Category Archives: America

The Two Faces Of Anthony Scaramucci

The new White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, is full of shit.

However, I’m sure being a lying, unprincipled and no-integrity-having slimeball will make him a perfect fit for the Trump administration.

 

 

Race And Racism Influence Our Reaction To Gun Violence

So I was thinking about the recent shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and the reaction from the media thus far, and I gotta say – it’s time for some race-baiting.

A country can reveal it’s racism and racial bias in many ways.  Not just in the obvious ways, such as the existence or prevalence of neo-Nazis or Klansmen, etc.  But also in the collective reaction of its media and the talking points that are generated after a violent incident, depending on the race of the shooter.

I have noticed a stark contrast in the conversation which happens, depending on whether the shooter is white or black, Latino or Muslim.  In general, if the perpetrator of a violent crime is a minority, the perceived threat that they and their actions pose become something external, to be kept at bay or controlled with more policing or security measures.  If he’s a Muslim, it’s terrorism – and it brings up the issue of immigrant vetting, not to mention discussion (criticism) of Islam.  If he’s a black person, the issue which makes the media rounds, in particular on state media like Fox News, becomes about “broken homes” and “thugs.”  A Mexican guy would bring up a similar conversation about immigrants and gangs.

Which brings me to the Scalise shooter, a white man named James Hodgkinson.  The discussion thus far, and the issue of what to blame for the violence, has been concerning “political rhetoric,” as well as possible mental illness.  Conservative outlets like Fox have even had the nerve to try to blame “the political Left,” but other mainstream media sources have also raised the question – is our lack of civil discourse to blame?  Is the issue one of the mentally ill having access to firearms?  Are prescription medications making us crazy?  The problem becomes one that reflects an internal societal dysfunction, rather than an externalized threat.  The blame shifts from the shooter himself to a more generalized “have we become too hostile” or “is something making us violent” scenario.

It brings to mind the differences in approach between drug epidemics, depending on the communities that are affected.  The recent problems with opiate addiction and overdose deaths from prescription painkillers are viewed and talked about in terms of a health “crisis.”  Which is not to say that it isn’t.  But look at the difference between that and the way the crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s and other drug problems that plague inner cities (black people) are talked about and handled.  In the case of opiates, the issue is seen as one of public health, whereas with the latter, it is a dangerous scourge, and for years has been dealt with by harsh criminal penalties.

One of the problems with talking about race and racism is that far too often, the very idea of it becomes a sort of taboo that is linked with overt and obvious perpetrators.  Nobody wants to be considered racist, and what frequently comes to mind when racism is mentioned are extreme examples, such as the aforementioned Neo-Nazis or white supremacists.  What we often forget is that racism and racial bias can be more subtle and nuanced, and reflected in not only the beliefs and words of racist people themselves, but also in our general, more indirect characterizations of people’s words and actions and how they fit into our view of the way society should function.  Any honest discussion or race should include the latter.  We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this issue, and we need to be aware of how media can and often does shape our thinking and perceptions.

Photo credit:  Pixabay.com/IIIBlackhartIII

Why Are Republicans Still Silent On Trump?

I think one of the most distressing aspects of Trump’s disastrous time in the White House has been the deafening silence on the part of the Republican party. By and large, up to this point there have been very few vocal opponents of Trump and the seemingly daily shit storm that he has unleashed upon America.  The recent bombshell that he revealed highly classified information to Russia in the White House will probably be the next news story that Republicans find a way to dismiss or overlook, despite the fact that it is just one of many disasters to come out of this administration since November 8.
 
Sure, we’ve heard some criticisms from individuals like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, but on the whole, their words have been pretty weak and they have never been followed up with any concrete action. Their favorite words lately seem to be “troubling” or “concerning,” when we really should be hearing things like “impeachment” (and should have been long ago.)
 
The question that I and many others keep wondering is – when are Republicans going to put country before party and begin the process of impeachment or at least increasing pressure on Trump? The best way I have read it expressed is along the lines of – they will take action when they know it will cost them chances for re-election. Which brings me to something I have been thinking for a while – that they either don’t believe the polls that reflect plummeting approval ratings for Trump and the strong reactions we have seen at town halls across the country regarding issues like the AHCA and the Trump/Russia investigation, or they simply think they will be able to win in 2018 regardless. We have seen how the proposed Republican health care bill to replace Obamacare has enraged millions of Americans, including conservative voters at town halls. In addition, according to a recent poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans want a special prosecutor/commission to investigate Trump/Russia. Why do Republicans seem content to just conduct business-as-usual in the face of these things?
 
