Believing Women and Voting Biden

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Believe women. This is the rallying cry of the #MeToo movement and it is solid advice when it comes to allegations of men behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner. While the circumstances of many allegations cannot be substantiated due to lack of witnessed or evidence, it is exceedingly rare that women take the time or the risk to make up allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. It is difficult to allege that someone is lying just to ‘make a name for themselves’ when that fame is the sort that typically results in more death threats than lucrative deals.

In recent years, the #MeToo movement has made great strides. People like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein who were thought to be untouchable are behind bars for terrible crimes they committed against women who had been telling their stories for decades.

And yet, despite the most diverse Presidential candidate field in history, the incumbent President and the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party are both straight white guys in their 70s with a history of being sexually inappropriate with women. Without paying any closer attention one might make the mistake of thinking that these two men and the allegations against them are essentially the same. That would be a mistake.

Here are all of the known allegations against Joe Biden in chronological order.

 

1993 – Tara Reade said in 2019 that Biden allegedly touched her neck and shoulders in a way that was inappropriate and uncomfortable. Now in 2020 she is saying he also pushed her up against a wall and put his fingers inside her.

2008 – Amy Coll says that Biden complimented her smile, squeezed her shoulders, and held her “for a beat too long”.

2009 – Amy Stokes say Biden put his hands behind Stokes’ head and pulled her close. She thought he was going to kiss her.

2014 – Lucy Flores claims Biden came up behind her, leaned in, smelled her hair, and kissed the back of her head.

2016 – Sofie Karasek was photographed with Biden holding hands and touching foreheads at the 2016 Acadmey Awards. Karasek later said she felt Biden violated her personal space.

2016 – Caitlyn Caruso shared her story of sexual assault at a University of Nevada event, Biden hugged her “just a little bit too long” and put his hand on her thigh.

2012 – DJ Hill says Biden rested his hand on her shoulder and began moving it down her back. She said the encounter made her “very uncomfortable.”

2013 Vail Kohnert-Yount says Biden put his hand on the back of her head and pressed his forehead to her forehead. He also called her a “pretty girl.”

 

Now here are all the allegations against Trump:

Late 1970s – Jessica Leeds claims Trump allegedly groped her repeatedly during an airplane flight.

Early 1990s – Kristin Anderson claims that Trump put his hand up her skirt to her underwear.

1989 – Ivana Trump, Trump’s first wife claims he violently raped her. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Coehn defended this by saying “you cannot rape your spouse.”

1992 – Jill Harth said she had dinner with Trump and her then-boyfirend, George Houraney. During the dinner she says Trump put his hand between her legs and tried to kiss her during a tour of his Mar-a-Lago estate a month later. She sued him and settled for an undisclosed amount.

1996 – Lisa Boyne said that she attended a dinner with Trump and modeling agent John Casablancas during which several othe rwomen in attendance were forced to walk on the table, during which Trump looked up their skirts and asked Boyne which he should sleep with.

1997 – E Jean Carroll claims Trump asked for advice on buying a gift for a girl and then while shopping with him he raped her in a dressing room. She told friends about the incident directly after it happened.

1997 – Cathy Heller claims she put her hand out to say hello to Trump at a Mother’s Day brunch at Mar-A-Lago where he unexpectedly grabbed her and kissed her on the lips in front of her family. She says she pulled away and he tried to kiss her again.

1997 – Temple Taggert was the 21-year-old Miss Utah in the Miss USA contest in 1997. She claims, Trump, who owned the pageant at the time, kissed her “directly on the lips.”

1997 – Mariah Billado and Vicotria Hughes both claim that Trump was walking into the dressing rooms fo the Miss Teen USA pageant while they were changing.

1998 – Karena Virginia, a New York-area yoga instructor, said Trump approached her in 1998 outside the US Open tennis tournament whil she was awaiting car srvice, made unseemly comments about her appearance, grabbed her arm, and groped her breast.

Early 2000s- Karen Johnson, says that at a New Year’s Eve party at Mar-A-Lago Trump pulled her behind a tapestry and kissed and groped her without her consent.

2000 – Bridget Sullivan, who was crowned Miss New Hampshire 2000 claims Trump came into the Miss Universe changing room while the contestants were naked. Trump bragged about doing this on Howard Stern in 2005.

