Nicholas Sandmann and the Covington Catholic Kids are Brownshirted Weasels: You’re Being Duped by a PR Firm and Probably Worse

Yesterday, in illustrating my largely “they’re-in-our-division” hatred for the Kansas City Chiefs, I brought up a story that I thought by now would have fizzled out because of common sense and decency. Nicholas Sandmann, the sneering teen made famous for squaring off against Native elder Nathan Phillips over the weekend in Washington D.C., is apparently meeting with Donald Trump in the White House tomorrow as part of the far-right’s active measures campaign to spin the narrative of the Covington Catholic school kids as victims of media bias and a left-wing mob mentality. It’s a predictable extension of the story and one a variety of outlets have fallen for in their hand-wringing about whether or not it’s OK to throw this young bigot and his friends under the bus.

As the waters of the story are muddied, it’s important to understand the basic facts before analyzing exactly what is happening with the rest of the narrative. Sandmann and other students from Covington Catholic School in Kentucky were flown into D.C. to attend the annual March for Life anti-abortion demonstration, where many of them chose to deck themselves out in Make America Great Again regalia. This happened to fall on the same day as the second Women’s March in D.C., also commemorating the ruling on Roe v Wade as well as a protest by indigenous people against the longstanding and continued marginalization of Native Americans.

Evidently either encouraged by chaperones or due to a complete lack of supervision (pick one), the students moved around National Mall in a large group, where they catcalled women, yelled right-wing slogans, and said things like “it’s not rape if you enjoy it”. This caught the attention of a group of Black Israelites, a fixture in many east coast cities notorious for aggressive, street-level proselytizing who began to heckle the group of “future school shooters” as “Donald Trump incest babies.” This interaction apparently got heated and the Native people moved to deescalate the situation, which is when the Covington students famously mocked the Native elder by doing tomahawk chop gestures, mocking “war cries” and even a Maori-inspired “school Haka” not unfamiliar at US sporting events.

Now, even engaging with the Black Israelites is a mistake akin to trying to have a nuanced debate with the Westboro Baptist Church or arguing with Scientologists, but that’s neither here nor there. These kids were roaming D.C. as a brownshirted mob, harassing women, Native and black people well before the escalation that peaked with the students chanting “Build the Wall” at Mr. Phillips. Using the Black Israelite apparent “aggression” as a an excuse for these kids is blatantly racist spin. It’s frankly unsurprising that a decades-old group notorious for yelling on street corners, unprompted, that white people are a race of demons created by an evil scientist on a Greek island chose to engage with a mob of youth screaming at Native people that they’re “drunken thieves” and that black people should “go back to Africa”. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. In no way does any of the par-for-the-course behavior exhibited by the Black Israelites excuse the frothing frenzy exhibited towards Nathan Phillips. Continue reading →

Huge Pay Disparities Mean Denver Public Schools Should Strike, Too

As the first teacher’s strike in 30 years kicks off in LA today, Denver Public Schools looks poised to strike as well if a deal isn’t reached by this Saturday after narrowly avoiding a strike last year. Like most teachers around the country, most cannot afford to live in the districts they teach in and one in five DPS teachers work a second job. Long-standing issues in funding, particularly in regards to property taxes, mean school funding and teacher pay is an obvious issue of racial discrimination and class warfare.

49192823_10217817406336860_5954797213296099328_n

Administrative and executive salary documents

District salary documents circulating on Facebook detail a massive pay disparity between the average DPS teacher and administrative officials. While a first-year teacher makes less than $45,000 a year, a rate the union is fighting to increase by up to 10% and with the rapid rising costs of living in Denver amounting to basically an inflationary wage raise, executive directors are pulling nearly a quarter-million dollar salary. Anyone that has ever worked within a school system could tell you the teachers are being hosed. The distribution of labor between even a school principal, making upwards of $85,000 per year, and that of a teacher is astronomical: pouring through the documents, DPS has one administrator to manage every 7.5 teachers, yet one teacher for every 40 students. Couple that with the fact that teachers pay hundreds of dollars per year to supply their own classrooms, work countless hours of unpaid over-time grading papers and preparing lesson plans, and without a doubt spend the most time educating and supervising children, it’s no wonder DPS teachers are ready to form picket lines.

