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

The Ultimate Facebook User’s Guide

It’s 2013, and I guess everyone on Earth is on Facebook now–maybe not everyone but a lot of people for sure. I first joined Facebook in 2008 as a way to snoop on my kids. That didn’t last long as I became intrigued, then fascinated and then addicted to its wonders.

In 2008, most people were playing games on Facebook.  Mafia Wars dominated as your FB friends asked you to join their “mafia.” I never did. That gave way to Farmville, and Facebookers became virtual Oliver Wendall Douglases. They needed help building fences and barns and rounding up animals. It was like everyone was Amish after they logged on. Then came Words With Friends, CityVille, Poker and many more games. Now, there is a Farmville 2. We’ve come full circle.

A lot of people who know me well are surprised that I like Facebook. I’m not the most social person. In fact, I’m an intensely private person. Why do I like FB? First, I’ve caught up with dozens of people I would never have heard from again nor made any effort to do so. I know about their families and lives now. Second, I would never have contact with most of these folks otherwise. I don’t do a good job of keeping track of folks. FB fixed that. Third, it helps me to hear opinions of others and the good and bad in other folks’ lives. It’s good to be plugged into to the human race, even if it’s just by a PC or smart phone.  Finally, it’s a way to interact with people without really having to fool with them. Perfect for me.

Even people who aren’t on Facebook know about it. They have co-workers, friends and family on FB. They’ll look at others’ pages and secretly pine to belong. Why don’t they? Usually, these folks are men who have deemed themselves either too busy or cool to be bothered with it. They’ll say things like “I’d never do that. I don’t have the time.” Translation: “I’m more important you are. Blah, blah, blah.” These are the same people who will join LinkedIn and make 2,000 connections, because they think it’s important. Look, I know housewives, doctors, lawyers, teachers, kids, CEOs, factory workers, journalists, accountants and unemployed folks on FB. You ain’t that important. Of course, there are the Luddites of the world for whom the whole thing is overwhelming. These are the folks still trying to figure out if they should get into texting. Don’t let any of these killjoys drag you down. If you want to live in the FB world, join us.

If you’ve never been on FB or if you are but you only log on every few weeks or months, there are some basic rules or guidelines which will help you enjoy the experience.

NO ONE LIKES A CREEPER

Imagine if your next door neighbor rarely left his house and, when he did, he didn’t speak to you. Yet, he would read your mail and stare in your windows. Sometimes, he would just stand in your yard. Even if you thought he was harmless, you’d get tired of this behavior. FB works the same way.

Don’t just go on FB to creep on other people. We’re not a shy lot, but we like some interaction. I’m not saying you have to post something every time you log on, but you can “like” a status or even comment on one sometimes. We won’t think less of you. In fact, we might “like” you right back. Even if we don’t, we’re unlikely to say anything. There is no “dislike” button.  You might even get “poked.”

When you creep, I call it going Rondo:

Creepers are scary.  Don't be scary.

Don’t go all Rondo on your friends.

Naturally, you might wonder: “If I post something, what should it be?”

WHAT SHOULD I SAY?

The good news is that there really are no rules beyond a certain unspoken PG-13 standard. Posters fall into several categories:

The Lamenter: This is a person for whom the world is a difficult and troubled place. He or she is ill, has ill family members, job and money woes and usually doesn’t sleep well. We on FB like these folks. They’re part of our virtual family. Plus, they make us feel a little better about ourselves.  Vent all you want. We won’t judge you and, if we do, we’ll probably do it quietly.

The Prayer Warrior: This person is seeking or sending prayers for many things: the country, sick children, sick adults, the dead, the living and the unborn. He or she will post Bible verses and inspirational quotes from a variety of sources. If you have a problem, these folks will step up.  Most people are like I am–we’ll take prayers where we can get them.  It can’t hurt.

The Politico: This man or woman occupies either the far left or right of the political spectrum. He will post a long string of gifs and memes assailing his political opponents. Some of these will even be factually accurate. Many will be libelous. He also likes to quote people like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan. Oddly enough, these sources are quoted equally by both sides. You, too, can join in. Now, please understand that none of us change our opinions based on your posts, but we will be entertained, at least to some extent. If we’re not, we can always block you. You’ll never know.

Just like at the Thanksgiving dinner table or your local bar, droning on about politics will eventually offend someone.  The good news about FB is that you can just log off and let other vent at you.

Sports Guy: Based on his posts, he lives for sports, not playing them but watching other people play them. If “his” team wins, he will gloat and insult other teams and their fans, not just the one “his” team beat, either. His very worth as a human being is tied to whether a team of people he doesn’t know beats another team of people he doesn’t know. These victories fill him with joy and make him superior to fans of other teams. He won’t post about anything else. The flip side is that when his team loses, his posts become disturbing and deranged. He is a lesser person, and he knows it.

The Worker: This guy uses FB to promote his job, whatever it might be. He’s usually selling something. That’s cool. I might want to buy whatever it is he sells someday. I’d rather buy from a virtual friend than a total stranger.

Music Man: This guys rarely posts, and it’s almost always music videos. Why? I don’t know. I’ll check one out every now and then. It’s harmless.

Animal Farmers: These are folks who like animals. Well, maybe they love animals. Almost all their posts are about animals. There is an endless supply of comical photos of dogs and cats on the Internet. All of them have been posted on FB. If, like me, you don’t find animals particularly entertaining, you can scroll through these posts. Besides, if you don’t love animals these folks probably aren’t targeting you anyway.

Crusaders: These folks are against bad stuff. Oddly, the bad stuff they are against is the kind of stuff everyone is against. They want you to “like” their posts if you’re against such things as child abuse, cancer, child pornography, violence against women and animal abuse. These are good things to be against. Post all you want about them but don’t expect any spirited debates.

