Thursday, January 11, 2018

120 minutes in Hell. (reposted for Mark Baber)

120 Minutes in Hell

    My back’s to the wall. I can hear the faint crackle of simmering human flesh, and smell the putrid odor. There’s a little boy – maybe four years old – climbing on the folding chairs in front of me. Crunching. Forever crunching on some pieces of hard candy he picked up off the dirty floor. Every once in a while his face gets red and he looks at me and coughs. And every time he does that, I think he’s about to choke to death and my eyes scan the crowd in a panic for anybody that looks like he might belong to them. At last count there were 52 people in here, but, since then, they’ve come in three at a time while only a few have made it out. A tiny sign atop the filing cabinet says “Number now being served – 80”. My number is 91. My mother was right. I should have lead a better life. She said I’d have to pay for my sins someday. That day is here. Dante was a whining pansy. I’m in hell. I’m in the Revenue Office.

    All the people coming in here have exactly the same look on their faces. Horror. They look at me (I’m the first one inside the door) and say, “Busy place, ain’t it?” Every one of them. Like it’s script and these people are all trying out for the same part. “Busy place, ain’t it?” I nod, and continue writing on the back of my Personal Property Assessment envelope, because I don’t want to miss a minute of this. This is among the greatest of life’s lessons. Like death itself.

    This is how Big Brother controls us here. You people in other states probably don’t know about this. We HAVE to drive here. That’s the only way to get around. No public transportation to speak of. No city busses. No trains. To us, Subway is a sandwich shop. Dig? In order to drive, we have to have licenses – in our pockets and on our cars (or pickups). In order to get those, we have to come here. To Hell. They give us a list of things to bring: Inspection sticker; proof of insurance; proof of Personal Property Assessment; proof that we paid last year’s Personal Property Tax; shoe size; Blood and urine samples; a list of our last 10 sexual partners; our first born children. Then, during the long hours waiting in the lines here, they subliminally plant messages into our brains to check that little box on our tax returns to donate to the Presidential Election Fund. And God knows what else.

    The old guy in the white cap just walked away from the “Express Lane” (that is a hysterical term) that he’d been standing in for 15 minutes or so. “Next time I get stopped” he says loudly, “We’re gonna to court. Me and you both gonna be down there, I’m afraid!”

    The lady behind the counter – obviously hardened from years of being forced to inflict this most hideous of human torture – just ignores him and looks up and gives that sinister grin to the next poor soul in line. The old man is sitting down now, up there in the front row, throwing a hissy fit to some absolute stranger next to him.

    The ladies over at the County Assessor’s desks have only a few people waiting in their lines. They don’t even have to take a number. One of them has been on the phone for the past ten minutes, using hand motions to describe her new drapes, while the waiting customer’s foot taps spastically on the floor. I notice that my foot is doing the same thing.

    What has become of my life? How did I come to be in such a horrible place? Why is this kid wiping his sticky hands all over my pants leg? All I ever wanted was to get my tags transferred over to my new van. But no! First you gotta go to the insurance office and get some stupid little card. And then you gotta take it to the Assessor. And then she asks you if you assessed your stuff for this year, and you don’t know because your wife takes care of all that stuff. And then she asks you if you paid your last year’s taxes, and you don’t know because your wife takes care of all that stuff, too. So she gets on the phone to the Courthouse and asks somebody that has access to a computer and ends up talking to them for the next ten minutes telling them about her stupid new drapes! Then she fills you out a new assessment sheet and you sign it and think you’re done. But no. She tells you to go take a number and sit in Hell and wait. And wait. And wait.

    The little boy with the candy and sticky hands just walked past me on his way out (Thank God) and took the opportunity to take a swipe at my pen – causing a long scribble across the envelope. The lady behind the counter calls out number 84. The guy in the white hat just lit up a cigarette, and he’s sitting there, daring somebody to tell him that he’s not allowed to smoke in here.

    “Well, just tell me WHAT I gotta have!” demands another voice from the Express Lane. In a few seconds the guy storms past me and out the door. Right behind him runs another man, carrying the papers the guy left laying on the counter. “Sir!”

    I’m remembering the guy in the tower at the University of Texas back in the 60’s. I’m wondering if the state of Texas used this same system of vehicle license renewal.

    The old man in the white cap is leaning over the counter now, butting in line. The clerk is raising her voice to him. She’s explaining that they don’t have enough people to do whatever it is he wants to do. He sits back down and wakes the guy behind him up so he can bitch about it to somebody new.

