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More Political Rumblings

So, now that I’ve devoted a few hundred words to whine about how politics is shaking out, let’s talk about how this could all go and what we can do about it.

  1. Biden Wins, Trump Concedes

Let’s say that the courts refuse to intervene on Trump’s behalf or that his lawyers lose once they’ve made their case that the election was run illegally and is hopelessly unrecoverable.  Trump makes a concession speech, maybe magnanimous, maybe not, but in January, Joe Biden is sworn in as President of the United States.  Our experience is very much like the 2000 election, and we have a relatively peaceful handover of power, even with all of the bitter, but justified, recriminations that will go with it.

I don’t see this as a lock in any way.  There are just too many things coming to light to let me believe the courts won’t get involved or won’t find at least a few things that need correction.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t threats or outright violence against judges involved in these cases.

I don’t see Trump willingly giving up while there is still a glimmer of hope, but I don’t think he will refuse to leave the White House when confronted with election results certified by Congress and adjudicated by the courts.  Say what you will about the President, he follows the law.

What will Trump’s supporters, down to the individual citizen do?  I expect there would be mass demonstrations.  They may be more provocative than the Tea Party movement was, but I don’t see riots.  If the Republicans keep the Senate, there will likely be investigations, hearings, and gridlock on appointments to the courts and such, much like we saw during the Obama years.

I’ll believe that this one is happening when the courts start disappointing Trump.

2.  Recounts, Court Actions, and a Trump Victory

In this scenario, President Trump is able to squeak out victories in enough of the remaining states to get to 270.  He can do this by shining light on Democrat shenanigans at the polls, demanding recounts in close races and fighting like a cornered rat when new votes are found in the back of some guy’s Buick, and by forcing the states to follow their own election laws through the courts.

Biden and his minions will, of course, scream to heaven about voter suppression, judicial overreach, and conspiracy theories.  There will be “mostly peaceful” demonstrations in the usual places, with the usual crimes, done by the usual suspects.  The wild card there will be whether the President, now that the election is over, will continue to keep the gloves on.

Look for this one when the courts start quoting Bush v Gore and start making the states follow their own laws, especially those that deal with mail-in ballots, ballot mailing/delivery deadlines, and ballot verification.

3. The Election Gets Thrown to the House.  Trump Wins

The ballot counting in some states may be so compromised that their slates of electors are not accepted.  Perhaps Biden and Trump split the country right down the middle and neither gets to 270.  Either way, nobody has a majority of the electoral votes, so we get to watch as the 12th Amendment is exercised.

In this scenario, I see Trump winning.  The Republicans are going to retain a majority in more state delegations than the Democrats.

A Trump victory in the House would be dependent, however, on Republican Representatives toeing the party line and going to the mat for the President.  Republicans who barely won their 2020 election, especially those in districts that historically elect Democrats, are going to be the weak link here.  If they think they’ll lose their own jobs in 2022, will they vote to re-elect Trump?

This is also where we could see an awful amount of horse trading for votes.  “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” is an understatement when you think about what a Representative could demand in a state delegation that’s close to even between the two parties.

This is the one situation I could see going ugly, early.  During the run-up to the vote, there will be tremendous pressure brought upon members of Congress.  The Democrats would remobilize their street troops, shutting down large cities and trying to intimidate influence members of Congress.

There would likely be violence.  Maybe it’ll just be rioting as we saw during the summer, maybe it’ll be more targeted against individuals or groups.  And I could see violence met with violence if it spreads or if Republicans see their Congresscritters in danger.

I’d expect this to happen when we start seeing courts and Secretaries of State start throwing out the vote counts from some of the states.

4.  What Can We Do?

OK, now we have what I think are the three most likely scenarios.   What do we do to get to where we want this to go?

First, and I cannot believe I am saying this, we need to donate money.  Lawyers don’t come cheap, and good lawyers who are willing to take the heat that fighting for the Trump campaign is going to bring are hideously expensive.  We need to open our wallets and donate what we can to help the President.

