Friday, November 9, 2018

Wildfire destroys California city

Climate change is real.

It appears as if a wildfire has completely destroyed the city of Paradise, California - population 30,000. This is unprecedented. There is no other instance in modern American history of a city that big being absolutely destroyed by a single event.

Residents did evacuate - but the city itself appears to be gone. To compare Paradise with cities in our area, it was about twice as big as Newport and two-thirds as big as Covington.

Elsewhere in California, other wildfires threaten other communities.

Warning signs loom for rural Republicans

To hear the right-wing media tell it, you'd think the Democrats are urban elites who don't do anything except sip lattes, ride around in limos, and dress up like million-dollar troopers. But I remember when the Democrats were portrayed as "golly shucks gee" rural hayseeds. I'm sure they will be again, as Tuesday's election shows serious warning signs ahead for rural Republicans.

Nationwide, rural congressional districts trended Democratic more than suburban and urban districts did - finally reversing what had been a pattern since 2000.

I also checked a few local elections and found that a Republican incumbent was defeated for Gallatin County Judge-Executive. This was completely ignored by our local media. They just cannot even conceptualize a Republican incumbent losing in rural Kentucky.

But it also happened in a few Kentucky House races in eastern Kentucky.

This rural trend back to the Democrats doesn't seem to affect places dominated by zillionaire ranchers - but it does seem to be happening in rural areas where most folks are of normal economic means and where the Democrats actually had prevailed until fairly recently. This may be a warning of what is to come. But there's a looooong way to go.

It might have helped Republicans if they hadn't let the mask slip by calling opponents a "mob."

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Campbell strongest county for Marsy's Law

On Tuesday, Kentucky voters voted on a ballot measure called Marsy's Law - which would amend the Kentucky Constitution to outline rights for crime victims.

I support victims' rights, but I voted for the measure only reluctantly. I had some concerns that the poorest crime victims wouldn't be represented as well as the rich. But as a whole, victims' rights is a sound premise - and perhaps that's why the Tea Party opposed the measure, as the Tea Party always opposes common sense. It's obvious that Kentucky gives more rights to hardcore criminals than it does to their victims, and that needs to change.

Voters approved the referendum overwhelmingly, though it lost in a few rural counties. And Campbell County gave the measure its highest percentage out of all of Kentucky's 120 counties, at 74%. I'm not sure why it did best here. The county's torrid history of covering up right-wing crimes because of the perpetrators' influence in the community may have been a factor.

However, the measure may be tossed because it was vaguely worded on the ballot.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Hamilton County Commission now all-Democratic

I have a hard time thinking of Cincinnati as a great Democratic stronghold, but Hamilton County was an absolute disaster for the Republicans in yesterday's election.

In keeping with Republicans' stunning underperformance locally (they lost our Kentucky House election by 20% too), yesterday's upset gave Democrats control of all 3 seats on Hamilton County Commission. We're talking about a commission that was all-Republican less than 20 years ago. When a Democrat won a seat in 2000 (after the 1996 stadium tax debacle), it was the first time a Democrat had won any seats there since 1964.

Plus, although Steve Chabot and Brad Wenstrup were reelected, they actually lost the Hamilton County portions of their districts handily.

Scott Walker defeated

America did it! By taking control of the U.S. House, voters yesterday put a check on right-wing thugocracy and spite. I have a right to expect it to stick this time.

But outside of Congress, one of the pelts I truly wanted to pick up was that of far-right Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. I stayed up way past 2 AM, but Wisconsin came through!

Bye Scott, you idiot.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

River City News falls on its face in Campbell County

The ridiculous assertion by the River City News that Charlie Coleman was Steve Pendery's real challenger has now fallen to rack and ruin, as Coleman has finished a distant third. This shouldn't be surprising, except for RCN acting so sure about Coleman's candidacy.

The Campbell County Democrats probably wish they put just a little more effort into local races, considering how close they came to defeating Brian Painter and Wil Schroder. For the record, I voted a straight Democratic ticket. I didn't even bother to memorize the party's candidates, because at this point, I figure they can run a sack of rocks and I'd still vote for them over any Republican.

