The Common Man’s Guide to the Fiscal Cliff

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Hunter Thompson once said: “The edge… the only ones who know where it is have gone over it.” He later shot himself and had his cremated remains shot out of cannon by Johnny Depp. I’d say that’s somewhere over the edge.

Now we Americans are all on the edge–the edge of the dreaded Fiscal Cliff. Since I grew up in Eastern Kentucky, I like to call it the Physical Cliff, because that’s what we call our Fiscal Courts. You may also call it a “clift” if you like. Regardless of pronunciation, we are there, on the edge, ready for the plunge.

Perhaps the Mayans were on to something with their silly calendar. Maybe they knew there would be a United States and that it would one day be run by gaggle of twits. Maybe they picked December 21 because they knew no work would be done during the holidays and that might as well be the end of things. It’s hard to say.

What is the Fiscal Cliff? Since I eschew research, I don’t really know. I have, however, gathered bits and pieces of information listening to people rant and rave about it. As best I can tell, come January 1, 2013, tax rates go up and military and non-military discretionary spending goes down–all the way across the board. Every pet project and sacred cow in the spendthrift world of federal government gets cut. Taxes go up, too. And over the edge we go. What happens then?

Before you read further, bear in mind that I am not expert on economics or any other topic. Much of what you will read here is inaccurate. Some of it is just flat made-up. Regardless, it should provide a useful overview of the issues facing our great nation.

If you’d like to really learn about the budget, the Congressional Budget Office has a handy 100 page overview of the next couple of years. It’s like reading H.P. Lovecraft if he were a complete dullard or budget wonk. By raising taxes and cutting spending, the federal deficit will eventually be decreased by $2 trillion dollars, blah, blah. If you understand that, you’re miles ahead of me on this deal. Let’s face it: I don’t understand any of this. If that’s too confusing, maybe this will help:

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No? I’ve done my own, simpler graph to show the potential outcome:

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The Cliff is some kind of Idiot Test for the federal government. This raising taxes and cutting spending is unpalatable to everyone. Those of a conservative sort have sworn their allegiance to someone named Grover Norquist. Evidently, he makes you swear never to raise taxes. (Don’t feel bad. I don’t know who the hell he is, either). The Left, of course, can’t palate not spending. Cuts are like taking Paris Hilton’s trust fund away. Sure, she would survive, but would life really be worth living? Both sides are united for their distaste with cutting ALL spending. So, the thought was, this plan will force these conflicting groups to agree for the betterment of all. Maybe it will. Maybe not.

President Obama wants to raise taxes. Why? More money, of course. Grover Norquist doesn’t want to raise taxes. Not now. Not ever. Why not? It’s just bad, I guess. As a result, the Republicans will entertain increasing tax revenue but not raising tax rates. What?!? I don’t follow it, either, but it’s okay to raise tax revenue by eliminating deductions or “loopholes” and broadening the tax base. “Broadening the tax base” means taxing people who don’t pay taxes now. Just don’t raise rates. This is called “tax reform,” not taxes increases, even though it would increase the amount of taxes paid. Get it? Me neither.

The Republicans demand spending cuts. Since the federal government is broke and getting broker (if that’s possible), this seems reasonable. Then, why don’t they like the spending cuts at the bottom of the Cliff? Doesn’t a massive cut take care of things and eliminate all the debate about what to cut? Nope. We can’t cut military spending. Why not? I’m not sure, other than we can’t. We spend as much as the entire world put together on our military. Reducing that would cripple us. Maybe it would, but that seems unlikely.

The Democrats are equally obstinate about social programs or, as the Right likes to call them, “entitlements.” “Entitlements” are handouts to people who don’t deserve them. Laggards, wastrels, layabouts. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the battlegrounds. The Left doesn’t seem to grasp that the system was designed to function exactly the way it does. That’s why it’s failing. Overhauling it is a good idea. But, like many good ideas, Washington isn’t interested. These expenditures aren’t part of the Cliff, but the Republicans want them reformed.

Here’s a little secret: they’re not really cutting spending. They’re just going to spend less than they want. In Washington, you can actually increase the amount you spend, but still call it a decrease. This is called a “sequester.” They are sequestering the budget, which appears to mean that the budget won’t increase in 2013, but it will in later years.

