One of the saddest things about American politics (and world politics in general, I’m sure, but America is where it really counts) is that you never have to wait very long for a politician to say something so mind-numbingly stupid that it both makes you feel like  a genius in comparison and makes you realize how dumb the people we elect really are.  My current example: the neurosurgeon – this guy operated on brains, despite his apparently not working correctly) Dr. Ben Carson.  This dude obviously went to college for a long time and yet, when talking about homosexuality, had this thoughtful nugget explaining why being gay is a choice: “Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”

Are you fucking kidding me, Dr. Carson?  Are you really a doctor?  Because that may be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard, and I was in the military for 20 years.  But back on topic: Dr. Carson is not fucking kidding me.  He continues: “Why do gay people want to get married?,” he asked. “Why do they say they want to get married? Because they want to have various rights — property rights, visitation rights,” Carson said. “Why can’t any two human beings, I don’t care what their sexual orientation is, why can’t they have the legal right to do those things? That does not require changing the definition of marriage.”

Dr. Carson, your party is the one that is predominately against giving those rights to gay people.  You ask a rhetorical question, but you are the answer to that goddamned question.

But Dr. Carson isn’t alone.  Just last week we had Senator Snowball wearing the crown.  You remember Private Snowball from “Full Metal Jacket”?  Well, now Senator Inhofe – the head of the Environment and Public Works Committee, by the way – brought a snowball to a speech in front of the Senate to prove that global warming is a hoax.  For the love of crappy anecdotal evidence!  In a few months somebody needs to give this idiot a popsicle stick with some melted chocolate on it to prove to him that global warming exists.  It’s an equally nonsensical argument, but using Inhofe’s logic it should ring true, right?  This guy is the head of the Environment Committee and he can’t tell the difference between weather and climate.

But there’s more.  There’s always more.  Remember Rep. Hank Johnson?  In case you don’t, he’s the one that worried that stationing 8,000 Marines on Guam would cause Guam to tip over and capsize.  To be fair, putting 8K Marines together anywhere could cause catastrophic and bizarre consequences, but even the USMC can’t defy simple physics for too long.  Are you fucking kidding me, Johnson?

“Five days, five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.”  Donald Rumsfeld, 2002.  Are you fucking kidding me, Rummy?  We’re still trying to clean up the mess we created and yet you’re suffering no consequences from this.

“If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.” — Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, Texas governor.  Are you fucking kidding me, governor?  I get that you’re trying to pander but my god.  Even Jesus hates you for saying that.

I could go on and on…and on, and on.  I don’t count misspeaking as being stupid – when you spend most of your life in front of the camera and on record, you’re going to flub some things.  That’s why I’m pretty sure that no matter how dumb they may be, Obama doesn’t really think there are 57 states and George Bush really does know that if you fool me twice it’s shame on me.  It’s still kinda funny, but ultimately it doesn’t mean anything.  It’s this incredibly stupidity that frustrates me.  Dr. Carson, do you really think that being gay is a choice or are you just pandering to the imbecilic portion of your potential voters?  Hank Johnson, do you really think an island can tip over, or are you just that blindingly dumb?  Donald Rumsfeld, did you really think the Iraq invasion would only last a few months or were you selling us a bill of goods?  Ma Ferguson, you can’t be that dense, right?

I like to think that deep down these people aren’t that dumb.  In some cases that is probably true.  However, the alternative is that they are just pandering, and I’m not sure which option is worse.

When that calendar flips over from December to January, it’s a good time for a little self-assessment and to decide if you want to stay on the current path or take an alternate route.  At the very end of 2014 I made a commitment to the former by marrying the woman I love and ensuring we’ll be together until one of us dies (it’ll be me, dudes always go first [insert joke here]) so I have that going for me, which is good.  However, I also have to make a commitment to the latter as well because I’ve spent the last three months or so going off the fitness rails, and it shows.

For the first half of last year (which beats most resolutions by at least five months, go me!) I was doing well and then something happened: I stopped enjoying my runs.  For some reason they were no longer fun.  I kept plugging away at it for a few months after that realization but it was forced, and if you’re forcing yourself to do something eventually you’ll stop doing it.  So, I took a break from running, but unfortunately I also took a break from eating well at the same time.  I got fat again, but I also timed my fatness perfectly.  I knew I’d hit rock-bottom around the end of the year and I did.  I knew I could find my motivation again at the start of the year and I have.

In keeping with the confessions, right now when my new wife touches my stomach I shrink away a bit.  When she takes a picture of me I suck in my gut.  That’s embarrassing.  She loves me as I am and I can’t express how much I appreciate that, but I also need to love myself and right now I’m feeling kinda blob-ish.