GOP loses U.S. House!

Ladies and gentlemen, the U.S. House's long national nightmare is over.

After a slow night, MSNBC has just called the House for the Democrats - ending 8 years of Republican tyranny.

I wanted one thing tonight more than any other: Republicans losing the U.S. House. And I got it. This is significant because only the House can originate revenue bills. With this flip, the GOP's plans to gut Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and Obamacare are likely dead.

The mess made by Republicans will take multiple cycles to clean up, but as for now, you can blow a celebratory bubble!

Phil Moffett defeated

The Democrats have picked up at least 3 seats in the Kentucky House. One of the defeated Republicans is Phil Moffett - a longtime Tea Party favorite from Louisville - who lost by 8%.

The 2 other seats so far are in eastern Kentucky and aren't even that close. In addition, the Democrats may have picked up another seat in that region.

Kim Davis defeated

This is the first election result I'm able to report tonight, and it's from Rowan County, of all places.

Some of you forgot about Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who tarnished Kentucky's good name with her antigay extremism and her trips to Europe to promote right-wing laws there. Well, Davis has just been defeated for reelection.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Right-wing River City News tries to game local election

With mainstream media having abandoned northern Kentucky, fringe websites are swooping in to fill the void, and the River City News is at least as right-wing as any outlet it replaced.

The River City News reported today that Republican Campbell County Judge-Executive Steve Pendery's main challenger in tomorrow's election is Tea Party favorite Charlie Coleman. The site provided no polling data to back this up. The site treated Democrat Calvin Sidle as merely a third party candidate, even as Sidle runs on serious issues such as affordable housing and transit. Not only that, but Sidle was the Democratic candidate for U.S. House in 2016.

To relegate a Democrat to third party status is not only factually wrong, but also part of a new effort by local Republicans to try to convince Democratic voters that they might as well just pick their favorite Republican and vote for them instead. No dissent is to be tolerated. This is important because if the Democrats consistently come in third place, they would lose major party status in Kentucky, leaving the Republicans to fill both major party slots.

This isn't a problem we can just bubble away - though I know some of you will. I'm sure that tomorrow, as you're in the voting booth, you'll be blowing a huge bubble with your gum that bursts and sticks to your glasses. Barack Obama once urged, "Don't boo. Vote!" He might as well have just said, "Don't bubble. Vote!" But feel free to do both.

For the media to game our elections is dangerous. Judge-executive is one of our top local offices, and the public has a right to have leaders who will move the community forward, not backward.

The River City News isn't wrong at all when it says there's "an internal squabble on the county's political right." But if the Right is split perfectly down the middle, the opposition gets to prevail - unless we get instant runoff voting. We deserve better than the authoritarian government that the Republican Right wants to foist upon us. If you want to build a right-wing one-party police state, do it in your own back yard, not ours.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Have no fear, the November ish is here!

Around the start of each month, everyone is always teetering on the edge of their toilet seat for the latest issue of The Last Word, and this month is no exception!

The November ish has been published, and it talks about all sorts of fi things! This includes my trip to Zion National Park and the flatulence that filled it, people ruining Speak & Spells by modifying them, Rachael Ray's inability to blow bubbles with bubble gum, the unending wastage of paper and other goodies, strabismus glasses, and more!

So point your pooper here...

If that doesn't work, try this...

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Chabot has history of making a fool of himself

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) is the longtime congressman from a Cincinnati area district. And in recent years, it's just been endless bigotry from him and his supporters.

Chabot's backers also have no respect for IRS regulations against religious bodies endorsing candidates. A couple days ago, while traveling through Cincinnati, I saw what appeared to be a house with a huge Chabot sign. But when I looked closer, I discovered it was a church.

Chabot is also part of the right-wing extremist plen-T-plaint termed the Tea Party. I'm pretty sure that back in 2012, he gave a classist speech at a Tea Party rally on Fountain Square. I believe it was this event, and in this entry I described how I heckled the crowd...

I was pretty sure I released a "You lie!" during Chabot's speech, but that wasn't mentioned in my account of the event.