Family Affair: These folks post only about their families, usually their kids. Their kids are uniformly wonderful and blessings from God. We all like to hear about kids, so join in. One word of advice–don’t get too real. If your kid caught the basement on fire with his meth lab or got stabbed by a hooker, you probably should keep that to yourself, unless you need prayers.

They also will ask you to “like” or “share” posts that say things like:

If your mother is a saint, your best friend and greatest person who ever lived, share this status.

They never post things like this:

If your mother was a crack whore who brought home a new “daddy” every week and burned down your trailer while smoking, share this status.

So, if, as is the case with too many folks, your parents or siblings were or are vile monsters, you probably shouldn’t post anything about them.

Tin Foil Hatters: They like to post links to various conspiracies, usually involving President Obama. Such things as implanted computer chips, Kenyan birth certificates and Muslim wedding bands are frequent topics. They never check Snopes.com, and if you tell them to do so, they’ll tell you that George Soros owns Snopes. You, then, will become part of the conspiracy. Try to not to become one of these folks. Then again, if you’re so inclined, the fact that I suggest you not do so will only strengthen your resolve to do so. The good news is that FB gives you a platform. If you carry on like that at work, you’ll probably have to see a doctor.   On FB, we just scroll by you like people on the street probably do.

These folks also tend to think Facebook is evil. It’s sharing your profile and personal information and photos. It’s signing you up in Al-Qaeda. It’s garnishing your wages. They never explain why they want to be on Facebook, but they love to warn you about it.

Suckers: Facebook is a hoaxer’s playground. Folks on FB will believe anything. Follow the same rules you follow in real life. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. For example, Bill Gates, despite his vast fortune and philanthropy, is NOT giving away $5000 if you share a picture of him, even this one:

bill-gates-5000-hoax

Also, no one won the PowerBall and wants to give you a million or even a thousand bucks. No beautiful women want to be your FB friends.  If it doesn’t happen in real life, it won’t on FB, either.

Newsies:  These posters assume that none of us watch or read any news, so they post links to news stories.  Some are also Politicos, and their posts only reflect their personal views.  Just like with music videos, it’s all pretty benign.  Who knows? We might even learn something from you.

Posting Tourette’s: This is me–a person who just posts various and sundry things that pop into his head. We can’t control it.  It just happens.  It’s almost like we’ve allowed FB to replace actually thought. Think it–post it is our mantra. We’ll post anything–family photos, videos, gifs, memes, jokes, rants, links. We’ll tell you about last night’s dream, our meals, illnesses and travel plans. We’ll complain about work and our families. We’ll brag and moan about things. In short, we combine all the best and worst of the other posters into one, manic posting monster. We post so often that if you were to read all our posts in sequence you’d be privy to the inner workings of our minds. We’ll wear you out on any given day, but we tend to be entertaining–or annoying. But, we’re never boring.

WHAT SHOULDN’T I SAY?

Facebook is a free speech zone, but all freedoms carry with them responsibilities. There are, of course, things you shouldn’t do:

Keep it clean: This should go without saying, but keep it clean, folks. Foul language, nudity (especially your own) and links to pornography are all beyond the pale. Hey, I’ve got no problem with any of that, but there are plenty of Internet forums out there for that stuff. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

Good taste: I am vehemently against child abuse. Honestly, I don’t anyone who isn’t. But, on the off-chance that you have FB friends who need persuading, photos of beat up or dead children won’t help. And they gross out the rest of us. Same goes for dogs that have been abused and killed. We know that’s bad.

It’s Not All About Politics: If you’re a Politico, that’s fine, but remember: Not everything is about politics. Don’t screw up someone’s post by trying to twist into a political statement. Example:

Post: We just had a great dinner-Steak on the grill, green beans, mashed potatoes and homemade yeast rolls! Thanks to my beautiful wife!

Politico’s Comment: Be thankful that Michelle Obummer isn’t your wife! She’d have you eating sprouts!

The Politico has now invited others of his or her ilk to make similar comments and hijack your wall. Bad form.

No Jesus Jukes: The Prayer Warriors will do the same thing with the infamous “Jesus Juke.” It goes like this:

Post: We had a great time at the game! 23,000 people rocked the place!

Comment: I wonder how many people would show up if Jesus was there and no game.

Your well-meaning friend has just brought you down and made you feel evil for enjoying the game. Don’t do that.

SPELING

You may be like me and be a spellcheck illiterate. Years of word processing have eroded my spelling skills. I am far-removed from the brash young lad who finished second in the Loyall Junior High Spelling Bee in 1976. Facebook won’t help you.

Its and it’s have different meanings. Same with there, they’re and their. To, two and too are not the same. Facebook won’t help with these issues. You have to step up and take responsibility.

THE UNFRIENDLY

There may be occasions when you must unfriend someone or, God forbid, you are unfriended. It’s happened to me. Yes, me. A girl I dated in college unfriended me. I think it’s because it took just a few months for her to remember that she hated me.

Unfriending is a drastic step. It is the Internet equivalent of a slap in the face. You aren’t even worthy of being a pretend friend. Think about that. In real life, of course, we unfriend people all the time. We just quit talking to them. If it required some affirmative act, we’d be less likely to do it.

Now, Facebook won’t tell you that you’ve been unfriended. You have to be paranoid enough to notice. Let’s just say that some of us notice these things. And we don’t like it.

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

Post a few pictures of yourself. Maybe we haven’t seen you in years. We’re curious. “But,” you say, “I’m not a handsome person. It shames me.” Relax, my ghoulish friend. Most of us are quite unattractive, especially those of us with a few years on us. We’ve gone bald (mostly men), gained weight, grayed, sagged and generally decayed. It’s okay.