I know there have been a lot of observations lately about how this whole Trump/Russia scandal has many on the left becoming conspiracy theorists, but I think a lot of it is actually justified. When I look at last year’s election of Trump and couple it with the smugness and lack of concern I have seen from GOP’ers in Washington thus far, things just don’t add up.
 
What we have been told up to this point about Russia’s meddling in our election is that they hacked voter registration information, put out disinformation to hurt Clinton and used bots on social media to help shape public opinion in favor of Trump. But we are told that they didn’t actually hack or manipulate vote numbers.
 
Which I find somewhat hard to believe. We have seen and heard from our intelligence officials about how extensive and well-funded Russia’s operation was, and as it has been noted, it obviously was a success and they are continuing to interfere with our democracy. Is it really that hard to believe that they could have directly affected voting outcomes in the states that Trump surprisingly won? Were basically all of the polls really so massively wrong, or was there possibly something else at play? When I look at the big picture, I would lean towards the latter. Obviously, I don’t have proof or solid information to make that claim, but it’s just something that I have a gut feeling about. There have been some red flags raised about voting irregularities in swing states by internet sleuths on Twitter, but by and large they have been ignored by mainstream media. But, applying Occam’s Razor to the overall situation, when I think of which scenario is more likely – that almost all of the polls and pundits got it horribly wrong, and that Russia took all of these interference actions but for some reason stopped short of affecting votes cast, and that a minority of American voters really did grant an election win to a pussy-grabbing, disabled-mocking, POW-disrespecting billionaire – OR – that Russia did tamper with votes, and that Republicans in Washington know it, and have felt emboldened by it, along with the GOP’s other well-known voter suppression tactics that we know had an effect on some swing states?
 
Of course, this is all speculation on my part. And even if there was any vote tampering, we may never know. However, continued silence on Trump from Republicans, in the face of everything we have seen and continue to see daily, is a “tell” in my opinion. It has been documented that the GOP base is slowly eroding, and they have had to resort to election tactics such as gerrymandering and voter suppression in order to win elections. In my view, it isn’t that far of a stretch to imagine that our recent presidential election might have been directly tampered with by Russia, and that the Republican party is either complicit or willing to accept the favorable outcome and now expects similar results in 2018.
Photo credit:  Pixabay.com/PeteLinforth

A George Carlin Breakdown Of The Modern-Day Republican Party

I was watching this classic bit from the late, great George Carlin the other day and it dawned on me that he’s basically describing the modern-day Republican party.

I have long maintained that if you’re not a very wealthy person and still vote GOP, you are a fool.  But the party and its supporters, under the Trump administration, are also taking blatant hypocrisy to a whole new level.  For example, whining about “unprecedented obstruction” after they did the same thing for 8 years under Obama.  They break the full-of-shit meter constantly.

Add to that the religious fanatics and supposed “Christians” who are just fine and dandy with a man like Trump in the White House, and you have the modern-day GOP.

Fighting The Rise Of Fascism In America

For a long time, I was hesitant to use Hitler comparisons when debating about Trump. In short, because it has become such a cliché and it serves to negate one’s argument (Godwin’s Law.) But also because no matter how horrible or despicable Trump is, until he has taken actions such as Hitler, the comparison becomes flawed. Someone like Hitler evokes such an emotional and visceral response due to the atrocious events of the Holocaust, that comparing someone in our current society to him still sounds like a stretch.

BUT, with that said, I have no doubt that Donald Trump is a fascist, and would become Hitler-esque if he could. The following short video provides a summary of all of the ways Trump embodies fascism and how the current political climate is conducive to it.  While it was made before Trump won election, the ideas still apply:

The thing that scares me these days is the realization that someone like Hitler could happen again, as much as we would like to think it won’t. In fact, thinking that it can’t happen is a big part of why it could. The battle against the growth of fascism in our country becomes spread across several fronts, and it can be exhausting. There is the need to pressure representatives in Washington to oppose and fight Trump’s policies. There are protests that must happen, as well as boycotts and other forms of civil disobedience on the part of citizens. Remaining vocal in opposing Trump and everything he is bringing to America is of utmost importance and is one of the easiest things we can do – do NOT stop expressing outrage and disgust at what Trump is doing and what his supporters represent – even if it means losing friends or family connections. We simply can’t afford to remain silent right now.

