The Scourge of Graham-Cassidy

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You’d think that Republican politicians at Capitol Hill would know by now that taking people’s healthcare away for whatever reason is as morally reprehensible as it is unpopular. But as soon as Congress is back in session, a group of Republican US Senators introduce this Graham-Cassidy legislation which is seen as the last Obamacare repeal bill left standing. The US Senate has until the end of the month to vote on this bill. In many ways, Graham-Cassidy is strikingly similar to earlier Trumpcare bills. But it’s also could be the most radical plan yet, drafted in secrecy without the usual committee hearings and markups. Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy are rushing this legislation to the floor under the special “budget reconciliation which allows the bill to advance with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60. So far, it faces long odds that some of its backers said it would be almost impossible to get a massive rewrite of the healthcare system through the Senate within that period of time. And even if it passes, it could take the Congressional Budget Office could take several weeks to estimate Graham-Cassidy’s impact. That means we may have no idea how many Americans will lose their health insurance, how much premiums would increase, how much the deficit will increase, how much it will increase costs, and other impacts on the US economy. Still, keep in mind that it took only took 3 Republican US Senators to kill Obamacare repeal in July so anything’s possible. Even worse is that US Senator John McCain is open to supporting it. And remember, he was the deciding vote to sink Trumpcare back in July. Nonetheless, Graham-Cassidy’s impact can be potentially devastating to 1/6 of the US economy as well as millions of Americans.

Regardless of you think, it is morally unconscionable to introduce legislation designed to take away people’s healthcare for any reason, especially politics. Every Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has meant higher costs, millions of hard-working Americans losing their insurance, and key protections gutted with devastating consequences for anyone with pre-existing conditions. Should Graham-Cassidy be made law, millions will lose their insurance, thousands will face bankruptcy and loss in quality of life, hundreds of jobs will be lost, hospitals and medical facilities will close, costs will rise, and many will die from not getting the treatment they needed to save their lives. There will be more abortions, more maternal and infant deaths, more deaths and disabilities from gun violence, more ravaged communities, and more opioid overdose deaths. Most of all, it will threaten the health security for every American. This isn’t the kind of healthcare future most Americans want to live in and I will absolutely not stand for it.

The fact my access to Medicaid in the next decade may depend a few GOP Senators’ votes just scares the living shit out of me. It’s appalling enough that I have to live under a for-profit healthcare system I strongly believe has no moral right to exist. If I lose my Medicaid coverage, it’s very likely I may never be able to get health coverage that’s just as good or at all. Why the hell should I have my healthcare taken away from me just so some rich guy can enjoy some massive tax cut he doesn’t even need? I can’t live with that. I shouldn’t have to live with that. I shouldn’t have to lose my healthcare just so the Republican Party can satisfy their donors and voters. My healthcare shouldn’t be sacrificed to fulfill some market-based conservative vision that won’t benefit me. My autism shouldn’t reduce my own humanity to a financial risk. I’d rather pay taxes for someone else’s healthcare treatment I may not even need than be dropped from my coverage due politicians’ selfish interests.

As I’ve said before, the Republicans’ war on Obamacare must end. Graham-Cassidy is just mere malicious cruelty that robs Americans of their dignity and possibly their life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Healthcare is a fundamental right the federal government should protect for all Americans. Corporations, politicians, and employers shouldn’t decide who has access to healthcare, especially Republicans on Capitol Hill. Nobody should be denied treatment if they’re sick or injured regardless of whether they can afford it or who has to pay for it. If a medical treatment can save someone’s life, then nothing else should matter. If you believe otherwise, then you can just go to hell for all I care.

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What Graham-Cassidy does:

1. Shift Medicaid funding and insurance subsidies to a block grant system: Instead of determining the federal government’s share of funding for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and individual insurance subsidies, states would receive large chunks of money up front and determine what to do with it. For instance, they could spend it on providing insurance, fund high risk pools, or pay bills for patients with high medical needs. But there is no accountability for how this money is spent, won’t adjust based on need or higher costs, nor requires offering low and moderate income individuals coverage or financial assistance. Nevertheless, this system literally takes money from states that expanded Medicaid and gives it to states that didn’t. For those that did, their block grant funding could be anywhere from 35-60% below what they’d receive in the Medicaid expansion and/or marketplace subsidy funding under the current law. It would also would make it much more expensive for states to continue Obamacare if they like it. In fact, most states if not all would have to use the bill’s so-called “flexibility” to eliminate or cut coverage and financial assistance to low or moderate income people. Many states would likely do one or more of the following: cap enrollment; offer very limited benefits; charge unaffordable premiums, deductibles, and co-payments; redirect federal funding from providing coverage to other purposes, like reimbursing hospitals for uncompensated care; and limit assistance to fixed dollar amounts that put coverage out of reach for most low- to moderate- income people. Millions would lose coverage. Rural hospitals that receive more of their income from the ACA and Medicaid will be disproportionately hurt. In addition, to get this money, states would have to kick in some of their funds, too. And that block grant funding will end in 2026.

2. Convert Medicaid’s current federal-state partnership to a per-capita cap: This could cut Medicaid per-beneficiary funding for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children. This could result in states having to raise taxes, cut other budget priorities like education, or make severe cuts to eligibility, benefits, and provider payments. Home- and community- based services allowing people needing long term services and supports to remain in their homes rather than move to an assisted living facilities could be cut in many states. These and other “optional” benefits to states under federal law could be at greatest risk. Moreover, the gap between federal funding under the per-capita cap and states’ actual funding needs would grow even larger if Medicaid costs grow more quickly than expected in ways the cap doesn’t account for. Over time, this will not only leave Medicaid underfunded and way less responsive to low-income people’s health needs.

3. Allow states to adjust the essential health benefits: Currently the federal government mandates that all plans sold on the Obamacare exchanges cover 10 basic types of care, including maternity care, emergency room visits, prescription drugs, mental health coverage, rehabilitative services, and substance abuse treatment. Under this proposal, states could significantly pare back their insurance coverage to cover less expensive benefits. We should not that before the ACA, 75% of all individual market plans excluded maternity coverage, 45% excluded substance abuse treatment, and 38% excluded mental health care. This could lead many people without access to the healthcare they need, especially if they have a pre-existing condition. According to the CBO, states accounting for half of the nation’s population would choose to let insurers exclude essential health benefits. People needing these services could face increased out of pocket costs that could amount to thousands of dollars per year.

4. Eliminate or weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to waive the ACA’s underwriting prohibition: Underwriting allows insurance plans to charge premiums to expected health costs of a specific patient. Thus, resulting in low premiums for the young and healthy and high premiums for those sicker or older. Obamacare bans varying premiums by health status and required all individuals to be charged the same. Because before the ACA, insurers could charge unaffordable premiums to those with pre-existing conditions which effectively resulted in coverage denial. In the US, 52% of adults under 65 have a pre-existing condition. According to the CBO, states accounting for 1/6 of the nation’s population would let insurers charge higher premiums based on health status. In those states, less healthy individuals and people with pre-existing conditions would be unable to purchase comprehensive coverage with premiums close to those under the current law and might not be able to purchase coverage at all.

5. Eliminate the individual and employer mandate: People who don’t sign up for insurance won’t face a tax under the plan and companies can’t be compelled to offer coverage. This can result in hundreds of Americans losing their employee health benefits at work. Not to mention, destabilize and risk collapse of the individual market.

6. Creates a state reinsurance fund: Allocates a certain amount of money to insurers to offset greater losses from insuring a sicker pool of people. This is known as a high-risk pool which will most likely be underfunded, charge expensive coverage, and provide terrible coverage for low-income people with pre-existing conditions.

7. Bars states from reimbursing Planned Parenthood for Medicaid enrollees for a year: Thus, preventing Medicaid recipients from accessing preventative health and family planning services. This will leave millions of Americans without access to critical services, particularly low-income women. Of course, you probably saw this coming since many Republicans are staunchly anti-abortion. Still, one’s abortion stance shouldn’t prevent women from getting a pap smear, breast cancer screening, or contraceptives, especially if Planned Parenthood is the only provider in town.

8. Lifts prohibition against annual and lifetime limits on benefits: This can be particularly devastating to premature babies, those with disabilities, the rare disease community, and cancer patients.

9. Allows states to institute work requirements for Medicaid: Studies have shown instituting work requirements for benefits doesn’t alleviate poverty. In fact, work requirements exacerbated it. Stable employment among recipients subject to work requirements proved the exception, not the norm. In addition, most recipients with significant barriers to employment never found work even after participating in work programs otherwise deemed successful. This is especially the case when such programs don’t support efforts to boost beneficiaries’ efforts and skills. Nevertheless, voluntary employment programs could significantly increase employment without the negative impacts ending basic assistance for individuals unable to meet mandatory work requirements.

10. Nearly doubles maximum contributions to Health Savings Accounts: Called HSAs, these are tax advantaged accounts for those enrolled in a high deductible healthcare plan. Proponents think HSAs encourage consumers to make more cost-effective and responsible healthcare decisions. However, they may actually worsen healthcare in the US since people may hold back spending that would be covered, or spend it unnecessarily just because it has accumulated to avoid the penalty taxes for withdrawing it. Not to mention, it’s widely believed they only benefit young, healthy people with money and make healthcare more expensive for everyone else. They’re particularly bad for those with chronic health problems with predictable costs. Besides, low-income people often don’t enough to from the tax breaks HSAs offer. To make matters worse, the FDIC doesn’t insure them since HSAs are subject to market risk. And a lot of surveys found that HSAs recipients are significantly less satisfied with most of its aspects than those with more comprehensive health plans.

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The Inside World of Furniture

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Whether you need to sit, eat, put stuff away, set stuff down, work, sleep, or go to Narnia, then furniture is absolutely essential for your day to day living. After all, without furniture, we’d just carry on our daily lives in empty rooms with only the floor to conduct our activities on, which is neither comfortable or practical. Even our Neolithic cave dwelling ancestors couldn’t live without furniture 30,000 years ago and they survived without agriculture. Sure the earliest furniture pieces were made from wood, bone, and stone, and no Stone Age pieces exist. But they did depict figures in chairs, according to archaeological evidence. The Neolithic village of Skara Brae in Scotland’s Orkney Islands contains some of the oldest surviving furniture with each house equipped with stone cupboards, beds, dressers, shelves, seats, and even limpet tanks. If they had stone electronics, appliances, and foot motion cars, you’d almost think these people lived like the Flintstones. More complex techniques such as joinery first appear in the early dynastic period of Ancient Egypt with mostly wooden pieces, some decorated precious metals and ivory. Ancient Greece and Rome followed suit with the klinai, a multipurpose couch you can eat, relax, and sleep in. Go into a furniture store today and you’ll find all kinds of styles and in many materials. Home furniture usually consists of wood and upholstery (save for beds which can be wood or metal). Office furniture is normally composed of metal and plastic. Then there’s IKEA furniture which can be made from anything though you’d have to put it together yourself. Still, as with anything else, you’ll find some odd pieces here and there which is where I come in. So for your reading pleasure, I give you an assortment of unique furniture you wouldn’t find in a store, including IKEA. Enjoy.

  1. How about a chair that branches out?

Sure it looks as if it was cut off straight from a tree with its bark shaved off. But come on, do you think it was really made that way?

2. May you have a seat in this little teacup.

It’s a teacup chair you can sit in. The handle is on top. Wonder if you can lift it like that. Maybe if you’re a giant.

3. You might have a swinging good time if you sat at this table during a meeting.

Yes, it sure looks fun since the chairs are all swings. And the swings are in all different colors.

4. A strung up bed doesn’t touch the floor.

However, don’t weigh it down much that the ropes snap. Though the look quite delicate to me in this picture.

5. Now your little girl can have her own loft bed and playhouse.

Resembles a quaint little cottage. Has a bed on top and some cushions on the bottom.

