America without a president

Once again, I feel that I should share my personal musings on the American political situation. We are now in the, what, middle of the month 2? It both seems that the times have gone by so fast, and after all the crap overload it also felt likes it’s been forever. Anyway this is my general update.

Near as I can tell, the most I can come up with for an optimistic interpretation of current events is that basically America does not have a president at all.

Think about it. No one is in charge.

Even if you live in bigoted right-wing bubble-land, in which it’s been “carnage” and the country needs fascism or whatever to fight the evils of centrist democrats, what exactly has been accomplished so far? The only real action was the oppressive travel ban, a disaster by any measure, and now there’s a new lighter version (which still makes no sense, they can’t even cite any terrorist threat from those six countries since Iraq was taken off the list. There’s no cited threat from refugees of any of those countries!) which my very well may be also overturned by a court .

Apparently, with all the nonstop Russian revelation scandals, the new narrative is it’s all because of… Obama! That boogeyman role just won’t go away. Funny how if you believe in that then you get to blame your own failings on the opposition forever. More on being divorced from reality below.

Even with the GOP controlling both houses, the repealing and replacing of Obamacare is a train wreck of nothing getting done. Why is it so hard after years of criticizing the healthcare plan? The president is supposed to get his way with his party in charge of the legislative, and yet still there is nothing. Hell, the only thing both sides of the aisle seem to agree on is that the new healthcare plan sucks.

And there is the fact that hundreds of administrative positions are still yet to be filled, because there are “too many government jobs.” Apparently this is due to real-president Bannon, who has said he wants to dismantle the permanent administrative state.

So in conclusion, this is not a real government. This is a shell of a government, with a TV president. Anything at all worth supporting exists only in the minds of the cult of the right-wing media bubble, and the entire world outside that audience demographic is looking on in horror as America just phones it in. All for show, and a shit show at that.

This is bad. Very bad. But perhaps, in a way, it’s not that bad. At the very least, we can know that these people are to incompetent to even run their fantasy tyrannical dictatorship.

 

So, of course I have to mention the latest tweets. What can I say? This is undeniable proof that the guy supposedly in charge doesn’t understand how his job works. He doesn’t understand anything about government, he doesn’t understand the separation of powers, which is kind of a big deal. Most bizarrely of all, he doesn’t even think to simply ask his employees if his predecessor illegally wiretapped him. His whole role of commander is to generate controversy on the internet and that’s about it.

Rather than ask his damn employees, this guy–who we know literally spends more time on Twitter than national security meetings–reads something unsubstantiated from the right-wing bubblesphere and proceeds to go on an embarrassing tweet rant. Why would he do that? What is the point of disrespecting the office of president so very deeply?  Is it really that worth it to rally his ever-shrinking base by whining about Obama, if that’s what it is, and therefore accomplish absolutely nothing other than making him impossible to work with?

No doubt law enforcement is not into this. This can’t be good for the FBI, CIA, NSA, and every other organization who reportedly no longer give classified information to their boss because of the valid fear of Russian leaks.

Maybe the true mark of this new era is that it doesn’t really matter anymore who is president. From here on, it’s just going to be idiot celebrities.

Ha, and can you believe that everyone was so impressed with the whole “the time for trivial fights is over” speech?? What a joke that pivot was! I repeat: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

 

It’s like, I used to believe that when someone becomes president the secret masters of the universe would take him to a back room and explain how the system really works. I assumed that happened to Obama, because honestly he did sell out on many issues. But with this guy, I don’t think those who really run things took him to the back room. I think they ignored him

Therefore, basically I don’t believe he’s a real president.

Sadly, in this new era of wannabe celebrity kings, many ordinary people will fall through the cracks. It’s going to be a difficult transition, and people will have to do a better job of taking care of each other as the welfare state and infrastructure slowly collapses. The environmental damage will possibly be the worst. In those few roles with which the executive branch is still doing anything, there is still tremendous damage to be done. It’s not fun for the immigrants arrested in raids, for example.

