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Why Are These Gun Owners’ Panties In A Bunch?

I was flummoxed by this story on cnn.com this morning. Apparently, a bunch of gun owners in Westchester and Rockland Counties have their panties in a bunch because a local newspaper (The Journal News) published an interactive map that contained the names and addresses of all gun owners in the area. One commenter actually wrote, 

“So should we start wearing yellow Stars of David so the general public can be aware of who we are??”

Whoa! Let’s back up for a second. Nazi references are completely uncalled for, unless we’re talking about a situation where there is a mass genocide of a race or culture, so shut the fuck up with the hyperbole already. Sheesh!

More importantly, I don’t see the problem here. Your address is easily found on the internet, complete with pictures of your house, so the only information being disclosed by this map, is the fact that you own a gun. Shouldn’t this make the gun owner happy, since it amplifies that whole “self defense” purpose? Isn’t someone less likely to break into your house if they know that you’re packing? Don’t you want the robbers to be deterred by the knowledge that you’re a gun toting badass that shouldn’t be messed with, and that they should instead break into your pacifist neighbor’s house? Don’t these people want to head off potential shooting situations off before any shooting has to happen? 

Also, if I were a parent in the neighborhood, I would want to know if you have a gun in the house before I decide if I want my kid hanging out at your house. I don’t mean that in a punitive way. I mean that I would want to make an informed decision on whether I feel comfortable with my child being in your house with a gun. Statistically speaking, if you own a gun, members of your household are 4.5 times more likely to get shot. I would want to know if my child is 4.5 more times likely to get shot, while in your house. This isn’t hyperbole, it’s math.  I wouldn’t want this, this, thisthis, this, thisthis, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this,or this happening to my kid. By the way, did you happen to notice how many of these accidental shootings happened in the homes of police officers?

I’m sorry gun owners, but you’re not the only ones with rights in this country. I should have the right to all of the information I need before deciding if it’s safe for me or any member of my household to enter your home. I have no desire to stop you from having your (okay, certain types) gun, but I have the fucking right to my information.

And if you don’t like being known as a gun owner, maybe you should rethink the gun. You don’t get to hide by denying me information that I feel I need. And the fact that you want to hide makes me suspicious of you. You get to protect yourself your way, but I get to protect myself my way too. If you don’t like that, you can suck it.

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A Culture Of Violence

We (Americans) live in a culture of violence. This is the last argument from gun nuts that don’t want to pass any legislation to stop the killing fields that our country has become. The first argument is (of course) that banning certain types of weapons won’t do any good, since criminals will always be able to get them. This argument is easily debunked by looking at Australia, Japan, and a number of countries that have managed to bring down their death tolls by tightening legislation around fire arms.

Once all of the empirical facts are presented, the gun nut invariable changes their tactic to make hypothetical arguments that are less easy to disprove. Arguments like, “we are a much more violent culture so you can’t compare us to other countries”. To this, I say bullshit! The idea that other countries don’t play violent video games, or watch violent movies is absurd. I’ve got some news for you, Rockstar Games has enjoyed huge sales numbers all around the world for Manhunt, which consistently tops the list of most violent games. And if you don’t think that the Japanese (one of the most technocentric cultures in the world) aren’t playing Mortal Kombat en masse, you’re not paying attention. They’re building and embracing companion robots, for god’s sake! I promise you, that Django Unchained is going to be the #1 box office blockbuster in every country that plays it. You’re batshit crazy, not to mention intellectually lazy, if you think that we’re just inherently more violent than the rest of the world.

But I do agree that we have a cultural problem. We used to be a culture that believed we could do anything. We used to be a culture that saw our bankers robbing the country so blind that they caused the great depression. We believed we could stop it, and we did. We passed legislation that worked very well for 45 years before those laws started to be systematically  repealed by both democratic and republican legislatures.

We used to be a country that decided that having parents working side by side with their kids for twelve hours a day, six days a week was wrong, and that we could change it. And guess what? We changed it by passing legislation. In fact, we changed it so effectively that it was possible for a family to thrive on a single income. That changed when we slowly let our wages flatten or decline, and accepted that two incomes were necessary to feed, clothe, and house a family.

