100-Proof Blogging by Randle Aubrey

Friday, December 30, 2016

NOTHING IS REAL ANYMORE



The most fascinating thing about this talk is that the things symptoms of corporate astroturfing that she's describing can be applied just as easily to how the GOP controls and corrals its base.

In today's world, there's very little meaningful distinction between the two; like corporate America, the essence of Republicanism is grift, from top to bottom.

Short of campaign finance reform, media literacy is shaping up to become one of the biggest political battlegrounds of the 21st century. Stay skeptical, my friends.

"HOME" FOR THE HOLIDAYS

"Christmas Eve will find me where the love-light gleams.
I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams..."

"I'll Be Home For Christmas," Bing Crosby
I sat down to a perfectly normal and boring Christmas lunch with my parents this year. I know that perfectly normal and boring lunches with parents are quite a normal thing for a number people to have with their parents on Christmas, just not for me. My parents divorced rather abruptly and under dubious circumstances when I was fourteen, leaving me bereft of qualified role models and free to spiral endlessly out of control in ways I’ve still not quite recovered from. They’ve worried for me over the years, bless their hearts. I’m just not sure they quite know what to do with a son like me, especially given that they no longer function as a team. It’s only in recent years that they’ve begun to have any kind of dialogue that doesn’t explicitly involve my welfare as the primary subject.

In fact, the last time all three of us sat down for lunch together, there was an intervention. My intervention.

I had something akin to a nervous breakdown in spring of 2008. To make a long story short, my personal and professional life had all been slowly imploding for the previous couple of years in a way that I saw coming but felt completely helpless to resist, culminating in the loss of a prominent job and the end of my marriage. These things happened on the very same day, no less. When it comes to hitting rock bottom, I’ve been known to have a flair for the dramatic.

Like many who go through personal and/or professional collapse, I became somewhat unmoored from reality; after being under so much pressure to hold it together for so long, it was easy to float along in a drug-and-alcohol-induced haze for a while, couch-surfing wherever anyone would have me, and throwing myself completely into my music. There didn’t really seem to be much sense in doing anything else; my well-being was not of great concern to me at the time, as long as I could turn my suffering into something meaningful, or at least entertaining.

It was shortly after my birthday in August when we met up. I was occupying the couch in the living room of my drummer Jeff’s house at the time, which also functioned as our studio. The plan was for my Dad to take me out for lunch that afternoon, where I was going to break the news to him that Jeff was about to kick me out because he caught me selling dope in the house, and beg for money to help get a hotel room for a couple of weeks while I plotted my next move.

You can imagine my surprise when, upon meeting my father in the driveway, I saw my mother come strolling up behind him. The last time we had all come together was, ironically enough, on my wedding day. Before that, their divorce. They didn’t talk, let alone meet, unless it was for something really important, like making sure their son didn’t go completely off the reservation. The moment my mother arrived, I knew precisely what was about to happen, and that there was no avoiding it.

Her and I actually had plans to get together the following week, when I was going to ask her if she might consider letting me move back home for a little while. Other than a fledgling new band and my relentless pursuit of nostalgia, there was nothing really keeping me from leaving town. Silicon Valley had abandoned me, as had all sense of duty to remain there. Desertion meant starting over, and I was desperate to go full tabula rasa, to become an old face in a new place.

As far as interventions go, it wasn’t too bad. We sat down over cheeseburgers at some midtown barbecue joint where they gently, but firmly prodded me with questions about my divorce, getting fired, and my future plans. Thankfully, they were more concerned about what happened than what I was going to do about it, because as you’ve probably guessed by now, I didn’t have a fucking clue what I was going to do about it. I was hoping they could tell me.

I told them everything was fine, of course. I told them that everything was under control, and that things weren’t so bad. They told me they were there for me, and whatever I needed I shouldn’t hesitate to ask for. I told them I was figuring things out, and that I had a plan, more or less. They told me they couldn’t believe I had been under so much pressure. I couldn’t begin to tell them how much of it was self-imposed. I didn’t even know myself, although I would soon find out.

I never could work up the courage to ask them for the things I needed. My parents are not overtly sentimental people; for them to come together without my knowledge for me in such a fashion spoke volumes of just how concerned they were about my life completely falling to pieces, and just how unconcerned I was by contrast. It made me want to protect them from the loathsome thing that I felt I had become, from the shame and disappointment of having a son with so much promise being lain so low, and by his own hand, no less. So I kept my mouth shut, despite the fact that it meant I might end up on the street. Jeff’s was my last available couch.

Thankfully, it never came to that. I found a job shortly thereafter, and was able to bargain my way into another couple of weeks at Jeff’s, during which I also found a new place to live. My parents were generous enough to float me into it, and I stayed there for nearly two years. Many great and terrible things have happened since then, and I’m very lucky to still have them, divorced or not. Given how their age demographic has been dropping like flies in the past year, I’m hanging on to whatever time I have left with them with both hands.

Things are much different for me now. Not better necessarily, but close enough that, although I knew our meeting was coming this time (oddly enough, this one wasn’t my idea, either), I didn’t greet the day with any feelings of guilt or shame or existential dread. Quite the contrary, I was rather excited. The holiday spirit has been a tough row to hoe this year, given how many cultural and political tragedies have taken place. It was nice to have something to look forward to on Christmas other than my customary bottle of Scotch.

I don’t know if I’ve ever given my parents very much to be
proud of, but I know that they love me, and want me to see
me happy. In this world, that counts for a lot.
The three of us ended up at this cozy Italian bistro on the west side of town, exchanging pleasantries and gifts over bites of brick-oven pizza while corny Christmas standards droned on in the background. He talked about how he’s been staying busy in retirement, and all of the holiday parties they’ve been throwing at the mobile home park where he lives. She told us all about her exploits with her girlfriends, and how they had taken to wandering the streets of her neighborhood with spiked eggnog to watch the Christmas lights sparkle. They listened attentively as I told them all about my recent adventures, like my trip to the Dickens Faire and all the media projects I’m working on. It was mundane, it was boring, and it was perfect.

At one point, they started reminiscing about former co-workers (they met while working at the same factory) and the things they all used to do together, allowing me an opportunity to fade out of the conversation and just observe them together. Despite the time and emotional distance between the two of them, their chemistry is still very much alive, and it’s easy to see how they fell in love once upon a time. They chatted openly, without guile, and for a moment, I was able to forget the years and the heartache and the regrets over how life had forced all three of us apart in so many ugly ways. For a moment, we were a family again.

I don’t know if I’ve ever given my parents very much to be proud of; historically, in the years following their divorce, they never gave me much incentive to seek out their praise, so I stopped asking for it. Yet, despite having fallen woefully short of every American Dream benchmark, I know that even if they don’t take much pride in their son’s accomplishments, meager as they are, they do love me, and want me to be happy. In this world, that counts for a lot.

