Infectious Fascism and Someone Else’s Beer

Our local liquor store had been in business since the early 1980s, when the shopping center was built. The original owner passed it along to his 3 sons when he died, many years ago. There was nothing special or fancy about the shop, which had long, wide shelves stocked full of not-too-high-priced wines and liquor that tended to come in the Handle Size. They did a brisk trade in beer, $1 shooters sold out of an empty fish tank on the counter, and “Oh, jeeze! We’re all out of vodka/wine and I’m almost home!” purchases.

It had a coveted corner location on a major intersection with high visibility, and was next to a busy grocery store. The long floor-to-ceiling windows faced due west, which meant high cooling bills as the high altitude sunshine blasted in year round, roasting  the products on the front shelf and raising the temperature unbearably during the summer. A few years ago the Brothers balked at the raising utility prices from keeping the store cold enough to properly store their inventory, and slowly adjusted the thermostat upwards. The heat coupled with storing the wine upright – as one would store a fine vintage Yoo-Hoo – served to spoil their wares.

As if wine bottles that were warm to the touch weren’t enough, over the years the shop developed a nose-curling funk stank from their dogged insistence upon carpet, which served as a 1-way booze sponge when a bottle or case was inevitably broken, and because one of the brothers smoked indoors while doing the books afterhours.  Mmmm… the cheeky bouquet of nicotine braised in sour carpet wine!

We began shopping elsewhere, save for the times we emerged from the adjacent King Soopers, arms full of groceries (yes, we brought our own bags), and too tired or lazy to drive 6 miles round trip for a bottle of wine to go with dinner. Don’t judge me! The cork that crumbles like The Mummy is punishment enough.

Just before Valentine’s Day we found ourselves lacking the fortitude of an additional errand, the grueling 15 minute drive more than either of us could possibly handle, and so found ourselves choosing from wine bottles with dust on them.  I noticed a marked lack of champagne and other bubbly beverages appropriate for a manufactured holiday. “This is weird,” I told my husband, “Why aren’t there cases of cheap champagne stacked 5 high and 2 deep in here? In fact, there’s almost no champagne at all,” I gestured to the picked over front shelf, which was normally full of the boxed wine and cheap champagne that the Brothers counted on their clientele not being able to suss out were treated to daily solar pasteurization. It was a minor curiosity, one I chalked up to a screw up in ordering and went on with my evening.

A few weeks later, before St. Patrick’s Day, it was obvious something was up. The store was still very busy, but their stock had visibly dwindled – the shelves were no longer full, with empty spaces behind the wine and spirits.

“What’s going on?” I asked the young woman who worked there. “Not much,” she replied absentmindedly. “No – I mean ‘What’s going on here?’” She stopped and looked at me in confusion. She really had no idea what I was talking about. I gestured with my arm, “The shelves aren’t fully stocked…” She had a blank look on her face. “Are you guys remodeling? Selling?” Again, the clerk had a blank look, “No…” I left it at that, but told my husband changes were coming.

I wondered if they were going to finally move the stock out of the beating summer sun in the front window… Maybe they were going to set up a Growler station, or a tasting counter – moving forward  with the upwardly mobile neighborhood and appealing to the higher income residents who were replacing the middle income folks that had been a staple of the area when it was built 35 years ago. I had mentally moved the first row of shelves, replaced the nasty carpet with some easy-to-clean wood flooring that would brighten the space up, and show off the better selection of wine they would carry. I couldn’t wait.

At the end of March the only vodka left was bubblegum or peach flavored, the Bourbon shelves were flat-out empty, and most of the decent wine was gone. The Smoking Brother told me they were having distribution problems, but they would be getting a shipment in the following week. What he was telling me didn’t feel right – but I had been doing business with him for 16 years and gave him the benefit of the doubt by allowing him to assure me I wasn’t seeing what I was looking at.

We were gone most of April and upon returning we immediately noticed the barren shelves. Most telling is there was not a whiff of the upcoming drinking holiday Cinco De Mayo: No cut-outs of busty Latinas shucking gag inducing Lime-a-Rita beer, no garish plastic Papel Picado banners stamped with ‘Corona’, or posters of a Sombrero-sporting mustachioed stereotype peddling rot-gut tequila. You know – The Free Crap distributors beg store owners to take and give a price break for the best placement. But, there was still lots of beer – a good deal of it craft beer from start-up breweries & local brew pubs.

Several customers walked in and stopped dead, looking around at the long, mostly-empty shelves. They would do a 180 or full 360 to take it in; most left empty handed. It was clear the store was closing, but no sign indicated a last day or what was going on. I asked the only employee (someone I’d never seen before) what was going on and was answered with ‘Dunno’.

