Libertarians, Let’s Grow Up

Libertarians have always been plagued by Purity Tests. An Anarcho-Capitalist will scream at a Minarchist: “You want me to be 10% a slave? You Have No Morals!” A 90% libertarian is evil and needs to be reeducated, but only after being subjected to heaps of ridicule. We measure each other, arguing over who has the biggest L. In the process, potential allies are alienated.

The top three presidential candidates for the Libertarian party were Austin Petersen, John McAfee, and the winner, Gary Johnson.

Austin has no political experience, is barely old enough to run, and his primary claim to fame is being extremity nasty on Twitter. (“You tubby piece of shit, you couldn’t even approach 1/4 of the pyramid of pussy that I swim in on a regular basis. It’s because I have class, motherfucker!”) How presidential! He is, however, more libertarian than Johnson.

McAfee, a cybersecurity expert, pioneered anti-virus software, then sold his company for an estimated 100 million dollars. He moved to Belize, and after getting involved in some shady operations, became a paranoid hermit. He got over it, returned to the US, and ran for the Libertarian party’s nomination. He is also more libertarian than Johnson.

If the LP had nominated either of them, there would be much rejoicing, but it would only be audible to the party faithful. The mass media would ignore it, with the exception of a little, quickly forgotten paragraph here and there. But it’s been a little more than a week since Johnson’s nomination and we’ve already seen extensive articles about him all over the media. The Wall Street Journal, Time, GQ, Investors Business Daily and USA Today (to name a few) have published extensive articles on him. And we’re just getting started.

Which makes a lot of libertarians very angry. In blogs and social medial, they rant about what a lousy choice he is, how the party has lost its soul, how his supporters have no morals or integrity, and wah wah wha and blah blah blah.

I’ve been following politics forever, and I’ve never seen a national election like this. Voters usually get behind their party’s nominees, even if they have some reservations. Not this time. Most Democrats despise Hillary. Most Republicans hate Trump. And who can blame them? Hillary is a engorged pussbag of corruption and fraud. Trump is a dung-flinging howler monkey. They are both vile.

And then along comes Gary, with a great back story. As a young man, he started his own door-to-door handyman business and built it into a successful company with more than a thousand employees. (How’s that for job creation?) He sold it, and then went on to get elected as a Republican governor in New Mexico, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. He was enthusiastically re-elected four years later. He left the state with a billion dollar surplus, and a job growth rate that was the envy of just about every other state.

Oh, and for fun he climbs mountains (he’s climbed the highest mountain on every continent) and does Iron Man triathlons, making him even manlier than Hillary. Or Trump, for that matter. Voters like having someone manly in the oval office.

I’m not blind to his faults. He’s great in one-on-one conversations, but in the Libertarian debates he stumbled on some of the difficult questions. He’s about 89% libertarian – I wish the number were higher. But that’s 89% more libertarian than the other two skid-marks we’re being offered.

Libertarians have been a footnote in American politics since the party was formed way back in 1971. Finally, we have an opportunity to get our ideas out there in front of the masses. There’s even a slim chance he could win, although it would take some unlikely circumstances.  Best of all, the increased publicity for the party will make it possible for other Libertarians to win smaller offices all over the country, and that could start a slow but fundamental change in the way we do government. But for that to happen, we need the complainers and saboteurs calling themselves libertarians to put on their big-boy pants and stop whining like a petulant children. Yes, there were more Pure libertarian’s available. But unlike The Pure, this guy has a chance to make a real difference. Fellow libertarians, unless you’re still enamored with losing and Purity tests, it’s time to grow up.

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Memorial Day

Boots

One Boot For Each Serviceman Killed Since 9/11

We’ll see dozen of pictures like this used to create memes this weekend. Typically, the text will say something about them dying for freedom or sacrificing their lives for our liberty. They are designed to elicit emotions of pride and honor, but they have a different effect on me.

The last time a soldier died for our freedom was in World War II. Every soldier since has died for the politics and/or the wealth of people they’ve never met. They didn’t sacrifice their lives for our country. They threw their life away for a con job.

These pictures don’t make me feel pride or patriotism, but complete and utter disgust for the politicians and corporate moguls who sent them to their deaths for nothing more than their own profit.

I also feel a profound sadness for the soldiers who gave away their lives. I feel sorrow for the steaks they’ll never eat, the jokes they’ll never tell, the children they’ll never father, the songs they’ll never sing, the arguments they’ll never have, the loves and broken hearts they would have experienced, the dogs they would have thrown Frisbees for, the great and common things they would have accomplished had they enjoyed a long life.

507060-National-Cemetery

The sadness deepens when I think of their families. The parents who spent twenty years raising a fine kid only to see him slain. The young woman who will never again see the love of her life. The kids who will never have dad read them another bedtime story, or get them to do something goofy while mom’s back is turned, or yell at them to turn the TV down, or be lifted to his shoulders so they can see the parade better.