To understand this, you must understand Washington Math. Spending “cuts” aren’t really cuts at all. They are more like reduced increases. Let’s say you make $40,000 a year and spent $50,000 this year. Next year, you plan to spend $60,000. Someone-me, for instance–says “Whoa, there, Rockefeller. You can’t do that. You have to decrease your spending!” You then decide to spend $55,000. Under Washington Math, you’ve just cut spending by $5,000. Make sense? Of course not.

But, you ask: “Wouldn’t increased revenue and decreased spending be a good thing?” Not so fast, genius. When it comes to money, the government is like my kids. They spend what I give them. Whether it’s $2 or $20, they spend it. Then, they ask for more. That’s how the government works. They’ll spend all the tax revenue. All of it. They’ll still spend more than they have, just less of it. Think of it as less of more.

So, we find ourselves at loggerheads. Democratic President, Republican House, Democratic Senate. Can they ever agree on anything? We stand at the edge, ready to plunge. At the precipice with us are the President, a pompous know-it-all determined to get his way, and John Boehner, the yam-colored, leathery Speaker of the House, who is also determined to get his way. If we’re going to take a tumble, they are poised to give a friendly shove.

What will happen if we plunge over the Cliff? Here is my prediction, based on nothing other than pure guess-work:

  • Taxes will increase on someone, maybe everyone.
  • Spending will increase, but it will be called a decrease.
  • The President will blame George Bush, but in a bizarre twist it will be George H.W. Bush.
  • George W. Bush will emerge from seclusion and once again inexplicably declare “Mission Accomplished!”
  • In an ill-conceived attempt to improve Congress’s image, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi will have a hot make-out session on The O’Reilly Factor.
  • The State of the Union Address will be replaced with this 800 number recording: “The state of the union? It’s just really shitty.”
  • Grover Norquist will have some kind of spell.
  • White House spin doctors will replace “recession” in the lexicon with cooler-sounding “Obamacession.”
  • Glenn Beck’s TV show will come back, but he’ll need about seven more chalkboards.
  • Chris Matthews will yell about all of it.
  • General Petraeus will take his own plunge, if you know what I mean.
  • My car will be totaled. (My bad. That’s something that will happen if I drive my car over a cliff).
  • Beans will replace dollars as the international currency of business, thus transforming all Doomsday Preppers into Captains of Industry.
  • As a show of cooperation, Obama and Boehner will compromise on a $1 per pack cigarette tax. The compromise will be that it won’t apply to the President or Speaker of the House.
  • The Death Panels will work overtime to reduce the number of unemployed.
  • Honey Boo Boo won’t care. (On second thought, maybe she will. Her taxes will probably increase).

Don’t be alarmed by this nightmare scenario. Compromise is still possible. Indeed, it may even be likely. Here’s how it will work:

Taxes rates will increase on the highest earnings but not all that much. Loopholes will be closed, thus broadening the tax base. The end result will be more taxes for almost everyone. Republicans will save face by claiming that the President is insane and shoved it all down their throats by promising HUGE spending cuts, none of which will actually be part of the compromise. Spending, of course, will actually go up but less than projected. This will be called deficit reduction, even though the deficit will actually increase. Both sides will declare victory.

As you have no doubt garnered, it’s all rather simple. Now, enjoy your time on the edge. It’s where all the fun stuff happens anyway.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

World War X-MAS

None of us will ever forget where we were and what we were doing when we heard that war had broken out against Christmas. Once the War on Christmas began, our lives were never the same.  Sorry to be a smart ass.  I can’t help it.

Are you a soldier in the War on Christmas?  If so, which army?  How’s it going?  Looks like Christmas is winning, but it depends on whom you ask.

As a matter of full disclosure, I must tell you that I like Christmas.  Check that.  I love Christmas.  I always have.  I’m tempted to lie and say that it’s because of some religious fervor that possesses me.  That’s not it.  I just love it.  The presents, music, decorations–all of it.  My house is a garish display of lights.  We buy our kids too much stuff and don’t care.

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My home is a prime target for a drone strike in the War on Christmas

Once when I was about 6 years old, I got so fired up one Christmas morning that I sat down and drank like 6 glasses of milk.  Why?  I don’t know.  I just went mental.  I puked, too. I was totally unhinged with excitement. But, that was before the War.