I suddenly realized: They must have sold the liquor license to King Soopers, the grocery store in the same complex. A recent change in the law allowed grocery stores to sell liquor, but only if they buy an existing license. I was happy for them in the distant way you can be when you hear good news from a stranger you’ve known for 15 years: It doesn’t change your life, but it gives you a pleasant feeling.

A few weeks later they were still open – somehow defying retail gravity. Richard walked the empty aisles with a curious expression on his face as he passed islands of bottles neatly arranged – 6 Rieslings here, 4 Moscatos half an aisle later, a lone bottle of gin in the next aisle. What stock was left would have neatly fit in 12 or 15 feet of shelf space, but instead was spread around the empty shop with the fastidious denial of a screamingly bad comb-over.

“When’s the last day?” I asked Morose Brother who spent a decade and a half demanding I show my ID every time I used a credit card. “Before the end of the month,” he answered with his usual dourness. Looking into my eyes he said “We sold the business,” and then spit into his dip cup.  “I… did you sell the license or the business?” “We sold the business and we’ll be closing sometime before the end of the month,” he repeated with a finality that forbade further discussion.

“How could they be selling the business?” I asked Richard when we were in the car, “When there’s no business to sell? I mean… there’s no inventory – and they lease the space. The only thing of value in that store is the license on the wall.” I chalked it up to him being contractually prohibited from discussing the details of the sale.

The very next day the City seized the store for failure to pay Sales & Use Taxes.

A quick call to City Hall revealed that they hadn’t paid a dime of the taxes they’d been collecting since January, and they’d been sending in partial payments for months before that.

It suddenly became clear that the inventory sell down was really them stiffing their suppliers – everyone from Coors to small craft brew companies struggling to make ends meet – and pocketing the money.

They stole not only from their liquor distributors and the city, but from their customers as well, by not submitting tax revenue that keeps schools open, roads paved and a live voice when you dial 911.

In retrospect it was quite obvious what was happening, but I didn’t want to accept the grand theft in front of me, so I provided pretty stories about Growler Stations and wood floors that morphed into them cashing out big by selling the license for a keen profit. None of it made sense to the scene in front of my eyes, but I held on to the fable rather than accept the felony.

I had been performing Olympic-quality mental gymnastics trying to explain away the obvious because the obvious made me uncomfortable.

It was a personal microcosm of what’s happening around the country: How we’re all staring in disbelief at the emerging Fascism around us, willing it to be something else.

We’ve watched fanaticism morph into a Fascist Cult of Personality, yet refuse to name it as such because then we have a REAL problem on our hands.

We’ve heard friends, family and colleagues embrace a man whose beastly policies call for banning Muslims, gutting the EPA, drilling for oil in National Parks and Monuments, building a useless Wall, disenfranchising women, and simultaneously cancelling the insurance policies of 23 million Americans while making it unaffordable for tens of millions more.

These aren’t policy differences on things like how to best fund infrastructure improvements or whether schools should focus more on science and less on the arts. This is the fundamental rejection of the invisible frame of our Social Contract by an alarming number of Americans.

They *like* the idea that ICE officers ate lunch in a café before arresting the kitchen staff.

They’re THRILLED journalists are finally getting the beat down that’s coming to them.

They’re relieved they can stop acting tolerant and want LGBTQ folks to climb back in the closet and for anyone darker than a flat white to know their place.

These people who benefit so much from the Public Commons of Society honestly don’t care if you lose your job, house or insurance – they don’t give a tinker’s damn for anyone who loses their disability, Medicare, Social Security or any other safety net program.

“I DON’T OWE YOU ANYTHING” they shriek like a misunderstood teen, unironically running the Social Contract through Mom & Dad’s shredder after they’ve slammed the office door.

The toughest thing about watching acquaintances and those we love support such heartlessness is when we finally realize they understand fully what they’re doing. It’s much easier to deal with people when we convince ourselves they are ignorantly supporting evil policies, and that if it was properly explained they would be enlightened. Otherwise, we have to accept that an uncomfortably large chunk of America is okay with a semi-literate bully dragging us backwards 6 months for every day he is in office.

Accepting that this is actually happening is a real hurdle. None of wants to stare into *that* abyss and it’s ever so much easier not to court discord and just let sleeping dogs lie.

Please don’t be like me, though, when I watched the local liquor store go under and cheat its vendors, and I chose not to see it because I couldn’t accept the Brothers could do that. Don’t imagine people are constrained by your sense of decency, however well or little you know them.

Once we see the hard truth of Trumpers actions, we have to either accept this Fascist Cult of Personality or fight it. There is no middle ground. When you stop selling yourself on proverbial Growler Stations and wood floors to brighten the place up, you can’t unsee the unsavory and uncomfortable truth that 45’s followers heartily approve of a stratified society that plays out like Lord of the Flies – only, in this story line there are no adults to step in to save the day when things are at their bleakest. There is no higher authority to appeal to, because our current POTUS thinks laws are impractical to follow (his words, not mine).

