Love Does Not Conquer All

January 22nd, 2017 9:28am - Posted By: Mark Cohen

I enjoyed attending the Women's March in Denver. I wanted my body to be among the many protesting the new regime and mourning the loss of what once was a great nation. I saw many creative signs, but I saw some proclaiming, "Love Conquers All." That's garbage. Love did not defeat the Nazi's. Infantry defeated the Nazi's.

Republican fascists have been taking advantage of the basic goodness of Democrats, liberals, and progressives for decades. They are better at dirty politics than we are. Nixon successfully demonized George McGovern, a man that flew more than two dozen missions over Germany. Lee Atwater employed a subtle racism in his Willie Horton ad against Michael Dukakis, a man that spent two years in the Army in post-war Korea. These draft-dodging fascists defamed Navy hero John Kerry with their Swift Boat BS. It is way past time to start fighting fire with fire. Our mantra must be, "When they go low, we go for the throat.”

Sign all the petitions you want, but Republican politicians don't care. Their corporate pimps pay them to push an agenda. They know that even if they don't win re-election, their pimps will give them a job paying five times what they collect now. Arlo Guthrie once said, "If you want to end war, you gotta sing loud." It's time to start treating these so-called leaders like the corporate whores and traitors they are. Showing them any respect only makes them think you are a sucker.

Stand outside their offices and homes with signs and make noise. Write scathing letters to the editor. Show up unannounced at their offices and ask tough questions to their staff, and get it all on video. Then post it. Put bumper stickers on your vehicle to let others know your views. (I just ordered a stick that says, “Proud Veteran. Not My President.” If you can find their home address or phone, share that information so it goes viral.

I have Republican friends. Not all are stupid or racist. So, tying the GOP to Hitler might seem unfair. As a generalization, I don’t think it is unfair, but who cares if it is? Being decent has gotten us nowhere. Do you want to run a noble campaign and lose or do you want fight fire with fire and win? It’s that simple.

It's time to mock the Republican party and its leaders mercilessly. Every Republican leader today is either stupid or a corporate whore. If you believe God created the earth five thousand years ago because the Bible says so, despite the evidence of carbon dating, you are stupid. Not all Republican leaders can be stupid, though, because some have been successful doctors and lawyers. But their corporate puppet masters pay them to spout nonsense that will fire up their stupid constituents -- statements like, "Bill Clinton will Take Your Guns” and “Obama will take your guns.”  Pro-lifers love to show photos of aborted babies, and that’s their right. Why shouldn't we show photos of homeless vets and heckle Republican leaders that vote to cut VA funding?  We shouldn’t we tie Trump, McConnell, and Ryan to Putin and call them traitors? That’s what they are.

Employing outright lies and racism, Trump tapped into the justifiable anger of the American people. (He had help from a Republican FBI director and a corporate owned media that wanted this to be a close election and ignored his many flaws). The way to win this war is to make this a battle between the 1% and the rest of us. We must mock and demonize Republican leaders until public contempt for them is so palpable that they decide they'd rather return to private life. The Vietnam War ended when Nixon could not get any sleep because protestors were shouting outside his bedroom window every night. There's a lesson to be learned there.

I’m not saying you must hate Republican leaders; hate harms your body. I’m just saying you’re naïve if you believe love will solve this problem. Don’t hate them; mock and demonize them in a calm, dispassionate manner to delegitimize them. It’s not personal, you’ll just be doing a job for your country.

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How to Intervene in a Bullying or Threatening Situation

November 15th, 2016 12:31pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

To see this article as a PDF, CLICK HERE   

Introduction

The 2016 presidential election exposed the fear and hatred that simmers just beneath the surface in some Americans.  The Ku Klux Klan endorsed Trump.  Trump stirred up fears of immigrants, Jews, Muslims, and blacks.  Trump bragged about sexual assaults.  Trump’s Vice President, Pence, a smug, self-righteous evangelical, is openly hostile to gays.  Many conservative leaders believe rape is just a risk inherent in being a woman.  Many conservative politicians are hostile to any person speaking out against their policies.  Their behavior, and similar behavior by some of the supporters, has emboldened bullies and haters. 

In this atmosphere of fear and hate we must resolve that we will protect those unable to protect themselves.  If we want to make America great again, the first step is to show we believe in equality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and doing what is right.  We must show we will not tolerate the abuse of our fellow citizens or visitors to our once great country.

You may encounter a situation where you must decide whether to intervene to protect another.  This article offers some thoughts on how to analyze such situations and intervene if you decide to intervene.

Nothing is foolproof.  Intervention carries risk.  There are no guarantees. 

The Four A’s

I think of four stages to intervention – awareness, assessment, approach, and action.  But each situation is different and you may encounter a situation that requires you to make an instant assessment and take immediate action.

Awareness

If you want to help others, you must be alert to situations where others need help.  A good rule of thumb is to trust your gut.  If you sense something is wrong, it probably is.  Some things that may indicate a bullying or threatening situation is present or may develop include:

Loud voices or yelling

Abnormal patterns of movement such as people standing still while others are moving

One person abnormally close to another – “in their space.”

One person touching or grabbing another

One person running from another

Physical threats such as someone making a fist or throwing things

Unusual gestures such as flailing arms

Assessment

If you believe a situation exists or may develop, you must assess the situation.  The time available for assessment will depend on the circumstances.  In some situations, you may have to make an instant assessment.  Some factors to consider in making your assessment are:

How great is the threat to the other person and to yourself?  

How immediate is the threat? (Is there time to call 911?)

Is it verbal or physical?

How agitated does the aggressor appear to be?  (Is there still time to defuse things?)

Does the aggressor have a weapon?  (A man wearing a fanny pack with the pouch in front probably has a handgun in it).

Do you have a weapon or easy access to a weapon?

How many aggressors are there?

How many bystanders are there that might lend a hand?

Once you assess the situation, if you don’t feel safe intervening in any way, call 911.  You should remain on the scene so you can provide a statement to law enforcement.  If you are not ready to call 911 or don’t think you have time due to the urgency of the situation, go to the next step.

Approach

            1. Stop and Look.  If you see a concerning situation, before you get closer to the situation, stop, and look at the people involved.  Often the aggressor see you, recognize that they are drawing attention, and calm down. 

       “What are you looking at?”  Sometimes the aggressor will stare back at you and say, “What are you looking at?”  It’s a rhetorical question.  The aggressor knows darn well what you are looking at and why you are.  Say nothing, hold your ground, and continue to look directly at the situation.  If you move closer the aggressor may consider it challenge.  If you back away, the aggressor may consider at sign of weakness or fear.  You may want to take out your cell phone and prepare to dial 911.  You may want to begin recording the incident on your cell phone.

                        “This is none of your business.”  Sometimes the aggressor will stare at you and say, “This is none of your business.”  Again, the best response is to hold your ground and say nothing.  Just stand still and continue to demonstrate your concern.  If you must say something, you can say, “Sir, it is my business because I’m concerned for both of you.”  You might also add something like, “Look, I already took a picture of you and sent it to my friend.  Let’s just stop and call this done and move our separate ways.”

            2. Verbal De-escalation.  If the situation has not yet become physical, you may be able prevent that by using verbal de-escalation techniques.  The idea is to show concern and empathy to prevent the aggressor from becoming more agitated.  Some examples:

“It looks like you folks are having a bad day.  Is there anything I can do to help?”

“I can see you are upset, let’s all take a deep breath and relax before this gets out of hand.” 

            3. Command and Consequence.  If verbal de-escalation does not work, you must give a command and consequence:

                     “Sir, if you don’t calm down, I will call the police.”

                     “Sir, leave him alone or I will call security.”

Have your phone out be ready to dial when you say this.  Be far enough away that the aggressor cannot reach you to stop you.

4. Positioning.  As all this is going on, if you believe you may have to intervene physically and you intend to do so, you should gradually get closer to the aggressor so you will be able to close the distanced quickly.  You can converse with aggressor as you slowly approach.  You can put your hands up with your palms open in a defensive posture as you approach to show you don’t want any trouble.  (If your hands are already up with your palms open, it’s very easy to turn those open palms into fists if you must).

Action

            If the situation appears to be escalating and you conclude you must take action, here are some possible actions:

            1. Dial 911.  If you have a phone, dial 911.  State your name, your location, and what you are seeing that concerns you.  Describe the others involved, and be sure to say what the aggressor is wearing so the officers that respond know what to look for. If you don’t have a phone, ask to borrow someone else’s phone.

            2. Scream.  Bullies do not like attention and they especially don’t like police officers.  Start screaming, “Police!”  Your screams will attract the attention of others, drawing a crowd, which is exactly what the aggressor does not want.

            3. Physical Intervention.  The law allows you to use reasonable force to protect yourself or another.  If you are not an experienced fighter, the general idea is to use the hard surfaces of your body (knuckles, knees, heels, elbows, palm heels) against the soft portions of the aggressor’s body (groin, eyes, throat, vital organs).  Also, consider whether you have a weapon available.  A belt with a metal buckle can be a weapon.  A cane can be a weapon.  A cup of hot coffee can be a weapon.  A purse or backpack can be a very effective weapon.

