My Kindergarten Commencement Address

I have already tackled the difficult task of preparing a high school commencement speech.  Not surprisingly, no one took me up on my offer to speak at any high school commencement. High school, though, is not the only ground upon which to impart my wisdom.

Perhaps I should speak to a college or university. Public figures and captains of industry often do that. Alas, I am neither. That goal simply isn’t realistic.

What about elementary or middle school grads? I didn’t go to a middle school, so I don’t know anything about that. As far as those entering high school, most of them are morons and won’t listen anyway.

This leaves me with kindergarten, that Petri dish of preschoolers ready to take on real school. I graduated from kindergarten as part of the Harlan Kindergarten Class of 1968.  It was my only foray into private school, as there was no public kindergarten in those days.  I graduated with a haughty sense of entitlement.


Your author’s natty attire belied his naiveté as a kindergartener.

I would have benefited from wise counsel in those days.  I now stand ready to educate kindergarteners on what lies before them.  To paraphrase the late, great drummer, Buddy Rich:  These people.  They are my kind of people. So, here goes:

Hello, kids!  Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today.  Today is an important moment in your young lives.  After today, you are no longer preschoolers.  You are students and shall remain so for many years to come.

As you are no doubt aware, “kindergarten” is from the German, meaning “children’s garden.”  It was created by a German named Friederich Frobel in the village of Bad Blankenburg.  Stop giggling!  That’s the name!  You’ll be calling the world ahead of you blankin’-burg soon enough. 

Up to this point, many of you have gotten by on your appearance.  You are, as we say, cute.  That will rapidly fade in elementary school.  We will lose teeth and become awkward as you grow.  Being cute means nothing.  Every misanthrope and human monster was once your age.  Look at this darling child [I hold this up for the audience]:


His name? Adolf Hitler.  Cute, isn’t he?

Many–if not most–of you are unprepared for school.  A great number of you are complete illiterates, unable to so much as correctly spell your full name.  Others are only functionally illiterate.  You cannot read even at the 1st grade level.  Your ability to understand or complete even a simple job application is nil.  Even rudimentary math is beyond your comprehension at this point.  As a result of these limitations, you are unable to function in modern society.  These handicaps, daunting as they may be, can and will be remedied in the coming years–at least to some extent.

Some of you now begin your long, slow trudge to failure–sad but true.  You will annoy your teachers.  You will gravitate to the worst of your lot and mimic their behavior.  Perhaps you will be the ring leader of a group of miscreants.  If so, make no mistake:  You can and will be written off at a young age.  The good news is that–for the only time in your life–time is on your side.  As unlikely as it may be, you can change your behavior for the better.

Many of you are angels or so your parents have led you to believe.  You are sweet and when you aren’t, you are simply misunderstood.  Your failures and shortcomings are not your own.  They are the product of misinformed individuals or society as a whole.  Your parents are failing you daily, but I do not expect you to understand.  Being egocentric as you are, you are comfortable with this arrangement.  This comfort sows the seeds of your ultimate downfall.  When you fall short of expectations at school, your parents will harangue your teachers, blaming them for your sloth and intellectual shortcomings.  Only when you are much older will you realize that your house stands upon sand.  Then, it will be too late.

Some of you are tethered to your parents like pets.  You never leave their sight.  They are determined to protect you from the evils of the world and the world itself.  They will often lunch with you at school.  Perhaps they will volunteer in your classroom.  Some may even seek gainful employment at your school.  They seek to smother you with their attention.  And they will succeed.

A few–and I hope very few–of you are little more than street urchins deposited at school by uncaring parents who neither deserve to have children nor any other human relationship.  There is good news for you.  It is possible–not likely, but possible–that you will encounter someone who can exert a positive influence upon you outside your home. School is the most likely place to find such a person.

You may be an only child.  By that, of course, I mean you are the only child in your immediate family.  YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY CHILD ON EARTH!  Just remember that.

Of course, you will encounter teachers.  In my experience, the good far outnumber the bad.  The good ones will care about you like no one outside your own family.  The bad ones will want to herd you on the next grade while they detest you almost as much as they do their dead-end jobs.  Most of your teachers do the best they can.  Your cooperation will help.

Your teachers may occasionally criticize or correct you.  That is their job.  That is how you learn.  This may be foreign to you.  Your parents may be the type who praise everything you do from feeding yourself to basic hygiene.  Your teachers shall prepare you for the real world where such tasks are not viewed as accomplishments at all.  In fact, society fairly demands you master them.

Your teachers also cannot praise your every move.  I have no doubt that all of you have drawn pictures for your parents.  Let’s say you draw what you called a “horsey.”  In reality, this horse resembles nothing so much as random scrawling with no form.  It is, in fact, completely unrecognizable as a horse or any other living creature.  When you present this picture to your parents they exclaim “Oh, what a pretty horsey! It’s beautiful!”  Such lies are meant to boost your self-esteem by lauding your crude art work.  If an adult produced such a drawing and insisted that it was horse, he or she would branded as mentally deranged.  Institutions and unemployment would be their future.

A decent parent would look at your drawing and ask “What exactly about that looks like a horse?” or “Why don’t we just call it a wildebeest or a fire hydrant?  Makes as much sense.”  I doubt that you have ever received such constructive criticism.  Those days are done.

