Trumpismo

Mom was a huge Ross Perot fan. I’m sure very few of the family knew or even remember this about Mom, but she loved Ross Perot when he ran for president back in 1992. How many of you remember 1992? I remember that election very well. Ross Perot ran for president the year we had that three-way race that ended up saddling the United States with president William Jefferson Clinton. Bill Clinton, the president that American conservatives love to hate. Ross Perot ran for president again in 1996, Establishing the Reform Party in the process, but didn’t do nearly as well that year.

Mom loved the fact that Ross Perot spoke straight to the people. She loved the fact that he threw charts and graphs at the arguments, getting wonkier about the policies being argued than any other candidate in American history had gotten, at least in her experience.

She thought Bill Clinton was a used car salesman turned governor and I agreed with her in that. Mom had disapproved of Reagan and then the elder Bush for pretty much the same reasons that I did. They were mean people with mean policies and they said whatever their party told them to say in order to get elected. But Ross Perot? Mom loved every minute of that sideshow. The threats on his life that caused him to drop out of the race. The surprise re-emergence of the candidate mere weeks before the election. It was great theater.

There would be no Ross Perot love in my future. I had discovered libertarianism on August 2, 1990. That was the day that the elder Bush took us to war in the gulf against his buddy from the Reagan years, Saddam Hussein. On that day, as we peaceniks were engaging in a sit-in in the capitol rotunda, back in the days when the Texas state capitol building was open twenty-four hours a day for tourists, I just happened to be sitting next to Terry Liberty Parker. Yes, that Terry Liberty Parker.

Terry was infamous in Austin. Terry had been active in the anarchist/libertarian fringe of Austin politics for decades. His experimental clothing-optional apartment complex was a distant memory by 1990. He was running a libertarian show on Austin’s cable access channel by that point in time, and he was out rabble-rousing with the rest of the troublemakers on the fringe of Texas politics that night as he helpfully enlightened me about the weird world of third party politics while we occupied some floor space in the capitol building. By 1992, I was a hard-core Libertarian Party member.

Since I was a libertarian, and since this was my first time out for a presidential election as a libertarian, I wanted nothing to do with some upstart named Ross Perot. I tried to point out to Mom that Libertarians had been trying to break into American politics since the seventies, all to no avail. Ross Perot was not going to be able to do anything even if he managed to get elected as president. With the Democrats and Republicans united against him, he would be lucky to be able to stay in office at all.

There was another reason that I wouldn’t vote for Ross Perot even if there had been no Libertarian Party. A reason I have never told anyone about until now. I wouldn’t vote for Ross Perot because I knew he was a real estate developer. I’ve covered this point more than once on the blog so I won’t revisit the subject beyond simply noting that, during the process of working closely with a developer, you become numb to the energy and the hype. When you finally get numb to it all you stop listening to the words of the sales pitch and you start to take note of the number of lies that form the foundation of selling the project.

The revulsion at the lies that real estate developers tell comes from a deep distrust of most salesmen. As the son of a used car salesman I was immersed in my father’s world of buying and selling cars every day throughout my teenage years. Every time I spoke to him or was around him as an adult he was sizing up and selling cars and trucks. Automobiles were all he talked about or cared about aside from sports. It was his raison d’etre, his reason for existing. I was surrounded by used car salesmen and bullshit artists throughout my most formative years. Surrounded by workaday confidence men. I reflexively recognize a sales pitch when I hear one and I reject the content of the pitch out of hand, the actual words of the pitch completely unheard by me. I know I’m being sold to, and no one sells you things you don’t already want to buy. If it is something you already want, you just buy it without having to deal with salesmen. At least, that is what I do.

Real estate developers, in comparison to car salesmen and their hourly hawking of vehicles to car shoppers, are engaged in what can be most precisely be cast as a long con. Unlike car salesmen who have to make their sales in some portion based on their reputation for honesty and repeat business (Dad’s mantra was “be completely honest with a customer”) a real estate developer never has to look at a contractor or a buyer again unless he has to go to court in order to sue them or answer a lawsuit.

Consequently, a real estate developer can be even more dishonest to his marks …er customers, than a used car salesman can get away with. Each piece of property is unique. Each contract is different. Your past failures are conditioned based on the quality of the information that you were given. You have plausible deniability to fall back on. You can’t tear down a piece of property and discover all its flaws like you can with a machine. You have to sell what the property offers, sell what you can invent or envision the property to be.

I knew that Ross Perot was selling, and I knew that he was selling hard. I knew he had a knack for selling big dollar projects, and I knew he knew his way around Washington D.C. I no more trusted him than I would trust a carnival barker who promised me the show of a lifetime. So I stuck to my guns and voted for Andre Marrou in 1992. He lost, just like libertarians always lose, and we got Slick Willie as president that year.

All of this would be a quaint history lesson if it weren’t for the fact that a real estate developer currently holds the office of president. In hindsight, I wonder if Ross Perot went through those I’m a candidate, no I’m not a candidate convolutions that he engaged in precisely because his poll numbers started to show that he might win the 1992 presidential election. That he might become president himself with all the trouble holding that office would bring, not to mention having to take a significant pay cut.

Being a spoiler in an election is one thing. Punishing the elder Bush by appealing to the fickle middle of the voting population and drawing support away from him, allowing Bill Clinton to win, was just fine with Ross Perot. Actually gaining the office of President would be another thing entirely, and he had to be smart enough to know he couldn’t survive in Washington D.C. under that harsh spotlight. He wouldn’t be allowed to maintain his vast network of properties and businesses. He wouldn’t be able to work with a congress that was pitted against him.

Ross Perot knew how to make money and how to survive in the business world. This basic understanding of the reality of the business world is something that Donald Trump really never got the hang of, as revelations about how his father bailed him out time and time again over the decades should illustrate to anyone paying attention.

Ross Perot torpedoed the elder Bush’s second presidential campaign in 1992 specifically to make sure that he was a one-term president. Seen in this light it becomes obvious that Ross Perot was the smarter of the two real estate developers to run for office in the modern age. Donald Trump was not nearly as smart and he became president with all the scrutiny that comes along with that office.

However, Donald Trump’s gaining office meant something more to me, personally. As an amatuer pholosopher. As a political spectator. As a news junkie. Donald Trump being president meant that his supporters had a political philosophy that they believe is a part of Donald Trump. Trump himself had a politics that he espoused, the essence of what a Trump administration would be about. This was true whether Trump had enumerated what his political philosophy was or not, because the people who supported him would invent what they wanted to see if he didn’t provide the substance for them, and they’ll invent it for any political figure even if that figure does give them something else that he wants them to believe. So after the paint wore off my toenails and I came to grips with the fact of a Trump presidency, I set out trying to figure out what the president’s political philosophy was.

I had to figure this out for myself, because I knew that he would never consciously reveal what his true motives were beyond lining his own pockets at our expense. In public. Every day.

Hispanics have a name for the kind of demagogue, the kind of despot, that Trump wanted to be, based on the way he presented himself to the people he was president of. The way he presented himself to the people who wanted to belong to him and showed up at his political rallies that never stopped occurring, a hallmark of the kind of authoritarian that Donald Trump admires. In public. Every day.

Caudillo is what the Spanish people called Francisco Franco when he took over Spain. El Caudillo, the strong man.

99percentinvisible.org – EPISODE 408 Valley of the Fallen – 07.28.20

Historically we in the United States consigned those who fell under the shadow of the Monroe doctrine to the tender mercies of a Caudillo like Francisco Franco was and that Trump wanted to be. That practice has fallen out of favor in the country at large if not in Washington D.C. in particular, but we’ve apparently grown so fearful of the poor among us that we will risk having a Caudillo to rule over us directly. A dictator to rule over us, like a king would. A Caudillo to rule over us in the same manner as those who lived under our corporate control in Central and South America, back in those #MAGA days when America was great.

Throughline – There Will Be Bananas – January 9, 2020

Donald Trump really isn’t a strong man, though. He was planning on being a strong man. He presented himself as a strong man. This is why the trolls who supported him on the internet called the Never-Trumpers cucks or cuckolds, weak men who allow their women to sleep with other men. Everyone who had a brain and understood what Trump was promising to bring to the office of the President knew that he was promising a dictatorship unlike anything that the United States had seen at any point in history. The people who chanted “lock her up” and “build that wall” at Trump’s rallies thought he was going to be a dictator like Bush the second joked about being.

If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.

George Bush, December 18, 2000

…and Donald Trump has made a lot of people’s lives miserable, killing over 240,000 Americans. However, he didn’t earn the hatred or directly spill the kind of blood that a title like el Caudillo requires. He didn’t declare martial law because a United States president can’t do that all by himself. Only governors have that power in the United States, and even their power on that subject is strictly measured. He didn’t get to create concentration camps to put the Mexicans that he and his supporters are so afraid of in. His wall was never built. He couldn’t effectively prosecute his political opponents even though he tried to do it several times. So he’s not really a Caudillo.

He’s more like a Caudito or a stormy child. My apologies in advance for butchering a noble language like Spanish.