    Oh, boy! A lady just walked in here with another little kid. My neck’s getting sore from nodding. “Yes. It IS a busy place. What the hell did you expect you moron? This is the Revenue Office, you blithering idiot! Have you never been here before? Why would you be so socially irresponsible as to bring a child into an environment such as this? Nobody should have to face this until they’re at least 18!”

    I came in here at 11am. It’s 12:45. They just called number 87. I really do need to go next door to the laundry and use that nasty restroom, but it’s a cinch that, if I did, somebody would steal my chair and I’d have to sit up there with the rest of the zombies. One thing about this place – there are no politics here. Everybody is treated the same…like cattle. Lined up on the chairs in front of me are young people, old people, businessmen, chicken farmers, church ladies, truck drivers, and one dude that I think is a TV weatherman.

Everybody has to wait. And wait. And wait. People are developing lasting relationships with folks they just met in here. Agreeing to stay in touch. Loaning each other money. Giving birth. Raising their children. Dying.

    The thought just occurred to me that I’ll have to hand that woman these envelopes I’m writing this on, if I do live long enough to complete my quest here. I hope she doesn’t take the time to read this story. With her obvious lightning clerical speed, I might have to go build a house or something while 
I’m waiting.

    Wow! There’s a woman that’s been sitting over at the far end of the room since before I got here. She just realized that she was supposed to take a number, and didn’t. She’s turning a little green. I think she’s going to blow breakfast.

    What a terrible thing to happen! She’s looking around the room now to see if anybody has noticed. You know, like when you’re a kid and you have some really dumb wreck on your bicycle? Or when you’re walking into a store or something, checking out some babes, and turn and slam your face into a post? Or the time I was laughing at a couple of my friends who had been involved in a wreck, while driving by it, and rear-ended a third car I hadn’t seen? Only this had to be much worse. This lady has wasted all this time here. By the way she’s dressed, I’m guessing she was a much younger person when she came in.


    91? Are you sure?

    But, this poor woman. Should I give her my number? She’s old. I don’t think she could possibly live long enough to start at the end of the line now. The little take-a-number thing is all the way back around to number 27.

    She’s calling it again. 91. 91. 91.

    She’s looking frustrated! Going for 92!!

    Tuff break, grandma. I’m outta here!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Heather Heyer's Liability


I’m no biblical Solomon. OK? I get that. But a huge part of my job as a liability adjuster – which I’ve been doing for more years than some of you have lived – is assigning blame when bad things happen. Most of time, it’s somebody’s fault, more than it is the fault of others. We refer to those percentages of fault as comparative or contributory negligence. The most hard-assed of claims reps may, for example, argue that if you hadn’t gotten out of bed and gone to McDonalds for breakfast the morning the 18-wheeler lost control, crossed the median, bounced through the ditch, and smashed your Subaru in the parking lot, then your car wouldn’t be damaged.  Therefore, he’ll only offer to pay for 90% of your damages. That’s an extreme example, and of course dude would (probably) lose in court, but you get my point.  The topic of conversation today is regarding who’s to blame for the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a young lady was murdered (and several others injured) by a Nazi who rammed his speeding car into her crowd. Was the Nazi insured? Doesn’t really matter, because this was obviously an intentional act and would be excluded by his liability policy. But blame has to be assigned, none-the-less.  There are people (more than a reasonable human might think), including the current President of the United States, who are offering up what we call a 50/50 comparative scenario. Basically, they’re saying that had these counter-protesters not been there to do their counter-protesting, none of this melee would have taken place – nobody would have been killed or injured. Assumption of risk. Further, some of them go so far as to say that because the Nazis had a permit for their goose-stepping party, and the counter-protesters didn’t have a permit, they are more responsible for the violence, in general, than those skinheads carrying their weapons and torches – clearly designed to intimidate everybody else.  I’m wondering who the Nazis thought they were going to intimidate if nobody had shown up for their rally. I’d offer that as a suggestion for future rallies, if not for the realization that there are (thankfully) people in this world who just don’t have it in them to ignore extreme bigotry, such as that demonstrated by these despicable groups. They do know they are in danger by speaking out against them, and yet, they persist. They do share some small percentage of liability for what happens to them. And for that, every true American should be thankful. Thank you, Heather Heyer, for your courage and your sacrifice in helping to shine the light of truth and decency into the abyss of hate that America is in danger of becoming.

© Rick Baber, 2017

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Violent Solutions?

