You’re no doubt familiar with the name Robert Mueller and his investigation into the Trump campaign’s affiliations and alleged involvement in the Russian campaign to interfere with the 2016 Presidential Election. You’ve probably heard that Facebook was used by Russians to interfere with the 2016 Presidential election, and you’re no doubt aware that the Facebook data of more than 87 million users was obtained by Cambridge Analytica to influence the 2016 Presidential election. But you’re probably still wondering how this all happened, and we’re all wondering who’s guilty.
The question no one’s asking, however, is why a campaign calling to “Make America Great Again” by growing jobs and the American economy spent almost $6 million to employ an analytics firm in the United Kingdom with employees from the U.K. and Canada?
Facebook chairman and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg is testifying before Congress this week, but his prepared testimony is already available, and he won’t likely stray far from it regardless of the questions asked by the Senate Judiciary Commerce Committees at 1:15 p.m. CST on Tuesday and House Energy and Commerce Committee at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Here’s what happened in Zuckerberg’s own written words.
“In 2007...we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them...In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who agreed to share some of their Facebook information as well as some information from their friends whose privacy settings allowed it...Kogan was able to access some information about tens of millions of their friends.”
“In 2014...we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the Facebook information apps could access. Most importantly, apps like Kogan’s could no longer ask for information about a person’s friends unless their friends had also authorized the app. We also required developers to get approval from Facebook before they could request any data beyond a user’s public profile, friend list, and email address.”
“In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica...we immediately banned Kogan’s app from our platform, and demanded that Kogan and other entities he gave the data to, including Cambridge Analytica, formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data -- which they ultimately did.”
“Last month, we learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified. We immediately banned them from using any of our services. Cambridge Analytica claims they have already deleted the data and has agreed to a forensic audit by a firm we hired to investigate this.”
So the first thing we learn from Zuckerberg’s prepared testimony is that Facebook failed to protect the data of our friends from third-party app developers if our friends’ privacy settings allowed the sharing of some of their personal information. It took Facebook seven years to right that wrong. Even after doing so, Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to simply “certify” that they had deleted the data instead of proving they had deleted the data. “Clearly it was a mistake to believe them,” Zuckerberg said during the hearing, Tuesday.
The last, and most important thing we learn from Zuckerberg’s prepared testimony is that without the work of journalists, Facebook wouldn’t be aware of its mistakes in order to rectify them, providing just another reason for the importance of a free press. This while the government is compiling a database of journalists, where they reside, what they write and for whom in the interest of homeland security. Department of Homeland Security Press Secretary Tyler Houlton asserted on Twitter that the list is “standard practice of monitoring current events in the media,” but the list’s existence will scare aspiring journalists from the trade like similar lists scared patients from applying for medical marijuana prescriptions in Montana. I personally heard from multiple Montanans who chose to continue self-medicating their conditions with marijuana illegally for fear of being found out by the federal government as a user of cannabis.
Facebook is only guilty of being careless. Zuckerberg nor his company can be charged with a crime, but they failed to notify the more than 87 million users that their information had been acquired by Cambridge Analytica. They also failed to make sure that data was not available for further exploitation by Cambridge Analytica by accepting Cambridge’s word that the data had been deleted. Judging from the effects of Zuckerberg’s failure to accept blame for Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive data mining and the effects of his recent testimony, that mistake won’t be made again.
On March 27, when Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie dismissed earlier claims from Cambridge Analytica that the firm had not used Facebook data, Facebook’s stock price was $152.22 -- down from 185.09 on March 16. Facebook’s stock price was up 4.55 percent to $165.11 as Zuckerberg testified on Tuesday. Cambridge Analytica won’t be so lucky.
A slew of Cambridge Analytica employees are likely guilty of violating the federal law prohibiting foreign nationals from “directly or indirectly participat[ing] in the decision-making process of any...political committee...such as decisions concerning the making of...expenditures, or disbursements in connection with elections for any Federal, State, or local office,” according to a complaint by Common Cause submitted to the Department of Justice.
“[Former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher] Wylie said that many foreign nationals worked on the campaigns, and many were embedded in the campaigns around the U.S.” Wylie told NBC News that there were “three or four full-time [Cambridge Analytica] staffers embedded in [Thom] Tillis’s campaign on the ground in Raleigh,” North Carolina.
A second Cambridge Analytica staffer said the “team handling the data and data modeling back in London was largely Eastern European and did not include any Americans.” On March 25, the Washington Post published that “Cambridge Analytica assigned dozens of non-U.S. citizens to provide campaign strategy and messaging advice to Republican candidates in 2014, according to three former workers of the data firm...Many of those employees and contractors were involved in helping to decide what voters to target with political messages and what messages to deliver to them.”
Cambridge Analytica’s “dirty little secret was that there was no one American involved...working on an American election,” Wylie said. One Cambridge Analytica document obtained by the Washington Post explained, “For the Art Robinson for Congress campaign, Cambridge Analytica SCL assumed a comprehensive set of responsibilities and effectively managed the campaign in its entirety.” The New York Times reported that the John Bolton Super PAC “first hird Cambridge Analytica in August 2014” and “was writing up talking points for Mr. Bolton.” Cambridge Analytica also “helped design concepts for advertisements for candidates by Mr. Bolton’s PAC, including the 2014 campaign of Thom Tillis, the Republican senator from North Carolina, according to Mr. Wylie and another former employee.”
Mother Jones reported the deep involvement of Cambridge Analytica staff in the management and decision-making in Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 Presidential campaign. “Cambridge Analytica was put in charge of the entire data and digital operation, embedding 12 of its employees in Houston.”
So there’s ample evidence that many employees of Cambridge Analytica have violated the Federal Election Campaign Act prohibiting foreign nationals from participating in the decision-making process of any political committee with regard to such person’s Federal or nonfederal election-related activities. But why isn’t the Trump campaign and fellow Republican campaigns subject to punishment for hiring foreign agents to participate in American elections?
Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. paid Cambridge Analytica almost $6 million to effect the 2016 Presidential Election. Cruz for President also paid Cambridge Analytica almost $6 million to effect the 2016 Presidential Election. Make America Number 1 paid Cambridge Analytica almost $1.5 million during the 2016 election cycle.
The John Bolton Super PAC paid Cambridge Analytica more than $1 million during the 2014 and 2016 election cycles. The North Carolina Republican Party paid Cambridge Analytica more than $200,000 over the same period.
These are all Republican campaigns, supporting Republican candidates who, allegedly, want nothing more than to create American jobs and a thriving American economy. But they’re not putting their money where their mouth is. Giving more than $16 million to an analytics firm in the United Kingdom does nothing to improve the economy or create jobs in America, which is why the Trump campaign and other Republican campaigns are more guilty than Facebook and even Cambridge Analytica.
The Federal Election Campaign Act should not only prohibit foreign nationals from participating in and effecting American elections, but prohibit campaigns from spending campaign funds on services provided by foreign entities.
We can’t stop campaigns from purchasing products made outside America’s borders. Not much is produced in America anymore. But when it comes to services like catering, polling, marketing and advertising, campaign spending should be limited to those firms that reside in America in the interest of protecting the integrity of American elections and growing the American economy. It’s hypocritical of the Trump campaign to run on a slogan of “Make America Great Again” and then spend its money to grow un-American economies and jobs. Regardless of what the Mueller investigation uncovers, the Trump campaign is already guilty of selling out America.
