Politics

Thumbnail image for The Right and the Righteous Aspire to Greatness at CPAC

The Right and the Righteous Aspire to Greatness at CPAC

by Doug Porter 02.27.2015 Activism

Infotainment for a Rainy San Diego Weekend

By Doug Porter

It’s time for that annual exercise in wingnuttery known as the Conservative Political Action Conference(CPAC), wherein activists of the far right persuasion gather in what Salon columnist Jim Newell calls the “fake shopping town of National Harbor, Maryland.”

Given that the biggest news around San Diego this morning appears to be anticipation about the arrival of rain (!) and possibly snow (!!) at the higher elevations, I’ll take the bait and share highlights from the annual gathering of the right and the righteous. 

It’s important to note that CPAC induces sympathetic craziness among the faithful who, for job-related reasons, are unable to attend during high profile sessions where CSPAN cameras may be turned on. This weekend is, after all, their turn to steal the spotlight from the liberal media’s endless praise of the Obama administration. 

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Thumbnail image for The Origins of Institutionalized Racism – a System to Control Blacks … and Whites

The Origins of Institutionalized Racism – a System to Control Blacks … and Whites

by Frank Gormlie 02.27.2015 Culture

100 Years Before Lexington and Concord, Bacon’s Armed Rebellion of Whites and Blacks Forced Plantation Elite to Create System of Racial Slavery

By Frank Gormlie

Since the turmoil last year in Ferguson, Missouri, swept in a new civil rights movement, once again America is faced with the reality of its system of institutionalized racism. For Americans with conscience, understanding this system is key to changing it, and it cannot be understood without understanding its origins which trail back, of course, to colonial America.

Confronting a system that predates the very formation of the Republic itself necessitates understanding its raison d’etre – its reason for being. Why is there such a system that has a solid foundation and that has existed all this time, and is so deeply ingrained? Why is there institutionalized racism? If one accepts such a premise, that there is such a thing, then the most obvious answer is that it exists to control blacks, African-Americans. And to control other minorities, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans.

Yet this system is not meant to only control blacks – and other peoples of color – but it also meant to control white people.

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Thumbnail image for Newt Gingrich Happy Talk at the Times of San Diego

Newt Gingrich Happy Talk at the Times of San Diego

by Anna Daniels 02.27.2015 Media

One big helping of pre-digested revisionist twaddle

By Anna Daniels

The lead business story in the February 26 Times of San Diego reports that Newt Gingrich has joined the strategic advisory board of San Diego-based Pathway Genomics Corp. The former Speaker of the House’s bonafides for this position are taken directly from Gingrich’s own site gingrichproductions.com or from countless other sites which uncritically regurgitate the same information:

…During his time in Congress, he helped save Medicare from bankruptcy, shepherded Food and Drug Administration reform to help the seriously ill and initiated a new focus on scientific research, prevention and wellness.

This engenders severe cognitive dissonance for those of us who were breathing and sentient during the Gingrich years.

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Thumbnail image for Environmental Lawyer Cory Briggs: Saint or Sinner?

Environmental Lawyer Cory Briggs: Saint or Sinner?

by Doug Porter 02.26.2015 Columns

“The case put forward to this point just doesn’t seem right, kind of like a badly fitted toupee on an otherwise well-dressed man.”

By Doug Porter

There’s no doubt about the fact that attorney Cory Briggs has made his fair share of enemies in San Diego. His actions in court have made Briggs the bane of corporate interests, providing what I believe to be a necessary counter-balance in a region where it seems as though the “people’s advocates” express concern about issues only after exposés appear in the press.

So it’s ironic that San Diego’s City attorney is now responding to an investigative series focused on Briggs. And the suggestion is being made that the source for these stories may have been somebody connected with the city’s legal offices, which have made no secret of their disdain for the attorney in the past.

Over the past few days inewsource  has published three stories questioning Briggs’ ethics. Liens filed by the attorney on properties may have been fraudulent efforts to shield assets. Briggs wife’s employment with an environmental planning company used by local governments may represent a conflict of interest, given the nature of many of the legal actions he has pursued against various agencies.

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Justice Comes to Mississippi

by Source 02.26.2015 Courts, Justice

Sentencing begins for the ten white teenagers who beat and murdered African-American James Craig Anderson in 2011

By Federal District Court Judge Carlton Reeves

Editor Note: James Craig Anderson was attacked and murdered by a mob of teenagers who went out for the purpose of terrorizing African-Americans. They surrounded Anderson in a parking lot and ran over him with their pick-up truck. His death has been described as a Jim Crow style lynching. In the words of William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It is not even past.” The following is Judge Reeves’ complete remarks at the sentencing of the first three of the teenagers on February 10, 2015.