I’ve occasionally battled with depression and sometimes I’ve let it overwhelm me.  I’m beyond being overwhelmed by it now and I know how to deal with it, and while medications help for me there’s nothing better than the natural medication of exercise and eating better.  With that in mind, as cliché’ as it sounds I loaded up the iPod (amazing how that sentence is now old school, almost like I was listening to a mixtape or an 8-track) with the Rocky mix, and there was one song that I repeated until my run was done.  You guessed it: Frank Stallone.  No, wait, it was this guy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOXaPE6gklI

Robert says there’s no easy way out, but he’s dead wrong.  There are a thousand easy ways out, which is at least 20 times more ways than there are to leave your lover.  There’s no easy way in.  In to getting my ass back in shape, in to where I don’t shrink back or suck in my gut.  In to where I want to be.  With that in mind, it’s time to go.  I’m gonna make a fat wooden effigy of myself and put it in my front yard, so when I get back from my runs I can stop and brood at it (while reflecting on how I was responsible for Apollo Creed dying, and motivate myself to fight Mr. T) and then throw a rock at it (I don’t have a motorcycle or a helmet, yet).  Much like Ivan Drago had to break Rocky, I have to break myself and put myself back together again…better, faster, more not fatter.  I just wish I could grow a sweet Tepper-esque mullet along the way, and find a frayed acid-washed trench coat like I used to have.  Truly, there’s no easy way in for that either.

Thanks for reading my narcissistic motivational post, and please, feel free to encourage me or razz me along the way.  I deserve both of them.  If I can change, you can change, and we all can change.

On the uses of torture

Posted: December 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

So, the “torture report” was released yesterday and people reacted, as people are wont to do.  I sometimes wonder why I look at facebook comments on stories like these because they inevitably leave me feeling like I’ve gone a week without a shower.  They’re mostly depressing and depressingly predictable, and even more so with this topic.  Before I get into those replies, a disclaimer about a particular branch of them: everything is politics when it comes to politics.  Quite a few people are questioning the timing of the release of this report, but seriously – wouldn’t this have possibly helped the democrats over a month ago?  As far as political gain, this is just about the worst time for the democrats to put this out: after an election but well before the new Congress takes over.

OK, now about the replies.  Most of them follow a simple pattern, containing all of the following points:

1. Pelosi is an idiot.

2.  They did it first!

3.  They did it worse!

4.  They were just getting sprinkled with water!

5.  They deserve it!

6.  Liberals are pussies!

Let me address those in reverse order.  6.  Liberals are pussies!  I’m a moderate with liberal leanings but lately I’m feeling more liberal than ever, mainly because of how conservatives have made “liberal” into an insult.  Fuck that shit.  I’m not ashamed of being compassionate and empathetic.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting fair treatment and helping out others, just like there’s nothing wrong with conservative ideals, as long as they aren’t practiced to the extreme.  That goes for both sides – extremism is bad, period.  Extremism blots out new ideas and stifles growth.

5.  They deserve it!  Confucius, or somebody claiming to be him, said it best: before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.  The only time I’ve seen revenge actually be worthwhile is in the movie Unforgiven and even then it was only because we wanted so badly to see William Munny snap.  Saying “they deserve it!” is also setting up a whole new legal system where assumption of innocence is thrown out the barred window just because we suspect they might be involved with terrorist activities.  We make the CIA into judge, jury, and torturer and in those actions we become the enemy we are claiming to try to defeat.  That’s not a victory, that’s a complete and total loss.

4. They were just getting sprinkled with water!  This one enrages me.  Talk to anybody who has gone through waterboarding and see what they compare it to.  This makes me want to embrace my inner them and have them go through waterboarding, and see if they’ll still compare it to a shower.

3.  They did it worse!  So what?  We’re not them, and we shouldn’t want to be anything like them.  These bloodthirsty people don’t seem to realize that they sound just like the terrorists, but in English.  It’s scary.  This is absolutely no justification for torture, not that there is any justification (more on that at the end). “They did it worse” sounds like a third-grade kid trying to explain his way out of detention.

2.  They did it first!  See #3.  Our actions belong only to us.  Nobody can force us to act; we act of our own volition.  See also #5, where we become the enemy.

1.  Pelosi is an idiot!  No argument here, but this is about the message and not the messenger.

Finally, and to me most importantly, is the simple fact that you don’t get reliable information from torture.  That’s the bottom line.  People being tortured will say anything to stop the torture, and that usually means saying whatever their captors want to hear, even if it isn’t the truth.  It’s a net loss no matter how you look at it.  So if there’s no reliable information to be gained from torture, then what is the point?  Seems to me that it’s all about revenge, and revenge is never worth it.  If it’s about punishment, then don’t we want to make sure these people deserve some sort of punishment before we subject them to it?  Suspicion isn’t enough for me.  Confucius said it best: “before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”  I don’t want America in that second grave.  As messed-up as it’s getting I still like it here.