If you’re worried that Biden will win this thing, then Republican control of the Senate is even more important.  That control currently depends on the results of runoff elections in Georgia.  Donate here or here to the Republican senatorial campaigns in Georgia.  If you’re in Georgia, make sure you get to the polls in January.

Second, we need to get involved.  Get in touch with your folks in Congress and make sure they know, in no uncertain terms, how you want them to act and vote on this.  If you want your Senator to get on the TV and vociferously defend the President, they need to know that.  If you want your Representative to vote to reelect the President, if it gets that far, then they need to hear from you now.  Send emails, write letters, visit their office, or just stand outside their office with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cardboard sign in the other.

Be polite, but be firm.  They need to know what we want them to do.

Finally, we need to hang together.  This is a marathon, and we’re only at mile 20.  We have to keep each other going, look out for each other as this gets uglier and uglier, and make sure that every one of us is still pushing 100% when we cross the finish line.

Political Rumblings

Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something. – Wesley, The Princess Bride

Like a lot of folks, I had high hopes that this election would be done and gone by now.  Months, if not years, of constant bickering, complaining, and campaigning by unruly apes of all stripes have long since worn everyone’s patience paper thin.

The only way that could have happened was for one of the candidates to have walked away with a clear and decisive win last week.  As we all know, that didn’t happen.

So, in a replay of 2000, except this time it’s done four lines of uncut Columbian coke and four tabs of Berkeley-strength LSD, we are drawn into a quagmire of pronouncements, accusations, and shit-flinging.  One side wants us all to believe that the other side is a bunch of dirty, rotten scoundrels who can’t be trusted as far as we can throw them.  The other side wants to declare victory and go home to plot and have a nice nap, but please disregard the man behind the green curtain.

Problem is, they’re both right, or at least partly so.

Larry Correia has good write-ups of the ‘anomalies’ found in the way that votes are being counted in battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.  If you haven’t read them already, do yourself a favor and go on over there.  

I’m not much of an analyst anymore, but even without someone crunching the numbers, this all looks off to me, with off being the most polite way I can put it.  There’s a lot of smoke obscuring our view of what’s going on while the votes are counted.  I just wonder how much fire there is.

I’m not going to surprise anyone when I say that I didn’t support the Biden candidacy, and I have, to put it mildly, grave misgivings about a Biden presidency.  Leave out the possibility that he won’t make it through his term and is replaced by Kamala Harris and take him at his word that he’s fit for the office and will serve out at least one four-year term. 

Joe Biden has been a wart on the ass of American politics since I was in diapers.  My political coming of age happened while he was running for president the first time, all while openly attacking a black Supreme Court nominee and black young men in general.

So, now the country will have to withstand weeks, if not months, of political and judicial knife fights.   Fledgling peace deals in the Middle East will, at best, stay in an uncertain stasis, while China and Iran will exploit our inattention to our detriment.  That’s nothing to say about how the government will be basically paralyzed as we head into another economic downturn brought about by the latest reaction to Covid-19.

In short, we don’t need this right now, if ever.

That’s the short term.  The current crisis will end in January, when we will open up a whole new batch of post-Christmas crises.  The long term will make this look like a polite Victorian afternoon tea.

If Biden wins, there will be, at least, the perception that the election was gained through a grand exercise in ballot-box stuffing, undead hordes with voter registration cards, and the connivance of at least a few federal agencies.

If Trump threads the needle and ekes out a win, or at least a tie that throws the whole thing to the House of Representatives, then the last four years will have been nothing but the opening act for a three-ring circus of rioting, gridlock, and demagoguery that will last until at least 2024.

So, we are going to either see vote tallies that are soiled by opacity and a general feeling of sleaze on the part of a large number of Americans, or we are going to see an election decided in the most legalistic way imaginable.  

