Principled Conservatism? Fink Again.

Two ads from Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy: one supporting Republican Andrew Fink, the other supporting Democrat Ranjeev Puri.

What do you get when you combine a first-time candidate for state office -- in the person of Andrew Fink -- with an unscrupulous, deep-pocketed dark-money group, and a four-way primary race in Michigan's 58th State House District?

You get the current situation.

Hillsdale city councilmember Bill Zeiser first brought this subject to light earlier this month in a post on Hillsdale's Hot Debates.  As Zeiser noted in his post, the group "Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy" had not been active on Facebook since 2017 before buying ads for several state representative candidates this summer.  One of their video ads paints Fink as a "conservative," a "former captain in the United States Marine Corps" who they claim has a "plan to protect our freedoms and Christian values."

"Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy" is also running ads for Ranjeev Puri, a Democratic candidate in Michigan's 21st District, located in western Wayne County (metro Detroit, for those who don't live in Michigan, which generally votes Democrat to begin with).  A video ad for him touts the candidate as "an experienced leader who worked for President Barack Obama" who will make sure everyone has the "education, health care, and skills to succeed" following the coronavirus pandemic, and who they claim has a "plan for new opportunities for Michigan."

Not exactly a principled group, these "Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy."

So who exactly are they?  According to the Energy and Policy Institute, they are a 501(c)(4) organization funded primarily by Consumers Energy, which uses the supposed "social welfare organization" to run borderline-legal campaign advertising in favor of candidates that (something something something maybe they get a promise from or maybe they just hope something something something) will support Consumers Energy's policy agenda in Lansing.  In fact, on the topic of legality, EPI notes that around this time in 2018, Patrick Anderson of the Anderson Economic Group filed a complaint with the IRS to challenge "Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy" on their tax status.  According to EPI:

Anderson writes that CEME is “operating in direct violation of its claimed purpose to ‘receive and administer funds for social welfare purposes’ …  The primary purpose of CEME, as evidenced by its activities and expenditures, is to conduct political campaigns that support or oppose specific candidates for state offices in the State of Michigan.”

In 2017, EPI writes, CEME contributed $25,000 to the Electric Markets Research Foundation, a "front group for electric utilities" which has "commissioned papers supporting utilities’ positions on issues like net metering and the need to extend the lifetimes of non-competitive coal and nuclear plants, and has distributed them to state utility commissioners at [National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners] events."

EPI also notes the following connections:

  • CEME President Howard Edelson, currently also president of the Edelson Group, managed Consumers Energy's 2012 campaign against a ballot initiative that would have increased the state's renewable energy level to 25% by 2025.
  • CEME Vice President Brandon Hoffmeister is also Consumers Energy's Senior VP of Governmental, Regulatory, and Public Affairs.
  • CEME Treasurer/Secretary Ronn Rasmussen is formerly Consumers Energy's Vice President of Strategy and Research.
  • CEME's former Vice President David Mengebier was also formerly Consumers Energy's Senior VP of Governmental, Regulatory, and Public Affairs, and was also the president of the Consumers Energy Foundation.

In short, "Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy" is the dark-money political campaign arm of Consumers Energy.

When Bill Zeiser first pointed all of this out -- which he apparently found out about through seeing one of CEME's ads for Andrew Fink on Facebook -- I, among many others, immediately called on Fink to address the issue.  Specifically, I gave him three questions to answer:

  1. Is he knowingly accepting dark money contributions -- regardless of whether they're direct or in-kind?
  2. If so, what does he plan to do for the donors in return?
  3. If not, does he denounce the group and reject their backing?

I issued those questions to him on July 9th.  He did not bother responding until this morning, July 22nd, when publicly visible questions on his campaign's Facebook posts began picking up pace.

Now Fink is fighting a losing battle to claim that I'm spreading lies about him.  Here's the long and short of it:

 

A bit of a mistake on my part there: they're a 501(c)(4) organization.  An extremely minor detail, but the error necessitates correction.