One of my former history professors, Dennis Mitchell, recently released a history book entitled, A New History of Mississippi. “Mississippi,” he says, “is a place and a state of mind. The name evokes strong reactions from those who live here and from those who do not, but who think they know something about its people and their past.”

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Thumbnail image for Gas Prices Rise in San Diego as Refinery Strike Spreads

Gas Prices Rise in San Diego as Refinery Strike Spreads

by Doug Porter 02.25.2015 Business

By Doug Porter 

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline reached three dollars in San Diego this week, roughly seventy cents more than a month ago. The primary cause of this steep increase is the largest refinery strike in 35 years, a walkout that’s continuing to spread as negotiations have stalled out. 

A total of 6,550 workers represented by the United Steel Workers are on strike at 15 plants, including 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of U.S. capacity. The central issue in this labor dispute is safe working conditions for the USW members at more than 200 oil terminals, pipelines, refineries and chemical plants in the U.S. 

The American Automobile Association says the steep increase in prices comes on the heels of a record 123 consecutive days of declines. 

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Thumbnail image for Firing a Mom Because She’s Breastfeeding Is Sex Discrimination

Firing a Mom Because She’s Breastfeeding Is Sex Discrimination

by Source 02.25.2015 Courts, Justice

By Galen Sherwin, ACLU Blog of Rights

A few months ago, I posted about Angela Ames, the Nationwide Insurance worker who alleged that she was denied a place to pump breast milk when she returned to work from maternity leave. When she protested, Angela was coerced into resigning by her supervisor, who told her she should “just go home and be with your babies”.

In January, the Supreme Court sent her the same message – go home ­– rejecting her petition for a review of the dismissal of her case. The denial of her petition effectively means the end of the line for her case.

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Thumbnail image for The War on Terror Comes Home: Crime and Punishment in the 21st Century

The War on Terror Comes Home: Crime and Punishment in the 21st Century

by Doug Porter 02.24.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

A report in today’s Guardian about a “black site” used by the Chicago police department to keep suspects off the grid for extended periods of time provides the starting point for today’s column. I’m going to weave three ongoing stories together to try to better understand what’s going on.

Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times says next to nothing is happening with a promised crackdown on the use of excessive force with the US Border Patrol. 

And the prison industrial complex in California is pushing back against reforms instituted through Proposition 47, which essentially decriminalized drug possession for personal use and reduced other petty crimes from felony to misdemeanor status. 

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Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 4

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 4

by John Lawrence 02.24.2015 Environment

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

While many positive advances in renewables are being made, rising coal, natural gas and energy demand outweigh any reductions from recent strong growth in renewables in a few countries. Renewables and hydro are still a TINY 9% of primary energy consumption today They are forecast to be a TINY 20% of energy consumption in 2030 and no more than 25% in 2040.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts the same weak growth in renewable electrical generation shares reaching a miniscule 22% in 2015 and 25% in 2040.These weak shares explain why EIA and others expect CO2 emissions to soar ahead from 36 billion tons today to over 50 billion tons in 2050.

This week (Part 4) we address how FAR we have to go to reach a hydro-renewables mix of 70% of global energy consumption by 2050. Cataclysmic global warming can only be stemmed by considerably speeding up practical community-based and disruptive technically-based solutions for sustainable fuels, energy efficiency and lifestyle adaptations (that reduce energy demand) like Scandinavia, Germany, and California are remarkably doing in their own way – without disturbing economic growth.

Part 3 can be found here

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Thumbnail image for The Unnecessary Parts of the ‘Chargers Are Going to Leave’ Narrative

The Unnecessary Parts of the ‘Chargers Are Going to Leave’ Narrative

by Doug Porter 02.23.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

The prospect of San Diego losing its beloved football team provides an opportunity to examine the worst of what the local media does in terms of misleading people about the relative importance of news.

Many stories in the local news media outlets seem based upon the belief this potential business decision (by an entity dependent on taxpayer largess for its profitability) is of critical importance for San Diegans. While I certainly appreciate the emotional connection between fans and sporting organizations, much of what I’ve read in the last few days is simply not connected to any reality that I’m aware of.

Putting this in perspective, the Chargers “fan base” ranks in the bottom half of National Football League, according to data compiled by Nielsen Scarborough, who looked at the percentage of adults who have watched, attended or listened to the NFL team in that market in the past year. Despite what team boosters say, San Diegans are decidedly lukewarm about most pro sports.

