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Posts Tagged ‘Crazy’

America’s Long Hangover

Good morning, America. Are you hungover? Honestly, I think I’ve been hungover since the 2000 election, which was a whopping 16 years ago. Two timelines diverged in a wood, and lo, we took the darker one, and here we are, America, perpetually drunk or hungover.

Looking back, it’s easy to see why nobody cared to show up to that election. We’d come off the prosperity of  Bill Clinton’s 90’s, artificially created by the deregulation of the banks that would eventually undo us all. While the Silicon Valley bubble had already burst, credit was still cheap and easy to come by (and would be until the great crash of 2008).  I know someone who was able to consolidate their student loans during this period at a 1% interest rate. I didn’t have a credit card with more than an 8% interest rate, with most of them coming in at 3-6%. It was a freewheeling time to be alive in America if you could get access to credit. But that bubble was set to burst. And when it did burst, we’d be at war, a war that still wages today.

When everything fell apart we didn’t have somebody at the helm smart enough to figure out what to do. War, instead, would have to solve everything for eight long years. No president is perfect, but Obama helped many of us dig out of that hole. Are things better for everyone? Well. They are better than they were in 2009, say, and they are better for pretty much everyone, though they may not remember it. At the very least, every American now has access to health insurance, whether they have pursued it or not. We are no longer barred from it for financial or medical reasons. But the war continues under Obama, as well as the nefarious spying on Americans, the dubious “war on terror” fought at home at abroad, blowing up kids in foreign countries and inciting anti-Muslim sentiment from coast to coast.

There continue to be “no more manufacturing jobs” which really, we haven’t had since the early 80’s, but my god, so many people continue to mourn them. There are far too many cities trying to woo them back instead of investing in something else. Invest in cell phone towers, IT startups, solar plants, fucking anything but fucking dead manufacturing jobs. We want an America that our grandparents had without the 90% tax rate on the rich that made that America possible. How do you think they paid for World War II? Taxes. It was still patriotic to pay taxes, then. We want that idea of America without making anyone pay for it.

Drunk or hungover, that’s America.

Many elections are characterized, in truth, by a lackluster amount of emotion. Nobody got excited about Bush or Kerry, or Bush or Gore (in part because Gore never talked about things he was passionate about but also see: false sense of prosperity. When you are mostly comfortable, what’s there to get excited about?). The second round Bush made, he was able to drum up the “war on terror” fear-mongering, and hey, that works. But so does Obama’s tact of going with hope. He ran on hope, and he won twice (legitimately, without having to call his brother in Florida to ask him to call the race for him). Hope can win, too. It’s why it’s so aggravating to watch an incompetent bankrupt narcissist run on fear, the oldest playbook, and use that emotion to pull so many people into his orbit. Worse is to watch him go up against the most qualified presidential candidate – maybe ever – who has been knocked down so many times she should not have kept going, but who is going anyway, and fuck you for getting in the way.

We forget that it was Hillary Clinton who was heading that first tentative effort at universal healthcare in the 90’s. And the GOP destroyed her for it. After that failed bid, she went back to safer “first lady” type things, like doing stuff for kids. Even though the very best thing anyone could have done for children and families in America was create universal healthcare (they did manage to expand coverage to cover a lot of kids). So she backed off, but she was not out. She was never out.


Hillary Clinton’s dogged perseverance is a thing to behold. Whenever I’m feeling shit about my own life, and my own challenges, I remember that she’s fucking 68 years old, and has weathered the very worst that an entire political party can throw at her, and here she is, still going. The fact that she had to share a stage with some mediocre white man after literally dedicating her life to political service and the political game to prepare her for this moment is fucking insulting to women everywhere. Like, everywhere. Everywhere. Because we have all been in that place, where we’re more qualified than the dude talking over us, where we have better ideas, better work ethic, where we are simply better in every way, and we keep waiting for folks to see it while he froths and gesticulates and jacks off at a meeting, and you can’t lose your shit, even though he is, because while he will be called “passionate” for spitting angry shit at everyone, you’ll be called “emotional.” So you sit on your hands, and you wait for him to wear himself out, and you start again with reason and logic, even knowing that it’s emotion that wins arguments, not logic. And you do all this knowing that no matter how smart and logical you are, it’s very possible he could still win out, because people are fucking stupid. People are emotional. And yes, “People” includes men, there (a VP at a company I worked for threw a cup at a woman once. He was not fired, suspended, anything. Zilch).