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Another 17 children are dead after a mass shooting at a South Florida high school -- another avoidable tragedy allegedly perpetrated by a teenager with an assault weapon who left the following YouTube comment a year ago: "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."
Nikolas Cruz, 19, who was expelled from the school and not allowed on campus with a backpack after being found with bullets on campus, is in custody and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. But we saw it coming and still couldn’t stop it. Why? Because it’s way too damn easy to get a gun in this country.
There are more guns than Americans in the United States. There are 112.6 guns per 100 residents. Next on the list is Serbia at 75.6 guns per 100 residents. But addressing the number of guns available is problematic given the gun lobbyists and Conservatives clutching their firearms until death do they part.
The typical Conservative will tell you there isn’t much difference between the number of mass shootings in America compared to, say, Europe, citing statistics from the Right-leaning, often erroneous and mostly fraudulent Crime Prevention Research Center. They are, of course, wrong. On average, there is more than one mass shooting for each day in America, and there are 29.7 homicides by firearm per one million Americans, according to 2012 numbers. The next most is 7.7 homicides per one million Switzerland residents.
But how do we keep these tragedies from happening? How do we keep guns out of the hands of people like Cruz? Addressing the ease of access to guns is easy. Here’s what I think reasonable, sensible gun control looks like.
The only teenagers owning firearms should be members of the military. If 18 is too young to drink or use cannabis recreationally, then it’s too young to own a gun. Both drinking and using cannabis are less dangerous than firearms. Firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States, and young people are more likely to injure themselves with a gun accidentally. Over 1,300 victims of unintentional shootings from 2005 to 2010 were under 25 years of age, and “such injuries were approximately nine times more common among male than female patients and highest among males ages 20-24.”
I have no problem with children learning how to properly handle, respect and fire a gun or hunt with their fathers and grandfathers. Hell, shooting was one of my favorite pastimes growing up, too, but I was always in the presence of a drinking-aged adult -- even with a BB gun. That should remain the case for those 18 to 20 years of age.
A recent study released by three researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in October 2017, found the yearly charges associated with treating gunshot patients in American hospitals is nearly $3 billion.
American taxpayers should not have to flip the bill for any uninsured American who shoots him- or herself or someone else unintentionally. As of the 2010 census, there were 234,564,071 Americans over the age of 18. As of 2015, a third of Americans said they owned a gun. That gives us roughly 77,406,143 gun owners in America, and if the current rate of uninsured Americans is 11.3 percent, then roughly 8,746,894 American gun owners are uninsured. Everyday, 46 people are shot unintentionally in America. If 11.3 percent of the responsible parties are uninsured, at $900 per uninsured hospital visit, it results in over $1.7 million taxpayers have to cover annually.
Since health insurance is now a prerequisite for gun ownership, it shouldn’t be a problem for aspiring gun owners to undergo a mental health evaluation to prove they are not mentally ill or a substance abuser. This would make it more difficult for the mentally ill to obtain firearms and likely lower suicide rates, as “suicide rates are much higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership, even after controlling for differences among states for poverty, urbanization, unemployment, mental illness, and alcohol or drug abuse,” according to the Center for Injury Research and Prevention.
Since the passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008, also known as the Mental Health Parity Law, health insurers are mandated to treat mental health and substance abuse coverage comparably to physical health coverage, so the cost to the aspiring gun owner would be modest.
Just 12 states and Washington, D.C. mandate background checks for the sale of all firearms, including private sales that occur at gun shows and transfers between family members or friends. Another six only require background checks for the private purchase of handguns. The other 32 do not require a background check to purchase a gun at a gun show or from a private dealer.
Mandating that all states require criminal background checks to be conducted prior to the private sale of firearms would make it more difficult for those with a history of violent crime to obtain firearms.
I wrote about this back in October, but in summation, the process of adopting a pet is more thoroughly vetted by adoption agencies than the gun ownership process. Some adoption agencies will request the medical history of every pet you’ve ever had to make sure you’re not an abuser. They’ll ask if you’re gainfully employed, and some will even conduct in-home investigations to determine if your home is a safe place for the pet. Gun retailers aren’t coming to your home to make sure you have a gun safe or even asking if you own a gun lock. They’re not concerned about whether you have a job or a criminal history or the state of your mental health. They just want to sell you a gun.
Obtaining a gun just after the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791 wasn’t easy -- even for the federal government. There were reportedly just two American armories back then. “In an attempt to equip the militias sufficiently to protect the newly independent country, Congress ordered the purchase of 7,000 muskets in 1793. A year later, it had managed to buy only 400,” according to a story in The Economist based on the works of Michael Bellesiles. So back in the day it took almost an entire day just to produce a gun, and that’s combining the production of every gun manufacturer in the country. By 1808, one factory would produce 50,000 barrels, locks, rammers, and bayonets per year in Britain.
When the Second Amendment was ratified, the American forefathers certainly didn’t think assault weapons and rocket launchers would be possible, but they were also working with a knowledge that guns take a long time to produce. They certainly didn’t think there would come a day where there were more guns than Americans.
Since aspiring gun owners would be required to have a mental health evaluation and criminal background check conducted, a 10-day wait period would give them and the seller an opportunity to fulfill those prerequisites. It would also result in fewer crimes of passion, as those without guns looking to acquire guns in a fit of rage would have 10 days to think about the consequences of their intended actions.
Reasonable, sensible gun control starts with enforcing the current laws on the books. This will be easy once the infrastructure is created to allow law enforcement to view whether the gun owner has fulfilled all the prerequisites for gun ownership.
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Just because President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission has been disbanded doesn’t mean the state of voter suppression in America has improved. Many states fought to defend the privacy of its voters from the voter fraud commission and won, but the fight has just begun to curb voter suppression in states throughout America.
Young voters can sway elections, and the Republican-led New Hampshire Senate has passed a “poll tax” that will suppress student voting. The bill will likely pass the Republican-led House, but Republican Governor Chris Sununu doesn’t support the bill and could veto it. Regardless, the constitutionality of the bill has been called into question.
The 24th Amendment to the Constitution states: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”
Now the New Hampshire law isn’t a “tax” in the exact sense of the word. Instead of forcing out-of-state students to pay a tax to access the polls, which would be unconstitutional, House Bill 372 allows the State of New Hampshire to impose fines on voters who do not have a New Hampshire driver’s license, even though it is legal to vote in the state with an out-of-state license.
The bill would impose two obligations on new voters. Within 60 days of registering to vote, a New Hampshire voter would need to register her car with the state and obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license, the cost of which could amount to over $200.
Minorities have already been deciding elections in America, with black voters making the difference in Alabama. This is a major threat to Conservative incumbents, and Conservative-led, state legislatures have taken measures to suppress the minority vote in America.
Ohio’s law purging voters who have not participated in consecutive elections or failed to respond to a notice from state officials will likely be upheld by the Conservative majority of the Supreme Court.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the essence of the case is whether Ohio’s law is “disenfranchising disproportionately certain cities where large groups of minorities live, where large groups of homeless people live, and across the country they’re the group that votes the least.”
While federal law doesn’t allow states to use failure to vote as a reason for purging voters from rolls, federal law also calls on states to keep accurate voter rolls and allows for removal when a person fails to respond to a state’s request to confirm registration and then fails to vote in two federal elections. Ohio sends a notice after a voter misses a single election, and removes said voter if they don’t reply. It’s the most aggressive law of its kind in America.
