Second Chances – Part II

In response to my post a few days ago about the general misunderstanding of Second Amendment, I was steered to this CNN story, that simply presents the text exchange between two sisters, one of whom was trapped in the high school.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/15/us/sisters-texts-florida-school-shooting-trnd/index.html?sr=twCNN021518sisters-texts-florida-school-shooting-trnd0853PMStory

Please take a moment to read it.  If it doesn’t move you to tears and anger, well. . .

My friend Jack Altschuler also steered me to a dissenting opinion on a Second Amendment case written by Justice John Paul Stevens in 2008.

The salient paragraph reads:

“The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.”

You can read the entire opinion here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZD.html

It’s a slog, but I recommend reading it.  In case you don’t, here are the headlines:

  • The Second Amendment was intended specifically to give you the right, and almost the duty, to keep a musket in your house in case you were called upon to join your state’s official militia, which is how they envisioned the new nation defending itself, and the states defending themselves.
  • The Framers considered and rejected proposals to make that right broader, but chose to limit it to possession of weapons for military use.
  • It was intended only to limit the Federal government, and was not intended to prevent the states from passing whatever laws they saw fit regarding the possession and use of weapons for non-military purposes (which a few states did, mostly by sanctioning the possession of weapons for hunting and self-defense).

Again, the notion that the Second Amendment is in any way about you having the right to own any firearms you want in order to protect your fierce American independence is a myth.

What we’re really dealing with is not an unlimited right, but bad grammar.  Bad on you, James Madison. (Yes, he wrote the damned thing.  Think “D-; see me in my office.”)

Now, a little common sense about this.

I once heard the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom I’m citing here because he was as conservative a judge as we’ll ever see, say that we should reserve our effort to interpret the Constitution to cover things the Founders didn’t know about, and on which they could therefore not express direct views.

Here’s a partial list of things they didn’t know about:

  • A standing army that has existed for 200 years
  • The institutionalization of state militias in the form of the National Guard
  • The operation of those militias in complete cooperation with, rather than in opposition to, the aforementioned standing army.
  • Bullets (they only knew musket balls)
  • Cartridges (projectile and gunpowder in a single casing)
  • Breech-loading weapons
  • Weapons that could be fired at a rate faster than once every 20-30 seconds
  • AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons
  • 30-round magazines
  • Tanks
  • Missiles
  • Nuclear weapons

A strict interpretation of the back half of the Second Amendment (the front half is where all the confusion exists) would permit individuals to own all of those things because they’re all “arms.”

It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that this isn’t what the Founders had in mind.  They certainly didn’t have in mind dozens of dead children on the floors of our schools.

Repeal of the Second Amendment is a pipe dream. I know that. But I would rather see us spend our time on that than on arguments over exactly what it does and doesn’t allow.  That would free us up to apply common-sense restrictions to gun ownership that would couple entitlement with responsibility.

I would also like to see an insurrection against our real oppressor, which is the NRA.

This is not some noble organization that defends a precious American right.  As described above and in my last post, that “right” is a myth.

The NRA spends around $70 million per election cycle to ensure that we will continue to have dead children on the floors of our schools, on the floors of concert venues, in churches, and elsewhere.  Plain and simple, that’s what it does.

Very little of that money takes the form of actual campaign contributions.  It’s mostly spent directly on ads supporting or, mostly, opposing candidates based on their spinelessness.  That form of spending is largely unaccountable.  Try Googling “how does the NRA spend its money” and see how little of the $70 million you can account for.

If you know how to make the hashtag #NRAmeansdeadchildren go viral, please let me know.  I’m serious about that.

There is a bright spot in all of this.  I’m delighted to see that brave students who survived the Parkland shooting are banding together to organize a nationwide student protest to start making NRA-backed members of the House and Senate face the music.

They picked March 24 in order to eliminate any “now’s not the time” objection.  They are wonderfully, stunningly informed and articulate.  And they have a moral compass of which our elected leaders are sadly devoid.

They are also credible in a way that no one like me will ever be.  I fervently hope that this will start a long-overdue grassroots movement, and bring about a change in the national consciousness.

Perhaps they will be able to accomplish what I wish I could and almost certainly can’t.