Despite initial record profits and promises that the legalization of marijuana would provide an influx of funding for school districts across the state, that is largely not the case. Construction projects (notoriously nebulous processes) and programs like substance abuse prevention or adding counselors are funded through grant programs from marijuana sales taxes, however, teacher’s salaries aren’t addressed because the grants are not a consistent source of budgetary income for the schools and districts. While voters in Colorado likely had issues like this in mind when voting to pass Amendment 64, the nuts and bolts of the funding limitations mean teachers, one of the last widespread unionized professions in this country not connected to health care or law enforcement, get the shaft. Continue reading →

Beto O’Rourke is a Catspaw for the Establishment Democrats

As the New Year approaches, the 2020 race to see which Democrat gets to take the blame for Trump’s disastrous policies is starting to reluctantly take shape. The field will only get weirder, surely, as the imperiled incumbent administration continues to shed support in the face of further legal turmoil and a continued shut down of the government. Nobody has actually declared yet, but obvious early frontrunners are emerging and a bitter feud is already starting to bubble over between the starry-eyed backers of Texas congressman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, fresh off a narrow loss for Ted Cruz’s senate seat, and the more jaded supporters of 2016 Democratic nominee runner-up Bernie Sanders from Vermont.

While Beto and Bernie aren’t publicly trading barbs, making this entire debate that has subsumed the political corners of the internet even odder, their respective bases have turned vicious against one another and exposed fractures in the party. O’Rourke, a moderate congressman from Texas who largely tread water with a middle-of-the-road voting record, may have had some promise to left-leaning Democrats as a more progressive senator, but that was dashed during the mid-terms and he’s since been floated as a kind of “Great White Hope” Barack-Obama-second-coming type by the establishment seeking to capitalize on any kind of excitement. Beto got liberal Texans energized, sure, but after seeing the middling job that a compromising but charismatic centrist did from 2008-16, most nationwide progressives are looking for a cadidate with more drastic solutions, ready to tackle crises and shift paradigms.

The Bernie wing has reason to close up ranks a little bit. The party establishment, largely stacked with Clinton acolytes, very obviously anointed Hilary with the 2016 nomination and then took for granted the energy a new generation of democratic socialists had for Sanders. The superdelegate system was an absolute sham, the primary system so obviously a First-Passed-the-Post system clearly designed for a party-favored (and moneyed) candidate, and mechanisms that saw every bit of dissent towards this process snuffed out or outright sneered at. They went onto lose to a game show host and real estate con artist after failing to close an enthusiasm gap, having not learned their lessons from 2000 or 2004, and ineptly handling basic campaigning, messaging, or maneuvering around manufactured scandals from the right-wing with a candidate that has literally spent forty years doing just that. Continue reading →

Parsing the Leftist Outrage Over the Syrian Pullout

Last week, Donald Trump unilaterally ordered for the US military to withdraw from the Syrian’s civil war theater. Coming as somewhat of a surprise to the Pentagon, this prompted the high-profile resignations of both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and anti-ISIS coalition envoy Brett McGurk. A bipartisan condemnation ensued, accusing Trump of abandoning allies and setting a dangerous precedent for future military excursions.

This also enraged the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces primarily responsible for waging the lion’s share of the war it took to dislodge ISIS from control of vast swaths of Syria, largely with the help of coalition air support from the United States and Russia. Some 2,000 US military personnel on the ground, training SDF forces and providing targeting information over the last several years, were reportedly deeply unhappy as well with the order to abandon the SDF’s mission.

While ISIS isn’t quite, as Trump declared, extinguished in Syria, the idea that they would regain significant territory or pose a threat beyond guerrilla terror actions is a slim chance. Assad, as his father before him did, has endured the war and will likely seek Russian-guided mediation with the remaining fractured rebel groups. The NATO proxy now abandoned, reconciliation between the SDF and Assad also seems likely as the two rarely fought during the war.

On paper, this seems like a tidy end to what has been a devastating, terrifying conflict for the region. Supporters of Donald Trump attracted to his isolationist foreign policy rhetoric cheered the move and chided Democrats that otherwise normally encourage reductions in US military involvement in foreign lands as flip-floppers, even accusing them of being in line with the neoconservatives so reviled by so-called libertarians and anti-war liberals alike.

Some anti-imperialist internationalist “far-leftists” decried the pull-out too, eyeing the social revolution in Kurdish Rojava (a presently semi-autonomous zone carved out during the war, seen as an opportunity for a Kurdish homeland) and its vulnerability to being crushed by an imminent invasion from Turkey, citing elements of the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) operating within or controlling entirely the YPG/YPJ (People’s Protections Units, largely Kurdish militias that spearhead the SDF) as casus belli. Other anti-imperialist internationalist “far-leftists” praised the move, citing that a reduction in US military imperialism as more important than a burgeoning revolution, likely still bitter that an ostensibly anarcho-communist influenced militia made the frankly pragmatic move to accept US military support in exchange for not being completely wiped out by ISIS at the peak of their strength just a few years ago.

