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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Colin Kaepernick Could Have Used a Civics Class- The Sunday Collage

So this is what happens. Briefly, some background.

I have loosely followed the Kaepernick saga since Colin decided to sit for the national anthem. Colin was protesting racial inequality I guess, in as much as a guy making millions apparently felt like he wasn't getting a fair shake. This week, I read an article wherein Ray Lewis, former Baltimore Raven great, explained why Colin Kaepernick can't find a job in the NFL. According to Lewis, Kaepernick's girlfriend apparently likes to run her virtual mouth on twitter in addition to her day job. A racist tweet from her caused Ravens' management to drop any thought of signing Kaepernick. After reading this, I believe Ray Lewis is probably correct.

The other odd thing that happened is that I read that false letter on Facebook- attributed to the Kansas City Chief's owner- in which he demands that his players and staff all stand and respect the national anthem or he will fire them. Suspecting this was bullshit, mostly because of contracts and pussified owners, a quick check or two proved the letter was indeed, false. I also read where a few people refuse to watch pro football and are boycotting it. In all likelihood, these were not fans to begin with.

When I say odd things, I use the term "odd" because I find it strange that I have not been able to find a writer anywhere who can articulate with any level of precision- what the real issue is.

I'm not talking about residual racism or using the wrong venue to protest. I think we can agree on those things. This brings me to the topic du jour.

The study of the duties and rights of citizenship or civics. We attended civics class. We said the pledge of allegiance every morning.

I was a child of the Vietnam War. My uncle fought in it and my father, a rural news anchor, reported on it. The Vietnam War was unpopular and still remains so. The problem was that whether we agreed with the war or not- real friends and family were dying in it- some 58,000 souls.

That is where my reverence for our country began. Real people, many volunteering and getting wounded or killed, in a war with no support. Who would sign up for that?

Our country was made up of patriots. We attended civics classes. We believed in the mission of America and all of the opportunities we were given. We believed this was a great place to live and we had gratitude. So people signed up. They shouldered that duty and responsibility.

The Vietnam War probably changed our opinions of leadership forever. What it didn't change was the definition of a patriot. A patriot loves his country but a patriot doesn't have to love his government. In fact, some of our most famous patriots detested government and they died proving it. But the patriot spirit lives here.

So we can debate wars and inequality forever. What is not subject to debate is that hundreds of thousands of Americans that have been wounded and killed protecting our way of life.

That is the same way of life that allows me to speak here. That is the same way of life that allows Mr. Kaepernick a college education and a job making millions to play a game. One of the luckiest people on the planet, rich by every measure, born in a country where his physical skills mean big bucks. In another place, Colin's skills would probably go un-noticed.

When I hear the national anthem and see our flag, I think of our war wounded and dead. I think of all of the fallen police officers and funerals I have attended. Flags draped over coffins, bagpipes, widows and children crying or bewildered. The thought of disrespecting all those people who have sacrificed so much- while enjoying all of the freedoms and opportunities those sacrifices have given me- never enters my mind.

In uniform I stand and salute. As a citizen, I stand, I take off my hat and I place my hand over my heart. I do that to honor the dead and all of the gifts I have been given because of those folks. Standing at attention and showing some respect takes very little effort.

I do that I think because I was given all of those gifts including a civics class- where we discussed all of those issues. That is where I formed my opinions of patriotism, reverence for our dead, and  a sense of gratitude.

I can't help but think that Colin might have had a different view of things had he been given an opportunity to discuss and debate the merits of citizenship within the confines of a civics class while an un popular war raged on.

I'm not upset with Mr. Kaepernick. In a way I am sorry that he did not get the same education that our generation received. If he had, I think he would still be playing football.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Only Winning Move Is Not To Play- The Sunday Collage

- from the movie, WarGames.

In his book, "A New Earth", Eckhart Tolle talks at great length about the damage that the human ego causes.

Ego is a false sense of self, or who you think you are, created in your mind. This is what you present to the world as you. Of course it is false- but you can't possibly allow the world to see who you really are. Or so you think.

Imagine inheriting some kind of dictatorship such as the Supreme Leader of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. You've done absolutely nothing to earn such a position- but there you are- leading 26 million people around by the nose.

You buy in to the whole illusion. You must be great you tell yourself. The people around you expect great things, your ego convinces you that you must do great deeds, and so you begin all of your anti-American sabre rattling with a giant false sense of self- furthered along by those who surround you.

You kill a few people, including your uncle, aunt, and your brother, because you fear them. You fire missiles to and fro, issue threats, fire a missile over Japan, and then conduct an underground hydrogen bomb blast that appears to be successful. You are trying to convince the world that you are this fearless man that must be taken seriously.

And so it is, this version of the insanity of the planet emerges.  

Your false sense of self is now in direct conflict with other people who are just as unconscious as you are- they have their egos and false sense of self to attend to as well. These are our leaders, our politicians and generals.

Eckhart Tolle revealed all of this insanity in his book, A New Earth. It wasn't exactly proprietary information but I think the way Tolle revealed it was most effective. If you truly comprehend what Tolle writes, then you are left with the intrinsic truth that what he says is true. Because you have done those things so you know they must be true.

I remember reading A New Earth at the rate of 20 pages per day. It was hard for me to digest and comprehend. There would be days where I would read what Tolle had written, realize I was guilty of some ridiculous behavior, and find myself feeling ashamed. Two great benefits of comprehending what Tolle had written. I was no longer unconscious. I realized just how insane I had become over the years. The other great benefit was that the insanity of others becomes glaringly obvious.

I learned a lot over the intervening ten years. Not only is this planet inhabited by billions of unconscious nut jobs, but there is nothing you can do about it. We cannot slow them down. Their journey here apparently does not include a stop at the Port of Consciousness.

There is no intervention for this.

Millions upon millions of people have lost their lives over things as ridiculous as which make believe God to believe in- or which political system is best. The same topics banned from many homes- talk involving politics and religion- are the same things we've been dying over for thousands of years.

You'd think we'd have learned by now.

In the movie WarGames, the computer plays tic-tac-toe by itself until it learns that it is a game if played correctly- there can be no winning outcome. The computer then simulates global missile launches wherein mutual destruction is guaranteed. Like tic-tac-toe, the computer learns that there is no point in playing a game where there can be no winner.

The only winning move is not to play. Could we disengage? Sure. If the United States said "ya know Kim Jung un, we're not going to play. No more war games with South Korea, no sanctions, no threats of war- you just go ahead and do what you want. You are a sovereign state, we're going to let you behave like one.

Is that going to happen? Not a chance. Because the egos on our team are every bit as big as Kim's.

In a way, it really might be a zombie apocalypse. Their unconscious egos versus ours.

So sit back, relax, and watch this latest episode of uncontrolled egos playing out. No need to worry about it, there is nothing you can do. It's not like Kim or Don are going to grab Tolle's book and come to their senses.

Just remember that Kim Jung un had his uncle, aunt, and brother killed. What's the worst thing that could happen with a psychopath who finds nothing wrong with killing his own family?

I gotta run now, I've been looking at generators and nitrogen packed foods. I think UPS is at the door...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

44 Days of Hell

I lost 35 pounds and 1 girlfriend. It was a good trade.

I aggressively applied the Atkins diet on Jul 18 to my 290 lb frame. When I say "aggressively" I am talking 30 carbs or less per day, every day. No creamer, no orange juice, no booze, no breath mints. The only carbs I would take in came from vegetables.

Coconut oil. On a tip from a commenter, I started using coconut oil. Three big globs in my three cups of coffee in the morning, I also used it to saute' vegetables at night. Costco has virgin, organic oil in 5 pound containers. I am a believer. My energy levels shot up almost immediately. After my coffee, I would drink one low carb protein drink, swallow my supplements, ( I am a huge believer in turmeric) and headed out for the gym.

I run/walk 5k every day which took me about 34 mins. I can usually make 4 days in a row before I have to take a day off. As my weight came off, my times improved and my knees hurt less.