Either way, our faith in semi-clean elections and orderly transitions of power from one president to another are going to be shaken for a generation.  

No matter what, half of the American electorate is going to be mad as hell, and they aren’t going to take it anymore. They will believe that the election was stolen from them, and one side will be right. 

People don’t want to understand the nuances of voter registration and voting laws in Sheboygan or Punxsutawney.  They want a clear, unambiguous, up or down vote that they can point to and, even if they lost, say that the rules were fair and were applied fairly.  Shenanigans at the polls or arcane legal and political maneuvers don’t do that.

God forbid that something should happen, or almost happen, to either Biden or Trump.  That would be enough to get their most fervent supporters into the streets for a good old fashioned insurrection.

So, we’ll see.  The last time things were this muddled, President Hayes sold out to the southern states to gain the presidency.  I wonder what Biden or Trump are willing to bargain with to win this time.  

 

Rumblings

As our nation, and the world around it, weathers the COVID19 epidemic, there is something important that we all need to keep in mind. This is, of course, in addition to the necessity of doing our parts to limit the spread of the virus and to support one another.  Those go without saying.

We need to take a good, hard look at what our government is doing to help in this fight.  Notice that I didn’t say “what the government is doing in this fight”?  Anyway, a thought occurred to me as I was relistening to “The Last Centurion” by John Ringo and “Death Throes of the Republic” by Dan Carlin.

In The Last Centurion, the main character narrates how he and the rest of the world get through a worldwide flu pandemic that kills more than half of those infected.  It’s fiction, of course, and Ringo is definitely playing to one side of the political aisle, but throughout the narrative, he brings up excellent points about society and personal freedoms.

Death Throes of the Republic chronicles the hundred years or so between the end of the Punic Wars to the assassination of Julius Caesar.  Carlin does a great job showing how each crisis leads to just one more little exception to the rules, and each exception becomes a precedent for the next time someone makes a claim to more power or another exception.

If you haven’t read read or listened to them, you’re missing out.  If you have, you might want to give them a quick do-over.

Anyway, in Centurion, Congress passes an emergency powers act that gives the president almost dictatorial powers “for the duration”.  The chief executive goes on to rapidly increase the aspects of society that she controls, and of course she goes off the deep end on a lot of it.

In Death Throes, the subject of precedent comes up again and again.  “We let Joeblonus do it a generation ago, and this is just more of the same, but I need just a little more.”

Our government is also big on precedent.  Stare decesis rules in the courts.  Legislation written in a way that echoes the great laws of the past almost always gets through Congress.  Presidents point to their predecessors and their actions to justify their own.

I bring this up because Congress has passed several relief bills and is likely to add to them in the coming weeks.  President Trump and the legislative branch are, for once, working together on something.

Now, I’m not against providing some relief for people and industries that have been hurt by all this.  You can make the argument that the reaction to the pandemic have added to the economic problems, and that the emergency powers Congress is giving to the President aren’t all that necessary.  You can also argue that we haven’t done enough and that the worst is yet to come.

Either way, the money’s going to get spent and the government is going to flex muscles it didn’t even know it had before this is all over.  Hopefully it does some good.  Maybe it’ll also do some ill.

My concern about sweeping changes to government, made in haste, is the same as it has been since the passage of the Patriot Act.  No power granted to government goes without being abused, no matter how pure the intentions were when it was granted.

When people are scared, they want someone to make it all better.  Emergency legislation can easily become an enabling act.  Presidents, no matter how noble, can be tempted to push things just a little further or to use a power in a way it wasn’t designed.

And, of course, we have to remind ourselves that even if President Trump is an honorable man who would never stoop to abusing his office, can we guarantee that the next president, or the president in eight years, won’t?

This is the same question I asked President Obama’s supporters during his tenure.  No matter how pure one executive is, the next one might be his or her polar opposite.  Giving too much power to people we trust gives that power to folks we wouldn’t trust as far as we can throw them.

