Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Red Lines

Update:  The conclusion of this post is deliberately ambiguous.  I wrote it that way to spark discussion.  Thanks for keeping those discussions, both here and on Facebook, polite. I appreciate it.

Comments here, on social media, and in email, expressed disappointment that I didn’t offer a concrete opinion regarding US involvement in Syria.  See the addendum at the end of the post.



Tongue firmly in cheek, I suggested on Facebook and Twitter the following:

You know what I'd like to see? A Constitutional Amendment that says before we can invade a country: 95% of both high school students and Congress have to be able to find said country on a blank map without help.

I posted it to social media on purpose, to spark conversation, to see how people honestly felt about involving themselves in yet another conflict, as research for this essay.

Sure, it’s a flippant comment, but think about it.

Ninety-five percent of all high school students, not to mention congress, would have to know the world so well that you could pick any random country from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and they would be prepared to find it on a map. And not only find the target country in question, but describe its people, its demographics, its place in the world economy, its relationship to its neighbors, its politics, its geography, its general history, its various beefs with the rest of the world, and the particulars of whatever conflict is occurring there.

Imagine what that would take. No really think about what it would actually take to make that happen. No, no, not what it would take to ratify such an Amendment (since, well, yeah, obviously), but what it would take to implement it, to bring our population to that bare minimum level of knowledge.

Oh, sure, wish in one hand, spit in the other, right?

But you know, if we’re going to go to war, if we’re going to send our children to war, if we’re going to drive ourselves further into debt, if we’re going to have to suffer the consequences of our involvement in conflicts for decades to come, shouldn’t we at least know what we’re getting into?

I mean a significant fraction of Americans can’t find America on a map.

Doesn’t it seem reasonable that those who send our soldiers into battle – not to mention the soldiers themselves – at least know where they’re going? Who they’ll be killing? And why?

That doesn’t seem like too onerous of an educational burden to me.

Be nice if the rest of America knew too, wouldn’t it?


So, anyway, Syria.

Something has to be done about Syria.

We have to do something, we’re all agreed on that, right?


Sure we are.

There’s been a war going on in Syria for, what? A year? Two years? Ten years? Twenty? Something like that. It’s a civil war, right? Or is it an uprising? A rebellion maybe? The Indian Summer of the Arab Spring? Whatever you call it, it’s some kind of conflict. It’s difficult to keep up with these things. To be blunt, well, there’s always a war on somewhere, isn’t there? Afghanistan, Iraq, The Kurds, Rwanda, Serbia, Bosnia, Chechnya, the Sudan, Egypt, Mexico, Libya, Darfur, Somalia, Russia and Georgia, Yemen, it’s a constant stream of woe and misery and destruction and death in some distant land far, far away.

And now it’s Syria.

Every single day, the news – whatever channel you happen to be listening to, doesn’t really matter – kicks off with an update on Syria.

Syria, Syria, Syria. 

For most of America, it’s an academic issue, just another brush-fire war in some place that has very little to do with us. We don’t sell anything to Syria. We don’t buy anything from Syria. We don’t visit Syria and they don’t visit us. Frankly, we don’t much like Syria, do we?  They damned sure don’t like us. 

We hear about Syria’s Ba’athist government – though few Americans could tell you what, exactly, the Ba’athists believe in and most of us don’t care enough to Google it.  We hear that Bashar al-Assad, the dictator (or is it Prime Minister? King? President?), is an Alawite – though few Americans could tell you what that means. Alawite, some kind of Arab, right? Some kind of Muslim, the bad kind, I guess.  We hear about the battle for Aleppo, though there are few, very few, Americans who have any idea where that town is or why anybody would fight and die for it. Heck, as long as we’re on the subject, there aren’t very many Americans who could name the capital city of Syria or describe in even the vaguest terms the historical significance of that ancient city.

We hear that al-Assad has committed atrocities, but most Americans can’t really describe what those are beyond the current go-to label “genocide.”

We hear that the rebels aren’t much better. But most Americans couldn’t describe who they are beyond the current go to label “al Qaida” or maybe Hezbollah – and few Americans could describe the current goals of either organization in more detail than “they hate America” and “they hate Israel” respectively.   

And yet, people are dying in Syria.

They’ve been dying, for years. How many have died? I doubt very many Americans could hang a figure on it, a couple hundred? A few thousand? Ten thousand? Beats me. Besides, they’re just Muslims, right? They all hate us anyway.

It’s hasn’t really been our business, this war in Syria.

Oh, sure, it’s terrible – in a distant academic somebody should do something sort of way. But it’s not really our problem, is it?

But now, now, a line has been crossed.

We could mostly ignore the conflict, mostly, just so long as al-Assad stuck to killing his people with guns and bombs, that was okay. Well, maybe not okay okay, but at least we could ignore it, mostly. Shoot ‘em? Burn ‘em? Blow ‘em up? Beat ‘em to death? Blast? Shock? Torture? Starvation? Disease? Exposure? Sure, sure, we’re good with that. Well, not good good, but it’s not really our business. We don’t like it, but it’s not our problem. Makes good news reports though, so there’s that.

Callous? Hey, it’s a tough world. We’ve got our own problems over here in the First World.

And it’s not like we get oil from Syria. Right? Right.

But gas? Boy Howdy, we’re going to draw the line at poison gas.

Because, it’s not the killing, it’s the method.

That’s the real moral issue, isn’t it? The method.




Please spare me the hypocrisy.

More than a hundred thousand people have died in Syria over the last two years. Hundreds of thousands more are displaced, homeless, starving, raped, blinded, sickened, crippled, maimed, orphaned, widowed, and without hope. In that they’re little different from the millions of similar refugees elsewhere in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia, in India, in South America, in Mexico, in Indonesia, and right here in the hearts of our own cities – and you don’t have to look very hard to find them. The Syrians are just like all the other people who aren’t our problem.

But gas, that’s the red line.

For us, it’s not the killing, it’s the method. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Gas, that’s what it takes to goad us into self-righteous action.

And there is little doubt that war gases have been used on civilian populations.

And, so, now it appears we must do something.

The question, of course, is what?

We could do nothing, that’s a popular option.

We could denounce the Syrian regime on the floor of the UN. Always an effective tactic.  Then the UN could fight and argue and do nothing.

We could launch a few cruise missiles from Navy ships patrolling offshore, something I have a bit of experience with.  And likely this is indeed what will happen.  It’s a little better than nothing, honor is satisfied, no Americans get hurt, we blow up a “baby milk factory” or an “orphanage,” the Navy crew gets a ribbon, and America rolls over and goes back to watching the game. 

But in reality, those missile strikes do nothing. Who do you aim them at? What are the targets? The country is blown to hell already, what exactly will a few more explosions do?  The Assad government is against the wall, they win or they die. They’re not going into exile. They’re not going to share power, even if they had that option – which they don’t. They win. Or they die. That’s it. Why do you think Assad used gas in the first place? He wins, or he dies, what’s he got to lose?


What’s that?

Some people say it was the rebels who used chemical weapons?


It’s the same answer, they win or they die. They’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.  We kill them. Assad kills them. The only way they live is they win. By whatever means.

At this point, it doesn’t really matter who unleashed the gas, does it?

Certainly not to the dead it doesn’t.

The country is already on fire, a few cruise missiles are going to do what, exactly? 

American cruise missile strikes sure won’t keep anybody from killing anybody else – especially Assad, especially al-Qaida, especially Hezbollah.  Honestly, haven’t you people been paying attention?

If that tactic actually worked, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?

All lobbing missiles at Syria does is make us feel like we’re doing something.

So, what then? Harsh language? Send in the CIA and the drones?

Unless we’re actually willing to commit forces for real and in strength, unless we’re willing to kill a lot of people, there’s not a lot of options beyond harsh language.

If you’re going to start lobbing missiles into Syria with the expectation of actually accomplishing something, then you’re going to have to pick a side. You’re going to have to commit and you’re going to have to follow it up with enough sustained military force to end the conflict and impose a peace on our terms.

And really, good luck with that.

Good luck assembling that coalition of the willing.  I was at the last party, I’m pretty sure we burned those bridges a couple years back.

Be that as it may, if you’re going to start lobbing missiles with the intention of actually doing something other than making yourself feel good, then you’ve only got two choices:

You can point your assault at Assad and go for a decapitating strike, wipe out the current Syrian regime and hand the country over to a dozen different mobs, many of whom are terrorist organizations. 

Or you can point your strike at the rebels, and hand the country back to Assad.

Those are the options. Note that either way, you’re likely to kill a lot of civilians via collateral damage. A lot of civilians – especially if you start firing missiles into chemical weapons storage depots. You should prepare yourself for those TV images accordingly.

Pick Assad, we’d get Russian help and Vladimir Putin’s undying gratitude. That might come in handy one day. We could ask for Snowden back and maybe some discount coupons for rides to the space station.

Pick Hezbollah, and we could demand that the price of toppling Assad is peace with Israel (oh, ho, didn’t think of that, did you?).

Both options have unpleasant side effects. Lots.

Or we could stay out, but that too has unpleasant side effects.

The simple truth of the matter, the ugly brutal terrible truth of Syria, is that for us, there are no good options – certainly not if we go it alone.

Frida Ghitis, World Affairs columnist for the Miami Herald and the World Political Review, outlined five reasons in her article on CNN today to go into Syria: 1) Other Dictators are watching: if we don’t do something, other dictators will use chemical weapons on their own people. 2) There’ll be chemical weapons in the future: if we don’t do something now, not just dictators but everybody will think they’re ok. 3) The war is spreading: i.e. Shit just got real. 4) Inaction hands a victory to al-Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah: if we don’t do something, the terrorists will win (boy, that sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). 5) A new generation of haters: The victims of this attack will never give up, neither will their kids.