I am an over pronator with flat feet. My heel strikes the ground first- so I bought a couple pairs of running shoes made for over pronators from 6 PM. com. I bought an inexpensive pair of Nikes just to walk around in. I bought an expensive pair of Sauconys to run in. I am a big Brooks fan but I find that those shoes break down on me after a month or so.

For lunch, it was usually salad to go- 4.51 cents at Pizza Pie Cafe or chicken. Dinner was usually a big chunk of meat, steak, hamburger, ribs, with sauteed vegetables.

I finally broke down and bought a scale and then I did something really sadistic. When my weight would refuse to go down for three days- I would crank up the exercise to 5 miles and fast on the same day. All I would consume was coffee, 1 protein drink in the morning, and water the rest of the day.

I lost a total of 8 pounds on the 3 days I fasted. Eating nothing and burning 1250 calories forces your body to burn fat. It's not just the 1250 calories you burn exercising on those days- it's all of the other calories you burn during a normal day and while sleeping.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I lost a girlfriend. We made a deal, at least I thought we had, to stick this diet thing out. She tapped out at the two week mark and that as they say, was that. I kind of take a que sera view to women and dating. I just haven't found anyone I can't live without. I know that sounds horrible but dating at my age is a different animal than when I was young. At my age people are through raising kids, everyone has had their career and most of us are financially secure. Men and women have leaned how to live without asking permission. So people date for different reasons at this age. Mostly it's companionship. It's not easy finding a good companion- or harder yet- finding someone you want to make some sort of longer term commitment with. That's been my experience thus far.

A friend of mine told me recently that the reason I was single was because I was an asshole. That may be true I thought- while silently noting that she too was single and at least two divorces ahead of me. Maybe she just has bad luck...

So what's the long term prognosis? Can I keep gaining weight every two years and then put myself through 6 weeks of hell? I don't think I wanna be pushing 60 and doing this again. I have a friend who eats properly 6 days a week and then on Saturdays- he eats nothing but garbage. I think I might give this a try- this one day a week junk food binge. My big fear here is that my shitty eating habits will spill over into other days.

Atkins works. It's just hard to stick with it although I did it once for 10 weeks and lost 82 pounds. The key I think is finding low carb foods you can tolerate and then combining it with as much exercise as you can. Just walking works well.

I have noticed that this diet gets harder and harder as I get older. The other day I was in the grocery store and looking in people's carts. My gawd we eat an unbelievable amount of pure shit in this country. It almost makes you wonder if the corporate oligarchy, big pharma, big insurance and healthcare, and corporate fast food- do this on purpose.

They keep winning and their customers- keep losing. The rest of us have to find a way out of the matrix. No wonder every parking lot has 20 handicapped spaces. They knew.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Taking the Context Out of History- The Sunday Collage

"For everything you know, there was a time when you didn't know it."

I remember my first commercial plane trip very well. I was pretty excited about it. It was uneventful as plane rides go. That trip in the early 70's had something not found on commercial airliners anymore.

The plane was full of cigarette smoke.

Everyone seemed to smoke back then. There was simply no point in complaining about it because you would be told to shut up by the smoking mob. That's how it was.

Today, nearly 50 years later, our culture has changed dramatically. The smokers are all dead or recovering. Smoking today is not only frowned upon and illegal in any number of venues- smoking in public may subject you to any number of verbal assaults and shitty looks. That type of obnoxious behavior never happened in the 70's. Some people feel entitled to engage others with that type of obnoxious behavior because now they stand with the new majority. I know that mentality well.

The point of this vignette is that our history is a shared experience. Human beings have been making mistakes for thousands of years and undoubtedly, we will continue to do so. We realize smoking is harmful and kills us now. The vast majority of us have learned that lesson, some of us the hard way, and most of us no longer smoke.

Our shared historical experience is full of mistakes. People generally don't make decisions thinking that they are bad decisions at the time or that their decisions will go horribly awry later on. That is the context of decision making- we take our best shot given the circumstances at that moment. We do the best we can and yet, our best decision making has spawned some remarkably bad mistakes with horrific consequences throughout history.

The truth is- we may not be that smart to begin with.

Owning slaves was considered normal back in the 17 and 1800's. Slaves were brought here and sold by other black "slavers" or traders. Slowly, covering some decades and perhaps a century, our collective conscience got the best of us. Treating people like property, like farm animals to be bought and sold at auction, was losing favor.

If you love irony, I have always loved this. A slave owner himself, Thomas Jefferson penned the famous sentence in the Declaration of Independence that "All men are created equal."

Can you imagine what might have happened if you had stood in front of the Second Continental Congress and asked, "Umm Tom, that "all men are created equal phrase" does that apply to slaves like the ones you own or did God just sort of exempt them according to your interpretation of God's intent?

Our collective history is full of mistakes. That's how we learn. That's not something to be ashamed of- that's something to hold sacred and not forget lest we keep making the same mistakes.

In 1862, we had the mass hanging of Indians in Mankato, Mn. Originally our government was going to hang over 300, but instead hanged just 38 at once. They were not tried or convicted of anything really, other than they were Sioux. It was all part of a war or uprising brought about by our own government- as is often the case. The great emancipator, Lincoln, settled on the number 39 and ordered the executions. (one Indian received a reprieve)

Who could forget the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee?

In 1917, mine owners in Arizona rounded up nearly 1300 striking miners, kidnapped them and forced them into rail cars, and dumped them in a desert 200 miles away. I can't even begin to list all of the laws that were broken and civil rights violations that took place. Not one person was ever prosecuted for the Bisbee deportation.

The 1942 illegal seizure, deportation, and false imprisonment of 130,000 Japanese- Americans. Our country ruined their lives, they lost most if not all of their property, and a few lost their lives.

I want you to remember that according to our Constitution in place at the time- all of these men were created equally and endowed with certain inalienable rights. They were also entitled to freedom from illegal search and seizure, due process, trial by jury, and all of the other protections in place and afforded to them by the Bill of Rights. Yet somehow, we simply ignored all of those inalienable rights as we deemed fit.

That is part of our history. Horrible mistakes made by our best and brightest leaders. Yet every one of those mistakes seemed justified at the moment we made our decisions. The context in which all of those mistakes were made can never be forgotten. They were all thought to be good decisions at the time. You cannot simply erase our collective history by tearing down statues or declaring certain individuals as racist. The time and the context are long gone.

History is our collective, cultural memory- attempting to erase our history will not change anything. The dead will not care. The history books will not change. Robert E Lee will still have come from a family of slave owners. So will Andrew Jackson, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Johnson, Sam Houston, John Hancock, James Madison, Zachary Taylor.

Are we going to declare all of them racist, remove all statues and documents tied to them, tear out pages of our history books?

I love history. Transcribed as accurately as possible by the winners, I try to understand what it must have been like to be a soldier out on the South Dakota prairie that winter at Wounded Knee. Or who were those people who had to physically round up Japanese Americans and take them away? I try to understand how they must have thought and felt- like they were doing the right thing. I find it all quite fascinating but the one thing I never want to forget is that at the time those things were done- those were the best choices and solutions available to us. History and the context in which it happens- are inseparable.

Like smoking on planes.

Once again I shall leave you with my all time favorite quote which sums up this piece quite nicely.

“Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends.” 
― Isabel PatersonGod of the Machine

Saturday, July 29, 2017

All You Can Eat Meat, The Diet That Works

Today I'd like to talk a little bit about my favorite subject, me.

About two weeks ago, while on the Beartooth Rally in Red Lodge, Montana....friends of mine shot photos of me. I guess I must have been in denial over my weight gain. I had ballooned up to 285 pounds and although I am 6'4"- I still looked like a sausage on a stick.

It is so easy to eat this shit they sell us. The weight gain is always subtle. Just a pound or two here and there and voila! Before you know it- you look normal in a buffet line or at Walmart.

I can't give up that easy.

I have been fighting a war with my body for ten years now. My fattest was in 2007- I tipped the scales at 300. My slimmest was also that year, 218 pounds. From a 40" waist to a 34" and I could have fit into a 32".

Each time I gain weight which tends to be every two years, I get fed up and employ the masochistic Atkins diet. It works. But I have made improvements on it. That's what I want to talk about today.

