Monthly Archive: July 2015

Gun-waving citizens and their idea of “charm”

It seems that citizens have been disagreeing in public about a Confederate soldier statue in Denton. It involved open carry adherents, but this paragraph leaped out of the article at me:

“We’re out here to protest the sickening behavior of yesterday,” said Ian McDougal, Lake Dallas resident openly carrying a loaded AR-15, concealed revolver and “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. “It’s ruining the charm of this town.”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I do not regard people walking around with loaded AR-15 guns, other concealed firearms and “Don’t Tread On Me” flags as “charming”. I regard them as contributing to a level of scariness that will most likely cause me to avoid Denton on my travels.



A brief comment about polygamy.
I have read lots of people (some more intellectually honest than others) arguing that if SCOTUS has legalized same-sex marriages, then why not polygamous marriages?
The reality is that polygamy is already legal. You can live with as many partners of the same or opposite sex as you like, under the same roof or different roofs. What you are not allowed to do is register more than one of those concurrent relationships as a marriage. This is what the Fundamentalist LDS does today. The men have one legal wife, and many other women who function as subservient wives, and who appear to the welfare system to be single mothers. I will leave it to the readers to join the dots as to which entity is paying most of the bills for those “not allowed to call it that” wives and their children (HINT – it is not the FLDS, and it might begin with G). .
The real debate is not whether polygamy should be allowed, but under what conditions people should be allowed to register multiple concurrent marriages. The main objection, which I understand, is that polygamous arrangements like those of the FLDS are not exactly equitable or reflective of equality of partnership. I am not sure what the right solution is, but logically, nope, we cannot ban polygamy, we already have it, so we need to sit down and work out how to manage it for the good of society.


Todays round up – 19th July 2015

1. Southern Heritage
I keep hearing rationalizations for the waving of the Confederate battle flag all of the time right now, as variations on “it celebrates my/our Southern heritage”. Was it this sort of heritage the rationalizers had in mind?
2. The suddenly awkward Donald Trump
Donald Trump appears to have said Awkward Things in the past week or so. He began with some fairly obviously racially prejudicial comments about Mexicans, which nobody in the GOP wanted to talk about. Then he jumped the shark by complaining that Sen. John McCain was not a real war hero because he got captured. At this point, a number of prospective GOP candidates felt obliged to condemn his comments. This would be OK, until you remember that some of these gentlemen were quite cheerfully supporting the 2004 SwiftBoat smearing of John Kerry. Like a certain John Ellis Bush. Quite why somebody in the media doesn’t publicly ridicule and mock him for his hypocrisy I cannot fathom. Sometimes ridiculous comments deserve only ridicule. While we are at it, we could also laugh at him for his ludicrously non self-aware comments about people needing to work harder.

3. Gene Simmons, the 1%, and millionaire conceit
Gene Simmons (yes, that Gene Simmons, he of Kiss), like many wealthy people, suffers from the conceit that the world would be a much better place if everybody thought and acted just like him. He also appears to think that the 99% should be nice to the 1% because..well, apparently, according to him, they fund just about everything.
Gene appears to have forgotten some fundamental truisms. Gene, you non-self-aware twit, let me try to educate you.
1. Nobody is indispensible
If the 1% were to disappear tonight, the next 1% would move up to take their place. Yes, Kiss would be replaced by…eegads, do I have to imagine this?
2. Respect is given, not earned
If the 1% want to be respected, they should try behaving like normal people and less like conceited, entitled, whiny jackasses.
3. It is better to keep your mouth shut…
..and be thought a fool, than you open your mouth and remove all doubt. (COUGH).
Anyway, it appears that this journalist has already pointed out a few of the flaws in Gene’s bloviations.

4. The Greece Crisis
This one will run and run. The proposed third bailout of Greece is not going to be any more succcessful than the first two bailouts. The main reason is that Greece is utterly bankrupt and has no positive creditworthiness. It therefore cannot borrow to pay its debts. The IMF knows this and has stated this publicly. That now gives the ECB a major problem, since its rules, if interpreted literally, prevent it from writing off countries’ debts.
The problem is that without a significant debt write-off, it is difficult to see how Greece can ever become solvent. In the meantime, the country will continue to exist on drip-feed loans from the ECB. This will result in further contraction of the economy, which will ultimately result in social unrest.My fear is that fascist, nativist parties will then gain control, at which point…it will only be a matter of time before Greece leaves the EU.


End of Week Review – 17th July 2015

  1. Iran Deal

Juan Cole asks the interesting question of why the US media ignores the real allies of the USA in its recent negotiation with Iran in favor of reporting on opponents and armchair complainers.

  1. Jade Helm

I have yet to see a single armored vehicle in my neighborhood, but we are taking precautions. We gathered the cats together yesterday and told them to beware male cats with bow ties offering them cat treats.

