Category: Government

I Don’t Understand

I am not a student of history, geopolitics, or economics. I confess that I have about a 7th grade grasp of world events most of the time. Therefore, I am being sincere when I say that I need someone to explain something to me like I was a child. Speak slowly and in simple language. No platitudes, vague historical references, or moral right vs. wrong inferences. I’m looking for a clear, fact-based argument. Ready?

Why is it in the United States strategic interest to fully fund, arm, and (eventually) defend Ukraine?

What I find when I search on this subject is mostly vague arm waving and teeth gnashing about “we can’t let naked aggression like this go unchecked”, or “if we don’t stop Russia here and push them back, they’ll soon be rolling into Poland”. There’s plenty of moral justifications thrown out – “we can’t stand by and let innocent civilians be slaughtered”, or the WWII reference of “we stood by when Germany began occupying other countries, we can’t let that happen again”. All of those things may be true. But none of them are an argument for why the US needs to be the one to solve it.

This is not a defense of Russia’s actions. For a variety of reasons, Russia made the strategic choice to invade another country. War is awful and never leads to a good outcome for anyone involved. Period. You can hate Russia all you want for their decision… but it doesn’t change the fact that they did it. So, now what?

The US has committed upwards of $60 billion dollars, with future pledges bringing the total to over $100 billion. We’ve depleted our own stockpiles of military hardware so we can send it to Ukraine. We have troops on the ground in-country, we’re providing training, intelligence, targeting, and continue to push the envelope with more and more advanced military technology. We seem to be doing everything possible to poke the Russian bear and provoke an escalation. Why? Why is all this in our interest?

So back to my child-like questions:

  • Ukraine is not a NATO member, nor has it been a historical ally. Why does the US need to be the one to defend them?
  • Russia has not attacked a fellow NATO member, so you can’t claim we’re fulfilling our article 5 duties. Why are we there?
  • If the European countries are feeling threatened… shouldn’t that be primarily a European problem to solve?
  • Given that any future threat is to Europe, shouldn’t the vast majority of aid be coming from European countries?
  • Given that we’re $32+ trillion in debt and have a whole host of issues of our own to solve, we do we need to be sending $100 billion to Ukraine?
  • We just ended (badly) a 20-year war that cost us $5+ trillion. Why do we need to engage in another war?
  • And finally… how is it in our strategic interests to provoke Russia to the brink of a nuclear exchange?

Here’s something nobody wants to talk about. Without US support, Russia would have pretty quickly taken a large portion of Ukrainian territory. Whether that is good or bad is subject for another discussion. Regardless, we enabled Ukraine to push back sufficiently enough that this war will now go on for a very long time. No matter who wins, the end outcome will be that Ukraine will be left a smoking heap of ash. There will be nothing left. Its infrastructure will be completely destroyed. Its agricultural, drilling, and mining exports are already gone. As we approach spring, Russia will accelerate its targeting of all power infrastructure, water, sewer, and industrial capacity. They will turn Ukraine into a wasteland and force a mass exodus of refugees. Whatever is left of the population will be facing actual famine. That’s reality.

Do you really think Russia is suddenly going to say, “whoops, my bad. Sorry about that”. Is Russia going to decide tomorrow to just pull back with its tail between its legs? Doubtful. The US has done everything possible to accelerate and prolong this war. Now what? When Russia sends 300,000 troops over the border this summer, what are we going to do? Ukraine is rapidly running out of fighting age males to throw at the problem. This is why they need more and more advanced battlefield tools – they can no longer win with just infantry. Are US ground troops and air cover next?

If Russia loses a couple hundred thousand troops by next fall, don’t you think battlefield nukes are a realistic option for them? Then what do we do?

None of this makes sense to me. I really need someone to explain to me in simple terms, why it is in the United States strategic interest to own this mess?

P.S. The actual answer to all of this of course, is the military industrial complex. We want to sell weapons. That’s it. It’s that simple. Sorry.

It’s A Conspiracy

Over this past Christmas break, we traveled to a warmer climate to visit the in-laws. It was a lovely trip, but spending time with my in-laws is, well, unique. Think the Costanzas from Seinfeld and you’ll have a pretty good picture of the experience. They’re getting older, so things tend to move at a glacial pace. You’d think I’d have figured this out by now, but for some reason I’m always baffled as to why we can’t get out of the house before 2pm. And you have to be back to the house by 4pm so you can take naps before dinner. Anyway, the end result is that I have plenty of time sitting around the pool… waiting.

To fill my time this trip, I read. I actually lost track of how many books I finished (there was a lot of waiting). Part of the reason I read so many books, is that I went down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. Now I love me a good conspiracy theory. There’s just something about challenging conventional wisdom that appeals to the Contrarian in me.

But to be a good conspiracy theory, it can’t be too wacky. Chemtrails and birds aren’t real are too far-fetched. No, the theory needs to be outside of mainstream thinking, but have just enough facts rooted in reality to make you go “hmmm”. You don’t want to believe, but something in the narrative is just enough that you begin to doubt what you’ve been told.