We used to be a country that cheered when the president said that we will put a man on the moon within 10 years. We’ve become a country that would laugh with cynicism at such a statement today.

We used to be the country that cured polio and small pox. Now we’re a country that accepts a lifetime of “treating” illness with pharmaceuticals.

We used to believe that we could accomplish anything we decided to accomplish. We, as a society, don’t believe that anymore. We don’t believe that government can accomplish anything good. Worse than that, we don’t believe that we can push our government into doing anything good.

I will admit that I am among those who don’t believe that our current system of governance can’t produce good results for its people. It doesn’t much matter if you’re on team democrat or team republican. Neither work for you. They work for the corporations and billionaires that feed the system with their money. The only difference between the two parties, is the speed with which they will get us to the inevitable endgame. Republicans want to put the pedal to the metal and turn us into wage slaves as soon as possible, so that their corporate benefactors can exploit our labor. Democrats are okay with this plan, they just want to go slower and throw us a few crumbs along the way so that we go along willingly.

But I differ from the defeatists in that, I believe we can change the system. I don’t believe that we’re doomed to live with this corrupt government whose only objective is to serve it’s multinational corporate masters, at the expense of is country. I understand that we’re pretty screwed right now, but I don’t believe that we’re completely fucked. We do have one (and I mean only one) option available to us.

I’m going to go more into what I think we can do in the next blog post (and most of the blog posts next year). For now, you can check out Wolf Pac for a preview.

This post is about identifying where we’re going wrong in our thinking. We have a cultural problem, but not the one that most people think we have. We’re not more violent than anyone else. We just have a defeatist attitude that is fucking crippling. It’s crippling us from stopping the killing epidemic, and it’s stopping us from having the equality of opportunity that we once had. It’s time to stop defeating ourselves. We need to see where our country has been, and we need to realize that we can do good things.

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Gun Uncontrol

I’ve seen a lot of “debate”about gun control since Friday, and I must say that my usual state of bitchiness has been elevated to level of pure rage. I put debate in quotes because we’re not actually having a debate. Comments I’ve read from pro gun nuts do not constitute serious discussion. The discussions being had are not two sides of a coin, much like the evolution vs creation discussion are not two sides of a coin. One side of that debate is based on science and discovery like archeology and carbon dating, while the other side consists simply of blind faith.

I’ve seen the same dichotomy in discussions about what to do about the gun violence in America. One side (my side) offers several solutions to the mass shooting epidemic in America. solutions like;

  • More thorough background checks. TSA applicants must fill out a 17 page background check form called the SF – 86 in order to apply. I want gun buyers to go through the same process, including fingerprinting. If you can’t wait a month for your background check to clear, I don’t want you to have a gun.
  • No more semiautomatic or automatic weapons. There’s no reason on the fucking planet for anyone to be able to fire rapid rounds, other than to kill lots of people quickly. This is not an unreasonable restriction on the second amendment, so shut the fuck up about your constitutional rights. The more you want an automatic weapon, the more evident it is that you shouldn’t have one.
  • No more clips that hold more than six bullets. If you need more than six bullets before having to reload, you’re either doing something very bad, or you’re an extremely shitty shot. Either way, I don’t want for you to be able to fire more than six shots before reloading.
  • I want you to attend annual, mandatory training classes if you own a gun. If I have to renew my driver’s license every few years, you should have to demonstrate that you can responsibly handle a firearm every year.
  • I want you to apply for a permit in order to be able to carry a concealed weapon. I want a record kept of who you are, and which gun you’re carrying. If you’re not planning on doing anything wrong, this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
  • I don’t want you to have a gun if you have one iota of violent behavior, or mental isstability on your criminal record.

I don’t feel that any of these requirements are unreasonable. I also don’t feel that any of these requirements infringe on your right to own a gun. And guess who agrees with me? The vast majority of NRA members. 

So that’s my side. What is the other side saying? Well, they’re mostly mischaracterizing my side with hyperbole about taking away everyone’s guns. The fact of the matter is that no one has talked about taking away everyone’s guns in decades. That’s a fact. And I defy anyone to come up with any evidence of single legislator putting forward any bills to take away people’s guns. I defy anyone to come up with a single example of a political analyst or reporter in any main stream media outlet that has espoused taking away everyone’s guns. That’s just not happening in America. And yet, if you listen to Wayne LaPierre, you would think that there was a widespread movement to everyone’s guns away. There isn’t even a movement to limit the number of guns that a person can own.

