Friday, December 22, 2017

Poverty is Immoral

I mean that in the true Christian ethos, that by enabling poverty we are immoral, we are failing our obligation as Humanists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, pick a faith, be not of one but the concept means

not conforming to accepted standards of morality:
"an immoral and unwinnable war"
synonyms: unethical · bad · morally wrong · wrongful · wicked · evil · foul · unprincipled · unscrupulous · dishonorable · dishonest · unconscionable
So morality as we define it:
principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
synonyms: ethics · rights and wrongs · ethicality · virtue · goodness · good behavior · righteousness · rectitude · uprightness · morals · principles · honesty ·
  • a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society:   "a bourgeois morality"

    I could multi layer this all day in which to find the appropriate definition and shared understanding of what comprises morality and ethics that are secular in nature but clearly rooted in anything but. 

    We have had the Moral Majority that gave way to the Tea Party and the Evangelical movement that perceives themselves as the arbiter of all things just and of course all rooted in Christian ethos.  And no doubt that all law is in fact strongly based in those principles of religious dogma.   And that seems to cross all religions.  We have the Ten Commandments, the Five Pillars of Islam, The Four Noble Paths of Buddhism, the Dharma of Hinduism, the 13 Principles of Faith of Judaism and any other faith that provides and dictates a code of morality and beliefs.  So are they all wrong or which is right?  That may explain some of conflicts doesn't it.  My faith is better than your faith! No mine is!  And so it goes throughout history.

    But in America we are just as obsessed with Christianity as they were in the Middle Ages only without Dragons or Rings.

    And that is why poverty and race are so entwined and in turn explain the odd co-dependency by the poor on faith.  The belief that redemption, the equality, the parity and justice so elusive in the physical world will be found in the spiritual one.  Hey Gabriel is guarding those pearly gates for a reason and we all know the poor/black/immigrant/gay/anyone not white nor a member of the 'right' Christianity are thieves so they can head around to the back door.

    If you truly believed the words from that book written by unknown authors and with unknown credentials saying some variation of the same, then those who believe together would worship together would.  But they don't and that is regardless of faith. There are divisions and clear divides in almost every faith with their own hierarchy, system of beliefs and in turn codes of morality.  This religion thing is way to complex so I will pass thanks!

    So we have this system that all believes in a single God; however how they do that and the reasoning behind it seems to be an issue.  And in turn that belief is used to systemically judge and in turn condemn those who don't share the same belief that is the same belief just expressed in a different manner so again the point is what? I am right and you are not.  And here we go again.   You are with us or against us and that is the Christian Martyr.  Everyone who does not share your belief system in the exact same way with the exact same devotion is a failure and should not be allowed to live/breathe/walk in society.  How does that work again?

    This is all ethnic and cultural based and the idea that one group has the moral superiority or majority in which to make all the decisions based on that morality.  Buy into it or not and if you are not the same Color/Sexual Identity/Gender/etc etc you are undeserving and that is why God put you in the ghetto or whatever shitty place you are in society.   It is God's will.  Good way to pass the buck there to the invisible spirit in the sky.

    This last week I have seen more pleas for charity and kindness than I have in my life. In Tennessee they take all this shit seriously so there are more charity and religious work this time of the year than any other time and of course the needs do not change year round it just is that Christ ordains this excess of charity as you know for a fact Jesus was born on Christmas Day.

    It is disturbing to me to see Police and good White Christians drop their superiority complex for a week and take the so poor, so black kids shopping, hand parents baskets of food and gifts and not see this as a type of race supremacy that is frankly distressing. The reality is that these families need more than a pandering of concern once a year in response to the most consumerist of holidays on the calendar. Sorry but food, heat and income are a year round event and everyone should find celebrations that enable them to indulge in whatever way they choose.    It may have to be some sacrifice and that is acceptable but it should not be a choice between that and homelessness.  But that is what it is.  It seems that this precarious way of living is one being taken by more and more each day and this is what America is doing daily with the crazy fucks in Congress and the White House.  They are the moral superiority and they are making individual decisions that affect many.  That is where I have the problem.  Paul Ryan should not be telling people to have more children in order to keep Medicare and Social Security.  But hey drop em like its hot.  Funny Latino Immigrant families are very family friendly and heavily Catholic, but nope not them, we want Kennedy Catholics.  Lord hear my prayer - there is a family that paid that price so maybe not.

    So poverty is a morality clause.  It is the exception to the ethos and beliefs of Christianity as those who believe believe that the poor are there by choice. They do not work hard enough, do not believe hard enough, do not live and lead good lives that would enable them to climb the ladder to heaven and in turn success.  Poverty is an intrinsic quality and that failure is why you are reliant upon others, be that Churches or Charity to supplement your life, the Government has no business doing so.  That is what is Governmental overreach, giving poor people and especially those of color hard earned money made by good hard working white people.  But taking them to Target for the annual patronizing and condescending shopping spree is the exception to that rule.  That is kindness by choice. What.the.fuck.ever.

    And if all else fails just bus those lazy asses out of town.  This is the plan that regardless of politics, liberal or conservative seems to be the new plan - a one way ticket to nowhere. How Christian is this?   I see this as a new sci-fi movie staring Matt Damon. Or someone with less of a foot in their mouth but as heroic.  Ryan Gosling anyone?

    This will be my last post for the week. I leave Christmas Eve for New Orleans where I plan on participating in all flavors of the palette.  From Christianity, to Cajun, to French, to Voodoo to  all things we should enjoy all the time of the year.  But when you are poor you only get it once and this nice Police Officer instead of shooting some family member will instead take you to Target to buy toys and doesn't that make it better? No well then club this to your head then.

    If you see any movies this holiday season see Lady Bird and Three Billboards. They are women centric and drag you through all the emotions one can have in a two hour period.  They made me a better woman and for a little while I actually was happy and living in Nashville and seeing it through their damaged broken disturbed children that is a good thing.  So find something good and have at it.  If that is a Church so be it.  If it is food have it.  Toys, same thing. Just find that which brings you peace and good will.   Merry Days good will to women.. and men. 

    The Deserving Rich and the Deserving Poor

    Timothy Egan
    The New York Times
    December 15 2017

    This time of year, you look twice at the sketchy drug addict blocking the sidewalk in front of Starbucks. You give a second thought to the overly bundled elderly woman waiting in line at the food bank. You wonder what life would be like if that palsied kid in the trailer had medical attention.

    Americans are a generous people — so it is always said. But our generosity comes with moral judgments: There’s a thin line, in the minds of many, between the poor who deserve help and those who should get off their butts.

    Similarly with the wealthy. Do entitled rich kids who would otherwise be parking cars without Daddy’s help — think Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric — deserve to inherit a vast estate without paying taxes on their unearned largess?

    These are old arguments, dating to Dickens’s heartless Ebenezer Scrooge and the noble Cratchit family. But once again, these narratives are at the heart of enormous changes about to take place in how we treat the rich and the poor. The assumptions are fraught with fiction.

    Let’s start with the most deserving and least to blame — children. About nine million American kids, in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to afford their own coverage, can now see a doctor under the federal Children’s Health Insurance

    Two million of those children have chronic health conditions — epilepsy, asthma and diabetes among the ailments. The program has always had bipartisan support. So why are the working poor now getting notices telling them their kids may soon be cut off?

    Funding for the program technically expired on Sept. 30 and it has yet to be renewed. The politicians running the asylum in Washington say they plan to pay for it, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. They’re busy with other things — an enormous corporate tax cut and breaks for the lobbying class. Priorities.

    It was during a recent discussion of children’s health care that we got a taste of the moral fantasies of the insular political elites. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah — who, to his credit, helped create the children’s health program with Senator Edward Kennedy in 1997 — went on a rant against the poor. He was not specifically talking about children, or the program that he has pledged to renew. He was going after a straw man that has been around since Ronald Reagan’s Cadillac-driving welfare cheat.

    “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves — won’t lift a finger — and expect the federal government to do everything,” he said. Hatch didn’t define this indolent recipient of unmerited trillions, but surely he was not attacking agribusiness owners who get paid not to grow things.

    President Trump claims personal knowledge of the undeserving poor. “I know people that work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all,” he said in Missouri last month. The sponger “is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his ass off.”

    Wow. Sounds awful. And almost certainly not true. Trump did not cite the source of his tale of two households. And it’s doubtful, in the friendless circle of clueless rich people with whom he shares Diet Cokes, that he actually “knows people” living next to welfare bums.

    Of the nearly 44 million people getting some help to buy groceries with food stamps — the largest of the nonentitlement federal welfare programs — most of them work, after you deduct for the disabled and those too old or young to hold a job. The benefit amounts to about $1.40 per person per meal. Tough to eat one of Trump’s steaks on that amount of change.

