The Theocratic Republic of Arkansas

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I’m sick of talking about the Scoundrel Jason Rapert. I recently wrote about his efforts to overturn Issue 6, which legalized medical marijuana in Arkansas.

Some of you have shared news articles on the recent Arkansas decision to once again outlaw abortion in new and exciting ways. This is the fracas I was involved in when one of Arkansas’s young “Christian” mothers decided to threaten my family.

You’ve expressed your anger and dismay at the fact rapists can now sue their victims to keep them from terminating a pregnancy in Arkansas. Rapert wasn’t the author of that bill, but I’m sure seeing it pass gave him a big ol’ chub. He’s already cost Arkansas taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees from all the other unconstitutional measures he has under his belt. In the past, I’d have said, “This, too, will be overruled by the Supreme Court.” Once Donnie gets his filthy hands on it, I won’t be so sure.

Now, law-school-dropout Rapert (go back to high school, not home school), who couldn’t make it as an attorney and decided to destroy civilization instead, has got it into his sick, Holy-Ghost-addled brain to outlaw same-sex marriage by amending the United States Constitution. That’s right, not the Arkansas Constitution. They did that back in 2004. J-Rape doesn’t understand how legislation works and now he’s trying to spark a Constitutional Convention.

Obviously, this won’t be effective, but Rapert writes bills like monkeys fling shit, and while most of it hits the bars, sometimes a well tossed turd makes it through and sticks to the wall. The collateral damage is that Arkansans get to live in this shitty state and Jason gets to keep plucking holy hand grenades from his asshole.

If you’d like to discuss these issues with Mr. Rapert, he’s easily accessible (Phone: 501-336-0918, Email: Jason.Rapert@senate.ar.gov). He loves to engage in Facebook arguments, but beware. I’ve been told he’s not above doxxing you, which is the right’s go-to nuclear option. In person, he’ll just threaten to shoot you.

Here’s a recent communication between Rapert and a concerned Arkansas citizen.

As you can see, there’s no reasoning with Rapert, who will usually fall back on weird evolutionary biology arguments and (not pictured, surprisingly) the POWER OF GAWD.

Arkansas has been a straight-up Theocracy for years. The halls of government were long ago invaded by the Southern Baptist Convention and worse, home-schooled backwoods Pentecostals and the Hill Folk. None of them seem to mind shaking hands with Gadsden flag-flying bigots and Sons of the Confederacy if they don’t already attend the weekly meetings.

There are enclaves of liberal (neoliberal) thought in Little Rock, the capital city, and Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, but those are not the places from which this tyranny draws its power. Space Communists like myself are as common as the majestic unicorn, and religious moderates (this is as left as it gets) are vastly overwhelmed by angry manchildren from sundown towns, frustrated bible-beating fuckers from gravel-strewn levees and swampside shacks. They slid their way into power by mesmerizing rooms full of poor white parishioners who clutch Gone with the Wind as hard as their tattered Good Book.

I grew up around these fucks, the cruel charismatic creeps with slicked-back hair who went ahead and skipped the degree in theology and got the calling at age sixteen. They’d hold up their McGuffin tome in one hand and point with the other. We’re all going to burn, unless we do this, whatever it is, whatever whim has caught his pants today. Maybe it’s jungle music. Maybe we have too much and the church, too little. Maybe we should sign over our car. I’ve seen a couple weep as they placed their wedding rings in the donation tray. Were they weeping for salvation or because they knew what he was doing to them? Were they ashamed?

“We, the majority, grant you rights by choice.”

The majority of god-fearing Arkansans have put these men into power and the one thing that could have saved us all, the separation of church and state, has become a suggestion, not a rule but a guideline to ignore at their leisure.

North Carolina was recently downgraded from a democracy by the Electoral Integrity Project. Arkansas, in comparison to other states, falls solidly in the middle of the pack. Perhaps there should be other metrics, tough to measure from afar, but easy to observe in ramshackle towns, where men exploit the need for fellowship. They sing in rooms, together, as we must have done before history was written, then deliver the poison. Theocracy. Theocracy. Safe and secure from all alarms. Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

One Day

Today I attended the We All Belong rally down at the Craighead County Courthouse. It was, as expected, an entirely peaceful affair. I was there for two hours and didn’t see a single police officer, which must be unprecedented for any type of demonstration these days.

Most of the citizens who passed by were friendly enough. Sure, there were a few birds flown, but most people either drove on by or honked and waved.

I took some time to deliver a bird of my own to the people who had been trolling the Facebook event page.

A wiry old fellow rolled down his window and growled, “Go back to Mexico.” He was leathery from the sun, and he shook his head back and forth as the crowd chanted, “No ban, no wall!” He stared ahead, hands at ten and two on the wheel, shaking, as if to say, “I can’t stand equality. Not in my town.”

