ONE WISH …

What do you want? 

What if someone came up to you and offered you that sublime idea…anything in the world you could possibly want? What would your answer be? 

It’s the old Genie in a bottle thing. Would you wish for wealth? Success? Health? More years to live? The ability to right some wrongs? Would you wish for world peace? What about a change in your current government? Would you actually waste a wish from a Genie on something as stupid as government? 

Almost nobody gives that answer. Because when it comes down to the truth of hopes, dreams, and actual wishes, we are not all that interested in what happens to other people…even if we say we are. 

The history of the west is entirely about human freedom: how much of it should we have? How much should be contained (or even restrained)? Can we govern ourselves? When does that self-governance infringe on someone else’s ability to self-govern? 

In short, what do we want?

That’s pretty much the entire story of the last thousand years or so. And we’re still in the middle of telling it. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the final outcome is actually still in doubt. 

Our place in the world, as it exists now, requires us to deep dive into these questions time and time again. The very nature of freedom should be at the top of everyone’s thinking cap, these days. Because even in 2023, somebody is out there lurking, making a list of the things you say and do, checking it twice, and making up their mind that you probably shouldn’t be able to say or do all of that. 

And if they can just get the reigns of power, they will make sure to pull those freedoms from you. 

Which freedoms? Well, it all depends on who you ask. 

For some people it’s the freedom to marry someone of the same sex. For others, it’s the possibility of continuing to cook with a gas stove. And for others, still, it’s the freedom to terminate an unborn life growing inside them. 

Freedom looks different to different people, I suppose. 

But make no mistake…you should have a clear idea of what you want, when it comes to government. That’s the experiment we’re all participating in right now. 

I’ve said many times, that I don’t march. For anything. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen a cause I cared enough about to press myself together with ten thousand other people and go for a loud walk. 

My father marched in civil rights marches, in the 60’s. That may have been something I would’ve been passionate about, had I been alive. But most of the time, I see a march or a protest and know for a fact that it is mainly window dressing and theater and nothing real will come out of it.

Why?

Because most of the time, marches and protests aren’t led by someone as special in history as MLK. Most of the time they’re led by overachieving loud mouths who know how to manipulate a crowd but not how to bring about any real substantive change in the area they’re all up in arms about. 

And when I see a movement that has no end goal (or remedy), I know I’m probably watching more of a grift than a grass roots movement. 

MLK’s movement culminated in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Real legislation. That tackled actual, systemic abuses. And the systemic part got remedied. 

Did it end racism? Of course not. Did it fix everybody’s lives. Again, ridiculous. But at least there was a goal in mind, when starting that walk across the bridge in Selma. 

In 2014, Hillary Clinton was confronted by some leaders in the BLM movement. It’s all on video somewhere. To her credit, she asked them point blank, “What do you want?” 

That’s someone in actual power posing the Genie question. 

And you know what? They didn’t have an answer. 

It all just kept circling back to general complaints about the way things are, and how things should change, and how now is the time, and how silence in violence, and, and, and…

But the world can’t move in a direction when there isn’t one available. 

If you have children, you’ve experienced this with an overtired baby. They don’t know what they want. They just know they don’t like things as they are now. So you spend the rest of the time changing them and feeding them and rocking them and reading to them and leaving them alone and, and, and…

It’s exhausting. 

This past week, Antifa (stands for “Anti-Fascist” which I’m almost certain they don’t actually know the meaning of the word “Fascist”…but I digress) protested and rioted and spray painted on buildings and, and, and…in Atlanta. 

I’d probably be willing to listen to someone in Antifa, but they’re always covering their faces and running around in stealth and basically doing as much violence as they can get away with. 

And let’s just be honest…

When the masks eventually come off, the mug shots are almost always disaffected white kids, with some weird ax to grind. 

And I always want to go up to them and simply ask, “What do you want?” 

What actionable things would make you happy and content and keep you from wanting to constantly protest and riot? Are those things even achievable? Or are you simply raging against western civilization as it exists?

If that last sentence is the answer, then you won’t be happy until you’re in an actual war. But these kids aren’t warriors. And they have yet to produce a Declaration of Independence-style document that lays out what would make them happy. 

In 2020, some of them tried to form their own community in the inner parts of Seattle, with a place called “Chaz.” Apparently, Chaz couldn’t get clean water and was plagued with murders and hunger until its unceremonial demise in…nobody remembers. 