After the rally, a Tea Party member confronted Occupy Cincinnati and boasted that he only hired overseas for his businesses because he thought American workers were lazy because they demanded to be paid properly.

Trump planning executive order to end birthright citizenship

In an interview yesterday, so-called President Trump says he is planning an executive order to end automatic citizenship for children born in the U.S. to noncitizens.

Even with Congress's approval, this would of course be unconstitutional. The Fourteenth Amendment reads, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." But with the Republican Right's history of violating the Constitution, who's counting?

What's shocking is the way the media acts as if there's any ambiguity about this. They act like birthright citizenship is just an interpretation by legal scholars - when actually it's very clear. There's absolutely no wiggle room. Anyone born in America who is subject to the country's laws is a citizen. Period.

Trump also falsely claimed that the U.S. is the only country with birthright citizenship. Even the anti-immigrant organization NumbersUSA produced a list of 33 other such countries.

Whatever your stance on immigration, it's clear that the President can't just issue an executive order against birthright citizenship. That's simply not what freedom is about.

Monday, October 29, 2018

GOP should be on the hook for nation's PTSD crisis

A newly released study suggests that as many as 1 in 4 American college students may suffer from PTSD because of Donald Trump stealing the election.

This study was conducted last year at Arizona State University, and it says that 25% of the students surveyed had "clinically significant event-related distress", a predictor of PTSD.

Why would an election result cause PTSD? And why would the other side not also suffer from PTSD when they lose? The answer is simple. Some political figures - such as Trump, the Bushes, and Newt Gingrich - have enjoyed harming people. Their policies are rooted in evil.

Some government policies are not just more effective than others - but also more ethical. People do not get PTSD from benevolent actions that bring positive results.

People have a right and a desire to live in a society where they can be safe. The modern Republican Party has long been the party of violent bullying, and now it's become the party of rape and sexual assault too. When party leaders force the public to relive traumatic experiences, that doesn't just go away like a short-term disappointment. That's always going to be there.

That is why the Republican Party needs to be held liable for what is sure to be a national PTSD crisis. The cost of treatment needs to come out of their deep pockets. I don't care to ever hear another word from some rich right-winger complaining that their tax dollars are funding others' healthcare - because in this case, this would be an expense incurred by their actions. You reap what you sow.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

GOP's "mob" claim proves they've lost in the court of public opinion

When you've lost America, you've lost America.

And the Republican Party has lost America.

The Republican Right has long bragged of support from "the people." Clearly, their definition of "the people" didn't include a majority of people who you actually know. But they said it was mostly only "the media" that opposed them. Whenever they claimed "the media" was biased against them, it was their way of saying they really didn't have public support.

Lately, the GOP has generated lots of whining about a "mob" opposing them. This seems to be their final admission that they really don't have public support. After all, Donald Trump lost the popular vote. There's no ambiguity about that. The Republicans regularly lose the national U.S. House vote even when they win a majority of seats. Half of the Senate is elected from states that have a total of only 18% of the country's population.

For having tried so hard to cultivate their phony populist image, it's interesting how the Far Right has now thrown in the towel by being arrogant enough to act like they're the only ones who matter and that everyone else is just an uneducated "mob."

The real question is: Since there's more of us than them, how do we deal with their arrogance as they continue to impose their will on us because they think they're "better" than everyone else?

New polls dash GOP chances

A week ago, I thought the white supremacist Republican Party had a fighting chance of keeping the U.S. House. But - after seeing new polls - now I think they have no chance. There's just no misreading it.

I know they have a better chance of keeping the House than, say, the Sex Pistols have of appearing on Hee Haw, but that's about it. So let's move on.

They're lucky the Senate situation is better for them. This year may turn out like 1996 - when Republicans actually gained Senate seats despite an overwhelmingly unpopular GOP Congress. But this time, it's not because the Democrats are being dragged down by Bill Clinton mimicking Republican policies. It's because the GOP has the most favorable Senate map that any party has had since direct election of senators began a century ago - and because the Democrats have to defend some of their more conservative senators.