2001 – Tasha Dixon, former Miss Arizona, says Trump walked into a dress rehearsal for a pageant while the contestants were half nakde and whe women were told to ‘fawn all over him’. She was 18 at the time.

2003 – Mindy McGillivray says that Trump grabbed her butt at Mar-a-Lago.

2005 – Rachel Crooks, a secretary who worked in Trump’s building says that when she first met Trump he shook her hand, then kissed her ont he cheeks and then on the lips, while outside an elevator at Trump Tower.

2005 – Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for People magazine says that during a break for an interview times to coincide with the first anniversary of Trump’s marriage to his third wire, Melania, he forced her against a wall and tried to kiss her and only stopped because his butler entered the room.

2005 – Jennifer Murphy, a contestant on the 4th season of “The Apprentice,” claims after she was fired  foromt he reality-TV show, Trump followed her to the elevator and kissed her on the lips.

2005 – Juliet Huddy, a former Fox News anchor said that Trump kissed her on the lips without consent.

2006 – Jessica Drake, at a 2006 golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Drake was asked by Trump to come up to his hotel room. She brought two friends with her because she did not feel safe. He allegedly hugged each of them tightly and kissed each of them on the lips without consent.

2006 – Samantha Holvey, a contestant in the 2006 Miss USA pagaeant said Trump “would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to tow like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people,”

2006 – Ninni Laaksonen competed in Miss Universe as Miss Finland. Before an appearance on the David Letterman Show, she says Trump grabbed her butt.

2006 – Summer Zervos, a contestant on the fifth season of the Apprentice kissed her without her consent on three separate occasions and groped her breast.

2013 – Cassandra Searles, former Miss Washington claimed he  grabbed her butt and invited her to his hotel room.

2016 – Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer, said that Trump kissed her without her consent at a Tampa, Florida rally.

This list is not including the three women Trump is known to have paid off including Stormy Daniels who he slept with in 2006 while his third wife was home with a new baby.

I’ll be the first to admit that Joe Biden is not my first choice. He’s problematic in a number of areas. It would have been great if someone like Elizabeth Warren had gotten the nomination.

We are left with the choice between two flawed candidates: Joe Biden or Donald Trump. And regardless of how you choose to vote or if you choose to vote at all, one of them is going to be the next President of the United States. It’s important to take allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape very seriously. It’s important that we acknowledge the bravery of these women for coming forward. It’s important that we honor that by believing what women have to say.

It would be understandable to throw one’s hands in the air and just proclaim that they’re all corrupt and there’s no point in voting at all. And I would agree with that if the job of President of the United States was simply to be the best person in the country because both fall far short of that. But the job of President is more than a simple popularity contest or purity test. It is to lead a diverse and chaotic nation of over three hundred million people during one of the most dangerous and volatile times in the history of this country.

We have seen how Trump does this. He does this through fear. He does it through bragging and lies. He does it by ignoring a pandemic until it becomes too big to ignore is killing thousands of Americans. He does it by stealing children from their parents and putting them in cages where some die. He does it by ridiculing women who dare do something as simple as ask him a question he doesn’t like. And given four more years he will do all this and worse. He will end legal abortion. He will fight against equal pay for women. He will continue to openly insult women doing their jobs. He will put more rapists on the Supreme Court. We know this.

We also know quite a bit about Biden. He helped write the first climate change law. He believes that healthcare is a human right. He listens to experts. He helped make gay marriage the law of the land. He was Vice President of the United States for eight years under Barrack Obama during which our economy saw more prosperity than it had at any other time in the 21st Century.

We know one other thing too. Incumbent Presidents tend to win reelection. See Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. So not voting or voting third party is not a protest. It’s not a way to show the Powers That Be that you’ve had enough. It’s surrender to four more years of Donald Trump in the White House.

I believe women. I believe women when they are making allegations against Republicans or Democrats. I believe women when they are making allegations against the powerful or the insignificant. And I believe that women will be better off under a Biden Presidency than another four years of Trump.
– Jack Cameron

Heroic

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Heroic
by Jack Cameron
I remember the fire like it was last weekend. We were only kids back then. I was over at Billy’s apartment because his place had a television and Transformers was on after school.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t really like Billy. Don’t ask me why. If I think about it, he was a lot like me. Though I’d never do what he did. I put up with Billy so I could watch cartoons.

