Category Archives: America

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

 

 

President Trump And The Beginnings Of Hate (On Both Sides)

I felt it the other day.  I think it was the day after Trump’s election to the presidency, which sent shock waves throughout America and the rest of the world.  But I felt it.  It was something that I have to try hard not to let grow into fruition.  It was the beginnings of hate.

Often I have taken a look at the world, filled with war and conflict, and asked myself the question in the abstract – how and why can humans be so cruel to each other?  How do people get to the point where they are willing to commit murder against other people on a mass scale, as in war?

It begins with dehumanization.  It starts with not seeing other people as human beings, and rather, something lesser than what you are and therefore, not deserving of the full respect that you might offer someone else.  And I feel that, on both sides, Trump’s ascendance to the presidency of the United States has opened the floodgates and legitimized hate and dehumanization.

Whatever Trump ends up trying to do policy-wise, it can’t be argued that he ran  a campaign that fed upon, stoked anger against, and debased “the others,” whether it be immigrants (Mexican or Muslim,) disabled people, women or gays.  We saw a rise in hate crimes during Trump’s campaign, and since election night, an even more noticeable spike.  This is because people have become emboldened by his legitimization of dehumanization and bullying.  If he can be president, with all of his shameful behavior and rhetoric, people start to feel less inhibited and more validated in their own misguided anger and bullying instincts.

Even before Trump won, as I followed his campaign and through all of his despicable behavior and words, I asked myself – do I hate this man?  And the answer was – absolutely.  I despise Trump.  It’s not a pleasant feeling, and it’s not a place I like to stay in, but it’s the truth.  It’s possible that this could change, but highly unlikely.  To my knowledge, Trump has only once ever uttered a half-assed “apology” for any of his disgusting antics.  I might be more open to forgiving the things I can’t stand about Trump in time, but it would have to start with him publicly acknowledging the damage of his words and actions, and atoning for them.

Trump’s election repulsed me, and instantly made me realize just how many of my “fellow” country men and women are okay with all of the dehumanizing behavior that Trump stands for.  Someone on Twitter put it best, as I paraphrase – “Trump’s supporters might not all be racist, but they decided that racism was not a deal-breaker.”  Right away, a division started happening in my mind – Trump voters vs. non-Trump voters.  And then I realized, that’s how it begins.  It begins with looking at another person and seeing some aspect that makes them lesser in your mind.  A thought that came to my mind was how, during war, people look at others and see “the enemy” and something to be reviled and destroyed.  And that’s what was happening to me.  It’s something I struggle with.  Because I am extremely angry.  I do think that there are some people who live in this country that are more morally and conscientiously evolved than others.  And I often wish our lives didn’t have to be impacted by those that want to go backwards through decades of societal progress.

Trump’s victory reinforced the knowledge that we are seemingly irreparably divided.  There have been many times in the past when I have thought that life might be better if the United States broke apart somehow.  Meaning, in my case, maybe California or the West Coast could secede from the Union and become a nation in its own right.  This all sounds crazy for many, but right now it is an idea that suddenly sounds desirable for a lot of people.  That’s how divisive this election has become.  Maybe this will fade in time, or maybe it will grow into an actual movement.  We shall see.  But, whatever happens, from here on out, it is clear that I will have to struggle to contain and channel my anger and loathing into something constructive.  It will be a tough road, but I don’t want to become that which I despise about Trump.

 

Photo credit:  Pixabay/PeteLinforth

 

What Does It Mean To Be A Patriot?

The whole situation with Colin Kaepernick and the way some of his detractors are slamming him for being “unpatriotic” because of his refusal to stand during the national anthem has had me thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a “patriot.”

To me, being a patriot means more than obediently falling in line and saluting a flag or standing for the national anthem.  Yes, those are ways that we show our love for our country as common and shared expressions, but they shouldn’t be used as a litmus test for deciding who is a patriot and who is not.

The real test of patriotism, in my opinion, is how much a person ascribes to the ideals that their country represents, how much they practice them in daily life and how much they are willing to defend those ideals, not just from outside forces but also from the very government institutions that we create which are supposed to uphold and enforce those ideals. As soon as those institutions begin to act in ways that are not in sync with the values that a country represents, I believe it is the duty of citizens to respond.

