Government Shutdown FAQ Page

As a public service, I shall now address the most frequently asked questions about the Government shutdown.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT?

In this case, it’s the federal government, as opposed to your state, city or county government.  I live in an area with a merged city-county government.  It is sort of like Christian Rock combining the worst of elements of two conflicting disciplines.  The federal government is described in the United States Constitution.

The federal government has three branches:  1) Executive (the President and all his minions); 2) Legislative (Congress); and 3) Judicial (Courts).  The Shutdown involves primarily the Legislative Branch.

WHAT IS CONGRESS?

Our Congress has two parts.  The Senate consists of like 50 or 100 senators or possibly more.  The House of Representatives contains God knows how many people, maybe 1,000.  They make the laws, sort of.  Mostly, they just disagree about what the laws should be.  This is because the Republicans control the House and the Democrats control the Senate.  John Boehner, a leathery-faced chain smoker from Ohio, is the Speaker of the House.  Harry Reid, a feckless milquetoast from Nevada, leads the Senate.  They do not get along with each other.  Although Reid used to be a boxer, my money is on Boehner in an actual fight.

Congress has an approval rating of less than 10%, putting it just ahead of syphilitic dementia and just behind root canals in popularity.

WHAT IS A SHUTDOWN?

It’s where the government doesn’t have enough money to operate and shuts down a bunch of stuff.  They won’t shutdown everything.  We’ll still have air traffic controllers, prison guards and, of course, Congress.

WHY DO THEY CALL IT A SHUTDOWN?

Not everyone calls it that.  Fox News calls it a “slim down,” which sounds like a really positive thing. It might be a real positive, unless you’re one of the million or so people not getting paid during it.

Others call it a slow down, as though the government could actually move any slower than it already does.

HOW DID IT GET SHUTDOWN?

The House controls spending and won’t agree to fund anything unless part of Obamacare is delayed for a year AND members of Congress are required to participate in it.  The President and, hence, the Senate refuse to agree to this, saying that the law is law.  So, both sides would rather have much of the government grind to all a halt than compromise.

WHO SHUT IT DOWN?

That’s hard to say.  There are three schools of thought:

The Right:  Folks on the right (the “Conservatives”) say that the President did it.  Why?  First, they hate the President, so he has to be blamed.  Second, the President is a Democrat, and the Conservatives are not Democrats.  They blame the President for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare.  They don’t like Obamacare and don’t want it implemented, even though it is now the law.  So, the House won’t agree to fund any of the government unless there are changes made.

The Left:  Those on the left (the “Liberals”) blame the Conservatives, more particularly the Republicans.  They don’t want to negotiate with the Republicans.  So they don’t.  They hate the Republicans.  As a result, they don’t really want to talk to them at all.  Their hate of the Republicans is probably the reason they made Obamacare a law to begin with.

Everyone Else:  The remaining Americans (the “Victims”) don’t know who the f**k to blame and don’t give a rat’s ass.

WHAT IS OBAMACARE?

I’ve written extensively about that before.  No one really knows, but it exists.

WHO IS MY CONGRESSMAN?

I have no idea.  Just pick one.  They’re all about the same.

WHY WOULD ANYONE VOTE FOR THESE PEOPLE IN CONGRESS?

You got me on that one.  No clue.

SO, IS THERE NO GOVERNMENT NOW?

It’s not really shut down completely.  Let’s say you worked in factory, and it got shut down.  There would still be security guards and some maintenance people working.  It’s kind of like that, but completely different.

Mostly, they’ve just furloughed a lot of employees.  That means they’ve told them not to come to work. Of course, they also don’t get paid. For example, of the 1500 employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only three are working.  Those three are complying statistics on how many people in the Bureau of Labor Statistics aren’t working.

If you are a “non-essential” employee, you’re not working.  “Non-essential” means they don’t really need you, which begs the question of why they’re paying you to begin with.

I’M A NON-ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE.  WHY DO I HAVE TO WORK?