First, a preface about “bad” words, something I often think about. I understand societal pressures and norms and why some words are considered “bad” or “dirty.” I just think that they’re ridiculous. I think “fuck” should be a perfectly acceptable word and should be able to be used in all settings, under the right circumstances. To me, words are like spices and they should be used with the same discretion as a cook uses spices. Too much of any one spice spoils a dish, and using any word too much dilutes its effectiveness. I think it’s perfectly fucking absurd that we have words that we shouldn’t use at certain times or in certain places. That’s just fucking ridiculous. And, note that in this paragraph (including the title) I’ve already used “fuck” in various forms six times, and that’s too damn many times. It gets tiresome very quickly. However, if I knocked out a few of the “fucks” the paragraph would be much more bearable. Effin’ A, Cotton, Effin’ A.

Now, on to the meat of this post: little girls/young women swearing, mostly with the f-bomb, to get your attention: http://www.mediaite.com/online/little-girls-unleash-a-torrent-of-profanity-in-f-bombs-for-feminism/ I’ll admit that at the start of the video, I laughed. The other day I was having a discussion with my girlfriend about how a part of me will never grow up, and that part enjoyed this video for about 30 seconds or so. Then it just kept going. Fuck me, right? I stopped focusing on the content for a bit, and thought about how I would feel if it was my 11-year-old daughter in the video. Answer: I personally wouldn’t mind but I would worry about the personal fallout for her from doing it. I don’t know if that makes me a coward but I suspect it does, to some extent. Then, I drifted back into the content, and was amused again because it was refreshed, and then lost focus as it kept dragging on. For shits and grins I read the Facebook comments on the post, and I wasn’t surprised but as usual I was disappointed. I take that disappointment as a sign that I haven’t given completely up on society because of the internet, but I really should have long ago. I guess I’m a fucking dreamer.

Most of the comments didn’t focus on the message, per se. There were people praising it, people laughing at it, but for the most part there were people lamenting the downfall of our society and proffering that video as proof, and something something Obama. Again, I understand where they’re coming from even while not agreeing with it. I don’t think our society is crumbling and this video with girls gone obscene is our Caligula. I think our society is crumbling because most of us (and by “most of us” I obviously mean “everybody who disagrees with me” because I’m a snotty liberal) don’t give a second thought to something like this, which I think should be at least second- and third-thought provoking. We just react and post our diarrhea online in whatever form is convenient. Witness some of the Facebook comments: “Liberalism is a mental illness!” “No man will want to marry a girl with a filthy mouth.” “Greedy 1% libiot, Obama has put more gov’t BS between me and my doctor than ANY conservative!” “Way to ruin a message.” “That was awesome. I can hear the Family values party screaming at the top of their lungs about it on their way to see their lawyer about their 2nd divorce.”

I know, expecting Facebook messages to be anything above troglodyte level is a fool’s errand (I told you I was a snotty liberal). It’s just disheartening to see our discourse reduced to a few words of drivel, and it makes me wonder why the internet (aside from the obvious answer of anonymity) is such fertile ground for low-hanging fruit. I really should get over that because it’s not going to get any better.

Back on topic, and the topic is the fucking message of this video. I agree – somewhat – with the thrust of the video, if not the execution. I understand that if this video was made without the swearing it would disappear faster than Ebola in the US (and there’s no chance that statement will come back to haunt me). That said, I do have a problem with aspects of the message. They use dubious statistics, they paint all men as potential rapists, and they belabor their point. It’s like a microcosm of a Kubrick movie. I agree that women still sometimes, maybe often, get the short end of the stick from society (although that is changing, and rightfully so). I also wonder why we have to be so aware of breast cancer, but nobody seems to care much about colon cancer (I do get that boobs >>>>>>>>>>> colons). It makes me think of one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes strips:

ch140727

And, sometimes I wonder if the problem isn’t everybody else, it’s me. That’s usually the case, isn’t it? If you think everyone else is the problem, you might be the problem. If you don’t know who the sucker at the table is, you’re the sucker. Patton Oswalt did a bit that resonated with me, about how his levels of excitement and disgust have turned from peaks into tiny hills, and I feel the same. I’ve mostly lost my ability to get outraged (although my girlfriend would probably disagree) or to get disgusted. Thankfully, my sense of amusement is still intact but the other two – they’ve flattened out. I just can’t get upset about this video, nor can I support it much, but I did get a chuckle out of it.

Maybe I really am the problem. Oh yeah, and I vote.

This article is a tumah!

Posted: August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

Damn, I remember when my blog used to be semi-funny observations about life as an under-achieving white male.  Now it’s mostly just political stuff.  I need to find my humor again (it’s not a humah!  It’s not!).  Anyway, on to the subject at hand – a piece from mises.org about Elizabeth Warren’s 11 commandments of progressivism.  It’s full of empty rhetoric with little attribution.  My responses to the article will be in bold and italic, and I’ll attribute where I can instead of relying on emotion and things that sound right.  For the record, I sorta like Warren but I’m losing my affection for her as she turns out to be more of an empty suit that says the right things.  That said, that doesn’t mean I’ll jump on the bandwagon unless said bashing is legit.  A link for the article:

http://mises.org/daily/6841/The-Intolerance-Behind-Elizabeth-Warrens-11-Commandments-of-Progressivism

And the article with my comments added…

In a recent speech of which Politico claims absolutely energized the “Progressive” left, Elizabeth Warren laid out her so-called 11 Commandments of Progressivism(I couldn’t find a link anywhere for something on politico that backs up this rather specific (but not directly quoted) claim.  I found this article (http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/elizabeth-warren-book-tour-106017_Page2.html) that mentions Warren feels energized, but that’s it.  Not a good way to start an article.)

