AUSTRALIA: CAULDRON OF EVIL

Everyone knows I love being an American. As I write this, Donald J. Trump has just wrapped up two weeks as President of the United States. Weird, right? In that time, he has threatened such diverse enemies as Mexico and Chicago, Illinois with intervention by “troops” and “feds.” Since the President makes most of his announcements via Twitter, we’re not sure what any of that means, but we know he’s serious. Hell, he seems serious about everything. He doesn’t seem to be a fellow who enjoys a good joke.

In years past, I have beseeched our leaders to crush our international threats, primarily Canada and the allegedly “Great” Britain. I even went so far as to draw up complex nation-building plans. My warnings went unheeded, and today we remain at the mercy of our Anglo overlords. Many have no doubt wondered why I haven’t addressed the third side of the Triangle (or “Tri-Anglo,” as I call it) of Terror, the demon state Down Under.

The so-called “Commonwealth” of Australia is an island nation located somewhere way far away from civilization, unless you call Papau New Guinea and New Zealand civilized. Maybe it’s not island, just a small continent. In any event, Mr. Trump had a heated phone call with the Prime Minister of Australia–whose name escapes me–about an agreement for America to accept refugees from Australia. According to Presidential tweets, this agreement is “dumb” and he’s not having any of it. If  I know Mr. Trump–and if I don’t, who does?–he won’t stop there. I’m still uncertain if he knows who our friends are, but he knows our enemies. In fact, no President in recent memory could make enemies faster.

With President Trump in office, I have new hope. Australia is as good a place as any to start. I say accept every refugee we can hold from Australia, as long as they aren’t actual Australians.

I know what you’re thinking: Hey, those Aussies are like Americans. A lot of them are blonde. They speak English. If you’d bother to even lightly scratch the surface, you’d see this for what it is–a subterfuge hiding threats to our very way life.

A common and deadly conceit lulls most Americans into inaction when it comes to foreign lands. We believe that foreign people must look and speak differently in order to be threats. While these are certainly telling signs, they tell only part of the story.

Any  similarities between Americans and Australians are mere historical accidents. Like the United States, Australia was founded when England sent its undesirables to another continent. In the case of Australia, they were really undesirable–mostly a bunch of convicts. The Brits probably thought they were sending them to Austria where they would fit in. Regardless, they ended up being shipped off just about as far away as possible. Shouldn’t that be a clue, people? On the other hand, our country was settled by a bunch of buttoned-up, glum religious nuts. That alone makes us superior and them a dangerous criminal element.

Here is Australia:

australia_political_map

Major cities include Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane. It speaks to the intellectual paucity of the inhabitants that they soon exhausted real names and simply made up names for other cities and towns. Thus, the land is littered with names such as Wollongong, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Bong Bong, Cock Wash and Mount Buggery.

What I know of Australia comes from movies and Wikipedia. It should come as no surprise that I’ve never been to Australia nor do I intend to go. Let me explain.

As we examine Australia, let us consider the three characteristics which make any country worth its salt:  1) Its language; 2) Its sports; and 3) Its people.

LANGUAGE

Australia has no official language. Think about that. What kind of savages can’t even settle on a language? Most Australians speak English, which will come as quite a surprise to you if you’ve ever heard any of them speak.

To be precise, they speak “Australian English,” which combines normal English with an accent that can only be attributed to the country’s well-known love of alcohol. They sort of sound British but not really. Where the Brits sound haughty and intelligent, Aussies come across as menacing and quite possibly insane.  “G’day, mate!” is an acceptable form of address as is vomiting on the ground when staggering out of one of their many road houses. Here is a typical Australian exchange:

Bloke No. 1: G’day, mate. I’m stoked to hit the turps, but I’d need a mate’s rate for a slab.

Bloke No. 2: Fair dinkum. I’ll drink with the flies. You gotta make a quid.

Bloke No. 1: Everything’s costing big bikkies. It’ll come good once I give it a burl.

Bloke No. 2: Good on ya.

Here’s a pointer when trying to interpret their speech: Just assume they’re talking about drinking.

I will admit that Australia gave us Mad Max, and that’s no bull dust as they might say. When the original Mad Max was released in the United States, the dialogue was re-dubbed into English. That’s right. English was dubbed into English. That’s all you need to know about this “language.”

SPORTS

Three popular sports in Australia are cricket, Australian Rules Football and something called net ball. The irredeemable nature of the culture of this nation is best explained by a brief description of each.

Cricket combines croquet with the more boring aspects of baseball. The pitcher is called a bowler. They throw the ball and one-hop it to the batter. The batter hits it with something akin to a flat-sided baseball bat. Players run back and forth and scores (runs) are made at some point. After several hours, the game or match or whatever the hell they call it mercifully ends.

In the nascent days of ESPN, the Worldwide Leader didn’t have rights to baseball, basketball, football or any other sport followed by the modern world. As a result, it broadcast Australian Rules Football. Like cricket, it combines several perfectly sane sports into one. American football and soccer with a touch of rugby (okay, that one’s not sane) are rolled together in face-paced game which appears to have no rules whatsoever. The only redeeming feature is that it is often violent. I have no proof that the players are all drunk, but they should be.

Net ball is a game where a metal hoop is secured to pole, and players try to throw a ball through the hoop. The hoop has a net attached for the ball to pass through. Sound familiar? You might call it basketball, if didn’t look like this:

net-ball

Seriously? I watched it on TV once. Once. No dribbling. Awkward passing. White people. That’s right. It’s 1930s basketball played in the 21st century.

THE PEOPLE

I’ll admit the we have common ground with the Aussies. We, too, weren’t welcome in England and had a God-given right to terrorize and subjugate the native dwellers in our new land. That’s where the similarity ends.

Coming from the questionable gene pool of convicts, the degradation of the Australian people is etched into their leathery, sunburned faces. True, they gave us Mel Gibson, a handsome man by any standards.  Despite our best efforts, they haven’t had the common decency to take him back.

The native Australians are the Aborigines or Aboriginal Australians. They were there first. They’re now relegated to what they call the “Outback.” Outback is another word for “barren wasteland.” It’s kind of like a gigantic American Indian reservation. One place they live is called Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara. Okay. I guess they came up with that on one of their famed benders.

Their idea of a good time is to drink beer until nauseous. They eat things called quandog, muntries, goanna and witchetty grubs. Are these plants, animals or something else? I don’t know, and I’m not interested in finding out. They love vegemite, a goop they spread on toast. Vegemite is made of leftover brewer’s yeast combined with vegetable and spice additives. It is described as salty, slightly bitter and malty. Yum. Politics aside, President Obama summed up this delicacy with this reaction:

“So, it’s like a quasi-vegetable by-product paste that you smear on your toast for breakfast – sounds good, doesn’t it?”