Lately, I’ve noticed that many of my Facebook posts and comments, in retrospect, seem to hint that I believe violence might be an effective solution to the stupidity infestation in our government.  This coming from a self-professed liberal is shocking to some of my left-wing brethren – many of whom are the quintessential tree-hugging, peace & love, Subaru-driving stereotypes in the eyes of all right wingers. That’s great. I love ‘em for that; and that’s why they’re my friends. But not all liberals fit that mold.

I’m not saying it’s now, but I believe there is a time and a place for violence.

When the Confederacy of American Rednecks was screaming to take up arms and “Take our country back” from the dark-skinned man who had occupied the White House, my response was, simply, that the “American Way” to address grievances was to wait another four years and settle it at the polls.  Well. Instead of shooting all us libs with those many guns they so cherish and ache for a reason to use, that’s what they did. So, far as I can tell, we’re no longer under that persistent threat of hordes of pickup trucks pulling up at the anti-pipeline rallies and machine-gunning us all into mass graves – but we’re all in danger, just the same. And, so are most of them. They just don’t realize it yet.

Of course, I’m talking about the healthcare situation.  Liberals, as you know, are the only sinners in America.  And sinners are the only people who get sick and die. It’s God’s will. That’s how He weeds out the bad seeds from civilization. Republican lawmakers (people who make the laws) have stated that if people lived healthy (physically and spiritually) lives, they wouldn’t get sick. If you don’t get sick, what do you need with health insurance?  These esteemed lawmakers believe that people more likely to catch one of God’s little plagues should have to pay more for health insurance than, say, that nice preacherman who lives up on that hill. Preacherman votes for esteemed lawmaker, and suggests that his congregation do the same – lest they want to end up in a fiery pit and watch their white flesh melt. What are they gonna do?

One Congressman from the great state of Idaho recently said, in response to a question from somebody at a town hall meeting “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare.”  I suggested that if someone was to pop a cap into his femoral artery and then keep paramedics and doctors from responding, he might be inclined to alter his position. But he wouldn’t die from not having access to healthcare – he’d die because his body had emptied itself of blood; and it’s necessary to have blood in one’s body to sustain life. See how that works?  But I’m not suggesting that somebody shoot the stupid son-of-a-bitch, I’m just proposing a scenario in which, in those last few minutes before he goes to meet with Jesus, he might change his mind. But, then, there’d just be another one just like him come along to take his place.  You see, our elected officials aren’t the problem. They’re merely a symptom. They are nothing more than the personification of the collective idiocy that elected them. And as long as these people are more interested in sticking it to the liberals than they are life itself, this is what we’re going to get.

I haven’t seen the numbers, so I’m only speculating, but there’s probably more of “them” who depend(ed) on ObamaCare than there were of “us.”  Will God take care of them once they don’t have insurance, and therefore can’t obtain medical attention, when needed?  Will they simply not need it, by virtue of not being “liberals”?  I think I know the answer to that.

So, what to do?

Suppose, for a moment, that the country (government) had been taken over by Christian Scientists. Nice folks, I guess, as long as they aren’t in a position to make your healthcare decisions for you. But, if you’re not a Christian Scientist, and you’re having to live by their rules, what do you do? 

Say, your wife, like mine, needs a kidney transplant. The government tells you they’ll pray for her. That’s sweet. But not all that comforting. She had insurance that would pay for it, but now they’re talking seriously about doing away with that. You’re told you can now go anywhere you want to get insurance. But the insurance companies can deny coverage – on the grounds that she already has the kidney disease (pre-existing condition). So now, you’re without insurance. And, oddly enough, the prayers haven’t improved her condition; and, oddly enough, doctors and hospitals won’t give her the transplant if somebody doesn’t pay them a shitload of money; and you don’t have, say, a million dollars in the bank to pay for it. Your fault, for not living a more frugal life.  Suppose that.

So, like those anti-Obama rednecks, yes, I can see that I’m starting to recognize the virtues of violence, in theory. But, practically-speaking, it’s still not a viable answer to this particular problem. They’re better at it, and more prepared than us. The only thing to do now is wait, and let them diminish by attrition; then go back to the polls and try again to get a government seated that has more interest in keeping its citizenry alive than they do making money for corporations.  

But I’m not going to shut up about the nimrods in office and the clueless who support them.  For whatever that’s worth.

 © Rick Baber, 2017

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

HealthCare Solved - You're welcome

Talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, just took the healthcare debate to another level with his tearful on-air plea; and the story of the recent birth and heart issues of his son. There’s going to be a lot of people talking about it. Lots more arguments. But nothing will change. The reason nothing will change is because the argument isn’t about health care at all. The argument is about money.  And the left and the right will never agree about how money should be spent. I don’t agree with either of them.

