Archive for the ‘#culturaldivide’ Tag

Concealed Carry Works 3   Leave a comment

From September 24, 2017

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-tennessee-church-shooting-20170924-story.html

A gunman wearing a ski mask stormed into a Nashville, Tenn.-area church on Sunday, shooting seven people, including the pastor, before attacking a church usher who ultimately subdued him with a personal weapon, Nashville police said.

The shooting — which left a 39-year-old woman dead — occurred shortly before noon at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tenn., about 12 miles southeast of downtown Nashville. Police identified the shooter as Sudan-native Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, of Tennessee, who they said is a legal resident of the United States and apparently had attended worship services at the church in recent years. Police said Samson will be charged with murder and attempted murder.

Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, said Samson drove up to the church and shot and killed a woman who was standing near her vehicle in the parking lot. The shooter — who police said was armed with two handguns — then entered the church through a rear door, shooting and wounding six people inside.

At some point, the gunman also pistol-whipped a church usher, causing “significant injuries” to the man, Aaron said. The usher, 22-year-old Robert “Caleb” Engle, confronted the gunman, police said, and during a struggle, Samson was injured with a shot from his own gun. The usher then ran to his car and retrieved a handgun, police said.

Aaron said the usher ensured the gunman did not make any more movements until officers arrived on the scene. “It would appear he was not expecting to encounter a brave individual like the church usher,” Aaron said.

Police Chief Steve Anderson praised Engle for intervening: “We believe he is the hero today.”

The shooting comes a little more than two years after Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, shot and killed nine people inside an African-American church in Charleston, S.C. Roof is awaiting execution after being convicted in federal and state cases.

Authorities on Sunday did not release a motive for the Antioch attack. But in a statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nashville said it had opened a federal civil rights investigation.

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence,” said David Boling, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “As this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.”

Police identified the deceased victim as Melanie Smith, 39, of Smyrna, Tenn. The six surviving victims, all described as being between the ages of 60 and 83, are being treated at Nashville-area hospitals, as is the usher. The church’s pastor, Joey Spann, 60, and his wife, Peggy, 65, were among the injured.

Police said Samson was taken to a hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound to the chest. He was later released and was expected to appear before a judge late Sunday night.

Many parishioners remained inside the church for hours after the shooting, speaking to police and receiving counseling.

In an interview outside the church, Vickey Merritt said her husband had been inside during the shooting but escaped unharmed. “It was a good church,” said Merritt, 58. “It had recently started taking in homeless people over the weekends.”

Police said Samson moved to the U.S. from Sudan in 1996. Nashville has a vibrant Sudanese community, and the city’s churches frequently host and help care for refugees.

Aaron said the gunman left his vehicle idling after he pulled up to the church, and he was wearing a “neoprene mask, best described as a ski mask.” About 50 parishioners were inside the church at the time, police said.

Police said the mask concealed the shooter’s identity, but when police told parishioners who had been arrested, several gasped because they remembered him attending the church multiple times one or two years ago.

Doug Ramey, 45, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., said he met with Engle, the usher, at TriStar Skyline Medical Center, where he was being treated for injuries including a separated shoulder. Ramey said Engle told him he sprang into action after hearing gunshots inside and outside the church.

Engle told Ramey that he approached the shooter thinking he had his handgun on him, but he realized that he didn’t and instead engaged in a hand-to-hand struggle. After Samson was shot in the struggle, Engle’s father stood guard over him while Engle went to get his firearm from his vehicle. When he returned, Engle put his gun on Samson and held him down with his foot, Ramey said.

“Robert said the guy didn’t say a word,” Ramey said as he stood at the police barrier at the church on Sunday afternoon, waiting for Engle’s girlfriend, who remained with other parishioners as police continued to gather evidence. “He had a mask on the whole time.”

Shortly before the shooting, Samson appears to have left a series of cryptic messages on what appeared to be his Facebook page.

“Everything you’ve ever doubted or made to be believe as false, is real. & vice versa, B.,” said one message, apparently posted shortly before the attack.

“Become the creator instead of what’s created. Whatever you say, goes,” another read.

Samson’s other recent posts dealt with fairly routine matters, including photographs of what appeared to be his physical progression as a body builder and concerns over the hurricanes threatening the United States.

Aaron said authorities are working on a motive for the shooting but are not ready to release it publicly.

“There are certain things that have come to our attention that are under investigation, but that remains to be announced,” Aaron said.

A massive police presence remained on the scene at the Burnette Chapel on Sunday afternoon, with a police officer standing guard on Pin Hook Road a quarter mile from the church, turning away motorists.

The church is in Antioch, a working-class neighborhood and one of Nashville’s most diverse. Located in a rural area in the southeastern corner of Nashville’s combined city-county boundary, the church also serves La Vergne in neighboring Rutherford County, where auto industry factories are among the region’s largest employers.

On social media, the church has posted inclusive messages and photographs showing a congregation that reflects the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood, which is majority white, but also includes sizable black, Hispanic, and foreign-born populations.

In a statement, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said the shooting was a “terrible tragedy.”

“My heart aches for the family and friends of the deceased as well as the wounded victims and their loved ones,” Barry said. “My administration, especially Metro Nashville police, will continue to work with community members to stop crime before it starts, encourage peaceful conflict resolution and promote nonviolence.”

Murder Rate by US County   Leave a comment

What’s going on here? Why would the murder rate be so high in some areas of the country, but not others?

Oddly, most of the dark red zones are cities and the darkest zones are the cities where guns have been banned or highly restricted.

It would seem we have two Americas – the one where lots of people own lots of guns, but don’t generally murder one another and the other where few people own any guns, but killing one another happens often.