I know little of their undoubtedly bizarre religious practices. I recall reading somewhere that they have a high percentage of atheists. What does that say about a land so vile that it destroys one’s belief in the Almighty? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

I know nothing of the literature or art of Australia. That’s just as well.

As noted above, Australian cinema gave us the Mad Max films. That’s good. If you want to know what Australia is like, just watch one of those films. They could be documentaries as far as I’m concerned. The latest one didn’t even star an Australian. Brit Tom Hardy and South African Charlize Theron were the stars. They didn’t have much dialogue but at least I understood it.

What about their music? AC/DC, I’ll give them that one. Angus and Malcolm Young grew up in Sydney, but they were Scots. What about Men At Work, the band with the popular 1980s song “Down Under?” True, they were an Australian band, but lead singer Colin Hay was also Scottish. Seems Australian music is more properly Scottish music.

Back in the 1980s, they sent us their most famed comedian–Yahoo Serious. Yes, that was his name. He was just about that funny, too. We sent him back. Here’s an Australian joke:

What’s the difference between an Australian wedding and an Australian funeral?

One less drunk at the funeral.

They have all manner of odd animals. The emu is a bird that can’t fly. The koala is a bear that’s really a marsupial. It’s like a raccoon or some other varmint. Of course, the place is lousy with kangaroos and crocodiles. I know that doesn’t have anything to do with the Australian people, but it’s worth nothing for some reason.

Queen Elizabeth II is the not only the Queen of England, she is also the Queen of Australia. Why? Who knows. Her reign there makes as much sense as it does in England.

WHAT NOW?

You may be surprised that I do not advocate immediate military intervention in Australia, as I have with Canada and Great Britain. The Brits took care of this problem for us by sending these misanthropes way the hell to the other side of the world. I’ve looked at a globe, and I’m not even sure you can get to Australia from here.

We don’t have to do anything. Iran recently tested a missile, and the President put them “on notice.” Let’s do the same with the Aussies. You’re on notice, you Foster’s chugging, vegemite-eating bunch of convicts. So, there.

Step out of line, and we’ll build a gigantic sea wall trapping you on your island Hell.  Oh, and guess who’s paying for it? You’ll all be living out in Woop Woop then, mates. Until then, hooroo!

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

What Every Foreigner Should Know About An American Scandal

IRS

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.

impeachbush

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.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

Acorns, Bombs and Guns: The Falling Sky

Chicken Little once famously declared “THE SKY IS FALLING!”  Of course, he (she?) was wrong–it was an acorn.  Sadly, Chicken Little terrified his barnyard companions until they sought shelter in a fox’s den.  Only the unfortunately named Cocky Locky survived.  The lesson? It was a freakin’ acorn, you moron.  Now, Ducky Lucky, Henny Penny and the rest of your friends are dead meat–literally.

We can all agree that Chicken Little was a damn moron.  Plus, he was a chicken.  Chickens are filthy and disgusting.  Why the hell would the other animals listen to one of them, anyway?  Now, you probably think I don’t eat chickens, but I do.  Why?  Because I want to.  They’d eat me if they could.  Where was I?  Oh, yeah, Chicken Little.

(By the way, I have an idea for a post about chickens.  I’m not sure the public is ready for it.)

We Americans have much in common with Chicken Little.  I’m not saying we wallow in our own filth and stink like hell, although some of us surely do.  We do, however, get hit with the proverbial acorn and then scurry about the national barnyard in a panic.

Our latest acorn is the Boston Marathon Bombing.  Here’s what we know (or think we know):  Two brothers born in the Caucasus region of Russia are alleged to have detonated homemade bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.  One of them is dead and the other is hospitalized.  Since these two were identified, here are just a few of the things I’ve heard from folks, most of whom I consider intelligent (my comments are in red) :

  • These guys should have been sent back to Chechnya.  First, Chechnya isn’t a country. Second, when would we have sent them back?  One of them has been in the U.S. since he was 8 years old. 
  • The FBI had been asked to check out the older brother.  It’s the FBI’s fault.  How do we know the FBI didn’t check him out?  There’s no law against being sketchy. 
  • Pressure cookers aren’t designed to be used as bombsNo shit?  All this time, I thought KFC was a terrorist front.
  • All terrorists are Arab.  Ahem, Chechnya is not an Arab region.
  • All terrorists are Muslims. Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Eric Rudolph, Ted Kaczynski–Not Muslims.
  • Muslims are dangerous and should be watched.  Some are. So are some Christians, Jews and atheists.  There are 2.5 million Muslims in the U.S.  If they were ALL terrorists, don’t you think we’d notice the constant terrorist attacks?  The last time we demonized an entire group of people, we put them in interment camps.  No one looks back at that with pride.
  • No one is safe!!  Technically, that’s true.  The U.S. has 15,000 or so homicides a year.  You can’t really call that being “safe,” but it begs a question:  If terrorists are responsible for three of those, who’s killing the other 14,997?
  • We can’t try these terrorists in civilian courts.  Why not?  We have a great and fair legal system.  It affords the accused many rights but also arms the government with ample resources to prosecute crimes.  We become outraged if American citizens aren’t afforded these same rights when accused of crimes in other countries. 

Here’s what appears to have happened in Boston.  Two followers of some radicalized version of Islam took it upon themselves to build homemade bombs and blow up people.  They succeeded.  The Muslims in our country aren’t all banded together to destroy our way of life.  Relax, Chicken Little.

These weren’t criminal geniuses.  They learned to make bombs on the Internet.  You can, too. You can also get helpful advice from a book called The Anarchist Cookbook.  It wasn’t even written by a Muslim.  It was published in 1971.  My brother owned a copy.