Since he fancies himself a strong man, and since his supporters pretend he is a strong man, I find it fitting that his affected masculine air, his machismo, also carry an appropriate title for one such as he. Consequently the name I’ve chosen for his politics is Trumpismo, a similar label to the one hung on the politics of Hugo Chavez, the only dictator that Donald Trump hates.

Throughline – El Libertador – May 16, 2019

Trumpismo

Knowing who Trump was and naming his politics was the easy part. Trying to discern what his politics actually were? Now that was the hard part. No matter how hard I squinted at his actions, the platform that supported them simply wasn’t discernable. What does Caudito Trump stand for? What are his policy goals? What does he believe? Four years later, on the eve of his ouster from the office of the president, this remains an open question to me.

It is hard to discount the facts of Trump’s racism. There are just too many instances of him engaging in racist speech. Particular kinds of speech that he repeated too often for them to be simple misunderstandings. His racism goes all the way back to his father and his family and their effect on him, but his racism should have been apparent to anyone who was paying attention during the campaign that lead up to the first term of Barack Obama’s presidency, and what happened after it. It is not for nothing that Chris Hayes refers to Donald Trump as the birther-in-chief.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump Ph.D.

Donald Trump took up the birther cause with a vengeance that made Sarah Palin’s promotion of it pale by comparison. The idea that Barack Obama was not an American is a patently racist idea. How do I know this? Because conservatives don’t have a problem with Ted Cruz running for president, and he wasn’t born in the United States. “Ted Cruz looks every bit as white as I look, so why should it be a problem? That Barack Obama character looks like a foreigner with his black skin. He’s not an American, is he?” Therein lies the racism.

Whether Trump is a racist or not, he clearly thought his supporters were racists. Every word that he spouted was about them and they and the threat they pose. Trump’s pitches were demonstrably racist. Trump’s flunkies are still demonstrably racist. The Republican party, the party of Trump, is still demonstrably racist.

The Wife said don’t let the racists win on Facebook as the 2018 midterm elections were occurring, her obvious point being that people were being motivated to vote for Trump and his endorsed Republicans, all of whom were running exclusively on racist fears, and that these Republicans should be defeated at the polls by the rest of us self-respecting Americans. The majority of us, the people who don’t see life as a game that is only won by profiting off the suffering of others. We shouldn’t let the racist minority of Americans win. That’s it. That is the sum total meaning of don’t let the racists win.

The result was that family and friends went to town on her on Facebook, taking her to task for calling them racists. She got so much hatred on Facebook that she ended up deleting the status the very next day. If you don’t like the quality of your fellow travelers being assessed as your qualities, don’t stand up and try to defend those fellow travelers. Let the sleeping dogs lie and walk on. Walk on, because the racism of your fellow travelers is beyond question. The only question in my mind is why do you feel you need to defend yourself when you aren’t being targeted? Sensitive much?

Refugees are entitled to seek asylum by international law, even brown-skinned refugees have that right. Caudito Trump making the US into something that the refugees fear more than staying where they were makes us worse than the gangs and warlords those people are fleeing from. Caudito Trump was trying to make the United States appear more frightening than MS13, his preferred Mexican bogeyman of the time.

That was Trump’s plan. That was why he separated children from their parents at the border. That was why he locked children up in cages. That was why he and his former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, as well as his current AG Billy Barr conspired to make millions of people who are Americans stateless by denying them residency inside the United States. He declared these poor people invaders and outsiders simply because they didn’t have documents to prove that they were Americans.

Is that something you carry around with you? Proof that you belong here? Most of us don’t have those kinds of documents. There was a political backlash in the 1990’s against even creating a thing similar to a national ID, and yet you don’t dare leave home without your papers if you look like a Mexican in the United States, even in 2020.

These people aren’t a threat to anything aside from the narrow vision that feeding them, sheltering them, welcoming them will somehow mean there is less for the rest of us. The poor towns and villages of Mexico, with far less resources than we can command on a whim, have embraced these people and welcomed them with open arms.

That is what it is to be human. To be humane. To ease the suffering of others, even if you have to do without because of it. You welcome refugees in and you offer them whatever it is that you have to spare, because at least you have it to spare.

…And the only reason, the only reason that there can be for singling out the Southern border as the place where problem migrants come from, is racism. Caudito Trump doesn’t talk about gangs other than Mexican gangs. He doesn’t talk about anything other than the other waiting for us across the Southern border.

(Some of text above is from Facebook)

However, the illusion of Trumpismo being essentially racist dissolved after 2018. Caudito Trump pushed xenophobia all day every day through the end of the 2018 midterms, and in that election he was politically flogged for the blatant racism he was engaging in. Finally and justly flogged, politically.

After the 2018 election he changed tactics. Gone were the threats of invasion from across the Southern border, other than the occasional red flag that the coronavirus could be sneaking across the border with those evil Mexicans. In the 2020 election when he needed the votes of brown-skinned Americans to win, his pitch was entirely economic.

Unfortunately Caudito Trump didn’t have a definable economic policy. His economics is not about getting dollars into the hands of average Americans that need them, or helping the drug addicted wretches strung out on profit-making drugs manufactured by international pharmaceutical companies. No, his economics amounted to calling everyone he wanted his supporters to be afraid of socialists, as if socialism was a bad thing.

Socialism is not what conservatives think socialism is. Stalin wasn’t socialist. Stalin was a dictator, like Putin is. Stalin was a dictator like Caudito Trump wanted to be. The fear of socialism has driven conservatives to embrace the thing that they should be afraid of. Socialism is Medicare or Social Security, and most Americans love those programs.

Historically? Historically socialism evolved into Marxism, and Marxism turned out to be a dead end. Marxism was what Stalin paid lip service to while killing 60 million people as perhaps the worst dictator in human history (he has competitors for that position) Marxism, as a theory, died with the USSR. The social democracies of the Nordic countries are also socialism, practiced within the loosely capitalist/feudalist framework that dominates the Western world.

(Some of text above is from facebook)

The economics of Trumpismo amounts to trickle-down economics in the form of giant tax breaks for the wealthy and be afraid of socialists. That isn’t an economic platform that can bear any weight. After four years I’m still largely left with a puzzle. What was Trumpismo? What is it? Can it be defined by the targets he selects?

“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”

At this point, Coach Pop paused, and I thought for a moment that perhaps he didn’t have the words and the conversation would end. Then he took a breath and said:

“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

Coach Gregg Popovich Responds to Trump

Everything Caudito Trump says can be dismissed as obfuscation. You can harm your own understanding of reality if you pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth. Hucksters of his caliber have long lost sight of what is true or isn’t true and are continually engulfed in a fog of bullshit that they can’t even see through, so there is little to be gained from sifting through his words for gems of truth.

However, this Bullshit is Bullshit truism doesn’t mean that Caudito Trump has no politics, no Trumpismo, or that his politics can’t be sieved out of his nearly chaotic actions. It’s just that the results may not create a framework that supports weight. There isn’t a there there to build on, as far as I can tell. But there is a pattern which can be illuminated, like the outline of a murder victim left at a crime scene.

I’ll start with this. Donald Trump was impeached for trying to get Ukraine to create propaganda targeting Joe Biden, the man that Caudito Trump lost the 2020 election to. Time after time Trump attempted to profit himself at the expense of the country at large, and when the thing he was trying to do benefited the Republican party, the Republican leadership in the legislature followed his lead. Sullying Joe Biden’s reputation served their interests, and so they acquitted Donald Trump of the crimes he was accused of, even though the crimes had been demonstrated in open court. This action made the Republican party accomplices to Trump’s crimes, an act that they have so far evaded punishment for.

These events, however, serve to illustrate the one major point of consistency about Caudito Trump. Time after time, when Donald Trump acted, it was to benefit Donald Trump alone.

Caudito Trump’s consistent self-rewarding actions reveal the first plank of Trumpismo. He believes that in order for there to be winners there must be losers. In order for there to be success there must be want and suffering. The first tenet of Trumpismo is belief in the zero-sum game. This belief underpins every other thing that Caudito Trump and his Stormtrumpers believe. Others must suffer so that they can have what they want in life. The suffering of others is not only unavoidable, it is desirable. Without the visible suffering of the losers there cannot be anything to desire about being a winner.

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
Fresh Air – ‘Sum Of Us’ Examines The Hidden Cost Of Racism — For Everyone February 17, 2021

This is a requirement of the zero-sum game. Once you have subscribed to this tenet, everything else falls into place. The racism, the xenophobia, the bulwark of nationalists and populists down through the centuries is a hallmark of those who think they must claim more than they are rightfully due. This is why they don’t see themselves as racist when they move to keep what they have secured for themselves. Protect it from the other, those who have to do without.

Donald Trump winning means cheaters win. Cheating was and is his standard of practice and his father’s standard of practice. Caudito Trump’s biggest supporters, White Evangelicals, are cheating and they know it. They know he isn’t a christian, but they support him even with this inadmissible knowledge in their heads because engaging in this deception gets them the ideological victories that they have literally sold their souls for over the years since Ronald Reagan took office. This is just another facet of belief in the zero-sum game.

