Holocaust By Attrition

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Plenty of people have compared Trump to Hitler, including me, but we’re not saying he’s currently equivalent to Hitler in the arena of mass murder. What we are saying is his rise to power resembles that of Hitler’s and other autocratic shitlords: a charismatic speaker scapegoating ethnic minorities coupled with a rise of populist nationalism under the guise supporting “law and order” and other bullshit that plays well. We’re saying Trump is probably just as warped and potentially dangerous as Hitler – though, and this is important, in somewhat different ways.

2017 and the 1930’s are very different times as are the modern United States and pre-Nazi Germany, so if the proverbial shit and fan scenario played out it would probably look different too. While we did round up Japanese Americans and it’s even been cited as a “precedent” by a Trump surrogate, in the age of instant communication and social media an executive action like that would be struck down by a judge before the ink dries and even without judicial intervention more than a few states would simply not comply. That’s not to say it’s impossible, just unlikely. But given a national security crisis like a terrorist attack the administration might have a viable avenue to try.

But Trump and Republicans are doing a lot of other things like cracking down on immigration by stepping up ICE raids. Rounding up “illegal” immigrants might sound great to some, but in practice not only is it super dickish to kick out decent, hard-working people, they deport Americans citizens regularly because it’s an entirely flawed system – it’s barely a real system at all. Conveniently, those are some of the exact type of people that have no place in Trump’s America.

However, it probably wont be through explicit and overt aggression by  the government that kill and imprison people. Congress and certain Trump appointees are attempting to legalize discrimination under self-righteous labels of “religious freedom” and “school choice,” which would allow businesses and schools to just opt out of accepting anyone who doesn’t meet their religious beliefs, or some other arbitrary standards. They’ve also decided that cutting virtually everything in the budget that’s not the military: this includes education, infrastructure investments, health and human services, the justice department, departments in charge of safety regulations, it’s literally almost everything – even fucking Meals on Wheels. And all the while that they’re doing this and trying to take away health insurance for tens of millions Americans, they’ll be giving tax breaks to themselves and corporate sponsors.

What we’ll be left with is a country with fewer social safety nets; increasing costs and barriers to education of decreasing quality which will surely give a boost to the school-to-prison pipeline; increasing water and food contamination akin to Flint thanks to no infrastructure investments and the slashing of safety regulations; unaffordable health insurance options; increased sentences for non-violent drug offenders if Jeff Sessions and private prison industry have their way, and the list goes on. The proposed Republican “healthcare” bill would potentially kill tens of thousands of people a year alone. Contaminated food and drinking water will certainly add to that number as will rising levels of poverty because of fewer social programs, a lack of quality education, rising costs, and falling wages.

These cuts and policy proposals will impact the poorest Americans and disproportionately hurt the elderly and people of color. Make no mistake, these cuts will ruin and take lives, it wont be the spectacle of evil like the Nazis with concentration camps and firing squads, but an insidious, silent rot slowly eating away the final remnants of the American Dream.

~D.T. Kukulkan~

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Betsy DeVos Against The World?

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Recently, one of the most questionable nominees in the Trump Cabinet gained the limited support necessary to be confirmed as Secretary of Education. The Senate vote resulted in 50-50 split, but Mike Pence fulfilling his duty as Vice President broke the tie and Betsy DeVos became confirmed as Secretary of Education.

She nearly lost the candidacy due to the lack of knowledge of what the job of Secretary of Education entailed. No Democrats, or Independents voted  in favor of DeVos and even two Republicans broke party lines to vote against DeVos. Senator Al Franken from Minnesota, during the over-night Senate protest before the nomination of DeVos, stated that she did not know what the job entailed as she gave him no real solution to fix the problems that are facing the Department of Education. Our own Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse went over the countless emails and letters that were sent to them to oppose Betsy Devos. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, and former Democratic Presidential Candidate, called out Devos’ family for funding Republicans with millions of dollars over the years which may be the real reason she was nominated to occupy an office in which she is unqualified to hold.

