Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Name:
Location: Illinois, United States

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Climbing Mount Megiddo


Climbing Mount Megiddo
©2014  Ross Williams

 
 

I predicted over a decade ago, to a certain class of armchair general and barstool diplomat who cannot bring themselves to stop yammering about the subject they're clueless about, after our invasion of Iraq in 2003, that the next step would be Syria and Yemen.  Then Iran.  And that we would not materially leave Iraq behind us.

I didn't know why exactly, though I forwarded a guess.  My guess as to the circumstances was 50-50 correct [Yemen yes, Syria no], but the targets were 100% spot-on.  And then some.  I recall having considered Libya, but discarded them.  In retrospect, I should have included them as well.

In the past few years, the Obama administration has conducted direct US military actions in [in order] Yemen, Libya, Iraq and — as of today — Syria.

In Yemen, US drones eliminated the ranking officers of a seat-of-the-pants jihadist group founded by its general [a naturalized US citizen] and his lieutenant [his American-born son].  They had declared war on the US and moved to Yemen to wage it … naturally.  They have since moved on to better things, if their belief system is in any way accurate.

Then we helped Libyan pan-islamist paramilitaries remove the ever-bombastic but by-then-impotent Khadafy from power in Libya to be replaced by an islamist theocratic council.  A geo-political Brock for Broglio trade.  This was part of the brainless, clueless, ideologically naïve and bumblingly inept "Arab Spring" movement that the brainless, clueless, ideologically naïve and bumblingly inept Obama fell so madly in love with for its simultaneous capacities to sell our allies up the river, reverse a generation of cultural evolution in the region [albeit slow evolution to our instant ramen world], and run counter to US interests.

A few weeks ago we started bombing northern Iraq for the purpose of stalling the rebranded outfit headed by perennial Iraqi misfit Abu Bakr.  This is the same guy who — as one of dozens of anti-Assad militias in the Syrian version of "Arab Spring" — the US was funding and arming.  Syria was the one, single, solitary, lone example of "Arab Spring" revolution that I said the US had a vested interest in getting directly involved in.  Replacing the Hamas- and Hezbollah-supporting Assad regime with a pro-western Shah-style puppet would forestall the pan-islamist dogs barking at the gates of Damascus demanding to recreate a Sunni-version Iran bookending Iraq and bordering Israel.

Instead, we fed those dogs and advertised that we're clueless about the nature of the people in that part of the world.  Arabs [and Turks, and Kurds, and Pashtuns, and Persians, et cetera] owe first allegiance to their tribe, and second allegiance to their religion.  They have a dizzying array of further and whimsical allegiances based upon conditions that only they seem able to truly comprehend.  An Arab Sunni will shoot a Turk Sunni as soon as look at him, all things being equal — which they sometimes are.  And vice versa.  Arab Sunnis and Arab Shi'a only agree on killing Kurds.  And Turks.  But Arab Sunni gladly obliterate Arab Shi'a for being the ugly step-children to the despised Persians … who are virtually all Shi'a.  But Arab Shi'a will happily ally themselves with Kurd Sunni  if it means the Arab Shi'a can repay Arab Sunni atrocities upon them.

Everyone will gladly support both the Arab Sunni Hamas and Arab Shi'a Hezbollah as proxy warriors against Israel … since no one today wants to officially tangle with the Hebrews who would kick their ass twice before breakfast and then again immediately after.  But no Arab-slash-muslim nation wants these "Arab brothers" in their own territory; Jordan tried that in 1970 out of pity, and the first thing the Palestinians did was host a revolution against the Jordanian government, because even though they were both Arab, and they were both Sunni, the King of Jordan was the wrong tribe of Arab, and he needed to be disposed of for it.  So back the Palestinians went to Israeli territory.

If this sounds like a free-for-all, there's a good reason for it: it is.  And back in the day, when Jews had not been trained by 1,900 years of being lumped into one undiscerning wad by a thoroughly anti-semitic world, the different tribes of Jews acted the same way — a condition which caused Rome to forcibly remove half of them to the Roman Empire version of Siberia.

If we — by which I mean Obama and his crack staff of foreign policy wonks whose expertise comes from being able to recognize that the Risk game board is a stylized world map — had any clue what they were getting us into, they'd have understood that a group of people with the stated ambition to create an islamist theocracy carved out of five separate Arab nations plus Israel would not take our money and weapons and stay in the nation we were paying and arming them to topple; they'd export that ambition as soon as they could.

And surprise! they did.

The folks we paid and armed to rebel against Assad took those weapons to Iraq and conquered oil fields with them.  It's these people — with brand new American-bought weapons — that we're bombing in Iraq.  Who knew?

Besides me? no one in the US government.  It is considered to be "islamophobic" to mention the truth about Arabs, and the US government would rather pretend to be polite to impolite people than to hold an accurate impression of the folks who dominate another part of the world and build a sane and sensible policy around that accuracy.

So Team Obama, now playing 4th Quarter Catch-Up, has decided that the US … the same US which has spent the last three years fostering rebellion in Syria … is now Syria's Bestest-ever Buddy and Pal.   Sure Bashar, we'll help you with your insurgency problem … now … because we suddenly discovered that we got played like the third-grader with a bottomless pocket of milk money in a sixth grade lunch room.

Only Syria isn't having any of it.  Even though Syria is losing territory and military armament [mostly old Soviet and new Russian] to these US-supported rebels, Syria doesn't want the US to bomb them.  Bashar Assad appears to not be as credulous as Obama and cynically comprehends that what the current US President touches turns, in an anti-Midas manner, to tin-plated farce.

But that didn't prevent the US, at Obama's direction, from violating Syrian airspace with military aircraft this morning anyway.  We are there with drones to spy on what's going on, so that if and when Assad does give permission to bomb his rebels — if he isn't deposed and exiled to Jordan first, and such permission becomes moot — the US will know where to send the cruise missiles.

But by that time, the US-backed [oopsy] force will have exported itself to Lebanon and possibly Jordan, and Israel will be calling up their reserves.

On the bright side of all this, Arabs will continue to be tribalists unable to sustain political unity for any length of time, and they will self-destruct into a mud-wrasslin mass of finger- and AK-47-pointing factions.  But not until taking others along for the ride.  The only relevant questions are: how many others, and where will these others be when it happens?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Oh Cousin, My Cousin


Oh Cousin, My Cousin
©2014  Ross Williams

  

I've written this in my head countless times over the past fifteen years.  I've always put it off.  Too revealing, maybe, or too self-pitying were my own reasons for not writing it.  Too "angry", would be the conclusion of some others.  I decided to commit it to Microsoft Word now for reasons that will become apparent.

In the very late 90s I was watching a news magazine show on TV; I forget which one.  Among the features that night was an expose on disability fraud.  Among the cases they highlighted was a woman diagnosed with major depression; she had gotten "full disability" — whatever that entails —and retired.  This ruling annoyed the loyyers for the disability insurance carrier of the woman's employer.  So they spent an ungodly amount of money hiring investigators to follow this woman around with cameras documenting everything she did.

One night the woman and her husband went to a comedy club near them, paid the two drink minimum to get in, sat down, watched a few comedians, laughed when appropriate, and didn't notice the hidden camera at the table in front of them, pointed backwards, and recording every smile, every chuckle, and every belly laugh this woman dispensed.   That was all the ammunition the loyyers needed to prove fraud. 

