Categories
Commentary Uncategorized

Tit For Tat in Post-Insurrection America

I spent some time reading about DC Police Officer Michael Fanone, who is currently being feted and fried by the hype machine, most recently with an article in Newsweek Magazine which, I have to admit, I was surprised to find still doddering along, continuing to enrich the lives of those trapped in the waiting rooms of doctors, dentists, and tire stores across America.

More notable, at least to me, than the predictable hero-making redemption story are the reactions I’ve seen to this article on social media–a lot of well-earned sympathy and respect for Fanone’s obvious bravery and sacrifice spiced with resentment for the hook of the story: Fanone voted for Trump, is deeply conservative, and yet, this happened to him! Oh, dear. I’m sorry, of course, but I can’t really navigate my way to the point where we’re surprised that a howling, baying, hopped-up-on-hate mob of violent traitors, gleeful seditionists, and other assorted enemies of the state–many of them literally waving the flag of a defeated, foreign enemy (The Confederacy stopped being American the moment they seceded)–decided to attack the very heart of our (not their) nation, was not scrupulously selective in venting their pent up anger. Of course Fanone was set upon. He was in the way of the mob, and whatever catharsis they sought for their imaginary grievances.

What surprises me more is the vitriolic counter-hate directed at Fanone and other victims, simply because they voted “the wrong way.” A substantial minority embrace the “he voted for Trump, he deserved everything he got. I contend that he did not deserve any of it. It is both churlish and petty to break what happened down to a matter of good versus evil.

Nobody has more contempt for Trump and all things Trump related than I do, but a lot of the soft-minded yahoos who supported him did so after decades of targeted Republican conditioning–they’re dupes, rubes, and ignorant vessels saturated with programmed hate and lies. In a way, (and here’s where I get myself in trouble) they are just as much victims as anyone else–their obtuse fears and resentments twisted into a tapestry of, well, fear and resentment by the cynical right.

Of course, I respect them like I respect the average German citizens of the Nazi era, which is to say not at all. Ignorance is not an excuse. In a democracy, it is incumbent upon us all to remain informed and to question authority. As much as it irks me, we need to draw a line of distinction between the slow-witted and deeply misguided souls who, for whatever reasons–fear, mostly; fear of loss, fear of insignificance, fear of the other and the unknown– chose to vote for a vile candidate, and those who used Trumps sociopathic, self-serving, and utterly reprehensible rhetoric as an excuse to indulge in their own bitter, destructive, and base impulses.

I’ll be the first to admit that I like to see idiots pay the price for their bad behavior, but it happens far too infrequently. Watching the pillow guy fall apart, strand by strand, is satisfying theater. So, too Rudolph Giuliani diddling his little stubby in a hotel room with an actress he thought was jail-bait. It is natural for those of us who commit to following the mores of a functional society to see those who do not pay for it. I’ll admit this shameful thing: it disappoints me that more Covid deniers haven’t become deathly ill, but that’s my own petty failing, and not something a healthy person should live in, if that person wishes to remain sane. I’m not saying that we need to treat MAGA Terrorists like prodigal children, but we’ll keep getting them if we don’t recognize that it is something more ominous than their feeble-minded gullibility at work here

Ultimately, less time needs to be spent condemning the foolish voters and more dedicated to pushing the Justice Department and Courts for the most severe penalties, the very highest fines, possible. This Fanone fellow voted poorly, but he didn’t wage war against America. Let’s focus of those who did, and those who put them up to it.

(As always, this is a one-off draft. Typos and other confusions reflect a hurried soul and a harried mind. Figure it out.)

Categories
Commentary humor Uncategorized

I Want To Fight Ted Cruz

One of the great sacrifices that comes from living way up here in the USA, miles away from Texas and the heart of the confederacy, is that we don’t enjoy timely access to the broad range of news pertaining to Ted “Tough as Texas” Cruz. Indeed, we barely hear tales of fabled adventures at all, unless he’s smiling sheepishly, like a proper milksop, while a certain fat old man calls Mrs. Cruz a “dog.” Or scampering away to “Old Mexico” because his tootsies got chilly when the nation’s only proudly unregulated power grid collapsed, leaving millions of his constituents literally out in the cold, literally powerless, and (again, literally) thirsty and hungry for leadership–not to mention clean water and warm food. Most of his moon-eyed shenanigans pass unnoticed up here in abolitionist country–not unlike his past campaigns for President. From a purely entertainment perspective, this is a shame–but I aim to remedy that.

