El Gringoqueño

All a man needs out of life is a place to sit ‘n’ spit in the fire.

Category: Current Events (page 1 of 8)

El Paso Shooting

From his manifesto:

“Even if other non-immigrant targets would have a greater impact, I can’t bring myself to kill my fellow Americans.” The manifesto writer said he supported the Christchurch shooting citing the “Great Replacement” anti-immigration theory postured there. The writer says that his hatred of immigrants predates Trump so “don’t blame” the president.

Would this guy really have had to disavow Trump’s influence if their values didn’t coincide?

Hey guys, I thought of violence against immigrants first, so don’t give credit to Trump [even though we’re pretty much in lockstep with what we’d like to achieve, an America devoid of brown people].

Absolves Trump? I think it indicts him as morally complicit.

One of these things is not like the others

Trump Tweet: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”

Later in a round table discussion on the economy, Trump called Notre Dame “one of the great treasures of the world,” and said it “looks like it’s burning to the ground.”

Less than a month ago, 3 historically black churches in Louisiana were torched by a white nationalist terrorist, the 21 year old son of a local sheriff.

*crickets*

Trump initially expressed sorrow and solidarity for the victims of the massacre at a mosque in New Zealand. Recounting a conversation she held with him, New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern said, “He asked what support the U.S. could provide. My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.”

*crickets*

Stop Treating Politicians Like Celebrities

Biden calls Pence a “decent guy.” The internet implodes. He’s not a decent guy, it says, he’s anti-LGBT, he’s a misogynist, he supports Trump’s agenda. BAN HIM! CENSURE HIM! And the pitch forks come out.

As it’s not an election year, you can’t really do any of those things. Pence is wrong, to be sure, but we the people as represented in the legislature are obligated to work with him and the current administration. We cannot simply disappear him ala R. Kelly or Kevin Spacey or any other celebrity who says or does the wrong thing. Haven’t you learned that by now?

We need to stop treating politicians like celebrities, because it leads us to dysfunction. They are elected representatives with millions of constituents, put there lawfully by a majority of the electorate (* well in most cases, but bear with me here for the sake of argument). We cannot just turn our backs on them, tune them out, or stop working with them, because barring some sort of impeachable offense (and most of the time even that’s not enough), we are stuck for better or for worse.

To call them decent, or to speak positively about them in the places where our values may coincide leads us to find consensus, to productivity, and to progress. Turning our backs, holding our breath until our faces turn blue, and stomping our feet like petulant children is not how a representative democracy works. Well, maybe it does, what do I know.

The old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” holds true here, I think. And rather than as a nicety, concocted in the time of the Ward and June Cleaver status quo, it is a rather useful tool for not engaging in pointless battles. I think the old guard in Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden get this, but perhaps some of the newcomers may not. They were raised on the quickening pace of the rise and fall of celebrities and the power of the twitter take down. Politicians are not celebrities and I think they will learn soon enough that twitter rage isn’t enough to get what you want.

Somebody said it better, I think. “Uuuhhh, don’t boo. Vote!”

Walls Don’t Actually Work

Walls don’t actually work was the first lesson in my Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) class at my university many many years ago. I don’t remember why it was the first lesson, perhaps it was an easy to explain concept, disabusing us of poorly conceived defensive strategies, or trying to set a paradigm for future problem solving based not on defensive but rather offensive strategies. Gen. Patton’s pithy “Go forward” expresses the foundation of US Military strategy and tactics. In any case, our instructor launched into a brief and simplified explanation of why the Maginot Line was not an effective war strategy despite its costly and well engineered construction.

Simply put, undefended or underdefended obstacles aren’t effective. Walls aren’t substitutes for boots on the ground. The Marginot Line was insufficiently defended and provided a false sense of security. Although part of its purpose was to redirect any attacking forces, the mindset that a passive barrier could be effective undermined the goals and objectives of actually defeating the enemy. In short, a wall or obstacle whether of concrete, steel, mines, barbed wire, or whatever without an effective operational plan isn’t going to solve your problem.

You can slow down or redirect the advance of your opposition with obstacles, but you ain’t gonna stop them.

This was the point that was hammered home over and over again throughout my military education. You have to have a plan to win, and you must advance. Use obstacles to redirect your opposition and as part of your overall offensive plan, but don’t think they by themselves will stop the enemy or win you the day.

If you believe that a wall built along 2000 miles of undefended border with Mexico is sufficient to stop immigrants from crossing, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell  you. I’ll take it further; if you think it makes economic sense to first build a wall then place the military or Homeland Security along the entire border to stop a few thousand people who want to come work, something in the basic educational process has failed.