It stands to reason.  Right?  If she had depression, what business does she have laughing?  If you can laugh you can't be depressed.  Depression means crying.  Ergo: fraud.  They even showed the woman laughing.  The woman's disability was taken away, she was charged with criminal fraud, convicted, sentenced to prison and forced to reimburse all her disability income for the years she'd received it.  This was hailed by the hosts of the TV news magazine on how the system works to prevent fraud like hers.

I was livid.

I'd been diagnosed with depression myself just a year or so before.  Yet I laugh.  I've always laughed and, looking back, I'd pretty much always had depression.  What does laughing have to do with having depression?

Nothing.  It's irrelevant.

I was diagnosed with depression after one of several conferences with my divorce loyyer in 1998 and 1999.  One day out of the blue, she said, "Y'know, I'm not an expert, but I grew up with a psychiatrist in the family.  Have you ever spoken to a doctor to see if you're depressive?"  I cracked a joke that I thought was quite funny; she didn't laugh.  I made an appointment with a doctor and while sitting there talking with him — between making jokes and having my voice crack in near tears —he informed me that yes, indeed, I displayed the characteristics of a depressive during an episode.

And why not?  I had endured five-plus years of quasi-marriage by that time to a woman — of sorts — who didn't want a husband so much as she needed a wholly-owned subsidiary which could improve the bottom-line for the parent company without requiring too much in the way of capital infusion … time, attention, affection, or anything else that would qualify as marital capital.  That wife was [and still is] a corporate climber; a bossy, imperious, self-important manipulator of others for self-gratification and self-congratulation.  My duty was to do what I was told without being told, to make her ten-hour days possible by cooking, cleaning, doing the yardwork, and taking care of the kids — two of ours at that point, plus one of my own from a prior marriage.  …plus having my own full time job with which to pay for our home and family.

When I injured my back the summer after our first daughter was born and couldn't stand, let alone sit, lay or do anything else the Parent Company required I do to remain a viable merger not needing to be spun off, she dropped all pretense to being an actual wife.   The Corporate CEO took me to the various doctors I needed to see, and while we were actually in the presence of the neurosurgeon, or neurologist, or MRI tech, she was outwardly supportive and asked most of the right questions.  But when we were in the car on the way to the doctor, or on the way home afterward, she let it be known in no uncertain terms that I was simply being selfish for demanding her time and attention from really important matters.  The Parent Company had better things to do than find out why her personal acquisition had no feeling at all in his right leg unless it was screaming, tearing pain from mid-butt cheek down the back of the leg to the pinky toe.  What a self-centered brat I was being!

I could not pick up my own children: I couldn't bend, I couldn't lift, if I tried either I'd pass out from pain.  Granted the 11 year old was beyond routine picking-up age, but the two year old and the infant were not; I liked holding my children.  Walking up or down stairs was torture.  Driving to and from work took forty minutes each way.  After twenty, I couldn't feel my foot on the gas pedal.  I'd have driven left-footed except I had a stick shift and needed to clutch; my driving became erratic.  By the time I got to work I'd have to stagger four blocks into the building and find an empty conference room with a table I could lay on, flat, for a half hour.  No position was comfortable, and I couldn't sit at my desk without getting up and walking for twenty minutes every hour.  And I couldn't continue to walk without passing out.  So then I'd lay flat some more.

When the doctors finally convinced the insurance company that conservative treatment was making me an invalid and I got my surgery scheduled, could the Home Office manage to take me to the hospital?  Sure, she could do that.  Could she stick around and wait for me to come out of surgery?  No … she had to get to work.

Her own mother bawled her out for treating me like this; my mother-in-law had come over early one Saturday to watch the kids so my wife could spend the day with me.  This was unacceptable to my wife.  She preferred to spend time with her kids, and I could hear them from the next room having their argument.  "You're husband needs you!" "Mom, I do. Not. Care."

My oldest son was 11 at the time.  He'd moved in with us earlier that summer.  When he visited for a few weeks at a time - when he was younger - my wife thought he was fine.  But when he was a permanent fixture, and getting to the age where teen-aged defiance and pouting began to show up, the wife started to let me know how horrible a person my son was.  I can't count the number of times I would get screamed at in the kitchen for some trivial thing my son had done.  He was "irresponsible", I would be told at the top of the Home Office's lungs.  He was a "brat" would be shouted so loud the plates in the cupboard would ring.  How can any child be so "stupid", would echo down the hall.  "I don't trust that boy!!  It's that boy's fault!"

Meanwhile my son was upstairs in his room, listening to this — hell, the neighbors were listening to this and they were a quarter mile away — and trying to keep the 2-year old occupied and do his homework while his step-mother lived up to the image that step-mothers have gotten from barbaric nursery rhymes.  My oldest child quickly began to hate his step-mother.  And I hated myself for bringing him into a place where he was berated for doing nothing worse than being eleven years old.

A few days after my surgery I developed a major infection with a dangerously high fever.  I hit 104.  I was fading in and out of awareness, having odd hallucinations, and only briefly knew that I needed to do something.  I told my son to go have his step-mother call the doctor; she did.  The nurse at the other end of the answering service said to get to the emergency room immediately; post-op infections can be fatal.

The CEO didn't have time to take me; she'd called the doctor and thought that was enough effort on her part.  I could call an ambulance or drive myself, she told my son to tell me.  She was busy with her "babies".

During a period of lucidity I told my son to fill the bath tub with cold water and to help me into it.  I broke the fever the 18th century way.

Nothing improved after I got my mobility back.  Oh, sure, I could stand long enough to cook dinner for Her Highness to eat when she deigned to come home.  I could clear the decks for her to devote all her time not spent at the office to her "babies".  But I was still a wholly-owned subsidiary, whose input into corporate activities was unnecessary.

That winter we got snowed in.  Or out, depending on where you were as the snow arrived.  I was snowed in, the Home Office was snowed out.  She drove her company car into a snow bank at the end of the driveway — the far end.  Three hundred feet from the garage.  I was required to shovel her out.  And the "stupid, irresponsible, untrustworthy brat" could help.  For two days I shoveled snow — my back was healed, right?  My son helped … some.  He was 12.  He got bored and whiny.  That's what 12-year olds do.  I sent him inside.  One of us might as well be warm.

When I came in about midnight after having cleared her car and shoveling about half the 300-foot long driveway, I mentioned that I was sore and I held my lower back.  I was informed that, "…if you hurt your back again I'm fucking divorcing you."  At least it wasn't screamed at me.  She hissed it.

What was wrong with me?

My first wife had left me for another man that she'd been dating for, apparently, several months.  I got home from work one day to see bags packed and my son excitedly waiting to go "on a trip".  All that was missing was the car; the car I used to drive to and from work.  Now that I was home from work she could leave.  See ya.

The current wife considered me no different than a merger and acquisition target.  As long as I could benefit her bottom line then I was a good investment; if I had needs of my own, be they medical, emotional or otherwise, then I was a hindrance and expendable.  I could be spun-off like that, mister, or simply liquidated for the tax deduction.