To the extent that the pro gun nuts have a solution to the problem, it’s this; arm more people. To be clear, this “solution” is to stop a maniac after they’ve got a gun in their hands and have begun shooting. I’m sorry but if your “solution” doesn’t start before the shooting does, then you don’t give two shits about the victims present or future. You care more about whatever crazy ass John Wayne fantasy than you do about saving lives. And you should go fuck yourself. I’m not going to take you seriously because you’re not serious about solving the problem.

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Blinded By Your Own Douchiness

I’m talking about John Schnatter (even his name is douchy), CEO of Papa John’s (barely) Pizza, as well as Darden Restaurants Inc (who own Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Longhorn Steak House) who have all said that they will be cutting their workers’ hours so that they don’t have to offer them health coverage, as mandated by ObamaCare.

Let me tell you the number of ways this is douchy. The most obvious, is that this is a PR nightmare. I believe that most Americans are good people, who want the people that prepare their food to be able to live a life that includes health insurance. I don’t believe that (with the exception of ideologues) most of us have a problem paying a few cents, or even a few dollars more for restaurant meals if that means providing health coverage to the employees that prepare and serve those meals. How do I know this? Because since 2008, restaurant patrons in San Francisco have been paying an extra 4% on each meal they consume, so that the restaurant workers in San Francisco have universal coverage. This 4% charge hasn’t made it any easier for me to get a table at The Slanted Door when I’m in town, so I’m guessing that San Franciscans aren’t eating at home because that 4% is overly burdensome. 

It’s also douchy because these announcements are clearly politically motivated. The announcements didn’t have to be made. They could have quietly implemented the WalMart model of two part time employees, rather than one full time employee in order to avoid providing any benefits at all. No, they want to make a last ditch effort to scare people into believing that ObamaCare is a bad thing.

But the douchiest part of this, is that it demonstrates how bad these people are at business. Remember what I told you about San Francisco and the added charge for health insurance? Well, a lot of restaurants in San Francisco have turned these surcharges into a profit center. They’re pocketing some, if not all of the money. Wayfair Tavern in downtown San Francisco collected almost $64,000 from it’s customers in 2010. They spent a little over $6,000 of it on health insurance for their employees. I’m not going to go into how they did this, since it’s not relevant to this post. You can click on the link in this paragraph to get more information on it. My point is that John Schnatter, who claims that providing insurance for his employees will cost consumers fifteen cents more per shitty pizza. If he weren’t so blinded by his own douchiness, he would have realized that quietly raising the prices by fifty cents for each inedible pie, would have increased his profits. This would have enabled him to buy another obnoxious castle, while treating his employees to doctor visits. It would have been a win/win, but he douchebagged himself into a lose/lose.

When people don’t have insurance, and can’t get full time hours, they leave as soon as they can so you create a fast-spinning revolving door of employees. As an HR professional, I can tell you that it costs significantly less to keep an employee happy than it does to replace them. In the high tech arena, the cost of replacing an employee can range between 60 – 200% of that employees annual salary. I’m positive these percentages are much lower in fast food, but I’m also positive that it’s cheaper to garner some loyalty and slow the spinning of that revolving door. You have to pay to add an employee to your payroll system, and then you have to pay to remove them. You have to pay someone to perpetually interview new employees, and you have to pay someone else to process the new hire and termination paperwork.

This whole thing is douchy, and it’s bad business. So I say boycott, boycott, boycott! And to the idiots who say that this will cause layoffs, don’t you think I thought of that? You can take your business to Little Caesars, who have no plans to fuck their employees because they never wanted to treat them humanely in the first place.  An increase in business at Little Caesars means more hiring of employees who will get the benefits they need. Laid off Papa John’s employees can get a better job down the street.


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Your Work Is Not Done Part I

Now that the distraction of the election is over, it’s time to get to work. I know that you thought that you were done after you voted, but you’re not. Don’t worry conservatives, this series of posts won’t all be about pushing a liberal agenda so bear with me through this post. I promise they won’t all annoy you.