In what follows, I will first give Warren’s “commandment,” and then explain how each so-called commandment cannot be implemented without official state violence and coercion. I emphasize that I am not going to use hyperbole or paint Warren in a false light. (The author claims he won’t use hyperbole, right after he mentions “official state violence and coercion.”)  I’m sure she is a nice person when one meets her. (Damning with faint praise.  This could have ended with either “bless her heart” or “with all due respect.”)  My point is not that Warren is nice or nasty (even though I just implied that she might be a nice person, which means she probably isn’t), but rather that she espouses a political economy that is based on political favors for some coupled with fierce intolerance toward many.

The 11 Commandments:

1. We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.

For all of the financial misconduct that we have seen from Wall Street, the problem isn’t a lack of regulation or a dearth of enforcement. No, the problem is that Wall Street is linked at the hip to the federal government and to the Federal Reserve System, which then uses Wall Street as a mechanism to pump cheap money into the system. At the same time, the state then protects Wall Street firms from the consequences that occur when investments in the financial bubbles the Fed creates fail.

Progressive Populists like Warren claim to abhor the tax-funded bailouts, (inflammatory rhetorical question – where’s the proof that they don’t?)  but they don’t object to the inflationary actions of the Fed, nor do they call for a halt to the symbiotic relationship between Wall Street and K Street. Yes, they might complain about the relationship, but at no time has Warren or any of her ilk ever called for a severing of the ties between Washington and Wall Street.

What Warren actually is saying is this: We want the state to have an even greater role in directing investments and determining the outcomes, and when the outcomes invariably fail — as we can expect central planning to do — then we demand ever more of the same. The results may be economically disastrous, but they provide marvelous political theater. (Nothing to back this claim up, although I agree with the italics above.  Politicians talk a great game but rarely deliver.)

Warren never will endorse free markets on Wall Street — and neither will Wall Street, which I believe to be instructive. Nothing would provide better discipline for the markets than free markets (pure speculation in both of these sentences), but Warren is not interested in market discipline; she is interested in the markets being forced to provide outcomes that violate economic laws, and then demanding even more government coercion when disasters inevitably occur. (And, she eats babies.  I think that part was edited out.  Yet another wild claim with no proof to back it up.)

2. We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.

Warren obviously is referring to the fact that not all scientists believe we are in the middle of catastrophic global warming — and that makes her mad (97% of climate scientists believe in climate change – note that this author still uses the somewhat misleading term “global warming.”  http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/  Yes, that means that 3% of climate scientists don’t agree and that makes this statement technically correct, but 97% is an overwhelming majority.  Note the inflammatory end of the sentence and the sentence that follows, and remember that the author started out saying he wouldn’t use hyperbole or paint Warren in a false light.  We’re only at at #2 and he’s already violated that promise twice.). In fact, it makes Warren so angry that she wants the state to intimidate scientists that don’t go along with Washington’s pre-determined “scientific” outcomes.

One does not “believe in” or “not believe in” science (Yes, actually one does). Science is not — or should not be — a deity (Agreed.  Science is provable, deities are not.). Science is about using certain consistent methods to ascertain and test various theories about the natural world. It also is about determining probabilities for certain, repeatable events and it should never be hijacked by politicians for their own uses.

If Warren truly did “believe” in science, then she would have no objection to scientists like Roy Spencer and Judith Curry explaining in public forums — without harassment — why they believe the current fears that Warren promotes about “climate change” are overblown.(Another use of hyperbole and painting in a false light.  A google search turned up nothing about Warren objecting to anything Spencer or Curry have promoted, but the author makes it seem like she did.). You see, in real science, the “discussion” never is over. Skepticism is the very heart of the scientific method, something that the “discussion-is-over” people like Warren refuse to hear.  (Again, no proof, just a base accusation.)

What Warren means is that governments should fund scientific research, and that the research should reflect what politicians like Warren want it to reflect. America’s current obesity crisis, for example, is linked directly to government bullying of scientists almost forty years ago, forcing them to accept the government’s “new” nutrition standards, including the government’s “war on fat,” which has been disastrous.  (Again, a wild accusation with no proof.  I’ve never heard of a “war on fat,” have you heard of it?  That aside, this is just a cheap and obvious reference to Michelle Obama and her various fitness initiatives.  Because liberals.)