White House spokesman Jay Carney gave a different reason: Carney said the United States and one hundred and eighty-eight other nations are signatories to the United Nations convention on chemical weapons, which opposes the use of such weapons. Carney said that signatories to that treaty have a duty to ensure “international norms” are respected.  International norms. 

Peter Suderman, senior editor at Reason Magazine gives eight reasons not to get involved: 1) If the rebels win, it’s bad news for us. 2) If al-Assad wins, it’s bad news for us.  3) Limited actions likely won’t have any effect. 4) Limited actions tend not to stay limited.  5) There’s no endgame. 6) Obama’s “red line” has already been crossed. 7) It won’t be easy. 8) The majority of Americans oppose military involvement in Syria.

And, of course, Glenn Beck predicts the end of the world should we get involved in Syria – because, really, isn’t everything about the end of the world in Glenn Beck Land? It amuses me to see conservative pundits siding with Russia and China – and by implication, admitting finally that they fear both because, apparently, their great and glorious God who favors America above all other nations can’t protect us from either Moscow or Beijing. Refreshing, that candor. Apparently God is just fine with what’s happening in Syria, nothing to see here, move along, move along, or I’ll give you a good smiting. 

Conspiracy website Infowars agrees with Beck that any strike on Syria will cause Iran to attack Israel in retaliation and thereby precipitate World War Three.

Rand Paul says, "The United States should never get involved where we have no clear national interest.  We should not intervene militarily in a country like Syria, where we can’t separate friend from foe and might end up arming the very people who hate us the most." Then he called for a “national debate.”  I don’t know that I necessarily disagree with Rand Paul, but it sounds to me like he’s already made up his mind, I’m not really sure what the debate is for – or how a national debate would be different from what we’re all doing right now.  From what I can gather, what Paul really wants is to be the one who gets to decide, not President Obama – but then again, he’s hardly alone as on that one, is he?

Christopher Dickey makes a pretty good case for doing nothing in his article Let It Bleed over on the Daily Beast. Dickey says that no American action can resolve the Syrian conflict.  That’s not entirely true, there are actions we can take, but they require a far, far greater commitment than a couple of cruise missiles. I figure about $1 to $2 trillion, ten years, and say 6,000 American lives – but hey, they’ll cheer us in the streets of Damascus.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney wanted to bomb Syria in 2007, but couldn’t convince George W. Bush.  Today he’s not sure if we should get involved or not. Seems the only thing Dick’s sure of is that Obama is wrong, no matter what he does.

Yeah, but what about the average American? What do they have to say about Syria? As always, let’s look to the comments under some of the above linked articles:

When things go badly - Keep this in mind. It was Obama's idea, his stubboen egotistical mindset, his inexperience and his insatiable need for power that killed more of our sons & daughters. No other nation or government approached and sought America's intervention. It was Obama.

Probably a good thing we’ve already assigned blame.  Proactive, not reactive, isn’t that what they teach in management school?

This is the third regime friendly to the U.S. after Lybia and Egypt that Obama has sought to topple. In each case Obama's actions have favored and supported known terrorists. 90% of Americans oppose this war yet Obama moves forward - What's that tell you?

It tells me somebody needs to let the nurse know it’s time to double up on the meds.

nice false flag operation. Poor Syrians. They're this generations Iraqis. Except their leader held the peace with Israel for 30 years... and we're taking sides with Al qaeda... makes zero sense. Someone at the helm here in the west is getting greedy..

I can’t imagine why this guy’s reasoning make’s zero sense.

It is foretold in the Bible that Damascus will be destroyed and no building left standing. About to become a reality it appears !!

The bible also said two of every kind of animal lived within walking distance of Noah’s house.  I’m just saying, you might want consider the source before you start to panic.

For us to choose a side, in this Civil-war will set the wrong impression for Syria, and the world, that a country can over throw their government and get support form the International community....and that's a message we do not want to send to the world.

I, um, what now? Good thing the French didn’t buy into this idea, we’d still be speaking English, or, well, you know what I mean.

I could go on, there are literally millions of opinions for and against American involvement in Syria. Most from people who can’t even find the goddamned country on a map.

Some of those positions from the professional sources, for or against action, have at least some merit – well, maybe not Glenn Beck’s unless you stay awake for a week on speed washed down with cheap bourbon as a number of those commenters obviously did – but something’s missing.

Did you see it?

For or against, do you see the common thread?

National leaders, pundits, politicians, the media, when these people speak of action, or inaction, one thing is missing.


Human beings.

This red line is about methods, it’s about what other countries think of us, it’s about future wars, it’s about the price of oil, it’s about defending the Holy Land, it’s about the End Times and biblical prophecy, it’s about national interest, it’s about terrorism, it’s about regional stability, it’s about UN treaties, it’s about money and treasure, it’s about making Obama look good or about making him look bad, it’s about the 2016 US presidential election, it’s about hundreds of things for and against our involvement in Syria – but it doesn’t seem to be about people.

Not really.

Should we get involved?

That’s the question, isn’t it?

Should we get involved in Syria.

Either we give a damn about these people, the ones dying, or we don’t.

It’s really just that simple.

Don’t talk to me of military action unless you’re talking about people.  If it’s about political parties, if it’s about scoring points, if it’s about money or defense contracts or any of the usual rhetoric, I’m not interested. Stay out. I’ve been to war, dead by bullets, dead by chemical weapons, dead under the treads of a tank, it’s all the same to me.

Don’t tell me about your loving God or how you believe in the right to life.   If this is about your religion, if this is about protecting some ancient temple in Israel, or bringing about your God’s goofy bullshit apocalyptic vision of the end times, if this is about the voices you hear in your head, I’m not interested. Don’t talk to me about the morality of your religion, unless you want to see me call shenanigans on your hypocrisy.  If your God has an opinion on Syria, he can stop being coy and just come right out and say it, in fact, while he’s at it, he can finally get off his fat useless ass and take an active role. Otherwise he can butt out, he’s got nothing to say about Syria that interests me.

I don’t care about treaties or treasure or politics or religion or even the supposed end of the world, if you’re going to tell me about the morality, the morality, of getting involved in Syria, or not, then talk to me about people.

Do we care about the dying or don’t we?

Do we have a moral obligation to help those caught in the middle of this conflict or don’t we?

Do we as Americans have a moral obligation as a civilized nation to do something about those dying people, or don’t we? Yes or no. There is no grey area here, it’s not a trick question, either we have the moral obligation or we don’t.

So which is it?

Do we have a moral obligation, whether they all hate us or not, to do something?

Does our morality depend on the hatred of others? Does it really? What kind of morality is that?

I know what I think the answer must be.

I know what the answer for a moral and just and civilized nation should be.

Listen, do you run into a burning building to save those inside? Do you run towards danger or away? Do you risk your own life to save others? Or do you stand outside on the sidewalk debating the religious and political worthiness of those trapped inside? Does it matter that the burning building may ignite the whole block? Does it matter that it may explode at any minute? Does it matter that the building owner is a jerk? Does it matter that the tenants, some of them, may hate you? Do you let their kids burn too? Do you?  Do you listen to the screams and say, “well, I don’t live here, it’s not my problem, sorry. I can’t put out all the fires in the world.”

Maybe charging recklessly into that conflagration will get you killed.  It might.  That’s that nature of the beast.  If it was easy,  everybody would do it. Maybe you’ll die and save no one, that’s the risk you take.

Especially if you go it alone.

Or do you just stand there and watch it burn, is that who you are?


Sometimes there are no good choices.

Sometimes you just have to do what’s right.


8/30/2013, Addendum to the original essay:


Sometimes you just have to do what’s right.

And what is that exactly?

What is right?

What is the right thing to do when it comes to US involvement in Syria?

That’s the question, isn’t it?

What is right?

What is right for us? You and me, individual citizens.

What is right for government?

What is right for the world?

What is right for Syria?

The above essay raises more questions than it answers. 

I used words that are not clearly defined in the context, morals, right. I begin the essay with concepts that would seem to indicate America should stay out of Syria, that there’s nothing we can do except to make it worse unless we’re willing to commit to full scale war … and then managed to work my way around to a conclusion that most of you took to mean that I think we should charge into with Syria guns blazing anyway.

Most of you skimmed over the essay’s lead-in, but that wasn’t fluff. It was there on purpose. The simple truth of the matter is that many of us don’t know enough about the situation, about Syria itself, about its history and people, about the hideously complex nature of the region, to even have an informed opinion. Not really. Not beyond the topical information presented by our news feeds.

The fact is, there are more questions than answers.

From my email, from the comments here and on the associated Facebook thread it seems some of you are confused by what I wrote.

You wanted a clear opinion, you didn’t get one.

That was on purpose.

I don’t have a clear opinion.

Folks, there are no easy answers. I certainly don’t have one. It’s apparent that neither the President nor the US Congress have a clear and unambiguous answer. Nor does the International Community.  The Middle Eastern powers have no easy answers, nor does China, nor Russia.

There is no right answer, only wrong ones.

There are no good choices, only bad ones in varying degrees.

We go in, people will die. We stay out, people will die.  There are moral choices, certainly, but they lead only to immoral consequences. 

If we go in, we should know the cost.

If we stay out, we should know the cost.

