Charicature of a white man with receding hairline and a suit looking worried

My recent absence from The Columbus Free Press was thanks to a family trip to the land down under. I temporarily escaped the tire fire that is modern America and headed to Australia where the kangaroos run free and the government hasn’t run amok.

The most striking difference was how well Australia does the small things many people wouldn’t notice, but which make life much more pleasant. There are green spaces, playgrounds, and public bathrooms everywhere. The streets and beaches are kept clean and free of guns. Native species are heavily protected and promoted as cause for national pride. I rarely saw police vehicles creeping through neighborhoods and I knew if one of the many, many, many deadly animals went after me, a hospital would take care of me with the issue of payment an inconvenient afterthought. It all went to show that if a government can’t tackle the big issues (Australia is a major polluter and is weak on immigration policy) it can at least keep the standard of living at an acceptable level for everyone. In the wake of decades of failed legislative programs and political bone-idleness, America could at least plant a few trees or build a couple of inner-city health clinics. With persistent, small aggravations on a daily basis, the population is far more likely to be antagonistic and aggressive. The chance of mass shootings by disturbed and irate lunatics increases. After a day of worrying about low wages, long lines at the Social Security office, and delayed buses, there is nothing left to process and appropriately respond to the political stories of the day.

As if it was hard enough to leave behind family and 68-degree weather, we returned to Central Ohio to find our mail had not been held and drivers still couldn’t find their turn signals. Supermarket bag boys put two things in our tote bags then tried to give us plastic. Our federal tax return was still MIA with no hope in sight of ever receiving it. Now none of these are life-threatening or of any great consequence to our quality of life. However, they are all avoidable and raise us to a level of anger that make anything that follows seem apocalyptic. I could only muster a vitriolic “fucking burn it all down” when reading about America’s final descent into lawlessness last month.

As has been well-publicized, thousands of children have been ripped away from their parents and imprisoned in conditions Arthur Rimbaud would find disgusting. Anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 Hispanic children have been stolen because their parents were not in possession of proof of citizenship or legal residency. Many of the children have been lost and it will take a monumental effort to reunite those still in detention with their real families. I have encountered a lot of scum in my lifetime but going after children has almost always been the line not to cross. The world has really been turned on its head when children are kidnapped and thrown into jail in a country with laws and social norms to prevent exactly that.

Toddlers have been subjected to court proceedings with only an overworked, well-meaning attorney as company. They are surrounded by heavily-armed paramilitary officers and offered no concessions with regard to emotional or linguistic support. The legal system is focused on intimidating children instead of dealing with election thieves and polluters. Attacking the children achieves precisely nothing so the government is engaging in a massive operation for the sake of spite and evil. To say the government has mixed-up priorities is a colossal understatement.

It is not career criminals who are being rounded up. It is not sociopathic or homicidal children who are being taken away for everyone’s safety. It is brown people, plain and simple. The Hispanic community is full of hardworking and tax-paying people who love their families and keep America running. They are being targeted because their skin is not white, and English is not their native language. The only point of the entire purge is to make America more homogeneous and be home to dull idiots who listen to Luke Bryan and drink the piss water that is Budweiser. No-one should be duped into believing more jobs will be available or crime rates will plummet. The government is racist and is attempting genocide, both human and cultural.

If the inhumane aspect of the ICE raids isn’t enough to get your blood boiling, there is another aspect to consider. The mass raids are a recent development. Paramilitary troops were not rounding up peaceful people by the dozen the day after Trump’s inauguration. They weren’t happening late last year when Trump really needed the media distracted from his financial and penile scandals. They began as midterm season started heating up. Administrations only do during elections what will earn them brownie points with voters. Americans will vote for them if they agree with what is being done. Therefore, the federal government is destroying the lives of people of color because it knows millions of voters love it and will turn out in November to ensure it continues. The Republicans would leave those families alone if everyone refused to vote for them until they did. It shows that not only elected Republicans are enemies of humanity and decency. The lack of resistance from the Democrats is disturbing, but it is everyday Americans that encourage and allow it all to happen. It should remind us that winning elections will only go so far in remedying such a deep-rooted and reprehensible problem.