There’s a lot going on here, it’s extremely confusing, there’s a lot of acronyms, and making sense of the various viewpoints and ideological axes to grind is tough to do.

Continue reading →

GUEST POST: Briefly Uniting a Divided America in Somber Civility to Hollowly Eulogize and Mourn a Decrepit War Criminal – by Centrist Cathy

business photo 2014

Seriously, give it a rest. This isn’t the time for a nuanced and factual analysis of the man’s role in the illegal deaths of thousands of people.

America’s longest-living President, George Herbert-Walker Bush, passed away in Texas last night. It’s been a rough year for elder statesmen in this great nation, the American people are only just now finishing glossing over the casualized racism of John McCain’s bloodthirsty foreign policy and putting to the back of their minds his airborne strafing runs against innocent Vietnamese civilians as a volunteer Navy pilot fail-son. In these trying times, with all the mean tweets, blatant cronyism, and the backbiting, the passing of the senior Bush so soon after losing McCain feels like the passing of an American generation, one that more adequately and eloquently hid its profoundly disturbing contempt for humanity and heinous crimes in the Global South behind a veil of need-to-know National Security and a veneer of unquestionably patriotic civil service.

In H.W’s day, one wouldn’t brazenly castrate an institution like the glad-handing White House Correspondent’s Dinner by banning all comedians, no, you’d invite your SNL impersonator Dana Carvey to the White House yourself, effectively co-opting and neutralizing an effective critical satire. Politicians these days might blatantly sell their influence to the highest bidder no matter the ethical cost or concern for their reputation because the sedated American public is largely one paycheck away from starving, but Bush lived in a simpler time when one could rely more on a media monopoly more effective at masking a candidate’s blue-blooded Nazi war profiteering family ties or admission in nepotistic, shadowy secret Ivy League college fraternities of silver-spoon wealthy rape-pigs with no ideology other than power and profit. Back then, we weren’t talking about shady real estate deals with adversarial dictatorships, we just looked away as one family bought up the largest state in the country to plunder the natural resources of with little to no concern about later environmental impacts and we were happier that way. Wouldn’t it be nice to get back there? That was a time in an America this “radical centrist” knew, loved, and was comfortable enough during to have an unquestioning blanket support for the ruling class’s status quo.

Radical leftists might use this time of grieving to highlight how Bush was instrumental in the Republican’s bigoted “Southern Strategy”, peeling off members of the John Birch Society and integrating them into the right-wing as he campaigned against Civil Rights at the inception of his political career in the early 1960s. They might bring up how he was a steadfast defender of Richard Nixon and helped steer the RNC away from imploding, ever being held accountable for their erosion of democratic institutions and helped cement it as an inter-generational white-collar criminal enterprise that has defenestrated America out of the Overton Window; where it is presently hurdling at terminal velocity to an undignified, likely brutal and cannibalistic death in which its flag will be as globally reviled as the swastika within the next half-century. Continue reading →

Longmont’s Village Idiot, Henry McNevin

Colorado is a “purple state”, so the myth goes, and every so often, our local media is forced to cover our state’s rube eccentrics, our “colorful” bootlickers, our Lost Cause Sons of the Confederacy racists and what their idiot views are despite time and demographic shifts rapidly diminishing any political capital any of these jackasses once had. The purple state is a myth, lip-service to slack-jawed bigots choosing to live out in the middle of nowhere playing farmer and pretending they’re the backbone of America as corporate agribusiness reduces their role in the economy to hobbyists spending their days riding a tractor they aren’t even allowed to fix themselves. They’re nothing but bumpkin cosplayers living off government subsidies while complaining about the “inner cities” that generate the revenue that enables them to live their “authentic, real American” lifestyle while they enjoy getting jerked off by district politicians that inflate their voting power due to gerrymandering, working as intended to keep the rest of the country held hostage by these backwards, salt-of-the-earth shitheads waiting around for fracking company to buy out their farm. When the skoal comes around to bite them in the ass with mouth cancer, I’ll dance on their graves and spit in the faces of their widows that didn’t nip their fascist talk radio habit in the bud forty years ago.

Henry McNevin, 84, of Longmont, CO (home to the World’s Largest Stickerball but slowly being taken over by craft breweries) is one such character. McNevin made the news last week in the midst of the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, putting a sign in his yard that said the judge had been gang-raped by Democrats, riling up sane members of the town on Nextdoor. This isn’t the first time McNevin has generated controversy, two years ago he put up a grammatically-challenged sign directed towards Muslims before having to take it down after some local heroes allegedly threatened to demonstrate in front of his house and “destroy his property.” Direct action gets the goods, Longmont.