That’s likely because you don’t work for the government.  Private sector non-essential employees should still report to work and pretend to be busy like usual.

HOW MANY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES ARE THERE?

Something like 3,000,000, and that doesn’t include the military, CIA, NSA and a bunch of others.  That’s more than Walmart, IBM and McDonalds combined.  The Department of Homeland Security has 230,000 employees itself.  That’s hell of a lot but only one for every 1300 people in the country.  They can’t really protect all of us, can they?

IS CONGRESS GETTING PAID?

What kind of idiot are you?  Of course, they’re getting paid.  The Congressional barber shop, gym and shoe shine service are closed, though.  So, they are suffering but not as much as Congressional Barbers, Shoe Shiners and Gym Attendants.  Besides, if Congress doesn’t get paid, the Washington D.C. prostitution industry will collapse.

I’M IN A TENT AT A NATIONAL PARK.  WHAT’S THE DEAL?

You have 48 hours to get the Hell out.  If you don’t, the NSA will turn bears loose on your campground.

DOES THIS AFFECT THE NFL?

Luckily, no.

CAN I GET FREE HEALTH INSURANCE?

Probably not, unless you’re really poor or a member of Congress.

ARE THE PEOPLE WHO LISTEN TO MY PHONE CALLS FURLOUGHED?

No, we’re not.

DOES ANY OF THIS AFFECT MY OBAMACARE BRAIN IMPLANT?

Yes.  For the time being, the microchip implant has been deactivated.  You’ll know when it restarts, because you’ll piss your pants a couple of times.

ARE THE DEATH PANELS STILL WORKING?

Yes, they are.  Much like jury duty, you may be called to serve at any time.

SO, I GUESS THERE ARE NO COPS? (ASKING FOR A FRIEND)

You’re wrong about that.  Most cops are state employees anyway.  Plus, I know an FBI agent, and he’s still working, although it’s questionable about whether he’s being paid.  Imagine how surly he’d be if he had to bust your ass for free.

DO I STILL GET MY MAIL?

Yes.  The Postal Service isn’t affected, because it generates income from postage.  Somehow a business that loses billions of dollars can still deliver a letter for you 3000 miles away for 46 cents.  Go figure.

I’M DRUNK AND DON’T UNDERSTAND ANY OF THIS

First, that’s not a question. Second, your drunkenness does not explain your lack of understanding.  Many teetotalers, including the few sober members of Congress, don’t understand any better than you.

WHY ARE THEY TAKING OUR GUNS?

That’s a Frequently Asked Question About The United Nations.  I can’t answer it.

WHY CAN’T A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN STOP THIS?

Mr. LaPierre, I told you to quit posting questions.

WHAT’S THE PRESIDENT DOING?

How should I know?  Golf?  Vacationing?  Fighting evil?  Doing evil?  Just the usual stuff that Presidents do, I guess.

DO YOU THINK YOU’RE THE BOSS OF ME?

Yes.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  THE FOREGOING REPRESENTS THE OPINIONS, SPECULATION AND ASSUMPTIONS OF THE AUTHOR.  ALTHOUGH I AM A LICENSED ATTORNEY, NONE OF THE ABOVE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED OR RELIED UPON AS LEGAL ADVICE.  IN FACT, MUCH OF IT IS INACCURATE AND/OR FALSE.  IF IT WERE ACTUAL LEGAL ADVICE, I WOULD SEND YOU AN EXORBITANT, YET REASONABLE, BILL FOR MY SERVICES.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress 2013

The Middle East: A Simple Guide from a Simple Man

As always, the Middle East in the news. The government of Egypt has been overthrown (again) and the USA is threatening something against Syria. Apparently, the Syrian government gassed some of its citizens. At first, it sounded like we were going to wipe them out.  Then, it sounded like we might just block them on Facebook.  Now, it sounds like we’re doing nothing.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t know nearly as much about the Middle East as you should. After all, other than occasional lunacy from North Korea, the Middle East is pretty much where all the world’s trouble originates these days. I’ve penned this short primer to help others gain my limited knowledge of this troubling region.

