Ballot Box + Match = ???

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We are about a month away from what I am told is, “The most important election of my lifetime.” They apparently have forgotten about the season three semi-finals of Dancing with the Stars, but that’s to be expected.

Devil Man Himself!
Actual photo of U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

With the pandemic lockdowns and the anxiety-riddled drones being in a constant state of mortal fear, the big newness this year is mail-in ballots. For a brief moment this became a rallying cry to defend the indefensible U.S. Postal Service. Seriously, this year I have had no less than four horrific experiences with the U.S.P.S. either lost packages, express delivery taking months, or just the usual mail clerk incompetence. This was long before Trump appointed that guy (who my Facebook friends assure me is the Antichrist) as Postmaster General.

Thankfully, we are now about 300 news-cycles away from when U.S.P.S. was all that stood between democracy and Armageddon. Since then we’ve been told that dropping your ballot in a specified drop-off box is now the way to go to insure fair election results. Of course, with this is now coming stories of fake ballot boxes. I googled photos of these fake boxes and can’t believe anyone would fall for what is essentially a rusty file cabinet with a printout taped to the front inscribed with the words “Offishal Ballot Box.”

This got me thinking that wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to simply drop a lit match into an actual ballot drop-off box? I can’t be the first person to have thought of this. I haven’t been able to find anyone else suggesting it. Sure, there wouldn’t be enough oxygen inside the box for it to burn very long, but I suppose you could prop the flap open and provide some sort of accelerant. I guess today’s electioneering fraudsters just lack creativity. I blame social media.

Political Word Trends

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The current presidential election cycle has made Facebook insufferable these days. As the various screeds flow across my feed from people who would normally be reasonable friends, I am noticing what I am calling, “political word trends.” Out-of-the-blue people start using the exact same words to describe something with which they have a political beef. I know this is essentially the same thing as talking points (like when every Democratic operative on the planet described Hillary “powering through” her illness), but what I am seeing is just a little more subtle.

I first noticed this when, over the course of a few unrelated discussion threads, libertarianism came up and, in addition to the usual “they hate firemen” arguments, someone would refer to libertarians as “children.” Maybe there was a huge write up in The Nation that used this term? I don’t know. It just seemed odd that it suddenly appeared 3 or 4 times without any prompting. Next, I began to hear the term “ghouls” used over and over to describe pro-gun advocates. Again, maybe John Oliver had a witty diatribe about these “ghouls” but this seemed weirdly coincidental to me. Or maybe I’m just jealous that I am not being invited to all the hip parties. Instead I sulk at home with like a ghoulish child. I will keep my eyes open for more. Stay tuned.

And Why Are You Telling Us This?

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So, here we are post mid-term Republican take-over of the legislature. As one might expect, my Facebook feed been awash with bitter and angry lefty losers (Although it hasn’t been quite as bad as I expected. I guess the election outcome was not much of a shock). Posts range from the typical “I don’t know anyone who would have voted for these monsters” to expected sour-grapes cries of cheating, etc. Fortunately, there were none of the usual calls to violence and injury as I have seen in the past:

Something came across my feed this morning that had me thinking, and when I start thinking it’s usually a good idea fore me to log off of Facebook and take to my blog where my rants won’t lose me friends (and won’t be read by anybody). A friend of mine linked to an article about the CEO of ULINE and how he was the a big-time contributor to conservative candidates and causes across the state. He is, as the headline put it, “The Koch of conservative politics in Illinois.”

As an aside, What’s with the left and their continual need for boogeymen when advocating for their causes? These days Koch brothers are the anti-christ du jour. Had this article come out ten years ago it would reference Haliburton. Ten years before that, maybe Mark Furhman? I guess there exists a sort of transitive property in politics that makes any problem more dire simply by association. And before you cry partisan foul, I realize that Republicans can do this to… I remember ACORN… but I feel it is much more rampant on the left.