Stan Morris of NEA Report was on site to livestream and ask loaded questions. After he’d concluded an interview with one particularly opinionated attendee, who just happened to have a baby strapped to her chest, he waited until she walked away and insulted her parenting decisions to his online audience. “I know guys, it’s freezing and that baby has been out here for two hours. I told her to go inside and get that baby warm. It’s just horrible.”

A man next to me noticed I was reading the Battle of Jonesboro plaque in front of the Courthouse. He pointed at the Confederate flag engraved above the inscription. “There’s probably something ironic to be said about that,” he said. Maybe. Surprisingly enough, it was the only one I saw today. They’ve mostly moved on to the American flag now. I guess they finally feel like it’s theirs.

I’m not sure if I actually accomplished anything today. I helped show some folks they aren’t alone, perhaps, but there were a hundred of us versus 77,000. Alone might be relative.

I guess we’re about to find out.

Google Doo Doo

Is nothing sacred?

Up until last night, this was the result you received when you Googled “famous writers.”

I refreshed for hours to make sure it was real. And no, it wasn’t some algorithm-y thing that shaped my results. Other humans on various devices confirmed that when you typed those two words into the search box in whatever crazy font you have set on your phone, Donald J. Trump would be nestled all smugly between Ernie Fucking Hemingway and Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

Steve-O King kinda peeked out at the side there, as if to ask, “What about me? I’m prolific. Acclaimed, even!” I love ya, Stevarino, but apparently there wasn’t enough room on the screen. The Big Boss Man sat at number two like the piece of shit he is, but imagine a universe in which he was the first result? Maybe we could slap Bill O’Reilly in there and push Hemingway down to third place.

Since that wasn’t the case, we cannot exist in the worst possible trashbarge universe. Like Donald, we’re right next door, not stylish or organized enough to ever justify all the dank fuhrer memes. In the “Best Author Donald Trump” universe, he’s a sexy combination of Lex Luthor and Mussolini. Completely Capitalist Heterosexual Space Fascism has the galaxy in its clutches. In our universe, it’s more like some rogue scientists made a chimera from King Joffrey (if you don’t get Game of Thrones references, it’s your fault) and the asshole rich kid from the 1994 Little Rascals movie, and Mark Twain is giving him side-eye.

Maybe this is why Hemingway went to Abercrombie & Fitch, purchased a shotgun (you could buy guns at all the hip clothing stores back then. Maybe The Donald will executive order that tradition back into vogue), returned to Idaho, and performed a little at-home dentistry (thanks, Steve-O). Maybe he had a vision of the future, where some dumpy megalomaniac would sit next to him in the halls of Google honor. Hemingway, veteran of World War I, observer of the Spanish Civil War (an activity which spawned one of my favorite books), and unofficial participant in World War II, dreamed of a future where the Commander-in-Chief would be an orange fascist toad in an ill-fitting sack suit, digitally chained to the side of his portrait, and that was an objective too far, a mission he would not dare undertake.

When the old dubya dubya aye aye broke out, Ernie was too old and overweight to join the military again, but he was Ernest Fucking Hemingway so they gave him a uniform and let him tag along. This was no Geraldo Rivera shit, like waving a pistol around and leaking positions to the enemy while the Third Infantry Division slaughtered ill-equipped Iraqis. No, Ernie was a goddamned professional. He read maps and had a keen knack for the lay of the land. He was rumored to have his own band of resistance fighters in France, and he was handy enough to be awarded the Bronze Star for navigation. Thing is, I’m pretty sure they don’t give that out just for finding shit. The only thing he found was the trigger of an M1 carbine, and then some bullets found a few Nazi faces. All on the down-low, of course. This was decades before Blackwater. Back then you had to be sworn in to murder foreigners.

Mark Twain wasn’t happy to be nĂºmero tres, but I’ll ascribe no visions to him. Something about Ol’ Sammy is too sacred for me to warg into him (possess, sorry, Game of Thrones) and marionette his old bones around. Perhaps it would be fitting, as he once confessed to being so frustrated with Jane Austen’s prose that he would have liked to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own femur. I love period drama as much as the next guy (Poldark, baby), but that little anecdote never fails to amuse me.

As an observer of the American Civil War, abolitionist, anti-imperialist, civil rights activist (what a swell guy!), and arguably a socialist (Hellen Keller fans represent), I have no doubts as to what he’d say about Donnie Dumpo. As for my swill, I’d be terrified to know he had gazed upon it. I wonder how he’d receive the fine art of shitposting? He’d declare it bdelygmia, perhaps. Apodioxis? Entirely. Abominatio! Well, if you say so.

Nah, he’d have plenty to write about Dear Leader if he didn’t request it be locked up for a century before it was published. Sammy dear didn’t always like to insult shitbirds right to their face. Remove Donnie from second place, first loser, and you’re left with the Sam and Ernie show, which includes an interesting little timeline overlap of eleven years.