I’m a good example. I was never what you’d call a handsome man. Now, my hair is gray and I have numerous wrinkles. Yet, I’ll post many photos of myself. Why? Well, for one thing, I’m a narcissist. Two, I’m not bald. See? You look better than someone–hopefully.

Perhaps you’ve improved with age, which happens. If so, by all means, post photos. Of course, if you really have improved, I don’t have to tell you to post photos.

One thing to watch is posting pictures of other people. They might not like it. For instance, I posted this photo of my wife:

catwoman

This made her angry because–she claimed–the lighting made her look pale. I should have cleared this with her first.

Please feel free to post as many photos of your kids and grand kids as you wish. God knows I do. They’re yours, and you should be proud of them. Even if they’re as homely as sin, we’ll still “like” them. Same goes for your pets. I have two rabbits and don’t hesitate to post about them, even though they are boring, do-nothing pets.  Yet, people always “like” them.  Go figure.

CONCLUSION

Come join us!  If you’re already on board, get in the deep end of the pool!  Join for real, too. Do not share your Facebook page with your spouse.  This will only show that you have trust issues, and we want to trust you.

It’s out there waiting for you, and there’s no time like the present.  In fact, I’m linking this post to Facebook as soon as it’s published.

You can even send me a friend request, and I’ll probably accept it.  I’m waiting.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

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

Are You Conservative or Liberal? Take the Test

I paid more attention to this election cycle than I usually do. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because everyone on social media spewed about the election. That’s probably a good thing. I was able to deduce to things: (1) Liberals hate Mitt Romney; and (2) Conservatives hate Barack Obama. Pretty simple.

What isn’t so simple these days is to figure out if you’re a liberal or a conservative. My archly conservative friends think I’m liberal. My liberal friends think I’m conservative. My staunchly political friends of both stripes can’t believe that any sane person wouldn’t vote a straight ticket in an election. Alas, I am an Independent. For me, a straight ticket is a list of perennial candidates, crackpots and unelectable do-gooders.

Honestly, I’ve tried to figure out where I fall on the political spectrum. Some folks tell me I’m a Libertarian. When I read about Libertarians, I tend to agree; however, when I listen to Libertarians, I vehemently disagree. I often refer to myself as a conservative, but then some real conservative says something insane, and I change my mind.

So, I decided to come up with a simple quiz to help answer this question. As a public service, I have reproduced it below:

I. FOREIGN POLICY:

1. Which statement best describes your views on the anger toward the West in the Middle East?

a) The West is a bunch of capitalist pigs. I am angry toward it, too.

b) They aren’t as angry as I am toward them.

c) Nuke ’em, except Israel.

2. Which group of countries do you consider the greatest threat to world peace?

a) The United States, Great Britain and Israel

b) Canada, Mexico and Greenland

c) North Korea, France and any country where the leaders wear robes.

3. Which statement best describes your views toward China?

a) We must stop all human rights violations in China, even if they don’t want our help

b) We should try not to make them mad since they make all our stuff

c) Nuke ’em

4. What do you think the US role in foreign affairs should be?

a) Become friends with everyone

b) Stay the hell away from foreigners

c) Try to build strong relationships with friendly governments. Nuke the rest of ’em.

5. The biggest risk to America’s security is:

a) American imperialism

b) The federal deficit

c) Everyone who answered “a” to this question.

II. SOCIAL ISSUES

1. Which statement best describes your views on a woman’s right to choose?

a) Women have the unfettered right to choose anything, up to and including the euthanasia of their children under 18 and husbands.

b) Frankly, I haven’t given it much thought. I’m a man.

c) When did this happen?

2. What best describes your reaction to the term “homo-queer?”

a) That’s just another pejorative term for our gay friends and indicative of the hate-mongering on the right.

b) That’s a word my mother once said when she was trying to say “homosexual.”

c) That’s just another example of “political correctness” run wild.

3. What best describes your position on “traditional” marriage?

a) Marriage is loving relationship which should be allowed between or among any two or more people, regardless of sex, age or species.

b) I’m divorced. Don’t get me started.

c) Marriage is a holy union between a man and woman until one gets caught cheating on the other.

4. What best describes your position on immigration?

a) Everyone who sets foot in the US should automatically become a citizen.

b) I don’t care. I’m a foreigner.

c) I’m okay with it, as long as you speak English and look like me.

5. What best describes your religious views?

a) There is no God. And if there is one, he’s a woman.

b) I am God

c) My God is the only god. And he’s a Christian.

III. FISCAL ISSUES

1. Taxes should be increased on:

a) The rich, which is anyone making more money than I do.

b) Anyone except me

c) No one, except the people who don’t make enough money to pay taxes

2. The best way to reform welfare would be to:

a) Make it available to everyone except rich

b) Make it available to me and no one else

c) Eliminate it, except if it is provided to job creators

3. The best way to balance the federal budget would be to:

a) Raise the tax rate on the rich to 120%

b) Suspend Congressional pay until the budget is balanced.

c) Start two wars and then lower taxes.

4. The biggest area of waste in the federal budget is:

a) Subsidies to the rich

b) Congressional pay

c) The food stamps used by those answering “a” to this question

IV. IMAGE ASSOCIATION

1. What is your reaction to this photo?

a) Tingling in various body parts

b) Who is that?

c) AAARRRGGHHH! The Devil!

2. What is your reaction to this photo?

a) AAARRRGGHHH! The Devil!

b) I never could figure out how his hair stayed so dark.

c) Drop to your knees, followed by uncontrollable crying

3. What is your reaction to this photo:

a) Vomit in mouth. Rinse. Repeat.

b) When did Gregg Allman shave?

c) Ooooh. Hootchie Mama!