6. This china cabinet appears slightly askew.

Well, it certainly has a strong personality. Though it was carved slightly lopsided like that.

7. This couch comes with some extra padding.

Just rest your back on the cushions on this one. Maybe that’s a little high for a couch.

8. A hotdog couch is perfect for any indoor barbecue.

Comprises of a bun couch with a hotdog cushion along with tomato and cucumber slice pillows. Great tasty fun if you want to kick back and relax.

9. Finally a mattress specifically made for any sleeper’s needs.

Okay, maybe not since it’s in the form of a side sleeper. But you’d have to admire the creativity on this.

10. No living room is complete without an overhead bookcase.

Includes a ladder you can use to find books and lights to read them. You can even put houseplants on top.

11. Check out this flowery chair.

Kind of resembles a morning glory. Wonder what sitting on it feels like.

12. Seems like someone had an accident on this table.

Actually, that spill is made from wood attached to it. But yes, it certainly seems like a mess.

13. How about you kick back and relax in this burger chair?

Includes a bun frame, a burger cushion, and pickle and tomato slice pillows. Goes with the hotdog couch.

14. Perhaps you can make your own bathroom shelf.

This is hung from a towel rack with shower hooks. Yet, holds what you need.

15. For young recruits, boot camp starts at an early age.

If your son likes Vietnam War movies, this is the bed for him. Even has a ladder, porch, and slide.

16. Not sure whether to call this flowery or geometric.

Sure it has a flowery shape on the top. But its stand is a silver ring.

17. Try solving this Rubik’s Cube.

Actually you can’t since the jumbled blocks have drawers. But you can put your clothes in it.

18. You’d think this chair was all folded.

Well, at least the fabric is. Not sure how you can sit on this one.

19. A cabinet like this can make a rather interesting conversation piece.

Yes, it doesn’t look very practical. Unless you live on Middle Earth. Though it’s quite interesting to see that I couldn’t ignore it.

20. You might find your inner piece in this chair.

Yes, it’s in an Indian style. And yes, it has human legs and hands. Not sure what the hand signs stand for.

21. Someone must’ve recycled some very large guitar to make this table.

Actually that’s not the case. But if you have a rocking living room, it’s a must have.

22. How about a cassette coffee table in your living room?

For my younger viewers, before we had CDs and MP3 players, we used to listen to music on these things. Ask anyone who grew up during the 1980s and 1990s.

23. You’d almost think this table was made from work shop scraps.

And in a way it seems to be. But it does make a wonderful art piece, doesn’t it? Also got a lot of legs.

24. There’s nothing more cozy than a nest bed.

Basically consists of a bird’s nest frame with pillows resembling eggs. Makes you want to go straight to sleep.

25. In this bed, your little one can now sleep in a box.

Even has some openings to get in and out as well as a couple of windows. Also has wallpaper inside.

26. A large hollow tree trunk should make adequate chair arms.

Okay, they’re kind of assembled. But they certainly seem fit for a rustic cabin or lodge.

27. You’ll find this couch a bit up a wall, so to speak.

Yes, it’s a couch. Sure it you may not be able to sit on one of its sides. But it’s a couch.

28. I now introduce you to the ultimate book lover’s chair.

It’s practically surrounded by books on the edges. So you can spend hours reading Harry Potter.

29. If you love bacon, then you can’t resist having this for a breakfast table.

Not sure why they have to have bacon stuff. But at least it doesn’t smell like it. I hope.

30. You can easily roll up this chair any time.

Yes, it resembles Dr. Seuss patio furniture. But it’ll certainly look great anywhere.

31. You’d almost be on hand and foot in this chair.

It’s a wooden chair with a hand seat and a foot stand. Great for Halloween. Too creepy for anything else.

32. You’ll have books all around on this chair.

At least it has all your books where you want them. It’s a book lover’s dream.

33. You’d almost think this table was dripping.

You’d almost think it was made from paint. But that’s actually plastic.

34. Any kid would certainly monkey around in this jungle bunk bed.

Includes a house, a ladder, and trees. Bet the little monkey goes on the top.

35. You can always hang around in a hammock on the porch.

You can even have all your friends on this hammock couch if you want to. But hope the ropes don’t snap.

36. Any evil overlord would die for this wicked chair.

Yes, it’s certainly a throne a villain would love. Still, got to like the spikes.

37. You can always cuddle up in a baked potato bean bag chair.

It’s even filled with sour cream and chives. The butter pillow is great.

38. This playhouse bed is a little girl’s dream.

Sure it’s another playhouse bed. But it’s in vibrant colors as well as has shutters and stairs.

39. This armchair is all wiry.

I don’t think this chair is made for sitting. Looks too delicate and uncomfortable.

40. You’d almost think this chair sprouted from the ground.

It’s supposed to look that way. But come on, no tree grows like that.

41. This chair is all legs.

I know what you’re thinking. And yes, it’s sick. The high heels really don’t help.

42. In this bed you can wake up in the trees.

Makes you feel like you’re in an enchanted forest. Even if it’s just your bedroom. But at least you’ll run no risk of contracting Lyme Disease.

43. For patio furniture, may I recommend a grassy couch?

Though you might not want to sit on it in the morning. Or after it rains. Or at night. Or after mowing the lawn.

44. Hope this couch can give you a hand.

Okay, the couch consists of large hand cushions. Yes, it’s creepy and the color is atrocious. But it’s unique so it goes on the post.

45. A scorpion chair will always impress.

I’m sure this is a perfect armchair for a supervillain. Looks really sinister.

46. A car front table is stylish for any retro living room.

There’s a line of furniture made out of car parts. This uses the front of a Rolls Royce.

47. Bet you’ve never seen this rocking chair.

It’s a rocking chair wheel. More of a modern concept design. Yeah, I know. Doesn’t look quite right.

48. This bench is getting really unraveled.

Yes, it’s an art piece. Because of course, you wouldn’t sit on the thing. If you saw a bench like this in a park, you’d wonder if you’re on acid.

49. You’d almost think this chair was full of spikes.

Not a chair you’d want at your dinner table. But very interesting to see nonetheless.

50. You’d almost think this dresser was her friend.

Sure it can only hold her things. But it’s nevertheless adorable with its arms and legs. Wait a minute.

51. You’ll totally rave about this woolen stool.

Well, it’s a ball of yarn with legs that’s a stool. Keep it away from cats.

52. An office should always have desk that’s a fish tank.

Great for waiting rooms, especially dental offices. Then again, maybe not.

53. You’d be amazed with this rose on this chair back.

Though I’m not sure if that would fit in my living room. But the red rose is incredibly gorgeous.

54. This wicker couch will give you wonderful shade outdoors.

Wouldn’t mind having this in my patio. Yet, the top has a giant wooden spike.

55. This dragon throne would make anyone look like a badass.

Game of Thrones fans must be reeling at this one. Perfect for any Mother of Dragons.

56. This red car desk is a real show on the road.

Perfect for any mechanic’s office or auto dealership. I’m sure anyone would like the shiny red hood.

57. Heard of a VW microbus? How about a VW pool table?

Though it kind of looks pretty lame so to speak. Also, I’m not a fan of pool either.

58. You’d feel you fall asleep in the forest in this bed.

Well, it’s more of a fantasy scape. But it has a large trunk at the base with lily pad steps.

59. You can never take your eyes off this rosy chair.

Has a green frame and rose cushions with leafy arms. So pretty.

60. How about a couch with its own lights?

Yes, it’s a rather weird design. But a reader will surely enjoy it. If they’re not keen on aesthetics.

61. If you like swimming with the sharks, you might want this bed.

Well, it has the shark on the bottom. Sure it looks awesome. But is probably expensive as hell.

62. A cutlery chair is perfect for any dining room.

Has a spoon seat and a fork back. Goes with a plate table with knife legs.

63. Any car girl would adore a pink Cadillac bed.

Yes, you’re a fan of Grease, you will want this bed. Though it’s not meant for beauty school dropouts.

64. This is a horned throne that Satan could love.

Yes, you can totally see Satan sitting on this nice leather chair in the fiery ravages of Hell. After all, the horns are especially quite wicked.

65. Any outdoorsy kid would relish in sleeping under a tent.

But at least you don’t have to brave the elements, animals, or the mosquitoes. Has a shade opening and white balls hanging from the roof.

66. Any little girl would enjoy sleeping in this quaint cottage.

Yes, it’s another playhouse bed. But it has drawer steps and flower baskets. So pretty.

67. Sit in this chair and you’ll have a library on the side.

Well, the shelf is on the side. And the chair looks really comfy.

68. A Swan Princess just has to sleep in this swan bed.

I actually saw this one at Maymont a couple years ago. There’s also a vanity and chair made out of narwhal horn.

69. I’m sure some people fantasize sleeping in the bed of a truck.

Okay, it’s a truck bed you can sleep in. But at least you don’t have to worry about rolling over.

70. Perhaps you can sit and rest easy in this wooden hanger chair.

You’d almost think this would be appropriate for a chiropractor’s office. Yes, hangers can certainly pass for vertabrae.

71. Seems like this bookcase is a bit lopsided.

Don’t worry, it was constructed that way. Also, it has legs to keep it standing.

72. Outside you can seat yourself on a moss covered stool.

Then again, it could be grass. Don’t know the difference between the two sometimes.

73. You can really spell it out on these Scrabble couches.

Like how the tiles are pillows. And each couch resembles a tile slot.

74. Apparently, this vanity really wants to make an impression.

Has a rather whimsical quality to it. Like how they used books balance the legs.

75. A real snake would surely enjoy this cobra chair.

I’m sure you’d find this at Uncle Monty’s place. Too bad he died to the dismay of the Baudelaire orphans in The Reptile Room.

76. How about a car sofa for two?

Seems like it’s a Volkswagen bug with two seats. And yes, it’s attached to the wall.

77. You can have a colorful chair with pom poms.

Well, certainly makes a colorful addition. Wouldn’t mind having this in my house.

78. You’d always find your type with these kinds of stools.

Yes, it’s set up like a typewriter. But you won’t see any letters on the brick wall if you sit on them.

79. Keep your books neat and tidy on this teacup shelf.

Each shelf is a teacup stacked on another. A cute addition for any little girl’s room.

80. This looks like a job for Bookman!

Yes, it’s a bookshelf guy. Not sure how I could put it in a living room.

81. You can feel like royalty sitting in this zebra throne.

Aren’t zebras supposed to be endangered? Then again, this is probably an old chair. Like the plume.

82. Someone must’ve done something to this chest of drawers.

Actually, it’s designed that way as an art piece. So you can’t put your clothes in it.

83. Any Gladiator fan would want to sit on this Coliseum seat.

Okay, it looks pretty cheap as an Ancient Roman merch rip off. But it sure appears comfy.

84. This chaise seems to have a whole world spilling from it.

Wouldn’t want to be one of the tiny people living on this piece. Though it’s pretty impressive.

85. Perhaps you might want fries with this bed.

Well, this consist of fry pillows you can put in the back. Though I don’t think they’re very comfortable.

86. You can hold lots of things on this tree shelf.

Sure it may not hold a lot of stuff. But it certainly has a whimsical quality to it.

87. You can have lots of fun in this book bed.

Well, the bed is on one side. The drawing figures are on the other below the comforter.

88. You can have your own table without legs.

Resembles a floating table you’d find at a haunted house. Great for Halloween.

89. You’d think this bed is a real rollercoaster.

Yes, this is a long bed. Not sure how you sleep on it. Not sure if I want to know.

90. A little princess has to sleep in her own fairy tale castle.

Sure it’s all pretty in pink. But what little princess wouldn’t want to it in their castle?

91. You’d almost think these chairs are part of the table.

I’m sure this is more of an art piece than actual furniture. But somehow I just want to sit on one of the chairs to see what it’s like.