Make no mistake that we are in dangerous territory with 45’s spreading Fascism, and we ignore it at our own peril.

During the election 45 promised the state sponsored murder of children, he promised to crack down on Freedom of the Press, and he promised to violate the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 14th amendments, as well as end abortion, civil rights, voting rights, marriage equality and the EPA.

When you look at it this way 45 had a spectacularly successful first 100 days, now didn’t he?

Trumpers voted for him *precisely* because he promised to abuse other people and break things. They are the groupies that enable a bully to prevail, and who become emboldened by their support of him.

Trumpers like the chaos, the angst and the destruction they were promised when they voted.

It’s hard to see friends and family infected by Fascism. Worse – when they demand our tolerance while spreading this virulent disease of hate.

But, it is no longer possible to separate the Message from Man or the Masses – they own who they support and his policies, and anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you someone else’s beer.

Happy Trumpers Day

My mother died with no regrets, incapable of imagining there was anything she had to apologize for – and yet my 5 brothers refused to speak to her as she lay dying. She died certain she was a Good Mother when she had been anything but that in the privacy of our home.

My mother was a sociopath & a narcissist who believed the world was hers and lacked the capacity to empathize with how her behavior affected others. It was a tough upbringing, but it taught me the skills to spot what an unforgivable monster 45 is. He really has no remorse about anything – and most people have never met someone like that.

These last 7 months have been an exercise in patience as people begin to understand *There is NO negotiating with someone who so capriciously changes their mind and never acknowledges it, nor can you hold a person to their word when their word is no good*

Dealing with people like 45 or my mother is crazy making. They accept no appeal to logic or goodness, their decisions are made solely on what fills their pockets, pleases them in the moment – or how best they can hit back or punish during one of their many rages. The abuse these people are capable of heaping on others is mind boggling.

And the Gas Lighting!! Oh, my! The Gas Lighting!!

Their continual need to insist facts are not facts, and lies are the truth is exhausting. They scream at you that you can’t believe your own filthy eyes, and if you do insist on what you know is true you’re disloyal and worthy of banishment.

It has been interesting to see people grapple with such an unforgivable and unrepentant monster. They so much want to believe there is a heart to appeal to in 45 – but there isn’t. Narcissists have no humanity because they can’t recognize it in others. They enjoy the chaos, and the more you explain how their actions hurt you the more they smile in glee.

Most people don’t want to believe there are Bad Mothers: They want to believe that deep down in their heart everyone has good waiting to get out. It’s not so – and in a larger sense the future of this country is teetering on people who want to believe the best in folks accepting that a toxic person is POTUS and we are in very real danger.

My own mother made me work from the age of 3, and stole most of my earnings – more than $1M. My. Own. Mother.

Now, ask yourself: If a Mother can do that to her own child, what will an Entitled Rageaholic Narcissistic Sociopath do to strangers he holds in utter contempt? He already thinks he can murder with no repercussions.

45 is the creepy, vulgar and hurtful Step Dad who is abusing you and your siblings while Mom – Congress – looks on with stars in her eyes, smiling and nodding while 45 refuses to give your sister her insulin, just said your brother’s boss can fire him for being gay – and your cousin isn’t allowed to visit this summer because he comes from a middle eastern country that doesn’t have a Trump hotel. You know it’s eventually going to be your turn in this predictable game of Civil Rights Musical Chairs, where every new  loser faces horrible consequences. Meanwhile, Momgress is getting a brand new Tax Cut and turns a blind eye.

While I wait for a goodly chunk of America to accept that America is THE very definition of a dysfunctional relationship, I will be prepared for the Threats that come when Gas Lighting fails.

Bank on this: The closer 45 feels the walls are getting the more he will threaten. (See his Comey tweets)

I shudder to think what 45 will threaten the American people with if he is rightly Impeached and prosecuted on any number of Emoluments Clause violations, let alone something from a vigorous Russian investigation. But, we must disregard the fury of 45’s threats, and continue to speak truth to his Cult of Personality that too many have subscribed to, and has led to his wholescale abuse.

I have absolutely no clue how the Russian investigation will shake out.  None.

At this point Momgress is still sweet on the monster, and doesn’t see any reason to make him follow the law. So, for the time being we’re still at his mercy, and there’s precious little of that.

What I do know is that whether 45 is removed from office in handcuffs or serves 2 terms, he will never ever, ever, EVER admit that he has ANYTHING to be sorry for. Ever.

The Frogs Have Come Out To Play

pepe-the-frog-nazi

There is quite clearly a link between the election and a sudden rise in cyber-harassment, which I have personally experienced. In the four days after the election I received more hate-tweets and garbage posts on my Twitter feed that I have in the previous 7 years combined.

My FaceBook wall has been rummaged through by Trolls, Frogs and hateful, spittle-flecked shrieking strangers who tell me to grow up, get over it and to leave the country.

