“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” — Elie Wiesel
Most of us, I would say, are moderates, which is why there are next to no moderate political candidates. The middle is like a pool of quicksand from a really bad nighttime soap opera circa 1979, and on one side, you’ve got Archie Bunker saying he’ll throw you a lifeline but only for a billion dollars in tax cuts, and on the other, “Dyno-miiiite” JJ is dancing like no one’s watching. Because no one is. The middle doesn’t work. The gaping chasm between parties is even bigger now that The Former Guy manifested what most conservatives have been thinking since 1619: that people of color are intrinsically bad and deserve their mostly sorry lot in life and that Jesus will save only people who do not force their women to abort their fetuses. On record, no one’s forcing anyone. In secret, the majority of abortions are by middle-aged white women who are also mothers and also, quite possibly and quite likely, conservatives.
I think if enough of us moderate Democrats said, “I’m not even going near a ballot box until the Dumbocrats in Congress throw Donald Trump’s traitorous, racist, rapist ass in jail,” maybe Chuck and Nancy will push themselves away from their soy lattes and wake the fuck up. Our democracy is under attack, and all that they — and Grandpa Joe — can do is go on and on about Build Back Better and omicron, which is fine and necessary. I’m just worried about catching the virus after my family and I have been thrown into the gulags for not bowing to Emperor Trump once he stages his second coup after the 2024 election. Hopefully, Chuck, Nancy, and Gramps will be wasting away in the cell right next to me, because I might have a thing or two to say to them, like, “Um, so was there a rule that said you couldn’t talk about BBB and omicron while also, y’know, trying to save democracy?!”
I wish my life were privileged enough for me to be able to ignore politics or to be a fancy “swing voter.” It’s not. My family is racially mixed, as I expect most families are these days, and my son is a Black male, and we all know how Black males are treated by authority/whites in this shit-hole country. Believe me, White Redneck Asshole, if I could leave this shit-hole, I would quicker than you could scrawl “FJB” on a bathroom wall. If you can help me pack, I’ll send you my address, mother-fucker! See? None of us here are afraid to cuss. Unlike you gut-less turds.
Alas, my family and I are stuck here and probably will be for a while. All we can do is try our best, and all I can do is keep pointing out the hypocrisy of the Republican party and the ball-lessness of the Democrats and whipping up the otherwise uninterested to hopefully effect some long-needed change. We moderate Dems are only trying to make sure we’re all treated equally, that the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share, and that we all start caring about the environment. In case you don’t know, TFG spoke at a Save America or something rally last week in Conroe, a hillbilly enclave outside of H-town/Get-down. The racist rapist vowed to pardon the insurrectionists once he steals the presidency in 2024 with the help of his equally racist state legislators across the country, and he called for violence against the Black prosecutors investigating his crime family, which led to bomb threats at Black workplaces and HBCUs a couple of days later. TFG also essentially admitted that he tried to overturn the 2020 election. I mean, what more does this piece of shit have to do to get his ass hanged for treason? Why has he not been arrested yet?
We lovers of democracy can only hope that Chuck, Nancy, and company are waiting to unleash hell closer to midterms, because most “swing voters” are privileged enough to not pay attention to politics and won’t remember anything now in two months, when time comes to vote. Wouldn’t it be nice to swing? Wouldn’t be nice to be fine on either side of the coup? — Anthony Mariani
The Abstract Assholishness of Polls
According to recent polls — gotta love stories that start off that way — the undisputed president of the United States, Grandpa Joe Biden, is seeing his favorability dip slightly despite leading a surging economy. In only his first year, we’ve seen: 6.4M+ jobs created, the largest yearly job growth in U.S. history; national unemployment falling to 3.9% from 6.7% just 12 months ago; and GDP growth at 5.7%, the highest rate since 1984. As my man, media watchdog @EricBoehlert, says, if Biden were a Republican, the msm would put him on Mt. Rushmore. No. Not even close. Grandpa Joe is being blamed for everything, including TB12’s retirement and probably slushy snow.
The msm would have you believe that inflation is Joe’s problem and only his. And that it’s all his doing. This is the same inflation that’s plaguing the entire planet. What every dumb poll fails to mention is that supply chains and omicrons and inflations don’t happen in political vacuums. Enter: the mainstream media or, as we cool uncool kids say, the msm.
