Friday, November 11, 2016

Liberal Kitsch

I've been spending a lot of time on Facebook and reading newspapers online trying to adjust to our new reality. I am petrified about everything: Trump's cabinet, a Republican government, Giuliani (the worst of the worst, and then some), nuclear codes, global warming, the alt-right, racist violence, school bullying, spineless Democrats, etc.
Though I don't have any, I'm very worried about the children. Imagine the powerlessness of children who witness such results and are supposed to continue trusting and obeying the adults who make such terrible decisions.
I am also suffering from echo chamber fatigue. It is amazing to me how social media (Facebook, Twitter) amplifies and distorts our sense that we are among like-minded citizens, all clamoring for the same thing and no one else can hear us. I think I know one person who may be a Trump sympathizer, and he hides it. One person among 800 "friends" on Facebook.
And I am also disturbed and deeply annoyed by some reactions on the liberal side.
As always happens in moments of crisis, the easiest shorthand for expressing ourselves tends to come wrapped in pat, sentimental empty gestures. Instant sainthood is bestowed (to yourself, by yourself) by changing your avatar or wearing some sort of symbol of solidarity with the nightmare du jour. This is (still) a free country and knock yourselves out, but this does not work for me. I don't take well to sentimentality.
I hope I do not offend my well-meaning friends who feel the same way I do about Trump, but choose to express themselves differently. Calls for togetherness, prayer and compassion may be what is needed; they don't do much for me. I find some of the most impassioned exhortations for solidarity easy to preach from the comfort of our devices, but not as easy to follow through. And their capital sin: they're corny.
It's liberal kitsch.
For instance, that safety pin symbol. Nice sentiment; by all means wear it, but I am not going to wear a safety pin in order to demonstrate my self-serving, self-righteous moral superiority. Instead, and I sure hope it doesn't come to pass, I will try to intervene if I see bigoted attacks in action. In fact, I shared a useful primer on how to do that on, where else, Facebook.
I have been on the receiving end of people saying idiotic and hateful things about Jews, and sometimes Mexicans more than once. It always feels like a kick in the gut, sucks the air right out of you, makes your knees go weak. I used to kind of let it go, or deflate it with a joke, or be too rattled to put a stop to it. Sometimes I politely disagreed. But ever since a Mexican student told me after 9/11 that Jews who worked at the Twin Towers had called each other the night before in order to save their own skin, I decided that I will not tolerate politely this kind of bullshit anymore. This applies to all hateful rhetoric.

I am happy to march against Trump. I am happy to do whatever it takes to pressure this new government to respect human dignity and not destroy the world, but when people say #notmypresident, I have to part company with them. Imagine for a second if Hillary had won and Trump supporters came up with #notmypresident. Liberals would collapse in fits of outrage.
I beg you all to grow up. Hillary won the popular vote, NOT BY A LANDSLIDE. Trump won the Electoral College by a wide margin. He won legitimately, and democracy means that we accept the result. We may not accept the man, his policies, or his party and we should protest and do everything in our power to counter and oppose their influence. They don't have consensus and they should be reminded of it every second of their lives. But we were aghast when Trump intimated that he would not concede, and now we are acting like him?
We need to make our voices heard, but let's be tough and smart, like Harry Reid. Let's hope the Democrats will grow a spine and some cojones and make it as hard for these people to govern as they did for Obama these last 8 years.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

I Know What Peña Nieto Was Thinking

In which I will attempt to surmise what Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was "thinking" when he decided to invite Donald Trump to Mexico.

Disconnected from reality by his own infatuation with power and surrounded by fawning yes men, all EPN could think of was how to reverse his precipitous freefall in popularity polls.
How could he make the Mexican people stop arguing about his very recent college plagiarism scandal? How could he make them forget the new $2 million condo in Miami used by his wife, real estate hoarder and ex-telenovela star, Angélica Rivera, a house that is connected AGAIN to a construction company that has been awarded big projects by her husband's government?
How to make them forget their tsuris with the recent devaluation of the peso, or the horrific insecurity and violence all over the country, or the 43 massacred students at the beginning of his mandate that still no one has been found accountable for? How to stop Mexicans from deploring and relentlessly mocking his obvious lack of presidential stature, and his incompetence?

Reflecting that he needs to recover his mojo, a simple idea arises in his little mind (if not in the mind of some sibilant advisor):
"Who do Mexicans hate more than me?"
He didn't have to look very far.
"Bingo! I'm going to read señor Donald Trump the riot act. Hell, I'm gonna lay down the law to the guy I compared to Mussolini and Hitler, right here in our country. That'll show that bunch of ingrates, the Mexican people, who's their daddy. I will go down in history as the guy who stood up to Donald Trump."

