Tearing families apart is just another day in paradise


Once again, I find myself out of step on the hot-button issue of the day #hostile

Tearing families apart at the border? I’m out of step with this administration’s policies in that respect, yes.

Tearing families apart at the border? I’m out of step with the new round of mandatory thought from this administration’s opposition, too. If it’s any consolation, I’m out of step with pretty much everyone on pretty much most things. 

It’s the mandatory thought thing that gets me. Even after taming my news consumption habits significantly, I still get too much of it in my daily diet. I get enough news from a broad enough spectrum that, over time, it’s not difficult to detect trends.

When all the majors are reporting on something simultaneously, my hackles go up. There’s something we’re supposed to think, else they wouldn’t be in concert. Why are the bean counters okay with this story being the big story of the moment? Is it selling something I’m supposed to think? Is it opposing something I’m not supposed to think? Is it distracting from something I’m not supposed to notice? If I’m not supposed to consume the news that way, maybe we shouldn’t have let it become so consolidated, but I digress.

When the quasi-left media all start singing the same tune and the majors don’t notice, I perk up  more. There’s often substance there. But I’m so weary of the holier than thou litmus testing that seems to be an essential component of the left-wing message apparatus that it’s not even funny. And I’m weary of getting burned when I find out belatedly that the outrage du jour was predicated on something…off.

See, it’s bad enough I don’t have any persuasive powers (as I still judge from my close-knit circle of crickets), but there’s been too many times where I fell into lockstep and passed the latest litmus test uncritically, shared a thing, opined a bit, and ate crow, whatever it was…because I was sloppy and skipped the QA portion of sharing from within my own silo. I’m giving you the stinkeye, Occupy Democrats (as but one example).

Not every smart person I know is a Democrat, or liberal, or progressive, or Green, or even socialist. Neither is every good person I know. And vice versa. When I unload a new bucket of bile (and boy howdy can I be bilious), I try to make clear that it’s aimed at the top of the food chain where people are dumping toxic bullshit into the information stream, and that it’s not aimed at individuals. When I do spew some new rage at actual individuals, I try to make sure it’s a very easily identifiable sort of individual. Not wearing a Nazi armband? This probably isn’t about you, then. I’m fortunate to not have any of the worst elements in my own limited social circle. Do I count among my friends apologists for some of those elements? Enablers of? People merely complicit with? Those who seem to routinely err in favor of? Yes, I do.

The left has its own share of worst elements, just a different set of them. Just as on the right, they know they’re in the right of it, whatever it is. And they’re quick with the litmus tests, like they’re some sort of Calvinist sign of redemption. Where are you on universal healthcare? Check. Belligerent US policy? Check. Corruption on Wall Street? Check. The influence of money on politics? Check.

One could do that for a while and rack up all the right brownie points. But woe unto you if on getting deeper into the test you turn up positive for something impure. Not in lockstep with Black Lives Matter? What are you, a Nazi? Think third wave feminism has problems they’re not addressing while throwing radical feminism under the TERF bus? Clearly a Nazi.

Just a few short weeks ago, the new litmus test question was supposed to be “are you okay with tearing families apart at the border?” Don’t get this one wrong, Nazi.

The farther to the left one goes, the more of these tests one finds. At least that’s been my experience. There’s standards to uphold to be a truly good person. What passes for good on the other side is that banal, garden variety of good we read about in the Gospels when those with ears to hear learned history’s first real lesson on living life on Easy Mode. Even the heathen do some things. What do you want, a cookie for being an economy compact human with none of the usual bells and whistles?

Surely, life as a roomier and more luxurious mid-sized liberal or progressive or other self-appointed bastion of honor and virtue is to be desired, right? If so, just pass all the litmus tests.

And whatever you do, don’t stop and reflect too hard on the issues. A narrative has already been developed and straying from it will cause a revocation of your litmus test results. And do not talk about the narrative. If you start talking about the narrative, you’ll start seeing what you’re not supposed to notice.