Caudito Trump runs his businesses like a crime boss, and he does business with criminal gangs from around the world. Hillary Clinton’s major failing as a candidate and a politician is that she never tried to prove that Donald Trump was a tax cheat back when New York state could have done something about it. She knew he was a cheater, just like everyone else in business and government in New York city knew this about him, and yet she did nothing to torpedo the man before he became Caudito Trump, the man in control of the largest military on the face of the Earth.

Oh my! This is why I should have stayed out of this. I could say the same about you sir. We will never agree with each other. We both think the other is willfully ignorant and will NEVER see the others point. Just keep depending on the government (other people) to take care of you. I want to depend on myself and God. I guess we just agree to disagree.

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Agree to disagree, the height of willful ignorance. That’s what I suggested was being displayed in that conversation back in 2018 with my brother-in-law and his friends. Willful ignorance. Deliberate stupidity. The author was asserting that there was a vast liberal conspiracy at the center of the average American’s perception of Caudito Trump. That this was the reason that Donald Trump has been dismissed as one of the worst presidents in history. The belief that Barack Obama was one of the best presidents in history.

A vast liberal conspiracy? I was citing a Pew poll as evidence of these assertions. That Obama was loved. That Trump was hated. Agreeing to disagree on matters of opinion is a forgivable sin, I’ll grant that much. If only nature was so malleable as to allow willful ignorance like the above to go unpunished for long.

This is the next most substantial platform of the politics of Caudito Trump under the adherence to the zero-sum game. The second platform is the belief in a grand conspiracy that is keeping the most powerful office in the United States from being exercised the way that its current occupant wants. Caudito Trump loves the stupid, and the stupid love grand conspiracy theories, so he loves and promotes grand conspiracies as the reason why he cannot give his supporters what he thinks they want.

This is why he promotes the ridiculous fantasies behind Qanon. It isn’t because he believes that crap. His supporters believe it, and so he puts on that face. His actions are a pantomime, a mimicry of what his supporters say they want in a leader.

Fortunately (unfortunately for them) nature does not reward leaders that cannot lead, and what we have witnessed time and again over the last four years is that Donald Trump can’t lead. He can’t lead because he has nothing he believes in aside from Donald Trump.

Trump and his enablers — like those from history of similar mindset — have made it abundantly clear: Anybody not of THE PARTY can’t be trusted. This is the primary message of, “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair?” And so, unchecked, what happens next is those who are not of THE PARTY must be removed from power. They must be purged from government, from military leadership, from law enforcement, and especially from public education.

Facebook – Stonekettle

A leader has to believe something. Faith in oneself is only part of the leadership equation. You also have to have faith in something greater than yourself, and a narcissist like Trump can’t imagine anything greater than he is. This is why he lies incessantly. This is why he constantly cheats at everything that he does. He is a broken man. He has always been a broken man.

This isn’t how we were raised. This isn’t how any of us were raised, aside from Caudito Trump. These aren’t the values of a free people. This is not the America I fell in love with as a child. If it is the vision of America that you want embodied, one that you support, then I have to wonder what it is that you are so afraid of?

Penniless, hopeless refugees are a threat to the United States? We throw away more food in a day here in the US than would be needed to feed ten times the number of refugees requesting asylum in the US right now. We have entire towns made up of empty houses. We have more empty space than would be necessary to house every homeless person in the world if they somehow made their way here to the United States.

We will soon have created a vaccine that will liberate us from the confines of the coronavirus, and we will achieve this without Caudito Trump’s stupid warp speed efforts. We will do this because that is what we do. It is what we have to do in order to overcome the limitations of nature and our own personal shortcomings. It is what we do, aided by people that Caudito Trump and his supporters want thrown out of the country.

I have some good news for you. The game is not zero-sum. Trump is a con artist that lies to you. Refugees are not a threat, they are an asset that we squander, just like we squander the vast amounts of treasure we possess on things that do not make us better people. It is time to stop being afraid. Time to stop listening to people who tell you that you should be afraid, especially when those people have the wealth and authority to solve the problems they tell you to be afraid of, if only they exercised a fraction of their wealth and power to do it. Don’t fall for the con. Don’t defend Trump’s lost cause. Don’t accept his vision of America as your vision of America.

Trump stops being president on January 20th, 2021. There is nothing he can do that will change this fact. It is written into the constitution that the office ends when and where it does. For him to attempt to remain in office is The essence of what unconstitutional means.

The Democratic speaker of the new House of Representatives will become President on January 20th, 2021 if Caudito Trump has rendered the election results inconclusive, which is the best he can do under the circumstances. I’m good with that result just as I am good with Joe Biden becoming president. The average citizen did their job on November 3rd of this year. We honored the 240,000 dead Americans and kicked their murderer out of office in the election. Our job is done. Now it is up to the people who have been given authority to to their jobs.

The governors and legislators of the various states will follow the constitution they swore to uphold, and validate the election results that the count (still going on) reveals. The electors for the president will cast their ballots on December 8th, and if that vote doesn’t reveal a Biden presidency, then the House of Representatives will step in and try to make sense of the mess. The Democratic House of Representatives. Who do you think they will chose?

The military can be counted on to follow procedure. That is one of the few things I’m fairly certain of. They will not back Caudito Trump’s transparent coup attempt that is currently being foiled in the courts. The US military will follow procedure and back whoever Congress names as the next president, because that is what procedure requires of them. Caudito Trump is done. Still, I think I will keep my fingers crossed until January 20th, just in case.

It’s going to be interesting watching Trump get evicted on January 20th. It’ll be like justice has finally arrived for all those black families his father evicted all of his life, that Trump’s son-in-law Jared evicts regularly to this very day.

(Some of text above is from Facebook)

When Joe Biden takes the oath of office and enters the White House we will have come full circle again. The evangelicals that allied themselves to the Republican party under Reagan have been frustrated yet again with Biden’s victory. The people who were so scandalized by the nomination and then election of Bill Clinton to the White House, the people who were so shocked at having to tell their children about oral sex because the president got a blowjob and it was talked about on the news, those very same people went out and promoted Caudito Trump and his Trumpismo to the White House.

With Caudito Trump’s elevation to high office the Moral Majority ceased to have any claim to morals or to even being a majority anymore, and they were soundly defeated at the polls on November 3rd. Even though they managed to make some gains on down-ballot races, Joe Biden will likely win with more than seven million votes, more votes than have ever been cast for a president before in history. I wonder what hobby horse these backers of Trump and his Trumpismo will come riding back out on next time? Because there will be a next time.

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Editor’s note

In researching this article before publishing it I came to the realization that I mistook the existence of The Perot Group and its development of properties in Texas to be the only business that Ross Perot engaged in. In that assumption I was mistaken. I left the text I had written largely intact because it does reflect what I thought of Ross Perot in 1992. I was simply wrong in 1992. Wrong that he was a real estate developer, correct in my estimation that he was a salesman first. He just happened to be a technologist second and not the even more divorced from reality group designated as real estate developer.

when I decided that the name for Trump’s politics was Trumpismo back in 2017, I thought I was being unique and original. Turns out, a lot of people had the same idea at about the same time that I did. Oh, well.

Featured image from the AP story Message of Election 2020: Trump lost, but Trumpism did not published on November 7, 2020.

Christine Herndon Provence Schulte 1927-2020

Christine Herndon Provence Schulte passed away on Thursday, November 5th, 2020, in the presence of her loving daughter, Sandra.

She was born on October 1, 1927 in Madill, Oklahoma to W. C. “Pete” and Ossie Biles Herndon.  She graduated from Madill High School in 1945 and went on to get her associates degree at Murray State School of Agriculture, Tishomingo, Oklahoma in 1947.  It was there that she met Elmer A. “Bunk” Provence.  They married on Oct 16, 1948 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  She went on to get her B.S. in Business from Oklahoma State University in 1956.  

After graduation, She and Elmer moved to Lawton, Oklahoma where she worked as a bookkeeper from 1957 until 1963 when they adopted their daughter Sandra Kay.  The family then moved to Altus, Oklahoma in 1965.  

Christine returned to school at Southwestern State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma and graduated in 1971 with a second Bachelor’s Degree in Business Education.  She became a business teacher at Altus High School in 1971 and taught general business classes and typing. Many of her students fondly remember their experiences with her and credit her with their success in business. She continued teaching at Altus High School through the 1984 school year.  

In 1984, she and Elmer both retired and moved to their farm outside of Sterling, Oklahoma, where she attended the First Baptist Church and was a member of the Sterling Ladies Town & Country Club and the Arts & Craft Club. She was also a member of the Comanche County Retired Educators Association and the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association.

Elmer Provence passed away on Dec 17, 1997. She lived alone in the house she and Elmer built until March 2, 2002, when she married Henry J. Schulte.  The Schulte’s lived together on his farm on the opposite site of the same highway that bordered the Provence farm until Henry passed away on April 8 of 2006.

She continued to be active in the social life of her community of Sterling until stricken with illness in 2016 when she moved to Austin, Texas in order to be closer to her daughter. We owe a debt of gratitude to Paul Yanez and all the nurses at Clare Creek memory care home for their tireless work. We know that Mary Belle and the other ladies at the home will miss Christine a lot.