We also have acorns bouncing off our heads over gun control:

  • People don’t need ANY guns.  Perhaps that’s true, but it’s irrelevant.  The U.S. Constitution protects the right to own guns.
  • You’re wrong!  The Constitution only allows a “well-regulated militia” to own gunsNo, I’m right.  At least that’s the U.S. Supreme Court says.
  • I must have a gun to protect my family.  Where exactly do you live?  I’d like to know so I don’t move there. 
  • I must have a gun to protect myself against the government.  Which one?  If you mean the U.S. government, good luck with that.  Have you seen the firepower of the U.S. government? 
  • Well, I have other good reasons to own a gun.  You well may, but here’s the deal:  You don’t need a reason.  You can own one just because you like guns.  Hell, you can even own one for the sole purpose of wanting to shoot someone with it. 
  • The Second Amendment is bad. Let’s get rid of it.  Interesting take, but here’s your problem–and it’s a big one–it’s very difficult to amend the Constitution.  That’s a good thing.  It keeps us from tearing it apart with knee jerk reactions.  If you can’t get a few guns law passed, your chances of amending the Constitution are less than nil.  Move on to something that’s at least possible. 
  • Expanded background checks are the beginning of a police state.  No, they aren’t.  If that’s true, let’s just get rid of ALL background checks. 
  • If we pass new gun laws, the government will come and take our guns. The only way that can happen is if the government decides to ignore the Second Amendment and a host of other Constitutional rights.  If that happens, a few new gun laws will be the least of our problems.
  • We don’t need new gun laws, because criminals won’t obey them.  That’s probably true.  Law-abiding citizens obey the law, and criminals don’t.  That axiom applies to all laws.
  • Guns don’t kill people.  Again, that’s true.  It’s also true that Sarin gas, rocket launchers, grenades and flamethrowers don’t kill people, either.  You need a better argument. 

The truth is that a few new gun laws won’t hurt us.  Who knows?  They might even help.  I doubt we’ll find out any time soon.  My advice?  Relax.  We have a violent country full of people who like to hunt humans for sport.  If you’re one of them, you’ll still be able to get a gun.  If you’re a law-abiding citizen, you’ll also be able to get one. If you’re on the other side of the debate, think of this:  If you’re right and over 90% of the public wants stricter laws, there will be political backlash.  Count on it.  Relax.

Bombs and guns.  Terrorists and criminals.  Law-abiding citizens and victims.  Black and white.  Acorns and the end.  We live in a world now where we can get real-time news reports.  During the pursuit of the Boston bombers, you could follow it almost moment-by-moment on Twitter.  The news of the world in 140 characters.  That’s how we think now.  We hear something, and it requires an immediate response.   There’s no time to think.

Perhaps this is why there is a visceral reaction to everything now.  We color it black or white.  I suppose a lot of things are black or white, but those aren’t colors.  There are a lot of colors out there.  Take a look at the world and you’ll see them.  The same thing applies to the big issues of the day.  Maybe they’re black and white.  Maybe not.  It’s at least worth looking at them long enough to tell.

We are an odd people. Most of us, regardless of political leaning, are proud Americans.  We love our Constitution and cherish our rights.  But, when we thinking the sky is falling, we’ll gladly give up those rights in order to assuage our fears. Could it be that this is the reason that people–whether terrorists, politicians or our friends–try to scare us with the black and white of the world?  Maybe the fox tossed that acorn at Chicken Little.

Now, back to acorns.  An acorn hit my head once.  It hurt–a lot more than you’d expect.  It actually raised a knot on my head.  So, I’m not saying that terrorist attacks and gun control aren’t painful topics. They are.  Just don’t confuse them with a hunk of the sky. The fox awaits.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

How Evil or Not Is Our President?

I’ve watched a little of the History Channel series on the Bible.  A lot of folks are bothered by the violence in it.  I assume those people haven’t actually read the Bible, the Old Testament in particular.  There is incest, forced slavery, rape, murder of every description and even genocide.  It’s tough stuff.  A lot of folks who want to ban other books because of the Bible would probably want to ban the Bible itself if they ever read it.

Some are upset by the portrayal of Satan.  Why?  He looks like our president. Really, he does (the TV Satan, that is).  It’s supposed to be a coincidence, and maybe it is.  It does, however, raise the question of whether Obama is, in fact, Satan or just really evil.  My conservative friends think so.  My liberal friends think quite the opposite, of course.  The hard right (rock-ribbed Republicans, as my Dad would have said) reject everything Obama says or does as wrong-headed and Socialist.  The Left accepts everything he says or does as being brilliant and enlightened.  In other words, he’s the Democrat version of George W. Bush.

satan

I don’t know much about Satan or Lucifer or Beelzebub or whatever you call him.  The Bible doesn’t talk that much about him, either.  All this stuff about him being the proudest angel and falling from grace, etc., isn’t in the Bible.  Regardless, I know he’s bad news.  He tempts us with all kinds of evil.  I can’t endorse that behavior, although I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed a few of his temptations.  He’s also the overlord of Hell, which is bad in all possible ways with its lakes of fire, weeping and wailing and the obligatory gnashing of teeth.

So, why the Hell does the President look so much like Satan?  There really can’t be a good explanation, UNLESS–you got it–he IS Satan.  Okay, I know that’s a stretch.  What if he’s just the Anti-Christ?  The evidence is disturbing to say the least:

  • The Westboro Baptist Church thinks he’s the Anti-Christ.  That’s a credible source for theological truths.  They also think the U.S. Army is dominated by homosexuals.
  • The Obamacare microchip implants are certainly a bad sign.  The Mark of the Beast.
  • The name “Barack” has 6 letters, as in 6-6-6.  How convenient.
  • He’s black.  The History Channel has proven that Satan is, too.  Plus, Satan is always called things like the “Dark One.”
  • As we all know from the film Jesus Christ Superstar, Judas was black.  Coincidence?
  • Although the Bible says nothing about the age of the Anti-Christ, isn’t there at least a decent chance he would be about Obama’s age?
  • It is well-known that the Anti-Christ will be a charismatic figure, much like–you guessed it!–Obama.
  • Revelation 13:5-8 says the Anti-Christ will rule for 42 months.  That’s fairly close to one term of Obama’s presidency.
  • There’s even a website that questions whether he’s the Anti-Christ.  If he weren’t, why would someone go to all that trouble?
  • Michael Savage says Obama is “the most evil” President ever.  That’s good enough for me.
  • This passage from Revelation 13 succinctly describes Obama:
    • [1] And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
      [2] And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
      [3] And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
      [4] And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?
      [5] And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
      [6] And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
      [7] And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
      [8] And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world

    They might as well put a photo of Obama next to this passage.  Sixty or seventy years ago, a lot of churches thought the Papacy was the Anti-Christ.  Don’t they look silly now?

Those of you with a  conservative bent are probably smiling.  Maybe you’re thinking:  “He can’t be serious, but, you know, all that makes sense.”  If you’re over there on the Left, you may be angry, thinking:  “Another right-wing Nazi making fun of the greatest President ever.”  If you’re really far Left, you’re probably an atheist anyway and just generally offended by anything hinting at religion.  You don’t have faith in anything, except the Government, that is (that’s big G Government, just like big G God).  Oddly enough, atheists now worship a man who has been a Christian his entire adult life.