So liberals, I’m speaking to you right now. There’s something you need to do immediately, and repeatedly over the course of the next eight weeks, in order to get congress moving along again. Basically nothing changed last night, in terms of the balance of power. Congress is still held by a GOP majority, the senate is still democratically controlled (albeit by a slightly larger margin), and democrats still have the white house. This means that the do nothing gridlock that we’ve been treated to for the past four years may continue.

I say may, because we can put pressure on Harry Reid to stop it. We need to send Harry Reid a torrent of letters and faxes demanding that he change the filibuster rules. The majority leader can change senate rules with a simple majority at the beginning  of each session. A new session begins when the new senators are sworn in, in January. We need to send letters and faxes to Harry Reid immediately and frequently. Additionally, you need to send one letter or fax to your democratic senator asking them to vote for a rule change. I want you to send letters and faxes as opposed to emails because they’re more impactful. They create a physical presence and a physical mass. It’s harder to gauge the volume of emails than it is to look at a stack of physical paper and get a sense of the volume.

This will take maybe fifteen minutes of your time, so it’s not a huge undertaking. You spent more time voting, even if everything went smoothly. Not it’s time to make that vote mean something. We need to stop the minority from hijacking the government at every turn. Ignore the bullshit about how changing the rules will eventually hurt “your team” when they’re in the minority. The majority leader, any majority leader can always change the rules at the start of a new session. I promise you that republicans will change the rules if they ever regain control.

This rule change will empower the president you voted for to move his agenda forward. And if he doesn’t, you will all know that he, and not congress is the problem. I’m tired of hearing this crap about how powerless Obama is, in order to defend him. I’ve never believed that he’s as powerless as some people maintain. Regardless, let’s find out. If we discover that he’s the problem, we can focus our pressure on him. Here is the contact information for Harry Reid’s Washington office; 

          522 Hart Senate Office Building 

          Washington, DC 20510

          Fax: 202-224-7327

Click on this link to get the mailing and fax information for your senator.

You have to do this in order to make last night’s vote count! Please, I’m begging you! Don’t make me get bitchier!

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The New Normal

As most of you know, I live in Manhattan so I’ve been living Hurricane Sandy for four days now. Not surprisingly, the whole thing has elevated my already active bitchy tendencies. I’ve been watching wet reporters feeding me bullshit about homes burning down, roller coasters falling into the ocean, cars floating down Church Street, basically everything but what they should be talking about; climate change.

This is the second year in a row, when a hurricane has become a problem that the North East has to deal with. And everyone seems to be acting like this is normal. It’s not fucking normal! These giant, 550 mile wide storms working their way up the east coast are not normal. Well, they didn’t used to be. They’re the “new” normal. YAY for me!

And while I’m embracing the new normal, I’m having to endure an election year where for the first time in thirty years, neither presidential candidate was asked a single question about climate change in any of the debates. Are we really pretending like this isn’t fucking happening?

Apparently we are. That shit needs to stop. We need to be talking about climate change all the time. I don’t know why liberals and democrats have given up on it, but let me tell you that it hasn’t given up on us. Actually, I do know why we’re not talking about it; because our liberal bastion of a democratic president isn’t talking about it. We need to make him talk about it.

But as long as we’re going to ignore climate change, I need to set some ground rules;

There will be absolutely no talk about cutting the budget for FEMA. Obama wants to cut funding to FEMA by 3%, Romney wants to privatize it completely, which to me means that Obama must be bitch slapped (yes, I’m volunteering) and Romney needs to be put down. Future conversations regarding budgeting for FEMA must echo the conversations about defense spending. Since we’re going to ignore climate change, we must embrace the idea that FEMA is the biggest growth area in our economy and budget accordingly.

There will be no insane winger rhetoric about the privatization of emergency services. This is crazy bullshit that can be dismantled with a little recent history. Trent Lott, the douchebag republican senator from Mississippi, learned how well the private sector works for people after Katrina. He had to sue State Farm because they refused to pay for the damage to his home. Ever heard of FEMA insurance? It’s government funded homeowners insurance that exists because the private sector doesn’t want to deal with you, if they think they will have to pay out a high dollar claim. So if you live in Florida or Texas, you have some of that socialist FEMA hurricane insurance because State Farm would rather you go fuck yourself, than submit a claim for hurricane damage to your house. I’m guessing that we’re going to start seeing FEMA hurricane coverage here in New York because of the new normal and all.

