Friday, June 22, 2018

No Hugging

It is amazing to see how far our country has sunk, essentially overnight. Where we recently opposed totalitarian states and the dictators who led them, we now find our leaders congratulating and flattering them, and doing them special favors. We have made enemies of our friends and friends of our enemies. The freedom that we once boasted of, that we were so proud of, is now just a joke -- the rule of law that preserved our freedom is reduced to whims and mob rule and bends to serve the greed of the privileged.

The story on the Mexican border is unbelievable. People coming for asylum, coming to the border and having their children taken away, families jailed. Crying babies, weeping mothers, the tragedy is unthinkable -- there is nothing more fundamental than the bond between child and mother. The President calls them animals and says they are going to "infest" our country, he implies that they are criminals, which justifies imprisoning them for wanting to come here. Now he has signed an executive order keeping families together in their cages, but nobody even knows where thousands of children are who have already been separated. These are people hoping to come into the United States for their safety, mostly, fleeing Central American countries that are madhouses of violence -- it doesn't even make the news here, crowded off the front pages by our domestic lies and depravity. The inhumanity of it all is unbelievable.

Here's what the President said last night, on Twitter:
We have to maintain strong borders or we will no longer have a country that we can be proud of – and if we show any weakness, millions of people will journey into our country.
This is a perverse way to look at the United States of America, a sad and dangerous perspective to take: this is un-American. We can be proud of a country with all kinds of people in it. Offering help to those who need it is not weakness. And this is not the worst of what he has said, not by a long shot.

But as people keep saying, the President is not the problem. The problem is that millions of Americans think this the way it should be. American Evangelical Christians are lovin' this, it is their dream come true, we are finally implementing the teachings of Jesus here on earth. Many Americans feel that those who seek to come to our promised land are some kind of vermin, not human beings, that those people deserve to have their children taken away, they deserve to live in cages. And while immigration dominates the news this week, the billionaires are pilfering the treasury in Washington, sweeping more money toward themselves, neglecting and undermining democracy with their state-sponsored white-collar crime.

I have often wondered, what is the "immigration problem," anyway? There's plenty of room, what is the problem?

I am apparently not the only one who fails to see a problem. Gallup yesterday released a poll showing that three-quarters of Americans think immigration is a good thing. That includes 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

Gallup: "Just 19% of the public considers immigration a bad thing."

I am not going to comment on any specific news story today because they are coming too fast. Congress is full of Republican-on-Republican crime, they can't do anything so they blame the Democrats, and in the meantime Cabinet members are getting booed out of Mexican restaurants and why in the world are they there in the first place, fer cryin out loud? Is it a joke? Ordinary citizens cannot understand it. Are they trying to own the libs by eating Mexican food, or what? And who cares what Melania doesn't care about? It's coming too fast.

We are in the middle of a wide-spectrum multidimensional assault on decency and you cannot pick one thing and talk about it. While we were freaking out about immigrant children being shipped to human traffickers (big question: where are the girls?), Trump rescinded Obama's policy that protected the oceans, opening them up to more "industrial" uses and pollution. You can't keep up with it. Evil has taken hold and it is spreading like a wildfire on all sides. The American governing philosophy is that you're a sucker if you don't take all you can get. And ninety-nine percent of us are the suckers.

Oh, and Trump's approval rating is higher than it's been since he was first elected.

You know what ripped it for me? The no-hugging policy. Not only did you take children away from their mothers, which is -- you would think -- about the cruelest thing you can do to both of them. But the official policy was that adult caregivers were not allowed to hug the children, and that children were not allowed to hug one another.

There is nothing more basic than a hug. A hug does not actually solve your problems but it connects you with another living person, you can feel the life in their body and know that you are not alone in this godforsaken dystopia. And the Trump administration would not allow the one simple, free thing that would make a child feel better. That tells you what motivates them; it is not fear of terrorism or crime, it is the fear that these people who are coming to our border are real human beings and not insects, not animals. And more than anything, it is fear of appearing weak.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018


The Trump scandal has grown weirder and more dangerous than any of us could have imagined. At the time of the election we thought we were just getting incompetence and ignorant arrogance, but it has turned out we elected a gang of criminals who are getting rich by treating our government as a resource for their businesses. Everything you hate about corporate greed -- you got it. It is so clear and yet so hard to put your finger on, because every day the crisis has morphed into some new form of crazy emergency. The simple technique Trump uses is to drown the truly important information in details that demand our attention.

David Corn has an important article at Mother Jones that makes this point. I will just feature one paragraph from his piece, the core point:
In 2016, Vladimir Putin’s regime mounted information warfare against the United States, in part to help Trump become president. While this attack was underway, the Trump crew tried to collude covertly with Moscow, sought to set up a secret communications channel with Putin’s office, and repeatedly denied in public that this assault was happening, providing cover to the Russian operation. Trump and his lieutenants aligned themselves with and assisted a foreign adversary, as it was attacking the United States. The evidence is rock-solid: They committed a profound act of betrayal. That is the scandal. Donald Trump Is Getting Away With the Biggest Scandal in American History
Each day we can argue over football players kneeling or Cabinet members abusing their positions, who's playing who in the North Korea talks, whether Sessions should have recused himself or not, the horror in Flint or Puerto Rico or Raqqa, people without security clearances handling classified information and negotiating with foreign leaders, families broken up in heartbreaking scenes, school shootings and the greedy cynicism of the NRA, nepotism and the entanglement of personal business with government activities, why the guy can't spell, what has happened to Melania or what were the real reasons for dropping the ZTE sanctions -- several things every single day -- and the chaos keeps us from seeing the real story. Many of these things, taken separately, would be crises in another presidency, these would be historical controversies; it even works on the legal level, no one has the time to investigate these multitudes of daily crimes and press charges. By the sheer volume of distraction Trump keeps the public from understanding what is going on; the real story is in Corn's paragraph quoted above.