Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ray on respect for other'side beliefs...and not being a dick...

So I'm going to a wedding of a friend this evening.

A friend.

To which I am wearing the garb in my profile picture (editors note: the garb is traditionally muslim...I'll see if I can get a picture).  I thought "well I'll post this pic... it's fun to get dressed up and fun to wear clothing of another culture."

The culture of my friend who's wedding I am attending this evening.

Did you see that I mentioned he is my friend.


So I thought my other friends would have the common courtesy or even the common sense to respect my friends religion and culture... yet here I have had some ridiculously ignorant commentary that although I deleted I feel I should identify to honor not only my friend's wedding...but

To honor my own convictions....and

To honor those who read my posts....

And to honor my friends who wrote or tried to post very offensive comments... because what sort of person or friend would I be if I didn't speak out?

Let me start off by saying I am a Born Again Christian.  And although I enjoy my Vodka along with other minor vices... I pray fervently...  confess that Jesus Christ is the Messiah... regularly attend Church, and do my very best to be the example of Christian values and love.

I'm an ardent patriot, having served in the military for over a decade enduring hardships on occasion and sacrificing upon the altar of Freedom regularly.  For Freedom is a hungry god and requires much of her believers.

I hold down two jobs, one that demands 60+ hours a week. I coach soccer, I have volunteered at the American Legion, I regularly donate money to various cause and events.

I have 5 children who I am involved with and an active participant in their lives.  I love my wife and just to make sure she knows it...  I make a pass at her nightly ;).  I'm not saying I always get to the promised land.... I'm just saying it's important that she knows I'm trying to get there.

Psssst... I'm a registered Republican.

I just want to list it out because for the comments that I read were from so called "conservatives."  That's not conservative ideals...


I am the embodiment of the virtues of the Church, Constitution and Americanism.


The only difference is... I refuse to judge others who practice their faith differently... who vote differently... who love different races or genders...  I choose love.  The love of Jesus Christ.

And so I say your comments and posts are not conservative....

 They are racist.

And despite recent practices Racism is not cool.

These comments aren't the connect the dots latent sort of racism... they're actually old school KKK sort of racist.

Of the variety that some of you are so far gone that you either don't understand that what you are doing is wrong... or you're no longer ashamed of being such a way.  So you choose to shame me as a bystander in your bafoonary.

I can no longer stand aside.

Well, you've embarrassed me.  You've embarrassed yourself.

And this isn't being politically correct or Liberal or race bating.  This is what it means to be a friend.

To stick up for your friends when they are being shamed.

This is what it means to be respectful to people who are different.  This is what it means to be curious about life and living and the world and about God!

This is what it means to be decent.

And if any of you don't like what you're reading ask yourselves why you've read so far into it.

Heal my friends... for whatever caused such fear doesn't own you.

 God owns you and He made us all different for a reason.

"Allah loves variety."

Peace unto you.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

20161113 Cellar Raid

Cracked open a 2015 Maillard's Odyssey from Sierra Nevada.
This is a Barrel Aged Ale we bought las Christmas at the brewery.

It is very mellow and has a ton of chocolate flavor mixed in with a surprisingly light texture.
Quite good.

Friday, November 4, 2016

5% for Public Funding is NOT Libertarian Hypocrisy

Time to make things clear for those who don't understand simple s**t:
Some people have bashed Libertarians as being hypocritical for wanting to get to 5% in order to get public financing. This is complete horses**t for the following 2 simple reasons:
1. 5% gets you guaranteed ballot access so you don't have to spend valuable campaign money just trying to navigate the barriers that the 2 major parties put in the way of getting on the ballot.
2. The "public" money, is actually PUBLIC! It's not involuntary taxes extorted out of your paycheck and spent for s**t you don't want just because Congress wants to pander for a few votes. It is the $3 that a few people VOLUNTARILY divert away from the Federal cesspool and SPECIFICALLY designate to be used by candidates for President.
Do some research. The parties have managed to subvert this fund to pay for their conventions, but they don't take the campaign money because it limits how much they can get from lobbyists and PACs - remember, Obama promised to take public financing and then backed out when he found out how much sleazy money it would cost him (gross oversimplification, but it highlights how campaigns are only paying lip service to getting money out of politics - what they mean is getting money out of their opponent's politics...but I digress.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ray on Brats

I feel as Americans have become a bunch of brats...
Almost every single political figure that had any traction throughout this general election cycle had given us only false promises, anger (both sides), status quo speeches, or entitlement laced decorative words that called to our inner spoiled child and that child said "yes, I deserve that."
Here we are with a social security system destined to fail a generation from now... our longest war(s) in history and a Keynsian mounting pile of debt with a currency that is valued on faith alone.
Faith in a system that continues to let us down.
A foreign policy that is foreign to the remnants of policy and we say just let us keep our wifi up.... let me hold on to my phone and things that I do not need.
Let me eat my over priced over saturated unhealthy frozen meal and tie my kids to their IPad parents.
We've taken so many steps ahead... we are actually falling behind.
Just let me have my Rangers and give me shit... and don't give any one else who I deem is less deserving.
So when we complain about our options know that we created them because no one wants to hear the goddam truth:
1. Work hard
2. Some people have higher barriers to overcome and they are instituted unfairly based on their religion, color, orientation, gender and socioeconomic class... the very fact that these institutions lay hidden in the shadows of society does not mean they do not exist... it means only that they are antithetical to the Constitution.
3. Earn your way brick by brick and call to attention when your countrymen is forced to carry more.
4. There is a God. But He is not at the seat of Government. Any attempt to place Him there will corrupt His message.
5. If you want freedom, share it.
6. Guns are your right, not your toy. Responsible and humble gun ownership is the way to preserve that right.
7. Illegal guns are not registered but there are far too many ways for guns to get in the hands of people who wish only to impede on people's right to live. Strict enforcement of laws already in existence is the first step to greater gun control.
8. No one should be forced to choose whether they should see a doctor or pay the electric bill.... however Obamacare sucks... and so does the whole American health industry.
9. The rich have a right to keep the spoils of their, or their parents, or their grandparents earned wealth. However... are you fucking serious that like 300 families own a good portion of the nation's wealth... what are we Rome?
10. Abortion. Tough one for me for I believe in the rights of Women. However I also believe that life begins at conception and that that person has a right to live. With that said... Planned Parenthood is not full of ghouls and monsters. We should reform standing abortion regulation and not make it an issue of a right... but an issue of the right thing to do.
11. OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IS A JOKE. Less 5 billion dollar jets that are way over budget and mor COMPREHENSIVE school funding.
12. Let people in. Let them in... get over it whitey. Let people have an easier path to citizenship.
13. Bombing doesn't solve problems...bombing punishes problem starters and sometimes we have got to Negan the barbarians because that is the only language they understand... but let's not kid ourselves...if we want to solve problems we better start offering solutions that don't end with swarms of a population dead.
14. Your memes don't convince anybody... they're just sound bytes that make you a little dumber every day.
15. I just want my country to allow me to be the best husband and father and son I can be. Don't give me opportunity...get out of the way and allow me to find it myself. I'll buy my own shit if I want it....
Yet, take care of those who are incapable. Help those who need it and deliver them unto a path that they too can say... get out of my way I'm going to try and be the best person I can.
Educate, empathize, lead, love and do not enable. Let those who are capable suffer their own inability to lay the smallest offering of sacrifice, selflessness and drive at the altar of freedom.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Losing a Billion...