    As we know, truth is as disposable to Trump as one of his junk food wrappers. Better to look at the motive behind the lie. The president used his story of the mooch next door to kick off a campaign to punish the poor. The tax cuts, heralding a $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit, are hugely unpopular and have to be paid for somehow. Shifting attention to those parasitic bums takes pressure off the rich.

    Speaking of which, we now know the real reason, thanks to Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, why Republicans want to repeal the estate tax. All the scare stories about family farms and third-generation businesses going under have been proved to be as mythic as the subsidized slacker.

    Andrew Carnegie, in his famous “Gospel of Wealth” essay, said of the estate tax, “Of all forms of taxation, this seems the wisest.” But in Grassley’s view, the tax hits the virtuous “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.” Well said, Mr. Potter.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ikea is Swedish for Crap

I have written about Ikea before in the blog, Ikea is my Walmart, with regards to the duplicity and exploitation that the "Swedish" company does to obfuscate earned dollars and in turn pay taxes.

Well firstly (in this case I am going all Trump as the similarities cannot be denied:  Ikea is not Swiss, its Dutch. Well Dutch in the same way Swiss Miss is Swiss cocoa. And that is true as the founder is Swedish, the company, however, is not. But the founder ironically lived in Switzerland.  The company is incorporated in the Netherlands for tax reasons.  So quick summary: Swedish dude forms a company, he incorporates it in the Netherlands and lived in Switzerland for tax reasons.   And he is 89 not that it matters but hence the Trump comparison, old white fuck who is ripping off people and governments.   But he did move back to Sweden and why: Part of the reason for his move back to Sweden is the new, lower tax rate that the country is offering.  What is Swedish for Welcome Back Fucker!

Secondly:  It is formed as a non-profit.  Huh? Well that is tough to explain but the way the corporation was established  it is formed as the Stichting Ingka Foundation – which was set up with the intention of “safeguarding the future of furniture”.  

The firm’s not-for-profit status has partially come as a result of its stated ambition to provide cheap and affordable furniture to aid living standards, with its mission statement claiming that it wants to “create a better everyday life for the many”.  So to summarize: The Stichting Ingka Foundation is a charity that the founder Kamprad  formed, in which he insists that he gave away all his wealth to charity back in 1982 and in turn his business is run under the charity with the idea that the charity and in turn Ikea (owned by said charity) supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.  What is Swedish for bullshit? 

Thirdly:  Instead of pouring its resources into charitable projects, the foundation owns Dutch company Ingka Holdings. This firm in turn owns the IKEA Group, which operates all of IKEA’s global retail stores. Such a complex structure isn’t entirely unheard of, but in this instance, the fact that Ingka Holdings is owned by a non-profit foundation means that it has been able to secure far lower tax rates than its competitors. However, the structure of the company gets even more convoluted: the ‘IKEA’ trademark itself is owned by yet another company called Inter IKEA Systems, which is based in the tax haven of Luxembourg. This firm takes care of the franchising side of the business, while Ingka Holdings is in charge of operations. What is Swedish for What the flying fuck?

This is so much like the Trump Organization and their holdings down to the senior owner/manger and his convoluted bullshit I cannot believe he has not been asked to join the Trump Cabinet!

This also is what will be happening in America thanks to the new GOP tax bill.   Hide the money under the walnut, under, the bowl, under the pot, under the box, and out the door only make sure you form a corporation, an LLC  for each entity.

Then we have the singular difference between Trump and Ikea (or whatever their name is) is the promise to locate a retail outlet in a economically challenged area.  Last November the company was doing battle with a US tax authority, when a much-delayed store being built in Memphis, Tennessee and they faced challenges from the Shelby County tax assessor over a $9.5m tax break that IKEA had received from the local government. While IKEA’s store is highly coveted in the area,  and signifying gentrification and bringing in much-needed new jobs, concerns over a major corporation receiving such a generous tax exemption are understandable. As once again the agreements in said deal never pan out.  Gosh what is that word in Swedish for we were scammed!

By the way Gentrification is not just an American issue.  And with it comes the issues of the jobs they create and of course the pay they are earning which is below a living standard for these now newly changed communities.  And in turn one should be thrilled working for a non profit as they are often paid less, sure that's it. But they also unlike other European industries are virulently anti union.  And their labor history goes back years and again not just here but in Europe as well.  What is Swedish for Fuck you labor!

Fourthly:  Many of the current regulations that Trump is so proud of removing actually address Ikea and by address I mean their shitty killer dressers.  Those dressers have been under class action litigation which was just settled.  And now thanks to Trump said lawsuits and consumer protections just came crashing down just like those dressers.  Ikea, Swedish for crap.

Fifthly:  Sustainability.  Climate Change.  Pretty much Trumpian there.   Ever own some Ikea furniture?  It is crap, it made be made "green" but that is fairly a pale shade.  Filling landfills with that disposable crap is not green. There has been talk of investments in alternative energy in their factories  but again all of this is under question as there were or are tax incentives across the globe for these investments.  And there are  questions with regards to the legitimacy of said claims and are believed to be mere window dressings for a hugely profitable company that has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for its tax affairs.  Green in Swedish is Money.

And whoops they are bigly being investigated by the EU for not being a crappy furniture manufacturer but for not paying taxes. 

Ikea Is Focus of European Inquiry Over Possible Skirting of Tax Bills

DEC. 18, 2017

Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of the global furniture retailer Ikea, is known for buying his clothes at flea markets, driving an old Volvo and flying only economy class. Although he is a billionaire many times over, he revels in his reputation for saving money.

Now, European regulators are accusing Mr. Kamprad’s company of pushing the concept of thriftiness beyond the limits of the law by maneuvering to reduce its tax bill in the countries where it operates.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, said on Monday that it had opened an investigation into Inter Ikea, one of the retail giant’s two main divisions, amid concerns it may have been given unfair tax advantages by the Netherlands, where Inter Ikea is based. The inquiry is part of an intensifying campaign by European regulators to crack down on what they view as sweetheart deals between multinational companies and tax-friendly countries that have sought to draw their business.

The announcement adds Ikea to a list of firms targeted by European officials for using sophisticated strategies in Ireland, the Netherlands and other European Union countries to pay few or no taxes on billions of dollars of profits. Other companies facing similar scrutiny include Starbucks and Apple

Led by Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s top antitrust regulator, Brussels is also gearing up for an offensive against technology companies with a raft of proposals that are meant to increase the amount of tax paid by behemoths like Facebook and Amazon.

Ikea, one of the world’s largest, and most opaque, privately held companies, reported revenue of 36.3 billion euros, or about $43 billion, for the latest fiscal year. But for well over a decade, Mr. Kamprad, his three sons and his close business associates have relied on a complex corporate structure to slash the taxes that Ikea pays on such earnings, regulators say. From 2009 to 2014 alone, Ikea avoided paying an estimated €1 billion in taxes, according to a report last year by the European Green Party.

Although Ikea is Swedish — the acronym combines Mr. Kamprad’s initials with those representing the bucolic area of the country where he grew up — the company is effectively owned by a Dutch trust controlled by the Kamprad family, with various holding companies handling its franchising, manufacturing and distribution operations.

The arrangement is designed to ensure maximum financial independence for Ikea, Mr. Kamprad has said.

“Already back in the ’60s, I started to look for ways to ensure Ikea could be kept as a private company to secure true financial independence and thus the freedom to have a long-term view on our investments and in business development,” he said in a statement posted on Ikea’s website. “I have often referred to that as securing ‘eternal life’ for Ikea.”

On Monday, in a separate statement issued in response to the regulators’ accusations, Ikea said it was “committed to paying taxes in accordance with laws and regulations wherever we operate.” It said it had operated “in accordance with E.U. rules” and pledged to cooperate with the inquiry.

Mr. Kamprad established the parent company, now called Inter Ikea, in the 1980s in the Netherlands, a country with attractive tax structures that have attracted Apple, Starbucks and many of the world’s biggest multinational companies. Using a Dutch subsidiary, Inter Ikea Systems, Inter Ikea collects fees from Ikea’s franchise businesses around the world equal to 3 percent of the revenue from all Ikea stores.

European regulators say that Ikea received a favorable ruling from Dutch tax authorities in 2006 that allowed Inter Ikea to send a significant part of those franchise profits, in the form of an annual license fee, to another company that Ikea created in Luxembourg, where it was not taxed.

Investigators are also examining how Ikea got a second favorable ruling from the Dutch authorities in 2011, after European regulators deemed the Luxembourg tax structure illegal under the European Union’s rules prohibiting companies from receiving state aid. That ruling endorsed a model that let Inter Ikea send a substantial portion of its franchise profit, via interest paid under an intercompany loan, to a company based in Liechtenstein.