I started my journey with the Kennedy assassination. First off, it’s weird that the government won’t declassify anything other than rehashed Warren commission stuff. That by itself is enough to make you go “hmmm”. The more I read, I’d think “no, that couldn’t be”. I’d do a little independent research and sure enough a certain person was verifiably there or involved in some way. It was an awesome trip down a weird rabbit hole. And you know it was a good conspiracy theory when you then start thinking, well if that could have happened, what else could be covered up? Boom. Next thing you know I’m four books into big brother controlling my thoughts and the CCP monitoring my activities through my smart refrigerator. I loved it!

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. That’s why we’re so susceptible to ads and YouTube thumbnails that start with “Nobody knows this one trick to…” or “The secret Costco price strategy…” and “Lose weight by eating this little-known food…” We all want to be in on the secret.

But after my multi-day reading frenzy, I don’t know if I want to learn about any more conspiracies. Because if they’re even partially true – it’s disturbing, and kind of depressing. I WANT to believe that the world is fair and that everyone plays by the rules. I want to believe that evil cabals only exist in the movies. Otherwise, it means that us little guys are suckers and just pawns in a game that’s rigged.

I think it’s time for me to step away from the conspiracy theory genre. Maybe I’ll go find a good spy thriller or a whodunit mystery. Meanwhile, you’ll have to excuse me for a bit – I need to cover all the cameras and speakers in my house with black tape. With the research I did, I’m positive I’m now on some sort of government watch-list. Should I suddenly disappear, please know that I have no desire to Epstein or Mcafee myself.

P.S. birds aren’t real

Did He Just Say That?

Something just happened that has left me literally shaking. I… I, I’m going to try and pull myself together so I can share this outrage. There’s this football guy, Troy Aikman who I’m told was a pretty good quarterback at one time, who’s now a TV broadcaster. Well, I guess football has gotten really mean and unsafe lately, so the referees have been over-reacting and calling “roughing” penalties that are a bit controversial. After one such call, Aikman said this: “My hope is the competition committee looks at this in the next set of meetings and, you know, we take the dresses off”.

I am offended to my core. To insult women like that is so… so… I don’t even know. Let me compose myself. <deep calming sigh> Rightly, there was an immediate outcry and Aikman issued a statement apologizing for making a “dumb remark”. Sorry, not good enough. He needs to be cancelled. These dinosaurs, these symbols of the old, white, patriarchy must be destroyed. We cannot let misogynists like this remain in positions of influence.

[End Sarcasm] This is now us as a society. Perpetual outrage mode. Thousands of soy-boys and flotillas of Karens, all just waiting to pounce on whatever they perceive as the latest offensive comment or action. And their intention is never to just point out the offense and offer education – no, they want to cancel and destroy the offender. They want society to live in fear of wrongspeak.

And they’re wining. Look at Troy Aikman. Rather than simply laughing at it and telling these folks to go pound sand and return to their weird Disney cosplay conventions and video games, he caved. He gave in to the mob and apologized rather than risk being cancelled.

That is not a good place for a society to be in. The world economy is cratering. Government spending, overreach, and oppression is expanding at a frightening rate. The lunatic left is doing everything possible to foment racial wedges in every aspect of life. Right now, if you don’t bend the knee to the official narrative you’re either a racist, a Russian apologist, or eagerly awaiting a Gilead-style Handmaidens Tale remake of the world. Probably all three.

Because of cancel culture, who’s going to be brave enough to say no to these lunatics? If you dare say that men should not be competing in women’s sports, some Antifa, nose ring wearing thug will appear with spittle flying out of their mouth and shriek “racist!!!” at you. You’ll be removed from social media and risk losing your job. Because, after all, you did take the mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training, so you were aware of the corporate policy against hate and misgendering someone.

I honestly don’t know where we go from here. A self-reflective analysis might be appropriate:

  • Do you have a Ukraine flag in your profile? (and you’re not Ukrainian)
  • Did you post a black square on Instagram and/or post any BLM propaganda?
  • Did you read the previous item and think, OMG that’s so racist?
  • Did you ever lecture/shame people on social media for not getting the vaccine?
  • Did you ever look at people with disdain who weren’t wearing masks?
  • Do you still wear a mask? Alone, in your car?
  • Do you list your pronouns in your bio?
  • Is your main source of news CNN and The View?
  • Do you refer to Jan 6th as an insurrection? Do you eagerly await news that Trump has been arrested?
  • Do you drive an electric vehicle because you care about the environment?
  • Does the term “illegal alien” horrify you?
  • Do you order your coffee at Starbucks with more than two ingredients?

