Massachusetts

Massachusetts! Yes, Massachusetts gave you Scott Brown to defeat Obamacare, President Obama, Harry Reid, et al. It was a clear indicator from a state often called “the bluest of blue” (which I might contest) that people Did Not Want the so-called “Affordable” Care Act.

Instead of “passing” the law as was, in a manner that at least bordered on fraudulent, don’t you wish now, Dems, that you had gone for that “oh man, we BARELY lost by ONE vote, maybe next time” loss?

Massachusetts Did Not Want the law passed, enough to muster the people’s votes against it then. Massachusetts! And you blew it.

Stagnant and Angry

I want so badly to keep this blog going, but I burned out a couple of weeks before the election and I don’t have my mojo back just yet. I stopped reading the news, in fact, because I couldn’t take the post-election dissection. The GOP didn’t lose because they failed to pander to Hispanics. They didn’t lose because Mitt Romney sucked. They didn’t lose because the American people are idiots, or because bread and circuses, or because people hate the rich. They didn’t lose because they didn’t get the message out.

They lost because alongside some of the right message, they preached the wrong message. And the wrong message was louder.

They’re not going to get anywhere with hate and bigotry. The entire social conservative agenda has to go. The GOP has got to divorce social conservatism from economic conservatism or they’re not going to win another election anytime soon. Some of us figure that it matters less what those folks think, because there’s not much chance of them managing to push that agenda through into law. But Obamacare, so who knows. In any case, they terrify people with this stuff, and rightly so.

Also, Bush.

The economic message was not as well explained as it could have been, either. It seems to me that these folks were preaching to the choir, counting on turnout. But Republicans seem not to trust their own party anymore. If you can’t even get them up off their behinds to vote against Obama, you’ve got serious issues. Candidates have to go so far right now to capture the base that the average voter looks at them like they’re Martians. And, culturally speaking, they may as well be.

I’m sorry I wasted a vote on these freaks. I hope Gary Johnson runs again. How the Libertarians shoot themselves in the foot is another (weirdly related) post. But at least they’ve got principles, and ones that aren’t based on denying the personhood of women (another entirely different, but related post).

At this point my worst-case scenario isn’t that another Democrat wins the Presidency in 2016. It’s that the GOP once again doesn’t bother running, and all of the signs point that way. Balance is necessary, and I’m not seeing any to speak of.

Damn shame.

Fascinating Map

Showing the numbers and proportions of secession petitioners by state. Found via Jeff Soyer.

I laughed when I saw California with the lowest proportion of the population. Massachusetts was tied for second with Maryland, with Illinois third and, it appears, Minnesota fourth. No surprises there, or with Alaska having the highest percentage and Texas the highest total.

Of course, the question of secession was settled by force over a century ago, but that makes it neither less appealing nor less of a political statement to agitate lip service toward it.

Elections Have Consequences

I knew there were tax changes coming, barring anything done to avert them, and I just discovered one aspect I’d not know of before in the chart here. Child tax credit is going from $1000 back to $500 in 2013. That may not suddenly mean we owe more, or even that we get less back in earned income credit, but it may be a close thing, or may matter in a couple years.

Not that the child tax credit should even exist, but since it does, and it potentially affects our finances, why would we approve of an arbitrary drop? As such things go, it seems least worst, in the manner of the EIC if you’re really into evening things out. The trouble with the EIC is the donut hole dropoff, which we start to approach, in which your effective tax rate is staggering. Even now, I figured out last tax year that each dollar of self-employment income I might add means 47 cents in additional tax. If I charge you $40 to fix your computer because I figure that’s all you can afford, or all the market will bear, I make a tad over $20 of it in reality, and no matter that I spent three hours, for which I should have charged between $120 and $300. But this is not about pricing and marketing and even the effects of self-esteem on same.

Also, the more direct impact on us is the end of the payroll tax reduction, which arguably should never have been enacted anyway. But since it was, the end of it represents a substantial tax increase on people of modest income. We’re talking about eliminating what we saved by canceling our landline, to put it in real terms, or enough to get McDonald’s 2-3 times a month… except we don’t do that, because the money isn’t there! If it’s not there for things we want or need, how is it there for a tax increase? It’s not. Nor is it there to be a portion of the additional we’d need to spend on groceries in order to change my diet to comply with what the cardiologist wants to see to maximize my lifespan and minimize my chance of additional stents or worse. Not. There. For. Health. So it’s not there for taxes, either, and if you think Obamacare is going to help me afford to eat healthier, you’re delusional.