That’s America, too, and that’s my own long hangover. Trying not to yell in meetings. Performance reviews where I’m told I’m, “too smart” and come across as “arrogant,” and all I could think was, “Shit, if I was a dude I’d be getting a huge raise right now.” Oh, certainly, things have worked out for me, too, as they have for Clinton. She’s a fucking major presidential nominee, after all. You don’t get there without moving some large mountains. But you remember the bullshit that wouldn’t be in your way if you were a dude. And she and I would have had a greater mountain of bullshit if we weren’t white, or cis.

Yet there is hope, here, for me and for her and for many of us, because even if this turns into some squalling nightmare, the dark-er, darkest-er, timeline… no, stop. Let’s not even go there.


AS KC Green says:


(updated comic here)

This is not fucking fine. Not one bit of this. Our perpetual drunken hangover is not fine. It’s no way to live. Being angry and scared all the time when we live in an era of unprecedented technological and social change, with a lower crime and murder rate than pretty much ever, is not fine. Falling for the same old fear-mongering bullshit, in every era, is not fine. Repeating the same old far-right hatemongering decade after decade, even and especially when people are still ALIVE who remember fighting against a people whose far-right xenophobia made it possible for them to systematically murder over 6 million people is not fine (and people are still ALIVE who were PART of this murdering).

As a student of history, I find that watching the same historical wheel turn again and again, watching humanity make the same mistakes again and again, really tiring. I get that Hillary Clinton does not represent a passionate positive emotion for people. She is not hopey-changey stuff. She is a tough politician. She will give us a continuation of Obama’s policies. We are voting in the current status quo. Which is SUPER better than the status quo of 2008, yeah. But the status quo is not super exciting. Sure, the path we’re on now is messy and taking forever and change is hard and mean and exhausting, but it’s happening. Because I’ll tell you what’s WORSE than the road we’re on, and that’s the road that leads to murderball, The Handmaid’s Tale, nuclear war with Russia, and internment camps.

Are we living in a dystopia? Sure. We are living in the 80’s Robocop future where corporations control everything because the government is too afraid to tax them and use the money on infrastructure, which would in turn create tons of jobs and improve not only the economy, but working class morale, too. Regan put us on this road in the 80’s, and we’ve never truly jumped back and realized the error of our ways. Deregulation, busting up unions, closing mental health facilities… none of those things was great for the middle class. They were great for rich people.

Yet strangest of all (or not, if you know history) we are living in a Robocop future where dissatisfied white people, in particular, put the blame for this future on immigrants, welfare fraud, and uppity non-white people instead of people like the millionaire running against Clinton who hasn’t paid his taxes in 14 years. I know how we got here, because it’s how we’ve always gotten here. What I want to understand is how we fix it, and how we fix it is the same way we did before:

We pitch hope instead of fear. Change instead of nostalgia.

Sure, the world is a big, scary place. Shit is moving incredibly fast. Snapchat has sunglasses that you can use to record things now, and it will succeed where Google Glass failed because the glasses actually look cool (also you can call them “specs” or “snap specs” and how cool is that). Also there are no more jobs with pensions and no job security but you can freelance any old fucking thing and telecommute from almost anywhere. Healthcare is expensive and can still put you into debt, but everyone can be insured now, which means you won’t get turned away. Also, we don’t have hookworms or other parasites anymore, most of us, and that’s pretty cool.

I mean, take what you can get.