I’ll go ahead and point out the obvious, which is to write a series of stories featuring crotchety old Mark Twain and young boy Ernie Hemingway. Sam would pass on his knowledge and wisdom while experiencing the world anew, through the eyes of a child, as they adventure across the globe. It would feel a bit like Young Indiana Jones, except you’d have a Doc & Marty/Rick & Morty dynamic.

At press time, Google has repaired this fatal flaw. The results are all old grayscale white guys and Stephen King looking like someone stretched flesh over a skull (this is the very definition of a face but look at him and you’ll know what I mean). This isn’t as it should be, but step one is getting the orange menace out of the lineup. The man hasn’t ever written anything longer than a tweet. Just ask his oldest ghostwriters, who worked for him before Donnie figured out what a non-disclosure agreement was.

If I had his funds and an army of people willing to slave over hot laptops and slap my name on the manuscript, I’d do much better books than how-to-be-a-sociopath guides and capitalist wankfests. You’d have the Adventures of Sam & Ernie, and more. Unfortunately, this isn’t that universe. It’s two steps over from Lex Luthorland, right below Kanye Westworld.

Trump Youth

Yesterday one of the employees of Golden Grotto, a decades-old costume and novelty store here in Jonesboro, Arkansas, reported that a couple of teenagers came in and asked if they sold swastika armbands or Nazi memorabilia. The employee replied in the negative, and the boys left the store and climbed into their vehicle, which was, surprise surprise, covered with Confederate flags and Trump stickers.

This only scratches the surface of disturbing current events, even locally, but it vexes me because I don’t know what I’d do in a similar situation. For the sake of my family, my wife and three children who have health insurance provided by my employer, I’d have to bite my tongue off. Like it or not, the day of reckoning shall arrive. I’ll be forced to be uncomfortable and weigh my security versus the liberty of others, and I hope I’ll pick my battles wisely. Like Mom always says, “Is this the ditch you want to die in today?” 

They, the crude ones, are emboldened by our President’s irresponsible rhetoric. Just yesterday I saw yet another brave Arkansan write, “Muslims are made in outhouses,” on a friend’s Facebook wall. At that point, when someone equates over a billion people to excrement, there’s nothing to say in response but, “Hey, fuck you, buddy.” How am I supposed to argue up from doo doo? 

Maybe it’s a bit more convenient now that the sickness, the plague of bigotry that festered in American brains, presents more obvious symptoms. You can’t fight what you can’t see, and you don’t have to spend as long vetting people if they wear their hatred on their sleeve.

It is a mistake, however, to make zombies of all the opposition. It cannot be so binary. For every Neo-nazi teenager and shitposting steakhouse fan (I don’t know why, but every time this happens, motherfucker’s profile pics are inevitably a mix of right wing propaganda and photos of restaurants where you throw peanut shells on the floor), there’s a downtrodden businessman or a Proud Christian Grandmother. There has to be some way to triage this outbreak. 

The left has failed the poor. They’ve absolutely abandoned the worker. I’m not surprised that these kids are picking up the old-and-busted new hotness of Fascism. Cheetoe Mussoli talks shit like a pro, and every high school veteran knows the head shit-talker is always right. 

Well, maybe not right, but at least they’re the winner

When those Trump Youth walk in here, I hope I can provide a teaching moment. I pray to chaos and the void that the nothing, or whatever malevolent power has tossed us into Pandemonium like a bored kid burning down his SimCity, will give me the strength and the fortitude to channel Saint Fred Rogers.

Believe it or not, I’m a lover, not a fighter. I want this to be okay. I want to like them just the way they are, Fred, but when they’re asking for armbands?

I’m going to need your help, Fred. I don’t know how.

Reefer Madness

Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert, who could not be more aptly named unless he was Jason Genocideopolis, is at it again.

This morning while I hurtled toward Bono, Arkansas, my radio was tuned to the local NPR affiliate, KASU, and I had the distinct pleasure of catching the argumentative stylings of Senator Rapert. Oh boy. What a show.

I cringed at first, then slowly sank into acceptance as his barking drowned out my previous political obsession, which had been that Seal Team Six recently crashed an Osprey (Enclave/Vertibird for you Fallout fans) into Yemen, hopped out, and murdered a bunch of women and children, including an eight-year-old American girl. I had planned on crafting a rage post about why no one is talking about the goddamned horrendous Forever War, but Rapert’s hot coughing idiocy reverberated from my 2003 F150 factory speakers and melted that idea into the shit slough of all my other concerns, which bubble at the base of my brain and periodically produce skull-splitting headaches.

This guy’s claim to fame is his repeated submission of anti-abortion bills, which either get defeated, vetoed by the governor, or passed and declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, costing Arkansas taxpayers thousands of dollars.