It’s all about the standards, you see.

I confess, this bit of navelgazing has turned into something I did not expect, and I’m glad of it, because this is how I raise my own standards. I let new ideas influence old ones, and I allow myself the freedom to connect the dots I’m given in a meaningful way.

Here’s what my current game of connect the dots looks like. We’ve learned in the news that families are being torn apart at the border. We’ve watched the story unfold for weeks. Thanks to this administration’s handling, it is part and parcel of the current debate on immigration. Tearing families apart is bad, and wouldn’t it just figure? Instant narrative and litmus test, just add water.

But we’re not supposed to notice the narrative. Here’s another one of those random dots that, when I connected it, helped me draw this present hot mess of an article into a coherent whole:

Thread by @ChuckWendig: “Fuck Trump. Now, if your response to that was GASP TUT TUT, WHAT LANGUAGE, THIS IS HOW WE LOSE THE NEXT ELECTION — You’ve fallen into the t […]”

The theme?

You’ve fallen into the trap of holding liberals and Democrats to a ludicrously high — and utterly un-fucking-realistic standard! — while simultaneously holding the GOP and the right-wing to a standard so low, you could kneel down and still piss on its head.

Tone-policing. I’ve never much fucking cared about language, so it missed its mark with me. It has a fair few good points, though, and talks about narrative:

The right has crafted a sneaky narrative, one where they get to walk away with every atrocity in the book — while simultaneously holding full court press against the teeniest slight cast by someone on the left. “Yes, I killed a baby, but that Democrat was RUDE about it.”

What’s fucked up is when we, on the left, buy into that narrative. “Well, maybe that IS why we lost, maybe we SHOULD be better.” We’re so in love with the high-road narrative that we police our own on that high road instead of watching the saboteurs driving the road beneath us.

Somehow that got under my skin. I agree with it, but it just didn’t set right. Hell, I think Samantha Bee was wrong to apologize for calling Ivanka Trump a cunt when the important word was feckless. We never got to talk about fecklessness, and it wasn’t the right that shut that down, it was the left and its own special brand of of pearl-clutching. Oh, no, she used the dreaded c-word! And we at least mostly agree that Ivanka is feckless. And the media ran with the c-word narrative. And nobody on the left that mattered pushed back hard to ask the MSM why we weren’t talking about fecklessness.

But you know what? That’s small potatoes. Fuck that. What is this standards bullshit? It’s our language? I don’t think so. I don’t think so when there’s every reason to believe that the next slate of Dems to take office will be indistinguishably fucking horrible from the ones currently in office, never mind one or two bright points of light. The “Democrat” D branding should be complete anathema to anyone with standards by now, and we’re already seeing a rush to vote lesser evil in 2018 and 2020 before we even know who the lesser evil is supposed to be or exactly in what manner they’re supposed to be lesser in their evil, except for those times we are indeed aware.

I’ll call it now because it’s just too damned easy and predictable. The left will find another sheepdog in 2020, someone to rile up the principled base and throw their support in for the lesser evil establishment Dem when they predictably take the Dem nomination because it’s all about the D. And I’ll tell you now, you’ll be a Nazi, or a Nazi-enabler, or morally or intellectually deficient if you notice and mention all the ways the Democratic party just needs to die in a fucking fire already.

There. I think I’m done with needing my tone policed, but who knows what’ll happen next? After all, we’re hold the left to too high a standard, but when it’s time for the disaffected left to vote for the lesser evil, we’re not supposed to have already noticed the Democratic establishment’s abrogation of standards when it funded…oh, fuck it, you’ll see.

Among the Garden State winners backed by the DCCC: state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a moderate who has voted against gun restrictions, same-sex marriage, a minimum-wage hike, and combatting man-made climate change. He beat three progressive challengers to win the nomination in the 2nd District, where GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo is retiring.

Money talks and bullshit walks, and by bullshit, I mean three progressive challengers. Anyone more upset about my f-bombs can go fuck themselves.

