“I Hate This Place”
“All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy… One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives.
The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable…”
-H.L. Mencken, “The Smart Set”
WARNING: I’m pissed off at all of you, and this is a rant. It’s brilliant and insightful, but it’s not nice. To be fair, you richly deserve it, so read it and weep.
My most-read article is one of my first: On Accepting Refugees, Pros And Cons. Search engines pick it up all the time. I’m proud of it; it’s a fair analysis, and it speaks a truth that has held up pretty well these past years. And it’s almost completely irrelevant in this discussion (but read it anyway.)
People are protesting the apparently unlawful mass detention at airports of hundreds of people who were enroute to the United States when President Trump’s Executive Order of 25 January was put into effect in conjunction with that of the 27th. The rest of this article notwithstanding: This protest is a good thing, a beautiful expression of democracy against an unjust and even an insane law. I applaud it, as much as I can from here, sipping tea safe behind my keyboard on the other side of a computer screen.
That being said, this is nothing, and it won’t last, because it never does, and because We The People are by our own choice too frigging stupid to be let off a leash.
Hello, You The Person. You’re my reader. You’re reading, which makes you marginally less stupid than everyone else in this God-forsaken country that has the gall to call itself the “Land of the Free” when it imprisons one in a hundred of its own citizens and the “Home of the Brave” when we consistently elect leaders who all promise to keep us out of war… but don’t.
Why do I call the American people stupid?
In no major news outlet have I seen a detailed description of what has happened to cause a backup of detainees at airports across the country. Nobody complained about the limited information; they just marched on airports and blamed President Trump, because that’s whose fault this is, right? We don’t need to know the details, right? We know who’s to blame! …right?
—>>> Wrong. <<<—
Oh, yes; this was Trump’s order, and yes, he’s ultimately responsible. It was a stupid order executed inefficiently and it made a mess, and the reason we’re all protesting is because it made a mess, not because the ban is wrong or there’s discrimination or because all Republicans are evil or any of that crap.
The reason I know this is, I read and understood the Executive Order. I found the place that references the relevant statute, and I then read the statute and understood that. This is no great feat of mental gymnastics; the statute is written in third-grade English and the order isn’t much more complex. You could do it yourself — except you didn’t, did you? A few political operatives or lawyers did, but the New York Times didn’t, CNN didn’t, and Fox News read and quoted the wrong frigging section. (No joke, no lie. I cannot make this shit up.)
Which means you don’t understand why this just happened, because you’re so unused to digesting difficult concepts that you have to get it pre-chewed-over by the pundits and reporters and the anchor desk at Entertainment Tonight and the damned meme factory at Occupy Democrats. So let me chew it up for you and spit it at you, and then we can discuss.
“Sec. 7. Return to Territory. The Secretary shall take appropriate action, consistent with the requirements of section 1232 of title 8, United States Code, to ensure that aliens described in section 235(b)(2)(C) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(2)(C)) are returned to the territory from which they came pending a formal removal proceeding.”
–Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
This is a part of the order which is talking about returning “catch-and-release” aliens to their home nations, which is actually a pretty good idea. Read it in context and it makes perfect sense; these people are criminals or have attempted to defraud the government, and the only reason we’re not deporting them automatically is that we want an excuse to follow and wiretap and monitor them so we can catch their friends, some of whom may be smuggling drugs. Great idea; failed program; time to end it.
Except that’s not section 235(b)(2)(C) they meant to reference. It’s section 212(a)(6)(c) and 212(a)(7), which is referenced in section 235(b)(1)(A)(i). Ladies and gentlemen, this is all a fucking typo.
Read it yourself. It’s in (nearly) plain English.
Now are you getting it? The Trump Administration issued an executive order on immigration without having a dozen lawyers read it first, and they very foolishly broke something. Not because they’re racists (they may be, but section 235 was revised in a bill written and signed under President Obama with a ton of Democrats voting in favor) or because they’re incompetent (though again they may be) but because they’re rushing like hell to accomplish two major changes every day in order to keep the opposition off balance, and they just don’t have the staff to make that happen — not and do it right.