If you answered yes to any of the above… I hate to break it to ‘ya cupcake – but YOU are the problem. Your faux tolerance and empathy are destroying this country. I could care less if you think there are 27 genders and why wouldn’t we keep giving money to Ukraine? More power to you. Just realize there are people who have opinions that are different than you. Trying to cancel people because they don’t think like you is dangerous and wrong.

We keep down this road and The Ministry of Truth will eventually govern everything. The crime of wrongspeak is serious business kids. Go to wrongspeak/us.gov to report family members and neighbors who you suspect are committing these heinous crimes. Your government thanks you for your cooperation.

Responsibility And Lawn Darts

Reportedly the Alzheimer’s patient occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave will come out of hiding today and return to the White House to announce an executive action canceling student loan debt. What’s being reported is that $10,000 of debt will be evaporated for anyone who earns less than $120,000. It’s hard to describe how angry this makes me.

I feel like a chump. It’s that feeling when you pay full retail and then find out you could have had that same thing 30% off if you’d gone down the street and negotiated. Why-oh-why did I work and self-pay for school? All those folks who went into the military so they could go to college? Suckers. It’s the ultimate Fuck You to anyone who tried to be responsible and minimize the debt they took on.

It was a loan. You saw the terms. You saw the interest rate. You understood it was a legal contract you were signing. Of your own free will you acted like an adult and penned your John Hancock on the dotted line. My sympathy level for anyone who has massive student debt is exactly, ZERO. You made choices. I sincerely hope those choices resulted in a well-paying job. If so, then you made a wise decision. It also means you can afford to pay those loans back. If you have a low paying job and massive student loans… then you made a poor decision. That sucks. It’s also the way life works. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. You’re going to have to take on a second job and work your ass off to get ahead. That was the way this was supposed to work. So sorry, you may have to cut back on your soy lattes and make do with an older smartphone.

Clearly, I grew up in a different era. We were sent out to play after school on our own. The only requirement was to be home in time for dinner. Parents had zero idea where we were. We had to invent our own games and fun. There were no structured play dates or facilitated games with ten helicopter parents hovering over us at all times. I’d highly recommend reading this essay on how important it was (is) to foster the level of independence and learning we had as kids. And how much harm we’ve done to our kids today. We’ve created an entire generation of child-adults who expect to be protected from everything and for mom and dad (government) to bail them out of any situation or poor decisions.

So now we’ve decided to take a break from shipping billions of dollars to Ukraine, so we can print another 300 billion for kids who made poor financial choices. Because it’s not like increasing the money supply has anything to do with inflation. I’m sure there’s no possibility my taxes will go up to pay for the increased debt. Yeah, right.

With an unlimited money supply in the form of federal student loans, university tuition will only continue to skyrocket. Why not? They have no skin in the game. I’ll have to pay for that in the form of higher taxes, increased inflation, and responsible kids who don’t want to take on debt being priced out of higher education.

Can someone, anyone, please explain to me – in simple terms I’ll understand – why I need to pay for your financial obligation? And why I can’t get a refund for the same amount that I stupidly chose to self-pay? Anyone? How is that right or fair? I thought this generation was all about fairness?

While I wait for an answer, I’m going to head out for a solo motorcycle ride in the mountains. Because I wasn’t coddled as a kid on padded playgrounds and forced play dates. I had lawn darts. I am comfortable assessing risk and living with the decisions (good or bad) that I make.

Are You Better Off?

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon on Facebook. I had to put up with about five plus years of non-stop wailing and gnashing of teeth when the bad orange man was running, in office, and immediately post-election (INSURRECTION!). Virtually every day one of the liberal/democratic folks on my feed would post something about how horrible Trump was and/or how ashamed of the country they were. Day after day. Every word he uttered or tweeted was mocked and pointed to as an example of disaster and impending doom. If you engaged with or disagreed with these folks, you were quickly shouted down as a MAGA loving, xenophobic, right-wing extremist.

But the last year… radio silence. Crickets chirping. Oh, there were a few things posted after the Roe decision and the start of the Ukraine war but for the most part very little political content shows up. Why is that? Inflation hit 9.1% today (probably more like 12%-15% realistically). Not a single mention of it from the left leaning side of my feed. Isn’t that curious? Did the entire left suddenly decide they were no longer interested in politics?

Let me ask an honest question. If you trend more towards the left side of the spectrum, can you point to something the current administration has done that you’d consider a success? What have they done that’s gone well? Are you better off now than you were during the previous administration?

I’m doing my best to be objective, but I can’t point to one thing the administration has done that has moved the country in a better direction. Not one. Literally every single thing that affects the average person in this country has gotten worse. The economy, prices, supply chain, the border… it’s all bad. And don’t get me started on global/foreign engagements. This administration is, to be blunt, a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

Mrs. Troutdog actually asked the other day if we should stock up on food due to the looming food shortages. It now costs me $130 bucks to fill up my truck. Replacement parts for the motorcycle and some construction materials either can’t be found or are on indefinite backorder. The market and our retirement account have taken a hit that will take years to crawl back from. Is this really Build Back Better?