As the Super Tax Genius, I feel a need to dispel a myth about Trump "losing" a billion dollars. This should not be read as a defense of his policies, personality, or honesty.
In the tax world, you lose or gain money on a tax year basis. It doesn't mean the money is gone, just that you spent more in one year than you made. This is common and typical.
When you make an investment, you want to make a better return than you could have if you had just left the money in the bank. The higher the risk, the bigger return you want.
Big businesses spend a lot of money trying to make money, and the returns often take many years to come back.
Trump "lost" money in the tax parlance, but it is a better term to say he spent it. Until he makes the money he spent back, he has no "gain" to tax. Once he makes his billion back, he pays taxes on everything above it.
The same principle works with smaller numbers. You spend $1000 bucks in your business, and if you make $100, you pay no taxes. Make $1500, and you pay taxes on $500, not $1500. It could take a while to make that $1000 back, but, until you do, you haven't made any money.
On a separate note, all those articles about the pentagon "losing" 6 billion dollars are misleading. They can't account for what they spent it on, but they know it was spent and that the very large majority at least spent correctly by law. They just didn't do the paperwork right. Messed up, but the 6 billion dollars isn't just "gone" as some would have you believe.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Gun to the Head Post Update

Reposting this, not because it's 100% accurate, but because it's the reason I changed my Gun to the Head Clinton vs. Trump vote to: Pull the Fucking Trigger!
We have a serial misogynist vs. a rape apologist, and that's the friendliest interpretation you can make unless you are hopelessly partisan.
The two candidates and their teams that you have foisted upon us are so truly awful, so despicable in their attacks and deplorable lack of ethics that we actually have to discuss things like Rape, Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment and all manner of other disgusting things in the context of a PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION! Fuck all of you for this.
People I know and care about have been victims of sexual assault, rape and sexual harassment and now they have to live through two of the most evil and disgusting parties slinging mud and accusations back and forth, dredging up the horrors they faced,feared, and thought they might have gotten over.
I didn't need this bullshit to want to vote for Gary Johnson, and I don't care who you vote for as long as it's not the King and Queen of Awful, but this is beyond the pale.
Fuck Trump. Fuck Clinton. Fuck this Election. Fuck You if you think any of this bullshit is helping. I don't care who gets elected enough to engage in this Big Fat Bucket of Fuck.

Friday, October 14, 2016

October Surprises

We've reached that point in the election cycle where my standard of proof goes WAAAAAY up.
Anything damaging that comes up now will likely have no chance of being rebutted effectively, even if it turns out to be completely false.  (Dan Rather/George Bush Killian documents)
Campaigns have been pulling this crap for years, but have lately turned it into an artform.  And the unbelievable levels of scumminess in these 2 campaigns makes it likely to be even worse.  So here's where I am:

1. Someone claims something - not listening.
2. Someone releases evidence from non-solid sources - not listening.
3. Someone heavily partisan releases something - not listening.
4. Someone releases heavily edited or redacted "evidence" - I'm skeptical
5. Someone releases something that looks too good (bad) to be true, but is written or recorded - I'm skeptical, but checking it out
6. Someone releases evidence that might be easily forged or manipulated with no backup - I'm skeptical, but checking it out.
7. Someone releases evidence that's not easily forged or manipulated - I'm listening
8. Someone releases good evidence that's backed up by other testimony - I'm starting to think I might believe you.

Obviously, the reliability of the source and the amount of evidence matters.
Wikileaks falls into category's 5 through 7, but I give them extra credit because they have been remarkably accurate lately.

Sexual assault allegations fall in the first category, which sucks, because if they are true, the assaulter should rot in hell.  That said, if it takes allegations of sexual assault to finally get you to realize Trump is truly awful, you are willfully ignoring evidence.  (Hillary sucks too).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

On Racism...uh, oh

This post is ultimate stream of unconsciousness.  It reflects my thoughts RIGHT THIS SECOND, unedited, uncensored, and slightly influenced by alcohol.  Feel free to point out insensitivity, inaccuracy, and stupidity, but try not to hold a grudge.

If you don't think it's a hell of a lot easier being white in America than being black, then you're an idiot, and can stop reading.
If you don't think that blacks suffer indignities and obstructions on a daily basis, then you're an idiot, and can stop reading.
If you're white, and think you can accurately portray what a black person faces...
If you are white, and aren't thankful that you don't have to put up with that kind of bullshit...
If you think racism isn't alive and well...

If you think that because I'm white that I don't have a voice in this discussion, or that you can shut me up by saying, "Check your privilege", then you can join the idiots discussed above.

If you pass the above tests, read on...

If you think the government is going to solve the problems of racism in America, then let's talk.

As usual, I find many people (mostly liberals) have a keen and empathetic eye to the many ills that African Americans (and other minorities) face in this country.  It's their solutions that I have issues with.  But we'll get to that.  First, let's talk about some very current racial issues:

When a Black man (Note 1) is imprisoned for a drug crime, he is imprisoned by the government.
When a Black man is unfairly prosecuted, given inadequate representation, prosecuted for a crime a White man would not, given a harsher sentence than a White man would get, this is done by the government.
When a Black man is stopped and frisked, he is stopped by an agent of the government.
When a Black man is pulled over for DWB, he is pulled over by an agent of the government.
When a Black man lives in substandard section 8 housing, he is living their at the behest of the government.
When a Black person contributes to Social Security for 30 years, but dies before reaching 62 (as is all too common compared to Whites) it is the government that gives those contributions to a White person. (Note 2)
When a Black person can't get a job because he doesn't have the skills to earn minimum wage, it is the government preventing him from working. (Note 3)
When a Black family's property taxes are raised again and again so that he is forced to sell his property and move to allow gentrification of the neighborhood he grew up in, it is the government raising those taxes.
When a prosecutor refuses to charge (or tanks the grand jury) when a police officer murders a Black man, he is representing the government (I know not all police shootings are murder - but some are) (Note 4)
When Ferguson Missouri decided that policing for profit was a good idea and ultimately created debt slaves out of it's Black citizens, it was the government making that decision.
When a Black man is shot by a police officer, he is shot by an agent of the government.

I can go on...

This may seem anti police, but it's not.  It's anti government.  Most police are honest people put in an impossible situation by an out of control government.  When we go to war, we understand, and seem to accept, that innocent people will die.  When you go to war on drugs and crime, we should not be surprised that innocent people die.

I can't change the hearts of racist people.  Neither can the government.  I could make the argument that government actions are a major cause of racial tension, but I won't do that.  Instead, I can provide a list of pretty obvious things that may not solve racism, but will certainly make the lives of African Americans (and a lot of other Americans) a whole lot better.  I don't have all the answers, but I think it's high time we took some concrete steps to improve the lives and prospects of minorities in America, instead of making empty promises and spewing empty rhetoric.

What to do:

1.  End the War on Drugs.  Period.  This doesn't mean we have to legalize everything, but legalizing pot would be a good start.  Other drugs need to have, at a minimum, possession and use decriminalized.  (I would favor full legalization across the board.)  Take the billions saved and put it toward drug treatment and better mental health services.
2.  Work towards privatizing Social Security, at least partially, while preserving the benefits of older retirees.  Allowing African Americans who die young to pass along some of the taxes they've paid into Social Security to their families, rather than giving them to middle class whites, will help break the cycles of poverty.
3.  Freeze the minimum wage.  It was originally passed to prevent minorities from getting jobs, and it still works.
4.  Make a lot of stuff that's illegal, especially victim-less crimes, legal.  The less interaction police are forced to have with "criminals" the less fear they will have that they might be shot.
5.  Independent reviews of all police shootings.
6.  All fines, penalties and civil asset forfeitures go to independent (preferably non government charities) rather than the agency that seized the asset.
7.  LOTS more training of police officers regarding de-escalation and the sanctity of our constitutional rights.  (If we eliminate a ton of crimes we might find the time and money for this).
8.  Limit property tax increases for long standing homeowners, or some other creative method to ensure property taxes don't run poor people out of their homes.  (This is a lot more complex than a blog post can cover - so bear with me.)
9.  Reform qualified immunity for prosecutors, making them more accountable for their actions.
10.  This one's a fantasy, but bring back the 4th through 7th amendment.  Rights come first, and police, prosecutors, judges, and everything else come second.  Stop and Frisk is BULLSHIT - and it's just the start of the crap we put up with.
11.  Serious education reform, as opposed to doing the same shit over and over would be a big help.