‘Frogs’ is my label for the hate-filled Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) mostly found on 4Chan who are proudly racist, bigoted, homophobes that think women who have been raped have been done a favor. They are open Nazi supporters who use Pepe the Frog as their mascot: An image designated by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate symbol alongside swastikas and burning crosses.

In short: The people who embrace this image are Trump’s red meat base.

Frog is my ‘Fetch’, and I’m trying to make it happen.

It is not a pejorative – because it’s based on something people have control over: Their embrace of hatred, and the willingness to disenfranchise marginalized minorities and women.

pepe-the-frog-kkk-nazi

A no-longer-silent dog whistle was blown when Trump was elected, and now the Frogs think the internet belongs to them.

I had one rude crazy woman go to my FB page and assume my post about a rude crazy woman was about her. She became incensed – took a screen shot. Demanded… I’m not sure what. But, she seemed to think that screen shot was something valuable. It seemed an oddly appropriate metaphor to what has been happening on Social Media these last few days.

I’ve been physically threatened posting in a general forum, being told my mouth was writing checks my ass couldn’t cash – when I was reciting facts. (not ‘truths’)

I’d call them Poor Winners – but that  would imply that there isn’t REAL violence going on right now across the country.

pepe-the-frog-confederate-flag

Regarding my Twitter account, some quick research shows that this is a targeted attack to specific high traffic websites. Yesterday I tweeted 10 times (before the shitstorm – and NO I’m not proud I fed the trolls), yet I received some 50-odd tweets back regarding an original post on that had only received 60 views  in 12 hours. (96 views 24 hours later) That site? The New York Times. The Tweet for which I received the second biggest hate-spew was to USA Today, whence I was told to delete my account, take benzodiazepine, fuck myself and leave the country.

Yesterday’s provocative tweet?  “Yay for Gerrymandering and Voter suppression”, in response to an article about our deeply divided nation that is half conservative and half liberal, but nearly all levels of government are run by the GOP.

That’s pretty normal for me – I’ve been tweeting like this for years with a collective yawn by the internet. Yet, amazingly I’m getting all kinds of negative attention, and the only thing that has changed is the President-elect.

pepe-the-frog-massa

This morning I got up to find a ‘friend’ of a childhood friend has tracked shit on my wall because he didn’t agree with an opinion that I left on my friend’s page – FWIW she and I are horrified at the results. He felt the need to mock and belittle a total stranger. There was no attempt at dialogue or even arrogant fact reciting. It was just pure vitriol: Being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. I’ve had it happen with at least 5 total strangers in 4 days.  Not to mention said crazy woman above.

I had a peer seek out my page to start an argument after I walked away from her utter lack of compassion regarding my taking Trump at his word when he promises to end the ACA, and with it my pre-existing condition exclusion. After telling her in great detail how this would mean bankruptcy, divorce (sign away assets to get Medicaid) or become a medical refugee, her sentiments (if not exact words, because I refuse to bugger myself by going back to that awful conversation to quote her exactly): Your insurance is not my concern.

I refused to engage further with someone who could reduce that situation to: Not My Problem.

I decided to unfollow her for a few weeks until things calmed down – that way she wouldn’t see my posts, I wouldn’t see hers, and we could go back to being civil. Instead, she decided to take the fight to me by seeking out my page to read what I was writing so that she could be offended.

As is habit with these folks, when faced with something they don’t like they change the subject at the top of their lungs. I don’t play the Red Herring game, though.

Her Waterloo was a post where I said that Trump voters fucking OWN the KKK Victory Parade celebrating Trump’s victory. Without irony – this woman who supports a candidate that blames all Muslims for the actions of a few – took umbrage at holding people accountable for voting for a man who campaigned on racism, bigotry, homophobia and misogyny.

She refused to defend any of the dozen or so direct Trump quotes that show what a horrible shit-bag he is – including the one where he pretends he doesn’t know what the KKK is. She sidled right up to an Ad Hominem attack, and decided calling the *conversation* stupid was more diplomatic than outright calling *me* stupid. She then did the most adult thing she could think of to do – she unfriended me.

That should be a comfortable meeting the next time we show up for the advocacy group we both volunteer for and donate to. With her being in a position on the board I don’t worry at all that she’ll be punitive. Nope. I don’t worry that the woman who couldn’t let a disagreement go and needed to turn it into a full-fledged drama complete with unfriending will hold a grudge.

pepe-the-frog-nazi-shirt

I don’t ever remember the trolling ever being this bad. These hate-filled pus bags have been emboldened and their racist, bigoted, anti-Gay MRA agenda has been validated. They emulate the bully they voted in.

Not everyone who voted for Trump is a Neo-Nazi -But, they ARE totally okay with belonging to a group that not only tolerates, but encourages them.