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Thumbnail image for A Call to Action on the Labor Crisis in Higher Ed: Colleges Are Running On the Backs of Underpaid Part-Timers

A Call to Action on the Labor Crisis in Higher Ed: Colleges Are Running On the Backs of Underpaid Part-Timers

by Jim Miller 02.23.2015 Columns

February 25th is National Adjunct Walkout Day

By Jim Miller

As I have noted here recently, the successful assault on public sector unionism has marched hand in hand with the surge of income inequality and the erosion of the American middle class. Of course, central to this is the ongoing war on teachers’ unions and the nationwide trend toward austerity budgets in state capitols across the country.

In the world of higher education, what this means is that as we have seen taxes go down for the wealthy and corporations over the last thirty years, budgets for education from K-12 to the university have suffered.

And while the growing student debt crisis has received significant attention, far fewer people are probably aware that in addition to gouging students, colleges across the country are increasingly relying on an exploited army of highly educated part-time teachers in the classroom to help keep their budgets in line.

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Can Eve Get Elected?

by At Large 02.23.2015 Activism

We do not need a gun-toting warrior with a vagina

By Dr. Carol Carnes 

You may know her as Hillary or Carly or Elizabeth but her real name is Eve. All women carry that label in the subjective realm of our collective unconscious.

The allegorical tale of Adam and Eve has been misinterpreted, misunderstood and accepted as an irrefutable condemnation of the Feminine, which has resulted in the subjugation of women in almost every culture on earth. The rights of women were not included in the founding documents of America because we were considered creatures, not full humans.

Eve represents the bitch, the temptress, the siren that caused the Fall of Man (men). She listens to the serpent (the devil). She makes it impossible for men to control their impulses. Therefore, at the risk of oversimplification, she is the cause of her own rape. Some cultures will stone her to death for it while in the west she is humiliated, not believed and portrayed as a whore or a careless twit.

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Brown unLike Me

by At Large 02.21.2015 Books & Poetry

By Emmanuel Ortiz

In Venezuela I watched
As the people of the nation
Stood at the plate
Swung out
In defense of their president,
Who won a democratic referendum
By a majority of the majority
(Unlike our own president that same year).
In defense of Chávez,
Millions of hands upon a single bat
Swing for the fences,
Un jonrón over the wall of the White House lawn.

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Thumbnail image for Chargers Hold Up Three Fingers: Read Between the Lines, San Diego

Chargers Hold Up Three Fingers: Read Between the Lines, San Diego

by Doug Porter 02.20.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

The drama surrounding the San Diego Chargers’ pursuit of a stadium–somewhere, anywhere–is turning out to be much more entertaining than much of the action on the field in recent years.  Today I’ll look around at what’s been said and do my best to provide some insight.

Yesterday the team let it slip–as a story in the Los Angeles Times was going to press–that they were working on a joint stadium deal with the Oakland Raiders for a facility in Carson, California, a city of less than 100,000 people with a history of shady dealings.

The coverage at ESPN included a nugget from an unidentified source saying the teams had been working together on this deal for the past nine months. The Chargers, by the way, denied inquiries from the St. Louis media about a deal in LA just a few weeks back.

Nobody was unhappier about the stadium news than Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who’d like the public to believe he’s been making a serious effort towards keeping the team in San Diego. After all, nobody wants to run for reelection with “lost our beloved Chargers” as a signature accomplishment.

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Old Town Time Trip

by At Large 02.20.2015 Culture

By Nat Krieger

Late at night in Old Town it’s not hard to time travel. The cars lining the narrow streets have turned out their lights and gone to sleep. Human activity is reduced to three women walking together. They are wearing white blouses with multicolored skirts synced by a red sash.

If you don’t see the cars or buses or trolleys the women are heading for San Diego’s past clings to their rapid steps. With straight black hair and features that cover the distance between Cortez and the Kumeyaay the women are actors leaving a set where they have been playing the sartorial and biological roots of San Diego as imagined a century and a half later.

Along the eastern side of La Plaza de Las Armas in the heart of Old Town the thick adobe walls of Casa Estudillo release the heat of the day into the night, as they have for 185 years. The casa’s tall wooden doors are shut and the courtyard garden within, visible only through a skeleton key shaped hole, dreams again of the corn and beef flavored smoke that once poured from the outdoor clay oven.