Oof!  Self-pwnage, as the kids would say.  (See?  I'm hip and with it.)

Another error on my part: the ad does not include video of Fink.  It includes still images.  To use a Bushism, I was misremembering it.  To be fair, I only watched it once or twice earlier this month and hadn't seen it since, so I'm sure you can understand.  However, the point still remains: working in media as I do, I know that it takes good-quality still photographs to produce the level of video that CEME did.  I find it hard to believe that they just pulled some pictures off of Fink's social media pages to use for that spot.

For the record: yes, I DO support Mayor Stockford in this race, but I am not actively campaigning for him beyond sharing the occasional post of his on Facebook.  I do not work for Stockford's campaign, nor have I donated to him.  And my support for Stockford IN NO WAY has ANYTHING to do with Andrew Fink's refusal to condemn and reject the support of an unethical campaign arm of a monopolistic utility corporation.

I did not realize my error about the video until I prepared to write this piece.  But again: the still images are of reasonably high quality, well-suited to the purpose.  I find it hard to believe that was any coincidence.

Additionally, I want to make it absolutely clear why Lauren Fink's attempt to connect with me upsets me, because you might get the impression that I'm insulted by the lack of friendship due to our shared Hillsdale College connection.

No.  That doesn't matter to me in the least.

What angers me is that Lauren reached out to me STRICTLY for the purposes of campaigning, almost as if she thought that our shared Hillsdale College connection meant that I would automatically be interested in supporting her husband's candidacy.  As I pointed out in the comment above, I'm not a means to a political end, and the fact that I work as the public address announcer for Hillsdale College does not mean that I would simply support the political candidacy of someone also connected to Hillsdale College.  I vote based on principle, not popularity in my various and assorted social circles.  I also vote based on principle instead of political party.  I vote based on principle, PERIOD.  So trying to connect with me out of the middle of nowhere for campaign purposes does not sit well with me, and the impression I get that it was because we share that connection sits even less well with me.  It's insulting, it's disingenuous, and it's not acceptable.  That's why I didn't bother responding to the request, and I will not do so in the future, either.

That being said, somewhat ironically, Adam Stockford and I are also connected through Hillsdale College, he being a graduate of the school, as well.  But Adam and I more specifically know each other through his own political career as a city council member and mayor of Hillsdale.  I back him because I've seen his work, and I believe he is the best person for the District 58 seat.  I have no such experience with Fink.

Perfectly stated by Zeiser here.

Then Andrew attempted to double down in several places where I had commented, but here's one from my Uncommon Sense page:

ALL of this could have been avoided If Andrew Fink had simply said, for example, "I reject the support of Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy, and I promise that I will do what is right for the people of Hillsdale and Branch Counties, not what Consumers Energy asks me to do."

But this candidate refuses to say those words, and now he's wrongfully accusing me of lying about the whole thing, hoping in vain to make it all go away.  He refuses to condemn this unethical and misleading ad campaign... most likely because he knows he'll benefit from it.  So the question must be asked: is he beholden to Consumers' agenda?

Some Christian values.

UPDATE: As of 11:30 PM this evening, he's still trying, which would be sad if it weren't so hilarious.

 

UPDATE 2 (7/23): Fink has now cleared up ANY question about the issue: he has been bought and paid for.  Remember: a vote for Andrew Fink is a vote for Consumers Energy.

 

Apathy and Corruption in the City of Hillsdale

Hillsdale City Hall

This opinion piece, originally written on the old Josh's Uncommon Sense blog on May 15th, 2015, is presented here for archival purposes.  This is the article that precipitated the launch of the short-lived Hillsdale News Now, and placed Josh among the most-followed commentators in Hillsdale County.

NOTE: This post is coming a couple of days early due to its time sensitivity.  The Hillsdale City Council meeting at which a city manager hiring is expected to be approved is tonight, Monday, May 4th, at 7:00 PM.