4. What is your reaction to this photo?

a) More tingling

b) Matt LeBlanc has really let himself go.

c) Vomit in mouth. Swallow. Repeat.

5. What is your reaction to this photo?

a) Another pathetic example of the exploitation of women.

b) Damnation. Sweet.

c) Is that Ann Coulter?

V. TRUE/FALSE

The following are true/false questions

1. President Obama is Kenyan. T or F?

2. President Obama is a Muslim. T or F?

3. President Obama is a terrorist. T or F?

4. Karl Rove is a genius. T or F?

5. Sarah Palin is smokin’ hot. T or F?

For every question you answered “true,” add 10 points. If each you answered false, subtract 5 points.

VI. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

1. Something is unconstitutional if:

a) I don’t like it

b) I don’t like it

c) I don’t like it

2. Which statement best describes your view of gun control:

a) Guns are evil and should be outlawed regardless of the Constitution

b) I can’t control my guns. That’s why I prefer sleeveless shirts.

c) I firmly believe that all citizens have the right to bear arms and shoot other citizens when necessary or convenient.

3. Which statement best describes your view of states rights:

a) The states have no rights

b) My state is run by idiots. Why would they do any better?

c) States have the right to screw up anything that the federal government hasn’t reserved to its own incompetence.

4. Who wrote the United States Constitution?

a) White bigots

b) Abraham Lincoln

c) God

5. Which statement best describes your view of freedom of religion?

a) Religion should be illegal, unless it’s worshiping something like a tree or the President.

b) Leave me alone

c) You are free to worship as you see fit as long as it is an acceptable form of Christianity

VI. ESSAY

In 1000 words or less, describe the effects of global warming on our climate and the changes you believe must be implemented to save the planet from imminent destruction. Attach your answer on separate sheets.

(If you knew enough to write anything, subtract 25 points. If you laughed out loud after reading this, add 25 points. Any other reaction gives you no points).

SCORING

For each multiple choice question you answered “a,” add 5 points. For each you answered “b,” add 10 points. For each you answered “c,” add 15 points. Then take your score from True/False and Essay questions and add to the total. If any question outraged you to the point that you couldn’t go on, adjust your medication and try again.

Once you’ve added up your total, here is how to interpret the result:

100-150 points: Flaming commie, pinko, socialist Leftist. Kim Jong il is your ideal president.

150-200 points: Dangerous, left-leaning weirdo. Gus Hall is your ideal president.

200-300 points: Disenfranchised everyman. Franklin Pierce is your ideal president.

300-375 points: Dangerous, bloodless, right-wing radical. Joseph McCarthy is your ideal president.

375+ points: Ultra right-wing reactionary. George Lincoln Rockwell is your ideal president.

If you somehow managed to score less than 100 or more than 425, please leave the country immediately.

Now you know what you are. Don’t you feel better? I know I do. Even better, you’ll know how to vote next time around. If you don’t, someone will tell you.

©thetrivaltroll.wordpress.com 2012

If Elected….One Man’s Dream

The New Great Seal of the United States

What if I were President?  I’ve thought about that.  Not much, but I have.  Mostly when something doesn’t go to suit me–which is fairly often.  “If I were in charge…”  I guess I don’t so much want to be President as I want to be a dictator, benevolent or otherwise.  But, what if I became President through some Electoral College snafu?

Despite what Rush Limbaugh and others in the Mainstream Media would have you believe, Obama and Romney are not the only candidates.  The Reform Party, The Green Party, The Constitution Party, The Objectivist Party, The Socialist USA Party and many others have candidates.  It’s not so crazy to think that an Everyman like me could pull this off.

Now, I would never want to run for President.  If you want to read about something like that, look no further than Al Franken’s book Why Not Me?  Okay, for my conservative friends:  Don’t start sending me comments about Franken being a left-wing, liberal Communist.  He might be, but he’s also a funny guy.  Read the book.  You’ll laugh.

I wouldn’t be a good campaigner.  I don’t like a lot of travel, and I am famously impatient.  I would do poorly in interviews.  Here is how it would go:

  • INTERVIEWER:  “You’ve taken a pledge to eliminate income taxes.  What do you say to your critics who describe this as foolhardy and completely impossible?”
  • ME:  “I say they can kiss my ass. “

End of interview.  End of campaign.  Likewise, I would be a poor debater:

  • OPPONENT:  My opponent would have you believe that he has the background and experience to lead this country.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He will only lead this country to the precipice of disaster.
  • ME:  “Hmmm.  How about I kick your ass?”

End of campaign.  There would be many other ways my campaign would end.  Someone would come forward with tales of a drunken debauch or mention that I fought a girl one time.  Women I dated in my youth would be glad to come forward and derail my ambitions.  That doesn’t even touch on the many photographs that may exist.  So, no, I would not run for President.  This doesn’t stop me from pondering the possibilities of actually being President.

Many of you have wondered what would I do as President?  I’m not saying you’d waste your time wondering what you would do, but I know you want to know what I would do.  Here’s how it would work:

VICE-PRESIDENT

Since I don’t belong to a political party, I’d probably be bombarded with suggestions from both sides. I’d go against conventional wisdom and go with Kim Jong Nam, estranged brother of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un.  Okay, there’s probably some rule that the VP has to be an American.  Surely, we can work around that for the good of the country.  Nam seems like a fun-loving guy plus he could give us insight into the goings on in North Korea.  Also, like his little brother, I’m sure he’s been trained to look at things.  That would save me a lot of time and travel.

My affable VP, Kim Jong Nam

Nam was banished by his late father, Kim Jong il, for trying to enter Japan on a fake passport.  His explanation?  He wanted to see Disneyland.  What could be more American than that?