All this naturally leads to my next line of inquiry.  If we dismiss Obama as Satan or even the Anti-Christ, what if my friends on the Left are correct and he is a great man–the greatest man?  Consider:

  • We know nothing of Jesus’s teen or young adult years.  The same can be said of Obama whose formative years remain shrouded in mystery.
  • Some people think Jesus looked like this:
jesus

The resemblance is uncanny.

  • Jesus was black.  Okay, I have no direct or indirect proof of this, but isn’t it at least possible?  The Bible doesn’t say he wasn’t black.  Don’t you find that suspicious?  I do.  Besides, look at his picture!
  • Like Jesus, Obama has fed the multitudes.  In Obama’s case, it’s with food stamps, but the effect is similar.
  • Obama made Chris Matthews’ leg tingle.  That has to be some kind of miracle.
  • Louis Farrakhan once said of Obama “The Messiah is speaking.”  He never says anything nutty.
  • Speaking of miracles, Obama got a black man elected President of the United States–TWICE!
  • Jesus and Obama are both excellent public speakers.
  • Both were carpenters.  I’m little thin on facts to support this one, but it hasn’t been dis-proven to my satisfaction.
  • We all know that Jesus was born of a virgin mother, but what of Obama?  What do we know of his so-called “father?”  Not much.  Did he even exist?  If not, why not?
  • I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t have a birth certificate, either.
  • One can persuasively argue that Jesus, too, was a community organizer.  He organized an entire religion!
  • Jesus’s followers were the meek, the downtrodden, the poor in spirit.  Isn’t this exactly what folks on the Right say of Obama’s supporters?

Before you condemn me to the Lake of Fire, I am not suggesting that Obama is the Messiah or even a Messianic figure.  I only ask the questions that others fear.  Not surprisingly, I have no answers.

As with any serious theological debate, there are countervailing arguments.  If he were God or something similar, it’s hard to understand why Rand Paul wasn’t smited during his recent filibuster. If he were Satan or one of his minions, one would think he would try to woo the religious Right instead of constantly enraging them.  We can’t allow such obvious inconsistencies to derail our reckless speculation.

The Bible is thin on details describing Satan.  I’ll admit that Revelation contains an excellent description of the Anti-Christ what with the two heads and whatnot.   Although the Bible makes it clear that Jesus will return, it is equally explicit that we don’t know when or where.  Using those criteria, it is impossible to eliminate Obama.  Thus, we may never know the answer until it’s too late.

If Obama is Satan, then where does that leave Dick Cheney?  If Obama is the Messiah, then why is he a Muslim?  If he is just a man, why do we have all these questions, none of which are subject to adequate answers?  Have I written this under Satan’s spell or by divine inspiration?  Where does Glenn Beck fit in to all of this?  Why does Rachel Maddow look like a dude? We may never know the answers to these and other questions.

So, where are we?  I don’t know.  Maybe Obama is an Ivy League-educated ideologue who surrounds himself with like-minded people–a decent family man with whom a lot of people (myself included) vehemently disagree on some issues.  The Liberal George W. Bush.  NOW, I’m talking crazy.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

The Three Horsemen of Stupidity

Lots of folks moan and carry on about the American education system. Some people hate public schools, envisioning children goose-stepping about while befouling the flag and hurling curses at a God they are taught doesn’t exist. Private schools chafe others who see them as elitist enclaves filled with privileged children who don’t need educations anyway because of their family largesse. Of course, there are the home-schoolers, helicoptering above their kids hoping not only for a better education but also to insulate their young angels from the evils of society, i.e., other children taught in one of the aforementioned alternatives.

All agree, to some extent, that we can do better. We can achieve higher and produce generations of intellectual titans conquering the world by the sheer force of their intelligence. Maybe that’s true. Maybe not. We ignore the sad, brutal reality that a very real learning disability yokes many Americans to the oxen of mediocrity. This demon has not been conquered despite many years, centuries even, of effort.

I want to be clear about something up front here. I’m not talking about what most people call learning disabilities. For example, I once knew a guy who had dyslexia. That’s a bad deal to be sure. It makes it hard to learn to read and, once you do learn to read, it affects your comprehension. Fortunately, there are ways to compensate for this–at least to some extent.

I also know that ADHD and ADD affect people, too. Hey, if you can’t pay attention, learning is going to be pretty darn tough. Future generations may question whether addicting our children to amphetamines was the best remedy, but at least we recognize the problem.

There are people, too, with identifiable organic brain impairments which impede their ability to learn. Genetic and injury-induced impairments are well-recognized today, and we don’t expect these folks to achieve at the same level as those of us fortunate enough to have avoided the chance occurrence of such maladies.

Of course, mental illness is no impediment to learning. John Forbes Nash and The Unabomber are but two examples of brilliance developed through the fog of grievous mental illness. As we all know, serial killers are often intelligent, too.

No, I’m talking about a daunting condition which has eluded scientific treatment and continues to hamper many of us. Stupidity and its three horsemen: dumbness, ignorance and laziness. These three elements in some combination can result in chronic, untreatable and incurable stupidity.

DUMB, DUMB, DUMB

Some people are smarter than others. I’d say everyone agrees with that. A corollary to that is that some people are dumber than others, too. Now, I’ve hit a hot button. Not everyone agrees with that. It’s become unfashionable–if not downright cruel–to acknowledge the obvious: Some folks just ain’t all that bright. We all know this but are hesitant to point it out, at least not loudly. Everyone should be able to do as well as everyone else.

I suppose when we acknowledge that some are smarter than we are, we can still cling to the idea that we, too, are smart–just not that smart. Then we can derisively note that those of superior intelligence are just plain weird. We’re smart, too, but not weird smart.

We all are less smart than someone. I have son who is smarter than I am. He is. It’s the same as him being taller than I am. It’s a fact. He studies math at a major university and is clearly far beyond my intelligence. His youngest brother laments that the oldest “sucked all the brains out of our family.” Perhaps, but it’s undeniable that he’s smarter than the rest of us. Being dumb, though, is much different from paling in comparison to someone brilliant. Dumb is dumb, regardless of the context.

We aren’t supposed to say people are dumb, of course. Perhaps they learn at a slower pace or differently or not at all. We’ll readily send the smartest kids to special or advanced classes or schools. When I was a kid, we had “remedial reading” which was pretty much an educational wasteland of some sort or that’s how I viewed it. I don’t even know if they do that anymore. It’s probably good that we don’t have dumb classes in school (assuming that’s true). School is hard enough as it is, I suppose.  I’m not talking about Special Education.  That’s a good thing, even though I was a bit frightened of the Special Ed room in high school (see my comments below about ignorance).