Alas, yesterday Peña Nieto went down in history as the guy who went down on Donald Trump.

In one fell swoop, as many Mexican commentators have lamented, he did what no one had been able to do yet: he made Trump look presidential, made his cockamamie idea of a wall a feasible notion, he legitimized his racist rhetoric and treated him like a head of state. If the invitation in itself was not humiliation enough, Peña Nieto got totally played and humiliated by Trump, the superhuman troll, who then came back to Arizona to a triumphant rally where he espoused his "immigration policy", which is nothing but the dangerous racial scapegoating of a demagogue.
Peña Nieto, other than perhaps privately dying of shame at having lost his shriveled manhood to the human Cheeto, will suffer no real consequences. As per the Mexican political system, he is enshrined in power for 6 years, since there is no reelection (two long years to go),  during which he, his vulgar wife and his corrupt cronies will continue trading on their shady deals and their violent contempt for their country. Then he will vanish into the sunset like the rest of all the other bad presidents we've had (most of them from his party, the P.R.I.), yet another forgotten blemish in our history. There will be potholed streets with his name in sleepy towns empty of Mexicans who will be found in the US looking for dignity.

I'm not as flummoxed as some by the logic of Mexican political thinking, because, in essence, it is very simple. It goes something like this:

"The Mexican people are idiot infants that are better off not knowing the truth. We have always lied and talked down to them and pretended that we govern, when in fact, all we do is steal and take long (six-year) baths of intoxicating power. We have always staged this dog and pony show that they innocently call "democracy", and pontificated with meaningless, highfaluting words, communicating nothing true and nothing essential.
In fact, we're a bunch of deeply corrupt cynics who only care about fattening our bank accounts and safeguarding our uncontested, untouched, magical impunity. We steadfastly refuse to work for the improvement of our country, let alone reform its putrid institutions, which we deliberately keep inefficient, bureaucratized, moth-ridden and bloated, so we can continue the status quo.
We conspire with the rich, to whom we give monopolistic powers so they can prop us up, whether they are drug cartels, the richest man in the world, or privately owned media monopolies. We buy the votes of the poor with free sandwiches and sodas. We don't give a flying fuck about the smart, hard-working people who love this country and have truly good ideas to make it better. We just smother everything in bureaucracy and impediments.
We deliberately keep people in poverty and ignorance so that they don't get any ideas. Through our brilliance at entrenching corruption at almost every level of social interaction, we have created a nation ruled by distrust. We must admit, though, that despite the fact that almost everything we do conspires against progress and against greatness, Mexicans somehow still manage to be productive and creative. Imagine what they could do without us."

This visit is no different. Like all their other farces, this is pretend statesmanship that is not fit to belong to a second rate circus, just like the president's guest.

Which brings us to the uncanny parallels between Trump and the current Mexican President:

• Both are playing pretend at being presidential
• Both have been irresponsibly propped up by vastly corrupt and incompetent political parties.
• Both are constitutionally incapable of true leadership, let alone statesmanship.
• Both are crooks.
• Both inherited their power from their families (Trump financially, and Peña Nieto politically).
• Both are uneducated, anti-intellectual and married to uneducated, flashy floozies (one steals speeches, the other traffics in houses).
• Both have had more than one wife, and children by several.
• Both have unsavory friends. (For Trump, see Christie, Chris; Manafort, Paul et al. For Peña see Castillo, Alfredo).
• Both have ridiculous hair, though Trump wins this contest hands down.

So this little nightmare scenario we witnessed yesterday is nothing but two impostors getting together to convince people that they are real.

Finally, this is what I imagine transpired behind closed doors at their meeting:

Nice hair!
Let me cut to the chase: My wife wants an apartment in a Trump Tower. Any Trump Tower will do. We'll pay for the wall if you make it happen.
Deal! Believe me, you're gonna be very happy. It's gonna be yuge.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Trump: A Disqualifying Event