If your protest is about changing the current whatever, it might be a good idea to stop for a second and ask yourself that simplest of questions: what do I want?

And if you can’t answer that question, you’re not really protesting. You’re acting out, based on some kind of personal issue that you probably don’t want to deal with. 

And when weighing dealing with your own pain and neuroses versus against wing thought of as a social justice warrior, the later will almost always win. Because it has a lot of romance attached to it. 

But after you burn it all to the ground, something has to be built in its place. 

Knowing what you want built is the difference between adults and babies. Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t growing up these days. 

So, what do you want? And what would it take to make it happen? And what would be the consequences of getting it?

Without the answer to those questions, protests never ring true. 

R

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ROLLING MY EYES …

I was kind of sad the day I found out that award shows are rigged. 

They’re not really “rigged” per se’, but there is a formula for how everyone who walks on a stage and receives a televised award, ends up there. And there are very few (if any) “accidents,” when it comes to award shows. 

That’s because award shows are basically infomercials (a word I hate) for whatever particular media discipline is handing them out. If it’s the Grammy’s, for instance, it is essentially sponsored by record labels who need you to go out and consume their products after watching the show. So, they have a formula for who shows up on that stage and why they are there. 

And a lot of it is based on how much they have invested in whom (or what).

The Oscars are the same way about movies and the Emmy’s about TV and so on and so forth. 

And they tell you right up front, this is something voted on by industry insiders. That gives the impression of experts. But it’s really just people voting for a particular interest in their particular part of the industry.

The greatest acceptance speech I ever heard was from my friend Aaron Wilburn (God rest his soul), who said, “It doesn’t feel as political when you’re holding one of these,” after winning a Dove award. 

His joke got thunderous laughter and applause, because everybody in the room was in on it and knew it was true. 

You don’t get to vote on the Oscars. Why? Because there’s too much at stake for certain people who have made certain investments, for you to have any say in it. 

And I say, hey…it’s their game. They can play it any way they want. If I ever win another one of those types of awards, I’ll go get it, thank all the appropriate people, try to come up with a memorable quip (that will increase my views on YouTube), bring it home and put it on my shelf. Because that’s the business I’m in.  

But I will have no illusions that I’m actually the “best” this or that, for that year. It’s not about any of that. It’s about business. Juice. Heat. Eyeballs.  

And if it ever happens, I’ll give you all a quick wink, to let you know we all know what’s happening. 

When something happens in the private sector like that, and you’re not on the hook to pay for it (by force), and you have the option to watch or not watch, agree with the winners or not agree, and it doesn’t affect your life in any way, shape or form, I say…fair enough. No harm, no foul. 

But what if the same application was happening in the public sphere? 

What if there was some invisible hand pulling levers of power, based on desired outcomes? And you (or I) had no say in it whatsoever? That’s a different conversation. That’s the conversation of the American Revolution. In fact, that’s what the whole revolution was about in the first place. 

Every week, I try to find something new to talk about in these blogs of mine. I don’t know why people read this stuff. I’ve been doing it since 2006, and I’ve never understood the popularity of it. 

But I think it’s (at least, partly) based on the fact that I don’t have any interest to answer to, so I just kinda let it fly. I’m not employed by any major corporation or institution, with any reason to censor what I say. 

So, I punch in all directions. 

But lately, I’ve just been rolling my eyes at the state of things. Do I really need to write about some of this? Really?  Some things – in fact, most things, these days – are so glaringly obvious, you don’t need a commentator to point it out. 

A perfect case in point is the current news story about the classified documents being discovered pretty much all over the place, leading back to Joe Biden when he was Vice President. 

They’re finding these documents in so many places I checked my own garage, yesterday, just to make sure I didn’t have any of them under a box, somewhere. But here’s the thing about it…

Why now?  

The timing of this is so strange to me. THAT’S the actual story in my mind. 

See, I’m willing to accept the fact that someone who has been in the highest levels of government for 50 years may have inadvertently left some documents strewn about. That’s all actually plausible. THAT is actually more of a conversation about how long someone should stay in government. But I digress …

But apparently, they knew about these documents roughly a week before the midterm elections. And yet we saw no news coverage of it anywhere. Do you think that’s a mistake? 

In the immortal words of our beloved president, “Come on, man.” 

And that is the part that sticks in my craw more than the documents themselves. This is the very heart of the current revolution nobody seems to understand; the movement that Donald Trump was at the center of. 