I don’t know where he got the matches. I was busy watching television. But I heard the strike of the match and it turned my head. The first one didn’t light. He tried another one. It didn’t light. A third. A fourth. I went back to watching the Autobots fight the Decepticons.

Just as Transformers was ending and G.I. Joe was starting I heard the match ignite. I turned my head and saw the flash of the flame in Billy’s eyes. Billy was literally playing with fire. Then the match went out.

I had an idea. So I got up and ran down the hall to my place where there was no television. I found what I was looking for. I opened the spigot on top of the small yellow bottle. As I walked down the hall, I started spraying the liquid from the bottle onto the floor creating a trail from my apartment to Billy’s.

When I got back, Billy had a match lit. He used it to light another match. I sprayed some more of the liquid onto Billy’s floor.

“Drop the matches, Billy. They’re dangerous.” I said.

Billy dropped them without putting them out. So dangerous.

They flames hit the lighter fluid and ignited the trail.

“Oh shit, Billy!” I said, “You started a fire!”

As the fire reached the hall, I started pounding on doors, “BILLY STARTED A FIRE! BILLY STARTED A FIRE!”

Luckily I was able to let people know the dangerous thing Billy did. I was a hero.

Unite, Cheat, or Die

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I got into a lot of fights in elementary and middle school. I actually enjoyed fighting. It genuinely felt good to hit people who deserved to be hit. I didn’t pick on weak kids. I found bullies and beat the hell out of them. The thing of it is, I was known for ‘not fighting fair’. I would kick opponents in the crotch. I would poke them in the eyes. I would kick them when they were down. And I almost never lost. Some would say, “That’s because you cheated.” But while there are rules to boxing, wrestling, and baseball, there are no rules to a school yard fight.

I bring this up because the Democrats keep thinking they’re boxing when it’s a school yard fight with no rules. We are less than three weeks away from what may very well be the most important midterm election in our country’s history. Democrats are registering people to vote in record numbers. Republicans are doing everything possible to stop people from voting. In North Dakota, they’re insisting every voter needs a street address in order to stop over 35,000 Native Americans who use post office boxes from voting. In Georgia, a man running for governor is using his current job to try to stop over 53,000 voters from being able to vote. Over 70% of them are black. All across the South over 1,000 polling places have been closed to make it more difficult to vote. I could go on and on about the ways that Republicans try to stop people in general and non-white people in particular from being able to vote. In a country that supposedly prides itself on democracy, the fact that one of the two parties isn’t trying to sway voters but instead trying to kill their ability to vote speaks volumes about the Republican Party’s corrupt racism.

They cheat and they win.

And what do Democrats do? We eat our own. Last Summer using racial slurs and doubt, Trump said he’d donate a million dollars to a charity of her choice if Senator Elizabeth Warren submitted to a DNA test and found any Native American traits in her family as she had said there were Native Americans in her family tree. This past week she revealed DNA results that said it was very likely that she was telling the truth. It’s worth noting here that she never said, “I am Native American.” It’s worth noting that because people are saying she said that and attacking her for it. And when I say people, I mean fellow Democrats. When Trump saw these attacks on Warren this week by fellow Democrats I’m sure he got hard. I even had an allegedly ‘progressive’ Facebook friend unfriend me over it.

And when my Democrat friends weren’t attacking Elizabeth Warren, they were attacking Hillary Clinton for something she said about her husband’s affair from the previous century. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton have said that they are never running for office again. They’ve been explicit about this. And yet, especially from the sore Bernie Bros out there, bringing up the Clintons is the one thing they and the Alt-Right racists absolutely LOVE to do.

It’s also worth noting that the people we’re attacking on the left tend to be women. Women are a favorite target of Republicans and apparently of misguided and/or gullible Democrats. We need to stop this.

Republicans are well aware of our habit of eating our own. Here in Washington State, knowing the purity tests many Progressives use to fight other Democrats, Republicans created a fake Progressive PAC and then sent out fake mailers claiming whatever Democrat was on the ballot wasn’t ‘progressive enough’. Each mailer suggested a different prominent Democrat to write in. This is their attempt to split the Democrat vote through lies far too many of us are gullible enough to buy.

We outnumber the Republicans. We are better educated than the Republicans. But for whatever reason, when it comes down to beating the other team, we’re too busy worried about whether our teammates are wearing their uniforms correctly to actually play the game. And the people we’re playing against are cheaters.