The pathetic spectacle to which we are hostage right now as a country - having to endure a presidential candidate who is mentally unfit for office, is not a coincidence. It is the direct result of eight years of Republican Party policies. They courted the fringe, abandoned every pretense of service to the American people, made President Obama's job hell, did whatever it took to cater to corporate interests even in the face of unspeakable atrocities (NRA) and care about nothing except power. Their cravenness makes Frank and Claire Underwood look like Mother Theresa.
The Republicans made this lice-infested bed, and now we all have to lie on it. We are now the laughing stock (if not the waking nightmare) of the world. But here we are. That Hillary Clinton, whether you like her or not, has to campaign against this carnival barker  in her historic opportunity to become the first female president of the United States, is sad and unfair. This shameful humiliation is the sole responsibility of the Republican Party. The only consolation is to watch them self-destruct and slide deeper into indignity, absurdity, and shamelessness as they try to contain the demons they've unleashed: besides Trump's unbridled lunacy, the worse evils of xenophobia, racism, violence, divisiveness, and hatred.
My only consolation is knowing that anyone who is remotely associated with, and pandering to, Trump has soiled their reputations forever. The nefarious Rudolph Giuliani, Chris Christie; any Republican that has stood by and encouraged this to happen is a coward and will live in infamy for eternity.
But what kind of delusion are they under? It is barely understandable how any sentient being can support such a fake conman, regardless of how desperate they are to vote against their own self-interest, blinded by his simplistic bombast, his fake hair, fake tan and fake money. But career politicians who should know better? What in God's green earth is in it for them? Cabinet posts? Shady business deals? A lifetime supply of Trump steaks? Is their resentment at the legacy of a twice-elected Black president so pernicious as to aim to dismantle the entire nation? A legacy that is all the more admirable considering that they did everything in their power to thwart it.
Make no mistake: a lot of this particular descent into madness is the result of racism. Therefore, it must sting even more deeply to watch the Obamas sail into history with dignity and grace, having achieved some monumental changes like Obamacare and gay marriage. I think history will reciprocate. When Giuliani and Christie are relegated to the forgotten clown corner of the circus tent, the Obama presidency will be remembered as one of the greatest in history, his shortcomings notwithstanding.

On the one hand, Trump is a gift to the Democrats; they can't possibly lose this election as things stand right now (although one fears that they are entirely capable of doing so. Just look at Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her crew).
On the other hand, the presidential election should be between two feasible candidates. It took Trump to encourage Russia to spy on Clinton for pundits to scream that this is a disqualifying event, when everything he has done from day one should have disqualified him from the job long ago. It's like living in an alternate reality where reason, common sense, decency and integrity do not exist. The Republicans attribute everything to spin. "He was joking", "she didn't steal the speech". This deliberate denial of reality by the right is frightening.

I assume someone will write the definitive history of how this happened to us. It seems like we blinked and woke up in the middle of this nightmare. Let this be an eye-opener to politicians on both sides of the aisle. This is what happens by ignoring the reality of the vast majority of people in this country, who struggle and dream of a standard of living that doesn't exist anymore. This is what happens when, by inaction and cynicism they encourage the existence of an uneducated nation who gets their world view from reality shows and talk radio instead of a robust public education.

It's in the hands of the American people to save our own country, even the world, from disaster. This time, it means trouncing Trump so overwhelmingly that he becomes, in his parlance, a yuge loser, the biggest loser of all time.  If you need to hold your nose because you are a conservative, or a Bernie supporter, or you just hate Hillary's guts, then do it. But sitting this one out because you are apolitical, or too ideologically pure, is not an option. And voting for Trump or any third party is suicidal.
Trump must be destroyed, and the only safe way to do it is by voting for Hillary Clinton. So register to vote, whatever your persuasion, and let's make sure Trump gets nowhere near the White House.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Donald Trump, Or Panic in the Streets.