92. Check out the feet on this bedside table.

Now that’s tacky as hell. I mean why should its feet consist of feet in high heeled shoes? Why?

93. You’d almost think a beaver did a number on this chest of drawers.

Don’t worry. It’s an art piece. But this little girl loves posing with it.

94. There are no bones about this skeletal chair.

Weird how they have skulls on the seat. Perfect for Halloween but incredibly creepy.

95. You might just turn a new leaf in this chair.

Seems like a chair you’d put in a daycare center. But it certainly has its charm.

96. There’s nothing more romantic like sleeping on a gondola.

So it’s a gondola couch but same rule applies. Even has its own umbrella.

97. These dining chairs are always together.

After all, they’re a couple at a fancy dress ball. And no, you can’t sit on them.

98. You’d definitely find these chairs quite eggscellent.

Yes, these are egg chairs. And no you can’t scramble them and sit on them over easy. Egg tables included.

99. Kick back your feet on this ice cream sandwich ottoman.

At least it won’t melt when it gets warm. Also, has fine cushioning for your desires.

100. You’ll be happy as a clam in this shell bed.

Yes, you can sleep like you’re a mermaid in the ocean. Except you’ll breathe air and not get wet.

A Cancer on the Local News: The Insidious Nature of the Sinclair Broadcast Group

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You may have noticed how some of my blog posts on the media usually consist of me attacking conservative media outlets like Fox News, Breitbart, and Info Wars. However, understand that I didn’t attack these outlets solely for spouting conservative views alone. Rather, I’ve attacked them due to their stunning lack of journalistic ethics, propensity to spread misinformation, derogatory stereotypes, peddling conspiracy theories, and blatant disregard for the truth when it suits them. Not to mention, the fact these outlets have been so prolific and influential in the media landscape. However, I have to concede that these three media outlets have audiences who know what they’re getting.

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This is a map from the New York Times depicting Sinclair’s reach. The green dots represent the markets where the company has a station. The orange ones represent where Tribune owns one. If Sinclair gets its way, 233 local stations can be under its wing.

This isn’t the case with audience who watch the local news on a station owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Called “the most dangerous company most Americans haven’t heard of,” Sinclair is possibly the largest TV station operator in the United States. Owning and/or operating a total of 173 stations across the country covering over 100 markets, this conglomerate reaches 40% of all American households, many of which are located in the South and Midwest along with small and medium sized cities. Thus, it had already hit the 39% cap imposed by the Federal Communications Commission which should’ve effectively barred the company from further acquisitions. But today, the Sinclair Broadcast Group is set to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. The deal is expected to receive FCC approval sometime soon. If Sinclair gets its way, its media empire could cover nearly 72% of the US and an average viewership of 2.2 million households. Some of these Tribune stations are already in markets where a Sinclair one exists. At any rate, it could result in Sinclair creating a media oligarchy in the broadcast television industry with 233 stations under its wing. After all, Sinclair has expanded drastically over the last 2½ decades since it went from owning 3 stations in the early 1990s to 59 in less than a decade. By 2014, its local station ownership had tripled to 162. Still, it’s widely expected that Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Media will be approved thanks to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reinstating the archaic “UHF discount” which allows broadcasters to understate their overall reach. In the meantime, the company has faced criticism over circumventing concentration in media ownership rules, particularly in using local marketing agreements and similar arrangements to take over stations on behalf of preferred third parties. It’s no surprise that so many progressive groups have expressed opposition to the sale. But so have conservative media outlets like Newsmax, The Blaze, and One America News Network perhaps fearing the competition. Though their motives may not be pure, they have a point when they speak about diversity and independence. After all, a larger Sinclair operation would chip into the market for right wing news as well as further diminish media access already dominated by a handful of players thanks to years of media consolidation.

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Sinclair is notorious for trying to inject right wing propaganda into their local news broadcasts. One must-run segment is “Terror Alert Desk” which is mostly devoted to demonizing Muslims than discussing terrorism. Don’t expect any commentary on Charlottesville or white supremacist violence on this segment any time soon.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group has also faced significant scrutiny over promoting its conservative agenda within a news format that’s supposed to be apolitical: local news programming. The company’s stations have been known for featuring news content and programming that promote conservative political positions and have been involved in various controversies surrounding politically motivated programming decisions. From the early 2000s, Sinclair has infected local news coverage with politically-charged programming and turning local news stations into partisan outlets. The company is also known for pushing heavy partisan commentary in the lead-up to elections, often favoring Republican candidates. And it has received plenty of criticism for critical content of Democratic candidates during each presidential election since 2004. Most recently, Sinclair made headlines for striking a deal with Jared Kushner to give positive press to the Trump campaign while heavily criticizing Hillary Clinton. Now promoting their political agenda wouldn’t be much of a problem if Sinclair confined their bias on DC-produced segments, commentary shows, or attack ads. However, what Sinclair does on local news is far more insidious. And since more Americans place high value on their local news, it has become a perfect tool for the company to inject their right-wing propaganda.

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Sinclair regularly produces conservative propaganda pieces before distributing them to their stations like this Mark Hyman’s “Behind the Headlines” commentary bit. Called “must-runs,” local stations are required to air them in their broadcasts. While they may not always feature commentary, they’re nevertheless inflammatory, misleading, and certainly inappropriate for a local newscast.

One practice that stands for are Sinclair’s infamous “must-run” segments. These segments are short pieces of political commentary Sinclair produces at their national headquarters that affiliates are required to air. Every day, Sinclair mandates its stations to air specific reports, segments, and editorials referred to as “must runs.” Sinclair produces these at its Washington DC headquarters and directs its station managers to work them into the broadcast over a period of 24 to 48 hours. And they mainly consist of conservative propaganda presented as news content. In July 2017, the HBO show Last Week Tonight had John Oliver present clips of various anchors using the exact same script describing the FBI as having a “personal vendetta” against Michael Flynn, clips of Mark Hyman editorials in which he compared multiculturalism and political correctness to a cancer epidemic and stated that marriage was a solution to domestic abuse, and joked that the “Terrorism Alert Desk” segments defined terrorism as “anything a Muslim does.” The show also aired content by former Trump adviser Boris Epstheyn alleging Obama won North Carolina due to voter fraud and a clip blaming the Democratic Party for slavery, Jim Crow, and the Klu Klux Klan. Back in the Bush administration, Sinclair required all its stations to air an editorial segment called “The Point,” which Hyman railed against the “angry left,” and “clueless academia,” dismissed peace activists as “whack jobs,” called the French “cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” and supported a host of right wing initiatives from a national sales tax to Medicare privatization. You might expect such commentary from Breitbart or Fox News that are often inflammatory and misrepresent the facts, not your local station. But this is exactly the kind of content Sinclair tells its stations to run on their local newscasts to promote its right-wing agenda. TV journalists have complained about being forced to run these overly partisan segments because as Oliver noted, “with Sinclair they’re injecting Fox-worthy content into the mouths of your local news anchors, the two people who you know, and who you trust, and whose on-screen chemistry can usually best be described as two people.” In one notable incident following the 9/11 attacks, Sinclair ordered its stations to read editorials praising President George W. Bush’s response. The WBFF staff objected, claiming the endorsement would “undermine public faith in their political objectivity.” It’s very clear Sinclair’s must run segments are a concerted effort to turn your local 6 o’clock broadcast into a little Fox News clone without disclosing it to the public. But when they put these segments into local newscasts, they degrade journalistic standards, abuse viewers’ trust, and blur the lines between news and propaganda. Furthermore, they compromise America’s right to be informed on the matters affecting their lives. Of course, Sinclair executives defend their practices citing how the mainstream media is overwhelmingly liberal and that their pieces provide a counterweight but that’s based on an intellectually dishonest interpretation of what journalism is.

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Remember when Montana GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs? Well, Montana’s NBC affiliate KECI refused to air the audio recording on account that there wasn’t enough facts on the incident. Despite that the audio clearly shows Gianforte started and that 3 local Fox News reporters watched it. It was later found Sinclair had just bought the station and that its vice president and director had donated to Gianforte’s campaign. So figure it out.

Sinclair also dictates how news stations can present some of the local news and programming is presented aside from the “must run” segments and scripts. Even before the Trump administration, Sinclair had a nasty habit of skewing news stories to fit with their conservative vision, censor content, and promote disparaging and very misleading information on Democratic candidates. In 2004, the company ordered its ABC affiliates to not air an episode of Nightline where Ted Koppel listed the names of soldiers killed in the Iraq War. They argued that the broadcast, “[appeared] to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq” and undermined a then-ongoing effort by its Washington bureau to report on positive “untold” stories from Iraq under occupation mainstream media outlets ignored. ABC responded stating that Koppel’s reading was meant to be “an expression of respect which seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country.” And it was a gesture Arizona US Senator John McCain found “deeply offensive.” That same year, tried to air an anti-John Kerry documentary called, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” alleging “that North Vietnamese captors used Kerry’s statements about atrocities committed by American troops during the conflict as an excuse to torture U.S. prisoners of war.” But the Democratic National Committee filed a legal motion with the Federal Election Commission stating it was inappropriate for a media organization to air “partisan propaganda” in the last 10 days of an election campaign. Then-Vice President of Corporate Relations Mark Hyman stated that any network refusing to air the anti-Kerry documentary were “acting like Holocaust deniers.” And when Sinclair’s Washington bureau chief Jon Leiberman called the documentary, “biased political propaganda,” he was promptly fired. As for President Barack Obama, well, Sinclair has linked him to Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers, alleged he raised campaign funds from Hamas and labeled him as a socialist extremist. In 2014, its Baltimore Fox affiliate WBFF according to The Baltimore Sun, “misleadingly edited and aired video of a protest march to make it seem as if protesters were chanting ‘kill a cop.’” In reality, the marchers actually chanted to the lead of Tawanda Jones, “We can’t stop ‘til killer cops are in cell blocks” in a non-violent protest against police brutality. Jones would eventually sue WBFF and Sinclair for defamation the next year. Because after that segment aired, she received death threats, lost community support for her protests, and had been reduced to reclusive behavior. In 2017, Montana’s NBC affiliate KECI refused to air an audio recording of GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte attacking Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. The station denied Sinclair instructing them on handling the Gianforte incident and essentially framed it as an “he said/she said” situation. This despite that the audio recording covers it, Jacobs ended up in the hospital, and 3 Fox News reporters witnessed it. That and Politico later reported that Sinclair’s vice president and director had donated to Gianforte the day after he was charged with the assault. This July, Sinclair affiliate KBOI used a photo of Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKeeson in several stories he had nothing to do with including an attempted robbery in Idaho.

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Here’s a “must run” segment of “Bottom Line with Boris.” A former investment banker who was born in Soviet Russia, Boris Ephsteyn was a Trump crony during the 2016 campaign and in the White House. On his Sinclair segment, he normally parrots Trump White House commentary which stations are required to air 9 times a week.