Following the Mexico fiasco, which Cruz nobly blamed on his young children, Cruz has taken time from blocking economic relief during the Covid-19 Pandemic to work himself up over the custodians of the estate of Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel to halt production and sales of a half dozen books they’ve found to be “problematic” in one way or another. I’ve only read one of them, and that was about 20 years ago, so I’m not qualified to judge. For the record I’ll admit to leaning towards not removing elements of culture retroactively. Scorn them, excoriate them, leverage what we don’t like about them into a learning experience that might prevent us–humans in general, not just you and me–from backsliding. On the other hand, my intellectual preference is very far removed from the moral culpability one might feel from generating profit from material that many find offensive.

Ted Cruz has no such compunctions. So strongly does the man–the Senator!–who believes that the existence of married gay couples is an act of tyranny–feel that he’s retail marketing copies of one of Seuss’s other, less controversial, works at a significant mark-up, because Mr. Cruz is autographing these books as a fundraiser for his next crusade, er, pogrom, um, campaign. In the words of “Amish Elmer,” my former pot dealer: fucking genius, man. And for the record, Amish Elmer was shunned long before we ever met him, but stuck with the chin beard and blue on black ensemble to move stealthily below the radar of law enforcement. That’s another story for another day, but suffice it to say Elmer knows a slick entrepreneurial hack when he sees one.

It is thinking like this–creatively soulless, blindly exploitative, and objectively tone-death–that raises Cruz to the level of “potential adversary.” He does everything but twirl the edges of his mustache and kick kittens, although he’s been known to freeze a dog or two. He’s unapologetically evil, distinguishing himself in this regard at a time when his political allies are literally (there’s that word again–I use it again and again to emphasis that this isn’t a joke I’m making up, its real!) crawling all over themselves in a particularly venal game of King of The Hill to not just rhetorically, but physically, tear down the guiding institutions of our representative democracy–not to mention the very essence of democracy itself. He, like his cuck-buddy Mitch McConnell, has no qualms with embracing villainy for personal gain. Hell, he cherishes the opportunity, and at some level we are compelled to acknowledge his commitment to the role. Yes, he’ll stomp on immigrants! Yes, he’ll assert his masculine entitlement to regulate the reproductive organs of every woman out there–even it it means rolling up his shirtsleeves and getting his hands dirty in the process! Will he lead the struggle to suppress and disenfranchise poor and minority voters, even if it means making voting more difficult for everyone? You KNOW he will! His children, his wife–whomever he has to hurt, whatever it takes, he’s up to the task.

And that’s why I want to fight him. I think it would be a pretty good match. I’m bigger than him, but older too, and he’s butting on a pretty good push of late to catch up in the size department. My hair and beard are better–a nice woman trims me up monthly, so I’m not rocking that indigent, truck-stop predator look that Cruz has made so popular.

The question, of course, is why would he take time out of his busy day, putting aside his quest of personal power at the expense of every non-white, non-straight, non-male, non-christian just to sock it to a fading old smart-ass centrist “living constitutionalist?” But do villains need a reason to lash out at their adversaries? Do the powerful blanch at the opportunity to crush those who dare to speak against them? It is his duty. His calling. His noblesse oblige to knock my ass up between my eye balls while humming “Old Folks at Home” through a mouthful deep friend King Ranch chicken washed down with a tankard of warm Dr. Pepper.

And why am I so animated? Besides wanting to know whether he’s really as “tough as texas?” Me? I’m just pissed that Cruz’s immigrant father killed JFK.

