Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Accessories to the Crime

I know some will criticize me, but I think Randy in Coon Rapids, my radio show's regular far right caller, who extolls his love of all things Trump, Republicans and Tea Party, might be starting to come around.

The last few months, ever since Trump won, Randy's been one of those Republicans who, when confronted by things Trump said he was going to do if he won, has insisted President Trump really wouldn't do them.  In November, after I asked him if he was happy the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security were all going away, there was a moment where you could hear the gears of his mind turn.  His long dormant brain was finally saying, "wait a second...if Trump actually follows through on his campaign promise, it'd be horrible for me and my family."  It was a light being turned on, albeit too late, as Randy and the rest of the Trump voters had already given Trump the keys to the White House, without ever thinking about the consequences.

Yesterday, Randy called in to defend Trump's horrific Immigration plan.  He took the position, if we knew drug dealers were coming into the country, wouldn't we stop them at all costs?  It's a typical Republican stupid argument; take a real threat, apply it to your unrelated mistake and make it seem like what you're doing is a far more nobel than it actually is.  It's the Jack Bauer/24 thought process.  "Sure torturing someone is horrible, but there's a nuke in LA!  Wouldn't you do anything to stop a nuke?  We're righteous in our crimes against humanity!"

I caught Randy up with a simple question:  "Randy, what does a drug dealer look like?"  Randy, realizing he couldn't describe the African American or Latino hulk he clearly imagined when he thought of a drug dealer as it would expose his racism, conceded it was a bad analogy, but then quickly went back to defending the Immigration plan.  When I pointed out the terrorist who just struck in Canada was a white guy, he, getting heated, insisted I just proved his point.  He proclaimed blanket bans are the right strategy, not realizing he just called for banning all white men of European descent from entering the US.  He then angrily screamed the ban was about safety, ignoring the valid point guns kill far more people than terrorists every year in America, so if this is about safety, we need to start there (and then buses, lawnmowers and toddlers).

To give Republicans like Randy a little leeway, they're waking up, realizing there's a big difference between a theory of what would happen, verses the reality of implementing said new rule.  Trump voters were solely motivated by their hatred of Hillary, Obama and the Democrats, not by the policies of their party, and are now in shock as what they were screaming for at political rallies is now being implemented.  They're realizing Trump's solutions aren't going to work.  

This is why many Republicans are now VERY quiet.  They know they've made a tremendous mistake, BUT they can't jump the final hurdle, a hurdle Randy and the rest of the Republican voters have been brainwashed into never attempting to jump; criticizing a Republican politician.

If Republican voters don't immediately start getting very vocal about their disappointment in THEIR President, not only will these horrible policies continue to ramp up, but Trump voters won't be able to distance themselves from them.  YOU voted for Trump! YOU'RE watching what he's doing! YOU'RE choosing to remain silent, not condemning the easily condemnable.  YOU'RE accessories to the crime.

In the old south, there were a handful of whites at lynchings who felt remorse and shame for what had happened, but who never spoke out about the abhorrent racist mob injustice.  They were quiet, and, while being silent, they were still part of the lynch mob.  They were just as guilty, and NOTHING will ever change that fact.  

To Randy and all Trump voters regretting your November vote (but...but...but...E-MAILS!); the scorn and ridicule you're keeping in your hearts, out of fear of violating a ridiculous, right wing created standard of 'no criticism of thy own party,' needs to be shared, loudly and publicly. To do so doesn't mean you're a bad Republican.  It means your a decent human.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Death of Christianity/President Trump, Week 1

On my show yesterday, I read off a laundry list of first week 'accomplishments' from our new President, Donald Trump:
  • Changed the rules on home loans, making a 200K loan cost $500 more a year
  • The Press Secretary's first meeting with the press was about how they're all dishonest, and how the crowd size of the Inauguration was much larger than it actually was
  • The President is using an unsecured smart phone tied to a non-government e-mail address
  • It was discovered the vast majority of the Trump Administration is still using non-governmental, non-secured e-mail addresses
  • Lays the groundwork to destroy the EPA
  • Follows through on his incredibly expensive, and misguided, border wall
  • Brings back waterboarding, torture and black sites
  • Endorsed a GOP move to make Abortion more expensive
  • Started the process of removing healthcare (the ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security)  for millions without a replacement plan in place
  • Pulls funding from Sanctuary cities, insisting you need to harass people in Trump's America
  • Pushes forward the illegal voter lie, even going as far as to insist every one of the millions of illegal votes was for Hillary.
  • Starts profiteering at Mar-a-Lago
  • Orders many governmental agencies to not share ANY information with the public without direct approval from the Administration
  • It took Trump two days to declare parts of Mississippi and Georgia as disaster areas after tornadoes ravaged them
  • He threatened to invade Chicago
  • Insulted fallen CIA agents with a inappropriate speech at their memorial
  • Endorsed the declaring of millions of acres of Federal land worthless, so they can be sold off
  • Approved new pipelines, even as multiple ones are spilling their contents 
  • Seriously damaged relations with our third biggest trading partner Mexico
  • The Press Secretary tweeted his personal password for non-secured accounts, TWICE!
  • Insisted Philadelphia had a skyrocketing murder rate, when it's actually gone down dramatically
  • Started a trade war with Mexico when he threw a public temper tantrum
  • Showed he doesn't understand the difference between 'imports' and 'exports'
  • Had his chief advisor order the media to keep their mouths shut
  • We find out his illegal voters fraud story is based on a racial tinged story from a German golfer
  • Misspells the British Prime Ministers name, confusing her with a porn star
  • Leading a united Republican Party in refusing to acknowledge the mountains of evidence that the Russians tampered with the election of 2016
  • Implies ISIS, Saturday Night Live and Madonna were all equal in their evilness
  • Has his likely European Union Ambassador imply he's will destroy the EU
  • Honors Holocaust Remembrance Day by not mentioning the Jewish people, but instead calling for rounding up other people
  • Has his new UN ambassador openly threaten the rest of the UN.
That's an insane list.  If Hillary Clinton was the President (she did get 2.9 million more votes), and decided to do the same things as Trump, how many of those actions would've lead to immediate scorn from every news outlet in America?  How many would've lead to demands for immediate hearings from House and Senate Republicans?  How many of the actions would've lead to Republican politicians screaming on the floor of Congress, demanding an impeachment hearing to begin due haste?

But it was something that happened after my show yesterday which should cause all Americans to hang their heads in shame.  Trump followed through with his promise to stop Muslims from entering the country by signing an Executive Order which immediately installed a new set of rules, creating a religious litmus test for people entering the USA, specifically singling out Syrians fleeing their war torn country as Public Enemy #1.  The mind boggling order still allows people from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and United Arab Emirates, countries where the 9/11 terrorists came from, to enter the country, due to Trump's personal business relationships with those countries.  The list of countries forbidden reads as hate rhetoric, written by Republicans who now believe it as gospel.  Trump gleefully congratulated himself, soaking up the accolades of racists, bigots and Islamaphobes, as he high-fived the notion of stopping a Syrian family, a family who had gone through our extensive screening process, from relocating to Cleveland, a destination they were supposed to reach on Tuesday.  As of this morning, agents at our airports are freely and openly harassing all Muslims.  134 million people have been labeled terrorists solely for their religious beliefs, and have been banned from entering the United States.