With the 2020 census upcoming, the redrawing of states’ voting districts is getting a lot of attention, especially in the courts. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that its voter district map was partisan gerrymandered to benefit Republicans and must be redrawn.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed a lower-court order that would have forced North Carolina Republicans to redraw its state’s congressional district map while similar cases involving Wisconsin legislative districts and one Maryland congressional district are considered by the Supreme Court.
Bills governing redistricting were introduced in 27 states in 2017. Here’s a complete list of those bills. What’s the reason for so much redistricting legislation? Well, 37 state legislatures have primary control of their own district lines, and 42 legislatures have primary control over the congressional lines in their state (including five of the states with just one congressional district). And why wouldn’t an incumbent legislator draw district lines to his or her advantage? That’s why organizations like Common Cause are having success campaigning for independent commissions to handle district drawing. All of the 27 states with pending legislation governing redistricting have bills calling for a commission separate from the legislature to handle the map-making.
For instance, in Minnesota, there are companion bills calling for independent commissions to handle redistricting. HF 246 and SB 2052 call for a commission of former judges to draw district lines, but objectors to the bills say former judges aren’t representative of Minnesota’s minority populations. In nearby Michigan, bills have been introduced mirroring California’s citizens’ commission for redistricting -- the favorite model of organizations working toward democratic, competitive elections.
So while the state of voter suppression in America is improving and bound to continue improving for voters, there will still be states where partisan gerrymandered districts result in undemocratic, noncompetitive elections in 2018 and 2020. And until every state gets redistricting out of the hands of incumbent legislators, free elections are an impossibility.
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Whether it's nuclear winter, terrorist hacking of our energy infrastructure, a climate catastrophe, robot war or the zombie apocalypse, there will come a time the internet dies. A terrorist attack on America’s energy infrastructure would be far more damaging than an attack of civilian lives. Losing our energy infrastructure would make just about every tool useless except those running on renewable energy sources or generators, which is why everyone should be hoarding solar panels and solar chargers.
A terrorist attack of America’s energy grid would be devastating to the Internet. It’s not as though it can survive on life support. While server “caretakers” would likely prioritize which servers need to stay running, like those upon which the economy and banks rely, the 191.78 million kilowatt hours required to run Internet servers daily would require more than 53,000 commercial generators rated at 150 kilowatts. That’s just not possible.
Relying on solar energy for support would also be problematic. The 191.78 million kilowatt hours to run the Internet each day would require two square miles of solar panels dedicated solely to Internet servers. With 27.2 gigawatts of solar panels installed in America as of May 2016, the U.S. would need more than six times that in order to run the internet from solar power.
So it’s time we started using a tool that doesn’t require anything more than food and water to run -- a tool that’s kept people alive for centuries: memory. Committing things to memory could save your life in the event of an energy infrastructure failure, so here are four things you should learn before we lose the Internet forever.
Batteries will be a luxury in the post-energy infrastructure world. Those who have them or can build them will live lavishly. With one car battery or its equivalent, you could run a television and a Blu-ray player for the length of a movie, or even video game consoles for a few hours. But let’s focus on our needs before we get to the wants.
The price of bagged ice would skyrocket, as refrigerators and freezers would become traditional iceboxes. Microwave ovens and conventional ovens would give way to open flames for cooking food. Fire would also be the only way to heat our homes unless you had a battery and electric heater, which would save you from carbon monoxide poisoning and lower your risk of burning down your home or shelter.
Learn how to build a battery out of pennies to power small things like LEDs here. Since ice cube trays will be obsolete, you can use them and some sheet metal screws to build a 9-volt battery. You can make a 12-volt battery out of other batteries, too. You can build an inexpensive, lithium-ion battery pack to run your phone as well.
A battery is only as good as your ability to recharge it, so learning some basic electrical infrastructure installation will be most valuable. Not everyone will have the ability or means to build a hydroelectric generator, wind turbine or install a solar array to power lights and heat in their house or shelter. But there are enough junk bicycles out there to power lights and heat throughout America.
As long as food can be found, the bicycle will continue to serve as more than just a form of transportation in a post-energy infrastructure America. At night, bicycles will be brought indoors, where people take turns pedalling to power lights and heat and to charge batteries. Here’s how you can build a bicycle generator, which can typically produce 100 watts. Note: bicycle generators are incredibly inefficient, so exhaust your alternative energy options before resorting to the bicycle generator.
A boat will be an advantage enjoyed by those who survive the death of the Internet and America’s energy infrastructure. Only so much food can be found on land, and those with boats will have access to high-protein meals providing healthy calories that allow them to hunt and gather for longer hours.
You can build a boat with hand tools. There are plenty of designs from which to choose as well. Given the situation, however, you might have limited materials for boat building. Good thing a fishing boat doesn’t require much. This one is made from PVC pipe, and since indoor plumbing will be useless given that water pumps wouldn’t be powered, you can just rip those pipes right out of your walls.
Since you won’t be sending your poop to a wastewater treatment plant, you should be using it to fertilize your garden. The most important commodity in the post-energy infrastructure America will be food, and you’ll want to be able to grow as much as you can with whatever space you have.
A good start is using the scraps of food you don’t eat to make more food. You can transplant the roots of green onions after slicing them up as well as celery. You can even plant the tops of carrots and eat the greens.
You can also use trash to grow food. Large plastic jugs like milk containers, egg cartons, produce bags and aluminum trays are all useful in growing food. Shredded paper, cardboard, shoe boxes and paper bags are also useful in the garden.
Lastly, human waste makes for a fine fertilizer, so poop in a bucket and mix it into your garden soil. You can drink your urine when times get really tough.
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I’ll forward this by revealing that I have always lived in America and have never been outside America’s borders, almost strictly because of economic inability to do so. I’ll also prelude this by saying I don’t necessarily want to leave America currently. While I acquired a passport and New Zealand work visa prior to the 2016 Presidential Election, I decided to give America one last chance despite the election. I figure I’ll give my homeland until after the 2020 election to prove its worth. How did I find happiness in a country I find appalling and embarrassing?
I started simple: by putting myself in a place I felt more welcome in America. Not everyone can just pack up and move, though. I’m lucky enough to be a white male from a family that started and maintained a lower-middle-class status thanks to my parents’ union jobs.
I recognize that I took advantage of my economic advantage, and I acknowledge that I’ll never truly understand the economic disadvantage facing minorities in this country. My advice to them is to stand their ground. You might feel yourself becoming less and less welcome in your own hometown as gentrification raises your rent, then forces you to live further from your work, probably in an area where your vote is lost in a sea of suburbia, with the community’s ship captained by an elected official who turns a blind, patched eye as his crew of constituents forces you to walk the plank and maroon you along with your fellow minorities.
You might feel trapped on a deserted island in your suburban community, but you’ll notice the population of that island increase in number and diversity everyday. Gentrification might be the old gerrymandering, but eventually, minorities are going to take over suburbs just as they did cities.
This country is huge, but jobs aren’t following victims of gentrification to the suburbs. Suburban communities best be prepared for an influx of minorities, but something tells me they’re not. Regardless, if you can’t move to improve your surroundings, you must stand your ground, and do so in a manner that’s nonviolent and respectable.