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Second Chances

I’m a little tired of this.  I’m guessing you are, too.

We’re living in very strange times.  I’ll have more to say about that – from a big picture perspective – soon.  But for now, let’s stay focused.

There have been eight school shootings so far in 2018.  Taking out weekends, when they don’t happen, that’s one every four days, or more than one a week.  They’ve become so routine that you probably don’t know about any of them other than the one in Florida this week.  I certainly don’t.

What’s wrong with us that we allow this to go on?

After the Las Vegas massacre (Remember that? It’s rapidly fading?), the disgraced and disgraceful Bill O’Reilly said, “That’s the price of freedom.”

He couldn’t have been more wrong. Or more ignorant.

It’s a sound, solid, conservative principle that when the need for a law or government program goes away, the law or program should go away, too.

Stay with me. And please know that everything that follows can be validated with very simple Google searches.  Like “Why do we have a Second Amendment.”

The notion that the Second Amendment exists in order to allow fiercely independent Americans to protect themselves and their property from marauders and from the risk of government oppression is a myth.  It has far more to do with John Ford westerns than with anything the Founders said.

The fact (which is a stubborn thing, according to Founder John Adams) is that the Founders put the Second Amendment into the Constitution because they didn’t want to create a standing army.  That’s why the amendment starts with the language about a “well-regulated public militia.”  And it’s why they disbanded the Continental Army immediately upon the end of the Revolutionary War.

What were they afraid of?  They were afraid that a standing Federal army might threaten or overwhelm the states.  (Remember, the word “state” actually means “country,” as in “Department of State.”  The United States was initially a federation of 13 separate countries.)

They were also afraid that a standing Federal army might threaten the Federal government, itself.

So they decided that if armies were needed, they would rather that let the states raise them on the spot through militias.  You kept your musket at home, and if Virginia or Massachusetts called, you came.

In short, the Founders did not put create the Second Amendment in order to protect the people from an oppressive government.  They created it to protect the government from what they feared would be an oppressive army.

Well, the standing army that was disbanded after the Revolutionary War was re-established in the War of 1812, and we’ve had one ever since.  We’ve had a very large standing army since WWI, and a really, really large standing army since WWII.

In other words, that train left the station a long, long time ago.  So long ago that it wasn’t even a train.  It was a horse leaving a barn.

Here’s what the idiocracy of the O’Reillys don’t understand.

The foundation of American liberty is the notion that your right to swing your arm ends at my nose.  Before there was a Bill of Rights, there was a statement of three “inalienable” rights with which we are all endowed.  The first of those is Life.  Notice that they put Life before Liberty.  Why? Perhaps because liberty without life is a non sequitur.

17 people, most of them children, were permanently deprived of their right to life this week.  In October, 58 people in Las Vegas were similarly deprived.  Only 5 weeks after that, 26 people were deprived of their right to life in a church in Texas.  The list goes on and on.

If you consider all shootings in which four or more people wounded or dead, they happen in this country at the rate of nearly one a day.

This – and I’m not going out on a limb here – is crazy.  As The Onion famously said (sadly, four years ago), “‘No Way To Prevent This’ Says Only Country Where This Happens.”

We all know why it happens.  Gun manufacturers fund the NRA, and the NRA uses that money to threaten Congressmen/women and Senators if there’s even a whiff of gun control.  None of this is a secret.  It’s not about liberty at all.  It’s about money, manipulation and tragedy.

This is a solvable problem.  We don’t have the will to solve it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t solvable.  Here’s a formulation that would work:

First, repeal the Second Amendment.  Yup.  S*!#-can it.  Like I said, conservatism calls for the repeal of laws that have outlived their original purpose.  This one is 200 years obsolete.

Second, change our mindset from one of “You have a right to own a gun unless we can find (without looking very hard) an overwhelming reason why you shouldn’t” to one of “In order to buy a gun, you have to prove that you can own it responsibly.”