DEFINING THE MIDDLE EAST

What is the Middle East? Well, first off, it’s not continent or a country. It’s actually a bunch of countries, mostly in Western Asia and a tiny part of North Africa. So, the Middle East is actually Western Asia and small speck of North Africa. Understand?

Below are all the countries that comprise the Middle East, along with my brief comments on what I know about each of them:

  • Bahrain: Didn’t know this was a country. I thought it was a city in Iraq.
  • Cyprus: Never heard of it. I don’t think we’ve ever attacked it or attacked anyone on its behalf. Thus, it’s safe to assume that 1) It has no oil; 2) It hasn’t attacked Israel; and 3) It isn’t another name for Israel.
  • Egypt: Egypt is actually in Africa. Did you know that? It was ruled by ruthless dictator Hosni Mubarek who was ousted from power by people who were then ousted from power. Most of what I know about Egypt is from The Ten Commandments. Looks like a bad place. They once had someone win the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated.
  • Iran: The biggest of the troublemakers. Iran used to be called Persia and was known for its fabulous rugs and house cats. Now, it’s known for political and religious fanaticism and occasional wild threats against countries which could wipe it out in about a day and a half.  It’s only modern contribution to society was former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s embrace of business casual attire.
mahmound

Iran’s former president may have been nutty, but he made every day Casual Friday.

  • Iraq: Also known as the 51st state of the United States. Of course, it was once ruled by evil ruthless dictator Saddam Hussein. Now it is ruled by God knows what.  Hussein was the kind of well-balanced leader who tried to repel an America military attack by firing rockets at Israel.
  • Israel: Sort of like the United States’ little brother. It gets picked on a lot but always knows big brother has its back. Like a little brother, it also talks tough and doesn’t hesitate to threaten others. Beloved by evangelical Christians who somehow don’t care that a vast majority of its citizens reject the most basic tenets of Christianity. It has never been ruled by a ruthless dictator, but it has been governed by ruthless democratically elected leaders. Americans aren’t allowed to publicly criticize the Israeli government. Oddly enough, Israelis criticize it openly and often.
  • Jordan: I don’t know much about it, other than they seem like they’re friendly enough. I just found out the King Hussein died in 1999. He seemed alright to me. I was excited to learn that Abdullah is now the king–until I found out it wasn’t Abdullah the Butcher.
abdullah

King Abdullah The Butcher of Jordan (I wish!)

  • Kuwait: They have a lot of oil and a king or emir or something like that. They were invaded by Iraq 20 or so years ago, causing us to kick some Iraqi ass back to Baghdad. Since then, they don’t cause trouble for the U.S.
  • Lebanon: Beirut was once considered the Paris of the Arab World. During most of my life, it’s been a hotbed for troublemakers. Apparently, it still is, as it is the home base of Hezbollah, a disagreeable group whose sole purpose is the destruction of Israel.  Then again, no country is perfect.  We have the Westboro Baptist Church.  Oddly, though, Lebanon is a democracy–probably because it doesn’t have any oil.  Their constitution requires that the highest government officials belong to varied religions.  This keeps any one group of loons from taking over.
  • Oman: Hmmm. They’re too small to cause much trouble, I guess.  It sounds a lot like Onan, which makes me giggle.
  • Palestine: Not really a country, but it used be. That’s one of the big problems over there. They want to be a country again, but there isn’t enough land. So, they fight with the Israelis.  A lot of it has to do with the Gaza Strip, which sounds like an exotic dance, but it isn’t.
  • Qatar: Here’s what I know. The name is pronounced “Gutter.” Sometimes. It has a lot of oil (surprise!), but it’s a tiny little piss ant of a country. They seem to keep to themselves.
  • Saudi Arabia:  It’s a kingdom and also lousy with oil.  People wear robes and fabulous head wear.  They have a royal family.  May be best known as the home country of Osama Bin Laden, the lanky terrorist mastermind who had his sorry ass blown away by Navy Seals.  They’re heavy-duty Muslims, allowing religious leaders an official role in the their government.  Supposedly friendly to the U.S., but I have my doubts.  They remind me of friend who would sleep with your girl friend, and then blame her (not that I ever knew anyone like that or anything).
  • Syria: Doesn’t seem to get along with anyone, except Russia.  It is said that if Turkey and Syria ever go to war, they will fight until the last drop of Iraqi blood.  They’ve had a civil war going on for a couple of years now, but no one seems to know who is fighting whom.  There may not be any good guys.
  • Turkey:  Turkey is a democracy and has been for some time. It’s almost all Muslim but not Arab. They’re Turks, of course. They’re very sensitive about Armenians, so don’t bring that up around them. They’re best known for their wonderful baths and horrific prisons.  A friend of mine went to Turkey and ate a big bucket of cherries causing some sort of severe gastrointestinal reaction.
  • United Arab Emirates: This isn’t a country but a group of country-like states. They might just be cities. They’re all ruled by emirs and sheiks. One of the sheiks has a horse farm not too far from where I live. I’ve seen him at the race track. Dashing fellow that sheik. The best thing about the UAE is that it’s where former Iraqi Information Minister Baghdad Bob lives.
  • Yemen: It is the Unemployed Brother-in-Law of the Middle East. It’s real close to running out of oil which would pretty much turn it into the set for the next Mad Max film. They seem fairly friendly with the U.S., as do most impoverished nations. On the other hand, Yemen is a hot bed for terrorists resulting in the occasional lethal drone strike.  They don’t seem to mind.