Anyhow, back to the matter at hand. This friend linked the article then proclaimed that, of course, he will no longer will buy anything from ULINE again. Now, I am all for using the pocketbook to express a political position. You think GMOs are bad, by all means buy your organic small-batch artisinal what-nots to your heart’s content. But I don’t quite understand what the end-game is here, especially since he felt fit to announce this to world via social media.

Let’s just say everyone sees his post and decides never to satisfy their cardboard shipping needs at ULINE ever again. ULINE closes shop and all the workers, drivers and office drones there, regardless of their political convictions, are out of a job (something like 2000+ employees). I don’t think that’s the result anyone wants. Ok, if that’s not what we’re after, let’s say the CEO is starting to feel the economic pressure of the boycott. Then what’s he supposed to do, abandon his political convictions in favor of yours? That seems rather narcissistic. Why should everyone agree with you? As the old cliche goes, do you think you have a monopoly on the truth? Here in Chicago, if I only patronized the businesses of people I agreed with I would go hungry real fast (grocers are a secret Marxist cabal from what I hear).

I think what really burns me here is that the boycott is being called not because of the way the company runs its business, rather it’s to punish one man over his political beliefs, and, in the process, punish tons of people who are just living their lives. Can’t we just accept that people have different views? Don’t be a fool, buy from the company that offers you the best product at the best price and use whatever money you saved to fund your pet political cause and don’t let petty politics run your life.

Occupy Whatever

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I had thought that the whole occupy Wall Street thing had lost all its steam but then some cop had go and kick it up a notch by spraying a little peppery spice. Bam! All the sudden pepper spray policeman has become a rallying point for the OWS supporters. I suppose this is good for the cause, because, frankly, up until now they haven’t had any sort of unifying message around which to rally. Personally, despite my general agreement about wall street bailouts and corporate cronyism,  I never was a big fan of the movement. It seems to be yet another iteration of standard decades-old lefty memes mixed with the usual chanting and hackneyed street theater. Okay, you dislike corporatism and wealth inequities, but how does camping out all night for weeks on end make your point—other than leading to the inevitable conflict with “The Man?” That seems to be the end game of all these lefty protests. Wear out your welcome, then incite some sort of police confrontation and maybe you’ll get some (literal) kick-ass images you and your bearded hipster pals being dragged away by the boys in blue. But this is just that aforementioned street theater. Unless you are showing civil disobedience over not being allowed to camp in a city park, your point is lost. The vague demands of OWS could just as easily and effectively be made during normal business hours and you could use your evenings for spending time with your family or showering.

Remember When…

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Ok, so this is my response to this thing that’s been passed around Facebook for the past few months. The original says, “Remember When Teachers, Public Employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS Crashed The Stock Market, Wiped Out Half Of Our 401Ks, Took Trillions In Taxpayer Funded Bail Outs, Spilled Oil In The Gulf Of Mexico, Gave Themselves Billions In Bonuses, And Paid No Taxes? Yeah, Me Neither… Pass It On.”

My first response was, “Well yes, as a matter of fact, I do remember when Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS didn’t pay taxes.” But that sorta misses the point. I suppose the message here is that those nasty teabaggers and other fiscally conservative-types are demonizing these wonderful institutions while corporations are running rampant and ruining the country (nevermind that it was the corporate bailouts and crony capitalism that sparked the whole tea party movement in the first place).

My real issue with the meme is that it is a textbook example of a straw man argument. Nobody on the other side is accusing teachers, etc. of these sorts of awful things. All that is being called for is a little budgetary restraint. Is asking public employees to tighten their belts (like everyone else in the private sector already has) that horrible? Aren’t PBS, NPR and Planned Parenthood valuable enough institutions that they can survive without the small percentage of federal dollars they take in? Geesh. Lighten up lefties.

Liberal Rage

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Oh my. Most of my buddies on Facebook lean leftwards and I am anticipating an explosion of liberal rage come Tuesday evening. They can’t seem to shut up talking about Christine O’Donnell, or whoever the right-wing boogeyman of the moment happens to be, while completely ignoring the main gripe of over-reaching government that is going to swing this election.  I will try to document the “gosh, Americans are stupid” and “Somehow this is still Bush’s fault” nonsense and publish it here. If the Democrats pull off a miracle and keep the house, I will be knee deep in standard liberal gloat. Either way, should be fun.