The main theme is that racism in effect, as opposed to racism in the heart, requires power to truly affect peoples lives.  The government has WAY too much power, and thus, racism is exacerbated and perpetuated by the government.  Just doing 1 through 3 would have enormous positive repercussions for minorities.  Political bickering and pandering will do nothing.

NOTE 1: I use "man" a lot in this, but it isn't meant to ignore the plight of Black women.
NOTE 2: Eliminating Social Security (SS), particularly disability and survivor benefits, would be devastating to minorities, at least in their current status, but forcing minorities to contribute to Social Security, with very little potential for receiving any benefit, is about as racist in effect as it gets.  Here's a discussion from a left-leaning institution...feel free to do more research: URBAN INSTITUTE
NOTE 3: I am a vicious opponent of minimum wage increases.  I read a TON on the subject and post numerous links on my Facebook page.  It is REALLY hard to argue against because it sounds SOOOOOO Good.  But it's not.  All other things being equal, making something more expensive causes there to be less of it.  We can argue about it for days, but, fundamental laws of economics say, "minimum wage bad."  If you disagree, the burden of proof is on you.  (I don't advocate elimination because the current minimum wage is "priced in", which means elimination would cause undue disruption of the economy.  Freezing will do the trick pretty quickly.
NOTE 4: When a prosecutor takes something to a grand jury, they get an indictment...PERIOD.  A prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich (this is an accepted legal axiom.)  When a prosecutor doesn't get an indictment - he didn't want one.  Prosecutors use grand juries as cover when they don't want to take flak for not indicting a police officer.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tit for Tat

Borowitz calling people idiots

Things I get tired of explaining to idiots (borowitz started the name calling)
1. America is not other countries, in fact, it is incredibly unlike other countries culturally, demographically, and in gun ownership levels.
2. Gun bans are unconstitutional.  If you won't acknowledge that your gun ban fantasy requires a constitutional amendment, then you are too casual about rights to even bother taking to.
3. Even if we passed a gun ban, it would take a hundred years to reduce the amount of guns in circulation sufficiently to appreciably reduce violence, and in the meantime criminals would be having a field day, since they will be the last ones to give up their guns (almost last).
FYI...I'm calling borowitz an idiot, not you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility...Accountability...not so much

This is the poster child for a Stream of Unconsciousness post.  I've had a couple drinks, I've been thinking random thoughts, and I'm going to bloviate about them with very little editing.  Nothing I write here should be taken as a firm belief or policy prescription (except about Spiderman).

I fucking LOVE Spiderman.  Been a fan since I was a kid.  I got about fifty issues away from a complete ASM collection, but you can guess the cost of those last issues.


My favorite line was his Uncle's about with great power comes great responsibility.  Spiderman really lived that line.  But why?  What if he didn't?  It occured to me that no one really had any way to make him ACCOUNTABLE for his actions...which is really the most important part.  He was internally accountable, but this was the comics for Christ's sake.  Reality doesn't work that way.  As evidence, see virtually everyone with power...ever.

Corporations have power (post coming with more detail) and theoretically are accountable to shareholders, boards, the government.  But really, what ever happens to a corporation.  First they lobby the government to self regulate, then they pull crap anyway, then they get fined, maybe, which causes them to pass on the cost to customers or shareholders.  The people responsible almost NEVER face accountability.  Obviously there are a lot of corporations that behave and do good things, but not because the system holds them accountable.  Even when the government steps in and shuts them down it's the shareholders who pay.  When they get sued - shareholders or customers...see the pattern.

Then there's politicians.  They have power.  Do voters hold them accountable?  Rarely.  Usually they represent a gerrymandered district that is solid for their party, meaning even if their voters get really pissed off, they just vote in another person of the same party.  Democrats have been counting on the Black vote for decades, while doing nothing for them.  Republicans the same with the fundamentalists.  Examples abound.

But what really got me going was war.  Who starts wars?  Governments.  Presidents, Prime Ministers, dictators, kings, parliaments, congresses, etc.  Who pays the price?  Soldiers, Citizens, Children, Innocent bystanders.  Where's any accountability?  Even the loser government often stays in power, and if not, different elites take over.  Rarely are individuals held to account for the wars they start.

What really brought this home was Gerald Ford's executive order preventing targeted assassinations, and the Geneva Convention and other international agreements prohibiting targeting non combatant leaders for assassination, particularly by non-uniformed soldiers.  There are some murky areas, especially since 9/11, but, essentially, this is people who initiate and direct wars that kill thousands, if not millions of innocent people, send soldiers to their deaths, and displace millions of well as inevitable war crimes, rapes and murders...saying, "but we're off-limits."  Those who initiate the horrors of war are protected by laws and agreements from facing the consequences of wars they start.
Agreements that these SAME leaders negotiated,

There's very little in the world more ass-backward than this.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

How to Pretend You Care about Human Trafficking while Making the Problem Worse

This bugs the shit out of me.
Human trafficking is awful. It is high on my list of things I would be willing to devote resources and money to stop.
Instead, government uses the illegality of prostitution to bust willing partners and then make bold claims that they are striking a blow against sex trafficking.
This is utter bullshit. What they did and said, as well as their enforcement of prostitution laws makes it far MORE likely that women will be exploited via human trafficking.
Ending the criminalization of honest, willing participation in prostitution is the only way to allow us to focus resources on the truly exploited. When everyone's a criminal, why bother seeking out the tough ones to catch when you can pretend to and get flashy headlines and more funding.
Your government doesn't give a shit about you.
Heres' some context on how unbelievably evil these sex traffickers were. From the article linked below:
"While they're still awaiting final sentencing, the penalties Richey recommended were relatively modest: 60 days in jail for Durnal, who pleaded guilty to two counts of promoting prostitution, and 80 days in jail waived as a first-time offender, plus 30 days of community service, for Mueller, who pleaded guilty to three counts of promoting prostitution. In addition, each man would get 12 months of community custody afterward, pay a $3,000 fine, "be available for interviews and testimony as directed," and take a class on "Stopping Sexual Exploitation."

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hillary Clinton is like that bad Commanding Officer I had...

Some of you may know that I'm a former US Navy Submarine Sailor.  Also a Nuclear Operator and Master Chief.  This gives me some unique insight on the whole classified email, private server gobbledygook.  Like many of my nuke friends, I found it laughable that HC could be unaware that her emails were classified, that her private server was an incredible security risk, and that no one told her these things.

You don't get access to classified material without being briefed on it.  Period.  I thought.  Your staff should tell you the rules and make sure you understand the seriousness of what you are doing.  Should.

Then I read some more.  I'm starting to get a better picture of HC and her relations to her staff.  Seems she doesn't like being told she's wrong, doesn't like being lectured to, and FULLY understands what plausible deniability is.  One sentence (paraphrased here) was that you don't bring up the private server to HC.  You just don't.  That's what her staff knew.  Whether she fostered this environment intentionally, out of a shrewd understanding that it would protect her later, or because she's an asshole, is unclear.

I've had a Commanding Officer (CO) like that.  In fact a few and not just CO's, but we'll stick with them.  I've had each kind (simply arrogant and conniving arrogant).  One CO was so arrogant and power hungry that you just didn't tell him he was wrong.  You just didn't.  Once he made a decision, that was it.  Now I'll leave aside all the military stuff that SHOULD happen in this case, and simply point out that it didn't work out well.