As you know, Atkins is basically all you can eat protein. Meat, cheese, eggs, and a few vegetables. At first you don't mind it- but after about 100 eggs, 50 steaks, and 10 pounds of bacon it gets old. I used to supplement the diet with V-8 juice every morning, a few dietary supplements.

The other problem with Atkins is that as you are starving your body and giving it no carbs- it in turn is shutting you down. I tend to feel sleepy and lethargic on this diet.

This time around I adjusted for all of that. It has been working well.

I went to Costco and bought two cases of those 11 oz protein drinks, one case of V-8. Some diet green tea, water, and coffee. About 100 bucks. I use Splenda or sugar free creamer.

Every morning, I drink 3 cups of coffee. I grab one of the protein drinks and swill that along with a handful of supplements, royal jelly, turmeric, multi vitamins. Once in awhile I throw in a boner pill. (Ha, just making sure you are still with me)

Lunch is always the hardest for me. I found something that works. Pizza Pie Cafe has a salad to go for 4 bucks or you can sit down for 6 bucks and and run through the salad bar twice. The advantages to this are enormous.

If you don't have a PPC near you- I'll bet you can find a decent salad bar and cut a deal with them.

PPC's salad bar is great. Everything you can eat on Atkins is in this salad bar. They have spinach or romaine- instead of that worthless iceberg lettuce. Toppings are black olives, mushrooms, sliced eggs, cubed ham and turkey, pepperoni, cubed red beets, shredded cheese, bacon bits and sunflower seeds. Cauliflower and broccoli. I shy away from the sunflower seeds in the first two week induction phase of Atkins.

The salad bar means that I don't have to go to the store, buy all those ingredients, boil eggs, cube meats, and then watch it all spoil sitting in my fridge. At six bucks a day, every day for 40 days, lunch is going to cost me 240 dollars. It would cost me more than that in time, gas, and the checkout line.

For dinner I always eat some meat, usually steak, hamburger, or chicken and cook some vegetables. You cannot use anything that is not green like carrots or corn. There is a lot of carbohydrates in those and not much vitamin value. I pretty much limit myself to 5 vegetables. Spinach, cauliflower with shredded cheese, green beans, brussel sprouts, and my favorite- asparagus.

For snacks I use pork rinds, pepperoni sticks, beef jerky. I drink lots of water. My entire fridge is filled with ten different kinds of drinks incl. sparking water, a case of Powerade Zero, Diet Splash, and almond milk is the only milk I like. Not only is it acceptable on the diet but a friend of mine (this is dairy central here) owns a giant milk operation. After hearing what he injects his cows with- I changed my mind about milk permanently. Not to mention- it has an animal smell to it that kind of makes me nauseous anymore. Almond milk is twice as expensive but it is healthier and Atkins acceptable. Get the original, sugar free kind.

I try to exercise just as often as my body will tolerate it. This is a must if you want to take weight off fast. I run/walk 5k every day, right after consuming coffee and my protein drink. This is probably at my peak energy level of the day. Exercise forces my body to burn fat because it has no carbohydrates to use.

I will only weigh myself three times. Once at the beginning of the diet, at day 20, and day 40. I am not interested in weighing myself every day because sometimes you lose nothing day to day and that tends to discourage me.

My best friend Doug lives in Hawaii. At age 55, he has a ripped, six pack ab package. Doug eats properly. Rice, tuna, black beans. He eats for fuel, not for taste. No cheap carbs, salt, or sugar. I was talking to him the other day and he said something that I will pass along here.

Doug said if people would simply wake up everyday and ask themselves, "What can I do that will be good for my body today" and then do it, our society wouldn't be the fattest in the world. A healthy lifestyle tends to be free of pain in later years. I get it. I have to get to the gym. I shall leave you with this.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Citizens' Arrest of Hillary Clinton- The Sunday Collage

One of the most profoundly puzzling pieces of American history came about in early 1942. It was the FDR executive order which allowed 140,000 Japanese Americans to be rounded up, arrested, and imprisoned for no other reason than our unfounded "fear" that maybe they might be sympathetic to the Japanese war effort rather than the US war effort.

To my way of thinking, FDR single handedly destroyed every Constitutional guarantee afforded to any citizen of this country. The Japanese were illegally seized, denied due process or a speedy trial, their homes and businesses were lost, and they were falsely imprisoned.

All of that would be bad enough but something even worse happened.

I can find no historical record anywhere, that any individual here in America, ever filed a lawsuit on behalf of those Japanese Americans who had been stripped of their rights. You'd think somebody, somewhere, might have offered an opinion that perhaps, not only were we doing the wrong thing at that time- but that it was all quite illegal.

This fact speaks loudly about the lack of courage of people in groups, the herd think.

Cooler heads did not prevail. Oh sure, I get the whole emotionally charged rationale for our illegal conduct. I have argued it with the great generation and I will tell you- I give them no quarter. It was an act of unbelievable cowardice that many still justify. It is one of those regrettable acts that others would like to forget.

And the reason I mention all of this is because of something Ron taught me. Ron taught me that when I see an obvious wrong or an act of indecency that I should have the courage to stand up and be counted even when vastly out numbered by a sea of cowards. Which brings me to another profoundly puzzling piece of current American history. How does Hillary Clinton escape the rule of law? 

In order to keep this simple, I am going to forget about the 17 scandals including Whitewater and my personal favorite- the cattle futures bribe. Let's forget about the Vince Foster suicide and subsequent theft of evidence, let's forget about all of the millions in bribes she has taken and funneled back to herself through her make believe charity- and let's even forget about Benghazi. Let's focus on one thing only. The destruction of 33,000 emails and tampering with evidence.

Now I'm no lawyer thank gawd, but I was once charged with enforcing the law. To be sure, I never engaged in many cases involving the destruction of publicly owned records, or emails for that matter but I have done a few cases which involve the destruction of evidence and the intimidation of potential witnesses. 

Here is an interesting piece where Senator Chuck Grassley states the obvious- that Hillary Clinton very likely broke the law. The piece documents the areas of law which apply to Hillary Clinton.

You'll find as you read this article- that it really fails to address the issue of destruction of evidence. It simply talks about personal email as opposed to public email. The focus of the piece is so ridiculously narrow that virtually all of the larger issues go unmentioned.

I want to remind you here that Hillary Clinton is a lawyer. She knows the law. When she breaks the law she does so knowingly and with intent. When she deletes public records, she knows this is illegal. This is not a 19 year old girl that has been told by her boss to shred a few pieces of paper. 

Public records include emails generated at work. They are owned by the government and by virtue of that, become public records. You don't get to break one law (use your own server) and then imply that because you broke the first law- that this gives you the right to delete and destroy public records and evidence by stating that they were on your private server.

So let me summarize up to here. Public records are supposed to be kept and accessible. They are not personal property. They are supposed to be done on government hardware. Moving a public record from government hardware to personal hardware does not change the status of a public record. You are not entitled to destroy evidence of a crime pending an investigation. Your intent was made clear when you did so- coupled with the fact that you as a lawyer and servant of the court- thus you have no excuse in that you were unaware of the law.

That is 33,000 potential counts or violations. Here then is the federal statute governing such willful conduct. 

In fact although those emails may be lost forever- Hillary forwarded gawd knows how many to Huma Abedin which subsequently landed in the hands of Anthony Weiner wherein the FBI executed a search warrant and knows the precise content of those emails. These may have been emails which Hillary originally deleted from her private server which could be corroborated and proven through an actual investigation by an an actual police department not headed by a co-conspirator (Comey) to hide or aid in the destruction of evidence. I am no fan of politically minded law enforcing.

The extent of this bullshit is mind boggling.

So what happens when the rule of law is somehow replaced by the rule of man? What happens when a Presidential candidate promises to "prosecute crooked Hillary" and then fails to do so? What happens when the entire system fails for the myriad of reasons that it obviously has?