Yesterday, Christianity died in America.

It didn't die because our President installed Immigration policy which will stand in infamy with slavery, the Trail of Tears and Japanese interment camps.

It didn't die because America decided to no longer be a symbol of hope, and instead decided to wallow in fear, becoming a delusional, crazed, sweaty, nervous zealot who sits alone in his basement surrounded by his guns, insisting he's safe.

It didn't die because America is no longer a Super Power.  Super Powers don't have elections openly controlled by outside countries, and Super Powers sure as heck don't allow other countries, countries with only a small percentage of our population and resources, to lead, as we retreat to the back of the line.

Christianity died in America on January 27th, 2017, when jubilant, angry, racist-tinged fanatics, people who insist they're driven by their Christian principles, cheered as their Demi-God Trump personally stiff armed refugees from a war torn country, telling them there's no sanctuary for 'their kind' in the USA.  He hung a 'No Muslims Allowed' sign on the door, telling the world, "there's no room at the Inn."  This in what was supposed to be the beacon of freedom and liberty on the planet.

A lot of Christians purposely ignore 95% of the Bible to validate their 'Christian' vote for a Republican politician, politicians who are only using them to gain power.  The issue they use is abortion, but Republican politicians won't ever make abortion illegal, just more expensive, so their bankrollers can still have them. Wealthy people abortions are still abortions, and if you insist you're pro-Life, and you stand by Republican policy on this, you're a massive hypocrite.

But your personal feelings about abortion should only be a part of your Christian faith.  There are a lot of other teachings too, many of which are openly violated by Republicans and Trump.  Christianity was never meant to be an outrage buffet, where you get to pick and choose which parts you want to be outraged by, while passing on the other parts (hunger, homelessness, heath care, the sick, the needy, refugees).  You're the ones screaming about how Christian you are as you eyeball the anti-gay chocolate fountain, passing by the build your own 'help the leper' sundaes.

If you're a 'Christian' who's cheering on what happened yesterday, you're a heretic; a Republican   trying to bathe in fake piety.  You've finally gotten to the point where you're openly rooting against Jesus Christ and his teachings, while insisting you define what it means to be Christian.  This weekend, plenty on 'Christian' leaders will preach about how divine and spiritual Trump and his actions are.  They'll scour their Bibles for bits and pieces of passages they can take out of context and misquote to religiously validate the political beliefs of their parishioners.  They'll insist Jesus would approve of denying the needy help.

This weekend, many 'Christians' will gladly take the role of hammering Jesus to the Cross, telling him how putting the nails in his hands and feet is really the spirit of Jesus' own teachings...

Yesterday, Christianity died in America.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Friday Link for 1/27/17

Oh for God's sake...

I knew it was going be bad, but this first week of the Trump Presidency has been a historic disaster.  The only saving grace is it seems his devout Republican following is starting to crack.  The insistence of a much larger inauguration crowd than what everyone's eyes saw, the claims of 'millions of illegitimate votes which happened to be all for Hillary but can't be proven' debacle, and the near trade war with our third largest trading partner because of a temper tantrum, has caused many Republicans to start doing some internal retrospective.  Maybe voting for a person because they make your opponent upset wasn't the best strategy after all.

It's only going to get worse.  If we ever do come back from this moment, there will be a lot of people who are going to have a hard time explaining the political immaturity we're witnessing today.  Me?  I'll just say what I've been saying since 11/8:  Racists and Idiots...

For a laugh, and we all could use one, I will turn it over to one of Television's greatest buffoons, Michael Scott from The Office.


As you watch this, realize that in all of his foolishness, Michael Scott would be a better President than Donald Trump...YIKES.

Try to have a great weekend.

Diminishing Returns

Let me take a quick break from the Trump nightmare to talk about the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club nightmare.  This offseason, the team has done NOTHING!  They have not signed any free agents worth mentioning, and even said goodbye to Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe, two players who might not have been great, but contributed with consistent play at their positions, and clutch hits in the few times the Twin's had run producing innings.

The team is a mess, and they still have yet to address their biggest problem, Joe Mauer and his unjustifiable contract.

Mauer has the 15th biggest contract in all of baseball.  He's scheduled to get paid $23 million in 2017 and again in 2018.  He has the 96th best batting average in baseball, he's 116th in hits, and ties with Kurt Suzuki for RBI's at 172nd.  He's 31st in On Base Percentage, which isn't bad, but when factored with his pathetically weak slugging percentage, his OPS (On base Plus Slugging) is at 102nd.  His home run total is 11, and ties him for 201st in MLB, behind Trevor Plouffe and three ahead of the aforementioned Suzuki.

And, undeniably, Mauer is the worst everyday starting 1st basemen in all of Major League Baseball.  He's not even ranked on ESPN or MLB's 1st basemen rankings.  In Fantasy Leagues, he ranks around 40th, and there are only 30 teams!   He's out of position, A LOT, and doesn't understand the nuances of 1st base.  He's a catcher.  I think he must've fallen in love with Brad Pitt's advice in Moneyball, when he said "it's easy to play 1st," not hearing the other character's response, "it's incredibly hard."  He can't play first!!! And this dog and pony show has ruined too many good players by shifting them away from their lifelong 1st base positioning, away from the spotlight glare the Twins are determined to bestow on Joe.

Here's the worst part.  Joe Mauer is a professional.  He knows he can't handle the position, but yet he's not doing what's best for the team and telling the coach to move him out.  Nope, he seems more concerned about his image than about winning.  Mauer playing first costs the team a few wins each year.

The Twin's have made him the face of the franchise, and that's worth some additional coin, but at this point, he's not Killebrew, Carew, Puckett, or even Morneau.  He had seven good seasons, but his last one was 2013, and he's plummeting in the rankings.  His player ranking the last two years has been #200 to #250, and when the 2017 rankings are released in the next few weeks, he'll probably be closer to #300.

For God's sake Twins, FIX THIS NOW!  I get it, you've tied the team to him, so, even though no other team wants him, getting rid of him really isn't an option.  There are three paths I see.

1) If he really is healthy, then offer to renegotiate his contract, tack on another 4 years (no one will offer him that), fix his salary at 12 million a year (he really is worth $8, but we're working with the horrible contract he currently does have, and he is a fan favorite).  Load the contract with performance bonuses, but make sure the contract is contingent on him moving to right field/DH.

2) If he's not healthy enough to play right field, if he's willing to renegotiate his contract, give him two more years, he moves to full time DH, and make his salary 13 million per year. Load the contract up with bonuses, but he needs to understand his days as the Twins regular first baseman are over.