But overall, now we’ll get to see how the far society can go on when no one is in charge

And maybe just maybe it will somehow work out, and that’s the only thing there is to be mildly optimistic about.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Reflections on the year 2016

otuynui0mjbfmjqxnzcwmki5muq6yzjimddjzdm1zwm5zju3mmm1ztliodrlngu0zjm3odi6ojo6oja

2016 was, to say the least, a tumultuous year.

It’s already something of a meme to say that 2016 sucks so much. And yeah, that’s largely true specifically in the political sense anyway.

However, in my personal life I can definitely declare that though it’s been hard I can claim lot of positive growth over the past year. I traveled the world, I promoted some writing, I published here and there, wrote another book, and I even moved in with my girlfriend!

There has been a lot on this very blog worth share. I reviewed, I interviewed. And although at this stage it’s hard to say if it will lead anywhere, one of my personal productive favorites of the year was starting anew on my hobby of drawing silly little comics.

In thinking over this arbitrary marking of the Earth going around the sun that we all mark on our calendars, I have thought about it most nostalgically and created a list of links below. Here, a few posts that stand out to me to sum up the crazy intensities of this most epically year:

 

In February, right after Chinese New Year, I was lucky enough to be detained by the Chinese police after attending an unlicensed rave party. I tested negative for drugs and was soon released, while sadly others I knew tested positive, leaving me with the opportunity to write what proved to be my most popular piece of writing ever. The guys over at Reddit China were somewhat opinionated. But I had my say.

Hey it even led to a piece I wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

 

With my novel South China Morning Blues published — from Blacksmith Books, Hong Kong — in late 2015, I was very focused on promoting the book all over Shenzhen (and Guangzhou, and Hong Kong) over the beginning of the following year and on. It was a big part of my job for months on end. The highlight was definitely in March when I went to both Beijing and Chengdu for a little get-together known as the Bookworm Literary Festival.

 

The travel it did continue. I visited the great country/not country of Taiwan as part of my girlfriend Bronwen’s art residency in May. Absolutely wonderful place. There will be more on Taiwan come the next new year.

And in June it was time to go to Israel for the bi-annual visiting of the family. What a trip I met some little nieces and nephews, saw my parents, had emotions, all the while some legal complications came up and had to be dealt with.

 

One event that really stood out in the summer was the art exhibition by Bronwen and some other locally sourced artists over at Sin Sin Fine Art in Hong Kong. Great work. I happened to write an article about it.

 

At last, the dreaded subject of American politics. Over the second half of 2016, I carried on with my life and moved and wrote and promoted, meanwhile in America (totally affecting the rest of the world) it all went well and truly insane. I became rather consumed in following the politics of the horrible election cycle. Finally, of all things, I was forced to start writing political columns. The anxieties of the day before, then November’s horrific results, and a touch of conspiracy theory commentary.

Sadly, at this rate I will probably have yet more to say in 2017. A lot more. Despite the apocalyptic scenarios at hand, I’ll try to be optimistic about the new year. What’s certainly true is that nobody knows what will happen next.

 

Thus was the year. I and you survived. Thanks for paying attention to me and my humble perspective. On a concluding note, let us mourn the actual concept of truth and facts with this cartoon by Tom Tomorrow… RIP truth~

Good luck to 2017, we’ll need it!

tmw2016-12-21color

What I really think… American politics

tmw2016-10-19color

So hard to choose just one Tom Tomorrow cartoon to encapsulate all Source: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/17/1582847/-Cartoon-Word-salad

 

 

So, I am admittedly writing this at the last possible moment. Not trying to change minds here, I guess, I’m just trying to figure things out for myself and express it as rationally and sincerely as possible. These issues are important and should be thought about deeply. That’s all I’m generally attempting to do.

I follow politics as much as I can, and as an American abroad I think it’s even more important to be aware of what is happening in the world. It matters. The times, they are serious. If you happen to be friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed the articles I choose to share. While I try not to be too annoying or angry when it comes to political rants, there are things worth being aware of and I say what I can.

However, I’m not truly qualified to be a columnist and a pundit and I don’t usually take up this sort of writing. My journalism tends to be light, and my fiction tends to be about human experiences in small scales. I am not the kind of blogger to try to save the world or anything.