It’s an interesting dichotomy where the result appears to be the exact opposite of what is intended.

Why Can’t We Talk to One Another?   Leave a comment

When I was a kid growing up in Alaska, politics were an indoor participation sport. Even little kids were encouraged to have opinions. According to my Dad, I didn’t like “cold water”, but I thought Lyndon Johnson looked mean … I was four, so I would have voted for Barry, much to my liberal-for-the times dad’s chagrin — he’d be a moderate Republican these days, I think. Holding an opinion didn’t mean anything of course. The adults would try to dissuade us from them. That might have been for their entertainment (we had limited television) or it might have been because they thought we should learn how to defend our positions or change our minds when presented with a good argument.

Image result for image of antifaI can’t recall any of the kids I grew up with becoming mass shooters or ax murdering the family next door. Oh, wait … yeah, but he had paranoid schizophrenia, so maybe we can’t blame that on those early forays into controversy.

So, if even little children can handle hearing contradictory opinions, why are we protecting college students (10-15 years older) from them?

When I was in college, professors would tell us that they wanted us to challenge each other’s presuppositions. I was a moderate among liberals, but I had some friends who were conservatives and even libertarians. We challenged each other regularly in classes and at the student union, sometimes with professors in attendance. Conversations got a little heated occasionally, but nobody tried to kill anyone and no one went home and shot themselves in the head because their opinions were refuted.

These days, some college administrators seem to believe that hearing new points of view can be unsafe or damaging to students on some psychological level. They want certain opinions to be silenced for the “good” of certain students and then they extend that prohibition out to the rest of society. Ironically, this kind of thinking has actually put people holding whatever view is currently being demonized in real danger, as we’ve seen beatings of Trump supporters and others by college “activists” (the PC term for thug) across the nation.

In the end, there are only two possible ways of dealing with disagreement:

  1. We can talk to each other, working to peacefully persuade others to our point of view, … and then agree to disagree if we can’t come to an understanding.
  2. We can not talk to one another and allow our disagreements to devolve into violence and hurt people who hold different perspectives.

Only one of these is healthy for society. Guess which one?

Incivility on the Letters   Leave a comment

These are the comments on the Letters to the Editor page of Alaska Dispatch News on June 15, 2017. This is what I’m talking about when I say incivil rhetoric is leading to violence such as the shooting in Alexandria.

Balto

2 days ago

What’s the crime Mr. Whittaker? Besides a move for impeachment will fail and will guaranty a conservative sweep in 2018. Just relax, no more hysterics.

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TRUMP: 100 Days Of Failure And Counting

2 days ago

Aside from obstruction of justice, I guess we’ll see if Mueller is allowed to do his job.

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©Dump Trump™

3 days ago

Trump’s Birthday ‘Gifts’ Include A One-Way Ticket To Russia

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TRUMP IS ILLEGITIMATE

2 days ago

After months of Trump recruitment, Cindy McCain is reportedly headed for a job at the State Dept.

Senator John McCain’s wife.

If you are keeping tabs at home, Donald Trump named Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, as secretary of transportation.

He recently named Calista Gingrinch, Newt’s wife, as the ambassador to the Vatican.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of huckster Mike Huckabee, is the principal deputy White House press secretary.

And now Cindy McCain is reportedly headed to the State Department after months of schmoozing from Trump.

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Pope of the North

3 days ago

Pete Kelly reminds us of a better groomed Steve Bannon

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TRUMP IS ILLEGITIMATE

2 days ago

Staged public events that only serve to massage Trump’s ego will totally be taken at face value by future historians.

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TRUMP IS ILLEGITIMATE

2 days ago

Since President Trump won the Republican nomination, the majority of his companies’ real estate sales are to secretive shell companies that obscure the buyers’ identities

A decade ago, when Donald Trump’s seventh bankruptcy had wiped out his ability to borrow, he was dragged back from the brink of financial failure by money from Russian oligarchs. That infusion of money came not only in the form of big investments in new building projects, it also came through a money-laundering scheme that created LLCs for the express purpose of grabbing Trump properties at premium prices.

Among the dozens of companies the Almaty lawyers say the Khrapunov laundering network used were three called Soho 3310, Soho 3311 and Soho 3203. Each was a limited liability company, meaning their ownership could easily be concealed.

What was sold then is a fraction of what secretive LLCs are buying from Trump today.

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Lela Markham

2 days ago

Don Duff – I could actually agree to a sales tax, but not before the State’s departments have returned to 2010 funding levels, which is a 25% cut from the high when Parnell left office. We need to remember that Parnell increased the budget by 27% during his years in office and now we’re being told that they can’t possibly cut the budget or survive at a budget set lower than $100 a barrel when we managed to do well with a budget set at $60 a barrel for decades. That’s ridiculous and until it is remedied, we the people should say NO.

I prefer a sales tax over an income tax because I am not being penalized for going to work everyday and I have some choice in how much I participate in this tax. Productive people shouldn’t be penalized for being productive. Consumption taxes tend to encourage savings and investing, which is much better for the economy than the folly of spending every dime we make on consumer goods that wear out and need to be replaced repeatedly.

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©Dump Trump™

3 days ago

#Sad Birthday party will be hosted by Rise and Resist, a direct-action group formed in the wake of Trump’s election victory last November. According to a press release from the group, it will involve hundreds of protesters gathering outside Trump Tower in New York City and delivering a special gift: plane tickets to Russia—or, as the group puts it, “back to Russia.”

“Donald Trump is proposing policy after policy that will be destructive for America,” said Andy Ratto, a member of Rise and Resist. “While he is in D.C. blowing out the candles on his cake, we’ll be out in the streets saying we hope none of his wishes come true.”