The law has a remedy. It is called a citizen's arrest. It normally occurs when a citizen observes a criminal act and arrests the suspected guilty party and turns them over to a competent authority or jail. This can be accomplished by physical arrest, arrest warrant or summons- I prefer the former. Of course one would risk a lawsuit from the Clintons' therefore we would have to find one courageous and judgement proof citizen who would ask among the plea bargaining arrangements that Ms. Clinton as part of her sentencing- would release any damage claims and thus end this 20 year criminal charade wherein every compromised lawyer up and down the beltway pretends to be Sergeant Schultz despite their expensive Ivy League educations.

If only we had a few good people left. I wonder if anyone felt the same way in 1942. Please view this clip and think of all the prosecutors, or cops for that matter, that think and act like Sgt Schultz...

P.S. I stole this from Trump. Like who am I?? Only the head of the executive branch- ya know the one that prosecutes criminals. Geezus. You can't make this shit up.

A.G. Lynch made law enforcement decisions for political purposes...gave Hillary Clinton a free pass and protection. Totally illegal!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

An Old Demon Comes Calling- The Sunday Collage

Last week I did something that many people would never do. I looked up a fellow cop that we very nearly fired, some 20 years ago. The reason I did this is because I always liked him and maybe deep down, I needed to get ok with what happened.

Sometimes in life you do something for one reason expecting one outcome- and an entirely different result happens. So as we sat down last week, I never saw the slow moving emotional train wreck that was headed my way. 

Mostly I think, that was a result of my bad memory and poor judgment. But then again, I have always been that way.

So we sat down and talked and eventually the conversation turned to that three month time frame some twenty years earlier- a time when he was very nearly fired and ultimately resigned. Back then I had chalked the whole episode up to his immaturity and nothing else. 

What I failed to do, quite honestly, was examine my own behavior and how I handled things.

And as I sat there talking and listening, I heard an angry 20 something recount what happened blow by blow. I couldn't stop thinking about how poorly we handled that situation. I also noticed a failure on his part to take any responsibility for what happened. Twenty years of anger was on full boil.

And for everything you know in life- there was a time when you didn't know it. You get schooled and taught. That's how life works. Nobody is born a great manager but many of us think that somehow we have some intelligent skill set that sets us apart. That of course is unconscious ego and pure bullshit. The reality in my life is that most people suck as managers. Like most, I had no reference point. No way to measure where I stacked up in the world of people managing until just a few years before I retired. I met a truly great manager and human being with an outstanding sense of right and wrong. He was committed to helping people when they were down. He didn't throw good people away. He was fair. He was absolutely dedicated to being a decent human being, he was selfless, and he always used impeccable speech. So through him, I began to realize how inadequate I had been as a manager myself. Not because he was trying to prove some point to me but because he was simply a great manager. That's how he worked. He became my mirror- just a little too late I'm afraid.

That is the irony of my resume'. 

So about the time my friend had summarized his feelings from way back when- he volleyed the subject back to me.

I told him the truth. I probably sucked as a manager. I could have handled that situation far better with the emotional equipment I have now. Back then, in some unconscious way, I probably thought I was a good manager. I simply didn't know the difference between good or bad. None of us are born with some operating guide- we are simply the sum total of all of the crappy and average managers we have ever had. We act like them mostly, thinking we've made some vast improvement, because we manage to cut a bad habit here and there.

I did the best I could at that time. It probably wasn't that good. I know that now because I found good once. I know how that guy would have handled it. 

The other odd thing I've learned is that I am no longer invested in being right. You don't "win" conversations by arguing about who was right or wrong. You take responsibility for your shortcomings without pointing out theirs. With luck, they will discover that all on their own. 

Just like I did.

My friend gave me a B- as a manager. I'll take that. I hope the two of us can be friends again. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

What Ron Taught Me- The Sunday Collage

Today's piece is a little long but it is a truthful account in as much as all of the information I pass along here has either been corroborated or proven out thus far. I hope you find it insightful.

I think it was 1978 or pretty close to that. I was an impressionable teenager in the Order of DeMolay, a masonic organization that transforms young DeMolay disciples into adult Freemasons. The organization endorses ethical and moralistic conduct within it's membership which is a main ingredient in this story. I would have been 16 or 17 during that particular year which is entirely dependent on my rapidly deteriorating memory.

The DeMolays employ a type of hierarchical structure wherein members in good standing, those with experience obtain leadership positions within the organization. I forget the names of all of those positions now except the top rung. The top position within the Order of DeMolay is called "Master Councilor."

Ron was our Master Councilor. Ron's induction a year prior had been pretty seamless and everyone seemed to like Ron back then. I did too. I considered Ron among my best friends. He had worked his way through the ranks of DeMolay to secure that position.

To this day, I'm not sure what happened. All I can tell you is that Ron started using and selling drugs during the year that he served as Master Councilor. He went from a happy, good grades with good attendance sort of kid- to a sullen, lying, skipping school sort of kid. Ron worked nights watering the public golf course and we talked a lot back then but our friendship was waning. I could tell things were changing. I was not part of the drug culture and Ron had less time for his old friends as he acquired new ones. He angered a lot of people including his DeMolay brothers- people who he simply abandoned for new friends, the friends he was smoking dope with.

So as Ron's year as Master Councilor was coming to a close it was time for the annual changing of the guard. The pinnacle of that ceremony occurs when a new Master Councilor is elected and the past Master Councilor is thanked for his service and steps down. There had always been a huge round of applause when that event took place but this time around nobody uttered a peep. In a room of 30 or so people- not one person clapped or applauded for Ron. It was as though he had been shunned and excommunicated. It was one of the most awkward moments of my life. I didn't have the guts to clap for my friend either. When Ron needed a friend the most- not one person in that room stepped up. Crickets.

I have regretted that moment for 40 years. But I have not forgotten it.

So it was that I spent 25 years in small town America working my way through the ranks of our police department.

Throughout most of those years, every other day, the same UPS employee would show up. I would bullshit with him, exchange information, and he would tell me about his family. That's how it is in small town America. I have no idea how many years we knew each other, somewhere around 10 or 15. Bob was a genuinely nice guy and I actually looked forward to visiting with him.

Then one July day in 2009, I got a call from an old friend asking me if I knew a guy named Bowe Bergdahl. My friend who has C.I.A. and United Nations/Afgani experience told me that Bergdahl had walked away from his post and base in Afghanistan and had been captured by the Taliban. Most importantly my friend said, Bergdahl had left a note behind essentially renouncing his citizenship. He had become friends with the exterior perimeter (and unscreened) Afghani guards- a force that had been infiltrated by the Taliban. My friend assured me that the military was well aware of this and so were the soldiers on that base. I was, as usual, sworn to secrecy before the phone call ended.

My heart sank. That was Bob's son.

I had been retired about 18 months when this ordeal began. I have not seen Bowe's father Bob since then- except on television or while reading articles about Bowe. Bob retired at some point after I did.

In the propaganda emitting and bullshit filtering world that has become our way of life- it was never disclosed to the American public that Bowe had simply walked away on his own accord. They call that desertion which is a serious offense. Instead, it was delivered to the American public as though Bergdahl had been forcefully taken and captured. I of course knew otherwise and I trusted my source.

Had Bowe been killed as many suspected he would be- the real story of Bowe's desertion might very well have been covered up just like other embarrassing events (Pat Tillman) that the government likes to cover up.

In another heart breaking twist, I began to read accounts of soldiers being shot and killed or wounded- soldiers deployed to search for Bowe. Recent accounts have not proven this out.

So as the years rolled by, I silently prayed that Bowe would not be killed or beheaded in some savage middle eastern way. I prayed that some terrible footage would not find it's way to my friend Bob who is a kind and decent man.

People in our small town rallied for Bowe. The strung up yellow ribbons at a local coffee shop hoping for his safe return.

After nearly 5 years of captivity, President Obama arranged for the exchange of 5 very dangerous Taliban members held at Guantanamo Bay for Bowe Bergdahl. The public was still not aware of the details surrounding Bowe's capture. I suspected, and this is simply an opinion, that President Obama who had campaigned on promises of closing the Guantanamo prison was trying to move some of those prisoners out. In a way I thought, this was a win-win for Obama.

At any rate, Bowe was released in late May of 2014. Around that time, perhaps a little before, the truth about Bowe's desertion started leaking out.