He may be just as notorious for his hard-line stance against LGBT rights, same-sex marriage, and the ability of same-sex couples to adopt. Perhaps he should be even more reviled for his statements on minorities (which, as you will see, include the aforementioned groups and others), such as, “We the majority grant you rights by choice,” and, “We’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in,” you people being a group of Tea Partiers he addressed while standing in front of a Gadsden flag.

Wait, his actual claim to fame is threatening to shoot one of his constituents in a Lowe’s parking lot for asking him a fair question about his horrific opinions.

We have the best legislators in Arkansas, just the greatest. We’re also the home of United States Senator (and future President) Captain Tom Cotton, The Boy Who Doesn’t Understand the Constitution, but I digress. This isn’t the Bob and Tom Show, yet. (Did you know the senate offices have fax machines? They do. The numbers are publicly available, and unlike voice mailboxes, which can get full, or letters, which have to be scanned and irradiated, taking weeks to deliver, faxes go through.)

Rapert was interviewed today by a nice guy who let him drone on for way too long without interjecting, but I am grateful. If he’d not allowed J-Rape to take over the airwaves, I wouldn’t have posted this brilliant essay on superstitious white supremacist Arkansas lawmakers who craft draconian legislation.

His most recent effort is an attempt to amend our recent medical marijuana amendment and nullify the will of the people. There was a bit of controversy last November when two competing medical marijuana issues made it onto the ballot. Issue 7 allowed for much more liberty with regard to cultivation and sales, and Issue 6 formed a cartel run by the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control Board. Guess which issue got struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court after early voting had already started? Every vote counts, right?

Issue 6 ultimately passed, and the citizens of Arkansas started subscribing to High Times and knocking down bookstore doors in search of Weed Encyclopedias.  Little did they know (because practically no one read the actual text of the ballot issue), only a handful of cultivators would be allowed. Furthermore, state lawmakers have set astronomical licensing fees to keep Ganja Joe with his drug rug and white man dreads out of the business. If it survives Rapert, the industry is going to be run by old white rich dudes who haven’t smoked reefer since the Jolly Green Giants were napalming hamlets in ‘Nam.

Mr. Rapert’s reasoning is that cultivation and sale of marijuana is illegal under federal law. He took time to point out all the work he’s done to outlaw abortion, which was then struck down by the United States Supreme Court. He also made sure to mention how he’d railed against LGBT rights and been overridden on a national level. “You can’t pick and choose what to enforce,” he said. He claims he’s protecting the citizens of Arkansas from interdiction by federal agents. I’m so glad our wonderful public servants always try to keep us safe (with war, deportations, imprisonment, no health care. Government knows best).

Well, my esteemed Senator, you’ve worked your entire career to take rights away from people. All of your machinations have been to increase tyranny. You don’t want women to have control over their own bodies because of your personal religion. You reference the same when you’re discussing the rights of LGBT people and minorities in Arkansas. Your efforts have always been to solidify the rule of the straight, white, religious right, because the majority rules, in your opinion, when it comes to civil rights.

I’m no Constitutional scholar, but it’s my opinion that the Federal Government’s job is to set a baseline of rights and privileges afforded to Americans, and the states are then free to add to those liberties as their citizens see fit, not tyrannically nullify them. I hear there’s still a U.S. Supreme Court seat open, and I’m available, folks. Just give me a little jingle on the jangle.

In the specific case of marijuana, it is federally illegal, but the majority of states have now either decriminalized it, passed medical provisions for it, or fully legalized it. The states often lead the way when it comes to the rights of Americans (or the destruction thereof by right wing legislatures) and are we now saying we want a more powerful Federal Government? I thought Republicans were in favor of states’ rights? What happened to all these spiels about Big Government? I thought the majority ruled, Jason? Didn’t the majority of Arkansans just vote for medical marijuana?

His points are all massive contradictions because they’re fucking bullshit. People like Jason Rapert are religious despots who foment tyranny in attempt to yield theocracy. That’s the common thread. Hold it as you walk away and all the bluster about federal law unravels to reveal vast disregard for the separation of church and state. It’s not hard to observe the states where legislatures work for the people, and then compare them to states where tin pot dictators have formed banana republics. North Carolina has recently fallen to the march of that drum, and hellishly red states like Arkansas aren’t far behind.

While this isn’t such a huge deal now, in the grand scheme of things, it’s one more stone tied around the neck of our drowning democracy. I’ve long ago given up hope for holding public office. I’m way too big a fan of cusswords and hyperbole. I’ll yell about these assholes all fucking day, though, and as long as Southern Democrats keep running milquetoast DINO Southern Baptists and greasy one-issue nincompoops against Sons of Confederate Veterans and theocrat demagogues, they’re going to lose, hard, every time, then we all lose.