We could enforce that mindset by requiring three things of anyone who wants to own a gun:

  • Before you can buy a gun, you have to pass the same background check required to obtain a Top Secret security clearance. (Don’t be alarmed.  Top Secret is only the second rung on the security clearance ladder.)  And you have to pay the actual cost of that investigation.
  • Before you purchase, and every year thereafter, you have to obtain a certification from a licensed mental health professional that you are of sufficiently sound mind to own a firearm. No mental health professional who is a gun owner him- or herself will be allowed to provide such certifications.  You have to pay for that evaluation.
  • Just like you do with your car, you have to maintain liability insurance in case your gun is used (by you or anyone else) to do harm to other persons or property. Not only would this create a whole new insurance market, which would be good for the economy, it would actually price the risk of gun ownership.  Of course, you have to pay for that insurance.

That would do it.

We could also simply outlaw weapons capable of rapid firing, which is what the Australians did in 1996.  They did this after a single mass shooting incident because they couldn’t imagine not taking action.  And a bunch of fiercely proud, independent Australians were patriotic enough, and other-oriented enough, that they turned in their guns.  Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting incident since.  Meanwhile, we have one a day.  Again, facts are stubborn things.

We have a second chance to get this right.  The 535 invertebrates who represent us in Washington won’t do it unless we collectively make it clear to them that we’re mad as hell and won’t take it anymore.  We probably won’t because collectively we are more persuaded by tv ads and the Bill O’Reillys of the world than by reason and fact.

But we should.

And we should remember that this week there are 14 more children who won’t get a second chance.  And those are just the ones we know about.

Start Your Year With a Smile – 2018 Edition

Welcome to the 2018 Edition of my photographic year in review.  A couple of modest themes will show up later on, but for the most part we’re just going to dive right in.

Sometimes fusion works really well.  Like with cuisine. And jazz. As a retail concept, though, maybe it can be just a bit too much:

 

2017-02-01 13.57.58

 

 

Everything I know about practicing mindfulness says that it’s a good thing.  But still, I have my doubts.

 

2017-02-12 20.28.48

 

For an equally challenging version of staying mindful, there’s this:

2017-08-14 21.34.59

 

I once heard Eric Clapton say that he is at pains not to repeat himself.  Well, friends, I am no Eric Clapton.  When I first saw this a couple of years ago, I figured it was a rare, one-off experience.  But nope, they did it again! (Look closely – you’ll see what the sign is supposed to say.)

2017-01-25 18.49.38

 

Dammit, I think the wheelchairs deserve a little privacy!  Don’t you?

2017-07-14 19.33.15

 

OK, if you’re this guy, how do you go back to your day job on Monday and explain to your colleagues exactly what you did all weekend?  Or this IS your day job.  In which case, what do you say when you’re making small talk at a barbecue and new turns to you and says, “So tell me, Bob, what do you do for a living?”

2017-02-25 18.48.32

 

At last, the 2AM dry mouth explained!

2017-04-11 16.07.51

 

This big guy moved into my building just a few days after I did.  Apparently, he prepared for Moving Day by having way too much to drink the night before.

2017-04-30 11.56.06

I have to say, though, that moving can have its benefits.  The bear and I both get to enjoy this view:

2017-04-22 20.15.03

 

Speaking of being mindful, here’s a healthy approach to life:

2017-06-11 10.58.22

 

I spent some wonderful time in Italy this year, where I discovered that some things don’t translate very well:

2017-06-25 13.48.26

 

A pair of relics, side by side:

2017-06-25 15.41.21

 

My Italian is far from perfect, but this looks to me like the Institute for the Mastery of Filipino Pie:

2017-06-25 20.09.12

 

You can’t really make it out, but the green sign says “Angri.”  Exit at your own risk.

2017-06-26 17.54.42 copy

 

That was from southern Italy.  The northern Italians are not to be outdone:

2017-07-03 14.56.41

 

By the way, the Italians make cars that look like Bugs Bunny:

2017-07-01 20.22.00

 

This is from the Colosseum in Rome.  They should have added to the sign, “But scratching hieroglyphics on them with a sharp object is totally cool!”

2017-06-28 16.14.21

 

Interesting name for a leather boutique in Florence.  Someone’s a big James Bond fan.

2017-07-02 10.52.01

To make it even more interesting, the trademark listing for this place starts with “Saddlery, whips and animal apparel; umbrellas and parasols. . .”  And, no doubt, so much more.  Yes, I look these things up.

https://trademarks.justia.com/791/99/maison-79199491.html

 

Best Oxy-Clean Commercial Ever!!!!