She was preceded in death by her parents Pete and Ossie; her sisters: Janice Robinson and Betty Jane Matthews and her brother, Grover Herndon. She is survived by her daughter Sandra Kay Steele, her son-in-law Anthony Steele and her two grandchildren Alyssa and Gregory all of Austin, Texas, and numerous nieces and nephews. 

We are born with the seed of who we can be, unrealized at our core. To live fully we must find that seed and become the potential person we were always meant to be. It will be the hardest struggle that you can know in order to become that person, and yet it will be the adventure of a lifetime to engage in that struggle.

anonymous

Services will be held at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Lawton, Oklahoma where she will be laid to rest on November 11th, 2020 at 10:30 am. Donations may be made in her name to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, The Susan B Komen Foundation or the Disabled American Veterans.

Existence Is

The AtlanticA 97-Year-Old Philosopher Faces His Own Death – Jan 14, 2020

What Is the Point?

Herbert Fingarette

Each person’s existence carries its own meaning, this much is clear to me at age 56. I’m not likely to get anywhere near 97 years of age. The genetic and social burdens I carry will probably kill me long before I make it that far. But who knows? I certainly don’t. I plan to live for as long as life brings me joy, and not for one minute longer if I can arrange that.

Like the veteran philosopher, this amatuer philosopher has pondered the meaning of existence many times. I cannot come up with a reason for life beyond the one I gave in the first sentence. Either you find your meaning for continuing for yourself, or you don’t. If you don’t, your existence is liable to be shorter than the person who can find that reason for themselves.

People without purpose tend to wither away. When I was stricken with illness that wouldn’t kill me, but rendered me incapable of continuing to indulge my passion for architecture, for designing and building, I came dangerously close to doing just that. It was the interference of family and friends that kept me here, allowed me time to find new purpose. Otherwise I would have been gone years ago.

A few years ago this week, I held my dying mother in my arms, and wept at the cruelty of the world that would kill this noble woman this way. Kill her with a cancer that she refused to treat. She felt it was the end of her time. And so it was the end of her time. And so it is for all of us, if we allow it to be. Or not.

Or not.

Accept that you know next to nothing about life and living. Savor each new thing, each new day, as if it is your last. Never miss a sunset if you can help it. Catch the first sun’s rays when you can. Breathe in life and then exhale it to enrich the world around you. Each and every day is a new day with new things to learn. Existence is its own purpose. I wouldn’t have it any other way, myself.

RAnt(hony)-ings

Submitted to the Atlantic. Featured image link, another bridge/sunset from Bing that I had to track down.

Divorce

The inspiration for this post sprang out of the destruction of my World of Warcraft raiding guild a few days previously. A group of friends that I’ve spent six hours a week, minimum, talking to and working closely with to solve problems in a game that we jointly enjoy. A game we couldn’t enjoy if we didn’t have each other to rely on day-in and day-out. It took twenty people to raid successfully in World of Warcraft when I started playing the end-game content during Wrath of the Lich King. Working closely with twenty people to master the mechanics of a battle for weeks on end draws you closer than most casual friendships.

What happens when these groups of closely-knit battle-hardened companions suddenly decide that they can’t play with each other anymore? I don’t know what else to call that situation other than divorce. A bit extreme you say? It’s not that traumatic? Spend ten years reliably sitting down with the same twenty people and experiencing the adrenaline surge of beating a difficult boss fight through precise coordination, and then get back to me after you tell the other nineteen people to kiss your ass. Let me know how that goes.

Divorce. I’ve been to this dance quite a few times. I’ve never been an invited guest, always the chosen onlooker. When intimacies turn to hostilities, the invited guests always look to the involuntary participants to pick sides. As Bartleby said yesterday I prefer not to.

I’ve never been the invited guest to a divorce because that was one of the ground rules I set for myself a long time ago, when I witnessed the first divorce. The divorce of my adopted father and my biological mother. This was the first time I was encouraged to pick sides as an involuntary participant, just a child of fourteen. I had nowhere else to go, so was forced to witness the folly of adults that should have known better than to let things fall apart as far as they did.

It’s easy. No really, it is easy, not the easy thing that really is hard (any kind of group effort in an MMO) Talk to your intimate relations. Don’t keep secrets unless they are secrets the others have already told you they want kept. Don’t betray agreed-to standards of behavior without talking out the changes first. Don’t close off channels of discussion unless you are prepared to never speak to these people again except in the presence of a lawyer.

Keep Talking – Pink Floyd

But it never fails. Someone thinks they can get by without communicating something. Then that something turns to a thing that can’t be spoken of. Turns into a barrier between two people. Turns into a weight around the neck of the relationship. Turns into a wall preventing communication. Then the secret is found out and the accusations of betrayal begin.

These are adults, but they sure don’t act like adults. Adults that understand even the uncomfortable subjects have to be discussed, and discussed endlessly. This is the nature of being humans, like it or not. Talk. Endless talk. Talk that makes you want to cut off your own tongue or gouge out your ears. If you stop talking, you will eventually cease to be intimate with the other in question. That is the point where they become other.

Other rather than same. The outgroup. The other.

But he…

But she…

But they…

Doesn’t matter. It wasn’t done against me, because I fucking talked it out first. I understand ownership and value and don’t take it for granted. I resent being asked to lend weight to one side or the other of a separation when I have no clear understanding of the fault that led to the separation. I will not willingly pick sides when both sides seem to be at fault and there is no clear reason for the separation in the first place aside from childish insistence on having your own way in a relationship.

But he…

But she…

But they…

The closest I have come to divorce is quitting a job, being fired from a job. There are employers that I can’t speak to again because of what transpired between myself and them. Always it was something kept from me that required that separation, not something I failed to tell them. I am what I present myself to be, take it or leave it, warts and all.

I remained Dad’s friend after the divorce despite his actions. Despite the facts of his behavior that I had to drag kicking and screaming out of the woman who expected me to follow her without reason. She was a little bit crazy like that, my mom. A conflict avoided was a win in her book. As if she could avoid the permanent void created in her children’s hearts by simply not talking about the cause of the divorce. It’s not that I had a choice in the matter, dad didn’t want us children, he just wanted things to remain the same in the daylight as they were in the dark. The philandering. The silence. I eventually forgave him, because, what else can you do with family? You will have to see them again. That is a given.

I won’t willingly speak with the employers that betrayed my trust. They earned my enmity by keeping essential facts from me. One day those betrayals may cost them dearly, if that day of judgement comes. Most of them are probably dead already, personally safe from further judgments against them. They are the lucky ones.

Lucky like the stepfather, the Polk in mom’s name, who publicly betrayed everything the word father means. Safe from judgment by being dead by some other hands than mine. Saving me the trouble of having his blood on my hands. I should have thanked him for that, but I never spoke to him after the betrayal of that day. The opportunity to strike or to speak never presented itself. Mercy, after a fashion. Probably a mercy crafted by mom’s hands. She never liked conflict, evaded it at every opportunity. Her unwillingness to engage probably being the the first miscommunication in a long series of misunderstandings. But she’s dead now too. Beyond the reach of judgement.

So here I am asked to take sides in another messy divorce. A smaller, less life-altering conflict than the ones I’ve been in before. If I never log on to World of Warcraft again, a game that for me is like softball or bowling was to my father, it is the social connection that keeps me active among my group of friends. If I never play the game again I won’t have to talk to any of the participants of this messy break-up again.

On the upside, unlike family, I’ll never have to look at any of them again or have to listen to any of their excuses for their inexcusable behavior. So not quite as demeaning as the dissolution of a marriage is to the children of that marriage. The children of our in-game collaboration are the characters that we’ve worked so hard to level, over and over again, just to have the most powerful characters we could construct to bring to the next battle. Those children you can delete and no one will accuse you of murder when you do.

It might be a form of self-mutilation, if self-mutilation can be performed mentally. Investing all that time only to discard it by typing six characters and hitting enter? It ranks up there with self-mutilation in my mind. But it isn’t illegal to delete that part of yourself. That piece of your history. If only all mistakes could be erased that easily.

If I quit playing World of Warcraft I’ll lose those friends. I’ll lose those parts of myself and the parts of themselves that I’ve grown to love as part of the game we play together. I’ll make new friends. I’ll find other games to play, other ways to connect to the outside world. The other games and other friends won’t have fifteen years of history for me to bank on. I’ll have to start over.

So I probably won’t quit World of Warcraft. I probably will log on and play the game. I like the game, even after all this time. Probably because of all this time, not because the game has been mindlessly enjoyable. It wasn’t and it isn’t. It presented challenges, but it offered social connections, connections that are simply not present in most other games. Social connection is why I am still playing the game, and now that very social connection threatens to destroy any remaining pleasure I find in it. I’m tempted to delete all my toons and start over fresh. A fresh start, like I’ve never played the game before. Maybe this week is the week to download and log on to World of Warcraft – Classic. Play a game that I’ve never played before, but sure does seem like what I’ve been playing for the last fifteen years.

At the very least, I will have to log onto the voice chat service and have those discussions that have to be had before either calling it quits or picking a side. I still would prefer not to, but the post-mortem must be performed if I am to have any closure for this latest divorce. I’m beginning to wonder if closure is overrated.