Unlike most wars, this one creates debate about whether it even exists. The War even has its own website.  Not surprisingly, Fox News has its own web page devoted to the War.  If it’s on the Internet, it has to be real.  Even the Pope was accused of attacking Christmas by quite correctly pointing out that December 25 isn’t really Jesus’s birthday.  Others are just as adamant that there is no war. So, whether you are a far left atheist still mourning the untimely murder of Madeline Murray O’Hare or a hard right evangelical longing to feel the lash of religious persecution, there is a camp for you.

It is said that Christmas is a time for giving.  For many, it is a holy time to celebrate the savior of their religion. These folks, of course, are Christians.  Generally speaking, they’re good folks.  Like any religion, the loudest and most profane are typically front and center, giving a black eye to the larger flock.  Many Christians believe that there is a war being waged against Christmas.  I suppose it would be inappropriate to call it a Holy War, but they are convinced nonetheless that they are in the midst of a struggle to preserve Christmas.  I don’t doubt that they believe there is a war and that it must be fought tooth and nail.

Of all religious holidays, Christmas certainly has spawned its own secular division, with Santa Claus and the elves leading the way.  Evidently, we are so unlikely to freely give gifts to children that someone conceived that a fat man and a bunch of elf/slaves was more believable.  Flying reindeer, too.  For the most part, though, Santa and Jesus have peacefully coexisted.  Despite appearing to be the logical choice to lead this war, Santa seems to be sitting it out.  As a result, I’m not sure who leads this gang of misfit toys assailing Christmas.  I’ll just attribute it to the Liberal Elite.

If the War on Christmas has Commander in Chief for the defense, it may be Bill O’Reilly.  You know Bill.  He’s Fox News’s agent provocateur.  He developed the modern TV interview format where you ask a guest a question and then shout until he or she gives up trying to answer.  Bill sums up his view of the War as follows:

See, I think it’s all part of the secular progressive agenda — to get Christianity and spirituality and Judaism out of the public square. Because if you look at what happened in Western Europe and Canada, if you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage, because the objection to those things is religious- based, usually.

Wow.  Judaism?  Uh, Bill, Jews don’t think Jesus was the messiah.  Not sure what the point is on that one.  Of course, Bill’s larger point is that it’s part of a conspiracy to destroy society.  I’ll admit that Bill sees a lot of things in the world that I don’t, but he’s bound to be right sometimes.  Let’s take a closer look at the bloody front lines of the War.

Christmas greetings are controversial.  I don’t know anyone who is grossly offended by a greeting of “Merry Christmas!”  Now, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of home body and live an insular lifestyle.  Maybe there are people who curse and stomp and throw things when they hear this common holiday greeting.  If you’re one of those people, lighten up.  It’s no big deal.

What I DO hear a lot of is people offended by “Happy Holidays!”  It’s Christmas, damn you!  I know people SO offended by this they vow not to patronize businesses that dare to offend with this greeting.  Why?  I guess it’s because they’re afraid they’ll be euthanized after having a narcotics-induced abortion.  I don’t really know.

As always, children are also casualties of war.  On Facebook, this meme is making the rounds:

This is the world that many people inhabit. Anti-Christian thugs coming after our children

This hasn’t happened to my children–yet.  I realize that this cartoon is a bit a hyperbole used to illustrate some point.  My kids have always had parties at school around Christmas time.  Okay, they don’t officially call them Christmas parties, but that’s what the kids call them.  I’ll admit that they don’t re-enact the Nativity.  They also don’t participate in pagan rituals, unless eating a bunch of sweets is pagan.

When I was kid, we had Christmas parties at school.  We even had a Christmas play.  I was a shepherd.  Is this horrible?  I doubt it.  Is it a questionable use of school time?  Maybe.  It probably didn’t harm anyone, with the possible exception of my one classmate who had to sit in the hall in a chair.  She was a Jehovah’s Witness.  Actually, it may have harmed me.  No six year old kid wants to be paraded out in front of the entire school in a bathrobe.  Oh well.

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1968. Your author (L) gives his mother an unforgiving stare. At least she didn’t make me wear a towel on my head like the poor lad next to me.

