Living Large In Carson City: The Bitch Edition

Soft skills in the crisis management environment | Steelhenge

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” George Carlin

Last week, I inadvertently missed posting due to a sudden illness. While certainly not life threatening, pneumonia is a bitch of an illness that pretty much takes over one’s personal reality. Consequently, I missed, or rather, ignored from my hospital bed much of what was going on around me in the world of politics and the national government . Things impacted while I was gone. There were three mass shootings, memorials, and Trump grandstanding on an epic scale as he and the First Lady insinuated themselves on Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas in what has come to be seen as one extended trumped up photo op. The optics say it all, as does, the reluctance of victims to be seen associating with the president and the First Lady.  

Rather than try to bridge the chasm of a week’s worth of rehashed Trump fuck ups, I want to address one of my pet peeves as it applies to the American psyche and its effect on life as we know it.

Lunch Shaming Kids

This is a topic that most empathic, sane people would realize has a zero sum gain in the world American education or politics as a whole. In an article by the online newspaper Civil Eats, which explores the American food system on a daily basis, author Nadra Nittle begins her text with this statement,

 Alabama elementary school stamps a child’s arm with the message: “I need lunch money.” A Minnesota school district warns graduating seniors that they will not receive caps and gowns unless their meal debt is paid. A New Hampshire cafeteria worker is fired for serving students with outstanding lunch bills.

Assuming for the moment that these students are not gaming the system, but genuinely do not have the wherewithal to pay for their meals, what profit is gained by shaming the children for their parents inability to pay the nominal charge for a school breakfast or lunch. As Nittle points out, school meals are often the only nourishment many of the children receive during the day. These are not hardened welfare individuals who have lived their entire lives on the public dole, but evolving young beings whose self worth and vision of themselves is fragile at best and exacerbated by a flood of peer pressure and fear of looking dumb or stupid. Who are these people who believe food shaming children is the most positive course of action?

Those of us who live in America away from major urban developments, especially in the eastern United States, have little idea of the circumstances that surround the thorny issue of eating, especially if you are a child. New York City’s Brooklyn/Bed-Stuy neighborhood is a case in point. Most Americans have a passing understanding of the concept of an inner city food desert which succinctly describes the area. Bed-Stuy is neither unique or unprecedented in the way food is presented to the masses. If you are a child, especially a latchkey child, who leaves school and returns home to an unsupervised environment, you have few options for a healthy meal if left to your own devices and the money to afford a purchase.

Fulton Street is the main street that runs east and west through Bed-Stuy. Along a six block section of the street, there are two chicken franchises, two McDonalds, a couple of pizza joints (or more), various Asian themed restaurants, a Burger King, an Applebee’s, and a large grown up food mart that serves the majority of households throughout the area. For most children, fast food is the most logical choice. There are no “7-11s” per se, only bodegas which are the ethnically oriented mom and pop stores that can be found on nearly every corner of the neighborhood. These establishments offer a variety of food options but tend to rotate around cold sandwiches and chips with the occasional hot soup offering in some places.

These circumstances are moot if mom and/or dad (mostly mom) don’t remember or don’t have the money to supply their children extra cash for dinner while they are still away at work. The lucky ones with a few pennies to spend, as they are wont to do, often do not make the wise choices when it comes to food and will spend their money on often less than nourishing options. The most popular hookup sites on Fulton Street anytime after 3pm are the fast food franchises’ parking lots. Fast food chains in inner city environments should be seen as predators who feed on these young people who are victims of their environment and little else.

Consequently, if you are a child lucky enough to receive a school meal, whether you can pay for it or not, the day just got a lot better. The idea that adults would want to shame anyone for eating a meal is simply unacceptable.  As Nittle’s article reveals, many of the free or reduced priced lunch plans are federally subsidized and bypass state funding woes by supplying federal dollars. Still, the system is only as good as those who use it. Parents often don’t get involved in the programs or forget to reauthorize their children’s participation from one semester to the next. Illegal immigrants are often reluctant to fill out forms for programs like the free food initiative due to fear of being exposed, arrested, and deported.

But to shame the children for being hungry is unconscionable.

The acts of shaming that accompany lunch debt may be hard for children to shake, according to Bettina Elias Siegel, a Civil Eats contributor and author of the forthcoming book, “Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World.”

“Children are so aware of differences between kids — whether it’s socioeconomic, popularity, or whatever — that when you engage in any practice expressly meant to set them apart, kids feel that keenly,” Siegel said. “The stigma is real; it’s a really unfortunate tactic.”

She added that lunch shaming also exacerbates existing socioeconomic differences in school cafeterias in which more privileged students can buy a la carte items while their less privileged peers eat standard lunches. Civil Eats

Were it not for a small but concerned subset of the population, lunch shaming would be an epidemic right now. There is something fundamentally wrong with a society that cannot, or refuses to see, the problem here. The physic scars that shaming of any kind produce are indelible and debilitating. Demanding that school lunch programs act as stand alone business entities with no regard for the clientele (children) and their emotional and physical well-being reflects the worst that America has to offer the world. Under the age of Trump, this phenomenon can be understood all to well. Considering the cost of a single trip to Mar-a-Lago runs into the millions of dollars, that money might be better spent in shoring up a child’s daily nourishment, not spent on golf, glitz, and unholy glamour.




Living Large In Carson City: Obfuscation Du Jour Edition

Move Along Folks: Nothing to see here

Image result for evil genius images

More and more, it seems that anti-Trump forces are underestimating the evil genius of Donald Trump. For day one of his administration, he and his sock puppet advisers have been embroiled in scandal after scandal. Each one has its own individual flavor and particulars. Michael Flynn and the Russian’s tampering with the 2016 election was only the appetizer on a smorgasbord of vile lies, deceit and fleecing of the American public. Every day average Americans wake up and think how could it get any worse than the last news cycle? Yet, somehow, it does.