3) Regardless of whether he's healthy or not, if he doesn't want to renegotiate and/or move to a different position, then have the guts to let the contract expire and let him go.  Sure you might end up with a Killebrew in Kansas City powder blue moment, but no one will offer him decent money.  He'll come back to the Twins, and you can sign him to a four year, 8 million a year contract so he finishes his career in Minnesota.

Until the Twins get out from underneath his horrendous contract, the team will stink, and I'll continue to be relegated to wondering what our roster would be if we hadn't discarded all of those players just to keep Joe Mauer happy, and paid.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Betsy DeVos is, without a doubt, the worst White House Administration nominee I've ever seen.  She's so grossly unqualified for the position she's being considered for (Secretary of Education), anyone who does vote for her is making a strong argument THEY should immediately be removed from government.  This is an anti-Public School zealot, who used her family's wealth to make political donations, and in turn got rewarded with a plumb cabinet nomination.  She knows absolutely NOTHING about our current education system in the US!  The fact the GOP didn't reject her immediately is stunning, but they, knowing her qualifications are incredibly skeptical, changed the hearing rules to forbid anyone from asking follow up questions during her nightmarish confirmation hearing.

I want to give everyone a stark look at what our public education system will be like under her reign, but first:
  • Betsy DeVos is for 'School Choice.'  This term is used to describe taking money from the public school system and funneling it into schools run by for-profit companies, mostly charter schools.  Charter schools are the main focus of this education philosophy, as most private and religious schools are one or two school operations.  Some of the larger charter school companies run over a hundred schools, nationwide.  These people run schools as businesses.
  • 'Open Enrollment' is different from School Choice, as Open Enrollment mainly refers to enrolling in a different public school option.  Most School Choice advocates I've talked with are against public schools completely.
  • Every School Choice advocate I've ever talked with despises the teacher's unions.
  • School Choice was NEVER meant for an entire school district to participate in, but for 15-20% of a school district only, designed predominately for the wealthier, white students.  It's not financially possible to offer 100% of a public school's student body a School Choice/Open Enrollment option.
  • School Choice/Open Enrollment doesn't make public schools better.  It funnels tax payer money to handful of private companies/public school districts.  The public schools left behind have less money, less staff, and less resources.
  • There's no successful education model in the world where you're able to educate a student body better with less money, less staff and less resources.  NONE!
  • Charter schools do a poorer job overall at educating kids verses Public Schools, when compared in fair, unbiased studies. 
Okay, let's look at what education will look like if Betsy DeVos takes over.

Outstate Schools - The public school districts in outstate America will be devastated.  Due to the sparser population, school districts will be trimmed by half to 2/3rds.  Rural areas will likely have only one school district per county.  There will be some private, religious or charter school options, but they'll have higher out of pocket expenses, costs beyond having to drive your child 30 minutes one way just to get to the school.  The remaining public schools will be woefully underfunded, with class sizes of 30 to 50 kids, limited classes beyond the base curriculum, no advanced education, physical education, special needs education or art/music education.  The public school's main goal will be to teach an annual test, and that's it.

Inner City Schools - Inner city schools will be consolidated further, potentially leading to a single education 'compound' for an entire city's public school body.  Class sizes will be astronomical, 50-100 per class.  There will be charter school options, but since their quality is subpar, students will be worse off.  Open enrollment will be a mass exodus.  Similar to outstate schools, classes will be limited to a base curriculum, with no STEM classes, no physical education, extremely limited special needs education and art/music classes will be gone.  As with outstate schools, the main goal will be to teach an annual test, and that's it.

Suburban Schools - Suburban public schools feel safer, due to their high tax base and high incoming open enrollment population, but Betsy DeVos is an advocate of private school vouchers, and easing school district tax requirements.  Currently, parents of a child who live in a suburban school district, but who attends a private school, still pay property taxes to fund public schools.  DeVos wants to cut that by up to a 90%.  This will dramatically eliminate suburban public school revenue.  Vouchers mean suburban public school district's will offset tuition costs of private school kids.  Just like Wisconsin, many of the private school vouchers will end up in the hands of the wealthiest families, meaning middle class tax payers will be subsidizing private school education for the wealthy.  With quality decreasing, more suburban kids will opt for private, religious and charters schools. DeVos' butchery will affect all communities, including Minnetonka, Wayzata, Edina and Woodbury.  The suburban districts might have a few extra curriculum perks, but just like outstate and inner city schools, their main goal will revolve around teaching an annual test.

Annual Testing/ Teachers - Annual testing's primary goal won't be educating kids, rather punishing teachers.  The ability for a teacher to mold the education to the individual student will cease to exist.  Betsy DeVos will wage a war on the teacher's unions, much like they did in Wisconsin.  She'll enact national tenure restrictions and weaken education requirements to become a teacher.  Federal funding will dry up, meaning massive layoffs of the most experienced educators.  DeVos has to get rid of the union to be able to enforce her most Draconian policy; the eventual whole scale closure of many public schools.

The Classes - Quality education will be replaced with kids taking test, after test, after test.  Textbooks will be rewritten to reflect a specific political slant.  STEM will cease being taught, and basic science, mathematics and English will be streamlined.  For students who have trouble with the tests, their classes will be replaced with mop buckets, rakes and brooms, with the eventual goal of funneling those kids out of school and into low paying, manual labor jobs.  And school lunches will become deep fried, processed crap.

Betsy DeVos' goal is to break the public school system once and for all, pushing middle and upper class kids into charter schools, where billionaire CEO's can rake in the profit, and pushing lower income kids out onto the street.  Elections have consequences, and white rural Americans and suburbanites who voted for Trump, who foolishly thought the pain would be limited to the more liberal, ethnic areas of the country, will soon realize they're going to suffer, too.

Imagine a President puts forward a candidate to run the National Parks.  The candidate A) has never been to a National Park, B) hates the idea of National Parks, C) hates all Park Rangers and Park employees, wanting them all fired, and D) has an ultimate goal of giving away all of the National Park land to their friends.  Yikes.  This is how Betsy DeVos is approaching becoming Secretary of Education.  

If the GOP pushes her though, Betsy DeVos will be the end of quality public education in America.  She has to be stopped.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Friday Link for 1/20/17

I do think it's hilarious no one showed up for Trump's party.  The images today were stark.  Those crowds were more akin to when most people got to the Inauguration via horse and buggy.  The Hopkins Raspberry Festival Parade has far more spectators than the Inauguration Parade had.

And a reminder, the people who voted for him REALLY think he's FAR more popular than Obama.  Pardon me...


Warning Adult content ahead!  Let's start turning those frowns upside down with this appropriate gem from Monty Python:

Then for the next hour, click below for a full 2016 Patton Oswald special.  It will make life better:

I'm going to sleep, like I have for the last two and a half months, hoping I wake up to realize this is just some sort of weird freaking nightmare...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Teetering on the See Saw

We're at the end.  President Obama will leave office tomorrow at 11 AM local time, and President Trump will begin what will likely be his only term in office immediately afterwards.