FOREIGN POLICY

The first thing I’d do is announce that our new official policy would be a bitter hatred of foreigners.  I don’t really feel that way, but it would be for the good of the country.  Here’s how we’d deal with the problem spots around the globe:

  • Canada:  I’ve already written extensively about this Hell hole.
  • Iran:  Nuke ’em.
  • Afghanistan:  I would consider killing everyone in Afghanistan (except the Americans, of course).  Since I don’t drink, it’s unlikely that I would really do that.  Unlikely.  Not out of the question.
  • The Middle East:  I wouldn’t waste any more time on peace efforts.  I would unilaterally declare a state of perpetual war and wish them luck.
  • North Korea:  I would announce that it’s the 51st state.  That should make them loonier than usual.
  • Pakistan:  Fire bomb the Hell out of it.

I would do all this my first week in office.  I would call it the Michael Corleone Doctrine. That should take care of most of our problems.

HEALTHCARE

I’d outlaw it.  Plain and simple.  If you’re so sickly that you are going to be a drain on our economy, go somewhere else.  REAL AMERICANS DON’T GET SICK would be our slogan.  It would be on every pick-up truck bumper in the country.  My approach would be the same as with sick kids going to school.  If your kid is sick, he or she should stay home.  If you’re sick, we’ll deport you, maybe to Canada.  No need to get the rest of us sick.

SOCIAL SECURITY

I’ll just tell people what they want to hear.  That seems to have worked for every other President.  I’ll craft my message to my audience:

  • If I’m talking to old people, I’ll say “Don’t worry.  We’re not cutting your benefits.”
  • If I’m talking to young people, I’ll say:  “Don’t worry.  Social Security will be there for you.”
  • If I’m talking to people who don’t need it, I’ll call it an “entitlement” and promise to keep it from killing our country.
  • If I’m talking to people who need it, I’ll call it a “benefit” and swear to defend it.

Mostly, I’ll just hope it fixes itself.

DEFENSE

We already spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on our military, but THAT’S NOT ENOUGH!  Within my first 100 days in office, I’ll declare such obscure countries as Seychelles, Tuvala and Benin to be part of a Polygon of Evil.  I’ll also convince the public that we’ve angered the Martians and an attack is imminent.  It might also be possible to play off the popularity of zombie movies and plant that hideous scenario as a possibility.  The Amish and Hutterites will be tagged as domestic terror groups.  Personally, I will carry a pistol and brandish it wildly before Congress during the State of the Union Address.  My indiscriminate use of nuclear weapons will create a continuing need to restock our arsenal.  Don’t worry, there will be no defense cuts.

IMMIGRATION

I’ll randomly pick a day and declare that everyone on U.S. soil is now a citizen.  In this way, we won’t have any more foreigners roaming around.  Then, I will construct a massive wall, but it won’t be on the Mexican border.  Instead, it will randomly zig-zag across the country.  There will be no point to it.

THE ECONOMY

If it’s as big a mess as it is now, I probably won’t do anything.  If I do something, it will come down to two words:  Tax and welfare reform (that’s four words, I guess).

Lower taxes create more jobs and generate more money for the government.  It only follows that no taxes will do even more good.  We’ll probably have to repeal one of the amendments to the Constitution, but how hard can that be?  If my No Tax Plan won’t fly, I’ll issue an executive order that I won’t pay taxes.  The President is the No. 1 job creator.   Less taxes, the more jobs I’ll create.  Simple.

Welfare is a bit stickier, but I have a good plan:

  1. If you’re on welfare, you have to work building bridges and other public works.  Since we don’t have much–or any–tax money, we’ll need all the help we can get.  You’re probably thinking, “Would a bunch of welfare recipients–especially kids–be skilled workers?”  Myself, I believe in American Exceptionalism, pinko.  Under my plan, if you’re on welfare, no one will ever be able to say “You didn’t build that,” because, by God, you did.
  2. Everyone will qualify for food stamps, but here’s the rub:  You can only use them to eat food prepared by other food stamp recipients from government-supplied foodstuffs (we’ll call it Soylent Green).  It won’t take long for people to get tired of that crap. I know that kinda sounds like Communism.  Hey, the Commies weren’t wrong about everything.  If you can look past the 100 million people they killed, they had some decent ideas.

PRESIDENTIAL STYLE

Every President has his own style.  Ronald Reagan was the conservative icon.  Bill Clinton was “Slick Willy.”  There were Honest Abe, Old Hickory, Give ’em Hell Harry.  The list goes on and on.  I hope to be known as “Old Powder Keg.”  Here are some of the things I’ll do to leave my imprint:

  • I will hold frequent (maybe even daily) press conferences and answer every question with either “I’ll get back to you on that” or “I don’t give a rat’s ass.”
  • I will be the first President to address Congress wearing a John Deere hat.
  • I will chain smoke anytime I addressed the nation.

Our President missed his chance to make this the new look of the White House.

  • I will frequently quote Franklin Pierce, as the “Greatest of all our Presidents.”

Franklin Pierce, our seediest President, will be my role model.

  • I will also frequently quote Jimmy Carter, but I’ll refer to him as “History’s Greatest Monster.”
  • At least once, I will punch the Speaker of the House in the face just before the State of the Union Address.
  • I will appoint Gallagher, Manny Ramirez and Brooklyn Decker to the Supreme Court.
  • At least once, I will address the nation shirtless.
  • I will close every speech with “So, what the hell are you gonna do about it, anyway?”

Unlike LBJ, I won’t wait until I’m out of office to sport a mullet

  • Finally, if my popularity wanes, I will execute someone on TV.  With my bare hands.