I had another CO who was the shrewd type.  I can't say for sure how much was arrogance and how much was planned.  I can tell you that he had not a shred of honesty in his bones (but he sure could get mad when someone else was dishonest - we called this a double standard).  He even once sort of admitted that he was the only one who could approve lying in an official document, but he would deny ever saying it.  This CO cared about one thing - HIM.  It was all about HIS success, HIS reputation, HIS advancement and HIS power.  He would do or say anything to make sure HE advanced.

Now I'll say this was arguably the most successful boat I was on - at least on paper.  Submarines are ideally suited to a CO with a ton of brains, and no scruples.  I would even have to say that his leadership style was effective in other ways, we never failed a mission and never missed an underway.  This is a big deal in the submarine world.  That said, it was a miserable place to work.  We ground up people and spit them out.  Senior staff called it quits (some retiring and some tapping out medically) and our retention of junior sailors was abysmal (though the reports were tweaked to make it look better.)  The ship also fell apart toward the end, and the new CO was crippled by a lot of the prior CO's methods.

It "worked" temporarily, on a submarine.  It MIGHT be okay in a President, but I doubt we'll enjoy it, and it will have serious long term repercussions.

For those I know and worked with, you might think you know who I'm talking about, I will say that I took a LOT of poetic license (for obvious reasons), and blended a few personalities together.  The principle of the story is true, and will ring that way with many a Submariner, but don't think you can dredge up a specific violation or person from the story.  A lot of the framework for this occurred when I was junior, and I only put the pieces together later as I gained experience.  I of course never saw any confirmable integrity violation that wasn't dealt with appropriately.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Divided Nation

By Ray Zen

When did our nation divide itself on such a great scale?

I'd argue that we've supressed minority dissent prior to the last, say 30 years, buy beyond the scope of the (unarguable disenfranchisement of huge sections of the population), how is that we have one nation that barks so much at one another.... that there is no course for compromise.

I've rejected temptation to moderate my threads as of late other than to mediate name calling and just plain old calling out of absolute malarkey and bafoonary because, well, #1 it's absolutely exhausting.

And #2 I've watched nonfact be attacked by nonfact and I felt that taking a side would be.. I don't know...almost discrediting...

How is it that we lost sight of the truth?

The Right... for all its crude language and Memes (which I'm sorry guys sometimes just comes off as uber racist [and I'm looking objectively] combined with an over nationalistic sense of country that can't seem to terms with....

The Left... which comes off at times as defending criminal behavior...OMG whiney and is so far opposite of the over nationalists that it comes off as border line seditious...

Now let me be clear in my thoughts here.. I'm really citing EXTREME cases and some dialogue is actually quite intelligent and interesting.. some of it just a loop of the same old false narrative... as if you cut and paste I'll start seeing your point...(which by the way... negates some valid points and ends otherwise intellectual discourse)... which after all... if you're seeing this post...

You are wicked smart.

You're really bright.

I don't have dumb friends...

I think I've lived my life devoted to finding meaning and truth to it... to answer to a higher calling...

To be passionate and well thought out about the function and purpose of my existence.

To question.... regularly.

I've tried very hard to be a good husband and father... I've tried to be a good American.. I often fail as a good Christian but I try so very much to understand God and the mystery of everything...

I've always wanted to be known as a good man.

I wanted people to tell my children when they met them "your father is a good man."

And the way I've approached this goal is by taking emotional knee jerk responses and tucking them away... and I've governed the reactionary by devoting myself to being informed, educated and empathetic to those who do not see the world the way I see it.

To those who do not share my view of our country... I've exposed myself to mockery and being... how did that one guy put it?

"Over educated"

Which I view as a compliment by the way...

You'd be surprised by how many private messages I get...

One recently stands out.. it was concerned...

And I share that concern and it's taken me a few days to really form that emotion into a cognitive  statement...

It is clear to you all that I have friends of all walks...

I can list on and on the full spectrum of the political, religous, social, social class, sexual preferences, gender... I should have listed the ladies...but frankly I'm exhausted..

Exhausted because how can you be friends with me... and not with one another...

trust me we are all friends.. the people I've just listed... I love.

Really... love and would give have they a need.

How can we have gone to school together, served together, shared beers and intimate talk together and, some of you are a HUGE part of my own understanding of myself and yet I watch you...




So unnecessarily...

In that journey to find good things in this life I've learned this...

There is one version of the truth...

And then there is another....

And in the middle of those paradigms and perspectives... there indeed you will find it.

And this will set you free from fear; from political or religous dogma, from cynicism or disgust...

Oh yes you will vote Johnson.

You will #feelthejohnson

*Shameless plug*

BTW, Kirk Taylor is the only person out of my 1600+ friends who haven't found one disagreement with yet.. there is your gold sticky of approval..

(Thanks for gaffing my nuke card)

*submarine joke*

But I felt compelled to challenge each of you, tagged and untagged in this post, why don't you do a tad more bit listening and a little less typing...

You might learn something...

About yourself.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Trump and Veterans

By Ray Zen

I'm sorry folks but how can someone label me as a traitor or insult me because I refuse to vote for a man who willingly and openly insults a Gold Star Mother.

None of us have laid down such a sacrifice at the altar of freedom and Trump's comments are reflective on just how willing he is to insult and blaspheme those who do not support him.

It is even more clear to those of you who claim Trump has the interest of Veterans at heart that you are wrong.

 A veteran is:

Felt left behind...

He just tried to leave a heroic Veteran's family behind because they supported his political opponent.

There is no justification for his context in which it can be understood... so please I challenge you to justify this statement... don't get all Bengazi... don't start talking about something else that is not relevant for this particular thread... don't try  giving me and the rest of the people reading this a red herring to somehow intellectually justify why you're voting for this person.

This person... who believes it's okay to insult the family of a man who laid down his life for our freedom.

As a leader of a major political party Trump needs to be accountable for his words...

I for one, will hold him accountable....

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Results, Processes and Principles

By Kirk

A problem I see today is that people think about the results they want,  but don't think enough about the process and, more importantly,  the principles and unintended consequences.

Especially in politics,  someone agrees that something is bad,  decides it must be corrected, and away we go.

The two parties epitomize this. They don't care about principles.  They both claim to want freedom,  but only with regard to goals they want. Their platforms are rife with goals, but the principles seem to be filled in to back up the goals,  not vice versa.

Just because an outcome is desirable,  does not mean any means can be used to achieve it.

I think this is why,  for now,  I'm a libertarian.  Their policies flow from principles,  at least until they get power, and the principles are as simple as can be and respect YOU and your choices.

Cue the comments on the 2 parties principles,  most of which are actually policies disguised as principles. (Example: sanctity for life,  while supporting the death penalty and endless war. )

On Israel...

By Ray Zen

I found something I disagree with Johnson on... he thinks we should cut support to Israel...

This is a bad idea.

I like Israel... yes they are kind of like a cousin we have that can be a dick sometimes.... but Israel would come to our aid if we needed them....

For a country, that my friend Benny pointed out to me, that has less of a population than then then that of the New York City metropolitan area...

Them is some tough Jews.... and to be honest, we should support them even if it's just on a ethical plain.

Israel has a right to exist!

Now with that said... Palestinians too have a right to exist... they have right to opportunity... of course if their leadership sought to exist rather than destroy.. this whole point would be moot.

Fundamentalism creates a false sense of masculinity and martyrdom.  Even the Muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet (at a minimum) and isn't Christ that said "Blessed is the Peacemaker."

Now some of you don't even belief He existed.

 I get that.

But let us acknowledge that Israel, it's creation and our support is charged with so many emotional and spiritual roots that whether or not you understand them are very real to the people that believe them.

That acknowledging that people believe a particular way does not mean you agree with said beliefs but that you acknowledge the importance that people place in them.