I could never disrespect them. I could never say anything bad about them, other than that they were fooled, and we all get fooled from time to time.

But don’t expect me to celebrate their deaths. Do you dare use their loss to try and make me feel pride in the government that had them killed.

If anything, these displays want me to stand up against war, any war. And I encourage everyone to do the same. There is very little any of us can do, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing it. The best way to honor our fallen solders is to stop making more of them.

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Therapy for The Delicate Flowers

I have developed a therapy for the Delicate Flowers who are triggered by chalk marks, someone raising their hand in class, or the cafeteria making tacos.

I have spend a great deal of time and money developing it, but am giving it away freely, as a gift to mankind. It doesn’t always work on the patient, but it always improves the mood of the therapist.

Here is the technique:

Put your hands on the offended party’s shoulders, reassuringly.

Look them in the eye, respectfully.

Take a very deep breath.

Scream at the top of your lungs, “GROW THE FUCK UP!” Shaking them is optional, but encouraged.

Repeat, until they grow the fuck up.

***

Here are some related methods of therapy.

 

And if five minutes is too long, Cher can fix you in just six seconds.

 

 

 

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The Quick Hitts Podcast is Back

After a four-year podfade, the Quick Hitts podcast is back!

Since the show faded, a lot of folks have asked about it returning. Some of you even pleaded for it. (Actual quote: “Please, please, PLEASE bring it back.”) So I conducted an experiment.

My plan was to do six shows – a minimum of one every two weeks – and ask people to email me if they were listening. After six shows I’d decide if there were enough responses, (I had a number in mind) to keep going.

I published “Trigger Warnings” late Tuesday night. February 16th, without telling anyone about it. I wanted to make sure the feed was working correctly, and a few other technical details were in place, before I announced it the next evening.

Before I announced it, there were a dozen responses in my mailbox. Two people responded less than 45 minutes after I uploaded the show, which means they saw it immediately, late at night, in a four-year-old feed, and listened to it right away.

By Friday the experiment was finished. I’d exceeded the number of responses I hoped to see after six shows.

So….it’s back! There are two new shows waiting for you, with more to come on a regular basis. The commitment is to a new show every two weeks, although that’s a minimum – you may get more.

I remember making the website for it, back in 2005. It was first time I didn’t have to worry about keeping picture files small, since everyone using it would be on broadband.

I’d always loved the art work on old pulp fiction novels, so I built it around that.windowcity I thought it looked cool at the time, but the sheer number of shows has turned it into a mess. It needs to be rebuilt from scratch, and I’ll be doing that, eventually, but right now I’m concentrating more on getting shows out. (If someone could smartenize me on the best way to publish podcasts on a WordPress platform, I’d appreciate it.)

If you haven’t heard it yet, search for “Quick Hitts” on your favorite podcatcher. In addition to the new shows, there are over a hundred past episodes. They’re all in the same feed, so they’re easy to listen to.

To all of you who pestered me about this for the past four years: Thank you. It was your persistence that brought it back.

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Bringing People Together

This is a very good ad. It’s well-produced, well presented, and appeals to our basic emotions.

And it’s a reason so many of us are deeply afraid of a Bernie presidency.

I don’t want the government to bring me together with anyone. I, and I alone, should get to pick who I get together with. They, and they alone, get to decide if they want to get together with me. Choosing your own associations is one of the most basic of all human rights.

You want to get us together, Bernie? Then get out of the damn way. Let us peacefully decide what we want to do and who we want to do it with. Let us start a business doing whatever we want, without thousands of dollars worth of permits and three-inch-thick books of regulations. Let us decide for ourselves how we want to live our lives, and keep the resources we need to do it.

A half a lifetime ago, I was part of an informal group of cigar smokers who regularly met at a brew pub, where we were welcomed by the management. There were about twenty of us. It would be hard to imagine a more diverse group. We were different races, had different educational backgrounds and were on different rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. Our politics and religious beliefs were all over the place. We had different jobs and different interests. The only thing we all had in common was the love of fine cigars.

We’d meet at a large table, light up good cigars (often gifting some back and forth), and have some good drinks. Then we’d have a good meal, followed by another round of cigars.

Everything was good, but the conversations – the conversations were great. We’d joke and discuss and debate and explain and argue and be charming and offensive and everything in between, and never once, in all the years we did it, was a voice ever raised in anger. Nothing brings out good conversation better than fine cigars.

Your tribes took that from us, Bernie. Your Government Tribe and your Nanny Tribe reached in with their diseased claws and ripped it from our lives. They intentionally destroyed something wonderful that brought people together.

Give that back to us, Bernie. That, and a thousand other things you’ve ruined for us. Yes, we do want to come together, but we want to do it on our own, and we can only do it if you get the hell out of our way.

