Venezuela, Maduro, and Guaidó

I implore my friends, especially my liberal ones, to stop and consider the possible implications a US-backed coup in Venezuela. Yes, Maduro is awful, No doubt about that. But a US-backed coup would most likely lead to a civil war, massive civilian casualties, and possibly a right-wing authoritarian government (e.g. a military dictatorship) — the US is great at getting those kinds of governments installed. Just. Look. At. History. Were y’all the same people who wanted to invade Iraq on a humanitarian basis? Serious question.

It’s been terrifying seeing so many of my friends latch onto imperialist rhetoric, and I understand the impulse to want to do something. As Cody says, there are non-military options that include brokering diplomatic negotiations, actual humanitarian aid (rather than political destabilization masquerading as humanitarian aid), and possibly getting Maduro to agree to new elections held by the UN.

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Family separations

Let’s talk family separation for a second. Yes, it’s very clear that what’s happening now is unprecedented. Yes, it’s true that Trump created the policy (not the Democrats). Yes, it’s true that we should be agitating to end it once and for all (somehow I don’t trust that the executive order actually did anything).

But let’s not kid ourselves. We were doing inhumane, awful things to undocumented immigrants at the border well before Trump. And the kinds of stuff Trump says could very easily have been said by a Democrat. Hell, they were. Trump (or rather, Sessions) said that the purpose of separating families was to send a message. When asked what the policy should be regarding children seeking asylum from Central American countries, Clinton is clearly on the record stating that we need to send them back to send a message to their parents. Obama, too, has defended his actions regarding family detention, saying that we need to send the parents a message. I could go back further, but hopefully this is sufficient to show that this kind of dubious rationale is not only not new, but also bipartisan.

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Western countries and democracy

Western countries only like democracies when they can chose the people running them. Western countries only like democracies when they allow companies from those countries to go in, exploit people, and plunder resources. Western countries only like democracies when they don’t serve the people, but rather the elites and the corporations. Otherwise, those same countries who wax eloquently about the dangers of dictatorships and the need for democracy will launch an invasion on some pretext (real or made-up) and replace that democracy with a puppet state. Or, they ensure a stable state never forms in the first place. And, of course, this is tied in with capitalism and the ownership of our government by (big) corporations.

Don’t be distracted. What Donald Trump said today is not an anomaly — it is implicitly or explicitly believed by at the very least a large minority of the population. The reason these nations are getting screwed over is that companies and governments from all around the world are ensuring that either those governments are obsequious to other governments and corporations (and not actually working for their people) or that those governments don’t exist in the first place. Fixing this requires deconstructing the paradigm that we have built.

Self-segregation

Y’all, let’s talk about self-segregation for a second.

First, what do I mean by “self-segregation”? I mean the tendency I’ve seen by some of my friends to unfriend those who harbor extreme views. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this often with my liberal friends unfriending or shunning Trump supporters. I’m not going to claim that it only happens on this side, though, because I don’t have enough data on this stuff — I’ll just talk about this phenomenon generally. I think that, on an aggregate level, this is misguided. Please hear me out before calling the mob on me 😉

I think the people who do this have two main reasons for doing so. First, there is the mental health aspect — people don’t constantly want to feel unsafe among their friend circle, so they kick out anyone who makes them feel unsafe. The second main reason, I think, is that people don’t want these extremists to feel as though their views are valid — that is, this is meant to ostracize these people from society and make them feel as though they don’t belong, that they don’t have a place here.

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Discussion of the AHCA

People will lose coverage under the AHCA. And note that all of these numbers are relative to current coverage levels (not absolute numbers).

Donald Trump has come out in favor of this bill. Let us look at the promises he made. Interestingly, healthcare doesn’t appear anywhere on the Issues section of the official Whitehouse page and the issues pages have been taked off of the Donald Trump website, so I will have to rely on this archive that’s buried somwhere within the assets folder of his website. Let’s take a look.

According to him (in that document): “By following free market principles and working together to create sound public policy that will broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans.” That is his ideal system. But as the CBO estimates show, this legislation (which he supports) will reduce healthcare access and average premiums will most likely go up.

That being said, does this legislation hit on all the points that he advocates in that PDF? I’m using this fact sheet as a source.

  • Repeal Obamacare — check.
  • Allow sale of insurance across state lines — nope.
  • Block-grant Medicaid (that’s what “giving states greater flexibility” means) — check.
  • Enhance HSAs — check.
  • Deduct premiums from taxes — nope.
  • Price transparency — nope.
  • Remove barriers to entry for drug providers — nope.

So not only does it explicitly do the opposite of what Trump promised (according to his own words), it also doesn’t do many of the things he advocated for. Even if you’re Donald Trump, this is a terrible bill.

Also note that I only used an external source once in this post (to show that he’s come out in favor of the bill). This is all based entirely on what he has advocated for as well as the actual text of the bill (and the promises of its most vocal supporter).

Immigration Restrictions Are American

After the immigration and refugee ban was announced, a narrative emerged — immigration restrictions are “un-American”. However, looking at this country’s history, it is quite clear that that is not the case. Let us go on a tour of American immigration policy from when the country was founded until the present day.

For a long time, no one really wanted to come here — immigration was pretty low and we were effectively left alone to our own devices. The first immigration law that was passed was the Page Act of 1875, which forbid any immigrants considered “undesirable”: forced laborers from Asia, Asian prostitutes, and convicts. Note how the exclusions are already targeted towards specific areas of the world — two of the three restrictions target Asia specifically. The next major immigration law was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, quite literally banning all immigration from China. The reason? People blamed Chinese immigrants for depressed wages. The state which pushed this law most heavily? California.

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What a Trump presidency might mean

I’ve seen a lot of posts going around about what a Trump presidency might mean for them and I wanted to jump in a bit. This is going to be a fairly long post, but I feel I need to just kind of get this out there. I’ve mostly been posting sarcastic stuff or exaggerated stuff about Trump’s victory. But I wanted to honestly discuss what the results of this election tell me.

The one silver lining is that Clinton won the popular vote. So yes, she won the popular vote and lost the electoral vote.

I would like to think that I and people like me (people with brown skin) are welcome in this country. But with the election of Trump, I’m not so sure. Pretty much half the country seems to endorse the rhetoric that “Muslims” (read: people with brown and black skin) should be placed under increased surveillance in this country. Pretty much half the country seems to endorse the rhetoric that “Muslims” should not be trusted. Of course my friends all know me as an atheist Hindu, but would a cop on the street be able to tell that? Would a random person on the street be able to tell that? If I were not already in my PhD program, I would very likely consider moving to a different country — Canada, most likely. I know many people say this as an election joke, but given what this country has stated about me and people who look like me? I would very much like to act on that right now.

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