Much of the War is a matter of semantics.  Of course, people may be too politically correct these days.  With Christmas everywhere, it’s a little odd to say “Happy Holidays.”  A “Merry Christmas” here and there shouldn’t offend.  Generally speaking, it doesn’t seem to have that effect.  The same should be true of “Happy Holidays.”  After all, it is the holiday season.  Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years Day are all holidays to some extent.  Even pagans can celebrate the Winter Solstice which must be some kind of holiday, too.

I may be part of the problem, if there is one.  I tend to say Merry Christmas to people, without giving a thought to their religious views.  I’ve never gotten a response of “THERE IS NO GOD!” or “I AM JEWISH, YOU BASTARD!”  Maybe I’ve been lucky.  I’m much more concerned about saying “Happy Holidays” to the wrong person.

Some people don’t like “Xmas.”  Put Christ back in Christmas, they say.  They take it as a secular attempt to remove Jesus from his own holiday.  This isn’t true, of course.  The “X” is the Greek letter Chi which is used as a shorthand for “Christ.”  Oh well, never let the facts get in the way of righteous outrage.

Retailers seem to be the prime combatants in this war.  Rage is directed toward them for the use of “holidays” instead of “Christmas.”  In some cases, it was the result of such silliness as Lowe’s calling its Christmas trees “Family Trees.”  I don’t know if this justifies religious outrage, as much as it does treating them like marketing dolts.  Who ever bought a Family Tree?  Not me, that’s for sure.  We already have Family Trees, otherwise we wouldn’t know any of our relatives.

Even Santa Claus isn’t spared.  Some folks don’t like the emphasis on Santa.  After all, he isn’t Jesus, now, is he?  Of course, he isn’t.  In the 1960’s, a particularly vile anti-Semitic preacher named George L.K. Smith claimed that Santa was the product of “World Jewry” (whatever the hell that is) designed to supplant Christ.  After all, “Santa” almost spells “Satan.”  That can’t be a coincidence.  See how easy it is to join in?

You want to know who the real anti-Christmas warriors were?  The Puritans.  Those tight-asses hated Christmas.  Hated it. They hated it so much that they outlawed all the traditional celebrations.  Now, that’s a war.

As with most wars, the government plays a big role.  People like Christmas trees, and the government wastes a lot of resources trying to decide what to call them. At the end of the day, few people care that they are, in fact, Christmas trees. Naturally, there is litigation over Nativity displays and the like. Even though they don’t offend me, I can understand that one might think the government shouldn’t be in the practice of endorsing any particular religion. I’m not sure I could get fired up enough about it to spend any time in court.

Of course, some folks believe that the U.S. was founded as a Christian Nation™, despite strong historical proof to the contrary.  It’s not my job to disabuse them of that notion, although I would note that our government didn’t even bother making Christmas (or anything else, for that matter) a holiday until 1870.  (Surprisingly, our founding fathers weren’t all eaten up with the Christmas spirit.  In fact, the first session of Congress was held on Christmas Day.  Talk about a bunch of Scrooges.)

Truth be told, in our country, no religious holiday is given the same deference as Christmas, with the closing of businesses and government services and a non-stop marketing onslaught which starts just after Labor Day.  Employers are not only expected to give their employees time off work but also to give them extra money–a Christmas Bonus, no less.  We don’t do that for Easter,  the holiest of times for Christians.  We don’t do anything at all for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.  Try starting a holiday for Laylat al-Qadr.  You might end up in Gitmo for your next evening of prayer.  Even our entertainment is Christmas themed.  Turn on the radio and scan the stations.  Bet you’ll hear a Christmas song or two.  What about TV and movies?  Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.

John Lennon wrote a song called Merry Christmas (War is Over).  I don’t care for it, just as I don’t particularly care for many of his post-Beatles songs.  But I do think that this war, whenever it started, is over.  Christmas won.  So, when you hear “Happy Holidays” or get a card saying that, take heart.  Merry Christmas is implied.  We know that’s what they really mean don’t we?

As lawyer, I’m quite fond of quotations.  The Kentucky Court of Appeals penned my favorite legal quote, which is particularly applicable here:

In the celebrated case of Prewitt v. Clayton, 21 Ky. (5 T.B. Mon.) 4, this court, through Chief Justice Bibb, observed:

            ‘“A bear well painted and drawn to the life is yet the picture of a bear, although the painter may omit to write over it, ‘this is the bear.’”

             By parity of reasoning, the bear does not lose its basic characteristics if the artist dubs it a horse. 