Let this sink in. The Republicans have yet to prevail in a presidential or midterm year in my adult life without cheating. It simply has not happened. Time and time again, America has rejected the party's burgeoning extremism. This time, I expect it to stick. The debate is over, and the GOP's deadly policies don't work. At all.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Paddling now banned in North Carolina public schools

Graham County was the last public school district in North Carolina that allowed corporal punishment. But now the county school board has voted unanimously to ban the practice - making North Carolina one of over 30 states to prohibit paddling in public schools.

Most of the states that ban it have a statewide law or regulation, so North Carolina is among the few where all local school districts eschew the practice in the absence of a statewide policy.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Media ignores Eastern Band Cherokee's positive statement on Warren

I understand that citizenship in Native American tribes is not automatically conferred by biological lineage. And I know that Elizabeth Warren took a DNA test so she could call Donald Trump's bluff - not to gain tribal citizenship.

We all know The Media wants 8 years of Trump, so they've been as rough on Warren for taking the DNA test as they would have been if she hadn't. But they've conveniently ignored a statement by the Eastern Band Cherokee supporting Warren. The statement says Warren "has not used her family story or evidence of Native ancestry to gain employment or other advantage" and that she "demonstrates respect for tribal sovereignty by acknowledging that tribes determine citizenship and respecting the difference between citizenship and ancestry."

This statement also listed bills that Warren has supported that would help Native Americans.

The New York Times mentioned this positive statement - but no other media outlet that I've seen has.

Now watch The Media carry on for the next 2 years.

Oregon towns laugh in the Tea Party's stupid faces by reopening libraries

Remember a couple years ago when the fascist Tea Party killed the entire public library system in Douglas County, Oregon?

This happened after many out-of-town Tea Party activists moved into this county of 100,000. They complain about immigrants, yet the Tea Party launched an outright invasion. Now many cities and towns in Douglas County have defied the Tea Party outright! These communities have voted to reopen their libraries - not as county libraries, but as municipal libraries. Recently, voters in the town of Drain even voted 76% for a tax hike to pay for it.

Tough toilets, Tea Party.

Of course, because of the Tea Party's fervor for gutting public institutions, not all county residents will have free access to the libraries. Roseburg's library will charge folks who live outside the city $60 a year for a library card. The libe argues that this is fair because the cities favored keeping the libraries open, while it was only the rural areas that supported closing the libraries.

So the Tea Party is reaping what they sow by having to pay more for services than the cities do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tonsillitis probably fails to ruin Utah mish

I plan to be on a fact-finding mission to Zion National Park in Utah next week, but a sense of worry began to befall me a couple days ago.

In the past 4 months, I've pried out several hilarious tonsil stones from my left tonsil. When I start to feel something stuck in my throat, I just dislodge the stone, and it's gone! No muss, no fuss! I found another this past weekend, but this time, my left tonsil swelled along with it.

I thought the swelling would end when I pried out the stone, but it didn't. Instead, for days thereafter, the swelling made it very hard to swallow. This was nothing compared to the severe sore throat that would accompany a Ronald Reagan supercold, but it had to come to an end before I left. I decided if it wasn't better today, I'd visit the bubble gum doctor - and this ailment would go on my feared Illness Log.

According to the Internet, tonsillitis usually lasts about 4 days. True to form, most of the swelling seems to have gone away this morning.

Will it come back to spoil my mish? If poo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Media still mad at Elizabeth Warren

Before October 15, 2018, The Media hated Elizabeth Warren because she hadn't taken a DNA test.

After October 15, 2018, The Media hates Elizabeth Warren because she has taken a DNA test.

Well, I think I know who I'm probably supporting for President - though I admit she may have tough competition from Bernie Sanders for my support.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A person bunkerooed at Big Lots

Today at Big Lots, I detected the hilarious bouquet of an SBD bunker blast.

Friday, October 5, 2018

When Joe Manchin fought against entitled brats

With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) ahead by as much as 12% in his reelection bid, make no mistake: It would help him even more if he votes against the disgusting Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, which every other Senate Democrat has pledged to do. There's no denying that. Rejecting a spoiled bully like Kavanaugh would be the right thing to do, and it would be a political advantage.