If I told you to go to 97 North Broad, would you know where that is?

Chances are dangerously high that you wouldn't.  Because nobody in the City of Hillsdale seems to know that we even have a City Hall anymore, let alone know where it is, what's going on there right now, or who's seeking to represent their ward in the November election.

Do you even know that there is a November election?

Do you even know that there are vacancies on the city council right now?

Are you paying attention to local politics at all?

Are you even alive right now?

I shouldn't be too terribly harsh.  We have no real press in this city.  We have no newspaper outside of a lone reporter, a lone sportswriter, and whoever Gatehouse can dupe into writing for them for a pittance this week.  We have a radio station that rips and reads the police blotter, and that's about it.  Sometimes the Jackson Citizen Patriot covers a few stories from the county, but their audience is Jackson County, not us.  And getting the Lansing TV stations to cover anything going on here?  Ha!  Good luck!

It's no wonder you're so woefully uninformed.  There's barely any journalism going on in this town at all.

But let's face it: that's no excuse.  Those of us living here at the spring of the St. Joe just don't give a damn.  City politics?  We can't be bothered.  It's not important to us.  We've got bigger fish to fry.  We're more concerned with... well, anything but city politics.

Remember that big hullabaloo about the streets last year?  City Hall wanted to unnecessarily raise taxes to pay an outrageously overestimated amount of money for street repair, and we collectively -- correctly -- replied, "are you kidding me?"  But beyond rejecting that ballot proposal, what else did you do?  Oh, sure, a few people showed up at city council meetings to present alternatives... which, of course, the council simply rejected out of hand, saying "I don't wanna!" in their best three-year-old voices.  But were you there to see it?  Were you even aware that it had happened?

Again, the chances are dangerously high that the answer is "no."

I keep saying "dangerously" because you're most likely unaware of the latest news to be coming from the pentagonal structure sitting between Broad, Hillsdale and Carleton.

(Did you even know that City Hall is a pentagon?)

In case you missed it -- and you did, because literally everybody did -- April 21st was the deadline to file petitions to run for the vacant city council seats in Wards 1, 2 and 4.

(Do you even know what ward you live in?)

Nobody filed.  Absolutely nobody.

Well, okay, one person did.  Bruce Sharp.  But he's an incumbent.  Everyone else is either term-limited or leaving for their own reasons.

That means that there are currently four council seats that will go unfilled barring write-in campaigns, and Ward 2 (which happens to be where I live) will have no representation on the council at all.  Additionally, no one filed to run for city clerk, either, so after this election, council is going to have to appoint someone to that position.

Now, before you say "well, then, maybe YOU should run, Josh," I'll disabuse you of that notion immediately.  That's not my calling.  I can barely manage my own life let alone the governance of a city.  Even if it were my calling, I'm not familiar with the inner workings of city government enough to simply jump in and expect to be an effective legislator.  Because, unlike our current state representative, I actually take the time to learn about my jobs before I bother applying for them.  I don't belong in that seat right now, if ever.

There's another seat that I don't belong in, an equally important seat, and none of the people currently up for the job belong in it either.  I'm referring, of course, to that of the city manager.

Last week, in the Facebook group Hillsdale's Hot Debates (the "social media" that WCSR credited with unearthing this story), a couple of members did some digging into the history of the top two candidates that the search committee is considering, and they came up with some rather interesting facts.  Among them being that one candidate, William Cooper, bankrupted the last city he ran.  The other candidate, David Mackie, bankrupted himself and faced a bit of legal trouble for ripping off his investors in an apartment complex renovation deal.  Oh, and the guy heading up the search committee?  That would be Doug Terry, the interim city manager... who, it has been rumored, will get the job if no one else is hired.

Conflict of interest?  Nahhhhhhhhhh.