The family asked “why did you go there?” after I wrote this. My guildmates in a game I’ve played for almost as long as my children have been alive, 15 years now, wanted to know why I wouldn’t willingly just pick a side in the diaspora of the guild. This is the explanation for why I try not to pick sides. I’ve been used as a weapon before and I won’t willingly go there again. My insistence on knowing the gory details of a conflict has cost me dearly, many times. I’ll still ask those questions, every time. It is who I am. Take it or leave it. Warts and all.

It is worth noting that both the leader of my former guild as well as members of the diaspora tried to tell me just how wrong the other side was. The guildmaster made it his duty to try to keep me from joining the diaspora by telling me just how bad the people I love and cherish like family really are. It should come as no surprise to anyone that all my Alliance toons are now back in my own guild (Frosty Wyrm Riders) for the time being. I need a bit of a break after that orchestrated trauma to my psyche.

A Deadly Belief

This is part three of a Meniere’s page I’m slowly editing together. Part one is here. Part two is here. This is tangential, but still part of the story.


Then there was the effect of Christian Science on my family. I’ve struggled with where and when to mention this little gem of understanding, because mentioning it is fraught with tons of angst and potential explosive feedback. But understanding how I got to 40 without a diagnosis of Meniere’s, how I’ve never been diagnosed with dysgraphia even though I have had all the symptoms of it for the entirety of my life is a direct result of my mother’s early childhood indoctrination into Christian Science. Because of this fact, Christian Science has to be discussed here as part of this story.

Christian Scientists aren’t scientists; they pray to Jesus to cure what ails them. Jesus is their science, and they exercise their science in prayer rooms across the US. They still do this all across America to this day. When a child dies from lack of medical care, and the state where that child dies cannot prosecute the child’s parents, the law that allows this was lobbied for by the followers of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. My mom and her immediate family were members of this belief.

Her distrust of doctors and medicine lead directly to her demise February 9, 2018. One of the mantras she took to her grave was doctors don’t know anything. It was her most repeated comment over the last months of her life, as doctor after doctor told her she had cancer and needed chemotherapy. You couldn’t dissuade her of this or pretty much anything else she believed at any point in her life.

This is a hallmark of most of humanity, I have come to find out. If you think you can change the average person’s mind you simply don’t know what you are thinking. People survive as long as they do by believing things, and sticking to those beliefs. My mother survived to the age of 77 and raised four children to adulthood based on her doing exactly what she deemed best at the time, and you won’t convince someone who has lived successfully by their own judgement for 70 years and more that what they believe is wrong. So give that idea up now and save yourself the life-shortening frustration.

Christian Science. If you are a Christian Scientist you don’t take drugs. You don’t see doctors, and if that religious upbringing was all there was to my mother’s belief, I think she would probably have gotten over it eventually. However, over the course of her life she has been nearly killed by well-meaning doctors more than once. All her life she’d been told gibberish by people who didn’t have the sense to pour piss out of a boot with directions written on the bottom (not that she would ever utter such a low phrase. In her estimation) so she knew that people believed insane things and discounted what other people told her almost by rote. She knew what she knew, but that left her vulnerable to the things she thought she knows but was wrong about.

Mom knew the value of modern medicine and never hesitated to get me antibiotics to treat the frequent illnesses that I had as a child, but she never stopped believing that doctors were pulling a scam on the sick. It all had to be a scam, somehow. She was never clear on how or why, but it was a scam, she was sure of it.

She never stopped believing that people would get better on their own if they just lived a better life, ate better food, got the right kind of nutrition. It was the failure of this belief, that healthy living was all you needed to keep from getting cancer that killed her a decade early. Had she not had encounters with believing doctors who proposed treatments that proved near-fatal, treatments that were fatal to her mother. Treatments that decreased the quality of life for the patients she tended. Patients that died anyway. Had she not watched time and again as things were labeled bad be relabeled good with more study and more time. Had she had different experiences with the medical community, she might have said yes to the promising new treatment the doctors wanted to try. The same treatment that saved president Carter’s life. But she didn’t have those experiences, and so she didn’t get to live that extra decade.

Who should be blamed for that?

#MAGA: The Myth of Bootstraps

The Trump administration has decided that the war against poverty is over. They’ve decided the war against poverty is over because we’ve won the war! That’s right. No more poverty in America now. Isn’t that great?

Except, poverty is worse now than it was at the beginning of the war against poverty. In fact, the war against poverty has had virtually no effect on poverty. Like every other thing that Donald Trump has said over the last two years, this is just another lie that he’s trying to sell.

There have been several podcasts in my feed over the last year dissecting and observing the subject of poverty. This is probably because of the over-hyped evidence that the majority of Trump supporters were poor, rural whites. The podcasters in their turn feel they need to address the issues raised by these people. The issues that made these poor, rural whites feel so desperate that they would hazard the welfare of us all on a known liar and con artist.

I say over-hyped with no intention of belittling the plight of the poor, or the fact that poverty runs rampant in the modern United States. Poverty is more widespread and more painfully felt now than it has been at any point since the end of World War Two. The disparity between rich and poor today is comparative to 1929, in the time leading up to the crash and the Great Depression. People are poorer now and paid worse than at any point in modern American history.

But it isn’t trade deals that are causing this problem. It isn’t illegal aliens in the US taking our jobs. It isn’t any of the things that Donald Trump or the majority of conservatives say is causing poverty, and his solutions to fix poverty are solutions that not only have been tried before but failed to work previously. So why do them again?

No, I say over-hyped because the rural poor more than likely voted for Trump because the rural poor have been the largest viewing block for reality TV. The rural poor have little other entertainment they can access aside from television. The Apprentice was popular with the same people who voted for Trump. Why is it so hard to admit that these people thought that the character on that show was the guy they voted for in the election? That the lack of broadband access in the rural areas of the US have lead to an information gap that resulted in the election of a con artist to the presidency? That poverty is merely a factor in the larger problem of inequality in America?

All of these podcasts have struck a chord with me. I have blogged both directly and tangentially about this subject in the past. It is not a subject I like writing about. The nerves are raw and the wounds are kept fresh in my current situation of disability and poverty. The series from On the Media, Busted: America’s Poverty Myths brought me to tears. I recognized so many tropes from my own childhood. Things family members and friends both have uttered in my hearing. Things that I have been guilty of believing in the past. In this article I will take a more purposeful walk down that memory lane, painful as it is. I want to do this in the light of these discussions by scholars, writers and journalists.

…and I will start this journey of introspection with the writer/journalist Stephen Dubner and his podcast Freakonomics,

StitcherIs the American Dream Really Dead? Freakonomics Radio

James Truslow Adams, born in 1878 to a wealthy New York family, became a financier and, later, an author. He won a Pulitzer Prize for a history of New England; and later he wrote a book called The Epic of America. Even though it was written during the Great Depression, Adams took a fundamentally bullish view of the United States.

His book was hugely popular, and as best as we can tell, it introduced the phrase “The American Dream.” Adams defined this as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”  The phrase caught on, and not just a little bit. Especially among our presidents…

…The Stanford economist Raj Chetty has been working with large data sets to try to understand why so many Americans are no longer living the American Dream. When it comes to economic opportunity, Chetty and his colleagues found huge regional and even local differences throughout the U.S.

As he told us, kids growing up in San Francisco have about twice the chance of living the American Dream as kids from just across the bridge, in Oakland. Why? One easy explanation would be that the people in those different areas are just different – they have different abilities, different cultures, different job opportunities. And that certainly has some explanatory power. But Chetty and his colleagues found the story isn’t that simple…

…This is hardly a new idea – that growing up in a poor neighborhood isn’t the best launching ground for economic success. This idea, in fact, led the Clinton Administration to experiment in the mid-1990s with a program called Moving to Opportunity.

Okay, so young kids who move out of a high-poverty neighborhood do much better later on. What, exactly, does this signify? What’s going on in the poor neighborhoods to depress income mobility and what’s going on in the better neighborhoods to increase it? Answering those questions has become a big part of Raj Chetty’s work.

Is the American Dream Really Dead? Freakonomics Radio

The above hits the high points of that Freakonomics episode, without getting into the meat of it, which is excellent. The scholar Raj Chetty‘s five factors address my personal experiences of poverty directly. It was because of this episode that I felt the need to write more on this subject, but the title of the post comes from a segment of another podcast, which was introduced to me through this episode of Radiolab,

Radiolab Presents: On the Media: Busted, America’s Poverty Myths

In a 5-part series called “Busted: America’s Poverty Myths,” On the Media picked apart numerous oft-repeated narratives about what it’s like to be poor in America. From Ben Franklin to a brutal eviction, Brooke gives us just a little taste of what she learned and shares a couple stories of the struggle to get ahead, or even just get by.

Busted, America’s Poverty Myths

This episode features an excellent overview of the 5-part series; enough for the casually interested, but not enough for someone who remembers the shock of sudden poverty as a child. A now old man who lives in poverty due to illness, disability, a truly lackluster US economy, sexism/ageism in the workplace directed at the Wife, etc. But I don’t want to get ahead of the narrative, and discussing the particulars of my experience in poverty even in the general sense gets ahead of the introduction provided in the full five part series from On the Media.

On The Media #1: The Poverty Tour September 28, 2016

“You had a population that wanted to cling to those things because it justified them not sharing.”