Do you want to know what stopped me from fighting all the time when I was a kid? Other kids started bringing knives and guns into the equation. And they started joining gangs. I stopped fighting because they were cheating back and uniting. If we really want to beat these guys and I’m of the opinion that defeating them may be the only hope our country has from falling into a fascist regime, then we’re going to have to do at least one of two things:

We either need to recognize that fighting each other only helps the Republicans and learn to fucking unite. Or we’re going to have to cheat. Republicans have the uncanny ability to unite behind whatever monster is on the ballot as long as there is an R next to their name. (Trump coined the term ‘Lyin’ Ted’ regarding Ted Cruz and hosted a rally in Texas where he endorsed him last night.) Democrats will attack another Democrat for saying the wrong thing once. We need to stop that or we need to start coaching children to say they were molested by Republican candidates or something similarly heinous. Or we can just keep losing.

Unite, cheat, or die. Those are the only choices for Democrats in 2018. Choose wisely.

– Jack Cameron
(A version of this article appeared in my weekly newsletter last week. Subscribe at http://tinyletter.com/jackcameron .)

The ICE-age Must End

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I’m going to use this article as a place to add things we know about the children who have been stolen from their parents by the United States Government under orders from Donald Trump.

I feel like this is something that I shouldn’t even have to write about. What sane person capable of empathy or compassion would need someone to explain why stealing children and putting them in cages is wrong? If you’re in favor of such a policy you lack sanity, compassion, or empathy. Or maybe all three. I don’t know.

So lets start with what we don’t know. Right now we don’t know what records ICE is destroying, but we do know they have plans to destroy records of abuse, sexual assault, and death. I’ve personally seen paper shredding trucks arriving at the for-profit prison here in Tacoma that is currently holding at least 22 parents of children who have been stolen from them. We also don’t know how records have been destroyed that could have reunited families, but we do know that some records have been destroyed.

We know in Victorville, California in the Mojave desert, the facility is overcrowded and lacking medical staff and has had multiple cases of scabies and chickenpox. A current member of the medical staff at that facility said, “It’s gone from bad to worse ― there are going to be some detainee deaths,” Check out this article from The Nation if you want to get an idea of what these facilities are really like.

We also know that at least one ICE employee used his status to steal the identities of immigrants. When they aren’t stealing identities, they’re roughing up people just for the hell of it.

Some might ask what this dramatic increase in immigration enforcement is all about. It’s not about an increase in immigrants. Immigration to the United States has been going down. It’s about ICE modifying their rules so that they can grab pretty much anyone they want to like a modern day gestapo. This is allowing them to grab up people who are legal residents of this country as reported in the LA Times.

If all of this isn’t enough to give you pause and realize that our immigration policies have severe flaws that rise to the level of crimes against humanity, then maybe the fact that after stealing these children some were literally given to human traffickers who will sell them into the sex trade to the highest bidder will. This comes not from some fringe media, but the New York Times.

Do you need to hear that the children who weren’t sold to be whored and fucked were tied naked to chairs and beaten? They were. Do you need to hear that at least one sex offender was in charge of these children? He was. Do you need to hear how the present administration thinks reuniting a child with her parents and adopting that stolen child out to an evangelical white family is basically the same thing? They do. Do you need to hear that pregnant women have been abused and had miscarriages because of the way ICE treated them? They were. Does the danger of you child being stolen from you go away if you are a United States citizen? It doesn’t. 

And before you think that the present regime (it’s difficult to call this group of criminals, con men, authoritarians and white supremacists an ‘administration’) is going to stop stealing children who are stripped, beaten, raped, and sold to whore mongers, they’ve budgeted for an increase in these Trump Camps.

Before you think they’re destroying records just for fun, there’s money in it. They’re charging desperate parents up to $800 for cheap DNA tests to find their children.

A common argument made by the anti-immigration crowd is that they should just come here legally, but it turns out that even if you play by the rules, in some cases children are still stolen. Including a 3-year-old who was taken from his father who had crossed the border legally.