The First National Bank of Mayfield v. Gardner, Ky., 376 S.W. 2d 311, 314-315 (1964).  The same applies to Christmas.  A bear is a bear, and Christmas is Christmas.  Neither one is a horse.

Ultimately, this is a battle among the secular (Santa and the elves); the religious (Baby Jesus and the Wise Men); the anti-religious (Atheists); and the religious non-Christians (everyone else).  In other words, the Americans.  Nothing is more American than disagreeing with each other.  We’ll fight amongst ourselves about anything.  It’s the American Way.  So, choose a side and weigh in.  It’s fun.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  Now, what are you going to do?

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

The All-Purpose Facebook Privacy Protection Disclaimer

Evidently, people on Facebook are concerned about their privacy and protecting their posts about their kids, dogs, meals, prayer requests, political rants and family photos.  One can hardly blame them.  I know I don’t want the world seeing this photo of me should I foolishly decide to run for political office:

I fear that my gangsta past will come back to haunt me.

One can even dig deep into my past to find embarrassing photos like this one:

Honestly, I know a lot of people who would vote for this guy.

As a result, many folks are now protecting their rights by expressly reserving their privacy with this post:

Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute)

As a lawyer, this fascinates.  Yes, it’s true.  I’m a lawyer.  I graduated from law school, passed the bar exam–all of that.  As a service to my Facebook friends, I decided to use my finely honed lawyering skills to break down this disclaimer and explain exactly what is being said here, as only a real lawyer can explain:

Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall.  I certainly agree with this statement, assuming you possess rudimentary pointing and clicking skills.

This will place them under protection of copyright laws.  Who is “them?”  That confuses me. “They” must be the cutters and pasters.  I also don’t see any copyright protection in this statement.  If you want copyright protection, say so or use this nifty symbol: ©.  You can also claim a trademark with this: ™.  The bad part is that these only protect the rights you actually have. They don’t create rights.  For example, if I quote from Moby Dick on my Facebook wall (as I might do to show how brainy I am), I don’t have any copyright protection just because I claim I do.

By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contentsWho the hell uses the word “communique?”  Did James Bond write this?  Also, what action do we fear that Facebook will take “against” us?  A drone strike?  I know of no police powers granted to Facebook.  Perhaps we fear that Facebook will show our posts to someone.  Here’s a suggestion:  Don’t post anything that you don’t want people to see. 

The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control.  I’m not sure what the prohibited actions are, but they must be the actions “against me” that Facebook may take.  I’m also curious about the students under Facebook’s direction or control.  This brings to mind a cadre of brain-washed college kids spending their days reading Facebook posts and then informing Mark Zuckerberg of all the juiciest details.  If these people exist, I fully understand the desire to limit their powers.  Oh, “aforementioned” is an excellent lawyerly word.

The content of this profile is private and confidential information.  Now, this is problematic.  You see, when you sign up for Facebook, you agree to all the Terms of Service, which are quite detailed.  You probably didn’t read them.  I know I didn’t.  It’s doubtful that our posts are considered private or confidential.  This explains the Privacy Settings on our accounts.  I suggest that you don’t post confidential information.  For example, I don’t recommend posting nude photos of yourself, unless you are a reasonably attractive woman.  In that case, post them now using this disclaimer as protection.  Also, please send me a link to your profile, so that I may see if your protection was effective.

The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute):  This is my favorite part.  The UCC is the Uniform Commercial Code, a set of uniform statutes regulating commercial transactions.  Every state has adopted the UCC at least to some extent.  Its application to Facebook is a legal mystery.  Here is what Article 1-308 says:

1-308. Performance or Acceptance Under Reservation of Rights.

(a) A party that with explicit reservation of rights performs or promises performance or assents to performance in a manner demanded or offered by the other party does not thereby prejudice the rights reserved. Such words as “without prejudice,” “under protest,” or the like are sufficient.

This statute is often cited by conspiracy theorists or other folks on the fringe as giving one the right to do anything “under protest.”  For example, some folks will sign their tax returns and cite this section, believing that they haven’t really agreed to pay their taxes or that they have somehow reserved the right to challenge the IRS’s taxing authority.  I won’t bore you with all the legal niceties, but the UCC only applies to certain commercial transactions.  I took classes in law school about the UCC and remember a good deal about it. The UCC just won’t help you here.

