Let us be reminded that before there is a final solution, there must be a first solution, a second one, even a third. The move toward a final solution is not a jump. It takes one step, then another, then another.
Morrison then continued, listing the pathway to fascism in ten steps:
Construct an internal enemy, as both focus and diversion.
Isolate and demonize that enemy by unleashing and protecting the utterance of overt and coded name-calling and verbal abuse. Employ ad hominem attacks as legitimate charges against that enemy.
Enlist and create sources and distributors of information who are willing to reinforce the demonizing process because it is profitable, because it grants power and because it works.
Palisade all art forms; monitor, discredit or expel those that challenge or destabilize processes of demonization and deification.
Subvert and malign all representatives of and sympathizers with this constructed enemy.
Solicit, from among the enemy, collaborators who agree with and can sanitize the dispossession process.
Pathologize the enemy in scholarly and popular mediums; recycle, for example, scientific racism and the myths of racial superiority in order to naturalize the pathology.
Criminalize the enemy. Then prepare, budget for and rationalize the building of holding arenas for the enemy — especially its males and absolutely its children.
Reward mindlessness and apathy with monumentalized entertainments and with little pleasures, tiny seductions, a few minutes on television, a few lines in the press, a little pseudo-success, the illusion of power and influence, a little fun, a little style, a little consequence.
Morrison’s interest was not in fascist demagogues or fascist regimes. It was rather in “forces interested in fascist solutions to national problems”. The procedures she described were methods to normalize such solutions, to “construct an internal enemy”, isolate, demonize and criminalize it and sympathizers to its ideology and their allies, and, using the media, provide the illusion of power and influence to one’s supporters.
Morrison saw, in the history of US racism, fascist practices — ones that could enable a fascist social and political movement in the United States.
Writing in the era of the “super-predator” myth (a Newsweek headline the next year read, “Superpredators: Should we cage the new breed of vicious kids?”), Morrison unflinchingly read fascism into the practices of US racism. Twenty-five years later, those “forces interested in fascist solutions to national problems” are closer than ever to winning a multi-decade national fight.
During a Television Critics Association panel on Tuesday, Steve Harvey said he had no interest in returning to standup because cancel culture would either prevent him from being funny or end his television career. (Via Deadline.)Harvey opined on the state of comedy while promoting Judge Steve Harvey, a new reality show in which…
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No way, no how is Mark Simmons going to cross the King Soopers picket lines as union employees walk off the job Wednesday to protest unfair labor practices and seek better wages and work conditions.
The Denver resident, a long-time customer who remembers shopping there with his mother and younger brothers after moving to Colorado in 1962, said he made up his mind when he first heard that workers were unhappy with how labor negotiations were going.
“My wife and I decided to immediately stop shopping at King Soopers,” Simmons said. “We didn’t wait for the strike. I figured the sooner there is outcry and a boycott the more likely Kroger might do the right thing. (On Monday) we shopped at Safeway for the first time, except for occasional items over the years.”
Other supporters shared similar thoughts on social media, though with their own reasons. One Fort Collins shopper said on Twitter that they won’t shop at King Soopers stores during the strike, but “will admit we are going today to ‘stock up’ on the things we can only get there. (Bavarian Bakery rolls).”
Thousands of Denver-area King Soopers workers are set to walk off their jobs starting at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, unless a new contract gains traction, a scenario that appeared unlikely Tuesday evening. There are 77 stores from Boulder to Parker participating in the strike, with workers at another 10 in Colorado Springs expected to join the strike at a later date. Not all King Soopers stores in Colorado are unionized. Others not participating in the strike likely have existing union contracts.
On Tuesday, King Soopers said it shared its “last, best and final offer” with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7. It offered higher wages — the second increase proposed in the past week. The new offer would invest $170 million over three years in wages and bonuses, boosting hourly pay for a full-time checker with five years of experience by $1.50 more this year to $21.01 an hour. The same checker’s wage would increase to $22.61 by 2024. Starting pay is $16.
“In addition to proposing an incremental investment in wages, we proposed an additional $6 million investment into associates’ health care benefits,” King Soopers spokeswoman Jessica Trowbridge said. “This investment increases our annual contributions for health care benefits by nearly $19 million. If ratified, by the end of the contract, associates’ weekly premiums would not have changed in more than 12 years.”