ICE needs to be abolished. The people behind this inhuman, psychotic, genocidal program need to be punished and imprisoned. One can only hope that if they are, they are treated with the same courtesy they have shown the desperate men, women, and children coming here for a better life.
– Jack Cameron

 

Avengers Infinity War

 

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Slight Spoiler (This scene is not in the movie)

Avngers Infinity War (Non-Spoiler)
Back in the 1990s when I was really getting into comic books I would tell people how Marvel should just start making Movies and TV shows that all take place in the same universe like they do with comics. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is something I wanted for decades before it happened. And after ten years they’re finally reaching their end game for a storyline they started in 2008.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo had an impossible job: Take characters from 18 previous movies, some technological, some tactical, some magic, and some cosmic, and make a coherent story that ties up storylines that were spread throughout movies from the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is similar to what Joss Whedon had to do with the first Avengers movie except multiplied into double digits. Most of all, they had to have Thanos, a character with less than five minutes total screen time all together, be as fearsome and dangerous as he’s been built up to be. I’m happy to say that the Russo brothers not only pull this off, but go far beyond that.

With so many characters, it’s no surprise that some characters do not get much to do or say. What is surprising is how few characters I can say that about. The Russos did a fantastic job of giving even secondary characters a good moment or two.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Infinity War is how Marvel earned this. Taken on its own, Infinity War is a non-stop action slugfest. Taken with the 18 films that have led up to Infinity War and this fight is one of the most earned fights in cinema history. One of the key things that plague DC Universe movies is that they simply have no patience. The first Avengers movies was the fifth MCU movie. They did five whole movies without much more than a wink or a nod at each other. DC did exactly one movie (Man of Steel) that didn’t explicitly have direct connections to the other movies. Imagine if Captain America: Civil War was the second movie in the MCU. It wouldn’t have made any sense because we don’t yet really care about the characters. Now imagine the opposite. Imagine if Batman vs Superman wasn’t the second movie in an ongoing franchise. Instead it’s the 13th movie (like Civil War). Suddenly the stakes of Batman and Superman fighting actually matter. There’s a classic moment in the first episode of Community when Jeff Winger says, “I can pick up this pencil, tell you it’s name is Steve and go like this…[breaks pencil] and a part of you dies just a little bit on the inside.” That’s basically storytelling in a nutshell. DC is under the impression that the important part is breaking the pencil. They’re wrong. The important part is naming the pencil. It’s only after we know the pencil has a name that we care. If we don’t know the characters we can’t care about them.

The action in Infinity War is unrelenting and incredible. Given all of the things going on with so many characters it is impressive as hell that they were able to do everything they did without making it confusing.

 

Overall, Infinity War is a fine addition to the MCU and the best of the Avengers movies in my opinion. In order to talk more about this and its connection to the comics that inspired it, I need to get into spoilers.

Infinty War (SPOILERS!!!!)

Infinity War impressed me on a number of levels, but I think one of the best things about it is that it put millions of viewers in a position comic book fans find very familiar. When reading a comic book, if one of the side characters die, you know it’s kind of serious. If one of the major characters die, you know it’s really serious. And if half of the major characters die, you know they’re almost definitely going to be brought back. This was true the first time Thanos snapped his fingers and killed half the universe back in 1990.

Check out the list of dead from Infinity Gauntlet #2 (Note that only Black Panther is disappeared in both the comics and the movie.)

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There are of course significant differences between the comics and the films, but one of the other surprising things about Infinity War is that it has a lot of things in common with the comics. In the comics Thanos is in love with the entity Death. She’s resurrected him and told him to kill half the universe. And so he gets the Infinity Stones to do so. In the MCU abstract concepts aren’t entities (yet). So instead they give him the motivation of feeling the universe is dangerously overpopulated. This also comes from the comics. There’s an issue of Silver Surfer leading up to Infinity Gauntlet in which he makes much the same argument.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that unlike comic books (usually), we have to wait a whole year to find out what happens next.

This gives Marvel a great opportunity to integrate their TV stuff. They could easily have episodes of Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil, Luke Cage, or any of the other upcoming seasons of Marvel shows in which half the cast disappears into dust. If history is any indication, Agents of SHIELD will touch on it while the other shows will not.

While it’s true that they’ve killed off characters we know are coming back, (Sony isn’t going to let Spider-Man die after only one of their movies.) it’s still impressive to end a movie that’s likely going to make a billion dollars in less than two weeks with the bad guy killing half the universe and smiling at the sunset. When DC killed Superman in BvS they felt the absolute need to put hovering dirt above his coffin to make sure even the dumbest person in the theater knew he was coming back. With Marvel, at least they had the guts to kill them dead.