So, if we’re going to use the power of the federal government to combat this pandemic, we need to make damn sure that our Senators and Representatives are putting limits and sunsets on that power.

The Roman Republic died from a hundred crises and a thousand self-inflicted cuts.  I only hope that we can avoid the same fate.

 

Political Rumblings

I’ve been mulling a few things over and it’s time to get them so they’ll stop ricocheting around inside my skull.

  1. President Trump is almost certain to be impeached, but will almost certainly be acquitted in the Senate.
    • President Johnson (Andy, not Lindy) freely admitted that he did what he was accused of, but even a Senate dominated by the Radical Republicans didn’t convict him.  Seriously, they hated his southern butt and still decided that the case was too chickenshit to convict.
    • Nixon was going to be impeached and probably was going to be convicted.  There was bi-partisan agreement that he had poked the pooch and needed to be ejected from the Oval Office at high velocity.  Only the judicious use of a deal with Gerry Ford involving the 25th Amendment and the power of the pardon saved him from that shame.
    • In Clinton’s case, he probably did what he was accused of, but there wasn’t a senatorial consensus that he deserved to be removed.  I’d insert a tasteless joke about bribes consisting of boxes of Cuban cigars here, but… ew.
    • In Trump’s case, the certainty that what he is accused of is a crime or not is pretty muddy, much less whether he did it or not.  Even if it is, it’s a pretty weak high crime or misdemeanor.  Trust me, if the Democrats could hang something easier to understand on him, they would.  I don’t see any way for enough Republicans to peel off in order to convict.
  2. The fact that Trump’s approval ratings have gone up while he is being impeached do not surprise me in the least.
    • We have been bombarded by almost weekly new “This time for sure!  Presto!” accusations of treason, discrimination, bigotry, and worse for over three years.  We’re numb to it unless presented with video evidence of President Trump admitting to doing something heinous.  Even then, I’d want forensic evidence and witnesses, because I’ve been in technology long enough to not trust video completely.
    • The Democrats are going to have to come up with something a lot more concrete, and to be honest, sensational, than “He may or may not have demanded an investigation that may or may not have been justified during a phone call and may or may not have threatened to withhold aid if he didn’t get it.” to get the American populace off the couch and into the streets.
    • At the same time, the economy is doing pretty well, and people worry more about their savings account than Congress settling accounts.
  3. This is all going to come back to bite us in the ass.
    • If the Trump presidency has taught the Republicans anything, it’s that being a gentleman statesman in a political knife fight means you’re the only one bleeding.
    • Someday, there will be another Democrat in the White House. Maybe it’ll be next year, maybe in four years, but it will happen.  It’s likely that they will have a Congress that’s run, at least 50% of it, by Republicans.  May God have mercy on that President’s soul if they open their eggs on the wrong end.
    •   The junior Republican Senators and Congressmen are watching what’s going on in the halls of Congress and learning the new rules.  You can bet the farm that they will keep playing by them when there’s a D in the Oval Office.
    • The big loser there will be the rest of us.  Political stability, even one as vicious as ours can get, is a bedrock of our success.  People invest in the United States because we don’t throw our leaders out on a whim and we don’t throw our former leaders off the Tarpeian Rock.  We can concentrate on innovating and making money because we don’t concentrate on political vengeance at the highest level and grudge killings at the street level.
  4. The Democrat field for 2020 creeps on at its petty pace
    • The current frontrunner is a guy who lost to Michael Dukakis in 1988, Barack Obama in 2008, and forfeited to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
    • Kamala Harris has dropped out because Democrat donors and primary voters are too bigoted to support a black woman, or something.
    • I’m not paying much attention to the free stuff and Orange-man-bad rhetoric these rejects from a Teletubbies reunion tour are currently spouting.  This is just an extreme example of how Democrat primaries have gone since at least 1932.
    • I will say that if the D’s want to have any chance at victory, they need to have a clear winner before their primary season is half over.  Sanders and Clinton stretched things out way too long for Her Imperial Majesty, Hillary the -1st, to tack back to the center in time for most of the electorate to forget all of the nasty things she’d said about them in the primary.
  5. Finally, it’s time for all of us to start getting interested.
    • If you’re a Democrat, you need to start figuring out who you’re going to vote for. There’s no shame in it. Just wash your hands afterward.  On second thought, you’re going to need a Karen Silkwood level shower to get that icky feeling off.
    • If you’re a Republican, it’s time to decide whether you are ready to stand with President Trump or not. If not, it’s time to start looking for someone to vote for next fall.
    • If you’re a Libertarian, it’s time to finally decide whether or not the United States was justified in invading Canada during the War of 1812.  You’ve debated long enough.
    • If you’re an independent like me, it’s time to invest in twelve-month popcorn futures.