Of course, knowing that the heat was on, the city put together a hastily-scheduled public meeting to introduce the two candidates.  How hastily?  They announced it to the media on April 30th, and it was scheduled for May 2nd.  That's right: a Saturday afternoon meeting announced on Thursday, when most people already had plans for the weekend lined up well before then.

Intentional flight under the radar?  Nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Now, Linda Brown resigned as city manager all the way back on February 2nd.  You might be asking yourself right now: isn't there some sort of time limit as to when the city council has to hire a new one?

Why, indeed there is!

According to the municipal code, "The Council shall, within 90 days after any vacancy exists in the position of City Manager, appoint a City Manager for a period of not less than one year nor more than five years and shall fix his compensation."  The period of 90 days after Linda Brown's resignation?  Guess when that ended?  Yep.  May 3rd.  The day after the hastily-scheduled public meeting.  A Sunday, no less.  A Sunday that has come and gone, and we still have no city manager.

Additionally, the code also states that [emphasis mine] "The Council may appoint or designate an acting City Manager for a period not to exceed sixty days during the period of a vacancy in the office or during the absence of the City Manager from the City and shall have all the responsibilities, duties, functions and authority of the City Manager."  Which means that Terry's appointment has actually been longer than allowed by law for more than a month's time now.

One Hot Debates group member who was at Saturday's meeting reported to me that Terry was rather irate at the fact that his actions and motivations were being called into question -- on the Internet, no less; the nerve of those people! -- and after arguing against allowing public comment, he had to be taken out of the room and shown that the law requires it.  That fight then continued in front of the city council, which led to a vote to essentially tell him to sit down and shut up, and public comment was, in fact, allowed.  Because, you know, the law requires it.

Needless to say, Doug Terry is not a happy camper right now.

Much of the problem is the "good ol' boy" situation in this town.  Some of it just comes with the territory of small town politics: everyone knows everyone else.  But that being the case, and everyone being well aware that conflicts of interest are to be avoided, there should be a lot less of it going on, and it's just business as usual around here.  As the late, great, George Carlin famously said, "it's a big club, and you ain't in it."

Yet even if it weren't for that club, what it really comes down to is the fact that there has been no transparency in this search at all.  That fact is merely exacerbated by the "good ol' boy" situation.  The city council ostensibly conducted the search internally in order to save money -- instead of hiring an independent firm to do it, as is done by every other city that even half-assedly tries to make it look like they're not as corrupt as Hell itself.  I mean, hey, it's a fairly decent excuse.  Begging poor is relatively easy to pull off when roughly half of your streets make Kabul look like a motorist's paradise.

But it gives those in charge of the internally-conducted search far too great an opportunity to dupe not only the council, but the entire city as a whole.  There was supposedly a wide field of potentials to choose from, and we're only hearing about two of them.  We have no other names, we have no information about how these two were picked, we would know absolutely nothing about even THESE two candidates if it hadn't been for a couple of people outside the process -- and not even in the media -- doing a simple friggin' Google search!

Did the city council even bother to do that much?  Apparently not, because councilman Patrick Flannery told the Daily News, and this is a direct quote, "We are happy to present these two candidates.  I see both candidates moving the city forward, to help us with the goals we have before us."

Bankruptcy and fraud are goals of the government of the City of Hillsdale?  Well, to quote Spock, "It would explain a great many things."

That same Hot Debates member tells me that only one other person from the group was there Saturday afternoon, and while disappointment isn't quite appropriate in this case given the short notice, it's not as if the third floor is packed to standing room at any given city council meeting.  This is the norm in this town.  Everybody bitches about the legitimate problems, but when it comes time to actually take action, nobody shows up.  It's like we're living in an M. Night Shyamalan movie called "The Non-Event."  All this buildup, and then... just totally flatlines.

Actually, that pretty much describes every M. Night Shyamalan movie, but that's neither here nor there.

The point is, we need to get off of our fat backsides and do something.  And I'm yelling at myself here just as much as I'm yelling at you.  I'm guilty of this, too.  We all are.  Civic involvement in this city has just hit what is most likely an all-time low.  Certainly the lowest it's been in any of our lifetimes.