What happens next? Well I can tell you what happens in the comics. If you don’t want to know, skip this paragraph. In the comics it’s the Silver Surfer who falls through Dr. Strange’s roof to warn everyone about Thanos. Then half the universe disappears. Then the rest of the heroes show up to save the universe. Of course Thanos is all powerful and it does not go well. Eventually Thanos tries to become one with the cosmos, but he retains his mortal body. Nebula gets her hands on the gauntlet and puts everything back how it was, but that includes her being on fire. She loses the gauntlet only to have Adam Warlock pick it up and save the universe. Of course in the MCU, Adam Warlock has only been hinted at and isn’t likely to save the day. That role seems to be filled by another hero, Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel is the symbol you see on Nick Fury’s space pager in the after credits scene. She’s a human named Carol Danvers who has quite the colorful history in the comic books. Carol is an old spy pal of Wolverine’s, got her mind, personality, and powers stolen from her by the X-Man Rogue in Rogue’s first appearance, ended up getting a whole new power set and becoming a space pirate for a while before eventually going back to being an earthbound superhero who is more than comfortable in space. These days she’s taken up the role of Captain Marvel and runs Alpha Flight Station, an orbital platform that tries to keep the Marvel universe safe from near constant alien invasions.

Of course in the MCU, since they have yet to get the rights to the X-Men back, most of that isn’t going to happen in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie or in Avengers 4. Instead I expect that there will be a variation of the Nebula moment (given that she’s still alive) and everyone who got killed by Thanos with the snap of his fingers will come back (though Heimdal and Loki are probably dead for good). I’m personally holding out hope that Avengers 4 is going to give us at least a hint that the next big overarching storyline is Secret Invasion.

That’s all speculation naturally. Officially, next up for Marvel movies is Ant-Man and Wasp which takes place shortly before Avengers 3 and Captain Marvel which takes place in the 1990s. It’s going to be a long year waiting for Avengers 4, but I get the feeling it’s going to be worth it.

NOTE: This review was featured in my weekly newsletter, Notes From Table 30. The comments section is for those who want to talk about this review and other content from the newsletter. Not a subscriber to the newsletter? You can do that right here.

Trumpism is the new McCarthyism

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“Around the country he flew, reckless and audacious, stopping long enough to make a new charge, to exhibit a new list, a good newsworthy press conference at the airport, hail-fellow well met with the reporters, and then on to the next stop, the emptiness of the charge never catching up with him, the American press exploited in its false sense of objectivity (if a high official said something, then it was news, if not fact, and the role of the reporter was to print it straight without commenting, without assaulting the credibility of the incredulous; that was objectivity). It was like a circus; he was always on the move, his figures varied, his work was erratic and sloppy, he seemed to have no genuine interest in any true nature of security. It sometimes seemed as if he too were surprised by the whole thing, how easy it was, how little resistance he met, and so he hurtled forward to newer larger charges. But if they did not actually stick, and they did not, his charges had an equally damaging effect: they poisoned. Where there was smoke, there must be fire. He wouldn’t be saying those things unless there was something to it. And so the contamination remained after the facts, or lack of them, evaporated….

All of which did not displease the Republican party. The real strength of [him] was not his own force of brilliance, it was the acquiescence of those who should have known better.”

The above quote is from David Halberstam’s book, The Best and the Brightest. He is talking about Senator Joseph McCarthy. He goes on to talk about how McCarthyism only lasted a few years but the impact of his relentless and meritless hunt lingered for decades and heavily influenced our view of communism leading into the Vietnam War. I kept all of this in mind as I read and reread the above passage because the description above, though written decades ago sounds for all the world like Trump since 2016. If Donald Trump is this era’s McCarthy, what can we learn from the past about where we are headed?

Both men have a habit of making things up. Both men have a habit of playing the victim. Both men like to act as though they are the only hope for America. While there are certainly plenty of differences between the two, as the quote above attests, the two had some striking similarities.

McCarthy’s impact on the 20th Century in America cannot be overstated. It was the echo of McCarthy that kept Americans believing in the myth of monolithic communism. That helped the United States misinterpret the war in Vietnam as a war against communism rather than a war for an independent Vietnam. This would prove catastrophic for both countries and kill over 58,000 Americans and countless Vietnamese.