Categories
Commentary Journal

I Almost Moved, But Didn’t

I don’t have the engagement here that I used to have and that was getting me down a little bit–enough that I went so far as to execute a new start on a new platform, one in which I might be able to stir up new interest in exchange for new a new commitment to more mature and less whimsical writing–a writer’s blog, if you will, rather than how I once described Old Road Apples, as the site of a literary hobbyist. I was encouraged by my best friend and most ardent supporter to “take it seriously.” So, right. It was inspiring. I wrote up a new essay to start my new site, and then I dove deeper into the new platform and realized a lot of what it is good for is not really good for me and what I do.

As a result, I’m staying here. Some of the most whimsical content from the archive will be disappearing–for the practical purpose of clearing out storage space, but also because it embarrasses me. Other stuff might get rewritten and pushed on you again; but mostly, I’m recommitting to this blog, to awakening those of you who remain “from the days of yore” way back in 2015, 2016 etc. while maybe grabbing up one or two new readers and, with any luck, a few caustic trolls with whom we might toy.

Finally, since I won’t be starting that new site, here’s the essay I wrote for it, a reflection of my direction as well as a glimpse into my state of mind.

This isn’t my first rodeo. I think someplace in the back of my head, for a long time, I’ve harbored a compelling desire to say that; or something equally grizzled and assertive—a dramatic line. Indiana Jones, for example, snarling an understated “Nazis—I hate these guys.” Or Will Riker grabbing the yoke on the Enterprise and sneering, “We’re through running from these bastards,” while an alien ensign side-eyes him appraisingly, all but licking her lips. Or pretty much anything Rooster Cogburn says, in the eponymous film or either version of True Grit. And see, by gods I did it. Snuck it right in there at the top. Maybe that’s why I write: the giddy, intoxicating sensation of power?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently, and usually settle on an answer that is as much compromise as it is informative: I write because I can’t not write. I’ve been hobby writing, for lack of a better description, on the Internet for a while now, with varying degrees of consistency and relatively little real discipline, throwing words out across a diverse range of platforms and in numerous formats and “communities.” Sometimes, in the most satisfying instances, I’ve fallen into small groups of readers and bloggers, developing a sort of camaraderie—not quite friendship, but a familiarity among individuals whose situations, insights, and experiences are far different those I encounter in the analog world. Other times, I’ve shouted into the void with nary a hint that even a single word of it was noticed, much less read.

My last blog withered away due to my shifting attentions: working on an ongoing novel, one that I should have finished a decade ago, at the same time that our nation’s politics took a dark turn into the surreally macabre. I found it almost impossible to write anything positive, and I was reluctant to rehash—even critically—the bizarro-world events manifesting themselves minute by minute in the headlines. I know who I am. Commentary turns to screeds, screeds devolve into tantrums, tantrums to hissy fits, and we end up with a full-blown rant. A festival of rants. Unfortunately, although they can be deeply, emotionally satisfying, rants—like methamphetamine—offer only short-term satiety, and are equally alluring to outside observers.

While this was happening, bloggery was changing. I’d found myself able to easily, happily sidestep the word-vomit that is Twitter—a disorienting cacophony of hyper-brief, purposefully inarticulate blurts and burps of artificial brevity that reminds me of a tabernacle choir gathered together, with each member shouting a different limerick, Hallmark greeting, excerpt from the instructions for assembling a new Wayfair coat rack (in the original Mandarin) or middle-school haiku at the top of their lungs. My attention span extends beyond the twelve or thirteen words I’m allowed on Twitter—that’s not even room enough for a decent rant.

The image-first blogs, primarily Instgram but also TikTok—or Tick Talk, or whatever—and its latest flash in the pan app trend (Vine, anyone?) made for a much more discouraging hurdle. First of all, as you will shortly see should you choose to return, I am what the English so cunningly describe as “shit” when it comes to photography. I have lousy instincts and I’m too lazy to learn how to do it better. I mean, adjusting shutter speed and aperture? That is verging dangerously close to something heinous, something my STEM-savvy daughters refer to as “algebra.” All those variables. No thanks. I’m lucky when I remember how to change the length between intermittent windshield wiper swipes when I’m in traffic. Instagram killed my blog community—the tone over there is very post-apocalyptic, broken windows, overturned cars, and trash blowing down the street. I can’t compete with all the prettiness on Instagram, even though I enjoy it—especially during the pandemic, when the lure of vicarious adventure, vicarious dining, vicarious gawking at all that pretty stuff, transitioned from an amusing distraction to a full-bore necessity, a window into the world that was, as cheery as photos from the Johnstown Flood.