The hate speech will continue because Trump refuses to say during his 3 am Rage-Tweet sessions: “I don’t want the support of the KKK and renounce racism and bigotry.”

He’d still have 72 characters left to tell us how big his hands are or “Grab Them By The Pussy!!”

But, he won’t – and that’s why the Frogs have come out to play.

It’s going to be a long 4 years.

“I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. … I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.” Trump on the Klan 2/28/16

pepe-the-trump

It wasn’t an agenda, dammit. It was information.

trump-rope-tree-journalist

Welcome to the post-fact world.

It is a place where your opinion is as good as empirical proof. You’re ‘feels’ count as much as peer-reviewed Scientific Evidence. And if what you don’t like is on tape ? Wave your hands and repeat this magic charm: “Lib-rul Mee-Dia, Lib-rul Mee-Dia, Lib-rul Mee-Dia” and suddenly proof of your candidate boasting “Grab Them By The Pussy!!” isn’t sexual assault anymore.

Don’t like those pesky ‘facts’ the Lügenpresse has inconveniently dug up? Vilify them and threaten them with murder! Why not? The GOP Presidential candidate is openly encouraging physical violence against the Press, saying they have too much freedom and should be jailed. It’s bad enough this bloviating Fascist (with a capital F) is saying it, but he’s doing so to the cheers of tens of millions of Americans rabid to destroy our First Amendment rights – and all with the endorsement and monetary backing of the Republican Party.

Now we are asked to indulgently chuckle when Deplorables wear shirts advocating murdering the Press, and the overthrow of our Constitution.

I know several journalists who are near the breaking point: Burnout, depression, disgust and hopelessness now have a new colleague: FEAR. They are all are asking if it is worth it to be constantly vilified and have your motives questioned or be outright disbelieved, all while being terrifically underpaid and having to face a shitstorm when they print actual facts.

At the same time I know dozens of out of work journalists who are dying a million deaths at this election’s coverage and the propaganda churning out 24/7. We feel helpless and wish we could use our expertise to bring some context to stories that are either ignored or blown out of proportion. We long to put a halt to the continual indignation cycle the News has become.

When corporations pulled the plug on Newspapers and quit funding Television and Radio Newsrooms adequately, and when they decided clicks were more important than truth they fired tens of thousands of people whose job it was to research and write about facts. Most folks don’t realize the skill it takes for a producer to research any given subject, and put together pieces and write questions for their anchors. It is a lost art.

People don’t realize it, but all of those unemployed people were the screen that separated the facts from the bullshit. We gave you a baseline from which to start the discussion about social and economic issues, as well as local and international events. It wasn’t an agenda, dammit. It was information.

But, you fired us – and they fired us. They couldn’t make enough profit by employing an adequate number of educated professionals to ensure accuracy and excellence. You couldn’t be arsed to pay for a quality product. Do you pay $10 a month for Netflix but won’t pony up $5 to subscribe to a news site like the New York Times? Congratulations – you’re part of the problem.

The collapse of Traditional News has left a void that blogs have filled, which has given rise and fed the needs of modern Conspiracy Theorists.

I used to deal with Conspiracy Theorists when I was a Talk Radio Host in the 80s and 90s, before Talk was all taken over by screeching hatred, thanks to the Mays brothers of Cheap Channel fame. People like this were a novelty and a hoot to put on the air. The longer they talked the more they just showed how bug-nuts crazy they were. FWIW: Just like today, the Conspiracy Theorists then glommed onto the New World Order, The Illuminati, The Jews and the UN taking over the US. I’ve been hearing that any day now the Dems are coming for your guns. Any. Day. Now. Oh, and Chemtrails are REAL, man (and fluoride and vaccines). None of that has changed in 30 years.

What has changed is that AM radio was taken over by the Alt-Right a quarter of a century ago, when the Mays Brothers shit canned anyone who wasn’t Frog Marching to their ultra-conservative tune. Liberal, Progressive, Middle-of-the-Road and Soft Republicans (those who believed in compromise) were no longer welcome in their 500 station cross-country monopoly that had a stranglehold on the industry.

Soon AM radio became a vacuum of hate speech and lies. Rush Limbaugh defended his pathological lying by saying he was an entertainer, not a news person. Glenn Beck simultaneously cheated thousands of old people out of their life savings in a bogus gold investment scheme, while managing to poison them with convoluted non-sensical conspiracies about Obama’s secret S.S. Civilian Army and the Boston Bombing ‘Cover-Up’. Anti-Journalist and Supreme Radio Hack Sean Hannity was rewarded for years of lying on behalf of the GOP with a plum job at Fox, where it appears Trump’s hand is up his puppet ass this very moment.

AM Talk Radio encouraged sick, gullible, uneducated and mentally unstable people to plumb the depths of their paranoia. No conspiracy was too obscure or far-fetched, and for these lost souls that conspiracy made them feel smarter than everyone else and in control.