The thing is, again, the tax shouldn’t have been cut in the first place, so nobody would be able to miss it. Or it should have been eliminated 100% in a massive overhaul of everything. As long as you pay lip service to it being a retirement account, or even if you don’t, and instead recognize it as a wobbly pay-as-you-go Ponzi scheme, cutting that tax makes no sense, as it affects if either way.

The child tax credit, though… As a matter of social policy, what is it? It recognizes that people with children could use an added tax advantage because OMG expensive. By extension, it makes having children a prioriy of the government. New subjects citizens to help keep the social security Ponzi scheme economy going in the future, replacing older workers as the retire, and some so the whole scheme economy doesn’t collapse.

Back to the donut hole. It’s more than the taxes. My 47% assumes self-employment, and would be lower otherwise, but if it’s employment or business income, if it takes time away from home, it means daycare. If I were to trade in my part-time job for full time, there would be an immediate daycare “tax” of $270 a week. Not even guessing at how much more that might be in summer or school vacation weeks. I have to account for that, elimination of the EIC, even though for us that has been on paper and being taken to cover old tax debt each year, incurring income tax on income that had none before as well as the added income, insurance costs that will change, and costs associated with commuting and having less “free” time. Working from home or doing business from home and flexibly/less than full time modifies that, but doesn’t avoid it entirely. For a specific potential job, I estimated needed $40,000 a year above the income I make part time just to stay even. Not compensating me at all for taking my time. That’s basically $43 an hour for each extra hour above what I work part time.

No wonder I still keep thinking what I have to do is make a living at self-employment and/or writing and/or part-time work from home.

Things have to change, in any event. My reaction to the election was a coldly furious resolution to be prepared to survive whatever happens. Ironically, that means improving my income. Expenses have nowhere to go but up, since we are about as to the bone as possible. I figure on being better able to cover living expenses, while continuing to keep them as low as possible, while preparing against disaster, disruption, lack of income in the future… all the things that can happen “unexpectedly” (if you have blinders on). It’s great to hope things go well and change for the better, but in reality it could take decades to recover from this depression and from four more years of fundamental transformation. If it happens at all. In the long view, the tax blip coming up is nothing, and could help things turn toward the saner sooner rather than later.

Yeah

Picking through the rubble.

 

Yeah, I feel like an ass for not voting Gary Johnson. Especially in Massachusetts, where it doesn’t matter either way. I had a notion that the vote for Romney would be closer in this state than anyone would expect, and thought I’d contribute to that end. Especially since Gary Johnson was arguably the best Liberarian candidate ever.

The candidate we really needed was Bill Weld.

He got no traction with the Republican party, though, because he was a libertarian. He was what I think of it meaning to be a Republican. After him, Cellucci was close, but not quite. Jane Swift was kind of a joke by comparison, but more in an in over her head competence thing. I still thought it was rude the way Romney shoved her out of the way to start his presidential run in the form of being a governor. I disliked that before I disliked RomneyCare. Then he became presidential and outshone all the others this time. There is probably nobody who has run for President who would be a viable future candidate. Not sure who is a viable candidate. It’s possible Ryan is too socially conservative, and that part must go. But I digress.

I Compose the Best Posts in My Head at Work

I just don’t remember them later!

I was wrong, obviously. I forgot Wizard’s First Rule: People are stupid. Thought of that at work, while my thoughts churned.

I can’t go Galt now, or I would. Planned or not, I’ve de facto been going Galt for the past four years. I said things would get better regardless who won. I didn’t say they’d stay better, let alone get as much better, and as I conceded to a leftist acquaintance, we would crash either way. Just why sooner rather than later?

No, I have to change my life to what will seem to be better and wealthier, because I can’t go unprovisioned into the darkness, and provisioning takes money, while it still buys things.

Republicans will have to change. Mitt ran a good race, as a better candidate than I’d have imagined. Cerainly none of the crew were better, which is a sad statement. Sure, there were some near misses and some excitement, but they all were flawed. He didn’t emphasize social conservatism, yet the party has saddled itself with that to the point people assume. From what I could see, that was what people feared. While they didn’t need to fear it, republicans need to be more overt in recognizing and acknowledging it’s over, that there’s a new normal. Better to focus on the economics that will no go out of style, and improve foreign policy while keeping the general tenor of strength and world leadership.