But Sinclair’s connection with Republican politicians and operatives doesn’t just extend to media coverage. A 2004 study found that 95% of the company’s political contributions went to Republican candidates. The Center of Public Integrity showed concern on Mark Hyman’s history of government lobbying (such as for the FCC to loosen rules regarding media ownership concentration), along with making its stations provide “anything but fair and balanced news programming.” In 2002, the company gave lots of perks like using its luxury helicopter to former congressman Bob Ehrlich during his run for governor of Maryland. Mostly because Ehrlich pressed the FCC to fast-track its request to acquire more stations. In 2007, 9 Sinclair stations aired public affairs shows without disclosing that “host Armstrong Williams had been paid by an affiliate of the Education Department to make favorable comments about the Bush administration’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ policy.” The FCC issued the company a $36,000 fine for violating “rules against ‘payola punditry.’” In December 2016, Jared Kushner said that the Trump campaign, “struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage” particularly in swing states. As part of that deal, “Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary.” The Washington Post noted that the company scored 15 exclusive interviews with Donald Trump in a year while “news stories and features favorable to Trump or that challenged Clinton were distributed to Sinclair stations on a ‘must-run’ basis.” Of course, Trump would appoint Pai to head the FCC Ajit Pai pushed through a measure that would allow the Sinclair-Tribune merger to go forward. Recently, Pai has further proposed eliminating a rule requiring each TV station to have a main studio in or near the community it serves, arguing that modern technology allows community interaction without one. But critics charge the action as another handout for Sinclair as former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler argues, “will have an open field to replace local voices with national control.” In April 2017, Sinclair hired former Trump official Boris Epshteyn as its “chief policy analyst” whose must run “Bottom Line with Boris” segments air on its local news affiliates 9 times a week. Yet, Epshteyn is a shady character. He’s pleaded guilty to assault in 2014. The House Intelligence Committee has questioned his ties to the Kremlin. In the 2016 campaign season, he dismissed Gold Star father Khizir Khan as a Democratic prop. And during his time in the Trump administration, he crafted the notorious Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that omitting any mention of Judaism. He left the White House that March amid reports that every cable news network hated him.

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The Sinclair Broadcast Group’s rapid expansion and promotion of conservative politics highlights serious consequences of media consolidation. And as John Oliver noted, “Should this Tribune acquisition go through, there are going to be even more good journalists having to see their hard work placed alongside terror desk nonsense, just as there’ll be even more unsuspecting audience members who will be getting a heaping dose of Sinclair’s content, possibly without realizing it.” Perhaps it’s best you google your local stations and find out who owns it. If your local market has a Sinclair station, then expect that station to carry a lot of right wing bullshit. If it’s a Tribune, then pray to God that the acquisition doesn’t go through. For the Sinclair-Tribune merger is a very bad deal for America.

It’s one thing for a news station like Fox News to deliberately mislead the public to advance its own political agenda. But it’s very disturbing for a company like Sinclair to injecting intentionally misleading political diatribes where it has no place. It’s even worse that Sinclair forces news local stations run such content they know is bullshit and undermine viewers’ trust in them. If not, then perhaps warp their minds into accepting right wing talking points as undisputable fact as Sinclair would intend. For as John Oliver said, “The problem is, there is real power in hearing your trusted local newscasters using FBI and personal vendetta in a sentence.” Because after all, most people don’t really know who really owns their local station since they’re often branded with the national network that broadcasts on them, not the real owners. Nor do they seem to critically think about these stories aired on their local station. Scaremongering and propaganda have no place in local news since it’s corrosive to our democratic process. Sinclair’s “must-run” segments and other policies rob viewers of hearing local and opposing viewpoints. Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune would lead to less competition, threaten media localism, and harm information diversity. Thus, it would best for the country if the Sinclair and Tribune merger doesn’t go through. Sinclair is a cancer on the local news and our democracy as well as should be stopped from buying more stations. No major media company should have that much power, especially if they’re abusing the trust between the public and their local news stations in order to advance their political agenda. But it also means that we must be more careful of what we hear on the news and know who owns them.

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It’s widely said that Americans trust their local TV news broadcasts than any other source. For years, Sinclair has often abused that trust and eroded journalistic standards with their conservative propaganda. Advancing a political agenda has no place in a local newsroom meant to cover actual news stories, sports, traffic, and weather.

Will There Not Be Amnesty?

From the mid-1960s to the 1980s, an estimated 36 million undocumented people entered the United States through Mexico. 86% of these entries were offset by departures, meaning that these were mostly men coming to work in the US then leaving to go back to their families. But when the US started ramping up border security in the early 1990s, many of these migrant workers decided the daily dangerous border crossings weren’t worth it. So they came to the US, often with their families and stayed. Shortly thereafter, President Bill Clinton signed a bill that made it extremely hard for them to obtain legal status. Thus naturally, those staying with families and making a life here began to skyrocket, many which had underage children. So these kids grew up in the US, were educated in the US, and integrated into American culture. By the time Barack Obama became president in 2008, many of these children were teenagers or young adults and still considered undocumented and thus, couldn’t drive, work, or in the US legally. Thus, these children who grew up in the US couldn’t make a life for themselves in the only country they knew. Many of these DREAMers didn’t achieve their academic or professional potential simply because they couldn’t see what good it would do them to succeed. Many of them “transitioned to illegality,” suffering mental health crises and often losing any desire to achieve in school because they realized the country they thought of as their own didn’t actually have opportunities for them

In June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama announced a policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to give legal status to undocumented children who were 16 or younger when they came to the US before June 2007. The program was designed for those who grew up as Americans and often discovered they weren’t citizens when they were getting ready to apply to college, find jobs, and figure out how to survive as an adult. Most of them haven’t lived even seen their home country since leaving for the US. As long as these undocumented youth stayed out of trouble and were enrolled in or graduated from school (or served in the military), then they qualified. This doesn’t mean everyone who qualified was approved. But for those who were, DACA not only protected them from deportation, opened the doors for things adults need to survive. Most recipients were able to get a driver’s license, a job, and attend college. Though many of them work in low-income jobs like food preparation, a good portion can leverage their work authorization and educational opportunities into white-collar jobs like sales or office administration. Other participants include college students, medical students, lawyers, and tech employees. As long as they reapply for DACA every two years, they can stay and work legally in the US. DACA doesn’t grant a pathway to citizenship nor offers permanent relief. But for these Dreamers, even a temporary reprieve is better than none. But it made these DREAMers feel American, welcomed, and normal. Today, there are about 1.9 million people potentially eligible for DACA and nearly 800,000 protected from deportation because of the program that has become a new embodiment for the American Dream.

On Tuesday, September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Donald Trump would end DACA with a six-month delay. Those currently covered by the program will retain their protections and work permits until they expire. Those who already applied will have their applications processed normally. Yet, the government won’t accept any new applications unless their protections expire before March 5, 2018. Even in that case, they have until October 5 to renew. Unless Congress passes a bill in the next 6 months to protect the DACA recipients, hundreds of thousands of them will fall back on their unauthorized status.  But given that the Trump administration has taken steps to make the legal immigration process harder and more complicated, it’s highly unlikely Congress could pass an immigration bill that could satisfy 60 senators and the White House. In the meantime, it’s fairly clear the Trump administration doesn’t think Congress could pass a bill as DACA recipients live under crushing uncertainty. Besides, DACA’s critics claim the program is an example of presidential overreach that takes jobs away from citizens and legal residents. They warn that Trump will face massive opposition if he doesn’t keep his campaign promise to end it. And even if Trump granted DACA recipients a reprieve (which he won’t), the program may not survive a court challenge.

Without DACA, its recipients susceptible to deportation. It would mean that hundreds of thousands of people who’ve gone to work legally would suddenly become “illegal workers.” Some may have to drop out of college if they can’t retain their financial aid and perhaps not know what jobs they could get with the degrees they’re working to obtain. Others might have to give up a well-paying job for another paying under the table, sometimes not sure whether they’ll be paid. Or perhaps continue working at a legal risk to themselves and their employers. If their job includes health insurance, they will certainly lose that, too. It would raise questions on whether their drivers’ licenses issued under DACA that might’ve been valid when an immigrant started the engine but possibly invalidated while the car was on the road. Not to mention, it will open the federal government to a mess of lawsuits from suddenly legally liable employers. It gives them no rest that the federal government has their names and addresses. And the Trump administration seems to go after the undocumented immigrants they can most easily track down and pick up, putting the DREAMers at substantial risk for deportation. Though DACA recipients have months to prepare for that possibility, many of them have no good options.

To end DACA is a massive betrayal on the young Americans who grew up in the only country they know but won’t accept them as legal Americans through no fault of their own. Though to be fair, most undocumented immigrants came illegally because they had no legal options available. But these DACA recipients were brought here by their parents who just wanted a better life for them. They didn’t choose to come to this country. Some arrived as newborns and toddlers who didn’t even realize they had no legal status until they needed a Social Security number for a job or documentation to prove their eligibility for their first driver’s license. Others have known from a young age and have learned to live as quasi-fugitives afraid of being questioned by law enforcement. Yet, they’ve made their lives here. Their dreams are rooted here. They have jobs here. They pay taxes. They contribute to their families, communities, and the US economy. Some of them are married and have children. Some have served in the military. To make these Dreamers no longer welcome in the land they’ve called home for most of their lives is simply inhumane since they shouldn’t be forced to pay for their parents’ choices.

DACA may not be perfect, but there is no question it should remain. Doing away with the program will rob the US of high-achieving Americans who contribute to our economy and life. Not to mention, tear families apart and rip apart our nation’s moral fabric that make our country great. These DREAMers deserve to pursue their dreams and contribute to our society without living in constant fear of deportation and the lingering anxiety and uncertainty that everything they worked for could be taken away from them in the blink of an eye. Already DACA recipients have been living under threat of revocation since Donald Trump’s election on November. They’ve seen the Trump administration attempt to deport a few DACA recipients, supposedly protected. Now they have a deadline over which they have no control but which will profoundly affect the rest of their lives.

However, the worst about ending DACA isn’t just that it threatens 800,000 undocumented immigrants by removing their deportation protections and work permits. But that it threatens America’s legacy as a melting pot and a land of opportunity. And it sends a message that growing up in the US and having ties here means less than they ever have and the papers you hold or don’t have mean more. There’s never been a time when a generation of Americans, raised and rooted here has been stripped of official recognition and pushed back into the precarity of undocumented immigrant life. Though DACA didn’t technically legalize anyone, ending it would be the biggest “illegalization” of immigrants in American history. Sure it’s unprecedented for the government to offer protection to so many people without the opportunity to receive no full legal status. But it’s an effort of politicians trying to reconcile law and reality. Besides, growing up undocumented in the US is relatively uncommon in American history. Because while it was once possible to “get legal,” without leaving the US and trying to return (through US-born family members), it no longer is since 1976. To undo DACA will widen that gulf which has been wider than ever before. As the program hangs in the balance, the US has a group of people on the verge of being socially integrated and championed but legally isolated and victimized in a we we’ve never seen before. The days before Sessions’ announcement exemplify just how embedded these DACA recipients are in civil society. Universities, churches, employers, along with local and state governments urged Trump not to rescind the program. So did members of both parties, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as well as Americans who don’t necessarily support widespread legalization for undocumented immigrants. In fact, 70% of Americans in an NBC News poll thought DACA should stay. But none of that mattered to Trump.

There is nothing to justify revoking protections for undocumented immigrants who came to this country through no fault of their own. None of these DACA recipients deserve to be deported from the only home they know, torn apart from their families, or robbed from the lives they’ve built for themselves. If anything, these DREAMers deserve amnesty and a path to legalization and citizenship. After all, they’ve lived and worked in the US for most of their lives without enjoying the same legal rights and privileges their peers have exercised. They see themselves as American and have contributed to our society as anyone else. They pose no threat and don’t take away anything from the rest of us. Yet, critics would decry such an idea as amnesty like it’s a moral anathema. But could there be any group of people in America more in need or deserving of amnesty? Shouldn’t these people be able to drive, work, go to college, and provide for their families without a constant fear it can all be taken away from them? Shouldn’t they be able to stay without a constant fear of deportation hanging over their shoulder? Shouldn’t they be seen as part of a nation where they were raised and rooted in? If not, then why should they be punished for the sins of their parents? Why should their lives be upended for simply being undocumented? Why should they be deported to a country they don’t know anymore? It’s bad enough for undocumented adults to live in precarity since they chose to come illegally because of unavailable legal options. But it’s particularly heartless to rescind protections from those whose undocumented status wasn’t of their own making. Most Americans agree they shouldn’t be robbed of the chance to live fully productive lives, especially if they’ve been upstanding figures who’ve earned every right to be here. To send them back to their birthplace they have no other connection to, is sheer cruelty that appeals to the worst part of who we are as Americans. Now that Congress only has 6 months to come up with an immigration reform bill, all I ask is will there not be amnesty for these DREAMers? Or will these 800,000 DACA recipients be forced to give up their hopes, dreams, and the only lives they’ve known for no good reason?