Musings

  • I’m not sure what’s wrong with America’s youth.
    • I left a bowl containing five pounds of assorted chocolate bars on a stool at the end of my drive for trick or treaters when I left this evening.
    • Maybe five pieces were gone when we got home.
    • In my day, not only would all of the chocolate have been gone, but the mixing bowl and stool would also vanish for a few days.
  • Speaking of young people, apparently adolescent humans are using the hashtag #OKBoomer to dismiss someone older who disagrees with them on social media.
    • The explanation I’ve been given is that it’s a shorthand way to express how  motivated the writer is to deal with the mess left over from the Baby Boomers and Generation X.
    • I suggest that when some little pissant who still has egg yolk behind one ear uses that hashtag, it should be answered with #PissOffInfant.
    • We can use that to express our disdain for folks of any age who believe that their limited life skills and experiences qualify them to hold an informed opinion on anything more advanced than whether Huggies or Pampers are more comfortable after nap time.
  • So, the House of Representatives held a vote today to authorize the already-begun impeachment investigation of President Trump. Surprise, surprise, it was almost a party-line vote.
    • I won’t comment on what got this all started or the motives of either side in what little debate is happening.  A pox upon both their houses.
    • What I will say is that the time for closed-door hearings is officially over.  When Watergate was going on, Sesame Street and my mother’s soap operas were preempted to show testimony live for months.  I want that again.  I want it on C-SPAN, YouTube, BET, ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX, PBS, and Nickelodean.  I want the public to watch, in real time, what’s said and who says it.
    • Yes, sunshine is the best disinfectant.  If the President is dirty and deserves this, show me the facts.  If he’s clean, show that to me unfiltered.
    • Either way, it’s time for us to see how the sausage gets made.

A Modest Proposal

Recently, it came to light that about half of the Agriculture Department employees who have been tapped to relocate from the Washington, DC, area to Kansas City have either refused to move or have not even given us, their employer, the dignity of a reply.

In this age of instant telecommunications and data sharing, it is wasteful to concentrate so many talented and dedicated people in the federal capital. Put them in places where their salaries will go further, as will the budgets for their departments. Put them closer to the universities, businesses, and other institutions that connect with their areas of expertise, so that we can finally see a renaissance of public-private-academic synergy that typifies American ingenuity.

However, it seems that the effort to move personnel out of the extremely expensive real estate that is DC is ruffling some feathers. I mean, what kind of folks wouldn’t want to move out of the effluvial swamp that is our nation’s capital to the relatively inexpensive and clean Midwest?

Ungrateful bastards, that’s who.

So, taking a cue from the “You don’t want to do it my way? Really? Then we can get crazy!” school of leadership, here are my proposals for where to put several federal agencies that makes more sense than Gehenna on the Potomac.