What is even the fucking point of talking about standards when we see, now, this early, just where the Democrats that matter, the ones controlling the purse strings, stand on issues. That’s the fucking Democrats, right there, in a nutshell.

While we’re looking at the kinds of impossibly high standards we aren’t supposed to be holding Democrats to, how about this one?

DNC Rules Committee Approves Rule to Prevent Future Presidential Candidates Like Bernie Sanders

The DNC Rules Committee approved the recommendation of a new rule last week that allows the party to block certain presidential campaigns. More specifically, the party will block campaigns that do not “affirmatively demonstrate that they are faithful to the interests, welfare and success of the Democratic Party of the United States.”

Didn’t we just see a short piece on what the DCCC money thinks demonstrates faithfulness to the interests, welfare, and success of the Democratic Party (not you, the party)? Yes, yes we fucking well did.

Among the Garden State winners backed by the DCCC: state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a moderate who has voted against gun restrictions, same-sex marriage, a minimum-wage hike, and combatting man-made climate change. He beat three progressive challengers to win the nomination in the 2nd District, where GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo is retiring.

There it is, just in case someone’s phone went off and they missed it.

What fucking standards?

While we’re looking at standards, let’s look at what Democrat bipartisan spirit looks like when it’s about national security.

Congress May Declare the Forever War

Proposed by Senators Tim Kaine and Bob Corker, its radicalism approaches that of a constitutional amendment. Their new AUMF would subvert an article at the core of the Constitution, gutting a vital protection against tyranny devised by the Framers. It would authorize multiple existing wars without even debating them individually. It would empower Trump and his successors to unilaterally wage war in new countries, expand their ability to indefinitely detain prisoners without charges, and empower them to unilaterally kill individuals even inside the United States.

Tim Kaine? Who? Oh, nobody, just the fucking tool that the Dem establishment tried to plant in the #2 spot in the White House in 2016.

What fucking standards?

By now you’re probably wondering when I’ll talk about about tearing families apart. That’s what got the click, right? You ain’t gonna like it. It’s another few words. They’re not congratulatory of the Democratic establishment and it’s apologists and enablers. And they will also end with, “what fucking standards?”

See, I have another confession. I was late to the tearing families apart outrage litmus test game, and I didn’t pass. Tearing families apart at the border was a thing before June 4 when I decided to uncork the first time. NBC News posted this article from MSNBC on Facebook, which is where I get all my latest outrage invitations. I think I must have already been feeling some generalized ire at this latest outrage litmus test, where there is clearly a right and a wrong of it, and “something something morally and intellectually deficient” is likely to be part of any dismissal (rather than refutation) of points raised for clarity or in contention.

I’m not so much conflicted about the separation thing as others are, because we already routinely divide families from coast to coast any time a parent is apprehended and taken into custody, or held without bail, or imprisoned. One aspect of the immigration reform debate should absolutely be whether or not people committing the misdemeanor of illegal entry should be held to a greater burden than those who commit other misdemeanors.

Should a child be separated from a parent for:

petty theft
public intoxication
simple assault
disorderly conduct
reckless driving
discharging a firearm within city limits

Those are examples of misdemeanors. They illustrate the relative severity of a crime compared to felonies like murder, for instance.

For the sake of argument, I’ll take the callous approach and say yeah, sure. Why not? Steal, petty or otherwise, and get busted, you get some time. You don’t get to take your kid with you. Hookin? More complex. Some (rightly, I think) think the better answer to prostitution is to toss the johns in jail, but there are no quick and easy answers when the criminal is also the victim. Drunk in public? How drunk would a person need to be to have their kid taken from them, or worse, have them taken from their kid? Hell, I grew up where public drunkenness was called tourism. Kind of relative, isn’t it?

Maybe one of the problems we’re facing is that we haven’t spent long enough thinking about what kind of crimes should result in the tearing apart of a family. Your dog gets loose and goes under the fence of some business facility. You go in to get your dog. You’re busted for trespassing, and for whatever reason, the owner is pressing charges. Does your kid deserve to have you stripped out of their lives for a day? A week? 6 months? A year?