What happens when a child fails at school? The school or the teacher is blamed. If they would do better, so would little Johnny. Maybe, we blame the parents. But we don’t blame Johnny. We dismiss the possibility that Johnny is just a dullard. Maybe he’s dumb. Plenty of adults are. It only makes sense that kids would be, too.

If you’re dumb, learning is tough. Why? Well, you’re dumb. That about sums it up. If you’re dumb, you might not even understand why you need to learn something. Oh, someone can explain it to you, but you probably won’t get it. It just won’t make sense. You might think: “Why is that weird nerd telling me that?” or “Hey, there’s something shiny!” Lots of cloudy thinking will confuse you.

How do you know if you’re dumb? Hell, I don’t know. I’m smart, but not that smart. Even if I could explain it, you probably couldn’t understand it, anyway. We used to rely on IQ tests, but those are now out of fashion as inaccurate, culturally biased or just plain wrong. I suspect no one likes them because they demonstrate that some people are more intelligent than others. Then again, I’m not smart enough to know for sure. Not dumb, mind you, but not that smart, either. If you even suspect that you’re dumb, you probably aren’t. You have to have at least a modicum of intelligence to know that others are smarter than you are.

By the way, we took IQ tests in high school. I did alright on mine. One of my friends scored a 78. Another friend looked it up in what had to be an out-dated medical book. 78 was “high moron.” Oh, how we laughed. We would occasionally greet him with “Hi! Moron!” Like I said, school is tough enough, I guess.

I do think there are some tell tale signs of dumbness:

  • The Look: You’ve seen it. It’s a dull-eyed, vacant look. It’s in the eyes. There just isn’t much going on back there. You’re never sure if anything you say registers. Don’t worry. It doesn’t. George W. Bush has the look. So does Joe Biden. Oddly, George H.W. Bush doesn’t have it. Neither does Dick Cheney. Brad Pitt? Yep. George Clooney? No. Britney Spears? Oh, yeah. Madonna? Oddly again, no.
  • Disdain for the intelligent: “He ain’t got no common sense.” This is the calling card of the dumb. Desperate to denigrate the smart, they point to highly valued “common” sense as the true measure of intelligence. Sure, Einstein may have revolutionized centuries of scientific thought, but he lacked common sense. Just remember, the translation of this statement is: “That person is immeasurably more intelligent than I am, perhaps to the point that we belong to different species.”
  • He’s a nerd: A variation of the point above, this type of comment is designed to point out that you, although quite dumb in comparison, possess certain invaluable social traits lacking in your more intelligent counterparts. This is likely true. Why? Because the smart people are in the minority. If they were just average, they’d be hanging out with your ilk. Remember: The nerds are the ones that will sign your pay checks. Be nice to them.
  • Practiced Illiteracy: I’m not talking about literal illiteracy. Hell, if you can’t read, that’s a problem but fixable. Practiced illiteracy is the conscious choice not to read. No books, magazines or even newspapers. You might even call pornographic magazines “dirty books.” You’ll only look at the pictures in those, anyway. The advent of the internet gives you access to the same content without the need to be slowed down by type face. You’ll rarely read the newspaper, even then just the headlines. Reading is for nerds. (See point above RE: Nerds).
  • What do other people say? If you are often called names like dumbass, idiot, moron, fool, slack jaw, dullard, wastrel, lunkhead, muscle head, numbskull, nit wit, twit, git, pea brain, lame brain, brain-damaged, stupid, imbecile, simpleton or dolt, you’re probably dumb. Why else would people call you all those names?

When I was a young attorney, I took the deposition of a psychiatrist in a workers compensation case. The doctor described the claimant as suffering from “PPP.” When I asked what that was, the doctor said: “Piss poor protoplasm.” The doctor’s point was that this young man didn’t have the gray matter to do much in life. Sad, but true. He was just plain dumb.

(As a totally unrelated aside, that doctor was the ugliest person I’ve ever seen. He was the kind of ugly where you stare to try to figure out if he had some accident or cranial-facial anomaly. I don’t think he did. He was just ugly. I digress….).

If you’re dumb, you may be able to compensate for it to some degree, unless you fall prey to the other Horsemen.

BLISSFUL IGNORANCE

“Ignorance is bliss” said someone named Thomas Gray in a pretensious-sounding work called Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.  Dumb is different that ignorant. Smart people can be ignorant. Despite marrying me, my wife is smart, but she’s ignorant of history. She doesn’t like history and makes a concerted effort to avoid it. I could tell her that Chester Arthur was Bea Arthur’s real name before Bea’s sex-change, and my wife might believe. This isn’t because she’s dumb. She’s never tried to learn these things. She’s just ignorant (I mean that in the nicest way, of course).

I, too, am ignorant of such things as automobile mechanics. I understand the basic workings of the internal combustion engine, but that’s about it. When I look under the hood of my car, I get confused and a bit overwhelmed. Perhaps I could learn about it, I just don’t want to try. On the other hand, I have an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball history. Does that benefit me in any way? No, but it tells me that I can’t be dumb if I can remember all that minutia.

Ignorance, sadly, holds us all back to some extent. We readily recognize such vile things as racism or my fear of the Special Education room as being the product of ignorance or even dumbness. I submit that ignorance is a common thread binding us all. For me, it’s auto mechanics. For my wife, history and basic cooking skills. For you, it might be sports. Here’s the rub: For the dumb, it’s all kinds of stuff: Politics, religion, science, health, hygiene, math, world events, child care–the list is endless. The dumber you are the more likely you are to be ignorant of things. Sorry, but that’s just how it is.

The more ignorant you are the more likely you are to do something dumb. Here in Kentucky, stealing copper is quite popular, so much so that some thieves will steal electrical wiring. Now, one can persuasively argue that this is just dumb. It’s probably also a sign of gross ignorance. Electrical wiring often, by definition, carries electricity. Electricity, for all the good it does, can kill you. You need to know things like this before you steal stuff carrying electricity.

Stay ignorant about enough topics and pretty soon you’re stupid. Sorry, but that’s how it goes.

Most us, me included, write off our ignorance to lack of interest. If I’m not interested in something, why learn about it? That’s a pretty decent point, but it leads to my next topic.

LAZY DAZE

Laziness is dumb’s lazy brother-in-law. Laziness gets a short shrift when discussing learning disabilities. Don’t underestimate the power of laziness. Laziness can neutralize intelligence and breed ignorance like a pen full of rabbits.