McNevin is a waste of flesh and a hatemonger, spending his twilight years pissing people off through A-Frames because his way of life is essentially pointless in the modern era, his views abhorrent in a time when his neighbors and the rest of us wait out his generation’s death in a hope it isn’t too late to reverse course and move towards social progress. He’s an old troll, throwing out baseless accusations to see his name in the paper in an effort to validate his relevancy, and the media falls for it because we live in a time of sensationalism that uses outrage to generate ad revenue. Hiding behind the shield of the First Amendment, this sad old man’s dying gasps about people he’s likely never met or the fellatio of powerful men that don’t give a rat’s ass about him are more pathetic examples of this country’s worst elements stating things they “can say” when the reality is they probably should keep it to themselves. Googling him yields nothing of substance apart from his signs, likely destined for the garbage dump or a re-purposing for another flash-in-the-pan political sentiment. He will be remembered for nothing but ignorance, racism, and hyperbole.

Unless we act now.

For between $300-$700, the community of Colorado could erect its own sign, with its own baseless accusation that Henry McNevin routinely drugs and forces livestock to have sex with him. I’m frankly tired of seeing the establishment left time and time again take the high road with morons that barely have the common courtesy to get their facts straight. That’s why I’m raising money to fund a billboard in the Denver Metro area in tribute to McNevin’s memory. Please donate today, to pay back Henry for being a shit neighbor that has subjected thousands of people to his trash opinions for years, and to make sure he’s remembered for more than just being a racist and a rape apologist, but also a horse cock connoisseur, a bovine blower, and a pig penetration enthusiast. Let’s let highway commuters everywhere know about Henry’s own assumed predilections, just like he loves to broadcast his views about Islam and Democrats gang-raping Supreme Court Justices.

Henry McNevin of Longmont, Colorado rapes farm animals. Donate Today.

US Prisoners Strike Against 13th Amendment Sanctioned Slavery

“The degree of civilization in a society is revealed by entering its prisons.”

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Today, after months of preparation, many prisoners in the United States will go on an unprecedented work strike in protest of inhumane treatment and exploitation within the penal system. Starting today and ending on September 9th, the anniversary of the 1971 Attica uprising, it’s likely that many inmates will face absurd and unjust retaliation for their organizing work (some already have), supported primarily by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a branch of the IWW, which I was a member of for several years. It’s important that the public is aware of the gravity of this situation, the issues being raised, and that as “citizens” we turn as much focus as possible towards this struggle in an effort to protect some of the least visible human beings in society from further violence at the hands of the institutions that hold them. Their demands are not lofty:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human
    shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
  7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

In Colorado, several inmates at the Sterling Correction Facility reported to the Denver Anarchist Black Cross (disclosure: I was also a member of this organization, a prisoner support group, for a number of years) that they have begun a hunger strike in response to punitive policies that have placed several dozen prisoners in administrative segregation in a collective punishment practice. Inmates are citing a settled case that is supposed to place restrictions on solitary confinement in Colorado, as well as demanding crucial commissary restitution after prison-issued tablets were recalled and outstanding subscription money wasn’t refunded. The men in Sterling are also fighting for correspondence courses to strengthen ties with family on the outside.

unnamed-576x1024

Eric King

I’d also like to use this space to bring attention to the case of Eric King, incarcerated for actions taken in support of the Ferguson Revolt and sentenced to ten years in federal penitentiary. Eric was moved to a Secure Housing Unit (solitary) last week and then transferred to the high-security SHU in Florence, Colorado. The reasons for this punishment is unclear, and it remains to be seen if this is connected to the larger prison strike struggle, as Eric is a vocal political prisoner, but has also been put in the SHU before after filing complaints about a guard who threatened Eric and his partner’s children during a visit, and the authorities blamed his correspondence with people on the outside. You can learn more about Eric King here, and he loves receiving mail! His updated address is posted here alongside guidelines for writing him. His partner was recently in a car accident and is fighting health issues. She is a friend of mine, and if you feel so inclined, please donate to help offset the costs of her medical treatments and automobile repairs.

On the outside, active solidarity to support prisoners is springing up across the United States and the world. It’s Going Down is constantly updating a page with news and ways to help, including call-in campaigns, rallies, and other actions to take to support the strike. The despicable “Silent Sam” statue was toppled last night at UNC-Chapel Hill in North Carolina and demonstrators held banners in support of the strike. Widespread graffiti murals have been reported and photographed as far away as Lisbon, Portugal and Indonesia.

I’ll be writing as much as I can about the strike as news breaks, likely trying to keep my focus on local facilities and solidarity actions here in Colorado in the next few weeks. Until all are free, strength to the prison rebels.