(See: Just Above Sunset: The Final Descent)
It's a long one today, but I did want to make two points.
FIRST, I WANT TO REITERATE and elaborate on what I said yesterday, since I think it's worth repeating:
I see Donald Trump presenting more of a threat to America than ISIS does. Seriously, I mean it! Just this once, I'm not trying to be cute or ironical.
The threat of ISIS is that it is an evil entity that seems to be trying to gobble up much or all of the world, starting with the Middle East. In the short range, it's destroying human lives over there, and it's demanding that we reconsider sending not only bombs and missiles but also troops and money, into what, based on our previous experience, has often seemed to be a mistake. We may have to change our minds, and soon, about not getting heavily involved in fighting them.
But in the long haul, ISIS presents itself as not much more than a huge nuisance to us, since they will never, ever successfully take over this country, as least as we are formulated now. They may attack us and kill a few of us, but in the long run, we will win.
The threat of Trump is more of an actual clear and present danger, and is afflicting us already, whether or not he wins the nomination.
For one thing, his crazy-legged and half-baked ideas have attracted a large following of people who like crazy, half-baked thinking, probably because they somehow find so much to not like in a world run by the normal people who pay attention to what they think and say. These followers, which we could call the "Trumpers" and "Trumpettes", see "careful thinking" as mere "political correctness", which they despise, and the people who practice it as "liberal elites", which they also despise.
But for another thing, Trump has campaigned so successfully that he's got all his opponents trying to catch up with him, either emulating him or trying to out-Trump him with their own terrible ideas that have no relationship to reality and show a shocking failure to fully understand the lessons of history. It's easy to imagine that whichever candidate wins the nomination, we will have a Republican candidate who will have to be, if not a full-blown sufferer of Trumpitis, at least a carrier of the disease who might easily pass it on to future generations of political leadership.
Maybe the real problem is not in our political stars but in our non-political selves. Specifically, I mean those Americans who decide to pay no attention to the world until suddenly something strikes their fancy, so they then call up their congresswoman and demand she vote for some senseless Republican-sponsored bill or other, insuring that our refugee vetting process, the only problem with which may be that it takes too long, will now take even longer with all that passing around of documents so they can get signed.
AND SECONDLY, there's something else we need to be aware of:
Trump and other Republican candidates make heaps of noise about how there's way too much "Political Correctness" in this country -- which they seem to assume is a liberal disease -- and yet, without conservative Political Correctness, all the Republican campaigns would simultaneously implode, leaving them all dumbstruck, with nothing to talk about.
Just a glance at a sizable alphabetical sampling of what makes up "Conservative Political Correctness" should show us that they pretty much all seem to be non-existent issues:
* Anchor Babies -- Does this involve non-citizens crossing the border to give birth to a baby that somehow will protect them from deportation? If so, forget it. Those babies don't really exist, since even parents with American citizen babies get deported all the time. When it happens, they are given the choice of taking their little American with them, or leaving them with some American citizen who is here legally. This is not to say illegal immigrants don't have babies here. Lots of people, not just illegal immigrants, even in America, give birth to babies. Get used to it.
* Birthright Citizenship -- First, see "Anchor Babies", above. Yes, you can try to change the interpretation of what the Constitution says about what it takes to be a natural-born American, but to what end? It won't dissuade people coming to America to give birth because nobody's really doing that now. Can't you find something more useful to do with your time?
* Calling the Enemy "Radical Islamists" -- Republicans keep criticizing Democrats for not having the "courage" to do this, but (a) never seem to explain why it's so important to "call a spade a spade" (their words, not mine), and (b) never seem to understand the reasoning behind not doing this, nor come up with a rejoinder, decent or otherwise, to those who tell them why it's a bad idea -- which is this:
Even George W. Bush learned early on that any description of who we're fighting that includes the word "Islam" tends to make it easier for the bad guys to convince the Arab "Street" -- that is, those undecided Muslims in the middle who we want to be on our side, but who all the bad guys want backing their side -- that there is a "clash of civilizations" going on, and that the West, indeed, is waging a War on Islam itself. Which, by the way, we're not.
* Defunding Planned Parenthood -- The point being, what? You're trying to reduce the amount of money were paying those people to perform abortions? Except that we're not paying any money to those people to provide abortions! And as for those dummies who say that PP is probably moving money around, because "We all know that money is fungible", those people don't know how the system works.
The only reason Republicans are after PP, as if I need to tell you, is that, in addition to providing ordinary health services to people, especially in out-of-the-way places, the non-profit offers abortions to those willing to pay for them. So anti-abortion social conservatives are attempting to misuse the government in order to vandalize some organization they don't like, because it does things they don't like, even though none of that has anything whatsoever to do with government. Hey, you looking for some way to be useful? Find something else. Volunteer in a soup kitchen or something.
(By the way, if you're one of those people against birth control, maybe you could start a campaign to defund CVS Pharmacy! I visited my local CVS today and saw an aisle labeled "Family Planning"! Yes, as far as I know, CVS receives no federal funding, but does that really matter? That shouldn't stop you from passing a bill and sending it to White House, and if your lucky, we might even talk enough spineless Democrats into joining you, just to make it veto-proof.)