We need to understand that the Trump administration’s reason for DACA only amount to pure unbridled racism. They would tell you it’s about upholding “the rule of law” but such rationale is bullshit. First, Donald Trump pardoned ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio who was found guilty of criminal contempt for illegally targeting Latinos during his undocumented immigration raids. Second, the Obama administration had constitutional lawyers to advise them on the DACA policy. Third, white supremacists comprise a critical part of Trump’s political base whom he’s hesitated to condemn and noted how some of them were “fine people” during his infamous Phoenix rally in regards to Charlottesville. Then there’s his long history of racist behavior which includes housing discrimination, slamming Native American casino owners, calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, and promoting birtherism during the Obama administration. Ending DACA and threatening deportation to these DREAMers is cruel, shortsighted, and unnecessary as well as undermines the heart and soul of our nation. Yet, still, all I ask for these DREAMers is will there not be amnesty?

 

Not Licensed By the NCAA College Athletic Craft Projects (Second Edition)

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Now that the school year is upon us, it seems very appropriate that we move on to some NCAA craft projects since the college football season has just begun. And yes, I have a picture of a March Madness tournament bracket sheet from last year. But c’mon, it’s a signature collegiate event so it fits. Besides, I’m pretty busy with Easter stuff during March anyway. Anyway, while some diehard fans might prefer to buy overpriced crap from the NCAA store, some may want to make their own. Of course, the NCAA has some craft supplies available since they basically sell anything with a college team logo. But you don’t always have to pay the extra cash if you want to get creative. After all, you can get stuff in your college team’s colors at any craft store. Just look on some of the college crafts on Pinterest. So for your reading pleasure, I give you another treasure trove of college craft projects not licensed by the NCAA. Most of these featured will be from Division I, obviously.

  1. This panel obviously states what’s important to those in Alabama.

Well, that would be pretty much it for any Alabama fan. After all, sweet tea is a noted Southern drink.

2. Perhaps carve a Wildcat jack-o’-lantern just in time for basketball season.

Well, at least the University of Kentucky has an appropriate mascot for it. Still, they’re lucky that basketball season starts in October.

3. A burlap wreath is perfect for any home rooting for the Texas Longhorns.

Though this wreath is more suited for football season. Then again, Texas is a huge football state.

4. Curl up on your couch this season with a WVU quilt.

Just make sure that the couch you sit on won’t be used for burning later. Well, in the event the Mountaineers win.

5. By this sign, this home values Georgia football.

After all, I’m sure the Atlanta Falcons let down the family who owns this sign. Then again, they could just be big Bulldog fans.

6. Support the Wichita State Shockers with these shocking blocks.

Includes some black, yellow, and white flowers on the top. Still, they get the “shockers” name from shocks of wheat.

7. Grace your home with this University of Illinois Fighting Illini panel.

The name Illini gets its name from the Illinois Confederation, which the state gets its name. This is their mascot Chief Illiniwek who’s been a center of controversy since the 1970s.

8. For the big game, how about drink from a sparkly LSU cup.

Yes, support your Tigers while drinking from a blinged out cup. Just make sure the glue’s dry before picking it up.

9. Nothing makes Halloween better than a wooden scarecrow for the Tennessee Volunteers.

For some reason, the candy corn nose is fitting with the school colors. Though orange and white aren’t a great combination.

10. Any home for Big Blue would adore this UK ribbon wreath on their home.

Wrapped with polka dot ribbon and decorated with blue and white flowers. Great for any Wildcat door.

11. Deck your living room on game day with this Michigan pallet.

Basically consists of 2 layers. One depicts the “M”. The other consists of yellow wooden strips.

12. The Oregon Ducks are always the pride of their state.

And here we have a pallet of the state of Oregon in green. Since the Ducks are a beloved team there.

13. A stained glass Illinois suncatcher is perfect to put against a window.

Depicts the “I” in orange against a blue background. Sure it’s not glamorous but it’s not like their Illini mascot logo.

14. No Auburn fan can go wrong with this football hanging.

After all, if you’re not a wreath fan, this will certainly do just fine. Has blue and orange dots on the sides.

15. This Alabama wreath is of pure simplicity.

It’s a yarn wreath that’s red on one side and white on the other. But contains houndsooth ribbons in between.

16. For tailgate specials, you might want to consult this Alabama menu.

Sure it’s blank. But I believe standard fare will consist of hotdogs, hamburgers, or wings. Though I may be wrong.

17. Keep warm at the game with this crocheted Spartan helmet from Michigan State.

Wonder if the visor is adjustable. Probably not. Though I’d like to see a more showy plume.

18. Be decked out for the game with these GSU earrings.

These look like big earrings yet that might be the camera’s work. But any fan from Georgia Southern is sure to love them.

19. Since the game should be a festive occasion, may I suggest this feathery LSU wreath?

Yes, it’s quite festive indeed. But you’ll sure get feathers everywhere after awhile.

20. As far as Vols fans go, the state of Tennessee might as well be covered in checkers.

Well, orange and white checks to be exact. It should have a matching polka dot bow to top it off.

21. Welcome guests into your home with this WVU wooden stand.

Consists of 3 carved blocks tied together with WVU letters on top. Only the letters are painted in blue and yellow.

22. On cold days, you might want to get warm with this Clemson quilt.

Though what consists of a cold day in South Carolina, I’m really not sure. But this quilt is a real patchwork of orange and purple.

23. Grace your front door this year with this Iowa Hawkeyes bow wreath.

Bows are made from ribbon and tulle. Some have polka dots and some don’t. Though I like the gold bead things in the middle.

24. To keep warm during this game, this Iowa quilt is just the ticket.

Yes, it’s hung for decoration. But it has everything a Hawkeyes fan would want.

25. A simple Penn State wreath is a yarn one of blue and white.

But it mostly looks white given the letters and the flowers. Perfect for any Nittany Lion home.

26. Bobcat fans may want to adorn their front door with this Texas State decomesh wreath.

For a large university that boasts an undergrad enrollment of 38,000, you don’t usually hear about it that often. Not sure why exactly. Perhaps the University of Texas has a better team.

27. Anyone can work at this Alabama desk.

Perhaps you might want to spend your time there wondering why Alabama’s mascot is an elephant while its team was named after algae. Because I don’t have the slightest idea.

28. Step out to the stadium in these shimmering Auburn heels.

Though it’ll probably be better going to the game in regular shoes. Since heels can be hard on your feet.

29. You can illuminate your home with this Michigan State bottle light.

Makes sure it’s green before you put the Spartan logo on it. Then add the lights.

30. Perhaps this sign may show you how to be a Red Raider.

This is from Texas Tech as you can see. Not going to go over much of the text. So you can see for yourself.

31. Share a toast at the big game with these Kentucky wine glasses.

Then again, they seem more appropriate for the display case. Yet, at least their bottoms come in different patterns.

32. You’ll always have a seat at this Iowa table and chairs.

Okay, this might be for children. Yet, the chairs spell out “Iowa” for you.

33. You can always make a Notre Dame headband pendant with sequins and beads.

Don’t seem to have much Notre Dame stuff on here so far. Though this will make Irish eyes shine.

34. No Michigan State home should be without this Spartan chest table.

After all, who doesn’t like Spartan accommodations? Then again, the wood looks kind of gray.

35. This Illinois bottle light really shines in a room.

You see this one is mostly transparent with an orange “I” along with blue and orange decor. So if you want to light up your room, this is one for you.

36. At Baton Rouge, it’s “Geaux Tigers.”

I’m sure the French will have a hissy fit over this. But that’s how they have it at LSU.

37. For Huskers fans, you can’t do better than a large striped “N” at your door.

After all, “N” stands for Nebraska. Even if it’s in black and white zig-zags.

38. Sweep up the dust with this Kansas State Wildcat dust pan.

Okay, it seems a bit small to contain dirt. And it’s made from a license plate. But at least it shows some school spirit.

39. A Tennessee wreath can always use some white and orange flowers.

Of course the flowers are fake. But at least this wreath doesn’t scream like a creamcicle.

40. Mizzou Tiger pillows will accommodate any couch.

Particularly if it’s a black one. And all the pillows are gold. Two even spell out “Mizzou.”

41. Support your Fightin’ Irish with these Notre Dame blocks.

No surprise it depicts a football on top. After all, that’s what they’re best known for in sports.

42. A burlap WVU wreath is brilliant in blue and yellow.

As you can see, it has a football on it for the Mountaineers. Let’s hope whoever lives here doesn’t set their couch on fire.

43. For a more warm and fuzzy touch, perhaps an Iowa fleece wreath will do.

This one even has flowers and a football to salute the Hawkeyes. But fans would certainly treasure it.

44. With this garden flag, you can show your love to Georgia Southern Eagles.

Its background is of blue and white zigzags. And it has yellow and white zigzags on the football.

45. Clean your house with this Michigan dust pan.

Okay, it’s a dust pan used for display. But you can see where they’re getting at.

46. Show your Crimson Tide pride with this Alabama “A” hanging outside.

After all, there’s nothing more distinctive than a crimson “A.” The bow makes a nice finishing touch.

47. Make your big blue season shine with this Kentucky decomesh wreath.

It’s in shiny burlap with ribbons of every pattern. Great for any bluegrass Wildcat home.

48. For a simple decoration, you might want to go with a GSU yarn wreath.

Mostly consist of yarns in shades of blue and white. Decorated with a football, “GSU” letters, and yellow and blue ribbons.

49. This decomesh LSU wreath is worthy of festive occasions.

This one has gold and purple decorations on it in swirls along with a tiger on top. So pretty.

50. Kick back and relax in your very own Michigan lawn chair.

It’s yellow with blue arms and a large blue “M” on the back. Great for that outdoor tailgate party at your house.

51. This Notre Dame wreath shines in brilliant blue and gold.

Features golden helmets and the Fightin’ Irish logo. Letters “N” and “D” are at center.

52. There’s a certain elegance with a black Iowa wreath at your door.

This one has “Iowa” in black and yellow on burlap. Also, you have to admire the felt flowers.

53. Salute Purdue with this wooden pallet on your wall.

This one has the strips of wood in different places and sizes. So it can create a rather stylistic effect.

54. A yarn wreath for Michigan State has to be green and white.

Has the Spartan logo on it for all its Michigan State glory. Yet, you have to admire the white and green flowers, too.

55. A Longhorns wreath always has to be full of bows.

Most of these are in dark orange and white. And there are footballs on the top and bottom.

56. This Nittany Lion bird house will suit any Happy Valley roost.

Yes, a Penn State house is great for the birds. But remember the school’s mascot is a mountain lion for God’s sake.

57. For colder weather, wrap yourself in this Penn State quilt.

Yes, it’s a real Penn State patchwork of a quilt. Mostly blue an white with a dash of pink here and there.

58. You can always get a swig of beer in this Illini glass.

Though the logo might seem rather offensive to Native Americans. But it’s well painted.

59. Grace your door with a wreath from the University of Oklahoma.

Their mascot are the Sooners, by the way. Because Oklahoma’s called the “Sooner State.”

60. For a more rustic look, a Notre Dame wreath of burlap would be nice.

Contains the school logo along with blue and gold ribbons. So lovely but not too flashy.

61. No Tallahassee couch should be without this Florida State pillow.

This one has the Seminole logo along with other things pertaining to Florida State. Bet it took someone a lot of time to make this.

62. Light up your humble abode with this Hawkeye bottle lamp.

This one contains some melted stones for a more varied look. But it certainly exudes Iowa pride.