No teacher worth his or her salt can engage in such foolishness.  If you declare that 2 + 2 equals 11, you cannot be praised.  You are not praiseworthy.

Despite what your parents think, there is almost no chance that you are a genius.  That you are able to distinguish letters of the alphabet means little.  It is axiomatic that most of you are average.  That’s not to say that there aren’t exceptions.  Some of you are far, far smarter than your peers.  That will not change, although you shall be witness to many years of people trying to bring your peers up to your level or you down to theirs.  But you are smarter than these people, too, and they will fail.

You are now headed to a world where failure is, in fact, an option.  The good news is that the educational system is designed to prevent failure.  In addition to your teachers, there are counselors, tutors, study plans and even medication at your disposal.  Perhaps you are now addicted to amphetamines in an effort to help you pay better attention in school.  That might help.  Of course, the downside to living as a speed freak is well-known but better discussed at your middle school graduation.

No doubt you reflect today that time flies.  It seems like only yesterday that you soiled yourself simply because you knew no better.  For a few of you, it literally may have been yesterday.  In any event, those days are behind you now–hopefully.  A new day dawns.

You now leave the garden and head straight into the jungle.  Knowing your penchant for distraction, I have kept my words brief.  Some of you have picked your noses throughout my talk while others have squirmed with annoyance.  Welcome to the rest of your life.

© 2013

My High School Commencement Address

It’s graduation time, that time of year when we celebrate our young people moving from high school into the adult world. It causes me to ponder what advice I can give to these young people as they enter the world. They aren’t much different from newborn infants. They are about to be thrown into a world where you learn as you go.

As a little background, I graduated from high school in 1980 from James A. Cawood High School in Harlan County, Kentucky. It was the first consolidated high school in Harlan County. It also no longer exists. Who was James A. Cawood? He was the long-time Superintendent of Schools in Harlan County. When they consolidated Hall, Wallins and Loyall High Schools, he decided that James A. Cawood was a good name for the school.

When I graduated, I did not give the commencement address–mostly because I was not asked to do so. Okay, that’s entirely the reason. I think I was in the top 10 of my graduating class, because I looked like this:

john grad

The gown covers my suit which was 110% polyester, in keeping with the times.

My brother–four years older and much smarter than I–gave the Valedictory address when he graduated. That’s because he was the Valedictorian, which I wasn’t. Our Valedictorian and Salutatorian both spoke, as I recall. I’m sure they did a fine job, just as my brother had done. I don’t recall anything they said, but they were all quite bright, and I’m sure they said nothing inflammatory.

It’s just as well that I didn’t speak. First, I hadn’t spoken in public since the 1st grade when I read Psalms 100 at church. I’m sure I would have been terrified. Second, I was only 17 years old. I would have had nothing useful to impart to my fellow graduates.


I knew just as much about life at 6 years old as I did at 17.

I’m over 50 years old now with a veritable life time of experience behind me. I’ve made decisions–good and bad. I’ve done impressive things and baffling, hideous things. Now, it is my time. So, I offer my services.

Here is my commencement speech:

Good [morning/afternoon/evening]. I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the graduating class of [INSERT SCHOOL NAME] High School. I am over half a century old. This means two things: One, I am much older than all of you–hopefully. Two, I know more about everything than you do. Regardless of your experiences, I know more and have done more. Any story you can tell, I can top it, unless it involves farm animals and dwarves. Even then, let me hear the story, and I’ll be the judge of whether I can top it.

You are now high school graduates, along with tens–if not hundreds–of thousands of other people doing the same thing this year. I am not impressed. Indeed, it would likely take more effort to not graduate than it would to sit in your seats. Assuming he didn’t drop out, a fairly bright chimp could achieve the same thing.

Of course, some of you are impressive people. Let’s take the ones who come from dreadful families. You know who you are. Your parents don’t care about your academics or your social life or your behavior in general. Perhaps they are even abusive. That you have overcome this is impressive. Any achievement should be embraced. To you, I say this: Leave those people behind. You owe them nothing. Do not be shamed into believing that you are indebted to people to whom you are connected by nothing more than biological accident. These people will be millstones hanging around your neck. Cast them off. I am not suggesting that you sever all ties, unless that is necessary. That they fed and clothed you creates no obligation. They were supposed to do that. Take a long look at these people. You can and must do better.

There are also those of you who excelled academically. You, too, are impressive. Regardless of your course of study, that takes hard work. Hard work is good. You have the chance to go to college and excel, because you know the value of hard work in school. You may have the chance to go to any college you wish. Good for you. Here’s a suggestion: If your family can afford to send you to college, by all means choose the very best school. If, however, attending the college of your choice means saddling yourself with debt to pay for it, carefully consider your choice. You might paying that loan back when you’re my age. That’s a bad plan.

A rare few of you may have been born into money and have no concerns about your future. I don’t begrudge you that good fortune. Just do us all a favor and don’t pretend it’s an accomplishment. Do something with your life. Warren Buffett’s children are productive. You can be, too.

Some of you just barely got here today. You did the minimum to get your diploma. The good news is that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I’ve known people who were poor high school students and did quite well in life. Notice that I didn’t say that I’ve known many people like that.

Even some of you laggards and wastrels will go to college. That is good. I’ve never known anyone who didn’t benefit from at least trying to go to college. Here is the catch: If you apply yourself in the same sorry-ass way you did in high school, it will likely be a short stay in college. Then, it’s into the work force you go.