UFCW Local 7 Kim Cordova didn’t mince words in expressing what she thought about the latest proposal.
“The company’s ‘last, best, and final’ offer, in many ways, is worse than its previous offers,” she said in a statement. “King Soopers, despite providing certain information (on Monday night), has failed to respond to critical requests and data concerning the wage, health, and safety matters that are central to these negotiations. … We strike because it has become clear this is the only way to get what is fair, just, and equitable for the grocery workers who have risked their lives every day just by showing up to work during the pandemic.”
The new contract has been about more than just a higher wage. Hazard pay offered in the first few months of the pandemic is long gone even as COVID cases are up and workers are still getting sick. The union is demanding better health benefits that fit these new work conditions because the job has changed.
Workers who spoke at a news conference on Monday cited other issues, like not enough hours, trouble paying rent and staffing shortages that impact customers, said Andreas Bezerril, who said he’s a head clerk in Aurora.
“We are understaffed right now and when we’re understaffed, you do not have the coverage (needed) to keep your store safe,” he said. “There’s spills on the floor that don’t get touched for hours because we’re stuck in check stands. There’s customers that are irate because the departments are closed and they take it out on us instead. … Things don’t change unless people get hurt at King Soopers. I don’t think that’s right. And unless they change that, I’m going to be picketing on Wednesday at 5 a.m.”
Corporate profits and worker wages clash
Grocery workers at The Kroger Co., which owns King Soopers, make $29,655 a year for 30-hour work weeks, according to new report by the nonprofit research firm Economic Roundtable in Los Angeles. The researchers surveyed 10,287 employees in Colorado, Southern California and the Puget Sound region of Washington and found that 70% worked part time. Two-thirds said they couldn’t afford basic expenses and of those, 39% couldn’t afford to pay for groceries. An estimated 1,931 in Colorado said they were homeless or had been homeless in the past year.
“People who are working at Kroger part time, their biggest complaint, besides their low wages, was their schedules. From week to week and sometimes even day to day, they don’t know when they’re going to work. So they can’t have a second job even if they want it,” said Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles who worked on the report. “The bottom line is 86% of the people who work at Kroger, this is their only job. It’s their only earned income. And if they are going to be able to pay the rent and pay the groceries and all the other things, they need to make $45,760 a year.”
That’s $22 an hour. The report also recommended that Kroger double the share of workers who work full time to 60% from 30% and provide discounts of 50% for all the food in the store — not just the current 10% off Kroger brands.
Dreier, who acknowledged the report “Hungry at The Table” was funded by Colorado’s Local 7 and other Kroger unions in California and Oregon, said the unions had no influence on the findings.
“The thing people aren’t paying attention to is Kroger is doing really well. And they … made a particularly lot of money during the pandemic,” Dreier said. “They’ve given huge pay increases to top executives. The CEO makes over $22 million a year. … Their cash on hand has gone up over five times since February 2020. It’s funny they’re sitting on that when they could be spending it to raise wages.”
Many grocery companies did well during the pandemic. According to The Food Industry Association, which counts many large grocery chains as members, 53% of meals were eaten outside the home before the pandemic. That rate reversed in the pandemic.
“People focused a lot of attention on eating at home. Children were at home for big chunks of it so they had to feed their kids not just breakfast, but lunch and dinner. That created a huge amount of demand at the store,” said Andy Harig, FIA’s vice president of tax, trade, sustainability & policy development. “In 2020, we hit about a 3% profit margin (and) 3% was about the best year we’ve ever had.”
Profit margins, which include retail food sales at grocery stores but not gasoline sales, are normally below 2%, he said. Last year, sales for the industry were up more than $100 billion. However, expenses grew, as inflation impacted food prices, stores paid employee bonuses and supply-chain problems increased the cost of transporting food.
“We’re one of the lower-margin industries in the United States,” he said. “There’s lots of competition. In most markets, there are lots of stores. And it’s expensive. The cost of goods sold is fairly high and ranges between about 65% and 70% and that tends to contribute to the lower margins overall.”