Just as importantly, I’m proud of them, for having begun to set aside their differences over the last year or two and begun a different sort of relationship on new terms. I am not so naive as to believe that this will rekindle their romance after such an extended time apart, but this is only part of the immense growth I’ve witnessed from both of them over the last two decades, and it gives me hope that the better angels of my nature will, with time and persistence, prevail. And truthfully, I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present.

WEEKLY DISPATCHES #003: HYSTERICAL CONTEXT

America’s 2016 presidential election is one of the kookiest and fucked up things happen in our nation’s history, and I say that knowing full well that our nation has been the site of some pretty kooky and fucked up things.

Academics and pundits will be scratching their heads for years to come at America’s rise of neo-fascism under Donald Trump, never realizing or admitting that much of the truth of so-called “Trumpism” has been staring us in the face for decades. It’s just that those in a position to do something about it could never return the gaze for more than a few moments at a time, either out of feckless discomfort or the purchase of their silence.

As for the rest? Well...let’s just say it’s hard to look a fascist in the eye when you’re standing proudly beside him.

Modern history bears much of this out, starting back in the fifties and with one of the unlikeliest of sources: Hunter S. Thompson. Writing for The Nation, Susan McWilliams (granddaughter of Carey McWilliams, the magazine’s founder) celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Thompson’s first book Hell’s Angels, an in-depth treatise on his year spent with the infamous motorcycle gang, by speaking not of the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll that made the Angels (and Thompson) so iconic and fearsome, but of Thompson’s prescience in showing how the culture that spawned the Angel’s was the same one that would grow up to become the backbone of latter-day fascism.
“For Thompson, the Angels weren’t important because they heralded a new movement of cultural hedonism, but because they were the advance guard for a new kind of right-wing politics...[they] were mostly working-class white men who felt, not incorrectly, that they had been relegated to the sewer of American society. Their unswerving loyalty to the nation— the Angels had started as a World War II veterans group—had not paid them any rewards or won them any enduring public respect...Though most had made it through high school, they did not have the more advanced levels of training that might lead to economic or professional security. “Their lack of education,” Thompson wrote, “rendered them completely useless in a highly technical economy.” Looking at the American future, they saw no place for themselves in it.
...
[R]ather than gracefully accepting their place as losers in an increasingly technical, intellectual, global, inclusive, progressive American society, [the Angels] stuck up their fingers at the whole enterprise. If you can’t win, you can at least scare the bejeesus out of the guy wearing the medal. You might not beat him, but you can make him pay attention to you. You can haunt him, make him worry that you’re going to steal into his daughter’s bedroom in the darkest night and have your way with her—and that she might actually like it.”

- From “This Political Theorist Predicted the Rise of Trumpism. His Name Was Hunter S. Thompson
by Susan McWilliams,
The Nation, December 15th, 2016
Sound familiar? Your crazy Uncle Liberty was never described in such prosaic terms.

Speaking of crazy Uncle Liberty, now that Trump has been elected to the highest office in the land, some proper investigation into the man’s background is most certainly in order. And no, I don’t mean into the litany of shady business dealings and gross sexual misconduct that have dogged him for ages, although all of that certainly is relevant. But we need to go back further, to the man’s formative teenage years: New York City in the seventies, a very different (and much scarier) place to grow up in than it is today.
“It is in this saga that we locate the formation of Donald Trump’s mature political vision of the world, in continuity with America’s racist and nativist heyday of the 1920s, and within the context of a cultural world much more familiar to us: New York in the 1970s, that raging cauldron of skyrocketing violent crime, subway trains slathered with graffiti, and a fiscal crisis so dire that even police were laid off in mass—then the laid off cops blocked the Brooklyn Bridge, deflating car tires, and yanking keys from car ignitions.

Think of Trump coming of age in the New York of the 1977 blackout, the search for the Son of Sam, and Howard Cosell barking out “Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning” during game two of the World Series at Yankee stadium as a helicopter hovered over a five-alarm fire at an abandoned elementary school (40 percent of buildings in the Bronx were destroyed by the end of the 1970s, mostly via arson—often torched by landlords seeking insurance windfalls).

Think of Trump learning about the ins and outs of public life in this New York, a city of a frightened white outer-borough middle-class poised between fight or flight, in which real estate was everywhere and always a battleground, when the politics of race and crime bore all the intensity of civil war.”

- From “Avenging Angels: The New York Values That Shaped Donald Trump
by Rick Perlstein,
The Washington Spectator, April 18th, 2016
Contrary to popular belief, the roots of “law and order” conservatism and white vigilantism that have swept the nation for decades do not lie in suburbia, or the rural hinterlands of America; they lie squarely in cities like New York, where wealthy and middle-class white enclaves have rubbed elbows for the last century or so with the very communities of color they degrade through policy, watching with pointed fingers as those same communities descend into madness and asking, “why can’t these black and brown people get their shit together?”

The birthplace of hip-hop – which could only have occurred in the wake of systemic and constant tragedy like the kind Rick Perlstein describes – is also the birthplace of Trump’s political and moral values, as filtered through the windows of limousines and high-rises and private jets while his father fends off a huge FHA discrimination lawsuit. It’s this upbringing that allowed Trump to posit himself alongside people like William F. Buckley and Ed Koch as so-called “defenders of white civilized society” against the throngs of bottom-feeders they see infesting every borough, and that put him into contact with some of the very political operatives that helped him take this line of thinking all the way to the White House.

Of course, Trump’s inner circle isn’t populated exclusively by OG political bagmen from his childhood. The most notable and dire exception would be Steve “Gin Blossom” Bannon, head of the Internet’s premiere propaganda whorehouse, the Breitbart News Network, and top contender for the Most Dangerous Man In America.

In Building The House Of Breitbart, Jacobin author Matthew Phelan details the rise of what appears by all accounts to be the heir apparent of Fox News Channel’s media dominion, starting with Andrew Breitbart’s media tutelage of Arianna Huffington and culminating in Steve Bannon’s open flirtations with online neo-fascist movements.
“Plausibly deniable and demonically effective, Breitbart News has become an only ostensibly independent organization, operating in practice as the for-profit communications wing of various political campaigns.

Regular visitors to Breitbart.com might be surprised to learn the full extent of the site’s shady operations: a gray-market information bazaar with so many countervailing grifts and mercenary positions as to render the routine questions of journalistic bias quaint by comparison.

It’s not even clear that Stephen Bannon thinks Donald Trump would actually make for a good president. As he described it to former NPR executive Ken Stern, writing for Vanity Fair, Trump is “a blunt instrument for us,” adding, “I don’t know whether he really gets it or not.”

But what is “it” for Bannon?
...
For Bannon, then, “it” is the inevitable populist revolt brought on by the increasing disposability of human beings in the labor market, the cultural fallout from this revolt, and (implicitly) his desire to steer the ensuing chaos in line with his right-wing ideological precepts.”