When a member of the minority, it’s essential to do everything cleaner, kinder and gentler than the majority. Think about this: the success of the white supremacists’ movement depends on their opposition looking worse than them. Their entire rallying effort is dependent upon relativity. Sure, what they represent is objectively awful, so their only hope is that they represent themselves more respectably than their opposition. Their message takes a backseat to the reaction to their message. It’s been understandably difficult for them to accomplish given the hate in their ranks, but when it does happen, it allows them to stand behind their unfounded beliefs that non-white people are uncivilized or inherently violent and don’t belong amongst upstanding, white people.
Frankly, if I found myself amongst white supremacists, I probably couldn’t resist fighting them -- and I’m white! I couldn’t imagine the anger and frustration a non-white person would have in their presence, nor the resolve necessary to resist attacking them.
This country is huge and diverse. There’s a place for everyone in America regardless of color, creed, or sexual identification and preference, despite what’s on the news every night. There are even places for Democratic Socialists, but Eastern Montana isn’t one of them. The first key to make America great for you is to find a place populated with people like you and who accept you.
First and foremost, I sought the same thing those Boston Tea Party folks were seeking. I wanted to live in a place where my elected officials actually represented my interests and spent my taxes on things I need and want. That sort of representation requires democratic, competitive elections offering something more than the lesser of two evils.
Since Minneapolis utilizes ranked-choice voting and holds no primaries, a vast and diverse ballot of candidates is the result. There were 16 different candidates running for Minneapolis mayor in 2017. My hometown has had the same mayor for as long as I can remember, and he’s never truly been challenged.
Quantity doesn’t always result in quality, however. You can end up with plenty of bad candidates on a ballot if you put yourself in the wrong place. As a Democratic Socialist, my vote in Eastern Montana was mostly pointless except for local bond issues -- and even then I was in the minority.
The “D” behind a name on an Eastern Montana ballot is a death sentence, because Democrats don’t win elections in Eastern Montana (our mayor being the lone exception). I’ve been in meetings with Democrats considering campaigns in Eastern Montana, and they admit their best chance to win is to switch parties and hope to win a crowded primary. So even the Democrats are Republicans in Eastern Montana, making Democratic representation nonexistent.
Since Minnesota has a long, storied history of union jobs and still has a strong union presence, it’s most apt to allow for the growth of a Labor Party. The Democratic Farmer Labor Party is indicative of the strong, Left-leaning labor movement, as is Ginger Jentzen’s near-win as a Socialist for city council in Minneapolis. I went into the election with my interests well-represented and came out of the election with even better representation. The opposite would have been true had I remained in Eastern Montana.
America is the entertainment capital of the world. Our President is a reality TV star. We built a tourist attraction in the middle of the desert, and we’re the home of most professional sports teams. There’s always something to do in America, but not everywhere in America.
The third step to make America great for you is settling in a place with entertainment you enjoy, because what’s more important than enjoying the few hours you’re not working? And when it comes down to it, Minneapolis is home to everything I love.
I’ve long been a fan of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. Some of my earliest memories are of the 1991 Worlds Series, and some of my most disappointing memories are of Minnesota Vikings football. I discovered that I loved hockey the season before the 2012-13 lockout, and after almost giving up on the sport, the Stanley Cup Playoffs brought me back, and I’ve been a Minnesota Wild fan since.
I hadn’t paid much attention to the NBA since Michael Jordan retired, but I’ve always been a fan of coaches more so than players -- probably because I had very little athletic ability and was always told how good a coach I’d be someday. I grew up in awe of Mike Krzyzewski, mostly because he made a small, unathletic guy like me into a legitimate starting point guard -- Steve Wojciechowski. So when Tom Thibodeau was hired by the Minnesota Timberwolves, it piqued my interest in professional basketball. And when Jimmy Butler -- my favorite player -- was acquired prior to the 2017-18 season, I became a Timberwolves season ticket holder.
I’m also just a mile or so from live music or a play any night of the week and a few miles from the nearest lake to go fishing or boating. But while my entertainment options only provide a means of temporarily forgetting the mess that is America, at least I’m not allowing the mess to dictate my mood like I was in Eastern Montana, where you make your own fun or focus on all the things that depress you.
Don’t let the state of the union get you down. If you can’t move to a place with like-minded people where your interests are already well represented, do your best to reach out to the like-minded people in your community and build a coalition to move your community instead of moving yourself. If you can afford to move, find a place with people you enjoy, where your tax dollars are used on things you appreciate and with entertainment options you enjoy.
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Addressing the United Nations for the first time, Donald Trump’s mouth brought the nuclear threat level to its highest point since the Cold War. Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it continues its pursuit of nuclear weaponry capable of attacking American soil and said he wouldn’t hesitate to act alone. He should hesitate, however.
We’ve known this to be Trump’s stance since the featherweight, dick-measuring contest began between “Tiny Hands” Trump and North Korean dictator “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un. Trump said Kim was on a suicide mission during his address to the UN, and he’s right. Kim’s life and the life of every North Korean depends on how comfortable Kim is in his own pants, which probably doesn’t leave many North Koreans comfortable.
The whole situation is terrible for North Koreans and has been since their “liberation” from Imperial Japan by the Soviets as a result of World War II. The communist Soviet Union and capitalist U.S. failed to negotiate a future for a united Korea during the Cold War, so Korea remains divided with the two Koreas still technically at war. But there’s no satisfaction for Kim in attacking South Korea -- only a successful attack on American soil will satisfy him.
Given the living conditions of North Koreans, consisting mostly of back-breaking work done despite so few calories consumed, we have a sense of how little Kim values the lives of his people. There is just one thing that concerns a dictator, and that’s the dynastic legacy. Kim has already starved his people to death and likely had his own brother killed, so Kim has played the part of ruthless dictator pretty well as far as Kim standards go. His father would be proud.
But if North Korea wages a devastating attack on the capitalist dogs, the Kim Dynasty and Kim Jong-un will be forever remembered as the rogue nation that got to the Americans. Kim has to decide whether the 160,000 American civilians and 7,000 American military personnel in Guam are worth the lives of roughly 25 million North Koreans. Kim could have attacked Guam yesterday, so it’s unlikely that’s his preferred target. It’s just one Kim can threaten right now.
A preventative attack on Pyongyang won’t necessarily prevent anything at all. If there’s anything we can assume, it’s that Kim has taken extreme measures to protect and preserve his ability to wage war. If America attacks first, Kim will go underground and be even more dangerous.
If the hunt for Osama bin Laden is any indication, Kim Jong-un should be well protected from a nuclear attack on North Korea. If an unorganized, terrorist organization relying on caves and flip phones can protect the most hunted man in the world for a decade, the North Korean military can protect Kim Jong-un for longer, even from a nuclear attack. It will be a bullet or a noose (or old age) that ends Kim Jong-un -- not a bomb.
A covert assassination attempt on Kim could be devastating if it fails. A failed assassination attempt on Kim would surely result in a counterattack by Kim. And if the assassination were successful, the United States would surely install leadership nearly as corrupt as Kim himself. It wouldn’t be the first time nor the last.
The best option for America is to negotiate a deal for the complete disarmament of nuclear weapons globally. This whole idea that having nuclear weapons prevents nuclear attacks is ridiculous and is the entire basis for the Kim Dynasty’s reason for pursuing nuclear weapons.
In the latest collection of interviews entitled Optimism Over Despair: On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change, Noam Chomsky explains this ridiculousness thusly: “It is quite remarkable to see how little concern top planners show for the prospects of their own destruction...there was no plan, not even a thought, of reaching a treaty agreement that would have banned these weapons, though there is good reason to believe that it might have been feasible. The same attitudes prevail right to the present… (60).”