The fact that news stories are coordinated with government agencies and certain things get covered up, and certain things get reported at certain times, and the fact that in a world where we have access to all the information that has ever been compiled in human history, we STILL can’t find out who is on that Epstein pedo list, just all feels like we’re constantly getting played. 

It feels like some untalented hack is walking up to get his award for best actor and nobody knows how it happened. And he doesn’t even have the decency to give a wink to his his followers, to at least acknowledge that it’s all a set-up. The only problem here is WE have to pay for the hack and that awful movie he was in. 

I’m a natural skeptic. But I’m not a conspiratorial cynic…yet. 

Is Joe Biden being set up by somebody? I don’t usually believe such things. But when I heard about his documents being found, my FIRST thought wasn’t about the document part. It was about who found them, when they found them and why they found them…now

After the last few years, and Twitter and the laptop and new C.I.A. revelations, and I could go on and on, let’s just say I’m a little punchy about stories that seem a little too on the nose. We all are. 

So, to whatever government agency is reading this, right now, just know that it’s actually getting boring at this point. It’s like a sequel that is one too many. And we’re in the second act, yawning, about to get up and leave. 

And it isn’t even worth a review.  

If the visible link between the government and the legacy media, what we’re told and what we’re NOT told, were a film or a song or a book or a TV show, none of it would win any awards. Because, at this point, we all know nothing is what it appears to be. 

We’re all just waiting on the documentary to drop, to show us we were right. 

The least they could do is let the Doc win an award, go on stage to accept it…and give us a wink.    

R

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CONTINENTAL PRIVILEGE …

I have a son in China. 

Well, not really. He was almost my son. Maybe he should’ve been. He is probably around 22 or 23, now. And I think about him almost every day …

During the dramatic adoption of my daughter, we had to rush her to the hospital twice, in two days. This wasn’t the beautiful hospital, tailor made for photo ops. This was the utilitarian, open-air, urine-trough-in-the-floor, blood-and-puss-on-the-examination-table, triage hut the Chinese didn’t want Americans to see (I was asked to put my camera away several times). I’m always amused at theoretical communists who’ve never actually seen it in action…but I digress. 

As the over-worked nurses were trying to put a needle in my daughter’s head, suddenly, high-pitched Cantonese was being yelled into my right ear. I jerked around, startled to find a very loud, tiny, determined “peasant lady,” complete with dirty head-scarf, missing teeth and weathered, cracked skin, yelling at me. 

At first, I didn’t know what was happening. But then, on closer examination, I saw that she was holding a 3-year-old boy (about) on the examination table next to her. 

He was smiling at me and wearing a red sweater. I still occasionally see that sweater in my dreams. 

The peasant lady was showing me his teeth and his hair while she jabbered on incessantly. I had no idea what was happening. Finally, our translator pulled away from the drama playing out on our own exam table, and told me the woman was trying to give me her son to adopt and take to America. 

I thought, in my semi-shocked state, that this was some sort of joke. I laughed a little, trying to lighten the mood. But the translator said, in her slightly broken english, “She is serious. She has never seen American before. Thinks this her only chance to get son out of China.”

And that was the day I fully understood birth privilege. This woman and I were only separated by the fact that we had been born in different places…as different genders…under different governmental systems. 

Some people roll their eyes at concepts like “white privilege” but I believe it’s a real thing.

Although I cannot change the skin into which I was born, I understand all too well that I write and create and LIVE from the perspective of a white male. And that comes with a certain amount of privilege in this current culture (at least for now). 

Once you understand your privilege, it’s up to you (individually) to try and balance it. But the tricky thing about privilege is that everybody has it in some way, whether they know it or not. And it if you go down the rabbit hole far enough, you will run into paradoxes surrounding it. 

My daughter was born into less privilege than that little boy. But, ironically, his “male privilege” kept him trapped in China. And her LACK of privilege (being born a female orphan) got her out of China and into more privilege than he will ever know. Life is interesting. 

Since that day in that hospital, I’ve tried to level my white, male, American privilege in ways I really don’t care to talk about …because it’s no one’s business but mine. But just know that YOU have some sort of privilege too. White women in America probably have more privilege than black women. But black women in America have more privilege than that peasant woman in China. Because privilege is global. 

One of the biggest privileges on earth is being born in the United States. We all kind of know this. And many feel guilty about it. But there is also a certain privilege to being born on the North American continent. 

Why is that?