Although she won, the fight is far from over. DeVos has already has faced major challenges with the public and people have taken to the streets to oppose her. Protestors even managed to block DeVos from entering a school in D.C. to express their dissatisfaction with her confirmation. On other occasions, DeVos was met with opposition on Twitter. The tweets commonly remarked on the Secretary of Education’s inability to understand how the department works. However, many Conservatives, especially on the Far-Right, have stated that she will give more choice when it comes to parents deciding where their kids should go to school. The choices will include public, private, charter, and religious Schools. Although this seems as a good option, the concerns over privatizing education raises major concerns for Democrats.

Whatever the Republican Party and Donald Trump see in DeVos, many Americans including some Trump supporters do not support DeVos. Betsy DeVos has broken the record of receiving the least number of votes to be confirmed as Secretary of Education. This historic “tragedy,” or success in the eyes of many Conservatives, will inevitably lead to further issues between the two parties during the upcoming 2018. And if DeVos doesn’t fulfill her role in protecting education, the Senate and the House may end up looking very different. But in the end, only history will decide if Betsy DeVos will be remembered as an underdog succeeding despite her clear limitations, or as the worst, least qualified candidate to ever become Secretary of Education.

~Stephen Nelson~

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Fake News, Fake Problems: The Right’s Alt-Reality

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Republican, or more broadly conservative, issues are no longer real issues. The “issues” and talking points that seem most important to the Right include opposing progress and reality itself. Their reasons for believing some of the things they believe can only be malice or ignorance, though at a certain point there’s not really a difference.

The Republican Party’s biggest goals and accomplishments over the last eight years have not been to create jobs, or balance the budget, but to simply to oppose President Obama in every way. It was this singular goal they had in mind when they successfully stole President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, breaking their oaths to uphold the Constitution, denying the will of the American people and all that sounds an awful lot like treason. Now they will most likely get to stack the court with regressive justices who will side with corporations over the American people and polluters over our clean air and water.

Illegal immigration is a popular “issue” because they supposedly bring drugs and crime then steal American jobs – none of which is true, certainly not in any statistically significant sense. In fact immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native citizens, but they are incarcerated at a higher rate. The people who are bringing drugs and crime are part of the drug cartels, not immigrants, legal, or otherwise. Furthermore, no one can “steal” your job, an employer hires the person they believe is best to fill whatever position, so if there’s anyone to be angry at it’s the employer, or yourself for not being more qualified than an unskilled laborer who can’t speak English. This nonsense is often lobbed at immigrants as a whole rather than distinguishing between “legal” and “illegal” which is one of the red flags indicating xenophobia, “fear of the alien/foreign,” manifesting as more overt racism and scapegoating at the expense of certain ethnicities. Job insecurity, lack of job opportunities, and other economic hardships are very real problems; problems that just don’t have to do with immigrants; problems that do have to do with corporate welfare and profit hoarding, fifty plus years of stagnated wages combined with ever increasing living costs. Instead, Republicans blame immigrants for economic problems they are largely responsible for creating by deregulating financial institutions, refusing to raise the minimum wage, or take any action to make real progress.

Republicans still do not have a viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act, as in they do not have a plan so millions of people do not loose their health insurance, some of whom will die without it. They’ve been trying to repeal it since it passed in five years ago and have made the same amount of progress on their plans for a replacement.

More controversial than general healthcare, abortion is a difficult issue and a real issue worth discussing. A large majority of Americans support a woman’s right to have an abortion in at least some situations. It’s a minority of people who believe it should be illegal in all circumstances. And at present, it is a woman’s right to have an abortion. However, despite that Supreme Court decision, they have tried regulating abortion clinics into oblivion and requiring the women to jump through hoops. In other words, they are undermining the right’s women. However, conservative law makers take things in a very strange and illogical direction. If you’re pro-life certainly you’d want to reduce the need for abortions like funding comprehensive sex-ed instead of abstinence only programs, or free birth control, or at least making access to it easier, but instead fight to limit access to it. You might also expect pro-life law makers to want the child clothed, fed, and otherwise cared for and yet they cut and restrict access to assistance programs including those for single mothers.