Syria is going to burn no matter what we do, it is burning right now. People are going to die, are dying right now. And the truth is that there’s not much we can do to stop it, even if we (however you define “we”) were willing to go all in, which we most certainly are not.

As of this morning, the White House is still indicating that the US will likely take some as yet undefined action. The United Kingdom is out, they will not engage. The UN can’t make up its mind, but the writing is on the wall. Russia is out. China is out. France is in. Israel, well who knows what Israel will do.  The rest of the Middle Eastern Muslim powers aren’t going to help and may, in fact, make it worse.

We go, the US, we go alone.

Whatever form our response takes, it’s going to be on us.

And we’re going to have to live with it.

So be it.

Up above I concluded that we should do what’s right.

But what’s right for individual citizens, isn’t always what is right for nations – in fact, it rarely is.

In the essay I used the analogy of a burning building.  I asked what you would do.  Would you run into the flames to save the people, or would you stand on the sidewalk and watch them burn. 

As an individual, you have a choice.  You can decide to place your safety above that of those in peril. 

The government gets no such choice – or shouldn’t anyway. At least not our government, if indeed we are the nation we claim to be.

But, of course, it’s never as simple as that.

For you and me, we can choose. We can decide to risk our lives for others, or we can decide that we just can’t take the risk – perhaps for good reason. Can we risk running into an inferno to save others when we have family depending upon us? Perhaps we personally lack the courage, and that’s ok for individuals, discretion is often the best part of valor.  Perhaps we know that we are physically incapable of the required heroics. Perhaps we know that it is futile, that it is just too late. We can make that decision for ourselves.

The fire department doesn’t get that option. The fire department must take the risk, they must go into the flames.

We have a choice, government does not.

Whoa, now hold on, I hear you say. You’ve pushed that analogy just about far enough.

Sure, the government, ours anyway, is obligated to save its citizens.

And that’s the point.

The Syrians are not our citizens.

The US government isn’t obligated in any way to come to their rescue.

Well, yes … and not exactly.

See, it’s just never that simple.

Remember what I said about finding Syria on a map?

Because of its strategic location, the war in Syria affects the entire world, physically, economically, politically.  The situation is staggeringly complex, the secondary effects can’t even be calculated beyond vague generalities. 

Syria is a quaking structure made of teetering dominos, when they fall, if they fall, the consequences could be catastrophic.

While the Syrians are not our citizens, the consequences of their conflict already directly affect us.  You don’t need to look any further that the fluctuating price of oil to see that. And yes, that matters. And yes, that is a perfectly moral concern, war for the price of gas. 

Oh yes it is.

Our economy, the world economy, is powered by oil. Like it or not, that’s just how it is.

The price of oil as it relates to the conflict in Syria (and elsewhere) must be considered. The price of oil directly and immediately affects the world economy. People the world over eat or go hungry based on that value.  Considering the the price of oil (and all that follows) when weighing the decision to get involved is no different, morally, than deciding whether to risk your life charging into that burning building by pondering how your risk will affect your loved ones.  If you die saving others, your children may go hungry and homeless. And that’s the real moral quandary here, isn’t it?

In fact, not to consider it is immoral, or at the very least selfish, because that value, the price of oil, affects us all far far beyond Syria.

And it’s not just oil. It’s Israel. It’s Iran. It’s Russia. It is economically vital sea lanes and global commerce. It’s complex international relationships. It’s the world economy. It’s political power and balances at home. It’s the political power and balances abroad. It’s international treaties and long term consequences that may affect our relationship to other nations for decades to come. It’s the economic recovery. It’s the price of food. It’s the will and the wherewithal of American citizens. It’s the lives of millions, perhaps billions, of people. It’s what comes after – something that we failed to consider in Iraq.  It’s the cost, in blood, in our lives, in our money. It’s millions upon millions of possible outcomes and consequences and repercussions and side effects and unexpected unpleasant surprises.

The world is not a simple place.  Actions, and lack of action, have consequences some of which can be predicted, many of which cannot.

This is what the President of the United States is wrestling with right now.

I was asked on Facebook what I would do, if I was standing in Obama’s shoes.

I don’t know.

I don't know what I would do if I was in Obama's shoes, because I'm not in Obama's shoes.

Yes, I know that sounds flip, but bear with me.

The President of the United States sits at the center of a vast, vast, vast web of information, far beyond that of the average citizen, beyond that of the average congressman, beyond that of any other world leader, beyond that of business and religious leaders, certainly beyond that of any blogger or pundit.

I know, I used to be part of that web.

He is surrounded by layer upon layer of advisers and intelligence.

He is the focal point for dozens, hundreds of plans and options military, political, and economic.

He commands vast, vast, vast resources.

And he is rigidly constrained by reality, by law, by political, economic, and military factors that most people simply have no grasp of.

The president's position is complex almost beyond comprehension.

One of the reasons that liberals have taken to hating Obama is that he hasn't made good on certain naive campaign promises – even things that he felt deeply about, such as the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison or military options or domestic spying. Because once in office, he found his reality far, far different than when he was a Senator, than when he was a mere citizen.

Morality for individuals is rarely the same as it is for government. Obama learned that the hard way.

And the same is true of Bush, of Clinton, of any president past, present, or future.

It's easy for me to say, "Oh sure, I'd do this or I'd do that." In reality, there's no way to know what I'd do, what anybody would do, outside of very, very broad outlines. You’d think most Americans would have figured this out by now, but unfortunately they haven’t.

The world is complex, far, far more complex than the simple choices presented by most “authorities.”

There are no simple answers.

There are no easy choices.


Here’s what I think should happen:

I think President Obama should go before the nation and clearly outline the options.

Limited strikes, no fly zones, boots on the ground, invasion and occupation, humanitarian relief only, or no action. Whatever the options his advisers are giving him, A to Z.  I think he should explain as best he is able, in simple terms, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and the expected consequences and outcomes. 

I think he should tell us which option he prefers.

Then I think he should publicly call for a vote in Congress.

I think every member of Congress should go on record, yea or nay, as representatives of the people of the United States.

And then I think the President should abide by that decision.


If we’re going to get involved, we should know the cost.

If we’re going to stay out, we should know the cost.


Government is not moral, morals are for individuals.

Government may be just, it may be rational, it may be ethical within certain broad guidelines, but it’s not moral. It can’t be. 

Sometimes you have to do what’s right.

And sometimes, the right thing is doing only what you can live with.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wright Answers The Mail, Accidentally Destroys The Free World



I read that twice.

Then I scratched my head in puzzlement.

Why is an email to me talking about me in the third person?

I looked at the cat.

The cat looked at me.

I looked at the other cat, but it was licking its balls and was no help at all.

And: I agree with a lot of what he says, but ook! ack! Communists!

I wanted to be amused, but felt vaguely irritated at the shouting. COMMUNISTS! COMMUNISTS! OOK! OOK!

I read it again.

I checked the address. It was addressed to me, nobody else on the cc line. The subject was STONEKETTLE – which is why I looked at it in the first place.

I didn’t recognize the return email address and the domain wasn’t obviously from a mental institution or the US Congress (ok, that’s redundant, point taken).

I get some funny email, or email from people trying to be funny. Sometimes I get messages from people who are being snarky asshats and are attempting to disguise their jackassery as being funny. Some of them don’t speak English as a first language and sometimes the humor doesn’t translate (maybe if you SHOUT…). I also get some weird spam, and at first I thought this might be that – like it was almost legit, but not quite, which made me wonder if maybe it was a spear-phishing attempt (a sort of cyber attack directed at a specific target, like a blog). Some of these people try to provoke you into responding, then use your responses in various ways. But this didn’t seem to be that, and besides what kind of response would you expect?  I mean, it’s me, right? You don’t need to spear-phish me, I’ll tell you to fuck off for free.

Well, then, maybe I was supposed to read it as from a relative or old family acquaintance, talking about Stonekettle Station in the third person as some sort of alter-ego of mine? I thought you were raised better than that! Communists! Communists!

I tried reading it again, while squinting my eyes.

That helped, but not enough.

Maybe somebody was sending me a response they got to something I wrote?

I tried reading it out loud, in that funny Billy Crystal voice from Running Scared ("Yes, hello? My name is Pinky…”).

No, that wasn’t it.

I looked at the cats, they were now both licking their crotches.

Which on the face of things, seems like an altogether reasonable response. I reached for the delete button…

Wait, hold on, of course. Not Billy Crystal, no no, it’s Clint Eastwood Shouting At Chairs! Sure, that’s it!

Only one way to find out.

…so, I clicked reply instead:

Do I know you?  Jim Wright/Stonekettle Station

A couple hours later I got a response:

Im sorry please delete the e?mail as it was meant for somebody else Im not good at this new phone

Hypothesis confirmed. Old man shouting at clouds indeed. His (I assume it’s a he) mobile email client must have converted “jim at stonekettle.com” or something similar into a hyperlink in whatever email he got. At least that’s what I’m guessing happened (stop putting communism on my Gmail, dagnabit, and get off my lawn! Communists! Ook! Ack!). Then he clicked on that instead of replying to the original sender. If I had to guess.

Well now that’s just embarrassing.

You know me, right?

You know what’s coming next, don’t you?

You know.

We are unable to comply with your request. In accordance with glorious central policy, Stonekettle Station has performed a full search of your phone and submitted your personal contact information to the glorious security arm of the People’s Glorious Revolutionary Party of the People’s Glorious Revolution.  You will now be added to the People’s Glorious Enemies List. After the People’s glorious revolution you will be provided with directions to the nearest People’s Reeducation Camp of Glorious Enlightenment Through Labor and Perspiration. If you are unable to complete glorious reeducation, you will be allowed to serve the Glorious People’s Revolution as either happiness fertilizer or as a tasty protein supplement.
             - In glorious sincerity, Comrade Wright/Stonekettle Station.