Article 1-103 is even less applicable:

1-103. Supplementary General Principles of Law Applicable.

Unless displaced by the particular provisions of this Act, the principles of law and equity, including the law merchant and the law relative to capacity to contract, principal and agent, estoppel, fraud, misrepresentation, duress, coercion, mistake, Bankruptcy, or other validating or invalidating cause shall supplement its provisions.

I don’t even know what to say about this one. All it says is that the UCC doesn’t replace any other law unless it specifically says so.  If that gives you any comfort, so be it.

The Rome Statute:  The only Rome Statute of which I am aware involves the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to prosecute Crimes Against Humanity, genocide and the like.  If someone of the ilk of Slobodan Milosevic hacks your account, you may have something here, but it’s doubtful.  Although Facebook taking action against you might be offensive, you may have a hard time convincing the International Criminal Court that it rises to the level of a war crime.

Sadly, my conclusion is that this disclaimer, for all its flowery language and copious statutory citations, provides no real protection against use of your photos and posts.  Read the Facebook Terms of Service or the Facebook Data Policy. Those will give you some guidance on your agreement with the evil Zuckerberg.

So, if you’re wanting to post inflammatory status updates like advocating erotic literature for children or threatening to kill someone, you may not have the protection you think you do.  It would be wise to think before posting, especially if you are, say, in the job market.  An even better idea may be to just delete your account entirely.

I’m sure some other lawyer will read this and disagree. I might even get sued.  Nevertheless, I stand by my analysis.

Of course, all is not lost.  I am, after all, a lawyer.  I’ve composed my own disclaimer which you are free to cut and paste:

Under the authority of the International Court of The Hague, I hereby expressly and forever reserve my privacy rights as granted under the Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Hammurabi’s Code and any and all other applicable law whether foreign or domestic. By posting on Facebook, I do not waive any and all such rights which are hereby expressly reserved unto me, my heirs, successors, agents, legatees, grantees, lessees, designees, devisees, divorcees and/or assigns.  Nothing contained herein or therein shall be construed as such a waiver and any and all persons whomsoever, whether living or dead, reading this disclaimer are hereby forever estopped from so claiming.  Should any such person or entity attempt to violate any or all such rights, those persons or entities shall be subject to garnishment of their wages and seizure of their chattels.  I furthermore claim copyright, trademark, service mark and any and all other intellectual property rights in and to any and all posts on my Facebook wall, regardless of origin, authorship or preexisting claims to ownership.  Facebook is hereby strictly forbidden from challenging or taking exception to any of the statements made in this disclaimer.

Now that I think about it, you’re NOT free to cut and paste this.  See that little copyright symbol at the bottom?  I told you:  I’m a lawyer.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

Tell Me What You Think…or Don’t: One Man’s Lament

Maybe it’s just a natural function of age, but I’m growing tired and rather impatient about a few things. Well, actually a LOT of things.

Another part of it is my contrarian nature. My Dad called it my “mountain” attitude, meaning that I have a tendency to rail against things just to do it. In fact, I rail against that description. I am NOT contrarian, dammit!

Conversely, I’m one of those strange people who are happy most of the time, regardless of the circumstances.  That doesn’t mean I’m perfect.  Things can and do annoy me.

I’m also possessed of an odd belief that people are concerned about my opinion. Intellectually, I know that’s not true. But, I’m no intellectual, so I insist on making my views known, not to persuade, mind you, but just to go on record. Everyone wants to know what makes my tick. Well, here is a list of things sure to annoy me:

FOOD

Don’t misunderstand. I like food. Love it, in fact. Good food is one of life’s pleasures. I don’t often eat really good food, but when I do it’s quite the treat. So, why do I list food? Because people try to tell me what to eat.

I love bacon, as do most people. Evidently, bacon is unhealthy. I don’t care. It’s good on everything or just by itself. Generally speaking, I don’t care for salads. But, throw some bacon on it, and I’m all over it. I assume it’s unhealthy, because it’s good. If it tasted like a baseball glove, I’m sure it would be fabulous for my health.

