Tag: Power

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.

Snitches End Up In Ditches

While there’s many things that I didn’t expect in the overall handling of this pandemic, one thing in particular stands out. It’s how quickly people turned on their fellow citizens. I’ve often looked back at the history of something like 1930’s Germany and wondered how people could so blindly follow government authoritarianism down a dark hole. I always felt that here in the US we’re such a freedom loving, independent people, something like that would never happen. How frighteningly wrong I was.

Now before you get your panties all in a bunch, I’m not arguing for or against the vax, lockdowns, mandates, health passports, or anything else. I’m simply making an observation about human behavior. The first observations of scary behavior was with the police of Canada and Australia. I don’t know much about either country and how their police behaved before the pandemic, but what they did afterwards shocked me. Video after video of police officers dragging people out of their homes, restaurants, and business for the most minor of infractions. Not wearing a mask. Staying open past a curfew. A church holding a service. Just last week Australian police arrested a man in a park who was completely alone and holding his son in his lap. His crime? Not wearing a mask outdoors. How do police officers become so blinded by authoritarian power that they believe tackling and arresting someone for not wearing a mask is appropriate?

At least that wouldn’t happen here, right? Let’s see… remember the order to fill a kids skate park with sand so it couldn’t be used? Seriously there wasn’t one person when that order was issued who said this is ridiculous, we don’t need to be doing that? Or police officers chasing a lone surfer down the beach and arresting him for violating the lockdown? A certain governor mandated during lockdowns that it’s ok to buy lottery tickets, but you can’t buy paint for your home. The city of New York mandated that you have to show your ID and vax status if you’d like the privilege of dining out. And the entire population just meekly said, ok. Thank you sir, may I have another?

And never mind the police state… look at what’s happened with normal citizen encounters. People are shouting at others if they’re not wearing a mask. Online I see nothing but post after post of virtue signaling outrage, attempting to shame anyone who doesn’t agree with your stance on the vax, masks, lockdowns, etc… Question anything and you’re branded as some sort of hillbilly conspiracy nut. Flight attendants are happily shutting down flights and having passengers arrested because a two year old wouldn’t keep their mask on. How did we get to that?

I don’t know why, but I’m surprised. I’m surprised at how meekly the population just agreed with everything, without question. Not only that, but the amount of scorn and ridicule people are willing to dish out to anyone who even appears to question anything. If the government came out tomorrow and said we need you to start reporting anyone you see violating any public health mandates, half the population would happily be turning in their neighbors and family members as fast as they could. The worrisome thing is that they’d do it and feel virtuous and justified for doing so.

I didn’t think we were so meek as a nation. England and France proposed vaccine passports and there were protests in the streets of tens of thousands… weekend after weekend, in city after city. The largest city in the US imposes a mandate to show your ID just to get into a store and the citizens just rolled over and asked which app they should use?

This highlights for me just how important it is to be a contrarian. To question authority. Why? Because clearly at least half the population will blindly go along with anything the government says. And as history shows, that’s scary. Is mask wearing a hill worth dying on? Of course not. But what about the next edict passed down? And the next one, and the one after that? If we don’t continually remind the state that they serve us, not the other way around… pretty soon you will be nothing more than a servant to the state. You may want to read up on Russia, China, etc… to see how that works out.