Being born in Canada is certainly its own privilege. And, believe it or not, being born in Mexico has its own privilege when it comes to immigrating to the U.S. 

You see, they didn’t allow me to bring that little boy back from China. There were armed guards and public officials and government agencies LITERALLY everywhere, blocking that from happening. The little peasant lady and her son were ushered away from me by two men in uniforms, with the full power of the state behind them. 

She didn’t understand the protocol. And as she was being led away from me, she was still yelling and trying with all her might to get her son out of rural China, to a better life.  

What she didn’t understand is you can’t just go to China and pick out a kid and bring them home. There are processes and forms to fill out and background checks to do. And there’s a lot of cross talk between both countries and their various adoption and immigration agencies. This is how things have to work. 

Even though I still dream of that little boy, I simply could not take him home with me. And some days I have a hard time reconciling that. But laws and borders are serious things. We all know this in the abstract. It just gets difficult to accept when human lives are caught in the middle of that realization.    

We’ve had an open southern border in the United States for decades. And we’re the ONLY organized nation on planet earth that allows people to simply walk across a border (that border) and live here. We’ll only try to catch you at the point of entry. But if you make it past the guards, you’re pretty much home free…literally.  

Nobody else does that. You can’t do that in Canada or even MEXICO. Definitely not China. And reasonable Americans have often wondered to themselves, “Should we build some sort of wall or fence? Don’t we need a secure border? And maybe a vetting process of some kind for people who want to come here? That seems reasonable to me. Am I wrong about that?” But no one wants to say that out loud because they don’t want to be labeled a racist. 

And if you think I’m kidding, just mention something about southern border security on social media, and see how long it takes to get the “white nationalist” monicker.  

The truth is we, who were born in the U.S, have privilege. It’s absolutely true. But, in our attempt to level that, should we keep our borders open and simply allow people to walk over? If so, then why can’t I go get that little boy from China and bring him over? I’ll tell you why. Because he was simply born in the wrong hemisphere. 

Laws and borders are necessary. Even if the enforcement of such things seems unseemly.  

If people from Mexico are simply allowed to cross the border without process, then why do we have customs? Why do we have to carry passports? Why do we have border check points going in and out of every country on the globe? 

If walking across a border is acceptable, just because…you know…IT’S RIGHT THERE…then someone owes an impoverished 20-something man in China, two decades of a better life…in America …with me.    

R

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23 THINGS WE SHOULD RETIRE IN ’23 …

23. Alcohol. 

I know, I know. 

The day after the most alcohol is consumed in the western world, is a hard day to hear this. But the data are (yes, it’s “are” not “is” – I know. I was surprised too) in. And there is no benefit whatsoever to alcohol. We know this now. If you think that two-glasses-of-wine-a-night-is-good-for-your-heart thing is still a thing, you’re about ten years behind on your reading.

In no way should we EVER try to ban alcohol again. That’s not the answer. But this substance is basically the new cigarette. It’s just bad for you in any amount. And it’s also not cool anymore. A higher percentage of rapes, murders and fatal car crashes happen under the influence of alcohol than not.

Also, bad country songs.  

As someone who used to not only be an avid drinker, but an actual advocate for bourbon (yes, I’ve endorsed certain brands), I say maybe it’s time to give up this particular pastime, in 2023. Especially if it’s just being used as a self-medicating pain killer. That’s a spiral you don’t want to get into. Don’t ask me how I know.

And speaking of pain killers …

22. The War On Pain Killers. 

In 2022, I passed 8 (yes, I said EIGHT) kidney stones in one weekend, without medication…because I couldn’t get any. 

“Why didn’t you go to the E.R?” you may ask. 

I DID go. They gave me a drip for a couple of hours. But then, sent me home with 7 pills. That’s one pill per stone. Not acceptable math when you’re doubled over in agony. When I called the “on-call” physician to get more, I was treated like a Jehovah’s Witness already in your kitchen, having coffee, and told to go see my doctor first. 

I got in to see him two days later, after having already passed 7 stones. I passed number 8 in his office, giving a urine sample. 

The rules and regulations surrounding pain killers are meant to protect people from getting hooked and overdosing. I get it. We’ve all seen the movies and documentaries. 

But the O.D. issue in this country is mainly Fentanyl. Not people in real pain, who need real meds, gaming the system. 

It’s time to deal with THAT first, before we look over our glasses at middle-aged dads trying to stop all the spasmodic vomiting. I know, dear overlords, you’re just trying to protect us. But we’ll take our chances. 