- From “Building The House Of Breitbart
by Matthew Phelan,
Jacobin, November 5th, 2016
Bannon comes from a long tradition of disaffected conservative politicos from the greater Los Angeles area, coming of age in the shadows of a socially liberal Hollywood that had no love for them. It was there the people like Andrew Breitbart and Matt Drudge learned how to weaponize the entertainment-industrial complex for the conservative movement, and it was from them that Bannon inherited and then expanded that power into the media tour-de-force it is today.

These three forces – the white people that American progress forgot, their ringleader, Donald Trump himself, and Breitbart in the hands of Steve Bannon, Trump’s top adviser – are the main pillars of 21st-century conservatism. Understanding how the work and where they come from is key to dismantling them, or at least hampering their effectiveness. Read hard, and read well; as has been demonstrated once again, those who ignore the past are condemned to repeat it.

“Weekly Dispatches” is a weekly round-up of some of the best and brightest political reporting the Internet on a given theme, brought to you every Friday to better catch up on your dialectic over the weekend. If you’ve got any ideas or recommendations for topics to cover, send an e-mail to Pink Elephants at 100proofpink@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

ANTHEM OF THE WEEK: "TROUBLE" BY TV ON THE RADIO



TV On The Radio
"Trouble"

Oh, here comes trouble
Put your helmet on, we'll be heading for a fall
Yeah, the whole thing's gonna blow
And the devil's got my number
It's long overdue, he'll come looking soon
Yeah, the whole thing's gonna blow

Oh, here comes trouble
These people talk too much, need to shut 'em up
Yeah, I'd rather be alone
Can you, can you feel that rumble?
All this borrowed time, it's been running out
It's the ending of the show

But I know now, yeah...
Yeah, I know now, yeah...

"Everything's gonna be okay"
Oh, I keep telling myself
"Don't worry, be happy"
Oh, you keep telling yourself

Oh, I've changed my number
Wore disguises and went undercover just to
Just to hide away from you
Oh, my ghost came a-calling
Making noises 'bout a promise I had broken
Oh, I'm gonna be lonely soon

"Everything's gonna be okay"
Oh, I keep telling myself
"Don't worry, be happy"
Oh, you keep telling yourself...

I don't really have much in the way of consolation to offer here at the year's end, except to say that although we know 2017 is going to offer a lot more of what 2016 did - the death of worldwide idols, the rise of clown fascism, a profound sense of disillusionment, and so much more - at least we can see it coming this time, and make ready for it. There's little other option: winter is coming, and there's much work to be done.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

WEEKLY DISPATCHES #002: AMERICA'S GREAT UNWASHED





There’s been a lot of hand-wringing and navel-gazing in the press since Election Day over the failure of both the establishment Republicans and the Democratic Party writ large to reach out and connect with America’s poor and working-class white voters.

But what the press refuses to acknowledge is that direct, public appeals to the conditions that have created white poverty open to the door for direct, public demands to deal with the conditions that create non-white poverty, blurring the differences between the two and opening the way for widespread structural resistance.

Hence why, for the most part, the news cameras continue to simply point and stare as people in poor and poorly-educated white communities across the country say outrageous things, while the public has a laugh over the idea that these people could ever have a chance to be in charge.

But now they are, and it’s time to figure out what to do about it.

Some outlets are doing the Lord’s work on poverty reporting, as it were. Last year, WNYC’s On The Media produced a phenomenal series called “Busted! America’s Poverty Myths,” tackling the subject of poverty the way it needs to be covered: irrespective of race.

Host Brooke Gladstone dissects the poverty myths that provide fertile ground for the “divide and conquer” strategies that our politicians use to further their aim of dismantling the welfare state, and does so not by hammering the listener over the head with a barrage of facts, but through a series of incredibly compelling stories that form a powerful critique of the system itself.

It’s some of the finest reporting on poverty I’ve had the privilege of listening to, and given the holiday season, I can think of no better gift to share than the gift of compassion for America’s untouchables.

#1: The Poverty Tour

Welfare advocate Jack Frech has taken reporters on "poverty tours" of Athens County, Ohio, for years. But has media attention made any difference in the lives of the Appalachian poor?


#2: Who Deserves To Be Poor?

The notion that poverty stems from a lack of will power and a poor work ethic is as old as America. Why that needs to be dispelled.


#3: Rags To Riches

Confronting the myth that America is a land of equal opportunity and upward mobility for all.


#4: When the Safety Net Doesn't Catch You

Government assistance in the United States helps millions out of poverty, but often the most needy fall through the cracks.


#5: Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Poverty in America Edition

When reporting on poverty, the media fall into familiar traps. How to steer clear of stereotypes and seek insight.

Have a lovely and blessed holiday.

-Randle


“Weekly Dispatches” is a weekly round-up of some of the best and brightest political reporting the Internet on a given theme, brought to you every Friday to better catch up on your dialectic over the weekend. If you’ve got any ideas or recommendations for topics to cover, send an e-mail to Pink Elephants at 100proofpink@gmail.com.

Friday, December 23, 2016

CAPS LOCK STENOGRAPHY


Today, in “Signal To Noise” news:

The website Bipartisan Report shouted this little gem of a headline from the rooftops on the Internet yesterday:


Sounds great, right? What better way to stick it to our slavishly-devoted-to-TV-ratings President-Elect – who can’t even muster DC high school marching bands to come and play “Die Fahne Hoch” at the inauguration, by the way – than to host a massive “Who’s Who” concert on the same day and suck all the oxygen out of his swearing-in ceremony?

But as is so often the case, what sounds too good to be true usually is. Here's the original reporting from Politico this article is sourced from:
"EXCLUSIVE: DEPT OF THINGS PEOTUS WON’T LIKE -- MARK ROSS, a concert promoter and the son of the late Time Warner CEO Steve Ross, is in the process of putting together a large-scale concert called “We the People” to DIRECTLY compete with Donald Trump’s inauguration. The organizers are looking to hold the event in Miami on Inauguration Day. “The talent is banging on our doors to do this,” according to a source familiar with the planning, although not a single act has been revealed as of yet. Ross is in the midst of lining up funding, according to a source."
Let’s review: according to unnamed sources, Time Warner CEO Steve Ross is "in the process of putting together a large-scale concert" that they are "looking to hold...on Inauguration Day" and are "in the midst of lining up funding" for. That's a far cry from Bipartisan Report's headline claim that "Celebrities Announce HUGE Inauguration Day Concert To Troll & Piss Off Trump," meaning that this? Right here? It's fake news.