The sad thing is, before Bush hit his second term and went crazy, or perhaps showed what was always there, when Bush was running, it seemed like republicans has overtly become the big tent party. It’s better, or at least no worse, to be gay or a minority and go republican. (Note that I am leaving out libertarians here, though I did have thoughts on that and Gary Johnson as well.) If there are loudmouths who sound like they’ll take away your right to early term abortions or stand fast in the way of marrying whoever you want, well, they are loudmouths, not representative. Sadly, democrats project. They project fraud onto republicans, while being the primary home of it. They project racism onto republicans, while being the current and historic home of it.

It was always discomforting that Mitt was the grandfather of Obamacare.

He was also too nice, too non-specific economically, and too easily associated in people’s minds with Bush, who remains poisonous. In some ways, I’d call this a referendum on Bush versus Obama. If I had to make a choice of having Bush back or keeping Obama, I’d go for Bush, but it would be a razor thin thing, holding my nose and hoping he didn’t screw it up. Mitt is no Bush, but it took me a while to get enthusiastic rather than resigned to him.

It’s just an election, at least. Hugo Chavez was elected, so how bad could it be?

On the plus side, I was not looking forward to blogging critically of the Romney administration, given the morass it faced. Oh, I would have. I may have more fun going all out on the clown who’ll inherit his own (and yes, GWB’s) mess.

As for the voters, you own it. You voted for it, and oh won’t you get it. Thanks for taking me along. Appreciate it. Especially you single issue voters (see above, and also delusions like that there’d cuts to school funding enough to matter – as if that’s a federal issue anyway) and people who grew up financially privileged as children of rent-seekers or workers of angles and influence or thuggery however polished, who seem yet to have learned of the real world. Good luck with that, eventually.

And yes, I voted, so even to you pathetic morons who spout the witless line about not having the right to complain if I didn’t vote, I sure as fuck will complain. Boy will I complain. If that were all you reaped from what you’ve sown, you’d be lucky, and I’d be thrilled. Are you ready for what’s coming?

Question One

I’m still torn on Massachusetts ballot question 1, which involves access to onboard diagnostic data from your car.

On the one hand, “there otta be a law” is one of the most evil phrases and reactions out there, and that seems to be what this is. That gives it to the status quo, but often the status is not quo. Rather, it’s warped, by all the cumulative otta-be laws, and all the existing assumptions and regulations. Put another way, the tabula is not rasa.

On the other hand, and the one I lean toward, especially after thinking through the above paragraph, you buy it, you own it, and you own your data. Period. If your car tracks information about its condition, that information is yours, to be able to access freely and use as you please.

The other two questions are no brainers, barring any qualms one may have over either of them being poorly written and thus flawed in some way.

Obama’s Concession Speech

I remember Carter’s concession speech. It was fairly gracious, and for lack of anything better to say, promised a smooth transition.

Since Obama is often compared to Carter, whom he has made look good, and this election has been compared to 1980, albeit less Reaganesque, and is likely to be “unexpectedly” an electoral exclamation, I wondered how Obama’s concession might compare. It sometimes seems he no longer cares to win. At the same time, there are expectations that if he wins, it will be through fraud. There have even been suggestions of a more overt coup, though that seems less likely than it might have several weeks ago.

Has he written it yet? Thought about what he might say? Will it be dragged out, reluctantly delivered?

I don’t picture it being gracious. Any more than I picture a gracious transition, or a lame duck period free of danger for the country. We may see how much havoc executive power can wreak in just a couple of months.

Even before giving this any thought, we’d talked about what kind of ex-president he might be. He’s young. Which I suppose means I can’t think of myself as being old, since Obama went and made our mutual birth year look bad. I’m only four months older. I’d also like to think I could have done a better job of being President in my sleep. But I digress. Maybe he could write another autobiography? Perhaps he’ll be neither as overtly bitter nor as embarrassing as Carter turned out to be. At least I can find multiple good things to say abou Carter as President. I can find exactly one to say about Obama, and his space policy (not NASA policy and the Muslim outreach, but space) was probably accidental. It is what Republican/Conservative policy should be, and arguably isn’t in part due to wanting not to match, because Obama must be wrong, and because Republicans aren’t so much small government as they are differently big government. Which in this case should be enough to delay or even avert the end of the United States.