  1. Army Corps of Engineers – 9th Ward, New Orleans. Maybe we’ll finally have to stop worrying about those damned flood walls failing every time it sprinkles.
  2. Department of the Air Force – Minot, North Dakota, because only the best go north.
  3. Department of the Navy – 29 Palms, California. Heck, they could just convert the MOUT site over to office buildings.
  4. Department of the Army – Fayetteville, North Carolina. Let the civilians go to Fayettenam for a change.
  5. Department of the Treasury – Radcliff, Kentucky. Put the accountants right next to the gold vault and the trailer park.
  6. Department of the Interior – Denali or Death Valley. Their choice.
  7. EPA – Bakersfield, California – The most polluted city in the country. Clean up your own back yard for a change.
  8. Social Security Administation – Phoenix or Boca Raton. Put them with their customers in heaven’s waiting room.

Maybe once they’ve had a taste of a few of the places I mention, these long-serving, whining, over-paid deserters from a traveling porcine bordello will smarten up, shut up, and just do their job where they’re told to do it and be grateful that we still cut them a check.

Or, they can quit and get a job commensurate with their skills and work ethic. I hear that there’s good money in being a human guinea pig for chemical castration experiments.

Either way, they’ll be out of DC.

Rumblings

  • In these times of strife and ugliness, remember, folks:  The guy in your group who wants you to blow up a building or steal weapons is probably a fed.
  • With the rush to destroy any public commemoration of the Confederacy, I wonder how many statues, buildings, and institutions dedicated to Woodrow Wilson will be torn down.
    • He was a racist bastard who segregated everything within his power, and oh, yeah, was quite OK with a movie about the KKK being shown in the White House.
    • He was instrumental in pushing through legislation that penalized Americans for expressing their opinion of World War I, the government in general, and him in particular.  And by penalized, we’re talking hard prison time, not community service hugging kittens down at the no-kill shelter.
    • Of course, he was a son of slave-owners, having been born and raised in the midst of some of the most famous battlefields of Northern Virginia.  And I don’t mean “His family went to visit them for picnics”.  I mean he was born in the Shenandoah Valley, was eight years old when the Civil War ended, and he actually met Robert E. Lee during the war.
    • Then again, a lot can be forgiven for the man who ushered in the first failed attempt to control what substances grown adults could imbibe, and was instrumental in drafting the Treaty of Versailles, setting up the rise of Adolf Hitler and the murder of 12,000,000 people during the Holocaust.
      • Just to summarize that, let’s just call him a proto-fascist, pre-Nazi sympathizer.
    • But I guess when you’re an OP (Original Progressive) who mouthed the right words, you can pretty much get away with anything, can’t you?
  • Now, don’t get me wrong.  I believe with all my heart that there is enough stupidity and douchebaggery to go around on all sides of the current kerfuffle.  A pox upon both their houses, as I’ve become wont to say lately.
  • Irish Woman and I were discussing the possibility that our property might be purchased for road improvements.  She’s quite worried about it, but I’m not.  As far as I can tell, not enough bribes have been paid to the right people environmental and hydrographic studies, as well as considerations of traffic flow and control, to get something like that to happen anytime soon.
  • Just when I start to believe that humanity might have a chance, folks start needing warnings to not stare at the sun and to not point their binoculars and telescopes at it during tomorrow’s eclipse.
    • I’ll feel bad for kids under, say, 12 who don’t have decent eyewear and don’t know how to poke a hole in a shoebox.
    • But if you’re older than that and don’t know to not concentrate direct sunlight on your retinas, I’ve got nothing for you.
    • I look forward to puff pieces on the news about this over the next year or so.  Heck, we might even get some feel good legislation passed just in time for the 2018 elections.
  • Now, if you all will excuse me, I gotta get up to work tomorrow.  Or, as my daughter’s professors would put it, I have to get up early so that I can have a full day of despoiling the earth and oppressing my fellow man in order to earn more than my fair share.

Couldn’t have said it better myself

Over at The Antisoma, Heroditus Huxley explains her view of compassion, and who deserves it.

