellow liberals.

For example, Trump’s wall on the Mexican border will turn out to be a couple hundred miles of extra fencing, if that.

There will be no deportation force that kicks 12 million people out of the country.

The First Amendment will remain intact.

And we can move on and on through the numerous other apocalyptic visions of what will happen in the next few years — they will not come to pass.

To be clear, this isn’t because Trump doesn’t want to do these things. Indeed, one of the more insane comments we heard during this most insane of presidential campaigns was that Trump didn’t really mean what he was saying, and was just riling up the base. Bullshit — he meant every word.

Also, let’s drop the delusion that Trump will somehow settle down once he takes the oath of office. The man has no intention of backing off on his reactionary agenda. He really does want to revoke the citizenship of people who burn the American flag.

But he won’t — mostly because he can’t. The first reason is checks and balances.

And I don’t mean that the Republican-dominated Congress is finally going to stand up for principles and standards and decency and other quaint concepts that the GOP sloughed off when it embraced Trump. It’s very cute to think so.

The only reason the Republican Congress will block Trump’s more egregious proposals is because it’s not worth the political headache. They will be too busy passing tax cuts for the rich and killing Obamacare and gutting Social Security — you know, standard GOP stuff. And they will send bills to Trump and say, “Sign here,” and he will do it, because he has no political viewpoint other than self-aggrandizement, and in any case, he will be too busy composing attack tweets.

So clearly, it’s going to be bad — just not “Here comes Hitler” bad.

upsidedownflag

 

And that leads to the chief reason why Trump will not shut down the New York Times, or make college professors sign loyalty oaths, or change the nation’s motto from “E Pluribus Unum” to “Bros before Ho’s.”

Oh, all that would be very Trumpian — and way too obvious.

You see, I know you were all ready to sign up for that Muslim registry (whether you are Muslim or not), just to stick it to the man and mess with the banality of evil and be all defiant. But there will be no Muslim registry. So then we’ll all relax and just shrug when surveillance on mosques is increased and hostility toward Muslims gets even worse. We’ll say, “Well, that’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”

And when the new Supreme Court chips away at abortion rights, we’ll say, “Whew, I though they were going to completely overturn Roe v. Wade. So I’ll take it.”

And when voting laws continue to suppress blacks and Latinos, we’ll say, “Hey, I thought he was going to trample civil rights all at once. Close call.”

You get the picture. All this shrieking that Trump is going to be an American Mussolini does us a disservice. It primes us to be relieved when climate change is ignored, or when gun control becomes even less of an issue, or when healthcare is merely as terrible as it was ten years ago.

We are setting ourselves up to embrace the miserable, simply because it is not the horrific.

The most egregious, outrageous, and overt violations of our Constitution and societal norms will not be so easy for you to spot. They rarely are. So it will require work to fight cultural deterioration. Caving in to hysteria doesn’t help.

Of course, I could be tragically wrong on this, and four years from now our nation might be a fascistic nightmare and/or in the midst of societal collapse.

What happens then?

Well, then you can turn to me, as they march us into the thunderdome, and smirk when you say, “Told you so.”

 


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.


Bang

A few weeks ago, the head of the NYPD criticized Latinos and blacks for tolerating gun violence. Commissioner Ray Kelly’s timing could not have been more exquisite, for as we all know, some nut in Colorado has decided to take part in that most American of activities: the mass shooting of strangers.

Although it’s true that “America’s Hispanic population suffers from firearm violence at rates far greater than the U.S. population overall,” the idea that Latinos are more accepting of violence is darkly hilarious. After all, most of the mass shootings that grab headlines have taken place in predominately white small towns and suburbs.

To continue reading this post, please click here. 

 

 


Listen Up

“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.”

—The First Amendment

We’ve seen some ugly incidents aimed at Latinos in the past year, such as the racist girls from Arizona and the marching band that chanted slurs.

Incidents such as these provoke outrage from people who point out, rightly, that such behavior is offensive. But then some flustered individual will defend the racist girls or the marching band or whatever by proclaiming, in full-on righteous fury, “Whatever happened to freedom of speech in this country?” The implication is that daring to criticize someone for vile behavior is antithetical to American values, and maybe even illegal.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


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