I’m not worried about what crime a person crossing the border illegally (misdemeanor) might do unless…it’s MS13. Come in with your face inked that way to announce your allegiance, and to hell with ya. Any kid separated from that is better off, hands down. Absent absolute, solid proof of what a horrible person a person is, and we get instantly into the realms of thought crime. Since when is punishing someone with the severity one reserves for a demonstrated criminal for what they might conceivably do anything but tyranny? There’s elements in our country right now waving their AR’s and drooling over the chance to kill their fellow Americans the day duty calls (never mind that they won’t sign up with a recruiter to kill America’s enemies…duty is calling). Should we start rounding them up for what they might do? No? That’s how that works.

For the moment, I’m worried about the commission of a misdemeanor, which, as we’ve seen, ranges in severity from having too much of a good time to threatening people and taking their stuff.

Should kids have their parents taken from them for all of that kind of stuff? Or just some?

Notice I keep saying kids having their parents taken from them, not the other way around. I don’t give a damn about the adult’s feelings. I’m mean, and I know it. Calculated risk or otherwise (often enough, just thoughtlessness and/or utter and complete selfishness) the adult is the one that played dice with custody. No john is ever really thinking about the harm he’s (probably a he) doing to the stability and security of his family. He’s getting his rocks off. I don’t give a shit about his feelings. The mom who gets busted for shoplifting diapers, on the other hand? Are we conflicted yet?

But with the kids, I have no conflict. Can we mostly agree that when a parent is taken from a child, the child is likely to feel deep emotional pain? Fear? Anxiety? Is that what we’re setting out to do?

I don’t care if it happened under Obama, or happens under Trump, or keeps happening under the next one. It’s not about that.

Are we supposed to agree that we should kennel kids because in the richest nation in the world we either cannot or will not show children more compassion than that?

So close to passing the litmus test, but so far. A miss is as good as a mile.

From then until now, I’ve watched this new narrative of mandatory thought take off. Isn’t it just delightful when the other side makes it so easy for us? Any time you think Trump has found the very bottom of the barrel of rancid assholes from which he issues, we learn there’s a secret hatch down there, leading to an ever devolving series of barrels. There is no bottom.

It’s gone from awareness of the problem to the president blaming Dem laws for his new policy shift. We’ve heard Sessions and SS Huckabee issue pro-slavery interpretation of scripture to justify the traumatization of children. We’ve even seen some of their own supporters finally start to think, “well, that ain’t right” because some savvy GOP operatives are hoping to capitalize on Trump’s personal repugnance. Maybe they’ll succeed where they failed in 2016?  We’ve seen Trump blame Dem law again.

Then Trump changed it up a bit more, so I soap-boxed as I do.

In other words, the old talking point of “Dems made me do it” is exactly the BS we knew it was when the GOP is actually trying to rectify the situation with legislation, and he *still* wants to rip kids from the arms of their mothers. Maybe the mothers are guilty of a misdemeanor, or maybe they’re seeking asylum. Sympathy may vary. But the children? Quick, let’s come up with justifications to torment and traumatize children. Everyone all at once now. We’re going to need more and more reasons to traumatize children.

And this hot on the heels of both of those hell-bound (if there’s any actual justice) blasphemers Sessions and SS Huckabee who tried to justify tormenting children on the basis of cherry-picked scripture because G-d appoints the government to establish order. Well, this is America, and the government is no longer by the divine right of kings but by a government of, for, and by the people (that’s the myth we’re supposed to believe, anyway)…so, by their own logic, G-d ordains this government to maintain order, in part through the actions of Congress…which Trump is opposing.

By all means, believers should keep voting their conscience. The rest of us can see what that conscience is worth. And people wonder why pews are emptying and the none/other category is growing.