Nevertheless, I prefer something word-based, something that encourages articulation, and something more permanent than the recent trend of messages that evaporate as I read them—”stories”?–the ultimate tease, and certainly an apt subject for some sort of zen-discovery exploration about experiencing before immediately letting go. I’m not Zen at all. Not even close. My family legacy is self-destructive nostalgia and borderline hoarding. So here we are, back to the words.

I arrived at this site on the advice and encouragement of my wife and I must admit to a certain degree of leaping before I look on my way here. Immediate action to preclude reflection. But isn’t that often the way with fresh starts? There’s an element of suddenly jumping from a moving train when some disconnected voice urges “Now!”

Dumping a once-in-a-century pandemic on top of this whole mess has felt a lot like standing knee-deep in mud, hands cuffed behind my head, and being pummeled in the belly and face by a fat, shirtless clown in boxing gloves: more than irksome but not enough to kill me, leaving me bruised, nauseous and disoriented, with a chance of long-term complications. Indeed, I toyed with the idea of calling this blog “A Journal After The Plague Year,” with apologies to Daniel Defoe, but that sounded just a bit too pretentious—and I’m far too pessimistic to embrace the word “after” when it comes to SARS-CoV2. Instead, I went for “The New Old Road Apples,” referencing a former blog and a self-depreciating nudge and a wink reminder that this endeavor shouldn’t be taken too seriously. As for the old “Old Road Apples,” why not just stick with it? Why not, as the saying goes, “make 10 louder?” I made a concious decision to move on from what now feels to be too juvenile, too whimsical, and more focused on volume and production over quality of content—however arguable my use of the word “quality” may be in this context.

Conventional wisdom is that a blog—or any writing, for that matter—should be targeted towards a specific audience, bound by a cohesive topic or focus or, ideally, both. Some degree of continuity seems appropriate, but the thing is: I want to start now and I have yet to figure out the particulars. Who do I want to reach as an audience? Simple: everyone, anyone! What do I want to write about? Not quite everything, anything! And continuity? I guess that makes me the continuity.

So, that’s where we’ll begin, assuming a (possibly arrogant) relevance and proceeding as if there is some interest in what I’ve got to say. We’ll consider it a variety site with a bit of this and that: culture, politics, commentary, culture—like the Atlantic, but written by a semi-retired manual laborer pecking at an aged desktop perched upon a cluttered desk in a small, dark, cold little room at the top of the staircase. Or maybe it’s more like pantry soup: when you pull a bunch of frost- or dust-coated stuff off the shelves and out of the deep freeze and throw it together in a crock pot. With any luck, I’ll find some level of direction, or something that tastes good enough to choke down with a few slices of homemade bread, as time passes. What’s the worst that can happen?

Charles. New Years, 2021 

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Commentary

So, Who Is Still Out There…

80269352_2659156264171075_6872930297692815360_n
I was recently described as a “blogger,” but I’ve hardly blogged for a few years ago: is a semi-abandoned blog still a blog, even if there’s no new, real writing inside? Schrödinger would know.

…waiting, watching, listening in the dark? I’ve been a long while gone from WordPress, writing elsewhere, trying not to dwell on politics in these very dark times–a decision that feels more than a little irresponsible, frankly–dealing with some health issues, kicking those health issues’ asses (so far, no need to jinx it), and all the while experiencing a twinge of nostalgia for the web of folks with whom I interacted with throughout the four or five years I threw posts up on this whimsical page.

And yeah, that was one sentence, but remember the essential Old Road Apples theme: write whatever comes to mind and write it in the express lane, no big revisions, no multiple drafts, only the most cursory proofreading, so…insert tongue-sticking out emoticon here. Or “emoji,” if you must.

