“Blue Apron” Food Stamps. Refugees. School Shootings. For the GOP, Meanness is The Goal

On Valentine’s Day, which will forever be known to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland as the day their young lives became forever associated with trauma, Allison and I decided to watch something old, and romantic, so we could not talk about the daily horrors for a few hours. We had that luxury, of course.

We quickly picked Casablanca, which neither of us had seen for years.  What struck me watching it again, beside how great it still is, is that beside the main three (or four) characters, you are meant to deeply sympathize with the young couple trying to get out of the city.

Real people (2/3rds)

We’re primed to sympathize with them, to feel their plight, to feel the agony of their neverland time in Casablanca. This isn’t just because they are young and attractive, but because the opening narration perfectly lays out their situation.

With the coming of the Second World  War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully, or desperately,  toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point. But not everybody could get to Lisbon directly, and so, a tortuous, roundabout refugee trail sprang up. Paris to Marseilles, across the Mediterranean to Oran, then by train, or auto, or foot, across the rim of Africa to Casablanca in French Morocco.

Here, the fortunate ones, through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon, and from Lisbon to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca — and  wait — and wait — and wait .

You can feel their desperate pain. These are people whose lives have been upturned by the horrors of war, by the mad headlong rush of violence into their lives. They are broken and shattered and scared and lost, half-dead, barely clinging onto hope. We feel for them, because they are human, and we can see ourselves in them.

We have the same situation in Syria, today. Millions of people have had their lives turned inside out, blown apart by a savagely cruel war. They spent their lives under the cadaverous pallor of the Asad regime, and when some rose up, peacefully, they were slaughtered. Over the next 7 years, their country has been turned into a charnel house, ripped apart by warring factions inside the country (especially the regime), transnational groups like ISIS, and international actors like Russia, Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia, now Turkey, maybe Israel.

They fled across the self-same Mediterannean. They fled to Europe, many with eyes toward America. But we didn’t see them as people. We saw them as others, verminous danger, and closed our doors.

Not real people

That’s clear in the latest budget, and it is clear in, say, the dozens of refugee resettlement centers that are being closed under Trump and Paul Ryan.

But that’s the GOP. That’s who they are as a party, and it is clear in issue after issue: cruelty is the point, and empathy is a weakness. It is not a coincidence, nor a distortion, that their President is a man entirely incapable of empathy, and whose primary instinct (other than self-aggrandizement) is to be cruel to those he thinks are weaker than him.

It’s how he became President after all, and in every move he makes and every reaction he has, and in every piece of policy crafted in the head of Paul Ryan, making the lives of actual humans even worse is the primary goal. Punching down, and pulling the last shreds of a decent life from those who have so little.

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A-Change is Gonna Come: Trump and the GOP Plan to Sell The Country Off

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There are people who gaze upon our shared heritage and think: we should drill here.

As bad as you thought it would be, it’s going to be worse

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The Confederate Flag and Zika: They Know It’s Hitting the South First, Right?

 

Yeah, but you know in this case those are the same things, right? 

 

You know when you hear politicians say things like “Washington is broken- and I’m the man to fix it!” It’s pretty common in both parties, of course, but there is a certain strand of Republicanism that is more likely than others. It’s the whole “I was successful at business, so I clearly can be great at foreign policy. Just knock some heads together!” One might even say that such a theory is the driving impetus of the Trump campaign, if one wanted to ignore the racism. The Onion, of course, captured this perfectly many years ago. “Millionaire Vows To Do For Government What He Did For Turkey Ranches.”

Anyway, it works really well, because there is a lot broken in Washington. To wit:

Republican lawmakers are warning that the American public will now blame Democrats if Zika becomes a full-blown health crisis.

I don’t know. It seems like they maybe wanted this to fail? By maybe putting in pretty un-Zika-y provisions, such as the flag of racism, slavery, and treason and also cutting women’s health? And then were pretty open about their reasons? Just maybe?

The GOP, of course, knows how to play this game perfectly. Block anything good and reasonable from happening in the most cynical way possible, sit back and let terrible things happen, and have both sides take the blame. But because they run on “government can’t work!” and Democrats on “let’s make government work!” it is a winning strategy, except at the national level, where the radicals and dimwits they parade can’t stand the light of day.

Oddly, the reason why they can’t deal with the national scrutiny is the reason why this is so scary. The new generation of Republicans have completely internalized this behavior. They grew up with it. There is nothing strange or cynical to them about it. This is simply how it is done. This is how you destroy the enemy, which is the government, and by extension, the Democrats. The whole point is to destroy the government so you can get more of your people elected so you can continue to destroy the government, and make it just a vessel for wars and for punishing internal enemies (Mexicans, ovaries, rappers, etc).

It’s fitting that the Confederate flag got involved. It’s not just because that is poison to decent-thinking humans. The entire GOP strategy is an extension of the Civil War by other means.

People could be very ill because of this. Babies could have their entire lives irrevocably changed. That shit like this isn’t front page news is a tragedy.