I’m a believer in my own right, but I’ll say this without apology. If this is supposed to be interpreted in light of “well, Trump is anointed, too” then it’s a guessing game of which part of “ordained” government is right…the one that wants to traumatize children, or the one that does not. It’s as black and white as that at this point. And if Trump prevails and that’s supposed to say something about the G-d some Americans worship one way (as opposed to that same G-d other Americans worship differently, then that particular version of God is either unworthy of worship, or people really need to step back and ask themselves which understanding of G-d they consciously choose to embrace.

The one that ordains the traumatizing of children, or not? One understanding is clearly better than the other on that basis. Then the ripple effect should take over from there.

A friendly reminder: I’m not the one who made this about faith. The diabolists in the White House and their minions did that. Defending it says everything about the quality of a believer’s witness. The question now is what kind of believers America’s believers want to be.

Then earlier today, I saw one of those spates of absolute MSM concurrence that sets my hackles on end.

ABC: There ain’t no law!
NBC: There ain’t no law!
CBS: There ain’t no law!

Well, shit, that’s a bad look for Trump. Who knew that the liar in chief who is so toxic that even the Southern Motherfucking Baptist Convention has essentially kicked him to the curb.

Then it hit me like a bolt out of the blue, except that it shouldn’t have been a surprise. I’ve speculated about the Dem’s transparently cynical and relatively sudden love of Dreamers in the past. What do you do when you’re suffering attrition in the ranks of voters who owe you their votes? You find more loyalty votes. All of a sudden (comparatively), Dreamers are important. The dignity of migrants is important. There is a mandatory thought in here, and you are not supposed to look at the narrative.

The narrative cannot stand inspection. Its obvious blacks and its obvious whites resolve into gray at the edges and nothing is really as simple as it looks. Besides, we’re talking about ripping families apart at the border. Traumatizing kids. Where’s the gray in all that? If you’re looking for a reason to further loathe Trumpian policy, click the link. There’s plenty. But there’s also a problematic bit of newishness. Is the policy new? Yes. Caveat. Read the article.

That caveat leads to part of the narrative we’re not supposed to pay attention to. This isn’t entirely new. We’re only just now paying attention because…it’s news now and not when any amount of it happened for any reason under Obama? Let’s not forget that for all his evil aplenty, Trump is still just second-rate. After all, he hasn’t even kept up with Obama’s rate of deportation.

Don’t notice that! And if you do, do not talk about it! You’ll screw up the fucking narrative, and what are you, some kind of Nazi or something?

Finally, it all clicked for me. It’s actually really nice, and clean, and simple, and you can bet your second to last dollar that the GOP has absolutely zero interest in remedying the problem. That last dollar? You can lose that one on the Dems, because they also have zero interest in addressing the root cause of the problem. They have less than zero interest, actually, because that would mean having another part of their narrative shredded.

The problem goes back to that initial Facebook screed where I sound uncomfortably like Sessions. Don’t want your kids yoinked at the border? Don’t bring them. Illegal entry is a misdemeanor, and that’s just what we do with misdemeanors, and we were never supposed to stop and actually think about what compassion for children and families entails.

It entails a complete and total overhaul of our penal code and our penal system. If there’s a moral high ground to be had here, it lies in not traumatizing children. Which, as I noted, we routinely do from coast to coast, all the damned time. But it was never conveniently about this cynical new interest in securing loyalty Latino votes.

I have yet another confession. It was my white privilege that blinded me to what I was about to see next.

We’ve always been okay with tearing families apart over stupid shit like public drunkenness and shoplifting and urinating in public and…whatever stupid little infractions of the law we the people decide are worth traumatizing children over. Sessions is right. We don’t have a system where you get to take your kids to jail with you, so, regardless of your moral and intellectual sophistication or economic means (unless you’re wealthy), when you commit a misdemeanor, well, traumatizing your kids is just part of We the People’s way of handling things. It’s a disincentive, but we lucked into it. At least, I’m pretty sure nobody stood up during the planning of our draconian penal policies and actually said, “you know what’ll really scare ’em straight? Traumatizing their kids! It’ll happen anyway, and we’ll get to traumatize some kids! That’ll send a loud and clear signal for other perpetrators of misdemeanors to consider before whizzing up the place or stealing diapers or buying some quality time with whatever you want her name to be. Yeah….traumatize some kinds! Sounds awesome!”

