Tag Archives: U.S. politics

What He’s Done

SWAT officers take Solomon Peña into custody in Albuquerque, New México. (Photo: Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Earlier this week New México police arrested a failed Republican congressional candidate and charged him with hiring some men to shoot up the homes of Democratic opponents. Solomon Peña allegedly was dissatisfied with the results of his race last year and decided to seek revenge in the worst possible way: through violence. Like his idol, former President Donald Trump, Peña is an election denier and claimed fraud in his own run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He lost to his Democratic opponent by more than 3,600 votes.

In the U.S. many elected officials – mostly Democrat and liberal – have been the targets of political violence over the past 5 or 6 years; which (not surprisingly) coincides with the rise of Trump.  The animosity reached a feverish crescendo on January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol Building in a failed attempt to undermine the 2020 presidential election, as well as democracy itself.  I’m still angry at the sight of hundreds storming into the building and even angrier at those who continue to support Trump and dismiss the severity of that day.  Like most Americans, the rampage reminded me of images of developing countries in the throes of political chaos.  While various groups in the U.S. have threatened to inflict such carnage over previous decades, no one really thought it would happen.

We have Donald Trump to thank for that.

Threatening election officials and taking out opponents with bullets is what used to happen in places like Colombia and the Philippines.  Even as recently as 1995, Israel experienced political violence when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.  The act stunned the international community and roiled the only truly democratic state in the Middle East.

Americans have always had a love-hate relationship with their elected officials, whether or not they actually voted for them, or even voted at all.  But I’ve always believed the Watergate fiasco was a major turning point in our nation’s disillusionment with politicians overall.  That a sitting president would seek to gain an advantage over his adversaries by concocting a burglary scheme shocked most people.  They always sort of knew politicians weren’t necessarily the most moral of individuals, but an actual break-in?

A greater sense of partisanship began to take hold in the ensuing decade and became more pronounced in the 1990s, as Republicans did everything they could – and failed – to undermine Bill Clinton’s agenda.  The scandalous (and genuinely corrupt) 2000 presidential election widened the chasm of discontent.  The GOP’s blatant disrespect for President Barack Obama was even more egregious and appalling – but not really unexpected from conservatives, as far as I was concerned.

Then came Donald Trump, and the haters suddenly had a license to lash out with unabashed vigor.  All the social upheavals of the 1960s were the result of tensions that had been brewing for decades; people had grown tired of just waiting for change and hoping for the best.  In a similar, yet twisted manner, the right-wing extremism that exploded under Trump also had been fomenting in the souls of angry (mostly White male) conservatives for years; that is, since…well, since the 1960s.  Ronald Reagan once said he wanted to return America to the time before the 60s screwed up everything.  As a relic of his past, he naturally didn’t understand we can’t go backwards in time.  That’s science fiction.  But that’s why I call most conservatives preservatives – they want to preserve the old ways of life; ways that were good for them, of course, but not everyone else.

Trump revised that futile dream with his “Make America Great Again” mantra; claiming he wanted to “take America back”.  Back to where, those of us with more than half a brain asked, and how far?  Back to the Civil War?  Back to the Gilded Age?

Peña is just one cog in the wheel of America’s political vitriol.  Think of this for a few moments.  Acting like a drug cartel leader, Peña (who already had a felony criminal record) hired some thugs to fire gun shots into the homes of people he thought had snatched victory from him. At least one of those bullets ended up in a child’s bedroom.  Just as with drug cartels, Peña and his henchmen cared nothing about their intended victims and any collateral damage – i.e., innocent bystanders.  Drug lords only care about their profits; everyone and everything else be damned.  Peña only cared about exacting personal revenge over what he perceived to be a corrupt system.  We’re not supposed to do that in civilized societies.

But that is Trump’s legacy.  That is what he’s done to the overall concept of democracy.

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When Three Losers Meet for Dinner

What do a failed president, a disoriented rapper and a White separatist have in common?  They’re all losers!  And, as news reports have revealed, they all met for dinner just before Thanksgiving.  Former President Donald Trump hosted hip-hop singer Kanye West (now known as Ye) and right-wing extremist media personality Nick Fuentes at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida a few weeks ago.

If I ever host a dinner party with some of the most interesting and intellectual people in the world, the three aforementioned clowns wouldn’t get past my front door.  (Disclaimer: no offense meant to professional clowns.)

We’ve all had those ‘what-were-they-thinking’ reactions to certain people’s bizarre behavior.  But Trump, West and Fuentes bring a new level of absurdity into the public forum.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a walking embodiment of incompetence (Trump) would invite two other dopers to his estate.