3. We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.

I am no expert on “net neutrality,” (But I’ll go ahead and throw out a wild claim about it) but I don’t think that Warren is much interested in protecting the interests and rights of ordinary individuals who use the Internet, as she remains strangely silent on illegal spying done by the CIA and NSA which does absolutely nothing to protect ordinary citizens. (Nice false dilemma fallacy there.)

4. We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.

Translation: If you are willing to work for pay that is below what the government demands you be given, then you are breaking the law (Technically, I think it’s the other way around – the employer is breaking the law by not paying the minimum wage.). And what about those people whose productivity does not match what Warren believes the minimum wage should be? They are out of luck.

What Warren does not say is that the original purpose for imposing the minimum wage was never about getting people out of poverty. Instead, Progressives wanted to ensure that certain groups of people, blacks and Eastern Europeans living in the USA, would be priced out of the labor market. (I really should be disabused of expecting any proof for these wild claims, but yeah…what the hell are you talking about?   Another conspiracy theory with not a shred of evidence, just pure speculation.  But please, go on…) Given the unemployment rate for black teenagers in this country is at an all-time-high, one just might think that the Progressive strategy has worked very well. (And the return of the logical fallacy, this time post hoc ergo propter hoc [I had to look that one up to be sure, which means I’ve already done more research than the author of this article].)

It is the business owners that Warren so despises (Remember, he’s not being inflammatory or painting in a false light) who have to foot the bill of increased labor costs, and if they cannot, then the business closes, but Warren would of course not lose a dime. Lest one thinks she has any respect for entrepreneurs and people who have invested (See my previous statement), worked, and risked their own finances in order to start and maintain businesses, Warren has this to say, according to Progressive columnist E.J. Dionne:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own,” she said. “Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.” It was all part of “the underlying social contract,” she said, a phrase politicians don’t typically use.

Entrepreneurs, in Warren-speak, are social and economic parasites that should get no credit at all for anything. They just take advantage of government services and business success comes almost automatically and the entrepreneurs then extract wealth from the community via profits.  (Finally, some attribution.  And Warren is absolutely correct here, where she is quoted.  Note that after the quote the author begins this paragraph with yet more non-inflammatory, non-false light prose.)

5. We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.

When I was fifteen years old, I worked at a tourist attraction near Chattanooga called Rock City. No one — including the politicians — believed that I should have been making enough to live on my own. Likewise, the vast majority of fast food workers are not people trying to live independently; they are earning money to help pay for their expenses, save for college, make car payments, and the like.  (This is one area where I actually agree with the author.  Minimum wage is not a livable wage nor is it meant to be.)

First, Warren does not even understand what we mean by jobs and wages. (Just because somebody disagrees with you don’t mean they don’t know what they are talking about or that they lack understanding.) A “job” is the application of labor to the creation of either a producer’s good or a consumer’s good. A wage is the payment given to the owner of the labor services for that particular service. It is nothing more than that.  ( Why is job in parentheses and wage isn’t?  Interesting choice by the author.)

Second, by insisting wrongly that employment is essentially a welfare scheme, Warren disconnects labor from production.   (What?  Where did Warren ever make that claim?) To use a Marxian term (Because all progressives are Marxists, of course), she endorses alienation as a labor doctrine in which the worker is alienated from any realities regarding his or her job. According to Warren, the job is nothing more than an income stream to the worker, with the stream having no connection at all with the value of what the worker produces.  (Again – what?  Where did Warren ever make that claim?)

If we were to take the reality — based upon laws of economics — of Warren’s statement, we get this: “If you are willing to work for less than what the state declares to be a ‘living wage,’ you will not be permitted to work at all, and should you seek employment without permission from the state, we will treat you like a criminal.” (Holy shit.  This is so insane that it should be on stormfront.)  Unfortunately, in Warren’s new order, (Again, the author is not being inflammatory.) there would be lots of labor criminals, people working off-the-books and ultimately marginalized people turning toward the fringe occupations that the state declares to be illegal.  (Again, not inflammatory or leading.)

6. We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.

Student loan burdens are becoming greater, but perhaps we need to ask why that is so instead of telling students that someone else — often someone not privileged to have had a college education — will foot their bills. If pushed hard enough, I suspect that Warren (Again, not being inflammatory or speculative) would agree with fellow leftists that college should be both tuition-free and relatively open-accessed (I’m something of a leftist and I don’t agree with this.  Where is he getting this from?). Furthermore, in their minds, that should be no problem. (I have spoken to enough faculty members where I teach to know that a lot of leftist Democrats believe that colleges should not charge tuition or anything else, period.)  (Well, given your sterling record thus far in the article, I have no problem believing this.  You’re not trying to be inflammatory or anything.)

At the very least, it would seem, Warren believes that individuals that rack up large education debts should not fully have to pay those debts (Got any proof of that?  I know, you wussed out at the beginning by saying “it would seem.”  Come on, man.  This is getting old.), with the payments, instead, falling to the taxpayers, and even though it is quite clear that the personal “profits” from a college education tend to be privatized. Like the Wall Street firms and other crony capitalist outfits, Warren now wants an entire country in which certain politically favored groups (and firms) find their profits privatized, but their losses socialized, and paid for by everyone else.  (Again, not being inflammatory or speculative.)