2017-07-02 21.16.55

 

Go ahead, pronounce this.  I dare you:

2017-07-03 14.09.16

 

These two guys are duking it out for market share in Milan, but in the most civilized of ways:

2017-07-08 17.13.36  2017-07-08 17.13.41

 

Back home, in the harbor where I now keep a boat, there’s a question. . .

2017-07-13 19.03.29

And just down the pier is the answer:

2017-07-13 19.09.40

 

Then there’s this guy:

2017-08-06 12.44.56

And yes, this really is the boat he’s on:

2017-08-06 12.45.13

 

Oh my God!  What are the poor amateurs going to use?!?!

2017-09-07 07.35.11

 

Oops, they did it again (again)!

2017-10-04 19.47.07

 

Food fight!!!!!

2017-10-17 17.41.39

 

OK, this might be a repeat as well.  This little sign reminds me of two things.

2017-10-20 10.58.58

First, many years ago, a colleague of mine, while asleep, managed to swallow his uvula, which is that little thing that hangs down at the back of your throat.  The result was an elongated uvula that required extensive treatment.  And, yes, I’m quite sure you didn’t wake up this morning expecting to encounter the phrase “elongated uvula.”

The consequences of ignoring this sign seem like they would be similar, only a lot more painful.

Second, it reminds me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUWOnnaVYwo  By the way, be careful of the video channel this will lead you to.  You could disappear in there for days and come out with your sides aching:

 

Nothing says “Happy 5th Birthday!” like a neon martini sign. . .

2017-11-14 18.56.29

. . .unless it’s the OTHER side of the same neon martini sign:

2017-11-14 18.57.14

 

Are you willing to entrust your life to an elevator company that counts this well?

2017-12-19 15.23.31

 

I THINK it won’t fall down! I THINK it won’t fall down! I THINK it won’t fall down.

2017-12-27 11.56.56

I received many great guest photos this year, including some that were wonderfully way too off color to use.  Here’s a sampling of the usable best.  If you sent me one that’s not here, I’m sorry.  There’s only so much time.

From Jack Altschuler:

Altschuler Bunny & Rabbit

 

From Tony Diaz, there’s this, which manages to turn the word “abut” into a noun.  And please don’t ask me to explain the metal pole.  I can’t.

Diaz Road Abutters

 

From Lisa Manning:

Manning Puddle

 

From John Muller:

Muller Shrub (Lake Cook & Waukegan)

 

And finally, this last minute (literally) gift from Lou Costabile, who answers the question I know you’ve been asking yourself: “Where DOES Jimmy John eat?”

Costabile Jimmy Johns
2017 was a very strange year in many ways.  In the midst of that, however, it’s worth remembering that it’s still possible to be rendered utterly speechless by the works of man. . .

2017-06-27 11.20.42

2017-06-30 11.55.29

2017-07-08 18.18.20

. . .and nature

2017-10-18 07.56.03

 

I wish you a healthy, happy, joy-filled and prosperous New Year.  If you’ve made it this far in the blog post, you’ve certainly earned it.

 

 

A Drop of Hypocrisy

Back in the old days, I used to watch the Today Show a lot.  You will never catch me admitting that I did this because I was a big Deborah Norville fan.  But that’s a story for a different day.

Today’s story is that I remember them having someone from the ACLU on to argue for a museum’s right to display artwork that many people found patently offensive, and just a few days later having someone else from the ACLU on to argue for something – I don’t remember exactly what – that required them to take exactly the opposite position.

It struck me as strange enough that I actually called the Today Show, got a producer on the phone, described what I’d seen and said, “I think it would be really interesting if you got a senior ACLU official on the show and asked them to explain how they could take such diametrically opposed positions only two or three days apart. I’m not anti-ACLU at all, but it seems like there’s at least a drop of hypocrisy in there somewhere.”

The producer agreed it was a good idea.  Alas, it never happened.

But that thought came back to me this morning as I was listening to the news coverage of the Anthem Antics at many of yesterday’s NFL games.