What a pathetic person I must be to so consistently pick women who do such things to me.  On more than one occasion I would be finishing dinner on the stove when the Parent Company would arrive home from work.  She'd walk right past me without acknowledging my presence despite me greeting her, and she'd run to her "babies".  On these occasions, when being irrelevant to my own wife got to be too much, I would start crying into the stew.  On many of these occasions she would then demand, "…and what's the matter with you!"  After briefly relating how I felt rather excluded, as if I were nothing but a servant, she would often conclude, "You're a weak, weak man."

For a period of about a year and a half after my surgery, when I was home from work and the young kids were either napping, with their older brother,  or still at day care, I would take the sharpest knife we had up to the bathroom and get into the bathtub with it.  I'd do this every few weeks in spells, sometimes a few days in a row.  I'd contemplate whether it would be better to slice my wrist or my throat.  I always sat in the bathtub for this, since the Home Office would blame my 12-year old son for it like she did everything else, and make him clean up the mess; I wanted to leave less of a mess for him, not that he'd understand my thoughtfulness in the matter.

Obviously, I never finished the job, and I've sometimes regretted I didn't.  It was around here that my divorce loyyer suggested I see a doctor, who diagnosed the depression that was obvious to all … who knew what they were looking for.  And looking back, I'd undergone serious bouts of depression in high school — my other major suicidal period — and while enduring the mindless, brainless Air Farce, and briefly [interestingly, only briefly] while getting my first divorce.

I've just been a weak, weak man all my adult life.  Prior to that I must have been a weak, weak child.

Yet, I've always had a sense of humor.  I've always been able to see the odd things that are laughable in the world and relate them to others in ways that were, if not outright funny, at least ironic enough to elicit a chuckle.  There's probably parts of this morose exposition that have caused a few snickers.

Dorothy Parker: majorly funny, and majorly depressive.

Robin Williams: lieutenant colonelly funny, and majorly depressive.

Humor, laughing, making others laugh, seeing funny in sad or grotesque or horrible … nothing to do with depression.  There's evidence, in fact, that they're related; "positively correlated", as if there's anything positive about depression.

I've told people for decades that Andy Williams was my uncle.  Venus and Serena are my nieces.  My current wife — I finally married a Cubs fan — went with me several years ago to the Cubs convention and we stood in line to get our picture taken with 70s Cubs star and Hall of Famer Billy Williams.  Standing there waiting for the photographer to get everyone placed, I introduced myself by name and mentioned "I tell everyone that you're my uncle."  He looked up at me, his brown face quizzed my pasty white one, then he chuckled and said, "I just might be."  We're both minus most of our hair on top, so it seems likely to me.  Then the picture was snapped and we left.

For thirty years I've told everyone that Robin Williams is my cousin.  He's less than a decade older than me … hey! it's plausible!  Genetics don't matter as much as some people think.  He and I are quite similar.  Family runs deep.  So deep as to be stuck in a depression.

I can easily imagine why he wanted to kill himself; I've wanted the same thing many times for myself.  I can also easily imagine what he would be thinking as he reflexively struggled to breathe with his belt around his neck and before he lost consciousness for the last time; I've imagined hundreds of times what I would think for those last few seconds of consciousness as the bathtub filled with blood that my son would have to clean up because it was all his fault, that irresponsible brat.

I do not envy Robin longing for death or the thoughts that came as it happened.  I don't envy it because I've had enough of both, and I don't need any more.  Yet I have plenty more, coming in floods when I deal with the self-righteous Home Office who is, naturally, blameless for her treatment of those around her.

I don't know if depression is a justifiable cause for being considered disabled; I'm not the right person to ask.  I know that most of the time I can function to a semblance of "normal" and "effective", so that my work gets done, I eat regularly and I can keep up my personal hygiene.  But I also know that sometimes I can't do my work, can't get out of bed, eat only four meals in a week, and don't see the point in showering or brushing my teeth.  Is it a disability?

Maybe.

But perhaps now the loyyers for the disability insurance company highlighted in the late 90's TV news magazine show for their excessive efforts to prove that fraud is anything which costs them a payout, will rethink [if they even thought about it in the first place] their position that you can't laugh if you're depressive.

Sure you can.  Ask my cousin Robin.  Laughing —genuine laughing —is easy.  You just still want to kill yourself afterwards, is all.

And sometimes we do.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Zero-Sum Game


A Zero-Sum Game
©2014  Ross Williams

 
 

The most recent Obamacare deadline has just gone into the books, with much back-slapping by its supporters and more raised eyebrows by everyone else.  By my count — and I have assiduously not paid attention — this is the third sign-up deadline.  The first I can remember was at the end of 2013 [fiscal] which, as we all know is September 30th.  Because virtually no one apart from Sandra Fluke had signed up for the Obamacare insurance we'd been told was so absolutely, positively, desperately needed by America's working poor, the Obamacare boosters requested, and Obama gave them for Congress refused, an extension.   The website was disastrously slow, we were told.  How can people sign up when the website doesn't work?

The second sign-up deadline I can remember was December 31st 2013 … the end of the 2013 calendar year.  I also don't recall how many people had signed up for Obamacare at this deadline either, but reportedly they were both pleased with how the government website worked.  But because signups were still light years behind the stated need, the Obamacare boosters requested … and got … another extension.

It was this extension which passed into the history books on March 31st 2014.  And those Democrats not needing to be re-elected in November are falling all over themselves in spoogitastic glee about the numbers … which even the most partisan of outside observers concludes is undoubtedly exaggerated.

The National Savior's administrative mouthpieces — which includes most of the major networks, daily newspapers and weekly news magazines — are all reporting that seven million Americans are signed up for "affordable" health insurance made available by the "Affordable Care Act" … which contains more irony than it does either affordability or care, and even if combined.

Obamacare, at its latest audit, is expected to cost taxpayers two-point-five TRILLION dollars over the first ten years from its passage in June of 2010.  This figure does not include the inflated costs of the insurance premiums that the newly-insured are required by law to buy.  This is simply the cost to the government for the administrative apparatus to make the insurance coverage available, to make enrolling for insurance possible [and thereupon mandatory], to audit the entire population through IRS heavy-handedness to ensure that everyone has health insurance of some kind, and the court time to punish those citizens who still refuse to comply.

Of course, to listen to the rhetoric in the spring of 2010, no one who did not have health insurance was going to refuse to comply with the requirement that they do so.  It was, according to Democrats, a sure thing; inevitable, a Death And Taxes moment.  Why, simply EVERYone who was uninsured would avail himself of the moral goody-goodness of Obamacare.  You'd have gotten better odds wagering against water being wet.

Yet here it is just four short years later and only seven million Americans have signed up for it.

This may seem like a lot of people to some, particularly if they're Democrats — and it is, if you try to fit them all into a Volkswagen or a phone booth at once.  But compared to the entire population of the United States, it's just a hair over 2%, and a bucket in the pool of the uninsured Obamacare was meant to serve.

When we review, we will recall that the "healthcare crisis", as it was labeled, was a creation of the immoral blackguards of the insurance companies, who refused to insure huge swaths of the American People, and for no other reason than their own greed. … which is known, to those who are not socialists, as "profit motive".  If a company doesn't make money on what it sells, it goes out of business and no one can buy that product any longer.  But, still, "insurance is the problem" we were all harangued.