The saturation of the AM dial with non-stop conspiracies is what tilled the ground for this current Conspiracy Theory movement.

The internet, which tends to make smart people smarter and dumb people dumber, has given these Conspiracy Theorists an echo chamber that validates them and gives their insane theories credibility. They are no longer at the margins of media, where people point out just how mentally unstable they sound. They don’t have to wait on hold to get on the air and be crazy – they can go online 24/7 and get their biases confirmed and their paranoia stoked. Now, people like Alex Jones are revered, instead of being revealed for the whack-job charlatan he really is.

30 years of encouraging the worst in people and stoking paranoia leads in a direct line to Candidate Trump, and the flaming Porta-Potty of his campaign this election cycle.

Sure, Trump may not get elected tomorrow, but the Conspiracy Theorists won’t be going away any time soon. They’ve been emboldened by a misogynistic, bigoted, racist, homophobic candidate. Their nuttery has been sanctioned by the GOP, and their hypocrisy encouraged by Evangelical Christians who apparently think the Commandments are actually the 10 Suggestions.

If Trump loses expect to see these people lose it mentally, because people in positions of power (I’m looking at you Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell and John McCain) haven’t insisted on the Facts being recited any time in recent memory. They chose, instead, to endure the repeated lies for the sake of political expedience.

There’s a smorgasbord of conspiracies to choose from. Would you like a Truther, Birther or Vaxxer conspiracy? Can I interest you in some Jadehelm? Or, would you like something from Secretary Clinton? She is, after all, a dead, sick, Manchurian Candidate who murders political opponents.

Or, would you like the total bullshit conspiracy being screamed by Trump in full-throated rage that the election system is rigged if he doesn’t win– and that it’s being rigged by the Press? You know – the conspiracy that has called for the open murder by hanging of the Fourth Estate, while simultaneously choking the shit out of the Constitution until it dies.

Is it any wonder my friends still left working in the Press are disillusion and scared shitless?

If you’re not concerned you should be, because they’re just getting warmed up,  and no matter who wins it’s going to be a very long 4 years. I’ve a feeling they’re equally as poor at winning as they are at losing.

Oh, and don’t bother arguing the facts with these folks, it’s a waste of time.

Lack of evidence is proof of conspiracy.

It’s a Post Fact World, baby. Strap in.

May I Suggest the Word Salad?

Sarah Palin

What would you say if I told you that the 2016 election is under way? Sure, the caucus is a year from now and the actual election is nearly 2 years away, but that didn’t stop the saddest group of Republicans from heading to Des Moines this past weekend to get in some early stumping at the Iowa Freedom Summit.

The list of speakers was a Who’s Who of failed presidential ambitions: former Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum, former Governor from Texas Rick Perry, failed businessman and four-time bankruptee Donald Trump, former Hewlett-Packard head Carly Fiorina, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee and even former Vice Presidential nominee and former Governor (because she quit) Sarah Palin.

The speakers weren’t limited it to has-been politicians, though. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Ted Cruz made appearances, as well as conservative darling Dr. Ben Carson, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The group of 11 came to flirt with the notion of being the next President of the United States.

By far the most bizarre performance of the day was from none other than the eminently quotable Sarah Palin.

“It doesn’t have to be myself, but yes … happy to drive that competition, because competition will make everyone better and produce more and be more candid regarding their solutions they will offer this country. I am very interested in that competitive process and, again, not necessarily me.” –Sarah Palin on whether she would run for President in 2016.

This word salad is bad, but, really doesn’t hold a candle to this bit of inanity. It’s literally painful to watch and is perhaps her most disjointed statement ever. One wonders if Palin was entirely sober during her address. She honestly makes no sense as words just seem to gush from her mouth in a stream-of-consciousness that’s embarrassing. All one would need to do to tank her candidacy would be to play this piece as a stand-alone nugget to show just how incoherent she is.

The larger question is that why do so many of these people think they even stand a chance? Perry, Santorum, Huckabee, and Fiorina all had their asses handed to them quite handily 3 years ago the last election cycle. Trump and Palin made great shows of thinking about considering a possible run, and then pulled out.

Aside from the formerly-weres the up-and-comers were courting the conservative vote in Iowa.

For some reason Chris Christie thinks that Iowans will clutch him to their bosom. (This is just something I’m not feeling. His form of brash, ham-fisted politicking isn’t well received in fly-over country.) Ted Cruz took his schtick out for an early walk with corn-fed conservatives, declaring, “The most important tax reform we can do is abolish the IRS.” Scott Walker was pronounced the hit of the afternoon and vowed to return to Iowa many more times.

But for all the elbowing for facetime with the crowd, the attendees were as notable as those who were invited but took a pass on this weekend’s dog and pony show.

Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney were the biggest no-shows for the event. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal also took a pass for the festivities. They clearly saw the event as unnecessary and a distraction to their actual candidacy.

So, by my count we’re up to 16 Republican hopefuls, and we’re still 2 years away from the election.

Why do people do it?

In the case of people like Bolton, Fiorina, Perry, Santorum, Huckabee and even Palin this toe-wetting is nothing more than a shameless attempt to bolster speaking fees, sell books and land a job as a talking head at Fox. All of these people know they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being anywhere near the nomination. It’s a game of numbers to them.

Trump is nothing more than insufferable attention whore and the worst thing for him would be if we all ignored him.

Walker, Cruz, Christie, Rubio, Paul and Jindal actually think they stand a chance and will sadly waste donor’s money and their own political capital to feed their egos in an attempt to convince themselves they’re good enough to sit in the Oval Office.

That leaves our AWOL candidates… So, why would Mitt Romney think that people who didn’t want him twice before would want him now? What motivates Jeb Bush, who is behind his own ‘grassroots’ movement? These two seem to think there’s an inevitability to their candidacy, a sort of noblesse oblige to their runs.

What should be interesting over the next 2 years is how this huge field will weed itself out. There are bound to be a few more who will throw their hat in the ring like Herman Cain did in 2012, (Oh please let them be as entertaining!) but soon the weight of so many candidates will tip the scales and some will have to drop out. It will mostly be a matter of whose funds dry up first.

But, hopefully, that process of elimination will at least bring us some entertainment. We deserve at least some fun for the next 2 years we’re going to have to endure.

Who am I kidding? As long as we have Sarah Palin and Donald Trump we’ll have all the comic relief we need.

Poverty of Spirit

Boy Reading

Here’s one that died a quiet death earlier this week:

The majority of public school students are living in poverty. Seems like the kind of thing you’d have heard about, doesn’t it? Yet, it showed up was briefly discussed and fell off the news cycle. We had other more important things to talk about, like ‘Did the Patriots fully inflate the game balls?’

So, here goes one more time: For the first time in 50 years the majority of children attending public schools come from low income families.

The Southern Education Foundation is reporting that 51% of K-12 graders qualify for school free or reduced price lunches. That’s more than half.

It’s not just about the food, though. Because children from lower income families often don’t have the advantages of preschool, and so show up at Kindergarten trailing their more affluent peers. Research suggests that these poorer children never make up that gap. It follows them throughout their school careers, and affects whether they go to college or even finish high school.

The highest concentration of poverty is in the south and the west. In 21 states, at least half the public school children were eligible for free and reduced-price lunches — ranging from Mississippi, where more than 70 percent of students were from low-income families, to Illinois, where one of every two students was low-income.

With figures like these how do we except poorer children to overcome the obstacles they face? We’ve already gutted funding for Head Start, choosing to punish poor children and doom them to the financial strata they were born into.

There seems to be little political will to fund preschool for poorer families, instead letting low income families take the brunt of underfunded programs and curricula.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that as the gap between poorer and wealthier students grows the advantages continue to accumulate for students of better means. As those advantages continue to rack up, those wealthier students will do better in school and college and ultimately in their post-college careers.

We are quite simply dooming lower income children to a cycle of poverty. And it really does seem like no one gives a tinker’s damn.

Republicans are dead set against spending more money on early childhood development, choosing instead to punish poor children for having the audacity to pick poor parents. They prefer to ‘streamline programs’ which is code for cut. They would prefer to give parents vouchers for charter or private schools, a program which itself is not proven to work, and in fact is only an advantage to parents who can physically transport their children to a better school or district. It does nothing to address the fact that many local schools are woefully underfunded and do not have the resources to provide children with an adequate education. It does not answer the question of what we do for children who can’t take advantage of the voucher program. Those children exist and wishing them away won’t work.

This report was released just ahead of the Congressional debate about how to best rewrite the federal education law. Some are asking for the law to focus on schools and student’s needs, rather than them hitting certain benchmarks and being punished or sanctioned if they fail to meet standards. Poorer schools with children already struggling are not able to meet certain standards, and taking resources away from them only serves to punish poor children even further.

It is almost impossible to overstate the impact that poverty has on education. If it didn’t have an impact so many children whose parents can afford it wouldn’t be in private schools. Private schools are able to provide better opportunities for learning through their greater resources, and because often parents have the time to invest in their children’s education. It’s pointless to be angry that some parents do not have the time to invest in their children’s education – often these are parents working 2 minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. Many are doing the very best they can.

And what of the parents many think could do better? What if they don’t? Are you comfortable condemning some poor child who doesn’t know better into the cycle of poverty? Are you OK with that?

What does it say about us as a nation that more than half of public school attendees come to school hungry? It says we have 2 school systems – 2 unique but not equal school systems. One for the poors and one for the rest.