And when we all find out what the result of that apathy is, complaining about the streets is going to be the least of our worries.

Correction: In the initial version of this post, I accidentally flipped the names of the city manager candidates in relation to their respective issues.  The post has been updated to correct the error.

My Country, 'Tis of Thee

The Declaration of Independence.

It’s the Fourth of July, Two Thousand Twenty.

This is one of those situations in which my tendency to be long-winded is actually beneficial, because there’s no short or succinct way to sum up my feelings about this specific day.  To say that I’m conflicted would be close to the sentiment, but there’s no real conflict there.  I know exactly what the situation is, and I know exactly where I stand.  I know that there is nothing in conflict between my own positions and the ideals of the United States of America.

The conflict lies between those ideals, and the so-called “conservatives” who back a Nazi named Donald Trump, a man who surrounds himself with Nazis and various other white supremacists, who foments racial violence, who paints anyone who stands against him as “the enemy,” and who has succeeded in very nearly destroying this country, all while claiming to be a “patriot” and taking credit for successes that either weren’t his or haven’t happened at all.

The conflict lies between the ideals of this nation, and the system of policing that was allowed to develop within in, growing out of slave patrols prior to the Civil War, and further developing in the Jim Crow era into a force specifically intent on enforcing segregationist laws.  It is a system that is inherently racist, will never cease being racist, and must be dismantled and replaced with an actual public safety apparatus.  This does not mean eliminating law enforcement, it means eliminating this system of law enforcement, commonly known as “community policing.”  It is both unnecessary (as proven by drops in civilian criminal reports every time it’s cut back) and harmful (as proven by numerous factors, not the least of which being the disproportionate rate of police murders of innocent black people per capita).

The conflict lies between the ideals that were enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and the so-called “conservatives” who claim to want small government and individual liberty – but only individual liberty for white, middle-class people like themselves, while electing politicians who vote against them despite claims of supporting the middle class, and looking the other way while those politicians perpetuate the revolving door between government and the private oligarchy of corporations; turning what was once a capitalist economy into an inverse fascist economy, complete with the violent jackboots on the ground to attack and imprison those who dare to protest it.

The conflict is not mine, the conflict is between The United States of America – my country, which I love because of the ideals it was founded upon – and those who would seek to destroy it from the inside while claiming to be “patriots.”  The latter group includes the Republican Party, fake “libertarians” who are nothing more than Republicans trying to usurp the libertarian name (which started with Murray Rothbard, by the way, and he was the first to admit that), and the small but extremely vocal minority of active voters who still – by intentional ignorance at this point, which you know is my biggest pet peeve – believe that anything is better than letting a Democrat win any given election.

I could address that group here, but there’s nothing left to be said about them besides that they’re forces for evil working against the very foundational purposes of this country.  And even if I were to say that to them, they wouldn’t listen.  They’re hopeless.  They cannot be reached.  They cannot be convinced.  They have turned their back on the self-evident truths that formed the basis for this experiment in 1776, and they will not return.  They are to be rejected, socially and politically.  They are not Americans by ideal, they are merely Americans by where they happen to have been born.

That last point is something we have to discuss.

Many of you know I’m a big fan of late-night TV, and one of my favorite hosts in particular was Craig Ferguson.  Ferguson is Scottish by birth, but became a U.S. citizen in 2008, even going so far as to broadcast the test and his swearing in ceremony.  His American patriotism is no surprise if you’ve followed his career.  He has a prominent tattoo of Benjamin Franklin’s “Join Or Die” political cartoon on his right arm.  He had a panel talk show on the History Channel by that name (Join Or Die with Craig Ferguson) in which he and the panelists would debate interesting topics in American history, such as the greatest Founding Father, the most doomed presidential campaign of all time, or history’s biggest douchebag.  His memoir is titled “American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot.”  The man has a deep and passionate love for what this country was meant to stand for.