A significant chunk of the American people seems to believe that the First Amendment guarantee of free speech is a wonderful thing as long as the speakers are white and speaking about what they see as “preserving important aspects of American culture,” but that can and should go right out the window when the speakers are black and speaking about preserving something else they see as important – namely the right not to be shot in the back by the police.

Sadly, it goes without saying that the beacon for these conflicting views is the current occupant of the White House, who told us that in August that many of the pro-statue demonstrators in Charlottesville were “good people,” and said last Friday that NFL players who choose to kneel during the anthem are reprobates who should be fired.

Seems like there’s at least a drop of hypocrisy in there, doesn’t it?

Now comes the hard part.  It’s easy to point the finger at the current occupant of the White House because he’s, well, a moron.  But 60 million Americans voted for him.  Once again, we have met the enemy and he is us.

Confronting a Would-Be Tyrant

Years ago, I heard Mel Brooks being interviewed.  He was asked how he, in general but especially as a Jew, justified wrapping The Producers around a faux-musical called Springtime for Hitler.

His answer stuck with me.  As best I recall, he said that one of the best ways to deal with  would-be tyrants is to laugh at them because it just deflates them.

Obviously, he was a little late, as was Charlie Chaplin with The Great Dictator.  But maybe we can learn a lesson.

In that spirit, here’s what’s been going through my head over the past 3 weeks:

I think the Republic is strong enough to survive four years of this.  During that time, the best thing to do may just be to laugh at the news, and then go back to trying to preserve a great nation and build an even better one.

Pass it on.

Start Your Year with a Smile – 2017 Edition

Here it is – Year 7 of the photo blog.  This year, I had 94 pictures to choose from, including a few that were sent by friends and (gasp) family.  I decided to keep it clean – strictly PG. Except, of course, for when I didn’t. Which means that the hardest part of this job is bottling up my inner 13-year-old.

Just remember that this is all about how people express themselves.  Including me, I suppose. And that if you want to see what I left out, I have nowhere near enough self-restraint to stop myself from sending it to you, so just let me know.

Here we go:

I start every year afraid that I’m not going to get anything good, and yet somehow I always do.

And so, our journey begins on January 2, 2016.  I’m in the airport in Huatulco, Mexico, heading home from a holiday warmup (where I was surrounded by Canadians whom I kept assuring over and over that Donald Trump was just a sideshow whom American would never actually elect).  And there, in the airport, I see these two signs:

Here’s the thing. . .one of them points to the airplanes and the other to the restrooms.

Moving on. . .

Check out the t-shirt and imagine your dog coming home from one of those treatments.  It would either be “Ahhh. . .” or “Dude, what the hell?!?!?”

_chiro-small

If it was your cat, “Ahhh. . .” would not be an option.

CNN’s mobile app turns out to be good for a laugh or two.

I’m wondering if anyone at the Seattle Aquarium bothered to consult their octopi before this decision was made:

_cnn-octopus

 

Online ads are targeted, right?  So why did I get this one?

_cnn-bail-bonds

 

When you open the CNN app, it takes a few seconds for the pictures on the top story to catch up to the headline, which yields some pretty interesting results.  There is nothing – absolutely nothing – I could say to improve on this one:

_cnn-conway

 

In local news, this used to be a terrific steak house.  It was located in a retired fire station near where I live and was called, appropriately, The Firehouse.  It was great – right up until it was. . .you guessed it. . .gutted by fire:

_firehouse

 

In less local news, I spent a little time in Northern California last summer.  This is a spot on the Cal Berkeley campus.  If you can’t make out the sign, blow it up until you can.  And then note that every sign in the row is the same.  Show-offs.

_berkeley

 

I’m not sure why Napa Valley needs this, but apparently it does.

_silver-bunny

 

I always thought it would be good to have this much money, but I never imagined it would fit on a single bill (yes, this is real money):

_zimbabwe

I didn’t go in this place.  Like you, I’m thinking that maybe I’d rather have food that was fresh?

_vintage

And what, exactly, does this place bake?  A Revell 1/24th scale Ford Mustang?  Cindy Crawford?  I wish I knew.

_bakery

 

The next part of that trip was on the Island of Hawaii, which yielded these. . .