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This is the reason for my silence:

Because what in the world do you even say about a comment like this one that the President made last night:

“You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. ”

I mean, I’ve got nothing to say about that. All I’ve got is flabbergasted silence.

I hope he’s not surprised when he loses this damnable election.

Electoral College

Someone mentioned the electoral college on Facebook, and while the question actually involved why bother if the electors can vote how they want, not honoring the popular vote in the state, I’d been thinking so much about the topic again that I spewed forth this comment:

Things changed a lot since they set it up that way. The idea was that it was the collection of states forming the federal government, so there was a balance between state and individual representation. Each state had the same number of senators, regardless of size, representing the interests of the states and appointed by same, not directly beholden to the populace. Representatives were directly elected by the people, representing the people, with as close to an even population per as reasonably possible. Presidency was a mix of the two. People voting, but to come up with the preference of the people in the state, and weighed by population plus a base for each state. The idea of senators representing the states went out the window with the 17th amendment, so they are glorified representatives. Strengthening the federal government in the 1860s probably made that inevitable. The more direct representation got skewed by limiting the size of the house of representatives, entirely aside from what the early invention of gerrymandering and rise of political parties did. Not that there was no merit in the fear of its size becoming unwieldy, but that certainly would be an antidote to the problem of excess legislation. Once the rest was decoupled from the concept of a federal system with representation of states plus individuals, the electoral college method started to seem increasingly odd. It still makes a lot of sense to me, as a traditionalist with a clear understanding of how it was meant to work, but I understand the confusion and the arguments for direct election. That would have its own problem, but on a national rather than state scale. Take away Boston and the vote in MA would no longer be lopsided and predictable. Take away the coastal cities in California, ditto. A case can be made that it’d be scary and rural votes would never count at all the other way, too.

Followed by this related comment:

There are those of us who see things as having gone downhill since the 17th passed, and would gladly repeal it. The argument against repealing it is that state legislatures can be corrupt and appoint a senator you’d never consider. On the other hand, that moves the action closer to home, giving everyone reason to try to turn over the state legislators if they can’t get senatorial selections right.

All of which is part lesson that anyone ought to be able to follow, and part opinion with a dash of opposing view to consider. I’ve debated the topic before with Steven Taylor, who is vehemently opposed to the electoral college. I used to find that odder than I do now, especially coming from a political science professor, than I do now. I am still not convinced, and might rather undo the changes that have rendered it less logical, but I come closer to seeing it than I once did. Still, I predict that if it comes to pass, with all else being equal, the result in practice will be worse than you’d expect. As is often the case for seemingly laudable ideas.

Hanson Signs

I had seen this local controversy erupt recently, but heard nothing more about it until yesterday, when I saw a link to a local news web site with a truncated, cryptic video and no text. I guessed that they were using the old move signs onto a truck trick, and it looks like I was right.

In fairness to one of the motivations for the original complaints, it is a somewhat bad spot to be distracted from driving. On he other hand, if you’re so easy to distract and can’t also pay attention to where you’re going, you shouldn’t be driving.

Generally I believe local sign regulations, bylaws, or whatever form the restrictions or requirements to grease palms take are somewhere between completely unacceptable and way overblown. Thus I automatically rooted for this guy, but I’d also have wanted someone with Squaw for Senate and Obama for Dunce in Chief signs to be allowed to keep them up. I know, weird not to apply my version of the rules (or lack thereof) one-sidedly, but that’s just how I roll.

Insurance Games

I work at a large company that provides a health insurance benefit for part time employees who have worked there over 1000 hours, or about a year. We’re drawing toward the end of the second year of that.

There are two plans. Let’s say that one costs $10 a month and has pathetic coverage, a catastrophic plan that is marginal until you have been personally responsible for $5250, after which it pays everything that it covers. That’s over 1/3 of my gross income there, and could easily be half of someone’s income, depending on location and seniority. That’s equivalent to an out of pocket maximum closer to $25,000 on the income I’d need in order to be out the other side of the donut hole. I am up over $3000 of that so far this year. That’s a lot of years of making sure the providers get at least $10 a month to avoid having it sent to collections.