I was in a unique position to watch this ordeal having been apprised of the truth from start to finish. There were plans in my little town for a huge celebration which had city officials preparing for the joyous moment when Bowe would return home a war hero. And then...

The truth that Bowe had actually been a deserter eventually reached the mainstream media. It was everywhere. People began scrambling for cover. City officials, facing a public outcry which included people all over America, cancelled their last minute plans for a public celebration. Most people were shocked and embarrassed. In that prolonged and seemingly eternal moment when you have been convicted by the court of public opinion, where there is always guilt and shaming by association, where friends become scant, we wait for the whole sordid affair of Bowe Bergdahl to reach a conclusion.

Indeed it has been a shit show- complete with angry and upset veterans, lawyers concocting half baked defenses, and a new President who calls Bergdahl a "dirty, rotten traitor." A President who obtained deferments to avoid service himself. If you want to read an interesting account of this mess, wiki seems to be a good place to start with it's long running chronology despite some "facts" which remain up in the air.

So what did Ron teach me and what does that have to do with Bowe Bergdahl?

Ron taught me that we must never let one bad moment define our lives. Sometimes we get lucky and face no consequences for our mistakes. Sometimes, in the case of Bowe Bergdahl, we get to spend years in captivity under severe conditions. Perhaps a few more years in limbo with a healthy dose of public ridicule and scorn, while the best and the brightest try to determine a fitting outcome for you which might involve even more captivity.

Ron taught me that bad people get a few things right and that good people get a few things wrong. People cannot be defined by bad decisions- or we would all find ourselves on the scrap heap of humanity. I learned that if there is one ounce of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness in people- that sometimes people are just too cowardly to bring it when it's needed the most. It is easier to stand silent, refusing to call attention to yourself because you are afraid of the scorn and ridicule it might bring. That happens when a guy you used to call "friend" scans the room for just one friendly face and finds none.

It's got to be lonely being Bowe Bergdahl right now- thinking the world hates you.

I don't. I pray they find a little mercy and a little forgiveness for a young, impressionable kid that made one bad decision which subsequently turned into a national nightmare. I hope they find the courage to go easy on Bowe, who was just a kid for chrissakes, and give him some shot at a normal life. Mostly, I think beyond his decade of captivity and the stigma that will surely follow him the rest of his life, that's punishment enough. We shall soon see what the deciders decide.

Be someone's friend when they desperately need you. Stand up and give the finger to a leering world. It ain't all about you. That's what Ron taught me.

Friday, May 12, 2017

My Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook

For many years, I resisted the temptation to join Facebook. I have always seen it as some sort of superficial, public popularity contest. Some folks use Facebook as a political platform, espousing their political views daily. Some use Facebook to pass along jokes and witty sayings, which I must admit, I like. Others post you tube videos. Sometimes people use Facebook as a means of trying to shame someone, usually a former love interest. I find that conduct, even if it's shadowy and veiled, as reprehensible. Some people are lonely. Others form groups or play games. Some people are going through hard times and need help and support. Others use Facebook to glean information and play detective. Some people pretend to have this giant network of thousands of friends. Like trophies on a wall. Look everyone, I am this wildly popular person and I only do fun, exciting things. Here's a picture of me somewhere eating a giant plate of nachos.

So those things happen. I am not a fan of many of those things but that is all part of the Facebook experience. So in one of those wishy, washy moments I have from time to time...I eventually caved in about 6 years ago. My official excuse follows.

My father had moved to the outskirts of civilization on the North Dakota, Montana border and his cell phone wouldn't work. My only means of communication with him was either by email or through Facebook. I could write him a text message but he would only receive it when his phone traveled through an area with coverage. He still had one of those old cellphones where you had to hit a key three times to get to the next letter you wanted to use. It was easiest to simply leave a message for him on Facebook. That was 6 years ago. Dad has since moved, switched cell phone providers, and never uses Facebook now. However, a strange thing happened. I became re-acquainted with my extended family who are all scattered throughout the west. I also became re-acquainted with a few of my old, childhood friends.

Without Facebook, none of that would have happened. So that's the love part. I can find out family news, leave messages for members of our family, and communicate with old friends such as Bonnie J and Joe H. My best friend, Doug, still refuses to join. He is his own man. That is one of the reasons he is my best friend. Doug has no problem giving anyone or anything the finger. We have been friends since we were 15. The truth is, I envy Doug. Doug stays in great shape, works hard, has 5 acres in Hawaii, and plays in the surf. That's a long way from windy, cold winters in eastern Idaho. I have to actually pick up the phone and call him. He hates Facebook.

I don't really mind the vacation and food photos people post. I don't even mind the political rants of my liberal friends although in all honesty, I had to block or remove a few of them including a couple of groups. We once had a great group where we could buy and sell guns- but Facebook banned us. So much for free speech. Speech is only free when the aristocracy allows it. I don't like the snooping and I don't like being tracked by Google and seeing ads for things I have recently purchased.

So Facebook has no problem tracking and snooping on you because they feel entitled to do so. I also detest falling for some bullshit new story only to find out its untrue especially after you share it. It can be embarrassing and I am now in the habit of checking virtually every pronouncement that I intend to share. I also don't like my identity getting hacked which seems to happen a couple times a year.

Facebook could allow you to opt out of tracking but they won't. They pretend like they aren't doing it. I have always wondered if I file a grievance with the FCC about that- what their response might be. I mean does anyone regulate the conduct of Facebook on behalf of consumers?

A few of my friends have created entirely false profiles under pen names- that way nobody can spy on them unless they have given up their alter identity to those folks. Pretty clever. Keeps the boss from snooping on you.

So I tolerate these things because I have to. But I reserve the right to pull the plug- like so many of my friends already have.

I kind of see Facebook as this giant fad that like bell bottom jeans and platform shoes will one day find itself in the dust bin of history. The problem Facebook has- is that people will innovate and find ways to remove Facebook from their lives. Facebook reminds me of other commercial fads that eventually commit suicide. Uber immediately comes to mind. People will innovate and find networking solutions that are peer to peer- they will eliminate these parasitic hosts who demand too much and return very little. The Uber business model will destroy itself.

I have seen at least 10 to 15 of my friends remove themselves from Facebook. I constantly toy with the idea but I like the idea of keeping up with my extended family and staying in touch with old friends. If it weren't for those reasons, I'd remove myself too.

I think on the final scorecard, Facebook has been more of a positive than a negative. But only by the slimmest of margins. Oh yes, and I reserve the right to change my mind. I can go from love to hate in about 15 seconds.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

"Making the Most Money With the Least Amount of Work"- The Sunday Collage

Are Americans lazy?

CNN thinks so.  So does Tyler Cowen, economist.

The author of this piece and our economist could not be more wrong. I loved reading this piece yesterday because not only are the contributors well off the mark- but in typical CNN fashion they start in on the Trump bashing which I am so sssiiiccckkk of reading. Fuck. I only click on CNN Money to look at commodity prices. I wasn't planning on reading another inaccurate editorial dressed up like cutting edge news.

Years ago my friend Billy quoted the title of this blog today. When he said it- I remember thinking how profoundly simple and undeniable that statement was. He said that every one of us is trying to do precisely that. Make the most money with the least amount of work.

What's killing American productivity?

I love the Yellowstone Park "Feeding the Bears" analogy. In Yellowstone Park, the rangers don't want you to feed the bears. Bears quit being bears when they are being fed. They quit hunting and foraging. Instead they become dangerous. they expect free handouts. They clog up roads and act like bums. When the bears don't get a free lunch, they tear up campsites and cars. Once in awhile they tear up a human being.

When your government is handing out billions in food subsidies, billions in rent subsidies, billions in health and utility subsidies- then your people have no need to work. You are meeting their needs for food, shelter, and health. They quit trying to be productive because they are like animals in a zoo or park. Your government has been killing American independence for decades.

I have a friend, perfectly healthy, one of the laziest bastards I have ever known. He has spent a lifetime suing everyone that he can and he even gets disability payments and insurance from medicaid. He told me flat out that he simply de-frauded the government over a make believe back problem from a car wreck which he settled for 100k. More importantly, he has offered help and advice to three other deadbeats who are doing the same types of things he does.