The biggest conflict of interest with reality comes in the form of the conservative obsession of denying climate change, despite admittedly not being scientists. The scientific data on climate change is overwhelming and convincingly conclusive. There’s also the simple yet powerful photographic evidence of glacial and sea ice decline over the decades. There’s also the increasing commonality of extreme weather events ranging from floods to drought. There’s also the fact that almost every year becomes the hottest year on record. The Republican aversion to facts on this matter alone is disturbingly irresponsible at best. Instead of addressing the problem and investing in renewable energies they side with the fossil fuel companies and their lobbyists, who are responsible for funding climate denial to begin with and keep pushing for environmentally destructive pipelines for a toxic resource that’s just going to run out.

Apes In Charge

The conservative opposition to marriage equality is based solely in religious beliefs and since we are not a theocracy, religious arguments should have no bearing on secular laws.

Religious conservatives trying to keep evolution out of schools and replacing it with creationism: blatantly disregarding evidence to the detriment of their students’ education and our shared future.

Voter ID laws are meant to keep the opposition from voting, not protect democracy as they usually claim. Despite rumors and tweets from from the president, claims of actual voter fraud is so rare it might as well not as exist at all.

Most, if not all of the issues Republicans are fighting for aren’t real issues, they are fictions woven by special interests, propaganda, fake news and digital information bubbles and allowed to spread because of ignorance and our failing education system. It has gotten to the point where the president and his administration have began embracing “alternative facts.” Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, but if those beliefs are not rooted in reality and go on to directly contradict physical evidence your beliefs are holding us all back and more than deserving of ridicule.

~David T.K.~

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Conservatives: The Really Special Snowflakes

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It’s easy to throw out an ad-hominem attack to simply dismiss someone along with what they have to say. Most, if not all of us are guilty of ridiculing someone while ignoring their argument at some point, but we try not to make it a habit. Alas, certain right-wing “news” sources and individuals have literally made careers by passionately dismissing liberals as “special snowflakes” who live in “liberal bubbles,” require “safe spaces,” and have no emotions except for faux outrage and being “butthurt.” Unfortunately for many Trump supporters ranging from well spoken blondes full of hot air and fallacious arguments to the “Alt-Right,” – or as we called them before their rebranding, racists and Nazis – it is in fact they who are actually guilty of all the things they accuse liberals of.

Firstly, there’s a common misunderstanding among many conservatives and liberals alike about “safe spaces,” and “trigger warnings.” Granted, their are a number of probably well meaning, but ultimately extreme, or ridiculous instances “safe spaces.” But they’re mostly places for LGBTQ individuals, or members of a minority group, or anyone not considered “normal”, to go without fear of being judged. And it must be admitted that people belonging to these groups are often the targets of discrimination and hate far more often than straight, white men. “Safe spaces” when done right are really no different from the many forms they’ve taken before like man-caves, or men’s only clubs, or democracy in America before the 19th Amendment. “Trigger warnings” aren’t meant for people to avoid offense, but rather to avoid panic attacks and flash backs of traumatic events. You wouldn’t light off fireworks next to a veteran with PTSD without at least maybe giving a heads up. “Trigger warnings” are intended to be that heads up for survivors of sexual assault, or some other traumatic event. There’s bound to people who take these ideas to an extreme, or apply them to situations of minor and insignificant offense. These people then become conflated as the majority because the craziest are usually the loudest on any side.