7. We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.

Interestingly, while shilling for increases in these things (which, as always, are covered fully by taxpayers who will be forced to supply the “dignity” to others), Warren is not willing to afford “dignity” to entrepreneurs who saved, took big risks, and took chances with their lives to provide goods and services for the benefit of consumers.  (Do I really have to say it again?)

8. We believe — I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014 — we believe in equal pay for equal work.

Warren is not speaking of payment for men and women who do the same job in a market setting  (I’m over in the corner, banging my head on the desk (not literally), still wanting any sort of proof for one of these non-inflammatory claims.). In fact, there is a lot of evidence that shows that single women tend to outearn single men(You know what would be interesting?  To read further from one of the few links provided in this article.  Take this one.  Let’s go a bit further down in the article:  Here’s the slightly deflating caveat: this reverse gender gap, as it’s known, applies only to unmarried, childless women under 30 who live in cities. The rest of working women — even those of the same age, but who are married or don’t live in a major metropolitan area — are still on the less scenic side of the wage divide.”  Not quite the triumph the author makes it out to be, eh?

No, Warren is speaking of a term called “comparable worth,” in which government authorities determine the “equality” of jobs  (She is?  If you’re so certain of that, some proof should be easy to provide.). Such a process is utterly politicized, so what Warren really means is that the state will determine the so-called worth of a job, and then force employers to pay accordingly.  (This is totally true if you’re batshit insane and don’t want any proof.)  (Note: that was me imitating the author.)

9. We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America.

If Warren meant getting the state out of the marriage business, I would support her point here. However, judging from all of her rhetoric, what she means is that everyone else should be forced to accept her definition of marriage, and anyone who does not will be fined or even arrested for holding onto dissenting views.

Warren constantly agitates for a thoroughly politicized society in which the state decides what is valuable, what is “legitimate,” and what kind of thinking should be permitted. When former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich this year was forced out because he had contributed some money to a “man-and-woman” marriage initiative in California in 2008, it sent a clear and chilling message to workplaces everywhere in the US: the only thing that matters is politics.

It didn’t matter that Eich was a major player in helping develop the Internet and his skills will be sorely missed. No, the Elizabeth Warrens of this world (Again, not being inflammatory or leading.  I hope you’re as tired of reading that as I am of typing it, but we only have two more points to go.  Hang in there with me.) care only about a person’s political views. (Maybe that is one reason Warren has expressed such hatred of successful entrepreneurs: they succeed outside of political ideology.)  (She has?)

10. We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.

Because the current immigration situation is a hot-button item that I would prefer not to touch (but I will, briefly…), given I can see arguments on both sides, I only will say that Warren’s vision of unlimited immigration (because “reform” obviously means “unlimited immigration.”) into an absolute welfare state would be a disaster. Warren has shown no proclivity to putting any limits on welfarism, and given her political record, I believe she sees new immigrants as a source of political support exchanged for welfare benefits.  (Well, if you believe it that’s good enough for me.)

11. And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!

The Hobby Lobby decision was quite limited (It’s way too soon to make that claim, and we’re already seeing evidence to the contrary: http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/07/wider-impact-of-hobby-lobby-ruling/), and the implications of the decision certainly did not call for the totally unhinged reaction Warren and others had. The US Supreme Court did not prevent anyone from receiving birth control devices or anything else. All it said was that there were four kinds of devices or chemical compounds which abortion opponents (and scientists, and stuff.  In other words, they call them what they are.) call abortifacients that certain employers could be exempt from providing free of charge for employees.

It does not prohibit Hobby Lobby employees from purchasing those particular chemicals or devices; the decision only says that Hobby Lobby does not have to pay for them, given the religious nature of the company’s owners and the fact that it is a tightly-held corporation.

Please understand what Warren is saying: the owners of Hobby Lobby have no rights. They are not people; only those with views similar to Elizabeth Warren have rights.  (That’s not what she’s saying at all.  But yeah, non-inflammatory blah blah blah.)

So there you have it.  William L. Anderson should be ashamed of the horrible article he wrote and Mises should be embarrassed for publishing it.  It’s that bad.  If I can paraphrase Zoidberg here:

As always, I welcome feedback and encourage anybody to call me on anything that is inaccurate.

I didn’t realize that when I did that, I affirmed myself as a liberal, dedicated to the downfall of western society and just a general scourge.  Because Costco is evil, apparently.  First off, they put the bible in their fiction book section, sparking an outrage in November of last year that I didn’t even hear about until just now.  That’s how much of an outrage it was!  Of course, I live in a liberal ivory tower complete with a cable package from DIRECTV (they’re probably also somehow liberal) that doesn’t have Fox News but does include every gay and cooking channel that exists or ever existed (the ones that have ceased to exist are still shown on a rerun loop).  I’m kidding, of course; I do have Fox News but like MSNBC, I don’t watch it.  If I did, of course, I would have known about the November Costco outrage and would have acted accordingly, which means I would have ignored it even sooner.  I could have saved myself months of ignorance if only I’d have watched Fox News!