The party in Manhattan will be just part of a “national day of anti-Trump events,” which will also include protests around his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and at Trump National Golf Course in Westchester County, New York, the group said.

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TRUMP IS ILLEGITIMATE

2 days ago

Republican senator tells 73,000 West Virginians they’re not losing Medicaid, they’re in ‘transition’

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Joe Smith 543

14 hours ago

Frank Baker, Obama put the US on the hook for $$Billions through the Paris Accord. We can’t afford that, nor should we pay it if we could afford to. We can stick with the clean energy agreements contained within, and some entities have already agreed to do their part. The same can be accomplished without the heavy-hand of the feds requiring it. If the accords were such a great thing, Obama would have asked the senate to ratify it as a treaty; he knew it would never pass, so he didn’t even ask.

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TRUMP IS ILLEGITIMATE

2 days ago

Office of Government Ethics nixes Steve Bannon’s ‘unsigned and undated’ retroactive ethics waiver

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TRUMP IS ILLEGITIMATE

2 days ago

DeVos Dept. of Education sued for ignoring request for info on sexual harassment investigations

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Title IX, which is a federal law which requires schools that receive federal funding to properly respond to and prevent sexual violence, is enforced by the Department of Education. Title IX has to do with civil rights—something that Betsy DeVos doesn’t seem too concerned with. During the confirmation, DeVos declined to answer multiple inquiries about whether she would enforce the civil rights of American students, and the ignored FOIA request hints that she has no intention of doing so. The fact is, she willingly serves as a member of a sexual predator’s presidential cabinet.

And that’s precisely why the Department’s refusal to share information is so important.

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TRUMP IS ILLEGITIMATE

2 days ago

Republican legislators who you would probably never invite into your own home.

Today’s poster child will be Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who has truly embraced the modern Republican tradition of flatly denying things they’ve said or done despite those things being (1) quite memorable and (2) on da videotapes.

Ben Sasse denies he said Obamacare was ‘worst law in our history’—but it’s from his own campaign ads

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TRUMP: 100 Days Of Failure And Counting

2 days ago

The right put a bunch of nihilistic egomaniacs in power. Even if we get rid of Trump we’re stuck with Religious nutball Pence. Check out Margaret Atwood’s seminal book and Hulu series The Handmaids Tale.

American Civil War 2   Leave a comment

It’s really starting to look like the United States of America is at war with itself. We haven’t yet begun to kill one another as we did in 1861-65, but we’re plunging headlong toward shredding ourselves.

When I wrote Hullabaloo on Main Street, I didn’t need to look far for inspiration. The media was filled with articles such as When a Red State Moves to a Blue State. PBS, which has been utterly ignorant of main street America for the decade I’ve been watching it actually has done some interviews with red state residents, which they then contrasted with the panic of blue state residents over the election of Donald Trump. I think they stopped running those interviews because even the Propaganda Bureau of Socialism (PBS) recognized how unexpectedly reasonable Trump voters sounded compared to those mourning the Clinton campaign.

Image result for image of clapper comey cabalBut it’s more than just how we feel about the election. As someone who didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton, I see this perhaps more clearly than those who have a dog in the fight. It sure does suck to lose an election. Committed democrats suddenly start applying to government to overturn the democratic process, forgetting that the United States was established as a republic, and in a republic, sometimes, the minority opinion wins, prepared for it or not.

This time around, it’s not Northern versus Southern states … or, if you subscribe as I do to the multiple causation theory of the Civil War …, industrialists attempting to usurp landowners, or the moral question of slavery. The current war is due to powerful factions within the political class not willing to accept the election of Donald Trump.

As far as the ruling class is concerned, Donald Trump was not supposed to win the presidential election of November 2016. Hillary Clinton’s deep connection to the foreign policy establishment and corporate news media made her the favored candidate. Her more hawkish outlook encouraged the establishment’s desire to extend the United States’ global hegemony, which Trump’s avowed stance to normalized relations with Russia threatened to derail those ambitions.

Of course, America’s rulers are varied in their opinion depending on their particular policy emphasis. Trump’s proposals for cutting taxes was bound to appeal to the powerful Wall Street and corporate factions among America’s power elite. This may make it seem that they are indifferent about the actual election result or even pleased by it. But is that where the real power lies?

With the rise of the surveillance state, we ought to recognize within the political class is a foreign policy establishment that straddles the politicians in Washington. This is the deep state — the intelligence community and the security-military apparatus, the CIA, Pentagon and their assets and class sympathizers within the corporate media. These hold a hostile view of President Trump and have the power to sustain a political war against his presidency.

Examples? The whole Russia “hacking the US elections” scandal just keeps running regardless of any objective evidence that it happened. The media and the political elite keep bringing it up, but James Clapper, former National Intelligence Director, has given more than one media interview where he reiterated that he has seen no evidence of “collusion” between the Trump election team and Russian state agents. Clapper and the former FBI chief James Comey continually hint at a Russia-gate scandal, but they never present any evidence. It plays into the long-standing American paranoia of Russia and many Americans buy into the supposition that where there’s smoke there’s fire, but it’s really looking like dry-ice fog used to cover behind-the-scenes.  They should either put up or shut up. For to not do is nothing less than political witch-hunting. The purpose of which is to undermine President Trump’s mandate. And it is all given full vent by politicians and media who wittingly or unwittingly rally behind the American paranoia of Russophobia.

Hullabaloo Front CoverI don’t care for President Trump’s personality. That’s why I didn’t vote for him. I am uncomfortable with his pal-type politics, but while President Obama was more publicly restrained in his cronyism, he also played at putting people who he owed political favors to in positions of power. I knew, because I’d watched her operate, that Hillary would be just as bad in the department, if not worse. Thus, I voted for someone didn’t display a similar history. Not many other people voted for him, so … like it or not, Donald Trump was constitutionally elected to the presidency. If you’re a committed democrat, it sure does suck if you lose an election … but if you’re trying to overthrow that election, you’re refusing to accept the results of American-style democracy.