Perhaps you have no desire to go to college and you plan to join the nation’s work force now. To you, I say: Good luck with that. Your diploma qualifies you for a vast array of minimum wage jobs. The minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Assuming you work a 2000 hour year, you’ll make $14,500. That’s not much money. Oh, and it won’t be a fun job or even a good job. You’ll be easily replaced. Don’t think about buying a house or a nice car or much of anything else. You’ll need a room-mate to help with your rent.

Understand, too, that college isn’t for everyone. Whether you lack the drive, motivation or old-fashioned brain power, you may not be college material. There’s nothing wrong with that but be realistic. For example, there aren’t high-paying jobs for video game players. Under no circumstances should your career plans include mooching off your parents. You’ve wanted to be an adult and have your freedom. Your time has arrived.

When I graduated from high school, some people–all young men in those days–considered the military an option. Often, they had good reasons for this choice, an admirable one if there ever was. A few, however, thought of it as just a better option than work. They were wrong. People in the military take it seriously. Nowadays, they would be extra wrong. Our military is in a constant state of war now. The folks who run things take that very seriously. You should, too.

You may have already derailed your life with bad choices–drugs, alcohol, pregnancy and the like. You can overcome these bad choices, but it won’t be easy. You’ve dug yourself a nice hole. You have a choice now–try to get out of the hole or decorate it and make yourself at home. One thing you can’t do is spend any time blaming other people. Your parents may be vile. It’s almost certain that your friends are. Maybe you are, too. Perhaps people have treated you unfairly. You are now an adult, and here is one hard, cold fact: No one cares about any of that. From now on, you are 100% responsible for your actions. Act like it.

What of those of you who are the outcasts? You’ve spent your high school years as a non-conformist. You don’t do things the way others do, and you don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. The world doesn’t work like that. If your face is covered in hardware or you’ve tattooed your neck, that goes over even worse in the real world. The real world seeks normalcy. If you are abnormal, it’s a problem. I’m not suggesting that you kowtow to people, but use some judgment. If you really don’t care what anyone else thinks, you’re probably going to be treated accordingly. Be sure you’re okay with that.

A small number of you are the nerds, the bookish sorts for whom high school might not have been much fun. Take heart. You will sign the paychecks of many of your classmates. That, my friends, is sweet revenge at its finest.

All you need to know can be summed up in a few points. Write them down, for you shall refer to them often throughout your life:

  • Life is not fair. It is random. Fairness is not random.
  • Don’t underestimate good luck. You’ll need a dose of it every now and then.
  • You are not judged on merit alone. How you look, act, dress, speak and carry yourself matter. Again, it’s not fair.
  • If you are the type who won’t follow rules, life from this point forward will become increasingly difficult.
  • Money is good, but once you have your necessities covered and a few toys, it doesn’t make much difference in the quality of your life.
  • Bad things will happen to you, many of which will not be your fault.
  • No one you know will live forever, including you.
  • If you are the same person 20 years from now that you are at this moment, you have done something wrong. Grow up.
  • Learning from your mistakes is natural, but it is not the best way to learn. The best way is to learn from observing other people make mistakes.
  • Play to your strengths. You are good at some–maybe many–things. Find out what they are, and do them.

I should now tell you that the world is your oyster and you can do anything you want, but that would be a lie. You can’t do anything you want, but you can do some things you want and many things that you must do. You will do some of them well and fail miserably at others. That, my young friends, is life and life is good–not easy but good.

Finally, you have spent the past few years believing you know more than you do. You are about to find out all the things you don’t know. One day soon, you will be 50, too, and you will fear that you must depend on the next generation. You will hate their music, their clothes, their attitudes, the way they talk and even the way they look. Take heart, though, somehow it always works out.

Before you depart, take a good look around at your classmates. I leave you with these words from the late Kurt Vonnegut: “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

© 2013

What Every Foreigner Should Know About An American Scandal


The bizarre official seal of the IRS combines scales, a key, stars and an upside down V.

A lot of people in other countries (I call them “foreigners”) read my blog posts.   In fact, folks from dozens of countries have done so.  I know that’s weird, but it’s true.  It causes me to wonder what our foreign friends think of America, beyond our well-known Western decadence.

You may wonder if you’re a foreigner.  If you live in a foreign country, you certainly are one.  Of course, you might live here in America.  If so, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I dressed in swaddling clothes?
  • Do I have a funny accent?
  • Do I speak some odd Martian-sounding language?
  • Am I wearing a fez?
  • Do I own a prayer rug?
  • Have I ever stoned anyone?
  • Have Americans ever invaded my hometown?
  • Do I throw shoes at people?
  • Have I sworn allegiance to a king, queen or other potentate/monarch?
  • Is my facial hair bizarre and unkempt?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’re probably a foreigner.  If not a foreigner, you just could be a typical American weirdo.

Even if you’re an American, imagine if you were a foreigner.  We’ll call you “Vlad.”  In your country, such things as child slavery and genocide are scandalous.  As a result, you might be quite confused by what passes for scurrilous behavior in the Greatest Nation on Earth™.

Do foreigners follow American politics? If so, it must be confusing.  Then again, maybe it’s just like things in their countries.  Regardless, as a service to foreigners, I have penned this simple primer on the latest American political scandal.