Beyond the scope of the emotional and spiritual...supporting and defending Israel is America's ethical duty.  As is helping the Palestinian people grow and prosper.

Sorry Gary...  I disagree.



Quick comment on NATO Social Democracies

To be clear...Trump is a buffoon.
NY Times has an article about his comments on NATO commitments.
It's behind a pay wall so no link.
Trump's approach was,  as usual,  blunt and inept,  but he actually had a point.

I constantly hear about countries,  who happen to be NATO members,  who's glorious social welfare programs we should be emulating.
I also hear about how we could be like them if we didn't spend so much on the military.

The missed point is that all these socialist paradises are supposed to spend 2 percent of gdp on their military to support their commitment to mutual defense.  5 of them are...5.
These countries rely on the United States military spending to make up for their lack thereof.
Until these countries meet their obligations for mutual defense and stop being military moochers, I don't want to hear about how we should be like them.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ray Zen's Gun to the Head Post

Editors Note...Ray Zen is one of my smartest and most articulate friends.   He has kindly granted permission for me to post some of his stuff here.  I will do so without comment in the future,  and will simply start labelling the beginning of the post worth the author's name or pseudonym.

By Ray Zen:

Okay here's the deal... if I wasn't voting for Gary Johnson.. I'd be voting for Clinton...

Okay... that's probably a lie...

I think she is corrupt, unfit to be President, irresponsible with her authority, and generally very unlikable... but let's be clear here she is unfit in the sort of way that has been unfit for any person who desires a title...a milestone on the highway of history.

Now Obama is not all beds and roses... I really don't like the Affordable Care Act, it has hit me... a middle class person.... in a lot of ways...

But I got to be honest..history will remember him well.. naysayers be damned...

He did a lot for the Republic.  A lot for people.  I benefitted from some of his programs...

And I got to be honest.... he is a smooth talking son of a gun....and I genuinely like him.

I'm proud I voted for him.  I was proud to vote for W. Before the invasion of Iraq....

(BTW I wore the uniform during that time and I'm from NY.)

I will never forget the leadership he displayed when we were face to face with our invincibility...he was a comfort ti me...give credit where it is do.

I have no regrets in my decisions.

This Trump guy... and you guys know me... I think it out...

This guy is belligerent.

100% entertaining.

But frighteningly out of touch and irresponsible...

I'm positive that like most people he has shown glimmers of hope.  I'm sure he has expressed generosity...and there's something to his shtick... he says a lot of what many of you are thinking.

It gives him a sense of authenticity.

You kind of admire his "I don't give a fuck [ness]."

I get that.  He speaks to a part of you... and I only can respect that.

Let's face it .. he is the anti-obama.

And wow do people hate Obama!

I understand why....but let's be really real here...

The thing people who support Trump like about him the most is the way he really doesn't seem to really give crap about what he says....

We just have to see what will come out of his mouth.  For or against... I'm dying to hear the stupid shit that will come out of his silly little mouth.

It's completely engaging.

It's unsophisticated.

It is completely what is on his mind. (Which is actually the most frightening thing about him).

It's like having a conversation with a drunk.

It is

And sometimes you think.... "yeah, I think that."

Combine that with

(1) some hate for Obama
(2) distrust and dislike for Hillary
(3) a little dose of fear.... and don't be macho... I too am scared for our future
(4) a lack of understanding for the Middle East
(5) a lack of understanding for the minority experience in America

...I'm not calling you ignorant by the way... I'm calling you unempathetic...

(6) it fundamentally breaks down to the feeling that many of us are being left out of the story.

Take a moment... put down the phone.. and if you're voting for him... think that out.. don't "Trump" your vote.... think it out.

We feel like...well my ancestors parents struggled... I worked hard...where is the recognition of my pains?

Where is the recognition of my hardships..I've overcome...

Where is my yellow sticky of approval?

Who is speaking for me?

I'll tell you honestly... I feel that way sometimes....

I'm white.

The only thing that puts me in a protected class is that I'm a disabled, "combat" veteran...and to be candid... my "disability" and my "combat" fall in line with the semantics that the VA and State and Federal Law has outlined...

I tip my hat for the people that really experienced life altering events...

But still I'm White.

I don't feel guilty about it.  I don't owe anyone anything but an unbiased truth that they are people before they are a religion, color or sexual orientation... and that is what Martin Luther King Jr  challenged us to do.

And I accept that challenge.. and from that I've been enriched with great coworkers, great bosses, beautiful children and my most beloved bride...

Yet still... who will recognize that I deserve prosperity for the devotion to my vocation?

What Government entity will say I deserve an opportunity over someone else who may be "less worthy" but may still get the program benefits or the job or the social recognition?

What WILL I miss out on because I'm supposedly priveledge?

Doesn't my unrivaled work ethic justify my success?  Doesn't my sacrifice? Doesn't the fact that I did the right thing so many times despite the fact that the easy path seemed so inviting?

And for that.. it shouldn't matter that I'm white or another rival is a different color...

Acknowledging that racism exists does not mean that you're apologetic for your hard work.

It does not mean that undeserving people will gain opportunity at your cost.

It just means that you recognize the truth of our society... and that talent will be recognized not at the cost of your own opportunity but will contribute and yes.. change... the landscape and face of our culture.

It will enrich us.

Bring greater dimension and ability...bring us true conquest not with bombs and soldiers but by the merit of our society based on multiculturalism, inclusion and the human experience... we will win because of inclusion.

We will create "buy in" from the common person.

For what is the world but common.

I believe this... I don't want my children to have advantages because they're minorities...I want their merit to be earned because they are Batkays... they are Santiagos.

... because they are fucking beautiful and you would be a fool not to give them a shot....

Now some of you somehow think Trump is sending this think he is going to "relevel the playing field.. "

He's not.

He comes off as anti establishment because he hasn't made a career out of compromise in back rooms....

But on the contrary.. he is the establishment indeed... he's the same "gut feeling".... the same latent and to be frank overt bias that is decades behind where we stand today....

He appeals to the lesser men and idealogy of yesteryear...

The concept that somehow America was a better place 50 or 100 years ago....

Hey fuckheads 50 or 100 years it was illegal (that means AGAINST THE LAW) for me to marry my wife in many American States... and fuck you if you think you're going to tell me who to love.

I love who I love and you or any law have zero governance over my heart.. or anyone else's.

That's not a "greater" time...

There was conscription.... Gays could be beaten without suffering the penalty of hate crimes...lynchings could happen enmasse without outrage.

People could put up signs that said "Irish need not apply."

The mafia could operate without reproach... exploiting my own people for their criminal enterprise.

In many states... my own couldn't share a meal with me in a restaurant.

This is not a "greater" America.

Yes there were great achievements.... But how many more great things could we have achieved had we included the best and brightest of all races and cultures?

This man wants to build a wall to our brown south and keep the north white border open?

You think terrorists are all Arabs?

One word:  Chechnya

Drug dealers all latino:  La Cosa Nostra

This man makes sweeping generalizations to pander to simple assumptions and the body politic of the GOP has bought into it... shame on them. Shame. Shame. Shame.

I'm not buying it.  He either believes his gibberish or he has nefarious intentions.  Either way he's either ignorant or evil.

So if you believe in a fair shake.

If you believe in Martin Luther King's dream...

If you believe that America is indeed great and a leader,  not just in ass kicking, but a leader in Freedom and the human experience....

Then vote for Gary Johnson.

Gun to my Head Time - Election Edition

Cards on the table...

I will be voting for Gary Johnson

That said, people have asked me who I would support and why, if it was just Hillary or Trump.

Besides the obvious answer of not voting...I will indulge.

I am leaning Hillary, for 3 reasons...