There will be no talk of cutting the budget for any technology that will help us detect hurricanes before they fuck me. Does anybody have any idea how fucked New York City would be right now if the subway system hadn’t been shut down before the hurricane hit? Or how fucked our electrical grid would be if the power company didn’t know to shut parts of the grid down preemptively? No, early detection is not something we can do without. NOAA and NASA get as many goodies as they need to keep a Metro North train from blowing off the track and landing on top of my house.

I hope I’ve been clear on my rules on how to proceed in this climate science era we seem to be living in. You may now proceed to laugh any politician that doesn’t adhere to my rules, out of the room.

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This Is What Unbiased Looks Like

I saw one of those, “Obama accomplishments” sites posted on G+ with the following commentary:

I know, because I am a grown up who lives in a reality based world, that there is no candidate that will ever wholly satisfy me. However, Obama comes pretty darn close. I don’t like everything he has done, but there are a LOT of things he has been able to accomplish. The list is surprisingly large considering there has been a powerful group whose main goal it has been to throw up road blocks the whole time (even when it means going against values they already spoke out FOR–which is just fuckdiculous).

I just want to say that this person is an idiot. She’s the kind of idiot that will destroy the democratic party (I mean, destroy faster), the way that republicans that followed Bush into the rabbit hole destroyed the Republican party. Republicans were happy to go against every single tenet of conservatism, just to support Bush. And in exchange, they got giant government, fiscal recklessness the likes of which we’ve never seen, and the most invasive foreign policy this country has ever practiced.

Obama has done some good things, no question. There are a lot of things that Obama has been awful on. Civil liberties, for instance. It’s almost less galling to have my civil liberties gutted by an idiot, than by a freaking constitutional law professor!

He didn’t do a damned thing to reform Wall Street. Nada. Fortunately, he’s very likely going to preside over the next economic collapse, so he will get the opportunity to suffer as a result of his own inaction.

His crackdown on whistleblowers, his administration’s treatment of Bradley Manning, and his complete disregard for the promises he made regarding states rights on the medical marijuana issue are all appalling.

But the worst thing are the signature drone strikes (as opposed to targeted drone strikes). Signature strikes are when they bomb the crap out of a site that has “signatures” of terrorist activity. No intelligence. These are strikes where they target of groups of men who bear certain signatures, or defining characteristics associated with terrorist activity, but whose identities they don’t know.

I’m frankly disgusted with any democrat that is okay with this. I’m disgusted with any democrat that doesn’t talk about this atrocity every day. You can’t be disgusted with something when Bush does it, and then be okay with it when Obama does it. The person who referred to Obama as “almost wholly perfect” is a great little foot soldier for the democratic party, but she just plain sucks for liberalism.

Republicans did the same thing for Bush, and now they have no ideology left.  They believe in nothing other than hating democrats.

These loyal little foot soldiers for Obama will end up with the democratic party they deserve. Unfortunately, so will I.

Yeah, I’m voting for Obama. But I’m going to call it like I see it. I’m voting for the lesser of two evils. Obama is less evil than the alternative. And the Obama cheerleaders, they just make me fucking sick.

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Too Honest

I’ve had a week to mull over Mitt Romney’s now infamous 47% tape, and my final conclusion is that Romney is too honest a republican. Nothing he said in that tape in regard to “poor” people (he was actually talking about the middle class) is any great departure from his party, either in rhetoric or in action. He didn’t make up that 47% figure.

He just repeated something that has been floating around in republican ideology for decades now. The 47% is the GOPs go-to demonization group when they don’t have Muslims, Russians (Romney is still clinging on to them as a threat), gays, or minorities to fall back on. You probably all know by now, that the 47% number that republicans like to toss around isn’t really accurate. It includes retirees, who don’t pay taxes on their social security checks (which represent the taxes they paid their whole lives), veterans deployed in combat zones, students, and the disabled.