You foreigners may not be familiar with the Internal Revenue Service or the “IRS” as we Americans call it.  The IRS is a cabal of tax collectors formed many decades ago by the United States Government.   I shall attempt to write in a way that explains the IRS to the uninitiated.  (Also, you may be an American but not a tax payer–like my children–and unfamiliar with the ways of the IRS.)

As we know from Judeo-Christian lore, tax collectors are reviled and for good reason.  They take our money. No one likes that.  That is the function of the IRS.  They collect our taxes through a system only slightly less complicated than the plot of the film Dune. In return, we hate them.

Each year, we voluntarily fill out tax returns and send them to the IRS.  This squares us with the government.  Some people don’t do this. They are known as “tax cheats.”  Some are known as “convicts.”  Some people don’t think they really have to pay taxes.  They are called “tax protestors” or “nuts.”  Many of them, too, as known as “convicts.”

The IRS is in the news now because it has been picking on people–and not just any people, but conservative people–really conservative people.

Most conservatives in the U.S. are members of the Republican Party.  Wealthy people are usually Republicans.  So are a lot of old people.  We have Nazis here, too, but they usually aren’t Republicans.  Conservatives are called the “Right” or “Right-Wingers.”

Most liberal folks in our country are Democrats.  A small number are card-carrying Communists or Socialists.  Some belong to the Green Party, the sole function of which is to nominate unelectable candidates for public office.  Young people are Democrats.  According to Republicans,  all the poor and unemployed are also Democrats.  Liberals are called the “Left” or “Leftists.”

Here in America, we have a group called the “Tea Party.”  It’s really just an offshoot of the Republican Party, but even more conservative.  Some of my Leftist friends call them “Tea Baggers,” which is just sophomoric, yet still funny.

The Tea Party is a so-called grassroots political group (not a real political party, mind you) which named itself after the famed Boston Tea Party which occurred way back in America’s colonial days.  That Tea Party protested taxation of the colonies without representation in Parliament.  Now, this Tea Party–being citizens of our Republican form of democracy–actually has representation in Congress, but they still call themselves that because…oh Hell, it makes no sense.  They just call themselves that.  It’s okay.  We’re Americans and can call ourselves anything we want.

The Tea Party is basically against the government, unless the government is wildly conservative (if one can be wild and conservative).  They don’t like taxes or immigration or government spending or much of anything else related to the government.  The don’t like our current president.  I don’t think they liked our last president, either.  I pretty sure they didn’t like the one before that or the one before that.  I think they like Ronald Reagan, but I don’t think they would have liked at the time he was president.  Maybe they don’t like anyone.  They might like our Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul.  After all,  they helped get him elected.  Soon, they’ll find out he’s a closet Libertarian.  Then, they won’t like him.  Or maybe they will.  I don’t really know.

I’m not sure anyone likes the Tea Party, unless they are, of course, in the Tea Party which–as we noted above–isn’t really a political party.  The Libertarians are an actual party, although Ron Paul (Rand’s dad) might be the only member.  Democrats certainly don’t like the Tea Party.  Republicans don’t much like it, either.  Thus, it would seem to be a prime target for persecution.

If you are a foreigner, you probably don’t know that Americans love to be persecuted.  I’m not talking about real persecution, to which you might be subjected in your country.  We just like to think our politics or religion or sports teams are persecuted.  Everyone is against them.  Why do we like that? It just makes us feel self-righteous, like we’re the underdog.  We like that.

Now, you might be reading this as a foreign resident of the American prison known as Gitmo.  If so, you will not find any of this to even remotely qualify as persecution.  Well, let me ask you this:  Where the hell did you get access to a computer?  You’re not even a U.S. citizen (hopefully).

Occasionally, though, there is real persecution or at least bullying that goes on.  The IRS has been caught doing just this very thing.  How?  It turns out that they’ve been scrutinizing conservative groups, including Tea Partiers, to determine if they really qualify as “tax exempt.”  What is a tax-exempt group, you ask?  Well, I’m a lawyer.  Allow me to explain.

Americans pay taxes on damn near everything, except for the 50% who don’t.  Corporations pay taxes, too, except for the ones who use our Byzantine tax code to avoid paying taxes.  Some corporations don’t have to pay taxes, because the IRS doesn’t make them.  These are “non-profit” corporations, an oxymoronic designation if there ever was one.  Our churches and charitable organizations typically qualify for that status, even though people can get incredibly rich working for them–especially churches.  Don’t you wish you were an American?

Other groups qualify, too.  Oh, I could go into great detail to explain the criteria, if I knew what they were.  Just trust me on this one.  One such group is what is known as a 501(c)(4) organization which includes civic leagues, social welfare organizations and associations of employees.  Here is a link to a mind-numbing IRS brochure on the subject.  One of the things the IRS doesn’t like is when such groups are formed to promote or elect candidates for political office.  That’s a no-no.

Evidently, the IRS embarked on a project where such terms as “Tea Party” or “Patriot” would draw special scrutiny with invasive and downright loony inquiries into the organization’s workings.  The obvious problem is that any such group in our country is bound to be a Right Wing organization which oppose anything the current Presidential administration says or does.  (As an aside, should any of you foreigners move to the United States, be very wary of any thing dubbed “Patriot.”  Those things tend to be sketchy and even frightening.)  It also just seems nasty and unfair.  We don’t like that kind of stuff, especially when it happens to us.