Dreier said the grocery industry is always trying to obscure profits. He said his team found that net income rates tripled while sales increased 15.8%, while payroll and benefits shrank as a percentage of sales. The wage analysis of the top-paid King Soopers food clerk in Colorado between 2010 and 2020 showed a 16% increase to $19.16 an hour. Adjusted for inflation though, he said that’s a 3% reduction in pay.
“They are crying wolf,” Dreier said.
About 8,400 Colorado union workers voted to strike last week. Not all King Soopers locations are unionized, including those in Lafayette and Erie. And union contracts at other stores, such as the City Market locations, expire later this month or in February, so those stores are not part of the strike.
Trowbridge, with King Soopers, didn’t answer a question about hiring temporary workers but said they were preparing for the strike on Tuesday.
“In the event there is a strike, we have contingency plans in place and remain committed to being here for our associates, customers and communities providing fresh food and essential services,” she said.
The union posted on social media its “strike benefits,” which will pay full-time picketing members $160 a day with a maximum of $800 per week. For those who don’t work the picket line, but also don’t cross it, there is $100 per week in honor pay available.
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This is a bit complex, but I’ll try to be as succinct as possible.
A particular relationship (or rather, a lack thereof) has been paining me for years.
I (36 F) met L (55 M) almost 10 years ago when I was bartending. He was a regular, and while I found him very attractive, A: he was married (albeit lengthily and unhappily, which was known to the other regulars) and B: I have a lot of insecurity about my appearance and didn’t think he’d be attracted to me. One night my shift relief didn’t come in on time, causing me to miss a ride to an event with friends. When my relief did show up he offered to give me a ride. In a turn of events that surprised me we wound up hooking up that night.
I was in a terribly position financially and in regards to living arrangements and he helped me multiple times without my asking him for anything, and didn’t hold his help over my head. We continued to hook up with the understanding that it wouldn’t lead to anything, but I fell for him, as one does.
I confessed my feelings to him and he confessed similar feelings for me, but said that he didn’t see how divorce was possible for him at the time (he and the wife share 2 children who were both going through a considerable amount and relied heavily on both parents for support.)
This hurt me deeply, but I accepted it and eventually started seeing another man (33 M) whom we’ll call P. I’d been very honest with P about my feelings for L, and that being in a serious relationship wasn’t in the cards as long as those feelings were present. P managed to convince me that L wasn’t genuine and that I’d be better off with him. Wanting very much to be wanted, I began a relationship with P that wound up being incredibly toxic and abusive. It lasted for about 6 years, and abandoned communicating with L at Ps request.
Eventually the relationship with P imploded and I reconnected with L in 2018. All of the old feelings were still there, and though we now lived 4 hours apart, we met up several times and stayed overnight at hotels together. Though we cared deeply for each other, L was concerned that I lived too far away for a relationship to work.
At the end of 2020, I made the move north that I thought would be better for my job prospects as well as possibly make some headway with L. I was very surprised upon moving that he was seeing someone. According to him, he never thought I’d make the move. We stopped talking for several weeks, but wound up texting again after that relationship failed for him. After a lot of texting and a few outings to lunch, we slept together several more times.
Throughout all of this, I’ve been plagued endlessly by abandonment issues, impatience, and longing for this very cautious man whom I’ve loved for almost a decade at this point. In anger I’ve pushed him away repeatedly, only to text back during lonely periods. I very recently blew up on him via text, demanding an answer. Eventually he informed me that while he had feelings for me, he couldn’t abide being repeatedly pushed away and is now “trying to live peacefully.”
I’ve accepted that as best I can and am continuing my therapy for various mental health issues.
Recently, another blow was dealt in that he’s recently been diagnosed with what is probably a brain tumor and I’m in absolute shreds over this.
What do I do?