The solution?  More insurance …  but this time it's mandatory.  In order to make it mandatory, it must be profitable for the company selling the insurance.  Because most of what they would be required to "insure" defies actuarial mathematics, the cost of the insurance would rise.  By several hundred percent.  Only suckers believe the snake-oiler when he says he loses money on every sale but makes up for it in volume.  And routine doctor visits and birth control is cheaper in both the long and short term when paid out of your own pocket than it is to hire someone to pay it for you.

According to the weepy, weepy didactics of 2010, fifteen percent of Americans did not have health insurance available to them.  These were the "working poor" that are not covered by other health insurance programs.  Americans over 65 have Medicare; the non-working poor have Medicaid; everyone who holds a full-time job for even a decent wage has employer-provided group health insurance.  The "working poor" includes several million who subsist on a series of part-time jobs — often concurrent — as well as many small business owners whose net profits after expenses barely pays their mortgage.

We are a nation of 310 million people … 310 million people here legally, that is; the number is closer to 325 million when including those who are not legally allowed to be.  Fifteen percent of 310 million is 45 million and change.  After Obamanomics had been going for a few years, the 45 million "working poor" for whom Obamacare was, to quote the embarrassingly unembarrassable Harry Reid, "a lifeline" ballooned to well over 50 million.

It is from these 50 million-plus people, all of whom are required by law to buy health insurance through the "healthcare.gov" website, that the seven million signups are tallied.  And the seven million figure might actually be closer to six million, or even five million.  The rest — between 43 and 45 million — are breaking the law; they are subject to fines and imprisonment.  For the criminal act of not buying health insurance.

Over fifty million people were required by law to sign up for Obamacare health insurance by last Monday; seven million [or maybe five million] have done so.  Obamacare boosters, proving once again their complete inability to do simple arithmetic, have hailed it a success.  Anywhere from ten to fifteen percent of the Obamacare target market purchased the health insurance that they are required by law to purchase, 85 to 90 percent did not, and it's considered a victory by the National Savior's acolytes.

Forty-five million brand new federal criminals are the face of success In Obama's America.  I wonder what a failure would have looked like.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Dictatorship in the Name of Freedom


A Dictatorship in the Name of Freedom

©2014  Ross Williams

 

 
The Arizona Legislature passed a bill a week or so ago affirming that businesses in Arizona have the right to deny service to homosexuals if the owner of the establishment holds the religious view that homosexuality is a sin.  The bill was vetoed by the Governor.  This comes two — or maybe four, or six — months after both a florist and a bakery in Colorado, or maybe Washington [who can remember?], were sued into submission for their refusal to sell floral arrangements and/or a wedding cake to gay couples getting married in that state.  The Arizona legislature didn't want the same bully tactics to be used in their own state.

And who can blame them?

And yes, that's exactly what it is.

"Oh, but Ross, how can you sit there and smugly declare that a shopkeeper has the ability to deny someone their right to buy a wedding cake??  And besides, aren't you in favor of gay marriage??"

Yes, I am in favor of gay marriage, for it is the exercise of a person's right to do what is allowed to everyone else, even if it nauseates and repulses those around him.  I don't discriminate; I support everyone who wishes to nauseate and repulse those around him.  Any country which would claim to support such freedom will have continual loggerheads when it comes to individuals exercising their rights; one person exercising his rights does not, in and of itself, deny another person his own rights.  A homosexual getting married does indeed have the right to buy a wedding cake, but a bakery saying "not here, you don't" isn't denying that right; it's asserting its owner's concurrent right to do business how he wants.  It's dishonest and disingenuous to claim anything else.

Stores have always been allowed to put up signs saying "We reserve the right to deny service to …" fill in the blank with: disruptive patrons, "over-served" patrons, loud patrons and, increasingly, patrons with babies or small children.  A bar in West Hollywood California — a homosexual hangout — has banned legislators who supported California's Proposition 8, the state law which banned gay marriage until it was justifiably struck down by the US Supreme Court.  Various diocese of the Catholic Church gave orders to its parish priests to deny communion to any state or federal lawmaker who had ever supported abortion rights.  In many states it is actually illegal to provide service to patrons who have already been "over-served".  Don't these patrons have rights?

Why is it permitted to deny the right to enter a commercial transaction to customers who disapprove of abortion, or who are drunk, or who are loud, … but not who disapprove of homosexuality?  Can a family with three small children who can't sit still and use their inside voice sue restaurants into submission for being asked to leave and get a baby-sitter before returning?  Can those who loudly voice-over the film being shown with their scintillating commentary and inarticulate interjections sue the theater chain into submission after they are ejected from the premises?

Don't make the excuse that noisy children who whine and play tag under the tables, and movie-goers who can't shut their mouths, are disruptive to other patrons — patrons who are entitled to enjoy their meal or movie themselves, because that would be grade-A hypocrisy.  Patrons of bigoted, closed-minded florists are entitled to shop for flowers in a place where they won't have to confront those who disrupt their own flower-buying experience.  How's a neanderthal supposed to enjoy buying a corsage if there's queers buying wedding arrangements right next to him?

The owners of Abbey Food and Bar in West Hollywood have a photo lineup of anti-gay legislators that are not permitted in the place.  They've rationalized, "It's not like they'd come here anyway."

Indeed.  Why on earth would anyone want to do business with a business that didn't want their business?  …unless it was to force the business to accept their business, so they could gloat about it afterward.  And who does that?

Bullies, that's who.

Besides, making the sharp distinction between those businesses that despise people who are different to the point that those people must be excluded makes decisions so much easier for everyone else.  There will be those who support the notion of the no-gay bakery, but most people I imagine, especially now, will see the notice in the front window saying "We don't sell wedding cakes with two tuxedos on top" and conclude that their own business needs to go elsewhere.

I wouldn't do business with a florist or bakery that I knew didn't want the business of homosexuals.  I would, however, do business with a restaurant which notified patrons that families with children were advised, instead, to eat at the local Denny's or Cracker Barrel.  Such distinctions are important for many people and if the establishment can run a successful business by excluding a significant portion of its pool of potential customers, … then so be it.  Are we a free country or not?

It would be my guess that gay-excluding florists would soon change their policy on their own or go proudly and stubbornly bankrupt, but that child-excluding restaurants would thrive.  That is the purpose of liberty, to provide such choices.  Business owners have rights, too, and one of those rights is to create a business model to their own liking.  If a potential customer doesn't like how a business does business, he has his own right to find a business he prefers … or to create one of his own.  But he doesn't have the right to bully his way into an establishment that doesn't want him; that is coercion, and coercion denies freedom.

…and no, that's not what the government is for, to force it — not any legitimate government in the United States, anyway .  Freedom and liberty — a citizen exercising his rights — is what happens when the government sits down, shuts up, and leaves people to their own choices.  When the government picks and chooses which citizens must submit to the will of others it is, instead, determining who has rights and who doesn't.

While it can be reasonably argued that being anti-gay is rude and inappropriately pious [not to mention, for a christian, it would be unchristian], a person has the right to be that way.  While it can be reasonably argued that a business built on a rude and inappropriately pious business model is sanctimoniously exclusive, it cannot be reasonably argued that such a business is not permitted to exist in a free country.  In a free country, that exclusive business would have to compete with non-exclusive businesses for enough customers to make a sustainable profit; if there are enough customers to support both, then everyone wins and we'll have child-free dining as well as children's menus.  If there aren't … then everyone still wins, since there are always more customers that can be served by non-exclusive businesses; they serve 100% of society.  Excluding anyone reduces the customer base to less than 100%.  Businesses which cater to everyone will do more business and thus rake in more profits — by definition.  It's third-grade arithmetic … which no longer surprises me that so many people don't understand it.