It also includes the working poor. This is a particularly interesting group, with regard to the republican rhetoric. You see, the working poor don’t pay federal income taxes (they do pay sales taxes, gas taxes, payroll taxes, and state income taxes) because they get a deduction called the “earned income tax credit”(or EITC). The EITC in combination with the Child Tax Credit usually wipes out their federal tax burden. Where did these tax credits come from? Republicans. Milton Friedman (yes, that Milton Friedman) cooked up the EITC deduction. It was passed in 1975 under a democratically controlled congress, and signed into law by Gerald Ford. The idea behind the EITC was that if working people didn’t make very much money, minimizing their tax burdens would keep them working, and therefor off any public assistance programs. Makes sense, right? It made sense to Ronald Reagan. He was a big fan of the EITC.

Shouldn’t all republicans, past and present support this? It’s a tax credit. I thought they were all for people paying less taxes? What the fuck is the problem? Shouldn’t the GOP look upon these people as being American heroes for finding the taxless utopia they say they want? And why is it that modern republicans refer to Mitt Romney as a financial genius when he writes off $77,000 a year to maintain a fucking dancing horse, in order to minimize his tax burden, but a married couple with two kids making $30,000 a year can’t take a $3,363 EITC deduction without being freeloaders? Why is there such disdain for one class of people taking a relatively minute tax write off, when there’s nothing but praise for another class taking much more robust deductions?

The answer is obvious; the middle class and the working poor don’t have lobbyists, and therefore aren’t real people. They’re abstractions that don’t get any consideration at all. So much so, that republicans can’t even see that this class of people are doing what the GOP platform is based on; not paying taxes. Republicans have worked themselves up so much in their demonization, that they are no longer capable of consistency.

To them, Mitt Romney didn’t say anything wrong in that speech. He just got caught telling the truth. No one has talked about this, but did you hear any booing or jeers on that tape? I didn’t. I heard laughter when Romney said that he would have a better shot at getting elected if he were Mexican. Really , Mitt? Your father would have been the CEO of a major car company in the 50s if he were Mexican? He would have been elected to be the Governor of Michigan if he were Mexican? He would have been able to send you to Harvard and given you millions of dollars of seed money to start Bain Capital if he were Mexican?

These people have spun themselves into an inexplicable state of victimhood by putting themselves up on pedestals from which to look down on everyone outside of their class. They really believe that they are the anointed ones, being preyed upon by the rest of us. They’re entitled to $77,000 a year for dancing horses, while being galled by the idea of anyone taking $3,363 a year to feed themselves.

These people aren’t rational anymore. They see themselves as both anointed and victims simultaneously. What’s worse, they have absolved themselves of any civil responsibility. They are the elite puppet masters that make the world go round, and yet they bare no responsibility for fixing the country’s problems because problems they don’t have aren’t legitimate problems. Poor people are poor because they are lazy, and therefor not a problem. Rape victims that get pregnant obviously weren’t raped, since their bodies allowed he pregnancy to happen. Poor kids that want to go to college should just borrow the tuition money from their parents. Rising health insurance costs aren’t their problem because they don’t ever have to worry about being able to afford to buy health insurance.

The elite in that room don’t bother me nearly as much as the people that will vote for them. Romney was dead wrong when he said that “the 47%” won’t vote for him. An alarmingly large percentage of them will. Remember the tea party rallies full of senior citizens in medicare and social security? Remember how they were riding around on their fancy scooters that medicare paid for, while screaming about how they were being tread on? No, these are the real assholes among us. I can understand the 1% trying to protect their own self interest. I can’t understand the bottom 20% that go along with this crap, just so that they can elevate themselves in their own minds by punching down at the fictional people below them on the social totem poll.

Mitt Romney didn’t write off a constituency that the republican party cares about. He just made the mistake of saying that they’ve been written off out loud. He was too honest, and his crime was that he was careless enough to say out loud, what his party believes.

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Voting Third Party

I was going to write about the conventions today, but I decided to do something different. My impression of the conventions is pretty clearly spelled out on my Facebook page.

I received two questions this week alone, asking why I don’t write or comment more about third party candidates. I’m assuming these questions are rooted in recognizing that I’m not a partisan hack. I call bullshit anywhere that bullshit exists, without doing the “calling it even” crap that the main stream media does. It’s not even. One party is significantly more destructive to most Americans than the other is. Any true conservative or liberal would agree with that assessment. Real conservatives completely lost their party eleven years ago. Liberals are in the process of losing their party, as I write this.