No response yet, but I remain hopeful.

If you know who this guy is, if he’s your relative or something, I’m sorry for shining him on (Ok, not really). Be sure to leave a comment telling me how it worked out or if you want me to send him some brochures on the People’s Glorious Uprising.

Stonekettle Station, bringing families together since the October Revolution. Ook! Ack!


Thanks to all of you who emailed me this week, here’s some highlights from the mailbag:


Two dogs, One Water Bowl

Remember that bit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the witch sketch?

Crowd: A witch! A witch! A witch! We found a witch! We've got a witch! A witch! A witch!
Sir Bedevere: How do you know she is a witch?
Peasant: Well, she looks like one!
Sir Bedevere: Bring her forward.
Witch: I'm not a witch! I'm not a witch!
Sir Bedevere: But you are dressed as one.
Witch: They dressed me like this.
Crowd: No, we didn't!
Witch: And this isn't my nose. It's a false one. [lifts up the false nose]
Sir Bedevere: Well?
Peasant: We did do the nose.
Sir Bedevere: The nose?
Peasant: And the hat. But she is a witch!
Crowd: Burn her! Burn her!
Sir Bedevere: Did you dress her up like this?
Crowd: No, no!
Peasant: No!
Other Peasant: Yes.
Peasant: Yeah. A bit. But she has got a wart!
Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she's a witch?
Peasant: She turned me into a newt!
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Peasant: I got better.
Crowd: Burn her anyway!

Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn speaking at the Muskogee Civic Center on Wednesday announced that President Obama was “getting perilously close” to the constitutional standard for impeachment.

When queried as to what, exactly, that standard was, Coburn allowed that he was just talking out his ass:

“I don’t have the legal background to know if that rises to high crimes and misdemeanors, but I think they’re getting perilously close.”

Coburn further elaborated:

“What you have to do is you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president, and that’s called impeachment,”

So, to recap, according to Senator Coburn, who admits that he doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about, impeachment is a “standard” but there’s no established criteria to define it. She’s a witch because we say she’s a witch and that’s that.

That’s like saying, “Well, we’ve got this standard unit of measurement we call a ‘Monty Python,’ now we’re not exactly positive how long it is but we’re pretty sure we’ve traveled about that far…” and everybody in crowd shakes their fists and shouts “Yeah! That’s what we think too!”

She’s a witch! Burn her!

Then under the Buzzfeed article linked to above, there was this comment:

“Obama has not ‘come close to committing any high crime?’ 1) He killed American citizens with drones 2) He illegally violated the privacy of the people with PRISM 3) He intimidated the AP with force, breaking down our constitutional right to free and unbiased press 4) He declared the Libyan war without congressional approval. Pretty sure this guy is a lot worse than Bush at this point, and far, far beyond the standards of impeachment. Like it or not, you have to look at the facts and see that this guy is corrupt.”

I, uh, hmmm, look at the facts you say? The facts? I, well now, the facts. Ook! Ack!

You know, it amuses me that folks calling for the summary execution of Army Major Nidal Milak Hasan without due process, are the same people who are so, so upset over the death of Anwar al-Awlaki (not that any of them could actually cough up the name of the American “Obama killed with a drone”).  Honestly, al-Awlaki? That’s your poster boy for liberty? Anwar al-Awlaki? You’ve got to be kidding me. The guy renounced his citizenship and declared war on America.

Doesn’t matter, she’s a witch! Burn her! Burn her!

And whether or not the government violated the privacy of Americans though NSA, it was legal under the Patriot Act – something these same exact people were calling the rest of us unAmerican over when we opposed it.  You want the Patriot Act repealed? You should try electing somebody other than Tom Coburn. 

Don’t care, she’s a witch!

Our Constitutional right to a free and unbiased press? Buwah? I’ve read the Constitution, when did they add in “unbiased” to the First Amendment? Because, yeah, unbiased press, sign me up for that.  Constitutional right to an unbiased press?

Jesus Haploid Christ, she turned me into a newt!

And the Libyan war? Declared the Libyan war? What the hell are we talking about here? What Libyan war?

Well, yeah, we did do the nose. And the hat. But she’s a witch! Burn her! Burn her!

Every single thing this woman is talking about is made up bullshit. It’s lunacy. It’s mass hysteria.

Here’s the thing, the Constitution that these idiots claim to revere, was designed to serve as the basis for rule of law – that’s its entire purpose.

Instead of law, what we have here is the equivalent of a Monty Python sketch with Coburn shouting “She’s a witch!” And when you ask, um, excuse me, Senator, but how do you know she’s a witch? Conservatives like Coburn point to the fake nose that they themselves strapped onto the President, and shout, “She’s a witch, burn her! Burn her!”

Every single thing that Obama does is proof of witchcraft to these people,  even if he never actually did it.

Conservative tabloid The Daily Caller notes that the Obamas recently acquired a second dog.  Like Bo, the new puppy, Sunny, is a Portuguese water dog.

A black one.


That means the Obamas now own two black dogs.


Black dogs.


The article concludes, “The Obamas do not have any white dogs.”

The Obamas, they don’t have any white dogs.


I’ll just pause for a moment so that you can fully contemplate what the once great party of Lincoln has been reduced to by Obama’s Magic Negro Ray of Chocolate Mojo.


Meanwhile, down in Louisiana, a Public Policy Poll taken last week shows that among conservatives in the Pelican State, just under one third blame Barack Obama for the federal government’s lousy response to Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina.


Two. Black. Dogs. Ook. Ack!

Katrina, which flooded New Orleans and inundated the Louisiana coastline in August of 2005.

Barack Obama was sworn into office on January 20, 2009.


I’ll pause for a moment so that those of you educated in the US can do the math.




Fine, fine, give me your worksheet. Lets see, 2009 divided by 2005, okay the zeros cancel out, round to the nearest red state… carry the one… divide by Jesus times socialism equals, Sweet Ben Franklin! Obama destroyed New Orleans!

Yes, that’s right. 29% percent of Louisiana conservatives blame Obama for the Katrina response, more than the 28% who blame George W. Bush.

44% of conservatives weren’t sure who to blame.

Weren’t sure? How in God’s Giant Hairy Lint Filled Bellybutton can conservatives be not sure of who was in the White House in 2005? How is that even possible? They voted for that fucking guy. And these are the same chuckleheads who want to implement ID cards to prevent liberals from voting? Honestly, how much worse could illegal immigrant voters make things really?

This is precisely what I was talking about in the previous essay. These people aren’t citizens, they’re an ignorant mob of simpletons.

Too bad we can’t turn them all into newts.


Meanwhile, in Oklahoma…

Speaking of the Obamas’ blatantly racist choice of house pets, under the Yahoo! article there were several hundred comments similar to this one:

“It is interesting that Yahoo sees it important to feature a puppy that Obama gets but ignores the horrible drive-by shooting of a white Australian baseball star who was jogging in Oklahoma and was shot and killed by three black teenagers who said they did it because they were bored. “

Yahoo! published a story on the Obamas’ dog, so that obviously means the Mainstream Media is ignoring the shooting death of Australian Chris Lane – well, ignoring it with the exception of the one hundred and seventy-five million news results a simple Google search returns on “Chris Lane.”  Yeah, other than one hundred and seventy-five million news reports within the last twenty-four hours, other than that, the news media is ignoring the story.

Which makes me wonder how the above commenter, and the hundreds of others who expressed similar outrage, even heard about the shooting in the first place.

Since the press is obviously ignoring the story and all. Ook! Ack!

The main questions regarding the shooting of Australian baseball player Chris Lane by three (or possibly two and a half) black teenagers seems to be: Where the hell is the media’s outrage? Where’s Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? How come liberals aren’t screaming racism! Racism! over this shooting?

Give it time.

Be patient.

There’ll be plenty of outrage on the left…

…just as soon as the local police decline to arrest the shooters and then blame the dead guy for walking on a public road in athletic gear.

Snark aside, folks, the two cases are in no way similar.  Lane’s death is clearly an act of murder.  Lane’s killers are clearly thugs. Nobody, nobody, is trying to justify the killing. This isn’t about standing your ground or self defense or neighborhood watches.  Investigators say that race played no role in the murder, and even if it did it’s an aggravating factor, not the (alleged) cause.

Should Sharpton say something? He did. Should he say more? Probably not.

Should Obama say something? Whatever he says will just be confirmation of his witchery. Something else for one side or the other find outrage in. Better not.

The killing of Chris Lane is a tragic, horrible thing. 

The motivation behind the shooting, if reports are accurate, and all that it implies is also a tragic horrible thing.

What do we do about it?

Point fingers. Lay blame. Rant. Chest beat. Bloviate. Run around in circles. Takes sides. Hate each other more.

And do nothing to fix the actual problem.

Just like Congress.

As I said in the previous essay, Simplification, our government is a reflection of us.

And that too, is a tragic horrible thing.


This is not my surprised face

Speaking of shootings.

Remember last year, when the National Rifle Association and their capering paid monkeys in Congress killed any chance at a reasonable discussion of gun violence in the the United States?

Remember that part about how a national gun registry would destroy liberty and freedom and bring about socialism and communists and Nazis? Remember that?

Guess who’s been compiling huge database of every single gun owner in America. Without their knowledge or permission.

C’mon, take a guess.

Why it’s the very people, the same exact hysterical hypocrites, who screamed bloody murder about such databases.