Bipartisan Report is trying to force this event to happen by framing it as if it already has, knowing full well that the majority of their readers will share the link without bothering to verify it. While I appreciate their intent, the job of the media is to report news, not create it through the use of clickbait. Bipartisan Report in particular has a notorious reputation for this, as do a number of their sister sites, like Addicting Info, American News X, If You Only News, or Occupy Democrats.

None of these sites do any original reporting of their own, and their emphasis on cultivating outrage for clicks has all but completely compromised their authority as reliable sources, making them into a cadre of incompetent stenographers doing little more than transcribing the day's news with the CAPS LOCK on.

When it comes to fake news, the only real difference between sites like Bipartisan Report and sites like Breitbart or The Drudge Report is their particular sets of political allegiances, but the only real thing that they have in common is that none of them hold any particular allegiance to truth, only to metrics and market share.

But for media consumers, now as it has always been, the truth is the only thing that will set you free; meaning that those who would compromise it, no matter how well-intended, would rather keep your brain on lockdown than allow its emancipation. In the digital age, there’s no greater crime than that.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

THE REVOLUTION WILL BE SANITIZED



"The artist class has done so much for the vibrancy, and they get nothing. They get displaced."

- Angela Scrivani

Oakland’s Ghost Ship fire is a direct result of Western society’s failure in valuing process over product, specifically in the creative arts but also more broadly in terms of markets and manufacturing.

The same apathy and negligence that forces artists to band together in spaces not rendered fit for human habitation is the same apathy and negligence that killed 112 garment workers in the 2012 Dhaka factory fire in Bangladesh.

It’s the same apathy and negligence that turns a blind eye to the innumerable riots and suicides that have regularly occurred across numerous Foxconn plants in China since at least 2012, in response to the terrible working conditions there.

It’s the same apathy and negligence that allows for tens of thousands of undocumented migrant farm workers across California’s Central Valley to break their backs for pennies a day and call it a king’s ransom.

As long as t-shirts and iPhones and strawberries can be had dirt cheap and without a second thought in the West, bodies will be broken on the wheel of progress at an exponential rate.

And as long as art and music and literature continue to be grossly commodified by a public that collects media rather than consuming it, places like Ghost Ship will not propagate, they will disappear; especially when something terrible happens and the very people who never gave a shit about DIY spaces in the first place concern-troll them right out of existence.

This attitude is turning the creative arts into a province of the ultra-wealthy, and a tool of the establishment.

Don’t worry, you can still have your revolution. It’ll just come in nice, neat packages, sanitized for their your protection, available for direct download.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

THE GOP JOKES ARE WRITING THEMSELVES...AGAIN

I have no comment to add to this:



Except for this:


Along with a thousand middle fingers to the right-wing hate media apparatus that incubates delusional poo-flingers like this one by the millions.

But...


So they'll just have to settle for this one:




ANTHEM OF THE WEEK: "EVERYTHING'S RUINED" BY FAITH NO MORE




"Everything's Ruined"
by Faith No More

We were so happy...

Things worked out better than we have planned
Capital from boy, woman and man

We're like ink and paper, numbers on a calculator
Knew arithmetic so well
Working overtime, completed what was assigned
We had to multiply ourselves

A bouncing little baby
A shiny copper penny

And he spent himself, would not listen to us
But when he lost his appetite, he lost his weight and friends

He became a fat nickel so fast

Then came puberty, exponentially
Soon our boy became a million

People loved him so
And helped him to grow
Everyone knew the thing that was best
Of course, he must invest

A penny won't do

But he made us proud, he made us rich
But how were we to know, he's counterfeit?

Now everything's ruined...

I could imagine Mitch McConnell absent-mindedly humming this one to himself every time he sees the unholy orange progeny of his own making's doughy mug pucker up on the teevee screen...if I thought for a moment that turtle-faced, bigoted asshole had any taste.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

THE MOTHER OF SURVIVAL


“It is, perhaps, no surprise that the people who seem to be managing best out of the at-risk citizens I know are almost all survivors of some sort of sustained abuse—of domestic violence, child abuse, of the historic abuse enacted by grim and sordid definition on marginalized and minority groups, or all three. Some of the most vulnerable people I know are also the best in a crisis, because they kick immediately into survivor mode...This doesn’t mean they’re grieving any less, nor that those of us still pinned to our beds with panic are poor soldiers in this war to which we find ourselves conscripts. It means that the strategies that will sustain us all in the coming weeks and months are exactly the strategies that have always allowed human beings to survive abuse and intimate terrorism. They are strategies for practical survival that are also emotional armour.”
 

– Laurie Penny, from Against Bargaining”
The Baffler, November 18th, 2016
A few years ago, I was at my downtown bus depot waiting to head out of town when a guy across the lot from me started having a seizure. He was an older fellow, black, and homeless, I think. He had shambled over to a shelter by one of the stops and collapsed heavily onto the bench. No one seemed to pay him any mind, and if I hadn’t happened to be looking his way when it started, I might have completely missed it.

At first, I thought maybe he was just cold, despite the warm summer sun and the ridiculously heavy coat he was wearing. I spent enough time on the streets as a lad to know how hard it is to feel warm when you never get a chance to stay indoors.

It wasn’t until he toppled over, smacking his head with a resounding klang! on the bench, and began shaking violently that I realized what was happening. I had a buddy back in the day with epilepsy who used to smoke a lot of meth, so I know a grand mal seizure when I see it. He used to have them all the time. More importantly, I know what to do about it.

Without thinking, I one-hand jumped over the guardrail that separated us, dashed across the lot, and slid on my knees to the guy’s side. My wallet was already in my hand, and immediately shoving it into his mouth to keep him from biting his tongue, using my other hand and the weight of my body to keep him from convulsing too much.

The whole thing felt like a scene from some kind of cheesy made-for-TV movie; I swear I could almost see myself in action as the whole thing was happening. A couple of stunned bystanders stood there slack-jawed until I started barking orders at them, telling one to call 911 and another to run and flag down one of the station attendants for a first aid kit.

During the fray, I looked up and saw my bus pull into the depot. Shit, I thought to myself. I’m gonna miss my fucking bus because of this asshole. He kept convulsing, eyes rolled firmly into the back of his head, flecks of blood and spittle building around the edges of his mouth. I pressed down harder on his shoulder. Don’t you die on me, you sonuvabitch. I’ve got somewhere to go.

Gradually, his tremors began to subside, and the old man slumped into unconsciousness. I felt the back of his head where it collided with the bench. There was a lump and some blood, but not much. He was going to have one hell of a headache when he woke up, but not much more, thankfully. The poor bastard had suffered enough.

I gingerly removed my wallet from his mouth. His teeth had carved deep grooves into the exterior, which was slick with blood and saliva. I shrugged; I never cared much for it anyway. Dropping it to one side, I tucked my knee under his head and looked up.