Now with a few clarifications out of the way, we can address the blatant hypocrisies embedded within some of their favorite diminutive labels for liberals. Conservatives do seem to have a lot more names to call liberals than liberals have to call them, perhaps it simply shows what issues they spend their creative thinking on. Of the most popular are accusations of being “special snowflakes” who are fragile little creatures requiring special treatment because stupid things offend them. Tomi Lahren for instance believes the anti-Trump protestors are just mad because they didn’t get their way – which would be a petty reason to protest. But the protestors have legitimate reasons to be more than concerned about a Trump administration as each day continues to prove. Yet, Lahren and her ilk seem to be outrageously offended by the mere fact that so many people have a different point of view and used their freedom of speech and assembly to express it.

Among the list of conservative grievances there are actually a good number of incidents where real “butthurt” is presented: Starbucks cup controversies, Mike Pence’s Hamilton visit, a football player exercising his First Amendment rights, Saturday Night Live skits, Nordstrom’s purely business decision to pull Ivanka’s clothing line, and those are just some of the recent ones. But there is one form of protest that’s exceptionally likely to “trigger” a conservative: flag burning. When many conservatives see it happen they’ll lash out with threats, or actual violence while suggesting the act be criminalized despite two Supreme Court rulings protecting it under the First Amendment. Burning the American flag is disrespectful, but flying Confederate and Nazi flags – traitors and enemies of the United States that are responsible for the deaths of millions – for some of these same people is an entirely different story.

Lastly there’s the myth of the “liberal bubble,” and the “real America.” Liberals statistically can be found mostly on the coasts and clustered in and around cities. Meanwhile their conservative counterparts tend to cluster in isolated rural regions and the landlocked middle states. Some individuals claim they live in the “real America” versus some perverse alternative America. But there’s no “real” America; there’s no standard model, or something we’re supposed to go back to. If there can be any notion of the “real” America it must include the country as a whole. As for the “bubble” it’s not real either: cities may seem like isolated “bubbles,” but in reality cities are where the majority of the world’s population lives. Though small in area, cities have large and diverse populations; high population density; they, and the people living in them, have various personal and business connections around the world; they are centers of international trade, travel, and commerce; they’re literally the opposite of a proverbial, or literal, “bubble.”

However, that’s not to say there aren’t other regions that more closely resemble a “bubble.” Ironically, it’s where most conservatives live: isolated rural areas with small homogenous populations that are insulated from the rest of the world.

~David T.K.~

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Trump’s Border Wall Bullsh!t

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The proposal of building a nearly 2,000 mile border wall for the purposes of keeping illegal immigrants out of the country is, in short, infantile. At length, the proposal fails to understand not only the actual strategic function that walls provide, but history, economics, geography and logistics, therefore making it insulting to our intellect that we’d be expected to think this is even a real suggestion.

However, now that we are expected to take this idea seriously, it should be explained why we shouldn’t and instead reject it for the clownishly stupid idea it is. Perhaps most importantly is the simple fact it wont work. Now, despite being what most would consider “liberal” I have a dear fondness for walls as they do in fact keep me sheltered from the elements and provide a place for my things. They also serve to prevent strange people and animals from simply wandering in. However, they do not keep out animals, or people, that are actively attempting to enter: animals and insects get in, sometimes entirely by accident, and walls only slow down home invaders.

This leads us to the actual strategic purposes of walls. Walls can provide strategic cover which wont be needed on a border wall. Walls also provide defensive benefits be it for ancient towns, castles, or modern military fortifications. Some will insist that since castles and entire towns throughout much of history had walls and that we should too. However, unlike the walls in our homes, military fortifications are required to be manned in order to repel invading armies and they don’t always hold up. Fortifications like these were meant to force a costly siege, or to buy time: time to escape, or time for an allied force to arrive and dispel the enemy.

The subject of castles and ancient towns bring’s us to history which has brought us two notable large scale walls: the Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall as the northernmost border of the Roman Empire in what is now modern Britain. Hadrian’s Wall was less than one hundred miles long and took fourteen years to build. The Great Wall is over ten thousand miles long and was constructed over a period of two thousand years. The purpose of both walls was to keep out raiding barbarian hordes. Both had limited success even with soldiers garrisoned and patrolling them: the barbarians still broke through, or just went around. They both ended up as expensive ruins that failed in their explicit purpose.