The case is similar to one that Ms. Vestager brought against Starbucks in 2015. At issue were tax rulings, also issued by Dutch authorities, that she said helped the company artificially reduce its tax burden, an arrangement that ran afoul of the bloc’s state aid rules.

In addition to targeting companies like Ikea and Starbucks directly, Ms. Vestager has focused on employing a separate legal tactic to pursue countries that may be providing state aid to companies through special tax rulings. The rulings, known as comfort letters, often help the companies find the most favorable tax jurisdiction.

“All companies, big or small, multinational or not, should pay their fair share of tax,” Ms. Vestager said in a statement on Monday. “Member states cannot let selected companies pay less tax by allowing them to artificially shift their profits elsewhere.”

The Ikea inquiry is the latest investigation by European regulators since 2013 into the tax structures of multinational companies operating in Europe and how local tax authorities treat them.

The European Commission has ordered several members of the 28-nation bloc to collect billions of euros in back taxes from companies such as Amazon, Apple, Fiat and Starbucks.

The commission took Ireland to court this year after the authorities in that country refused to collect €13 billion in unpaid taxes from Apple after a 2016 decision by European regulators.

The commission is also investigating Luxembourg’s treatment of McDonald’s and Engie, the French power utility formerly known as GDF Suez, and a British tax program for multinational companies.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Bye Bye Bye

This past week once again brings sheer horror and deep laughs when reading about the current state of Government and the daily dish that is akin to food served in Nashville Public Schools - slop.

First up was the egregious Judicial appointments that have been since altered after the release of their hearings where basic legal terminology and duties by many of the nominees demonstrated a sheer lack of ignorance, experience and knowledge even about the most basic duties of a Attorney at law.  I loved my favorite inquiry:  "Have you ever taken a deposition by yourself?" Response: "I don't think so."  Hmm.. that is a yes/no answer but hey I get confused sometimes too.  But even I have been disposed and can tell you the process and what a motion is.   I wonder if Trump is interested as  I am available.  I have been through two civil cases, one I filed pro se (meaning I was my own Attorney) and the other I settled in my favor acting as my Attorney's clerk and of course a Criminal trial and appeal and which I lost both in the hands of equally idiotic Attorney's - Kevin Trombold and Ted Vosk. Hey maybe they are available.  Couldn't do worse or could you?

Racing through Judicial appointments and especially by those utterly unqualified for the job means the deck is stacked as many challenges to law and to business are through these lower level courts and that in turn means fewer will make it to the Appellate courts that often lead to major decisions that can affect policy.    I am sure they will have no problem finding even less qualified but at least better prepared candidates in the near future.  There is a big gig opening with the Kozinski resignation this week.  Bye Bye Bye!

Then we have the strange mixed messages of Trump, much like double fisted water, he cannot get his message straight when speaking to and about the intelligence community and America's security policy.  All while Putin thanks American intelligence for preventing a terrorist plot in the mother country.  Noka Noka Noka!

And all this while passing the most massively fucked up  tax policy changes in history! It is a bigly win for the rich and the super rich.  Bob Corker once again proves that people from Tennessee are both stupid and liars by holding out a no vote, then changing it when an amendment was added that protects his business investments all while claiming he knew nothing about it and had not read it.  Yes this explains our literacy rates here clearly.  Perhaps the Nashville Chamber of Commerce would like to grade that one!  Bye bye bye!

And of course in the never ending plan to decimate Government by appointing openly hostile individuals to lead said departments or massively under qualified individuals to do whatever they are doing by not doing anything, the slow slide of budget cuts and under funding will make any changes to the said Tax policy nought as the IRS cannot enforce nor support said changes.  Bye bye bye!

The mixed messages, the bizarre appointments of individuals who have no business being in the said positions, the lack of funding, filling job vacancies are all part of some bizarre master plan that is about the Deep State.  This idea of exposing Government and of course its overreach which is the standard mantra by those actually in the Government that are part of said overreach.  Bye Omarosa we won't miss you cause you will never go away! 

Paul Ryan the "intellect" in the GOP along with the "mastermind" Mitch McConnell have shown since the Trump election that there is not a lot of thought or minds used in daily decision making. The sheer hypocrisy and duplicity has been exposed like the curtain of OZ and in turn if that was Trump's plan it might be the only one working.  Hello, its me your looking for!

And on bleaker notes. The situation in Puerto Rico is bleak with more deaths and more bills coming and more bad news on the horizon.  We have all moved on sadly the residents have not.   But again we have short memories and shorter attention spans to match so I suspect unless another catastrophe happens little will change.  When all the famous Chef's, Housewives and Broadway star leaves there is just there there.  Bye Bye Bye!

I cannot one wait for this horrific year to end and I too plan on double fisting drinks when I leave for New Orleans on Christmas Eve.  I plan on covering all the bases by attending Christian services, Cajun Bonfires and of course some Voodoo to clean the spirit that other spirits may not do but at least make me not think for awhile.  It will be just like being a member of the Trump Administration.  Bye bye bye! 

Trevor Noah, Reflecting on the ‘Paradox’ of Trump, Bids Goodbye to 2017

Trevor Noah said of the Trump administration, “It’s the most terrifying thing, and it’s the funniest thing at the same time.” Credit Comedy Central

When the Scariest Thing Is Also the Funniest

Trevor Noah on Monday looked back at a trying 2017 in an hourlong year-end edition of “The Daily Show.” He said that to him, President Trump presented “a paradox.”

“Every day I wake up terrified at the notion that he’s president of the most powerful nation in the world, but I must admit, every day I also wake up knowing he’s going to make me laugh,” Mr. Noah said.
“It’s the most terrifying thing, and it’s the funniest thing at the same time. You know what it’s like? It feels like there’s a giant asteroid headed towards the Earth, but it’s shaped like a penis. Like I think I’m gonna die, but I know I’m gonna laugh.” — TREVOR NOAH
Mr. Noah discussed Mr. Trump’s decision in May to fire James Comey, the former director of the F.B.I. Mr. Noah said that although the move was extraordinary, he agreed with it.
“If you can fire somebody who’s investigating you, you should fire them. What people should be angry at is the fact that you can fire someone who is investigating you. That’s the crazy [expletive] out there. All right? But if you can fire them, fire them. If I could fire a policeman that was coming after me — are you kidding me? — I’d be at a D.U.I. checkpoint, and the cop would come up to my window like, ‘Sir, do you know why I pulled you over?’ I’d be like, ‘To getchyour ass fffired.’” — TREVOR NOAH

‘Everybody’ Hates the F.B.I.

President Trump offered a broad condemnation of the F.B.I. when speaking to reporters on Friday. “When you look at what’s gone on with the F.B.I. and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry — everybody, not me, but everybody.”

On “Late Night,” Seth Meyers was not impressed with Mr. Trump’s argument.
“I love how Trump drags ‘everybody’ into his opinions. ‘Everybody’s talking about how bad the F.B.I. is’: He’s like a teenager trying to bully someone. ‘Everybody’s talking about how much they hate you, we were all just talking about it.’” — SETH MEYERS

The Punchiest Punchlines (Pentagon Edition)

“It was revealed that the Pentagon had a top-secret program to investigate U.F.O.s and aliens — which is why Trump announced plans to build a dome over the Earth and make E.T. pay for it.” — JIMMY FALLON
“There was an 11-hour power outage at the airport in Atlanta yesterday, and people were stranded on the tarmac for six hours. Don’t worry, though, flight attendants came through every hour with a thimble-sized cup of room-temperature water.” — JIMMY FALLON
“Donald Trump Jr. shared a picture on Instagram this weekend of him and Senator Ted Cruz holding a cookie with President Obama’s face on it. Still not as disturbing as a body with Ted Cruz’s face on it.” — SETH MEYERS

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hot for Teacher

While I find assaults and abuse by Students toward Teachers are on the rise, suspensions are on the decline.  I wonder if that is a parallel?  Here in Nashville the Chamber of Commerce gave their annual report card with regards to the schools here.  After I stopped laughing I could not believe they had the audacity to do as such with not one single Educator or Administrator on the board and the credentials seemed to be simply a graduate of said Nashville School and/or be a parent of a current child enrolled in one of these dumps they call schools.

I saw the largely white audience prepare for the presentation at our Central Library. I went to the Art Exhibit next door on Uncle Tom's Cabin. Fascinating.  However,  I chose not to attend as I had to work out, drink coffee and read The New York Times.  In other words stuff.  But I read the report and busted out laughing.  Data in and data out is the norm and I suspect none of them with or without children in Nashville's public schools (actually all schools within in Davidson County right there a problem) have ever set foot in any of the problem schools that have excessive violence, arrests or other issues that exist within.  I also think they have never seen or even tasted the slop they serve that led one school to stage a walkout with that as one of their demands.  But no that is not an issue.  If you are bored out of your skull the 68 page report is here.