We have over 10 million people receiving disability payments- they skyrocketed under Obama.

Next let's turn our binoculars and focus on the productive class. Those people who would work if the government hadn't allowed the corporate oligarchy to outsource millions upon millions of jobs. Here's a CNN article that claims we have lost 5 million jobs since 2000. That's bullshit. I think we have lost every bit of 15 million jobs. Those were good paying manufacturing jobs with benefits.

So not only are we losing jobs overseas, but government is allowing the corporate oligarchy to remove jobs here with the H1B visa program. They in source foreigners. Corporate America hires foreign workers at a fraction of the cost of American workers using the visa program. Boeing is famous for this. Here is an article, four years old on 800,000 H1B visa holders- undoubtedly we are well over a million by now.

Those are the legal job holders. How many illegal aliens are here working and taking American jobs? And please don't tell me they are the jobs Americans won't take. In our little casino town near here, there are at least 500 workers in both casinos from both legal and illegal parentage. They are primarily Mexican people, hustling drinks, working in the pit, serving and cooking in the restaurants. Here is an article which cites among other things- that the increase in competitive hiring pools has driven wages and benefits down.

This article says there are 11 million illegal aliens living in the U.S. I think the number is far higher, I have seen 20 million quoted several times. We lose jobs and we lose money. I remember years ago, all of these check cashing and wire money shops opening up all over town. Why? The Mexicans were taking every job that they could get, mostly in landscaping and construction, and wiring the money home to their families in Mexico, Peru, or South America.

We have 2.2 million people in prisons and jails. They certainly aren't working.

I cannot begin to tell you how many people have simply quit working because we are taxed to death or there are no benefits to working. Why would I waste my time working in a ten dollar an hour job with no benefits so that I can give a third of that money to some government entity?  I won't. My retirement checks are wholly sufficient and I have paid off all of my debt and I will soon pay off my house. Taxation is theft. It is completely out of control. I believe that I pay a full third to 40% of my income to the feds, the state, property tax, sales tax, gas tax, Hell I pay a grand a year for water,sewer, and trash. So the only way to replace that lost income is by paying off all of your debt. It's like giving yourself a raise without increasing your tax burden.

I have a friend who threw in the towel on his drywall business. He couldn't afford all of the payroll taxes, and most importantly, the workman's comp insurance- made mandatory by the state. What does he do now? He works for cash, reports next to nothing, and gets free Obamacare. Pretty slick huh?

I have another friend who quit his practice in Mississippi because he could not afford the 88,000 a year in malpractice insurance forced on him by the state.

Many people are working for cash and simply not reporting it. Lots of bartering too.

So are Americans lazy?

No. They can do the math. You cannot place a heavy regulatory burden on people and expect them to overcome it. You cannot tax them to death despite the cleverly disguised taxes that government is forever creating. You have to create and support an environment that is conducive to productivity not one that takes that incentive away. There is a nexus, an invisible line, where each and every one of us says "screw it, it just isn't worth it." More and more of us are crossing that line. Thousands are even fleeing our shores. Our government has created an environment where work is simply no longer worth it. I shall leave you with a quote from The God of the Machine. It fits here nicely and I believe- it is always right. It is government in a nutshell. That is the optimist in me.

Monday, April 17, 2017

When We Were Great

A few years before she died, I asked my mother if it was simply a rite of passage that most elderly Americans conclude that our country is going to hell. I always hear that from the older demographic- I think because the younger demographic has no historical point of reference. You can only know how bad America has gotten by knowing what a great country this once was. There is no other way. We did not become great because of governance or socialistic practice or legal precedent- we were great once because anyone who worked hard and used common sense could find the American dream and the rule of law protected them. Today the rule of law protects the aristocracy and the corporate oligarchy via the Supreme Court. All nine of those Harvard grads exist solely to protect the haves from the have nots. One day there will be another revolution and a bunch of those necks are gonna get stretched. That's history and that's how it always ends-the cynical side of me desperately wants to be here when it happens.

My story begins here.

They called it the "Gibralter of Unionism." In turn of the 20th century Butte, Montana the struggle was real. Conditions in the mines were deplorable but if you wanted a shot at the American dream you had to pay the admission price. Maybe you paid the admission price at places like Five Points in Manhattan, in Chicago stockyards, or in Butte mines.

In the Butte, Montana of my childhood- nearly everyone from wool growers to barbers were union members. It had all started with the miners, of course. That it got out of hand and included nearly every worker in Butte- seemed normal somehow. Understandable I suppose, given the circumstances.

But people in Butte believed that America was great. I used to hear them say that. Imagine people talking about what a great country this was- all the time.

A miner in turn of the century Butte, Montana worked six 12 hour days. That's a 72 work week- working a mile underground with no light and breathing air saturated with rock dust and various gases. There were no "benefits" at the time. No retirement plans, no health insurance, no disability, no overtime, or funeral expenses. You made 3 dollars a day, a quarter an hour, blowing up rock and reducing it to rubble- putting it in the box to be carried to the surface. In 1917, 3 bucks was barely a livable wage. In the old days, they killed thousands of mules and horses dragging ore to the surface. Thousands of miners lost their lives. But that was their American dream.

When I hear people bad mouth unions, I don't think about some clown working 40 hours a week- making 75 grand affixing rear view mirrors onto car doors standing in a Detroit assembly line. I don't think about mobsters, teamsters, or government workers. I think about miners covered in dirt, choking on dust, lifting heavy rock in the darkness a mile below the earth's surface, doing that for a quarter an hour- 72 hours a week and dying in accidents or with black lung.

You wanna know tough? Try that shit for 30 or 40 years.

On the other side of that 72 hour work week was the most ruthless company that ever existed. Not only did they break unions and kill workers- employing them like cattle- but it has always been my belief that Percy Rockefeller ordered the assassination of union organizer, Frank Little, in 1917. For more on that topic, try this link.

The history of Butte is the history of America. It pits immigrants v the wealthy and elite aristocracy- the ruling class. It's a fascinating story and I could go on but I'd be missing the point. What was it that made America great?

In the 1800's, America equaled promise. People were getting rich in America. We had a Constitution and a Bill of Rights which guaranteed basic human freedoms. Freedoms that were denied elsewhere. We had land and resources. We had opportunity.

In the America of my youth, there was a sense of fair play. People were free to work as much as they wanted to. To invent new things with new ideas. The rule of law protected people who had great ideas and new inventions. It rewarded them handsomely. The rule of law prevented others from stealing their ideas or property. The government could not come in and steal their wealth either. Courts routinely ruled in favor of our working class.

We had freedom. We had morality. We had two parent families with fathers present and accounted for- parents that married and attended church. We didn't kill our children. We said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning because we were grateful for what we had.

People disciplined their children. Children did not run around screaming. They were removed immediately or spanked first and then removed.

Businesses treated people like customers. We had competition, not monopolistic corporations who essentially price fix everything and treat customers like garbage.

People had respect for others. They relied and leaned on each other. This reliance fostered a sense of unity, a notion that we are all in this together. Anybody that has spent a night in a foxhole or gone through a traumatic event knows about reliance and trust. It transcends and permanently changes relationships. Bonds forged through reliance on others in desperate situations are bonds that last a long, long time. Ask any combat veteran.

We once had an objective media that reported news. We could trust them in as much as they simply reported what they were told. If the government lied to them- they reported it that way. They did not editorialize and chime in with their opinions.

We had a legal immigration system, that up until 1967, allowed about a million people annually to become citizens. Our borders were not over run with criminals, drug smugglers, and cheap labor. Our crime rates have soared because we are afraid to call out Mexican nationals for the crime they are responsible for. Just look at a jail roster in Texas, Arizona, or S. California. While our infrastructure and court system remained clogged with this human sewage other cities provide sanctuary and government benefits for them.