While “Obamacare” seemed to be a step in the right direction – toward making healthcare accessible to those who didn’t have it before – it also wasn’t really about providing healthcare, it was about providing insurance. “Health Insurance” is a misnomer.  Nothing about it insures that people are healthy, any more than homeowners insurance guarantees that your house won’t burn down; or auto insurance guarantees you won’t run into a telephone pole. It’s not meant to. What it’s intended to do is guarantee payment to medical providers when the “insured” seeks the services to keep him/her healthy. Obamacare was an effort to reduce the cost of health insurance by volume. Once everybody was insured, medical providers wouldn’t have to break it off in those who could pay to compensate for all those who couldn’t. They could drop their prices to keep that high-volume business coming in. Once everybody had to be insured, the insurers would also have much greater volume and they could drop their prices as well. See? It’s all about business, not health. It would work in much the same way as WalMart keeps down the cost of, say, a television. Volume.  Problem was, it was going to make both the providers and the insurers – as well as the “insureds,” take it on the chin until the program came to fruition, and nobody wanted to, or thought they could afford to make that sacrifice.

Insurance companies make a lot of money. Doctors make a lot of money. They both like that, and they don’t want to make less money. We all understand that. Right? So, even though they might be able, in the long run, to make, say 2x the money they’re making now, under the plan they’d be doing, say, 4x the amount of work. So they’d still be making less (much less) per unit of work than they’re making now.  Assume you’re an artist. You sell your original paintings for $2 per square inch, meaning you get $1728 for a 2’x3’ painting. That’s real good money.  Now, you work out a deal to have your paintings mass-produced and sell the same size prints for $39.95 through Hobby Lobby, and you lose the rights to sell the original image. You’ll only net, say $10 per unit, but you’re getting orders for a thousand at a time. Ten grand for a painting that you would have sold yourself for less than 1/5 of that. Foolish pride aside, would you do that?  Sure you would. But, the difference is, you wouldn’t have to hand paint that image 1000 times. You’re not doing any more work than you did before.  There’s the difference. Nobody, including insurers and healthcare providers wants to make less money per unit of work. Thus, the resistance to ObamaCare.

Here’s where I get all communistic on the subject. Don’t hate.

In 2015, the U.S. military budget was 598.5 billion dollars ($598,500,000,000). That was 54% of the total $1.11 trillion budget. Of the money spent on the military, roughly 22.5% was to pay the salaries of military personnel. For the sake of my argument, let’s call that $135 billion.  That’s all fine and good. We like our military. We want them to get paid, and most of us would probably agree that they deserve more money for what they do for us. But, not everybody enlists in the military because they just want to kill people and break things.  Many enlist because it’s a job, and it teaches them skills for use after they are out of the military – so they can make a living and afford things like health care for their families.

For perspective, keep in mind that medicine was once a calling to help people, and it had nothing at all to do with money.

WHAT IF?  What if we, as a civilization, were able to make it so again? What if the government took a chunk of that $135 billion military payroll budget and started another branch – the Medical Corps – and trained doctors like they do soldiers? Qualified applicants would enlist for ten years; receive their education in 6; and, if they were able to complete their training, would come out of that training as doctors (nurses, technicians, etc.) Instead of paying (with money) for their education, and therefore having to pass that enormous cost on to their future patients, they’d be getting paid to do their training. The remaining four years of their enlistment would require them to work in government-run hospitals and clinics, treating anybody who needed their services for free.  After that, they could re-enlist and remain on the government payroll, working as doctors (nurses, technicians) for what active-duty soldiers get paid, or go off and be medical providers on their own, making whatever that market dictates.

No insurance necessary. If you are a human, there are plenty of places you can receive needed medical attention, at no charge. None. Zero. Zilch.

If you’re a rich person and you think you won’t be able to get the quality of care you deserve at the free clinics and hospitals, you can always go somewhere else for treatment and pay for it just like you do now.  But, given the competition, those rates should come down.

I think it’s a win/win.  Arguments expected.
(c) Rick Baber, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017


Listen, dumb people. About all this echoing every idiotic thing your clinically psychotic president says: it was cute, for a while, but now it’s just goddamn annoying and, frankly, more than a little frightening. Try to remember this simple rule-of-thumb – it’s not “fake news” if it’s true.  This is the case whether or not you like the news you’re hearing. This is true whether or not the president made the false statement because “that’s what I was told.” This is true even though he’s not “Crooked Hillary” or “Lyin’ Ted;” and even when your leader says “I know you are, but what am I?” – his favorite defense for otherwise indefensible actions.