Because apparently, it’s fascism for law enforcement to know who has guns, but it’s sweet sweet Bald Eagle flavored liberty when the folks down at the NRA keep secret lists of gun owners.

This is so, so typical of these people, they hate a government answerable to the people, but want to hand everything over to the wise benevolent mercies of a private corporation.

Because, yeah, no criminals or crazies or potential dictators in the NRA, right?


And don’t call me Shirley

A bunch of you wrote asking what I thought about Bradley Manning.

Immediately after being sentenced to thirty-five years, Manning announced that he wants to be called “Chelsea” and live as a girl.

This is just more of the same from the little self-centered twerp. He betrayed his country, his service, and his oath, because he’s a self-involved narcissistic shitbag with delusions of grandeur,  then, after he’s sentenced to prison he acts as if it’s a paid vacation to some Cuban health spa and the rest of us somehow owe him a pedicure and an elective medical procedure.

Manning owes us, we don’t owe him a goddamned thing and I can see absolutely no reason why the American taxpayers should foot the bill for gender reassignment therapy.

He wants to be a girl?

He’s going to federal prison. Wish granted.

And no, I don’t think prison rape is funny. Nor do I think anybody deserves it, not even Manning.  But seriously, you’re on your way to prison and you announce on national TV that you want to be a girl? Seriously?  Unless this is a subtle ploy to get himself put into isolation away from the general population (and so far Manning has shown no such level of devious cunning) he’s an idiot to a degree that boggles the mind.

Manning wants to change sexes, he can wait for parole and pay for it himself.


A fair trial and a fine hanging

Speaking of shitbags, Nidal Malik al-Hasan decided to punt.

Sounds good to me.

Trial’s over. The letter of the law is satisfied. He’s guilty on all counts, as if there was ever any question.

If they need help building the gallows, I’m an experienced woodworker and I’ll bring my own tools.


And Finally

The Republican National Convention says that they’ve decided to exclude CNN and NBC from the 2016 republican primary debates.

Conservatives aren’t happy that both CNN and NBC are currently working on documentary programs centered around Hillary Clinton.  Because, yeah, former First Lady, senator, presidential candidate, Secretary of State, one of the most powerful people in the United States, why would anybody want to produce a TV show about her, right?

I find it ironic that the people most outspoken about market driven solutions, can’t seem to understand why media networks would create shows that people are interested in and want to pay for. I guess if she’d quit her job halfway through and then decided to do a gig on Dancing With The Stars, republicans would be more supportive.

The RNC passed a resolution that directed state party officials and other conservative organizations not to sponsor, sanction, or attend any debates hosted by NBC or CNN.  The RNC can’t prevent the networks from hosting their own primary debates, but the idea here is to keep any conservative candidates from participating.

Snort. Talk about an empty threat.

Seriously, when’s the last time you saw politicians give up free media coverage?

No, really, pull my other leg. And here I didn’t think Republicans had a sense of humor.

The ban extends to CNN and NBC’s Spanish speaking networks – and hey, look, there’s more of that ongoing Republican effort to reach out to Latino voters.

Here’s the really funny part, the RNC announced that not only will they not hold their debates on two of the largest media networks in the world, they only want “real” conservatives to moderate – like Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh. Ook! Ack!

That would power the political blogoshpere and late night comedy for weeks. 

Can you imagine the YouTube parodies?

It’s like Republicans are already resigned to losing to Hillary Clinton and so they’ve decided to go down in spectacular fashion like Major Kong riding the bomb into oblivion at the end of Doctor Strangelove.

But, c’mon, Rush Limbaugh?

The RNC can do better than Rush Limbaugh as moderator.

If you’re go to go out in a blaze of glory, go big. Really big.

The RNC wants a real conservative as debate moderator?

Two words:

Vladimir Putin.

Bare chested.

On a tank wrestling a grizzly. 

Oh yeah, tell me you wouldn’t tune in for that?

Because that would be awesome.


See you at the Glorious Revolution. Ook. Ack.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Fifty years ago, a guy named Walter M. Miller Jr. penned a provocative and terrifying tale.

It was the only book he ever published, but it was a doozy*.

A Canticle for Leibowitz tells the story of a small abbey of monks living in a post apocalyptic world devastated not just by a terrible war, but by deliberate and willful ignorance.

Like much of the fiction of the 1960’s, Canticle was shaped by the Cold War. In the story, six hundred years before the events of the novel, civilization was destroyed by a nuclear exchange between East and West. The survivors could have rebuilt their world, could have remade civilization, wiser perhaps, more cautious, they could have put aside their differences and learned to cooperate.  Instead, they descended into savagery.  They killed the surviving scientists and the engineers, blaming science and technology for the devastation instead of the fear and hatred and politics that had led them to disaster, and then they deliberately discarded the hard won knowledge of their ancestors.  As the world disintegrated into a new dark age that would last for the next eight hundred years, they hunted down and burned the last books, along with those who could still read and write.

As ignorance and superstition fell across the continent, the survivors proudly began to call themselves “Simpletons.”

Miller’s description of the Age of Simplification was mere scene setting for Canticle, a prelude told in bits and pieces scattered across a tale that spanned the twelve hundred year story of a small order of Catholic monks, the Albertian Order of Saint Leibowitz, dedicated to the preservation of knowledge in the blasted ruins of what used to be New Mexico. We learn early on that the titular character, the order’s founder, a former Jewish electrical engineer converted to Roman Catholicism named Isaac Leibowitz, was caught by a mob of Simpletons while attempting to save one final load of books from the flames, he was then hung by the neck and burned alive for the crime of literacy and “booklegging.”

Re-reading A Canticle for Leibowitz today, what strikes me is Miller’s portrayal of religion as safeguarding and preserving scientific knowledge instead of denying and suppressing it –  a bit of irony obviously not lost on the author, as the superstitious monks of the story revered a handwritten grocery list as sacred text right next to a book of electrical engineering.

But it was always Miller’s description of the Simpletons that fascinated and repelled me.

There are days that I wonder if Miller didn’t get it backwards.

Simplification first, then the fall of the civilization – and the rise of savage empires.

Unlike the 1960’s we no longer expect the world to end in nuclear war. 

Now when I imagine the end of the republic, it’s not the cataclysmic thunderclap of The Bomb I hear.

It’s not the martial drumbeat of goose-stepping fascists, nor the clanking rumble of poorly made communist tanks in the streets of America.

The soundtrack of our demise won’t be the crash of falling buildings and exploding ordnance and the stutter of machinegun fire.

It’ll be to the sound of the raging mob.


See, the problem with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people is, well, the people.


You’ve heard me say it over and over, our republic depends for its very existence on educated, informed, and reasonable citizens. 

Our country, our civilization, was not designed to be run by a bunch of simpletons.

This isn’t my idea, our nation was founded on this very concept.

Prior to the the United States, countries were ruled by those who had been born and bred and (supposedly) educated to run them.  

A government of the people was a whole new model of government which directly implied that anybody of sound mind could be as educated and informed and as reasonable as any king or noble – something we Americans, and subsequently most of the modern world, now take for granted.

However, for this concept of a government by the people to work, there turn out to be certain consequences.

If you’re going to have a government of the people, if any random Joe Shit The Ragman can rise to power at the whim of the electorate, it clearly follows that everybody must be educated and intelligent and reasonable enough to actually run the the place.

In a republic such as ours, willful ignorance and deliberate stupidity are not virtues.

This assumption was explicit in the founding of America. It’s why originally only landed white males could vote, because they were assumed to be exactly those people, educated, intelligent, and reasonable. When education and freedom were extended to all citizens, those explicit assumptions were extended as well – or vice versa, depending on your viewpoint.

Certain things directly follow from this basic idea:

  • A government of the people implies that if the population is on average cooperative, educated, informed, and reasonable so too will be the resulting government.
  • Likewise, in a representative democracy, an unreasoning and uncooperative population tends to produce a government of obstinate braying jackasses who are incapable of running the country. And typically, once this state exists, collapse or transition (by whatever means) to a more effective form of government (of whatever type) usually follows.

That’s the Achilles Heel of a democratic republic.

Republics are resilient. A republic can survive many things, conflict, pestilence, civil unrest, widespread dissent, recession, depression, radical changes in fortune and society, and even civil war – but a population of ignorant simpletons?

A democratic republic can survive an unhappy restive population, but not a willfully ignorant and uncooperative one.

A growing proportion of our population appears to have discarded reason, intellect, and cooperation for fanaticism, for ignorance, for fear and hysteria, for unreasoning simplification.

A significant fraction of our population is now firmly convinced that violent revolution and civil war are the only ways to “save” the United States – the apparent logic being that in order to avoid supposed FEMA Reeducation Death Camps of Death, they must preemptively overthrow the government and herd all us unsavory types into … um, well, American Reeducation Camps of Christian Capitalist Patriotism, those of us that they don’t just shoot outright anyway.

Another fraction is firmly convinced that America, indeed civilization, isn’t worth the effort, they’d like to burn it all down and live in the ruins – because for them peering suspiciously out the gun ports of their bunker while eating salted rat under the flickering yellow light of kerosene lanterns is preferable to flush toilets and paying taxes.

Repudiation of education, abandonment of reason and intellect, and disdain for the spirit of cooperation – the very things our republic was founded on – are apparent at every turn of this bankrupt worldview and strongly apparent in those that we choose to represent us, i.e. the herd of braying jackasses we currently call the US Congress.