Since its publishing, that title has been an inspiration to me.  What does it mean to be “American on purpose?”  Ferguson described it thusly in the book’s last paragraphs:

“For me, becoming an American was not a geographical or even political decision.  It was a philosophical and emotional one, based on a belief in reason and fairness of opportunity.

“I swore an oath not to be cowed by the authority of kings and churches.  I won’t allow any kids of mine to grow up as I did, witnessing casual hatred between children just because it had always been that way.

“I didn’t become any less Scottish when I became an American.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  I am proud of my heritage.  I will always be Scottish in my heart, but my soul is American, which means: between safety and adventure, I choose adventure.

“Scottish by birth, but American on purpose.”

He has such a perfect grasp on it.  It’s so elegant in its simplicity, and powerful in its meaning.  To be American on purpose is to truly believe in and embrace the American ideal: all people are created equal, we all have the same inherent individual rights, and nobody gets to violate those rights.

Ferguson’s memoir was published before Trump’s election, during the Obama administration, and he hasn’t updated it since, so it doesn’t include his perspective on the current situation in this country.  He’s spoken out about that elsewhere, though, and it’s pretty clear that he stands with the American ideal, not those who are trying to tear it down through false “patriotism” (which he does decry in the book, as it was on full display during the Bush administration).

Strange how the very basis for the existence of this country can be seen, embraced, and expressed more clearly and concisely by immigrants who come here; as opposed to the charlatans posing as “patriots” who were born here – and want to keep the immigrants who seek a better life in this country out of it, I might add.

But that’s nothing new.  America has always had a problem with racists (we fought a whole war over that, and we obviously still haven’t fixed the problem), xenophobes, misogynists, religious zealots, homophobes, transphobes, and any number of other types of hateful people and groups who manage to weasel their way into political power.  Prior to our involvement in World War II, there were even Nazi sympathizers in prominent places of business and politics in this country.  It’s sadly no surprise that they’ve risen to prominence yet again.  Hatred is all too easy to fall into and spread.

I’ll relate this to my standard statement to fake “Christians” – and “Evangelicals,” in particular, who are actually just the renamed Dixiecrats of old by way of the “moral majority.”  How are you representing Christ by being hateful?  We can tick off all the boxes: racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, religious bigotry of any kind; I’ve seen it all.  We all have.  You cannot claim to be a Christian and tell gay people that the way God created them is a sin.  Fucking learn science, you hateful shits.  God made them that way, and God doesn’t make mistakes.  You’re not Christians, and you’re certainly not Christians on purpose.  You’re bigots, and you’re the reason people reject God.

The same applies to these fake “Americans” – and “conservatives,” in particular, who are also just the Dixiecrats of old by way of the “moral majority.”  How are you representing America by being hateful?  We can tick off all the boxes: racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, secular bigotry or any kind; I’ve seen it all.  We all have.  You cannot claim to be an American and tell black people that their demands for justice make them “the enemy.”  Fucking learn the Constitution, you hateful shits.  We are all to be protected equally under the law, and that hasn’t been happening.  You’re not Americans, and you’re certainly not Americans on purpose.  You’re traitors to this country, and you’re the reason why people think America is evil.

Let me address the misnomer these fake “conservatives” usurp, as well.  I’ve explained this before, but it bears repeating in this context.  “Conservative,” in the true, traditional American political sense, means adhering to the founding and governing principles of the country as laid out in the Declaration and the Constitution.  Basically, to be a conservative means that you believe in the inherent rights of all people, that government should exist only to protect its people and uphold the laws that protect those inherent rights, and that as long as what you’re doing doesn’t harm anyone else or their property, you’re free to do it.

In that sense – the TRUE sense – of the term, I am a conservative through and through.

Donald Trump is not.  His supporters are not.  The Republican Party is not.  The Republicans ceased being a conservative party when Ronald Reagan brought in the “Evangelical movement,” which I have said many times before was the worst mistake he ever made.  Barry Goldwater warned him that they would take over the party.  Billy Graham warned him that the party would take over the religion.  They were both correct.  And as I said before, these people are nothing more or less than the Dixiecrats who left the Democratic Party in the late 60’s through the early 80’s.  Regardless of the reasons why (and we can debate that until we’re blue in the face), the Democrats began supporting the civil rights movement in the mid-60’s, and the Dixiecrats started looking to build bridges on ostensibly economic issues with the Republicans.  Then it became “moral” issues.  Then they finally admitted that meant social issues.  Now they’re openly racist once again.  They are not conservatives.  You can’t even call them big-government liberals (though they are).  They’re just racists.  That’s what motivates them.  Nothing else.

But those people, as I said earlier, are a small, vocal minority in this country.

There’s still a problem, though.  The majority of We the People of the United States of America, historically, have not been bothered enough by that hateful minority enough to care about the problems that minority causes until it reaches power.  We’re a live-and-let-live bunch, but we tend not to stand up to the live-and-kill bunch because we’re not usually in the crosshairs.  That’s not being American, on purpose or otherwise, that’s just being.  Being American means being American on purpose.  It means standing against anyone who would oppress, attack, kill, or let die, on the basis of race, creed, skin color, sex, gender, orientation, nationality, or status as an immigrant or citizen.  Being American on purpose means to actively stand for the American ideal, not simply dismiss the problems and hope they get solved down the road.

We have to be American on purpose.

And that’s exactly why I’m not conflicted today: because I’m seeing that happening.

We have people protesting in the streets because the government is not only ignoring the problems, the government is actively perpetuating the problems.  We have people protesting in the streets to demand justice, not just decry the lack of it.  We have people protesting in front of the houses of elected officials, demanding their action or resignation because they have done little to nothing to fix the problems.  We have people working politically to remove the corrupt, indifferent, and performative dead weight in governing bodies.  We have an ongoing, nationwide protest of a government that has become so anti-American to the point that this protest has even spread around the world, with solidarity demonstrations in countries that both do and do not have the same or similar problems.  People are tearing down the statues and monuments meant to honor evil, oppressive and racist historical figures, almost all of which (save for those outside our country) were put up to intimidate black people after the Civil War and have nothing to do with “heritage,” only hatred.

THAT is American patriotism.  THAT is being American on purpose.  This country was founded on protest and destruction of property that represents oppression, including the Boston Tea Party.  This country’s ideals were upheld by protest and destruction of property that represents oppression, including John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.  This country’s ideals demand that response and more, as “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

There is no more patriotic, American activity than protesting, fighting, and abolishing a corrupt, oppressive, outright destructive government.  And baby, you’d better believe our current government fits the profile.

So I’m encouraged today.  This is the 244th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Americans are standing up against the government that has been holding them down.  Americans are showing their patriotism by protesting and working to eliminate the problems.  Americans are demanding the American ideal is upheld.

It is the Fourth of July, Two Thousand Twenty.  Independence Day.  From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

Fredo Speaks: Socialism Is Bad Except When It's Not

An image of Frederic "Fredo" Trump's head, facing right, set against an American flag background.  Fredo's likeness is Donald Trump Junior's face edited onto Eric Trump's head.

A guest post written by Frederic "Fredo" Trump

Author's Note: Frederic "Fredo" Trump is a fictional character.  Any resemblance to a real person, living or dead, is wholly intentional.

My father says it best: America is not and never will be a socialist country.  Except when it is.  And when it's politically expedient.  And when it benefits us Trumps.  Never when it benefits you, though.  That's the bad kind of socialism.

See, trade deficits mean American jobs got taken out of the country, so if we eliminate the trade deficits, that means more jobs will come back here.  It's simple cause and effect.  Now, eliminating trade deficits means putting tariffs on foreign goods that we should be making here at home, which foreign countries will pay for -- like Mexico and the wall.  I honestly can't believe how many people don't understand this simple concept.  You'd think they experienced economic growth under free trade policies or something.

And, of course, if you put tariffs on things to shrink the trade deficit, the other countries are going to retaliate with tariffs of their own.  It's called a trade war.  They're easy.  All you have to do to win is take taxpayer dollars and give it to the industries that are losing money.  People like free money, and as we all know, that's what tax dollars are.  That's the good kind of socialism: the kind that my father believes will get him re-elected.  Which, as Alan Dershowitz so correctly pointed out, is in the national interest, so he can do anything he wants toward that end.

Now, some people are equating this to farm subsidies in failed socialist countries like the Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela, Nambia, or Wakanda.  I can assure you, this is not true.  Those countries were run by socialists.  My father is not a socialist, and America will never be a socialist country.  We're just doing this one socialist thing because our totally capitalist policies made it necessary.

The bad kind of socialism is in things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and the whole concept of the so-called "social safety net."  It's even right there in the name!  "Social," as in "socialist."  These programs exist only to prop up the lazy disabled and elderly people who just don't want to pull their weight anymore -- or welfare queens, most of whom are... well, not like us.  And by "us," I of course mean we decent, patriotic Americans who believe in this country and know that it takes hard work to get to where people like my father got when his father gave him all his money.

Hey, I understand: people like to be alive.  I get that.  Do I look stupid to you?

The same image of Fredo Trump as used above.

But think of all the chaos and disorder that would result from just cutting all the spending government does on other things.  Think of all the countries we haven't liberated yet.  Think of all the military members who would be forced to come back home to their families.  Think of all the government agencies we'd have to cut back on.  Think of all the federal employees who would have to find jobs in the private sector.  Think of all the nothing that Congress would have to do, as opposed to all the nothing they do now.  It would be madness!

No, that kind of socialism is clearly evil.  Sure, it wasn't always bad.  It was good when it got F.D.R. re-elected.  That was in the national interest.  But now it's bad because the people who vote for my father don't like it -- except when they lose it and realize that they did this to themselves, but that happens after they voted for him, so it doesn't matter.

The long and short of it is this: the Trump family is here for you.  We gave up our lives of luxury in the private sector to live lives of luxury on the backs of you, the American people, and your hard work; and we'll do all we can to ensure that we get richer and you get what you voted for.  That's the America we should all believe in.

*SNORT!* *cough* *sniffle* *HACK!* *cough* *cough* *SNEEZE!*

Well, I held out as long as I could... which was a surprisingly long time, actually.  One of my bosses caught the cold / automatic sinus infection bug about two weeks ago, and I was around him just about every day in all that time.  I only came down with it just this past Sunday, and it didn't really hit me until Tuesday.

As far as colds go, this one is actually rather mild.  I wasn't knocked out by it at all, and most colds do knock me out for a while.  It's the length of the sinus issues that are the problem.  The past few nights have been rather sleepless, and my voice -- while not shot, per sé -- is a bit rough.  Good thing I haven't had any games all week, but Monday's Academy games might strain my vocal cords a bit.

I'm about ready to attach one of these things to a vacuum cleaner and shove it up my nose.

A black plastic nozzle from an air pump.

 

Well, here we are.

I've been saying for years that I need to set up my own personal web site.  I have things that I want to share with the world on my own terms, and this is the best way to do that.

What will you be able to find here?  Oh, all sorts of stuff!  Everything from my personal musings to political ramblings, various projects that I work on in my (extremely limited) spare time, playlists from games and DJ gigs, information necessary to life... things of that nature.  It's hard to describe everything just yet because, honestly, I don't really know what all I want to do with it, myself.  I have ideas and plans for a few things, but who knows?  It may well grow beyond that.  It may not.  We'll find out together.

So, allow me to officially welcome you to my world.  Enjoy your stay.