Tomorrow, as Trump is forever desecrating the Lincoln Bible with his tiny, urine covered hands, there will be an immediate shift in this country. A lot of Republicans, who feel very strongly about certain issues, will instantaneously change their opinion, taking the polar opposite opinion in mere seconds.  You might even get whiplash.  Here are some examples:

The Deficit:  (Up until 11 AM local time tomorrow) Under Obama, Republicans constantly railed against the Deficit.  It didn't matter the Deficit was created by W. Bush, who made sure all of his initiatives (Iraq War, Afghanistan War, the Medicare Part D expansion, upper class tax cuts he paid for by borrowing money from China with an IOU) purposely had the bills come due January of 2009.  It also didn't matter President Obama had a Republican House and Senate for six years who insisted on NEVER working with him on anything, and it didn't matter Obama had dramatically slowed the rate of increase on new debt single handedly. Nope, the GOP insisted the Deficit was the WORST THING EVER! (Immediately after 11AM local time tomorrow) Deficits will be a necessary evil in our modern world.  We all have credit cards, why not the Federal government too?  And the more money we owe, the better; let's triple or even quadruple the deficit.  There is no need to worry about the Deficit anymore!

Qualifications:  (Up until 11 AM local time tomorrow) Under Obama, it didn't matter the position the appointee was being considered for, unless they were over qualified, they wouldn't even be considered.  Not only did the pedigree need to be pristine, but they also had to provide a complete list of every cent they ever earned and how it was spent.  They had to provide 7 years of tax returns, comply with a full background investigation, and submit themselves for numerous committee screenings.  Even then, if the GOP didn't like how an appointee looked, they'd proudly reject them as unqualified.  (Immediately after 11AM local time tomorrow) Background checks, Schmakground Checks!  The only thing we need is the word of the President!  No need for anything further, like tax returns, conflicts of interest reports, or education and experience information.  And if the appointee displays zero knowledge of the position they're being considered for, any concern is just the Democrats and sour grapes!

Religion: (Up until 11 AM local time tomorrow) Unless the President is running every decision, bill, initiative, speech and breath through a litany of Christian clergy, approved by the most far right extremist Christians today, he's a secret Muslim, looking to hand over this great country to the Muslim Brotherhood...any day now...(Immediately after 11AM local time tomorrow) Where did this religious litmus test talk come from?  How unfair to question a person's private religious beliefs.  And who cares about a President with a disturbing list of extremely anti-Christian actions.  The Bible says forgive, and we've decided NOW we shall.

There are many more examples, too many to write about tonight.  This is the modern GOP.  They're soulless, empty people, many with a racist slant; greedy money worshippers with no morality, extremely inconsistent religious beliefs, and a mentality more fitting of the villain in a professional wrestling drama, as opposed to reality.  They only want to see Democrats cry; so much so, they're purposely trying to hurt us all to make it happen.

I guarantee I'll have a tremendous amount of things to write about for the next four years.  The fight to save America begins at 11 AM tomorrow.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dear 'Anti-' Christian Churches, You're Doing It Wrong

***Religious disclaimer***

I'm Catholic.  You do or don't do whatever religion (or no religion at all) you do or don't want to...

I recently had one of my right wing Christian friends (a huge Trump supporter) file a Twitter post about how the hosts go the HGTV show Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines, were being wrongly persecuted because they attended an Anti-Gay Church, in this case Antioch Community Church, a church whose leaders have expressed a position of anti-gay rights and anti-gay overall.  The gist of my friend's argument was these two were being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs, how Antioch and similar churches wanting to criminalize being GLBTQ wasn't the problem; it's the people offended by such bigotry (like the GLBTQ community and their supporters) who are the real problem.  Okay...

As a Christian, and a Catholic, the specifics of the Gaines' plight isn't what perplexed me, but rather a skimmed over element of the story:

How is there an 'Anti-' anything Christian church?

These 'Anti-' anything Christian churches sicken me.  They purposely ignore the teachings of Jesus Christ and his powerful message of love and acceptance.  The 'anti-' church leaders, human beings not divine entities, people who have strong personal feelings against a certain group of people, try to add provenance to their personal hatred by incorporating a Christian angle, painting their hatred and phobia as something pious and divine.  They usually do this by purposely misquoting the Bible, purposely removing the context of certain passages to try to make them fit an individual person's hatred, or purposely relying heavily on passages which are not direct teachings from Jesus Christ (Usually Paul's letters and Leviticus) to offset the actual teachings of Jesus Christ.

A great example of this twisting of Christianity to fit a conservative message is the way pro gun people like to talk about Jesus telling the disciples to go buy swords, insisting Jesus is telling everyone to arm themselves.  The pro gun kooks always leave out the reason for Jesus' command to carry weapons, so the disciples would look like criminals and thugs (nothing about 'Stand your Ground').  Eventually, Jesus ordered his followers to drop their weapons, because if you live by the sword, you die by the sword.  This clear anti-weapon message from Jesus has been outright ignored.  Some churches even, proudly(?), encourage their parishioners to lock and load for church service.

To be an 'anti-' church, a message of hatred, bigotry, misogyny, religious intolerance and fear needs to be preached in some official capacity.  'Anti-' churches have sermons, lectures, or various group meetings, where the main message is a condemnation of whatever they're  'anti-'.  At some point during their hate speech, they attempt to legitimize the hate pep rally within Christianity by pulling a proverbial Hail Mary.  They put on an earnest smile and insist, "Even though I'm screaming these people are Satan's foot soldiers, let me be very clear, I don't hate them!  I love them! The church tells me to love, so clearly I'm not the problem, they are!"  My goodness...

If you're Christian, you believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, meaning you believe in his teachings (as laid out very clearly in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and his teachings should take priority in your Christian life.  He never once condemned gays, not once.  Not only that, he tells us very clearly to turn the other cheek, welcome in strangers from strange lands, feed the hungry and to LOVE EACH OTHER!  You can't be 'anti-' anything and be Christian, according to Jesus.  And no!  The leader of your church who hates gays, feels interracial marriage is unnatural, feels wealthy people are more divine, Muslims are all terrorists, and women should be barefoot and pregnant, their personal feelings don't override base Christian doctrine!

We all have the right to have our own personal feelings.  Nothing can stop that.  But just because you desperately want to make your personal bigotries mainstream doesn't make the people offended by your hate the bad guys. And stop trying to use a religion based on love and compassion to validate your hatred.  Jesus would not be amused.  Only the most evil of human beings tries to take the teachings of love and acceptance from Jesus Christ and turn them into a thesis of hate.  If your Christian church is doing this, they're doing it wrong!