My point is not to claim the right side of the isle is better. 90% of them are as useless as tits on a bull. The bulk of the left and right are a giant uni-party. While I liked many of the things the bad orange man “said”, he was a horrible judge of character whose massive ego led him to spending most of his time in petty twitter spats rather than following through with campaign promises (see, border wall). When the R’s take back congress, I have little faith anything of substance will change. More arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

So, the point… if you were one of the left-leaning folks shit posting bad orange man memes as fast as you could go, why the silence now? Why aren’t you publicly praising the daily actions of the President? Is it that you’re now embarrassed by your political choice? There must be something you can point to and say, “whew, thank God Biden is President”. Isn’t there?

Maybe, just maybe, the takeaway from this period will be a realization that blind partisanship is stupid. Following your party like a lemming leads to… well, where we are today. A barely functioning grandpa propped up and controlled by unknown and unseen forces behind the curtains. But hey, no mean tweets right?

Now, more than ever, it’s time to join the church of Contrarianism. Become a Contrarian. Question everything. Dump your party loyalties. Trust me, they don’t care about you. It’s a hard thing to really examine your opinions, do some actual research, and admit you’ve been duped. It’s a little painful, but just ripping off the Band-Aid is really the best medicine.

Because if we don’t become an army of Contrarians soon… I fear the lemmings are going to reach the edge of the cliff sooner rather than later.

I Might Be A Viking

  • We’ve been watching the Netflix/BBC series “The Last Kingdom“. It’s pretty good, and worth the watch if you haven’t seen it. Similar to Peaky Blinders, watching with captions turned on is recommended due to the heavy English accents. I joked after one of the episodes that, being of Swedish ancestry, I might actually be a Viking. Mrs Troutdog walked away laughing. I was a little hurt. My family is from Sweden. As a young lad I spent my time surfing, sailing, and scuba diving. I love the snow and embrace the cold winter sports. Those things pretty much define what we think of as characteristics of the proud Norse people, right? I did a little bit of reading, and it turns out that the Vikings weren’t very nice people. Raiding and pillaging villages, taking people as slaves, and other unmentionable acts were pretty much the hallmarks of a Viking visit to your hometown. Fearsome warriors, the Vikings occupied much of Europe during their heyday. Ok, I admit I’ll probably never be tossed in the fearsome warrior category. But don’t worry, I can write a scathing email if my back is pushed against the wall. Continuing my extensive research, I stumbled upon a link describing Viking hairstyles. It turns out the “Viking look” is an actual thing right now. Hmmm, I kind of like the look. The problem is that I can’t grow a beard, look terrible with long hair, and Mrs Troutdog would never let me shave the sides of my head. Oh, and that’s probably not a look an old man can pull off anyway (unless you’re a 300-pound powerlifter). Oh well, I don’t really like pickled and salted fish and I’ve never actually been to Sweden. I suppose no radical hairstyle changes are in my future. But deep down, in the dead of winter, I may still have a few small daydreams of being a Viking.

  • Our next Supreme Court Justice, when asked to define what a woman is, replied that she can’t because she’s not a biologist. Her fear of saying anything that goes against the progressive narrative tells you all you need to know about her probable judicial leanings. It doesn’t matter, it’s all political theater anyway.

  • The weather this week will be turning warm. It’ll be in the mid 70’s by the weekend. Glorious warm sun and dry trails. I find myself paralyzed with indecision about what I want to do. Mountain bike? Trail run? Golf? Motorcycle ride? Winter is officially done.

  • Along with warm weather comes… yard work. At the start of winter, I boldly declared that I’m perfectly capable of maintaining the yards and got rid of the gardener. It’ll save us some money and won’t actually take me that much time. Now that time has arrived and as I’m surveying everything that needs to be done… I’m slightly regretting my decision. No matter, I shall rally and become the gardener that I was always meant to be! Stay tuned for frequent garden updates.

  • The Ukraine scenario continues to be awful. It’s horrific to see the suffering. It is a confusing mess in every way imaginable, with no clear or positive outcome. But for all the folks calling for U.S. intervention, you should first define how many American casualties are you willing to accept. How many young men are you willing to let die or be permanently maimed in the name of defending Ukraine? 50? 100? 1,000? More? 100,000 in small tactical nuclear strikes against U.S. bases in Poland or elsewhere? As is clear by the footage we’ve seen, this is not a video game. “Intervention” has consequences. Own up to what you think acceptable losses are – and intervening with zero losses is not a realistic answer.

  • I had jury duty this week. I dutifully drove downtown, parked, and made my way to the courthouse. Checked in, found a hard plastic chair, and began the waiting process. Eventually we were sorted out by red and green badges and lined up by number to proceed into the courtroom. Just before we entered the Jury director came out and said that everyone with a green badge is being dismissed, our case was settled. Hallelujah! Interestingly, in my county you’re still on the hook for the remainder of the week and can still be called in. Fingers crossed for me as I call into the jury selection recording number each night, to find out my fate for the next day.