Then I came home and cheerfully read about a Teacher in Oregon who was called by God to teach and apparently fuck a student. Sodomy is that legal and in the Bible?  She should move here and join the club we have five Title IX suits pending, the other two one tied to the Biblical Jesus Academy of Brentwood was thrown out of court on Friday so hey rape away, Jesus approved.

Teacher in Oregon accused of having sexual relationship with underage student

By Lindsey Bever The Washington Post December 19 2017

A 29-year-old teacher in Oregon is accused of numerous sex crimes after authorities said she had carried on a sexual relationship with an underage student.

Andrea Nicole Baber, who taught literature, writing and speech at Logos Christian Academy in Springfield, started a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student in 2016, officials with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities said in a statement that Baber also gave the teenager marijuana.

Baber was taken into custody last week on numerous charges, including third-degree rape, third-degree sodomy, contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor and first-degree online sexual corruption of a minor. She was also charged with unlawful delivery of marijuana to a person under 18 years of age, authorities said.

She has since been released, according to online jail records. It was unclear Tuesday whether she has an attorney in the case.

Baber, from Cottage Grove in western Oregon, worked in the English department at Logos Christian Academy, a nondenominational Christian school.

The sheriff’s office said that Baber no longer works at the school. Logos Christian Academy officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Baber’s biography page, which has been removed from the school’s website, said she has “always felt called to work with youth and is very excited that God opened the door for her to be part of the Logos team.”

Authorities said the allegations came to light after the victim’s parents received an anonymous email that included sexually explicit photos showing Baber and the minor together in bed. The father reported the situation to police on Dec. 12, the Register-Guard newspaper reported, citing a probable cause affidavit.

The teenager told authorities that he and the teacher had started flirting at school last year and that their relationship evolved, according to the newspaper.

He told authorities that he and Baber had been having sex about once or twice a week at her home.

According to court documents, authorities learned during the investigation that Baber’s husband had reported the situation to child protective services.

The Register-Guard reported, citing the arrest warrant affidavit, that the husband had discovered Baber with the boy and had seen partially nude photos that his wife had texted to the teen.

Sheriff’s officials said that investigators obtained a search warrant Friday and found “additional evidence” at Baber’s home while no one was there. When Baber returned home, authorities said, she reported a burglary.

Baber was taken into custody later in the day. Booking records show that she is due in court on March 12.

Rabbit Hole Politics

I have read and listened to Cornel West for years.  I felt he imploded in the Obama years as Obama was very much a technocrat and not the progressive liberal we wanted to believe.  I did not support him in the initial campaign in 2008 as I had no idea who he was.  I was in Hilary's camp and like all things when she returned in 2016 I was a Sanders girl.  Race had nothing to do with my feelings about Barack as frankly there were many things I felt lacked.  His foreign diplomacy is truly turning heads now as it left the gap that psycho fuck is now trying to fill.

Then there was "Obamacare" and deportations, his Education Secretary, his inability from the beginning to work with Congress (a two way street but it was truly bad from day one) and Joe Biden who I believe was odd, then many Cabinet and staff positions that were nowhere near the level of whack a doo as Trump but very much in line again with the concept of Neoliberalism.

If you do not understand the concept of Neoliberalism, this article from The Guardian does a great job explaining what it means for the modern Democratic Party.  A party that is as enjoined, dated and into self preservation mode as the Republicans. 

Do I think Obama would have been more progressive, more liberal and an activist had he had a Congress of more open minded left wingers epitomized by Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders?  I have no idea but something about his persona says to me no.  But hindsight is 20 20 and in this case I would take him any day versus the current freaks at 1800 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But when I read this essay by Cornel West I did laugh.  Mr. West is a frequent guest on Bill Maher's show on HBO, a show that need to find some fresh voices and minds from all sides to dish the dirt.  My personal favorite is Killer Mike who I had never heard of and actually enjoy listening to and this Chance the Rapper is another voice that lends well to the debate over education.  There are many minds and individuals other than the rolodex of yore, just the concept of rolodex should make one think old and dated, to speak and offer a voice with a fresh perspective.

Mr. West reminds me of Jill Stein who for a brief moment in 2012 enabled a fresh debate on the Obama Presidency and then one just jumped down a hole and another chose to share a meal and a cocktail of Russian Vodka to align with and then it all led to Trump, the Wicked Queen waiting at the base of the Rabbit Hole.

There is dog whistle politics, the concept of race baiting. There is the race card politics throwing that down to accuse enemies or slights as embedded in racism.  There is the morality police and the religious right who eschew anyone not of the tribe as an enemy and in turn the larger cohort left in the middle confused and looking for a voice, a person who will stand up and be heard.  I never understood the elevation of Ta-Nehisi Coats but he came out with an essay and later a book and a concept at a time when the post election period of Obama led many White people to believe we were in a period of color blindness and on the cusp of racial equality.  Well at least that was one of many inequalities at the time we dealt with and guess what it began and ended with Obama's Presidency.

Coates made the audacious and inflammatory demand for reparations that in turn opened another door into the heinous history of human labor and its immense affects on the costs, financially, psychologically, socially, and legally with regards of those of African Caribbean  descent placed into slavery and in turn exploited and marginalized thereafter.  

I am not sure there could ever be any sufficient reparation for what slavery did to those placed into chains, abused and taken from their homes and placed into those home of others to be further abused, killed and harmed for generations.   I am the generation of Roots and that truly brought the concept into the mantra of popular culture and changed the discussion in ways that for many the Civil Rights movement did not for those too young or too distant from the roots of the movement.  I do believe that the focus of that movement was largely confined to the South and in turn we believed it was a regional issue founded in the Civil War and this was there time to accept responsibility and move forward to change and grow.  Well we know that did not happen and in turn the rest of the country had and still has its own issues with regards to race and how it too affected their own communities.  And this truly came to light as we have learned with Black Lives Matter and the intense spotlight on mass incarceration and deaths at the hands of police in largely non-violent situations.

And we are now at the Trump years.  And that was the point, the light was too bright, too powerful and it blinded people.  When you can't see your other senses heightened and in turn is shows exactly what was truly happening down in the rabbit hole all these last eight years and it was one angry tea party.  Remember them?  Well they never really were anything but angry white old people but they have family and friends and like the Terminator they are back.  Down to stupid hats and yelling out bullshit. But this time they are called Nativists, the Alt-Right and are normal, shop at Target and like Chinese food but not Chinese people.  Ah the normalization of the nutfuck has arrived.

And the new hashtag movement of the moment is #MeToo which will align itself with #ArabSpring, #BLM, #OWS and the others that run through the list of injustices and rages of those marginalized in society.  And that spotlight is intense and it leads to fights and feuds as no one leads said groups and anyone who asserts dominance is quickly cut down and the infighting begins. Whatever we need to learn from the Civil Rights movement is how MLK managed to resolve competing groups and assert a focused agenda?  Oh wait we do know.

Well what do know that anything with "neo" as a prefix is not a good sign.  There is already fighting and baiting among women who are angry that the new feminism is not addressing the sexual harassment of women of color is not sufficiently addressed.  We have fighting among women that largely those in the service industry have been ignored and int turn who have enabled all of this and what will come of any of it.

So this  celebrity smack downs like the one Mr. West wrote about Mr. Coates, who I doubt will bother to respond.  If anything Coates is man who has no interest in anything other than his frame of reference and I suspect Mr. West is not part of that.   And that is the course of business here. We are inundated with one story after another on a daily basis. These stories now take the front pages that once was dominated with stories of police shootings, of gun violence, of terrorism, of whatever topic is the narrative of the day.  After a while a eye for an eye everyone goes blind and its all over but the shouting but if you shout too loud you could go deaf.  Can't hear when you are deaf.

Pass the tea my dear as I am done.  I am jumping down a hole as even I can't take it anymore. 

Gadot are you there?

 Much was made from the Drive to 55 called the Tennessee Promise, the plan that enabled Tennessee high schoolers free community college for the first two years to encourage career readiness and long term financial success.  And of course when it comes to Education this is one state that likes to stay in the bottom five as without a firm commitment to income inequity the red state may turn a paler shade even pink possibly and we cannot have that.  As then here in Tennessee the issues of segregation, income inequality, nativism and other classifications that enable the moral majority to remain in place or said majority might collapse. That cannot happen.  Change is only for the pocket and gentrification is great for white people.