I'm no angel.  I'm a sinner, just like everyone else, and, in my belief system, I'll have to answer for my actions when I move on.  One thing I won't have to answer for is usurping the teachings of Jesus, supplanting his teachings with my personal feelings, and then trying to sell it to the masses as, "See, my hatred is sanctimonious as Jesus agrees with my racism/hatred/bigotry!"  I also won't have to answer why I purposely ignored a large portion of the Bible to make my political leaders more angelically palatable.  And, I won't pretend to be Christian for one hour a week, and then immediately forget most of what I worship for the next 167.

My priest, Father Bill, made this statement on Sunday morning, "The Bible tells us to love everyone, and to not hate anyone."  Amen!  The anti-'s you should be as a Christian are anti-hate, anti-poverty, anti-discrimination, anti-shaming, anti-relucatnace, anti-injustice, anti-war, anti-conflict, and anti-wealth worshipping.  It's all right there, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

If you profess to be a Christian, it's time to stop listening to the people telling you who you need to hate, and it's time to start reading the words of the man who told us all to love.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Friday Link for 1/13/16



One week left...one week before the Toxic Avenger and his mop bucket crew takes over the White House.  This is going to hurt, everyone.

With this beginning his last week in office, I decided to go with my three favorite President Obama comedy moments.  We can argue about legacy (in truth, President Obama's going to have a great legacy) but one thing we can't argue about is this; President Obama has got some serious comedic chops, and understands messaging, especially to the younger demographics, better than any President in history.  He's been very shrewd at using both of these talents with military precision to sell his initiatives.

Here are my three favorite Obama Comedy moments.  First, from the old 'Colbert Report,' President Obama delivers The Decree!

Next is the incredibly hilarious Funny or Die bit, 'Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.'

And finally, it's 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld.'  President Obama was very up front during this long interview.  Enjoy the video from the Washington Post:

Try to have a nice weekend everyone...Sigh...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fools and Their Money

This next four years are really going to suck.  The minority Democrats aren't going to be able to stop the Republicans from doing most of their reckless and nefarious agenda.

One of the agenda items is the repeal of Federal and State Income Tax.  Our taxes are primarily collected four different ways:  1) Federal taxes to fund the Federal Government, their Departments, the military and larger Federal projects, 2) State taxes to fund your state government, their departments, and their projects, 3) Property taxes, which primarily go to fund your city and county government, and (depending on the state) public schools, and 4) Sales tax, which are enforced on different levels within each individual state/municipality, depending on how each individual state/municipality is set up.

A Republican repeal of the Federal and State Income taxes wouldn't be for most of us, only for the wealthiest of Americans, the ones making a million or more a year.  The rest of us will actually see a massive increase in our taxes to cover the wealthiest's free ride.  The GOP loves spending tax dollars, even passing a 9 trillion dollar deficit extension late last night.  Republican politicians are betrothed to giving every cent, plus more, back to the wealthiest Americans, and since militaries, corporate welfare and pork projects aren't free, they'll never get rid of taxes for people making 200K or less a year.  Republicans have even proposed taxing the poorest members of our society to offset the tax breaks for the wealthiest.  But this reality doesn't stop the Republicans from telling voters making $50K a year, "we'll make sure you'll keep all your money, and all your problems will be solved!"  Voters desperate to get ahead, willingly get duped, hoping for a mythical no tax utopia to become reality.  It's a morons thought process, false Conservative promises hiding a lack of understanding of complex governmental management of tax dollars.

The GOP has cultivated frustration and anger which inhabits many people's lives; the regret from not finishing school, marrying the wrong person, not getting the job they wanted, getting laid off, losing their home, having an medical crisis in the family, problems with kids, having an alcohol or substance abuse problem, not living the life they thought they were going to have.  The despondent have hung their hopes on the Republicans, partially due to the Republicans selling of the Lottery Solution!  "Vote for us, and we'll give you all your taxes back.  You'll be a MILLIONAIRE!  Plus, we'll hurt the people you hate, the ones you've falsely blamed for your failures, and we'll make them suffer!  You'll have everything you ever wished for if you vote for the GOP!"

But for arguments sake, let's say the Republicans get rid of Federal and State taxes.  Your 50K a year is now a pure 50K.  You'll get 10K more a year!  Be careful with it!  The buying power of the Feds and the state are pretty big.  Now that they're no longer in the bidding process, basic materials and supplies are going to cost a lot more to do the exact same jobs.  There won't be a single project, whether still preformed by your local government or farmed out to a private sector business, which will be less expensive.  Not a one!  Everything will cost 3 to 10 times more than it does now.

Since your city still has to pay for police, fire, trash, local street maintenance, street cleaners, sewer, water, and everything else, expect your property taxes and/or local sales taxes to explode!  In some parts of the country some of these services are optional subscription services, but that's risky.  You're going to have to pay for most of them, quickly whittling away at your 10K!

The Republican voter feels current services would be ala carte in an income tax free world.  This is boneheadedly simplistic.  Your argument is you don't have kids, so you don't want to pay for Public Education.  Fine, until you need someone to preform a task which requires a level of education the public schools no longer provides because of massive budget cuts.  You insist you never use public parks, so you'll save money there, until your local parks become overgrown, unkept and unpleasant.  Only a fool would think the rest of the world would want to maintain the parks in someone else's neighborhood.  And I don't want to begin to broach the larger government services (FAA, food inspection, post office, court system), things every citizen needs functioning, all of them undoubtedly less efficient and far more expensive without a government to pay for/regulate.

Roads alone will cost you a fortune.  Prepare for toll roads everywhere.  Say you're lucky, only having to take one major highway into work everyday.  Great!  Pay $3 each direction, every day!  If you work 250 days a year, thats $1500 per year, FOR THAT ONE ROAD!  If you insist you'd just telecommute, without government oversight, it'll cost you a ton, as the unregulated telecommunication companies will know exactly the price point they need to be to make opting out of driving into work a begrudging choice.

Not only are you gong to burn through your extra 10K a year, you're going to have to pay quite a bit of the 40K too!  In return, you'll get about a third of the government services you currently enjoy.  But I'm sure Republican voters are all prepared to scream "Damn Democrats" when their masterplan blows up in their faces.

Republican voters, look in the mirror.  The person who's going to change your life for the better is you, not some politician dependent on you being a fool.  If you get your tax dollars back, which will NEVER happen with the Republicans, you won't become a millionaire, living the life you think you're owed.  Only you can change your life, and thanks to the Democrats, there are many avenues for you to do so, avenues which require hard work and sacrifice, but avenues where the tax payer funded government can help you find your path to success.

In Michigan, they've introduced a repeal of the State's Income Tax, to be rolled out over the next 40 years.  They've not disclosed how exactly they plan on paying for the stuff the Income Tax currently pays for, but they don't care.  That's why they made it a 40 year roll back.  They'll be long gone, living high on the hog off their benefactors fat, while the people they were supposed to represent are left to rot.