Fat is bad for you. No shit, Dick Tracy, as previous generations would say. Fat also is the key to anything tasting worth a damn. You want to fix the taste of something, deep fry it. Don’t like bananas? Deep fried bananas would get your attention. Fried chicken, fried pork chops, chicken fried steak, fried shrimp, fried oysters, fried potatoes–all excellent. Broil, boil, saute’ or bake them, and they may still be good, but not quite as good. If I want to fry my food it’s none of your damn business. Period. I’ve heard of people eating deep fried sticks of butter. So what?

Deep-fried butter. Why not?

Chocolate, of course, is bad. Too fatty. My Papaw once said he’d eat a turd if you covered it with chocolate sprinkles. I believed him. He lived to be 91, despite having–as my father once noted–“the eating habits of a billy-goat.” Deep-fried, chocolate-covered bacon for everyone!

I’m also sick of gluten. Sick of it, not allergic to it, as about 75% of Americans seem to be now. I’m a fairly bright fellow and reasonably well-educated, too. Until about 3 years ago, I had never heard of gluten. NEVER. What the hell is it, anyway? I ate some gluten-free cookies once. I determined that “gluten” is Latin for “taste.” They were like eating discs made of Play Dough and cinders, except less appetizing. Yes, I’ve eaten Play Dough, and I’ll eat it again if I damn well choose. Wanna know how to make gluten-free bread? Get a bag of sand, mix with water and bake until inedible.

The First Lady is concerned about what I eat and what my kids eat. Thank you very much, Mrs. Busybody. One of the best things we had for school lunches was peanut butter sandwiches. Not just any peanut butter, either. It was peanut butter mixed with corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup. Outstanding. Nowadays, you’d have a better chance of feeding kids ground glass and rat poison. I’ll eat what I want to eat, thank you. So will my kids. If they end up weighing 400 pounds, so be it. Maybe that makes me a bad parent. If so, there are few laws against that.

The Mayor of New York is so concerned about what people eat that he wants to outlaw almost everything that tastes good. He doesn’t even want homeless people to eat without checking the nutritional content of their food first! Being a billionaire doesn’t mean you’re smart (see also Trump, Donald).

Here’s how it shakes out. I’m eating bacon, eggs, fried stuff, chocolate, candy, cake, lard, butter, oils, snack cakes, fats, trans fat, super-trans fats–you name it. Leave me alone.

CARBON

Everything is made of carbon, yet it is the most horrible substance on the planet. The more you produce, the more evil you are. We are dying of carbon, even while we live only because of it. God, it seems, does have a sense of humor.

We all must reduce our carbon footprint. What is a carbon footprint? In simple terms–on this topic, can there be any other?–it’s how much carbon you produce. Al Gore has flitted about the globe belching carbon from his private jets to preach this gospel to us. How does one reduce his or her carbon footprint? There are many ways, but the best way is to reduce your lifestyle to unlivable Hell.

Well, here’s another deal for you. As Samuel Goldwyn (or some other movie mogul) said, “Include me, out.” I’m producing as damn much carbon as I can.

Bigfoot will have nothing on my carbon footprint

I don’t recycle. I used to, but the rules are more complicated than the NFL Quarterback Rating System. Bottled water is the Sasquatch of carbon. I drink bottled water. Five or six bottles a day. If I didn’t drink it, I’d order a bunch of empty bottles just for the privilege of throwing them away.

I don’t care about the gas mileage of my car, except to the extent that I might want to save money. If I don’t want to save money, I’m helping the economy. Here’s what I DO care about–liking my car. If I’d like my car better with a lignite-burning oven strapped to the top, I’ll pimp my ride accordingly.

I’ll also use as much electricity as I want. Washers, dryers, dishwashers, water heaters, microwave ovens, electric arc ovens–anything. I’ll build a big damn Frankenstein lab in my basement, but instead of lightning, I’ll hook it right into the Eastern Power Grid. I even go outside and watch the meter spin on the side of my house like a bunch of freakin’ green-ass windmills.

I might also hook up a huge diesel-powered generator just for the hell of it. I’ll use it only to power the light in my garage, which I’ll burn 24 hours a day.

Oh, I also buy a bunch of cows if I want. Yeah, cows. They produce a huge amount of carbon, belching, farting and dumping all over the place. I might put a whole herd in my yard for no reason other than that. If I get tired of them, then I’ll eat them–red meat and all.

My future backyard. Get to work, girls!