  • I’ve been seeing a gym trainer twice a week for almost two months now. I’m starting to see progress. My range of motion is improved, balance is better, and core strength is significantly better. For the first time in a long time, I’ve been able to play golf or lift and move heavy patients at work without my back hurting the next day. I’m not quite ready to say I look forward to working out, but I’m actively making sure I don’t miss or find excuses to skip any workout sessions. This is a big change for me. Stay tuned…

Song of the day: Kaskade & Skrillex – Lick It (Official Video)

Selective Outrage

I apologize. I don’t check my email that often, so I must have missed the memo about Ukraine being one of our oldest and most trusted allies. I confess that a month or so ago I couldn’t have found Ukraine on the map. Suddenly it’s somehow now in our national interest to pour (more) billions of dollars into this country and potentially risk another world war in Europe. I’m sure they’re lovely people (aside from that pesky actual Nazi problem they have). And it’s absolutely heart wrenching to see the apparent indiscriminate bombing and killing of civilians. War is awful. Period. Full stop.

But guess what campers, this isn’t the only active war currently going on. Let’s pick one like, hmmm, the Congo. The current hostilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have produced 4.5 million internally displaced persons, 800,000 refugees in other countries, and an estimated death toll of at least three million. Let me repeat that. THREE MILLION DEATHS. This is a country rich in natural resources, which we need. Our greatest real threat, China, is pulling out all stops to control those resources. And the United States does… [crickets chirping].

My point is that it’s odd what conflicts and crisis of the moment reach our attention span. Why is Ukraine any more or less important than the DRC? I don’t pretend to understand either conflict, and neither should you. I do not trust the narrative we’re being fed. Ukraine is a massively corrupt country full of coups, separatists factions, and a puppet regime installed by the United States. The US has been using Ukraine as a stick to keep poking Russia for years. Well… now you’ve woken up the bear. Maybe that’s what we wanted all along? I have no idea and I doubt you do either.

You should ask yourself some questions. Number one, why is paying for and solving this crisis a problem the US needs to manage? This is primarily a European issue. They’re the ones who are dependent on Russian energy supplies. The EU countries have massive GDP’s, economies, and have huge numbers of weapons, planes, and all types of fancy missiles and missile defense stuff. Our European allies need to be front and center in managing and paying for this crisis. If and when they need our help, we can be there. But the US does not need to be the worlds pocketbook and policeman. If you disagree, please explain why we need to take the lead in solving this?

Similar to the first question, why should the US taxpayers fund this war? You do realize we’re now thirty trillion dollars in debt, right? Our economy is poised to crater. There are literally no more checks in the checkbook. Every dollar we give to Ukraine and every weapon system we hand them, was first money we borrowed from China. WE DO NOT HAVE the 14 billion we just authorized to give to Ukraine. We have to borrow that money. Record setting inflation, gas prices, crumbling infrastructure, supply chain issues, and a 150,000 people a month streaming across our border. We have some issues. Please explain why spending billions to give to Ukraine is more important than any of those things? The best that I can tell, the EU has promised a whopping $450 million. Individually, EU countries are giving a smattering of weapons and other goods. If this was such a momentous issue on European soil, wouldn’t you think they’d have a bit more skin in the game? But why should they when they know we’ll pay for it.

As a side note, we give billions to the UN every year. Where are they? What actual purpose do they serve other than to write sternly worded letters? Perhaps we should divert our UN payments to Ukraine.

There are no good answers to any of this. This morning, Ukraine’s president Zelensky gave an impassioned speech to our congress. He invoked the memories of Pearl Harbor and 9/11. He received a standing ovation. I suspect out of fear of appearing to do nothing, our brave representatives will pour more money and aid to Ukraine, further provoking the conflict and increasing the potential of escalation. Do you really think Putin is going to say, “whoops, my bad. I’ll pull out.”? By further arming Ukraine, we’re forcing Putin to take more extreme measures. I fear we’re one mistake or misunderstanding away from another world conflict. Is that really what you want?

Look, I realize I’m sounding all Neville Chamberlain-ish this morning. But the US is not the superpower we once were. We’re broke, and that’s hard to admit. It’s time for US to step aside and let others shoulder the burden for a while. We shouldn’t let social media shame us into something that could rapidly get far worse than we can possibly imagine.

It’s hard to see human suffering. But I doubt any of you have been outraged at the war in the DRC. Why? Admit it, you couldn’t have found Ukraine on a map a month ago. Me either. And you certainly weren’t outraged at (or even know about) the 14,000 killed and 1.5 million people displaced in the Donbass region of Ukraine in 2014. There’s a lot of human suffering going on in the world at any given time and it’s awful to see. But just because CNN is breathlessly promoting this conflict 24×7 doesn’t mean we have to spring into action. It’s time for cooler heads to prevail and for us to sit this one out.