Fools and their money never choose wisely...that's why fools vote Republican.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

They Don't Deserve Our Respect

A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook which asked a wildly loaded question, "Why is it so hard for educated liberals to empathize with Trump supporters?"  This comes on the back of other questions I've heard from the right, such as 'Why do Democrats not understand the nuance of voting for Trump,' and 'Why are liberals such sore losers, constantly insulting Trump voters?'   Like I said, loaded questions.  "Since we insist all Democrats are bad, let's ask questions based on our false narrative, phrasing it in a pseudo-authoritative way, making our insult seem like scientific fact!"

Trump's going to be a national disaster.  He just is.  As I type this, he's holding a press conference where he's regurgitating his campaign's talking points, wrapped in a bitterness he so willingly displays.  Much of the left hates him because he's a con man, but that too isn't what's gotten the left riled up.

Democrats, Progressives and Liberals are extremely angry, but not because they're sore losers.  It's because Trump and his supporters are sore winners.

To understand this, let's go on a history lesson.

1970's - This all started with Watergate, the Republican scandal trying to fix the 1972 election by breaking into the Watergate building.  Republican insiders, upset about getting caught, learned from their mistakes, and decided to take a different tact.  If they could convince enough Americans the Democrats were EVIL, control the news, and dramatically outspend the Democrats in elections, they could control the election process itself, and take control.  They started to court religious extremists, especially in the Southern US, who hated Roe v. Wade, giving Christian churches a higher priority seat within the Republican party realm.  Thus began the 'Godless Democrats' talking point, a political takedown at the pulpit, where Democrats were accused of being Satan incarnate.  When Christians blindly voted for Trump in 2016, people don't realize the seeds of those votes were planted 45 years ago.  The GOP successfully argued money equals speech, and hence, limiting money in campaigns was the equivalent of limiting speech.  They realized style was more important than substance and tried hard to get Reagan to replace Ford on the 76 ticket.  They failed, but in turn they got Jimmy Carter in the White House, a candidate they immediately labeled as weak and ineffective.

1980's - Reagan was the clear GOP front runner coming into 1980, and Republican strategists started trying new campaign tactics.  Reagan began using phrases like 'Strapping Young Buck' on southern tour stops, undeniable racist tinged language to alert white southerners which candidate was on their side.  This was the beginning of the blatant racism of today, a pool of filth Trump and his supporters gleefully wallow in.  Reagan won (with help from the extremely mysterious ending to the Iranian Hostage Crisis), and he, with help from the GOP insiders, created what are Republican standards today; anti-union, anti-minority, anti-women's rights, anti-government and the tax burden being the responsibility of people making 100K or less a year.  He got rid of the Fairness Doctrine in media, instantly changing the primary goal of our media from quality to ideology.  Thus began conservative media driving the right's 'Republicans are good, Democrats are bad' zealotry.

Then came Iran Contra, the Reagan administration's selling of arms illegally to Iran, and in turn using the proceeds to fund the Contras in Nicaragua, something Congress had specifically made illegal. This was undeniably orchestrated by Reagan and his Administration, but could they convince the American people they were innocent after getting caught red handed breaking the law?  They found a patsy in Lieutenant Colonel (LT) Oliver North.  For the record, as a person who served in the Army, there is NO WAY a single LT could do all the things North took credit for.  He might've been able to get weapons, but the armory folks have nothing to do with flight clearance, especially over foreign countries.  Sadly, the lie worked.  With a media failing to do basic follow up reporting, the Administration was able to walk away from the charges, and even got their most ardent supporters convinced the Democrats were just sore losers.  Thus began the warping of reality to fit the narrative the GOP wanted to feed their followers.

1990's - This decade is where the modern Republican machine went from crawling to sprinting.  After H.W. Bush lost a second term, the party started moving away from being 80's moderates, and started giving more clout to the extremist members of the party.  With the rise of the 24 hour news outlets, and the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a law which opened up ownership rules in media, leading to conservatives owning 90% of all media in this country, they learned that crazy people, while journalistically abhorrent and questionable, got viewers.  The more Newt Gingrich and the far right Republicans screamed, the more airtime they got, a harbinger of the craziness we'd see under Obama.  They started endless investigations of President Clinton, misogynist attacks on Hillary Clinton, and created a new GOP standard; fight the opposition party tooth and nail on everything.

In the 90's, the Republicans also started a war on facts and science.  The right had been a big endorser of the tobacco industry, and when the inevitable truth about cigarettes came out, they lost some of their bigger bankrollers.  They didn't want the gas/oil/coal industry to suffer the same fate, so they began an active campaign to 1) create their own science when it came to undeniable scientific evidence of climate change, and 2) convince their followers of some weird conspiracy, where every scientist on the planet was trying to ruin our lives with cleaner water and air.  In the end, the 90's were an unabashed success for the Republicans. They managed to get Clinton impeached, completely derailed climate change policy for decades, and planted the seeds for Hillary's eventual loss in 2016.

2000's - Since the Republicans had never delivered on the promises they'd made to the blue collar working class under Reagan and H.W., they needed foot soldiers.  The Republicans welcomed in the far right extremists (religious crazies, anti-government wack jobs, racists, and Libertarians) to act as their new foot soldiers in the W. Bush campaign.  These people automatically believe the worst in their political opponents, and bellow it loudly to anyone who'll listen.  They used a bias Supreme Court to award W. the Presidency in 2000 (even though Al Gore was the rightful winner) and started a new Republican 'policy' front; 'if a Democratic voter doesn't vote, of if their vote doesn't get counted, that's one less vote against the Republicans.'  Republicans, buoyed by screams of voter fraud, tried to find any way to prevent Democratic votes from counting.  9/11 gave the Republicans the endless war they always wanted, and the marketing campaign against the Democrats, 'since you're anti-American terrorist lovers, and since we support the troops, YOU hate America!'

It was at this point the Democrats started waking up.  During the W. Bush Presidency, the current feelings Democrats have towards Trump supporters began forming.  What had seemed like unconnected rhetoric was undeniably being revealed as a larger plot, exposed with the most misguided of insults.  When calling Democrats anti-Christian, anti-worker, pro-minority and anti-America didn't work, Republican voters started in with insanely far fetched comparisons, to Hitler, Stalin, Commies, Religious extremists, or bin Laden.  When the Democrats tried in ernest to point out there's a big difference between a Democrat and a Nazi or a Communist, the Right's foot soldiers wanted to hear nothing of it, screaming Nazi and Commie at louder levels, with far right media recording it all.  Add to that the hollow realization that the Republicans had actually lied the American people into a war, and enough was enough.  The Democrats fought back in 2006 with the 50 State Strategy, unexpectedly winning the House and Senate, and setting the stage for President Obama in 2008.

Obama - Republicans, realizing Democrats actually being Democrats would be hard to counterpunch, started convincing Democrats they couldn't win unless they were 'Republican lite.'  Former moderate Republicans who'd become outcasts, rural Democrats, and conservative media pushed this false notion, helping to create the mess the Democrats are in today.  Too many Democrats in 10,12,14 and 16 trying to be 'Republican lite' were soundly beaten by actual Republicans.