I’ve never been a fan of Trump.  When he announced his bid for the U.S. presidency in 2015, I pointed out that he’d technically been running for president for some 30 years.  In a 1980s interview with Barbara Walters, she queried Trump about whether or not he would seek the Oval Office.  Many scoffed at the notion that a New York real estate tycoon should run for the presidency simply because he was incredibly wealthy and well-known.

Those of us old enough to remember the excesses of the 1980s – especially here in the U.S. – know that wealth and fame suddenly became requisites for political office or any kind of leadership position.

Regardless of his status, Trump isn’t a realist.  Consider his relentless – and undeniably refuted – claims that the 2020 elections were fraudulent.  He still refuses to accept defeat; thus proving he’s the proverbial sore loser.  In my own analysis, the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections were blatantly fraudulent, but that’s an entirely different discussion.

But West and Fuentes are also denialists.  West denies observations that he has no real talent, and Fuentes denies the Nazi Holocaust occurred.  I’m certain they all deny other realities, but I don’t want to spend that much time on them.

Trump, West and Fuentes are perfect companions for each other.  While Trump made a name for himself in the 1980s as a successful real estate magnate, West made a name for himself in the violence-prone world of hip-hop.  I have to admit I can’t identify any of his “songs” and I wouldn’t care to either.

Fuentes’ arrival in the public arena is recent.  At barely 24 years old, he’s become an icon of right-wing extremists; a youthful vial of hate and bigotry.  He represents a new generation of Christo-fascist warriors who believe, for example, that Christopher Columbus discovered America and African slaves were actually indentured servants.

Further proving his detachment from reality, Trump denied knowing who Fuentes is.  He’d allegedly invited only West for dinner, and West invited Fuentes.  Of course that’s what happened!

No matter who invited who for dinner, Trump brought out the worst in humanity: the hatred, the putrid, the disgusting and the violent.  Along with West and Fuentes, he represents everything that’s wrong with this nation – and everything a civilized society shouldn’t be.

But let them dine together!  They deserve one another.

The rest of us deserve better.

Image: Kelli R. Grant/Yahoo News; photos: Jean-Baptiste Lacroix/AFP via Getty Images, Joe Raedle/Getty Images, Rainmaker Photos/MediaPunch /IPX via AP)

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Political Cartoon of the Week – July 30, 2022

Jimmy Margulies

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Political Cartoon of the Week – July 23, 2022

Jimmy Margulies

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Next!

“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.”

Martin Niemöller

We’re still in shock here in the U.S.  In just a matter of weeks, the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court undid decade’s worth of progressive social reforms.  The reversal of Roe vs. Wade last month garnered the most attention, but they didn’t stop with that.

In Vega vs. Tekoh, the High Court ruled that a violation of Miranda rights doesn’t provide a basis for civil damages.  The original Miranda vs. Arizona decision ensured people accused of criminal behavior have the right to legal counsel and to remain silent in the face of police interrogation.  Miranda was decided in line with the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, which had already established certain guidelines for addressing criminal procedures.  The Vega ruling now ensures that law enforcement can act with impunity.  I suspect it’s a response to the vitriolic reactions to high-profile police killings over the past…well, several decades; the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests and all that.  In Vega, the SCOTUS majority noted that, if the original Miranda court intended to create a constitutional right versus a prophylactic rule, it would have definitively declared that immediately upon deciding Miranda.  The 1966 Court knew how to use its words, the current Court essentially declared, and those words used were not “constitutional right.”  See how verbiage can be twisted so easily by academics?

In West Virginia vs. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Court undercut the latter’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.  SCOTUS agreed with Republican-led states and energy companies that the 1970 Clean Air Act gave the EPA too much power over carbon emissions.  The decision was also a strike back against the 2015 Clean Power Plan – an Obama-era policy that targeted adverse climate change.  To environmentalists, it wasn’t surprising that energy conglomerates were adamant in reversing the CPP, as well as the CAA.  But the West Virginia ruling falls in line with the belief of conservatives that climate change is a hoax.  That’s why energy companies overwhelmingly support Republican candidates.  I have to note West Virginia is a top coal producer.  It also ranks as one of the poorest states in the union.

In his statement regarding the Dobbs ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the Court should revisit other high-profile rulings, including Griswold vs. Connecticut, which declared the legal usage of contraceptives; Lawrence vs. Texas, which struck down anti-sodomy laws; and Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage.  Curiously, he didn’t call for a review of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, which declared that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional or Loving vs. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage.  I guess this is because overturning these decisions would impact Thomas, a Negro married to a White chick.  It’s amazing how some people have no problems enacting laws that wouldn’t affect them personally.