Speaking of protection from the overlords…

21. Masks. 

It’s sketchy, at best, as to whether wearing a mask of any kind actually helped anybody during the pandemic. We know for a fact that cloth masks did nothing (The Bangladesh study). 

Now, it’s time to move on, past the trappings of the horrible last few years. If you’re still wearing a mask in your car, alone, grab your Members Only jacket and fanny pack, and let’s go do the Macarena. 

It’s over. 

And speaking of over…

20. Harry and Meghan.  

If you’ve given up your position as a royal, then you’re just a B actress and a former Prince of a “monarchy” that really doesn’t have any power or do anything, anymore.   

It was hard to care about these people before they left the family. It’s pretty much impossible to care, now. 

But I do feel for them on one level. Everybody has to have a job doing something. And they seem to work really hard at doing nothing. That’s a tough job to keep. 

Speaking of jobs…

19. Conventional Employment. 

If your server at the Olive Garden is a relatively attractive female, with any kind of personality, you should thank her profusely for actually being there.

Girls (maybe with questionable morals – but no judgement here) are making millions of dollars on Only Fans and other “thirst trap” sites. There’s a whole new economy out there. And most of it is just about turning your phone around and pressing record. 

Kids are thumbing their noses at the $15-dollar-per-hour jobs at KFC, to earn $60 or $70k-a-year flipping sneakers on eBay or running a YouTube channel. Nobody under 30 wants to trade hours for dollars, anymore. And a lot of them don’t have to. 

The reason you’re standing in line everywhere from the grocery store to the ticket counter at the airport, is because EVERYBODY is understaffed. EVERYBODY. And that’s because we’re witnessing, and living through, a revolution in how people earn money. 

Be kind to the people still showing up. They’re the only ones left who care. And they are caring less and less. Because they know that robots will be doing their jobs before long, anyway. 

Speaking of robots…

18. College. 

With the advent of Chat GBT, education (and pretty much any industry that uses words) as we have traditionally understood it, has just been rendered obsolete. 

I’m sure there are people designing “how to use Chat GBT” courses right now, so that they can charge you $75k a year to sit in a classroom and learn something from them, you can learn on your own. 

But it’s pretty much checkmate for big education. I’ll be interested to see how they figure out the next money funnel now that the entirety of human knowledge can be printed…in any language…with any nuance…in seconds…but I’m sure they’ll think of something. 

People don’t give up their revenue streams without a fight.  

Speaking of revenue streams and fights…

17. Money to Ukraine.

The United States has spent as much (or almost as much) money on the war in Ukraine as any war we’ve ever fought in ourselves. This is getting awkward. 

At some point, we’re either going to have to start sending troops or have an uncomfortable conversation. Personally, I favor the later. Anyway… 

Speaking of uncomfortable conversations…

16. Girl Power. 

We’re now in a Twilight Zone of a world where the very definitions of our species are being erased and re-defined….to make some people feel better about themselves. 

Ladies, your sports records and scholarships are being taken away from you. Your definition of self is being taken away from you. You can’t have girl power, anymore, if nobody is allowed to actually define what a girl is. 

I understand your wanting to show support for the LGBTQ (plus, whatever – they lost me after the i and the dots) community. I, too, am not down with people abusing or harassing those in that community. I have so many friends there and love them dearly.  

But, at some point, if you have a prostate issue, and you have to go to the hospital for it, it won’t matter how you dress or how you act or how you feel. You’re going to bump your head on science.

In the meantime, everything women have worked for and stood for is being called into question, because what they are as a scientific entity   is being called into question. 

Speaking of science…

15. Climate Change Politics.

In 2003, Michael Crichton wrote a book called “State Of Fear.” It should be required reading for anyone worried about climate change. Mr. Crichton did two years of research on the subject, before writing the book. 

He went into it with one point of view, thinking the book was going to be one thing. But by the time he researched all the science, and politics behind it, he had a completely different point of view and the book became something totally different. 

It stirred up a hornet’s nest among those who worship at the alter of climate change orthodoxy. 

I watched him on C-Span, promoting the book. 

At one point, a young reporter simply couldn’t take it anymore, got up to ask a question, and kinda got in his face (and I’m paraphrasing), “Mr. Crichton, I’m having a very difficult time believing there is some sort of concerted effort by one particular political party to collude with the scientific community, as well as the press, to create a narrative that isn’t true, in order to produce a certain political outcome.”  