So why don’t I talk about third party candidates? I have two main reasons. Let me start with the most insignificant, and easy to explain. I don’t like either of the two most popular third party candidates; Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. I like Gary Johnson as a person, but libertarianism is the single most childish ideology ever created by the human race. I don’t want to go on a long rant about libertarianism, so let me cut to the jugular right away. Unless you can provide an example of a single country or civilization in which libertarianism has successfully brought prosperity or growth, you’re basically advocating for the existence of unicorns. I’m not interested in your unicorn because I’m an adult. I like to form my opinions based on empirical evidence and historical precedent. On to Jill Stein. I just don’t like her, even though I agree with almost everything she says. I’ve heard a few interviews with her now, and I’ve concluded that she doesn’t listen. She’s the type of person that waits for her turn to speak, without absorbing or considering anything that is being said on the other side of the conversation. And her rebuttal to the point that voting for a third party is an exercise in futility is also childish. She thinks that even though she doesn’t have a snow balls chance in winning, that every vote for her (or any third party) diminishes any “mandate” that the victor will ultimately have. BULLSHIT. George W Bush barely got selected to be president in 2000. He didn’t have anything resembling a mandate and yet, he barreled through his presidency as if he were the imperial president.

This mandate thing is nonsense, because our representatives don’t give two shits about your opinion. I can give you a long list of examples, but let me briefly give you two. Afghanistan. We’re over it. Democrats are over it, and republicans are over it. Now that we killed Bin Laden, no one can make a cogent argument for why we’re still there. And yet our representatives, republican and democrat alike, won’t get us the fuck out because the defense companies that own them don’t want us out. My second example is social security. Three quarters of Americans (republicans and democrats combined) don’t want to see a single cut made to social security, ever. Most of those people don’t even understand that there’s an easy fix to the social security problem. If they did, that 3/4 number would go up. And yet, the vast majority of our legislators can’t fucking wait to make the “grand bargain”, which will result in significant cuts in benefits. Obama, Boehner, McConnell are all on the same page on this one. Instead of raising the cap on contributions into the fund, they want to raise the retirement age and cut benefits.

At this point you’re probably thinking that I’m making a great argument in favor of third party candidates. I’m not, and here’s where I turn it all around. Our politicians aren’t people. They’re tools. They don’t give a shit about your needs because they don’t work for you. They work for the interests that pour money into their coffers to get them elected. This is the fucked up system of governance that we must work within. We have a system in which the candidate with the most money wins their election 94% of the time. Think about that for a second. The person with the most money wins NINETY-FOUR PERCENT of the time. The ideas and the people running are irrelevant. Good guy/ bad guy, ideological purist/ pragmatist; none of that matters. The only thing that matters ninety four fucking percent of the time is the MONEY.

The irony is that I believe that a bigger percentage of third party voters know that statistic, than the rest of the population. That’s true of the third partiers I know, anyway. But when you know that fact, supporting third parties is even more inexplicable because you still have to believe that the better idea can win. That is not fucking possible, and the empirical evidence tells you that it’s not possible.

As long as we have to operate under this system, voting is an exercise in picking the less damaging, sell out candidate among the options available to you. That’s just a fact. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I don’t call myself bitchy for nothing. You need to grow the fuck up, and realize that there is no political nirvana to be had in this system.

We have to fix the goddamned system before we can expect anything good to come out of it. Voting for a third party candidate is like flicking water off your fingers at a wildfire, and expecting to extinguish that fire. It’s actually worse because what you think is water on your fingers, is actually little tiny droplets of gasoline. The interests that control our government fucking love it when you vote third party because you’re practicing self voter suppression. You’re throwing your goddamned vote away and helping their guy win by checking out of the system. Voting third party is an exercise in futility, and it always will be.

I will be writing a lot about what we need to do to fix this monumentally fucked up election system of ours after the election, and as followers of this blog grow. It’s going to take a lot of proactive work, on the part of a lot of us. But right now, we have an election to deal with. And we have to have that election with the current system in place. We have to focus on minimizing the damage.