Now, we have a full-blown scandal on our hands.  Americans love scandals, too.  Scandals here tend to be given the suffix of “-Gate.”  Soon, this will be called “IRS-Gate.”  Why do we do that?  Because we had a political scandal almost four decades ago involving the Watergate Hotel.  Again, don’t ask too many questions.

The outrage is now palatable.  Congress is outraged–Republicans and Democrats alike.  The Tea Party is outraged.  The President is outraged.  So is the IRS.   When did the IRS start this kind of nonsense?

I suspect this kind of behavior dates back to 1918 when the Bureau of Internal Revenue changed its name to the Internal Revenue Service. Our greatest American criminal was arguably Al Capone, a Chicago gangster who ruled a vice kingdom in the 1920’s that grossed $100 million a year.  He spent many of his last years in prison, his brain rotting from syphilis.  Why?  It wasn’t for the many murders, gambling, bootlegging or prostitution for which he was responsible.  It was tax fraud.  That’s right.  He crossed the IRS.  Bad move. (Just to be clear, the IRS put him in prison.  It didn’t give him syphilis, at least as far as I know.)

Why should anyone be surprised that the IRS would attack people?  Well, truthfully, no one should be surprised.  The IRS is viewed as either a gang of incompetent government bean counters or jack-booted thugs ready to take everything you own.  You probably have something similar in your country.  It’s probably called the Ministry of Finance or some other haughty foreign title.

As a foreigner, you are likely confused.  Why is this a scandal?  In your country, something like a military coup might be considered scandalous.  Understand the Right and the Left  hate each other, probably much like in your own country.  Folks on the right hate, hate, HATE President Obama.  They condemn everything he does.  Everything.  They don’t like his economic policies or tax policies or foreign policy or domestic policy.  They don’t like his vacations or his golf game.  They don’t like his wife.  Or his mother.  They say he’s dumb, lazy and out of touch.  People call him a criminal.  Every bad thing is his fault.

You may be thinking that these Right-Wingers are awful.  There is only one group as bad as they are.  That group is the Left.  The Left hates, hates, HATES President Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.  They hated his economic policy, his tax policy, his foreign policy, and his domestic policy..  They hated his vacations.  They didn’t like his family  The Left said he was dumb, lazy and out of touch.  People called him a criminal.  Every bad thing was his fault then and now.

Since these two groups hate each other, they’ll stop at nothing to discredit the other.  The Left now uses the IRS to attack its enemies, just as the Right has done in the past.  The Left even has the hubris to say:  “Why didn’t you say anything when the Right was doing it?”  Well, when the Right was doing it, they liked it, so there was no need  to protest.  Pretty simple, really.  Besides, didn’t your mother ever tell you “Two wrongs don’t make a right?”  If not, what kind of mother did you have?

You might wonder what the fall out will be.  We have something called “Congressional Hearings.”  These are dog and pony shows where people are called before our government representatives to either answer inane questions or listen to long-winded speeches which aren’t really questions at all.  These are mostly designed to help our representatives get re-elected.  Think of it as reality television with less dignity.

It’s also possible that there could be criminal charges, although no one is sure that any crime has been committed.  That doesn’t matter.  We Americans like to threaten criminal charges even when there is no crime.  Treason is one of our favorites, even though our courts don’t really know what that is and no one is ever prosecuted for it.

We will also talk of removing the President from office.  We love to talk about that, even though it would result in the Vice-President becoming President.  We have a storied tradition of our Vice-Presidents being blithering idiots or dangerous sociopaths, yet we wouldn’t mind them assuming the highest office in the land.  Go figure.


Impeaching President Bush was a popular notion.

impeach obama

We  would like to impeach Obama, but without all the apostrophes.

One thing that won’t happen is that the people who actually did all the bad stuff getting fired.  They’re civil servants.  They just stay right where they are.  Count on it.

There is, of course, the endless media blathering, too.  We have a phenomenon here where every city in our country has at least one radio station devoted to 24 hour a day talking heads from the Right.  They spend most of their time talking about subjects which they say the media doesn’t talk about it as though they aren’t part of the media.  Odd.

What makes IRS-Gate so appealing is that it involves taxes, one of the lines of demarcation between the Left and the Right.  The Left believes that taxes are good and should be increased on the rich, so that our government can use that money to benefit the poor.  The Right hates taxes and believes they should be decreased, especially on the rich, so that the rich can use that money to benefit the poor.  Both positions ignore two very real problems:  The government tends to waste money, and the rich tend to keep it.  To have the Left seek to tax groups on the Right goes to the very heart of this philosophical conundrum.

So, what we have is a confluence of all things American:  Taxes and the government; the Right and Left; over-the-top media; paranoia; and general hatefulness.  The only thing missing is some sexual aspect to it all.  Don’t give up hope–there is still time.  Perhaps someone will blame it all on an outbreak of syphilis at the IRS.

As a foreigner, you might not want to visit America now.  Don’t be foolish.  We’re still better than your country.  Now, that’s not to say you’ll be welcome.  We’re a nation of immigrants with a long history of hating immigrants, but that subject will have to wait.  In the meantime, enjoy the show.

© 2013

The Thinking Man’s Guide to Men’s Swimwear

My wife has never read my blog.  We’ve been married 25 years, and I guess she’s heard all the stories and all my opinions.  When I told her I was starting a blog, she said “One of those things full of trivial bullshit that no one wants to read?”  Indeed.