Far-right crusaders were awarded another big victory when Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy abruptly announced his retirement. He is apparently in good health and was expected to be on the bench for some time to come. In no time at all, it came to light that yet another Washington scandal could be behind Kennedy giving up his seat for a neofascist madman. Over the years, Deutsche Bank loaned Trump over $1 billion for his real estate dealings. At the start of last year, the bank was fined a meagre $630 million for laundering $10 billion for the Russians. The arrival of Trump and his basket of deplorables could very well be why Deutsche Bank got off so lightly. They had helped to enrich Trump and were assisting the Russians with their illegal activities, something with which the Trump organization is intimately familiar. That in itself is a story worth pursuing but is only a piece of Kennedy’s retirement puzzle. Kennedy’s son Justin was an executive in Deutsche Bank’s real estate division and is believed to be a close acquaintance of either slimy Trump Jr. or the president himself.

So a sitting Supreme Court justice has a close connection to a money laundering bank that paid off the sitting president to let them aid Russian criminals who may have stolen an election for said president. Between the bank’s nominal fine and Robert Mueller subpoenaing their records, there could be a paper trail significant enough to bring down both the Kennedys and the Trumps. Anthony Kennedy could be retiring because he knew his connection to Trump was going to be exposed and he wants to preserve his legacy. It could also be because he thinks he will be less of a target for law enforcement if he is off the bench and his son crawls back into obscurity. Or maybe, just maybe, his retirement is nothing more than his burning desire to let Trump appoint another justice. No matter the reason, Kennedy can no longer be thought of as a moderate, liberal, or progressive. The timing of his stepping down completely obliterates his life’s work and reputation. His successor will be part of his legacy and it is guaranteed to be a woman-hating, racist, tiny IQ religious nutjob who spends every waking second thinking of ways to destroy modern society.

At the time of writing, Scott Pruitt has just resigned. It is a victory for all the activists who put pressure on him for his financial mismanagement and attacks on our environment. However, the celebrations should not last too long. His temporary (and likely permanent) replacement is his deputy, Andrew Wheeler. Wheeler is a former coal industry lobbyist who denies the existence of climate change and says that it is just a partisan issue being exploited by the left. He worked for Jim Inhofe (the idiot who took a snowball into the Senate to disprove climate change) and is a high-ranking member of the Washington Coal Club. We have every reason to believe he will be even worse than Pruitt so need to organize against him before we are all poisoned for a few measly corporate dollars.

There was also cause for cautious celebration after recent midterm primaries. Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Democratic congressman and party stalwart Joe Crowley in New York City. Crowley was tipped for future leadership positions and ran the modern Tammany Hall in Queens. Ocasio-Cortez crushed him with her platform of tuition-free higher education, universal healthcare, and environmental protections. She promised to forgive student loan debt and a transition to 100% renewable energy sources while promoting then abolition of ICE and a federal jobs guarantee. The good people of her district chose progress over stagnation, social policies over economic greed. Her victory shows more and more Americans are desperate for progressive programs and that the Democratic Party is falling further out of step with the population. She may not have much power in Washington, but at least a woman of color defeated a boring old white guy.

Progressives were also excited about the primary victory of Ben Jealous. He is the Democratic Party’s nominee for the Maryland governorship and a former president of the NAACP. He supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries and won his election by running far to the left of his opponents. On the surface, he looks like a candidate progressives and socialists could really get behind. Sadly, he supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election so will likely turn out to be the second coming of Barack Obama. He will talk a good game on the campaign but give himself over to the Democratic establishment the second he hits office. Besides, recent polling suggests he has little chance of defeating his Republican opponent.

I was going to add a section discussing how the progressive wins were canceled out by electoral victories for Nazi and white supremacist candidates. However, the Congress is already full of bigots and I thought it would be a waste of time. No-one gets excited reading about how incumbents are going to be replaced by their carbon copies.

You may be fighting an uphill battle if you try to explain America today. The entire country is topsy-turvy, inside-out, upside-down, and all-around nuts. Children are being kidnapped by the government and no elected official is trying to stop it. The administration attacks thousands of families of color because it will win them elections. A 28-year-old woman destroys a powerful congressman and a coal-loving, clean water-hating lobbyist is running the EPA. Thankfully, we don’t need to make sense of the mess to be able to clean it up. It will just take more activists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to stand up and speak out.