Nashville has a love hate relationship with gentrification. On the plus side it is pushing the poor and largely minority groups out to the periphery.   By having a swelling and growing population it enables them to have a larger workforce in which to choose and in turn maintain wages at low rates. The Chamber of Commerce has confirmed that and today they actually grade the schools.  As if any of them have ever set foot in any of them.  Laughable as this is ground zero for school choice and in turn no one who is white and/or can afford to enroll elsewhere do.  I have never seen nor actually heard of K-12 schools, all non-secular, before  and look as if they are taken from the yards at Harvard.   Funny, however, with all these grand institutions that individuals possessing higher degrees has hovered at 33-35% for decades.  Again the better to maintain the status quo my dear.

The next two weeks means I am happy as hell and I am not back to work until the 5th of January and that first gig is at the "better" school so it means a good day for all and all a good year.  Well that is until I walk into one of the "others" which I have made a resolution to avoid at all costs. I cannot take anymore of what I experienced last week at three different schools.  Not one, none were stable, safe learning environments and it showed from the lessons left to the  lack of decent food, support or any kind of dignity left by those in the front of the classroom as well as those in the back of the school.  Even Administrators and others have given up and they are just waiting for whom or what I don't know? Gadot perhaps? And by Gadot I mean Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman.

Dropout rates remain high at Tennessee colleges, especially among black students, report says
Jason Gonzales, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published Dec. 13, 2017

Even as Tennessee is being praised for opening college doors through Tennessee Promise and other programs, there are signs that some of higher education's biggest and most persistent hurdles still keep many students from succeeding.

Enrollment and retention have ticked up at community colleges, according to a report released Wednesday by the education advocacy group Complete Tennessee. But dropout rates remain alarmingly high, especially for poor and minority students.

"While we have seen some improvements in postsecondary attainment, our most vulnerable citizens are still struggling to earn the credentials necessary to compete for in-demand, local jobs,” said Kenyatta Lovett, Complete Tennessee executive director.

Among the findings in the "Beneath the Surface: State of Higher Education in Tennessee" report:

Community college enrollment has grown by 2 percent from 2016-2017, but enrollment trends across other institutions are relatively flat.
Despite efforts to increase adult participation in higher education, adult enrollment has dropped 25 percent since 2011.
Student retention rates have increased, but black students are more likely to drop out than their peers.
Despite Tennessee's historically low unemployment rates, black residents experience higher levels of unemployment despite many earning similar degrees or credentials.

The report says the state must focus on these issues, especially as the state seeks to get more Tennesseans a college education through its Drive to 55 initiative.

"Current achievement gaps raise questions about the possibility or the moral standard of achieving the Drive to 55 goal if certain groups of Tennesseans are left behind," according to the report.

Tennessee's struggles aren't unique. Colleges nationwide have faced similar challenges.

But Lovett said there are examples Tennessee can pull from to push for improvements here, especially in retaining low-income and minority students.

"There are monetary returns on investment," Lovett said. "And it is beneficial for communities."

The report highlights practices from around the country that Tennessee colleges can look toward. It also calls for action in enacting solutions.

One such best practice Lovett said is schools can begin to look toward making a student's education more hands-on, especially through internships. That creates relevance and helps build student networks with jobs, he said.

"For low-income students and students of color, their networks aren’t as advanced or as broad as some of their peers," Lovett said. "Employers and colleges should ensure that students have robust experiences and understanding of the work, as well as how to enter into career fields."

Gov. Bill Haslam has said his priorities and budget in 2018 will put a spotlight on low graduation rates, although it is unclear exactly what he will do.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Melting Pot or Boiled Over

Since the election of the Il Douchebag in Chief here in middle Tennessee, just the word middle evokes the concept that this a central place that can radiate outwards is terrifying enough.  And in this last year I have experienced a sea change in the same way a Tsunami affects oceans.

Children here are mirrors to the adults in their lives. I think the Evil Queen is busy as hell holding up that mirror as the children of late are more deranged than usual. Note the word more. But what I have seen is that even the acclaimed students of the two high performing schools - Hume Fogg and MLK - are exhibiting signs of violence and aggression. There was the girls soccer match that ended up in a fight between the two teams that students were banned from the final game of the season. Then the local coffee shop next door to Hume Fogg is now banning students unless they purchase something as they lit a bag on fire in the restaurant and were unable to extinguish it causing a small fire on the site.

I have said repeatedly that while here in Nashville these two schools are acclaimed for their academic superiority they are actually akin to just a normal high school elsewhere. They are large enough to have music and sports and in turn academic classes that enable a diverse group of kids who frankly I suspect test in the normal range but however are higher than the average here.  And again this is a low bar in which to jump.

But the violence at the other schools and seemingly across the country has seemingly escalated and believed that it in response to the last Ed policy of Obama, Restorative Justice, which was to attempt to stave off the disproportionate number of children of color being suspended by doing nothing.  What is shows that that is not working either. I wrote in last blog post about Subbing and what I observe and noted that  some of the problems that are in St. Paul schools (making Al Franken's ouster just a note in the paper) are those found in many schools elsewhere. Again and this demonstrates that when all else fails in education note that taking a kid's phone is a bad idea. I don't lay my hands on them as this has been a repeated story about Teacher assaults for the last few years, as this one in Pittsburg demonstrates. Or here in Virginia. Or this in DC Or this one in Boston.  And the ones in Tennessee? Well no one cares so why should I?

But the violence is exhibited in the marches, the hysteria that is around the country from the crazy White Supremacists to the angry Women Marches,  Anti or Pro Immigration marches and Trump Rallies all that send confusing and conflicting messages to children who hear all angles and it further isolates and in turn enrages them when they are confused and as frustrated by the Adults that surround them.

I have been asked this year repeatedly race baiting and inquires about my feelings regarding race and ethnicity.   My response is, "I don't answer questions I find offense and I find that question offensive."  Kids are constantly on edge here anyway thanks to the segregation issues, the lack of decent food, the shitty schools, immense wage and income inequality, their own race and community and where they live fraught with violence and neglect so they are coming to school as ticking time bombs.  I recall that last two days at Donelson Middle School and the metaphoric cell I was in with the future Sociopath that still brings me chills.  He was so confused even about his own race he was constantly asking me if I hated him because he was black.  Being that he was Latino and told me later he was born in Nashville and then lived in Mexico made it clear he was aware but then I realized he understood that race was an issue and that being black was more of one here hence the need to associate with that minority versus his own.  But at one point I was not sure what his family composite was and decided to ignore him and the endless incoherent violent and sexual ramblings as  race is utterly non consequential in this situation.  At one point I wanted to just walk out I was that sick of being in his company. 

But I cannot deny that the Trump election has has a profound affect on the American thought process and in turn the concept of melting pot and what that means in a nation divided by income, race, belief and gender and that pot is boiling over.  

Trump, Trump, Trump!’ How a President’s Name Became a Racial Jeer

DEC. 16, 2017

The high school basketball squad from Eagle Grove, population 3,700, had traveled 60 miles up Highway 69 in Iowa to play the team from Forest City, population 4,100. It would be the Eagles against the Indians, a hardwood competition in the center of the country. For some people, this is as American as it gets.

At one point during the online streaming of the game last month, two white announcers for a Forest City radio station, KIOW, began riffing on the Hispanic names of some players from the mildly more diverse community of Eagle Grove. “They’re all foreigners,” said Orin Harris, a longtime announcer; his partner, Holly Jane Kusserow-Smidt, a board operator at the station who was also a third-grade teacher, answered: “Exactly.”

For some people, this is as American as it gets.

Mr. Harris then uttered a term occasionally used these days as a racially charged taunt, or as a braying assertion that the country is being taken back from forces that threaten it. That term is, simply, the surname of the sitting American president.

“As Trump would say, go back where they came from,” Mr. Harris said.

Last year’s contentious presidential election gave oxygen to hate. An analysis of F.B.I. crime data by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found a 26 percent increase in bias incidents in the last quarter of 2016 — the heart of the election season — compared with the same period the previous year. The trend has continued into 2017, with the latest partial data for the nation’s five most populous cities showing a 12 percent increase.

In addition, anti-Muslim episodes have nearly doubled since 2014, according to Brian Levin, the director of the center, which he said has also counted more “mega rallies” by white nationalists in the last two years than in the previous 20. “I haven’t seen anything like this during my three decades in the field,” he said.

Peppered among these incidents is a phenomenon distinct from the routine racism so familiar in this country: the provocative use of “Trump,” after the man whose comments about Mexicans, Muslims and undocumented immigrants — coupled with his muted responses to white nationalist activity — have proved so inflammatory. His words have also become an accelerant on the playing field of sports, in his public criticism of black athletes he deems to be unpatriotic or ungrateful.