We can’t help to elect candidates that want to tear down our social safety nets as quickly as possible, and destroy our already pathetic education system in order to feed the corporate profits of their masters. In case you haven’t figured out yet, that would be 100% of republicans, and roughly 40% of democrats. I don’t care what a politician calls themselves. Whether they’re republican or democrat, you have to pick the one that will slow down that dismantling of our social contracts.

You have to do this until we change the system. I’m a sunny optimist. I believe that we can fix the system, and I have an idea of how to do it. But right now, we have to keep our eye on the prize and get through this election cycle.

I just don’t see how voting for a third party candidate is going to serve your best interest. I hope that answers your questions on this topic.

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The Meme That Mean Built

I was watching Clint Eastwood’s train wreck last night, as it was happening and I had the same reaction that everyone else had; What the fuck? He looked like a crazy person. And as the cameras panned the crowd, I could see that some of them were running through the same what-the-fuck cycle I was running through.

And when I woke up this morning, and saw the #eastwooded memes, I laughed (a lot). But I also felt bad because he’s old, and maybe not as sharp as he once was. But the memes kept on coming, and I kept on laughing and feeling a little bad for him.

I’ve watched the speech two more times throughout the day, and a couple of things that didn’t occur to me last night (probably because I was dazed and confused) finally dawned on me. The first thing that I thought of is, why did he even agree to do the speech? He was eviscerated by the right for doing the “It’s half time in America” commercial for Chrysler. His party of patriots went thermonuclear on his ass, for having the gaul to be proud that an American company came back from the brink of disaster. His party is so fucking blinded by their own meanness, that they can’t even take pride in America anymore. Why the fuck would you want to have anything to do with these people anymore? And how do you not assess the situation exactly as I just did? So then I thought that maybe he truly believes that Mitt Romney is the right person to lead this country, despite their disagreement on the Chrysler situation. Remember, Romney wouldn’t have done anything to save them. But if that’s the case, why didn’t Eastwood just say that? Why didn’t he talk about being proud of Chrysler for coming back, while disagreeing (in hindsight, of course) with Mitt Romney about the handling of that one issue. He could have then gone on to talk about the issues in which he agrees with Romney and, I don’t know, maybe talked about why the views they share are better for the country.

That would have been a great speech. It would have been great for Eastwood, in repairing the ill will that republicans had for him, and it would have been great for Romney. But Clint decided to go mean. He decided that saying mean things about (or in his mind, to) Barack Obama. And if you watch the speech, he sounded lucid enough until he got mean. Once he got mean, he sounded like an addled brain old man.

I honestly believe that meanness has a corrosive effect on the soul. And that corrosive effect is what’s wrong with the republican party. That meanness is what makes them incapable of taking pride in goddamned anything about America anymore. They couldn’t take pride in the fact that we, before any European country much older than us, raced through enough racial issues that we elected a black president. I’m not saying that they should have embraced Obama. But they should have taken pride in that American accomplishment. I’ve never heard a republican espouse pride in America for that. They didn’t allow themselves to be proud of America when Osama Bin Laden was finally killed by an American bullet. And they refused to be proud when an American car company came back from nearly total oblivion to thrive.

Meanness is the thing that is corroding the republican party. Their whole convention was centered around being mean to the other guy, rather than praising their guy. Why? Because even they know they have nothing praiseworthy left anymore. Meanness causes blindness. Republicans should have figured out that they needed to completely revamp the party platform after the 2008 ass kicking. But they didn’t, because they’re blinded by meanness. They walked away from that election, thinking they lost because their nominee wasn’t conservative enough. Never mind the fact that there’s nothing conservative left about the republican party. They’ve lost conservatism because of their mean blindness. And I’m sad to say that the ass kicking that Romney is going to get in November, won’t lead them to reassess either. They’re just going to repeat the 2008 mantra of not having a conservative enough candidate.

I don’t feel bad for Clint Eastwood anymore. He’s just fucking mean, and he’s getting what he deserves. Part of me thinks that the GOP was still pissed at him when they booked him to speak. Think about it, the executive producer for the convention got that fucking empty chair for him. They knew what he was going to do. And no sane person could possibly think that was going to go over well. Maybe they wanted him to go out there and look like a jackass, as payback for “half time in America”. Maybe he got outmeaned.

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