The construction of a border wall would also likely isolate small pieces of US land on the southern side of the wall because basic geography and logistics, like what happened to this golf course in Texas. Rivers, like the Rio Grande, don’t flow in linear patterns and thus our border with Mexico isn’t linear. There would be spots where logistics necessitate the wall be a certain distance from the river and would thus sequester some small areas of the US on Mexico’s side of the wall. Furthermore, construction along the Rio Grande would destroy crucial habitats for some endangered species while desecrating sacred native sites, but these haven’t stopped smaller fences from being erected and doing everything I just mentioned.

Finally, there’s economic cost. The construction alone cost more than twenty billion dollars, not including at least that much money every year after for maintenance. We will pay for every mismanaged cent through our taxes, not Mexico. And should we implement import tariffs we’ll be picking up the inflated cost on those imports as well.

The wall would cost us billions, upon billions of dollars and could be defeated by ropes and ladders and that’s if they don’t just take a plane and overstay their VISA.

~David T.K.~

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Trump Is Going Full Hitler

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Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump! If you say his name three times in a mirror he’ll call you a loser on Twitter. His ubiquitous presence in the news is hard to escape, but escaping is the last thing we should be doing, both metaphorically and literally. We need to pay attention more than ever before because Trump’s rise to and use of power have always been at least Hitler adjacent while always moving closer to going full Hitler – and you never go full Hitler.

There have been many voices, particularly on the left, calling out now President Garrison Trump and his continued authoritarian rhetoric during the campaign. These voices we’re all assured by his supporters “Oh, he won’t actually do it,” or “He’s just saying things to get elected,” or, my personal favorite “He didn’t mean it, he was just joking.” We’re only on week two and got not just the Muslim ban – proving those comforting voices to be yugely wrong, but we also got the dangerous positioning of Trump loyalists in key positions of power like Steve Super Racist Bannon, a white nationalist propagandist and founder of the “Alt-Right” rag Breitbart “News,” to the National Security Council. And apparently that’s the council that decides important shit like which American citizens need to be killed with drones. These aren’t opinions, they are facts. Though my opinion of the facts is evident, it doesn’t change the dangerous reality.

So here we are, we voted to get into a car that’s driven by an angry chimpanzee under the attempted direction off zoo keepers at the edge of a cliff. Or maybe, the angry chimp is smarter than I give him credit for. Either way, we cannot relegate the people warning us of an impending authoritarian state to suffer Cassandra’s curse any longer. He’s following in the footsteps of dictators before him that rose to power in free and democratic nations. And don’t forget, almost every president has expanded the power of the executive branch to some degree, unfortunately all that cumulative power is now in the hands of an idiot con-man at best.

The entire situation get’s worse when you consider that both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republicans – the same Republicans who hijacked the Supreme Court. Why that hasn’t been a much bigger story I don’t know. One political party went against the explicit instructions of the Constitution and denied to even vote on Obama’s nominee. They were even making plans to refuse a vote on Clinton’s nominee had she won. Basically, Senate Republicans were able to take control of another branch of government while undermining the authority of the President and the Constitution. But hey, both parties have been chipping away at the Constitution for years in their own ways so it was only a matter of time before they start ignoring altogether. It was also just a matter of time before we elected someone who would take full advantage of the preexisting cumulative executive powers while pushing the boundaries even further.

What does this leave us with? We have a tense, divided populous with one party controlling all three branches of government after two hundred plus years of power grabs and Constitutional erosion. Both significant portions of the population and government now openly scapegoat minorities and a known racist is going to be on the National Security Council. Keep these things in mind for this next scenario: Trump does something dickish, dumb, and or dangerous, or police shoot another black man for no reason again. Protests are held, but turn into riots – perhaps spontaneously, or perhaps through police instigation. Trump will then “send in the Feds,” or declare martial law in predominately “urban” areas. Or maybe activists and community leaders start “disappearing” because people like Bannon have labeled them a “threat to national security.”