The lazier you are the less likely you are to learn anything. It’s just not worth the effort. As with ignorance, you do not have to be dumb to be lazy. Many smart folks are lazy, too. In fact, they can use their intelligence to half-ass their way through life. “Hey, if I can be average with minimal effort why wear myself out to be exceptional? Now, what’s on TV?” After awhile, your laziness and ignorance will lead to outright stupidity.

Sadly, I have suffered from laziness. Emptying the dishwasher, for example, is a daunting task for me, to the point that I am ignorant of where all the dishes go. Now, I’m not so dumb that I can’t figure it out, but it’s difficult because of my laziness.

The truly lazy have lost their ability to learn, if they ever had any. I have another son who likes to lie on the couch and watch television. School work is to him as the dishwasher is to me. His high school career has consisted of  gradually dumbing down his schedule to the point where watching television does not affect his grades. He doesn’t seem dumb to me, but it’s hard to tell, really.  His learning disability is laziness but stupidity could be in his future.

What do you do about being lazy? Getting up off your ass and doing something is a good start. At least that’s what my Dad thought.

CONCLUSION

If you’re smart, you may have noticed that this post is bereft of citations or any sign of research. That’s true, but it’s not because I’m dumb. It’s a blog, and I don’t have to do all that. So, I’m just lazy and possibly ignorant.

I maintain–and believe scientists would agree–that stupidity remains the number one learning disability in our country. Why do I say that? Because no one else will say it, even though in our heart of hearts we all know it’s true. If you’re stupid, that’s a hurdle that’s almost impossible to clear.

If you’ve managed to read this entire inane post, I have good news. You’re probably not dumb or you would have lost interest when you noticed there were no pictures. You’re also slightly less ignorant (maybe). And you’re not so lazy that you won’t at least read something. Congratulations.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

5 Ridiculous Things: A Random List

The older I get, the more I hear the same stuff over and over and over.  I guess that’s true of everyone.  What may not be true of everyone is that I don’t repeat this tripe, except to the extent that I make up my own stuff and spread it.

This is largely a phenomenon of the Internet meme.  A meme is an idea or thought which spreads from person to person.  It’s kind of like “word of mouth.”  The Internet has taken this to new level by giving us each access to many more people than would otherwise be available to hear our raving.  For example, this silly blog has been read by thousands of people in dozens of countries.  Why?  Because it’s on the Internet.

The Internet, via social media in particular, allows us to spread rumors and half-truths at the speed of light or at least very fast.  There is so much of this that we have websites such as snopes.com devoted to debunking these myths.  It’s only natural that Snopes must even debunk rumors about Snopes.

I’m now prepared to debunk a handful or particularly irksome thoughts, ideas, etc.  Why?  Because I’m on the Internet, by God.

As always, I offer my view only.  It may be incorrect. You may disagree.  If you do, I respect your right to disagree.  You have the right to be wrong.  I won’t infringe on that.

Below are a few things I’ve heard too much about which simply aren’t true.  Believe them if you wish, but I don’t.  For our purposes here, that’s all that matters.

Here are just five that I don’t buy into.  Sorry, but that’s how it is.  They were chosen at random for no particular reason.

1. PRISON IS GREAT

Ever heard something like this:  Why don’t we treat the elderly like we do prisoners–free room and board; watch TV all day; exercise; and free medical/dental?  This outrage is based upon the notion that prison is great.  It’s great treatment and a wonderful life.  Prison, the thought goes, is too soft.

If you believe this, it’s safe to assume that you’ve never been in prison or talked to anyone who has been.  I’ve known a bunch of people who’ve been in prison.  They are universal on one opinion:  IT SUCKS!  I know a guy who spent three years in a minimum security prison on an Air Force base, one of the so-called “country club” prisons.  He said it was like “waking up in a nightmare every day.”

Here are few things that folks have told me about prison:

  • It’s filthy. No matter what you do, that doesn’t change.
  • You might be allowed to shower once or twice a week.
  • You use the bathroom out in the open.  That includes “major transactions,” too.
  • You are surrounded by violent, dangerous and often mentally ill people.  You live with them, eat with them and spend all the rest of your time with them.
  • Prisoners aren’t known for their fabulous teeth.  No citation of authority is necessary.
  • The free health care consists of seeing a doctor if you are clearly deathly ill (or dead) or if you have been grievously injured by one of your fellow prisoners.
  • The great exercise program consists of hanging out with the same dangerous people, except now they have access to a variety of implements which can be used to kill you.
  • It smells.  Bad.  That’s a common theme from everyone I’ve heard.  It just smells bad.
  • The food is generally horrific.  If you really step out of line, some prisons serve you something called Nutriloaf.
Nutriloaf--One of the many joys of prison life

Nutriloaf–One of the many joys of prison life

Here’s the bottom line:  Prison is horrible.  It’s a nightmare.  I’ve never met any ex-con who speaks fondly of his days in stir nor I have met anyone who wanted to go back.  If it’s such a great life, I suggest you go. The good thing about prison is that it’s really easy to join.

Maybe you know an old person in a nursing home worse than prison.  If so, it’s hard to imagine, unless you put them there because you hate them (see my comments below about old people).  In that case, it’s good enough for them.

By the way, you know what would really suck?  Being old AND in prison.

2. POOR PEOPLE WANT TO BE POOR

Here’s one you’re bound to have heard:  Don’t buy beer or cigarettes or get tattoos or cars or TVs if you’re on welfare.  It’s similar to Michelle Bachmann’s suggestion that the best way to get health insurance is to get a job.  Literally, these statements may be true.  Literally, but not practically.

Perhaps it would be better for poor people not to drink beer or smoke.  That’s probably true for the rich, too,  Tattoos seem to be a generally bad idea to me.  Why not take it a step further and just say that poor people shouldn’t buy magazines or soda or toys for their kids or clothes, for that matter?

I have never been poor.  I wasn’t born poor.  I wasn’t raised poor.  I didn’t pull myself up by the bootstraps.  I don’t even know what bootstraps are.  I’m not a self-made man.  Yes, I am successful, at least by most definitions.  But, I had a lot of advantages–college-educated parents and a comfortable upbringing for two BIG examples.  So, I don’t know what it’s like to be poor.  Most of the people who bitch and moan about poor people also don’t know what it’s like to be poor.

I grew up with poor people.  Some of my friends were poor.  They had one thing in common–they didn’t like it, and were at least slightly embarrassed by it. In Eastern Kentucky, poverty wasn’t uncommon.  We were in a melting pot.  The rich, poor and middle class were all together.  We went to school and church together.  You could be like my family and live well but have neighbors who were poor by any definition.  We got to see it up close, and it’s ugly.