Another reason I’m tired of carbon is that I’m even more tired of “global warming” which is now called “climate change.” I like warm weather. I also like the beach. If the beach moves closer to Kentucky, I consider that a positive development. You know what I don’t care for? Bears, polar or otherwise. I also don’t like Winter. Check that. I HATE Winter. Hate it. Oh, but you say, “You should move to a warmer climate.” YOU CAN’T MAKE ME MOVE! Besides, why move to warmer weather when I can bring the weather to me?

POLITICS

It’s always fashionable to say that one is sick of politics. I’m sicker now of politics than ever before. Of course, like any sane person, I get sick of politics during election season. The advent of social media has made this especially problematic. Some folks on social media are like drunks at a bar who can’t stop droning on about the state of the world while their contribution to it consists of vomiting on themselves. Election season, it seems, never ends.

If you’re like Chris Matthews, I don’t understand. By that, I don’t mean that you’re soaked in flop sweat and yell a lot. I mean you tingle or shiver when a politician speaks. If so, you and I exist on different planes.

What I’m tired of is being told what is politically good or bad or what I should think or what is important. Different people have different experiences. What’s important to you may not be important to me. Get the Hell over it. If you tell me something with which I disagree 1,000 times, all that means is that I’ve disagreed 1,000 times. Stop.

Frankly, I used to struggle with my political apathy. I decided to do a comprehensive overview of what politicians have done to make my life better. I thoroughly reviewed where I am in life and what matters most to me. After distilling this data, I made a list of the five things I could identify that any politician has done to help me:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

That’s the list. Yours may be much longer. Good for you.  Keep it to yourself.

IRAN

Boy, oh, boy, am I sick of Iran. I have been since I was a teenager in the 1970’s. I’m particularly sick of its President, the redoubtable Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I will give him credit for rocking the business casual look. Other than that, go away.

The unrivaled King of Business Casual

Unlike the other things I’ve listed, with this one I’m not sick of other people talking about it.  I’m sick of Iran talking about Iran.

Iran is like a guy once knew. He had a big mouth. Always threatened people, especially when under the influence of an intoxicant. He was always going to kick someone’s ass. One night, someone took him up on it. He got kicked in the stomach until he puked.  By the way, that guy was me.

One problem is that I don’t think their language (don’t ask me what it is) translates well. No one talks like these people. Let’s say the U.S. moves an aircraft carrier near Iran. Old Mahmoud is liable to say something like: “We will fill their mothers’ boots with the blood of their oxen!” We will immediately consider this to be a threat, even though no one has any idea what it means. Just once, I’d like the State Department to issue this statement:

We condemn in the strongest term’s Iran’s most recent threat to emasculate our goats with the Sword of God. We have now decided to whip their asses. They can name the time and place. It’s on its way.

I’m also sick of them picking on Israel. Israel is like our little brother. They’re annoying, always want our stuff, borrowing money and expect us to back them up. That said, you like your little brother. Your brother may not always be right, but he’s your brother.

I wish Iran would follow North Korea’s lead. Isolate. North Korea always has nutty leaders, but they concentrate on terrorizing their own citizens. Otherwise, we don’t hear much from them. Here’s another pointer for all you revolutionaries. If you overthrow a government and want to start a new one, be careful about one thing. If one of your cohorts is known as “Ayatollah,” you might want to give him a lesser role in your new government. Maybe something in your postal service. Trust me on this one. You’ll thank me later.

Don’t construe this as advocating a war. I’m more tired of war than I am of Iran. I just want them to quiet down before someone decides to kick them in the stomach.

YOU

Of course, I don’t mean you literally. You might be in that exclusive group of people who I genuinely care about it. Even if you aren’t, I have no ill will toward you or at least not a significant amount of it.

The you that torques my jaws is the one who tells me what I need to do. Or should do. Or will do, by God.

You may not be very good at running your own life. What are the chances you can run mine?  I certainly can’t run yours nor do I have any interest in trying.

So, I’m weary of you telling me how to eat or live or vote. Don’t tell me how to raise my kids. Or what to worship. Don’t tell me what car to drive. Thank you.

I’ll make you a deal. I also won’t tell you what to do. I won’t even try to set an example for you–good or bad. Oh, stay out of my yard, too.

You, of course, are free to do as you see fit. Move to Iran, go gluten-free, drive an electric car and vote for anyone you want. Or don’t do any of that.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012