Teabagger / Teabaggee

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I have never been in much for political protesting, rallies and the like. About the closest I have ever come to partaking in a political march was two-mile “fun run” in Wildlife Prairie Park back when I was 13 or so. These days, however, I find myself sympathizing quite a bit with the Tea Party movement. Although it is mostly a conservative and libertarian movement, the basic theme of limited goverment and fiscal responsibility is a constant, and they seem to be committed to calling out big government politicians on both sides of the aisle.

It pains me when I hear my more liberal friends and family members go off on the movement. This ranges from the lefty catch-all of calling anyone who disagrees with them a fascist, to pointing out the one less-than-moron in the crowd of thousands who decided to draw a Hitler mustache on a xerox of the president, to spewing the ever-so-clever insult, “Teabaggers!”

This morning, the news channels are all abuzz with stories about the seathing cauldron… er, teapot of hate that is the Tea Party movement. These reports range from being overblown to being downright false. At the moment, the movement needs as much support as it can get. So, in order to do my part (without actually having to leave my cave), I have put together this protest sign for you young Tea Party activists to bring to your next rally:

Bagger / Baggee

The “Teabaggee” line is borrowed from a Twitter post by Jim Treacher from several months ago. I added the balls (You can never have enough balls, just ask the disembodied ghost of the great juggling enthusiast, Michael Jackson). I liked the way the phrase takes ownership of the word teabagger and throws it back in the face, literally, of those who use it as an insult. I went with this poster idea because it is juvenile, borderline offensive (without being graphic) and, by throwing in the words “limited government” and “fiscal responsibility,” it has a touch of seriousness. Anyhow, I think it would make a good sign in a crowd of Tea Partiers. If you think so too, feel free to grab the PDF and give it a go. Let me know if you manage to use it somehow.

Copyright and YouTube

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I just noticed today that a video I had posted in YouTube was just blocked in the U.S. because of some music I used in the background. Specifically, they blocked my PC Transporter video that I used to demo some hardware I was selling on eBay. The video is pretty mundane, but I used a Señor Coconut track in the background along with various beeps and noises from the Apple ][gs. Come on, who is going to download the song with all sorts of disk drive noises on top of it? WMG thinks people will do this, so now only people outside the U.S. can view the video. But, get this, if you can view the video in your region, it gives you direct links to download the song on iTunes or Amazon! That is a brilliant business move, but apparently using user created videos as a promo tool in the U.S. is beyond the pea brains at WMG. So, for my sake, please steal Señor Coconut’s record off the Internet (search for it on Google, you’ll find it for download from Rapidshare or similar site) and don’t buy the record if you live in the U.S.A.! I will find a way around YouTube’s blocker soon and repost the video here as soon as I can.

Health Care Debate Hate

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Okay. So I am one of those evil bastards that thinks health care reform is a bad thing. Apparently, the hidden motive for my position is that I want to ruin the lives of poor people—or, at least that’s what my progressive friends have told me. Fine. If that makes it easier for you to accept that there are people with opinions other than your own, more power to you.

I get a bit  depressed when I hear folks go off like this. People have become so pot committed to their partisan positions that they assume that anyone with an incongruous opinion must be evil, stupid or both. Never mind that on an issue like health care we are not just talking about getting sick poor people to the doctor. We are toying with the idea of restructuring an entire industry, and, in the middle of a recession, adding massive (as in dwarfing “tiny” projects like World War II!) new government programs and expenditures. To me it’s obvious that these are bad choices, but I don’t for a second believe that the proponents of health care reform are deliberately out to destroy rich doctors, or worse destroy the U.S. economy, stifle innovation and make health care terrible for everyone (not just poor people). I honestly think that they believe they are doing the right thing, despite the fact that they are going to kill us all and sell our children into white slavery.