The latest brouhaha to plague the Orange One is the inhumane turmoil unfolding on the Texas border where parents, many of whom are coming to the United States legally to seek political asylum from violence they face in their homelands, are being forcefully separated from their children. Held in makeshift “prisons” (let’s call them what they are) hundreds, if not thousands of migrant children, teens and adults are shuttled into the holding center and separated indefinitely from their families.

The lies and excuses of Trump and his supporters are like a flash flood in a steep Sierra canyon. Nothing seems to be able hold back the tide of misinformation. One of the all-time best wacko justifications for the Trump policy of warehousing migrant children in holding cells on the Texas border came from Fox News host, the irredeemable Steve Dofus.

“You do see that they have those thermal blankets, you do see some fencing, but keep in mind — some have referred to them as ‘cages,’ but, keep in mind, this is a great, big warehouse facility where they built walls out of chain link fences,” Doocy said.

Walls in the real world are impenetrable structures that are made of wood and plaster, sometimes brick and mortar, sometimes glass, but all of them have one major component to them that the “cages” on the Texas border do not have – they are not made out of chain link fencing. Cages are made out of chain link fencing, not walls. Why is this so hard for Dofus to understand?

If ultimate blame is to be assessed on Trump’s family separation policy, the infamous credit falls to Jeff Session’s former communication director and current senior adviser for policy for Trump, Stephen Miller. Miller can be described as hard core, right wing conservative that never met a liberal who he didn’t want to smash like a bug under his shoe. In an article by Jane Coaston for Vox titled, Stephen Miller believes in controversy as political strategy, even if it means jailing children, she wrote,

To understand what the Trump administration is thinking about separating families and locking kids up at the border, you have to understand Stephen Miller’s foundational political belief: It’s better to stir controversy, at any price, than it is to engage constructively.

The architect of Donald Trump’s immigration policy and the White House’s resident troll, the 32-year-old White House senior policy adviser believes it’s good to “trigger the libs,” so to speak, with “the purpose of enlightenment.” To Miller, working constructively across the aisle isn’t as useful as “melting snowflakes.”

Trump is quick to shift the blame like any self-respecting bully, and this time is no different. His target? The democrats in Congress who he falsely accused of being able to fix the situation if they wanted to. Insanely, he continues to say publicly that the law that calls for the separation of children from their parents is a “Democrat law” passed in some deep dark past that has been around for years festering. He would have Americans believe he has no choice due to this evil law that the Democrats refuse to “fix”.

The problem is there is no law requiring separation of families at the border. In the first place, the Republicans hold both houses and the presidency. They could “fix” any issue that they see fit to fix. The separation issue is Trump’s policy cooked up by Miller, Trump and Sessions. It is meant as a means of holding the children hostage until the Democrats come around and sign on to a bill to fund the actual border fence/wall.

Trump faces opposition from his own party and the world to stop separating families who come to the United States seeking asylum or merely a chance at a better life. Trump’s go to position is to double down and vilify the Democrats who hands are tied by his shenanigans. His comments today are particularly unhinged. On Democrats he stated,

President Donald Trump charged Democrats with wanting illegal immigrants to “infest” the U.S., as he defended his administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border and spoke to a business group.



Trump has called on Democrats to work with Republicans to pass immigration legislation, and said on Twitter, “They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.”  Marketwatch

When he tired of flogging his Democrats, he turned to his ire towards, the press, who else?

Donald Trump spoke on Tuesday morning to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. In the speech, which received a frighteningly level of cheers, Trump declared those who oppose him are criminals, declaimed that he wants “security, not judges” and repeatedly insisted that his political opponents should simply shut up. In a stunning, angry tirade, Trump talked about Canadians smuggling shoes, repeated his lies about crime rates in Germany, and make a shocking claim that in reporting about families being separated by his immigration policies the news media was supporting criminals and child smugglers.

Trump: They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers.  They know exactly that they’re doing. They know it. They know exactly what they’re doing. And it should be stopped.   Daily Kos

In the speech Trump goes on to accuse countries of sending the United States the worst possible candidates for asylum, or those who simply want a better life. The Daily Kos article characterizes Trump’s speech as “unhinged and unbound”, making the accusation that there is a concerted effort on the part of countries to dump “undesirables” into the United States simply to . . . do what? Undermine our democracy? Take over the power of government? It is hard to know what goes on in Trump’s brain, but as the Daily Kos points out he didn’t stop there,

Trump: These countries that we give tremendous foreign aid to in many cases, they send these people up & they’re not sending their finest. Does that sound familiar? Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized? Turns out I was 100% right and that’s why I got elected.”

All of this being said, what is to be taken away from the border crisis? Frankly, it is just smoke and mirrors. Everything Trump does has to be seen through the Russia investigation. Last week it was thumbing his nose at our oldest trade partners. Later in the week, it was the Kim Jong Un summit which produced little of substance and a great deal of positive press for North Korea. It was a huge nothing burger that is as susceptible to failure as his border and trade policies.

Concerning Trump, everything going forward should be seen through the filter of Robert Mueller and his inexorable march to a final verdict on whether or not Trump and his minions colluded with Russia, obstructed justice or any of a laundry list of other grievances current under investigation concerning his administration. What is particularly concerning, however, is Trump, Sessions and Miller seem to have no compunction involving innocent children and their parents as a political football that is only meant to cover his lame ass.

Bullies will bully.