We have a massive economic war looming on the horizon with China. A war that will alter your standard of living. We may very well be wishing we had some of those billions we pissed away, trying to be the good guy, back.

Shuffle The Deck

Enjoying the clown show? It might almost be funny to sit back and watch this administration flail about if the consequences weren’t so dire. I do not underestimate the ability of these clowns to blunder us into an actual, serious armed conflict involving U.S. forces. Now don’t think I’m just blaming the democrats for where we’re at. It’s taken decades of incompetence, grift, and arrogance from both parties to get to this point. And along the way, we’ve managed to create a fourth branch of government that is unelected, unsupervised, and unchecked – the Federal Bureaucracy. a.k.a. the deep state.

As the old saying goes, while Putin and Xi are playing 3D chess, we’re playing checkers. Well, to be fair this administration is playing tic-tac-toe. Russia and China plan the long game. We plan for the latest news cycle. The EU worshiped at the Church of Climate Change. They now need Russia’s oil and gas. Germany is fully in bed with Russia. You’ll notice that Europe is doing virtually nothing about all this. Putin correctly judged that our economy is in trouble and we’re too busy arguing over pronouns and which bridges are the most racist. In all likelihood the sanctions will end up hurting us more than Russia. We’ll do nothing (hopefully), and he knew it. Game, set, match. Russia will now have a heavily defended buffer zone against NATO. Meanwhile, the US spent billions trying to set up yet another puppet state in the name of “democracy” that failed. Sound familiar? It’s like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. How come we never learn? Since WWII, we have failed at every single foreign policy intervention we’ve attempted. All at the cost of trillions and thousands upon thousands of lives. And yet we continue to listen to the same foreign policy “experts”.

And now we’re at the brink of a serious inflection point. I’m honestly surprised that China hasn’t moved on Taiwan yet. That’s the big test. What would we do? Are we going to get into a shooting war with China? I’m pretty sure that won’t go well. I’m sorry if I sound skeptical, but the same people who planned the Afghan withdraw, fired SOF folks for refusing the jab, and seem more worried about white rage and DEI in the military, are still in charge. It’s ok though, just like with every conflict, the UN will write a strongly worded letter.

So, what are we to do? Create a new, third party like Andrew Yang thinks? Term limits? I think term limits absolutely needs to be a part of any change. The corruption and self-interest in Washington (and state politics) is endemic. These people are dug in like ticks on a hound. If we have any hope of staving off our total demise, we need to start getting rid of the political establishment. But how do you get someone to vote for something that’s not in their self-interest?

It’s time to shuffle the deck. How? VOTE THEM OUT. Who? ALL OF THEM. Every single one of them. Both parties. Regardless of party, choose someone new. Do not re-elect the same clown. Everyone gets primaried. Even if the same clown gets re-elected, make them fight for it. Demand accountability. And next election cycle – do it again. We need to keep shuffling the deck until we get the hand we want.

Is that realistic? Nope. Is it going to happen? Nope. As negative as that sounds, I do see a tiny sliver of hope. There is a sense of frustration in the country. People are getting tired of the authoritarians. They’re pushing back against CRT and mask mandates, and censorship. At the moment, it looks like the next election cycle will be a bloodbath for the left. Will the right do something with it, or revert to politics as usual? If the new congress starts behaving like representatives of the people, AND, if we elect an actual leader (no, not Trump) with the next presidential cycle… there’s a small chance we can start to right the ship.

I give it a 10% chance. I fear that it’s probably already too late. History shows that once you start that downslide, it’s pretty hard to fight momentum. Realistically it’s not an issue for my generation – this will be for the next generation to live with. Unfortunately, this new generation aren’t much for learning from history. Because, like, you know, history is all racist or something.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

 Upton Sinclair

Abandon Your Team

Loyalties are odd. Often, you’re loyal to something for no concrete or logical reason. You’re either a Bud or a Coors guy. They’re both rancid gutter water, but probably your dad drank one or the other, so that’s what you did as an impressionable youth. Coke or Pepsi. Ford vs. GM. I grew up as a Denver Broncos fan. I didn’t live in Colorado or anywhere nearby. So why the Broncos? As a kid my favorite soft drink was Orange Crush. The late 70’s Bronco defensive line was called the Orange Crush. Good enough for me. I followed Denver into adulthood.

Politics are much the same. I’d wager that the vast majority of people pick a party because that’s what their parents were. They then vote party line for their entire lives. If they become disillusioned enough, they tend not to vote, or vote rarely. I’m too lazy to look it up, but I’d be willing to bet it’s a pretty small percentage of folks that actually switch parties or vote back and forth depending upon the politician. People are creatures of habit and it’s uncomfortable to make changes. You’ll find a way to justify and cling to your beliefs no matter what. It’s like religion. Virtually nobody switches religions. The idea of abandoning your Catholicism for the teachings of Budha are inconceivable, no matter how disillusioned you may become. Worse case, you’ll just abandon religion altogether rather than switch.