But I’m not going to pitch more fear of the DARKER-EST timeline here, America. Instead, I’m going to tell you to stop drinking and wake the fuck back up (especially you, fellow white people). Wake the fuck up and start doing shit,and be brave, like these folks and these folks and her and fucking her, for God’s sake. And if you can’t fucking DO shit, then at least vote for an actual future. Show up and do the bare minimum and cancel the apocalypse.

There is a better world out there, but achieving it requires good people to actually do something. All it takes for the worst to come out in all of us is for good people to do nothing, and just keep drinking.

So which will you do?



Do Your Fucking Work and Fuck the Rest

Putting this here for reference because I’ve been seeing a lot of people arguing about useless know-nothing bullshit lately, and falling headfirst into this trap.

Listen. The haters are here to keep us hating back, to keep us from doing our work. They are a distraction. You are punching at clouds. You are punching at bullshit that you could hit a whole lot better with your work.

Do the work.

Ignore the distractions.

They are trying to keep you from doing your work. 

Toni Morrison says it with far more eloquence than I ever will. Listen. And remember:

Truthbomb_825“The function, the very serious function, of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language, so you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly, so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”


This is applicable to every -ism out there.

Keep working. Keep creating. You’re still here. You’re winning.

Do the work.

Fuck the rest.


Why My Single-Mother Sister Hates Food Stamps

One of the ideas I always struggled with – as a person who makes a fair amount of money now and is happy to pay taxes toward stuff like schools and roads and Medicare to help people out – was why so many of the folks who are the target beneficiaries of those services and programs hate that people like me are happy to fund them.

I mean, it’s not like they’re really paying Federal taxes (the fed government pays for 100% of the benefits and states share half the administrative costs with the fed). They generally get hefty refunds during tax time to make up for federal taxes paid via their pay checks That’s why folks like my sister – a single mother of two who makes a few bucks above minimum wage– get tax refunds for $5-7,000 every year. To put that in perspective, I actually owe an *additional* $3-5,000 in taxes every year. Now that I’m freelancing and getting book checks I don’t expect to see another tax refund again. And I’m fine with that. I make a lot more than $14 an hour and I don’t have two kids. I make far in excess of paying for basic stuff like rent and food.

And, you know – let’s be real. The average cost every household pays toward welfare assistance programs is like $10 a year through federal taxes. I think I can spare a single lunch to help feed 47 million people. I’m more concerned about sending my government thousands in taxes every year to kill people in foreign countries. But that’s another issue.

My family is middle-of-the-road conservative, which means they don’t really care who you have sex with or whether or not you get an abortion (it’s your business), but they have a deep distrust of big government stealing and redistributing their money and “leftist” programs and organizations like unions leading us all down the road to socialism, where we will all die because the government won’t give us a kidney (yes, of course, you couldn’t get a kidney NOW unless you paid a private hospital for it but THAT’S NOT THE POINT).

I recently listened to my sister lose her shit about the food stamp program, and it was both bizarre and illuminating at the same time. It’s a rant which seems particularly appropo right now.

When talking about welfare and food stamps, my sister went on a long tirade about how at least 20% of the people on welfare abuse the system (if you look it up, only 1 cent for every dollar distributed is used fraudulently). They sell their food stamps for money so they can buy drugs. The food stamps don’t even go toward food, let alone food for their kids (of course, most states now have debit cards, so ranting about this now is tilting at windmills. But I digress).

“But what about those 80%?” I said (not being able to look up stats on the fly), “you can’t take away food from 80% of the people who need it because there are a few people who are abusing it.” h14E089A7

“The whole system is corrupt!” she said, and she told me about how, when she first had her son and was living even leaner than now, she went in to apply for food stamps and was denied – because she made one dollar more a month than the income limit.

The biological father of her child, however, who lived at home, didn’t work, and didn’t pay child support, was approved for food stamps. He got government money for free – with no effort!

