So much happening, so little to say (another grab bag)

I’ve been neglecting this outlet in favor of Facebook and Twitter these days. I think it’s mostly because I’m spread so thin on my outrage about things, that I can’t decide which of the many things bothering me deserves a whole entry here. Like before, it’s deserving of a Grab Bag kind of post, just to get it all out there.

A Migrant Caravan Is Coming For Your Children!!!

Honduras sounds like a frightening place to live. The State Department has a travel advisory that recommends not travelling (at all) to Gracias a Dios Department (the Honduran equivalent of a state) due to crime. Needless to say, people from Honduras who aren’t criminals, want out. Thus, a group of migrants, mostly on foot, has started the slow march from Honduras to the United States, with the hope of being taken in as refugees/asylum-seekers. Reporters from various outlets are traveling with them (likely sleeping in better hotels, and riding in comfort instead of walking the whole way). Interviews with them are heartbreaking. They talk about needing to travel in a large group like this to avoid kidnappings that they fear if travelling alone.

When it’s thought of that way (which is how I see it), my reaction isn’t just to let them in, but to send some blankets and maybe an army of busses to give them rides. In the spirit of being a Bartlet Democrat, it reminds me of the first episode of the West Wing, when Cubans are thought to be floating on makeshift rafts on their way to the shores of the United States. The staff members are looking for ways to help them, going as far as saying that if we “suspected” (with a wink) they had drugs, “wouldn’t we have to to out there and search those rafts with, you know, guns and blankets?”

But, instead, in Fox News world, led by the President of the United States, they are something to be feared. Trump Jr tweeted, “The caravan thing is an obvious political stunt, but what better way to get terrorists into the country than imbed them in the flood?”

 

And the President tweeted:

“Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy [sic]. Must change laws!”

The President doesn’t have to alert Border Patrol and the Military that there’s an emergency, those groups, and the intelligence community inform the President that there’s an emergency. It’s not like he was out there on his own learning about this group of people, and tipped off the rest of the country that they were coming.

Tree Of Life Synagogue 

The rhetoric and fear-mongering over the caravan of migrants did not stop, and the conspiracy that they are funded by Soros and by leftist organizations was meaningful enough to Robert Bowers, a 46-year old truck driver. He listened to the stories, stories perpetuated by Trump and his supporters, that George Soros (the new “Rothschild” boogeyman for antisemites). Stories that Soros is funding the caravan, and stories that the caravan represents a threat. His response to this was to kill Jews, while they were at Temple.

Many on the right have worked hard to distance Trump from the shooting, and have raised the comparison between the Sanders supporter, James Hodgkinson, who shot Congressman Scalise. The interwebs were flooded with statements that Trump is no more responsible for the deaths at the Tree of Life Synagogue than Sanders was responsible for the shooting of Scalise. Although I completely agree that Robert Bowers, and Robert Bowers alone, is responsible for the shooting in Pittsburg, I also think that if Trump had any sense of caring and compassion, he would worry that his words were part of what inspired the shooting. Trump specifically said that he won’t turn down the rhetoric, but instead will ramp it up. That’s not how a kind caring person responds to a murder event targeting people that kind caring person blamed for our problems. Contrast Trump’s response with that of Sanders. Sanders was clearly upset that anybody supporting him would do something like Hodgkinson did. He gave a floor speech condemning it. Watch here.

In other statements he showed remorse that any of his positions could have fueled the shooting. There was a sense of caring and concern.

That is not what we saw from Trump.

Pipe Bombs In The Mail

In the days before the Tree of Life Shooting, a man name Cesar Sayoc was arrested for sending pipe bombs in the mail to high profile democrats and to the office of CNN. Nobody was hurt, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Maxine Waters, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, James Clapper, John Brennan, Robert De Niro, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Eric Holder were all targeted.

Trump blamed the media.

 

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And we wait…for Kavanagh

Judge_Brett_Michael_Kavanaugh

The cloture vote is coming, and I suspect that Kavanaugh will be confirmed sometime tomorrow.

That makes me sad for a few reasons. This is one of those days I will use this as a diary, and diaries are where people write stuff when they’re sad, so here goes.

Continue reading “And we wait…for Kavanagh”

Is it racist?

We’re pretty good at recognizing explicit racism and bigotry when certain groups are targeted. We are pretty good at seeing racism against people of color, especially African-American/Black people. We see it pretty well when it’s pointed at Jews also. But sometimes it’s harder to see. A way to check is to change the subject of the discussion to a black man, or a Jew, and see if it sounds any alarm bells. Here’s one that I posted on Facebook yesterday:

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No more experts!

Image result for john brennan

I do not like politics of fear. I do not like making policies based on fear. I do not like using fear to play with people’s emotions. But, I am afraid. Genuinely afraid. I see a willful erosion of expertise in this country, and I fear the consequences will be worse than we can imagine. This is not a new feeling, but the removal of Brennan’s security clearance made it especially salient this morning. I recognize that this is a punitive act, and not directed at his expertise, but it’s all part of a bigger problem from my perspective.

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Embracing misinformation

Virtually everything Trump does requires his followers to be misinformed. This is not hyperbole, nor a false overgeneralization. His policies and rhetoric are overwhelmingly based on narrow views of people, the country, and the world. He paints a picture that is distorted as can be, then concocts harmful policy that serves a single purpose: get his followers to feel like he’s solving their problems (problems they didn’t face in the first place). My wish for us all is that we care when we are misinformed, and instead of attacking those who try to inform us (e.g., calling them “fakenews”), we welcome the education we receive.

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The problem with principles

I’m not a man of principles. That’s not to say that there aren’t things that I believe that are near universal, but it’s just that I don’t tend to view policy decisions and other things through the lens of principles. It seems we get ourselves into trouble when we do that, and I wonder if there’s some kind of a liberal/conservative divide on how we let principles guide us. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit in the Trump era (which I hope won’t be a real era, but nevertheless feels like one already).

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When (flawed) theocracy comes to town

I posted this on Facebook, along with a video that might still be available here.

I’m opposed to theocracy, and I don’t think religious law should ever be the basis for civil law. That said, many Americans claim to want laws based on Christianity. Oddly, many of these same people are now so enshrined in the cult of Trump, that they can’t even see how they’re being led so far astray from their religious teachings.

What’s even more strange to me is how often some groups of Christians talk about fearing the devil, and how he will lead them away from Christ if they aren’t super careful. I can’t imagine these folks following anybody less Christ-like than Trump, but there they go, without a fear in the world that they might be falling into the trap they’ve been warned of over and over.

Of course, I don’t believe Trump is the devil. I don’t believe either exists. But if I believed in those things, I can’t imagine not being very afraid to watch people following the obviously wrong guy, without thinking twice about it. If you made a movie about the devil, his life story could look a lot like Trump’s

I wanted to hold on to this post, outside of Facebook, but I also wanted to preserve one comment on the post, that came from a Jesuit Priest I’ve known since I was a teenager. I don’t know if he would be OK with me sharing his words outside of Facebook, so I won’t credit him by name, but I want to preserve his message nonetheless.

Continue reading “When (flawed) theocracy comes to town”