1. As PJ O'rourke said (I think and paraphrased)...Hillary is wrong about everything, but she is wrong within the normal range.
2. Hillary is a lying, corrupt, self serving, pandering, elitist, power hungry scumbag. Or, to put it another way, everything I expect from a major party candidate.
3. To expand on 2, I have no idea what Trump is.

All that said, I'm kinda hoping Trump wins  (if not Gary), because I think it would accelerate the 2 party dumpster fire apocalypse and help bring a third party to the table, but I think that violates the spirit of the question which was who sucks less.  Voting for trump because he sucks more is cheating...for this imaginary game.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Risk Assessment - Terrorism and Civil Liberties

No one seems to care about the erosion of their civil rights.
The arguments I get often are that if you don't do anything wrong you don't have to worry.  It won't happen to me. It only happens to criminals.
All somewhat rational,  if short sighted, arguments.
If only we applied that to terrorism.  We demand more,  often draconian and illegal action to prevent terrorism than can be justified by the risk.
You are NOT going to be the victim of a terrorist attack.
I can say car accidents, lightning strike,  heart disease and many other far more likely events,  but I'm going to list some unusual ones.

All of the following are more likely than you being the victim of a terrorist attack:

Your phone being tapped
Your being placed on the no fly list
Your social media being monitored
Your car being searched
Your being frisked by a police officer
The TSA stealing something from your luggage
You being stopped by police as a pretext for searching your car
You being arrested for a crime you didn't commit
A prosecutor illegally withholding evidence from your lawyer
A police officer lying to you
A police officer quoting the law to you incorrectly.
A police officer shooting you
A no knock raid at your house at 3 am
Your stuff being stolen by the government (civil asset forfeiture)

You don't even want to imagine the risks of the above if you are black...

Terrorism or civil's not even close.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Charleston Cheers

Where does everyone in Charleston know your name?  Cafe Craft, on Dorchester Rd. in North Charleston/Summerville.

Any night you go there, you will find a core group of patrons who know each other.  Take the time to say hello, and you will suddenly find yourself a part of this group.

It's a small place, with a great beer selection on tap, and on the shelves.

Tonight, a Thursday, from 6 to 8, they had a tap takeover from Sierra Nevada, and the brewery rep could not believe how many people showed up, and how many knew each other.

This is a bar where you can relax, drink great beer, and socialize with awesome, friendly beer lovers.
And the owners, Emily and Wes are just good people.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Something Made me Think about Checking my Privilege

This is a very poorly thought out, rapidly written post based on things popping into my head.  They may not stand up to sober reflection - so judge lightly...

"I've stood, baffled and frozen, when a stranger groped me in a bar."

More and more, I hear things like this, and realize it happens more than I ever thought it did.  I always wonder how someone doesn't end up in jail or beaten up.  I can't put myself in the shoes of someone who has this happen.  That said, this is a crime, and should be dealt with as such.


I wish I had more useful things to say about this.

Here's the link to the article where I read it:

Thing is, it was just a thrown in line in an article about calling women "crazy".  I can't imagine living a life in which that statement just gets thrown into an article about words.

Part of me wants to think that this writer is "crazy" and throws that statement in to add weight to the article.  To think that it doesn't happen as often as she implies.  But I'm pretty sure that even if she's exaggerating her experience, it happens a lot more than I'd ever like to think about.

Another part of me wants to judge her for not immediately calling 911.  After all, it's sexual assault - to me, a VERY BIG DEAL!  Part of me wants to say that that makes her partially to blame for assholes thinking they can get away with it.  After all, if everyone who did this kind of bullshit got a visit from the cops, men might get the message.

But I can't do that.  I can't put myself in her, or any other woman's shoes.  I can't even get close.  I simply don't have the life experiences to judge what she, or any other woman does in this situation.

I know what I'd do, at least I think I do, but that's something that's of very little use to her or any other woman.

All that said, if you are a man who has done this, will do it, or thinks it's okay...Fuck you.  Fuck you straight to hell.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I Agree with Bernie Sanders - Money and Politics are a Corrosive Mix

As usual, I agree with the problem.
It's the solution that's crap.
In fact, there is no solution to the inexorable corruption of government officials in the face of money and the lure of personal power.
Our founders knew this.
Power corrupts.
There is, literally, no way for the government to craft laws to limit the corrosive power of money in politics.
Fox - guard this hen-house!
The only practical solution for limiting the effect of money on politics, and the effects of a a corrupt government is to limit the power of government.
Only by preventing government from exercising power over every aspect of our lives can we limit the damage government corruption sows.
Of course, right now the only check on government power, the Constitution, is being actively subverted.
Who's doing the subverting?
A branch of government!
The Supreme Court.
It's no surprise that the watch word of this election is "3 nominations!"
Each party wants to ensure they get the power to make those nominations.
Does either party want justices to limit the power of government?
Hell NO!
They want justices who will validate THEIR notions of what power the government should have.

We're all fucked.


As a Gary Johnson supporter, I guess it's time to tell you all how I feel about drugs.  This post represents my current beliefs.  I'm going to start with some very specific policy proposals, and then maybe spend some time talking about them:

At the Federal Level:

1.  The Federal government should lift the ban on all illicit drugs, and on the abuse of "medical" drugs, effective 1 year to the date from passage of this change.
2.  During that year the DEA should be disbanded, and it's budget shifted toward some combination of deficit reduction, mental health treatment  drug abuse treatment and education, and the next suggestion.  Most of this should occur at the state level.
3.  Also during this year, the sentences of non-violent Federal drug offenders should be reviewed, and parole, commutations and pardons issued as appropriate.
4.  The 1 year waiting period will be used by the States to craft their own drug policies.
5.  Streamline FDA approval process, and allow promising drugs late in the approval phase to be used by patients with informed consent.  Limit drug company liability for approved drugs, or informed consent drugs unless there is willful failure to disclose detrimental effects or cheating in the approval process.
6.  Provide clear study results with drugs indicating plain English risk statements with comparison to other common "risky" activities.  (ORM approach for you military people).

At MY (SC) states level (you do what you want in your state):

1.  Make marijuana and it's derivatives legal for anyone over the age of 18.  Only regulations based on prevention of use by minors.
2.  Decriminalize the possession and use of all other illicit drugs at amounts appropriate to indicate personal use vice trafficking.
3.  Limit enforcement of drug trafficking laws and refocus effort and funding on treatment and counselling.  Enforcement efforts should be focused on keeping drugs away from children, and on violence associated with trafficking.  Essentially, if you are a trafficker who keeps it out of the hands of children, and doesn't engage in violence, you could expect to be left relatively alone by the police.
4.  Based on the effects of marijuana legalization, consider legalization of other drugs, with phase in and testing periods (heroin and the like kinda scare me as to whether full legalization will work).

I'll get back to this post with discussion after I let it marinate on Facebook for a while...

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Minimum Wage is Actually Zero

This is the unpleasant fact that most people who support the minimum wage fail to realize or refuse to accept.  The minimum wage guarantees everyone (mostly) WITH A JOB, a minimum wage PER HOUR.  It doesn't guarantee you a job, or a minimum number of hours.

The Minimum Wage sounds good, which explains why it has so much support, but if you can't get a job - you get zero.  More specifically, if you can't provide a value per hour of productivity that is more than the minimum wage, then you can't get work.  You are structurally unemployable.  Funny thing is, the people most likely to be unable to provide this value are the ones we are trying to help with the minimum wage.

And that's just the beginning of effects of the minimum wage.  There are other alternatives to an employer just eating the higher wage out of profits: cutting hours, raising prices, demanding more from workers, automation, going out of business.  Plus there's the affects that never get seen: businesses that never start because the regulations are too onerous and make profitability difficult, impossible, or simply not worth the risk (there's a reason bug, established companies support the minimum wage - they can pay it, their potential competitors can't).  There's also the fact that someone who can't provide enough value at the minimum wage now is unable to take advantage of the best way to learn skills that will allow them to provide that value in the future - by working!