Were you as surprised as I was to find out that Libya isn’t part of the Middle East, at least according to Wikipedia?  It sure seems like it should be with all its threats and saber-rattling over the years.  The late Muammar Gaddafi (Khadafi?  Qaddafi?) certainly qualified as a ruthless dictator.  I don’t get it.  Let’s just throw Libya in there anyway.

Libya's late strong man was certainly a bad guy, but the world misses his style.

Libya’s late strong man was certainly a bad guy, but the world misses his style.

Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan are in the Middle East, and we can’t stretch the definition to include them.  Remember this rule of thumb:  None of the “Stan” countries are in the Middle East.

GOVERNMENT

Middle Eastern countries have a vast array of governments from democracies to theocracies to monarchies to dictatorships.  They all seem to have one thing in common:  They like to threaten and fight with each or, at the very least, Israel.  Generally speaking, they also seem to despise the United States–and we ain’t too fond of them, either.

All Middle Eastern nations brag about their armies who typically provide little resistance to invaders (Israel excepted, of course).  They quickly surrender and often join forces with the invaders.

Strong men and ruthless dictators have always been popular.  They’re usually fairly despicable, although the United States has been friendly with some of them.  The Shah of Iran, for example, was a fast friend of ours.  One good thing about these folks is that they are able to keep the religious nuts out of their governments, which is more than we can say for our own form of government.  Of course, if you’re like the Shah, you may be unfortunate enough to thrown from power by the religious nuts.  That also happens sometimes in our country, but it’s through elections.

Some of the countries follow Sharia law, which is a form of theocracy incorporating Islamic law into the secular laws of the country–or something like that.  You may have heard Glenn Beck and others of his ilk decrying the possibility that Sharia law will become the law of the land in the United States.  Some states have even passed laws to prevent that.  If you voted for anyone based upon that, please consider not voting anymore.  Thanks.

RELIGION

If Middle Eastern governments are varied, their religion is not.  The countries are predominantly Islamic, with exception of Israel, which is mostly Jewish.  I don’t know about Cyprus.  Lebanon used to have more Christians than anyone else.  I assume that’s still the case.

As we all know, we’re not to discuss religion in polite company, but religion is a big deal in the Middle East.  Most of the countries don’t want any religion but Islam.  Of course, many Americans don’t want any religion but Christianity, but we are certainly more tolerant, if not any less hateful about it.