Your gullibility is astounding. You can literally watch side-by-side video presentations of him speaking a lie against the actual proof that he’s lying, and then immediately dismiss what you just saw because … “fake news.”  It is possible that the only “news” to which you have access is the Twitter account you carry around with you as you go otherwise blissfully about your lives; depending solely on the 3 am cocaine-induced decrees from your Pharaoh to tip you off as to what’s going on the world. But, surely, you see contrary responses to those tweets. Naturally, you automatically side with your Fuhrer, because that’s what you have been conditioned to do. You don’t see any benefit to checking other sources, but if you stumble upon one, you’re not bashful about voicing your extreme dissatisfaction with it.

You’re still stuck on that use of the term “Fuhrer” aren’t you? That seems to touch a nerve with the alt-right, who rails against the cliché concept of Nazism. Overused. Worn out. Tired. “Every time somebody disagrees with a liberal, they play the Nazi card!” This, although you were never reluctant to use the term when you were convinced that Obama was going to send in the troopers to kick down your doors and take away your guns. By the way, do you think you’ll get those guns back now? There must’ve been so many confiscated during that eight-year term.

If you can tear yourselves away from Twitter for maybe a weekend, and you have any real interest at all in how Hitler and the Nazis came to power, it’s really easy information to find. Heard of Google? Try something like “Nazi rise to power.” Pay particular attention to the contributions of a man named Joseph Goebbels and how he dealt with the media – which has now been declared by Mein Trumpf to be “the enemy of the American people.” See if you’re intellectually capable of spotting the glaring similarities.

During your exhaustive research, as outlined above, try to keep in mind that most every article you see regarding the Nazi rise to power was written long before Mango Mussolini even entertained the idea of running for president. It’s not some leftist “fake news” propaganda designed to cast aspersions on your fearless, stubby-fingered leader. It just happens to fit – like a very small glove.

Now, after everything you’ve seen and read, if you still have any doubts about who is lying to you, and you possess any ability at all for critical thought, try some. Ask yourself “Who is the media?”  Is it not just people, working for a living, who get paid whether or not the “news” is what you want to see and hear? That guy from the local newspaper who sits at the big round table at your local restaurant drinking coffee every morning with others from your community. Your cousin’s next door neighbor who does the 6 o’clock TV news. Jake Tapper. Jim Acosta. Shephard Smith. What motive do they have for lying to you? Money? Would they make more money by exposing an un-truth told by your president than they would from, say, reporting that Trumpf single-handedly rescued a burning bus full of African-American handicapped children during a Washington DC blizzard? Which story is going to sell more soap?  Would they stand a better chance at keeping their jobs if they made up news stories or if they simply reported the truth as it occurred? If keeping their jobs is not their agenda, then what is?

Look at your president. What does he have to gain by convincing you that “the media” is lying to you about things that he says and does? Unbridled power, maybe? Ya think?

Understandably, Trumpf apologists are upset that those of us (the majority), who so easily see through this “fake news” propaganda campaign, point to their apparent idiocy as the root of the problem. But one simply can’t blame the snake oil salesman for trying to make a buck.  Sooner or later, it has to be realized that he wouldn’t be in business at all if the sick and dying didn’t continue to buy his worthless product, before staying sick and dying.

© Rick Baber, 2017

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Column for Bowlling Green - the truth is finally revealed

It started out as a simple slip of the tongue by the ordinarily cautious and diplomatic counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway.  During one of her regular interviews, this one with MSNBC, she stated: “I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

What didn’t get covered? Was it the non-existent fact that “Obama” (some may know him as “President Obama”) had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program”? No. It couldn’t have been that, because it never happened.  So, the only thing left in her revealing statement that “didn’t get covered” had to be the last half of it, regarding the radicalized Iraqis who were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre.

She’s right, of course.  That didn’t get covered by the news – and for a very good reason – and therefore very few people even knew the massacre ever occurred. Ms. Conway, who works closely with President Trump, had only recently learned of the event herself. And that revelation was most certainly on her mind, given that the anniversary was approaching, as she was involved with the MSNBC interview. It slipped. Was it an intentional slip? Was it some subconscious action of her superior brain, recognizing that it was time for Americans to finally know the truth about Bowling Green?  To understand, we must first examine the massacre itself, and the cover-up that followed.

In early January, 2011, an Iraqi national named Waad Ramadan Alwan, using forged citizenship papers in the name of Walt Dellinger, took a job working as a motel night manager in Bowling Green. At 11:56 pm on January 23 (a Sunday), while Alwan was on duty, a guest using the name Roger Thill (later identified as Mohanad Shareef Hammadi) from Las Vegas, registered as a guest, and was assigned room number 316. 