THE FINAL DAYS

Although I fully intend to declare myself President-for-Life, I realize that my time in office will likely be brief.  My finals days will, no doubt, be weighed down by impeachment proceedings and assassination attempts.  There is also a strong possibility of emotional and/or mental breakdowns which go largely unnoticed by the public because of my volatile personality.  When it becomes apparent that I will not stay in office, I will abruptly quit without even giving a two-week notice.

After my resignation, I will immediately check into rehab for a dangerous addiction to bath salts and barely-legal Asian amputee pornography.  I will emerge a new man and spend the rest of my life giving speeches for 500K a pop.  Sweet.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com

Richard Nixon and Me

I was an odd child.  I readily admit that.  I could deny it, of course.  My parents are dead, and they were the ones who remembered my childhood best–better even than I do.  My older brother would remember, too–he remembers everything.  But, he’s far too classy to regale the world with tales of my odd behavior.

One odd thing was that I liked Richard Nixon.  I did.  I was only 6 when he was elected President, and 11 when he resigned.  My Dad despised him, even though Dad voted for him. Dad said Nixon was “the kind of man who would do anything.  Anything.  You can tell by looking at him.”  Nevertheless, I liked Nixon.  Maybe that’s why.

As I said, I was an odd little feller.  I spent a lot of time concerned about things that 1st graders ignored.  The Vietnam War, for instance.  I would watch the news and be horrified.  We needed to win the war.  It worried me.

I worried about the POWs.   One year in our Christmas parade in Loyall, Santa gave out POW/MIA badges.  I got a bunch of them.  As aside, Santa actually threw them from the back of a fire truck.  If they hit your head, they hurt like hell, but it was worth it.

I also paid a lot of attention to politics.  Again, odd.  In 1972, I knew George McGovern was pretty much a Communist and that Nixon would beat him.  I didn’t like Communists.  I knew they were bad.  I used to worry about Communists, too.  They could be anywhere. Everywhere.

Democrats used to have a telethon to raise money (quaint, huh?).  I watched the telethon.  I picked up the phone and called in.  I told them I would give $10 if Hubert Humphrey said my name on TV.   He did.  I then told my parents they owed Hubert Humphrey $10.  My narcissistic desire to hear my name notwithstanding, I supported Nixon.

Of course, Nixon won.  He was going to end the war.  I liked that.  I imagined some sort of Hiroshima-type finale.  After all, this was Nixon.  Before we could get to that, though, we had Watergate.  You either know what Watergate is or you don’t.  I’m not going to explain.  If you don’t know what it is, just know that it’s the reason that all political scandals now end in GATE.

As you can imagine, I was heavily into Watergate.  I watched the Senate hearings.  Read about it in the paper.  John Dean, Howard Hunt, Gordon Liddy, et al., rivaled my baseball heroes for my time.  I learned about the CREEP, the Dirty Tricks Squad, Rosemary Woods, Martha Mitchell and on and on.  One thing I knew for sure, Nixon was neck-deep in it.  It would tug your heart-strings if I told you that it broke my heart. It didn’t.  It was Nixon.  It was to be expected.

As another aside, I could do a killer Nixon impression and Sam Earvin, too.  Really spot on for an 11-year-old.  I had been perfecting my Nixon since I was 6, so it should have been good.  I could also draw a picture of Nixon.  Understand, now, I am not artistic, but I practiced until I could draw a pretty fair likeness.

I wrote Nixon a letter, kind of a “keep your chin up” missive.  I imagined him reading it to Pat after dinner.  Little did I know that he was so odd himself that he greeted Pat at dinner with “Hi.  How are you doing?”  I doubt they sat around reading fan mail.  I got a letter back from some staffer thanking me for the letter.  I’m sure it helped.  I’d like to think it did.

It was around the time of Watergate that my school was selling posters for a fundraiser.  Some kids bought posters of singers or athletes.  I bought this one:

This poster adorned my wall as a kid.

By this time, my parents were thoroughly disgusted by Nixon, but Dad liked the poster.  He thought it was funny.  My  Papaw loved Nixon and the poster.

Once, when we were visiting my grandparents in Salt Lake City, we went to hear Nixon give a speech.  Papaw was part of the security detail at Temple Square.  He stood right behind Nixon during the speech.  I was impressed.

Family_004

Trust me on this. Nixon is in there somewhere–with my Papaw.

I watched Nixon announce his resignation and his sad parting speech the next day.  His upper lip poured sweat.  He called his mother a saint.  It was sad. I felt bad for him, even though I sensed that he had brought it on himself.

I moved on from old Tricky Dick.  I’ve never really cared much for politicians since.  Mind you, I’m not disillusioned.  Nixon was what I thought he was.  That probably says more about me than it does him.

Nixon’s first public appearance after his resignation was actually close to my home in Harlan County, Kentucky.  He came to the dedication of a library–or something–in Leslie County.  I thought about going over there, but I was a teenager then.  Other things to do, I suppose.  Dad said he wouldn’t walk across the street to see Nixon.

I kind of liked seeing Nixon become something of an elder statesman in his old age.  Oh, I’m sure he would have still done something tricky if he had a chance.  At least I’d like to think he would have.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

My Political Ennui

I recently posted my thoughts on certain aspects of religion.  Some folks enjoyed it, while I’m sure others were greatly offended.  With that in mind, I’ve decided to stick my toe into the deep waters of politics to ensure offending the other half.

I was asked once why I don’t post a lot of political musings on Facebook and Twitter.  I don’t really have a good answer other than it’s just too serious for me.  I deal with a lot of serious issues in my job.  I prefer to get away from all that when I’m not at work.  Like most of the decisions I make in my personal life, not much thought goes into it. Also, politics just doesn’t interest me much.  As a result, I can’t think of anything good to say, as will be shown below.