A nation which prohibits its bigoted, closed-minded citizens from opening businesses that operate for other bigoted, closed-minded people is not a free country; it is a tyranny of self-righteous smarm.  And how is that for ironic hypocrisy? to declare that a self-righteous, smarmy individual can't be self-righteous and smarmy himself, because his own self-righteous smarm is "different"?  Isn't that where we came in?

In any event, any bakery which objects to gay marriage is missing its opportunity to make the point without coming across as complete jackasses about it.  Being a partial jackass is usually good enough.  There's a juice bar in a small mining town in eastern Utah, the I Love Drilling Juice and Smoothie Bar.  Its owner has issues with liberals believing that certain people need to pay more for the privilege of being Americans, and so he declared that any liberals who patronize his establishment can put their money where their mouth is: liberals pay double the price for everything on the menu.

Of course, this relies on the political honesty of liberals to announce their liberal politics when ordering, and I Love Drilling doesn't get many customers who do that.  Go figure.

Similarly, any bakery which objects to gay marriage could very easily declare that the bride and groom figurines on the top tier of the cake are sold as male/female sets only, and one set comes free with each wedding cake.  A wedding cake which would require two tuxedos — or two gowns — adorning its top tier must pay for a second set of figurines … and a second set of figurines ordered with a wedding cake costs the same amount as the wedding cake itself.  If purchased separately, they're $3.95 plus tax.

A gay couple wanting a wedding cake from that bakery might choose to buy the second set of figurines at another time, or they might choose to buy their figurines elsewhere.  Or they may simply choose, as I would, to patronize a different bakery.  Choices abound if there is freedom.

Freedom, with all its choices, is inherently messy; pretending freedom must be neat and tidy ultimately earns a society a dictatorship.  A dictatorship is the only form of politics able to clean up this type of mess.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Opening Salvo of Armageddon


The Opening Salvo of Armageddon
(c)2013  RossWilliams

 


It looked bad there for a while, with the forces of satan clouding the minds of the officials and corrupting the tongues of the acolytes, but dogs and cats shall not be living together in sin any time soon.  By which I mean, before Opening Day of the 2014 baseball season.

Yes, the Cardinals lost the World Series.  All is right with the baseball world.  For now.

Of course, any true Armageddon would have a decent god going up against the current reigning satan, and the Cardinals making it to the post season at all argues against that.  Any god that could allow a team with as arrogant, conceited, and a self-righteous asshole fanbase as the Cardinals possess to make it to the playoffs in the first place when only a well-placed two-game losing streak might have prevented it is a cruel and sadistic god.  And since the gods of baseball are neither cruel nor sadistic, I contend that they either do not exist, or have irresponsibly taken time away from their duties to tend to more pressing matters.

...like convincing the umpires' union, and those who promote the umpires into it, that there is only one strike zone: the one defined by the rule book.  Each umpire is not allowed to have his own, regardless whether he is "consistent" in using it, or whether he - like Angel Hernandez and Hunter Wendelstedt [and, frankly, every other umpire in the league] - has a strike zone that wanders around the infield refusing to be nailed down to a specific location.

That would be a worthy issue for the baseball gods to tend to.  But it doesn't seem like they've been working at that, either.

The baseball gods reappeared from whatever beach resort at which they'd been shirking their duties to preside over their kingdom ... starting with Game Four.  It was possibly the stench of the end of Game Three which reclaimed their attention - where the umpires, very literally, handed the game to the Cardinals, in violation of the rules of baseball.

This statement is sure to arouse infantile protests from the bemuddled acolytes of the game who prattled on insufferably and insistently after Game Three.  They regaled all and sundry how giving a game away so everyone could grab a cold one was a proper thing to do.  To prove them wrong, let us recap the situation:

In a tie game in the bottom of the ninth inning, a play at third base resulted in the Cardinals baserunner and the Red Sox third baseman getting tangled up with each other and the ball rolling off into short left field.  The baserunner picked himself up and attempted to score while the left fielder scrambled to the ball and threw it to home plate.  The baserunner was thrown out by a few light years.  And the umpires colluded to call obstruction on the part of the Red Sox third baseman, thus awarding the next base - in this case home plate - to any base runner affected.

The baserunner is safe, the fans can go home, and the umpires collect their wages from satan.

All the idiot commentary the next day concluded that the baserunner is entitled to the baseline and any attempt by a fielder to prevent him from using it shall be called "obstruction".  ...which is accurate enough, but only one-third of the relevant rule on the matter.

Simultaneous to the baserunner being entitled to the baseline, the fielder is entitled to make a play and any attempt by a baserunner or batter to prevent the fielder from making a play shall be called "interference" and - depending where on the basepaths it occurs and under what circumstances - the baserunner shall be called out.

And that, too, is accurate as far as it goes, but does not complete the relevant rules pertaining to the matter.  The final, pertinent rule is that in the judgment of the umpire the player called for interference or obstruction shall have acted in a deliberate or avoidable manner.  Getting tangled up is not, in and of itself, enough to justify either obstruction or interference.

In the play in question, any impartial observer could make an argument that the Red Sox third baseman obstructed the Cardinals baserunner from advancing on the play.  He could also make an argument that the Cardinals baserunner interfered with the Red Sox third baseman from getting up to take a throw for a subsequent play.

The impartial observer, being able to make both of these arguments, would have to look at the situation impartially and conclude that when both arguments can be made, neither is uniquely valid.  It would constitute, in the vernacular of baseball, an appropriate non-call.

Anyone who spends any amount of time watching the game of baseball - which obviously excludes umpires for myriad reasons - is fully aware that baserunners and fielders get tangled up with each other thousands of times during the normal course of the 2430 regular-season games each year.  A few hundred times a year, after these players get tangled, play continues which involves one or both of the players in the tangle.   And several dozen times a year, the runner getting tangled is subsequently called out, or the fielder getting tangled is unable to make another play ... both of which, on the surface, would constitute obstruction and interference.

Yet of these few thousand, few hundred, or several dozen plays occurring each and every season, how many of them result in obstruction or interference calls?

That's right: zero.

Shall I say that again for the brainless ESPN chatterboxes, the homer Cardinals broadcasters, and the asshole Cardinals fans who knew not whereof they prattled last weekend?

Zero.

Z. E. R. O.

Zero.

Zip, zilch, nada, bupkus.  Zero.

Because the final piece of the rule requires that it be, in the judgment of the umpire a deliberate or avoidable act of either the fielder or baserunner to impede another player.  Players getting tangled with each other in the normal course of play is nether deliberate nor avoidable.  This is why it takes Reggie Jackson, who stopped running to stick his ass out into the flight of the baseball, to be called.  This is why it takes Alex Rodriguez, assaulting a first baseman at high speed down the first base line, to be called.  Those were deliberate and avoidable, both.

Deliberate or avoidable impediments to play are exceptionally rare, and no one who does not have his head lodged so far up his ass that he's looking out his own navel can say that the end of Game Three met the necessary criteria.  No one.

...which perhaps explains why the six umpires at the game did say that [one called it, the other five corroborated].  ...and why all the rationalizing babblers repeated the lie without so much as a hint of a question for days after.