All these 2 school systems will serve to do is further economically segregate our children. We’ve already cut out early-childhood services and after-school programs. What’s next? Cut out the books or teachers until those poor children learn how not to be poor?

We have a problem in this country. We hate our poor, and we blame them for their position in life. We’ve taken that animosity and spread out to poor children, which makes us heartless. Yes, it’s not enough to look down upon and punish poor adults, we need to share that behavior with their children and shame them, too.

So, as Congress reviews the disastrous policies of No Child Left Behind some of us will be hoping that there will be room in school budgets for nutritious food and programs that will help lift poor children out of the poverty of mind and soul.

For truly, how much poverty of spirit must you have to see a hungry child and think that’s something you can live with?

Reverend King Must Be So Proud

KKK

“My experience has also taught me that blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.” Michael Smith, “Confessions of a Public Defender”

No, this is not from 1955, it’s from 2014. This bile is part of a longer screed which can be found on the White Supremacist website American Renaissance (click at your own risk, it’s awful), and is staggering in its pure hatred and unvarnished racism. There’s no dog whistle here, it’s a full-throated unabashed embracing of the white supremacist ethos.

You would be right to think that black Americans would be rage-filled and incredibly insulted at this wretched opinion. Unless that person would be the self-loathing Allen West, former Florida Congressman, disgraced retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and current Republican talking head.

Allen West posted the entire text of the article in a piece on his website entitled, “Quite possibly the most racist article you will ever read.” He then proceeds to call the article profound and insightful.

“I’m quite sure the progressive socialist left will criticize me for sharing this article – that’s just who they are – they hate the truth. But if there is a war to be fought, it is for the soul of the inner city and the black community. The facts and observations in this are not shocking to me. They are quite well known, but the manner in which the writer so eloquently presents them is quite commendable.” – Allen West

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What kind of self-hating prejudice must one have to be able to support the idea that the very racial group you belong to is inferior and dangerous? How do you reconcile self-preservation and dignity with embracing stereotypes and dehumanization? In short: Just how much do you loath yourself that you would sell yourself out to people who believe you’re beneath them?

Yes, Allen West is first in line to throw himself under the bus to prove what a great black person he is. “See?” he seems to say, “I’m not like the rest, you can trust and like me. I see what awful people I come from, that’s how I’m able to raise above them.” It’s self-aversion’s finest hour.

The sad part is that he’ll never be accepted by the very people he is appealing to. To them he will never rise above the color of his skin, no matter how hard he tries. Heaven knows he’s been trying for years to ingratiate himself with the racists at Fox News. To them he is a Useful Idiot: someone who propagates their racist message and who appears to be above reproach because of the color of his skin.

Sadly, West is looked down upon by everyone. The people whom he is selling out wouldn’t piss on him if he were on fire, and the people he is sucking up to believe he is sub-human and dangerous.

Looking back, Allen West has a history of making controversial statements, media attention-whoring and downright shit stirring. Think Progress put together a whole list of them, but here are some of the highlights:

At the GOP Lincoln Day Dinner in 2012 he said, “Take your message of equality of achievement. … You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America.”

In April of 2011, West told a conservative women’s conference that liberal women “have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness — to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient. That’s what we need you to do. Because if you don’t, then the debt will continue to grow…deficits will continue to grow.” (Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make any sense, but he was on a roll.)

Numerous times he has encouraged military personnel to not follow the Commander-in-Chief’s orders, conveniently ignoring the fact that they are constitutionally bound to do so unless the orders are illegal. You would think a man who rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army would have a passing knowledge of something like that. Oh, yeah. Shit stirring. And what can you really say about a man who was forced out of the service for abusing a detainee?

He makes a living saying outrageous things: Policies promoted by the Democratic party are slavery and he is the modern-day Harriet Tubman, here to “lead people on the Underground Railroad, away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility.” Obama has aided and abetted terrorists. Joseph Goebbels would be proud of the Democrat (sic) propaganda machine. Obama voters are a threat to the gene pool. Religious coexistence would “give away who we are, our rights and freedoms and liberties.”

Yes, West makes his living saying outrageous things and damned if he doesn’t continue to find work in that notorious liberal media.

What a sad little man.

Don’t you feel good knowing that someone this unbalanced was in the United States Congress? Kind of makes the obstructionists we have on the Hill now look good. Well, no, not really, but it does put it in perspective how damaging one person can be.

He may no longer be in Congress, but West still has the opportunity to harm the general public by spreading misinformation and hate about minorities. At the same time he’s selling out himself and his soul, West denies that racism exists in this country, and decries anyone who would say it does. But, no matter how often he white-knights them (sorry, I couldn’t resist) the racists will never accept him. They will always see the color of his skin. They might let him come to the party, they’d just prefer it if he used the service entrance to get there.