Yet now I am writing this post in a rush in an attempt to organize all that is going on in my mind. History is unfolding right before the world’s eyes, and I must attempt to comment upon it before the results of the polls come in and it’s too late.  Here I go.

*             *             *

First of all, as someone who generally tries to be a moral person I am going to start this out by talking about Nazis. Yeah, went there, let’s get it out of the way already. There is indeed a valid reason every argument seems to get into Nazis eventually, and that’s because it really is a point in world history worth making comparisons. And is it just me, or is it more poignant that ever?

I do have a point I’m getting to. The main question remains: Was the average German citizen in the 1930s particularly evil, or were they merely caught up in historical forces beyond their understanding? And moreover, where they victims of propaganda or do they deserve to be held responsible for supporting the worst dictatorship in history?

I used to lean towards the side that it wasn’t quite the average person’s fault. Both cynically and sympathetically, I used to conclude that the average folk of most societies would probably support a Nazi party if historical forces added up, and that it wasn’t really their fault. We must be ever more wary and question ourselves for that reason, so that we can have the perspective to not get caught up in evil ideologies. I mean, we should hope that future historians don’t look back and ask the question of why we of today are so evil. Shouldn’t that be a good benchmark for inner contemplation on human morality?

That’s what I used to think. I don’t think that way that any longer. Today, I can no longer help but think that the average German citizenry who supported Nazism – or at least was too apathetic to care so long as they’re Aryan – were terrible people and should be judged accordingly for it. I think this because contemporary Trump supporters are the modern equivalent.

That’s what I’m saying. As a (hopefully) thoughtful American, I believe that Trump supporters are terrible human beings and they should know better and don’t deserve sympathy and history will judge them as monsters.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a greater perspective. Like, pretty much everywhere is evil when you break it down. I live in the People’s Republic of China, which one used to at least be able to say was going in a positive direction until Xi Jinging took power. I have connections to Israel, which certainly does have its human-rights abusing issues and currently the Likud party in particular. I went to South Africa last year, full of upper-class whites who got where they are by way of apartheid. Even the United States has a complicated history of aboriginal genocide and slavery and oppression throughout the 20th century, and hell the Bush years of illegal war-mongering wasn’t that long ago and the Obama administration wasn’t as different as it was supposed to be! And that just goes for the countries with the most power, plenty of less developed nations have terrible challenges. It’s a complex web of historical privilege, apathy, and some brainwashing that usually makes it not totally the fault of citizens that their governments can be forces of evil.

Yet something else is going on right now. Something ugly. There is a powerful new movement within my country and it can’t be excused as them just getting caught up in a manipulated framework they don’t understand. No, they are willfully-ignorant people who support authoritarian policies. There is no other way to put it.

The Trump legions are not supporters of conservative economic policy which we can debate. They do not have some rational thoughts about being hawkish on defense policy. They don’t want to fix immigration. They don’t really care about how an outsider of politics can save the country.

No, what they have are racial resentments, serious problems with hypocrisy, and for some reason support a strongman dictatorship which is against everything good that America is supposed to stand for.

They are supporters of bigotry. They are supporters of hate. That is what’s going on.

I probably won’t change any minds by being all arrogant and mad. I do wish I had some brilliant arguments that would cause Trump supporters to soul search and question themselves. It doesn’t work that way though. Hey, it’s a post-fact political world.

Still, I have a lot to say and I must say it.

Something dark is happening in my country. There’s always been partisanship, and there have been ugly times in history worse than we remember regardless of the mythical “Great Again” that they’re supposed to make America. But specifically it appears that Internet culture is the difference these days, and it disturbs me.

Dammit, society was supposed to be evolving. When Obama was elected in ’08 – who clearly did sell out on many issues but didn’t deserve the vitriol of the opposition party the past eight years – it was heralded as a new era in terms of online participation. Internet-savvy young people, we were told, turned the tide.

Nowadays, with you-know-who on Twitter, the fury of ignorance has become the loudest voice in the digital sphere. As experts smarter than me have explained, the danger of online media is that people become lost in their own echo chamber and ignore news that disagrees with their preconceived notion, and they believe things that aren’t true. Facts don’t matter. It’s confirmation bias on steroids. Furthermore, the anonymity of the medium has let loose millions of fully racist commentors. The trolls are attempting to take over the most powerful government on earth.

