Category Archives: America

Obama Vs. Trump Regarding NFL Player Protests

At one time, a mere 10 months ago or so, America had an intelligent, articulate, thoughtful and decent man in the White House.

Now we have a white supremacist buffoon.  Lord, what have we done?  When you contrast the viewpoints of Barack Obama and Donald Trump regarding Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players’ refusal to stand for the national anthem as a protest against police brutality, the reality hits home like a brick.

 

 

 

 

If You’re Latino And Still Support Trump…What The Fuck Is Wrong With You?

Trump’s recent pardon of racist asshole Joe Arpaio crossed a line for me, in terms of how I look at the fact that there are Latinos who inexplicably continue to support him.  Up to this point, Trump’s racism, xenophobia and general-assholery has been obvious to anyone without blinders on, but I could always see how self-hating, ignorant Latinos could find a way to look around all of that and think “Trump’s my guy.”

When I think of what goes through the mind of Latinos who are pro-Trump, I think about, of course, the familiar escape mechanisms.  When Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” he was talking about illegals, don’t you know?  If you’re an American citizen, he’s not targeting you.  When he degrades disabled people, women or Muslims – well, if you’re not one of those people, and completely lack empathy and decency, I can see how you wouldn’t care.  I can understand how some conservative Latinos might think that when Trump says “Make America Great Again,” he’s talking about an America that fully includes them.  Which isn’t true, but I get how a person can be deluded into thinking so.

But, unless a person is completely ignorant of what exactly landed former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in violation of the law, I don’t understand how certain Latinos can not only silently accept the brazen racism-acceptance of Trump’s pardon, let alone continue to wear their dumbass MAGA hats and vocally support it.

The list of egregious human rights violations and affronts to decency that Arpaio committed is a long one, but for most of them, if you weren’t an inmate in one of his jails or an illegal immigrant, I can see how you might not particularly care.  After all, Arpaio was only being a monumental dick to incarcerated criminals or people who weren’t American citizens, right?  I guess in some people’s fucked up mindsets, those people deserve to be treated as shittily as possible, so who cares?

But Arpaio was also guilty of targeting and detaining people who were merely “suspected” of being in the country illegally.  If you’re Latino, THAT POTENTIALLY MEANS YOU, ASSHOLE.  I suppose if you have features that allow you to pass for a Caucasian, which many Latinos do, you might not think it’s you.  But ultimately – yes, it still is.  Because as much as you might not want to think so – at the end of the day, after all of the darker people have been harassed – they will come for you next, once they realize that you are of Latin heritage.  You will never, ever fully “fit in” with the racist, conservative white people you want so badly to be.  As much as you might hope, you’re not one of them.  You are only fooling yourself into thinking so.

Of course, you could simply be a glutton for punishment, and actually enjoy being treated like a second-class citizen.  In which case, hey good luck.  But if not, ask yourself, what the hell happened to you in the course of your life, that made you such a self-hating sellout who wants so badly to be accepted, that you would continue to support racist assholes like Trump and Arpaio?  One thing that the age of Trump has really exposed is the degree to which people can delude themselves – into thinking they aren’t racist, for example.  But it also includes people who fool themselves into thinking that Trump really gives half a shit about them, which couldn’t be further from the truth.  This is no better exemplified than by Latinos who think Trump and his supporters view them as equals.

 

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

Yes, Anyone Can Be Racist. But It’s More Damaging When White People Do It.

The terror attack in Charlottesville last Saturday, in which Heather Heyer was killed while protesting against racism, and Trump’s subsequent blaming of “many sides” and apparent sympathizing with white supremacists, has spurred a spirited back-and-forth about the topic of racism in America.  And, you know what that means.  Lotta bullshit making the rounds on social media.

One thing I see being said whenever a topic like this is brought up, often by racism deniers, is that there are racists in minority groups as well as among white people.  The point being that it sort of “cancels out” the racism of Neo-Nazis and other assorted tiki-torch wielding assholes, since minorities can hate too.  As a rebuttal to that flawed argument (which I will get to in a moment,) there are also some people who say things like “black people can’t be racist.”  Which, while I understand what they mean when those people say that, I disagree with.  At least in a literal sense of the word, in a hypothetical, neutral universe (and not the current American reality in which we live.)

The sad truth about racism is that yes, anyone can be racist.  Anyone can be a bigot.  Anyone can view and treat others differently (often worse) based on their skin color.  As a Latino, some of the most racist stuff I have heard has been said by Latinos about other races, including about other Latinos.  I remember when I worked as a waiter, talking to one of my co-workers and hearing her refer to “wetties,” and thinking that it was kind of weird to hear a Latino disparaging other Latinos in such a manner.  That kind of self-hate helps to explain the fact that there are some minorities who embrace and defend racists like Trump.  That fact is often pointed to by Trump apologists as a means of demonstrating “see, he’s not racist, minorities like him too.”  But that’s bullshit too.

However, while everybody can be racist, it carries much more weight when white people do it.  And that is due to the fact that our society is still dominated by a white patriarchy.  We often have the illusion of diversity, on television and in the corporate world, but at the core, America has a long way to go when it comes to different races being represented equally and having comparable influence.  For example, you can look at professional sports.  The NFL and NBA in particular are dominated by players of color.  But the situation is much different when it comes to the makeup of the mega-wealthy owners.  Same with corporate America.  Yes, the workforce might be made up of seemingly diverse assortment of races, religions, genders and sexual orientations.  But take a look at the profile of the upper levels of management and CEO’s.  Different story there.  Progress is being made, but we’re not there yet.

When white people are racist, it potentially resonates with a far greater number of people, including people in power or of influence, who can set policy that affects millions of lives.  Keep in mind, this is not simply a “white people thing” in the abstract sense.  It’s simply because numerically, America is still dominated by whites.  When black people or other minorities are racist towards white people, it might be repugnant and offensive, but the difference is, they’re “punching up,” not down.  And that’s the key distinction.  The ironic thing is, white supremacists like the ones in Charlottesville often indirectly make this argument.  Because one of their fears and grievances is that they’re becoming outnumbered.  As if that’s somehow a bad thing (it is.)  The truth is, they know that they are privileged and they’re pissed off because they see minorities making gains, and see it as a threat to their dominance.

Racism is an ugly thing, and people often don’t like to talk about it.  But I think it’s critical that we not only talk about it, but do so with honesty and without fear of saying stuff that makes people uncomfortable.  So yes, in the abstract, anyone can be racist.  But in the actual American society we live in, not all racism is of equal weight.  Far from it, in fact.

 

Photo credit:  Pixabay.com/OpenClipart-Vectors

 

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