A station attendant had turned up by then, hovering nervously at the edge of the scene, unsure what to do. I told her to hand me her jacket, which I wadded it up and placed beneath the old man’s head. His breathing had evened out by then, which I knew was a good sign. He wasn’t going to die. But who knows how much damage the seizure had done.

I stood up, glancing over my shoulder to see if my bus was still there. It was. Thank God. But the paramedics hadn’t shown up yet, and I didn’t feel right leaving until they arrived. I gave the station attendant the relevant details just in case, as I carefully withdrew the contents of my blood-and-spittle-soaked wallet and shoved them into my pockets.

An ambulance pulled up not long after, disgorging a pair of EMTs and a gurney. I filled one of them in on what happened while the other took the old man’s vital signs, and after declaring him to be in stable condition, they loaded him up on the gurney. I think somebody thanked me as I was heading back across the lot; I just didn’t want to miss my bus, which had just started letting people on. Grabbing my bag, I hopped on, and we left town.


I spent the next three days at the other end of that bus ride in the crosshairs of a ugly gaslighting campaign by my then-girlfriend, who played in a solid B-list rock band that had just returned home from their first European tour. She told me I was crazy for thinking that the tour had changed her, that her newfound success was going to her head and pushing me out of it. I told her that the only person putting her on a pedestal was herself, and that the girl who would call me on Skype at all hours of the day during her musical adventures across Europe just to tell me how much she missed me was not the same cold, flippant, quasi-rockstar that stood before me but a few short weeks later.

She wouldn’t even let me call her by her real name anymore, for Chrissake. Just by her stage name. But I was the crazy one for wanting to be something other than a spectator to her rising stardom.

We broke up that weekend, of course. I rode the same bus home that got me there, staring listlessly out the window at the sparsely populated highway while listening to “Tangled Up In Plaid” by Queens Of The Stone Age on endless repeat, trying desperately to shrug off the feeling that the whole debacle was my fault, and that I was a feckless, repugnant loser who had no business dating out of his league, if even at all.

It wasn’t working, but six weeks was a new record for the minimum duration of psychological abuse I’ll willingly tolerate in a relationship. That’s progress, I guess; the last time I was in a situation like this it lasted about a year and a half, and I nearly drank myself to death along the way. This time around, I just had a handful of panic attacks, got massively shitfaced a few nights, and cried a lot. Oh, and I wrote some pretty lousy poetry. The stuff I wrote before was better, when I really wanted to die and wasn’t just pretending.

A month or two later, she hit me up on Facebook and asked me if I wanted to be cuckolded by her and her new boyfriend. No, I’m not kidding. I told her to fuck right off. She wondered: why sensitive?

I would have felt vindicated if I wasn’t so disgusted.

You’re probably wondering if I saw the whole gaslighting thing coming, and if I walked right into it. Of course I did. That weekend marked the culmination of an extended period of emotional abuse, something I’ve subjected myself to in most of my personal and professional relationships. You’re also probably wondering if operating on instinct to handle other people’s emergencies – like an old man having a seizure at a bus terminal – is easier for me than it is to deal with my own messy, complicated excuse for a life, even when I can see bullshit coming from miles away. It is.


I have never been terribly good at life; a history of childhood sexual abuse, the betrayal of all of my role models, an endless string of meaningless jobs, a failed marriage, and years of living hand-to-mouth have left me ill-equipped to keep my shit together for any meaningful period of time. But deprivation is the mother of survival, and while I’ve never been so hot at avoiding my own admittedly well-telegraphed punches, I have learned how to pick myself up from them with incredible alacrity.

I’ve also learned that I fear apathy more than death, and that your ideals are all you have, so you have to keep fighting for what you believe in even when you don’t in it as much as you used to. If you’re lucky, your ideals just might win the day, or at least you’ll find a little redemption along the way.

I am not so idealistic as I was when I started blogging about five years ago. Having borne witness to so many awful tragedies both political and personal over the years has made me into the angry radical your parents warned you about; I’ve protested, I’ve marched, I’ve volunteered, and I’ve spoken volumes of truth to power both in print and on the airwaves. And I’m about to do a helluva lot more.

As a lifelong peanut gallery resident to the vagaries of national politics, I long ago abandoned any idea that I might change the world by the sheer power of my words. I’ve done some good work along the way, and I’ve touched and been touched by the lives of a great many fantastic people. Besides, the prospect of name recognition didn’t matter so much when I still felt like I was on the right side of history. It matters even less now that I know there’s no such thing.

The work is all that matters, now that the entire nation has been thrown into chaos. Those of us who have resumed ministering to the damned the fastest are the ones for whom strategizing against total catastrophe in the heat of the moment is the only time we feel normal. The strategies that have allowed me to survive my abuses are now, as Laurie Penny put it, my strategies for practical survival. Not just for me, but for everyone.

The stench of our President-Elect and the rancid party he represents now hang like a pall over the nation, as they rub their oily hands together in glee at the prospect of undoing decades of hard-fought and hard-earned reforms. Whether you support this asshole or not is irrelevant; we are all caught up in the grip of his drunk daddy/creepy uncle/racist grandpa bullshit, and me and people like me are doing what we do best when shit hits the fan like this: running emotional triage, spreading information and resources, or starting support networks in effort to subvert people’s panic and get people organized to deal with the new reality.

It’s what I’ve always done when shit hits the fan. Only this time, I'm doing it for someone else’s sake, which sure as hell beats the alternative.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

HATE IS A DRUG

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Scribbles like this are what happens when Randle gets up too early on a Saturday and starts reading about the ravages of drugs, hate, and poverty in West Virginia's coal country. This might lead to something bigger, it might not. Take what you can, and burn the rest.



People get addicted to hate in the same way that they get addicted to drugs, and for much the same reasons. Both activate the part of the brain that makes you feel alive, or powerful or normal or what have you. Both happen most frequently in communities that are starved for resources and opportunities, the main difference being the nature of the hatred and whom its directed towards.

In poor urban communities, much of the hate is self-directed, or toward the power structure that enforces it. In poor rural communities, much of the hate is self-directed, or toward poor, urban communities through myths of scarcity or depravity. But the solution is not to try and end hatred, any more than the solution to drug addiction is to end drugs.

Drug addiction and hate addiction are but symptoms of a larger disease: poverty. Poverty brought about by a power structure that profits from human misery, regardless of race or gender or color or creed. Those things are stratified within the power structure to create a sense of hierarchy where none exists, a construct where opportunities for oppression can stand in as a cheap substitute for opportunities for growth by creating myths that enforce societal divides.

The longer the public response is to prioritize dealing with the symptoms over the disease, the more ineffective the response to both will become. Real resources need to be directed, real opportunities to need to be created for people to grow past their addiction, to grow past their hatred. Without giving people more hope than the one for another next fix or the vanquishing of their enemies, our nation will collapse and our society will descend into madness.

We just took one very large step closer toward that brink, and we're liable to take several more in the next few years. I only hope we don't fall off the ledge before then.