The only way to assure nuclear attacks won’t occur is to do away with every nuclear weapon in the world, but no country -- especially the United States -- is considering disarmament at a time like this, even if it should.
This is a moment when Trump and America need a little help from its friends. UN sanctions on North Korean trade won’t be enough to slow the country’s growing weapons collection. Trump even chastised Russia and China for continuing to do business with North Korea. China represents almost 85 percent of all North Korean trade, and 24 percent of Russia’s exports to North Korea are refined petroleum products that fuel the country’s missile and nuclear arms program.
The best thing Trump could do is stop threatening military action and ask China and Russia to stop trading with North Korea. What he’ll have to give up to get those concessions might not be to his liking, but neither is nuclear fallout. So what will it take to convince China and Russia to stop trading with North Korea?
China can’t be guaranteed that they won’t be attacked if they were to cut off just the .18 percent of its imports from and .28 percent of its exports to North Korea. That’s a total of just $5.29 billion in trade for a country that does over a trillion dollars in both imports and exports annually.
China desperately needs American investments in Chinese businesses to increase. Foreign domestic investment in China in 2016 was $170.557 billion -- the lowest it’s been since 2009. Now Trump can’t guarantee more American money will be invested in Chinese businesses if China stops trading with North Korea. Hell, he couldn’t say a bad word about Nazis and saw his entire business advisory councils resign. But he can close a business deal, allegedly, so this is an opportunity for Trump to do what he does best: collect and spend money.
For that $5.29 billion in trade China will have to find elsewhere, Trump should offer a bit of an investment in the country that struggles to attract foreign investors due to its state-controlled economy. There’s enough money in the White House and Congress to do so.
In 2011, the total net worth of the entire U.S. Congress was just under $5 billion, so there’s plenty of money that could be put together as an investment in Chinese businesses in exchange for them crippling North Korean trade. The problem with this option is it makes Kim Jong-un and North Koreans even more desperate and, perhaps, more war-willing.
Russia holds the key to the end of the North Korean conflict. Losing Russia as a trade partner won’t likely make the lives of North Koreans much worse, but it will slow the military’s “progress” towards a nuclear weapon that can reach American soil.
Russia’s exports to North Korea constitute .025 percent of all of its exports, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s what they export to North Korea that matters. With U.S. sanctions already in place against Russia for many reasons, there’s plenty of negotiating that could be done to get Russia on America’s side against North Korea. Some of those sanctions might even have an adverse effect on the rest of Europe, so there’s much for Vladimir Putin and Trump to discuss besides Russia’s involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, Know Your Rights
Hurricane specialist Eric Blake of the National Hurricane Center tweeted that the world had never seen anything like the hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia -- three severe storms threatening land simultaneously. All the while it took more than two weeks for flood waters to recede in Houston, and more than a million acres have burned in Montana.
Many Americans have been forced from their homes, and they might not have homes to which to return. Even after the wildfires stop burning and the hurricanes dissipate, it could be weeks before roads are passable and utilities restored. There were reportedly 3.3 million Floridians without power Sunday night. And just because you can go home doesn’t mean you can live in your home. It could take months to rebuild and repair all the homes affected by the hurricanes and wildfires.
The increasing instances and intensities of these destructive weather events will further increase insurance rates, but technology can help victims of hurricanes and wildfires save money and save their sanity during most trying times. Here are five apps to help you recover from hurricanes and wildfires.
Waze is the best traffic navigation app out there. I tried it specifically because Google Maps kept recommending routes through construction zones that should have been avoided. Waze does a much better job avoiding construction and road closures because its users, called Wazers, help report those closures. When you’re trying to navigate a hurricane or wildfire, the last thing you need is to travel down a road only to be forced to turn around because the road is closed due to flooding or wildfires.
You might also need the assistance of police while navigating hurricanes and wildfires, and Wazers report the location of police officers, too. The best part about Waze is you can start your route using a Wifi hotspot or mobile data, and if you lose your connection, the app will still display your location and route. Wifi and mobile data services will most certainly be affected by the hurricanes, so having a GPS that will work regardless is invaluable to hurricane victims.
Insurance companies only offer so much money for so many days when people are forced from their homes due to flood or fire. The number of days and maximum payout will depend on your homeowner’s insurance plan, but it’s almost assuredly not enough, especially if you don’t have family or friends nearby with whom you can stay and are forced to pay for hotel rooms.
The ParkAdvisor app is free and provides a cheaper alternative to hotels. Plus, you can try to use this time away from home to take that family camping vacation you keep putting off. Camping will likely help you and your family restore its relationship with nature despite it testing your resolve. America has a lot to offer, and seeing it with your family around a campfire will take your mind off the rebuilding that will be required upon your return home.
A foundation formed to help cyclists find places to rest their legs and get a warm shower, Warmshowers.org could really come in handy for hurricane and wildfire victims. If you rely on well water and have no electricity to pump the water into the well, you only have access to water until the well is dry. This happened to us in Eastern Montana after a “wind event” took out power for about a week. Since not all campgrounds provide access to water, getting a warm shower regularly can be one of the hardest things facing those recovering from hurricanes and wildfires.
The mail is still delivered as soon as it can be delivered, so you can still order necessities online and have them delivered whether you’re at home or away from home. Say you need a solar panel to charge your mobile devices because power is still out at your place. You can have one delivered the next day. Depending on your location, you can have some items shipped the same day if you’re a Prime member.
Victims of hurricanes and wildfires who return to find homes and furnishings destroyed will be required to take inventory of the items for insurance purposes. Sortly allows you to easily create and export lists, including photos, SKU, UPC or serial numbers, and notes on damage or original purchase price and date. You can even tag the items of your list so you can easily find them later.
Don’t recover from hurricanes Harvey and Irma as you did Katrina or Sandy. Use technology to your advantage and help make hurricane and wildfire recovery easier on you and your family.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live, The Easy Organic Gardener, The Magic Garden, The Paul Parent Garden Club Show, USA Prepares, American Survival Radio, Jim Brown’s Common Sense, Home Talk
This is an opinion supported by scientific facts from reputable sources and does not necessarily represent the opinions of GCN Live.
While I wish the best to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, I also hope climate change deniers affected by the hurricanes realize their denial of climate change contributed to their current situation and will contribute to worse situations in the future.
Mother Earth is doing her best to convince climate denying Americans that global warming is no hoax and that people are responsible for the increasing instances and intensity of weather disasters. She started by flooding the Gulf Coast with category-three hurricane, Harvey, which AccuWeather predicts will cost America more than Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina combined.
But Hurricane Harvey was just the beginning of America’s hellish hurricane season of 2017. Floridians are now evacuating their homes as category-five hurricane, Irma, bears down on them after reportedly destroying 90 percent of buildings in Barbuda, leaving half the population homeless. The storm also left two-thirds of Puerto Ricans without power, and south Florida was placed on hurricane watch, as sea levels could rise anywhere from five to 10 feet.
If Hurricane Harvey is expected to cost more than Hurricane Sandy (a category-three storm) and Hurricane Katrina (a category-five storm) combined, then Irma will likely cost more than Harvey, Sandy and Katrina combined. But at least hurricanes Jose and Katia are expected to miss America, with Jose expected to further decimate the Caribbean and Katia headed for Veracruz.