It seems clear that there are elite interests within the US ruling class who do not accept American democracy and the mandate of President Trump’s electors. This fundamental revelation lays bare the very heart of American democracy. We’re told it’s the best in the world, but the ruling class is unwilling to accept the results of the last presidential election. They’re using unsupported claims of Trump being a Russian agent and how he couldn’t have won the election without Russian cyber-hacking to cover up a brazen anti-democratic assault on the electorate.

The people fanning the allegations are powerful enough to make sure the witch-hunt remains a dominate focus in public life and to do so without producing a shred of evidence for a good long time.

Consider recent history. President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because he fumbled the Clinton email investigation and was grandstanding over the Russia-gate probes. The media claimed this was evidence that Trump is covering up his alleged Russian links.

Ah, but the public started to grow bored when no evidence was produced, so then the US media became full of claims that President Trump leaked highly classified information on Islamic State terrorists to Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov during their closed-door meeting at the White House. If so, he risked exposing intelligence agents in Syria and it is well known that the only US-allied country that has infiltrated intelligence agents in Syria is Israel.

In the Clapper interview cited earlier, he said the US was being attacked both externally by the Russians and internally by President Trump “assaulting state institutions”. He offered no evidence. It’s all rhetoric, used to undermine a sitting president through innuendo. The presidency is being assaulted by people like Clapper and the establishment who are refusing to acknowledge President Trump’s electoral mandate.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov alluded to this when he said that America was “humiliating itself” by making the unfounded claims that Russia subverted its presidential election. How can the supposedly most powerful nation on Earth be so vulnerable to alleged Russian hackers? There’s been no evidence of actual voter manipulation. It would be difficult to the point of impossibility for anyone to hack 51 separate state-based election systems, many of them further decentralized at the community level. If Russia was behind the release of DNC emails (remember, only Wikileaks has taken credit), all they did was release information that American voters had a right to know. The voters themselves voted according to their feelings about the disclosures found in the material. That shouldn’t be against the law and it shouldn’t be something we go nuts over. Informed voters are a very good thing.

The people attacking American democracy (which works through a republican system) are American, not Russian or anyone else. The country is at war with itself. It is its own worse enemy, harming itself by flailing around with paranoid fears over non-existent threats.

America’s Civil War II is underway. It’s a war over whether democracy in this country exists or not and whether we want a pure democracy that has never worked out well in history or to continue with a republican form of government that protects social and regional minorities’ right to be heard and to have a voice in national politics. I pray we don’t start shooting at one another. It would be better if we the people stopped believing every bit of falsehood oozing out of the national media and started talking to our neighbors as if we were fellow Americans and not enemy combatants.

Steak and Ketchup   Leave a comment

It must have been a slow news weekend for the liberal media, and President Trump didn’t give them enough to get hysterical about, so they decide in mass to feign outrage about how he eats his steaks. Apparently, Trump likes his steaks well-done and eats them with ketchup. Look, I’m not a fan of well-done steaks and the idea of putting ketchup on a fine steak horrifies me. If I had to guess, my hunch is that Trump’s penchant for well-done steaks is likely related to his well-documented fear of germs and his desire to not see any blood, rather than his palate. The ketchup thing I can’t speak to. Maybe it’s to flavor up a burnt steak.

Image result for image of steak and ketchupThat said, the level of vitriol and posturing associated with this revelation about Trump’s eating habits lacks all sense of proportion. It’s alright to feign outrage in an obviously humorous way about such matters. A social media friend, for example, exclaimed that real men don’t eat their steaks well-done, a sentiment I generally concur with, but a lot of the reaction has not been intended as humorous. Check out these bitter invective-filled rants from A.V. Club and Jezebel for example.

The reason the President’s eating habits have the liberal culture enforcers in such a lather is because they reinforce their stereotype of Trump as an uncouth ruffian that wealth has failed to civilize. There is some truth to this characterization, and I say this as someone who is sympathetic to Trump. The problem for the liberal Trump haters, though, is that this reality cuts both ways.

I observed very early on in the campaign that the reason the Manhattan elite crowd has never liked Trump and has never accepted him as one of their own is because they view him as vulgar “new money.” While modern “old money” isn’t what it used to be with its acclaimed WASP sense of propriety and decorum, Trump still does not pass muster with the new more relaxed version. In many ways, Trump is indeed the personification of new money faux pas. The ostentatiousness. The glitz and glitter. The name emboldened on all his properties. Bragging about his net worth and business success. Etc

The overreaction to how Trump eats his steaks is an example of this dynamic at play. Ironically, much of it is coming from faux sophisticated posers who are likely struggling paycheck to paycheck like many Trump supporters but want it known that they hold all the approved opinions of the better off crowd they yearn to join. I’m sure, for example, those freelance writers at Jezebel or food editors at A.V. Club, unless they have another source of wealth, aren’t exactly bringing home big money.

Trump has long been known for his pedestrian culinary preferences anyway, conspicuously including a fondness for fast food. The feigned outrage over Trump’s choice of condiments among the faux sophisticate set just so happens to synergize with the currently raging “foodie” craze that is popular among much the same crowd. I don’t doubt that there are people who enjoy good quality food, but I’m convinced that a lot of foodie culture is, like the related and even more obnoxious beer snob culture, largely an affectation intended to signal social identity rather than a genuine interest in overpriced and small portioned food and undrinkable hoppy beers. Imagine the delight of a liberal foodie upon discovering this story. He gets to signal his culinary sophistication and dis Trump all in one fell swoop.