Sure, you can cite studies that say these effects aren't real, or that they're minimal, or that they're offset by the increase in wages.  The problem is that for every one of those studies, there are several that point out the obvious, inescapable economic fact that when you raise the price of something, ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, you get less of it.  I capitalized that because it explains why every minimum wage hike doesn't cause unemployment to go up.  To make a simple example: employment trends up over time - the minimum wage doesn't always reverse this trend, but, in a vacuum, it will slow it down.  You can show me study after study, but the burden of proof is high when you say that employment violates a fundamental law of economics - supply and demand - it just doesn't add up.

The question isn't: "What is the state of the economy now?"  It's: "What would it be if we hadn't been artificially inflating wages for almost fifty years?"  It's: not: "What effect does the minimum wage have on minority employment?"  It's: "What would minority unemployment be now if we hadn't been pricing many of them out of employment for the last 50 years?"

There's racism of thought, action and effect.  The minimum wage is racist in effect, and pretty damn effective at it as well.  Hell, there's a lot of evidence that this was the PURPOSE of the minimum wage!  If you want to improve the lives of minorities and the poor, freeze the minimum wage.

And stop demonizing minimum wage opponents as anti-poor.  We just believe in economics.  We may be wrong, but our hearts are in the same place yours are.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Shut Up! You're Wrong!

and racist, and stupid, and evil, and the very words you say are so hurtful that to merely hear them is an offense against all that is holy.

This is the state of polite discourse in this country.  We are so unwilling to accept the slightest possibility that everything we believe in is 100%, totally right, that we just shut the opposition up.  In my mind, if you can't even engage an argument, then the other side wins by default.  If your opinion is so weak, that you can't even listen to what someone else has to say then it's you who needs to shut the fuck up.  I really don't care how vile, wrongheaded or stupid the other side is - hell - if they're that stupid, the debate should be short.

I'm not talking about some Facebook comment argument that goes in circles 57 times, or someone who repeats the same thing over and over, or resorts to name calling.  I'm not even talking about politely not wanting to talk about a particular subject at this, or even any, time.

I'm talking about name calling, trying to get people fired, not letting people speak, shouting people down, banning speech, hate speech laws and all the other ways people try to shield themselves from opinions they disagree with.  Worse, trying to shield other people from hearing that there might be another side to the argument.  I think gays should marry, but there are a shit ton of people that think otherwise.  Calling them names, refusing to let them speak, calling for their firing...none of these are going to change their minds or heart.

I am 100%, solidly convinced that the minimum wage is incredibly harmful to exactly the people it is supposed to help, but I'll engage in debate about it anytime I have the time.  I can even accept that I might be wrong - that's why I want to keep talking about it!  To learn, and to educate (and to be able to better crush your argument when someone else brings the same thing up.)

Here are some things I'm talking about:

Since moving to the South I've learned a lot about racism.  I've learned a lot about prejudice.  You meet someone, get to know them, find their a good person, and then the "N" word drops.  Was I wrong about this person?  Are they evil?  No, not generally, they've just been raised a certain way, exposed to certain things, and never really been challenged in their beliefs.  I often learn that their beliefs are pretty shallow as well.  I know someone who would give the shirt off his back to anyone, black, white, gay, straight, trans...anything.  But he also had this nebulous, prejudiced idea about African Americans.  And he used the "N" word.  I was flummoxed.  Then you figure out that there's a lot more to it.  It seemed it was always either blacks he'd never met, or assholes who happened to be black that drew his ire.  It was ingrained, reflexive and completely invisible to him.  Over several years, and lots of conversations, I've not "fixed" him, but he thinks one hell of a lot different now than he did then.  Because I, and other people engaged with him.  I didn't judge his heart based on those beliefs.  I didn't belittle him or shun him, I talked to him.  I also didn't talk down to him about it.  Just because I found his beliefs to be repugnant didn't mean they weren't very real and very important to him.  They came from family, friends and loved ones.  You can't root out this kind of stuff with hate and anger and belittlement.  It just doesn't work.  And he's a great guy.  He just has some flaws, like all of us do.

**** (these means the following was added after the initial post)

An additional thought based on some Facebook reactions I've seen:  It seems like the line between someone you think is passionate and caring and someone you think is angry and deranged is your level of agreement with them.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Financial Advisor Fiduciary Rules

This is government at its best - taking a real problem, trying to solve it, and making it worse.

Yes, financial advisers have an inherent conflict of interest that tends to cause them to steer clients towards investments that make the adviser money.  Worse, most financial advisors get most of their training from the company that employs them, so they don't even KNOW that their advice is tainted.  This is the only explanation for why good, honest people can sell whole or universal life policies, which are terrible and you should never buy.

This is a problem requiring a solution.  Despite my misgivings, it might even require a government solution.  The solution on the table, however, won't solve the problem (unless you think you've solved the problem of there being marginal advice by replacing it with no advice at all).  Contrary to what Bernie might say, even financial advisors have to make money.  They make money off commissions, and that leads to the conflict of interest.  Requiring a fiduciary standard, which HuffPo conveniently fails to define - here's a decent source, though it fails to highlight the pitfalls.

Simply put, a fiduciary standard makes an advisor VERY responsible for giving good advice, and opens them up to enormous potential liability.  No advisor is going to accept that risk without some real money coming in.  In fact, HuffPo misses the point that the standard already applies to advisors!  It's brokers, people who facilitate more than advise, that don't have to uphold the higher standard.

If this rule passes (which is a misnomer, since it is unelected bureaucrats making the rule) poor and middle class people will find investment advice almost impossible to come by.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What it's all about...

I argue a lot....A lot.
I'm opinionated, sarcastic and also wicked smart and well read.

That said, like most people, my opinions and tightly held beliefs change over time.  I've found that ideas I fervently clung to a decade ago just aren't right.  Hell, there are things I thought yesterday that were just stupid.  I like to be challenged, but hate being wrong, even though I'm probably wrong more often than I think.

This blog is a way of challenging my beliefs, as well as articulating my beliefs in a way that helps me understand them better.

It's also a place that I can write whatever I want, without messing up the theme behind my food blog and my tax blog.  I'm going to write whatever I want, however I want, and without much editing.  I'm going to express some frightfully stupid, offensive and also incredibly smart and insightful things.  I'm going to argue in favor of things I despise, and against things I love.  Then do the opposite.

I'm going to label posts so you can generally tell where I stand at the time of writing, and this is important...if you decide to take something I write, knowing that it might not be what I really believe, and spread that about as though I actually believe it, then you're a dick.  That's all.  Go ahead and do it if you want, or be a stand up person and argue with me about things here.

I hope to make this a place where people (especially me) can learn about issues, critical thinking, good argument techniques, and what a generally brilliant person I am (modest too).  

I might invite people to write here if I respect the way they express their beliefs.  I don't actually care what their beliefs are, just that they can articulate them well and make me smarter.  But this is my house, and what I say goes.  I won't change your comment or post, but I will delete it if I don't like it.  The criteria for that are...there are none.  My house.  If I don't like it, that's enough - though you'll find I'm pretty tolerant.  This is one thing I believe, tolerance is about putting up with stuff you don't like.  It's easy to be tolerant of things that you agree with, or don't annoy you.  True tolerance is accepting (or at least, well, tolerating) things that really bug the living shit out of you, or that you really, REALLY disagree with.  Please be tolerant of the insanity to follow....

Thoughts on Bathrooms

Use the bathroom you're most comfortable with.
There, problem solved.
If a business won't let you use the bathroom you want, leave, and don't come back - that's what I do when I have issues with a bathroom.

Getting the government involved in bathroom rules is stupid, and a recipe for disaster.