Officials at Salem State University in Massachusetts discovered hateful graffiti spray-painted on benches and a fence surrounding the baseball field, including “Trump #1 Whites Only USA.” An undocumented immigrant in Michigan reported to the police that two assailants had stapled a note bearing a slur to his stomach after telling him, “Trump doesn’t like you.” A white Massachusetts businessman at Kennedy International Airport in New York was charged with assaulting and menacing an airline worker in a hijab, saying, among other threats: “Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you.”

In an email, the White House on Friday denounced the use of the president’s name in cases like these. “The president condemns violence, bigotry and hatred in all its forms, and finds anyone who might invoke his or any other political figure’s name for such aims to be contemptible,” Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said.

Still, it persists. Across the country, students have used the president’s name to mock or goad minority opponents at sporting events. In March, white fans at suburban Canton High School in Connecticut shouted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” as players from Hartford’s Classical Magnet School, which is predominantly black and Latino, took foul shots during a basketball playoff game. They also chanted “He’s our president!”

The visiting players and their chaperones interpreted the chants not as a sudden burst of presidential fealty, but rather as a slyly racist mantra intended to rattle. As if Donald J. Trump was the president of here, in white suburbia, and not there, in the diverse inner city.

“I’m not sure what politics has to do with basketball,” Azaria Porter, then the Classical team’s 16-year-old manager, told The Hartford Courant. “It was just annoying. It was like, O.K., we get it.”

For the record, Classical beat Canton.

According to several scholars of American history, the invocation of a president’s name as a jaw-jutting declaration of exclusion, rather than inclusion, appears to be unprecedented. “If you’re hunting for historical analogies, I think you’re in virgin territory,” said Jon Meacham, the author of several books about presidents, including a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Andrew Jackson.

Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian, agrees. “If you’re looking at modern presidents, fill in the blank and see if it can be used in the same way,” he said. “You will see it has not. Hoover? Or Eisenhower? Can you imagine a situation like that?”

The jarring use of Mr. Trump’s name began to surface shortly after he declared his candidacy in June 2015. Within a year, educators were reporting incidents in which, as the Inside Higher Ed website put it, “Trump” had become “a kind of taunt, tossed by largely white students at minority opponents during, say, basketball games.”

But it was not confined to high schools like Dallas Center-Grimes in Iowa, where students mocked a basketball team from the more diverse community of Perry with chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump” in February 2016. Colleges and universities were experiencing similar moments.

Nor was it confined to places of learning. In March 2016, for example, video surveillance at a Kwik Shop in Wichita, Kan., showed a white motorcyclist arguing with two college students — one Hispanic, one Muslim — then assaulting one of them before driving off. The victims later said that the man interspersed his racist epithets with: “Trump, Trump, Trump.” (And yes, the name does tend to come in threes, as if the incantation of his name might summon the man himself.)

Shortly after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes, published a report called “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the 2016 Election on Our Nation’s Schools.” Based on a survey of more than 10,000 educators, it detailed an increase in incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate flags.

“Kids saying, ‘Trump won, you’re going back to Mexico,’” wrote a teacher from Kansas. “A black student was blocked from entering his classroom by two white students chanting, ‘Trump, Trump,’” wrote a teacher from Tennessee. “Seventh-grade white boys yelling, ‘Heil Trump!’” wrote a teacher from Colorado.

It is a far cry from wearing a button that says “I Like Ike.”

Mr. Beschloss recalled moments in recent American history when, say, the X in President Richard M. Nixon’s name appeared as a swastika, or a caricature of President Lyndon B. Johnson featured a Hitlerian mustache. But these were generally the acts of opponents to those presidents’ policies during the Vietnam War.

“The message here,” Mr. Beschloss said, “is ‘Trump is going to come and get you — and we support that.’”

There have also been cases in which anti-Trump protesters have harassed and assaulted supporters of the president for, say, wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap. In some instances, the name Trump is invoked in punctuation.

When asked how a president’s very name could become so coded, Mr. Beschloss cited Mr. Trump’s speeches and tweets, including two in particular: the announcement of his candidacy in 2015, during which he referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug dealers and rapists; and his equivocating comments after a white supremacist rally and counterprotest in Charlottesville, Va., in June ended with one person killed and 19 wounded. (“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” the president had said. “On many sides.”)

“This broadened into a feeling by some people — right or wrong — that Trump is going to be a weapon to reduce the opportunities of those who are different,” Mr. Beschloss said. “This is a signal moment.”

Leah Wright Rigueur, an assistant professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, agreed, saying that Mr. Trump’s status as a racial wedge was of his own doing.

“When Trump says, ‘I hear you, I will represent you,’ he is speaking to a particular cross-section of the nation that does not include Muslims, that does not include people of color,” Ms. Wright Rigueur said.

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, a professor of race, history and public policy also at the Kennedy School of Government, said that Mr. Trump had created his own breakaway brand, making him the personification of specific ideals.

“To use the name as a rallying cry for a kind of embodied white supremacy, white nationalism or sense of triumphalism, for taking back the country, as best as I can tell has never been crystallized in the name of a U.S. president,” Mr. Muhammad said.

“It’s authoritarian, the cult of personality,” Mr. Meacham said. “It’s saying that we’re American — and you’re not.”

The sporadic episodes — as chronicled by ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” project, among others — continue. A “Heil Trump” here, the Trump name scrawled beside a swastika there. In late September, two high school football teams in the Salt Lake City suburbs were squaring off when cheers erupted. Someone was brandishing a cardboard cutout of Mr. Trump, and there began the chanting of three words that have electrified some and unnerved others: “Build the wall! Build the wall!”

Back in Iowa, there have been consequences and remorse in the wake of those two Forest City radio announcers musing on the Hispanic names of some of the players from Eagle Grove.

Ms. Kusserow-Smidt, 63, was fired as a board operator for the radio station; she has since resigned from the Forest City School District. Mr. Harris, 76, who had been with the station for more than 40 years, was also fired. The two have expressed deep regret for their comments, which they said did not reflect who they truly were.

“It didn’t sound right; it wasn’t right,” Mr. Harris told a local television station. “And I apologize.”

The xenophobic words of the two announcers stung some of the Eagle Grove players, including Nikolas Padilla, whose mother is from Iowa and whose father is from Mexico. Mr. Padilla, a 17-year-old senior, said that he briefly considered quitting because he did not want to be singled out for his Mexican heritage.

One particular comment by the broadcasters — “As Trump would say, go back where they came from” — puzzled Nikolas. His mother, Misty, recalled what her teenage son had said:

“Um, I came from Mason City, Iowa.”

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sub Down

 I found this interesting given the week I had in the Nashville Public Sewer System they call schools.

My first day this week was an art class in a Magnet school the supposed select group.  The class was for an afternoon of Art and in turn I met the Teacher who was exiting upon my arrival.  I walked in to a class in chaos but it was only the beginning. Tossing crayons, smashing pencils, breaking shit and throwing it was the plan for the day.  She told me this class does this and may get worse but four girls clean it up and that if they do a good job she was buying them Pizza the next day as a reward.  I watched as the class lifted and tossed a kid like a dwarf, smash crayons, toss shit and basically run amok for the last 20 minutes of class. Then as the bell rang the class exited like a mad dash for lunch, bringing in the Administrator saying that they are not to run out like that.   The door was open during this wilding and irony that the class was across the hall from the Admin office.  At no time did they come in despite the noise they had to hear and did nothing from what it appears is a constant problem. I threw the girls out as they were active in throwing stuff and frankly rewarding them for cleaning up after causing this is a bizarre form of reinforcement that I did not get.

The next day was at another Middle School where I tried to help the kids work and in turn high five a kid for a good job and he nearly broke my wrist but thankfully I have strong wrists due to Yoga but it was so severe that the girl next to him said, "Wow you tried to hurt her are you okay Miss?"

And the last two days were with the sociopath and his cohorts that I was so distressed I claimed my cell phone was stolen just to get the hell out of there.  I was not a 100% sure but I just felt that I had not brought it and in turn my wallet was in tact so I just was relieved to get out of there even 30 mins early after the shitbag treatment those kids and I got that last day before break.  I could not believe that Teachers came in eating Ice Cream in front of us and did not offer nor ask why we had not been included after that slop the kids had been served for lunch.  But then again why as that would require them to care and in Nashville no one cares about anything.  Resignation is a state of life and mind here.

I was talking to my neighbors about my job and how much I have to reconcile hating myself and trying to stay safe in such unsafe schools with children so damaged and troubled I am afraid for my safety every time I walk in.  The first thing I said to my neighbor was that asking kids to do any work, to at least attempt it or try to be just reasonable is akin to fighting words.  The best and only thing you can do is keep your head down and say nothing.  I quit writing my name on the board and only do it in extreme cases but I prefer not for security reasons.  And this is how it is in Nashville.