Trump’s status as an outsider among NYC elites has been a feature since he first became a public figure in the 80s. Spy Magazine, for example, notoriously carried on a vicious long-running campaign to ridicule Trump that was clearly motivated by personal animus and not just a desire to sell magazines. Despite moving from Queens to Manhattan, Trump’s failure to be accepted by the elite club seems to have put a chip on his shoulder which I have long sensed at least partially motivated his run for President to begin with. I definitely believe it influences his preference for wealth created by building and making things as opposed to the finance capital that is a disproportionate source of wealth among rich Manhattanites.

Much to the chagrin of Trump’s detractors, however, Trump’s obvious outsider status is the reason why plain folks in Flyover Country embraced him as one of their own instead of just another rich guy from New York City. This is really an amazing thing that deserves comment. Trump supporters are the same crowd that Pace targeted with a series of ads in the 80s and 90s threatening to hang the guy who bought picante sauce that was made in the despised “New York City.” Who can forget the call to “Get a rope?” These are the same people among whom “New York values” polled poorly enough to prompt Ted Cruz to play that card in the primary. Yet these same people embraced Trump with a fervor that they never had for McCain or Romney.

What so many liberal sophisticates continue to miss is that many of Trump’s behaviors that so appall them are what make him more relatable to his supporters. They love the Donnie from Queens who likes Kentucky Fried Chicken, puts ketchup on his steak and swills mass quantities of Diet Coke, much more than they would a Donald from Manhattan who wants to ban Big Gulps, and they don’t care what pompous food editors at pop culture websites think about it. While they may come from and inhabit very different worlds, they have the same enemies. The same people who look down their noses and tut-tut Donald Trump’s shenanigans are the same people who look down their noses at their “redneck” ways. Trump is their uncouth billionaire, and all the feigned outrage from the liberal media only reinforces this more.

Source: Steak and Ketchup

Posted March 4, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in cultural divide

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What It Really Costs   2 comments

My brother’s wife is a CPA and something of a fiscal conservative. My husband’s sister was a business major who works for a big Internet firm. I got into two separate conversions with them recently about the same topic. They’re approximately 30 years apart in age, which may explain some of the disagreement. The younger one lacks mature perspective and trusts experts more. One was raised all over the world in a different era when Third World countries really were Third World countries and the other was raised in New England, where she resides today, but I don’t think that’s the issue, really.

Are people better off or worse off than our parents?

The CPA says we’re suffering from a failure to know history. The Internet marketer says we’re sliding toward the poor house. Which is true?

Image result for image of 1959 televisionI grew up in a working class home, so I know that for myself, I’m better off financially than my parents were at my age … except they had their mortgage paid off, so maybe I’m living in a dream world. SIL #1 was raised by an engineer. She says she’s done as well or better than her folks did and my brother paid off the mortgage about 10 years ago. SIL #2 was raised by a middle-manager for a huge corporation, but her dad suffered a stroke in her early teens, and although he recovered, he never could work at the same high-pressure job again, so her teens were more working-class income. But she now makes an income twice what her father’s best year was.

There was a curious phenomenon in 2008. Up to that point, if you asked almost anyone (except people in the Rust Belt) whether they were doing better than their parents, you would have heard a loud affirmative. They lived in bigger houses filled with all sorts of gadgets their parents never even dreamed of, they owned better (and more) cars, they had more than one television, they enjoyed better health care, had closets stuffed with clothes, went on vacations to far-flung places their parents never imagined and had retirement accounts in addition to Social Security.

Then the economy collapsed and this narrative started about how the middle-class income was shrinking compared to incomes 30 years ago.

Is that true … and if it is true, why weren’t we aware of it in 2007?

I’m going to submit that it’s only partially true because even if our real money incomes never raise above what our parents made, what our incomes buy us is far more than what our parents’ incomes could buy them.

I ran across this cool chart and thought I’d share some of the findings. It looked at retail price in 1959, 1973 and 2013 and the number of hours we have to work to buy the item we desire. So instead of looking at inflation adjusted incomes, it looked at how much time we invest in purchases a consumer item.

A washing machine cost $210 in 1959. The average wage was $2.09. It took 100.5 hours to purchase a washing machine in 1959. In 1973, average wage was $3.95 and a washing machine was (on average) $285. It took 72.2 hours to purchase a washing machine in 1973. In 2013, that washing machine would cost $450, but the average wage was $19.30, so it took only 23.3 hours to purchase a washing machine in 2013.

A dishwasher cost $190 in 1959 (and few houses had one). The average wage of $2.09 meant that it took 90.9 hours to purchase a dishwasher in 1959. In 1973, a dishwasher cost $310 and the average wage was $3.95. It took 78.5 hours to buy a dishwasher in 1973. In 2013, the dishwasher cost $400 at a wage rate of $19.30). It took 20.7 hours to buy that dishwasher in 2013.

A color TV cost $267 in 1959 (and almost nobody owned one). With an average wage of $2.09, it took 127.8 hours to buy a color TV in 1959.  In 1973, a color TV cost $400. With an average wage of $3.95, it took 101.3 to purchase a color TV in 1973. In 2013, a color TV cost $400 (yeah, it hasn’t gone up). With an average wage of $19.30, it took 20.7 hours to purchase a color TV in 2013.

Image result for image of 2015 televisionAccording to the US Census Bureau’s 2005 figures on what households have, even the “poor” are increasingly able to buy common household appliances. In 1971, the number of houses that had a washing machine was 71.3%. In 2005, it was 84% of total houses. In 1984 (as far as the figures went back) 58.7% of “poor” households had a washing machine. Now it’s 68%.