Which is exactly what Kaepernick has been trying to do, although many people have chosen to stick with the (in their eyes, disrespectful) imagery of him sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, rather than actually listen to his grievances.  With any protest or refusal to salute or pay respect to a national symbol or song, there needs to be consideration of the context of the intended statement.  If Kaepernick were simply trying to be ornery and troll others, and if he didn’t offer any legitimate reason for refusing to stand, then there could be an argument made that he’s just trying to piss everyone off by refusing to respect a song that has become treasured by millions of Americans who love their country.  It would still be his right, but he would probably look like a douchebag to pretty much everyone (except maybe other trolls) and it wouldn’t be as easy to defend him.

But Kaepernick has offered very clear and coherent public statements about exactly why he refuses to stand.  He is protesting what he sees as clear indications that people of color are being systematically and disproportionately harassed, injured or killed at the hands of corrupt police departments.  And we have seen some pretty obvious instances and reports that support that stance.  In addition to the several graphic videos that have emerged within the past few years which depict excessive force (or outright murder) being perpetrated on black men and women at the hands of police, there have been damning reports from the Department Of Justice which have revealed bias against minorities among police departments in major cities.  These are American citizens that are being hurt or killed unjustly at the hands of government institutions that are funded by taxpayers and are there supposedly to protect us.  The concept of what America stands for might vary from person to person, but I would pretty confidently say that injustice, and citizens’ deaths at the hands of police, are not fundamental values that most proud Americans would say are representative of their country.

I think the controversy surrounding Kaepernick does reveal deep-seated racial divisions within our country.  Because we have seen and heard countless instances of white citizens complaining about the “tyranny” of government, and the public response from most Americans towards them is very different than their views of Kaepernick.  They actually present themselves as “true patriots” while the government is this big bad entity that exists to quash our rights.  A big reason that the second amendment is so adamantly treasured and defended by gun rights groups is that it represents the ability of American citizens to protect themselves from the threat of the government stepping all over their rights and lives.  The fact that Kaepernick is a wealthy and famous athlete in the NFL compounds some of the resentment towards him, (which is wrong too,) but I think at the end of the day, his skin color and culture (have you seen his ‘fro lately?) is a major reason that he is not seen as a patriot while other (white) citizens who complain about the government are.

Patriot_Defend_EdwardAbbey

It is easy to be a “patriot” when all that means is flying an American flag outside your door or having it as your profile picture on social media.  But how “patriotic” is a person really being, when they choose to ignore the legitimate grievances of their fellow American citizens?  That’s not true patriotism, in my eyes.  American author Edward Abbey once said “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”  This is exactly what Kaepernick, in his own way, is doing.

 

 

Colin Kaepernick photo: by Au Kirk; cropped by Moe Epsilon [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Compassion And Giving Are Not Un-American

Call me a shameless liberal, or even a socialist…But I don’t believe that helping people in need (such as government food assistance) or having compassion for people that may be here illegally, in a desperate attempt at a better life on this Earth, are bad things.

It seems that the concepts of giving and offering services to those less fortunate have been made into bad words by the political right. Instead of focusing on the ways in which people can help one another and we can invest in our own country, the right refers to those people in need as “freeloaders” and liberals as “bleeding hearts,” and even twists things around to make it seem as if helping people actually harms them. But I don’t believe this.

True, there may be some abuse of the system. But there is abuse of the system in EVERY aspect of life. There are always going to be cheaters in life and those who try to take advantage of others. But, overall, I think people getting government assistance really do need it, and would rather be in a better position to provide for themselves and their families. A lot of these people are active military personnel. And offering them help doesn’t harm them, it just puts them in a better position to do for themselves.

What happened to the idealists? The leaders who tried to bring us a message of love, compassion, and service unto others? Nowadays, we have people like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh who simply spew hate and venom at every chance they get. How anyone could look up to these people is beyond me. And, other than Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, I haven’t really found anyone on the left that inspires me politically.

I don’t mind paying higher taxes if the money goes to helping others. As it is, my money goes towards a lot of things that I wouldn’t prefer, such as illegitimate wars and corporate tax cuts for companies whose CEO’s give themselves insane salaries and bonuses. So, I’m not expecting all of this compassion to come from the wealthy, and I am willing to do my part. I think, in the long run, it really serves our country, and ultimately ourselves, if we invest in each other.

Photo credit – www.freedigitalphotos.net – PinkBlue