Here is an intelligent article about the white supremacist alt-right movement which forms the backbone of Trump supporters, and everyone needs to read this:

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/alt-right

To summarize, the young generation of white supremacists (or white separatists, or racial realists, or whatever shit these people call themselves lately) are very savvy when it comes to memes and propaganda etc. and have started taking their own trolling seriously. The worst of YouTube comments basically have a political movement now, and it is organized.

It really is that bad.

*             *             *

What happened? Is it the fault of new media technologies? I am scared it’s deeper than the usual pattern of how when the economy gets bad far isolationist right-wing parties take power – as happened in many places in Europe. I get that it happens. What I am afraid of is that although they will lose they are still going to be a permanent part of the modern American landscape from now on.

How the hell has this happened?! I mean, I used to follow conservative media. I did. I used to watch Fox News and listen to talk radio. I used to be… I shudder to say it… a libertarian. Of course, I do feel it’s important to be an independent and get all sides of the various issues that affect our world.

The conservative ideology used to be quite clear. The mainstream was liberal biased, and the best way to grow an economy was through free market principals. Oh, and welfare is bad. Then some optional religious stuff. That was the gist as I understood it.

I have since come to recognize that it was all a lie. For years conservatives told a certain story, and their audience ate it up, and it was a lie. Sure we know that the Tea Party was kind of a monster the Republican Party propped up and then couldn’t control any more. But it’s an even worse mess than that. Because Donald Trump does not even pretend to be a conservative on any issue. He is an extremist nationalist, and that is the main issue that his people believe in. That’s all it ever was.

Like really, Sean Hannity turned around on the Iraq War? Really, Hannity?!?! They believe in nothing. Except for bigotry.

Say, for example, with welfare. Turns out those masses of people were lying when they said they were against the dole due to economic and moral grounds. No, they don’t care about taxes or incentives to work. They just care that certain ethnic groups don’t deserve the welfare that they deserve.

It has turned out that it was always more about white identity politics more than anything else.

Take the fact that Trump’s base are evangelicals, and the fact that Catholics and especially Mormons have largely rejected him (good on them). This truly pisses me off. It shows that evangelicals are ignorant about even the very basics of the Christian religion, and that they always have been, and what they care about in fact is being part of an ethnic community and rejecting other communities. Seriously, does anyone with a brain believe that Trump is a real Christian? What else can it be with those people? At least Catholics and Mormons have the ability to be consistent in their values.

It is not a left-right thing anymore. Not even close. The right has abandoned everything they ever said they believe in just to prop up a nationalist monster.

Hell, even the conspiracy theory land people like with Infowars have abandoned everything they used to stand for. (I know it was a crazy site, but during the Bush years it was something of a source for the anti-war movement. Even in the early Obama years there were valid points about the banking corruption in the ol’ Alex Jones documentaries. Now he gave it all up for nothing more than the bigotry of being anti-feminist or something, along with the whole uber-nationalism shitck.)

*             *             *

There is a certain narrative going around that intelligent people are supposed to feel sorry for Trump supporters because they are blue-collar working class who have sadly lost their jobs due to globalist free trade policies.

There is this Cracked article about how to empathize with Trump supporters because it’s a city versus country thing: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/

Usually I like Cracked. Good with myth-busting. But this one wasn’t good.

Obviously Republicans do tend to be more rural and Democrats tend to be more urban. And one could argue that it’s lack of education which causes people to inadvertently have such awful politics.

But that isn’t the case. Here’s what’s really going on to a much larger degree:

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/15/13286498/donald-trump-voters-race-economic-anxiety

Got it? To sum it up, evidence shows that Trump’s base isn’t necessarily that poor. Polling shows that racial anxiety is the real issue that worries the majority. This is what is happening, this is what kind of people they are.

Again, the fact that Trump’s other main issue besides kicking out Mexicans and Muslims is protectionist trade policies – long thought the purview of the radical left – shows how out of whack the usual liberal vs conservative definitions are.

And yet I still contend that the factories going to China issue isn’t even what they’re serious about in the first place. Deep down, only the bigotry matters.

 

Continue reading