Three hurricanes forming in the same ocean is unusual, but it’s been happening more often lately. It last happened in the Atlantic Ocean in 2010, when Hurricanes Igor, Julia and Karl followed almost the exact path of hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia. And for the first time ever in 2015, two category-three hurricanes formed in the Pacific Ocean simultaneously, with a third category-two hurricane accompanying the storms.
Some God-fearing Americans might think intensifying hurricane seasons and increasing instances of destructive weather events is God’s way of punishing us for legalizing abortion or same-sex marriage. Or maybe God is punishing communities that have allowed themselves to be overrun with illegal immigrants, even though every hurricane inevitably punishes communities with large populations of immigrants because hurricanes, like immigrants, tend to reach their destination by sea.
But Hurricane Harvey hasn’t been discriminatory when it comes to the lives it’s claimed, and neither will Irma. If America’s hurricane season from hell is really a hurricane season from heaven, there’s no evidence that God is attempting another Great Flood. In fact, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the increased instances and intensities of these storms: man-made global warming.
Three-quarters of man-made, greenhouse gas emissions are a result of human energy consumption. Those greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide and methane, are responsible for 82 percent of global warming. When Earth’s atmosphere warms, polar ice melts. When polar ice melts, sea levels rise, but it’s the extreme increase in polar temperatures that have and will continue to create more hurricanes and other destructive weather events.
Arctic temperatures up to 59 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average have not only left the size of the polar ice caps at an all-time low, but has exposed the dark depths of the Arctic sea to the sun, which further increases sea temperatures. That resulting increase in temperature narrows the difference between the Arctic sea temperature and that of southern seas. This weakens the 250-mile-per-hour winds of the jet stream that keep cold, Arctic air circulating the Arctic where it belongs. The slower jet stream winds allow cold, Arctic air to escape south, and warm, southern air to move north, resulting in more extreme weather at lower latitudes. Hence Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose and Hurricane Katia.
So the more we as a species emit carbon dioxide and methane from oil and natural gas drilling to then burn in our vehicles and appliances, the more hurricanes and destructive weather events we create. If there’s any good to come of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, I hope those climate deniers affected by the storms now have a reason to change their mind on global warming and change the way they live and vote.
One of the most common answers I get as to why people don’t do their part to limit man-made climate change is that the earth is going to die anyways, and they’re not going to be around to see it. These people are treating Earth like a possession instead of a living being. It’s as if climate deniers see Earth as a motel -- or better yet -- a prostitute. They think the transaction makes the person a possession, and since they pay Earth’s rent, they own Earth and can do whatever they want to her.
If Mother Earth is a prostitute, she’s a diseased, obese hag who’s been used up and abused too often, but that doesn’t stop people from paying for her services. Corporate executives fill her up with vibrating probes to entice her sexual secretions to the surface to be collected and sold. They run trains on her that spill toxic substances on and into her. Every trick she turns results in another ejaculation of carbon dioxide or methane into her atmosphere. As a mother, though, she has to put food on the table and pay the rent, so she has to take it lying down -- or whatever way the John wants to deliver it.
But all that abuse builds up and inevitably has to be released if Earth is to avoid suicide. So Earth unloads on the unsuspecting masses when properly triggered, discriminating against none, for no one is truly innocent. Even the recyclers and Greenpeace volunteers didn’t do enough to prevent her from resorting to prostitution. They should have been more adamant about treating Earth with respect and done more to persuade people that she’s indeed a person -- not just a prostitute. Society as a whole has failed Earth and will pay the price.
So think of Mother Earth as your own mother. Sure, she’s going to die just like Earth, but does that mean you treat her as if she’s already dead? Would you smoke around your mother knowing she struggles to breathe in her old age? Then don’t drive when you can walk, bike or take public transit. If you can afford it, buy an electric vehicle or outfit your house with renewable energy sources before the tax incentives end. You want your mother to be as comfortable as possible when she dies, so make Mother Earth as comfortable as possible when she dies. She too gave birth to you and continues to care for you even when you don’t care for her.
Denying the existence of man-made, global warming will only leave us in a cycle of perpetual rebuilding. We’ve gone and pissed off Mother Earth with our wasteful, selfish ways. It’s well past time we as Americans and as a species make up for it before it’s too late.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live
Labor Day is a holiday that appeals to a majority of Americans. Most Americans work for a living, and most laborers get Labor Day off from work. The recent holiday made me think of which holidays are recognized and celebrated by the most Americans.
Independence Day is likely the holiday celebrated by the most Americans. Each American recognizes and celebrates the Fourth of July in their own way, even if fireworks aren’t available. Memorial Day is also recognized and celebrated by many Americans because most Americans know someone who’s served in the military, and again, many people get the day off.
Upon a recent visit to the dollar store, though, I was excited to see Thanksgiving decorations being put on display. While Halloween is still nearly two months away, I feel Thanksgiving, like Independence Day, is one of those holidays that’s most recognized and celebrated due to its mass appeal -- something Christmas and Easter can’t offer.
Thanksgiving doesn’t get the respect Christmas and Easter get, but you too can make your family members rethink the relative importance of the holiday. While Christmas and Easter only appeal to Christians, Thanksgiving is a holiday for all Americans, regardless of religious preference. Even atheists can enjoy Thanksgiving, and I think it’s more important to recognize how thankful we are for the sacrifices of the locals who made America possible than to recognize the birth, murder and rebirth of a man perceived to be the son of God.
As an atheist, I don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter. While the holidays are unavoidably happening around me, I don’t allow myself (or sometimes anyone else) enjoy them. Don’t get me wrong, I give Christmas presents to my immediate family and closest friends, but I give my family and friends gifts regardless of season or reason. There need not be an occasion to give, and as a socialist, I believe that wholeheartedly.
Thanksgiving is a celebration of socialism. It’s the celebration of a bunch of helpless, lost explorers being saved by locals willing to share. Since Thanksgiving is a socialist holiday, every attendee of my Thanksgiving Extravaganza (A.T.E. for Anthony’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza) is encouraged to bring something -- anything -- to share. Whether you have something old you don’t need that someone else might, or a book you’ve read that you think someone would find helpful or entertaining, you can share it with someone at A.T.E. who needs it more than you. You can also bring food for the traditional Thanksgiving meal, of course.
It’s not just the sharing that I love about Thanksgiving. It’s the days spent cooking. I find cooking and baking very rewarding. Your time in the kitchen is an opportunity to be artistic and improvisational. You try new things and learn a trade that will come in handy the rest of your life. It’s even therapeutic. I spend most of my days off from work in the kitchen, and with football on in the background all day, I can spend 12 hours in a kitchen on Thanksgiving and hardly notice.
Losing football on Thanksgiving would be as detrimental to the holiday as losing Easter eggs on Easter or Christmas trees on Christmas. I’ve never experienced a Thanksgiving without football and never want to. Football will be forever linked with my celebration of Thanksgiving because during A.T.E.’s Thanksgiving Tailgate, the kids open Thanksgiving stockings stuffed with stocking stuffers. The stockings are football socks filled with candy and small gifts.
We do Thanksgiving baskets at A.T.E., too. They’re like Easter baskets but, again, themed Thanksgiving. You might find an Easter biscuit shaped like a turkey or a plastic Easter egg filled with coupons for services to be rendered. There is no exchange of cash at A.T.E., but there is a gift exchange. Each attendee is asked to bring a gift or gifts valued at no more than $16.21 (the year of the first Thanksgiving) to be given to the person or persons in attendance for whom they’re most thankful.