The angry, irrational, insane vitriol of the Republicans coalesced into the tea party, with people screaming for Obama's Birth certificate, insisting he was from Kenya, accusing him of being a Muslim and an extremist Christian (at the same time), and, in case you didn't notice, HE'S BLACK!  And when Hillary became the likely nominee in 2013 the GOP started the endless investigations into her; 7 Benghazi investigations, 3 E-Mail investigations, 2 Clinton Foundation Investigations.  Number of charges against her, ZERO!  But the right ALWAYS was eager to investigate more.

In 2016, the Republicans insisted they were against the elites, but whole heartedly backed a billionaire living in a New York City Penthouse who likes to surround himself with golden things (like showers!) and who hates the working class of America.  Republicans insisted their Trump support wasn't born from racism, but everything Trump and his supporters said was dripping with bigotry.  Republican voters insisted the policies of Trump were the real reason they were voting for him, but even today, he has yet to explain ANY of his policies, outside of how much he loves Russia and is willing to use the Presidency as a money making machine for himself.  All of it came together for the Republicans, and (beyond my worst nightmares) Trump won.

The Democrats were in shock, and dumbfounded, wondering what happened.  They were blindsided by the slow moving train which had been heading their direction since 1975.  I think many on the left, as they crawled out of their funk, were ready to resign themselves to President Trump, but that's when Trump and his supporters became sore winners.  Trump did a victory tour, insisted the 2.9 million vote margin in favor of Hillary was actually a massive victory for him, with a mandate.  Trump supporters were thumping their chests, trying to rub the Democrats faces in Trump, culminating in a relentless storm of bizarro news stories and opinion pieces, insisting the idiots who voted in this train wreck were the smart ones, that Democrats were too intelligent and rational to 'get it.' "The stupid Democrats don't see how complex and sophisticated us morons really are!"

I see you guys, and I still only see Racists and Idiots.

All Trump voters are doing right now is creating a future excuse for the inevitable catastrophe.  They know this is going to blow up in their faces, so they're already insisting, "It wasn't us actually voting him into office!  It was those big mean, sore loser Democrats who never gave Trump a chance."

Democrats, the insults, hatred, and condemnation you're wanting to heap on Trump and his supporters is valid, justified, and LONG overdue.  Don't shy away from hammering these clowns with EVERYTHING you've got.  Let's make sure they crawl back into the holes they dared peak out of 16 years ago.  Let's take back America before it's too late!

Here's the response I posted to my friend's Facebook article:

After 35 years of being screamed at, insisting our facts don't matter, our research doesn't matter, our opinions don't matter, our votes don't matter, our background and experience doesn't matter, and that the left itself does not matter, people on the left don't feel the need to respect and recognize an individual with very little self thought or intelligence, who bellows a 1/10th truth in our faces, usually with a gun and/or Bible on their hip, insisting they're the smart ones now because they're flawed opinions are bolstered by agenda driven politicians and a compromised far right media.

Well said, if I do say so myself!  If I might add:  Trump supporters, go F- yourself.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Troll Bridge

I'm very quick to block trolls.  These are the people who have an insane amount of time every day to cruise the internet, searching for people who disagree with them, trying to convince them they're wrong, and, when that doesn't work, unleashing a torrent of insults and varying threats, all in a pathetic effort to maintain the facade, the fake superiority bubble they thrive in.

These Trolls (mostly men, not completely, but at least 95%) go to someone else's webpage, Twitter feed, Facebook feed, or work page comment section, spewing their verbal defecation, pompously surveying the filth covered landscape they've created, like a two year old proudly holding up a finger painting made with human waste.  Since these are YOUR online realms, not theirs, it's the online version of a person kicking open the door to your house, preceding to take their pants off, going to the bathroom on your floor and then screaming, "YOU HAVE TO LIKE WHAT I JUST DID IN YOUR HOUSE!"


There are three different type of trolls.  Troll #1 is the guy who immediately starts in with the insults, ignorance, racism, bigotry and far right agenda.  You begin reading the first sentence of their post and by word three or four it becomes apparent you've wasted your time.

Troll #2 tries to be sly.  They know if they begin saying what they want to say, they'll be ignored, so they start off slow, making it seem like they want an ernest conversation.  You counterpoint their initial foolish claim with facts, and their response is to jump to a completely different point unrelated to what you started discussing.  You then bring in facts to counterpoint their second foolish argument, and then they jump to a different angle, or they start trying to, hilariously, offset your BBC and New York Times accredited facts with fake news stories from 'Conservo-Right Digest,' 'Righto's Weekly,' or 'Fox News'; anything to prevent from admitting they're wrong about anything.  By the time you get a few interactions into the conversation, Troll #2 gets enraged by your continued use of facts, furious you haven't insisted Troll #2 is a 'SUPER -GENIUS!'  They lose it.  Their final post is usually on par with a Troll #1's first.

Troll #3 is the best!  He's the guy who sits on the periphery of your conversations with the other Trolls, and waits for you to block Troll #1 or #2.  They then unleash a diatribe.  How you're anti-American for not letting Trolls come into your house and go to the bathroom on your floor.  How you're afraid, terrified of trying to debate the 'SUPER -GENIUS' that is Troll #1 or #2.  How you're a coward for not letting them violate your personal online experience.  Ask them, 'how exactly did you know I blocked Troll #1 or #2?'  Since this highlights their little Troll enclave, they lose it, usually putting forward a Troll #1 type of post.

Here's the deal, don't try to interact with them.  They're so desperate for validation, they need to violate other people's lives to feel better about theirs.  You'll NEVER bring them over to reality and truth.  They're not about to recognize their flawed and incompetent arguments.  They think they're the smartest people they know, and their lashing out with insults and threats is their firewall, preventing them from facing the undeniable truth; they're idiots.

Block them.  You do not owe them ANYTHING!  Just say goodbye.  Your life will be SO much better when you start purging the idiots from it.  And here's the best part: you'll forget who they are within hours of blocking them, while they'll be furious for months, upset you didn't call them the 'SUPER -GENIUS' they're convinced they are.

That's why it always puts a smile on my face when I hit 'block'.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Friday Link for 1/6/17

Nice to have The Late Show with Stephen Colbert back after the holidays.  There seems to be random rumors floating around about how CBS is upset with him and his ratings.  I'm not buying it.  He's so good at what he does, the most natural host of a late night talk show since Carson.  Dead serious about that comparison.  He pushes the envelope better than anyone else.

I think the rumors come from Republicans who are upset about his political leanings.  Judging from the ratings, not including special events (such as when Letterman retired) Colbert is holding pretty tight to The Tonight Show on a regular basis, better than anyone else has.  I think he fits CBS's late night's 'outside' role, and he's a great interviewer.