Conclusion

Most bullies are cowards.  Just as a lion always attacks the weakest gazelle – the one straggling behind the pack – bullies pick on the weak.  If you stand up to an aggressor, the aggressor usually backs down.  Most Americans are good people.  If you demonstrate leadership, others will back you up.  To ignore bullying is to encourage it.  We can no longer ignore it and pretend it is not our problem.

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How to Fight Trump

November 11th, 2016 12:36pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

To this article as a PDF, click here How to Fight Trumpism and the Republicans

Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference. – Jim Butcher

Introduction

The founding fathers declared independence because the colonists had no vote in their own government.  They had no say in who served in the parliament that enacted the laws governing them.  Having witnessed the relationship between the King and the Church of England, the founders were adamant that there be a separation of church of and state.  That is why the Constitution contains no references to Christianity.

The 2016 presidential election shows that we the people have no meaningful voice in who serves us.  This is partly because the electoral college gives a disproportionate amount of power to conservative rural states with small populations.  North Dakota gets one electoral vote for each of its senators, and so does California.

Another reason we have no voice is that our supposed representatives have become corporate whores.  The 5 to 4 decision of the Republican Supreme Court in the Citizens United ensured that corporations can continue to buy a government that will serve their interests.  (The four justices appointed by Democratic presidents voted against recognizing corporations as people). 

Donald Trump bragged about being able to grab women “by the pussy” and get away with it, mocked Americans with disabilities, made fun of veterans, encouraged racism and homophobia, and courted evangelicals to win the Republican nomination and the electoral college.  Based on the Republican party’s history since 1980, we can be certain Trump and the Republicans will do their best to turn America into the white Christian theocracy they want it to be.  There is talk today of cabinet positions for Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee.  Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” was code for “Return America to the 1950’s Where White Christian Men Were in Charge and Niggers Knew Their Place.”

So, today we once again have no meaningful say in who represents us, and the Republican government will do its best to impose Christian morality on us.  What can we do?

One option is to do nothing.  We can accept that we are lucky to live in a wealthy nation and that allows a certain amount of freedom.  Nothing good lasts forever anyhow and even if the America we were taught to believe in no longer exists, there are worse places in the world.  We can resolve to enjoy the milk and honey while it lasts and just not worry about it.  That would easy for a white male professional like me to do, particularly since I am smarter than the white males that will soon be running our country.

But I can’t do that.  Because I believe America can be better.  I believe in liberty, equality, free speech, and freedom of religion and all that ideals Republicans claim to believe but don’t even understand.  What can we do?  In the past I would have answered that we must respect the will of the people and try harder next time. 

But I no longer believe the election results reflect the will of the people.  The Republican director of the FBI placed his finger on the scales just enough to secure a Republican victory right before the election.  Maybe the Russians helped.  If you used an electronic ballot, who knows if it was hacked?  Republicans have steadily been working to make it difficult for minorities and poor people to vote.  Trump is right – the system is rigged.

And the press – an establishment with a proud tradition of journalists like Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather – and which is now also controlled by a few corporations let us down.  The press wanted this to be a close election.  Close elections generate viewers and that increases ad revenue. So, the press covered Hillary’s alleged email scandal relentlessly while almost completely ignoring Trump’s ties to Putin and the many allegations of sexual assault against him. 

Because I don’t believe the election results reflect the will of the people, for the first time in my life, I do not accept the results.  I was once proud to be a veteran, but that America no longer exists.  For the first time in my life, I say, “Not My President!”  Donald Trump is a loser and a pathetic disgrace. Ironically, he is a pussy.

If you still believe you can work within the system to bring about positive change, you need not read further.  You won’t like what I write.  If you are willing to face the hard reality that the America we were taught to believe in no longer exists, read on.

The Problem

The first step in problem solving is to define the problem.  Regarding the 2016 election, this is difficult because there are many problems.  But the most immediate problem – the one we must deal with first – is the Republican party.  The Republican party is dangerous because it represents the stupid, and the stupid now control of our government.

This is where the young idealists cry that both parties are the same.  They are not.  Anyone who asserts that is stupid. Which party invaded a country that was not a threat to us and lied about its reasons?  The Republican party.  Which party condoned torture?  The GOP.  Which party cuts taxes for the rich?  The Republican party. Which party is pro-life?  The Republican party.  Which party holds that government is bad and supports deregulation?  The Republican party.  Which party fought against net neutrality?  The Republican party.  Which party opposes right to die legislation? Which party claims to believe in states’ rights except when it comes to marijuana. The Republican party. Which party shuts down the government?  The Republican party.  Which party refused to hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee?  The Republican party.  Which party opposes equal pay for equal work?  The Republican party.  Which party believes insurance companies should be allowed to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions?  The Republican party.  Which party wants to sell off our national parks?  The Republican party.  I could go on.

Next the young idealists cry that the Democrats are also corporate whores.  They are, but not to the same degree.  Which party fought for unions?  The Democrats.  Which party created Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?  The Democrats.  Which party passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act?  The Democrats.  Which party enforces environmental, securities, antitrust, and consumer protection laws?  The Democrats.  Which party did not start an unnecessary war in Iraq?  The Democrats.  Which party fought for net neutrality?  The Democrats.  Which party fought for gay marriage?  The Democrats.

Is the Democratic party perfect?  No.  Is it a damn sight better for the average American than the GOP?  Yes.

Well, the young idealists say, the two-party system sucks.  Maybe, maybe not. But whether it sucks or not is irrelevant.  We are stuck with it because of the electoral college.  If we had more than two viable parties, no candidate would get 270 electoral votes and the Republican House of Representatives would decide the election every time.  If you think there are any Madisons or Jeffersons in the Republican House, please tell me how to get in touch with your drug dealer. 

Get rid of the electoral college, the young idealists say.  They are probably right, but it is irrelevant.  An amendment to the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of Congress and a 3/4 vote of all state legislatures.  The electoral college favors Republicans, as was shown in 2000 and again in 2016.  Both houses of Congress are Republican.  Why would Republicans in Congress shoot themselves in the foot by eliminating the electoral college?  And even if they did, there will not be a time in our lifetimes when Democrats will control 3/4 of the state legislatures, thanks to Republican gerrymandering.  Sign all the petitions you want, bitch about the stupidity and unfairness of it, but the electoral college isn’t going anywhere. 

Today’s Republican Party

The Republican party was once an honorable party.  Abraham Lincoln preserved the union and issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Teddy Roosevelt set aside federal lands for conservation and fought for child labor laws and antitrust laws.  President Eisenhower warned us against the military-industrial complex.  Even President Nixon signed legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency.

That GOP no longer exists.  After President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, the GOP became the party of racism.  Not all Republicans were racists, but nearly all racists were Republicans.  Then, in 1980, a group of evangelical pinheads calling itself the Moral Majority gained prominence and the GOP embraced the evangelical social agenda, giving the GOP a virtual lock on the electoral college in the south. But even then, President Reagan tried to work with Democrats.  He was good friends with Democratic Houses Speaker Tip O’Neill.  He signed sensible immigration reform.  He appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court.

As evangelicals pushed the GOP further to the right, sensible Republicans left the party.  Barry Goldwater, a pro-choice Republican (yes, there used to be such a thing) was disgusted by the rise of the Christian right.  Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist left the GOP.  Jon Huntsman, perhaps the last of the moderate Republicans (now rarer than an albino unicorn) was nearly drummed out of the party for suggesting compromise.   

Today’s GOP is an alliance of four cults: (1) Free market true believers, (2) evangelicals, (3) racists, and (4) gun nuts.  To maintain power Republican politicians must satisfy all four groups. So, they promise to cut taxes for the rich, deregulate business, support the evangelicals in the culture wars, use code words such as “welfare queens” to appeal to racists, and do whatever the NRA wants. 

A cult is a system of veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.  Most people that fall victims to a cult are stupid or suffer from a personality disorder.  You must understand this to appreciate the danger today’s GOP represents.  Stupidity is the biggest threat facing America. So, let’s look at each cult.

Free Market True Believers.  This cult worships the free market.  Their heroes are Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.  Adam Smith published the Wealth of Nations in 1776.  Smith wrote of an “invisible hand” that would efficiently allocate resources without government regulation.  This made some senses in 1776.  America was then a nation of farmers, merchants, and artisans.  One of Smith’s assumptions was that in any given industry, no single seller or buyer had enough market power to impact the price or supply of a given good.  If Farmer A raised the price of corn above the market price, you could buy from any of the other hundreds of farmers in your county, and Farmer A would eventually have to reduce his price. That assumption is no longer valid.  Today a few corporations control each industry.  Operating Systems?  You’ve got two choices.  Cable TV?  DirecTV or Dish Network.  That’s it.  Smith also assumed that buyers and sellers had equal access to relevant information, another assumption that is no longer true.  His model relies on several other assumptions that are no longer true.  Nevertheless, Republicans worship the free market like a fat kid loves cake.  It is stupid to persist in a belief based on false assumptions, but they do it.

Another tenet of these true believers is that cutting taxes for the rich grows the economy.  This is stupid.  Think back to fourth grade.  Imagine you see this on a math test:

Question: The government taxes income at ten percent.  If the government cuts the tax rate to five percent, which of the following results is most likely?

            Answer (choose A or B):

            A. Tax revenue will drop.

            B. Tax revenue will increase.

If you chose A, congratulations because you are not a Republican and you are at least as smart as a fourth grader.  Republicans choose B.  Republicans are stupid.  Did you know that under Republican President Eisenhower the top marginal tax rate was 91%?  We had peace, prosperity, and a balanced budget.  Republicans have been choosing B and cutting taxes for the rich since Nixon.  Cutting taxes on the rich is snake oil, but it gets votes from both the rich and the stupid.  If we went back to the Eisenhower tax rates today, it would generate an extra eighty billion dollars per year in revenue.  That’s a shitload of healthcare.  Or to put it in terms you Jill Stein voters can understand, that’s one chakra adjustment per year for every American for the next 312.5 years.

Evangelicals.  Most of the founders were atheists, pantheists, Unitarians, or Congregationalists.  Jefferson even re-wrote the Bible to do away with the divinity of Christ. But evangelicals convinced themselves that the founders were Southern Baptists. In the minds of today’s evangelicals, America is a Christian nation.  They believe Jesus was a white male that loved guns and spoke English.  They believe God created the earth six thousand years ago although carbon dating proves them wrong.  They are stupid. When you believe in something that science has proven wrong, you are stupid.

Racists.  I include homophobes and sexists in this category.  They are all the same – insecure people with modest IQ’s that want to feel better about themselves by putting others down.  Or who fear what they don’t know.  Uneducated and stupid.

Gun Nuts.  I am a pro-gun liberal.  But I am not an NRA member because I don’t accept the NRA’s absolutist positions.  Before Bill Clinton took office, Republicans warned poor whites that he would take their guns.  He had eight years in office and did not take anyone’s guns.  Before President Obama took office, Republicans warned poor whites that he would take their guns.  He had eight years in office and did not take anyone’s guns.  Gun nuts, despite sixteen years under Democratic presidents since 1993, still believe Democrats will take their guns.  When you believe something that has been proven false time and again, you are stupid.

The Problem with Republican Stupidity

 I have nothing against the stupid.  Someone has to be stupid and it might as well be Republicans.  Stupid people are God’s creatures, just like possums or coons.  (I used the word coon just to fuck with the racists).  But when stupid people pass laws and make decisions that negatively impact me and my family, I draw the line. 

Myth Busting

If we are going to fight Trump, Republicans, and the stupidity they represent, I must destroy ome

Myth No. 1.   We must come together, accept the result of the election, and give President Trump a chance.  Fuck that!  I am done with that.  I was proud to be an Air Force officer, but this election was bought and paid for by corporations, with help from a Republican FBI director and probably Russian hackers.  For the first time in my life, I join the chorus of those saying, “He is not my President.”  Trump is a fucked up repugnant lying racist pig who brags about sexually assaulting women. He compares his business experience to the combat experience of our veterans.  He is a disgrace.  America used to stand for what is right.  Did Republicans try to work with President Obama?  Fuck no.  So, don’t let appeals to patriotism silence you.   

Myth No. 2.  Reasonable people can disagree on issues.  Possibly, but Republicans are not reasonable people.  Ice core samples show that in recent decades we have seen the highest levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 800,000 years.  It’s not a coincidence that this happened at the same time we starting using fossil fuels.  Global warming is real.  God did not create the earth six thousand years ago.  Cutting taxes on the rich does not help the economy; Cutting taxes on the rich helps the rich.  Shutting down the government, voting to repeal parts of Obamacare sixty times while Obama was President, and refusing to hold hearings on Supreme Court nominees is not reasonable. 

Myth No. 3.  America is great.  No.  America defeated Hitler and saved the world.  America put a man on the moon.  But it’s been pretty much downhill since then.  Today America is great at three things – (1) building weapons, (2) NFL football, and (3) producing high quality porn.  That’s it.  We are not first in education.  We pay more for healthcare and get less of it than people in any other nation.  Basically, we suck in a lot of categories.  We are a nation with way too many fat, greedy fucks whose biggest problem is whether to watch Duck Dynasty or River Monsters on their sixty-inch flat screen tonight.  (This is where stupid people usually say something like “Love it or leave it.”).  They do not understand the difference between saying “America sucks” and “America is not as great as it could be.”  They often engage in black and white thinking, which is problematic in a complex world.

Myth No. 4.  My protest vote will make things better.  Look, you have the right to vote for whoever you want or not vote at all.  But stop lying to yourself and the rest of us.  If you stayed home or voted for anyone other than Hillary, you helped elect Trump.  Be an adult and accept the consequences of your actions.  This is where the young idealists say, “Well, IF Bernie had been the nominee…”   Hey, I preferred Bernie to Hillary.  But guess what?  IF a frog had wings it wouldn’t bump its ass a’ hoppin’.  Bernie was not the nominee.  So, your “IF” doesn’t matter.  IF Jesus H. Christ had been the Democratic nominee, he would have won.  Maybe.  BUT HE WAS NOT THE FUCKING NOMINEE!  On election day, the only thing we could control was who we voted for.  We had no control over who the nominee was or how other people voted.  So now, because of your protest vote, we will be living with a Republican Supreme Court for thirty years.  Imagine nine Clarence Thomas’s or Scalia’s (may his fat ass rest in hell).  Grow up.

Myth No. 5.  Love conquers all.  I know six million dead Jews that disagree.  I’m sure the KKK, which supported Trump, lynched blacks that would disagree. 

Myth No. 6.  We need a third party.  How is that working out for you?  You got eight years of W, who prior to Trump was generally considered the worst president ever.  Now you are going to get at least four years of Trump.  The solution is not a third party.  The solution is to take over the Democratic party, as Bernie tried to do.

                                                                                       What Now?         

Butch: “Are you OK?”

Marcelllus: “No, man.  I’m pretty fuckin’ far from OK.”

If you still believe in the system, keep fighting the good fight.  I wish you luck.  If your eyes are now wide fuckin’ open, to borrow a line from Pulp Fiction, and you see that the game is rigged and the only way to fix it is to utterly destroy the Republican party, the power of the big corporations, and humiliate the free market worshippers, racists, evangelicals, and gun nuts, here are some of my ideas.  (You can’t educate them because they are stupid).

1. Jury Nullification.  Just as Reagan signed mandatory sentencing laws that had a disproportionate impact on blacks, you are about to see a fascist Attorney General preach “law and order.”  It’s right out of the Nixon playbook.  It’s possible the feds will crack down on states that have legalized marijuana.  Trump has said women that have abortions must be punished.  If you are called to serve on a jury involving a victimless crime, vote to acquit no matter what. If you are called to serve in a civil suit where a big corporation is suing a citizen for a debt, find in favor of the defendant no matter what. Large corporations buy and control our supposed representatives. They gouge and take advantage of customers. And they avoid paying taxes. They make you wait on hold for hours and don’t compensate you for your time.  They send jobs overseas and give money to politicians whose job it is to fuck you in the ass.  You can help even the score.  If some large bank is suing a single mom who works two jobs for a four-thousand-dollar credit card debt, find in her favor.  All you are doing is redistributing wealth in a different way since today’s Republican Congress will never go back to the sensible Eisenhower tax rates.

2. Don’t Pay Unsecured Debts if You Can’t.  A secured debt is a debt where the lender can repossess collateral if you don’t pay.  If you don’t pay your mortgage, the lender can foreclose on your house.  You must pay that or you lose your home.  Same thing with your vehicle.  But credit card debt and medical debt is almost always unsecured.  If you can’t afford to pay it, why bust your ass trying?  If we were like every other civilized nation in the world, we would have universal healthcare, but the rich don’t want to pay for that.  You know why you don’t have healthcare or why you pay $750 a month for crappy insurance.  Because some healthcare CEO lives in a 12,000-square foot mansion and brings home twenty million dollars each year.  What is the worst that can happen if you don’t pay unsecured debts?  The worst that can happen is you file bankruptcy.  And if you can’t pay your unsecured debts, chances are your credit is already so bad that a bankruptcy won’t make it much worse.

3. Always Show Utter Contempt for Trump and the Republicans.  I would not have said this six months ago, but Colin Kaepernick is right.  Because your vote doesn’t count, refusing to stand for the national anthem is a perfectly valid way of expressing your disapproval of Trump and everything the Republican party stands for.  Put the burden on them to unify this country.  They divided it to win power rather than work with President Obama to solve problems, so let them fix it.  The Vietnam war only ended when Nixon had protesters shouting outside his window every night and couldn’t sleep.  Republicans like to accuse progressives of class warfare.  You know what?  This nation is long overdue for some class warfare.  Make their lives as fucking miserable as you can without breaking the law. 

4. Humiliate Republican Leaders at All Times.  Put them on the spot.  Go to their town halls and ask whether they believe in evolution.  Ask whether they believe God created the earth six thousand years ago. If they say they are not sure, ask if they understand the principles of carbon dating. If they say that is a matter for each person to decide, tell them you understand but you are asking their personal opinion.  Ask how they feel about Trump’s bragging about grabbing pussy.  Point out their hypocrisy and stupidity at every opportunity.  If you are going to attend one of their town halls and do this, alert the media and make sure they have a camera there. If you know someone with a problem, have them write their Republican representative about it.  If they don’t receive a satisfactory response, alert the media.  They are getting good money to do nothing and they receive great healthcare. Make them work for it.  If you can obtain their home phone number or private email address, share it.  Encourage people to address their concerns during reasonable hours.  Secretly record them if you can do so without violating state law.  Ask why they voted to cut funding to the V.A. 

5. Buy Guns.  There are four groups of people in America with guns: (1) the military, (2) law enforcement, (3) Republicans, and (4) criminals.  At the moment, the military is not a threat to us.  In fact, the brass doesn’t like Trump because he talks tough and doesn’t understand the horrors of war.  Most law enforcement officers are good people.  But we have a President-Elect endorsed by the KKK who openly courted racists, mocked disabled people, and bragged about sexual assaults.  You may think it can’t happen here, but this country went through a civil war not all that long ago.  In 1968, Chicago police beat up peaceful (un-armed) protestors. When Trump’s abortion police come for your daughter, you will want to kill as many as you can before they kill you. 

There was a time when most Americans lived on farms and knew how to use guns. There was a time when most men had served in the military.  But many progressives are afraid of guns because they are not familiar with them.  I recommend you first purchase a shotgun. It’s hard to miss with a shotgun.  After that, buy a semiautomatic handgun.  Take classes, learn to shoot, learn gun safety, be responsible.  Get a concealed carry permit. In Trump’s America, you are negligent if you don’t own a gun.   

6. Stand Up for Others.  If you see someone bullying another person because of race, gender, sexual orientation or whatever, stand up for the weak.  When I see things like that I walk right up to the bully and politely ask him to stop.  When he says, “It’s none of your business,” I respond with, “Actually, it is my business.  You see, we are all God’s children.  And I’m kind of like the older sibling that sees my younger brother harassing my sister.   And I’m asking you politely to leave her alone.”  Now here’s the great part.  If the bully then walks toward you or raises his fist, the law permits you to use reasonable force to defend yourself or the other person.  So if the bully does that, take him out.  Kick him in the balls or bust his cheekbone with your first two knuckles.  Break a beer bottle over his head.  I don’t care how you do it.  But it gets even better.  If the bully is a gun nut that attempts to use deadly force against you or the other person, the law allows you to kill him.  You’ve just hit the trifecta!  You are a hero, you prevented an attempted murder, and there is one less stupid Republican able to vote.  It doesn’t get any better.  Buy yourself a beer.

7. Don’t Trust the Media.  The days of Mike Wallace grilling some public official on Sunday nights are gone.  A few corporations control the media.  It’s about viewers and advertising prices, not investigating or reporting. There are still some good sources out there.   Read Mother Jones, Vanity Fair, and The Atlantic.

8. Don’t let Republicans play the patriotism card.  Because stupid people are more easily swayed by emotion, Republicans have been very successful claiming to be the party that loves America and that supports our troops.  That’s bullshit.  You can’t name a Republican senator that hasn’t voted to cut V.A. funding.  Cheney, McConnell, Paul Ryan, Palin, Guiliani et. al. never served in the military, but they were happy to attack decorated naval officer John Kerry and Medal of Honor winner Bob Kerrey.  Fuck those hypocrites. Fuck them, fuck them, fuck them. Republicans have no monopoly on patriotism.  Let them know you believe in the America the founders envisioned.  I am going to order bumper stickers that state, “ANOTHER VETERAN FOR NOT MY PRESIDENT.”  If you are a vet and you want one, send $4.00 and a SASE to me at PO Box 19192, Boulder, CO 80308.  Let Republicans know you do not support them, you support the ideals the founders articulated.

9. Get it on video.  Here’s the thing.  Stupid people in power don’t like it when you question their authority.  They will try to use their power to silence you.  They may arrest you or even beat you.  If you attend a protest or government meeting, get it on video.  If you interact with a peace officer, record it. 

Conclusion

The Republicans will soon control all three branches of government.  Republicans depend on the support of stupid people.  Republicans will lie, cheat, and steal to win elections and promote their agenda of low taxes for the rich, destruction of the environment, and Christian morality.  The game is rigged.  But I still believe in the America the founders envisioned.  Game on.

...

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I'm Just a Liberal From Muskogee

October 26th, 2016 1:35pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

I’m Just a Liberal From Muskogee

            In 1969, Merle Haggard's first big hit was "Okie from Muskogee." Conservatives loved it because it was an ode to traditional American values. Amidst the seemingly constant anti-war protests and big city riots, the song shot up to No. 1 on the country charts. Okie was so popular with middle America and rural voters that President Nixon invited Haggard to the White House.

            I was listening to Okie the other night while downing shots of that horrible Jeremiah Weed whiskey, and it struck me that the song no longer represents the values of today’s conservatives. Here are some lines from that song and how I think today's conservatives should rewrite the lyrics to reflect their values:

          “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee.”  Suggested change: “Many of us smoke marijuana in Muskogee, but in spite of our claim to believe in states’ rights, we want the feds to keep it illegal so big pharma and distilleries can continue to make insane profits.”       

         "We don't make a party out of lovin', We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo."  Suggested change: “We don’t make a party out of lovin’, except for adultery (Sen. John Ensign, Sen. David Vitter, Rep. Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Gov. Mark “I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail” Sanford), playing footsie with an undercover cop in an airport (Sen. Larry “Wide Stance” Craig), gay texting (Rep. Mark Foley), sexual harassment (Sen. Bob Packwood), and grabbing women by the pu#$%y.  Those kinds of parties are OK.”

         "We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse."  Suggested change: “We wave the confederate flag down at the courthouse because it represents our racism and hatred for the Kenyan-born Muslim President intent on taking our guns and imposing Sharia Law. Even though we claim to believe in democracy, we’re going to secede from the union if we don’t get our way. The election is rigged. And tax cuts.”

         "And the kids here still respect the college dean."  Suggested change:  “Education is bad.  We don't need a bunch of smart people telling us what to do. Education is just lies put forth by the global elites and the New World Order. Global warming is a hoax.”

         “We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street."  Suggested change: “The current system of sending young people, mostly from the lower rungs on the economic ladder, off to war, paying them a small amount, and then not funding the VA upon their return, is working well.  Hell, I’d enlist myself, but I broke my little toe playing “kick the can” when I was a kid. We support our troops, unless they are Democrats such as John Kerry. His Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts are all fake.”

            Well, there you have it – an easy way to bring a classic country song up to date to reflect today’s conservative values.

            By the way, by the time of his 1981 hit, “Rainbow Stew,” Merle Haggard was singing about peace, clean energy, and truth in government. In 2010, President Obama invited Haggard back to the White House.  After meeting the President, Haggard said, "It's really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he's doing certain things that he's not.”

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Zen and the Art of Being a Platypus

August 29th, 2016 11:22pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

“When analytic thought, the knife, is applied to experience, something is always killed in the process.” – Robert M. Pirsig.

Nuclear powered weasels frolic in the morning mist, as the chromosomes in my crooked toes silently tap to the rhythm of the spaghetti resting peacefully atop my chartreuse lawn mower.

Okay, that was gibberish. I wrote it to get your attention. And to help you exit your logical mind. Because today I want to muse about logic and labels – labels you apply to yourself and others.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig observed that the scientific method often breaks things down into their component parts. Then we label those parts. For instance, we can describe a motorcycle by referring to the fuel system, the electrical system, and the power system. This process is useful, but somewhat artificial. When you look at a motorcycle, you won’t see anything labeled “fuel system.” We break things down and label them because it helps us think about and discuss things, but in doing so we often lose sight of the big picture – the motorcycle as a whole. Pirsig writes, “Mark Twain's experience comes to mind, in which, after he had mastered the analytic knowledge needed to pilot the Mississippi River, he discovered the river had lost its beauty.

Which brings me to the platypus. Biologists traditionally divided vertebrates (animals with a spine) into five categories - mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. Mammals have fur and give birth to their offspring rather than laying eggs. Reptiles lay eggs. Amphibians can live on land or in water. Then along comes the platypus. It has fur. It lays eggs. It lives on land and in water. Is it a mammal, a reptile, or amphibian? Biologists got tired of debating this and gave up. They created a new class of vertebrates - monotremes (egg laying mammals). So now, there are six classes of vertebrates. Did God change the number from five to six?  No, man did. The universe and the animal kingdom stayed exactly the same.  Biologists just changed their way of looking at things.

I know what you’re thinking.  Cohen is sucking down shots of Jeremiah Weed, listening to vulgar Mojo Nixon tunes, and hammering away on his Panasonic CF-52 laptop because he has nothing better to do on a Friday night. True, but irrelevant. I could still be right.

Think about the labels we apply to ourselves and others. We always employ some version of the verb “to be” when we apply labels. There were four cliques at my high school – the jocks, the nerds, the freaks, and the hicks. But not every student fit easily into one of those four categories. There was a kid on my track team who mostly smoked dope. He missed many track practices. But he would somehow make it to the meets and almost always place first in the mile race. (This was before the pointy-headed liberal elitists at Harvard shamed us all into using the metric system).  Was that kid a freak or a jock? He was a platypus. He did not feel constrained to place himself into one of the artificial categories others had created.

Back in 1936, a young man was born in Texas. His father was an Army officer who pushed him hard. He was an exceptional athlete and became a Rhodes Scholar. After earning a master’s degree at Oxford, he joined the Army and became a helicopter pilot. So exceptional was he that the Army offered him a chance to teach at West Point. Sounds like a pretty straight laced guy, right? Certainly not the kind of man that would throw all that away and become a pot smoking, folk singing hippie. His name was Kris Kristofferson. Platypus.

Ever hear of Bruce Dickinson? Probably not. He flew Boeing 757’s for an airline. He wrote some books. He was nationally ranked in the sport of fencing. Oh yeah, he was the lead singer for Iron Maiden. Platypus.

You’ve probably never heard of Tom Scholz either. He was a nerd who earned a master’s degree at M.I.T. and then worked for Polaroid. Pretty boring dude until he formed the band, Boston. Platypus.

You don’t have to be a musician to be a platypus. Take the case of Charley L. Johnson, Ph.D. He spent most of his adult life as an unknown professor of engineering at New Mexico State University. Typical nerd. Oh yeah, he was the quarterback for the Denver Broncos for four years. He played pro football for 15 years, and during some of those years, he was studying for his doctorate and serving on active duty (not in the reserves) in the U.S. Army. Typical platypus. (Johnson wasn’t the only platypus ever to play Quarterback for the Broncos. For a very brief time, the Broncos had a quarterback named Fred Mortensen. He never achieved NFL success, but he is the only Broncos quarterback ever to call a play in Chinese. He spoke fluent Mandarin).

Don’t worry; you need not be an athlete to be a platypus. There once was a young man from a small town in Missouri who became a lawyer. The law bored him, so he gave it up and taught high school. He liked gazing at stars and began studying astronomy. His name is Edwin Hubble. He discovered that the universe is expanding. America named a telescope after him. The Platypus telescope.

Changing careers is a great way to show your platypusosity. You can go from actor to President (Ronald Reagan), comedian to U.S. Senator (Al Franken), Astronaut to U.S. Senator (John Glenn), carpenter to actor (Harrison Ford), lawyer to fried chicken king (Col. Sanders), farm worker to artist (Grandma Moses), teacher to comedian (Joy Behar), journalist to fashion designer (Vera Wang), or actor to Panama’s Minister of Tourism (Ruben Blades).

You can change your religious or spiritual views. You are not stuck with the labels your parents applied to you or that you applied to yourself. There was once a young man who, after working as a printer and banker, earned a master’s degree in theology and became an Episcopal priest. But he realized the statement, “I am an Episcopal priest” wasn’t accurate. He was just him. Episcopal priest was just his current occupation. Two different things. He wasn’t stuck with the label. So he decided to study Buddhism. His name was Alan Watts.

You can also reject political labels. When I tell people I am a registered Democrat, they are often surprised to learn that I support gun rights, favor tougher enforcement of immigration laws, and support making English our official national language. I am a political platypus.

You are you. Your labels are not you. You are more than the sum of your labels. Labels others apply to you are artificial classifications they are employing to make things easier for them – they do not change you in any way. The same is true for labels you apply to yourself. You can change the labels you apply to yourself.

Be careful with the word “is.”  To say, “She is a Republican” is simplistic. It would be more accurate to say, “She is currently registered to vote as a Republican.” But that is not who she is.  She may also be a mother, a guitarist, a scientist, and a rap music fan. 

If you want to be happy, stop feeling constrained by labels others apply to you or that you apply to yourself. Labels are just words, they are not you. And stop applying so many labels to others because those artificial labels are preventing you from seeing the entire person.

Some self-help gurus encourage their clients to visualize themselves as a lion or hard charging rhinoceros. That’s okay, but lions and rhinos lead pretty one-dimensional lives. I say visualize yourself as a platypus.

You can do it. Be one of the few. The proud. The platypuses.

Posted in: The Big Picture

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Hodge Podge

August 28th, 2016 8:05pm - Posted By: Roy Cohen

Lark Buntings Laughing in the trees,

 

Hoarding butterscotch by the threes;

Crying "shark" throughout the night,

Tasting coffee in their sight.

 

Lark Buntings grinning,

Dying fast;

Now who’s laughing,

Laughing last.

 

Kangaroos have gender foes,

Shooting tadpoles from their noses;

Playing pinball in the sand,

Joey hears the Promised Land. 

 

Hush little Joey hush,

Hush little Joey hush.

 

Apple seeds dance with merry,

To the horrid sounds of Joe Perry,

And his project,

His project failed.

 

License lends to licensees,

POWs on their knees;

Bike spokes cycle round the wheel,

Gong Show fans of mass appeal.

 

Taylor Daine and Tesla feud,

My Aunt Rose was so damn rude,

In her big senilitude.

 

Ponder questions rarely asked,

Space cadets are always last;

Sometimes after they’ve been gassed,

They hear their chromosomes,

They hear their chromosomes.

 

Electrical fooling machine works well on me,

Keith Olberman’s harsh reality steals my eccentricity;

It’s okay, I forgive the man,

Boston crab cakes in Siam.

 

Cleansers made from toxic powders,

Can’t connect without a router.

 

I draw conclusions from the clouds,

And talk as though I know McCloud;

Man, Chief Clifford’s so damn loud.

 

I like my water clean.

I like my water clean.

 

Spoken words are sewn by rhythm,

Doesn’t matter what’s within ‘em;

Music sounds from words of fashion,

Thoughts confused are another’s passion.

 

Take upon my oral list,

And weld the thoughts so often missed.

Feel the power, poets lurk;

Taste the gospel of their work.

Posted in: Poetry

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Three Models for an Analysis of the Aesthetic Value of Country Music

August 26th, 2016 1:21pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

Three Models for an Analysis of the Aesthetic Value of Country Music

Posted in: Humor

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We Cannot Let a Madman Get Nuclear Weapons by Kim Jong-Un

August 11th, 2016 11:08pm - Posted By: Kim Jong-Un

The World Cannot Allow a Madman to Obtain Nuclear Weapons

By Kim Jong-Un

Editor’s Note: Mr. Jong-Un is the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).  Mr. Jong-Un’s views do not necessarily reflect those of the Mountain-Ear.

Greetings Americans! I know our countries have had their differences, but there are times when adversaries must put aside their differences for the greater good – times when the danger created by non-cooperation is so great that survival itself depends on the willingness of enemies to set aside their squabbles and confront the greater threat. Now is one such time.

Since the dawn of the nuclear age, nations have worked together to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and prevent rogue states from obtaining them. The traditional rationale for nuclear weapons has been deterrence. The theory is that nations with nuclear weapons can use their nuclear threat to deter attacks, thereby preserving peace.

If you think about it, deterrence has worked pretty well since the end of World War II. There have been no worldwide wars since 1945. However, one scenario that now haunts the community of nations is that a madman will obtain nuclear weapons and launch a nuclear attack that could result in our planet’s destruction. A few months ago, your President Obama said, “There is no doubt that if these madmen ever got their hands on a nuclear bomb or nuclear material, they would certainly use it to kill as many innocent people as possible.”

Last week, MSNBC reported that your Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, recently asked a foreign policy expert advising him why the U.S. can't use nuclear weapons. Such statements are of great concern to North Koreans and people around the world. What kind of madman thinks that way?

There is a great deal of other evidence suggesting that Mr. Trump suffers from serious mental illness. Making fun of a reporter with a disability. Ejecting a baby from a campaign rally. Calling a war hero like John McCain a loser. Joking about earning a Purple Heart. Bragging about the size of his penis on national TV. Calling for the assassination of Hillary Clinton even though he knows she could kill him just like she killed Vince Foster and tens of thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters. The man is simply not rational.

The United States has approximately 2,500 deployed nuclear weapons and another 2,600 in reserve, along with thousands of warheads in its inventory. It is the world’s most powerful nation. The thought of giving a madman like Donald Trump control of this arsenal is terrifying.     

Last week, President Obama said Mr. Trump is not temperamentally fit to be President. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea agrees. 

Therefore, although it pains me to say this, North Korea urges you to vote for Hillary Clinton. Especially if you live in a swing state.

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Trump Vows to Fire Smokey the Bear

July 15th, 2016 11:47am - Posted By: Mark Cohen

On Sunday Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to fire Smokey the Bear if elected. Speaking to a crowd of more than fourteen people at the Foursquare Pentecostal Gospel Church in Clanton, Alabama, Trump vowed that if elected his first act would be to tell the famed symbol of forest fire prevention, “You’re fired.”

Noting that Democrats had long ago chosen a black bear to be the mascot of the U.S. Forest Service, Trump said, “The choice of a black bear was a meaningless act of political correctness and shows how racist the liberals are.”  Trump added, “We must choose our fire prevention mascots based on merit – not skin color.”

“When I am president,” Trump thundered, “my first act will be to make the polar bear the official symbol of forest fire prevention in America!” Buoyed by the cheers of the crowd, Trump added, “In 2016, there is no reason America’s fire prevention mascot can’t be white!”

After Trump’s speech, CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Trump whether it would be fitting to make the polar bear America’s symbol of forest fire prevention given that Alaska is the only state that is home to polar bears.  “Have you ever seen a forest fire any place where polar bears reside?” Trump responded. 

“There are no trees in the Arctic,” Tapper pointed out.

“I’m tired of your liberal BS,” Trump said. “That’s it.  No more interviews for CNN!”

Later that day on a Fox News program Trump repeated his vow to fire Smokey the Bear.  “Listen, “Trump added, “that corrupt skank Hillary Clinton may be in bed with the Black Lives Matter movement, but the Trump administration will be colorblind.”  Trump added, “In fact, I think we need to get rid of this ‘Give a Hoot! Don’t Pollute’ owl, too. Maybe replace him with a toucan or something. You won’t believe how much color America’s mascots will have in a Trump administration!”

Trump’s comments cast doubt over the future of McGruff the crime dog, who is black. A senior Trump advisor told me, on the condition of anonymity, that Trump may replace McGruff with a Chihuahua in an attempt to woo Hispanic voters. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has experience as Trump’s lap dog, is also a possibility. 

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Could Trump be the GOP's Savior?

July 3rd, 2016 9:04am - Posted By: Mark Cohen

There is still time left, but today it appears likely Hillary Clinton will crush Donald Trump in an electoral landslide. She may even win traditionally Republican states such as Montana, Arizona, Utah, Iowa, and Louisiana. Nobody knows how such a colossal defeat might affect the GOP, but it is possible such a crushing blow is just what the GOP needs.

For nearly one hundred years, Americans have seen Democrats as representing liberalism and Republicans as the party of conservatism. For most of that time, the difference between liberalism and conservatism was their openness to change. Conservatives tended to embrace traditional values and be cautious about change. This definition served Democrats well between the Great Depression and 1980. (FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter). The only Republican Presidents during that period were Eisenhower and Nixon.

But sometime around 1980 Republicans got smart and redefined conservatism. Instead of defining conservatism as being cautious about change, the GOP defined it as being about “limited government.” Nobody likes “big government,” so this was great marketing. At the same time, the Christian right, led by Jerry Falwell, became influential in Republican politics. The GOP became a coalition of (1) supply siders, (2) social conservatives, and (3) libertarians. This worked well for a time. (Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43). It was always an uneasy alliance, though.  Supply siders did not care about social issues. Libertarians disagreed with social conservatives on social issues.

To hold the alliance together and get voters to support economic policies that actually hurt the middle class, Republicans had to rely on wedge issues such as abortion, gay rights, and guns. The so-called Reagan Democrats were blue-collar voters that would have benefitted by higher taxes on the rich and more social programs, but the GOP succeeded in convincing them that Democrats would kill babies, eliminate traditional marriage, take their guns, and leave America defenseless. 

The trouble with Republican reliance on wedge issues is that Americans are not always so dumb. Occasionally they get it right. After twelve years of Reagan/Bush, Americans saw that trickle-down economics was a fallacy and wasn’t working. So, with an assist from Ross Perot, Bill Clinton became President. Republicans could not fathom it. How could Americans elect a draft-dodging, pot-smoking, womanizer over a World War II hero? Republicans never accepted the legitimacy of the 1992 election and the GOP became the party of obstruction. Contrary to Republican predictions, Bill Clinton steered a moderate course, grew the economy, and proved a prudent commander in chief. By and large, Bill Clinton ended the GOP’s ability to paint Democrats as “soft on defense,” a ploy Republicans had used successfully since Vietnam.

Americans reelected Clinton in a landslide in 1996. The GOP doubled down on obstruction, not only impeaching Clinton for lying about a blow job, but even denying him authority to settle a baseball strike because they did not want him to get credit for any type of victory.

With Clinton’s success and popularity, the Democrats were primed for victory in 2000, but the combination of Al Gore’s poor campaign and Ralph Nader’s narcissistic third party run was enough to throw the election to the Supreme Court, which installed W. as President by a 5-4 decision. John Kerry turned out to be an equally poor candidate for the Democrats in 2004. So the country endured eight years of W. (Democrats tend to naively believe that simply having the smarter candidate with the more popular views will win. Too often, they nominate policy wonks that don’t know how to fight dirty.  See, e.g., Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry.  Say what you will about the Clintons, but they know how to fight Republicans and they understand that the most noble campaign is worthless if you don’t win). 

Along came Barack Obama in 2008, an inspiring candidate with the good luck to be seeking the office after the worst presidency in history. Having again seen what happens when you put Republicans in the White House, Americans voted overwhelmingly for Obama. Once again, the GOP could not believe it had lost. How could Americans elect a black community organizer named “Hussein” over a war hero like John McCain? The GOP became even more obstructionist. To hold their coalition together they moved from being the party of limited government to being completely anti-government. They also promoted subtle, if not overt, racism.

The result of all this obstruction, division, and racism? Donald Trump. Why might Trump be good for the GOP in the long term? Because the GOP may finally begin to realize that most Americans want a certain amount of government. Voters may complain about taxes and regulation, but they recognize their necessity. The GOP may finally begin to realize it can’t win by being divisive and obstructionist. Most Americans want government to work. The GOP may finally begin to realize that most Americans want to get along with each other. For the first time in thirty years, Republicans are starting to talk about reasonableness and moderation as good things.

How will it play out? There are several possibilities. The first is that the Republican pendulum will begin to swing back to the center. Many Republican leaders are now disavowing Trump. When 2020 rolls around, the leadership may realize that a divisive conservative like Ted Cruz can never capture 270 electoral votes. There will be an opening for a true moderate. Not a phony moderate like John Kasich, a conservative that appears moderate simply because he acts like an adult. I don’t know who it will be, but the opportunity will be there. A Republican that embraces the need for higher taxes on the wealthy, environmental regulation, a pragmatic foreign policy not focused exclusively on military force, and social tolerance would be a formidable candidate. Think Colin Powell or Jon Huntsman.

The second possibility is the splintering of the party. The true libertarians that never agreed with the GOP on social issues may flee to the Libertarian Party. Social conservatives may abandon the party as it swings to the center on those issues to remain viable. It is impossible to know what the repercussions might be. In the short term, it would leave us with a one-party system, but would also be a boon for both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. (It would be difficult for the Libertarians and Greens to join forces because Libertarians favor less regulation and Greens want more regulation). So, while the Democrats might have a lock on the White House in the short term, we might see more Libertarians and Greens elected at the local level. One might emerge as the alternative to the Democratic Party.

A third possibility, seldom considered, is that pragmatic Republicans might jump to the Democratic Party in an example of the law of unintended consequences. The Democratic Party has always been a coalition of northern liberals and southern moderates. We might begin to see more moderates and even conservatives running as Democrats, thus setting up the Democratic Party for its own internal struggle.

Will Trump destroy the GOP or save it? Only his hairdresser knows for sure.  

             

        

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Letter from Schrodinger the Cat

June 16th, 2016 10:13am - Posted By: Schrodinger the Cat

Letter from Schrodinger the Cat

Posted in: Legal

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Cassius Clay Hits Denver

June 10th, 2016 9:14am - Posted By: Mark Cohen

On November 4, 1963, the world heavyweight champion was Charles “Sonny” Liston. Liston had a powerful build and an intimidating demeanor. He was a hard man to like, but experts respected his ability in the ring. They believed he was just too tough and strong to be beat. Though most people don’t know it, Liston lived in Denver. He owned in a nice home in an otherwise all-white neighborhood on Monaco Parkway in Denver.  

In the summer of 1960, a young man named Cassius Clay won the Gold Medal in heavyweight boxing at the Olympics in Rome. The brash young man then began a professional career that put him on a collision course with Liston. After beating Archie Moore and Henry Cooper, Clay had earned a shot at the title.

Liston did not want to fight Clay. He did not like Clay’s antics and he likely knew that Clay could be trouble in the ring. Liston liked to slug it out with his opponents. But a fighter like Clay would not stand toe to toe with Liston; Clay would move a lot, jab a lot, and stay outside where Liston’s power could not hurt him.

With Liston in no hurry to fight Clay, Clay began a public campaign to force Liston to give him a shot at the title. Clay publicly insulted Liston, repeatedly referring to him as, “the big ugly bear.” Clay repeatedly harassed Liston and accused Liston of ducking him.

By 1963, the public pressure on Liston to give the bras kid from Kentucky a shot at the title was immense. That was the fight the people wanted to see. After much negotiation, Liston and Clay agreed to fight. The fight contract was to be signed in Denver on November 5, 1963. And that brings us back to the date I began this column with – the day before the contract signing.

Clay had to get from Chicago to Denver to sign the contract, so he chartered a bus. On one side of the bus was painted, “WORLD’S MOST COLORFUL FIGHTER: CASSIUS CLAY.” On the other side, “SONNY LISTON WILL GO IN EIGHT.’’

After making a few calls the Denver newspapers and radio stations, Clay and his pals rolled into Denver on the evening of November 4, 1963. According to the Denver Post, Clay and his entourage first drive through Denver’s 5 Points neighborhood – a black neighborhood – looking for Liston. Residents gawked as Clay put on a show. Asked what he was doing, Clay shouted, “I’m bear hunting. Liston’s too ugly to be champ. The champ should be pretty like me.” Residents told Clay that Liston did not live in 5 Points; they directed him to Liston’s home on the Monaco Parkway in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood.

Sometime around 3:00 a.m., Clay’s bus pulled up to Liston’s home. Clay exited his bus and immediately began shouting. He sent his photographer to knock on Liston’s door while another friend honked the horn on the bus. The entire neighborhood was soon wide awake.

Liston opened the door wearing polka-dotted pajamas and brandishing a fireplace poker. Clay challenged Liston to come out and fight, but five police cruisers arrived almost immediately. When the ruckus ended, Clay and his friends boarded the bus bound for a local hotel.

Liston and Clay signed the contract the next day at a Denver hotel. Las Vegas established Liston as a 7 to 1 favorite. On February 25, 1964, in Miami, Liston and Clay entered the ring, the winner to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. The quicker Clay ran circle around Liston and peppered his face with jabs. By the end of the sixth round, Liston’s face was covered with cuts and bruises. Liston refused to come out for the seventh round and Clay became the heavyweight champion. The next day he announced he was a member of the Nation of Islam and had changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Many of you know the rest of the story.

Ali returned to Denver one other time. It was fifteen years later, and a lot had happened in those fifteen years -– the JFK assassination, the Beatles, Vietnam, the moon landing, Watergate, and the energy crisis. In the summer of 1979, Ali fought the most famous man in Denver – Broncos’ defensive end Lyle Alzado – in a charitable exhibition at Mile High Stadium. The fight did not raise as much money as Alzado’s charity had hoped, but tens of thousands of fans got to see the heavyweight champion, who was arguably the most famous man on the planet.

Ali became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and a leader of the black civil rights movement. He also became the first man ever to win the heavyweight championship three times. He lit the Olympic torch in Atlanta in 1996. He died on June 3, 2016. Rest in peace, champ.

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An Open Letter to Bernie Supporters

May 19th, 2016 2:52pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

Dear Bernie Supporters:

I am one of you. I prefer Bernie to Hillary. I like his positions on the issues. I trust him more. I believe he would be a stronger candidate than Hillary in a general election. Heck, I even find him more sexually appealing. That said, I want to set you straight about a few things.

First, stop whining about the super delegates. Hillary did not create the super delegate system. The system originated in 1984 and has its roots in Nixon’s electoral slaughtering of McGovern in 1972. Bernie knew the delegate selection process before he became a Democrat and before he threw his hat into ring. He knew most Democratic super delegates are party officials that the Clintons have courted since Bill Clinton gave the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention – the kind of people that proudly display photos of themselves shaking hands with President Clinton in their homes and offices. Hillary did not create the super delegate system to defeat Bernie. In 1984, Hillary was the first lady of Arkansas. She had not even started planning the murder of Vince Foster at that time.

Second, stop complaining that some states don’t allow independent voters to vote in the primaries. Since when do you have a right to participate in the affairs of an organization you don’t belong to? I would like to head the Southern Baptist Convention and impose sweeping change. But guess what? I ain’t a Southern Baptist. (I’m a befuddled Taoist leaning worshipper of Jerry Jeff Walker, but I call myself Unitarian because that sounds more respectable). If you want to vote in the Democratic primary, register as a Democrat.

Third, stop saying Hillary would not be any better than Trump. In November of 2015, Bernie told the Boston Globe, “On her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day.” If you are a progressive, it is better to have a Democrat in the White House even if that Democrat is Hillary. (Even if Hillary is the Antichrist). Let’s take one example. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision was a five to four opinion, with the four Democratic justices in the minority. Hillary may be a centrist Democrat, but she is still a Democrat we can count on not to put conservative ideologues like Scalia on the nation’s highest court.

Fourth, stop being a child and threatening to stay home or vote for a third party candidate in November if you don’t get your way. If Hillary is the nominee, your choice is Hillary or Trump. It’s a crappy choice, I admit, but its crappiness doesn’t make it any less real. If you stay home or vote for a third party candidate, you are helping put Trump in the White House. Maybe you would feel good about that for a few days because you will feel you have taught the Democratic party a lesson. You might even feel good about it right up to the time that Trump puts Ted Cruz or Rudi Giuliani on the Supreme Court, or starts a ground war in the Middle East. Grow up.

Finally, and this is closely related to my fourth point, stop pretending Ralph Nader wasn’t directly responsible for sticking this country with George W. Bush (the worst President ever) for eight years so you can justify voting for a third party candidate. When all was said and done, Bush won Florida by 537 votes. Nader got 97,488 votes in Florida. Nader was more liberal than Gore, but Gore was more liberal than Bush. Therefore, using the transitive property of mathematics we all learned in the second grade, I think it obvious that if Nader had not been on the ballot, most of those 97,488 votes would have gone to Gore.

Nader supporters like to point to an article by Matthew Jones that challenges the view that Nader cost Gore the election, but that is just sophistry, and other a academics have repeatedly refuted his assertions. Remember, an expert is someone who can bring confusion to simplicity. It’s not rocket science if you look at the numbers.

Let’s assume half of those 97,488 voters would have stayed home if Nader had not been on the ballot. That leaves 48,744 voters up for grabs. Let’s also assume 51% of those voters would have voted for Gore in a two-man race and 49% would have voted for Bush. It borders on insane to believe that 49% of the remaining Nader voters would have voted for Bush. (A Gallup poll found that only 4% of Nader voters described themselves as moderate and only 2% described themselves as conservative). But let’s assume it anyhow. Under that assumption, Gore gets 24,859 of those 48,744 votes and Bush receives 23,885 votes, a difference of 974 votes. 974 is greater than 537.  Gore wins Florida by 437 votes. Q.E.D.

You don’t like those assumptions? OK, assume 90% of those 97,488 Nader voters would have stayed home, leaving only 9,749 Nader voters up for grabs. Let’s again make a ridiculous assumption and assume that 45% of those Ralph Nader liberals would have voted for George W. Bush and 55% would have voted for Gore. In that scenario, Gore gets 5,362 votes and Bush receives 4387 votes, a difference of 975 votes. 975 is greater than 537. Q.E.D. again. You have to suspend reality to believe Nader did not cost Gore Florida.

A Gore win would have meant that instead of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, we’d have two justices on the Supreme Court appointed by a Democrat, and Citizens United would have been decided the other way. President Gore probably would have not invaded the wrong country after 9/11. Two Republican justices and more than four thousand dead American servicemembers is a high price to pay because you want to teach the Democratic party a lesson or because you think Hillary is a chameleon. (She is). Not to mention hundreds of thousands of other people killed and a waste of six trillion dollars.

To put it in terms some of you can understand, six trillion dollars would buy every man, woman, and child in America about 4.16 pounds of pot.   

Please send your hate mail to me c/o PO Box 974, Nederland, CO 80466.

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How to Fight a Bear

May 5th, 2016 9:25am - Posted By: Mark Cohen

Well, spring is here and so are the bears. We tend to think of bears as big, cuddly, loveable creatures, but the truth is bears are mean. Bears hate people. Even though we built roads in their territory to make it easier for them to travel and built houses in their woods stocked with food to make it easier for them to eat, these ungrateful mammals are always eager to fight a human. Given this reality, it’s vital that mountain residents know how to fight a bear.

The first thing to remember in a bear encounter is – don’t run! You can’t outrun a bear.  A bear has more speed than a hooker at a Republican convention. When a bear sees you running away, that bear will chase you down like a Republican pouncing on an Exxon study denying climate change. The bear will catch you and eat you, so don’t run!

The other important principle to keep in mind is that the bear weighs a lot more than you. There are no weight divisions in bear boxing. The bear doesn’t care if you are a heavyweight or a bantamweight. Either way, the bear will outweigh you by several hundred pounds. Given the massive size of these man-hating creatures, you DON’T want to get into a wrestling match with a bear. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu won’t do you any good in a fight with a six hundred pound bear.

While bears possess superior speed and strength, many humans have one important advantage over bears – 85% of Peak-to-Peak area residents are smarter than the average bear. You can prevail in a bear fight – if you use your brain.

The first question to ask when a bear confronts you is what is the bear’s motive? Is the bear motivated by profit or does it just want to mess with you because it’s a mean, man-hating bear? If the bear just wants your sandwich, the solution is easy. Throw the sandwich as far as you can behind the bear’s head. Being a gluttonous animal, the bear will turn around and take off after the sandwich. Then all you have to do is run like heck in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of bear attacks are not motivated by profit. Bears want to fight you like Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. It’s just their nature.

If you must fight a bear, remember that bear boxing differs from traditional boxing in several critical ways. First, a bear fight is not organized into three-minute rounds. Second, there is no referee. Third, there are no rules. If a bear bites your ear, head-butts you, or hits below the belt, those things are perfectly legal. In fact, bears don’t even wear belts.

When forced to fight a bear, it’s important to know that most bears are right handed. According to the University of Montana Journal of Ursine Pugilism, the percentage may be as high as 99.44%. This means you want to stand with your left foot forward so you can pepper the bear’s snout with left jabs to prevent the bear from getting close to you.

Where should you hit the bear? Focus on the bear’s snout. Bears have long snouts. Consequently, it’s much easier to hit a bear’s snout than to hit it in the eye. You’d have to get much closer to the bear to hit it in the eye. And you don’t want to get closer to the bear than you have to. And a bear’s snout is filled with sensitive nerves. God gave bears long snouts to make it easier to box them, so take advantage of it. Focus on the snout!

As I stated, bears are not smart. It’s easy to fake them out. One effective technique is to feint to the bear’s body twice with your left hand, then duck under and come around with a solid left hook to the bear’s temple. This is the technique Joe Frazier used to use on bears. You would think the bears would catch on because his fights are available on YouTube, but they keep making the same mistake.

Bears are so stupid. Once I was fighting a bear that was holding his own. Suddenly I put up my hands and made the universal time out sign. The bear look confused, but he stopped fighting. I pointed at its foot and politely said, “Your shoe’s untied.” Forgetting that bears don’t wear shoes, the dumb animal looked down at his feet and I threw great uppercut that nearly took his jaw off.

Another technique is to let the bear punch itself out – the Rope-a-Dope. Just lean up against a tree and use your arms to protect your face and body. Most of the bear’s punches will just bounce off your arms, doing little harm. Eventually the bear will get tuckered out and drop its paws, and THAT’S when start showing the bear who is the boss. I once used this technique on a Mexican bear named Robearto and by the end of the fight he was saying, “No mas!”

By using your superior intellect, you can get inside the bear’s head. Trash talking can be very effective and cause the bear to lose focus. Don’t be afraid to scream at the bear and taunt it. The bear already hates you and wants to kill you, so it’s not like you’re going to make the bear any more angry. Say things like, “Your momma’s so fat, her senior picture was taken by satellite.” Then, when the bear gives you a quizzical look, do a quick Ali Shuffle and throw a straight right to its face. In fact, when Ali fought bears, he liked to recite poems. He’d say things like, “I am so pretty, you ain’t so great; eat your berries and salmon, I’ll take you in eight.”

It’s important to believe in yourself when fighting a bear. Too often, I’ve seen young bear fighters become intimidated by a bear’s size. But in bear boxing, size doesn’t always matter. Hit a bear in the spleen a few times and he’ll come down to your size. I remember February 15, 1978, when a 197-pound kid named Leon Spinks took the heavyweight title from the much larger Muhammad Ali. How did Spinks pull this off? He believed in himself.

Now, many people will tell you the best way to deal with bears is to avoid confrontation. This is bad advice offered by naïve people with good intentions. Remember, bears want to fight you, kill you, raid your refrigerator, eat your edibles, and sleep in your recliner. If you don’t stand up to a bear, it will think you are weak and this will only encourage aggression. The only thing bears understand is force, so always be willing to fight a bear. Appeasement did not work with Hitler and it doesn’t work with bears. That’s why Neville Chamberlain never won a bear fight.

Look, there is nothing more fun than watching a pathetic bear limp back home with shame on its face because he knows he got beat by a 58 year old lawyer that he outweighed by four hundred pounds. Now he’s got to explain that to his friends. Like a Republican who has to explain why he lost to a Kenyan born Muslim community organizer intent on imposing Sharia law or to a draft dodging, pot smoking womanizer. They just can’t fathom that they lost.

Of course, no amount of knowledge and training can guaranty that you will prevail in a bear fight. But by understanding bear psychology and the basics of bear fighting, you can greatly improve your odds. Just remember the bear necessities, the simple bear necessities.

Note: The author makes no warranty, express or implied, that the advice in this article will help you in the event you must fight a bear.     

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Obama - Worst President Ever!

April 14th, 2016 9:30am - Posted By: Mark Cohen

Barack Hussein Obama is the worst President ever! I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I’ll begin this morning.

Each morning for the past seven years, the sun has risen and the sunlight has cut short my precious sleep. What has Obama done about this sunlight problem? Nothing. A real man, like Donald Trump, would do something about this solar aggression rather than leave America weak and defenseless.

Once I’m awake, I must eat breakfast, so I reach for a box of Captain Crunch. But guess what? Thanks to Obama, the FDA is phasing out partially hydrogenated oils. It is now more difficult for me to get my daily dose of trans fats. There was a time when Americans were free to choose how much trans fats to consume, but those days are gone as Obama’s massive bureaucracy slowly steals our freedom and paves the way for the New World Order.

I eat my cereal and begin the drive to my office in Boulder. Gas prices are incredibly low. This sucks. Low gas prices mean more people driving, which increases greenhouse gases. It’s also unfair to the big oil companies. America’s founders wanted the big oil companies to prosper so the money can trickle down to those less fortunate than ourselves.

I stop at the corner of 9th and Canyon. But there are no transients there to give my spare change to. Unemployment has fallen from 10.1% in October of 2009 to 4.9%. All these coins are going to pile up in my SUV and eventually I will have to put them all in a big container and insert them into one of those machines at Walmart that count coins and gives you cash. Does Obama care that I’m going to have to visit Walmart and look at a bunch of old women with their granny panties showing? Not at all.

I arrive at my office and boot up my laptop. But thanks to Obama’s net neutrality, I get fast Internet service, which means I can’t bill my clients as much for the time I spend waiting for websites to load or downloading documents.

I have more work than I can handle. Every client is on my butt and each one thinks his or her matter should be my top priority. Obama’s 71 months of economic expansion has made my life miserable. I don’t know if I can go on.

After a long day at work, I drive home and watch the news. Sadly, our pansy President has not launched any ground wars, so I don’t get to view any cool footage of American “shock and awe” destroying foreign cities. God, what I would not give for a President who would dress up in a flight suit and land on an aircraft carrier as a passenger on a fighter jet with a big “Mission Accomplished” banner in the background. That’s the only way to make these other pib squeak nations respect us.

I don’t know, maybe it’s a good thing that Obama hasn’t started any wars. With all the gays Obama has allowed to serve openly in our armed forces, I doubt we could win any wars anyhow. Maybe our army could win a decorating contest or something. It’s probably just a matter of time until we tell our troops to turn in their camouflage uniforms and start wearing the new mandatory rainbow combat fatigues. He’s also opened all combat jobs to females just to help Hillary win the female vote, which is going to put America at risk for four or five days each month.

The anchorwoman says the deficit has been greatly reduced and the rate of government spending has slowed. Just more evidence that the big spending liberals like Obama don’t understand the first thing about economics. It’s just common sense that if you want to generate more tax revenue to balance the budget you have to cut taxes. Anyone with a knowledge of basic arithmetic knows that.

Obama is pardoning a bunch of dangerous drug offenders, mostly black guys. How stupid. They are just going to start smoking pot again, then get the munchies and buy a bunch of junk food at the local convenience store, thus driving up the price of Fritos and Skittles. This will lead to an inflationary spiral. I don’t think Obama really considers all the possible consequences of his decisions. He just does whatever the hell he wants.

The news turns to politics. The country is sharply divided. With Osama Bin Laden dead and Al Qaeda unable to launch successful attacks on American soil, there is nothing to unite Americans. You call that leadership?

The rest of the news is boring. No blowjobs in the Oval Office. No Vice-Presidents accidentally shooting someone in the face. No outing of CIA agents for political gain. No torture. No financial crisis. FML. I guess I’ll just watch Von Miller on Dancing With the Stars.

I turn off the news and login to check my investment accounts. Damn, I’m doing incredibly well. I have more money, so at some point I’m going to pay more taxes. Thanks Obama.

Maybe I’ll smoke a cigar before I go to bed. Damn, I can’t even enjoy that. Because our pussy President normalized relations with Cuba, it’s a good Cuban cigar. Man, I miss those Swisher Sweets. Desi Arnez must be turning over in his grave. Yes, Obama’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.

Another thing I don’t like about Obama is what a liar he is. As a Kenyan Muslim born in Hawaii, I thought he’d keep his campaign promises to impose Sharia Law, confiscate everyone’s guns, and establish death panels so we could get rid of the old people. That was change I could believe in. Instead, he tripled the number of drone strikes on terrorists, got Bin Laden, and made it easier to get health insurance. He’s had seven years to take my guns and has the entire federal government at his disposal, but he still hasn’t managed to get my firearms. He’s just plain incompetent.

I don’t think Obama is a very good communicator. He’s always so polished, precise, and dignified. Like when Obama said, “We welcome the scrutiny of the world – because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems and make our union more perfect.” Why not just say, “We don’t give a pinch of raccoon shit what you think. We've got the nukes!  ‘Murica!” That’s language everyone can relate to.

I guess the good news is that we will be rid of this pathetic loser in less than a year. He can go back to being a community organizer or whatever. I don’t know who our next President will be, but it’s hard to imagine how he or she could be worse than Barack Hussein Obama.

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