This happened all the time, she told me. Food stamp programs didn’t help people who deserved to be helped, people who helped themselves. They were made to help lazy people who abused the system. During the week I spent on vacation with my family this summer, my sister angrily brought up her denial of food stamps at least four more times, despite the fact that it was almost eight years ago that this happened.

Her story reminded me of another one I heard while watching a documentary called “A Place at the Table.” They interviewed a working waitress who made something stupid like $150 a week who proudly stated that she had never been on government assistance. When asked why, she said that it was because she had applied at one point, but made too much money to be eligible for food stamps.

There were two issues here: women working their fucking asses off who were (rightly) outraged at not getting what they felt was their due (which it was) and subsequent anger every time they saw somebody else getting something they weren’t able to, people who they felt were lazier and less deserving (which was certainly true in some cases).

And the righteous anger on display at this –they have it and I don’t – reminded me a lot of the divide-and-conquer strategies in early American history (which have, of course, continued on). When indentured slaves – black and white – in the north in the 1600s got their freedom and started banding together to demand better wages, business owners decided to pay the white people just a *little* bit more to encourage divisions among the workers. It flamed the fire of racism and eventually served the business owners really well – they could continue to pay everybody shit wages because they were too busy hating and despising one another to work together to achieve a better lot for everybody. Unions, it turns out, do indeed work, which is why businesses hate them so much.

Watching poor people and poorer people rage at each other about food stamps – when neither is really paying into the system anyway, or is paying like $5-10 – is both bizarre and somewhat expected, if you look at the tactics.

Because there are some people who immediately benefit when we cut food stamp programs, and social welfare programs, and it won’t be middle class people, as much as we righteously feel that it will, because they won’t be refunding us that $10 for lunch. They’ll just pump it into some other thing, like paying back debt on some war somewhere.

The real folks who benefit when you cut social programs are big businesses who want to pay people as little as possible. Because if you’re starving, you’ll work 14 hour days just to get a fucking meal. When you’re starving, you can’t demand rights. You can’t demand anything, really, because you’ve got a “job creator” with the power of life and death over you. Piss them off, and it’s no food for you.

I know all about big robber barons. I know all about explotative factory work. I know about sharecropping. And slavery. And how this world ran itself on slavery and food-for-work for a good long while, you know, during those days when life was nasty, brutish and short.

What many people don’t understand about these programs is that they protect us from exploitation, indentured labor, and yes, slavery. Keeping us bickering about how Sally got more than Mary just means Sally and Mary both lose.

When I hear radio personas nattering on about how 80% of people on food stamps drive Cadillacs and eat at Chez Riche every night, I wonder why it is they’re more concerned about supporting the people they pay $10 a year to support than they are about the government subsidies and tax breaks to big businesses that cost them hundreds (and often thousands – because when the big guys don’t pay taxes, guess who has to pay that money?).

And then I remember Divide and Conquer. I remember my sister’s rant. Her righteous indignation. I remember that sometimes we’re happier to eat ourselves, because trying to destroy anything bigger than us feels far too overwhelming: “The whole system is corrupt.”

But self-destruction is easy. Self-destruction is something we already know we’re good at.

When did journalism…

When did journalism go from this:

“This thing happened. Here are the factual details of what happened as verified by our in-house reporter. Here is a quote from someone supporting this fact. Here is a quote from someone who explains how this fact will affect your immediate situation. Here are the facts again. Here’s where you can go to get more facts.”

To this?

“So, wow, someone said something! Here are tweets from random people agreeing with them. Here are tweets random people disagreeing with them. I think that both sides have some great points! One might be wrong, but one might be right! Here is MY opinion! What’s your opinion?”

Open Letter to & Cherry Moon Farms

ear Bill Strauss,

I am writing to let you know that I am among the hundreds of people who have been defrauded of over $100 by your company’s deceptive and misleading business practices. As I’m sure you’re aware, customers who order flowers from or goodies from or those of your partners are lured into getting “free shipping” coupons or other discounts for clicking a coupon that shows up at the end of their order or in their email box after they order – what they don’t realize is that clicking the coupon itself automatically enters them in a recurring subscription to an “Easy Saver” program at $14.95 a month.