The other plan, which I was on last year, costs five times as much, and covers much more. That year, I only saw a doctor a few times, and for whatever reason I never saw a bill. I’m pretty sure I should have seen bills for a portion of each office visit. I was supposed to have been on the same plan, but the company defaults your choice to the bottom plan, and in a tricksy accident I was not allowed to select the one I wanted. You know that’s a guarantee I’d actually need the coverage for that year. In six more days, I will get to select again, which is a relief.

I am also covered, into the beginning of next year, by the part of RomneyCare called Health Safety Net, which is backstop coverage for people who are poor, but not so poor, and have crappy insurance that they can’t actually afford to use but that satisfies the mandate. I had thought that covered all the things, and that was why I never saw one bill from the doctor last year. However, it covers stuff at hospitals and “community health centers” (what are those? where? who designates them? couldn’t tell you!), but not at regular practices. That would encourage one to hit the ER for something relatively mundane, which makes no sense, given the alleged overuse of ERs by poor people was the driving force behind RomneyCare. I have never done that in my life, and it would never occur to me, unless I had an emergency. The practice I use has after-hours urgent care that’s pretty easy to get into, and they have people on-call for emergency visits. Usually seeing a nurse practitioner, but no need for more for most things. Heck, when middle child broke her arm, we went there, not ER. NP saw her and then our family doctor, who is her boss, stepped in to help put on a cast. We didn’t even have to see the orthopedic people.

As an aside, the wife is on separate insurance, through her employer, and the kids are fully covered by RomneyCare, but we pay a monthly premium for that. Not sure how we’d do it if kids were on an employer plan for probably more additional premium than the state charges, but were not as well covered. I know! We’d magically up our income tens of thousands of dollars to get to the other side of the donut hole. Can I digress like a fiend, or what?

Where was I? The point of this was to discuss my EOB (explanation of benefits) for the 34 hours I spent at the hospital, getting a cardiac catheterization that resulted in two stents, followed by time in a room for observation – otherwise I’d have been home same day.

The cath and stent procedure was free as part of a large study I agreed to participate in for the privilege of it being free, and not having to be transferred to another hospital if they found blockage that could be treated with stents. (Bypass would have required transfer, since there is not a full cardiac unit there – thus the study showing the efficacy of hospitals being able to do stents without full cardiac units.) I thought that was cool, and a worthy goal. Cost didn’t matter so much, since RomneyCare would backstop the hospital charges.

On the EOB, there is no indication that anything about the event was “free.” It may be that there is some tiny portion of the charges that is what they actually meant that is not noticeable in its absence. The hospital billed over $60,000 for the 34 hour stay, plus another $2500 for the hospitalist in charge of me for most of that time. Great guy. Chatted with him twice, briefly. He even gave me his cell number in case I needed anything after I got home and couldn’t reach anyone. Even in the middle of the night… call. Except… his number was nowhere on any of the paperwork. Oops.

About $40,000 of the total on the main bill was “physician” charges. Since the hospitalist was covered elsewhere (and the insurance actually covered all but around $400, after discounting it to about $1600 they’d actually cover), that was all for the excellent cardiologist who did the “free” procedure and presumably the anesthesiologist. I expected the retail on the procedure not to be cheap. Specialized room, team of people, special prep and recovery area, special skills and equipment… but, yeah, don’t think so, especially “free.” The room overnight, amazing nurses, meals, whatever… those were apparently around $4000-5000 of the total charges.

Anyway, insurance denied most of it, either not covered or separately billed items already included elsewhere not being allowed. I maybe should have called this “hospital games,” since the culprit here appears to be the hospital, but I suspect this is what they have been trained to do by the government and insurers, as self-defense. If my old business could only have collected 30% of what we billed our clients, our prices would have gone up accordingly, and every scrap of any billable time or expense would have been included. Like when I’d go to four people to solve minor problems in 15 minutes, that was our minimum increment of .25 hours (which was too low), it could instead have been four minimum charges for four incidents, making it 1 hour.

The part they didn’t deny, but discounted deeply, was the physician charges, implying that those are so large because they already incorporate all the supplies, labs, etc. Net result is almost as low an insurance payment for the 60k as for the 2.5k. The other thing they paid is a tiny indigent care surcharge the state collects.