My point, to make a short story long: I’ve been mulling coming back here to play around. I miss the vibe, the simplicity of it compared to, say, Medium, which sort of sucks, even though there’s a lot of good work getting posted over there. Instagram stinks of art, but is just candy-coated food-porn, travel-porn, and porn-porn. WordPress also satisfies due to the relative rarity of trolls and automated vocabulary censors, being that I’m one foul-mouth mothafucka. But is it worth it to re-invest here? Are folks still hanging around? Should I take the time to find the necessary, compulsory (often hijacked) image required to grab enough attention to score more than a handful of “likes” and soak up the corresponding validation? I guess we’ll see. In the meantime, give me a shout-out if you remember me from a few years back. Reintroduce yourself. Let’s see where this takes us.

And as for Schrödinger, the answer to his philosophical quandary is this: patience. Just wait a day or two and, one way or another, that box is going to smell. Do you dare take a sniff?

Categories
Christmas Commentary Uncategorized

Rudolph’s North Pole: Bastion of Oppression?

I keep threatening to come back here on a regular basis, and I don’t, but every once in a great while I’m reminded how the world suffers from my waning vigilance and gross inattention, and I’m ashamed to realize how bad things have gotten. And I’m not talking just about President Orangutrump and his bilious lackeys. Most of this I can swallow. I take a pill that helps. (No, not Xanax). But sometimes, things get too far and I need to step in.

Screenshot(3)

I found this little gem on Facebook this morning. You can read it on your own time, but the gist is that Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer has “triggered” a whole bunch of melodramatically over-sensitive little flowers and the only solution to their vexing, simmering itch is to light up Twitter with indignation–to delightfully entertaining ends.

First off, this isn’t new. Who above the age of seven has watched this heart-warming holiday tradition without chuckling over what a complete asshole Santa, Coach and Rudolph’s Dad are at the beginning of the movie. But come on, they’re no different than everyone else’s republican dad ever, their love submerged beneath a suffocating preoccupation with social status, a concern about what might be whispered behind their backs at church, or how the guys “down at the club” are going to give them a razzing, even if only to use pseudo-dominant behavior as a means to distract from their own senses of unfulfilled dreams and inadequacy. I mean: come on. Why is the patriarchy such a bunch of jerks? Because they’re miserable, and deep down they know it–perhaps not consciously, but certainly at a deeper, cellular level–with absolute certainty, just as they know they’ll never fill that dark, beckoning void in their souls. Has no one ever read Updike? Not that I’d encourage anyone to do such a thing.

The Tweet-storm at #RudolphTheRednosedReindeer has been impressive; much of it, fortunately, tongue in cheek. But there is not shortage of self-defined social reformers eager to protect us from the Scourge of Bitter Santa–just as they leapt to shout “date rape,” however belatedly, over that steamy holiday icon, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” That essay, and its dirty-minded revisionism, will find it’s way around the interwebs any day now, as it does each year. But that’s another story. Or is it?

The theme here is outrage junkies leaping to (often self-aggrandizing) accusations or offense or inappropriateness without regard for context. The question is: why do we have to be so candy-assed about our grievances, regardless of substance? I poke at the leftists because they’re “my people” despite how little they want to do with me, but it’s the same on the conservative side of things, where knickers are forever twisted by all matters associated with veterans, guns, flags, and–worst of all–the Dixie Chicks. Thanks, Obama.

Screenshot(4)
Oh, no.

Maybe…just maybe…this show is about ignorance ceding to understanding and acceptance? But that doesn’t fit with the undercurrent of vindictiveness inherent in revisionist post-modernist extremism. The agitated and aggrieved (i.e. “triggered”) aren’t looking for tolerance and a better world so much as they’re salivating for revenge. They don’t want to propagate understanding and unity–they want things to burn, presumably because they were unhappy in high school. Some people get it:

Screenshot(5)

To me, and any rational, functional human, Rudolph is nothing less than a tale of the triumph of those who live outside orthodoxy, and to those who strive to shatter the concept of “normal” without name-calling and retaliatory reverse discrimination. But if we’re going to play these games, consider cool Cornelius; what’s he but an earth-raping prospector eager to strip mine the north the moment he finds a lick of treasure. Or the sweet little gay elf whose toxic self-loathing leads him to cripple the noble wild Bumble Beast by yanking out all his teeth and dooming the once proud king of the north to a lifetime of servitude in chains? Metaphor for conservative environmental policy? Cautionary tale on the tenuous nature of freedom and democracy 120 years after the supposed end of slavery? I think so. And what about these bigots branding Cornelius as a hipster? Because he’s got a beard and earmuffs and liked corn meal? Well, I can’t be the only bearded misanthrope out there who puts down his johnny cake to wave a hearty “fuck you” at those appearance-based presumptions.