In 1971, 18.8% of total households had a dishwasher. In 1984, 13.4% of “poor” households had a dishwasher. In 2005, 64% of total households had a dishwasher and 37.7% of “poor” households had a dishwasher.

In 1971, 43.3% of total households had a color TV. In 1984, 70.3% of “poor” households had a television. In 2005, 98.9% of total households had a color TV and 97.4% of “poor” households had a television.

In other words, Americans making less than the federal poverty standard today are much more likely to have these sort of things in their homes that the average 1970s American family considered to be luxuries. It cost people in 2013 far less time to purchase the same items as it cost people in 1959.  It’s what makes it so we can afford smart phones and air conditioning and better medical care … not to mention insurance.

AH, wait! Is it perhaps necessary to admit that a lot of our current financial straits has to do with rapidly increasing medical costs and insurance premiums and let’s remember that 2006 was when the cost of energy went nuts, a crisis that is now relieved to the extent that some states are suffering budgetary crises?

So hit pause for a second and ask yourself — would you want to live your parents’ lifestyle if it meant your inflation-adjusted income was better than theirs?

If you answered “No” to this question, you might want to reconsider whether to believe the doomsayer propaganda that insists that you’re not as well off as your parents were. Maybe it’s not about how much we make, but more about how much what we make will allow us to buy.

Posted December 24, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in economics

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Country v City 2   1 comment

So, I asked my sister-in-law (she of the city) to read yesterday’s piece before I posted it. She immediately messaged back with how wrong I was on what I wrote. “The good ole days were built on slavery and segregation where whole categories of humanity experienced religion as a lash on their back. Traditional families involved millions of women trapped in kitchens and bad marriages. Gays lived in fear and abortions were performed in back allies without benefit of medical professionals.”

Image result for image of country versus city

Yeah, sort of. But is that any worse than what is happening in “white” rural America today? These people are getting crushed. Step outside your blue zone bubble and the suicide rate among young people doubles (which is a relatively new phenomenon, by the way … suicide used to be a city thing). The recession pounded rural communities, but all the recovery efforts went to the cities. The rate of new businesses opening in rural areas has utterly collapsed. Sure, they could all move to the city, but then they would have to live in a city with all the decadence, crime and social isolation that entails.

Rural jobs used to be based around one big local business — a factory, a coal mine, an oil refinery … when that business closed, the town started to disappear. Cities can make up for the loss of manufacturing jobs with service jobs — small towns cannot. That model doesn’t work below a certain population density.

I also sent my article to some cousins who live in rural communities in the Midwest and this was what they said to me. You can’t understand the hopelessness unless you live in a rural community. The vast majority of possible careers involve moving to the city, and around every city is now a hundred-foot wall called “Cost of Living.”

Image result for image of country versus cityLet’s break this down. You’re a smart kid making $8 an hour at Walmart and you want to move to better things in the city. You’re now going to stuff yourself, your wife and your new baby into a tiny apartment with a park four blocks away (as opposed to a yard you can actually use) that will set you back $1200 a month. You will also pay double what you’re currently paying for utilities, groceries and babysitters. Unless of course you’re willing to live in a housing project where you can’t even go to the park without risking getting mugged.

In a city, you can plausibly aspire to be anything, but in a small town, there may be no venues for performing arts aside from country music bars and churches. There may only be two doctors in town — aspiring to that job means waiting for one of them to retire or die. You open the classifieds and all of the job listings will be for fast food or convenience stores. The “downtown” is just the corpses of mom and pop stores left shattered in Walmart’s blast crater, the “suburbs” are trailer parks. There are parts of these towns that look post-apocalyptic.

If you dare complain, some liberal elite will pull out their iPad and type up a rant about your racist white privilege. Meanwhile, the rate of rural white suicides and overdoses skyrockets. It starts to feel like the worst of both worlds. Rural whites have all the ravages of poverty, but none of the sympathy. Blacks burn police cars, and those liberal elites say it’s not their fault because they’re poor. An Appalachian man gets jailed and fired over a baggie of meth and the city elites make jokes about his missing teeth. Country folk are everyone’s punching bag — it’s one of our society’s last remaining safe comedy targets.

And that’s painful because these people come from a long line of folks who took pride in looking after themselves. My grandfather would have been ashamed to be dependent on anyone — especially the government. In the country, you mow your own lawn, fix your own pipes, and haul your own firewood in your own pickup truck.

Not like those hipsters in their tiny apartments, or the urban poor in their public housing projects, waiting for the landlord any time something breaks, knowing if things get too bad they can just pick up and move. When you don’t own anything, it’s all somebody else’s problem.

If the rural folk who voted for Trump acknowledge to a city dweller that their way of life is dying, the city dweller smirks and say what they really mean is that blacks and gays are finally getting equal rights and the country folk hate it. That’s not how the country folks see it. They say their way of life is dying because it is. It’s not their imagination. No movie about the future portrays it as being full of traditional families, hunters, and coal mines. Oops — except for Hunger Games, and that was depicted as an apocalypse — a recipe for subjugation.

So, yes, my rural cousins voted for the guy promising to put things back the way they were, the guy who they hope will act as a wake-up call to the blue islands. They voted for the brick through the window.

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Yeah, Trump has not shown himself to be a great guy by culturally elite standards. He insults people, he supposedly objectifies women and, my heavens, he cheats whenever possible. He’s not even an ordinary person. He’s an arrogant billionaire.

You’ve never rooted for somebody like that? Someone powerful who gives your enemies the insults they deserve? Somebody with big fun appetites who screws up just enough to make them relatable? Like Dr. House, Walter White or Tony Stark?