We’re a very angry, divided nation with the most controversial president we’ve ever had and it’s not the usual course of history for such high tensions to just evaporate. We need to keep watching and resisting Trump’s agenda, but we need to also be prepared just in case he goes full Hitler.

~David T.K.~

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2017: A List Of Mostly Dire Predictions

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I’d originally written this at the end of December and thought I’d scheduled it to post on New Year’s Day. It didn’t. Then I debated posting it all and forgot about it. I came upon it again while cleaning up my desktop, made a few updates and figured why not?

… … …

Can we be optimistic about the rest of the new year? Certainly, but it’d be reckless. This year will be, in every way, the sequel to the instant horror classic that’s been 2016. Maybe you’ll claim I’m being pessimistic to which I’ll just say realist, so hear me out first. Now, who am I to make predictions? I’m not sure, but the “experts” got the entire campaign season wrong, so why not give it a shot? My predictions will also be slightly more detailed than my centuries old predecessor, the famed prognosticator Nostradamus the Vague.

Racism will get worse. There are racists out there who support and are emboldened by president Trump, like the KKK and Neo Nazis. Racist acts of aggression and vandalism will spike around inauguration day, but plateau at a rate higher than previous years.

Conversely, counter protests and demonstrations will increase. More than a few of these will turn into riots and the movement condemned as a whole by many, be it Black Lives Matter, Anti-Trump protestors, or whomever. Protestors will be beaten, pepper sprayed, maced, and the works over by law enforcement, but violence will be committed on all sides.

President Trump will shake up world stability and break it, if not it 2017, then before his term is up. His actions and even his Tweets now impact international diplomatic relations. At the very least, he’ll break whatever norms are in place and no one will know what to expect which is itself enough to put everyone on edge. There are lots of potential spots for conflict just waiting for their Franz Ferdinand moment.

Access to abortions and women’s health facilities more broadly, will be under siege and increasingly difficult to find. Millions of people will lose their healthcare, social programs will be cut, poverty and homeless will surge.

Wildfires will blaze through forests and towns in, but not limited to, the American west. There’s the increasing probability of a great Appalachian wildfire, so much so it’s destined to become the new seasonal expectation.

In connection to, and really preceding, the wildfires are extended drought. Temporary relief may come, but for California and other areas like the northern Appalachians the seasons just wont bring as much rain as they used to.

Storms and sea surges will cause massive flooding all along the east coast. There’ll be fatalities, displaced populations, and billions of dollars in damage.

It will be the hottest year ever recorded, because that happens like every year now.

There will be no northern sea ice left by the end of summer.

More famous people will die.

The beginning of another Great Recession (at best) by the beginning of 2018.

The police will kill more than 100 unarmed black men.

A mass shooting will happen every few months to every few weeks on average.

Certain rights will be threatened, specifically ones like marriage equality, voting rights, and freedom of the press.

We’ll also see more videos of police doing good things, protestors hugging cops, people saving animals, and they’ll be other good things too, probably. Just statistically speaking at least, right? But it wont be enough to turn the tide of incoming category 5 shit-storm that’s about to hit the fan.

Does any of that sound unrealistic? Or are you thinking it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or an expert political analyst to make those predictions?

You’re right. I’ll probably post a slightly updated version of it for my predictions of 2018. But, that’s also why I’ve made a few very specific ones, so just in case they come true you an say you read it here first!

NASA will announce the discovery of an aquatic alien fossil on Mars.

A small, but powerful meteor will strike a populated area.

A devastating solar storm on par with the Carrington Event will hit the Earth.

An entire city will be swallowed the sea. Maybe a few.

And the Patriots will win the Super Bowl.

Even if only a handful, or fewer come to pass that’d still make me more accurate than most prognosticators and analysts during the entire campaign season.

~David T.K.~

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