There is no Black Friday shopping that occurs at my celebration of Thanksgiving, either. The only money spent during A.T.E. goes to the locals who saved white lives only to be forced from their homes in return. A.T.E. concludes with a journey to the nearest Indian casino, so attendees can show how thankful they are for the locals saving their ancestors’ lives by losing some of what their ancestors stole back to the locals.
Here’s my itinerary for A.T.E. You can use it as a model for your own Thanksgiving celebration. Next year, I hope to have a fireworks display to make my Thanksgiving rival any American holiday.
9:30 AM to 11 AM: Thanksgiving Tailgate/Thanksgiving Stockings and Baskets
A traditional football tailgate with a traditional tailgate breakfast -- burgers, brats, beers and a Bloody Mary bar. This will also be when we open Thanksgiving stockings and Thanksgiving baskets.
11 AM to 3 PM: Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
We’ll watch the Vikings destroy the Lions on the big screen.
3 PM to 6 PM: Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys
We’ll watch the Cowboys destroy the Chargers, which shouldn’t take long.
6 PM to 7 PM: Thanksgiving Dinner
Your typical Thanksgiving dinner, with vegetarian options as well, and enough pumpkin pie to feed us for weeks.
7 PM to 7:30 PM: Thanksgiving Gift Exchange
We’ll give our gifts to those for whom we’re most thankful.
7:30 PM to 9:30 PM: New York Giants @ Washington Racial Slurs
We’ll watch the Giants destroy the Racial Slurs while rooting for the Racial Slurs, because it’s Thanksgiving. This will also be the time designated for tryptophan naps and games.
9:30 PM - ???: Voyage to the Native(’s) Land
We’ll go to the casino, where we have rooms reserved. If you’d like to reserve a room for yourself and your party, you can do so by letting your host know.
"Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war.” - George Carlin
Go anyplace people congregate besides a church, and you’ll find more people swearing and swearing more often than ever before. A lot of people in those churches will swear once they’re outside those sacred walls, too. In a bar, you can overhear a conversation where every other word is a swear word, and I mean that quite literally. Go into a library and the people talking on the phone or chatting online are swearing. I’ve experienced both in the last few weeks.
This post was originally published at FoulPlaybyPlay.com, a community of foul-mouthed, sports broadcasters providing commercial-free, uncensored play-by-play during select games.
According to a 2006 Associated Press poll, nearly three-quarters of Americans questioned -- 74 percent -- said they encounter profanity in public frequently or occasionally. Two-thirds said they think people swear more than they did 20 years ago, and 64 percent said they say fuck, ranging from several times a day (8 percent) to a few times a year (15 percent). People who swear are not in the minority. We are the majority.
But we don’t swear all that often. Just one in 200 words uttered are swear words, so it’s not like we’ve become completely vulgar. But why do we swear? Researchers at Keele University in Staffordshire led by Richard Stephens found that cursing is most often associated with angry attitudes and emotions toward certain subjects and is used as an emotional coping mechanism. Cursing allowed the study's participants to feel a sense of empowerment. Not only does it empower you mentally, but physically as well. Swearing can improve your performance of physical tasks and also reduces pain, unless you swear everyday.
So swearing is a coping mechanism that empowers. People who struggle with shyness might feel better behind sunglasses. The lonely get pets. People who stub their toe or watch their favorite baseball team blow a five-run lead and lose in extra innings swear. And it’s not due to a lack of vocabulary or intelligence, either.
Psychologists at Marist College found that those with the best handle on vocabulary also had the best handle on profanity. Those who struggled with vocabulary also struggled with profanity, so the smarter you are the more profanity potential you have.
A 2016 book by Benjamin K. Bergen investigates the linguistic history, psychology and science of swearing. It’s appropriately called What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves. What it reveals about the history and anatomy of swearing is in-fucking-credible.
Why and how do words become swear words? Bergen found that the majority of American English swear words have “closed syllables,” meaning the words end in a consonant, as in “fuck.” Most are also just one syllable and start with a consonant, like “fuck” and “tits.” “Profane English monosyllables are significantly more likely to end with a stop consonant, like t or k, than other English words” (47). So English speakers naturally find words consisting of one syllable and a stop consonant to be less pleasing to the ear. If a word sounds displeasing, it’s more likely to have a meaning that’s displeasing. A word like “cunt” sounds bad regardless of meaning.
Explaining what makes a curse word isn’t dependent simply on its sound, though. It’s the meaning of words that matters. Many curse words are associated with genitalia, like “cunt” or “cock,” the use of genitalia, like “fuck” and “cocksucker,” or the process of excreting fluids, like “piss” and “shit.” So we’ve created these mostly monosyllabic, stop-consonant words that sound displeasing to associate with things that make for displeasing conversation. Most people don’t like to talk about pissing and shitting, and some don’t like to talk about fucking, although all these taboo topics have received ample attention from comedians and comedies.
There’s nothing funny about a lot of curse words, though. For me, the most unfortunate finding of Bergen’s many studies and experiments was discovering that slurs directed at a specific community, ethnicity or race weren’t found by Americans to be most offensive. While “nigger” was far and away the most offensive word, and “fag” was third, “cocksucker” fourth, and “chink” fifth, words like “homo,” “lesbo,” “queer,” “spic,” “kike,” and “gook” settled in the middle.
Americans actually found “bitch” to be more offensive than “retard” and “dyke.” “Whore,” “pussy” and “slut” were found to be more offensive to Americans than “homo” and “lesbo.” “Asshole” and “prick” were found to be more offensive than “queer,” “spic,” “kike” and “gook.” And the word gay used with the intent of being offensive to homosexuals ranked fifth to last in offensiveness, right behind “dumb,” “sodomize” and “moron.”
What the fuck, America? Where’s the fucking empathy? Put yourself in the shoes of a homosexual and tell me you find “cunt” more offensive than “fag” or “cocksucker.” Australians throw “cunt” around like it’s “shit.” And there’s no way “bitch” is more offensive than “homo,” “lesbo” or “queer” unless you’re a misogynistic pig who thinks questioning manhood is worse than questioning sexual identity or preference. Apparently Americans do feel that way, though, which is probably why we don’t have a female President and a misogynist instead.
Swearing is also geographically dependent, though. Where you live determines what you say. Jack Grieve has researched what swear words are most popular in America and where, resulting in a collection of heat maps displaying the most commonly used swear words. The southeast United States is apparently the hotbed for swearing in America. Coastal Americans use “fuck” more often than Midwesterners, and swear more in general.
People in Great Britain swear differently than Americans and find different words offensive, too. For instance, Brits found “cunt,” “motherfucker” and “fuck” to be most offensive, with “nigger” coming in fourth, which is even more disturbing. Half of Brits surveyed didn’t consider “Jew” to be swearing, but “Paki,” a slur for people of South Asian descent, was found to be the sixth most severe swear word. So Americans can take some consolation in knowing they found an actually offensive word most offensive.
When it comes to the “heavy seven” as George Carlin calls them -- shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits -- I think all should be allowed except “cocksucker” because it denigrates homosexual males. Instead of censoring words that hurt no one, we should censor words that actually hurt some.