Yeah, those are fictional characters. But then there’s all those wealthy left-leaning talk show hosts who regularly insult whomever they don’t agree with. Do you love you some Bill Maher? They’re fine, because they’re on the proper side of the issues and everybody needs a Negen to smash their enemies with. It’s okay to be insulting so long as you hold the right views. Right? Country people are barely people, right? They’re just a mass of ignorant, angry, crude subhumans. They don’t matter!

It feels good to mock people, to dismiss them as “deplorables”. You can simply ignore those sorts of people … until they vote like a minority group and swing an election in what might be their favor. That then reminds the city folks that the country folks may now be able to assert some subjugation of their own and, shudder to think it, they may wield influence long after Trump leaves office.

So, can I suggest that instead of just dismissing them, you try talking to some of them. Not “talking AT” them. No. I mean you swallow your pride and talk to them as if they might actually know something worthwhile that might benefit you in your life and all of us in society. Give it a try and see if the next four years might not turn the country (as in the nation) in a better direction.

The blue islands have been in control for far too long and we’ve never been more divided, angry, dysfunctional or broke. Maybe there’s some wisdom out there in the red ocean that might save us all … if we let it.

 

By the way, the map in today’s post is from the 2016 Presidential election at the county level while the map from yesterday’s post is from the 2012 Presidential election at the county level. Pull them up in separate windows so you can see that this isn’t a new thing. And for good measure, here is the 2008 election map by county, because it shows the erosion for the Democratic Party didn’t necessarily have anything to do with Obama being black.

Related image

Country v City 1   Leave a comment

I just finished reading The Hunger Games because I got tired of waiting for the fourth movie and we had it on the shelf (my son read it last year). I read the whole series because I’m crazy that way.

Related imageOne of the things that struck me was that all the districts were rural areas that had been subjugated by the ever-so-clever capital. That’s a common narrative, actually. It’s sort of the universal shorthand of epic adventure movies and dystopian literature. The good guys are simple folks from the countryside while the bad guys are decadent tyrants from the city. Star War exemplifies this, but that’s only the most obvious example. The theme expresses itself in various ways – primitive versus advanced, tough versus delicate, masculine versus feminine, poor versus rich, pure versus decadent, traditional versus freakish. It’s really just code for rural versus urban.

It is a divide that really exists and writers are tapping into that tension. We see it in the Red and Blue States Map when converted to the county level. Look at a map from 2012 and it looks like Obama’s blue party is a fringe political faction. Of course, the blue parts are more densely populated. We call these cities. These are blue islands in an ocean of red. The cities are less than 4 percent of the land mass, but 62 percent of the population. They dominate the popular culture — all of our movies, television, songs and news issue from those blue islands.

Image result for presidential election 2012 county map

Which stinks for those who live in the red ocean. The whole world revolves around the “blue” people. The Walking Dead aside, TV shows are about LA or New York, occasionally Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia or Detroit. When they do make a show about the country folks, they depict us as idiots or creeps. This is about what Alaskans thought of Northern Exposure’s depiction of us. If you’re from the country, you know what I mean about urban arrogance.

Related imageKatniss quickly identified that nothing outside the city mattered to the capital denizens, with the possible exception of her fashion designer. They were blissfully unaware of where their food was grown and their energy were mined.

We see this today in how people talk about how Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans while completely ignoring that 238 people died in rural Mississippi, which experienced $125 BILLION in damage. By the way, if you try to bring this up to a city dweller, they will usually dismiss you. Who cares about a bunch of hillbillies? New Orleans is culturally important. Nobody cares that Seward, Valdez and several other Alaska communities were wiped off the map by the Good Friday Earthquake (the official name of the big quake that hit coastal Alaska in 1964). To most people elsewhere, it’s the “Anchorage Earthquake” because Anchorage is all that matters. And, Anchorage dwellers tend to agree.

Now, the city dwellers will insist that what really motivates these hayseeds (their word, not mine) is ingrown racism. They hate the cities because brown people live in the cities. I live in the second-largest city in second most racially diverse state in the union. Only Hawaii outdoes Alaska in that department. Trump won here. I’m not saying my fellow Alaskans voted wisely. I’m simply explaining that this phenomena has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the different life priorities that come with living a more rural existence.

The statistics back up the fact that we inhabit parallel universes. People living in the countryside are twice as likely to own a gun, about half as likely to die by gun-related homicide, and will probably get married younger. People in the urban “blue” areas talk faster, walk faster and stand closer, according to the sociologists. They are more likely to be drug abusers but less likely to be alcoholics. The blues are less likely to own land and they’re less likely to attend church regularly. In small towns, this often gets expressed as “They [city dwellers] don’t share our values.” My husband’s high school friends would scoff and retort “Like illiteracy and homophobia?” But, really, it doesn’t come down to those difference. The differences are much broader than that.

Related imageNot here in Alaska, which is more secular than any area of the country outside the Northeast, but in most rural places in the Lower 48, church is the nexus of the community. It’s where you make your friends, meet your future spouse, network for jobs, get social support. It’s the place where the poor get food and clothing, where couples get marriage counseling, where addicts go to try and get clean. And that was pretty much all of American until the 1970s. As we’ve seen a startling decline in evangelical Christianity among the general population in the cities, we’ve seen a rise in divorce rates and poverty, an increase in addiction and crime. The fabric of society is breaking down and rural Americans, watching it via the 24-hour news cycle, see that mess flowing their way.

The cities have ethnic riots, Muslims setting car bombs, gays spreading AIDS, Mexican cartels kidnapping children, atheists tearing down Christmas trees … but they have the audacity to say that white Christians are the real problem because they don’t want men to use the women’s bathroom. Seriously, which is more important — that chickens be allowed to be “free range” or that somewhere in the world terrorists are beheading children and abortionists are reaching into wombs and killing babies?