The more abstract and difficult layer to fighting the rise of fascism here in the United States involves the current state of news and information, as well as the level of ignorance of so many citizens. Trump has his followers believing that anything that comes out of “mainstream media” is a lie or “fake news.” Which opens the door to basically limitless manipulation potential for Trump and his administration. They are able to put out bald-faced lies, and if they do it often enough, it actually becomes truth for Trump supporters. Conversely, those same people can easily be convinced that information to the contrary of what Trump’s administration says is untrue and invalid. We have seen this happen already. A recent poll suggested that over 40% of Trump supporters believe his baseless claim that there were 3 million illegal votes cast (in an election that he won.) That is simply a lie that Trump made up, and since he has such sway over his supporters, they believe it without any evidence or supporting information. Scary stuff.

I think the situation is basically hopeless for most of Trump’s ardent followers, in terms of trying to convince them of the many ways Trump’s actions and policies are problematic. When you have people supporting an administration that says facts are debatable and that they are simply presenting “alternative facts,” those people are obviously too far gone to bother reasoning or debating with. The key, then, simply becomes having more people who are opposed to Trump show up at the polls on election day than Trump supporters, as well as ensuring that the younger generation has the tools and information necessary to see the myriad ways Trump is unacceptable as POTUS. We must not let the lies and misinformation become the accepted norm. Whenever Trump lies, we need to call him on it and not let words become redefined or euphemisms (such as “alternative facts”) become commonplace. State and local level elections become crucial. Gerrymandering and voter suppression are two enemies of democracy that must be fought vigorously. Our elected representatives in Congress need to know that we are watching them, and that we expect them to vigorously oppose Trump’s agenda. If they don’t, we need to throw our support towards someone to replace them. We need to stay engaged as progressives, united against the common enemy of Trump and the GOP. We absolutely cannot afford to become cynical or apathetic, lest we allow this great nation to be completely taken over by fascist anti-patriots.

We just need to stay engaged, alert and active. There are times when it might seem insurmountable or hopeless, but we can’t allow despair to fill our hearts and minds. We need to remember that Trump does NOT have a mandate, and that a majority of Americans agree with liberal positions on most, if not all, major issues. There are more of us than them. He is a minority-elected president that was able to get through due to questionable circumstances and the antiquated electoral college system. Let’s never stop treating him as such.

#RESIST

 

Trump photo:  Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Trump’s Refugee Ban Is Shameful

Like many others, I had reservations about using this image for a meme, as I don’t want to disrespect this boy’s death.

But then I thought, it is even more disrespectful for people to ignore and shut out this child’s death and the many others like him. People need to see what is going on to give context to Trump’s shameful policy of blocking refugees from certain countries and giving Christians “priority.”

I think it’s a shame that our country would turn away refugees, when it is known that doing so can very well be a death sentence. It reflects a fundamental selfishness, as well as a deadly cowardice. We are supposed to be the “home of the brave.” Not so much, anymore, I guess.

I don’t understand how people can be proud of any of this.

 

#RESIST

 

Why I Have No Respect For Trump Supporters At This Point

I think it’s safe to say that this country is divided right now.  The campaign and election of Donald Trump, AKA President Pussy Grabber, to the highest office in the nation, has brought about a ton of lost Facebook “friends” for a lot of people, increased family infighting, and a daily onslaught of bitter back and forth and arguments on the internet between decent Americans and the Trump supporters who have poisoned the well of this great land.  For a person like myself, who already has an inclination to engage in political discussions online, it’s not as noticeable of a shift.  But for the average person, I think there has been a yuge increase in this type of adversity and discord.