Jack Frech Athens County welfare director

As the Freakonomics episode mentioned, It is actually twice as easy to move up the income ladder in Canada as it is in the US. This is a travesty, an ongoing insult to America, this delusion we live under. What delusion is that? The delusion that the US is the best country in the world to live in, that we provide more access to social mobility than anyplace else in the world. It simply isn’t true. Hasn’t been true for a good, long time.

The first episode of the On the Media series is an introduction to the reality of poverty in America. It is the boxing glove on the fist of the next three episodes that drive home the fact that we Americans really don’t have a clue what it is to be desperately poor in the US. Even I only vaguely recognize the lives that the truly poverty stricken must live. The reason for this is that I profited from the status of my parents. My parents, in their turn, benefited from the status of their parents; white, working class, upwardly mobile christians with land. My paternal grandparents had enough property that they farmed at first, and then sold land to the city and to new families moving into the bustling township that Leoti, Kansas was after the dust bowl. They sold and profited as the town grew around them, just like the dreams of all Americans play out.

“Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.”

Thomas Paine Agrarian Justice The Writings of Thomas Paine pg 331

The possession of land leads to wealth, if one is lucky enough to own the right piece of land at the right time. The Steele family in Wichita county, Kansas were those kinds of people. The fact of their ownership of land made them powerful within the township. The location near a then-growing town gave them a chance to sell off some of their property for cash, something that there is never enough of in any small town. People have to eat, after all. They have to have somewhere safe to sleep. All of this costs money in the modern economy, and the only way to get money is to work or be born into it. So I wasn’t born into poverty, at least.

I was born overseas to a father who was stationed there in the military, a mother who enjoyed being overseas for the first time but really didn’t enjoy the constraints of a military wife in the 60’s. She returned to the states not too long after my birth, and my father left the military as soon as his mandatory term of service was up. They returned to my father’s home on the high plains of Kansas as I mentioned. My father grew up in a little town named Leoti that would be so small you would miss it if you blinked, if only the main roads went anywhere near the place. My father’s family had settled there a few decades previously and Grampa had several thriving businesses in the town. One of those businesses was sold/given to my father when he left the military, and he settled down with my mother for the happily ever after that all young people believe in.

Did I say “happily ever after?” Yeah, that never showed up. Dad took to drinking a fifth of bourbon every single day as he struggled to deal with bringing in enough cash to support his growing family. Mother was unhappy because the family kept growing and her husband didn’t seem to be around much to help. The fighting got worse until it damaged the furnishings and frightened the children, and the divorce wasn’t long after that. Coming out of the 40’s and 50’s and the attitudes about women and families, the ridiculous notions of money and politics, wealth and poverty and the meaning of all these things all wrapped up together, the surprising part of this story is that some women put up with the way life was for them. They put up with it instead of leaving. Maybe they had better husbands?

The story of my pre-teen life was pretty common for the time. By the mid-70’s when the divorce happened fully half of all marriages went that way. Prior to World War Two women were expected to stay home, raise children and provide for the running of the household which encompassed pretty much everything you can imagine. Everything you can imagine, if you imagined a self-sufficient household operation that was a day’s horseback ride from the next nearest town, a train ride away from the nearest city with running retail businesses in it. A household without running water or electricity. That is what frontier life was like just two generations into the past for me, four generations from the time of this writing. My grandparents remembered towns without electricity, the introduction of indoor plumbing and the automobile.

Brooke Gladstone Takes “The Poverty Tour”

Automobiles made the difference. This fact is spelled out in the heaps of rusted metal you can find dotting most older farmsteads. When the old car dies you leave it where it sits and buy another one, just as you did the tractor and the harvester. On the Wife’s family farm you can still see her dad’s first tractor, parked on the edge of the field where it died, rusting into nothing as the decades fly by. It still sits there even though the farm itself has changed hands twice since her mom sold it. Sold it because there just wasn’t any reason to keep it any longer.

We weren’t farmers. We were never going to sign up for that life. The automobile made city life bearable because you could live in the outskirts of the city and commute downtown for work. In the city you don’t need to make your own clothes, you can go to the store and buy them. You can go to the store and buy them, that is, if you have the money. Money has been the limiting factor imposed on the poor for longer than any of  the now living can remember. Longer than those who came before us can remember. Further back than even our great-grandparents and their parents time.

On The Media #2: Who Deserves To Be Poor? October 6, 2016

Brooke meets Carla Scott, a young woman in Cleveland forced to sell her plasma for bus fare after a series of events derailed her life, as well as Carla’s nonagenarian grandmother, Grace, a hard-line believer in “personal responsibility.”

#2: Who Deserves To Be Poor?

Personal responsibility or paying for every mistake you’ve made for your entire life. That would be costly, and hasn’t been my experience. This is the privilege of white skin in the United States. It certainly hasn’t been luck that has seen me through to now. I’ve told myself all my life I make my own luck. I make my own luck because 50/50 chances almost never fall my way.  Even so, there are many behaviors that I have engaged in that would have resulted in imprisonment and probably death, had I been caught doing them while black.

While I was near homeless for a few years living in friend’s spare rooms and sleeping on enclosed porches, I never had to sell plasma. I didn’t have children of my own to tend to before I was ready largely because I knew what a pain children could be. That was one of the many lessons I learned being raised by a single mom.

The benefit of city living masques the machinery of poverty creation. Having everything you want or need available at a store for purchase makes the delusion of self-sufficiency seem quite real. Self sufficient, if you have the money to buy these things. Self sufficient, if you have work that pays money. I have always had work because I would do just about any job offered to me. White, young, male, with no tattoos and no piercings. Maintaining the illusion of normalcy was more important than personal desires. The illusion of a fine, upstanding middle class status kept me working.

Poverty waits for those who fail to maintain the illusion. Jobs that go to others. Careless sex that leads to children. Drug addiction. Tattoos and piercings that announce your rejection of white bread America. That inner-city poverty of slums and ghettos? The tattooed and the pierced? The drug addicted and the ne’er-do-well? That poverty has moved out into the country from the cities. The rebellion that motivated the election of Donald Trump was generated in rural America, in the persons of the last victims of a grinding poverty that has plagued the poorer neighborhoods of cities since their creation. I noted the rural American bellyaching rang hollow to me in the essay I named after him,


Oh poor, misunderstood me whining by rural whites strikes me as just this side of pathetic. As if urban blacks don’t have problems, haven’t had worse problems for the better part of two hundred years.


I know what grinding poverty looks like even though my experience with it was mercifully brief. That time was right after my parent’s divorce. For a time after kicking the alcoholic out of our home my mom tried to make the best of life in rural Kansas. We got to keep the house. Dad moved into a trailer parked behind his service station. He managed to wrangle down his child support to $300 which wasn’t enough to cover the cost of keeping a roof over our heads, even though that roof had been home for as long as we could remember. Mom took her first job outside the house since going to college, a job teaching Head Start to Leoti preschoolers, a job that was taken from her because she didn’t have a teaching certificate. She left college to get married and had no saleable skills aside from homemaking, a job she couldn’t do anymore without a husband.

So she remarried. The new husband was a nice enough guy when we met in Leoti. As soon as we left Kansas and moved to Texas, the trouble started. The poverty got worse. Dad stopped paying the child support and only restarted it after mom sued him to get it. The stepdad also started drinking heavily, and he was a mean drunk. There were a number of times where my mouth got me in trouble and I ended up on the floor. The last time I saw him was the day he brought another woman to the house. After watching him abuse my mother wordlessly for months, after being the victim of his abuse during that time, having him show up and flaunt his girlfriend in my mother’s face was too much. When mom sent us into the house and told us to hide, I waited behind a door I knew he would come through if he did come in for his stuff. I waited with a high vantage point and a heavy blunt object. I wanted to make sure that if the opportunity presented itself, there would be a near guarantee of killing him. I hated him that much.

Luckily for both of us, the opportunity never occurred. He left without his stuff. I was on a plane to stay with my father in Kansas within the week. Psychotherapy was part of that process. I was the lucky one. The luckiest of the four children who endured the stepfather. I had a room of my own in my father’s house. I had running hot water at the tap. I had a mother and father who were concerned for me. I never appreciated this fact, this blessing, until visiting my mother in Texas and seeing what hitching her cart to the stepfather’s wagon had wrought in the end.

The unlucky ones? They had one bed for the four of them to share. Mom went through another divorce, which means those three siblings went through it with her. The garage apartment they found in the tiny town they had ended up in didn’t have a reliable roof or much in the way of indoor plumbing. They had to heat water on the stove to fill the bathtub so that they all could bath each night. My mother had taken the next of dozens of jobs she would eventually hold, working the night shift running that blight of the American landscape, a convenience store. Virtually the only profitable business in yet another small town whose only claim to fame was being on the road to somewhere else.

When I saw how bad their living conditions were, I cried. We siblings then made the first of several pacts that followed over the years. After a few weeks of mutual badgering, our parents in their separate hostile camps were convinced to let the rest of the kids move back up with dad and his new wife. I didn’t appreciate having to share a bed with my brother again, but at least they had hot water to shower with. Television to watch. Decent schools to attend, back in the good old days, when Kansas still believed in investing in young people.