  1. Michael Grimm

The former US Representative, who thought that threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony was an acceptable answer to a question, may be looking behind him rather a lot for a while, after he was sentenced to 8 months in jail for tax evasion. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

  1. Is Donald Trump politics or entertainment?

A mini firestorm has erupted over the decision of Huffington Post to move articles about Donald Trump from the politics section to the entertainment section on their website. Lots of people are complaining that HuffPo does not have the right to decide. Er, no. They can allocate Trump to whatever category they choose. People don’t search a lot by categories anyway, so I doubt that it will make much difference to the number of page views for the articles. But the cynic in me feels compelled to ask:  why isn’t all news about candidates for POTUS in the entertainment section?

  1. Forgetting that Facebook is a public forum

It seems that a mayor in WA has not yet learned all about this public forum thingy…he decided that it was OK to go on a rant about the POTUS and the FLOTUS on Facebook. Now that his rantings have been pointed out for their, er, lack of charity, he is doubling down and refusing to resign. He has issued a classic Notpology of course. He claims that resigning would be tantamount to admitting that he is a racist. Apart from the massive high-decibel “duh!” that would elicit, he should be resigning, if only for showing shockingly defective judgment in ranting on any topic on Facebook.



I remain both amazed and amused that there are so many self-proclaimed rebels in the modern USA. Everywhere I look there are individuals and groups muttering, fulminating and threatening to overthrow this that or the other.

On one level, it is kind of logical that one would find a rebel mindset in a country that is only 230 or so years old in its modern form, a country founded by rebellion against colonial subjugation.  On another level, there is no current credible existential threat to the physical survival of the USA. (As one humorist sad in Harvard Business Review many years ago, “we may be the world’s biggest debtor nation, but let’s just see them try to collect!”). There are plenty of supposed threats, but they seem in many cases to be the kind of threats that people were making dire predictions about 40+ years ago, and those fears have yet to be converted to reality.

Here are my condensed thoughts on what I term “The Rebellion Thing”. Standard disclaimers apply.

  1. It is 230+ years since the USA was created. This makes it, when compared to many countries, an adolescent. However, adolescents eventually (mostly) mature and move into a new phase in their lives. The ones that do not eventually wear out their welcome. Being a rebel is cute at 16, tired at 26, tedious at 36, puzzling at 46 and a real turn off at 56. Holden Caulfield and James Dean were only attractive because they were young and you could think “they don’t know any better”. The people that cannot quit being adolescents usually end up as figures of eye-rolling fun. You might think they are cute in small doses, but you wouldn’t want to spend much time with them. They always seem to be looking for something to rebel against.
  2. Famous rebels who obtained success via the overthrow of their opponents, in many cases, made a poor job of actually governing. The founders of the modern USA are one of the shining exceptions. Notice that they actually took time out from rebelling to think long and hard about what they wanted as an end result. The end of British rule was simply a stopping point on the journey. It was a tactic, not the whole strategy.
  3. Vague unspecified “I’m a rebel <insert bellicose snarling words>” statements don’t answer the question “what are you rebelling against”. Fine-sounding statements like “I want my country back” or “don’t tread on me” are also merely vague statements of discontent.
  4. Being a rebel doesn’t automatically make you a poster child for freedom. It is a feature of history that many rebels, when placed in positions of power, ended up rapidly becoming authoritarian despots. Behind many self-proclaimed charismatic rebels lies a dangerous mix of narcissism and conceit.
  5. Rebelling against fundamental items of reality like the federal government, taxes etc. doesn’t make you look principled and valiant. It tends to make you look like the second coming of Don Quixote. If you want to rebel against those entities or ideas, have at it, but bear in mind that everybody who tried that prior to you has, to varying degrees, failed. This probably suggests that the odds are not in your favour. Have you considered, you know, voting for different candidates? Like, candidates not belonging to the mainstream political parties that you always whine about. Just thinking out loud here…
  6. If you want to appear to be a credible rebel, it probably isn’t a great idea to use the battle flag of a defeated secessionist movement as an emblem. Defeated losers in wars generally don’t get a do-over. Who are you? The Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”?
  7. You need to either back talk up with action or risk being seen as a keyboard warrior, a member of the 101st Chairborne. Threatening to “march on Washington” because of some perceived slight or injustice tends to make you look like the small child throwing toys out of the pram because they couldn’t get their way.
  8. Martyrdom is always a good last resort if you really want to take dramatic action. However, you have to be really ready to go through with it. See (6) above. Talking tough like Ted Nugent and then hoping that people forget about it might work for some less thoughtful individuals, but it probably won’t lead most people to take you at all seriously. It’s this little thing called credibility. Even martyrs get mixed reviews in the annals of history.
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