Some Americans think all Muslims are terrorists. It’s like people who say all conservatives are racists. Although there may be quite a few who are, the overwhelming majority are not.  Facts don’t matter.  People believe what they want to believe.  It’s sort of like religion.

My son has a close friend who is Muslim, and he seems harmless enough.  We have millions of Muslims in the U.S., and I’m reasonably certain they aren’t all terrorists.

We in America talk about radical Islam or Muslim extremists.  I’m not sure how you define those terms, but read the Old Testament and take every single rule and law literally.  You’ll probably be an extremist.

A lot of the fighting in the Middle East is between Muslim groups.  There are Shiites and Sunnis.  I don’t know the difference and don’t intend to find out.  I have a hard enough time with all the different Christian denominations.  Here’s a good guide for you.  If your church suggests that you blow yourself up or blow up other people, consider checking out another group.

CULTURE

I don’t know much of their culture.  They like soccer, so much so that Iraq once executed its national soccer coach.  They also play buzkashi, a game where you throw around a goat carcass (maybe that’s Afghanistan).  They probably play cricket.

I’ve never heard any of their music, but I imagine sitars.  If they make movies, they’re probably anti-American.

They don’t treat women very well or at least most of the countries don’t.  There is a lot of capital punishment (very American, too) and hand chopping (not American).  When excited, they randomly fire weapons.  Lots of Americans do the same thing.

American flag burning remains popular, too.  Throwing shoes is their idea of a cutting edge insult.

ECONOMY

Oil.  Tourism for Israel and Turkey. Oh, and don’t forget American foreign aid.

SO, WHAT NOW?

That sums up all my knowledge about this fascinating and controversial region.  I have never visited the Middle East and don’t intend to do so.  You may visited there or even be a native. If so, you are likely appalled by my ignorance and outright fabrications.  Well, too bad.  I’m an American, and I don’t have an obligation to learn about every foreign country on Earth.  I know a little, and so does everyone else who read this. Just don’t throw a shoe at me.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

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

The Republicratic Commonwealth of Kentucky

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

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

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

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

GOVERNMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GUNS

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

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

Next topic.

RELIGION

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

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

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

MILITARY

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

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

FINANCES

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

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

Go for the Gold

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

Schools

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

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

Police/Fire

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

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

Highways

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

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

Unemployment

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

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

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

Currency

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

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

HEALTHCARE

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

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

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

IMMIGRATION

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

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

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

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

“HEMP”

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

MISCELLANY

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

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

©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

My Flagging Patriotism

flag

I make no secret that I love being an American.  I’ve always been an American, and I’ve always loved my life, at least most of  the time.  I might also like being Swiss or a Liechtensteiner, but I’ll never know.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like being a Somalian.

Because I love being an American, I suspect that makes me patriotic.  I certainly have pulled for us in all the wars.  But, when I hear really patriotic people talk, I think I’m a wild-eyed anarchist.  The flag–the American Flag–more than anything else makes feel like that.

Being a bit of a gadfly, I’m leery of blind loyalty to anyone or anything.  Any time people speak of patriotism, I  think of the famous quote that we’ll know fascism when it reaches American because it will be “wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”  Some say that Sinclair Lewis said this.  It certainly sounds like something he would have said.

Nothing swells Americans with pride like our flag.  Old Glory.  The Stars and Stripes.  Unlike some countries whose flags have wild colors and sayings on them, it’s simply designed.  Fifty stars and thirteen stripes.  Red, white and blue.  We don’t have animals or people on our flag.  It’s not all busy and confusing.  I’ve always like the flag, but I don’t worship it.  I really liked the one the Air Force draped on my Dad’s casket.  My fellow Americans, however, are obsessed with the flag.

Prior to the American Civil War, the flag wasn’t so much a symbol of patriotism as it was a marker used to identify federal territories or possessions.  During the Civil War, it became a symbol of the union just as the Confederate flag was a symbol of rebellion.  Since then, the flag has taken on more significance.