For the first time in my mother’s short life, she was free. No children to supervise. No husband to cook for or tend to. Free to try and advance her skills by returning to school. So she did that. She moved to a larger town in the area, a town called Sweetwater. It was a town with a school, a town big enough for a trade school, but not so big that it became expensive to live in. She took business classes and worked odd jobs. She was probably about as happy as she had ever been.

This happiness was short-lived. This is a section of the story that I wrote about at length here,


Dad had remarried, but found the chore of raising 5 unruly children too much to deal with so he sent us back to our mother in Texas to live. The 5 of us crammed ourselves into whatever housing she could afford on the wages for whatever jobs she could get.

…She just went back to working at fast food joints, bars and restaurants, the odd convenience store job as the demands for housing, clothes and food for her growing children required.


It was a point of pride to my mom that she never took food stamps. That she never had to go on welfare. Her memory is a bit more selective than mine. We may never have needed food stamps, but we certainly ate a lot of government bread and cheese. Drank a lot of government milk. I got a job as soon as I could after moving back in with mom. I knew even before she explained it to me, there was no way we’d survive if I wasn’t working. So I started sacking groceries and cleaning up at night at one of the two grocery stores in that mid-sized Texas town. I took a lot of food that the store was going to throw away home with me instead, one of the benefits of being the flunky who throws out the trash. We never went hungry, but that is just barely the truth.

I spent my senior year in high school as a stranger in a school I didn’t really want to attend. I preferred the Kansas schools of the time. Kansas’ investment in higher education (now abandoned) Kansas’ belief in better times ahead (ditto) Texas was meaner. Texas was harsher both in climate and attitude. That mythical Southern hospitality is the velvet glove over the iron fist of crony capitalism and repressive social structures designed to keep the poor in their place.

I attended the same trade school my mom had moved to Sweetwater to attend and I made the best of the illusions I had been fed as a child. That I could be whatever I wanted to be. That I had no limitations. That all I had to do was work hard and I would make the grade. That I could live happily ever after, too.

It’s not about IQ… it’s the context you inhabit

On The Media #3: Rags to Riches October 13, 2016

In the third installment of our series, “Busted: America’s Poverty Myths,” we take on one of our country’s most fundamental notions: that America is a land of equal opportunity and upward mobility for all. And we ask why, in spite of a wealth of evidence to the contrary, does this idea persist?

With the help of historian Jill Lepore, Brooke traces the history of the “rags to riches” narrative, beginning with Benjamin Franklin, whose 18th century paper manufacturing business literally turned rags into riches. We hear from Natasha Boyer, a young Ohio woman who was saved from eviction by a generous surprise from strangers… only for the miracle to prove fleeting. And we consider the efficacy of “random acts of kindness” and the fateful role of luck — where you’re born, and to whom — in determining success.

#3: Rags to Riches

Much like Benjamin Franklin in reality, as detailed in this segment of the story, I moved away from the family that was a drag on my ability to succeed on my own. Their poverty making my poverty that much harder to ignore, that much harder to escape. After a brief, heartbreaking few months trying to establish myself in Kansas back living with my father, trying to make good on promises made to a girlfriend I had left in Kansas and failing at that rather spectacularly, I returned to Texas and moved up the road from Sweetwater to Abilene for a brief time, living on my own. Like everyone who transitions to life on their own, that was quite a shock. I think it was the month driving on a leaky tire because I couldn’t afford a new one that brought home just how hard it was going to be to make the grade. Just how remote the possibility that happily ever after might ever occur.

“It’s alright to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

It was while living in Abilene that I noticed that I effectively had no boots and thusly no bootstraps to draw myself up by. I had a limited education, most of which I provided for myself through voracious reading. I clearly had a problem producing work in my chosen profession, a barrier that I had never realized was mine alone until that time. There was no one with money in my immediate family. I knew no one in Abilene aside from co-workers at jobs I no longer had, and I wore out their welcomes in pretty short order. I even had to borrow mom’s pride and joy, the first new car she had ever bought for herself, just to get myself out of the rut I’d made in Abilene and move myself to a new, hopefully more promising locale, San Angelo.

It was in San Angelo that I met the Wife, working at one of the many odd jobs that came my way. It was there that I dragged the rest of my Texas family, after I finally found a job that paid money and had rented a house that would fit all of them. It was there that all of them eventually went to college. It was a long, hard struggle even getting to that level, the level where I felt I could attempt to repay a debt to my mother that I knew I still owed. But I was still poor, just not as poor as I had been. In order to not be poor I knew I was going to have to find a bigger city. Bigger cities require more architecture, more planning, more design, and I knew that was a demand that I could help satisfy if I could just get there.

On The Media #4: When the Safety Net Doesn’t Catch You October 20, 2016

In the fourth installment of our series “Busted: America’s Poverty Myths,” we examine the strengths and shortcomings of our nation’s safety net. Government assistance does help lift millions out of poverty each year — indeed, without it, poverty would be twice as high — but those in the most dire circumstances often slip through the cracks.

With the help of Linda Tirado, author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, and Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, we consider how anti-poverty programs can actually keep people poor and offer little hope for a way out.

Also, Brooke meets Margaret Smith, a Columbus woman made homeless after a violent crime derailed the life she’d carefully built with her six children. And we visit an Athens County food pantry that provides not just meals to the community, but also school supplies, clothing, furniture, job training, home repairs, disaster relief…even burial plots.

#4: When the Safety Net Doesn’t Catch You

In the city there is no illusion about the temporariness of prosperity, of hearth and home. If there is any real difference between city life and country life, it is the illusion of permanence that country life affords. In the city you pay by the month for everything including hearth and home. You never stop paying for anything, ever. New cars, bigger houses, longer commutes, more roads, taller buildings, denser usage. The city is a meatgrinder, and the meat it grinds is human. Best not to watch it happen if you have a weak stomach.

It’s true, there are more opportunities in the city if you can afford to go there and look for them. I took that leap almost thirty years ago now. Left what I see now as a quiet little town of a hundred thousand people; ten times the size, and more, of my hometown of Leoti at its peak. Austin boasts more than a million citizens now. if you incorporate its far-flung suburbs, there is something closer to two million people who work and live here because of Austin being here and pretty much for no other reason. It certainly isn’t for the weather, which is Texas hot nine months out of the year.

There is a little joke in Austin that if you move here and don’t have allergies, wait five years. You’ll have them, just wait. I had allergies before moving here and I never intended to stay here. Fate has kept me here, year after year in spite of my intentions to leave as soon as I was assured of an ability to provide for my family. I was ill before I got to Austin, and my illness has gotten worse every year I’ve been here. The symptoms which had no name eventually got so bad that I found a name for them, Meniere’s. Finding that my symptoms had a name is the only reason I’m alive to write this uplifting little post today. Having a name for what keeps me from working is what gets me disability payments that kept my now-grown children fed while they were still growing. The disability made me worth more alive than dead; so I’ve kept living, to the consternation of many.

Disability isn’t a carefree life of freedom and bliss. Ill health is generally hard to endure even without the grinding poverty that accompanies it in most cases. The poverty is inflicted on those of ill-health by the system itself, not as a function of their relative worth. The cost of treating illness is itself a function of building the wealth of countless millions of healthcare professionals, people who would be as poor as I am without people like me coming to them for treatment. Without Social Security and Medicare paying my bills, I’d have taken my own life years ago. All those thousands spent to educate my children, house, clothe and feed them, would never have existed. Their promising careers, the careers of my Texas family who went to college because I brought them somewhere that had a college, all of the people who benefitted in some way from the work that I’ve done if not by the simple existence of my health issues, none of them would be where they are now had I simply not existed. Had I been cast aside like the poster-waving homeless visible on every city street corner in the US.

Nothing hits so hard for me as being in my car pulling up to an intersection, and having someone come to me with their hand out. I can’t look because I know that if I give in to my desire to help everyone around me, I will soon be the one standing on the street corner holding a sign. See to your own needs first, as any properly trained triage attendant knows. You can’t help others if you end up needing help yourself. I have clung to the top edge of a vertical drop into non-existence for more than a decade now. Every single cent of every dollar spent in the last ten years having to be justified in some way. Kicking myself for ever frivolously spending anything in the years that I had money, not realizing that those years would be the briefest of all.

On The Media #5: Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook: Poverty in America Edition October 27, 2016

When reporting on poverty, the media fall into familiar traps and pundits make prescriptions that disregard the facts. So, in the fifth and final installment of our series, “Busted: America’s Poverty Myths,” we present a Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook: Poverty in America Edition. It’ll equip you with the tools to spot shoddy reporting and the knowledge to identify coverage with insight.

With help from Jack Frech, former Athens County welfare director; Kathryn Edin, co-author of $2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America; Greg Kaufmann, editor of TalkPoverty.org; Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City; and Linda Tirado, author of Hand To Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America.

#5: Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook: Poverty in America Edition

Linking the fifth episode of the On The Media series brings my story to a close. We have come full circle, from bootstraps to bootstraps. How can you lift yourself with your own bootstraps when you have no boots? Casey Gerald asks that very question in a TED talk that I favorited over a year ago. I love this talk. It makes me cry and laugh and cry.