63. An crocheted Auburn throw blanket can certainly drape your couch.

As you can see here. Probably took whoever made this countless hours. But for a die-hard Auburn fan, it was worth it.

64. Keep warm while watching the big game with a crocheted Ohio State afghan.

This one has zigzags of red, white, and gray. Strange that I didn’t put a lot of Ohio State stuff on here so far.

65. A Kentucky Wildcat fire pit table goes great with any stone patio.

The table itself consists of tiles you’d find at any hardware store. Though I’m sure if I’d want a bonfire to be on the table. Looks like an accident waiting to happen.

66. Raise your baby to love the Vols with these Tennessee bibs.

The Ts are made out of orange bandanas. Not exactly up to par, but it works.

67. An Aggies fan can’t possibly do without a Texas A&M desk.

It’s painted black with the letters on top. Will probably fetch a pretty penny on Etsy if for sale.

68. Bet you’ll find a lot of comfort in this LSU chair.

Sure it might be made out of wood painted yellow and purple. But at least it has cushions on the seat and back.

69. Nothing makes a Buckeye fan proud like this Ohio State wreath.

It basically resembles the school’s logo. Though I have to admit, the buckeye leaf does bear some resemblance to the pot leaf. Sorry if I happen to notice it.

70. A simple burlap Wichita State wreath does just fine.

It’s wrapped in yellow with the WSU letters and a bow. Lovely, yet so simply made.

71. You’d almost swear these LSU bottle lights glow.

Each one contains the LSU Tiger logo along with yellow and purple stripes. And each is lovely in its own way.

72. You could almost see the Georgia Bulldogs play through this window.

However, it’s actually painted onto a window frame. Though I’m sure any Bulldogs fan would want it.

73. You’d almost think these Kansas State Wildcat flower pot dolls were made for each other.

In a way, they kind of are. Though even I have to admit that they’re really adorable.

74. No Mountaineer fan can possibly do without this WVU rag wreath.

Most of this consists of rags of blue and gold. Like the WV gold and blue ribbons though.

75. This Crimson Tide dog bed is fit for any Alabama pooch.

Man, that looks nicer than a lot of dog beds. Pooch looks as if it has its own throne.

76. Celebrate the season with this Illini Christmas tree.

It’s tall and orange with blue tinsel all around. And yes, you have to love the lights and baubles.

77. No Wolverine porch should be complete without this Michigan lawn chair.

Yes, it’s another Michigan lawn chair. But it’s a different design with a yellow “M” on the back.

78. A Nittany Lion home can’t possibly go without this Penn State burlap wreath.

This one has the Penn State logo in the center. Still, this great for any rustic Penn State home.

79. For Mardi Gras, you can’t go wrong with this LSU wreath.

It’s a purple and gold decomesh wreath with a golden mask. And the LSU letters are all in purple.

80. A home for the Fightin’ Irish should deck their home with this Notre Dame decomesh wreath.

Yes, it has the Notre Dame words and logo at the center. But it has a gold and blue decor which resemble flowers.

NCAA College Athlete Exploiting Merchandise (Second Edition)

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Now it’s on to college merchandise. You know the overpriced stuff colleges and the NCAA makes money on but the athletes don’t really get any royalties off of. Most of the time you will find college sports crap sold at campus stores. But if it’s Division I, then you’ll find plenty of local stores carrying college stuff at a cheaper price. And even then, it’ll carry the teams most popular in the area. For instance, the Wal Mart stores in my area usually sell Division I merchandise pertaining to Pitt, Penn State, and WVU since they’re nearby and the most popular. Most of the NCAA sports crap you might see usually consists of apparel with the school’s logo on it along with a few other things. But most of the time, colleges will sell their fan anything that will give them money, no matter how ridiculous. And as I can testify, there is not shortage of collegiate sports craziness in merchandise. So for your reading pleasure, I give you another treasure trove of weird college merch from the NCAA.

  1. Be a Fightin’ Irish on the grill with this Notre Dame burger flipper.

That way, you can demonstrate your grilling skills against Touchdown Jesus. Then again, you might get a better flipper at a lower price.

2. A Notre Dame drag along cooler always keeps food and drinks fresh.

Comes with pockets and a zipper. Great for storing cans at a tailgate party. Could probably buy a cheaper plain version at Wal Mart.

3. This Penn State crock pot is great for tailgating fare.

After all, you need something to keep the chili warm in Happy Valley. Though a plain one works better at a lower price.

4. For a more rustic setting, may I suggest this Notre Dame basket cooler?

Man, seems like they have all kinds of cooler types out there. Can’t really understand this one.

5. Enjoy your ride to the stadium in this Mizzou Tiger car.

That might be school property and thus not for sale. Still, since it’s helmet shape, I’ll put it on the post.

6. For long travels, hop along the Kentuck U Express.

Sure it’s not exactly merchandise. But it’s one of the last things you’d expect to see a Kentucky Wildcats logo on.

7. Nothing makes your steak taste great like Penn State steak sauce.

Yes, it exists. I know it’s ridiculous. But I’m sure it’s the only steak sauce you can use at State College.

8. At Columbus, Ohio State high heeled shoes are the latest craze

Though you’d more likely want to wear sneakers at the stadium. Just because you’ll do a lot of walking.

9. Carry your drinks to the game with this Penn State bottle tote.

Has room for 6. Though you can also carry them in a cooler which would be even better.

10. Stun the stadium with these University of Kentucky jeweled flip flops.

I don’t see the point of these. They seem more appropriate for summer, which isn’t during football or basketball season.

11. No man cave is complete without a line of Pitt lamps.

Or woman cave, not that we should judge. Comes in wood, brass, and metal.

12. Enjoy the big game with this WVU end table cooler.

Now you can put it on a stand and use it to get drinks while you watch the game. You can probably find one cheaper at Wal Mart without the logo.

13. Now you can serve drinks at your own Florida Gator bar.

Comes with an umbrella, cooler, and stools. Great for a tailgating beach party but not near actual gators.

14. Grace your holidays with this Michigan State Santa on Sousaphone.

And I see there’s an elf inside the Sousaphone. Of course, in marching band, he’ll have to find some way to get around the presents.

15. If you want to know the time, humidity and temperature, perhaps this clock from Penn State can show you.

Yes, it’s a rather sophisticated clock. But you can probably get it cheaper if you remove the Nittany Lion logo.

16. Support your Hawkeyes with an Iowa dog sweater.

Because this isn’t about keeping your dog warm. It’s about you projecting your tastes to your dog.

17. Keep warm at Happy Valley with this Nittany Lion hat.

That looks terrifying and more or less resembles a bear. But it’s said to be rather fuzzy.

18. You can’t have a tailgate party without some Penn State salsa.

Penn State salsa? Seriously? What’s with using college logos for foot? Because that’s utterly ridiculous.

19. Every Penn State fan must have this commemorative desk statue of Joe Paterno.

On second thought, chances are he knew at least something about what Jerry Sandusky was doing. So maybe you might want to reconsider.

20. Enjoy hours of fun with some Notre Dame foosball.

Like anyone needs a foosball table anyway. Seriously, you’re better off spending your money on something else.

21. Raise a glass to your college team with your Penn State wine glass.

Even has indictors to gauge your mood by how much you drink. Beware if it’s almost full.

22. This Notre Dame holder will keep your pool sticks in check.

I’m sure a regular one would be cheaper. Besides, seems more suited for a bar.

23. The birds will be mighty fine with this Ohio State birdhouse.

Though the birds won’t find any buckeye nuts here. Just seed.

24. Your little one would love to curl up with this light up Oregon Duck.

Yes, I’m sure it makes a cuddly plushie which lights the room with stars and the logo. But the Oregon Ducks still have a mascot that resembles Donald Duck from Disney.

25. Keep warm during the winter with a pair of Nittany Lion mittens.

Okay, those look kind of creepy. Seriously, Penn State, how about gloves that just have the logo. I think everyone would be fine with that.

26. Kick back and relax in the great outdoors in this LSU bench.

It’s in purple and yellow for the Tigers. And it’ll certainly grab attention from onlookers.

27. A fairy princess should always have her WVU wand and crown.

Guess the NCAA will do anything to appeal to young girls. Though given that WVU is home to the Mountaineers, denim dress seems more appropriate.

28. Penn State cuff links make any suit look flashy.

Though they might seem unprofessional at a business meeting. So perhaps they’d be better as a collector’s item.

29. You can always be comfortable at the office in an LSU swivel chair.

Kind of loud colors for office furniture. Maybe better suited for a home office.

30. This Pitt pet bed is the ultimate den for your 4-legged friend on March Madness.

Though Pitt men’s basketball hasn’t been doing too well lately. Though that’s a nice replica of the Petersen your dog will ultimately destroy.

31. Always decorate for the occasion with some WVU holiday flags.

Got two for Christmas and one for Halloween and the 4th of July. Strange one of them doesn’t depict a burning couch.

32. Spend evenings lounging around this Ohio State campfire pit.

Great for the well made patio. Has a big “O” in the middle to indicate where to light the fire.

33. A wheeled cooler is perfect for cooling drinks for Florida State fans.

This one looks like it was made. But make sure to put ice in there first.

34. For Christmas, you can’t do without a set of Arizona Wildcats Nutcrackers.

Since when do they have nutcrackers for college teams? This is crazy. At least a Ohio State one would make more sense.

35. Be the hit on campus in this Ohio State car.

Resembles a car from Hot Wheels. But looks pretty real. Not sure why anyone would buy it.

36. Enhance your living room with this Mizzou Tiffany lamp.

Sure itm ight seem a bit old fashioned. But if you like your Tigers enough, you’ll probably want it.

37. Spice up your food with some Penn State hot sauce.

Since there’s nothing spicier than watching your Nittany Lions. And anything you put your hot sauce on.

38. Dress your little leprechaun in these Fightin’ Irish bootie socks.

Yes, show your baby your love for the Irish and harmful Irish stereotypes at the same time. Yeah, Notre Dame needs to sort out its priorities.

39. Raise a toast to the Vols with this Tennessee chalice.

Okay, it’s more of a decorative item than an actual cup. And it stands on wood. Still, I find it rather tacky.

40. Tee up on the links with your Nittany Lion golf clubs.

That being said, golf is lame sport for rich people. Even if in the Nittany Lion guise. And I think this set costs an arm and a leg.

41. This Cinci Bearcat theater seat brings great comfort in your home.

Though it’s not as great as watching it on a recliner. Also, probably costs more than a La-Z-Boy.

42. Nothing makes stuffed pretzels irresistible like Penn State dipping mustard.

Dipping mustard? From a jar? Why can’t you just squeeze the mustard from the bottle and put it on your plate? That’s what most people do.

43. Take a cue at this Ohio State pool table.

Pool tables are already expensive and hard to move. I suppose this one would cost an arm and a leg.

44. Your living room is never complete without an Iowa Hawkeyes glass table.

It has a glass top and a shelf that resembles a football field. Very breakable and very expensive. Don’t recommend it for families with young children.

45. Kick back on the porch in your very own Ohio State swing.

Even contains cup holders so you can enjoy a drink or two. Though it’s not like the swing in my backyard at all.

46. Fire it up with your very own University of Kentucky grill.

After all, what’s a game without anything barbequed? Of course, a non-Kentucky grill would be cheaper.

47. Boise State Wing Dip is perfect for any Bronco wings.

Yes, Boise State’s team is the Broncos. I know it’s confusing since they share the same colors as Denver. But there you are.

48. Go to the game in style at Baton Rouge in an LSU Tiger bus.

Okay, it’s more of a trailer or RV. But it’s in purple and yellow stripes. Yikes!

49. Spend hours of fun with these Oregon video game controllers.

Both are green with the Oregon logo. You could probably get regular video game controls for less money though.