Like the title says, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Look, I’m a pretty soft touch, all things considered.  It doesn’t take much more than someone, who truly needs assistance, asking politely for my help for me to give it.  A lot of times, you don’t even have to ask before a meal comes to your doorstep or an extra few dollars are in your hand.

But there are folks for whom that doesn’t apply.  I call them the “willfully poor,” and I know of which I speak.

You see, when my folks split up, my mother took us headlong into the welfare system.  Food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, energy assistance, free school lunches, and everything else she could get her hands on flowed through our home.  Us kids ate what food stamps and free lunches would provide and we wore what government checks would buy at the Salvation Army.

I met some very hardworking folks during those years.  Problem was, the vast majority of them were working hard toward the wrong goals.  These people made welfare a 9 to 5 job, and they burned the midnight oil trying to find some way to squeeze just a few more dollars out of the system.

Tattoos were uncommon then, but booze and cigarettes were an everyday experience. My mother’s friends on welfare always had name-brand soda and candy at a time when most folks in my town had store-brands as a very occasional treat.  The number of kids who found themselves labeled as having learning disabilities or other medical issues skyrocketed amongst my mother’s circle, with each case bringing in a little more cash or another excuse to not find work.

At the beginning of the month, it was pizza and beer and new clothes.  At the end of the month, it was rice and canned tuna and government cheese.  But somehow, there was always money for the adults to go out to eat or to go to the local bar on Friday and Saturday.

But there is a silver lining to this:  I will sell organs before I take a dime of government assistance.  Too many memories of my mother buying a 25 cent pack of gum with a $10 food stamp so she’d have the change to spend on whatever struck her fancy, along with the looks the lunch ladies gave me when they stamped my free-lunch card, have driven me deep into the “I’d rather be hungry, thanks” crowd.

There are those who have hit a rough patch, with some needing assistance for a long while, but want desperately to stand on their own two feet.  Then there are those who not only can’t fathom what not having someone bring them their checks and EBT cards, but also violently and vociferously object when you suggest that there is a better way to live.

For the former, I have compassion and sympathy, and I am willing to give until it hurts.  For the latter, well, not as such.  If that makes me too hard, then I’ll wear that badge proudly.

Legislation Suggestions

Since the political time of crazy doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, I thought I’d take a few minutes to suggest some things that might not stop the madness, but will at least move it in a direction that would make me happier.

The “Get Off Your Ass” Welfare Reform Bill

This bill would set a 24 month limit on use of social welfare programs per person in a 60 month period, require 20 hours a week of vocational training or volunteer time for adult recipients, and set a 60 month lifetime limit on receiving government welfare.  Waiver of these requirements and restrictions would be possible only upon a simple majority non-voice vote by both houses of Congress, and would need to be renewed every 180 days by the same process.

The “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” Charitable Giving Reform Bill

Would amend the tax code to remove the cap on writing off charitable giving on personal and corporate income taxes.  Private charity is usually a more efficient alternative to government welfare, and this way the American taxpayer could decide which causes they want to support.

The “Why Does the Education Department Need Shotguns?” Federal Law Enforcement Reform Bill

This bill would restrict the ability of federal employees to arrest people and be issued a firearm to uniformed ICE officers, agents of the FBI and the Secret Service, and U.S. Marshals.  Let the ATF go to the Marshals or the FBI, or better yet, local law enforcement, if they need somebody arrested or somewhere raided.

The “Why Does the Marine Corps Need a Stealth Fighter?” Defense Acquisitions Reform Bill

An act that would require the military services to re-justify all programs that have been in development longer than five years and/or have cost more than 20% more than their original cost estimates.  I’ve always found it amazing how requirements get pared down when you make somebody re-justify something that isn’t working or has expanded like a tick on a hog’s rump.

So, do y’all have anything you’d like to suggest?  You get bonus points if you come up with a clever title to your bill.