Ever wonder why a lot of poor people turn to drug-dealing?  Was it a life-long ambition?  Is it because they want to accomplish something in life?  Nope.  It’s for the money.  Being poor isn’t good, and most poor people agree.  Yes, there are exceptions, just as there are to every rule.  I’ve known people born into poverty who didn’t aspire to anything better.  What I have NEVER known is someone who wasn’t poor but aspired to be poor, because it is such a great life.

3. PARENTS ARE GREAT

It seems that I’m always hearing about how great everyone’s parents are (were).  Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day, etc.  On Facebook, there are innumerable posts requesting you to “like” them if your parents were saints or your best friends or fabulous.  Let’s be honest, some parents are awful.

Now, I had excellent parents.  They worked hard, cared about their kids and sacrificed a great deal for us.  I was LUCKY.  That’s it.  I didn’t choose them anymore than they chose me.  Someone recently told me that I’m wrong about that–that I was blessed to have good parents.  Perhaps.  But that begs the question:  If I did nothing to be so blessed, what did others do to be cursed with their parents? Nothing, you say?  Then, that sounds like luck–good and bad–to me.

I’ve known people whose parents beat them, ignored them or were just generally crappy to them their whole lives.  These are just horrible people who happened to achieve the none-too-impressive feat of procreation.  You know what these folks deserve for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?  NOTHING.   As I’ve quoted before, my father once said:  “When I was young, we had plenty of elder abuse, except we called it ‘revenge.'”

So, if you had good parents, good for you, just don’t blow too much about it.  You didn’t have anything to do with it.  If you had rotten parents, it’s okay, too.  You didn’t make them that way.

4. RICH PEOPLE ARE BAD

I’ve written before about hating rich people, so I won’t belabor that.  At the heart of that hate is the belief that the rich are bad.  They aren’t, at least no more so than the rest of us.

Warren Buffett is rich.  Super-rich.  Billionaire-rich.  He once said: “Of the billionaires I’ve known, money just brings out the basic traits in them.  If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.”  That makes sense.  Buffett doesn’t seem like to jerk to me.  Maybe he is, but it probably doesn’t have anything to do with having a silo full of money.

Let’s all accept one irrefutable fact:  We all want to be rich.  All of us.  If the rich are awful, then we all aspire to be awful.

5. OLD PEOPLE ARE WONDERFUL

It is a common refrain old people are a “treasure” or a “joy” or sources of “wisdom.”  If you were a miserable ass when you were young, there’s a pretty good chance that’s what you’ll be when you’re old.  Being a fool is likely to get worse with age, not better.  In fact, the older you are, the more people probably realize your true colors.  You just lived a long time.  Big whoop.  Charles Manson is 78.  Mozart died at 35.

Charles Manson, a wise and wonderful old fellow

Charles Manson, a wise and wonderful old fellow

Think about this:  Have you ever known an old person you couldn’t stand to be around?  Of course, you have.  He or she was probably a family member, too.  Some old people become mean with age.  Some were mean to start with and became old and mean.  Not all old people are cute or charming or wise.  Some are ugly, hateful and dumb asses.  It’s hard to outgrow those things.

Well, that’s five things that I have now stripped of their veneer of credibility.  Perhaps, you are an old, rich prisoner who aspires to a life of poverty.  As such, you might disagree with me.  Well, you’re wrong.  So much for your “wisdom,” Pops.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

Gunning For Answers

The gun control debate rages again, this time in the harsh light of the Newtown, Connecticut school on December 14, 2012. This shooting is the latest in a troubling series of such acts dating back to the 1997 Heath High School shooting in Paducah, Kentucky.

We have the predictable responses from those who want strict gun control to those who want none. After a week of silence, the venerable National Rifle Association weighed in with its views. As might be expected, the NRA does not view this as a gun control issue. It is, rather, a question of defending the public against homicidal gun owners whose minds have been warped by violent video games and the desire for media attention. To those at the other end of the spectrum it’s all about the guns.

As a lawyer, I prided myself on my ability to digest large volumes of information and distill it into easily understood concepts. In this instance, I’ve opted for a shallow understanding of the issues and flippant set of suggestions. Each, however, is based upon very real suggestions offered by each camp. Understand that I am not making light of the violence which brings these issues to the front now. Rather, it is my analysis of taking these suggestions to their logical (sort of) conclusion.

BAN GUNS

Few people actually advocate banning all guns or even handguns, but a few people do. Others do so by implication pointing to countries such as Japan as a model for gun control. Let’s just dispense with this one. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents it. End of story.

BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS

If by “assault” we mean “shooting humans,” we have a problem: THEY’RE ALL ASSAULT WEAPONS! Okay, not all of them, but most of them. Handguns, in particular, are made for human game. I know that some folks hunt with handguns. Not many. Gaston Glock designed the popular line of Glock handguns for shooting people. They are an engineering marvel. Lightweight, easily assembled, simple to use and low maintenance. Law enforcement loves them–and for good reason–they are great guns, but they are intended for human targets. That’s the purpose of handguns. Try hunting with a snub nosed .38. Unless you are planning execution-style kills, it won’t be much use in the wild. Stick it in a human’s ribs, though, and it’s damn effective.

If you only own a gun for self-defense, it’s an assault weapon. You only intend to use it to kill another human. If you like target practice, maybe it’s not–unless you use the popular targets that look like–you guessed it!–humans. In that case, you’re practicing for human-shooting should you ever have the opportunity. “Assault” weapon makes as much sense as “stabbing” sword.

PRAY MORE

There is a small (I hope), but vocal, contingent who see murderous attacks at our schools as a result of the lack of prayer in school. They ignore the fact that the Heath High School shooting in Kentucky, which has the dubious distinction of starting all this slaughter, took place in a prayer group. What was God’s point with that one?

I’ve heard that we prayed in school when I was a kid. I don’t remember any organized prayer, but I prayed. I prayed for each day to end, to never go back, etc. As far as invoking God’s hand as part of our curriculum, maybe we did. I just don’t remember it. Clearly, it made a strong impression on me.

Let’s just leave God out of this one. He gets blamed for too much stuff anyway.

BAN SOME STUFF

This stuff includes items which technically aren’t guns. They are gun accessories. Large capacity magazines, types of ammo, body armor and other items are all on the table. This has some merit, but coming up with a comprehensive list is daunting. At the end of the day, there will be still be guns. Lots of them. By some counts, there are 270 million guns in American. That’s 9 for every 10 people. They can all be used for killing people and most are designed to do exactly that. Banning their accessories is like telling people they can’t eat with forks anymore. It may be inconvenient, but they’ll still eat.