Communication is the key to a strong marriage, so I have asked her on occasion if there is a topic which would interest her.  She always says the same thing.   I should write something about men’s swimsuits.  No, that’s not a typo.  That’s what she wants to read about.  She used to work in the clothing business, so I suppose fashion will always interest her.  Here goes.

Although I am a man, I am not an expert on men’s swimsuits.  Like most heterosexual men, I try not to look at men in swimsuits, out of an irrational concern that they may see me looking at them and get the wrong impression.  The worst case scenario would be that an especially attractive man might cause some sort of shift in my sexual orientation.  My ignorance, you see, knows no limits.

But, what of swimsuits?  Why are they called “suits?”  They aren’t suits at all.  I’m lawyer, and to me a suit is a coat and matching slacks, cotton shirt and silk tie with a Windsor knot.  Add a smart belt (matching one’s shoes, of course), and you have a suit.  I would never swim in such attire.

Back in more modest times, folks tended to cover up quite a bit when swimming.  No one was tempted to take indecent liberties with the young ladies of the day.  I don’t know if the same could be said of the men:


I’m not sure what these fellows are doing, but those certainly qualify as swimsuits.

What kinds of swimsuits are there?  What should YOU wear?  Personally, I prefer basic trunks–not too long, not too short. Conservative is the byword for your author.


Your author in appropriate beach attire with an unidentified woman.

Of course, others prefer the Speedo-type swimsuit.  The small, tight swimsuit is known as the Speedo, although there are many different brands.  Regardless, this is definitely NOT a suit.  It’s more of a slim-fit loin cloth.  Whether you call them Nut-Huggers, Tool Bags or Junk Slings, the form-fitting racing suit is not for everyone.  Some would suggest that they are not for anyone.

I’ve only known one guy who wore Speedos.  He was a co-worker of mine and a bit of an odd bird.  We belonged to the same neighborhood pool.  He would show up in his lime green Speedos.  I would pretend I didn’t know him.

Needless to say, most men suffer from varying degrees of superfluous body hair.  The Speedo will only draw attention to this evolutionary mishap. It also will accentuate certain body flaws such as, for example, a hideous or undeveloped physique.

Body image is the biggest problem with Speedos.  Men just don’t see themselves accurately.  Here is how we think we look:

Settle down, ladies. This guy will not be at the beach. He's somewhere doing crunches or shaving himself.

Settle down, ladies. This guy will not be at the beach. He’s somewhere doing crunches or shaving himself.

Sadly, here is how we really look:

This guy--he's at the beach.

This guy–he’s at the beach.

It’s just best to leave the Speedos to the Olympics.

Then, there is so-called boxer swimsuit which combines the worst of trunks and Speedos:

Too small for trunks.  Too big for Speedos.

Too small for trunks. Too big for Speedos.

Again, note that no one looks like this dude.  I’m not sure who can wear these.  Maybe the same guy who can wear these:

No one wears these.  No one.

No one wears these. No one.

Good taste prevents me from showing examples of thongs or more revealing unitard swimwear.  Suffice to say that no woman is interested in seeing your hairy ass hanging out of your swimsuit.  Just because we men like to see women dressed like that (hairy ass or not) doesn’t mean women find the same thing appealing.

Steven Tyler. If a rock star can't pull off this look, neither can you.

Steven Tyler. If a rock star can’t pull off this look, neither can you.

When you get right down to it, swimwear is nothing more than underwear worn for swimming.  In fact, most swimwear contains a lining  which acts as an underwear of sorts.  Women may not be aware of this, but it’s true.  I don’t think women’s swimwear is like that, but it might be.

Don’t confuse your underwear choice with your swimwear.  Personally, I am a briefs man.  The boxer brief is also good.  Nevertheless, this is not appropriate for my beach attire.  (See illustrations above).

You might be a boxer man.  If so, I pity you because your underwear is nothing more than a loose-fitting lining providing no support or comfort.  In essence, it is simply a prophylactic barrier between your clothes and whatever foul discharges your body emits.  It’s just another layer of clothes.  The boxer lacks both function and originality.

Oddly enough, though, this same style is ideal for swimming.  It is loose-fitting and modest enough that there are no embarrassing revelations.  The swim trunk contains the aforementioned lining, too; thus, it is a functional swimsuit plus effective underwear.  The lining, being similar to the classic brief, provides the needed protection plus practicality.  It is the best of all worlds.  You can’t go wrong.

Some men do the unthinkable and wear swim trunks AND underwear.  My sons do this.  Why?  I don’t know.  The redundancy is obvious.  There is no point to it, so I guess you can go wrong.

Regardless of one’s personal taste (or lack thereof), due regard should be given to your choice in swimwear.  Here are several factors to consider in choosing your swimwear:

  • Body hair:  The more you have, the more you should conceal it.
  • Abs:  You don’t have them.  Don’t make a point of proving it.
  • If you are a competitive swimmer, the Speedo is for you.  That’s it.  No one else.  Even then, confine that look to the racing pool.
  • Be considerate of others, especially your family.  One embarrassing incident can haunt them for a life time.
  • Just because you think you look good in your underwear doesn’t mean you’ll look good in a similar swimsuit.
  • Walk around your house in your underwear.  Gauge the reaction of your family.  That’s the same reaction they’ll have at the beach.
  • Better yet, wear your underwear in your yard.  Get your neighbors’ input.
  • T Shirts are acceptable swimwear, too.  Examine your physique in a full length mirror and do the right thing.
  • Anything that fits snuggly is likely a bad look for you.  Trust me.
  • Nude beaches are off-limits.  Just know this:  The only people who frequent nude beaches are those we do not want to see nude.  This includes you.