Only the Cardinals could win a game by such a complete and thorough conspiracy of so many umpires putting their judgment up for sale by forgetting [or ignoring] the rulebook all at once.  That many umpires all forgetting [or ignoring] the rulebook at the same time is proof of the forces of darkness in the game of baseball.  The fact that so many would be willing to excuse, in public, such a transparent diversion from the rules attests only to the sway that baseball's satan has.

The wages of these sins is death ... from sports boredom.  Otherwise known as soccer which is gaining market share.

Repent.  Ye have been warned.


Friday, October 11, 2013

My Back of the Hand Brush with Nazis


Oct 7, 2013
Nazis of the TSA
Office of the [ha ha] "Civil Rights and Liberties"
External Compliance Division
601 S 12th St
Arlington VA  20598
 

Dear External Compliance Nazis:

I picked up a complaint form yesterday from your Ft Meyers airport gestapo desk, and used it - plus the backs of three pages of your official "Civil Rights for Travelers" website that I had printed a few years ago and which I carry with me whenever I fly ... just in case I need it - to write out the complaint I had against your gestapo agents at the Ft Meyers airport.  But the pen I had didn't want to work correctly, we had a bouncy flight over the remnants of a failed tropical storm, and my one-year-old son was kicking me as I was writing.  Even I can barely read what I wrote, so I am typing this up from those notes.

Copies of this are going to be sent also to my US Senators and my Congressman, at least one of whom has made statements on the floor of Congress critical of the nature and efficacy of the job TSA does, though nowhere near as pointedly as those criticisms need to be stated.  A copy will also be going out to a public and fairly popular internet blog site, as well as facebook and where ever else I can think of.  In fairness, I shall append any official response this complaint gets to the blog site and facebook ... so make sure it's something you'd want made public!  In other words, don't make yourselves look like more of the same type of imperious jackasses you usually advertise yourselves to be.

Before I get into a description of what happened yesterday, I should probably say - not that you can't guess by now - that I find absolutely nothing you do, ever, anywhere, to be a "service" for anyone other than those whose purpose is to amass excessive and non-Constitutional power for the government, in the guise of making Americans feel safe without actually making them be safe.  As you know, TSA during their entire existence, has not caught, interdicted, or even identified a single person whose aim or intention was even remotely to commit air piracy or air sabotage.  Not one.   Not even with the huge number of guns and knives and cups of coffee and snow globes and cupcakes-in-a-can you've found, nor with the colostomy bags you've ruptured, nor the millions of people you've humiliated and tens of millions you've simply outraged.

None.

You do not add safety to any transportation; you simply use that as an excuse to compel people - mostly American citizens, free people in a supposedly free country - to justify themselves to the US government, and make them prove themselves innocent in the face of your self-satisfied presumption of their guilt.  This massive compulsion of the general public to justify themselves in the face of presumed guilt, or risk detention and arrest, is exactly what the nazis did to the German people, as well ... and for the exact same reason: declarative public safety.   ...this point will come up in the narrative.  In fact, my father-in-law - a child at the time - spent much of the first six years of his life in a nazi prison camp, along with his mother, my grandmother-in-law.

I will also point out that during the years of TSA's existence, American citizens have - not once, but twice - interdicted individuals who were attempting air sabotage .... not that their attempts were going to amount to much.  Shoe bombs and crotch bombs were - as you know very very very well - not going to accomplish much more than a frat house accomplishes during a fart-lighting contest.  Smoke and stink and not much else.  At least, that is the results of the post-incident threat assessment made by those who do not have a vested interest in exaggerating the risks posed and therefore justifying the need for nosier and nosier tools by which TSA can violate everyone's 4th Amendment.

In short, nazis, the general public can do your stated job better than you do, and I've got to believe at this point that you know it, which leaves you with just one apparent function left: harassing and annoying that general public and removing their civil rights and confiscating trillions of items of their personal property.  Sadly, this fools many Americans into believing you're actually doing anything.

I, though, am an American citizen with a 1st Amendment, and I will use my 1st Amendment when I see fit - I don't care who you are or claim to be.  Further, no agent of the US government will tell me I cannot use my 1st Amendment, nor will any agent of the US government take any action against me, nor treat me any differently from anyone else, because I do use my 1st Amendment; when TSA's actions are predicated on obliterating the 4th Amendment, the 1st Amendment is about all we have left.

So ... we have arrived at the narrative of yesterday's encounter with your local gestapo:

My wife and I and one year old child arrived at Southwest Florida International Airport - the Ft Meyers airport - around 8 AM on October 6 2013 for a scheduled 9:30 AM departure on Southwest Airlines flight 3696 at Concourse B.  We had just finished visiting my grandmother-in-law, who is 90-something, and who hadn't met her youngest great-grandchild yet.  This is the same grandmother-in-law who lived for several years in a nazi prison camp, for what it's worth.

When we arrived there were as many as a dozen people in line, and - I counted - 16 blue-shirted brownshirts.  A touch of overkill, frankly.   We were soon next in line so we went up as a family to your agent checking boarding passes and IDs.  My wife and son went through and I handed my boarding pass and passport to your female agent ... who insisted on engaging me in conversation.  I will try to never talk to TSA; it's simply not worth it.  I cannot be polite to those who obliterate my constitutional rights and believe they are entitled to do so, and most people - particularly those with small egos and large powers - don't like my direct honesty if and when they do get a conversation started.  The conversation here went as follows:

"Good morning sir, how are you today?"  [This was a question]

... I said nothing.

"Sir ... good morning.  How are you today?"  [This was also a question, although imperious in tone]

...

"Sir, why aren't you answering me."  [This, however, was not a question; it was a boorish demand]

"Because I don't like talking to nazis."

"WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN!!"

...
 
"I SAID, WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN!!"

I waved at her attempting to indicate that I was not going to say anything else to her, that the only reason I said that much was because she couldn't leave me alone, and to not bother even trying to start up another conversation.  I don't want to talk to you.  It's not difficult to understand.  She shoved my passport [removed from its cover and folded backwards] and my boarding pass [now bent and wrinkled] back at me.  I took them and went to the get into the shoeless magnetometer line for the next pointless exercise. 

...only the magnetometer was closed and everyone was being funneled through the pornoscanner.  I didn't notice this, though, until I was already inside the thing.  I was trying to see how far ahead of me my wife and son had gotten; the useless and one-sided fake-polite "conversation" the ID-checker insisted on having with me allowed several other people to get between my wife and I.

The nazi at the pornoscanner told me to turn to my right, place my feet on the marks and raise my arms.  Bullshit!  I'm not getting into a pornonscanner, and I told the nazi this:

"I'm not going through the pornoscanner."

He tried rationalizing: "But it doesn't penetrate ..."

"I don't give a shit.  I'm not going through a pornoscanner."  And I went out the way I came in.

"SIR, YOU HAVE TO BE SCREENED!!"

"Not in a pornoscanner, I don't."

Another [male] nazi stepped up, told me to stand right where I was and not move.  I shifted around to see where the bins of my belongings were - they had long gone through the x-ray conveyor and I could no longer see my property, which included my passport, and he yelled, "I SAID, DO NOT MOVE!"

"I don't see my stuff, nazi."