His answer was one I’ll never forget…

“Try harder.”  

Look, they’re still writing 30-year mortgages for homes on South Beach. A.O.C is making TikTok videos instead of moving to high ground and storing food.

Everybody kinda knows this is a political shell game.

There is a conversation to be had about the climate. There is a conversation to be had about energy sources for humans to use. There is a conversation to be had about the government’s role in everything. 

These THREE conversations only being ONE conversation, has been a mistake…or…not a mistake at all, depending on how many conspiracies you believe in. 

Speaking of conspiracies…

14. Skepticism About Conspiracy Theories.  

I’m preaching to myself on this one. 

I used to be obsessed with Kennedy Assassination conspiracy theories. But I got bored with it and finally ended up just believing Oswald acted alone. 

I, myself, was at the center of one of the biggest conspiracy theories in the entertainment world. And I knew it to be false. So, I stopped putting much stock in outlandish claims about covert this or undercover that. 

But as we see covert and undercover this and that actually being true, literally everyday, I think it’s time we put everything back on the table. 

Okay, guys. You have my attention on aliens and the moon landing. 

The American Idol songwriting competition of 2008, however, was NOT a conspiracy. I promise you that. It was just the music business. 

Speaking of the music business…

13. The Music Business. 

In 2021, 54% of all Grammy nominees were DIY (Do It Yourself) artists. That means they did it without a label or an agency or a PR firm or whatever. 

My favorite artist, right now, is a guy I discovered on TikTok. He doesn’t have a producer or a manager or a label or a publishing deal or anything. 

He’s just a guy posting songs and short-form videos. And he’s getting traction. A lot of it. 

Because (as per #19) nobody needs the big labels anymore to be successful. In fact, those labels might even be a detriment to someone’s creativity. 

All you need, now, is a phone and a few apps. Now, God help you trying to turn it into money. Still…

Speaking of apps…

12. Twitter and Facebook.  

There are legions of reasons to hate TikTok. But the tech is where it’s at. 

The “written post” is so 2017 (as I type this in a blog). It’s all about short-form videos of yourself, now. 

While Twitter was shadow banning users (we know for a fact, now) and Facebook was putting “context” flags on memes of grandmothers saving tin foil (not even kidding), TikTok (and China) were figuring out new and exciting ways to surveil us. 

But make no mistake…the way we share and engage has changed. And we might as well admit it and embrace it. 

Speaking of surveillance …

11. The C.I.A. 

Now that we know you had a role in the JFK thing, it’s probably too much to keep you around. 

Good run, guys. Thanks for the accurate info on 9/11 and WMD’s. 

Oh wait …

Speaking of intelligence …

10. Poor Health. 

There’s enough information out there, now. All of the major leading indicators of disease, in the United States, can pretty much be eaten their way out of; high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, inflammation, insulin resistance, etc. 

Some things are beyond your control. And people still get bad stuff without rhyme or reason. But some things are preventable. 

If they are…do it. You have more personal agency and information at your fingertips than at any other time in human history. If you love yourself, take care of yourself. 

And speaking of information…

9. Misinformation. 

There’s no such thing. 

There is only information. Some of it isn’t true. And some of it is. And the only way to know which it is, is to have MORE information. I know we’re supposed to get all of our official information from governments and movie stars, but sometimes there is a truth out there nobody saw coming, BY someone nobody saw coming. 

That nobody should not be silenced just because someone doesn’t like their assertions. Let all the information flow. I’ll decide whether to believe the earth is flat or not. 

Speaking of movie stars…

8. Movie Stars.  

When my son was 11, we were in L.A, leaving a VR facility, when an actual movie star passed us, walking into the facility we were walking out of.  

I said, “Hey, buddy. Did you see who that was?” 

“Yeah, dad. Who is it?” 

Then I realized, he doesn’t watch movies. He doesn’t worship screen idols. His heroes are YouTubers who can level up on video games. 

There aren’t really any bankable “box office” stars, anymore (with the exception of maybe Tom Cruise in the right movie). You’re all just working actors now, folks. Probably sitting in a hotel room, somewhere in Georgia or Oklahoma, learning lines to “white supremacist #2” or “fan girl at grocery store.” 

Forget the silver screen. Nobody goes anymore. We’re all binging a show, checking our phones…in Georgia or Oklahoma. 