This has all brought up the old debate about whether politics should get in the way of friendships, and whether people can retain their relationships even if they strongly disagree in that arena.  I have seen memes floating around which self-declare that (the meme creator) is capable of disagreeing with others, without losing or sacrificing their friendship.  While I think it is generally true that people should be able to “agree to disagree,” I think that what we have seen with the Trump campaign, and now presidency, has far transcended the boundaries of “normal” political discourse and engagement.

I probably don’t need to go through the laundry list of reasons why POTUS Pee-Pee is categorically unfit for the presidency at this point.  We have all seen and heard what Trump and his cult of followers have brought to the table.  He has cultivated and encouraged outright bigotry and racism, toxic xenophobia, degradation of  women and the disabled, and advocated violence against those who oppose him.  He invited a foreign government to interfere with our presidential election, and suggested that perhaps “2nd Amendment people” could do something about his presidential opponent.  He is probably the most polarizing political figure in modern U.S. history.  With Trump, things go beyond mundane disagreements such as how much of a social safety net we should have, or how much foreign aid we should give to any given ally.  Instead, things have become about having or not having fundamental decency as human beings.

On top of all of this, Trump’s administration has been shameless in their “gaslighting” and blatant lies to the American public.  Things that are obvious and documented, such as the  relatively unimpressive attendance at Trump’s inauguration, are being called into question by Kellyanne Conway and crew as “alternative facts” as they attempt to promote an alternate reality for their delusional horde to believe in.  It was the same when Trump mocked a disabled reporter.  He later denied it, even though it’s on tape, and there are actually people who insist that the controversy was all a result of “biased media.”  Not to mention all of the times Trump has been recorded saying something, only to later flat-out deny saying it.  Or the recent revelation that Trump has no intention of releasing his taxes, even though he had promised that he would – and, to add insult to injury – Trump incorrectly speaks for the American public and says that they are not interested in them.  The sad thing is, Trump’s remaining defenders are perfectly okay with being deceived this openly.  They apparently don’t mind being psychologically manipulated by Trump and his administration.

When it comes to expressing opinions online, I actually think it is everybody’s civic duty to be vocal in opposing things like blatant and dehumanizing bigotry, hate and degradation.  So much so, that people end up losing friends, if need be. Because remaining silent only serves to enable those that seek to strip away our rights, freedoms and dignity.  Resistance starts with vocalizing opposition.  Things like racism should be something that we frown upon, and there should be a consequence felt by those who choose to fill their hearts with hate.  The way I see it, the kinds of people that would have an issue with me voicing opposition to those things, I honestly don’t want or need in my life. I have “lost” a few “friends” on Facebook since the campaign season started, which had happened only once before (that I had noticed.)  But I don’t really feel any “loss” – rather, I feel like I am being the person I was meant to be, without resistance or static from individuals that have revealed themselves to be morally and ethically contemptible.  I have also chosen to unfollow a few people because I was just tired of seeing their asinine pro-Trump bullshit.  I simply don’t need that kind of ugliness or negativity in my life, and I think the world throws enough of that at me as it is.

I always come back to this picture that I saw a while back, during the campaign. It sums up why I don’t have any respect for the most ardent Trump supporters, which by now is pretty much anyone still standing by him.

These “forgotten people” (as they have come to be known) don’t give a rat’s ass about anybody but themselves. Why should anyone give them any respect? They spend all their time pledging allegiance to politicians and individuals that feel completely comfortable and content attacking and denigrating anyone that isn’t white, male and straight (or females that are inexplicably bound to them.) Sure, there are some minorities who for some silly reason support Trump, but they all subscribe to the white male patriarchal ideal of American culture.  They bring no actual argument or thought process to the table – it’s “woe is me, immigrants take our jobs, blah blah blah, cry cry cry.”  And it inevitably becomes deflected into “Obama this, Hillary that…”  It’s pathetic.  I have had countless arguments with Trump supporters online, and I have concluded that, at this point, they are unreachable.  There is no point.  I mean, when you have people who proclaim that they are proud to be “deplorable,” how are you supposed to reason with them?  The level of discourse from almost all Trump supporters I now encounter daily amounts to little more than trolling.  It’s “neener neener neener, we won, you lost, get over it.”  No substance, no philosophical basis (other than “hey, we’re assholes”) and lately, not even acknowledgement of basic facts that can be seen and heard by our own eyes and ears (think “alternative facts.”)