The same newspapers that claim Joe Biden’s popularity is tanking are the very same organizations that run borderline bullshit daily articles in which even his victories — and there’s a lot of them (economy, good jobs, unemployment down, wages up, more Americans vaccinated than ever before) — are framed as failures. Smart people stopped reading The New York Times a long time ago, long after their sexist, botched, flat-out wrong coverage of should-have-been-president Hillary Clinton. Like some alien species of money-dowsing insectoids, the Times higher-ups (mostly all white, mostly all male) started shifting to the right to replace the (smart) readers lost in the Hillary aftermath. Never mind that the fate of our very country is at stake and that the Times, more than any other paper of its kind on the planet, carries an imprimatur of greatness based on past successes. Never mind honor and decency. It’s almost masochistic, what this media empire is doing to itself. The Times is begging to please the very people who will torch the building after the second coup attempt in 2024. I can’t say I won’t be laughing my ass off watching that wonderful Renzo Piano plinth on 8th Avenue go down in flames.
Like pretty much every other major media outlet, the Times is guilty of both-sides “journalism,” even when one side is clearly deflecting and clearly making shit up. Instead of coming out in a “news” story and saying something to the effect of, “What this source said has been refuted by the evidence,” the “reporters” at the Times — and the Washington Post and CNN and every other msm dump — just let the lies run as if they are fact. Lies are not fact and should be corrected as they are repeated. Anyone who’s ever had a real journalism class in flippin’ high school knows that the journalist’s job is not to tell “both sides” of a story but to tell the truth. Again, when the idiots who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 come back this time around in even larger numbers and go after the msm, I will be sitting here in Fort Worth with my crummy little laptop, making pauper money while trying to fight the good fight, and I will be laughing my goddamn ass off. Just leave the culture departments alone. They don’t know a damn thing about anything anyway. Somehow Juno is not a steaming pile of pandering trash? Somehow Chuck Klosterman still gets column inches to talk about how accidentally great he is? Somehow Kanye West appears in every issue? See? Know-nothings.
It’s no real wonder why Biden is dropping in the polls when nearly every msm “news” story blames him for everything and credits him for nothing. In a recent CNN piece about how the 2021 U.S. economy “grew at the fastest rate since the Reagan administration” — “fastest rate”! since the 1980s! — the president, the person overseeing the aforementioned “U.S. economy,” is never mentioned. Not even once. Go back to the CNN homepage and scroll down a few inches to some claptrap about inflation or omicron, and “Biden” appears a million times. It’s almost comical, this media obsession with manufacturing drama as a means of attracting those G.D. swing voters as they sip Earl Grey with their pinkies out and binge-watch teenage dramas. As @EricBoehlert put it the other day: “reporting good econ news, Biden not mentioned. reporting bad econ news (inflation!!), Biden always mentioned.”
While I haven’t read all kazillion msm stories about inflation, I’ve read a bunch, too many but enough to know that not a single one of their writers/“reporters” has the balls/ovaries to state that not only is inflation happening all over the globe but that it’s hitting us hard because corporate wealth is concentrated into the hands of just a few overlords. @DanPriceSeattle knows what’s up, tweeting, “Suspicious how everyone blames the rising cost of a burrito on workers getting a $1 raise but not the fact that CEO pay has gone up 1,322% in the last 43 years. Last year Chipotle gave its CEO a $24 million raise and paid him 2,898x more than their median employee.”
The President of the United States of America, Grandpa Joe Biden, is also being blamed by the msm for school closures. Don’t laugh. I know it’s ridiculous. It’s not the fact that everyone is catching omicron, including teachers and staff. It’s that Joe hates schoolchildren, even though no “reporter” seems to remember that every single school in this country was closed under Trump and every single school reopened under Grandpa Joe, but that’s what’s happening in the mainstream media. Bro, bottom line, cancel your subscriptions now.
And I’m just talking about the so-called “liberal media.” You expect anti-democracy/Trumpaganda junk from the likes of the Wall Street Journal and I would say Fox News, but I haven’t watched that bullshit since the Clinton administration and did so only accidentally because I was living with my future wife at her parents’ house, and her dad is a retired Air Force colonel, and we all know Fox News is still being aired on U.S. military bases around the world for whatever the fuck reason — can’t Grandpa Joe put a stop to that Trumpaganda bullshit?!
Not-so-gentle reminder: Donald Trump passed one bill in four years. One. Bill.
Locally, the Star-Telegram announced it’s hiring more “conservative” columnists. Again, this is just the sign of an ageing, meaningless, toothless publication moving to the right to pick up some middle-of-the-road “swing voters” who might — just might — pick up a newspaper between having their nails done, watching their stocks soar, and running their Beamers through the car wash.