If you post a lot of political stuff, please read the following:

 I AM OKAY WITH YOUR DOING THAT.  JUST BECAUSE I DON’T DO SOMETHING DOESN’T MEAN I AM AGAINST THOSE WHO DO. 

Thank you.  Also, I don’t mind reading stuff with which I disagree.  Someone much smarter than I am once said that he never learned anything from people with which he agreed.  That’s certainly true for me.

I DO have political views, of course.  I’m just not sure everyone wants to hear about them.  Plus, nothing is more ponderous than a political argument.  You think what you think.  I think what I think.  I’ve had enough political discussions to know that we’re not going to change each other’s minds.

A bartender told me one time that the worst customer was the guy who sits at the bar and tries to engage in political banter with the other patrons.  He said nothing clears the barstools quicker.

As with most things, I am cynical about politics.  I’m also the type who tends to distrust anyone in power.  This makes it hard for me to become all starry-eyed over any politician.  Mostly, I just don’t care.  With that in mind, I’ll offer some of my political observations and thoughts.

WHAT AM I?

The most important thing for anyone who reads political rants is to determine at the earliest possible moment whether the writer is a conservative or a liberal.  It’s not conservative or liberal.  It’s a conservative or a liberal.  Your tag.  What ARE you?

Well, I’m not telling.  Folks who know me well know the answer.  Folks who don’t know me well are usually confused.  Those on the far left think I’m an arch-conservative.  The hard right think I’m a wild-eyed liberal.  Maybe I am.  Or not.

THIS AIN’T NO PARTY.  THIS AIN’T NO DISCO.

Life During Wartime is one of the catchiest songs ever.  Unfortunately, I’m not talking about those Talking Heads.  I’m talking about the ones that fill the airwaves and blogosphere with their opinions about politics.  They don’t even wear that cool giant suit like David Byrne.

For someone bored by most political debates, I listen to, and read, a surprising amount of political ravings.  And I’m not picky about it, either.  Oh, and I disagree with almost everything I hear and read, whether it’s Beck, Limbaugh, Maddow, Olberman or any of the countless other disembodied heads and voices which have somehow found public forums.  In fact, Howard Stern may be the only person with whom I agree most of the time.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m sure it’s nothing good.

Conservative talkers are more entertaining than the liberal ones.  That’s just a fact.  Here’s why:  They’re basically entertainers.  Beck and Limbaugh are DJ’s.  A good DJ and a good program director can entertain doing the same things at the same time every single day.  Howard Stern does that, too.  He knows what his audience wants to hear and delivers it consistently.

Take Glenn Beck. If he believes everything he says, he’s a mad man. In his world, there is a massive worldwide conspiracy to turn the planet into a caliphate ruled by Van Jones and William Ayers. This world will be a Mad Max nightmare with cites burning and no food or fuel.  We’ll eat our dogs. Only Glenn and his Byzantine wall of chalk boards stand between us and this fate. Of course, if we pull the right lever or punch the right chad, it will all go away.

I’m sure he doesn’t really believe all that, but that’s not the point. His fans (and that’s what they are) WANT to believe that. He knows that. Like a DJ playing Li’l Wayne or Lady GaGa nonstop, he knows what his audience wants.  He delivers.

The folks on the left have never figured out the entertainment angle. Al Franken used to have a radio show. It was awful. Al was serious and angry most of the time. Al Franken is one of the funniest people on Earth. If you can read his book Why Not Me? without laughing out loud, you are a soulless, humorless person.  Al seemed to think he  was educating people.  Wrong.  Howard Stern says his listeners love lesbians. Thus, he has lesbians on his show. He doesn’t try to convince the world to love lesbians.  Beck’s listeners want to believe in wordwide caliphates.  The left thinks they can convince the world they are right. Just find your audience and tell them what they want hear–everyday over and over.

Anger can sell, too.  Sean Hannity is an angry dude. I suspect his devoted audience is pretty angry.  He’s good at fueling that.  He’s outraged daily over everything.  Bad news outrages him but not as much as good news.  If a Republican candidate murdered his entire family, Sean would rail against the Mainstream Media for failing to report that Charles Manson was a Democrat.  It’s his schtick.

Sean’s not the only angry fellow.  Take Keith Olberman, for example.  He’s so mad at the right that he’s hateful about it.  Plus, he’s unpleasant, which may explain why he gets fired from his jobs.  His counterpart on the right, Michael Savage, is also too angry.  I think that’s why I usually hear him at night.  Really angry people probably sit by the radio at night brooding.

The real news media is no better.  Let’s say that unemployment drops.  Here’s the MSNBC headline (in typeface normally reserved for declarations of war):

UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS TO TWO YEAR LOW!

Here is the Fox News headline:

WHAT’S THE REAL STORY BEHIND SO-CALLED LOWER UNEMPLOYMENT?

If this is how you stay informed, good luck to you.  I’d rather watch reruns of Hillbilly Handfishin’.  If you ever get a chance watch the 1950’s film, A Face in the Crowd, directed by Elia Kazan.  Elia knew what was coming. 

What’s this have to do with me?  Not much, other than I will listen to this stuff, and it wears me out.  I’d hate to think that I’m like any of these folks or, worse, the people who call their shows or believe everything they read.  I’m find them entertaining, but none of this shapes my views, whatever they might be.

I’M NOT ALWAYS RIGHT, BUT I’M NEVER WRONG, AND NEITHER ARE YOU.

One of the fundamental tenets of politics is that I must:  (1) Agree with everything my politician supports; and (2) Disagree with everything my opponent supports.  A caveat to that is that if I do, in fact, agree with my opponent, I must somehow give credit to someone I like, regardless of the analytical gymnastics required to do so.