Casey Gerald, TED2016, The Gospel of Doubt

“The gospel of doubt does not ask that you stop believing, it asks that you believe a new thing: that it is possible not to believe.”

Casey Gerald

Like him I really don’t have any answers aside from the plain observation that what we have attempted so far in the realm of aid to the poor has failed, utterly.  We must begin again if we ever hope to improve the human condition. The only sane way is to approach the problem with the knowledge that we don’t know what will work before we try it. So it will profit all of us to make sure that what we are attempting can be tested for effectiveness before we embrace it as true and real.


One final video for this article. Another take on the problem of wealth in America. The concentration of wealth in the hands of far too few people.

Robert Reich – FacebookYoutube – How America Created Its Shameful Wealth Gap – 12/03/19

Editor’s note. This article was originally written for the blogspot url in 2017. I retitled it, rewrote the beginning of the article and moved it up to its current publish date after Trump’s bullshit about the end of poverty started making the rounds in 2018. It was ported over to WordPress with the rest of the Blogspot content, and then updated in October of 2020 for the new url. I toned down the language slightly so as to not alienate the people I wrote the article for. You are welcome.

Mother

There is something about this introduction to the podcast series This is Love that freakishly makes me think of my mother.


Introduction to the This Is Love podcast

Freakishly, in that I wonder if other people have similar flashes on the things their parents gave up for them? It’s not that my mom ever quantified her sacrifice for the children she had, at least not consciously or as an attempt to persuade. I know some people have had that experience, I’ve had the experience myself with other relatives. Our grandmother would tell us she was dying each year around Christmas, and oh, this might be your last chance to see me. Don’t you remember how I made time for you when you were growing up? We would laugh and roll our eyes, and then try to make time to visit at some point during the season.

But not mom, at least not when she was parenting us. Guilt never seemed to work for us. I remember distinctly her wanting us to clean our plates at mealtimes while I was still in primary school, and so she put a coin jar in the center of the table labeled for the starving children in other countries. We had a great laugh at that as we crammed food into the slot on the jar. That is the one time I remember her attempting to guilt us into anything and it failed, spectacularly.

When I was a teenager and could finally drive and own my own car, I would take long, meandering drives in the country, sometimes for several hours at a time, just listening to music. I’m not sure what I was looking for out there on the road. Release from the pressures of herding three other children around, most likely. On a few occasions mother grew concerned about my spending so much time alone, and so I invited her to come along on a drive with me, just so she could see what I was doing.

While we were out there together, me just driving aimlessly, we would talk. Mom and I could always talk. We’d talk for hours on the phone sometimes. I never could recall the particulars of any of our conversations, it was always small talk. Just impressions of concerns of the day, plans for the future. Musings about the days gone by. It is these times that come to mind when I listen to the story of the mother spider calling its children to itself, sacrificing herself to them so that they could survive. Feeding herself to them on purpose.

Mom was an artist before we children were born; or more precisely, before I was born. She left college to travel with her then-husband, my father, going overseas for the first time in her short life. I can imagine what her hopes must have been like at the time. Visiting places in Europe, possibly even going to Paris. She did talk to me about wanting to visit Paris, as I sat in vigil with her over the last months of her life. It wasn’t the first time we had talked about her young dreams, I know. I know because in those long drives as a restless teen she had told me of her dreams when she was a restless teen. Traveling. Painting. Exploring the world. I can picture her in Europe right now if I close my eyes, sipping coffee at a cafe near a river, trying to decide which scene deserved her artistic attention.

But that never happened. Instead she had me, and her husband didn’t prove to be much of a father, so she left him within six months of my birth. She married the man I called father for my entire life and eventually settled with him in the middle of the Kansas plains, pretty much as far away from the lights and glamour of Parisian culture as it is possible to get. She set about raising me and the three children that followed me, burying a miscarriage somewhere along the line. When dad’s wayward eye got him in trouble about the time I turned thirteen, she simply switched to the next person she thought could keep her children fed. And so on.

She worked her fingers to the bone at odd jobs as a single parent at the time that inspired this writing, when I was a senior in high school and then attending the local trade school. Two, three jobs at a time if required. She never complained, other than to say how tired she was. Never guilted us about what she gave up so that we could live. She just set about getting from where we were today to where we would be tomorrow, a progression in time that saw us all graduate high school. Some of us went on to college and all of us eventually had children of our own. She helped raise those children, none of us ever asking her if this was what she wanted to spend her life doing. Never once.

Until the end of last November, when her world crashed down around her. Stage four transitional cell carcinoma. Months to live. She could have gotten treatment. She could have still been here with us. She couldn’t pay for the treatment. She wouldn’t even dream of asking us to pay for it, and she didn’t want the government to pay for it. In some weird way, she thrummed her web, and we great mass of the living consumed her without even questioning why things had to be this way.

Now she’s gone. I have become the eldest of our little band of misfits, a natural leadership role that I never wanted and go to great lengths to avoid when I can. What form is the web that I’m now the center of? Will I be called to sacrifice myself to the greater good? Do I want that to happen? Do I have a choice? …And I can still see her youthful, hopeful face among the crowd that I envision along the banks of the Seine. Sipping coffee and deciding what to paint next. If I could tell her one thing now, what would that one thing be? Paint as if your life depended on it. Because ultimately it does.


I wrote this article shortly after mom’s death. At the time I was consumed by the dilemma of knowing that she was going to die months before it actually happened, but constrained by legalities, unable to shorten the time she suffered agonizing pain and loss of self-awareness as her body cannibalized her brain for a few more hours or days of life. By the same token, she was legally unable to ask us to help her end her own life when she decided she was ready to go, even knowing in some portion of her brain somewhere that she was indeed dying. Adding to my internal conflict of her suffering which we could only buffer by giving her drugs to render her unconscious, was the personal belief that she could have accepted treatment and not had to suffer and die this way. But the system works the way it works, and her refusal of treatment combined with Texas law preventing humane treatment for the dying resulted in a month long vigil that ended the way it was always going to end, with her death.

Mother’s suffering. The trauma of losing our mother in this way. The personal costs to health and welfare and the effect on her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of being forced to watch her wither away this way unable to do anything to end it. The waste of it all will probably haunt me to the end of my days. I will not go out the way she did, if I have any say in it. The form her death took cheapens the near-flawless nobility of how she sacrificed herself for her children for years virtually without complaint. Without burdening her children with the weight of the crushed dreams of her youth.

Her noble sacrifice inspired my willingness to give my children as much room to become what they wanted as I could afford to give them. I did not want them to have to look back on a life that they spent doing things that they had no interest in doing, just so they could pay the bills each month. I wanted them to be able to look back on their lives and be thankful to have lived, the same way that I can because of her sacrifice. If only her kind of nobility were more common than it is, all children would grow up this way.

Rage Against the Dying of the Light

This poem ran through my head for weeks as I watched my mother slowly fade away. As I watched my dad die. It is the only answer I have.

Dylan Thomas reciting his villanelle ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night’

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953
Copyright © 1997-2002 by The Academy of American Poets

(Yes, I realize that posting the poem here constitutes a probable breach of copyright. The widget that allows for embedding the poem does not function. I would happily have used that function if it worked. It would have been easier.)

Barbara Ann Polk 1941-2018

Her obituary as it appeared in the paper and online follows:

Barbara Ann Polk left this earth on February 9th, 2018 to be with the angels, while in the company of her family. Born June 8, 1941 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, she was her mother’s youngest child and her father’s second child. Barbara moved many times in her life, Sacramento, CA; Leoti, KS; Sweetwater, TX; San Angelo, TX; Albuquerque, NM; and Buda/Austin, TX. She graduated from Angelo State University in 1992 with an RN and worked as a nurse and hospice care supervisor for many years. She was preceded in death by her mother – Lucille R. Lavo Zonge, her father Randolph Daniel Zonge Sr., her stepmother, Marie Mendler Zonge, and her brother Kenneth L. Zonge. She is survived by her brother, Randolph Daniel Zonge, Jr.; her children: Ray Anthony Steele, Jonnette Ann Kraft, Dawn Marie Wostal, John Russell Steele and her seven grandchildren and her three great-grandchildren. The family will have a private memorial service for her in the fall. She requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to World Vision. (www.worldvision.org)

Her profile on Geni

There are several other articles on the blog that I wrote for my mother over the last year of her life while I was with her. Articles that I’ve written about my feelings for her and about her and the things that remind me of her. They are collected under the simple blog tag mom.

I encourage you to also read those posts.

It Is Not Fair.

 The strongest of women.
The weakest of which
Are stronger than any man
While lying on their backs
Receiving the obeisance of men
Succumbing to their own mortal lusts.

She was the strongest of women,
Now struck down by the power of creation itself.
The mad hatter of genomic mutation,
Cancer, consuming her from inside.
She who could not be broken breaks herself.

It.
Is.
Not.
Fair.

But she succumbs anyway.
Fair is not a word nature understands.
She who consumes the innocent and the guilty,
The survivor and the wretched fool alike.
Nature claims her anyway, fair or not.
The hands that raised a multitude,
Struck down by simple time.