Friday, December 16, 2016

WEEKLY DISPACTCHES #001: "HE'S A COMPLICATED MAN"

Given the staggering amount of important events taking place around the world right now and my not having enough hours in the day to follow them nor arms enough to type the necessary copy if I did, I'm now running a weekly column dedicated to compiling the best and brightest in political reporting I can get my hands on for faster and easier consumption.

Every collection is loosely based around a theme, in order that each selection can reinforce understanding of the others. The column will drop every Friday, just in time for you to spend your weekend doing homework instead of hanging out with your friends or catching up on Gray's Anatomy. That stuff is for suckers, anyway: who needs a social life when you have reams of hard-hitting, in-depth political analysis to pore over? *wink wink*



On deck this week: the legacy of President Barack Hussein Obama. Few American presidents have offered a more compelling or exemplary portrait of what it means to be the Leader Of The Free World, and the grace he lent to the office will reverberate through the halls of the White House long after he has vacated it.

During his final days in office, a number of think pieces have come out exploring Obama's tenure as our nation's First Black President and everything that entails, their nostalgia tinged with an extra note of bitterness, given what stands to replace him.*

None have been more thoughtful or more eloquent than "My President Was Black," written by the always-brilliant Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic. Coates dives deep into the president's history and quintessentially American heritage to show how the very qualities that brought him into the presidency were the same qualities that have served to undo nearly everything he has fought for.
"A black president would always be a contradiction for a government that, throughout most of its history, had oppressed black people. The attempt to resolve this contradiction through Obama—a black man with deep roots in the white world—was remarkable. The price it exacted, incredible. The world it gave way to, unthinkable."
Before you forget to remove your rose-colored glasses, let's not forget that, for all of his incredible leadership qualities and landmark achievements, Obama was not the liberal savior many would make him out to be. In "Obama Failed to Mitigate America's Foreclosure Crisis," the first of a series of responses to "My President Was Black" being published by The Atlantic, journalistic powerhouse David Dayen takes Obama's symbolic importance to task by documenting his failure to properly staunch the bleeding from the 2008 foreclosure crisis, one of the biggest economic disasters in American history.
"[A]ny rendering of Barack Obama’s legacy is incomplete without including his failure to arrest the foreclosure crisis...I agree with Coates that “there is nothing mere about symbols,” and Obama’s meaning to black America looms large. But that achievement must contend with Obama’s culpability for the greatest disintegration of black wealth in recent memory."
But in a decidedly big-C Conservative fashion, where Obama seems to have turned a blind eye to federal housing bailouts, he's put his money where his mouth is when it comes to giving people the tools to bail themselves out. Venerable blogger and fightin' Irish liberal Driftglass, in an exquisitely detailed post titled "On The Subject Of Listening To The People Of The Land," documented the incredible lengths President Obama has gone to in trying to maintain and expand America's manufacturing sector while the press looked the other way. For eight years.
"There are hundreds more examples. Hundreds and hundreds. So ask yourself why you never even heard about Obama Administration policies actually saving of 1,200 jobs at ArcelorMittal in Cleveland, but you can't escape the deafening roar from Il Douche's smoke-and-mirror-and-seven-million-tax-dollar Carrier scam?"
I offer these articles up not by way of forcing my own opinions (weird, right?), but to further complicate and contextualize President Obama's legacy in order to acheive a better understanding of just what it takes to be not just a good president, but a great one. For Obama was a truly great president, and despite his faults (of which there were many; nothing here speaks of his atrocious immigration record, his broadening of Executive warmaking powers, or his rampant prosecution of federal whistleblowers, for example), his boundless optimism, his scholarly nature, and his unwavering faith in the American people will undoubtedly serve as an inspiration to future generations that Yes, We Can.


* I suppose we can take small comfort in the fact that the hobgoblin-elect will likely keep the White House vacant save the Oval Office, opting instead to sully the faux-glitzy hotel down the street with his name emblazoned on the marquis. Beats finding spray tan smeared on the statuary in the Rose Garden.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A BIT O' HOUSEKEEPIN'

Now that shit has hit the electoral fan and the United States has officially passed wholly through the looking glass, I like many in the media have been at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed with covering present and future events.

Now that the Derp King and his army of very White walkers are about to assume control of just about every single lever of power in the land, there's never been a more important time for me and mine to be doing what I'm doing. And there's never been a better time to support it, in any way you can.

To accomplish that end, I've got a couple things in mind:
  1. I always need help in cultivating leads, even more so now than ever before given the staggering amount of crazy shit that's already happening every day. If you come across something you think I should be talking about or weighing in on, please e-mail it to me at 100proofpink@gmail.com. Whatever stories I don't get the opportunity to cover will be cultivated and aggregated into a weekly column meant for sharing, in order to keep all the important signals properly boosted through the noise. That'll go out every Friday to give folks a chance to catch up on the weekends, and if you've got any ideas for names, lemme have 'em.
  2. Speaking of my own dearth of coverage, I'm going to start actively soliciting writers for Pink Elephants as of now. There's just too much to talk about, and I can't get to it all on my own. If you're interested, send an e-mail with a short bio and a few writing samples to 100proofpink@gmail.com and we'll go from there. I can't pay you or anything, but I've got a decent platform with a wee following and a mind to make it grow, so anyone on the ground floor of my shit-disturbing campaign will absolutely reap whatever benefits may come.
  3. As always, there's a tip jar on the top right, along with a link to my Patreon account. It'd be nice to see either one fill up with something other than dust one of these days *hint hint* I've got some fundraising ideas in development right now, so please stay tuned for that. If time is money, than money buys me time, and I need a helluva lot more of both to grow this thing right.
Now that I've split from Echoplex Media, I've got a couple of ideas for a new podcast in mind, and am currently working out the logistics to make such a thing happen without making my head explode. Stay tuned for more news on that in the days/weeks to come.

To those of you who have supported my work over the last several years, I can't thank you enough. I owe each of you a kidney, but I just don't have that many to go around. As for the rest of you: help a brother out. Please? This shit is exhausting, and is probably going to get me fired from my day job at some point because it's way more important to me than just about everything else. The least you can do if you're reading this is chip in a few bucks so that when I eventually do hit rock bottom, the only thing I bruise is my pride. I never had much use for it anyway.

Monday, December 12, 2016

I'M TELLIN' Y'ALL, IT'S SABOTAGE

ICYMI: The CIA has determined that Putin's Russia hacked the POTUS election to help install Donald Trump as President, and that they did it with Senate Majority Leader and thoroughly frightened turtle Mitch McConnell's blessing.

To call this "unprecedented" fails to convey the gravity of the situation; electoral politics around the world are tampered with all the time, including our own. But the U.S. isn't known for grabbing its ankles with a smile and just letting it happen, let alone volunteering for the lap dance first.