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I Don’t Want To Be An Angel

I was smoking my pipe at the edge of a park that had been infested with Word of Life preachers, when young girl approached me. She was about sixteen, short and cute and lightly pimpled. Full of confidence, she smiled, looked me in the eye and asked, “Are you sure you’re going to heaven?”

I took a pull on my pipe – pipes are great for dramatic pauses – and said, “I sure hope not. All the good musicians are in hell. I like Handel’s Messiah and I’m sure the angels do a kick-ass version, but it would get tiresome after a few days. I want to hear Hendrix and Jerry Garcia and Stevie Ray Vaughn and Janis Joplin and Keith Moon and The Ramones, and I’m sure none of them are in heaven.”

She froze. She had never heard that answer, and probably never heard of any of those musicians. There was fifteen or twenty seconds of dead silence between us. She was uncomfortable. I was amused. Then she took a breath, regained her composure and launched into her well-rehearsed script.

Most religions promise a joyful afterlife as a disembodied spirit. Few believers really think about how unsatisfying that would be. Me, I never want to be an angel.

boredWe assume angels can hear and see, but they can’t bite into a freshly picked corn cob, roasted to perfection, slathered with real butter and topped off with a sprinkle of salt. They can’t savor a fine cigar, or sip some good whiskey, or gulp a cold beer. They’ll never again experience the exhilaration and exhaustion of hot, messy sex. Something as simple as the touch of a lover will be nothing more than a memory. They may be able to listen to music, but they’ll never stand on a stage in front of people who have paid to be entertained, banging on a cheap guitar and pouring their heart into a performance.

Eating junk food? Nope. Biting into a perfectly cooked steak? Never again. Experimenting in the kitchen, usually making something awesome but occasionally creating something horrible? They don’t get to do that.

They can’t take a long walk through a pleasant path, accompanied by a frisky dog. They can’t stand in a crowd watching fireworks and smile at the conversations around them. That street magician, who is wowing the crowd, doesn’t surprise or amaze them. A “Coming Soon” sign, announcing an interesting restaurant, won’t give them a pleasurable little ping of anticipation. There will be no guy with a purple Mohawk walking by.

They’ll never stand back and admire the house they just painted and say, “Damn, that looks good.” They won’t experience the heart palpations of narrowly avoiding a car accident with some skillful driving. They can’t calm down that angry customer, or close that difficult sale. The exhilaration of solving a difficult problem is foreign to them.

Whacking that ball and watching it sail into the sky. Changing a muddy tire without messing up your good clothes and still making it to the job interview on time. Working out a deal that satisfies everyone. Brownies, warm from the oven, washed down with a glass of cold milk. Mulling over a big mistake and figuring out what you did wrong, and not doing it again. Learning the secret to getting along with people you don’t like. Opening a package containing something really cool that you’ve been wanting for a long time. Finding a hidden treasure at a yard sale. Going into the attic and discovering something you like and forgot about. Sitting around a fire pit with friends and beers on a chilly night. Swimming in a brisk lake. Racing down the road with the wind in your face. None of it, ever again. Not for them.

No thanks.

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Class

The world loves David Bowie.

It seems like every fourth of fifth Facebook post in my feed is about him. Some folks might be tired of so many blasts of information, but they all make me appreciate him even more.

And through all of them, from when he was a teenager campaigning for the freedom for boys to wear long hair, to reports of his final days, one thing stands out.

Class.

David Bowie wasn’t a class act; he was class personified.

Even in his most bizarre persona, even at his most outrageous, he was classy. I’ve yet to see an instance of him putting someone down. He didn’t get angry in public, but annoyed in classy ways.

He lavished praise on artists he liked, while never speaking ill of those he didn’t. Try searching the phrase “David Bowie complains” or “David Bowie insults.” You won’t find anything.

He never took himself too seriously. When interviewers questioned him about his importance and influence, he always shrugged it off with a modest smile and said, “It’s only rock and roll.”

Rock and roll is not supposed to be classy. It is supposed to be outrageous and loud and nasty and crass. Much of Blondie’s appeal was Deborah Harry’s sluttyness. Zappa sang about enemas. Joan Jet is a genuine badass. I love ‘em all. In rock, crass is the rule. Class is the very rare exception.

His death was as classy as his life. He could have garnered a lot of attention with essays about life and advice to his fans and thanks to his friends. Instead he kept his illness a secret, and made an album and created a play that said goodbye. Very classy.

When I read of his death, my first thought was “the world is now a poorer place without him.” Then I realized we will never be without him. His music is still part of our lives, and will continue to be. New musicians will be inspired by him, directly and indirectly, for at least the next century or two. The world is currently filled with abundant tributes and praise for him, but that will fade in time. But it will never fade out completely. A few hundred years from now, when we have long been forgotten, people will still be listening to his music and reading about his life. And some of them will notice that he was always really, really classy.

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