 

You Say You Want A Revolution

 

Since about this time last year, the vitriol and bile in American politics has gone from a low simmer to just short of a boil.  On one side, we have celebrities on social media and crowds in the street calling for violent action.  On the other, we’ve got folks believing that one gentleman can take ten rascals, so let the bastards come.

The left seems to think that we will see a glorious revolution of the human spirit brought about by denying a stage to folks who profit by being shouted down, massive demonstrations with no cogent point, and maybe a little violence around the edges, just to show the other side they mean business.

The right, on the other hand, well, I’m not sure what the right believes on this one.  At the moment, the people I listen to are pointing and laughing at the left.  I am finding it difficult to find anything more than an attitude that they’d rather not have a civil war, but they’ll have one if the other side insists.    Not saying there aren’t whackjobs calling for the use of CAS to clear out the quad at Berkeley, but they’re not part of my personal political echo chamber.  The things I’m reading and hearing do tend to lean toward the “It’ll be easy, because we’ve got the guns” side of the counter-argument, and more than a few seem to be poking the left just to see them twitch.

The one thing I think both sides are saying is that violent revolution, no matter who starts it, will be quick, clean, and productive.

They’re both wrong.  If we continue down this road, both rhetorically and politically, what we will create will make the Civil War of the 1860’s look like a rather unpleasant dust-up.

There is no “North/South” or “Free/Slave” geographic dichotomy.  Densely populated liberal counties are sprinkled across the continent.  Granted, they are more prevalent along the periphery of the country, but they aren’t remotely as contiguous as the Confederacy ever was.

In other words, enemy territory just might be a couple of blocks over for much of the country.  There will likely be no true safe areas, no matter how red or blue they are.

The second Civil War will probably start when heated words turn to violence that is reciprocated.  What will happen when a store owner shoots the guy in a black mask who’s smashing his windows?  What happens when the fires from a protest consume a middle-class neighborhood?  What happens when all of this is broadcast over every cable network and the Internet, inflaming everyone on both sides who has had quite enough and just wants it to be over? What happens when some demagogue harnesses that anger and calls for a crusade?

I doubt that we will get many Gettysburgs, but I guarantee that we will get a bushel full of Srebrenica’s and Beslans.  Our war against each other will more closely resemble The Troubles than The Wilderness.  If you think abuse of civil rights is bad now, just wait until middle America is worried that some jerk is going to throw a molotov cocktail in the foyer of their kids’ school. In the end, it will rend our nation apart.

After a time, the sides may coalesce into geographically contiguous entities as areas are cleansed of the unbeliever, but in the beginning, it will be as easy to find someone from the other side as it is to go to Kroger for milk and eggs.   This will be a war of gangs and squads and flash mobs.  It will be a war of bombings, assassinations, and massacres. It will be a tit-for-tat, score-settling family fight where the memory of a political sign on somebody’s lawn gets their house burned to the ground.

The war will gain steam as folks who would normally turn away from the violence are struck with it.  It’s hard to convince someone whose children have been harmed that they can’t blame an entire block of other people for the crime.  It’s even harder to do when atrocities become commonplace.  Folks who normally wouldn’t harm a fly will revert to savagery against their neighbor when they’re scared or angry, and they won’t much care if that neighbor is actually their enemy.

In the end, we will all lose.  The slave/no slave, federal power/states’ rights argument of 1860 was simple compared to the gobblety-gook we have now.  We aren’t arguing about what the other side is doing, we are attacking the other side for who they are.  We have all gone a long way toward dehumanizing the other side already, and when you do that, it’s not a long walk to where our cities are burning and we’re filling in pits with bodies at the bottom.

So, to wind this up, I’m begging all of you – slow down.  I’ve seen the innocents hurt by civil war, and I know what the aftermath looks like.  It’s not where anyone wants our people to go.  If we do not turn from our current path, we will soon come to the place where folks will want the killing to start just to get it over with, and few of us will come way from that unscathed.

For the sake of our nation and our children, please don’t run toward our destruction.

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