Keeping this in mind, when it comes to Trump’s behavior towards immigrants and refugees, how much of his attitude towards these people is going to be reflected in his supporters decades after Trump is out of office? What poison is Trump putting into our American culture? And if we are aware that he’s poisoning the culture, is there a way for us to counteract that? Will these vilifications lead us into some future conflict that could be avoided if only some people were not taken in by his lies? I do not know the answers to these questions, but I feel like they are questions that should be in our heads as the Trump regime goes on.

Part of me wonders if the similarities between the two men are actually coincidence. Perhaps Trump purposefully modeled Joseph McCarthy’s tactics. Is that giving Trump too much credit? Then again, maybe this is just some sort of American archetype that appears from time to time to take advantage of people’s fears and exploit paranoia and bigotry. Just how much is history repeating itself?

Unlike McCarthy, Trump is being investigated by the FBI. There is the chance that maybe now that all other checks and balances have failed to stop him, that Mueller’s investigation will end this sham of a Presidency. But how much destruction will happen before that happens and how will Trump echo through the coming decades? In many ways I fear the damage has already been done.

I try to take a bit of comfort in the McCarthy/Trump comparison. Just a few years after the height of McCarthyism, Joseph McCarthy was dead. History correctly views McCarthy not as a hero trying to save America but for the proper villain that he is. One can only hope that a similar fate awaits Trump in the future.

– Jack Cameron

Bad Neighborhood

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Manila, The Philippines

In the mid-1990s I had an African American coworker with two sons. She had recently moved here from California. Not knowing Tacoma, she moved to Tacoma’s East Side because it was affordable. She had been living there about six months when she started working with me. Her sons were ten and eleven. She explained that she was moving to another neighborhood that was going to cost her significantly more money, but that she recognized the gang activity on Tacoma’s East Side was increasing. She said raising two black teenagers in that neighborhood at that time would result in one or both of them joining gangs. It was inevitable.

I mention this because when looking at the past 120 years of events in the Philippines it seems like the Philippines is like a kid growing up in a bad neighborhood. They never had a chance.

Looking at the present day Philippines run by a dictator who proudly murders his enemies and compares himself positively to Hitler, it’s easy to wonder how such a leader could possibly exist in the 21st century. But like discovering that the abusive father was himself abused, a look at what’s gone before is illuminating.

Taken from the Spanish by the Americans at the turn of the 20th century during the Spanish American War, the Americans then went out of their way to hobble any attempts at true independence for most of the next hundred years. Elections were made sham elections only electing who we want despite America’s proud reputation as a bastion of Democracy. When we occupied the Philippines and were basically treating it like a colony we would fake elections and lie to get our guy in office whenever necessary. So is it any surprise that left to their own devices strong man dictator sorts would behave exactly the same way? When has the Philippines ever experienced true democracy?

It did not matter what sort of parenting my coworker did for her children because she knew the neighborhood. She knew there were hours that she would be at work and times they would be at friends’ houses. It did not matter how inherently good her children were. There were forces surrounding them she could not control. Similarly, the people of the Philippines have literally never known anything else beyond a power uninterested in their wellbeing taking advantage and exploiting their country for their own benefit. Whether it was the Spanish, the Americans, the Japanese during WWII, the Americans again, or the series of despots that have taken charge since then, none of them have had the will, desires, or wellbeing of the people of the Philippines as their primary concern. In this way, the Philippines is like my coworker’s sons in that neighborhood without their mother, without anyone who genuinely cares what happens to them. And they have never known it any other way.

Given such circumstances, what is the path forward? Is the Philippines doomed to be ruled by strong arm dictator after strong arm dictator? I really wish I could end this with some great idea that might fix things, but it’s like trying to get a hardcore gangster to get a day job. Like so many problems in this world, there is no simple answer. If a true democratic rebellion swelled up, would Americans support it? If we did, could we support it in such a way that doesn’t include us occupying the country? Given that Donald Trump is a great admirer of Duterte, would Trump send troops to help him fight off the rebellion?

Unfortunately, the Philippines cannot move out of the bad neighborhood like my coworker. They are stuck. And no one seems interested in helping them. Like always.

– Jack Cameron