And why don’t they have the staff? Well, in part it’s because they, like every other new administration that wants to run before it can walk, are a bunch of arrogant tyros. But it’s also because the Senate is busy blocking Trump’s cabinet appointments, the secretaries of the departments mentioned in the executive order whose jobs it ought to be to review these things for stupid typos. (Not personally. They employ people to do that, which is good because most cabinet members without regard to party affiliation are either congenital idiots or rapidly approaching senility and senescence.)
And why is the Senate blocking cabinet appointments? Because we tell them to, in phone calls and write-in campaigns and protests and marches.
So who’s at fault? Well, you could say Trump is, for appointing such an egregiously corrupt lot to high public office, and for making this mistake in the first place. Or you could be more honest and say you are at fault yourself, and I am (because I advocated this), and everyone in the whole corrupt stinking rotten two-party system of politics as usual and pay-to-play. But you can’t actually blame Congress this time, because they’re doing their jobs for once, damn them. And some of these appointments — DeVos for Education, for God’s sake?! — are truly insane.
Temporary solution? Call your Congressmen and Senators and tell them to hurry the hell up and confirm anyone not actually drooling or criminal or horrible human beings. Actually, Kissinger did pretty well by us, so you can confirm Darth Sessions and Grand Moff Tillerson if you want to — but oppose the ones that matter, the criminally insane or incompetent: DeVos and Mnuchin and Price. But that’s my opinion and your call to make — so make the damn call, and if you don’t have the time or inclination to research this for yourself, just do what you’re told and then be very very ashamed of yourself because you’re the very reason we’re in this mess in the first place, by following the marching orders of a party-line ignorant propaganda press.
Congressional Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Jeez. Ranting really takes it out of me. Stop making me do this. Go read a book or something. Use your brain.
What — still here? Okay then; I’ll pre-chew some more facts for you. You’re gonna love these.
So today we had protestors rally at airports to protest the injustice of BPD detaining people with valid Green Cards and dual citizenships. Cab companies declared a general strike in support (detaining even more people, but it really does make sense) and Uber made a lot of money. And a lot of good people, upset their government is both incompetent and corrupt (this is news?!), made signs and marched. Which again is a very very good thing, and I admire them for it. I’d be there myself, except I’m here.
And there will be protestors marching tomorrow and the next day and pretty much from here on out, because there are people who are just that upset at Trump, and they want to blame him for the fact they don’t have jobs (if they had jobs they’d only protest on weekends) or free healthcare (which we should really have) or a pony.
But you forget: These other protestors are almost all students. They’re young and angry at the world, like all students at any time when the world looks awful and they can’t get a job but are a quarter million in debt. Of course they’re protesting; I’d be protesting too — if I were a student.
You have to admire their idealism and their strength, though that won’t last. In four years many of them will have careers. In ten years they’ll be firmly entrenched in the consumerist system. In twenty years they’ll be voting Republican for fear their taxes will go up and saying to each other “Remember when we protested?”
And in forty years they’ll retire, move to Florida, and die of a stroke two weeks afterward, because that’s how our society works.
Sad to say, all this protesting and all the rage will change nothing big. But if we’re very very lucky and maybe even God help us a little bit smart, we might fix something small.
So for the love of God, figure out what it is you’re protesting. Don’t just jump on the newest outrage; Trump’s a past master at delivering two outrages a day, and you’ll never have time to consider. Stop and think for a second. Despite my words above about researching for yourself, there’s no shame in consulting people you trust — but never forget that they might have a political axe to grind, so take what they say with a grain of salt.
And then protest — effectively and intelligently.
Or you can keep doing what you’re doing and continue to be the idiocracy we know and hate. Go America. I believe in you. Except I don’t, because you didn’t read the Executive Order, you didn’t click the links to the relevant statute, and you’re not going to share this to all your Facebook and Twitter friends. (Trust me; I know these things. I track your clicks.)
Go on. Prove me wrong. I dare you.