At A Loss
Dear At A Loss,
Between you, me, and the Internet I can admit that there have been times when I was low and lonely and somebody came along who was a) absolutely a bad idea on every possible indicator level and b) seemed like the only human capable of making me feel like a living, breathing person in a moment when I really needed that. Alas, I’m not a stranger to the “relationship” that’s intoxicating and perfect as long as nobody else knows about it, as long as nobody actually needs anything from it, and as long as it touches the space-time continuum and normal, functional, daily life as seldom as possible. So please know, I”m not judging your grief or the longings that led you here. You were lost, and L. made you feel like you were found, and nobody else had ever done that in quite that way before, so you told yourself that driving several hours to fuck in a hotel room, or staying loyal to him even while you were involved with other people, or, at long last, moving across state lines for him was the kind of grand gesture that would add up to a future together: You could love him so much that it would constitute a form of proof.
But other people don’t work that way. Your feelings were so deep and true that you didn’t notice or found ways to ignore how consistently this guy told you, “This is all there is or will ever be” between meeting now and then for sex/lunch. It’s not that he never had feelings for you, but I think that there’s always been a “but” if you’d only listen to the end of the sentence:
“…I’m married and not getting a divorce because the kids need me.”
“…I”m seeing someone else.” /”…I never thought you’d move here.” It’s unclear whether L. was still married AND seeing someone else on the side when you rolled into town, but, let’s be real. It’s far from impossible.
“…I just want to live peacefully.” (i.e. “I didn’t expect you to actually need and depend on me” “I’ve considered your ultimatum and I guess the answer is ‘no’.” “Whoa, sorry, still not leaving my wife, especially now that I’ll need someone to do the hardcore care-taking!”)
Consider that the night you first hooked up was a surprise to you, but I highly doubt it was much of surprise to the 45-year-old married barfly who pounced the second you were in a vulnerable place.
The tumor is a cruel twist, but maybe it’s also a giant, flaming arrow pointing in the direction of “It’s long past time for you to grieve this man like he died and start getting on with the rest of your life.”
As for how to do that, you already know: Keep going to therapy. Delete his number and block or otherwise shut down any of the ways he can get in touch with you. Start locking your phone in a time-safe at night or other vulnerable times so you won’t be tempted to text him. Pour your feelings into a journal and letters that you don’t send. Find ways to be nice to yourself. Sing all the sad songs at the top of your lungs. Keep your Asshole Detector polished and sharp so you’re not tempted by the next troubled, unavailable dude who crosses your path. Repeat after me: “Unhappily married” unfaithful men are married men, not boyfriend material. They all have a story about why they are different and special, and when you’re 26 (like you were when you first met L.) they can sound very compelling, but the older you get the more you’ll realize that all the stories sound exactly the same: “I would like to have sex with you, and I have Very Good Reasons for why nothing is ever my fault.”
Mourn L., yes, but as a way to being done with him. The feelings will have their say awhile yet, but this limbo of “what do I do?” ends the second you accept what’s already happening, the second you take L. at his word that he doesn’t want to actually build anything with you.. He wasn’t the one for you. You can say for sure that you tried everything. Stop trying. Lay down this project where you fix him or fix the situation somehow. You name yourself “At a Loss,” but it’s past time to cut your losses.
I truly don’t know where people like this come from, and I don’t know where they go once they pass through our lives, I’ve never had the fortitude to follow the wake of destruction back to the source when it’s me digging out of the rubble. Do they go back to the shitty marriages they complained about constantly? Back to sending secret sexts to their latest dopamine supply? Do they eventually get therapists of their own and realize, “wait, I was being a giant piece of shit, I’ll definitely stop that!” or do they just serially hit on all the junior staff and everyone in their AA meetings, world without end? I don’t know what justice looks like here, even as I convert my own past follies into cautionary tales.
Letter Writer, I predict that if you do the work to get L. out of your system, if you cut your losses and truly let time heal that part of you, there’s a future for you on the other side of all this where some pathetic married geezer will attempt to put the moves on you or some younger version of you out where you can see, and you’ll throw your head back and just fucking CACKLE at his audacity. “Oh, did you mistake this for free marriage counseling? Surely you weren’t whining about your wife and kids as a seduction technique?” The other ladies around the bar will have a good laugh together, and you’ll all make sure everybody has a safe ride home, while he slinks off into the night with howls of derision ringing in his ears. When it happens, pour one out for L., it will be a tribute as good as any stone or marker.