Speaking of states …

7. California.  

Congrats, Californians, 

You took the most perfect weather and fertile growing conditions on THE PLANET, and turned it into a place more people want to leave than flock to. 

You’re doing it wrong. Start over. 

Speaking of doing it wrong…

6. “Woke” ism.  

Being “woke” was originally a term (and a slang term, at that) that denoted being “awakened” to the realities of where we are in societal structures. 

Basically, getting out of the Matrix and understanding things about “the Patriarchy” and “White power structures” and…whatever…it gets boring after that. 

Now, it’s just a cliche title for cliche activists, spouting cliche Marxism, who are looking for meaning in their lives and trying, with all their hearts, to find a cause to get behind. And who would’ve known that the “woke” could basically turn into their own little brand of fascists?

It’s easy when you know beyond all doubt that you’re on the “right side of history” (another phrase we should retire). Because “changing the world” is a cool. Living in your parents’ basement, playing video games isn’t. 

Doing both? Priceless.  

Speaking of woke…

5. The Word “Woke.” 

We get it, conservatives. 

There’s a lot to deal with, with this crowd. But stop using the word like a teenager uses “fire.” It’s losing its meaning and its bite. You sound like those stodgy McArthyists of the 1950’s. 

You might as well call them “hippies” and chastise them for their long hair and sideburns. 

Find a new way to engage and grab a fresh take on the language.

Speaking of language …

4. Grooming School Kids. 

Ever been to a movie rated PG-13? 

You know what the “13” stands for? It stands for society deciding that some things we’re just not going to bring up around kids 13 and under. 

In the immortal words of Pink Floyd, “Hey, teachers…leave them kids alone.”

If I had a mic, I’d drop it. 

Speaking of dropping mics …

3. Legacy News. 

If you’re still getting your news from a talking head with perfect facial symmetry, at 6 pm, you’re stuck in the 90’s. We haven’t needed this business in quite a few years. 

Now, after learning about what they ALL did with Twitter and how they throttled certain stories, while amplifying other stories, in order to prop up political candidates they favored, it’s clear that all these beautiful millionaires should meet the CIA, Harry and Meghan, and the movie stars in the parking lot, to discuss what they’re all going to do next. 

I hope they can figure it out without being sent talking points from someone in an administration they approve of.

Speaking of talking points…

2. The Phrase “Threat to Democracy.” 

Just because you don’t like the way a democracy is going, doesn’t mean it’s about to end. 

Also, the United States isn’t a democracy, anyway. We’re a Representative Republic. Democracy is a general state of political being. And for someone to actually be a threat to it, in the western world, they would have to be talking about more centralized control over the citizens – not less

A “threat to Democracy” would be, oh…I don’t know…something like forcing people to do something they don’t want to do; maybe forcing them to buy something or ingesting something or believing something. 

Forcing someone to…um…let’s see…maybe take an experimental vaccine, when they don’t want to take it, might be considered a threat to democracy. 

But it takes a lot to actually threaten democracy, because people have a tendency to rise up. Especially, if they’ve already known what freedom looks like and feels like.    

There are threats to power structures, threats to certain parties, threats to the political survival of certain candidates. But an actual threat to democracy would be something difficult to pull off, here. 

I mean, unless you convince everybody they’re going to die if they don’t do what you tell them to do. 

Speaking of being told you’re going to die if you don’t do what you’re told to do…

1. The Covid Vaccines. 

Real simple, guys. They didn’t work. 

We’re all done, now. 

Thanks…

buh, bye 

And Happy New Year!      

R

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ONE SILENT NIGHT …

This will be my last blog post of 2022. 

Yes…I’m taking a vacation. 

Some people send out end-of-year newsletters, kind of wrapping up their year and detailing how it all went for them. For me, the year of our lord, 2022, was probably the most physically painful of my life. 

Passing ten (yes, 10) kidney stones, having multiple gout flares and breaking your left humerus (in half), is pretty much a year’s worth of agony. And it has pushed me to the limits of what I can personally endure. 

On the other hand, it has been one of the best years of my life. I can see, feel and sense my brain physiology changing for the better and even repairing. Despite all the surface pain and what looks like physical ailments, it’s actually my body ridding itself of obstacles and getting back in proper alignment. 

Sobriety. It’s a beautiful thing. But sometimes it requires that you deal with the residue of past mistakes. 2022 was what we call a “re-building” year. 