Only events that spark the utmost consternation can make the Grande Enchilada come out of her lair. To wit: the mass hysteria surrounding the ascendancy of human Cheeto and giant dingleberry, Donald Trump, and his possible election to the Presidency of the United States.
The headlines from the (liberal) media run from astounded exclamations that the biggest search on Google is how to move to Canada, to dire comparisons to the Nazis, the rise of fascism in America, the fall of the American Empire, Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns, etc.
People on social media, when not dying of horrific glee over Ted Cruz's flying goobers, are tearing their hair out in astonishment and fear. It's understandable. No one in their right mind can fathom how we got to this place. Oh, wait. Yes, we can!
This is nothing but the end result of decades of deliberate policies by the Republican party to court and feed the most extreme right wing factions and to fight anything resembling common sense, sound governance and social cohesion (gun control, climate change, education, infrastructure, etc). For decades, they have devoted themselves to obstructing any and all paths to progress, have impeded President Obama to do his job in a racist, disrespectful and contemptible way and they have bowed down to the insanity of a lunatic fringe whose ranks they have helped swell, at the expense of their own survival. I am convinced that part of their hysteria stems from their inability to cope with the reality of a Black president. Besides that, they should have known they were sealing their fate when they invited an ignorant malignancy like Sarah Palin to run for Vice-president. This very well may have cost them the election. But instead of learning their lesson, they doubled down on their contempt for the citizenry. An abysmal disconnect exists between their ideology and most of American society, but they act like the fringe are the majority.
The Republicans only have themselves to blame and they deserve everything that has befallen them and that is yet to come. The rise of Donald Trump is a direct consequence of their willful descent into xenophobia, racism, nationalism, anti-intellectualism, contempt for society, venality and stupidity. They allowed this clown to run on their platform, probably thinking that it was better than if he ran as an independent, and then they were unable to control him. They stood by, happy about all the buzz they were getting, and now it's too late to stop him. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are now trying to reverse the damage with speeches about human decency and the party of Lincoln. Guess what? It's too fucking late! Where were they when Trump started uttering his idiotic, yet mediagenic, racist statements? Now the Republican party has neo-Nazis and the KKK in their corner.
To be honest, my schadenfreude is preventing me from running for the hills. I am almost hoping he wins: I want to witness with my own eyes the precipitous collapse of the American empire.  It's like being alive at the time of Caligula.
Will Trump win? Only if reasonable, decent people from both ends of the political spectrum fail to do their duty to vote against him. This country must unite against him. Meanwhile, Southern Democrats are not bothering to show up in big numbers at the primaries. Apparently, if they don't get homegrown heroes like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton or Albert Gore, they won't give the time of day to two candidates from the North. I certainly hope that Trump's results will scare Democrats enough to haul their asses to the rest of the primaries, whoever they decide to vote for. In the case of the Republican party, the options are so frightening that there is nothing to hope for.
Only in America presidential elections resemble a sports' season (in hell). There are arcane rules to consider and nationwide tournaments to win or lose. So everyone is losing sleep over the odds of which one of the Democratic candidates is more likely to win against Trump or Cruz.
I know a lot of people think that Bernie doesn't have a chance in hell of being President. Perhaps.
But I am tired of deploying the useful vote. And so, I'm voting for Bernie in the primaries and you can blame me for the death of America all you want. He represents my political beliefs and what I want for this country better than anyone else. And while I have no doubt that Hillary will be a capable president and will support her if she wins the nomination, I want the Democratic party to start acting like the liberals they are supposed to be, and not like Republicans Lite (Obama included).
Now, to vanquish Trump and the obscurantist candidates of the GOP, and even maybe return their party to something resembling dignity, moderate Republicans should feel comfortable enough voting for Hillary Clinton: she is closer to them than the fascist bozos on the GOP circus. And everybody who has half a brain cell, regardless of political affiliation, should make sure to punish the Republican party at the ballots (provided they are allowed to vote once they get there).
When in an unprecedented election year the two most galvanizing candidates are perceived as outsiders and nonpoliticians, and they attract frenzied crowds, it's because the American people on left and right are tired of politics as usual. Politicians in Washington have been oblivious to the deep fraying of trust, which is now literally non-existent, between the American public and themselves. They allowed Citizens United to happen, they continue to cater to lobbies, they have allowed this nation to become a third world country, yet they didn't see it coming.
The Republicans thought Trump was a joke that would quickly implode, and never in a million years did Hillary imagine that Bernie Sanders, the old socialist hippie Jew from Vermont, would be a serious opponent. Well, guess what? Hell froze over.
I think a lot of this has to do with the internet age and the democratization of the media. News and their attending opinions travel much faster than the tortoises in Washington can keep their fingers on. As evidenced by the volatility of certain public debates, like the political correctness mass hysteria on campuses, and the way people take to social media to campaign for their candidates, it is clear that the people have left the traditional way of acting around elections in the dust. The establishment media tried to ignore and obscure the rise of Bernie Sanders with every weapon in their formidable arsenal. It didn't work. The Sanders campaign worked around it quite successfully. Donald Trump has done the same. So the media is now having a field day feeding panic into the hearts of liberals and into the hearts of beleaguered white people who live in suburbs and think immigrating predator zombies are out to get them.
The establishment doesn't know what hit it. To quote Grumpy Cat: "Good."
The American people are so fed up with the status quo, the entrenched corruption, the political dynasties, a mythically robust economy that only seems to succor the rich, that they are willing to vote either for a millionaire megalomaniac or a crusty old socialist. It's an interesting time to be alive.