In the 1983 film “The Star Chamber”, Michael Douglas portrays a relatively young judge who becomes engaged with a group of other jurists who find the legal system has gone awry in favor of criminals and decide to enact vigilante justice to right those perceived wrongs.  They hire assassins to kill certain criminals who have escaped incarceration.  The movie is replete with scenes where highly articulate lawyers help defendants get out of trouble.  In one early scene, Hal Holbrook’s character tells Douglas, “Someone has hidden justice inside the law.”  It’s an attempt to justify the group’s brutal actions.

That’s how I often view the legal system.  Charismatic lawyers prancing around even the most heinous of crimes with carefully-crafted verbiage; a kind of Tolkien-style language only they understand, but something the rest of us have to deal with toiling away in the trenches of reality.  I certainly don’t recommend assassination as a viable resolution to our nation’s political ills.  That’s where the treasured right of voting comes into play.  People need to take their voting rights seriously and understand the significance of not voting.  We’ve seen the fruits of voter apathy in my home state of Texas.  In recent years, the right to vote has come under fire from conservatives.  As with many other rights, this isn’t a surprise.  Conservatives have always tried to suppress voting.  You know…the way totalitarian regimes like Russia have.  I’ve noted more than once that the (fair and legitimate) elections of Barack Obama prompted (mostly White) conservatives to launch their assault on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  During their convention last month, the Texas Republican Party called for repeal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which guarantees the right to vote regardless of race.  They did this because…well, because that’s what conservatives do – at least here in the U.S.  They were quick to abolish fascism in Europe during World War II, but weren’t so eager to do the same at home.

With this in mind, I wonder if many conservative queers who voted for the likes of George W. Bush and Ted Cruz are satisfied with their decisions.  Along with many mainstream right-wingers, some are ecstatic that Roe was overturned.  But now, I hate to see their reactions at the thought of reversing Lawrence or Obergefell.  But the neo-Nazi clowns who have targeted the so-called “liberal agenda” for years are coming for their faggot asses next!  I just hope they’ll be happy sitting in their designer closets polishing their Ronald Reagan Glee Club pins.

If anyone in the U.S. believes democracy is functioning just perfectly and nothing is wrong, they need to consider this: five of the current justices on the Supreme Court were chosen by presidents who did NOT win the popular vote.  George W. Bush didn’t really win the 2000 presidential election and he barely won the 2004 election; yet he was able to appoint two justices – Samuel Alito and John Roberts.  Donald Trump certainly didn’t win the 2016 presidential election (perhaps the most corrupt in U.S. history), but he was able to appoint three justices to the Court: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney-Barrett.  Gorsuch’s selection came because Republicans refused to grant President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, the decency of a hearing upon the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016; claiming it was an election year and the next president should choose the nominee.  However, Barrett’s nomination came after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2020.  The same band of Republicans who denied Garland a hearing rammed through Barrett’s confirmation without hesitation.

I don’t know if most Americans fully comprehend the significance of the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe.  It could lead to much worse.  But this is what happens when people don’t bother to vote in even the most mundane of elections.  Liberals seem especially reticent to take local races seriously.  I can only recommend everyone concerned about our democracy to make that concerted effort to vote.  I understand how many people feel their votes don’t count, particularly after the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections and all the corruption involved in both.

Yet, democracy is not a natural form of governing.  Humanity is more likely to construct an oligarchy-style system.  In worse case settings, totalitarianism can take root, as it almost did with Donald Trump in the White House.  People need to be wary of the current U.S. Supreme Court and its fascist leanings, disguised as social conservatism.  (Then again, fascism and conservatism are pretty much the same ideology.)

It’s starting with the Roe reversal.  Unless we place more moderates into public office, it will only get worse.

Bottom image: Michael de Adder

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Political Cartoon of the Week – July 9, 2022

Randall Enos

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Video of the Week – July 2, 2022

During a debate for the Republican nomination in Wyoming, current Rep. Liz Cheney explains her position on the January 6 Committee.

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Political Cartoon of the Week – July 2, 2022

John Darkow

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Political Ad of the Week – June 25, 2022

Eric Greitens, a U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri, has a strange sense of humor.  But he’s a conservative Republican, so who’s surprised?  In an online campaign ad, he suggests fellow conservatives “go out and hunt” so-called RINOs – an acronym for “Republicans in Name Only”.  It’s meant as a derogatory term for any Republican political candidate who’s even slightly left of far right, or one step to the left of Adolf Hitler.

With its strong violent overtones, the ad speaks for itself and what the contemporary Republican Party is all about.

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Video of the Week – June 25, 2022

Rep. Adam Kinzinger

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