Manchin fought against entitled brats once before. Even if it was just a few sentences in a speech, it was still more than what almost any other politician was willing to do. Some years back, when Manchin was Governor of West Virginia, he gave a speech in which he quite rightly endorsed revoking the driver's license of high school bullies.

If enacted, Manchin's proposal would have been the very epitome of justice. For years, legislators and agencies had been falling over themselves to find ways to take away licenses and other privileges from victims - never the perpetrators. They didn't come up with those laws because they had some compelling positive interest to do so. They did it because they were rotten people. Manchin's plan would have at least reduced some of the sting of giving special rights to rich bullies.

Sadly, I don't think Manchin's idea was ever enacted. If it ever is, I'm sure there's some right-wing legal foundation with an army of lawyers ready to pounce about how unfair the world is to entitled bullies. Hardly anybody went to bat for their victims. But with perpetrators, it's different. We live in a society where crime pays.

This is somewhat comparable to an earlier story when Congress voted on a commonsense bill to stop schools from overprescribing Ritalin. One of very few legislators to vote against the bill was one who was ostensibly more liberal than most others. But there's no way I'd endorse that lawmaker after that.

Of course, none of this would excuse voting to confirm Kavanaugh - who is the very personification of the rise of entitled brats being allowed to enjoy limitless privileges. So, if Manchin votes to confirm, feel free to support his opponents in the future. Just make sure it's somebody credible and not a joke like Patrick Morrisey.

Boone County candidate endorses property requirement for voting

Every time I think living in Campbell County means I live in America's most unlivable county, I lean back, read The Last Word, and remind myself that it could be Boone County.

Jesse Brewer is the Republican candidate for a commissioner seat in Boone County. The Democrats - in all their wisdom - refused to field a candidate even though it's an open seat, because they were afraid contesting it would increase Republican turnout for other offices. Seriously, that's their reasoning.

Brewer wrote an op-ed for the Northern Kentucky Tribune complaining about how rough life is for big landowners such as himself. I have to give him credit, because the Northern Kentucky Tribune runs a lot of nutty right-wing stuff, so I guess it's the right place for such an article. The Tribune makes the Cincinnati Enquirer look like a far-left rag in comparison.

Brewer complains because he has to pay taxes on property he owns in Kenton and Campbell counties. Well, yeah. Of course he has to pay taxes on it. He says this can be remedied by allowing people to vote in cities and counties where they don't live - as long as they own property there. He says that not allowing landowners to vote in every county where they own property is "taxation without representation."

No it isn't. Being left off the census is, which happened to me in 2000. But letting a big landowner vote only once just like everyone else isn't.

Brewer wants to give a literal meaning to "Vote early and vote often."

Of course, Brewer's proposal is unconstitutional. I shouldn't even need to be saying this in 2018.

Brewer groans, "Wouldn't it be fair to let people who have a vested equitable interest (real estate) in the community - taxpayers - have a right to vote on the local elected officials who can levy taxes and fees on them?" As if people who don't own real estate aren't paying taxes too? Renters indirectly pay property taxes. That is covered in the rent they pay. On average, they pay more in other taxes than landowners do. There is no legal theory that would allow anyone to cast more votes just because they own real property. In fact, it's a violation of federal statute to vote where you don't live.

As the United States expanded the right to vote, one of the first barriers to voting to be abolished was the property requirement. Boone County is about to get a commissioner who wants to set America back by 200 years!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

So I took it!

"So I Took It" is the name of a short 1975 anti-shoplifting scare film.

Parodies are protected as fair use under our copyright laws, so guess what I did to "So I Took It"? I took it!

A few years ago, someone purchased an erotic video and posted it to YouTube while adding their ridiculous commentary in a pitched-up voice. Now I've done the same thing to this anti-shoplifting film.

Prepare for some laughs...

North Dakota suppresses Native American vote

North Dakota is the site of one of the most competitive Senate races, in which Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp faces a challenge from fascist Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer. As Cramer stumbles - he even said Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if the sexual assault allegations against him are proven true - the North Dakota GOP still wants this seat.

And now they might not need Russian interference to get it like they otherwise would.