Words like nigger, chink, retard, dyke, homo, lesbo, cocksucker, queer, spic, kike, gook, wop, redskin, and any other racial or ethnic slur, and words dedicated to denigrating the disabled or the sexual identities of others have no place in public conversation or in mass media. “Shit,” “piss,” “fuck,” “cunt,” “motherfucker” and “tits” hurt no one -- not even children. “There’s no evidence that exposure to profanity harms children, and...there are better ways to deal with profanity than to suppress it,” according to Bergen. But when it comes to the use of harmful language, I’m for censorship.
There’s nothing that hurts my ears more than the ever-increasing use of “gay” and “fag” by young people, or the use of “nigger” and “spic” by those who’ve never come in contact with members of either race they’re denigrating. I’d rather they say “fuck” and “cunt.”
When I hear the word "faggot" I cringe, and I fucking swear a lot. But that's because "faggot" was repurposed to hurt a specific group of people. When I hear "fuck," I hardly give it any attention. Sometimes I even smile, depending on its use.
Fuck is my favorite word. In fact, profane words are the most versatile. Most can be used as a noun, adjective, adverb, verb, interjection, and conjunction (prepositions are iffy). For instance, “Fuck (interjection)! I squashed my nuts on the fucking (adjective) fuck (noun) so fucking (adverb) hard. I won't fuck (verb) for days, fuck (conjunction) maybe weeks.” You can’t do that with “fag,” although young people are trying.
Once we grow tired of profane words it’s pretty easy to create new ones. Bergen created a bunch of words and asked Americans which sounded most offensive. These people didn’t know whether these words were from another language or if they existed at all, but it’s no surprise that monosyllabic, stop-consonant words were considered most offensive. Someday “vleak” could be a swear word. Hopefully, though, it will have been created to describe something rather than degrade someone. Then it would have value.
“Fag” has no value to me as a writer, while “fuck” has been used by writers of all mediums (except children’s books). “Fag” has no value because of its intent. Its entire reason for being is to offend, much like “nigger,” “chink,” “retard,” “dyke,” “homo,” “lesbo,” “cocksucker,” “queer,” “spic,” “kike,” “gook,” “wop” and “redskin.” Could you imagine if your entire reason for being on Earth was to offend others? Would you find that useful?
While a lot of swear words have become “fillers,” like “um” and “uh.” When a word is on the tip of your tongue, and you’re struggling to spit it out, it’s perfectly naturally that the struggle would result in swearing. People recovering from brain trauma sometimes lose their vocabulary, except when it comes to swearing. That’s because those swear words are stored in a different part of the brain, so people can convey their frustration. It’s a natural reaction, like dropping a hot plate that’s burning your hand. Swearing is a coping mechanism after all, and uttering that “fuck” could actually make you feel better about yourself, calm your nerves and help you discover that word that briefly escaped you.
Slurs have no place as “fillers.” No one searching for a word says “faggot” to fill the void in conversation unless they have Tourette’s syndrome. There’s always intent behind a slur, and that intent is never useful, which is why the increasing use of slurs is not only displeasing but dangerous.
Since swearing is likely never going away, how should Americans handle swear words? When is it okay to swear? What words are okay to say and when? Well, as a writer, I can only tell you to consider your audience. While writing this piece I considered using a headline that had swear words in it to be as forthcoming as possible with my intentions. But through my work on an uncensored, live podcast, I’ve learned a few things.
The title of the live podcast is Fuck Dick and Bert. It’s meant to be an alternative to the Minnesota Twins’ play-by-play and color commentators Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven. Not a lot of thought went into the show initially. It was just a way for my friends and me to feel important and productive during Twins’ games and to bitch about the Twins and Dick and Bert’s broadcast. Then came an idea. What if we could provide every fan an alternative audio broadcast of every sporting event that’s not only uncensored but commercial-free? That’s when I started investigating the marketability of uncensored, commercial-free play-by-play.
I took to the forums where Twins fans congregate and asked what people thought of the idea. We hadn’t marketed the show to them directly in the past, so no one was aware. One member had even attempted something similar weeks prior. The responses were mixed. Some thought it was a great idea and the same number of people hated it, but there was one response that stuck with me.
One member said they wouldn’t tune in simply because of the name of the show. The word “fuck” was apparently offensive to him. Despite me telling him I rarely swore during the broadcast and that my intention was to provide helpful life advice and entertaining anecdotes alongside the play-by-play, he said nothing would change his mind except a name change. I hardly slept that night, mulling over alternatives to the name that conveyed everything about the show that our target market needed to know.
Anyone in our target market would see “Fuck Dick and Bert” and know: 1) it’s uncensored, 2) it’s Twins-related because Dick and Bert are the longtime Fox Sports North broadcasters, and 3) it doesn’t like Dick and Bert and is probably nothing like Dick and Bert’s broadcasts.
But if one person won’t tune in because they perceive the show to be “in bad taste” due to the use of profanity in the title, that’s one too many. And while advertising a show with profanity in the title is difficult given Facebook’s advertising policies, there’s no point going forward with a show that’s going to turn off an entire group of people because of one word.
So you can consider your audience and treat them as you’d like to be treated, but the Golden Rule doesn’t allow you to know what offends people. Maybe the word “fuck” doesn't offend you but offends them. Maybe they use “fag” and you find that offensive. Are we to censor ourselves for the sake of others? You can try. I do it all the time, but that's when I'm around people I know, so I know what offends them going into conversation.
The only actions you can take with people you’ve just met is nicely ask if they’d stop using the swear words you find offensive. “Could you try not to use that word, please? I find it very offensive.” Try not to be too picky. You can’t expect people to change in the first few minutes they’re in your presence. You are not Jesus Christ, and they are no saint. Don’t be surprised if that offensive word slips through that person’s lips again, because habits are hard to break, but hopefully they apologize. If they refuse or are unable to accommodate you, find a different conversation.
I went about this all wrong the first time around, but I was in a bad mood that day. A young North Dakotan in a rural bar asked me if I was a faggot because I had come from my ex-girlfriend’s funeral and was dressed in slacks and a collared shirt. I was immediately offended, not because I’m gay, but because I despise the word. I was also in the mood to fight after seeing a lifelong friend buried at 24 years old. This young man could have said it in conversation with one of his friends and I probably still would have interjected. I attempted to explain the definition of the word (it’s a bunch of sticks or twigs bundled together as fuel). He thought I was being a smartass, which I was. But what I really wanted to do was say, “Yeah, I’m gay. Wanna make something of it?” and then knock him out in front of a bunch of homophobes. That’s the type of reaction the word “faggot” deserves from everyone. And that goes for all slurs.
As a white male surrounded by brown people and homosexuals, I wouldn't dare utter "nigger,” "spic" or “faggot” in their presence because I don’t use those words privately. I know those words were created to degrade an entire group of people, and I find them useless and displeasing to the ear.
Growing up in Eastern Montana, I've heard Americans who have little to no association with people of other races using slurs far too often, and that's why I wrote this piece. Americans shouldn't be more offended by "fuck" than "fag," but they are. I see America moving away from words like "fuck," “cunt” and “motherfucker,” and towards words like “nigger,” "fag," and “gay.” That growing use of slurs worries me, especially with gentrification forcing minorities out of the cities and into rural areas where people haven't had contact with people unlike themselves. It's a recipe for violence, so I hope Americans realize which words are truly harmful and avoid using them in conversation and online. I hope they’d embrace George Carlin’s “heavy seven” before a new seven ends up hurting more people. I hope it's not too late.
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