Nowhere on the coupon does it state that clicking the link will automatically enroll them in this program. *After,* they click, they’re told what the program is. Like many consumers, this is where I stopped. I did not continue enrolling in the program (foolishly thinking I’d have had to enter my cc information, or at least click an “OK” or “Agree” button. Ha! So naive!). Since I had deliberately chosen not to save my credit card information on your site, I believed this meant my information was secure, as I hadn’t signed up for anything and a third party biller shouldn’t have had access to my credit card information.

As I hadn’t been using my credit card much the last 9 months (I have been working diligently to pay this off), I had no reason to check over my statements… not until the last month, when I had to lean on my credit card to get by between jobs. And then I found out what you guys were up to.

This deceptive little cash cow, I know, was concocted by Encore Marketing . The fact that they can’t name you directly as the client in their “successful” case study on their website (which I can’t directly link to because they built their site in flash, which tells you what a premier marketing company this is) is very telling about how proud both of you are with this strategy.

As a communications professional familiar with firms who have a similarly short-term profit strategy, I wanted to advise you against continuing these deceptive practices. I understand that charging folks $14.95 a month is wonderful for positive monthly cash flow. But I’ve also seen how quickly complaints pile up on the complaints boards (here and here to name a few) and the news stories that start highlighting consumers who’ve been defrauded, and I’ve seen how repeat business dries up, forcing companies to rely on more and more deceptive marketing practices just to make ends meet. The “ProFlowers is a scam” group on Facebook only has 15 friends as of yet, but I figure if I put out a few Facebook ads – investing no more than you and your company defrauded me of – will help it get some traffic.

I am incredibly disappointed in this practice not just because, you know, it’s wrong, but because your products are so *good.* You have *great products.* You don’t need to be fraudulent and deceptive and defraud people’s grandmothers of $14.95 a month plus the inevitable 18-25% interest rate they’re being charged by their crappy-ass bank.

You can run a better company than that.

I am currently working through your company’s customer service channels to get all the fraudulent charges refunded to my account in full. That said, getting back the interest that’s been charged to my card for these charges will be harder. I pity the grandmothers who have 20% interest rates.

Until then, I’ll be sharing my Proflowers/Cherry Moon Farms horror story on my blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, and engaging with your lively Facebook fans. I have also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and am working on one for the Attorney General.

Shame on you. And shame on

Good luck.

Kameron Hurley


This is why you complain, people.

Dear Mr.(sic) Hurley,

Please accept my most sincere apologies. I was recently informed that you enrolled in our EasySaver Rewards partner program and that enrollment in this program was not your intention.  I have called EasySaver Rewards on your behalf in order to cancel your membership and procure a refund.  When I called I found that your membership has already been cancelled and the refund of $14.95 has already been applied.  I then had them refund the additional charges of $149.50 (10 months x $14.95 a month) and $1.95, the full amount of fees charged to you for this program.  In most cases you will see the refund appear on your billing statement in just a few days, however please allow 1-2 billing cycles for the refunds to process, depending on the terms of your specific card issuer.  We have a partnership with EasySaver Rewards where we provide customers an opportunity to click on and enroll in their service from our “order confirmation page” after placing an order with us.   I’d like to apologize for any confusion you may have had over the enrollment process with this partner offer.

If you have the opportunity and would like to discuss this with me in further detail, my phone number is 858.909.3785.  I am typically in the office from 8am to 5pm, Pacific Time.  I am also always available via email. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if there is ever anything more I can do for you.




Thank you for your prompt response. The monetary expenditure was terrible for me, but I know it was worse for others who have cards with higher interest rates right now. I’m more devastated by the deception. Your company has some excellent products, and it’s a shame that I can no longer recommend Proflowers or their affiliates in good conscience.

Thank you again. I’ll be watching my account for the credit.