VIOLENCE VS. VIOLENCE

This is the NRA’s position or, as NRA President Wayne LaPierre said: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This isn’t exactly true. A grenade, flamethrower, pack of pit bulls, truck and knife in the back are a number of other ways to stop a bad guy, too. Even another bad guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. Of course, this only creates the problem of how to stop a really bad guy who can stop other bad guys.

Don’t count me among the folks who think the NRA is a cabal of evil thugs. In fact, I am a former NRA member. Former? I enjoyed reading Guns & Ammo Magazine, but I finally tired of the NRA’s lobbying efforts. Understand that this isn’t because I’m against gun ownership. I just thought they went too far on many occasions. That said, I know lots of fine folks who belong to the NRA.

Even the NRA’s staunchest allies know that the NRA’s position will always be more guns, not less. In other words, confront violence with violence. Some may consider this the same philosophy that seeks world peace through killing all one’s enemies. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to attempt to marginalize the NRA. It has a place at the table. In fact, its political power means that it may well own the table.

The NRA sees four causes of school shootings: 1. Lack of security at schools. 2. Violent video games 3. The media; and 4. Crazy people. The crazies are inspired by video games to seek fame through the media by attacking schools because the schools lack security. There is probably some validity to each of these points. The NRA hasn’t specified exactly what should be done but promises to enlist a vast cadre of law enforcement, military and concerned people to come up with something. We’ll see.

So, with all these ideas swirling about, what is the answer? I’m certainly not qualified to come up with a plan, but then again no one else is, either. With that in mind, here is my modest proposal:

REDISTRIBUTION

Nothing sends Americans scurrying to the local gun store like the word “redistribution.” They imagine hunkering down with their personal arsenals to fight off jackbooted government thugs. These thugs will be roaming house to house to take away our hard-earned stuff and giving it all to people on welfare. I’m a free market guy and would never suggest such socialism.

No, I’m talking about redistribution of our weapons. With 270 million guns floating around, there’s no excuse for people not being armed. The problem–as with wealth–isn’t that there isn’t enough of it. It’s a matter of disproportionate distribution. For example, my father owned 12 guns. That means that there were 10 or 11 people without guns. He was in the gun 1%.

Here’s what we do. Gather up all the guns and distribute them among the public. Make sure everyone has his or her own. Even better, just by my typing this, gun sales will increase, and there will be even more guns to hand out. What if we’re still short? We’ll invoke Obamacare and create a Gun Mandate. If you don’t go buy one, we’ll tax your ass to death.

Once we’re all armed, the playing field will be level. Someone pulls a gun, and it’s the OK Corral. Let’s throw lead. Every man, woman and child will pack iron. Child? If these kids can learn how to use an iPad, a pistol is snap. Plus, real guns will pull them away from the dangers of video games. This is a win-win-win.

TRACKING THE CRAZIES

The NRA suggest that a national database of the mentally ill is needed. No, it’s not because they want a more comprehensive mailing list. They want to keep track of dangerous people. Predictably, this has been met with hoots of derision. Some believe that violating numerous federal laws and constitutionally protected privacy rights is too high a price to pay to protect the Second Amendment. Of course, the NRA disagrees. Hell, they’d trample the Third Amendment and quarter soldiers in our homes if meant we could keep our guns. But, the database (of “Loony Log,” as I call it) could work:

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, there is a dizzying array of mental illnesses and an almost uncountable number of related medications. Here’s the deal: If you take one of these, you’re on the list.
  • We can use Obamacare to help us tag other dangerous mental defectives. If you have seen a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, clergyman or school guidance counselor, you’re on the list.
  • ADD, ADHD, schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, autism, moodiness, PMS, anxiety, angst and prickliness all qualify. You’re on the list.
  • If you’re over 65 years old, there’s a good chance you’re not firing on all cylinders. You’re on the list.
  • If you dress funny, look weird or are just odd, you’re on the list.
  • If you’re not on the list, this means you are in a tiny minority. Clearly, there is something bad wrong with you. You’re on the list.

Once we’ve compiled the list, a crack team of retired police officers, soldiers, militia men and security guards will constantly monitor the list to track your every move. You may ask: Will this affect my ability to acquire a gun? Are you insane in addition to your mental illness? There’s nothing in the Second Amendment stripping the rights of crazy people. Strap down, my nutty friend.

MORE IS BETTER

This is my own idea, and I’ll confess that it’s a bit radical. It is a long-held belief that an armed citizenry keeps the government in check. If they come after us, we’ll fight them off with our guns. The problem–and it’s a really big one–is that they control the military. Now, I know many folks are quite skilled with guns, but this is a question of firepower. No army on Earth can even seriously oppose our military. I’m confident that a disorganized band of the mentally ill randomly firing handguns will fare poorly.

Better weaponry will allow us to even the odds in a civil war. An added bonus will be curbing crime through superior firepower. Imagine the second thoughts which will be caused by the prospect of facing down not only a general public armed to the teeth with guns but also of a grenade or flamethrower being whipped out. If your neighbor builds an unsightly fence on your property line, a little napalm will take care of it. We’ll bring all this foolishness to an end through the threat of mutual destruction.

If a good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with one, a good guy with a LAW rocket will stop 20 of them. Of course, bad guys might have the same weapons. But, remember–most of these freaks are loners. They won’t be as organized as we are. Think scorched Earth.

CONCLUSION

My little diatribe above is all tongue in cheek, of course, but it were printed as an op-ed piece, I am sure that many folks would agree with parts of it. Honestly, is it any crazier than some of the ideas being floated now? If there is a point to any of this it is that these simple answers can create as many problems as they solve.

What is the real answer? Complex problems often require complex answers. Americans like simple answers. Ban guns. Arm school teachers. Pray. These public gun attacks (or “sprees,” as the press says) continue to occur even as crime rates, including violent crime, decline. It is a political, social and even moral issue. Unfortunately, we live in a time when compromise in any of those areas seems impossible.

I own guns and grew up around them. They don’t scare me nor do they give me any particular comfort. I know people who have been shot, including two family members. I also know people who have shot people. Sadly, I know far too many people who have taken their own lives with guns. I know they can easily and legally get into the hands of people who will wreak havoc with them. THAT is serious issue which should be addressed with all the urgency of the response to 9/11. We’re a bright people. We can explore answers that don’t require stripping rights or just admitting defeat.

The NRA, the anti-gun lobby, politicians and the public have common ground here. No one wants to read about mass killings at schools, malls, churches or anywhere else. Addressing that concern would seem to be in everyone’s interest.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012