* Gun Control (or the lack thereof) -- Despite the fact that Americans shoot themselves and each other, often resulting in someone's death, at a much higher rate than folks living elsewhere, American conservatives of both parties (but mostly the Republican one) inexplicably insist on protecting the right of Americans to keep doing this.
In fact, the anti-control "Gunmen" make such a compelling case that, even though they are a minority, most Americans settle on merely seeking ways of controlling guns instead of banning them, apparently thinking the latter is essentially impossible. Still, a day may come when America's huge pro-control majority will tire of the NRA arrogance and just cut to the chase, outlawing personal weaponry altogether. And as they say, when that day comes that they outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns -- and if you know what's good for you, try not to be one of them. I have a hunch living your life as an outlaw is not as much fun as it seems.
* Immigration Problem, The -- Essentially, there isn't any. There are no statistics showing that Mexicans crossing the border illegally are "rapists and murderers", although, in fact, there are statistics showing crime rates for illegal immigrants are probably lower than for whatever miserable group of citizens you belong to. And I think there are probably statistics somewhere showing that the jobs illegal immigrants take are jobs that the rest of us refuse to do, even at higher wages.
(In fact, I have anecdotal evidence from a friend of mine whose parents decided to only hire American citizens to clean the rooms of the hotels they own. First, they found that nobody would do it unless they raised the rates, and so they did that. But after three weeks or so on the job, they kept finding the Americans leaving, often without notice, having found a better job somewhere. After a while, they could no longer pass the higher wages on to their guests, so they gave up, and went back to hiring only illegal immigrants.)
* Keystone Pipeline -- As everybody knows by now, this issue is totally symbolic, for both sides.
Conservatives want to make some point, that the Democrats are refusing to exploit all our forms of energy to make America strong and "energy independent", even though the crude under discussion here doesn't come from our country, it comes from Canada -- which should instead qualify as "imported" oil -- but also, much of it won't even go to us anyway, much of it will go to some refinery on the Gulf Coast, then get shipped overseas.
Meanwhile, liberals want to make the point that, instead of continuing to search for cheaper ways to smog up the atmosphere by extracting more dirty oil from shale (which, it has now been confirmed, has been causing earthquakes in Oklahoma), we ought to instead be concentrating on developing safer and cleaner sources of energy, such as wind and sun and electricity that you can store in batteries -- which, in addition to being sources that won't run out some day, have the added advantage of actually making us independent from all those countries whose constant wars always seem to be luring us into the fight.
So yes, it's all just symbolic on both sides, and I, for one, think the Democratic symbolism here is far more meaningful than the Republican symbolism. And so should you.
* Syrian Refugees -- This is the newest non-issue to tickle the conservative fancy, maybe because all those other non-issues were getting stale. Does it matter to Republicans that there is already in place a program for vetting refugees, even Syrian ones, that seems to have been working perfectly well?
Of course not. The way to deal with that, they seem to reason, is to merely add something to that program -- making sure the DHS and FBI and DOJ are each made to sign off on every refugee man, woman and child -- just to make it look like Obama wasn't doing enough to keep Americans safe. Getting this stupid bill passed will give them one more phony thing to make hay about during some debate, as we approach election day.
* Voter Fraud -- The cases of actual voter fraud are so incredibly rare, they are statistically non-existent.
The real reason Republicans have pushed "Voter ID" laws on states they control, allegedly as a way to combat voter fraud, is to make it harder for poor people to vote, since poor people usually vote Democratic. When this issue came up before the Supreme Court, the Justices ruled that the Republicans could go ahead and do whatever they want, whether or not there is an actual voter fraud problem in America. Which, as everybody knows, there isn't.
* War on Christianity -- This seems to be less and less of an issue every year. Whether or not this "war" actually exists all seems to depend on whether Bill O'Reilly and Fox News choose to wage it each year. They seem, for some reason, to be perturbed at the way we Americans celebrate our holidays, and that most of us choose not to rudely get in the face of, and push our holidays on, those who don't celebrate them. I haven't heard yet whether or not the Fox people have decided to wage the war this year, but if you really need to know, give them a call (212-301-3000), then let me know what you find out.
Why, you may ask, do Republicans attach themselves to all these quixotic crusades?
The answer, I think, is two-fold: (1) Because all the real issues are already taken by the Democrats, although that doesn't matter because Republicans don't really want those things to happen anyway -- real things, like more jobs, higher pay, equal pay, better public education, cleaner environment, consumer protections, better opportunities for minorities and women, more control of who gets their hands on guns, fewer dumb wars, and a less belligerent approach to other countries, just to name a few; and (2) I'm sure Republicans think their issues have more pizzazz than ours. And they're probably right.
But If you have any doubts that the above non-problems all help define conservative PC, try telling your conservative friends that any or all of their so-called issues are simply conservative Republican versions of PC, and see how they react.