But apparently I am not alone as the story below illustrates what it is like to be a Sub. This Teacher was a retired professional with over two decades in the same difference and then suddenly he is not a good Teacher. Why?  He led a kid to hit him.  I get that fear and it was why in cell block 150 as I called it this week I kept opening the door. The inane and insane ramblings of the sociopath included bizarre race ramblings, screaming he was locked in and trapped, and other strange comments that could imply I harmed him.  I wanted the door open so anyone could see anything at any time.  I do not trust the children here nor like them at all.  I used to recall all the kids in Seattle who I was utterly charmed and impressed by.  I don't think I have met more than a handful and that doesn't say much as they are an utter blur.

And it is why I don't ask kids names when they are acting up as it is confrontational.  It is dangerous and an invitation to be harmed.  Just trying to be supportive could have led me to have a broken wrist but thankfully I was able to deflect the slapping hard flying hand with only a burn to my palm. Yes this is Nashville Middle Schoolers, often mentally ill, violent, dangerous, abusive.  And yes largely minority.  And it is not just here as the story below illustrates it is everywhere but St. Paul seems to rival Nashville for violent dangerous students.

Teacher told not to return after assault by student
Noe Hernandez

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Jack McCulley taught in the Battle Creek Public Schools for 22 years. He continued to work as a substitute after he retired in 2008.

But after a Battle Creek Central High School student punched him out in October, he doesn't want to go back. And the district doesn't want him to either.

"I'm not going to return to Battle Creek Public Schools, ever," said McCulley. "I'll never enter one of their buildings again."

McCulley, 60, says that on Oct. 4 a freshman hit him in the jaw with an upper cut, punched him in the back of the head twice and landed one more hard blow to his head during an after-class altercation.

The principal, he said, then asked him to leave the building, and his employer, EduStaff, suspended him indefinitely from substitute teaching, pending an investigation.

He now wonders if he'll get a chance to teach again.

According to Calhoun County Probate Court administrator Kris Getting, the male student pleaded guilty on Nov. 29 to assault and battery, a charge equal to a misdemeanor in an adult court.

The Battle Creek Enquirer is not identifying the student because he is a minor.

He was placed on probation for six months. It is not known whether he was suspended, returned to Battle Creek Central or transferred to another school.

"At Battle Creek Public Schools, the safety and security of students and staff is our first priority," BCPS Superintendent Kim Carter said in an email. "An investigation regarding this issue revealed mutual conflicts.

"Due to this information, BCPS determined that it was in the best interest for the substitute and BCPS that he not be assigned to Battle Creek Public Schools," she added.

Jodi Center, EduStaff's director of human resources, could not be reached for comment Friday.

McCulley taught U.S. history, geography and government for nine years at the former W.K. Kellogg Middle School and 12 years at Northwestern Middle School. He spent a year helping Battle Creek Central students with English and social studies before retiring in 2008.

He was on a long-term assignment when the incident occurred after a fifth-hour class.

McCulley says the student who assaulted him spent most of his class time texting or watching videos on his cellphone, didn't listen when McCulley asked him to put the phone away, cursed at him, turned on the faucets in the science room and threatened to assault him.

McCulley estimates that he kicked the student out of his classroom at least 15 times over a period of a little more than three weeks.

BCPS later told his employer that he incited the altercation with his sarcasm, said McCulley, who still suffers from headaches and has hired an attorney.

"He would curse at me, I would say, 'Thank you very much, there you go again being profane and obnoxious,' or, "Thank you very little,'" McCulley said. "They figured the sarcasm to them incited him, which I don't buy."

Friday, December 15, 2017

They Crazy Here

I have frequently compared Trump and his White House to the South.  There is arrogance, confusion, denial, lies and brags far from humble. Add to this the classicism which clouds the racism and of course the sheer lack of intellect.

Living in Nashville has been an education, not one I would pay for nor actually list on my curriculum vitae as I am not sure how to describe it.   Degree: B.S. as in bullshit.  Course of study: Lying while talking.  Paranoia.  Bullying.  Attention Seeking and Anger Un-management.

When I arrived the population stats were that 85 people a day were moving to Nashville.  This last week I heard the number 100, 80 and now 70.  As the line marker is in pencil here it makes it easier to change this to suit the individual quoting the number.   Actual statisticians and demographers who would know this say it is a fluctuating number that is based on several components but is not a fixed one.   And in turn this is why neighboring communities are attempting to do a local census to determine population in which to plan for the communities needs for both taxes and in turn infrastructure - roads, schools, utilities.  You know the stuff that Governments do in response to populations - well other than gerrymandering.

These two issues are the Siamese Twins that Ben Carson would love to dis join.  The lack of funding for the U.S. Census will contribute to ensuring that population numbers will not be accurate and in turn enable Congress to continue their slow slide to chaos by cutting every Government program which ironically means their jobs.  The House is based on representation and if the population declines their positions go with it.  But wait! They save it by gerrymandering or redistricting to ensure their job security!  And this is a skill set that Republicans have mastered.  So Democracy, the two party system may be gone without any further Russian interference!  Dosvadanya!

The issue is that most outlying suburban or rural areas are declining in populations and in turn is the contributory factor in the migration into central core areas in which Nashville falls.

Most jobs are in the Davidson County region and when population stats are quoted that encompasses the entire area within Nashville including even smaller towns that are simply adjacent by crossing a County line.  They love their Counties here!  And this was the reasoning behind the recent Amazon bid while coming up with a Transit plan that literally stops without incorporating any of the transportation needs outside of Nashville, the true problem in the commuting issue.  And the reasoning behind why Nashville is developing every square foot of land to get people to move out and away from said areas such as Murfreesboro or Spring Hill and into Nashville proper!  Viola back to the 100 people a day are moving here!  Sure from an hour commute time away to no commute time thanks to transit.  And pay more for it all.  It's hide the penny under the walnut!  Look kids watch my hands.

And we have our own Governor, he of truck stop money - family built, he not be smart enough to be self made as they tout here - believes that the current shitty GOP tax bill will benefit Tennessee as low and behold it punishes oddly, coincidentally, ironically, blue states and benefits red ones.  Gee that gerrymandering is sort of cool isn't it?   Yes Amazon welcome. Or your welcome! Please come here as we will do whatever it takes including no taxes for ever! 

Then we have the real ugly truth of Nashville, it's public schools, the fucked up system across the state that has finally had State Legislator's becoming involved to ask questions and wonder what the hell is going on.  The obsession with testing, the idea of school choice is largely ground zero here and it explains the schools here as they are worth nothing.

And as we enter the Holidays I went to a school that is not on my normal list.  I had cancelled a gig for a school where I was familiar as I wanted to go shopping to Opry Mills and like Donelson.  It is a shame their schools are not something of which to be proud. As sadly they fall under the purview of Nashville Public Schools and in turn they reflect the dumps they are.  The local high school just down the road had 14 kids arrested this week for a car theft ring which is a step down from earlier this year when the FBI raided the school for counterfeit money laundering.  The school is just slightly smaller than the mall and way less interesting.

This class was for a a Special Ed cell. And by cell I mean cell. It was an interior room the size of a cell, no windows, nothing of warmth or an environment that led itself to at least one conducive to learning  and respect of the special need kids that were shuttled in and out throughout the day.   One boy who is there the entire day is a Dylan Klebold (of Columbine)  level of Sociopath.  His drawings and personality changes were so severe it was like be trapped with Sybil during each transition only in body of a 13 year old boy.  I have never seen this in many years and the closest was young girl in Seattle many years ago who I think now is less severe or dangerous as this child.   It was distressing if not upsetting to witness.

The last day of school (today) was so horrific I could not believe what was happening.  The regular Teacher I suspect does nothing but house them and the neighboring Teachers seemed oblivious as to what went on in the room but they knew the kids were troubled.  They had no idea that there was zero to no learning transpiring and the day was spent surfing the net and doing little else but going to the gym.   I got that much out of the kids as I watched the future serial killer cry, rage, suck his thumb, abuse people, act rational, play like a 10 year old and draw violent dangerous pictures one after another.    The day was until 12 and at 10:30 we were take the kids for a take out box lunch that to say was junk could not describe what the bag possessed.  It was some type of cheese covered broccoli and a slice of bread.  It was garbage which my kids, all three of them tossed. They were to eat in the room with me.  The irony was that the school had carts with ice cream, toppings, and popcorn wheeled around and yet they avoided our room. We got nothing other than the rolls I had purchased myself earlier on my way to school.  I went to the room next door and asked the ice cream eating Teacher if he could mind the room while I went to the toilet.   I had not one minute to myself, to eat, to go the bathroom to take a break away from them for over three hours.  I wanted to become a serial killer myself after this.