In a move unprecedented in modern America, a federal court is allowing North Dakota to enforce a clearly unconstitutional new requirement on voters - upending a lower court ruling. The new rule says voters must have a street address to vote. Voters may not use a post office box.

Most Native Americans who live on reservations in North Dakota have a post office box - but no street address. The law is intended to suppress the Native American vote.

This is also unprecedented in modern times because it would also deny the homeless their right to vote.

As a progressive consensus forms among the American public, the Republicans must cheat to win.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Have no fear, the October ish is here!

Did you know that the October issue of The Last Word is now published? Cool people know. But what about you?

This ish talks about lots of cool stuff! There's something for everyone, including...

• People losing brand new drones.

• A ruined Kentucky Derby poster.

• Janet Jackson talking about bubble gum constantly.

• The long-awaited reveal of an old music video featuring Big Bird.

• A now-obsolete TV as a cereal prize.

• The theft of bubble gum from SupeRx.

• People making idiotic excuses for airline incompetence.

• And more! It's not sold in any store!

So point your pooper here...

If that doesn't work, point it here...

Saturday, September 29, 2018

New California law lets utilities pass costs for their mistakes onto customers

A new law in California lets utility monopolies bill customers to cover legal settlements resulting from last year's disastrous wildfires.

The supposed purpose of this law is to prevent Pacific Gas & Electric from having to file for bankruptcy when it's found that its faulty equipment caused the deadly fires. In other words, PG&E will be able to evade being held accountable for its irresponsible behavior.

Courts have rightly ruled that utilities are responsible for wildfires caused by their equipment. This ought to be considered one of the most basic theories of law. It ought to mean the utilities - not their customers - pay. But this law will let PG&E add a surcharge to customers' bills for the next 20 years.

The era of easy money for monopolistic corporations must end.


White supremacists attack Democratic Socialists at Louisville restaurant

The Trump regime sure does bring the stormtroopers out of the woodwork.

On Thursday, the Louisville chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America held a meeting at a bar and restaurant. As they gathered at the restaurant's patio, a white supremacist gang began yelling at them from the sidewalk.

The gang had lingered around the restaurant waiting for the Democratic Socialists and had ordered some drinks beforehand. During the confrontation, some of the Democratic Socialists were attacked with pepper spray or a similar chemical. One of the right-wingers ordered, "Take your socialist commie bullshit and get the fuck out of here!"

This is another example of how the rise of Trump has emboldened fascist groups to confront and even attack dissidents. Of course, it's not the first period in modern American history that right-wing extremists in public office have encouraged fascist violence. I've seen it since the Reagan years. The escalating far-right violence is a clarion call for strong legislative and law enforcement action against hate groups.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Texas AG uses idiotic argument against teen expelled for sitting during Pledge

If football players want to kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police killings, let them kneel. If you think it's so bad to kneel during the anthem, then you should stand when you're watching it on TV. And if students want to sit instead of stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, let them sit. That's what freedom means.

Freedom isn't supposed to be about corporations' so-called "right" to pollute our rivers or overcharge patients for preexisting conditions. Sitting for the Pledge is a matter of personal choice.

Last year, a student at Windfern High School in Houston was expelled because she refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. She had sat for the Pledge about 200 times before under 6 different teachers - but the principal expelled her.

After being expelled, she sued the principal, school staffers, and the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District. But now, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has intervened on behalf of the school system - and Paxton's argument is jaw-droppingly dumb.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents have a fundamental interest in guiding the education and upbringing of their children, which is a critical aspect of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution," a statement by Paxton reads. "The Texas Legislature protected that interest by giving the choice of whether an individual student will recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the student's parent or guardian. School children cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge."

Ah yes, it's the tired old dominionist argument that parents own their kids. Paxton's statement says in effect that students may not exercise their constitutional rights unless they get parental permission. Is that a stupid argument or what?

In this case, however, it's a moot point, because the student already had her mother's permission. So bust goes that bubble.

While Paxton's argument is laughable, it's really no laughing matter, as bizarre legal theories like this have taken hold all over this once-great land.