As we both know, I'm supposed to be kept in contact with my stuff, at least to the point where I can see it if it isn't actually in the machine.  This reduces the chance that other passengers will accidentally or deliberately walk off with it, or that one of your upstanding nazis will keep it for themselves, which happens frequently enough that it's no longer a surprising news story.

"We need to get a male agent here to do a pat-down," he squawked into his cutesy rent-a-cop shoulder microphone.

"You're a male nazi," I told him; "you do it."

"I can't.  I'm working up front," he declared, as if standing around looking self-important and conceited is considered work.

...and he made me stand there for almost ten minutes.  In those ten minutes, I had two short conversations of note, one with him and one with another nazi.  In the first conversation, a female nazi came up behind me and said, "Y'know, sir, this is a difficult job, and we try to be as nice as possible when we do it; you need to be more cooperative."

"Nice?  What's nice about nazis?"

"I resent that description..." she pouted.

"I resent nazis."

"So do I; it's a good thing there aren't any around here," she huffed.

"I see 16, 18 nazis in blue shirts right here."  Within just a few feet of me there were almost two dozen TSA agents I could see, of which maybe 5 were doing anything of note - two checking IDs, one at the x-ray conveyor, one giving instructions at the pornoscanner, ... make that 4 I could see actively doing something.  Of the over dozen nazis I could see who were not doing anything obvious, easily half of them were male ... yet none of them could bother doing the grope portion of the pointless "screening".  They were all milling about looking stupid.

I alluded to this when I mentioned to the male nazi who had yelled at me to not move as he was just standing in front of me, "You're not supposed to harass or retaliate."  I quoted this from your "Civil Rights for Travelers" memo.

He scoffed back, "I'm not harassing you!"

"No, but you're retaliating; There's a half dozen male nazis doing nothing, including you, and rather than have one of them grope me, I'm just standing here.  How long does this need to take?"  I got no answer.

A few minutes later, another male nazi wearing blue gloves came up and asked if I was the opt-out.

"No, I'm the one for the groping.  Are you going to be my groper?"

He said something, but had his back turned and I didn't hear what it was.  He motioned for me to follow, and I did ... to an arbitrary spot about 20 feet away, because it was SO much better than where we had been before.  He stopped and imperiously asked which lane my stuff was in.

I looked around and didn't see my stuff and started to panic that it actually had been stolen.

The nazi with blue gloves got snotty and sneered, "It's real easy, it's either this lane or it's that lane."

Yeah, well, bite me, I don't see my stuff.  But I did see my wife and son [finally] and shouted to my wife, "where's my stuff?"  She pointed to indicate that my stuff was hidden behind a bunch of other stuff.  The nazi with blue gloves made me follow him to my stuff.

"Do you want the pat-down here? or in private?"

"No no!  Everything is going to be in public."  The entire TSA experience is humiliating to the general public in the first place; if groping those who won't play along humiliates the TSA nazis in return ... that is at least a partial victory.

At this point he proceeded to launch into a long-winded description of what he was going to do, how he was going to do it, and why he was doing it.  Several seconds into this pointless tirade I told him, "Just skip the foreplay, wujja?  You wanna grope me, so grope me."

...the first nazi, the ID-checker, was haughty and childish.  The nazi at the pornoscanner was obliviously confused as to why anyone would, gorsh!, not want to be irradiated by a sick pedophiliac fuck in the next room.  The nazi who yelled at me to not move but who had no other [apparent] job skill was high and mighty.  The nazi who resented being called a nazi almost, but not quite, as much as I resent nazis was condescending.

This nazi, though, the one with the blue gloves about to grope me, was peevish and whiny.  "I will not 'skip the foreplay'!!" he whined ... and he proceeded to start his pointless blather, obviously learned by rote, from the very beginning; more wasted time.   He finally got around to groping me, making a significant and unnecessary production out of it, and after he got his jollies out of the way, he informed me I was free to go.

Gee! imagine that, an American, a free citizen of a free country, was finally free from the warrantless [and useless and impractical] search for snow globes conducted by the government each American citizen is supposed to be free from.  Another American proved himself innocent!  Yay team!  Go USA, go!

As I put my sandals and jacket back on, he thanked me - for what, I don't know.   I was going commando, so perhaps he got off a little.

I don't welcome being presumed guilty by my own government ... which is supposed to be prohibited from making that assumption, and I find it offensive that I might be thanked for it, so I answered "You're not welcome, nazi."

"Yeah, well, neither are you to be honest about it."

"Sieg heil, nazi," I replied.  And as I left the nazi interment zone I said "Sieg heil" to four or five more blue-shirted brownshirts, each and every one I passed on my way out.

We finally escaped!  My wife changed my son's diaper in the ladies room, I got a cup of coffee and waited for her in front of the restrooms.  I thought I'd have been done being harassed by nazis for the day; I was wrong.

Shortly after my wife came out of the restroom and we were trying to decide what to do while we waited for the plane, up comes yet another nazi, this one wearing shorts, and despite having a mustache and appearing to be in his 40s or 50s, looking for all the world like a HitlerJugend. 

He stood directly in front of me, staring at me with his chest thrust out at me, and after a moment he said, "Have a nice day!"   Yet this was not a greeting; it was not a banal pleasantry.  It was certainly not intended as an apology of any sort for the litany of retaliatory abuse I'd just been given - an apology I was due, by the way.  You don't jut out your chin and your chest and throw your shoulders back to give greetings or banal pleasantries.  It was thoroughly aggressive and insincere, and intended as a childish challenge.  A taunt.

I replied, "And sieg heil to you, too, nazi."

And the boy had the gall to get offended!  He went out of his way to add harassing behavior to the already retaliatory actions the rest of his gang of nazis had perpetrated, and he was offended by my refusal to allow it to go unnoted.
 
"DON'T CALL ME THAT AGAIN.  IT'S A VILE TERM!" he yelled at me, attracting the attention of at least two passers-by.

Of all the arrogant self-righteousness.  I was now actually angry.  No government official has the authority, in public, to tell me what I can and cannot say, and I'll say any goddamned thing I want to.

"I know you nazis hate the 4th Amendment, but is this a 1st Amendment-free zone as well?"

"I SAID DON'T CALL ME THAT!  IT'S A HORRIBLE WORD!" he shouted over my rhetorical question.

Yes I know it's a horrible word, and what makes it more horrible is that it applies.  If you don't want to be called nazis, then don't do to Americans what nazis did on a daily basis to Germans, under the pretense of protecting those Germans from Jews, and Gypsies, and political subversives, and homosexuals.  By contrast, TSA is protecting us from snowglobes, excessive amounts of shampoo in our carry-on, large tubes of toothpaste, and unbaked cupcakes.  And don't bother quibbling about this because TSA hasn't accomplished anything else.  They have zero successes on identifying anyone considered to be a legitimate threat of air piracy or air sabotage.

Let me repeat that in case you still can't comprehend it: ZERO SUCCESSES.
 
By standing up to, and being rude about [while still complying with] the imperious edicts of the government, I would have been called a political subversive under the Third Reich.  And I was being treated in the Ft Meyers airport exactly as political subversives under the nazis were treated: harassed, continually challenged, facing childish retaliation not to mention risking arrest and detention for daring - daring, I tellz ya - to assert my right to tell the government, and its brainless agents, exactly what I think of what they do.  ...and them for doing it.