The Central Bank, the root of much evil, did not exist until 1913. It only took them 16 years to destroy America (1929) which in turn enabled politicians to step in and start eroding and destroying our freedoms- but even then, politicians, crooked bankers, and criminals like Hillary Clinton were prosecuted. We did not make excuses for their conduct. Investigative committees actually investigated and charged people. An episode like the gross misconduct at Benghazi would have been exposed to the light of day. We do not leave our own to die.

Today that has all changed. The rule of law has been eroded and replaced by a nanny government that seizes our money and incentive to work. Courts routinely rule in favor of corporate America and the expanse of even more federal power. Our freedoms are dwindling- you can't enjoy the product of your labor if your government is taking it from you and redistributing it. Church attendance is down. Our gratitude, expressed via the Pledge of Allegiance, is now gone. We abort our children and then live with the guilt of that act over the course of our lives. We do so because we don't believe in a God or a final reckoning. Our children are raised by single parents without partners.

Children are undisciplined. People are angry- they treat others with disrespect. The sense of community and unity has been replaced by a false sense of anonymity and independence. Our media editorializes the news. It has gotten so bad that I simply don't watch the news anymore. Our immigration system is a sham. We are over run with illegal aliens and crime.

The corporate oligarchy rules over us. They price fix the cost of borrowing, communication costs, oil, insurance, and drugs. They control what we see and hear. The Central Bank has ruined our economic way of life. It ruined our lives in 1929, and it did it again in 2007. The final reckoning for this last episode has yet to happen- but it will.

Politicians are now above the law. They break the law with impunity. Our Presidents conduct bombing campaigns in any country that they choose. We don't trust government. Congress has an approval rate of only 15% because they are obstructionist, compromised power brokers who sell themselves for re-election contributions.

We were a proud nation once. I don't see that anymore. I don't hear people say America is great- because it no longer is. There is no reason why we couldn't have the best health care system anywhere in the world, a fair tax structure, or an orderly and legal immigration process.

We continue to accept terrible performance from our cowardly leadership which desperately needs term limits- all of it. This includes judges- no more guaranteed, lifetime gigs. They don't rule on strict precedence, they legislate.

The problem is that making drastic and desperately needed changes requires courage. I just don't see any courage out there. We have fallen into some mid pack level of mediocrity where doing the right thing for all of us is no longer a concern. We accept poor performance to avoid confronting problems and issues. I see cowards where great men once stood.

So I don't think it's a rite of passage. My mother didn't either. I think it is an opinion based on the deterioration of our core values and morals which has happened over decades and the last century. When I asked mom the question she understood the distinction I was making about whether all old people make the same observation. She said, "Maybe so, but it really has gotten a lot worse."

Mom spent the last few years of her life getting gouged for healthcare and prescriptions. Very often, she would call providers and ask simple questions about itemizing bills or pricing structures. She was amazed at how evasive their answers were and how annoyed they were that she was even asking. She could never get a straight answer. Mom was just looking for a fair price in a system that isn't interested in fair pricing and truth be told, wasn't even interested in her just so long as they received their insurance check. She was merely a conduit for payment.

It doesn't take too much imagination to understand how mom felt.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Donald Trump, Political Apprentice- The Sunday Collage

Prior to last year's election, I found myself arguing with a couple of Trump supporters. The Trump supporters had bought into the "Art of the Deal" mentality that Trump gets things done. They think, I suppose, that business triumphs translate into political triumphs. They are two entirely different worlds.

I knew this. But I also know that people don't like Donald Trump. His likeability index flat lined long ago.

So right after Trump gave Hillary another get out of jail free card, Trump set about the task of appointing his elite millionaire and billionaire buddies from places like Goldman Sachs to cabinet positions- solidifying more control for the aristocracy.

Then we had last nights- non vote- on the Obamacare repeal and replace. With republicans controlling both houses and the presidency, they can't even bring a bill to the floor for a vote. Much less pass one.

Why not?

Because people don't like Trump. His own party doesn't like him and when people don't like you- they will find ways to sabotage your efforts and make sure you fail. 

This isn't some business where you can control people and if they don't do what you demand- you simply fire them. These people are elected. They do not have to kiss President Trump's ass- and in fact- he's about to have his ass kicked a few more times. Because the politcos and stakeholders don't care about his success. The losers of course are American taxpayers- workers forced to pay for the healthcare needs of the McDonalds fed minions. 

In 2008, bankers received their trillion dollar bailout courtesy of Congress. So did health insurers. That's all the ACA ever was- transferring middle class income into health insurer pockets. Another bail out.

I don't think voters, or Donald Trump for that matter, knew how ineffective Trump would be as President. He is completely outside of his comfort zone. This ain't some construction company or silly television show.

Oh sure, the alternative was un-electable. I know. Her opponent called her a criminal and anyone with warm blood knows that statement is true. 

So now I hear next up is tax reform. Tax reform for who?

Do you know that Congress could pass a fair or flat tax in a matter of hours? Eliminate thousands upon thousands of pages of IRS regulations, substantially reduce the IRS, and put a million accountants out of work?

Normally they might call that kind of situation a win-win. It makes too much sense. Yet, it will never happen. 

The aristocracy in this country have a tax structure that they bought and paid for via campaign contributions and other juicy deals and loans made over the last 40 years. There is not a snowball's chance in hell that the puppets of Congress are going to pass any real reform that helps individual taxpayers like myself. At their expense. They may bail out some rich folks, maybe a corporation or two, but if you think they are going to help you out Mr. Working Stiff, think again. Someone has to pay for all that free shit and it ain't going to be Warren Buffet or Mark Zuckerberg. Or General Electric. Or Donald Trump. Or all of those deep state bankers now embedded in Congress and government.

Here's a universal truth. People like and help nice people. If you aren't a nice guy, then the world isn't particularly motivated to come in and help you succeed. Trump doesn't have the emotional skill to change his likeability. He thinks he's gonna bark orders and get things done in a world full of people that want him to fail.

The next episode of Donald Trump, political apprentice, will begin in a couple of weeks. I am expecting the same level of success for tax reform that we saw with health care reform. At least we know now that even his own party will throw him under the bus- which is not exactly a formula for success.

Post Script. On 04/06/2017, we learned that Congress is no closer to tax reform than the repeal of fact they is further off. Tax reform in the form of a 3 tiered, no deduction, fair tax could be accomplished in an afternoon. It will never happen- our government masters will see to that.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

We Have Every Right To Protect Our Borders

Spinning the truth into lies. The new media business model.

For those of you who think President Trump's travel ban is unprecedented- please read on.

Last Friday Donald Trump signed a travel ban from seven middle eastern countries. What I have done here is included a news piece from CNN- I've done that so that you can see how CNN shades the truth by stating that the travel ban includes seven "predominately Muslim" nations.

A few years ago, I got embroiled in a rather nasty back and forth with a liberal atheist- who otherwise quite educated- was defending followers of Islam. Our argument ground to a halt when I asked her if she knew the history of Mohammad the child rapist- or if she had ever read the Quran. Had she lied- I most certainly was prepared to offer a pop quiz on the spot. Instead she opted out of the argument, I suspect because she realized she was on the verge of completely exposing her ignorance of the subject matter.

For those of you who do not know the history of Mohammad the architect of Islam, people who have not read the Quran, folks who do not know what Sharia Law entails, or how the Muslim religion treats women, infidels, and non believers- you need to educate yourselves right now before you utter one peep or opinion about a subject you know nothing about.

Here is an eye opening piece with references listed at the may find it quite distasteful.

If you do educate yourselves on the subject- you will begin to see Islam for what it is and let me just say this... An objective look will leave you in awe. If this is the word of God, we are all in a lot of trouble.

Every country in the world has the right to protect their borders and they do. Wars have been waged over borders since the beginning of time. Interestingly enough, every war I can think of involves those things that we all find most distasteful. Politics and religion. Taboo subjects in many homes.

Think of your property boundaries as your own little country. Imagine if I told you that not only could I enter your property at will but that I had every right to do so and you could do nothing to stop it. Not only that but that you must allow me to use the property as I wish- to feed, clothe, worship, and provide medical help for me as the need arose.

This of course is insane. In America, where the rule of law once existed, you'd be prosecuted for trespassing or subjected to the barrel of a gun.