I find the whole lot of you problematic.

 

Categories
Commentary Yinzerism/Pittsburgh Advocacy

You Made This.

How does this happen? 14 Months Ago White Supremacists Marched Through Charlottesville, Virginia chanting “Jews will not replace us” and President of The United States Donald Trump chastised those who called the vile bastards out, saying “THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES,” encouraging and validating far right extremists of every ilk. Today, in the wake of yet another tragic instance of hate and violence, he reads words of shock and indignation from a teleprompter and wonders how this could happen. This is Trump’s America, and if you support him, his race-baiting dog whistles, and his brand of vitriolic hate-mongering, THIS IS YOUR AMERICA. You made this.

Categories
Commentary Funny and/or Strange

Am I The Only Person Who Reads My “Spam” Comments and Believes Them?

I looked at my filtered comments today, just to make sure I wasn’t missing any interactions–unlikely since I’ve been occupied elsewhere of late, and spamthe Old Road Apples have turned spoiled and squishy. I did not expect to find a wonderfully supportive and sustaining environment in and amongst the Spam, and I recommend that all of your when you’re feeling worried and down, forget going downtown or crossing a bridge over troubled water. Read your spam!  Here is a just a selection from the first few….

1. “Just want to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post is simply nice and i can assume you are an expert on this subject.” This and the others below are all in reference to a post called “Bonus Picture: Bikini Ski Girl”

2. “This post could not be written much better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this.” In reference to a post called “Organic Roadkill.”

3. “I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already”

4. “Whoa this blog is magnificent i really like studying your posts. Keep up the good work!”

etc.

When I was a a kid my mom told me I was handsome quite a bit, and I never doubted that. When girls I liked didn’t like me, I thought: I don’t get it, I’m so handsome. When they were mean, I thought: I can can learn to be cooler, at least I’m so damned handsome. You can see where this was going–until one day, I was about 15, and I’m staring in the mirror, and it hits me. “Mom!” I shouted. “What the fucking fuck?” Turns out I’m not the leading man, I’m the overweight partner in the Sears Roebuck sportcoat, due to retire in a week who gets gunned down in the first act. But those spammers, they think I’m goddamn F. Scott Fitzgerald. I love spammers.

Categories
Commentary

DAHOF: South Dakota Rep. Michael Clark

Not every selection for the Dumb Ass Hall Of Fame is an idiot, dotard, or buffoon. Some, like this week’s honoree, are just brain-numbed by hate and ignorance.

America In Decline, From Facebook.
Bigoted SD Rep. Michael Clark doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near the tribute to these great leaders.

The morality of the nation crumbles around us, hurtling toward a precipice of as-yet-unimaginable depth, spurred by the pubescent leadership of our President, the jibbering sycophants who surround him, and the spineless cowards of the Senate and Congress, most of whom are more than intelligent enough to see what this man is, but refuse to act for reasons both partisan and personal. I awake each morning, take my pills, and empty my bladder beneath a cloud of dread: what terrible things have transpired since the day before. What has the skulking boy king said, what has he done or, most often, what excremental feats of churlish impertinence have the lunks and sneering bounders emboldened by his example been up to?

Another cop killing an unarmed black man? Running him down with a patrol car? Shooting him seven or eight times in the back? Gunning him down for closing a door–a fragile blue ego more important than a warrant and the Fourth Amendment? Or maybe another ally insulted? Another adversary provoked? Another treaty broken? Another bold faced lie maintained in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Another denial of that lie, despite video?

Given all of this and so much more, I am barely surprised to hear that South Dakota stateScreenshot(1) Representative Michael Clark tried to press the argument, that businesses should be allowed to turn down people based on the color of their skin. As my dad used to say, “I shit you not.”