Seriously, how difficult is this?  You don't like being called nazis? don't act like them.

It was only at this point that I decided I'd had enough of these childish assholes.  "Do you have one of your little complaint forms on you?"

"No I don't; they're at the desk."  He seemed almost happy that I was now threatening to file a complaint against him and his gang of thugs.  We arrived at the desk in the nazi interment zone, and he told the nazi guard behind the counter, "This gentleman seems to have a complaint to make.  Would you get a complaint form?"

The only - and I mean only - nazi I encountered at Ft Meyers who did not insist on advertising himself as having a small ego with too much power was the guy behind the desk; he reached into a drawer and handed me a form and kept his mouth shut while doing it.  I don't even think he looked at me.   Good for him.  Just do your job and keep quiet about it.

I got the form, and turned to the mustachioed HitlerJugend; "What's your name?" I asked.

"Mario [something]," he answered.  It sounded vaguely Spanish, and there's a few ways of spelling the various Spanish sounds; my last formal Spanish language lessons occurred in 7th grade back in the early 70s.

"Would you repeat that?" I asked.  Mario repeated; I still didn't understand his last name.  Another nazi - the condescending one - was standing beside him with a pen and notepad, undoubtedly transcribing the encounter.

"Can I borrow your pen?"

"No you may not," she pouted, hiding it from me.  She and Mario thought this was amusing, in the same way that a 4 year thinks their own immature behavior is amusing.  Alright, then, if that's as grown-up as you're going to be...

I had the form, Mario would be easy to identify by description if nothing else, and I turned to leave.

Mario cat-called after me, "Have a nice da-a-ay."

I turned and called him "nazi" one last time.

While writing out my complaint by hand while waiting for our plane [delayed by 33 minutes due to FAA rules], several TSA nazis walked past me, and all of them glowered at me.  They didn't simply glance at me; they slowed down, made a point of turning their head in my direction, waited for me to make eye contact, and they glared at me until they were past me.

Yes; I see their point ... how dare an American act as if he should be free from his government making nosy and offensive presumptions about him.  I'm obviously the unreasonable bad guy here ...

Grow the fuck up.

=====================================================================

The stated objective of your complaint forms, not to mention the "External Compliance Division", is to improve the "customer" service of TSA ... despite TSA having no customers, only a throng of free citizens trying to go about their daily business  which TSA does everything they can to prove to them how UNfree they truly are.

Until such time as we get an elected government who's actually read - and understands - the US Constitution and the type of government we were designed to have with the severe limitations on power that were intended to be in place, my advice to you, in both terms of classical customer service, as well as reduction of retaliatory and harassing behavior, is as follows:

1] Many people don't mind engaging in idle chit-chat.  You wanna ask them how they're doing?  Go right ahead.  Some people do mind engaging in idle chit-chat, either because it's a useless activity in general, or because of who they're being engaged by.  If someone doesn't want to talk to you, then shut the fuck up and leave them alone.

2] Most people resent the pornoscanners for the dozen reasons you're already aware of though most will grin and bear it; some, though, will go out of their way to object to it; I will never enter one.  Stop acting surprised by these objections, and for godsake, stop acting as if the guy who objects to it is committing a crime by refusing to play along with it; he has legitimate options and you are obliged to fulfill those options without grabbing a pound of flesh along the way.  Just put these people in a separate line without the yelling and the screaming and the autocratic orders to stay motionless, and IMMEDIATELY grope them; no waiting.  Making people wait any longer than anyone else has to wait to get through your infernal nazi-machine is retaliation.  You are declaring that their failure to make your job easier rather than their own life less humiliating carries consequences for them; that is retaliation by definition.  You are making them pay for inconveniencing YOU ... as if your convenience means a damn.  It doesn't.  Grow the fuck up.

3] Some people don't want to be given a play-by-play of their groping ... again, shut the fuck up.  Just do your job.

4] When you annoy people for obliterating their sense of privacy from government intrusion that we were taught [at one time] we had a legitimate expectation of always having, and they call you nazis, or pedophiles, or simply sick bastards, ... that's their right as an American to do.  As an agent of the government you are not allowed to have PERSONAL feelings about it; your duty and obligation as a government agent in the uniform of that government is to let them call you those names.  The reason I know this is because **I** was a uniformed agent of the government at one time way back when, and this was among the first things they drilled into our heads: I was obliged to let them say what they wanted, and I could do nothing about it.  THEY were the citizens; **I** was - to them - the government.  Perhaps I've mentioned this before: do your job and do it silently; shut the fuck up.  Laugh about it or grouse about it ... your choice ... at the airport bar after work.  Quit and get a job as a Walmart greeter.  Go home and kick your cat.  I don't care.  You do not have the luxury of back-talking US citizens while you are in uniform.

5] When someone gets through your maze of nazi officiousness with the same stew of official childishness, condescension, self-righteousness and peevishness as I encountered, ... and the same rudeness that I gave in response to it all ... then any further encounters MUST consist of an agent in a supervisory position making an apology for it, regardless of where he believes the bulk of the responsibility lies.  He should also ask if there is anything he can do to ensure that such miserable encounters are avoided in the future.  That is "customer service"; since you don't actually have customers, I'm not terribly surprised you don't know this.  It would be a good idea also to have any complaint forms in his pocket when he does this.  Making childish challenges because a professional ego [or six] was bruised does not cut it.  In any enterprise which actually had customers and in which customer SERVICE actually matters, Mario's actions would be either a reprimandable infraction, or a terminating offense.  It was simply inexcusable.

6] I know better than to expect much in the way of acknowledgment of your official culpability, here, though there is much for you to be culpable about.  I am fully aware that an apology is nothing but an easy way out, and virtually all apologies are formulaic and insincere.  I don't want an apology from anyone, not even the ego-on-his-sleeve Mario.  I want structural changes in the way you asshole nazis conduct your business.  As I said before: until we get an elected government which actually understands the very strict limits on its power, you're going to be browbeating all citizens you encounter and nothing can be done about it except be rude to those who do it when it happens.  No one likes being browbeaten, and some of us will be rude to you when you do it even as they comply with your directions.  There's a difference between being compliant but rude, and being non-compliant, though.  People who are compliant but rude are no different from those who are compliant-and-pleasant.   Remember that, always.  Your ego goes off when your blue shirt goes on.

7] The people who pass through your nazi gates are almost entirely FREE CITIZENS of a supposedly FREE COUNTRY.  Why can we not be treated like it?  And no ... we are not treated like it.

This last is probably more of a question for the idiot politicians to grapple with; freedom requires limited government interference, and there's nothing limited about the government interference associated with airports ... with virtually all of the interference being pointless and ineffective.  Don't think you're actually accomplishing anything worth accomplishing; far too many reports and audits from within the same government say otherwise.   We both know this, so let's not bullshit about it.

On the off-chance that one of your higher-ups understands that I am largely correct about the nature of my complaint and the institutional changes indicated because of it [not likely] ... or if you simply wish to have your NSA brethren be able to locate me more easily for their continued warrantless surveillance of my insidious political subversion which in no way resembles nazi tactics at all [far more likely], my contact information follows.

Please surprise me, though, and acknowledge that some of your staff were acting childishly, others arrogantly, and Mario completely and inappropriately combative.  And then stop doing it. 

 

 

 

Ross Williams