Nowadays, the flag is venerated.  Rick Monday was a fairly good baseball player in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  He was a good outfielder, hit with some power and had good speed.  He’s known for two things.  One, he was the very first pick in Major League Baseball’s first amateur draft.  Second, he saved the flag.  During a game at Dodger Stadium in 1976, Monday was playing in the outfield for the Chicago Cubs.  Two “fans” ran on the field, threw down a flag and prepared to burn it.  Monday ran by and scooped it up with one hand just before it was lit.  He got a standing ovation.  Mention Rick Monday to a baseball fan of a certain age, and he or she will remember that moment.   

2006-04-24-rick-monday
Rick Monday’s greatest play.

We have songs about the flag.  “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “It’s a Grand Old Flag” are two of them.  My father was fond of march music, so I I’ve heard Stars and Stripes Forever many, many times.  It’s pretty catchy.

We like the flag so much that we have laws about it.  The Flag Acts of 1777, 1794 and 1818 tell us what the flag should look like.  We have a United States Flag Code which has rules about displaying and caring for the flag.  You can read it at 4 U.S.C. Section 1, et seq.  (I’m a lawyer, and that’s a citation to a statute).  Before you go scrambling to the United States Code to turn in your neighbor, there are no criminal penalties for breaking these rules.  Think of them as rules of etiquette for the flag.  Here are just a few of the rules:

  • Don’t dip the flag
  • Don’t display it upside down (except to show distress)
  • Don’t wad it up
  • Don’t make clothes out of it
  • Don’t draw pictures on it
  • Don’t walk on it
  • Don’t let it touch the ground
  • Burn it when it’s worn out
palin

This is okay, because Mrs. Palin’s bikini is not an actual flag. It’s not okay that she’s wearing a bikini, though.

flynt

First Amendment fanatic Larry Flynt. Wearing an actual flag as a diaper is not okay, but it’s not a crime.  Maybe it should be. 

These are a just a few of the highlights.  There are a bunch of rules.  Only an anal-retentive Boy Scout could keep track of all of them.  Just be glad there are no criminal penalties. By the way, I was a Boy Scout–maybe it was a Cub Scout–for a couple of weeks.  What did I learn?  How to fold the flag, of course.

The bottom line is that we don’t like people being disrespectful to the flag.  People in foreign countries like to burn the flag–our flag.  You can tell they think that infuriates us, and it does.  Some of these folks will hit it with shoes.  That’s definitely a no-no.

Although the flag is iconic, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution allows us to desecrate it.  Like Mr. Flynt, we can wear it as a diaper if we so choose; however, I don’t suggest that, because it will make you unpopular in many circles.

Remember, though, it’s not a crime.  We Kentuckians have made it a crime under state law, Kentucky Revised Statute Section 525.110.  That statute is unconstitutional, of course, but we don’t care.   It’s still a law, even if we can’t enforce it.  We’re well-known in Kentucky for passing laws that can’t be enforced and for periodically embarking on Quixotic battles to display the Ten Commandments.  It’s part of our culture.

Of course, Americans have a Pledge of Allegiance.  Man oh man, the Pledge of Allegiance gets people worked up.  We’re supposed to pledge allegiance to the flag, by God, or so the argument goes.  No one ever explains why we should do this, but we should.  Some–like your author and The United States Supreme Court–believe that Americans shouldn’t have to pledge allegiance to God, country, flags, politicians or anything else.  We’re Americans.  We have the right to be apathetic or downright hostile about everything.

I often see posts on social media lamenting that schools don’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  This isn’t true.  My children attended public schools where the Pledge was recited.  Now, the school can’t force you to recite it.  That’s okay, at least with me.