Seems like the upper sign is all you should need:

_warning-sign

Nothing quite says “Polynesian Rain Forest” like a band of Scandinavian marauders:

_vikings

OK, this is just a No Smoking sign. . .

_volcano

. . .except that what’s smoldering in the background is the crater of an active volcano.

 

Back home.  Last year, I shared a sign from a frozen yogurt shop that I stop into now and then.  It said, “From now on, you must have intent on purchasing a yogurt to have a sample.” (Sic, sic, sic.).  Apparently that wasn’t enough to get them the customer behavior they were after.  So they upped their game.  A single trip yielded these.  (Note – halfway through, you are going to say to yourself “Really?”  The answer is “Yes.  Really.”):

_berry-o-1_berry-o-2_berry-o-3_berry-o-4_berry-o-5_berry-o-6_berry-o-7_berry-o-8

 

By the way, this is what greets you inside the front door.

_berry-o-mission

 

In fairness, I have to say that the frogurt in this place is quite good, and it’s one of the few that has low/no-sugar options.  But there has to be a less stressful way to make a living.

 

The word choice on this street sign is interesting.  But wouldn’t “Rain” have been simpler and more to the point:

_sky-water

 

 

In itself, there’s nothing remarkable about this sign. . .

_luigis

. . except that that the place down the block – the one with what looks like a small clock tower – is called Mario’s.

 

On a summer bike ride on the Lakeshore, I passed a sign saying that the under-construction bird sanctuary I was passing would soon be complete and ready for use.  That got me to wondering how the birds would find out that it was available.  The best answer I could come up with:  “They’ll Tweet.”

On that same ride, though, I failed in my attempt, after my January start in Mexico, to avoid bathroom humor for the rest of the year.  And I believe in failing big.

This sign sits above a urinal in a Chicago Park District restroom on the Lakefront, and it makes me worry about many things, including the state of civilization.

 

_rainwater

 

Let’s pause here for a second.  I’m always curious what the meeting was like where something like this got approved.  Like the marketing meeting from last year’s blog, when the bike company decided to put the words “Perineal Safety Area” around the opening in the bicycle seat.

I mean, let’s be clear.  I’m sure there’s a risk associated with the fact that the water is untreated rainwater.  But there’s also a risk that if you tried to drink it, you might, while bending over to take a sip, see an image in the water that you thought was Madonna – the singer, not the Blessed Virgin – faint from the shock, hit your head on the concrete and die of a subdural hematoma.

If I had to guess, I’d say the rainwater risk is smaller than the Madonna/hematoma thing. But they’re both pretty small.  And then there’s the fact that the water is in a urinal.  As my dog said when I brought him home from the chiropractor, “Dude, what the hell?!?!?”

But why am I worrying about that?  What I should really worry about is the strange looks I get while taking photographs in public restrooms.

 

On a separate adventure that was not supposed to involve plumbing, I was in a Lowe’s store and came face-to-face (or maybe it was face-to-bowl) with Kohler’s marketing strategy, which apparently involves giving toilet models profound, thought-provoking names. Like this:

_memoirs

 

There were two other models I didn’t get pictures of (yes, I actually started worrying about attracting unwanted attention).  One was The Cimmaron, which given it’s Western-ish name, seems it should be more outhouse than in-house.  And defying all explanation, there was the pièce de rèsistance, the sine qua non, the toilette de toilettes – The Biscuit.

And may that be the end of bathroom humor.

 

But nothing is off limits – or for that matter, private, let alone sacred – anymore.  And so I found this billboard on the road from New Buffalo, Michigan, back to Chicago.  No, not Carl’s Truck Repair.  I love the red circle with the slash through it and the Buy One – Get One Free offer.

_billboard-2

 

Here are three great guest shots:

From my friend and colleague Rene Boer – a picture he took on a beach in Belize.

boer-vacationIf you can’t make out the little yellow sign, it says “Closed for Vacation.”

From my friend Jack Trytten, a road sign that seems like it might have caused lots of accidents.

 

_trytten

 

And from my daughter, Julia, this bit of grocery store irony:

_nutrition-center-from-julia

 

From this year’s holiday warm-up in Miami:

This store in Miami Beach might be owned by a brother and sister?  If so, they have a sense of humor.  I hope so, but I don’t know.  And they don’t have a website, so I can’t look it up.  Or see what they sell.  All I can say is that the name and the subtitle kind of contradict each other.