And why don’t people switch teams? Because once you get beyond the initial infatuation/honeymoon period, you realize that the same crap that turned you off from your original team is rampant in the new team. Politics, religion, corporations, the deep state, the military industrial complex… all suffer from the same institutional inbreeding. Once entities reach a certain size and inertia, gravity pulls them to the same center regardless of where they started from.

Oh, they can put up fancy new window dressings and run expensive ad campaigns, but at the end of the day, if you strip away the fluff at the outer edges… the core is the same. Team Red controlled all three branches of government when Trump took office. The trifecta. And they spent more in those two years than the previous four under Obama. And that was pre-pandemic. Do you really think Team Red is suddenly going to see the light and become fiscally responsible when they take back the reins in ’24? If so, I have some NFT’s I’d like to sell you. Payment in Dogecoin only, please.

But wait, you say. We’re bringing back the bad orange man. MAGA time, baby! He’s going to kick some butt this time around. Our obsession with the office of the President is odd. Personally, I think it’s the bright shiny object intended to keep you distracted. The president cannot create budgets. They can’t cut budgets. They have the power to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, but that’s it. They can attempt to rule via executive order, but every single EO will be challenged in court and, worse case, overturned by the next administration. The president has the power of the bully pulpit, and that’s about it. That can be powerful for sure, depending upon the speaker, but it’s not going to fundamentally alter the structure of the institutions.

The real power is congress. And the same power players on both teams just keep getting re-elected year, after year, after year, after year. I’d be willing to bet 80% (if not more) of the population couldn’t name their two senators and representative. And THAT’S who’s actually making the decisions that impact your life. My representative has been in office since 1999. 23 years and I guarantee you’ve never heard of him.

My point? I’m not sure, I’ve forgotten by now. Oh, wait I remember. I read a substack article from someone way smarter than me, and he had a great quote:

Perhaps if when next you vote, you think not about left or right, about us or them, about the lesser evil vs the greater, but rather about “which of these people is most likely to take power way from government and defend the rights of the people”

Because at this point it’s become about authoritarianism vs liberty, not Red vs Blue. If your representatives haven’t done anything meaningful and demonstratable to reduce government, rein in the institutions, or protect your rights as a citizen… get rid of them. Vote the bums out. It’s time to keep shuffling the deck until we get something better. Even if you vote the same team, put someone new in. Stop the blind allegiance to a specific office holder just because. Trust me, there’s nothing special about them other than their ability to raise money. At this point, the best thing we could do for this country would be to randomly pull 535 people from the phone book and put them in office. Whoo boy, that would put the fear of God into the deep state!

I understand the Church of Contrarianism takes a bit to get used to. It’s hard to give up the dogma you’ve lived with for all of your adult life. The status quo is comfortable. I liken it to my separation from the NFL. Like any red-blooded American boy, I grew up with the NFL. Sundays were for football. I played Pop Warner and high school ball. And I had my team. And then in the late ’90’s there was a big free agency court ruling. And suddenly players who’d played on your team forever, left. That hurt. It wasn’t quite the same anymore.

And then, I discovered fantasy football. All of a sudden, I no longer cared about teams… I cared about individual players. That broke the hold Sunday games had on me. The player stats on Monday were much more interesting than an individual game. And slowly the fantasy leagues lost their attraction (mostly because I was really bad at it). I’d watch a few NFL game from time to time, but it was fewer and fewer every year. This year marks the second full year I haven’t watched a single game. And I don’t miss it.

It hurts a little bit to give up your blind allegiance to Team Red or Team Blue. But once you embrace the fact that the game is rigged… you’ll be happier.

I Have Concerns

I had an epiphany the other day that depressed the hell out of me, so naturally I wanted to share the negativity with y’all. We live in interesting times, as the saying goes. I saw a kid, maybe nine or ten, walking down a neighborhood street. By himself. Wearing a mask. This is what we’ve done to an entire generation – put the fear of Fauci into them to the point that they’re more comfortable wearing a mask when outdoors, alone.

This is already a generation that’s afraid to explore, they don’t drive until forced to, and they’re perfectly happy living with mom and dad forever. They generally don’t work as kids, summer jobs are a thing of the past, and they spend every free waking minute gaming or on their devices. Their relationships are with on-line gamer groups and reddit forums. They are immersed in woke culture, think nothing of announcing their pronouns, and assume M&M’s changing cartoon characters to be less “sexy”, is normal. That company’s official statement was that this is part of their “global commitment to creating a world where everyone feels they belong and society is inclusive.” These young people are already beginning to understand that finding a job or being accepted into a school will be more regulated by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies than actual merit. Once they do get into corporate America, they’ll need to embrace and celebrate the woke company line if they wish to remain employed and be accepted by peers.