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Thumbnail image for Whites Fighting Racism: What It’s About

Whites Fighting Racism: What It’s About

by Source 02.20.2015 Activism

By Ricardo Levins Morales  / Ricardo Levins Morales Art Studio Blog

Note: I was asked by SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice – a group which organizes white folks against racism) to write a few paragraphs offering a perspective on white solidarity. It was to open a national organizing conference call. What I wrote follows:

White people are taught that racism is a personal attribute, an attitude, maybe a set of habits. Anti-racist whites invest too much energy worrying about getting it right; about not slipping up and revealing their racial socialization; about saying the right things and knowing when to say nothing.

It’s not about that. It’s about putting your shoulder to the wheel of history; about undermining the structural supports of a system of control that grinds us under, that keeps us divided even against ourselves and that extracts wealth, power and life from our communities like an oil company sucks it from the earth.

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Thumbnail image for America’s Finest City Can’t Be Bothered with Slum Lords

America’s Finest City Can’t Be Bothered with Slum Lords

by Doug Porter 02.19.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

A recalcitrant landlord at the top of a review of 2013 code compliance complaints in San Diego is the focus of a story written by Megan Burks and published jointly by KPBS/Voice of San Diego.

It’s a horrifying account, replete with tales of mold, asthma, raw sewage and armies of vermin. And a city government seemingly incapable of doing anything about it.

Landlord Bankim Shah owns nearly 90 properties in the San Diego area along with managing apartments owned by others. One-third of the 62 formal complaints filed against him since 2001 are, according to the story, “for conditions so bad state law says no one should be forced to live in them.”

We learn that Shah has been to court exactly once–in “2011 for renting a building to a medical marijuana dispensary.”

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Thumbnail image for The San Salvador and Junípero Serra: Celebrating Spanish Catholic Domination

The San Salvador and Junípero Serra: Celebrating Spanish Catholic Domination

by At Large 02.19.2015 Culture

By Steven Newcomb / OB Rag

Early this year, 2015, the Maritime Museum of San Diego is scheduled to launch a replica of the colonizing Spanish ship called “San Salvador” (“Holy Savior”). That was the ship which Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, in 1542, sailed into the Kumeyaay bay of the Kumeyaay Nation’s territory. As a result of that voyage, the society of the United States now typically calls that bay, and the city adjacent to it, by the Catholic name, “San Diego” (“Saint Diego”).

Cabrillo sailed up the Baja peninsula under a royal commission that the Spanish crown had granted to a vicious and deadly psychopath, a conquistador named Pedro Alvarado. The royal commission authorized Alvarado “to discover and conquer” places he was able to reach by sailing northward along the Baja peninsula. When Alvarado was killed in Guatemala, the Spanish viceroy charged Cabrillo with sailing north on the basis of that royal commission.

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Thumbnail image for Chargers’ Point Man Calls Out Mayor’s Malarkey On Stadium Task Force

Chargers’ Point Man Calls Out Mayor’s Malarkey On Stadium Task Force

by Doug Porter 02.18.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter 

Chargers’ special counsel Mark Fabiani has done San Diego a huge favor by pointing out the obvious. He’s single-handedly challenged the existing political narrative about the politics of the process being used in deciding on the advisability of building a new stadium.

You won’t find me among those pining away for the possibility of a new football stadium in America’s Finest City, even though I sometimes wonder if I’m addicted to watching games. 

First, there’s the silliness of taxpayers being expected to subsidize a rich man’s game in return for the possibility of an endorphin rush at some future time. And then there’s my sense that the long-term prospects for the sport aren’t very good, what with players’ health issues, spousal abuse scandals, and anything having to do with Patriots’ coach Bill Belechick.

(Malarkey was the best synonym I could come up with for “bullshit,” a word that’s too easy to use when describing the goings on at San Diego’s city hall.) 

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Thumbnail image for A Path Chosen in Black History

A Path Chosen in Black History

by Ernie McCray 02.18.2015 From the Soul

By Ernie McCray

When I look back at my own little chapter of Black History, I feel grateful that I found a path that enabled me to survive a society that sought to deny me a life of dignity. I unknowingly set out on this path on my first day of school, when my knuckles were seemingly knocked to kingdom come because I had dozed off, as if I had a choice in a room sizzling at 100 and some degrees with a fan (itself struggling to stay awake) blowing across a pail of water as though that could lower the temperature in that room to any degree. I swear I heard that fan wheeze. Talking Tucson, Arizona, August or September of 1943.

I remember thinking, back then, as I looked at my hands, surprised to see my knuckles still there, “What the hell kind of welcome was that?” And I knew, as much as a five-year old can know such things, that someday I would be a teacher.