That’s why nobody wants the wall. As it’s being sold, it’s an expensive proposition that will do nothing. Exactly nothing. It would be nothing more than miles and miles of undefended ineffective wall no matter how big, no matter how tall, no matter how thick. If it were to be properly implemented with appropriate levels of vigilance, it’s now an even more expensive solution to a problem that doesn’t actually exist in the first place.

If Capt. Bone Spurs had spent any time in the military perhaps he would have learned this.

More Unsolicited Advice for our Dear Leader

Yes, of course border crossings should be controlled and documented. I don’t think anyone is really saying that borders should just be open. I know the radical right likes to paint the left as “for open borders,” but that’s not really the case, and you know it.

What do you do when a mass of people arrive at the border and may perhaps just overrun agents tasked with processing and documenting their entries? What happens when people won’t respect the queue? It can happen, I know, but what do you do? Do you use force? I’d say that if you use force, you’ve already lost.

For starters, you begin by setting the conditions for orderly behavior. You see, once a crisis has arrived at your doorstep, if you have not established a plan, you’re going to fail. By whipping up the rhetoric, dehumanizing, demonizing, and terrorizing these migrants for weeks preceding their arrival, you’ve established the conditions conducive to chaos and fear.

What did you expect to happen?

I fully admit, perhaps this tough and horrifying scene, tear gas, desperate people trying to breach walls, etc, may have played directly into the strategy of our dear leader to further his aims with his base. Again, I know I am probably naive.

What should have been done, though? What would you do if you knew this large group of people was coming en masse, and you probably didn’t have the facilities to process them in a timely or orderly manner? Here is my three step plan:

First, you need to work with the Mexican government to coordinate healthcare, food, and housing for them on the Mexican side while they await processing. Receive them with compassion. Treat them as humanely as possible. These are human beings. I know it’s easy to forget, so I’m reminding you, dear leader.

Second, the US needed to have put out the word, through NGOs in contact with the migrants that their asylum petitions WILL be processed. Tamp down the rhetoric. Calm their fears. When they get to the border, they will be accommodated in their immediate needs (it would certainly be a LOT cheaper than deploying troops to the border, d’uh).

Third, augment capacity to process them fairly on the US side of the border. It’d still be cheaper than troops. Just make sure you ramp up the numbers of bureaucrats, judges, and lawyers taking petitions. Expedite the process. Keep it fair. If the Trump administration’s inclination is to deny deny deny, so be it. But keep it fair. Do not separate parents from children. Do not unnecessarily inflict cruelty upon them. If you’re going to deny their application, have a sound and fair reason for doing so.

So you admit a few asylum seekers, and leave the bulk on the Mexican side of the border. Now what?

The next step would be to provide assistance to the Mexican government for temporary placement. I’m not saying that you have to do it all, but work with the Mexican government to resolve the matter of these people without homes. Jobs programs? Education? Healthcare? Good neighbors care about what happens to each other. Good neighbors have productive dialog. If you really do not want Mexicans or other Latin American folks coming to the US, work harder to foment stable conditions in their home countries instead of CIA backed right wing coups.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

“Oh, I don’t know about today’s youth, they just don’t have values,” an elderly woman confided to me. “The world just isn’t what it used to be.”

She was scared. She sounded worried, not angry, not judgemental, not self-righteous. She was in her late 80s, and clearly worried about what was to become of the world she helped construct. Even so, I couldn’t let the comment pass unchallenged. I never do.

“I don’t agree. By any objective measure, crime is down, teen pregnancy is down, divorce is down. There are fewer wars. Less starvation. Higher standards of living, not just here, but around the world. I think this generation is more accepting of difference. And just look at how active the youth were when Hurricane Maria hit us. They didn’t turn inward. They looked to help. Such energy, they have. I know for a fact that they are better than the generation that preceded them.

“You really think so?” She said, clasping her hands together. “Oh, that’s good to hear.”

I could have indulged her fears. I could have been quiet. I could have started complaining, mirroring her preoccupations and fear mongering, but how easy it was to change the entire dynamic with an profession of faith in the future, that we’re going to be okay, that things aren’t as dire as they seem.

How the future appears to be is a byproduct of how we talk about it.

So blessed are the peacemakers, who respond to our better selves, and help to foment the conditions where anxious people don’t become more fearful and lose themselves to despair.

There Are Two Kinds of People in This World

I was watching Fox News today, well, not really Fox News News, just the talking heads that seem to love being hysterical. There are certainly a lot of them, I am finding. It is surprising what passes for critical thinking on that network.