The only criticism I have for him (as if I matter) is to not cave to network stooges; continue with non-traditional, out of the box late night interviews.  Scientists, authors and business leaders are just as interesting interviews as the biggest actors.  There is nothing wrong with being brainy.

Colbert has the best bit on all late night television, Community Calendar.  He has his guests sit down and do the Community announcement like segment you'd find on cable access in small towns across the country.  Here are three of the community calendars, including last nights hilarious episode with Adam Driver.  I'll also include Nick Offerman and Jeff Daniel's versions.   Enjoy on a Friday night!

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Rushmore Verses Crazy Horse

The last 35 years, the Republican Party has embraced a "there's no way the Federal Government can do ANYTHING better than the private sector" talking point.  Mind you the entire argument is a fraud.  There's no way you could do something as massive as the Post Office as efficiently and as cost effectively in the private sector.  If you got rid of federal food assistance tomorrow, the private sector/churches/charitable organizations wouldn't be able to stop the inevitable starvation of millions of Americans, including many children.  And stuff like roads, snow removal, water treatment; if the government stopped everything, this country would be broken and unable to function within 6 weeks.

This doesn't stop the right's anti-Government arguments, as Republicans insist a world without government would lead to everyone getting massive pay raises, bread being 10 cents a loaf, and no crime or blight anywhere.

Last year, I took my family to South Dakota.  We visited Mount Rushmore and numerous other sites across Western SD.  As we rolled into Rapid City, one of the more conservative areas in the US, you couldn't help but notice the abundance of shanty-esque mobile homes everywhere, the lowest of low income housing, where a shocking amount of South Dakotans reside.  The massive gap between the haves and the have nots, the undeniable consequences of far right conservative policy, are evident everywhere in Rapid City.  It was as noticeable as the lack of trees, which allowed you to see people's houses from shocking distances, a fact which emphasized the wealthier neighborhoods up on high, staring down on the poor wretched working class in their squalor beneath them.

I could write 20 blog pieces on how South Dakota highlighted failed conservative policy, but there's one point in particular which really hit home; the stark differences between how the Federal government runs Mt Rushmore and the Badlands, verses the private enterprise which is the Crazy Horse Monument.

As you drive into the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore unfolds in front of you.  From the first view you have of the glistening white rock which makes up the heads of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, you see why it's one of our national treasures.  You walk through the main entrance with the mountain right in front of you, passing through the Avenue of States, and you come to a viewing area which gives you the mountain's splendor:

Still one of my favorite pictures.  There's a path you can take which walks in front of the monument, with informational kiosks on each of the four Presidents, and a display on the process to create the carvings.

Pretty good view from there too!  The total cost for me and my family to visit Mt. Rushmore?  Ten dollars, paid to the private company the Federal Government contracted with to get the parking ramp built.  That's it!  Sure, tax dollars pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the monument, as well as the Interstate quality road to get to the site, but since we're only talking a percentage of a cent a year, it's a fine value.  For a few cents from every tax payer, we get the national parks; memorable, Federally owned, breathtaking tourist attractions, scattered from coast to coast.  And these parks make a lot of money for the local communities.

Badlands is a little further east of the Black Hills, but also worth the trip.  We paid $15 to get our vehicle in there, but our admission was good for the entire day.  And the views there...

Stunning!  There are numerous other state and national parks in western South Dakota, and they're all wonderful.  It's a great example of tax dollars working successfully.

The Crazy Horse Monument is a different story.  It's a privately held monument, but one that's overdue.  Saluting the Native American population with a magnificent statue is worthwhile project.  As we entered Crazy Horse, we knew we were in for a different experience.  It was $28 just to enter, more than the cost of admission for Rushmore and the Badlands combined.  Even though they started blasting in 1948, nearly 70 years ago, the monument's still a rough outline, likely not to be finished for decades, if it ever does get finished.  As opposed to the other parks in the area, where the primary goal is to honor the land, everything about the Crazy Horse Monument seems to be about supplementing the income of the family who owns it, the Ziolkowskis.  

This is as close as $28 gets you to the actual monument:

It's still pretty, but from a distance (notice the no walking sign on the side of the road).  There's a tram which goes close to the bottom of the monument, for an additional $4 per person.  To get on the monument itself, you're looking at a donation of $100 or more, per person.  The 'welcome center' at Crazy Horse is all about getting more money out of you, with a cornucopia of cheap tourist baubles, over priced food, and flea market vendors.  

There's an effort by the family who owns the memorial, the Ziolkowskis, to give back to the Native American population, but there's also an undeniable feeling the main goal of the Crazy Horse Monument is to make a buck for the Ziolkowskis. They seem to be raking it in.

The Ziolkowski's family narrative of their history with Crazy Horse is one based on the mantra 'we didn't need the government!  We're doing this all ourselves!'  Here's where we find the first example of 'American West can do attitude' hypocrisy; Crazy Horse is a 501c3 non profit.  With the help of  the Federal government's qualification, they operate as a non-profit, tax free.  If they truly were a 'we can do it on our own' outfit, they wouldn't need the government's special tax status.

This monument has been in the works for almost 70 years, and the emphasis at the site is far more on the Ziolkowski's story rather than the Native American's.  More than once it felt like the Ziolkowskis were using the unjust treatment of the Native American's for the last 400+ years as cover for their money making operation, even encouraging Native American distrust of the US Government to keep people from asking the most obvious question; how did it only take 14 years to build Mt. Rushmore, but 70 years after they started with their project, how are the Ziolkowskis nowhere near completing Crazy Horse?

The government has helped Crazy Horse by building roads to the monument and erecting signs, directing people to their front door.  They've also helped with sewer lines, electricity, police and forest fire crews, government services the Ziolkowski's depend on.  And as you compare Crazy Horse to the other monuments of the area, you easily come to the conclusion that if Crazy Horse was another Federal Monument like Rushmore, it would've been finished decades ago.  I understand the Native American's distrust of the Federal Government.  This isn't a call for a government takeover; just an observation.

There are other privately owned attractions in the area.  We visited a mammoth burial site in the southern part of the Black Hills and it was sensational, but it too was a little pricey.  If Crazy Horse was out by itself, I don't think anyone would notice its faults, but when it's placed next to Rushmore, it becomes overpriced, underwhelming, and a perfect example of how the private sector can be out performed by the government.  Because tourism dollars flow into Crazy Horse, there seems to be no urgency to complete it.  This isn't an 'American West can do attitude.'  This seems more like a lack of motivation on behalf of the Ziolkowskis.

I recommend seeing Crazy Horse for three reasons.  First, it's impressive, even from a distance.  Second, even though probably only a small portion of your $28 entrance fee actually goes to completing the monument, this monument needs to be completed.  Third, you're out there anyway for the other monuments, so you might as well.  Go visit Rapid City, visit the monuments and parks, but don't be surprised if, unlike the Federal Government operated Mt. Rushmore and Badlands, when you leave Crazy Horse, you feel like you didn't get your money's worth.