But that was then, this is now.  Now, Costco has sparked outrage by temporarily pulling Dinesh D’Souza’s books from their shelves.  If you don’t know who Dinesh D’Souza is, you probably have the same liberal cable and internet service as do I.  He’s a conservative hero because he’s brownish and he’s tilted at Obama-shaped windmills for a few years now.  Costco pulled his latest book because it was selling a brisk 15 copies per location (http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/2014/07/costco-defends-decision-to-pull-conservative-book.html); conservatives obviously didn’t care about the book and liberals already had coloring books to keep them occupied, apparently – even though liberals love to correct the grammar of others they are quite dumb and easily amused, hence all of us having coloring books.  So, Costco made a business decision and ditched Dinesh, and some conservatives showed how much they hate sound business practices by getting upset about this and ascribing political motives to the removal.  It had to be political because James Sinegal (the current Saul Alinsky, apparently), the co-founder and former CEO of Costco, is an avowed democrat.  That trumps good business sense, apparently, even though by just about any metric Costco is one of the most successful businesses in America.  So, a bunch of people who apparently didn’t care about D’Souza’s book while it was in the warehouse were suddenly upset when they couldn’t not buy the book anymore.  It reminds me of my daughter and some of her discarded toys; when I go to donate them to Goodwill (not the Salvation Army because I’m a good liberal) she suddenly gets interested in them again and doesn’t want to let them go.  Much like my daughter, these conservatives have thrown a snit and are urging the boycott of Costco.  In an amazing twist I’ve seen a few of them advocating Wal Mart in place of Costco.

Let that sink in for a bit: Wal Mart over Costco.

When I go to Costco, the first thing I notice is that it is clean and well-organized.  The next thing is the free samples because I’m a mooch and I love to get something for free.  After I’m done stuffing my face for nothing, I see that the employees are generally happy and seem to be glad to work there.  There’s also the quality of product that Costco offers – I know if I get something there it’s gonna be good.  If it isn’t good, they have a liberal return policy.  In short, Costco is just about everything a shopping experience should be.

Now, let’s venture over to Wal Mart.  The first thing you notice is the trash in the parking lot, and I’m not talking about the customers (racist high-five!).  Their parking lots are usually depressing.  Once you get inside you may get lucky and be in a clean Wal Mart, but that’s about a 30% chance.  That’s a true statistic that I just made up, no source needed because it sounds about right.  Most customers in Wal Mart don’t look like they’re happy to be there (I could make up a statistic but you get the idea) and neither do the workers.  Especially the workers.  It’s no wonder; Wal Mart treats their employees like my dogs treat their toys; chewing them up and moving on to the next one.  Just about every aisle you go down will have items left behind from other aisles from shoppers who just gave up.  There’s precious little joy in Wal Mart; it’s the consumer equivalent to…well, there’s nothing equivalent to Wal Mart.  They’ve succeeded by selling cheap products in bulk, one step above the 99 cent store.  I confess that I occasionally shop there just for the cheapness.  However, while I enjoy going to Costco I never look forward to visiting a Wal Mart.  Wal Mart is the cheap hooker of retail stores. 

So yeah, some people – a small but exceedingly vocal group, to be sure – are suggesting to boycott Costco and instead go to Wal Mart.  Pardon my liberal, but that’s about as un-fucking-American as it gets.  We should skip the good store and instead go to the bad store.  That’s grossly simplified but still accurate. 

About two years ago there was a big dust-up about Chick-fil-A, and how we should boycott them because their owner donated to anti-gay causes.  I’m proud to say that I did not boycott them; I visited them (and continue to visit them) at exactly the same frequency as I did before this news broke, which is almost never.  There were several reasons for that.  First, it seems like every time I wanted to go to one it was on a Sunday and they were closed.  Second, I always seem to live at least 25 miles away from one.  Finally, the times I have been there I wasn’t overly impressed with their food.  It was good, but not so good that I was in a hurry to get back. 

There was also a fourth reason, and the most important: boycotts usually affect the employees the most, and the employees aren’t who I would have a beef with.  I also understand that people have different beliefs than me and that I won’t always agree with them, and that’s OK.  We can agree to disagree, and each of us can go about supporting our causes.  I wouldn’t boycott a company for donating to a cause I agree with; wouldn’t it be hypocritical of me to boycott a business because they donate to a cause I don’t agree with?  Both are political, and by boycotting one of them I’m trying to invalidate their beliefs and rights.  I don’t agree with that, even if I don’t agree with you.  If I’m going to boycott a business it will be because they have terrible service or product, or because of reprehensible business practices.  Not because of a difference of political opinion.  One of the most glaring problems in the United States right now is the political divide and how extremists on both sides have made themselves unable to accept a difference of political opinion.  It’s also a false dichotomy because most of us will share quite a few beliefs but differ on a few issues, and those issues are being used to drive us apart.  Compromise in politics is dead and that’s a shame, because any adult will tell you compromise is a part of life. 