For example, I was surprised to learn that hoards of Honduran and Guatemalan people were streaming into our country in “caravans” of chaos and lawlessness. The gist of the breathless and hysterical “reporting” was grab yo’ money, grab yo’ wife – they coming for your way of life!!! All of it was unsubstantiated by the way. The “report” showed some footage of hundreds of brown people traveling along a road, some walking, some riding in trucks. We don’t know when this was. We don’t know who they are. All brown people look alike, don’t they? We don’t know how many there are. No facts were cited. No credible reports by any organization. Nothing. The talking heads slid easily into “people say” and “reports indicate that” and then hissed the conclusion, “there are thousands of these people streaming into our country every day, and they have been coached by socialist leftest organizations to claim oppression and danger in order to gain entrance.” And as Dave Barry used to say, “And I am not making this up” the talking heads speculated as fact that these migrants are kidnapping or borrowing children to facilitate their entry in the United States. Seriously? Truly you have a dizzying intellect!

Do people really buy this shit? Do people really believe these ignorant, uneducated, careless talking heads?

Let’s say for the sake of argument that there really are hundreds of poor people (now they are saying thousands… THOUSANDS of ILLEGALS ) from Guatemala and Honduras trying to seek asylum in the US, and that they have been told that if they have suffered persecution, that they should say they fear for their safety. I’ll give your factless reporting the benefit of the doubt. I’m naive, I know, but bear with me.

When you see these people, mothers, fathers, teenagers, children, grandmothers, grandfathers…

Do you see them as mouths to feed?

Or do you seem them as hands to help?

Because that’s really what it boils down to, doesn’t it?

Do you see people as takers or makers?

Your answer really says more about you.

Look, Talking Heads in the News Media…

Look, if you preface your statement with “look” you are a douchebag.

Look, I shouldn’t really have to say it to you, but, – sigh – I guess I will again, because I am sooooo smart and you are sooo dumb, but the word “look” as a preface is condescending and all it does it cover up your lack of credentials, expertise, and gravitas. Look, the word “look” is for posers trying to seem smart by belittling the audience and host by tricking them into thinking you are smarter or more informed than you appear.

But look, it’s just a tip from me to you – what do I know?

Look, I’m looking at you Mr. looky look William Bennett.

Talking about Brett Kavanaugh this morning at brunch with the kids

Jim: So, the glaring difference I see is that you should be able to give more stories about Brett other than, “He’s a good guy.” I know some good people, and if you asked me what I thought of them, I’d have stories that would demonstrate their character.

Javier: Daddy, maybe Brett is the kind of guy that has dumb friends who can’t even invent a good story about him.

All of us: ROFL!!!!

A Senator’s Perspective

“Mr. Kavanaugh, would you call for an FBI investigation?”

“Um, um, I uh, um. Well, isn’t this what we are doing? Investigating. I don’t know why. I’ve already been investigated 6 times. The FBI has given me a green light.”

“I know that, Mr. Kavanaugh, but in light of recent information -“

Interrupting “That’s what we’re talking about here. Sheesh, why don’t you people -“

“Pardon me? Hold on a second, Mr. Kavanaugh. I want to remind you of something here. I am a United States Senator. What that means is that I am a representative of the people of my state, millions of Americans. When you talk to me, you are not talking to an individual, you are talking to the people of the United States. I am very aware of my duties and what I am called to do here. Do the people who have sent me here differ in their political outlook than some of the constituents of the other members of this panel? Yes, most definitely. There is a balance to be struck here, but make no mistake of it, the people of my state are no less relevant than the people of other states. A dismissal of my constituents, is a disrespect to America. We have a duty to do here, and we intend to do it as dispassionately and and methodically as possible.”

“Now, with that said, I can understand how the divisions between the two competing political parties may give you pause as to the fairness of your treatment. Rather than turn toward one side and shun the other, I would exhort you to look at us all on an equal basis, as the representatives of the American People. To sum up, when I ask you if you would invite an FBI investigation, it is only in the spirit of wanting to get to the bottom of this matter. I am a Senator, not an investigator. I will also admit that I represent the political views of my state which may not match with yours. Therefore, an FBI investigation is in your best interests as well as mine. If an investigation is conducted, and turns up nothing – shows us that these allegations are mistaken in their entirety, then I would vote for your confirmation even though your judicial record does not match the values of my constituents in general. If your reputation is of utmost concern for you, then I would submit that an FBI investigation would definitely and in a non-partisan fashion, clear your name. I can think of no reason for you to resist an independent non-partisan investigation other than you are afraid of what they will find.”

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