I just can’t do this.  Sometimes, both sides are so adamant about not giving any credit to the other that they won’t acknowledge that something good actually works. Here’s an example:  The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was devised by Hank Paulson under George W. Bush.  It had one purpose:  To prevent the collapse of the American banking system from the top down.  I scoffed at it, mostly because Hank Paulson looks evil.  I was wrong.  Bad wrong.  It had bi-partisan support, and it worked, albeit a little differently than originally planned.  No one wants to claim TARP now, because both sides have called it a bank bail out for so long.  BOTH SIDES SUPPORTED IT!  The right calls it big government gone wild, and the left calls it corporate welfare.   The result is that neither side will endorse it out of fear that the other side will make them look bad.  That’s insanity. 

Here’s another one.  Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Both President Bush and President Obama deserved credit for this.  Job well done, men.  Republicans will grudgingly say that Obama deserves credit for following Bush’s lead.  Democrats say that Obama has succeeded where Bush wholly failed.  It took 10 freaking years to find this guy!  Let’s face it.  It was a team effort. 

I’m not always right.  In fact, I’m frequently wrong.  I’m also brighter than most of the clods we elect to office.  They can’t be right or wrong all the time, either.  

LCD ISN’T JUST A COOL TV

Politicians cater to the Least Common Denominator (LCD).   Come on, you know it’s true.  That’s why they spend so much time trying to scare the bejesus out of us.  It’s not enough to point out the serious flaws in government health care.  We must talk about death panels and forced euthanasia, too.  If you support a tax increase on the wealthy, you must do so by claiming that the wealthy are a group of elitists destroying the country and exploiting the rest of usThe LCD likes all that talk.

You know LCD.  He’s the guy who can believe any of the following:

  • I am poor but will benefit by other people becoming rich.
  • I am poor but the government will help me become affluent.
  • Although I am too old, infirm or just plain too sorry to be in the military, I support all wars.
  • I resent Mexicans for taking the jobs I don’t want anyway.
  • A tax increase would be a good idea, as long as it’s not my taxes.
  • There is a massive conspiracy about something.
  • Although I’ve never read the Constitution, I know that anything I don’t like is unconstitutional.

Those are just a few examples.  The LCD and I don’t geehaw, as they say.  You aim at him, and you miss me.  Back to Hillybilly Handfishin’.

POLITICIANS

Another big reason I lose interest in politics is that I don’t really care much for politicians.  They’re overpaid and underworked.  Congress has a 10% approval rating.  The only thing surprising about this is that apparently 10% of those polled didn’t understand the question. 

U-S-A! U-S-A!

I live in the United States of America, the greatest country on Earth.  Why do I say that?  Two reasons:  (1) I do, in fact, live in the USA; (2) I’ve never lived anywhere else, and my life is pretty damn sweet.  Why wouldn’t I believe that?

According to Wikipedia (the source of all my knowledge), there are over 200 countries on Earth.  I couldn’t possibly figure out if the US is better than all of them.  Now, I’ll dare to assume that we’re better than a lot of them:  India, Mexico, most of the Middle East, Commies, any country ending in “stan,” all the really cold places, Bangladesh and Canada.  I’ll also throw in any country with a goofy-ass royal family.  That still leaves a bunch of countries that may be just fine.  What’s the point of this?

Here’s the point:  We’re Americans, by God.  As Bill Murray famously said in Stripes, we’re the mutts of the world.  We’ve been thrown out of every decent country on the planet.  Even people with whom I disagree are Americans.  We always end up okay, even in the midst of our fights, because we’re Americans.  I don’t hate others because of their politics.  I have good friends who are polar opposites of me politically.  So what?  They are my fellow mutts.

Here’s the other point.  Even those in power are my fellow mutts.  I don’t want them to fail and destroy the country just so my candidates get elected.  I don’t think these folks are engaged in conspiracies to bring down the republic.  Maybe they’re misguided or just plain stupid.  Just because I disagree doesn’t make them evil Communists, Socialists, Nazis or closeted Caliphs. It may make them idiots or it may make me one.  Time will tell.

SO, WHAT I AM?

Figured it out, yet?  Neither have I.  Here’s a small list of my likes, dislikes and general grumblings to assist us both:

  • I don’t think you should wildly spend money you don’t have.
  • Congress is full of idiots.
  • Occupy Wall Street was pointless. 
  • We’ve had two good presidents in my lifetime.
  • I am an abashed, unapologetic supporter of the coal industry. 
  • I don’t care whom you marry as long as it isn’t a child.
  • You can read or watch anything you want, as long as no one is harmed
  • I’m not “green.”  I drive a foreign car with an internal combustion engine, and I like it. 
  • You have the right to hate people.
  • I don’t like wars, but I greatly respect the military.  There should be a law that the person who starts the war should be the first to die for his country.   
  • I don’t like religion mixed with government.  
  • You have the right to carry a gun
  • I supported the war in Afghanistan but not the one in Iraq.
  • I don’t care about my neighbor’s religion or lack thereof.
  • I don’t care if you’re gay.  I’ve spent most of my time around straight people, and they’ve been no treat.
  • I don’t hate Muslims.
  • I don’t mind paying taxes, but I want to pay the least required.
  • Not all poor people deserve to be poor.
  • Almost anything the government touches gets worse, not better.
  • I don’t believe in any conspiracies, except ones where people have been caught
  • It doesn’t bother me that Hispanics speak Spanish.  My ancestors in Pennsylvania spoke German, and Ben Franklin wanted them thrown out of the country.
  • I have no interest in what you do in your bedroom.
  • You can protest whatever you want.

There you have it.  What am I?  A mess, evidently.  But, I’m an American, by God!

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012