These kids have grown up seeing fear and hysteria propagated daily about masks, lockdowns, vaccines, and health passports being required to shop or eat in a restaurant. They’re being fed a steady diet of “us vs them” rhetoric. Every single day, the idea that government is the solution to everything is reinforced. They saw shutting down business for “the greater good”. They hear that the unvaxxed should be denied healthcare, and only semi-dismiss it as crazy. The “Karen” culture of snitching on neighbors and calling the manager for every subtle perceived slight, grows more common. They post their encounters to Tik Tok to shame those who don’t follow rules.

Here was my epiphany – these kids are going to grow up and run for office in the not-so-distant future. They will be the leaders, CEOs, and cultural influencers for the next generation. And that my friends, worries me. These kids spent their formulative years being told that literally everything is racist. Even their own generation are inadvertent racists who need to make amends. Offensive statutes of Teddy Roosevelt are trigger points, and authoritarian government scientists and “experts” know what’s best for you – do not question or you’ll be labeled some sort of weird right wing anti-science denier. They deeply believe that we only have a dozen or so years left to defeat climate change and that the mere act of drinking out of a plastic straw murders hundreds of turtles. So, when the government decides that a social credit system is in your best interest, who’s going to say no? These kids grew up with government mandates and authoritarianism. They won’t blink an eye and will celebrate it as progress. Want to get into school or land a job? Your DEI score better be good enough.

And as the world rapidly bifurcates further into the haves and have-nots, and the middle class disappears, the resulting labor class will devolve into the undesirable caste. The kids of today, having never done actual manual labor themselves, will find that the need to import cheaper and cheaper low caste workers will only grow. Borders will become mere suggestions at that point (if not already). Production of anything in this country, already struggling, will succumb to juggernaut of China and globalization. We will be a net importer of everything.

Enhanced “patriot act” type laws giving the state full surveillance authority in the name of preventing “domestic extremist acts of terror” will pass the through the congress of the not-so-distant future without pushback. These kids have been monitored and watched from the moment they were born. They were taught to “check-in” with mommy every 10 minutes just going to down the street to play with a friend. From day one, every (data) aspect of their lives has already been mined and sold by big tech. They don’t see the big deal with giving up a bit more privacy in exchange for perceived security.

I don’t see this coming progressive tide stopping. These kids, these future leaders, see it as normal. It would take an absolute massive groundswell of opposition to start pushing back against the current progressive status quo in any meaningful way. You see it in bits and pieces here and there, but not in huge numbers. Will the population grow weary enough of the massive rise in crime and violence to start pushing back against corrupt Soros-elected DA’s and politicians advocating for defunding the police? The older generations might, but I don’t see the up-and-coming generation suddenly rejecting what they’ve been taught – that police and harsh sentencing laws are racist and discriminatory. I simply don’t see the kids of today pushing back against the woke mindset of their peers.

I told you this was going to be negative. I’m not sure I see a way out. What I do see is that the idea of a future “national divorce” is not as far-fetched as I once thought. I don’t see anything as extreme as an actual civil war and separation. Instead, I see a “soft” separation. Some sort of traditionalist vs progressive local and state governments. Like the great migration spawned by the industrial revolution from rural areas to the cities, the next migration will be free states vs authoritarian. The question is – what direction will the migration be?

What’s crazy is that simply typing this already feels like an act of insubordination. Like I’m labeling myself as an alt-thinker. One of the deplorables. I suspect I’m probably on somebody’s watch list for my subversive writing. If I’d told you just five years ago, we’d be forced to produce vaccine passports and ID just to get in a restaurant, you’d have thought me a weird tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist. Back then If I said in five years police will be arresting 9-year-olds in museums for not having their vaccine cards – you’d may have thought, of course that will happen… we elected a crazy right wing, bad orange man who’s a certified authoritarian fascist. But these things weren’t done by the alt-right, but by the progressive liberal left.

And that way of thinking is embraced by the kids of today. They don’t know any better. They have zero historical frame of reference and have been sheltered from birth from everything scary. I don’t see it getting better. This is a war of incrementalism. Tiny little changes, bit by bit, chipping away at what you thought was the status quo, until you suddenly no longer recognize the new normal.

I’m not sure there’s an answer. Every empire reaches their peak at some point. The great American experiment had a good run, but I fear we’re on the downslope. Weak men create hard times, as the saying goes. And our current generation aren’t the most rugged little cowboys. You do the math.

I’m not sure there’s an answer. But you can choose to accept the status quo or not.

Become ungovernable. Be a Contrarian.

P.S. Although I diligently followed the five D’s of dodgeball – dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge, it finally got me. The coof. The covfefe. The virus that shall not be named. The last several days have produced some fun, fever fueled dreams which probably contributed to this avalanche of Debbie-downerism. Apologies. A bit more Tylenol and I’m sure I’ll be back to puppy-dogs, rainbows, and thrilling fitness and diet exploits.

There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’

From a speech by Robert Kennedy, 1966