Increasingly, these simpletons want to erase the hard won advances of our predecessors, of science and technology, of society and civil rights, of advance and change and reason and cooperation, and retreat to what they think must have been a better time.

Now, of course, the United States has always had a stubborn core of religiously fueled uncompromising anti-intellectualism – ironic, given that the men who created America were as a group the most educated, intellectual, reasoned, and cooperative outfit to found any nation in recorded history.  But since the early 80’s the strident repudiation of intellect by a religion increasingly hostile to reason and obsessed with apocalypse and Dominion has grown exponentially and it shows in everything from creationism to climate-change denial to those that would gleefully let the world burn in order to realize some ridiculous muddleheaded mumbo-jumbo of biblical “prophecy.”

It’s not just that these people are predicting a new dark age, they’re actually looking forward to it.

The thing is, they might indeed lose their republic; but they’re not likely to get what they’re wishing for either.

Last week, John Stossel penned an opinion piece for Fox News where he randomly cherry picked the opinions of one Dr. Carl Richard, professor of history at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, to make some kind of half-assed doomsday comparison between the fall of the Roman Empire and the United States.

Stossel’s OpEd is subtly entitled:  OMG! OMG! Will America soon fall, just as Rome did?!!!!!

Okay, I might have added the OMGs and the exclamation points, but I think the omission was obviously an oversight on Stossel’s part.

And OMG! is most certainly implicit in the text.

Stossel went to Princeton, and he’s supposed to be an experienced columnist, but frankly his essay looks like something that would garner a D- in any high school freshman English class. It’s chock-a-block with non sequiturs, fallacies of false comparison, outright historical falsehoods, odd little unattached paragraphs, and unattributed quotes.  Hell, even the title of the piece begs the question in a fallacy of circular logic.  Stossel can’t decide if the United States is a republic or an empire, which is probably why he keeps confusing the Roman Republic with the Roman Empire while doggedly trying to compare the two to the United States.

The article begins thus:

A group of libertarians gathered in Las Vegas recently for an event called “FreedomFest.” We debated whether America will soon fall, as Rome did.

Historian Carl Richard said that today’s America resembles Rome.

The Roman Republic had a constitution, but Roman leaders often ignored it. “Marius was elected consul six years in a row, even though under the constitution (he) was term-limited to one year.”

Sounds like New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg.

“We have presidents of both parties legislating by executive order, saying I’m not going to enforce certain laws because I don’t like them. ... That open flouting of the law is dangerous because law ceases to have meaning. ... I see that today. ... Congress passes huge laws they haven’t even read (as well as) overspending, overtaxing and devaluing the currency.”

The Romans were worse. I object to President Obama’s $100 million dollar trip, but Nero traveled with 1,000 carriages.

Tiberius established an “office of imperial pleasures,” which gathered “beautiful boys and girls from all corners of the world” so, as Tacitus put it, the emperor “could defile them.”

Emperor Commodus held a show in the Colosseum [sic] at which he personally killed five hippos, two elephants, a rhinoceros and a giraffe.

To pay for their excesses, emperors devalued the currency. (Doesn’t our Fed do that by buying $2 trillion of government debt?)

Nero reduced the silver content of coins to 95 percent. Then Trajan reduced it to 85 percent and so on. By the year 300, wheat that once cost eight Roman dollars cost 120,000 Roman dollars.

Nowhere in this muddleheaded libertarian twaddle does Stossel attempt to actually address the ominous warning of the title with anything other than innuendo and hand waving.

We debated…


In other words, a bunch of angry miserable libertarians (that’s redundant, isn’t it?) sat around in a big circle-jerk crying into their beer about how the country is going to hell and how everything is going to fall apart at any second, so get your guns and grab your womenfolk, time to head for the bunkers and don’t forget to pick up a brochure on how to make gunpowder from your own piss on the way out.

Debate means something else.

…whether America will soon fall, as Rome did.

Rome? Which Rome?

Rome didn’t just fall.

It wasn’t like one day there was a Rome and the next there was the Dark Ages and people were looking around with a confused expression on their faces, “what the hell happened to Rome?” “I dunno, did you look behind the couch?” “Of course I looked behind the couch, it’s not there!” “Well, where’s the last place you saw it?” “I dunno, Turkey maybe?

Rome evolved over a long, long period of time.  It grew and shrank and fought against itself and was sacked and burned and rebuilt. And which Rome are these libertarians talking about? The Village? The City State? The Kingdom which eventually evolved into the Republic? Which became The Empire? Which split into two empires which went their own separate ways, one of which just sort of faded away and one of which became a religious theocracy? All over a period of more than twelve hundred years?

If you’re going to compare the Current United States to Rome, you have to be a lot more specific.

The Roman Republic had a constitution…

Oh for crying out loud, for most of its history the Roman constitution was an informal hodge-podge of various guidelines and governmental principles passed down through the generations mostly by word of mouth or in collections of writings from various politicians. And the Roman Constitution continuously evolved over the years, and there were radically different versions depending on which period of “Rome” you’re talking about. The late Republic’s version resembled what we today would very loosely call common law. 

“Marius was elected consul six years in a row, even though under the constitution (he) was term-limited to one year.”
Sounds like New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg.

Sounds like New York City’s Mayor… ?

The Bloomberg Bogymen again? The hell?

I call Shenanigans.

Gaius Marius was Consul of the Roman Republic – the most powerful man in the known world at the time. History informally calls him “the third founder of Rome.” He was a general of the Roman Army, a soldier of Rome, a commander of Legions, a statesman in the original meaning of the word. Marius was a hard-eyed ruthless ambitious son of a bitch, he’s one of the guys responsible for changing Rome from a republic into an empire, along the way he conquered about half of Europe, provoked a rebellion that nearly turned into a civil war, and killed untold hundreds of thousands of people.

Michael Bloomberg is the mayor of New York City, which is one city of hundreds of cities within the United States and not even the country’s capital, hell it’s not even the state capital. Think about what that means. New york might be a big damned city, but it’s not a nation, Bloomberg is a mayor, not an emperor.  Bloomberg doesn’t command armies and far from conquering the Germanic tribes of Europe, or even their distant German descendants in his own state, Bloomberg is the guy who banned supersized Slurpees because he wanted people to live longer and be healthier and to save money that the government spends in order to care for the health problems caused by too much soda.  Liberals like to promote his name for governor of New York and for president of the United States, so far he’s declined to run for either. He was term limited out of office after his second hitch as mayor, but after New York City changed its election laws, Bloomberg was reelected for a third time.

Bloomberg’s reelection was perfectly legal, no violations of the US Constitution, the New York State Constitution, or even the Roman Constitution occurred.

Marius’ reelection was likewise legal.

While there’s some question as to which laws were actually in effect when Marius was reelected, those laws turn out to be moot since there was an invasion going on and, with Cimbrian barbarians at the gate, Rome wanted Marius the General in charge, so the laws against reelection were voided by the Roman Senate.

Also, Roman law and US law are wildly different animals, ditto the Roman Republic and the US one. They’re not comparable except in the broadest of outlines.

You want to direct Stossel to the fallacy of false  equivalency or should I?

“We have presidents of both parties legislating by executive order, saying I’m not going to enforce certain laws because I don’t like them. ... That open flouting of the law is dangerous because law ceases to have meaning ... ”

Who is Stossel quoting here? 

Is it just some random libertarian? Is it one of Stossel’s drinking buddies? Is it himself, does he quote himself the way Rush Limbaugh does? Is it that aforementioned historian? Who? Where did the quotes come from? What context were they uttered in? Where’s the source reference and associated link? The entire article is peppered with these unattached quotes. Hell, Stossel could be quoting Michael Bloomberg for all you can determine.

And what is it with these people and executive orders?

The president, whatever his party, isn’t legislating anything. That’s congress’s job – though they’re not doing much legislating either.

The president is the head of the Executive Branch of the US Government. That’s his job. The Executive Branch is the largest and most complex portion of the government, there are fifteen enormous departments under the Executive, and hundreds of agencies, bureaus, boards, offices, government owned corporations, inspectors general, charter organizations, commissions, and enterprises – and one of those departments includes the entire US military. How, exactly, do you think the president directs all of those people?

What? What’s that? You call it a what? And order from the executive?


Executive Orders apply only to agencies that fall under the Executive.

Executive orders must comply with the law, with the Constitution. They can be challenged by congress. They can be contested in court. The President cannot, repeat cannot, give you an order – unless you work for him.  He can’t give Congress or the Court an order. He can’t give business or industry an order – and in fact one of the few times an Executive Order was struck down by the court was when Harry Truman tried to give the steel industry orders.  Executive orders apply only to the executive branch of the government, that’s how the president – i.e. the Executive – manages his constitutional area of responsibility. Executive Orders have the force of law, but only for the Executive Branch of the government, and they are issued to clarify US federal law as legislated by congress as it applies to various executive agencies.

For example: if Congress passes a bill that makes unrestricted domestic spying on American citizens by NSA once again illegal (i.e. congress repeals certain articles of the Patriot and Protect America Acts and the president signs that into law), the intel spooks don’t just magically turn off the monitors. These are massive complicated programs, there are active funding lines (and that money has to be accounted for, it can’t just be spent elsewhere, it was specifically allocated for these programs by the NDAA and other bills. I.e. it’s the law), there are billions of dollars of assets in play, there are legal contracts with commercial companies that must be honored, there are thousands of people involved, there’s all that data. The office of the president has to issue an executive order to the Department of Defense (which is the authority NSA falls under) to bring the US intelligence community into compliance with the new law and describe the exact parameters under which the department will operate going forward, this is the president’s legal responsibility. The Secretary of Defense then issues more specific orders to DIRNSA (the director of the National Security Agency), who then issues his own orders via directive that address the very specific technical, procedural, and administrative actions to be taken.