There are a people I'm a lot more creeped out in a bathroom than I am about the trans gendered...
Like that guy who wants a buck for handing me a towel, and thinks I might like a mint that's spent any amount of time in a bathroom.
Like the guy who doesn't use proper urinal selection etiquette - there's a rule book, with charts, and scenarios, and a test - it's actually stupid - like fag seats between two guys at a theater (sorry for the ugly term, but that's what they were called, and that's how fucking stupid they were.  Only the use of the term can convey how homophobic you have to be to need a seat between you and a guy so people won't think you're gay.)  Back to creepy people in bathrooms (wow we got off topic quick)...
Like anyone buying a condom or cologne out of a bathroom vending machine.

Anyone who thinks that when politicians, pundits and activists (most of them) get involved that it's about rights, protections and freedom is deluded.  This is an issue right now so that Conservatives can get votes from neanderthals, and liberals can get votes from people who think there's a giant mass of people who give a shit what bathroom you use.  Spoiler alert, there isn't, and the ones who do exist, nobody gives a fuck what they think, except conservatives trying to get their vote.

This isn't about religious freedom, and it isn't about trans rights.  It's about power.  The power of the government to tell you what to do, and both sides are wrong.  Under no circumstance should the government be telling people what bathrooms they have to use, or telling a business what their bathroom policy should be, beyond having one, and I'm pretty sure the marketplace will fix that one too.  I know I'm not going to a bar without a bathroom, and there better not be a line.

I have no problem with the people boycotting Target over their bathroom decision (well, I do, but that's a personal belief based on their opinion - but boycotting - knock yourself the fuck out.)  I also will have no issue with the other side boycotting Target when they inevitably bow to public pressure.  I do have a problem with people wanting the government involved.  That's how you get police beating and tasing people for using the wrong bathroom.  I think we can work this out without anyone being beaten, arrested, tased or humiliated - at least until someone decides to get violent, then 911 it is.

Now on to the craptastic NC law that's got everyone worked up.  That law is only "needed" because of other craptasticer (def: more craptastic) laws passed by other monkey fucking morons who just can't help themselves but try to tell people what to do.  On top of that, the law is both so narrowly designed as to be discriminatory (against all non christian beliefs that might also need "protecting") and also widely subject to interpretations and unintended consequences that will boggle the mind when some 14 year old ends up on the sex offender registry.  Very similar to Mississippi's religious freedom law with regards to gays.  I'll let Popehat Lawsplain it for you.  In short, some stupid fucking busybodies that can't leave well enough alone and want to tell people what they can and can't do have caused other head-up-assers who can't imagine not protecting their ever-so-perfect religion (and no others) to create this Giant Steaming Bucket of Fuck out of NOTHING!

Fuck them all.  Use the bathroom you want, and if someone has an issue with it, kick 'em in the nuts (originally provided, or added later.)

Nothing discussed here should be interpreted as me not being empathetic to the very real struggles the LGBT community face every day.  I just think things will get a hell of a lot better, a hell of a lot faster, if we can keep the government's dicks out of the whole thing.

Bonus Popehat thoughts on bathrooms

20160428 Things I'm Digesting...

Popehat on Rape

Deidre on improving the lot of the poor.

Are we fighting an unauthorized war?  (Oops, a headline as a question!)

Simple Justice AND Popehat will try to make you smarter

Math Shit I wish I understood better - but there's a movie coming out about him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Global Warming

I haven't decided if I'm going to keep updating posts on a subject, or make new posts whenever I'm thinking about things.  I have some time, since I haven't posted much yet.  It's amazing how when you start a blog where you can explore politics, everyone on all social media platforms stop posting thought provoking or irritating things - go figure.

This post would be a good example of a "don't quote me post".  I'm going to go everywhere, and a lot of what I'm going to write doesn't necessarily comport with any solid conclusions on my part.  I'm not an expert on climate, but I'm really good at politics and political motives, as well as sciencey shit in general, but I'm the wrong guy to form your opinions based on my thoughts.  Bottom line, don't assume you know my true thoughts based on what you read here.  A lot of this is going to be me digging holes and following random thought chains.  Everything that follows is unreliable as to my true views - which are fungible anyway.

That said, you could call me a climate change skeptic, but that just means I'm skeptical of everything, especially if it involves government action.  I am pretty sure climate change is occurring and I'm pretty sure man is a big part.  But I'm very skeptical of calls to action.  By their very own "science" climate change advocates have pretty much proven that carbon control is too little too late - so why wreck the world economy trying to clean everything up.  I'm all for slow and steady progress in the direction of clean air, but the plans of some of these people would send us back to the stone age.  If you ask me, we should focus on effect mitigation, not go balls to the wall on prevention, especially if prevention won't work.  One big thing I could get behind is to stop subsidizing insurance for oceanfront homes - that seems the opposite of what we should be doing if sea level's going to rise.

I'm especially skeptical of motives.  Not the motives of the average joe, or the celebrity true believer.  I'm skeptical of the politicians, the businessmen, the lobbyists, the world government and NGO's.  I just don't believe it's all about climate change.  I think this is just the latest "crisis" that's being used to shove a bunch of policies down our throats, get more power, and get more money.  These were the same people screaming "global cooling" and "new ice age" a couple decades ago.

I like clean power.  I love nuclear power.  I like solar and wind.  Everyone loves solar and wind, just ask Vermont, vehemently protesting wind turbines, shutting down nuc plants, protesting natural gas pipelines, and then wondering why their energy bills are skyrocketing.  I fully expect the giant fields of solar panels will feel their wrath soon enough.

I'm also an optimist.  I expect, if the dire predictions are true, that we'll get through it.  We'll find ways to slow it, mitigate it, or even reverse it.  It's what we do.  I'm also a big fan of local action.  It seems strange to me that there's not more solar in Charleston.  We have these giant neighborhoods, with tons of light exposure, and powerful HOA's.  Why aren't they negotiating a big bulk price for panel installation and getting whole neighborhoods done.  Especially with the subsidies available (which I hate in principle but will accept at the drop of a hat if it works for me.)  It makes me wonder.

Huge left turn aside - tax subsidies.  This is pure advice from a tax guy.  When you get a loan from a solar company, with a 30% balloon due April 15th the year after installation, be prepared to be screwed.  The idea is that the 30% tax credit will pay the balloon.  The problem is that if your taxes hit 0, you have to wait until next year, or the year after that to get the rest of the subsidy, but the balloon payment is still due.  Make sure to check your taxes to see if you can get the whole credit before signing.

Aside done.  Where the fuck was I?


Should New York City be building a big sea wall instead of pushing carbon controls?
Should New Orleans be upgrading their flood control systems?
Should we be looking for a technology solution to excess heat retention?
Heat is good.  Lots of energy.  Can we harness this excess in a good way?
If our planet is so fragile, why aren't we putting more effort into establishing a foothold somewhere else?
Why do environmentalists hate Nuclear?  It is literally as clean as it gets.
Do I care what sea level will be in 50 years?

I still have this nagging feeling that this might all be bullshit, but I wouldn't care if we weren't suggesting solutions that are enormous in scope and cost.  The problem with science is that we just don't know shit.  Eggs are bad, eggs are good, eggs are bad again, or are they good - fuck - who can keep track.  The climate is HUGE!  Sure, something's going on, but do we really know where it's going and what's going to happen?

I also think this carbon thing has sucked the life out of other important environmental issues like water pollution, over fishing, fertilizer runoff.  It's all carbon all the time.

Well shit.  I seem to have come across as the anti science nut job.  Oh well.  Just seeing where the thinking leads me.  There are plenty of people writing about why we should all be scared shitless.  Might as well write something different.

Remember - not necessarily my true beliefs.  Quote them as if they are mine, and you're a dick.