50. A WVU glass set goes great in your china closet.

Yes, the glass is pretty. But c’mon, most of you would rather have your bottles with flowers than a WVU logo. Yet, I could be wrong.

51. Keep your grill safe from the elements with this Notre Dame cover.

Then again, you can get a grill cover at Lowe’s or Home Depot for cheap. Doesn’t have to have the Notre Dame logo on it.

52. Got loose change? How about an Ohio State piggy bank.

Has a buckeye nut necklace and is decked with leaves. Got to like the red snout and ears.

53. Have hours of fun with some Notre Dame Yahtzee.

Has the Fightin’ Irish logo on the box. So you can roll the dice in the cup as long as you’d like.

54. Keep your golf clubs safe with these Ohio State covers.

Yes, I know I put the Penn State golf set before. But this one just shows the covers with the Ohio State logo.

55. Serve some drinks for guests with this University of Kentucky dispenser.

It’s a small ceramic striped container with stripes and a spotted lid. Not sure if it holds much of anything.

56. Watch the game together in these Penn State couples’ chairs.

Because the couple who watches games together stays together. Also, “Ms.” would’ve been more appropriate than “Mrs.”

57. Entice your guests at the big game with this Ohio State casserole dish.

Or “Game Day Kickasserole” which is better than casserole to some people. But please, a plain one would be cheaper.

58. An LSU baby should sleep in a crib like this.

This one has stadium padding. Think this is kind of pushing it. But I’m sure some fans would want to put their baby in this.

59. No Louisiana garden should be without a LSU bird bath.

It’s just a dish with a stand. Sure it looks pretty. But wait until the birds start shitting on it.

60. Eat your snacks while you watch the Mountaineers with this WVU chair tray.

Kind of wish I had one myself. Though I wouldn’t watch sports games using it. And it wouldn’t have a sports logo on it.

61. Keep your drinks cold with your very own Penn State mini fridge.

There are a few of these in different styles. But this one has the name on the side.

62. Ring in the holiday spirit with an LSU Santa hat.

It’s purple with the LSU letters and tiger logo along with holly. Great for any fan of LSU for the holidays.

63. Drape your big screen in your patio room with a Florida Gators cover.

Has an elastic band you can put in the back. Though why one would want a TV set near their patio is beyond me.

64. You can play all you want with this WVU toy train engine.

Though I’d suggest you go with Thomas the Tank Engine instead. Since your kids would prefer the trains from that franchise. This seems more what the parents would want.

65. Enjoy a time outside with this Florida State Seminoles picnic basket cooler.

It’s a combination between a cooler and a picnic basket. So you can have the best of both worlds, I guess.

66. Welcome the holidays with a UCLA stocking.

Try hanging that on your fireplace. Sure it’s not exactly what some expect. But I’m sure UCLA fans would want it.

67. Brand your steak with a Nittany Lion touch.

Yes, now you can brand your steak with Penn State. Like it’s really necessary. Not.

68. Proudly show off your school pride with a Baylor onesie.

Guy seems to be so proud of himself. Though I have no idea what to think of a garment I think is more appropriate on babies.

69. Enjoy hours of fun with this Alabama dart board.

Oh, it’s a dart board. Thought it was a pair of cabinet doors when I used one for my NFL merchandise post. That’s certainly makes me feel dumb now.

70. Carry your things to the game in this Michigan adventure wagon.

Okay, it’s not suited for a stadium. But you can fold it up and take it with you.

71. Carry your things from the store in this Michigan shopping bag.

Bet it comes with insulation to keep your food cool until you put it in the fridge. Great to take with you to Aldi.

72. Can’t make a fine steak without this Penn State rub.

Yes, they have Penn State steak rub. However, you can basically make your own since most recipes include a rub of some kind.

73. Keep your room lit with this University of Kentucky lava lamp.

Since when do lava lamps have to do with sports? Those two don’t seem to go together for some reason.

74. Kick back on your very own big blue Kentucky couch.

It’s a suede couch with the UK logo. But even though you might want a couch like this, it’s unlikely you’d buy one.

75. Enjoy your snacks in your very own University of Illinois snack dispenser.

And it’s shaped like a football helmet just in time for the season. Chips on top. Everything else is on the face mask.

76. Have your little one take their first steps in these Tar Heel booties.

Yes, these are cute. But regular booties are just as adorable. And cheaper.

77. For your pool party, you can’t go without a University of Illinois cooler floatie.

It’s even inflatable with cup holders. Still, why would you want to use drinks in the pool? That’s just nothing short of unthinkable to me.

78. Put your tailgating fare on this Penn State table.

It’s an interesting shape with the logo. Not sure if I’d want it in my home though. Since it’s not really my taste.

79. Store your candy in these Penn State Pez dispensers.

Each one has a topper of a football with a Penn State logo. Yet, the candy is inedible.

80. If you want a basket and a cooler, this piece from Notre Dame is for you.

Yes, it has the Notre Dame logo with a basket weave. Great for picnics and tailgating.

A Pardon Worthy of Contempt

On the night of August 25, 2017, Donald Trump issued his first presidential pardon on former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for a contempt-of-court conviction over a federal court order violation meant to prevent racial profiling. The official statement from the White House read, “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.” But we all know that Trump promised to pardon the former Arizona sheriff at his Phoenix rally early that week. After all, to Trump and his supporters, Arpaio was just a law enforcement official convicted of only “doing his job.” Nevertheless, this presidential pardon validates the idea that promising “law and order” and protection from social disorder in the form of undocumented immigration and street crime doesn’t require adhering to the rule of law. Not to mention, it sends a powerful message to sheriffs across the country worried that cooperating with federal immigration officials could get them in trouble with the courts.

 

However, we must understand that Sheriff Joe Arpaio wasn’t convicted for only “doing his job.” Back in the mid to late 2000s, the federal government started escalating immigration enforcement to an unprecedented degree by relying on local law enforcement. Along with the election of a hardline anti-immigration chief prosecutor Andrew Thomas, Arpaio became the face of local law enforcement of federal immigration law. Calling himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” he gave celebrity tours of his infamous “Tent City” for housing undocumented immigrants whom he forced to work on chain gangs in under the sweltering desert sun, which he proudly referred to as “concentration camps.” And he often gifted guests with commemorative pairs of pink underwear he made inmates wear under their black and white uniforms. He bragged about his “sweeps” results which were local late night immigration raids to round up undocumented immigrants and hand over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In addition, he maintained an immigrant smuggling squad to stop cars with Latino drivers and passengers in order to check their immigration status. Despite widespread criticism by human rights groups and political leaders, Arpaio was reelected Maricopa County Sheriff 5 times thanks to a bastion of conservatives and retirees who view him as a white knight and defender of the 1950s Shangri-La they’ve sought to preserve in the largely white suburbs around Phoenix while keeping the money and political power. Yet, many of the white owners employ the undocumented immigrants Arpaio targets but he doesn’t bust them for exploiting their labor. Meanwhile soaring number of Hispanic residents comprises of a third of the county’s population which rose 47% within the last decade. After all, Maricopa County is the 4th largest county in the US and 50 miles from the Mexican border while Phoenix is a destination for undocumented immigrants and drug dealers alike. By vocally targeting undocumented immigration, Arpaio became a regular on Fox News and a hero to the Tea Party as well as a go-to media prop for conservative politicians wanting to be seen as immigration hard liners. While traveling the country to endorse these right-wing candidate, he attracts millions of dollars from political allies outside Arizona who long gave him an advantage his opponents couldn’t match. As former Phoenix police chief George Gascon told Rolling Stone, “Arpaio knows how to move the needle when it comes to appealing to the base. What he did very artfully is piggy-back on this fear of illegal immigration that was becoming so prevalent in border states like Arizona. He was able to capitalize on that and he became the hero, the only guy who would single-handedly go after it.”

 

But these methods raised questions on how exactly Joe Arpaio and his deputies determined who to apprehend for immigration offenses or whether they were just arresting anyone living in Maricopa County who just happened to be Latino, even in cases where the “suspects” violated no state law. His rhetoric and tactics have spread fear in Arizona’s Latino community who very understandably loathe him. Though Arpaio communicated toughness through big, theatrical stunts, his practices often violated the rights of his targets. His roadblocks to detain drivers who merely looked like undocumented immigrants was a virtual license to profile Hispanics. Reports of pull-overs with little or no discernable traffic violations became so widespread that one study showed Latinos in the northeastern part of Maricopa County as 9 times more likely to be stopped for the same infractions as other drivers. The DOJ alleged that Arpaio’s men relied on factors “such as whether passengers look ‘disheveled’ or do not speak English.” Some were justified after the fact such as an incident involving a neatly dressed group of Latinos described in a police report as “dirty.” The sheriff himself acknowledged the crackdown a “pure program to go after the illegals and not the crime first.” To make matters worse, Arpaio has frequently arrested and detained Latino US citizens, legal residents, and tourists, including children, for hours at a time without a charge or warrant. Mostly because according to Arizona State’s Charles Katz, “Illegal immigrants make up less than 10 percent of those arrested. They’re involved in less criminal activity than native-born Americans.” According to retired police officer Bill Richardson, “He’s vilified Latinos in such a way that normal people, they’re scared to death.” Such terror only makes it more difficult for police to do their jobs since it makes Latinos more afraid of law enforcement.

 

Groups for years have criticized the Tent City and jails over notorious minimalistic conditions as violating human and constitutional rights since the 1990s. Federal investigations on Tent City date as far back as 1995. Joe Arpaio was proud of his prison experiments as an inexpensive solution to overcrowded jails and frequently invited the media to witness each new cohort being sent to the Tent City. But what the prisoners experienced was absolutely horrific. The DOJ reported that guards referred to Latino inmates as “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “stupid Mexicans” and “fucking Mexicans.” In addition, female prisoners were forced to sleep in their own menstrual blood and were denied basic sanitary items. Officers refused to respond to inmates pleas if they made them in Spanish and sometimes put them in solitary confinement for extended periods of time if they didn’t understand English. One former inmate recounted his experience to the Washington post saying, “During the sweltering summer, the temperature could reach 115 or 120 degrees. I was in the tents when we hit 120. It was impossible to stay cool in the oppressive heat. Everyone would strip down to their underwear. There was no cold water, only water from vending machines; and eventually, the machines would run out. People would faint; some had heatstroke. That summer, ambulances came about three times. One man died in his bed. But the winter was even worse. During the winter, there were no heaters. Most jackets and heavily insulated pants weren’t allowed; they don’t want you to be comfortable.”  Holes torn into the tents let in wind and rain, drenching the beds. Prisoners would make ropes to hold tent canvases together out of black trash bags they were given as raincoats. Many inmates were forced to work in chain gangs and subjected to humiliating practices like public parades. Healthcare was substandard and often neglected as many inmates were subject to the point of extreme suffering, even death. Mentally ill detainees were especially victimized. Detention officers didn’t want to work there since it was dangerously overcrowded and understaffed. Prisoners often died with no explanation. According to attorney Michael Manning, “His entire jail operation was unconstitutionally inhumane and unconstitutionally dangerous.” To make matters worse, most of the inmates there were either low level crooks serving short sentences, suspected undocumented immigrants, or those awaiting trial. After Arpaio’s reelection defeat in 2016, the tent cities were ultimately shut down after being cited for violations against the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment” and a unanimous vote by Maricopa’s Board of Supervisors.