Over the next several weeks, with very little motel business to distract them, the men worked together nightly, conspiring to attack Fort Knox (about 1 ½ hours up I-65) and take the gold stored there to finance al Qaeda’s efforts to destroy America.

A motel night maid named LaQuischia Williams became suspicious of these nightly meetings and began to spy on the men as they worked on their devious plans.  When she finally became aware of what they intended to do, she sent a Facebook private message to President Barak Obama, advising him of the plot.  This was on Sunday, May 29.  President Obama, who always responded to every Facebook message personally, thanked LaQuischia for the information and suggested that she call in sick for work on the following night.

Unknown to Ms. Williams, and certainly to the foreign would-be robbers of Fort Knox, was the fact that there was no gold in storage there, and there hadn’t been for decades.  This was information deemed unnecessary for release to the public at-large; and possibly devastating to the economy if it was.  The President had no reservations about the ability of Fort Knox to defend itself against these two men, but he was concerned that, somehow in the 24-hour news frenzy covering the attack, the absence of gold there might be discovered by the media. So the attack itself had to be stopped before it ever started.

At 3:36 am on May 31, 2011, a drone strike demolished the Day’s Inn Motel in Bowling Green. The celebration in the Situation Room basement of the west wing of the White House was short-lived when, almost immediately, a satellite monitor reported that Dellinger and Thill had escaped only moments before the strike, and were spotted running north, on foot, up Hwy. 231 toward the Interstate. A second drone strike took out the entire highway exchange; but again, once the smoke and dust subsided, the figures of the two men were seen, cutting west, toward the Bowling Green Skate Center. It appeared they had broken into the building there to take refuge. 

Fearing that the men may not be as easily eliminated as planned, President Obama sent in 6 more drones to finish the job.  As they ran, the al Qaeda operatives continued to narrowly escape their destinies throughout a series of additional missile strikes: Cue Time Cocktails and Billiards; Chuck’s Wine & Spirits; Bowling Green Convention Center; Outback Steak House; and finally, Cabela’s were destroyed in the pursuit.  Three of the seven drones crashed in the attempt.

The townspeople who weren’t killed in the explosions were awakened by the noise and, understandably, believing they were under some al Qaeda attack, many had rushed to the Cabela’s store, breaking in to gather arms for their own defense. There were an estimated 411 people inside the store when it was destroyed.

Apparent now that the elusive would-be terrorists were managing to survive every attempt to erase them, the President had no choice but to order a tactical nuclear strike, which, at 5:06 am, centered 1000 feet above Western Kentucky University, securing the demise of the terrorists; and, unfortunately, every man, woman, and child within a 3-mile radius of the blast; or so was believed. 

Before dawn broke, government trucks and heavy equipment were rolling into Bowling Green to completely re-build the town as it originally stood, down to every last detail. The only exception was, for some reason, the Cabela’s store, which wasn’t replaced until 2014.

While the emergency construction was underway, all civilian access to the town was cut off by the military. The only vehicles allowed through the 3-month blockade were the busloads of “replacement citizens,” moved in as they literally studied their roles via on-line classes based, primarily, on the social media records of the Bowling Green population.

For one of only a few times in US history, lawmakers and government officials on both sides of the political aisle agreed that the public, as well as their own careers, would be better served by never knowing of the Bowling Green Massacre. Pacts were signed. Blood oaths were taken. The records were sealed. And Bowling Green today, completely replaced down to the goldfish in the bedroom of young Kylie McClue on Stone Hollow Lane, appears as a typical, safe American town to all but a selected few with superior knowledge.

It may never be determined, with certainly, whether or not Dellinger and Thill were killed in the demolition of Bowling Green.  What has come to light in recent years is that there were many who, by the grace of God, managed to escape this apocalypse, and more and more of them are leaking their stories to the news media every day.  While the mainstream media is under strict orders from the NSA to ignore such reports, under penalty of death, the proliferation of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook make it all but impossible to keep it under wraps.

Once newly-elected President Trump decided to attend his National Security Briefings, he learned the story of Bowling Green.  Naturally, he had to share the information with his staff. It just so happened that Kellyanne Conway had just been briefed on the subject moments before her MSNBC interview. She’s only human. It was weighing heavily on her mind. And, again, it slipped.

President Trump is trying desperately to draw public attention away from the Bowling Green story with his tweets regarding the controversial Muslim ban. Is it working? Will it be enough?  Or will the story of Bowling Green rise through the smoke and mirrors into the unfiltered light of truth?