I finally took them outside and we walked the field in a cold day.  I was running out of options, I wanted to leave so  when we came back to the classroom I opened my purse declared my cell phone stolen and demanded to leave to see if I left it at the places I went en route to school that day. There was about a half an hour left and I knew the phone was at home but I just wanted out.  I came home and found the phone and spent the day doing errands wishing I had never set foot in that school and then I realized they are all some variations of this.  A Teacher right at the top of the day there whom I had met decided right at 9 am to walk out. I am not sure she quit but she was gone.  This is the state of the schools here and it is everywhere in this shit hole state.  So please tell me why anyone would move here? Taxes are you fucking kidding me?

The reality is that Tennessee is one step above Alabama and that is because we don't have a child molester running for office.  But the belief that Government is the problem and that Jesus is the way to go, to pray and to avoid reality is the mantra of the South is very much the reality here.  We have no true Democrats to offer change and a potential to show that being Liberal is not something to fear.  I have never seen anything like this in my life and to see these children today and the slop they were served, forced to sit in classrooms all day watching movies and doing nothing but feel trapped and be trapped.  This is Tennessee, they be crazy here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Jive Talking

When I heard and saw the video of the Tennessee kid crying over bullying I literally laughed out loud. I am in the schools every day here.  We have 5 current Title IX suits ongoing over sexual assault and one is about a Teacher and Student (both were women), as well as many other issues including two Administrative staff who have left under a cloud and a real problem with violence in the community and in the schools.  So to that I go: "Really I should care about this?"

I have shed more tears than this kid ever has I just don't do videos, pleas, social media or anything that would enable anyone to associate a name with a face while I live in this place I call Nash-vile. I see this town-city through the eyes of the children and they are blurred with a constant stream of tears.

I write/vent about the schools as I work on my book to explain what it is like working in Schools from Seattle to Nashville and what I compare to the food industry.  The parallels cannot be lost down to the Head Chef getting a little to handsy in the walk-in.  From the hierarchy to the logistics I cannot tell if I am at a fast food joint, a casual joint or if I am lucky a high end restaurant with the customers to match.  That is what schools are like and we who work in them are the service personnel down to the runners, the dishwashers, the Maitre'd and all those who keep their equivalent establishment open.
 And with that open door policy as all restaurants have the exclusion being no shirt no shoes no service we in public education are not that lucky, we have to take anyone.

So this kid whines on camera and his mother decides to load this plea online to do what exactly, shame the kids?   Does she not live in Tennessee? This is not a place that does shame. It is part martyr, part redneck as to feel and acknowledge shame would admit one is wrong, is capable of empathy and sympathy and as one in the public schools I have met few, very few children capable of said emotions that contribute those feelings.   This is poverty.

The irony is that they are also professed Christians, they are obsessed with religion and the endless mantra "give back" here along with "stay safe"  and "bless your heart" marks the contradictory nature and mixed messages that dominate any dialog here.  If you were that open and of faith you don't need to constantly warn people, talk endlessly about charity when you have a state full of poverty and ignorance as clearly you are not giving back hard enough and we all know that blessing on my heart is the fuck you moment. 

When I saw the Mother denying her bullshit I called it.  They lie hear with aplomb and without rancor.  Again I call it lying while talking.  When you believe in Jesus you get a free pass apparently.  What was never said between explaining gun toting, confederate flag waving photos was why was the lad bullied. Was he helping an elderly lady across the street? Was he saying Grace at lunch? What brought on the incident to get the shit kicked out of him.  Well the golden rule is treat those as how you wish to be treated.  When they go low you go high and all that.  Or you make a video and a grab for cash. 

I call this bullshit but you can call Melania Trump as she is all about bullying and she should know.

How very 2017: the trial by media of 11-year-old Keaton Jones

Hannah Jane Parkinson
Guardian UK
Wednesday 13 December 2017

Patience used to be a virtue. Now it’s gold dust. Especially when it comes to mainstream media picking up social media intrigue. I refer you to the story of 11-year-old Keaton Jones, who went viral just a couple of days ago after his mother posted a video of him, crying, explaining how his classmates had bullied him and questioning the purpose of bullying in general. “Why do they find joy in taking innocent people and find a way to be mean to them?”

Keaton’s mother, Kimberly Jones, posted the video to her personal Facebook page where it gathered more than 22m views. As the video spread around Facebook and Twitter, many celebrities (Justin Bieber, Mark Ruffalo, Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Patricia Arquette, Chris Evans, Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, Kendall Jenner among them) offered support to Keaton, either with words or messages, or Skype chats, or invitations to attend premieres and concerts and er, the Fox News set (because that is what every 11-year-boy dreams of).

Some accused these celebs of “using” Keaton to signal their own compassion, but I think that’s a cynical take. The video was genuinely affecting. Though after $55,000 was raised on a GoFundMe page that a stranger established, I wondered why people weren’t donating to, say, anti-bullying charities, or schools initiatives. Or Yemen. I didn’t really understand how a pack of cash would stop Keaton having milk poured down his shirt. But it made sense that the celeb support might deter his antagonists.

The problems started when photographs of Keaton’s mother were unearthed on Facebook in which she is smiling and holding the Confederate flag. (Keaton and his family are based in Tennessee). Another photo showed Keaton holding a stars-and-stripes flag and a friend holding the Confederate flag. There was also a post in which Kimberly Jones took aim at NFL player Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who have protested racial inequality by kneeling for the national anthem.

Kimberly has either since removed the video, or made it private, after abusive remarks were directed towards Keaton, and she was called a “money-grabbing racist” (there was speculation she had set up a separate crowdfunding page herself). Unverified reports also came that Keaton was actually bullied because he had repeatedly used racial epithets against classmates – a claim his sister denied. So it was that Keaton went from being bullied by his classmates to being bullied by most of the internet. On Tuesday, Kimberly appeared on CBS News to protest her innocence: “Yesterday he was a hero, today the world hates us”, she said, in tears to match her son’s.

There are so many issues to parse here it is difficult to know where to begin. There’s an argument that the initial video should have stayed in the realm of social media and not been picked up by mainstream outlets at all. But viral stories are often an easy win for traditional media struggling for attention online (the Keaton story was the most read on the Guardian’s website when it was published), and some internet culture stories are genuinely important to deep-dive into. And in this case, when the celebrities picked it up, it became a news item that warranted publication.
Sign up to the Media Briefing: news for the news-makers
Read more

The fact that the mother uploaded the video should have perhaps raised some flags. But more so, reporting that she had made racist comments on an Instagram account, which has since been proved fake, should have been checked. It was also reported that Keaton made an apology on behalf of his mother – except that Instagram account was fake too. At my last count, I could find 15 fake Instagram accounts. It is an obvious tell when the accounts consist of just five photographs, all in the public domain (hence why professional troll accounts go back weeks and months, and in the case of many online Russian actors, years), but these comments were picked up by news outlets (although not the Guardian).

The story of Keaton Jones has become the perfect microcosm of mainstream outlets publishing social media events. Heartwarming social post; picked up by news outlets; major exposure; crowdfunding page set up; social media digging of story subjects; backlash; much fakery; major exposure … and so it goes on. As one wag put it, the Keaton Jones saga is “the most 2017 thing to happen in 2017”.

I don’t know if Keaton’s mum filmed the video as a stunt to raise money or if she is racist (she argued that she posed next to the flag in an “ironic” moment, meant to be “funny”), but much of the “evidence” against her has been debunked. Keaton also shouldn’t be held responsible for his mother’s actions. I’ll agree that his sister posing with a 9mm pistol isn’t a particularly good look, and I don’t know whether Keaton used the N-word against his classmates, but it shouldn’t be reported without a journalist bothering to find out the truth of it.

When the principal of Keaton’s school was finally contacted, he said that the bullying incident had been dealt with and didn’t mention any epithets on his part.

Many of us, including news outlets, are becoming aware of fake news when it is of a political nature, but fewer checks and balances seem to be in place when it comes to viral feelgood stories (witness multiple heart-tugging stories on homeless people being debunked). Perhaps lighthearted posts that stay in the realm of social media are not worthy of such scrutiny, but when they are turned into news stories, checks should be made, as in the case of important posts on social media (terrorism attacks, political and public interest posts). It is important too, to note that online smearing has become a powerful tactic. It has been widely questioned this morning how so many people could vote for the alleged paedophile and now-defeated candidate Alabama candidate Roy Moore. But those people didn’t vote for an alleged paedophile – they believed the accusations against Moore to be nothing more than a smear campaign.

Prevention is better than cure. Due process is better than correction. Who wants to be making the same kind of “Dewey Defeats Truman” mistake in 2017? Or be responsible for the downfall of an 11-year-old boy? We should be careful that in the rush for web traffic, we don’t end up car-crash reporting.