Basic, obvious truths that have gone unquestioned for thousands of years now get laughed at and shouted down — ideas like hard work is better than dependence on government … children do better with both parents in the picture … peace is better than rioting … a strict moral code is better than blithe hedonism … humans tend to value things they’ve earned more than what they get for free … not getting exploded by a bomb is better than getting exploded by a bomb ….

The foundation upon which America was undeniably built — family, faith, and hard work — had been deemed unfashionable and small-minded. Those snooty elites up in their ivory tower laughed as they kicked away that foundation, and then wrote long, wordy dissertations blaming the builders for causing the inevitable collapse.

(More on this topic tomorrow)

Posted December 5, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in cultural divide

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What’s With the Violence   1 comment

First, at the outset, let me say that if you’re peacefully protesting the election of Donald Trump – (Definition of PEACEFULLY – standing on a sidewalk, not blocking traffic vehicular or pedestrian, maybe holding a sign or a candle of mourning —

Good for you! Way to exercise your right to freedom of expression.

But if you’re protesting the election of Donald Trump by participating in the wanton destruction, physical attacks and threat of violence that so many are …

I hope the police treat you like they would anyone else in the same circumstances. In Alaska, that would be an eight-year potential sentence.

You do not have the right to physical intimidate, threaten, or assault people or to damage property that does not belong to you. You want to smash a car window to show how pissed off you are that your ideology is no longer in control in this country?

Smash your own, because you are the ones to blame for your candidate not winning the election. You didn’t vote in sufficient numbers. You whined that you had to have an ID or that you had to register ahead of time or that you actually had to leave your house and show up at a polling station to cast your votes. YOU are 50% responsible for Hillary Clinton retreating behind her compound walls in Chappaqua rather than meeting with President Obama in the White House yesterday. The other 50% is on those who voted for Trump.

These images come from Al-Jazeera, not Infowars.

Image result for image of libertarian memes only soberIn 2009, Barack Obama became president and about half the country had a cold block of ice in its stomach. They had listened to his rhetoric during the election. Some of us had read his books. Those who voted for John McCain were equally certain then that they did not want an admirer of Marxist dictators for their president as you are certain you don’t want Donald Trump now. As the President began his ambition plan to “fundamentally transform America” through mega spending programs and kidnapping the health care system, people who disagreed formed the Teaparty movement so they could wave signs and shout slogans in groups and hopefully be heard since they had no voice in Congress or the White House. It didn’t work.

Maybe they were too peaceful. For the time that the Teaparty movement was thoroughly active, there were incidents of violence … almost always committed by opposition groups against Teaparty participants. Michael Graham wrote That’s No Angry Mob; That’s My Mom detailing the peaceful movement against Obama’s POLICIES. It took almost five months for the Teaparty to form because they weren’t protesting the election of a president they had good reason to believe was a socialist and would discover to be an authoritarian. They accepted the democratic process. What they rejected was the democratic process locking them out of any discussions regarding micromanaging the most intimate parts of their lives or spending their great-grandchildren into unremitting debt.

Image result for image of libertarian memes only soberFor that, they were called racists who any moment would don bedsheets and shoot up an NAACP gathering. Some of the same groups behind the current violence in Portland and Denver worked to turn Teaparty rallies into violent mobs and, by and large, were unsuccessful. As Graham said “Teapartiers are so polite, they take turns shouting their slogans.” Maybe that’s why the movement eventually faded into the weeds, only to re-emege as the coalition that voted Donald Trump into office.

After eight years of being told by the Obama administration that “elections have consequences, so sit down and shut up”, there are indeed people of a more conservative bent who are angry. Some of them threw punches during the election — although Bernie supporters seem to have thrown more. I’m sure some Trump supporters would love to rub progressive noses in this win — to tell them to sit down and shut up for the next four or eight years. Although I hope they don’t, I can’t really blame them for wanting to.

Violence begets violence and the progressives have spent the last eight years using the coercive force of the state, which is just a legally sanctioned form of violence, to force conservatives to do what progressives wanted. People have lost homes, businesses, and seen their kids spend themselves into deep debt to pay for college and then be unable to find jobs. All the gains in the economy that came from the Contract with America government-spending reductions have been lost. They look at their retirement accounts and realize that with the Obama-regulatory-fed increases in food prices and utilities, they aren’t going to be able to support themselves until life’s end. They’re angry and Trump is the result of that anger.

Although I hope they don’t, I can’t really blame them for wanting to rub progressive noses in the mud now that they believe they’re in charge. Progressives have been teaching them how to do it for eight years.

Although I am very skeptical of Trump’s promises, I applaud his voters for channeling their anger without physical assaults or property damage.

What they did on Tuesday is no different than when progressives, fed up with war, elected an inexperienced half-term Senator with Marxist leanings to the White House. We forget that, perhaps conveniently, because those wars haven’t ended and have spread to several other nations under President Obama. For those of us who read, Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices details how she encouraged and is proud of that spread. There are reasons she lost this election.

Why do you suppose that gives you the right to turn the country into a riot-zone?

STOP THE VIOLENCE!

Donald Trump is not my president any more than Barack Obama was/is. I didn’t vote for him. I wanted someone else, though Hillary Clinton would not have been my president either. But, like it or not, he is the President-Elect. If you’d voted, maybe he wouldn’t have been. The United States has always been about the peaceful transfer of power — until this week.

Now maybe we can have a discussion about why 350 million diverse people with opposing agendas should not be forced to follow each other’s way of life in four-to-eight-year cycles.

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