Why then would people find immigrants, both legal and illegal, entitled to enter our country? Are we under some contractual obligation to provide food and shelter to anyone who wants to come here? Do foreign nationals have rights which trump our very own citizen's rights to a safe and peaceful existence? Are we obligated to let anyone in?

The answer is no. It has always been no.

In fact at times,  it has been hell no. Our very own government some 75 years ago- found it wise to lock up 140000 Japanese Americans who were already legal citizens. That is the penultimate travel ban. There was not one peep of dissent back then when FDR- the democrat- issued his executive order. No CNN to criticize the President for locking up 140000 Americans who were primarily Christian and Buddhists.

We have every right in America to demand and expect an orderly and lawful immigration process. Just because two or three Presidents chose to break the law and import a slave labor force for their business cronies does not make our immigration law null and void. In fact, I would submit to you that President Trump's travel ban is precisely what the role of government is supposed to entail. It is the only reason we have government in the first place.

To protect the safety of our own citizens. That includes our property, our infrastructure, and our civil rights. It has always been that way.

Friday, February 3, 2017

My Fearless 2017 Superbowl Prediction

One of my favorite quotes- taken from a horse racing bettor's t-shirt- "Often wrong, never in doubt."

Such is the world of a sports bettor. C'mon it's the Superbowl- are you really afraid to lose 20 bucks at the party? Or would you rather waist (ha!) your money on sugary coffee? 

Here then is my case for this year's Superbowl winner- the New England Patriots.

The league commissioner, Roger Goodell, suspended Patriot quarterback Tom Brady on the flimsiest evidence in the football deflate gate scandal. The Patriots went 3-1 over that span, losing only to a decent Bills team. Brady isn't just a quarterback- he may be the best that ever played. His numbers certainly indicate that. The Patriots and Brady were already pissed off having missed the SB last year when Denver came in and thumped them. Motivating Tom Brady even more, Goodell handed out his sentence and never attended a game in Gillette stadium. Smart move- Goodell might have been mobbed and beaten by angry fans. Goodell will be in attendance when the trophy gets handed out Sunday.

Bill Belichick might be the best coach ever. I have watched this guy come up with game plans and personnel changes that leave me in awe. You can wear hoodies with cut off sleeves when you are this good. Belichick's teams are well disciplined. 

Defense. Atlanta has none. You cannot win a SB sans a defense. I have seen this time and time again. If the game evolves into a shoot out- the Patriots will still win. NE's defense ranked 8th this year, the Falcons was 25th.

In terms of offense, Atlanta ranked 2, NE ranked 4.

The only significant injury is world class TE Gronkowski for the Patriots. They have a very capable bench and while the loss of Gronk is significant- they have plenty of other weapons.

Last but not least is an oddball item I use. A weird angle. Superbowl winning teams do not lose to losing teams during the regular season. While this is not a perfect angle- I think it hits with 75-80% percent accuracy. The Patriots lost to the Bills and the Seahawks. The Falcons lost 5 games, most notably were losses to the Buccaneers, Eagles, and 5-11 San Diego! (SD even lost to the Browns which prevented Cleveland from going 0-16)

On the Falcons side of things, I think they are an improving club. They look like world beaters at home. That's what kept the spread so low.

On Sunday, they are going to play the battle tested and proven veterans of football. 

In my circle, people are sick of seeing the Patriots year after year. Everyone is rooting for a Falcon victory- except the smart money. Yesterday, a well respected gambler friend of mine wagered 2100.00 on the Patriots. 

The spread is currently Patriots -3. I think the Patriots can easily cover this- and may win by 10 to 14 points. The total is 59 points and I'm not sure that's high enough.

Be sure and chime in if the Falcons win. I especially enjoy caustic comments regarding my lack of intelligence, my poor judgment, or any number of other nasty comments from the usual suspects.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bringing Mom Home- The Sunday Collage

I have never really cared for stories about the sick and dying. I've never found the subject appealing. In fact, I'd rather avoid the whole thing until that moment when it becomes unavoidable.

My mother was a farm kid. The second of six. She grew up in eastern Montana on the banks of the Missouri River. She lived an abandoned life as a child she once told me, lost in the middle of six kids while cooking for farm hands- helping to scratch a living out of the dirt. The Great Depression was fresh in the minds of the folks back then and they lived a frugal existence, barely making ends meet and wasting nothing. She tried to fix or repair everything that broke. Her harvest gold washer and dryer will testify to that. That was how my mother lived her life.

So about the time my father first showed an interest in my mother, the sparks flew right away. Mother would later tell me that my father was the only person that showed genuine interest in her at that insecure time of her life. Mom said she hated that farm. She hated milking cows. She wanted to get away and my father seemed to offer her the perfect opportunity.

They dated, they were married, and they would have three kids. They would travel all over Montana- chasing the American dream.

The truth was, my parents soon found out that they were incompatible. In a different day when divorce didn't happen- the two of them just stuck it out. Arguing, fighting, and living some miserable existence, I often wished that they would just get divorced. Out of the war zone that was my childhood, I fought back. I did all those things that kids who are raised in an environment like that do. I experimented with pot, I drank, I smoked, I cursed, I ran away, and I barely made it through high school. The night before my high school graduation was the last night my parents ever spent together. I came home that night to find my mother crying and my father packing up a few belongings.

And like my mother on that farm some twenty years earlier, all I could think about was running away. and I did. And I kept running for 30 years.

I tried to live my life differently but in a world of infinite possibilities and very few solutions, my life ended up more or less just like my parents' life had. I got divorced, quit my job, and beset with depression- I used every skill I had ever learned as a cop to examine my life and put the pieces back where they belonged. I quit drinking. I searched for and found the truth. The promise we are all born with.

Mom lived in the same house for over 30 years. She was always gardening and planning various home improvements. I never envisioned a day when she would not be in that house.
I spent countless hours talking with my mother back then, sorting out what had happened and reflecting back on those times. The pieces started falling into place. Everything started to make sense and I began to gain understanding. The anger that had been such a burden throughout most of my life started to fade away.  My parents were just living their lives and I guess I had just been an unintended piece of collateral damage. And while that might sound bad, it helped shape who I was and oddly, who I was about to become.

Slowly, we repaired our relationship. And then late in 2012, right after she retired, mom was diagnosed with throat cancer. Mom had beaten breast cancer years earlier in her life and a few other ailments- so she set about the task of getting well. Mom hated to drive and so it would be my duty to drive her everywhere. We had two or three different doctors, tests and imaging, radiation, chemo, throat dilations. I would pick mom up and bring her home. I remember thinking that I must have taken her to 125 different appointments over that two year span. I never missed an appointment.

She never complained- even when her hair fell out.

Mom eventually won that bout with cancer but it was a pyrrhic victory. She never really thrived after that. It was a slow, two year decline until Dec. 22 when my siblings summoned the ambulance for her. We spent the next three weeks at the hospital and I think mom thought she was going to beat this. She was used to winning these battles but this time was going to be different. It was hard for us to watch.

Mom died January 13.

We paid her bills, wrote her obituary, and made arrangements for her to be picked up and cremated. On January 16th we spoke with an attorney about her will, locked up her house, and returned home.

Today I picked up mom's ashes. I put them in my car. As I was driving through Boise, I realized I was taking her home for the last time.

Mom's life taught me a lot of things but not in the way she might have intended.

I've learned that many of the things we learn as children, both good and bad, follow us for a long time. I've discovered that people love in different ways. That some things are worth fixing. I've learned that you can't simply hold people accountable for things they don't know or don't understand. I've learned that people fail- often while trying to do the right things. But mostly I think- I've learned that people are just living their lives. Doing the best that they can. You have to let them be- living is evolutionary and personal. Resentments are wasted energy and mostly untrue. Understanding others and forgiveness are similar concepts. Resolving feelings of guilt and anger are healthy when done right. I had the opportunity to make sense out of all of that while my parents were still alive. I am very grateful I was given that opportunity and it is with tremendous reluctance that I- as well as my siblings- are forced to join the ranks of those who have lost loved ones. This is going to take some getting used to.