This isn’t a secret. This is how the government works.

Do they not teach this stuff at Princeton any more?

And the president never said “I’m not going to enforce the law.” Never. Didn’t happen, never happened.

The president directed the Justice Department not to defend certain laws against legal challenge before the Supreme Court, that’s a whole different thing from not enforcing the law. 

There is no, repeat no, “open flouting of the law.” That’s just made up political horse puckey.

For example: If the president chooses not to defend the idiotic Defense of Marriage Act in court then that’s his decision as president. That’s why we elected him, twice. But until Section 3 of DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 2013, the federal government under the president enforced the law as it stood. This isn’t open for argument, it’s plain provable fact.

Of course, this “Obama is not enforcing the law” bullshit isn’t really about defense of traditional marriage, is it?

It’s about illegal immigration.

Libertarians are ambivalent about same-sex marriage, but their panties are twisted into a hard tight little knot over the mere thought of illegal immigrants getting away with something.

That’s a hallmark of the libertarian philosophy, they’re all about flouting laws they themselves don’t agree with, especially when it comes to guns (in the name of liberty, of course) but angrily insist that everybody else toe the line.

The accusation of not enforcing immigration laws holds about as much water as the beef over DOMA – but you couldn’t prove that to fanatics and there’s not much point in trying.

The Romans were worse. I object to President Obama’s $100 million dollar trip, but Nero traveled with 1,000 carriages.

Tiberius established an “office of imperial pleasures,” which gathered “beautiful boys and girls from all corners of the world” so, as Tacitus put it, the emperor “could defile them.”

Emperor Commodus held a show in the Colosseum [sic] at which he personally killed five hippos, two elephants, a rhinoceros and a giraffe.

Jesus Haploid Christ, talk about the mother of all non sequiturs.

What the hell is Stossel trying to say here?  We’re like Rome but not really and besides the Romans were worse so I object to the cost of a presidential tour of multiple countries across Europe and Africa but 2000 years ago Roman emperors engaged in debauchery and slaughtered animals in a stadium that I’m too upset to even spell correctly [** Edit: See the footnote] which is so totally like meeting with heads of state to improve trade and relations with the US. Bleet bleet. Ook ook. Also, Nazis.

Dread Cthulhu, folks, an Ivy League educated journalist? Really? 

I don’t know about you, but at this point I’m starting to wonder who he had to blow to get the job.

To pay for their excesses, emperors devalued the currency. (Doesn’t our Fed do that by buying $2 trillion of government debt?) Nero reduced the silver content of coins to 95 percent. Then Trajan reduced it to 85 percent and so on. By the year 300, wheat that once cost eight Roman dollars cost 120,000 Roman dollars.

What the hell is a Roman “dollar?”

And how did we get from Commodus killing hippos to inflation? There isn’t even a connecting sentence. Seriously, what the fuck?

Again, what does this paragraph even mean?

Note: also, not exactly a great supporting argument for return to precious metal standards as libertarians demand, is it?

The rest of the article is of similar cut. Poorly reasoned, poorly structured, filled with fearful ominous gibberish that only serves to summarize the fevered undefined shadowy night-sweats of conservative terror.

But then again, the frightened angry people who read this silly nonsense aren’t doing so with red pen in hand and they aren’t actually demanding anything other than confirmation of their own hysterical undefined fears.  So I suppose it follows that Stossel has given up even pretending to be an actual journalist.  Stossel knows his audience, and his employer, and he gets paid the same for hysterical tripe and he does for actual journalism –  which is probably why he’s just phoning it in. 

This kind of dreck, journalists like Stossel and the declining standards of mainstream media, aren’t the cause of this disease, they’re a symptom of the larger cancer.

Articles like Stossel’s, and there are many, are indicators of a marked decline in intellectual rigor, in national integrity, in civil discourse, in reasoned dialog, and most especially in an informed, educated, and reasonable population.

Not only does a major, supposedly professional, news organization employ a “journalist” who would actually write such amateurish copy, editors who would accept it without correction, an owner and managing board that would allow such juvenile doomsaying to post unchecked under their imprimatur, but it also indicates that a significant fraction of the population accepts this nonsense with an unquestioning nod of their fearful ignorant heads.

A republic, especially one like ours, depends for its very existence on an educated, informed, and reasonable population that is willing to cooperate for the benefit of all.

A republic, most especially one like ours, cannot suffer fearful ignorant simpletons gladly.

Not for long anyway.

And not in the majority.

Stossel and his simpleton friends draw the wrong lesson from Rome.

The Roman Republic didn’t fall.

The Roman Republic became the Roman Empire.

Democracy gave way to dictatorship eight hundred years before the actual fall of Rome.

When the Roman Senate, i.e. the Roman legislative branch, fell to infighting and inaction, to ignorance and unreason and obstruction, when the legislature became incapable of cooperation and thus action, those with the will and the ambition seized power and declared themselves Emperor.

That’s the true danger of this ongoing deliberate simplification.

In a democratic republic, when the population is no longer capable of cooperation, when they eschew education and reason for ignorant superstition, then they are no longer capable of running the country and by default they give up their right and authority to do so.

And that, right there, is how republics die.

When the end comes to the American Republic it won’t be to the apocalyptic thunder of nuclear war.

It won’t be to the martial drumbeat of goose-stepping fascists, nor the clanking rumble of poorly made communist tanks.

The soundtrack of our demise won’t be the crash of falling buildings and exploding ordnance and the stutter of machinegun fire.

It’ll be to the simpleton cackle of that moronic laugh from the Beevis and Butthead cartoons, eh heh heh heh heh heh...




* Walter M. Miller was a prolific writer of short fiction. A Canticle for Leibowitz was a “fix-up,” i.e. three of Miller’s previously published short stories were combined with additional material and rewrites to create a single novel. The book was supposedly inspired by Miller’s experience both as an engineer and as a tail gunner in the US Army Air Corps during WWII where he flew more than 50 missions over Italy and was present at the bombing of the Abbey at Monte Cassino. Miller was a hell of a short story writer and he penned some of the best short science fiction ever written, winning a Hugo Award for it. But he suffered terrible post traumatic stress disorder from his war experience and from horrible writer’s block when it came to novels – and especially with the pressure of crafting a suitable sequel to the fantastically successful Canticle (which won Miller another Hugo for best novel in 1960). He struggled with his demons and that sequel, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, languished for years until he died under tragic circumstances with it unfinished. Science Fiction writer Terry Bisson completed the book from Miller’s outline and the novel was published under Miller’s name posthumously.


** (Update) From The Grammarist: Coliseum and colosseum are both common spellings of the word referring to (1) the famous Roman amphitheater built in the first century A.D., and (2) any large amphitheater used for sports or other public events. Neither spelling is considered wrong in either use, but while the forms are often used interchangeably, the famous structure in Rome is now usually spelled Colosseum, and coliseum is generally reserved for other uses. Exceptions are easily found, however, and there is no consensus evident in popular usage.

I stand corrected, Stossel’s spelling was acceptable. My apologies to Princeton University.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wright Answers the Mail and Dispenses Timely Advice

I’ve been busy.

I’ve got several essays in progress, but just haven’t had a chance to complete any of them.

I’ve also let the mail pile up.

Between the blog’s general email account and messages from the various social media sites that I’m active on, the mail amounts to quite a bit.

So if you wrote me a nice, sane, reasonable message and didn’t get an answer, apologies.  I’ll answer some of those here.

If you sent me frothy missives filled with piss and poison toads and you didn’t get an answer, well, about that: I know you put a lot of effort into your rage and I appreciate it, I do,  but I probably deleted your message unread, because, like your mom, frankly I just don’t care about you.

And on that note:

Advice to Bloggers: each week I get mail from folks who want to start a political blog or who run political blogs and want to know how I deal with trolls, jerks, idiots, assholes, haters, baiters, cranks, lunks, skunks, and the various and sundry lunatics who inevitably show up in such places.

I would think that by now how I deal with these people should be obvious: I don’t.

Each week, I also get mail from folks concerned or angry about the Draconian way in which I handle comments here on Stonekettle Station.

Usually these messages are from people who acted like a screechy poo flinging monkey and got their comment deleted. However, sometimes these message are from concerned readers who seem to think that in the interest of “fairness” I should allow and even encourage the deranged monkeys to fling their crap on Stonekettle Station.

You want to see shit flinging? Go to the zoo.

It’s not my job to fix the jackasses.

I’m not the government. I’m not required to respect the bullshit arbitrary edicts of some ridiculous Neolithic religion, or the bullshit arbitrary edicts of extremist politics, or crazy conspiracy theories, or slack-jawed booger-eating stupidity, or deliberate ignorance, or raging incoherent hate.

I’m under no obligation, expressed or implied, to allow the screechy monkeys a platform to fling shit from – especially at me.


Yeah, so?

Learn how to behave. Learn how to  reason. Learn how to act like adult. Learn how to disagree without being a dick. Learn how to walk upright and shower and talk without spitting at people, learn how to write, learn how to frame a logical argument, learn how to spell, learn how to use words in the proper context. Learn how to take ownership of your opinion instead of just flinging some other brain damaged baboon’s dirty shit at me.

You want respect? Then you’ve got to give respect in the first place. That’s how it works around here.

These are good rules for life in general, not just for the internet.