If you’re going to get all worked up about the Pledge of Allegiance, consider:

  • The original text of the Pledge:
    • I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
  • It was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist.  That’s right, a socialist.
  • It was written as part of the 400 year celebration of Columbus’s arrival in America.
  • One of the purposes of it was to sell flags to schools, because there was a belief that patriotism was at a low point.
  • Bellamy wanted to include equality and fraternity for all, but he knew that schools wouldn’t support equal rights for women and African-Americans.
  • About 30 years later, “my flag” was replaced with “the flag of the United States of America.”  The thought was that immigrants needed to be clear about which flag they loved.
  • In 1954, the now familiar “under God” was added.  This was during the Cold War when godless Communism was all the rage.
  • A minister named George Docherty suggested to President Eisenhower that God be added to the pledge.  Reverend Docherty likened the Pledge to something “Moscovite children” might recite.
  • Legally, you can’t be forced to recite it.
  • Schools can recite the Pledge, but student participation is voluntary.  If you think schools are not allowed to recite the Pledge, you are wrong.
  • The vast majority of states require that time be set aside for recitation of the Pledge. So, if you think the country is going to hell because we don’t do it, again, you’re wrong.  Here in Kentucky, we have Kentucky Revised Statute Section 158.175 which sets aside time for it.
  • Groups like Socialists and Fascists love to have people pledge allegiance to the state.

This being America, we don’t force anyone–even children–to pledge allegiance to the flag.  Maybe you think we should, but such things as freedom of speech and of religion stand in the way.  It’s okay.  Those are good things, too.  Think about it like this:  If you’re one who thinks we should be forced to say the Pledge, imagine how you’d react if President Obama said that.  See?

We’re not the only country with a flag.  Other countries have flags, too.  All of them do, I guess, but we don’t care much for those.  Most of them are goofy looking with odd sayings and pictures on them.

andorra flag

Andorra has the typical weird flag combining a haughty crest with cows and odd foreign gibberish.

Some other flags just took no thought at all.  France, for example:

france

The French flag can be easily adapted in the event of surrender.

We want people to fight for the flag, too.  Personally, I wouldn’t do that, especially if I had time to think about it.  I’d probably let you have the flag if it were that important to you.  That’s not the same as fighting for one’s country, although I wouldn’t want to do that, either.

When we Americans get mad at foreign countries, we don’t take to the streets and burn their flags.  To us, that seems over the line.  Oh, we’ll invade your country, kill you by the thousands and overthrow your government, but we’ll be good to your flag.  That’s only decent.

All our states have flags.  Here is the flag of my state, Kentucky:

kyflag

It states the fairly obvious maxim of “United we stand.  Divided we fall.”  I suppose the cartoon on it symbolizes country and city folk coming together.  We also call ourselves a “commonwealth.”  No one knows what that means, but we’re just a plain old state like everyone else.  Kentucky has its own Pledge of Allegiance:

“I pledge allegiance to the Kentucky flag, and to the Sovereign State for which it stands, one Commonwealth, blessed with diversity, natural wealth, beauty, and grace from on High.

Notice that it doesn’t mention “God.”  I think people would be outraged about this if they knew we had our own pledge.  “On High” could be God, Jesus, Buddha or a bundle of sticks.

I’ve been told that this is Alabama’s flag:

alaflag

Weird, huh?  It’s kind of like they’ve just Xed themselves out.  Then again, it’s easy to draw.

State flags aren’t as controversial.  I’ve never heard anyone accused of desecrating one, and I’ve never seen angry foreign mobs burning one.  If someone did, we’d probably get mad, but it would quickly pass.

Everyone knows the famous photo of the flag being raised at Iwo Jima.  It wouldn’t have had the same impact if they had raised the Kentucky state flag by mistake.

Some of our states are fond of the Confederate flag, the Old Stars and Bars.  Only in America could you fly the flag of a rebellion that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and almost destroyed your country.  Of course, a lot of folks are offended by that.  That’s also very American.  Do what you want, but others have a right to get pissed off about it.

Whether you’re conservative or liberal, you might be thinking:  “Hey, does this nut have some kind of problem with flags?”  No.  I’ve never desecrated a flag (at least not on purpose).  I don’t advocate such things, either, but I probably don’t love the flag.  And I certainly don’t insist that you love it or pledge some kind of oath to it.  Just don’t wear it as a diaper, unless you really want to.

©thetrivaltroll.wordpress.com 2013