So, I will continue to shop at Costco.  Not because I agree with the politics of their former CEO, and not because they pulled D’Souza’s book off the shelves.  I will shop there because I enjoy shopping there and because they’re a well-run business that meets my consumer needs.  I will shop there because I’m an adult.

Did you know that? Man, I didn’t, and I was in the military for 20 years and I work on an Air Force base. Hey, the military got more days than the blacks!  Suck it, February.  Military Appreciation Month is not to be confused with Memorial Day (May 26th this year), a day to honor our fallen servicemen and women. Also not to be confused with Veteran’s Day (November 11), on which we honor our servicepeople still alive.

Also not to be confused with military appreciation day with your local sporting team, be they minor league or big league, be they baseball, football, basketball, hockey, rugby, quidditch, or water polo. 

Also not to be confused with the military discounts at places like Goodwill, 24 Hour Fitness, Ace Car Rental, Aeropostale, Amtrak, Anna’s Linens, Applebees, AT&T Wireless, Avis, Bass Pro Shops (I need to take advantage of this one), Berklee School of Music, Best Buy, Best Western, Budget Rent A Car, Chevy Fresh Mex, Chick-Fil-A, Cinemark, Costco, Dairy Queen, Dell, Fuddruckers, Geico, Gold’s Gym, Greyhound, Hertz, Hewlett-Packard, Hyatt, KOA, Kohl’s, Legoland, Lowes, Massage Envy…do I have to go on?  (No; find the rest here: http://militarybenefits.info/military-discounts/)  Just about any place you go you can get some sort of militart discount.  All you have to do is flash the ID card and ask.  Some chain stores don’t have a military discount policy but if you’re persuasive enough you can work something out.  I take advatage of this, but not as often as I could or should.  But yeah, not to be confused with Military Appreciation Month.

Also not to be confused with the countless organizations dedicated to helping active duty, retired, and former military members.  As with the discounts there are a bunch of them out there.

Also not to be confused with the politicians who constantly fellate the military whenever they are in front of a mic but don’t really do much for them otherwise.  Note: I refer to the military as them even though I am one of them for life, due to retiring from the Navy.  It’s been almost six years since I’ve worn a uniform and with every passing day my time in the military is becoming more of a memory and much much less of what I am.  I’m not entirely comfortable with being called a part of the military because that’s just not who I am anymore.  I’m proud of my service – although even saying I’m proud of it strikes me as somewhat odd – but it is a thing of the past. 

It’s also important to note that these feelings are because I can leave it in the past.  I left the military mostly unscathed, aside from the accumulative hearing loss that comes with 20 years in aviation and not wearing the foamies as much as I should have.  I know that my feelings about the military reflect my belief and good fortune that I feel the that the military doesn’t owe me anything.  I got what I wanted to out of the military and still do, and they got what they wanted out of me.  Fair dinkum, as they say in Australia.  That also explains why I sometimes feel a bit awkward when I use my retired ID to get a discount and somebody says “thank you for your service.”  You’re welcome, but I got a lot out of it too (and will for the rest of my life). 

I also understand that many weren’t as fortunate as me and left the military as fucked-up messes.  My opinion would probably be a lot different If I was in that situation.

With all that said, back on point: don’t we appreciate the military, perhaps, just a bit too much?  Doesn’t it all start to become some sort of theater that makes us no better than the poilticians?  I get that there is a lot of genuine appreciation for the military.  I also get that there are many things that are horrible and disgusting about how some military and ex-military are treated, and those things need to be addressed.  I’m not denying that at all, nor am I attempting to limit anybody’s free speech.  I’m just saying…the military isn’t full of heroes.  It’s full of the same people you see in your neighborhood, unless you live in Brentwood or something.  I’ll use the royal we here and say we (the military) are full of fuck-ups and good people, average people and great people.  We have brilliant servicemembers and we have some fucking idiots, and to be honest the scale sometimes seems to be tipped a bit towards the latter.  We have thieves and we have people of impeccable character.  We’re all over the board.  We’re just like anywhere else, except we have our own little club with our own rules, clothes, and lingo.  And, we keep people out of our clubhouses with guns and shit.  We’re normal people, except that we sometimes do some extraordinary stuff.

With all that in mind: do we really need a military appreciation month?  Instead of that, just go find a veteran and thank them.  Ladies, take it a step further and flash them (boobs are always appreciated).  Men, also feel free to flash, but don’t expect the same results.  Volunteer at a veteran’s service.  Donate to a military charity.  I just don’t think the military needs an entire month, in addition to everything else already in place.  We’re not fetish objects; we’re just ordinary average guys and gals.  If you appreciate us too much, it starts to feel less genuine.