I was pretty amused by the whole thing. I’d never be able to pay my share of it regardless, so as well for them it’s backstopped. But it makes me wonder what they bill RomneyCare now, and what that coverage allows them to get paid for. Is the 60k thing a ploy to get a ton of state money? Or will the state pay only what the insurer left me for a balance? No idea. What should happen is I will either never see a bill from the hospital, or I will remind them of HSN if I do, and will never see anything else about it.

I was opposed to RomneyCare, and can’t believe I am supporting Mitt for President, not that there’s a choice, but with actual enthusiasm. It has been good to us, though. Not that times should have been this rough. I call myself “pragmatic libertarian, because I’d love to see that pure society, but we have to get there from here. You can’t just snap fingers and make it so. You have to backtrack through the bramble maze. People can’t be left in the lurch as if there is and has always been a free market economy. It’s an interesting question, then, how you backtrack to FDR, undo the effects of wage controls that made health insurance a free perk of employment that could differentiate employers, undo the effects of insurance being for maintenance, not “insurance,” and undo the effects of later adding Medicare/caid in part because of the effects of FDR on the market, making matters vastly worse. You can’t just press Ctrl-Z on entrenched policies and their aftermaths. I hope we can make a start, though, before it gets out of hand.

Perhaps Just Re-election is a Coup

This is and interesting take on the idea of a coup, with MSM as the long-term perpetrators, not specific to a particular candidate. It’s certainly less messy than Obama either losing or not daring to let the voting occur, and Romney would be simply a minor setback along the way, one that can be managed, and has already been rendered squishier than might have been. The real antidote here might be Gary Johnson, and who is it that controls, even more than collusion between the major parties, who has visibility and a presence in debates? The media.

It Gets Better

Well, maybe.

I’ve been thinking that barring the coup scenario, and barring total collapse of the worst kind, there will be economic improvement regardless of who is elected.

Heresy! Right?

Maybe not. Look, it will still be relative, and will still vary depending who and on their specific actions or lack thereof, and on Congress, for that matter. However, we’ve been holding our breath, marking time, holding back, perhaps even actively not wanting to contribute to an economy for Obama to pillage or to reflect well by.

After the election, will we really keep marking time for another four years? To that same degree? Perhaps we’ll not act quite the same as we would in a more rational economy (talking relatively here… when was the last time the American economy was truly rational?), but are we really going to hold as much back?

So yeah, barring further meltdown, which is possible, given quantitative easing gone wild, and the pulling aside the curtain of any pretense of sound money, regime uncertainty will be relieved to some degree and things will improve… to some degree. It is entirely possible that the tax cliff will be averted, if Obama wins, since Congress will have no downside to legislating accordingly. Not that that changes the Obamacare taxes, or the law’s overall economic consequences, and not that we won’t have the same cliff looming in another year.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Outdoor Classroom

The elementary school attended by the older kids has a new “outdoor classroom” this year. While there’s probably some Gaia worship and being Environmentally Correct involved, it boils down to teaching kids about gardening. Sort of a miniature vo-ag program. They are learning about composting, for instance, which may be environmentalism, but it’s not extremism, and was something done when I was a kid and before, like, forever.

It occured to me that this is timely. If things crash to that degree, they could use the knowledge toward growing food. I like practical education. That is, if there’s time enough before it crashes, and of it doesn’t crash too hard even for that to matter. I’ve had a potentially lengthy post brewing in my mind about just what a crash might look like, and how socio-infrastructure inelasticity would have to affect it. (I love coining terms. Makes me feel like the Bernanke of phrasing, only not dangerous.)

Chances are that a crash won’t be so great as to mean mass death and destruction, unless there is a coup, which I started thinking about as a possibility a while back. Didn’t want to mention it aloud, since I remember how insane people sounded when they were frantic that Bush was going to cancel the election and stay in office. That would never have happened, since for all his faults, he is honorable and not that level of power hungry. Then I started seeing others mention it, including one detailed analysis of how it might go if Obama tried it. Right, Google exists! I think I read this one, which still sounded like it might be a bit over the top. Remembering that it said “Barack Obama is, unfortunately for America, a profoundly stupid man” made it easier to find with a search.