A lot of people are righteously indignant about the whole thing, and see Russia's cyber-campaign as worthy of going to war over. The problem is, they've got the wrong target -- Vladimir Putin -- in their crosshairs.

This isn't just about non-state actors gumming up the works with a morass of propaganda. Russia is as Russia does; they've done this sort of thing before, and they'll do it again. This is about electoral sabotage committed by some of the highest-ranking members of our government. This is about treason.

So what to do about it, you ask?

I'm with Karoli Kuns of Crooks & Liars on this one.
"At this point, I'll consider anyone who tries to deflect by claiming it's all a ploy to go to war with Russia to be a collaborator. We've got to clean our own house, and right now our best hope for that is Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who have already said they want to convene hearings on this and investigate.

From my vantage point, the investigation must begin at once. Remember, Watergate was about bugging DNC headquarters. This is far, far worse. Here's what we need:
  • A thorough forensic investigation of all voting machines in Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, and Pennsylvania, at a minimum
  • A full accounting for the breaches of any and all voter databases, whether data was taken, and what was done with that data. Was it sent to Cambridge Analytica? Were the actual databases tampered with to remove voters?
  • A full investigation into any and all hacks of the RNC, including the information Russians were able to obtain and an explanation as to why they didn't release it while simultaneously leaking information stolen from the DNC.
  • A full investigation into Paul Manafort's role behind the scenes.
  • Testimony from Roger Stone explaining his claim that he was in touch with Russians behind the scenes as Wikileaks emails were being rolled out.
  • Testimony from FBI Director James Comey about why he chose not to push forward on the Russian hacks but instead released a letter to elected officials about duplicate emails discovered on Anthony Weiner's server. Was he pressured to do so? By whom? And if so, we also need testimony from those who pressured him.
  • Testimony under oath from Mitch McConnell about why he chose to disregard the recommendations of a consensus of 17 separate national security agencies that Russia was interfering.
Pay attention. None of those bullet points involve war with Russia. They do involve actually draining the existing swamp in Washington, DC and cleaning it out. And if the Senate and House Oversight committees fail to do their duty in this after holding at least seven separate Benghazi investigations, we should begin impeachment proceedings."
The failure to put RNC heads on metaphorical spikes in Washington will inevitably cause our nation to collapse under the weight of its own bullshit. Never has that been more apparent before now. But the public must act quickly to achieve any one of these goals, if not all of them. It's time to start writing everyone in your state's legislature and let them know you won't stand for this.

Everyone?



Friday, December 9, 2016

"BURNT PIECE OF SHIT"

Junior high school is an intensely shitty place. The average day for the average student reads like a chapter from Lord Of The Flies, minus the facepaint and the deserted island; navigating the morass of semi-pubescent tweens ruthlessly jockeying for social position under the hapless gaze of overwrought educators and apathetic administrators is a perilous exercise at best, laden with emotional and often physical violence.

Both were unsparingly heaped upon me in my teenage years, being the overweight and awkward nerd that I was. Even my so-called “friends” couldn’t stand me any more than I could them, gang of misfits and outcasts that we were. We only hung out together because nobody else would have us.

But at least nobody called me a “burnt piece of shit.” I don’t think I could have survived that. And I survived a lot back then.

A young black man named Eddie Williams posted to his Facebook page the other day a letter written by his youngest brother Howard about his experiences being bullied on campus for being black, and the administration’s response. Or should I say lack thereof? Images of the letter are included below, but here’s a full transcript:
“Burnt Piece Of Shit”

Hi my name is burnt piece of shit. I am 13 years old and a student at Thornton Jr High. Burnt piece of shit is not my real name. It is my school name with my black friend who also goes to Thornton. It is a name given to me by mostly indians kids who go to my school, approved by vice principle.

My days at thornton are long, and not fill with much learning. There are not many black kids at my school, so I am alone to face this harassment. This harassment has been constant since the school year started but here is a sample of what they said to me these pass few days.

- You need to go back to the corn fields, slave
- There goes dark side and light side (me and friend)
- He’s got new shoes you know his black ass stole them
- Look at his hair looks like a microphone
- Donald Trump won about time you go back to the cornfield
- Your darker than the moon without the sun shining on it
- Light out/where’s (redacted)

The vice principle lets people call me a black piece of shit, she says I don’t care about what you have to say, they are scared of you.

I feel the school supports racism and bigotry cuz when I try to stand up for myself they just put me down.

I try over and over again to explain that people are being racist to me and they just cut me off saying we don’t have to listen to you, we own this school. Then the VP goes on to say I own this school so you have to obey whatever I say.

The school continues to search me all the time without my parents consent or having any solid evidence, and they never find anything on me. It;s done only because “I’m the burnt piece of shit.”

The VP continues to say 80% of this school is scared of us, even though we are not gonna do anything to them. The school continues to take the side of the racist who always make fun of me, and they never get consequences while I get for something I got nothing to do with. The school always makes me the suspect without knowing the full story. They won’t listen. The let students call me poor and ghetto because of my race. Students call me and my friend the dynamic duo of idiots, and no-one does anything.

The VP follows me and my friends at lunch suspecting us to do something but we don’t. I live in detention because the school wants to chastise me. If I try to speak up for myself they say I’m being disruptive.

I am so tired, so tired of being the burnt piece of shit. My soul is so weak. I don’t want to move. The worst days of my life are spent going to school. They back me up into a corner with nowhere to turn, so I stand up straight and now its time to fight.

I recently got into a fight with one. They suspended me 3 days. I guess this is how it will be for now on. I have been told the if I have problems like this I should tell an adult. But they won’t, they just pile on. Now when I get out of school they make me stay then walk me through the back so the “good kids” can leave through front.

I have learned these pass few days of what they mean by “scared.” These people can call me the black piece of crap, anything the want. They can destroy me, deride me, call me anything, cause I am not human. But these are fighting words and when it’s time to fight, they are scared. And now I’m the one in trouble.

To: Anyone who will listen…
Howard
“Burnt Piece Of Shit”
You’d be forgiven for believing this was written in 1963 and not 2016, considering how little has changed in the treatment of black people (specifically black youth) since then. His eloquence, striking for someone so young, makes the things he describes all the more horrifying.

After Eddie posted Howard’s letter, it immediately began to gain traction, especially within the community that supports the school. Based on public comments, Thornton Junior High has a reputation for either turning a blind eye to abuse or functioning as abusers themselves, but no one had come out in such a public fashion against the administration before. Better late than never, I suppose.

The principal was forced to respond, of course, and did so with typical autocratic brusqueness:
Parents,

Some of you may be aware of a very disturbing letter that was posted online over the weekend. This was obviously a troubling letter to receive and was taken very seriously by our staff.

We initially received it last month prompting an immediate investigation by Thornton staff.