Oh, yes, one other thing: if your deity doesn’t like how I do things, he’s welcome to tell me himself in person (providing he presents proper identification. Cash in small bills, no checks), I won’t entertain any self-appointed middleman. Try it, and I’ll turn the hose you.

Folks, say it with me: You cannot reason with unreasonable people.

You cannot reason with unreasonable people.

You cannot reason with people who are determined to be jackasses, attempting to do so will give you stomach cancer. I don’t want cancer, that’s why I quit smoking.  Arguing with an Internet troll is the equivalent of smoking, it might give you some momentary pleasure but it stinks up the room and sooner or later it’ll ruin your cardiovascular system. You can’t argue with a fanatic. You will never make a Creationist or a Birther or a 911 Truther or an Anti-Vaxxer or a moon landing denier see reason (I do, however, admit that in the later case I’m partial to the Aldrin Response, though it’ll probably get you talked about).  If these people were capable of reason, they wouldn’t be Creationists, or Birthers, or Truthers, or Anti-Vaxxers, or Deniers in the first place.


Edit: Some of you asked about an essay I penned a while back on the subject of unreasonable people: it’s here.


I refuse to give these people a platform.

They’re not being denied their rights in any way, they can always start their own website or write letters to the editor or stand on a street corner shouting at the clouds or get themselves elected to the Texas legislature. But I don’t have to listen to their nonsense and I’m not going to facilitate inflicting this dreck on anybody else either.

And that works for me.

You? You want to write about politics? Great. Terrific. Welcome to the party, I hope you wore old clothes. My advice to those of you thinking about starting your own blog, be it about politics or knitting or fluffy cotton-candy bunnies, is this: decide in advance what your goals are.  If you’re just looking for hit counts, start a porn site.  If you’re looking for a screechy four-handed shitfest, write for The Blaze or the Huffington Post.  But if you want to write about politics and you want to attract and keep an intelligent, thoughtful, and reasonable audience (a damned rare and unique thing on the internet nowadays) then you are going to have to take responsibility for managing the conversation. This isn’t any different than being the host of a party, you can either put up with the kind of shenanigans that lead to drunken frat boys pissing in the azaleas and knocking holes in your plaster and assaulting your other guests or you can toss the louts out on their ear. 

Decide in advance what kind of get-together you’re throwing and make the rules clear right up front and don’t be shy about enforcing them.

Also, if you’re going to write about politics, you’d probably do well to grow a thick skin.

If you’re the kind of person who will let the hate mail get to you, you’re not going to last very long. Seriously, go with the porn thing, everybody likes that. You can thank me later. 

On the other hand, if you begin to regard the hate mail as some kind of validation, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Here’s the bottom line: A blog is a mirror. The world is full of moronic unreasonable haters, but it’s also full of thoughtful reasonable intelligent people too – the type of audience you attract as a political blogger very likely reflects which end of the spectrum you yourself belong on. 

You might want to give that some thought.


Moving on to selected questions from the rest of the mail:




Army Major Hasan, thoughts? Comments?

I think he’s an asshole.

Do you think it was terrorism?

Call it workplace violence, call it terrorism, call it treason, call it a ham sandwich, I don’t care. He’s an asshole. Bottom line, a rabid dog mauls a member of your family, you don’t argue over what to call it, you just take the beast out back and shoot it.

What do you think should happen to him?

I’m not a big fan of the death penalty, but in Hasan’s case I think he’s more than earned it. It seems like a no-brainer to me.  The facts aren’t in dispute. Hasan killed thirteen people in cold blood, deliberately and on purpose. The Army wants Hasan dead. Hasan’s victims and their families want him dead. Hasan himself wants Hasan dead. Seems like we have a quorum. All in favor say “Aye.”  The ayes have it. Roll his miserable crippled ass out back, no camera, no speeches, no last words, and put a bullet in his head, ship the body home to his family COD. They don’t want it? Fine, have the Navy sink his ass at sea next to Osama bin Ladin and hose down the deck to get rid of his stink. Done.

Isn’t that what he wants?

Who cares what Nidal Hasan wants? Fuck him, he gave up his right to have any say in his fate the minute he fired the first shot. What he wants and what he doesn’t want is irrelevant other than it happens to align with the general consensus. And really, Hasan admitted his guilt and wants to die … so, out of some perverse sense of spite we’re not going to kill him?  Boy, I sure hope he’s never read Br’er Rabbit, “Please, Your Honor, whatever you do, don’t find me innocent and let me go free! Boy, I sure wouldn’t want that! Don’t throw me into the briar patch! No sirree!”  

Yeah, but won’t he become a martyr?

Martyrdom is overrated. A dozen of these assholes blow themselves up every week. How many of them do you remember? How many terrorist armies do you see rallying around their names? Brainwashed fanatics like Hasan are too goddamned stupid to see that they’re nothing but cannon fodder for the terrorist leaders, that’s why they fell for this martyr horseshit in the first place. You don’t see any of the big Islamic extremists becoming martyrs themselves do you? Not voluntarily anyway. And once they’re gone, nobody even remembers their names – other than their sobbing mothers that is. We killed Osama Bin Laden and tossed his body into the ocean, see any giant terrorist monuments to his martyrdom? Nidal Malik Hasan? Who the hell is that? Just another asshole. He wants to be a martyr? Fine by me.




What do you think of Bradley Manning’s apology? Does that change your opinion of him?

Manning apologized?

So did Ariel Castro, so did Bernie Madoff, so did Jim Baker, did that change your opinion of them?




I’m surprised you didn’t say something about Putin giving Edward Snowden asylum in Russia. I figured you’d be all over that.

What’s to say? You didn’t think Russia was going to hand Snowden over did you?

You did?

You’re so darned cute.

Ask yourself something, Russian IT guy working for the Kremlin steals umpity dozen gigabytes of information regarding the Russian Security Service’s ongoing espionage program directed by the Russian Government against its own citizens (well, of course the Russians have such a program, don’t be daft). The guy escapes to Reagan National in Washington DC with Russian agents hot on his trail and demands political asylum in the name of freedom and democracy for Russian citizens.  How do you think that would play out? Think we’d send him back?

Call it irony.  Snowden denounces the American government’s domestic spying program, seeks asylum in Cuba and Venezuela, ends up in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Maybe Putin will spot him a couple tickets to the next Pussy Riot concert.




This is Miss Lukas willson from Trinidad &Tobago.I am writing from the hospital in Cote D'Ivoire, therefore this mail is very urgent as you can see that I am dying in the hospital. I was told by the doctor that I was poisoned and has got my liver damaged and can only live for some months. I inherited some money ($2.5 Million) from my late father and I cannot think of anybody trying to kill me apart from my step mother  in order to inherit the money, she is an  Ivorien by nationality.

Seriously, how do people still fall for the Spanish Prisoner scam?

And do they know that they’re fucking up the internet for everybody else?




House Republicans, did you see that they voted to repeal Obamacare for like the 40th time? WTF?

The Tea Party called it a symbolic vote.

Apparently it symbolizes suicide.

Look at it this way, if they’re voting to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act at least they’re not screwing up something else.

Between this nonsense, sequestration, and threatening another government shutdown, the next couple of election cycles ought to be fairly entertaining.

Speaking of upcoming elections, I see that the RNC is demanding that CNN cancel its upcoming biopic on Hillary Clinton or else they won’t allow CNN to broadcast the 2015 republican primary debates. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said they feel that the mainstream media is biased … so, apparently he thinks that the way to make the media impartial is for political committees to dictate what they can and cannot broadcast.

Because, yeah, we don’t have enough material for more facepalm demotivational posters already.




Hi Jim Wright! I’ve emailed several times but you haven’t responded, what’s up with that? LOL! love love love stonekettle and I’ve read all the rules LOL! Anyway, I think we would make a great team. I’ve written a bunch of blogs that your readers would love please tell me how to post them to stonekettle.com!

I haven’t responded? How odd. I’ll look into that.



How about that Obama Rodeo Clown guy, can you believe that?

Can I believe that a bunch of inebriated rednecks with pigshit between their toes at some half-assed state fair in Missouri hate Barack Obama?

Man, I totally didn’t see that coming.


House Republican Steve Stockman invited the Obama Rodeo Clown guy to perform in Texas!

Speaking of clowns.  Again, I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

People, please, it’s Texas.

It’s Steve Stockman, you know, the same Steve Stockman who invited Ted Nugent to the last State of the Union address. You were expecting what exactly from this assclown? 


Yeah, but…


It was a clown.

It’s a rodeo.

It’s a crowd of drunken rednecks at a rodeo watching a clown in a rubber mask of the president – of course they cheered and laughed.

These yahoos would have cheered if the clown had been wearing a President Romney mask, which he would have been … if Republicans hadn’t lost to Barack Obama, twice.

That’s right, Missouri, who’s laughing now?




You the man, thanks for existing.

Aw shucks.



libtard cockbite i hope u get aidds and hav to go on oblamercare dikwipe!

Well, so much for the swelled head.




More Pictures of ShopKat!

Shopkat has a low opinion of humans in general and my email in particular.

Lemon Face

Plus she’s pointy on five ends, we’d better leave her out of this.




Jim, I love your stuff but what’s with the “your mom” jokes? Don’t you think that’s a little juvenile?

That’s between me and your mom.


And that’s going to do it.

I’ll see if I can find the time to finish a couple of these unfinished essays. Maybe put some time into the book I’m working on.


You may consider the comments thread an open forum.

Feel free to discuss the topics of your choice. If you’d like to see an essay on a particular subject, you may suggest such and I’ll take it under advisement.

Feel free to ask questions, I might even answer.