The obedient always think of themselves as virtuous, rather than cowardly

Robert Anton Wilson

Crime Of The Century

  • This is hard for me to write. The emotions are still a bit too raw to think clearly about what happened. The feeling of being violated has shaken me to my core. An event happened a few days ago that has just left me speechless. Someone stole my garbage can. Keep in mind it wasn’t a fancy or special garbage can, it was the plain ‘ole black plastic, city issued garbage bin. Why? What sort of monster steals a garbage can? Reviewing my security camera footage, the can is clearly there on the curb at 11:33am, waiting for collection. At 12:08pm a car I don’t recognize comes up the driveway, then turns around and exits. The next view of the street is at 3:50pm and the garbage can is gone. All video footage has been turned over to the local police and FBI. I’m positive no expense will be spared to track down this menace to society. In all seriousness, what the hell is wrong with people? How does someone do something like that and then happily go to sleep at night? I shoplifted a candy bar once on a dare from friends when I was in sixth grade. I was so wracked with worry and guilt I didn’t even eat it. I gave it to one of the friends and then never went back to the store. And yet this fiend takes my garbage without a care in the world. Hmmm, wait. I don’t know if the can had been emptied yet. I have said some insurrectionist things here the last few months. Maybe it wasn’t a thief? Perhaps the government wanted to look for any top secret QAnon briefing materials I may have casually tossed out? I may have to revisit my operational security practices.
  • The lady at the waste disposal company who answered my call about the missing can was less than helpful. She said perhaps I can go around to all my neighbors and look for the can. I told her we don’t have any nearby neighbors and I have looked all around for the can. Silence. So… can I get another can? Long exasperated sigh. Fine, we’ll deliver another can next Monday. Trash bags are now piling up in the garage. I wonder if I’ll get charged for the new bin?
  • On a more serious note, my security cameras weren’t super effective. We have lots of large trees and every time the wind blows it triggers a motion alert. To combat that we turn down the sensitivity, which means the cameras no longer capture anything unless it’s right in front them. I’m going to have find better locations and settings for the cameras. They didn’t capture anything useful other than a snippet of a strange car in the driveway. Time to step up my security game.
  • The gods are clearly unhappy with me for my two straight months of whining about the cold, wet, and windy spring. We finally have a beautiful stretch of warm weather and I have a week off. I have plans for bike rides, golf, trail running, and a motorcycle ride. Aaaandd… I somehow managed to hurt my back. I have no idea what I did, but it hurts like a [BLEEEP]. Sigh. I guess when I said months ago that I needed to start strengthening my core, I should have listened to myself.
  • California is issuing power alerts due to the current heat wave. They’re asking people to be energy aware and to not use high demand devices during peak hours, such as… charging electric vehicles. This make me giggle.

Song of the day: Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg – Nuthin’ But A G Thang

You Don’t Need To Know

While there may be some exceptions, for the most part I don’t believe people in power are inherently evil. I honestly don’t think politicians and CEO’s have malicious intentions. I do think that people in power become so wrapped up in their own bubble and authority they lose sight of the big picture.

For example, take the mayor of my little city. At the beginning of the pandemic, public officials were panicking. For that I don’t blame them. The “experts” were publishing dire information and basically we were all going to die. Our mayor never actually made any tough decisions, only echoed whatever the state and CDC did. Three or so weeks after shutting down all private businesses, the grumblings from the citizenry started. The cities economy was cratering and job loses were huge. On several occasions, via an online forum, I asked the mayor what metrics the city would use to open back up? I received two answers. The first was “the city will follow the guidance of the health district, state, and CDC”. The second was “all our data is posted to the heath district’s web site” (it wasn’t).

Two complete non-answers. So either the mayor had no idea, or she didn’t want to be held to specific numbers in a rapidly shifting scenario. Either way, as a person in a position of authority she decided that as mere citizens we didn’t need to know what the governments plan or thought process was. She single handedly shut down private businesses and then wouldn’t be transparent about when they could open back up again. I think it’s easy for people in positions of power to get all wrapped up in the feeling of we’re doing what’s best for the public, so they don’t really need to know the details. Like parents telling a ten year old “because I said so, that’s why”.

The ultimate example is to watch any president’s press secretary give a briefing. Every single word is parsed and nuanced. Nothing is said that doesn’t advance the political messaging. The people rarely get to see or hear anything resembling reality. Are these people evil? No. But they are so caught up in their power and authority they’ve completely lost sight of the fact that they work for us. Or that’s the theory anyway.

The private sector is no different. I’ve been watching an interesting development with a YouTube channel I subscribe to. This channel has half a million subscribers and suddenly was removed from the partner program, which means it can no longer monetize the videos. No explanation, no warning, nothing. The channel creator has no idea why his channel was removed. The worst part is that once removed from the partner program you also lose all means of contact with YouTube. He has no way to actually contact them to try and find out what he’d done wrong. Now, Google is a private company and they can do whatever they want. But it is certainly the ultimate in power and authority when a company has the opinion they can treat their customers any way they want and feels no obligation to offer any explanation. I’m sure they justify it internally under the guise of “protecting” us vulnerable members of the public from something harmful. (see also, Twitter) Irony in full bloom from the company who’s slogan once was “Don’t be evil”.

I have little point to this other than to remind you that you probably shouldn’t accept anything the government, experts, or most authority figures tell you at face value. Timothy Leary in the ’60’s had it right with his slogan “Question Authority”. As this last year has proven time and time again… they are most likely wrong, lying, obscuring, or hiding the truth. But it’s ok – it’s for your own good.