I met with AP Renoir and AP Watson-Bird and together met with the family to discuss their concerns. Together we developed an action plan to address their concerns. The student in question has met regularly with the Thornton staff and since originally submitting the letter, no issues have been reported.

We cannot speculate as to why the letter has since been posted online, but can say that the issues raised have been thoroughly investigated, addressed and no concerns have been raised since.

We take great pride in our diversity at Thornton and consider it one of our strengths. Any form of harassment or behavior that threatens one of our students will not be tolerated.

We encourage our students and families to immediately report any issue to school or District staff. Any student who wishes to speak with a counselor can make a request by picking up the slip in the business office, the library or via SchoolLoop.

Respectfully,
Stan Hicks, Principal
Thornton JHS
501-793-9090-58153
Shicks@Fremont.K12.CA.US
“We’ve investigated ourselves, and surprise! We found no evidence of wrongdoing! He hasn’t complained since; why can’t you people just leave well enough alone?”

I don’t have the means to test the veracity of Howard’s claims, nor those of Principal Hicks that the problem has somehow been solved. What I can say is that verifiable stories like Howard’s are too numerous to count, and that silence does not equal consent when it comes to being subjected to hate speech.

I don’t believe, I can’t believe for a moment that the harassment against Howard has abated one bit, which is why his brother to post the letter publicly on social media: to get the public involved. If anything, the letter likely prompted even further abuse, because kids respond to weakness in their peers like sharks to blood in the water: it’s a feeding frenzy.

Morning in Trump’s America has seen an immediate and drastic rise in hate crimes, as documented by agencies like the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s been particularly harrowing to witness amongst children, who mindlessly parrot the bigotry of their parents without fully understanding the damage it causes. And when administrators are willing to turn a blind eye to the abuses of their student body, they’re no longer the ones in charge.
“His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of mans heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”

- William Golding, Lord Of The Flies
Or worse: Burnt Piece Of Shit.

Howard's Letter: 



Principal Hicks' Response:

 



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

THE SON OF STORMFRONT'S RIGHT-WING APOLOGY TOUR

Derek Black, white nationalist apostate. Or something.
Derek Black, cherubic Aryan-in-exile and Stormfront's prodigal son, is not likely to return home and assume the mantle of fascism's IT admin-in-chief any time soon.

But after his recent round of hand-wringing in the New York Times over an ascendant Trump administration - one that he had an active hand in laying the groundwork for, by the way - one can't help but wonder if he still keeps an Iron Eagle close to his heart.

In "Why I Left White Nationalism," Black simultaneously accuses his former tribe of being profoundly influential in Donald Trump's rise to power while appearing clueless as to how white people have become so hateful.

It's almost as if Trump's ability to tap into a "less-than-explicit white nationalist ideology to reach relatively moderate white Americans" wasn't something he pioneered back in 2008 to win elections in Florida, right after Obama was elected.

Despite his watered-down pleas to better empathize with the darkness that lurks in the hearts of angry white men, Black managed to strike enough sympathetic and conciliatory chords that his piece seemed to go largely unnoticed, despite the relatively high profile of its author. All the more reason to dredge it up now, if only to set the record straight.

First, there was his appeal to respectability politics, as seen through the recent confrontation by the cast of Hamilton of VP-Elect Mike Pence after a recent show:
"I think the “Hamilton” cast modeled well one way to make that same connection when they appealed to Vice President-elect Mike Pence from the stage: “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us.” Afterward, the actor Brandon Victor Dixon explained, “I hope he thinks of us every time he has to deal with an issue or talk about a bill or present anything.” I’m sure Mr. Pence believes his policies are just. But now he has heard from individuals who are worried about those policies. That might open him to new conversations."
People of color are welcome to ask the Orange Reich for clemency, as long as they remain appropriately servile in doing so. In Tea Party regalia. After shucking and jiving for a few hours to earn their place at the negotiating table. Do that, and we’ll consider considering your request.

Somehow, I doubt Black would have the same glowing commentary for something like, say, blocking a major freeway at risk of arrest or worse, or ten thousand protesters occupying sacred Indian land to defend it from oil barons, even though both happen to be considerably more effective in actually getting things done.

Clearly, Black also missed the Vice Presidential debate, where Pence lied to the moderators' face so many times in such a short period that a bank of computers at PolitiFact HQ caught fire. The only thing Mike Pence believes in is Mike Pence, and his ability to hide like Anne Frank in the baggage compartment on the Trump train until it’s safe to come out and run against the man in 2020 or 2024.

Speaking of shielding the truth, Black wants you to know that #notallwhitepeople are fascists or ex-fascists like him, and that Trump supporters didn’t take him any more seriously than his opposition did.
"The motivations that led to this choice are more complex. I have no doubt many of his supporters voted thinking he’d soften his rhetoric, that his words didn’t really matter. The words were not disqualifying for them because they don’t see, or refuse to see, what the message of hate will reap."
You don't look a fascist presidential candidate dead in the eye day after day, for eighteen straight months, and still pull the lever for him because you can’t or won’t see the damage that electing him might inflict. You do it precisely because you can see it, and you either want it to happen or don't give a shit if it does.

Literally millions of Americans voted for Trump because, even if they didn't believe he'd build a wall and make Mexico pay for it or kick out all the Muslims or grab China by the pussy, they'd totally be cool with it if he did.

But, but...they didn’t mean it! Really, they didn’t! They just want to help!
"Most of Mr. Trump’s supporters did not intend to attack our most vulnerable citizens...Even those on the furthest extreme of the white nationalist spectrum don’t recognize themselves doing harm — I know that because it was easy for me, too, to deny it."
Come. The fuck. ON. You can't sit here and tell me that the dude who founded motherfucking STORMFRONT, the nation’s oldest and largest neo-Nazi Internet stronghold, doesn't recognize the harm he's doing to people of color in this country, or isn't doing the goose-step jig over it on the daily.

The only thing he and every other flavor of bigot that voted for Trump don't seem to realize is that every harm they do to black and brown people in America is visited back upon them through the very same people and policies they support, because those same people and policies only give a fuck about them so far as they can continue to cull an angry, hate-filled mob for votes.

Look, I’m sure Derek Black means well, and I’m sure he’s genuinely appalled that the monster he helped create is now running loose and destroying everything in sight. But any indictment of the racist body politic that says “forgive them, for they know not what they do” only makes sense if you, too are trying to hide like Anne Frank in the baggage compartment on the Trump train until it’s safe to come out and run against the man in 2020 or 2024.

"Why I Left White Nationalism," is the socially liberal equivalent of a white supremacy apology tour, one that is all the more dangerous for its very real note of contrition. As long as Derek Black doesn’t have to make his “choice of embracing or rejecting our own people” before the court of public opinion, the New York Times can continue to leave a light on for bigots on the Beltway. They just need to come in through the back.