Then again, we’re talking about humanity here, and, like Trump, humanity has no bottom. I know we’ve had plenty of experts look at our penal system and its ramifications on families in the past, and it’s an issue, but is breaking up families really part of the design? Or just a useful bug? Or an unavoidable evil? After all, misdemeanors were done and people have to pay their dues.

Or maybe the problem is that We the People need to really stop and ask ourselves, now that ripping families apart at the border has cynically drawn our attention to the matter, should we maybe apply our efforts to ending the practice of ripping families apart over misdemeanors generally?

I hope we do. And I feel bad that it took me this long to figure out it. Why? Because of my white privilege. When the Dreamers became a thing, I opined then (as I noted before) that it was a transparently cynical attempt by the Dem establishment to gain a new million-member bloc of loyalty votes. Why? They won the popular vote in 2016 and lost thanks to the Electoral College. More votes would certainly help, but hold on.

Is there no issue from which they can draw support from the intransigent non-voting independents? Of course not. Issue by issue on non-special interest matters, they’re to the right of Nixon and offer no real benefits other than being less odious than the opposition, or maybe just more politely so. They’re not going to win actual conservatives. They might win labor votes from the Trump crowd, but not when they are actively blocking any candidate that does not “affirmatively demonstrate that they are faithful to the interests, welfare and success of the Democratic Party of the United States.” They’re probably still pretty solid with the women’s vote they’ve got. There’s much to bank on where the Millennials are concerned. The only part of the gay vote they’re likely to lose are Log Cabin inclined because, who knew, having a gay penis doesn’t necessarily make a liberal? Oh, and lesbians, maybe, if the left’s new love affair with postmodern deconstruction of words like vagina, uterus, and woman have anything to do with it. I’m a TERF-supporting radfem quasi-ally myself, and I think the left is really botching their semantics when about the only people who are allowed to be unequivocally women have penises now.

But I really think they’re on the edge of hemorrhaging black votes. I know if I were a black voter who suffered under Bill Clinton, I would have noticed and kept score. I know if I got my hopes up because of Obama and eight years later weed is still illegal, broken windows policing is still out of control, no justice is to be had for Cops Gone Wild, and the school-to-prison pipeline is still doing gangbusters, I’d have noticed and kept score. And I’d notice when the people I owe my vote to go to the mat over some but not all penises being allowed in the women’s room, but not for my issues. I’d notice the Dems going to the mat for the Dreamers, but not for my issues.

And maybe, just maybe, I’d notice that out of all the people crying bloody murder over Latino families being torn apart at the border, and fucking scream, “where the fuck all you motherfuckers been?”

Tearing families apart has never been that big of a deal before. All of a sudden, they’re not black and it matters.

So I repeat myself. What fucking standards? Get back to me that D after your name, or apologetics for the lesser evil, and let’s trade privilege cards, shall we? You white? Me, too. You working poor? Didn’t think so. And if you’re cheesed about anything I said here, dollars to donuts you practically drip class privilege, distill it, and sell it to the poors as Superior Thought, so please, tell me all about standards and lesser evils and why it’s only now you care about all those poor children.

Give me a fucking break. Get back to me when you find a candidate without a D after their name, preferably one willing to tackle our inhumane, one-size-fits-all school-to-prison penal system. Do that, and we won’t be ripping families apart at the border, either. All you had to do to get there was get radical and go meta.

Or we can keep trying it the Dem way. Maybe, maybe you’ll stop tearing apart some families, just not black ones, but that’s okay as long as you win because something something lesser evil.

What fucking standards?

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