Now, my wife can read my blog knowing that I have contributed at least one worthwhile post.  Plus, this should help her when shopping for our vacation. Something tasteful, of course–maybe in a mesh?

© 2013

The Republicratic Commonwealth of Kentucky

Someone sent me an insightful email suggesting that each state in the United States declare its own sovereignty and refuse to follow any federal laws except those they find acceptable. It also recommends such things as jailing of illegal immigrants, drug testing welfare recipients, no gun laws and other acts of sovereignty. It got me thinking about doing this in my home state, the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

If you’ve read much of this self-indulgent blog of mine, you know I’m a lawyer. Anything like that email sets my mind spinning. For instance, states can’t refuse to follow federal law. We have a local sheriff here in Kentucky who claims that he won’t enforce any new gun laws and will arrest anyone who does. Once you get past the laughable image of this guy trying to arrest FBI and ATF agents, you can see that such defiance–if real–amounts to insurrection.

This type of “sovereignty” is secession from the union. States have no right to secede. Before you start screaming, read Texas v. White from the United States Supreme Court. That’s the law. There are exceptions. First, there is armed rebellion. Second is by agreement. Since Kentucky doesn’t have a military (The National Guard belongs to the feds but more on that later), we’d have to hope for agreement of the rest of the states. Let’s face it, we’re Kentucky. They might let us leave. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Nevertheless, I’m willing to ignore the United States Constitution and decades of jurisprudence to entertain the notion of Kentucky as its own sovereign state. What would we look like?


We call Kentucky a Commonwealth, just like Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts call themselves. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a leftover from colonial times. The only problem I have with it is that it sounds vaguely communistic. Let’s move on.

As some Americans are aware, we have a republican democracy. We elect representatives who (theoretically, at least) represent our interests. They pass laws which are executed by our executive branch and enforced by our courts. Some believe we have the greatest country on Earth with the greatest form of government. I say bullshit to that.

If we’re going to secede, that means we don’t like the federal government. We don’t want it. We don’t need it. There’s no point in looking anything like it. Kentucky has 4.25 million people spread over a mind-boggling 120 counties. Each county is already its own little fiefdom with elected officials, courthouses, graft and whatnot. I say let each one run its own affairs. They can set up their own governments. Most will likely become dictatorships in short order–assuming they aren’t already, but give the people what they want.

We’ll be a sort of confederacy of counties, but we’ll still need a constitution of some kind. Kentucky has a constitution, of course. It is approximately 60,000 pages long. Okay, that’s a lie, but it seems that long what with all the bizarre amendments made to it over the years. It’s going to have to be revamped.

One problem is that it is very similar to the United States Constitution. It makes little sense to break away from federal rule only to keep in place the same framework that led to our secession. We probably need the Bill of Rights, and Kentucky’s is pretty similar to the feds. I say we copy the Bill of Rights except the Second Amendment which will now read:

The right to keep and bear arms is absolute and shall not be limited or constrained by any law, regardless of reasonableness or necessity. “Arms” means anything that can kill people or animals, whether intentionally or accidentally.

We probably should replace “Governor” with something like “King” or “Pharaoh” in the rest of it. Honestly, I’ve never read the whole thing. I don’t think anyone else has, either. Maybe we can keep the rest of it.

We’re not the smartest people. Let’s don’t make it too complicated. Maybe we can start out with anarchy and see what happens.

Regardless of the form of government, what will life in our new nation be like?


This is an easy one–no gun laws. None. No knife or sword laws, either. Why can’t I defend my family with a saber if I want? Maybe I want to scatter bear traps around my yard. So be it. Napalm doesn’t incinerate people. People incinerate people.

No background checks. Why can’t a crazy man defend himself from real and imagined threats? The nuttier you are the more guns you should have. How else will we protect the criminally insane?

Next topic.


This is another easy one. We’ll have the Ten Commandments posted everywhere. I mean everywhere–schools, buses, government buildings, private property, sporting events. Without that irrational United States Supreme Court to interfere, we can even post the entire Book of Deuteronomy if we want. Any kid who can’t describe how to build the Temple can’t graduate from high school.

We’ll pray in school–all day long if we want. It will have to be a Christian prayer, of course. Anyone caught on a prayer rug will be subject to ridicule.  In fact, we might make such ridicule a constitutional right, too.

We’ll even include somewhere in our new Constitution that Jesus wrote it. That will seem crazy at first, but in a few decades people will debate whether or not it is true.


This one is tough. We can’t have a military. Okay, I know some of you are thinking: “Hey, the state runs the National Guard. That’s our militia.” Well, sort of but not really. Since 1903, the National Guard has been run by the feds and–more importantly–funded by the feds. We can’t do it. Plus, who are we going to fight? Hopefully, it won’t be the United States military. Have seen the toys they have?