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Thumbnail image for It Was Syrian Kurd Leftists Who Kicked Islamic State Out of Kobani

It Was Syrian Kurd Leftists Who Kicked Islamic State Out of Kobani

by Frank Gormlie 02.18.2015 Editor's Picks

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

In international news, the recent liberation of the Syrian city of Kobani from the control of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters by Syrian Kurd rebels was a little reported story which popped up briefly for its 15 minutes on the mainstream media roulette wheel of fame. Then it disappeared. But the under-reported little story – a story with a huge irony – deserves retelling.

The story – which can be pieced together from a number of media reports – involves the identity of the major fighting force that kicked ISIS out of Kobani, a city of 200,000 mainly ethnic Kurds in north Syria, a stone’s throw from the Turkish border.

It turns out it was a group of Syrian Kurd leftists who kicked ISIS’ ass, if you forgive the vernacular, after 4 months of intense house-to-house fighting, at times room-to-room, and pushed them out of the city entirely. It was the People’s Protection Units, a local leftist organization, and its affiliate, the Women’s Protection Units, that have collective command structures and believe in the equality of women, and – in fact – have numerous women commanders in the fighting units.

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Thumbnail image for Can You Imagine a Supreme Court Composed Exclusively of Black Women or Latinas?

Can You Imagine a Supreme Court Composed Exclusively of Black Women or Latinas?

by Source 02.18.2015 Courts, Justice

How about one composed exclusively of black lesbians?

By Melissa Harris-Lacewell/ The Arena, Politico

The Supreme Court figures prominently in one of my favorite thought experiments for students in my politics courses.

I try to get the students to think about the Supreme Court as an institution across time rather than as a static entity. Therefore, when we think about race and gender representation on the court we should take the court as a whole, stretching back to our nation’s founding, rather than as a snapshot from the contemporary moment. When we do this we realize that although the court looked pretty diverse when it had two white women and an African American man represented, it is a nearly entirely white, male institution across its whole history.

Despite its racial and gender homogeneity we believe that the legal reasoning and precedents set by those earlier courts are valid. …

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Thumbnail image for Republicans Stand Up for Racism as Court Blocks Immigration Programs

Republicans Stand Up for Racism as Court Blocks Immigration Programs

by Doug Porter 02.17.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

A Federal District Court Judge in Brownsville, Texas has issued a ruling temporarily blocking President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

While the White House says the ruling will be appealed and many legal analysts say the injunction won’t stand up to challenges on appeal, the uncertainty involving the legal process represents a psychological victory for the nativist core of the Republican Party.

GOP leaders have cheered the ruling, saying it proves President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration exceeded his legal authority. Millions of other folks feel otherwise.

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Thumbnail image for Five Reasons Losing an NFL Football Team is Good for a City

Five Reasons Losing an NFL Football Team is Good for a City

by Source 02.17.2015 Culture

By Bill Adams / UrbDezine

My family will attest, I’m a San Diego Chargers football fan. During football season, not only is the TV tuned to Chargers games, but so are multiple strategically located radios around the yard, lest I miss any action while attending to a honey-do task or breaking up an argument between my children.  Then there are the pre and post game shows, and wasted hours reading about the draft, trades, and other team side shows. Lest I forget to mention, I’m also a San Diego County resident – just outside the city’s boundaries.

However, the Chargers are one of several NFL teams, along with the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders, considered likely to move to another city unless they receive a new football stadium.  The likely recipient city: Los Angeles.

Ironically, each of these teams have been previous occupants of Los Angeles.  Whether the Chargers  remain in the San Diego or move to greener pastures is almost certainly tied to whether they receive a new stadium.  The same is true of the others. Teams argue that older stadiums are not capable of being modified to provide the modern amenities and environment to allow the teams to be financially competitive, i.e., maximize profits — lest anyone forget that NFL teams are private profit-driven businesses, not public assets.

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Almost White

by Bob Dorn 02.17.2015 Culture

By Bob Dorn

We all can act stupid around race. The more stupid about it we are the more racist we become.

Some of us are a tiny bit stupid, enough to think we can say “Bragh” or “Carnal” and thereby get past the barriers between people by saying magic words. To one degree or another we carry with us when we go to work or school the delusion that we can know by their color, or dialect, or accent who’s likely to be a friend to us.

I had a good friend who used to say, “To assume is to make an ass out of u and me.

Beyond the merely unconscious screw-ups lay (and lie) the racists themselves, the ones who consciously bring stupidity with them as a tool to alarm the inexperienced, and to insult the people who’ve already had to endure the stupidities. I don’t want to talk about them. We all know who they are. They make their livings letting us know who they are.

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