Only time will tell.

© 2017, Rick Baber

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bricks in The Wall

The general consensus among those of us who are vehemently opposed to Donald Trump’s coronation as our new Pharaoh has been that those who rabidly support him are either evil or stupid, or some combination of both.  Even though this analysis seems to fit, when looking at the body as a whole, our “better angels” have been whispering to us all along that maybe there’s something more to it.  While it’s somewhat comforting for us to think that we don’t belong to either of the described demographics, it is concurrently disconcerting to think that practically half of the population does. We don’t want to believe that.
A deeper examination of the phenomenon provides some relief when we first realize that Mr. Trump’s current approval rating, one week after he took office, is at 36% - if the “fake news” outlets we have previously depended upon for information are to be believed over the 140 character bulletins issued from the palm of the despot, himself. The fact that it’s not really “half” of the people is somewhat reassuring. Since it’s only the first “approval” poll, and given that not everyone polled actually voted in the election, it’s difficult to determine whether this figure represents an increase or decrease in his support since the election. But we’ll start with that as the foundation for this essay.

The first questions we must ask ourselves are “Who are the 36 percent?” and “What attracts them to a man that over half of America finds repulsive and dangerous?”
This is only an educated assumption, based upon personal observation of social media and reports from what has now been deemed “fake news,” but consider that at least 10% of them are simply going along with the crowd. Peer pressure. While they may answer to polls with approval, they don’t really care one way or the other, because they don’t think that government makes all that much difference in their lives. They just don’t want to be ostracized by their friends. Even though they may, in the course of conversation with their friends, be inclined to lean toward their friends’ perspectives, they refrain from initiating battle with the opposition through social media. These people need not be included among the hard-core supporters of Trump for this discussion; thus reducing those ranks to 32.4% of Americans.

Now comes those among the rabid supporters who are uninformed; too disinterested or lazy to look into the matter themselves; depending wholly on what they are told by their trusted friends and family members on all political issues.  “If Joe says Trump is the man for the job, then because I agree with Joe on other things, I agree with him on this.” This 10% of the overall 32.4% could, in fact, be considered “stupid,” rather than simply “ignorant” – not because of their strongly-held political opinions so much as the fact that they base them on nothing at all. Those political positions are quite often contrary to their own best interests and those of their families.  There remains a chance, however small, that these people will miraculously come to their senses once Trump’s policies begin to make discernible negative changes in their daily lives. However, it is more likely that they’ll continue to depend on those they consider to be better informed to tell them what they think, why their lives are actually getting worse, and who they support. So 3.24%: stupid.
We’re now left with 29.16% of American voters to categorize. “Stupid” has been assigned. So are all these people simply evil? There are still arguments to be made in defense of this charge, depending upon your definition of “evil.”

“Vindictive,” may be a better description for roughly half of them.  Think high school.  Studies of Political Socialization have shown the six agents with the most influence on the formation of our political opinions. They are, in order: Family, Schools, Peers, Mass Media, Political Leaders & Institutions, and Churches & Religion. Where do most of those agents converge for the first time in the lives of most Americans? While you may have had sufficient exposure to Family, Schools, Peers and Churches prior to then, you’ve only now come of age to pay any attention at all to Mass Media and Political Institutions.  You may have changed your position on matters since then, but high school is likely where you first gave some (possibly) serious thought to what kind of national government you wanted.
Bring up a mental picture now of your most enthusiastic Trump supporter; the guy who, without hesitation, assaults you for the opinions you express on social media with sophomoric taunts like “Snowflake,” “Suck it up, buttercup,” and “We won. Get over it!” (Or various, equally brash citations of the same message – usually displaying inadequate grammar and spelling skills.)  You’ll note that, even though your subject matter is concerning the performance of the president, in-office, this person will invariably respond from the perspective of a gloating winner of a contest. He/She will insist that your dissatisfaction is with losing the election and that you simply won’t accept the results.  Consider here that, perhaps, this person experienced what were perceived as great losses during these most formidable years. Never accepted into the “cool kids” clique because he was overweight or otherwise unattractive; because she came from a poor family who couldn’t afford fashionable clothing; was socially awkward due to mistreatment, even abuse, at home; not good at sports - or not good enough to satisfy a domineering father; lacking the intelligence to keep up, scholastically, and ridiculed by the mean kids who could. These are the kind of things that stick with some people through life. They grow up and see a man who – even though he physically represents every despised “winner” they ever encountered – claims to be acting on their behalf, forming a “union,” of sorts, of all those previously considered “losers” to make them winners just like him.  And they bite.