Another not-so-gentle reminder: Two of the most popular Republican governors, Asa Hutchinson and Larry Hogan, want to move on from MAGA, with Hogan saying, “With America on the wrong path, the stakes are too high to double down on failure.”
Not too sure what he means by “the wrong path” when the economy is surging, people are working, and wages are up, but I can totally see doubling down on TFG as a “failure,” as big as there’s ever been.
However, will any Republican leaders in Washington step up? Haha. They don’t have balls/ovaries, remember?! They’re afraid of pissing off a small but vocal group of largely uneducated racists. That’s America. That’s where we are. Sorry. — A.M.
Cute Poll Says We Want Masks, Ignores Context
UT and the Texas Tribune released a totes adorbs poll the other day. The results — that a majority of us approve of mask mandates and other sensible, totally easy, totally non-freedumb-encroaching approaches to battling omicron — come to us under the good-natured belief that Gov. Greg Abbott and his jackass cronies in Austin actually represent the majority of Texas or in any way give a shit about us, when we all know the complete opposite is true. Not only do most of us who haven’t been gerrymandered out of mattering want racial and gender equality, fair wages, health care, and green policies, but we also, y’know, want to live? Like, without being death-coughed on in class or while standing in line at the supermarket? Abbott doesn’t care. He’s just licking his chops, waiting for the next windfall for his buddies once the electrical grid fails again this winter. Funny how spraying a couple of pieces of equipment means Abbott’s pals can double charge us on our utility bills. Weird how that works. — A.M.
You have to hand it to U.S. Rep Kay Granger. She’s a uniter, not a divider. Few local political issues have brought conservatives and liberals together like Fort Worth’s collective disdain for the $1.2 billion boondoggle that is Panther Island. The largely unfinished flood-control levees, apartments, waterways, developments, and bridges are the frequent target of criticism from locals who question the need for an upscale Northside development where one already exists — Mule Alley in the Stockyards.
The recent allocation of $403 million in federal funds for Granger’s pet project has only further fueled anger for the project that promises to provide “flood control” measures in the form of a lakeside resort. Why? Because Granger voted against the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill that is now funding her once-stalled project (“Double Standards,” Jan. 20). The U.S. rep called the infrastructure bill a “liberal wish list” before her vote against it. Now she’s singing its praises.
Downtown Fort Worth hasn’t experienced a major flooding catastrophe in several decades, but that hasn’t stopped Granger from peddling a development project that keeps her son J.D. Granger on a $242,216 base annual salary, according to documents released by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD), the government group that is tasked with preventing flooding and providing drinking water to 11 nearby counties.
“Tarrant Regional Water District board, you got the federal taxpayer money,” said Chris Putnam, the former Colleyville city councilmember who lost against Granger in the 2020 Republican primary. “Now fire J.D. Granger. The Granger family can no longer be allowed to profit off our taxpayers and the mess they created for Fort Worth. It’s long past time to remove the stink of nepotism and corruption.”
Water district board member Mary Kelleher responded that she totally agreed but needed two of the district’s five board members to vote with her. Kelleher has long been the lone voice for reform and transparency on a board that has historically allowed rampant wasteful spending and nepotistic hires.
Critics of water district dealings point to the 2019 hiring of Mark Mazzanti as the flood control project program coordinator for the Trinity River Vision Authority, a water district-managed group that coordinates flooding risk assessments among local cities and the county, as a murky position that possibly overlaps with J.D., who now has a lower position within the water district after he was removed as the river vision’s executive director in 2019. Mazzanti’s initial 2019 contract paid him $25,000 per month, according to river vision documents we reviewed, but a water district spokesperson said his current salary is $7,500. We were not given an explanation of why Mazzanti’s pay changed.
According to his 2019 river vision contract, Mazzanti handles risk management and river vision program governance, working to make the Trinity River Vision Authority’s projects more competitive for federal funding and to provide cities that work with the river vision with strategic analysis. For a so-called “consultant,” it reads like an executive position. We asked for a copy of Mazzanti’s job description but were told none exists.
In October, the water district board adopted a new nepotism policy that prohibits familial relationships at top positions. We can only guess that J.D. is able to skirt that new rule because his mom isn’t a water district employee. It’s a bogus argument and one that their board should address immediately.
This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not necessarily the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. Submissions will be edited for factuality and clarity.