In a heady stupor of exclusionist victory dancing following the Supreme Court ruling in favor of a homophobic Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs, Clark boasted on Facebook that the decision was a “win for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.” Other FB users called him on his gleeful embrace of bigotry, and the intrepid lawmaker doubled down.

“It is his business,” Clark wrote in a comment. “He should have the opportunity to run his business the way he wants. If he wants to turn away people of color, then [that’s] his choice.”

We’ve seen this mindset before. On buses in Tennessee. In schools in Arkansas. At lunch civil-rightscounters in Alabama.

It is modestly affirming that a furor quickly built, on Facebook and among the general public and first regional, then national news organizations began covering the incident. At first he tried to frame his bigotry as standard anti-government rhetoric, asserting that  business owners only need serve certain segments of society and that the market would ultimately determine if the business succeeded or failed. The negative comments and press coverage built up, as some of reminded this attorney and elected lawmaker of a not-so-irrelevant document called The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Predictably, the heat was too much for tough cowboy Clark, who ultimately deleted the post on Tuesday. He said he had “jumped in on it a little bit too fast,” the Argus-Leader reported.

ScreenshotNot long  after, he apologized via email to a reporter for the Leader, followed by a glib, insincere retraction on Facebook. “I am apologizing for some of my Facebook comments. “I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their color or race.”

But in an interview with the Argus-Leader, Clark said he believed that business owners should be able to turn away certain customers if they would otherwise violate their religious beliefs. “If it’s truly his strongly based belief, he should be able to turn them away,” Clark told the Leader. “People shouldn’t be able to use their minority status to bully a business. The vote of the dollar is very strong,” he said.

I’m still parsing which is more disgusting, the unapologetic awfulness of the President and his Trumpkins, or these slimy, cynical clones who imitate his success playing to the lowest common denominators, shouting whatever vile and hateful bile they happen to indexbe regurgitating at any particular moment? It is a tough contest indeed. Trump is culpable for setting the tone, but they’re all playing the same game: vomit out sinful rhetoric to the bleating masses and keep pressing–then either deny it completely and blame the press for making it up, or mutter a dishonest, heartless apology rife with crocodile tears and move on. “I didn’t say that. But if you have tape that shows I did, then I certainly didn’t mean it.”

Well,  Mr. Clark, we’re not buying what you’re selling. You don’t get to worm and squirm out of it with a cynical “I’m sorry,” so take ownership for the man you’ve become. Burn a cross, beat a gay man–be your honest self. Your soul is already exposed before your neighbors, your friends, and especially your God.

It is easy to say, “I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their 1963-derechos-civilescolor or race” but the simple fact is that yes, you would, because yes, you did. It’s not like we haven’t seen your kind before.

Categories
Commentary rant

D.A.H.O.F. Nominees: Sarah Braasch & The Merritt Lake Oakland Charcoal Nazi

Thank all gods–the tall ones and the small ones the jiggly ones and firm ones–for dumb asses, because without dumb asses I’d have slipped completely from this blog altogether. Fortunately, just like Michael Corleone, “Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in!” The dumb asses, I mean. They do the pulling.

sarah-braasch-11We’re singling out a particular sub-grouping of racist dumb-asses today, with our improbably similar nominees, Yale career student Sarah Brasch, who brought down the clenched fist of justice on her dormitory neighbor for the insidious crime of…napping while black. (I know what you’re thinking: how dare they! These black people and their fatigue, the nerve of them!) On the other side of the continent, her doppleganger, the as-yet-unidentified Merritt Lake Charcoal Nazi a.k.a. The Barbie Nazi, who saved the entire city of Oakland, and neighboring Bay Area communities, from those who dared to “barbecue while black.”

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I’ve had a realization while processing the nominations, and I don’t mean the one where I drop to my knees and thank fate that I was born a white man in America. I’m not proud. I don’t feel good about that, but it is a whole hell of a lot safer for me and my children. Among the comments for a youtube video of the charcoal incident, the question was posited: do white people think 911 is there for them to call any time they feel uncomfortable or scared?