_sib-bling

 

As the colors might suggest, this sign is by a guard house at the University of Miami.  I’m still trying to figure out exactly whom it excludes from entry:

_u-of-miami

 

And finally, for anyone who lives in Chicago (and probably many other places), there’s this:

_mattress3

That’s it for this year.  I hope you found something in here to give you a laugh.  And I wish you a healthy, happy, prosperous 2017.

Still Trumped Up

In the week since my last post, I’ve received a surprising number of emails (by surprising, I mean three) from people saying that while they agree with my assessment of Trump, they just can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary.

The arguments have ranged from “What’s wrong with a protest vote for Gary Johnson?” to “I want to send a message to the Libertarian Party that they could be a legitimate contender if they put up candidates better than Gary Johnson, like maybe Bill Weld” to “I just can’t bring myself to vote for someone who should be in jail.”

Let me check. . .yup, that’s three.

My responses:

  • Protest vote: I get it. In fact, I cast one in 1992.  But that was a year in which neither of the major party candidates was a nut-job who posed an existential threat to the Republic.  When there is a lunatic in the race, and this year there is, the protest vote has to wait.  Job #1 is to make sure the lunatic doesn’t get elected.

 

  • Send a message to the Libertarians:   This is a great idea.  And here’s a way to do it without contributing to the election of a nut-job.  Just copy the following text into a letter: “Dear Libertarian Party – I would like you to know that I think you could be a serious contender, but only if you nominate better candidates than Gary Johnson.  Like maybe Bill Weld.”  Print it, sign it and mail it to:

libertarian-party-address

  • Belongs in jail: First, in fairness, that should be “might belong in jail.”  Innocent until proven guilty, blah, blah, blah.

That said, I get it. Here’s how deep my desire not to vote for Hillary runs.  In 2008, living in the most Republican county in Illinois, I pulled a Democratic primary ballot, which meant throwing away the rest of my votes, and voted for Obama because I believed it was the only chance I would ever have to vote against her.

Her judgment has often been weak (see my post on the email server here).  Her ethics are fuzzy at best.  Colin Powell uses the words “greed” and “hubris” to describe her.  Remember – hubris doesn’t mean arrogant.   It means “thinks the rules don’t apply to you.”  That’s her (and Bill) in a nutshell.

 

All of that is true.  But the choices we have are the choices we have, and like it or not, here they are:

  • A career politician with questionable judgment and fuzzy ethics who might actually belong in jail.

 

  • A guy who belongs in an asylum. By “asylum,” I do not mean “what you apply for after you finally make it across the Rio Grande because the gringos haven’t built that wall yet.”  I mean the loony bin.  If you really don’t think Donald Trump is a nut-job, please go back and read the links in my last post.  We’re talking about a man who by all appearances is an ADD-addled narcissistic sociopath with a significant brain defect.  A man who has absolutely no interest in facts.  A man who lies like a bearskin rug and actually seems not to know he’s lying. A man who is either a sexual predator or is so insecure that at age 60 he felt the need to curry the approval of a 32-year-old entertainment reporter (take your pick, it has to be one of the other).  A man who is unnerved and provoked into response by the slightest insult (imagine if the provocations came from the Iranians, or for that matter the French, and the tools of response involved the United States military instead of a smartphone and a Twitter account).  A 70-year old who behaves like a six-year-old – whose pattern of behavior will be recognized by anyone who ever encountered a bully on an elementary school playground.  Oh, and let’s not forget the long-distance love affair with Vladimir Putin, who is currently running a close second to Kim Jong Un for Most Dangerous Man on Earth.

 

  • A dope-smoking crackpot whose knowledge of world geography ends at Santa Fe, and whose soul seems to be stuck permanently at a Doors concert.

 

  • Jill Stein

 

I don’t like that list of choices any more than you do.  But everything in life is relative, and that’s what we’ve got.  Given those options, “belongs in jail” starts to look pretty good, doesn’t it?

It’s going to be OK.  Really.  Here’s all you need:

clothespins

Trust me on this.  I tried it on Friday and I’m still here.


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