Or perhaps this was the school bully, who once had total power and control over his own domain, only to grow up and lose it all to the boss down at the factory. He wants it back so badly that he’s willing to do most anything to get it. He instinctively recognizes the bully in Trump (as-if that is difficult) and seizes the opportunity. He’s now among like-minded people who can actually appreciate the fine art of humiliating less fortunate human beings – something he always thought he did so well.  And he’s going to make others pay for those years he spent on the hot end of the poker.
The most popular kids in high school who became nameless faces in the crowd once they got to college, and then into the real world. The jock who wasn’t good enough to play at the next level. The Homecoming Queen who ended up marrying that older guy who hung around the pool hall on Main Street, selling a little weed to the school kids – because she was pregnant with his second baby and she managed to convince him that it was time. The president of the Future Farmers of America who realized too late that the plants in his post-high school farm really did need water instead of electrolytes. Resentful. Wanting again to belong to any group where they might have a chance to regain that status they so enjoyed. Here’s one. A big tent. There’s room. 

“Vindictives” = 14.16% of American voters. (If for no other reason than to get us back to a nice round number; 15% remains.)
Then, there were the “snobs.” Remember them? They actually did have everything going for them: looks, money, popularity.  They were most selective about who they allowed into their clique; and they didn’t change over the years. It carried through high school, into college, and then in their country clubs. They see in Trump the ultimate snob. Who else could they identify with? Snobs account for 10% of the remaining 15% of Americans; leaving 13.5%, and really screwing up the round number thing we had only just repaired.

“Wannabes,” aka “the bootstrap people,” make up a good chunk of the remainder, at 8.5% of Americans. (Fixed again.)  These are the people, regardless of whatever trauma they underwent in high school; and regardless of what advantages they had to begin with (daddy who could “loan” them money to get started, etc.), actually managed financial success. They have what they consider successful careers, nice houses and cars, positions of authority in their chosen professions.  While they are nowhere near the 1 percent in their financial portfolios, they’re so far ahead of that classmate who’s still pushing carts at WalMart that they feel like they are moguls. Wannabes come from all walks of life, including all of the categories above, so the 8.5% considers the overlap from those groups – except for “snobs.”  They are certainly snobs now, in the classic sense of the word, but they did not become such until they reached a certain rung on the societal ladder. Now that they are there, they will do everything within their power to keep those below them from catching up. These are the ones who complain so loudly about people on welfare and others living off the taxes they pay. Food, shelter, healthcare and human dignity aren’t “rights,” as far as they’re concerned – they must be earned. And people, of whatever creed and color, who are unwilling or unable to earn them should just wither and die, diminishing the burden of their kind on society. They have evil tendencies, but they can’t truly be considered evil, because they honestly believe that because they managed to make it this far, every other person, regardless of circumstance, should be able to do the same. Due to the fact that they feel like bigshot moguls, these bootstrappers mistakenly think the economic policies pursued by oligarchs like Trump will help them fight off those climbing the ladder beneath them. So their outlook is one derived from fear, rather than evil.  The Wannabe category includes preppers and survivalists who figure (hope) the end of civilization might as well come now, while they are better prepared to deal with it than most everybody else. It’s the natural progression of things. The law of the jungle. It shuffles the deck for them and those guys a few rungs up the ladder who keep kicking them back down.
The real 1%: the only people who will actually benefit in the long run from Trumpian policies. They don’t really fit into any other category. They simply are who they are. They have never known any other way of life, and there’s no way any of them are going to willfully abandon their ivory towers. They know they wouldn’t be able to exist outside. So in a way, theirs is a fight for their very survival.

Really evil? There’s only 4% left. There’s no excuse for them. They hate everybody who isn’t exactly like them (many who are) and are eager to see people suffer. Children, the sick and the elderly. It doesn’t matter to them.  Some of these people graduated from other categories to achieve full-blown evil. But it was in their DNA to begin with. They would have ultimately arrived here no matter what path they took. They are from bad seed.
So, there it is: Trump’s 36% broken down. It’s definitive. It’s mathematics. It can’t be disputed.

But, other than belonging to the 1%, does Trump himself cross over into any of the other categories? The answer may be bewildering to some. Trump, the man, doesn’t exist. He is merely the product of the imagination of the combined 36%; a cross section of all of them, manifested into the vulgar megalomaniacal creature with expensive suits and comical hair. He is the monster under our beds. The boogieman. And whether or not this carnation is able to succeed in destroying a once-great county, the soul of the monster will remain.

© Rick Baber, 2017