I hope people on the right realize that this is far from over. They can expect what they have seen recently, with the historic women’s marches around the world, and then some, to continue as long as a despicable man-baby who was put into office through a questionable election is in power.

#RESIST

 

 

 

Hey Laura Ingraham, I Did Nazi That Coming

Ingraham - Nazi

Back in July, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham made a gesture at the end of her Republican National Convention speech, which looked a lot like a Nazi salute.  She understandably got a lot of backlash on social media, and although it definitely looked bad to me, I thought that it could have been an awkward wave or unintentional. Besides, would someone really have the nerve to do that on national television in America, representing one of the two major political parties? I thought there might be a chance that it was sort of accidental.  Accusing someone of being a white-supremacist is a pretty heavy allegation, and it’s not something to be thrown around lightly.

However, after watching a recent video from The Atlantic which has surfaced, which shows white supremacists (I am refusing to use the passive euphemism “alt right”) offering up actual Nazi salutes and shouting “hail Trump!” at a conference in DC, any doubt that I had regarding Ingraham’s gesture has begun to fade. It simply looks like the exact same thing that Ingraham did, and there is no question as to the intention behind it, among the racists at that conference.  There are plenty of people who deny that Ingraham was actually performing a Nazi salute, and they often provide still frames of other famous leaders mid-wave which appear to look the same as what Ingraham did.  However, when you watch the video of her full gesture in context, it doesn’t look like just a coincidence.

How has the GOP come to this? I mean, full-blown white supremacists now? We have known there to be racists in the Republican party for years, but these days they aren’t even trying to hide it. Scary times, indeed.

#Resist

Donald Trump – An American Disgrace

Donald Trump - An American Disgrace

America, you’re never, ever, ever going to live this one down.  This repugnant, embarrassing, narcissistic, arrogant and disgraceful bully is the man you thought belonged in the White House.  And the photo above represents just one of a mountain of things which should have disqualified him from the presidential race, long before voting even began.

Thanks for making us the laughing stock of the world, Trump voters.  As George Carlin said, “garbage in, garbage out.”

Trump - Selfish Ignorant Citizens

Jon Stewart Is Letting Trump Voters Off The Hook Too Easily

Jon Stewart recently did an interview on “CBS This Morning”  and was asked about his thoughts concerning the recent election of Donald Trump to the presidency.  I am seeing a lot of this conversation being shared online, with a highlight on Stewart’s claims of “liberal hypocrisy” regarding viewing all Trump voters as a monolith of racists.  He makes the point that a lot of people he knows that aren’t afraid of blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, etc. voted for Trump because of reasons other than his racist rhetoric, and the message is being taken that we shouldn’t call all Trump voters racist.  The interview can be found here.

Well, nope! Jon Stewart is wrong on this point. I know some people want everyone to get along, and unify and settle our differences, but in my opinion he is letting Trump voters off the hook too easily. Racism is not something that exists in absolute forms – that is, it’s not a simple black and white, yes or no question. There are varying degrees of racism that people can have and display. And racism is not just defined by one’s behavior, but by the behavior they tolerate. And at the end of the day, Trump voters saw a man who disparaged Muslims, Mexicans, the disabled and women, and ran a campaign promising to register people based on their religion, or outright banning their immigration to the country. And those Trump voters said, by voting for that man – “hey, that’s okay with me.” And that is despicable, and we shouldn’t forget it.

It’s like when we had slavery. Not everyone was personally a slave owner, but the people who supported those in power who did own slaves were in their own way supporting that practice. So, by voting for Trump, people validated and supported all of his divisive rhetoric and the campaign promises he made (whether he actually fulfills all of them or not.)

I understand that people have an instinctual desire to get along with other people, and it’s easier to brush differences under the rug than to expose them and talk about them honestly. But the election of Trump is and should be viewed as an outrage. Those who voted for him displayed absolutely no respect or empathy for any of the groups he routinely disparaged. So, we’re divided. And I don’t know if it’s even possible that we can “heal” that division. But that’s reality, and we shouldn’t hide from it. Hiding from and denying reality are part of the reasons that led to a president-elect Trump in the first place.

Trump Voters Racism

 

Photo credit:  Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons