Dear Press, You are in an Abusive Relationship

By Sara Richards (originally posted to Flickr as Anarchists bookshop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Dear Press,

I’ve known you a long time. Practically my whole life. Remember when I was little? We were the best of friends even though you’re much older than I. I’d watch and hang on your every word, all wide eyed while you taught me. You saw me through my teens and early adulthood. You always accepted me for who I was, and never asked me to change. I can honestly say that I would not be the person I am today without your constant friendship. For that I’m grateful.

I confess though, as of late, I’ve not been the best friend to you. But it’s time for me to take care of you. It’s time for me to be honest with you. If I’m overstepping my bounds, then so be it. This is too important. Press, honey, you are in an abusive relationship. I know, I know. You don’t want to hear this, but you are going to listen to me. You’ve been in this relationship with Donald Trump for a long time. What is it, like 50 years now? That is a long time. And I know, you love him.

You know, I remember when you two first met. You weren’t sure if you liked him or not, but then his silly antics and boyish, immature way kind of grew on you. He was fun, I admit it. It was exciting to have such a rich guy chasing you. Remember when he called you at all hours pretending to be someone else. What was the name he used? Something Barron? How ironic that’s now the name of his son, huh? This Barron would tell you how awesome Donald was and that you should go out with him. Kind of strange but cute in a weird way too.

Press, he’s changed. He’s not the same Donald. I mean those cute little eccentric ways of his have grown into a full blown mental illness. He’s sick honey, and you can’t help him. Certainly not if he won’t get help himself. He won’t even admit he’s got a problem. Donald’s downright abusive to you. He’s a narcissistic, sociopathic, pathological liar who only cares about money. Surely you see that.

You’ve become a battered spouse Press. He lies to you, calls you names, belittles you and then when he’s done, it’s like nothing ever happened. Take his tantrum yesterday. He was so mad he could barely contain himself. His face was so red and he kept clenching his jaws. Why I thought he was going to jump that table full of blank papers to come after you. Then, to shame you, he called on Breitbart. Don’t tell me you didn’t know Press. Everyone knows he’s been seeing that slut. He’s even got an apartment in the city where they shack up together. Rumor has it they’re into all sorts of weird, perverted sex. Ewwwww! Makes me puke a little just thinking about it.

He’s got all sorts of tricks to play on you sweetie. Notice how he let you ask him a few questions, like he cared about your thoughts. He doesn’t. You know he doesn’t! Jesus Christ Press, he started yelling at you! Is that any way to treat someone in a relationship? Let me answer that for you. No, it’s not.

These arguments you guys get into always end up the same. You try to hold him accountable, try to get him to stop lying to you. He gets angry and yells. He calls you names and then treats you like crap in public to shame you. You cower and spend the rest of the night defending yourself, trying to explain to everyone that you aren’t what he says you are. The next day, he pretends nothing happened and you are left with a shame hangover. Then it’s just rinse and repeat, day after day, week after week. He’s using you. He gets what he wants, a little attention, wham bam thank you ma’am and he’s out the door and back to Breitbart.

Press, it’s time to stand up for yourself. You keep saying you have to be there for him. I suppose there’s no way around it. You both have to look after the presidency. That you share. If only you’d paid more attention to those signs, you’d not have let him get this far. There’d been no presidency to look after. But what’s done is done, right? So what do we do about it?

For starters, stop obsessing over him. In the past, with other boyfriends, you covered them. You covered them plenty, but you didn’t hang on their every word. You were more independent. You asked questions; and if you didn’t like the answer, you asked more. You responded to them when appropriate, and gave them attention when needed. You didn’t obsess 24/7.  Besides, you have other friends around that need your attention like Congress and the states. Then there’s other stories that need tending to as well.

If he lies to you or yells, just sit down. Don’t engage. Don’t you get it? He’s nothing without you. He needs you! He has no power without you giving it to him. Let him have that whore Breitbart. No one cares about her anyhow. She’s got the herpes. No one really wants to scroll her cootie filled pages.

And call out those lies to his face! Like yesterday when he said he had “very little debt.” Are you kidding me? Everyone choked on a chicken bone when that fool said that. You don’t have to say he’s a liar; that’s beneath you.  You can say that what he said wasn’t true. But don’t let shit like that slide. You look like a doormat when you do.

Lastly, you’ve got to start taking care of yourself. Remember when you used to work out your investigative reporter muscles? Yeah that. Start doing that again. Look, I know there are financial obligations and your boss is a dick, but if you demand it, you will get it. What’s he going to do, fire the Press? I don’t think so.

Donald’s abused you so much mentally, it’s like I don’t even know you any more. You’re worn out, tired. I get it. He’s worn me out too, but it’s time to find yourself. I know you’re still in there.

And Press, in case you’ve forgotten, you have all of us who will back you. Always. Love, Jenn.

 

To Win, Dems Have to Revisit Voting Rights Act

I was never under the illusion that the Electoral College would save us from Dear Leader Trump. Much of our reaction as Dems has been a sort of knee jerk one. The simple truth that none of us can prevent is that he will become our 45th president. That is not to say we should just give up. There are serious issues being raised with his presidency even before he takes the oath that must be addressed. He will be impeachable due to his violation of the Emoluments Clause, his ties to foreign governments, the Russians hacking in order to assure him the presidency, etc. All need to be discussed at length. After all, Trump, like any other elected official, should be held accountable and scrutinized if he wants to hold the highest office in the land.

But none of those investigations will occur with this Republican held Congress. Modern day Republicans have proven time and again that they care little about America nor about working with the other party to make this country “great.” Their interests lie in obstructionist politics and are about power, money and control. But if Democrats want to start winning, and so far I’ve seen little evidence of this, they have to start working the long game. They have to start figuring out how to win elections. Republicans have been playing this long game since Reagan. Trump’s election is the result of 30 plus years of plotting, organizing and executing by groups like the Heritage Foundation and not some fly by night op.

One of the main areas Democrats need to work on is voting rights. Without it, they will always be pushing that boulder uphill. A reminder:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the

United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” 1

Seems fairly straight forward to me, but racist legislatures being the jerks that they are, don’t think so. Oddly enough, these men were Democrats who were angry at the Lincoln Republicans for freeing slaves. (Yes, I admit that in the beginning Republicans were on the side of civil rights, but things have changed.) Once this Amendment was passed in 1870, they went to work establishing the Jim Crow laws. These laws, predominantly used in Southern states, implemented not only the “separate but equal” laws but voting restictions that were not only selectively enforced, but were biased against minorities. To vote, African Americans were required to pass literacy tests, prove they paid their taxes, not been in prison, etc. If that wasn’t enough, legislatures even purged voter rolls of minorities. A wee bit too familiar eh?

Yoichi Okamoto

Thanks to President Johnson, the Voter Rights Act was passed in 1965 to end all such minority voter disenfranchisement. Knowing that these racist state legislatures would continue to try and pass such laws, Section 5 stated that any proposed voting law would have to be approved by the Department of Justice before implemented. That didn’t stop them from trying though. Even as the parties switched sides, Democrats becoming more inclusive and championing minority rights while Republicans became more exclusive, Southern state legislatures and local governments continued to challenge the law.

In 2013, they finally won with Shelby v. Holder; a case that was not won in U.S. District or Appellant Courts but solely in the Supreme Court by a 5-4 margin. The court held that though Section 5’s preclearance was constitutional, the manner in which the federal government determined which states would be required to meet the standard, Section 4, was not. According to Chief Justice Roberts:

“There is no denying, however, that the conditions that originally justified these

measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.”

He based his decision on the most current Census Bureau statistics stating that African American voter turnout was larger in 5 out of the 6 states affected. In other words, Blacks were no longer afraid to vote, and legislatures were no longer racist.2

Really.

Within two hours of the court’s decision, Texas passed their first voter restriction, the voter ID requirement. Other states followed. It just so happened that all the states that the federal government had deemed in the past to be too racist to be trusted in regards to voters’ rights started working on their own voter restriction laws under the guise of protecting elections from voter fraud. Not one state has ever produced evidence of sufficient voter fraud to effect an election. Yet these states have passed a multitude of laws regarding who can and cannot vote: Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina….get the picture?

Voter ID is the most common restriction. The problem with this law is that not everyone can afford to pay for an ID. To deny someone their right to vote because of money is akin to the poll tax laws under Jim Crow. To combat this, some of these states have made it free. Fair enough, problem solved you say? Not so fast. These states then turned around and began closing their departments that issue said IDs and polling sites saying that it was in an effort to save money. Actually, it is just another way to keep minorities from voting. In state after state, the closures occurred in only districts with high Black or Hispanic populations, not in predominately white districts. Not only did voters have to travel as far as 250 miles (Texas) to obtain said ID, they then had to travel to other districts just to find their assigned polling stations.

Another common tactic used by these Republican legislatures is redistricting. This is occurring in both state and local governments. As an example, instead of having 10 districts with mixed populations, they are redrawn so that 8 or 9 of the districts contain majority whites and the remaining are Black or Hispanic. This leaves minority communities with less representation by diluting their vote. Some legislatures have even further divided white communities so as to give them more representatives on local councils and state legislatures.

Other tricks include changing polling sites at the last minute without notifying voters, moving elections from November to July, holding minority polling sites in police stations, eliminating same day registration and Sunday voting and only opening ID issuing offices one day a month. All of these have been statistically proven to reduce minority turn out. They have even changed the dates of elections just as was done under the Jim Crow laws.

As it stands now, the federal government is being required to challenge each and every law passed in court using valuable time and money to fight the same fight over and over. It’s the same plan Republicans use in regards to abortion: overwhelm the opposition in court battles. Meanwhile, the laws will stand until the cases work their way back through the courts only to end up with the same result. North Carolina’s recent debacle with their voter restriction laws is a prime example. North Carolina Republicans knew these laws were racist and didn’t even try to hide the fact before the court. The goal was simply to tie Democrats up in court and suppress their vote until after the 2016 election.

Democrats have more than enough ammunition to prove Justice Roberts wrong. Unfortunately, there is still one party willing to violate the 15th Amendment to control legislatures. There is no doubt that this is a blatantly racist tactic used by Republicans to gain control over local, state and federal elections. Republicans can and will continually challenge these laws. Democrats need to continually challenge these voter restriction laws and work to get Shelby v. Holder overturned no matter the costs. It does not matter if they lose. They must take a stand. If not, we will become a party of one.

This article was written in reference to: “History of the VRA,” The Leadership Conference, retrieved Dec. 20, 21016, www.civilrights.org.

Don the Con

Donald Trump has been called a narcissist and a sociopath. Though to be fair, I think one cannot exist without the other. But I confess, I’m no psychologist. I don’t even play one on TV. Not even on Twitter. I do however know a con man when I see one. Con men in fact have many characteristics of narcissists and sociopaths, but I’ll leave the scientific labeling to the experts.

There are many different types of con men. Different levels exist from the street con to the deluxe models like Bernie Madoff. It’s these higher-end types that take you for everything you’ve got. A $20 bet on a Three-card Monte game won’t do it for them. They want your savings, your business, your house. Everything. And yes, some want more. Only your undying support, your faith and your devotion will satisfy them.

In 2010, my wife and I met a con man that we shall refer to as Hans the Asshole. We owned a custom cabinet shop and were fortunate enough to make it through the recession mostly because we’d invested in machines. That is not to say we were fine. We were still hurting, still behind on all bills, still asking for extensions, but we were still there. And by then, our business had actually started to do well. It was the digging out of the giant hole that was the problem.

This, I have since learned, is when con men are most likely to strike. Contrary to logic, con men do not normally look to take advantage of you when you’ve got your shit together. They are looking for those who are swimming against the current or at least feel like they are. This is because you are more vulnerable when struggling, more apt to make bad judgements and bad decisions.

Hans moved into the business next to ours. One day he came over and asked us to cut a piece of wood for him seeing as how his machines had not yet arrived. Day after day he’d stand outside looking for that machine delivery. Then he’d walk over and talk about his frustrations. Frustrations that as small business owners, designers and high end cabinet makers we knew all too well. Pity is the first thing a con man will get from you. If he can get your pity, he can get almost anything.

We discussed design, cabinet making and the economy. He learned that we were college educated, artisans and gay. We learned he was from Germany, studied and built yachts and was now designing and making his own furniture. He was wealthy, his wife was a doctor, he had high end billionaire clients and work orders coming out his ears. He loved our work and complemented us constantly. He was liberal leaning like us and supported gay rights. What we learned about him was interesting and familiar…

What he learned about us was not so much interesting to him but more useful. While we thought we were getting to know him, he was studying us; cataloging our likes and dislikes. Eventually, he was in our shop every day borrowing machines or asking us about designs and uses of wood. It did not dawn on us that his machines never came, that his wife didn’t have her own transportation or that he had no pictures of his work. We’d been too busy staying afloat to notice. And when our boat began to sink, we didn’t notice because we were trying to catch our collective breath.

Then my wife had a nervous breakdown from the stress and ended up in the hospital. When I arrived, Hans and his wife were already sitting on the end her bed talking with her. Perhaps it was my law enforcement background or perhaps because I was raised by an extremely manipulative alcoholic mother, but it stunk to me and I took offense to them being there.  in days following while my wife rested, I began working longer and harder than I ever had in my life. Our business was making more than enough to get us righted. The only question was if the landlord would give us time.

She did, but only because Hans went to bat for us saying he needed our machines to make his product. If we went, so did he. This was not something we knew about at the time nor had we asked for him to do so. Another con man trick; you will feel obligated because they will do an act of kindness for you. Grateful nonetheless, he then asked us to make cabinetry for his house and even paid up front. We became so thankful that we wanted to allow him to use our machines whenever he needed and even built and finished many of his pieces no charge. We would set aside our jobs to get his done. But then things started to become lopsided. He was tearing up our machines and not fixing them. He started using wood and finishing products without replacing them. He left our shop in shambles. Eventually, the relationship turned bitter and we attempted to part ways since we had more than paid him back.

When you call a con out, prepare for a dirty fight, crotch kicks and all. His wife went on the internet and complained in fake reviews that we ripped them off. The reviews were removed when they kept changing the amount of their claim and when we provided documents proving otherwise. All save one that was; Angie’s List threatened us left and right but we never caved in. After all, none of this was true, and we were able to prove it. Hans the Asshole eventually threatened us with frivolous lawsuits, spit on our windows and screamed obscenities outside of our business day after day. He tried to get neighbors to bear false witness against us and even admitted to producing noxious fumes that would flow into our area for forty days in an attempt to ruin our business. No longer the gay rights supporter he would yell homophobic obscenities at us. Eventually we won a restraining order against him when he threatened to kill us.

We never talked to any neighbors about Hans. Gossiping wasn’t our game. It was his. Neighbors in the complex began asking us if it was true that we owed him money. The landlord told us that Hans had stated to her that we owed them so much money that we’d signed over the business to him. He’d been going around to anyone that would listen to him, telling lies. We weren’t interested in proving our innocence to neighbors who’d known us for fourteen plus years. If they didn’t know who were by then, they never would. We did attempt to warn them, but they wouldn’t or couldn’t listen.

Why did they believe Hans? Simple. He was conning them as well. They pitied him thinking we’d stolen his money. He promised them jobs, pretended to be like them. He could play any part well. If you were rich, he was. If you were a blue collar worker, he’d don a baseball cap so you thought he was like you. And because they would never do such things themselves, they couldn’t believe he would. They believed him because he had an accent, was a white male and his wife was a doctor. He even went so far as to have the landlord show him buildings to buy. Month after month, he would have them walk him through potential buildings only for them to be too small, too large, not this or that.

They had all spent hours upon hours working for him in hopes of getting more work before they realized he was a fraud. He took their work and refused to pay them. Then they understood. Then they figured him out. They demanded their money only for him to yell at them and threaten to sue them.  In the end, the landlord kicked him out for not paying rent. He threatened to sue her too if she came after him for payment. Like everyone else, she just wanted him gone.

That was his game. Have landlords show him sites, scout the neighbors for things he needed, figure out neighbors’ weaknesses and become whatever they needed him to be, use the neighbors with promises of jobs, threaten with lawsuits, ruin their names and reputations in hopes of taking over their businesses and then move somewhere else and start all over. He wasn’t a yacht builder, a designer, a wealthy connected businessman. His wife wasn’t even a doctor. Their house was paid for by her parents. Their debts paid by them as well. He had so many lawsuits against him there was no point is getting in line. Plus he liked to tie up your complaint in court and cost you more than it was worth. Even his so called jobs consisted of one job that he’d conned some rich guy into.

Hans the Asshole and Don are one in the same. When I watch Trump’s rallies, I see Hans. When he says he’s a winner, that is the con’s mantra. Winning means getting over on someone else whether it be tangible or not. Trump studies his supporters and then tells them what they want to hear, what they need to hear. You want Hillary locked up? Sure. You’re afraid of Islamic terrorists? I’ll take care of that. You want better paying jobs? Why not? Want big bankers and corporations out of government? Okay. Win. Win. Win.

By Gage Skidmore - https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore

By Gage Skidmore – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore

But like Hans, when you look at the details, there’s nothing there. There’s no plan. He never gave any plan to build a wall or to force companies to pay their employees better. There’s no plan to replace Obama Care. He cannot lock Hillary up when even the FBI Director says there was no crime. But that’s not what his supporters wanted to hear. That’s not what they wanted to believe. They were too wrapped up in their own problems to see him for what he was and still is.

Now comes the truth. They see him appointing the same bankers and corporate leaders as administrations before him did. He now admits he had no intention on locking Hillary up. He can’t even save their jobs without bribing the company owners with his own supporters tax money. He’s going to let Ryan take their social security and Medicare. He admitted they can’t build the wall. And now they are starting to understand.  Now they see. Trump is only Trump because of his daddy’s money. He’s lied about his wealth, his foreign business ties and his abilities. He’s a fraud. And if you confront him, just like Hans he will threaten you with legal action. Winning meant Trump winning the election and that was it.

But just like our neighbors, Trump supporters will not abandon their false hopes until it is too late. They will continue to explain away his contradictions, his lies until it affects them personally. They will be blind until it hits them in the face. When their bank accounts run dry and their businesses close, when they lose their job, insurance and homes, that is when they will turn on him. Let’s hope no other neighborhood offers him a safe haven when that time comes.