Anyway, I was a vo-ag student in high school, and I grew up about as close to farming as is possible without growing up on a farm. It makes me happy to have my kids learning something about one of my first strong interests/career aspirations. We had chickens. When I was very young we had ducks. I spread tons of manure from cows, horses and chickens. I helped plant, weed, and harvest vegetables. There was always a compost pile, if not any as intently managed and harvested as is possible. We did dig fresh soil from the the fully composted parts, but mostly it was a place to dispose of garbage and yard waste. It’s sad to live in a yard that, apart from being not ours, has no space for that. The closest I’ve come is pulling weeds from the flower bed in the front and leaving them to die and disintegrate as a sort of mulch on a bare area of my tiny adjacent herb garden.

I should take a cue from the school and my worries, and make even greater efforts to teach the kids the practical. Not just as a side note, like showing them how to build a fire when we were camping, and explaining the need for air flow. Or telling my son in passing yesterday how starting a fire by rubbing sticks together really works, since he picked that notion up somewhere. When my oldest was very young, as young as 3-4, I would give her pointers on what to do if she was trapped out in the cold, or lost. I sometimes have shown them what they can or cannot eat from “the wild.” They need more of that, alongside things like handling money, and the instilling of ideals. But I digress.

November

Every time I think about this election I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. There are just too many people around who want to force everyone to hold a single set of values, chosen for us by the government and the ones who exploited the fear and apathy of the nation to elect them. It breaks my heart. I love my country and my countrymen too much to see this devolution without tears.

We’ve only got a few more weeks until we find out whether there is hope.

Nuke Targets?

This item “No Jewish People without Israel” got me thinking about a couple of things.

One is the idea of what would happen to Islam if Mecca were nuked. I read something recently that posited the end of Islam in a messy spasm if a rogue Islamic state or terrorist rendered that a target by taking out a city in one country or another that could so retaliate.

By extension, more directly, it brought to mind the idea I’ve heard about also nuking Jerusalem to eliminate a place tussled over ridiculously by three major religions. While taking out that city does not equate per se with taking out the entire Jewish state, the questions are kindred.

Finally, as it discusses, the attitudes of American Jews of various ages.

I have a friend who is not that much younger than me, an American Jew, not super observant, extremely leftist, who simultaneously fears for the fate of Israel at the hands of American conservatives, yet seems more friend of Palestinians and foe of Israel than vice-versa. She is terrified of her privacy, refusing to have an online presence to speak of, certainly not that can be readily tied to her real identity. What she is afraid of is the right, not the left, which is historically muddled with respect to who gets authoritarian/fascist, and who has in the past or would in the future betray Jews. But then, the left leaning tendency of American Jews is a well known mystery. She is convinced that conservatives want to, well, immanentize the eschaton… bring about the end times, taking Jews and Israel along as a casualty. Perhaps this is something one could interpret from the whackiest religious whackos who have unfortunately identified themselves with the right, scaring even those of us with some natural affinity for the fiscal sense (in talk if not always the walk) and relatively freedom-loving, big tent tendencies that George W. Bush seemed to market then belie, especially in his second term. If anyone needs an example of why not to allow Obama the reduced restraint inherent in a second term, they need only look at Bush. As I mentioned in a prior post, a shame the Democrats put forth a loon like Kerry when they could have won with someone decent. But I digress.

How backward is that? The right as fascists. The left as freedom and privacy protectors. The left as friends of Israel. Well, except that some American Jews themselves don’t seem to be. The right as would-be destroyers of Israel.

How sad is it that we have to speak and think mainly in terms of left and right, anyway? That’s like saying you can use crayons in shades of red or in shades of blue to color. Ignore those yellow,green and purple ones… they don’t exist. You’d be wasting your art on them.

Some may think we should nuke the Moon, but that’s not the only target with intriguing consequences. And in all the nuclear testing that was done in the past, isn’t it kind of surprising nobody did nuke the Moon? That’s a lot of melted cheese.

Update:
See also Dumb Jews. Except I believe the tendency to be well off may be part of the problem, as it seems to with many monied folks who are either into multiple generations, or were not particularly entrepreneurial/free market seeking (rather than protected/licensed/rent seeking) in getting there. Seems to be some combination of protecting what’s yours or of guilt at being well off. That was always my theory on the Kennedys.