Remember that we’re going to have plenty of weapons. I think we’ll have enough to fight off an invasion from Indiana or Tennessee. Besides, the chances of anyone wanting to take over Kentucky are pretty remote.


Kentucky receives about $13,000 per person in federal money per year. That’s a hell of a lot. I’m not good at math, but it’s at least billions of dollars each year. Wow.

We have all kinds of taxes in Kentucky–income, sales, property, usage (WTH?) and a bunch of others. I have no idea what it amounts to but I’m sure it’s not close to what we need. Now, that we’re off the federal teat, it’s time to tighten our belts. If we don’t, we might have to raise tax rates to 120% or so. We can survive but how?

Go for the Gold

With the feds off our backs, they’ll close Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. We’ll give them 48 hours to come and get their gold from Fort Knox–maybe we can keep a little of it, too. Would they really miss a couple of tons?


Okay, on the surface, this may seem like a big deal, given that we are dependent on the feds for school funding. Not so. Ever heard of home schooling? That’s what everyone did back in the Good Old Days when everything was better. Teach your own kids, you lazy bastards.

Our state universities will be in peril. We should be able to offer at least a few on-line courses at the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky to keep the basketball programs afloat.


Here’s where our friends in the National Rifle Association will help us. Let’s take the idea of an all-volunteer school security force and expand it to all law enforcement and public safety. With the schools closed, these volunteers will be eager to help out. Besides, every community has dozens–if not thousands–of people who want to carry a gun and wear a badge. Hell, most of them would probably be willing to pay the state.

We have a long history of volunteer fire departments. Let’s just do more of that.


I’ll concede that federal highway money is helpful but only to the extent that you need highways. I suspect that Kentucky has the highest number of ATVs per capita of anywhere on Earth. If any state is ready for dilapidated highways, it’s this one.

What is Kentucky best known for? If you said illegal meth labs, that may be correct, but I’m talking about horses. We have lots of horses, but I hardly ever see anyone riding them. Saddle up.


Good lord, we have a lot of folks drawing disability checks in Kentucky. No more SSI and don’t expect Kentucky to pick up the slack. If you’re too infirm to work, you should really think about moving to the United States. They have systems for that kind of problem. We don’t.

Here’s how it works. If you can work, get a job. If you can’t, leave or maybe you just starve to death. Problem solved.

As far as welfare, bear in mind that’s another federal boondoggle. It has no place in our utopian world so don’t worry about drug testing. We Kentuckians will be free to consume copious amounts of drugs without fear of Big Brother staring over our shoulders.


We won’t use the worthless United States currency. We will print our own money, just like in the old days. It will bear pictures of Adolph Rupp, Daniel Boone, Jim Varney and other famous Kentuckians.

Rather than the worthless crap printed in the United States, our money will be backed by a secure commodity. We will go on the Coal Standard. Our money will be backed by the valuable coal reserves in our state, which we will now be free to mine and burn with abandon. Of course, we can’t burn too much of it or we will have to switch to the Weed Standard which also runs the risk of being burned.


Let’s get one thing straight. No government health care–of any kind. Medicare and Medicaid–those behemoths of our former overlords–are gone. They won’t be replaced, either. We’ll adopt what I call the Bachmann Plan: If you want health insurance, get a job. If you can’t get a job, see comments above.

In fact, health care in general will be discouraged. Haven’t we all had enough of a bunch of holier-than-thou eggheads with stethoscopes telling us how to live our lives? The Founding Fathers didn’t put up with such nonsense.

You may be concerned about such inane things as public health, life expectancy and rampant disease. Given that our health care services are likely to be substandard, at least by so-called “Western” standards, we don’t need a bunch of sick people lingering around making the rest of us sick. A quick death is much better for everyone.


We’ll just be flat against it–in all its forms. No one from a foreign country, which now will include the United States, is allowed. Anyone trying to float across the Ohio River will immediately be attacked by our fleet of coal barges. We’ll just shoot people from Tennessee. That won’t bother any Kentuckian. Hell, it probably won’t bother anyone in Tennessee, either. West Virginians will be a problem, but they’re so similar to us it won’t be a big deal.

We’ll round up all the foreigners and deport them. Anyone who looks, dresses, talks or acts the least bit different will be a suspect. We’ll just dump them in the nearest bordering state.

This may sound like a daunting task, but remember–this is Kentucky. Most people are trying to leave, not get in. We can expect enthusiastic cooperation.

We will make limited exceptions for immigrants who obtain a 5 Star Visa. This visa program will be administered by the head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky.


The people of Kentucky want to legalize hemp but can’t because of the narcs in D.C. Now, we can cut right to the chase and legalize marijuana. Why? Well, it’s our number one cash crop for starters. Also, we can dispense with the foolishness of pretending we want to wear hemp clothing and shred our hands on rotted hemp rope. We want to smoke the stuff, not wear it.


Like any young nation, we’ll face challenges. Someone like Ashley Judd will try to become dictator. Louisville will probably try to declare itself a city-state like the Vatican. We’ll need to change the state motto from the axiomatic “United We Stand. Divided We Fall” to something less incongruous. We’re up to these challenges.

What if it doesn’t work out? Simple–we’ll just accept massive amounts of foreign aid from the good old U.S. of A. If that doesn’t work, we have a massive stash of chemical weapons in Richmond. That will invite an invasion by the US and the establishment of a new government. That one never fails.

© 2013