Well sure we do! We’ve got TV. We’ve got the internet. When was the last time a redneckScreenshot(2).png with a license to kill wrapped his sweaty palm around my esophagus–or yours?–and squeezed, then threw me to the ground like a rag doll and charged me with resisting arrest when I squirmed and struggled for a breath?  We are pretty used to the cops coming when we call and strangling, bashing, kicking, and shooting holes in all the people who make us scared. It’s a better benefit than anything the AARP offers–and The White Club is pretty much free. Hell, they pay you!

The discussion for these nominations is: are these people just evil, or just stupid? Evil can’t be grounds for a DAHOF nomination, but stupidity can. And as much as I want to think otherwise, these women probably aren’t evil, but they do make it easier to understand how great minds as far back as Plato have considered the merits of a philosophy so barbarous as eugenics. To paraphrase Sarah Palin, “Cull baby, cull.”

Too far? Yes. Yes I know it was. And I’m sorry.

What we’re looking at here is traditional fear-rooted ignorance. Recall that the KKK was formed as a self-defense brotherhood by ex-confederates (like all the male heroes in Gone With the Wind–when they rush out in the middle of the night, and dear sweet Ashley is gravely wounded, they were out doing Night Rides, lashing out violently against the threat they believed was posed by freed slaves and carpetbaggers. Poor sweet beautiful Ashley wasn’t evil–just terrified of the new realities of the the Reconstruction.

Our nominees have no karma (that we know of) to fear, but they fear none-the-less, a fear that is wrapped–like one of those little crescent rolls around a cocktail wienie–by ignorance. The Charcoal Nazi, like many martinets, clings to her interpretation of rules in a sadly futile attempt to bring order to a chaotic reality she’s unequipped to navigate. Ms. Braasch is no different. Both women’s’ smug and self-righteous facades belie defective creatures fumblingly struggling to impose control over whatever happens to scare them. Ms. Braasch, who has spent most of her 43 years accumulating a trophy case full of doctoral degrees, is clearly incapable of functioning in a community setting. We don’t have a lot of information on the Charcoal Nazi, but dollars to doughnuts she exhibits some similar traits: unreasonable anger at a world that defies her expectations–one of which we can assume was racial primacy.

It could be a difficult to sort this out, but in the end, Dumbassedness® is not necessarily a function of stupidity or racism, though are three are often symptoms of the same malady. The accomplished dumb ass exhibits selective ignorance, blinding cruelty, intellectual laziness/lack of curiosity, and the paralyzing paucity of imagination. Given such criteria, both women’s nominations are approved.

 

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Evangelicals LOVE Trump No Matter Who & How Often He’s Slipped The Schmeckle

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This is a photo-shopped composite picture–Fake News!–but it’s useful here. A picture worth a thousand words and all that..and it certainly got your attention.

The Washington Post just threw us an interesting article on the unwillingness of Evangelicals to condemn Donald Trump for his serial philandering, ultimately explaining the moral hypocrisy on white christian nationalism, irrational fear of islam, and a certain cold-tempered pragmatism that suggests they would excuse the excesses of Satan himself, should the devil suddenly call out for a Pro-Life, Anti-Gay, Unfettered Second Amendment political campaign platform.

It is a compelling argument and quite worthy of the 3 minutes it takes to read, but by no means but by no means should we regard the seeming disconnect between values and conduct as purely related to racial and religious identity and all their attendant fears and bigotries.

There’s a good deal of self-identification at work, as well. It is difficult to find a place so rife with illicit and immoral conduct than a protestant church. Don’t take that on my word. Statistically, despite decreasing numbers, American Evangelicals have the highest divorce rate (and highest rate of domestic violence) among all religious groupings, including non-believers (Atheists have the lowest rates).

And who can blame them? All that energy and intensity has to go somewhere, and it often goes into each other’s spouses. And why not? Forgiveness is at close at hand. They get Trump. They understand how difficult it is to keep things zipped up. God has his plan, after all. It wouldn’t happen if HE didn’t want it to (so slip out of that girdle, Mildred). Pots don’t call kettles black. Stones and glass houses. etc. etc.