 

Joe Arpaio’s “law and order” policies weren’t successful as anti-crime measures since Maricopa County 911 response times rose dramatically during the heyday of Arpaio’s sweeps. Mostly because Arpaio had been so obsessed with the often-illusory crimes of undocumented immigrants that he’s ignored more than 400 sexual abuse cases he was responsible for investigating including assaults on children. In another incident, Arpaio staged a massive prostitution round up involving 350 deputies resulting in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office declining 80 cases for prosecution. Meanwhile, 12 execution style murders remained unsolved. As a Phoenix resident wrote to the Arizona Republic on the incident back in the early 2010s, “If Joe Arpaio continues to spend the county’s scarce law enforcement dollars on chasing consenting adults engaged in private sexual activity, while child murders and sexual assaults remain unsolved, he should be the one to explain to the next grieving mother why her child’s killer has not been caught, prosecuted and put in prison. And the taxpayers should send him a message by electing a new sheriff who doesn’t treat public funds as his private public relations piggybank.” In addition, Arpaio was responsible for a critical and dangerous shortage of personnel on both jails and patrol because he often assigned deputies as his bodyguards and detention officers for his labor intensive, publicity producing chain gangs for TV. But the worst of his “tough on crime” publicity stunt was when he staged an assassination attempt against himself in 1999 to boost his popularity which resulted in an innocent man spending 4 years in jail waiting to clear his name.

 

When local political leaders criticized Arpaio’s tactics, he simply used his power to go after them. Starting in the mid-2000s, his internal affairs office was more of a task force to pursue personal grudges than an effort to keep his deputies in line. Not to mention, Arpaio had been cited for systematic abuses of power for trying to get his enemies brought up on criminal charges including local judges like Snow, members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, local attorneys, county and state officials, former US Attorney General Eric Holder, municipal law enforcement, newspaper heads, and a former mayor of Phoenix. He famously investigated Barack Obama’s birth certificate which he wrote off as a forgery. In one instance, the sheriff’s office arrested a county board member who questioned the costs associated with Arpaio’s immigration crackdown and held him in jail for several hours. Another instance in 2007, led to arrests of the CEO and top editor of the Phoenix New Times for publishing an aggressive report on the sheriff’s real estate dealings and refused to comply with subpoenas for more than 2 years of the newspaper’s records on Arpaio and information on anyone who visited the website and read the stories. They were apprehended during a raid on their homes while their families looked on and were charged with violating grand-jury secrecy by reporting on the subpoenas. In 2008, Arpaio conducted a late-night raid on Mesa City Hall allegedly looking for undocumented immigrants after Police Chief George Gascon prevented him from sending officers to confront those protesting his crime sweeps over harassment and racial profiling. Gascon also hired free speech lawyers to represent the demonstrators as well. Arpaio arrested a handful of documented janitors and then raided Gascon’s police station for the workers’ computer files suspecting their papers were fake.

 

In the past decade hundreds of lawsuits were brought upon the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office with charges ranging from deaths in Joe Arpaio’s jails to unlawful arrests. Far from saving money, Arpaio’s on-the-cheap Tent City has cost Maricopa County more than $50 million to defend itself against lawsuits from the sheriff’s victims. In 2007, a few Latino residents sued him for civil rights violations. The plaintiffs claimed deputies targeted them at traffic stops and sometimes detained them for hours on suspicion of being in the US without papers, apparently due to their ethnicity. The US Department of Justice investigated the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for 3 years and in 2011 reported that it had engaged in the worst pattern of racial profiling in US history. The DOJ subsequently filed suit against his MCSO of creating “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos” that “reaches the highest levels of the agency.” As a result, Judge G. Murray Snow issued an injunction preventing Arpaio from apprehending or detaining anyone purely on a suspected undocumented status or turning such people over to ICE. That same year, the US Department of Homeland Security revoked MCSO’s authority to identify and detain undocumented immigrants.

 

Though Joe Arpaio officially lost the civil suit in 2013, it was obvious his department hadn’t complied to Judge Snow’s 2011 injunction. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office kept engaging in immigration “sweeps,” turning people over to ICE (or the Border Patrol when ICE stopped accepting detainees from Arpaio’s deputies), and holding suspected undocumented immigrants in jail after they’d otherwise be released for federal agents to pick them up. After several hearings about the Maricopa County Sheriff Office’s failure to obey the 2011 order, Judge Snow cited Arpaio and some of his subordinates for civil contempt of court in 2015. The next year, Snow asked the US Attorney’s Office to charge Arpaio and 3 others with criminal contempt, which someone can only be convicted of if it’s shown that they willfully refused to obey the court order, not just failed to make sure it was obeyed. Of course, Arpaio denied deliberately disobeying Snow’s order, claiming he hadn’t properly understood it. He claimed the violations were his deputies’ fault not his. Judge Snow didn’t buy it for obvious reasons. First, witnesses testified that Arpaio and his underlings told them not to change internal policies after the court order.  Second, during his frequent media appearances, Arpaio often claimed his department was just doing what it had always done, arguing that he was simply doing the job the federal government had failed to do. He even told reporters he would “never give in to control by the federal government,” that he would not “back down” and “if they don’t like what I’m doing get the laws changed in Washington.” Third, Arpaio had attempted to dig dirt on Judge Snow himself (including having a detective investigate the federal judge’s wife). As US District Judge Susan Bolton wrote, “Not only did (Arpaio) abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise. The evidence at trial proves beyond a reasonable doubt and the Court finds that Judge Snow issued a clear and definite order enjoining Defendant from detaining persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed; that Defendant knew of the order; and that Defendant willfully violated the order by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed.”

 

 Joe Arpaio’s July 2017 conviction for contempt of court was a predictable consequence of the way he ran his department guided by the idea that as long as law enforcement officials grabbed headlines by going after undesirable people, the public wouldn’t care how it was done. The evidence for his guilt was overwhelming and there was nothing improper about Arpaio’s trial and well-deserved conviction. Nobody contested that the former sheriff targeted and jailed Latinos in inhuman conditions on suspicion of undocumented immigration. There was no doubt he was guilty of contempt. Nobody questioned the fact he defied a court order so he could continue his race-based reign of terror that targeted innocent people on the basis of their ethnicity. He saw himself above the law and bragged about defying a court order in front of the cameras. You can’t find a clearer case of contempt of court than this. Arpaio was clearly not doing his job to enforce the law. Instead he broke it and openly disregarded it in broad daylight without a hint of remorse.

 

Donald Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio is essentially allows a government official to defy Constitutional rights with impunity. It is an endorsement of the corrupt former sheriff’s flagrant racism and birtherism. Furthermore, not only did Trump pardon Arpaio without any of the appropriate processes and procedures, but also reflects his appalling disrespect for democratic institutions. And from a moral standpoint, it is completely indefensible. Unfortunately, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Trump would pardon such a despicable man since he shares the notorious ex-sheriff’s views such as little regard for civil rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The federal judiciary and legal system operates under the reasonable expectation that public officials like Arpaio will follow valid court orders whether they agree with them or not. Without this compliance there’s no law. Also, it reflects his priorities such as rewarding those he sees as loyal and punishing those like special prosecutor on the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller whom Trump has wanted to fire. It shouldn’t surprise no one that Arpaio is a loyal Trump supporter for years. Now in the Trump administration, when judicial norms or the rule of law threaten to limit Trump’s actions, they may be safely disregarded. As Slate’s Michael Joseph Stern writes: “Arpaio’s conviction was a test for how long and how willing Trump will be to abide judicial oversight. He flunked it. It now seems clear that many future beneficiaries of the president’s clemency will be his political allies—and that he might not wait to for them to be convicted or sentenced before issuing a pardon. Trump, in other words, may use his pardon power to stymie Robert Mueller’s investigation, as well as other inquiries into the past misdeeds of his associates.” We’d expect a crime boss or a dictator to do this but it’s the last thing we’d want from a president. In fact, such abuse on a pardon could be grounds for impeachment as James Madison explained.

 

On the immigration front, Donald Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio for aggressively enforcing immigration law in the worst way possible, it sends a very clear message to local sheriffs in public office worried about court liability. Particularly, as the administration ramps up immigration enforcement, when it comes to holding people after they’d otherwise be released from jail so ICE agents could pick them up. Since sheriffs could get in trouble with the courts for violating the Fourth Amendment. Nevertheless, Trump indicates that if they get aggressive and get in trouble with the law for it, the administration will have their back. But as Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualteri told the Daily Beast, “If we violate the law by doing what they ask us to do, we’re subjecting ourselves, no question, to civil liability and civil rights violations.” Some sheriffs like Gualteri feel that the Trump administration is oblivious to their concerns and for very good reason. He added that officials “are saying, ‘What are you sheriffs doing? Why aren’t you cooperating?’ when they don’t know that it is clearly a problem and that we can’t do it.” Unlike Arpaio, most local law enforcement officials aren’t interested in enforcing immigration laws since they have better things to do. As Arpaio’s case demonstrates, a local crackdown on undocumented immigration drains time and resources, hurt community relationships, and can keep law enforcement officials from doing their jobs. Maricopa County suffered an increase in violent crime because of Arpaio’s actions. Besides, Trump’s pardon power can’t shield these sheriffs from court costs and damages that their communities will have to cover. Then there are sheriffs like Arpaio who could use that pardon as an excuse to racially profile Latinos and violate their constitutional rights regardless of their immigration status and get away with abusing their power, neglecting their duties, and violating several laws. And like in Arpaio’s reign of terror, many of those victimized can’t effectively use the courts to fight back. At a time when there’s more awareness of widespread law enforcement abuse toward people of color, the Arpaios of this country are the last officials we need to enforce our laws.  

 

And finally, another reason why Donald Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio is how it emboldens white supremacists. In addition to his media savvy, Arpaio called himself a “constitutional” sheriff, emphasizing his lofty mandate to uphold the US Constitution, which is also a political dog whistle for states rights’ advocates and white supremacists with a deep-seated hatred of the federal government. And it surprised nobody that the Arizona white supremacist JT Ready had attended one of Arpaio’s rallies before shooting and killing his girlfriend, her family, and himself in 2012. Pardoning a government official who unjustly terrorized people of color could make white supremacy and white supremacist terror more acceptable. Trump has already refused to condemn white supremacists for Charlottesville for which he blamed the violence on “many sides.” In pardoning Arpaio, he essentially states that minorities’ civil rights don’t matter, especially if law enforcement is concerned. As former Justice Department Civil Rights Division head Vanita Gupta said, “If President Trump uses his power to pardon a discredited law enforcement official who persistently engaged in illegal racial profiling of the Latino community, it will not be a dog whistle to the so-called ‘alt right’ and white supremacists, but a bull horn. No amount of tweets or forced remarks read from a teleprompter could undo the damage.” Arizona Representative Raul Grjalva noted, “Pardoning Arpaio is a culmination and an added layer to what is already a very, very perilous and dangerous path in which this country is going under Trump. A path that calls for this country to marginalize some, to treat others different under the rule of law, and to essentially condone, comfort and coddle the racist and hateful organizations and individuals that are a significant part of his base.” White supremacists comprise of a key part of Trump’s base and have committed hate crimes in his name since his election. Pardoning Arpaio for just “doing his job” only empowers them further which in turn leads them to commit violence against people of color.

 

There is no doubt that Donald Trump’s pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was indefensible at every imaginable standpoint. It’s a smack in the face for those who worked through the judicial system to hold this man accountable and robbed people hurt by hurt by his policies of justice. And before a judge could even sentence him. It’s an insult Maricopa County’s Latino community whom Arpaio constantly victimized in his sweeps as well as its residents who bore the financial and social costs. While it might be a get-out-of-jail-free-card for county sheriffs, it can also pressure them into going against what’s best for their communities. And worst of all, it will further empower white nationalists to victimize minorities in Trump’s name. In fact, this pardon reeks of pure contempt for every American believing in justice, human dignity, and the rule of law. Arpaio may be a profile in courage for Trump, his supporters, and white supremacists who see him as a fearless force of white supremacy fighting against the brown scourge of immigration. But the sheriff’s cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners and immigrants foreshadowed the policies Trump and his allies. And Arpaios racism mirror those in the Trump administration today along with the lack of respect for legal norms and the rule of law. Though Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio will earn him cheers from his supporters, it is a pardon worthy of contempt.