Anyway…

Every year, about this time, I think back on a very special Christmas Eve…

I was 9-years-old and it was Christmas Eve, 1976. My father and mother took my brother (7) and me, down to the Nashville Rescue Mission to sing Christmas carols for the homeless and less fortunate. 

We entered the main hall and dad pulled out the guitar. All the big Christmas hits were on the set list; Jingle Bells, Deck The Halls, Hark the Herarld Angles Sing, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Away In A Manger, etc. You get the idea. 

After we finished singing, my father was pulled aside to speak with the director of the mission, privately. Something was happening. 

Dad walked back over to us and my mother immediately asked, “Is she ready?” 

He nodded and we all walked toward a part of the mission I hadn’t seen earlierThe director ushered us into a private back area, where we very quietly and respectfully walked into a tiny room filled with new life. 

A lady had come in off the street and had a baby the night before. She and the newborn were sharing his first few days on Earth in a room at the mission. 

My 9-year-old eyes were wide. And my heart almost couldn’t take it. 

I had immediate questions flying through my young mind. How did they get here? Why did they end up here? What would they do going forward? Where would they live? What about Santa? What about…well…everything?  

I studied the lady in the bed. She was wearing a kind of worn and dirty, gray robe, covering up her body that seemed to be still recovering form something traumatic. Her skin was ashy white and her hair was red and stringy. 

The baby lying next to her was still just a bundle of nondescript cooing and breathing. 

Then, I saw her arms…tracks. 

When my father pastored a “hippie church” in Atlanta, I’d seen heroin addicts. I’d seen their arms. And when I saw this lady’s arms, I immediately had some of those questions answered for me. 

She was smiling at us as we came in the room, then occasionally crying as we delivered some small presents to her. My mother had purchased basic need-type-gifts for her and the baby and was helping her organize those. 

She thanked us through tears. Then my father prayed for her and her newborn son. Then, he took out his guitar again, and we sang Silent Night very softly and tenderly, as to not disturb the baby too much. 

There are pictures in your mind that will never leave. They are indelibly burned into the grooves of your brain. Maybe seeing your wife walk down the aisle. Maybe the first time you saw the Grand Canyon. 

One of the pictures in my mind is seeing that woman holding her child, wiping tears away, as we sang, “all is calm all is bright.”  When I’m very old I will still close my eyes and see her sitting there. It never leaves me. 

We left the mission and went back to our warm little house. And the next hours would be filled with ripped up paper, bicycles, footballs and G.I. Joes. And then…a feast. And I soon forgot about the little family in trouble, at the Rescue Mission.  

But, to this day, I can’t hear Silent Night without thinking of that troubled woman and the baby. And every Christmas Eve I know that someone, somewhere, is celebrating another birthday. 

And I wonder what his life became. What was his journey out of that little room like? Did those tracks ever go away? Or did they lead to more pain and suffering? 

A few years ago, I worked through these questions by writing a short Christmas novella, called, “One Silent Night.” And I found a way to wrap my Christmas record around it, making it more of a “novical” (musical novel).

I’m posting the link to the audio version as my gift to all the readers this year. Your support has been amazing and humbling. When I broke my arm, and was going to be down for a couple of months, you all rushed to my aid in a way that was unexpected and downright miraculous. 

It’s been a horrible, wonderful year. And here’s to a 2023 that is more wonderful than horrible. 

But I always remember, this time of year, that no matter what I’m going through, things can always be worse. And I see a woman sitting up in a bed, holding a newborn, watching two little boys sing Silent Night with their parents. 

And I hope it helped her in some way. I hope it helped to change her direction. I hope that whomever is celebrating his birthday, this week, has had good years and a wonderful life. 

If you want to see how it works out in my version of thestory, click the link below. And…

Merry Christmas!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jcpu8z5m25nh0kl/ONE%20SILENT%20NIGHT%20AUDIO%20BOOK%20.mp3?dl=0

R

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THESE KIDS TODAY …

Changing the world. 

Everybody wants to do it for some reason. 

How many times have you heard a young person talk about changing the world? It’s the coin of the realm for every “younger” generation. Apparently, things aren’t as good as they should be. And nobody knows anything. And everyone is walking around in a daze, wondering why the world is still the same and hasn’t changed. 

But then, like some magic thunderbolt from the heavens, someone with high self-esteem, graduates from an accredited four-year college, has heard all the right professors and aligned their mind to the proper frequency. And now, armed with the correct pronouns and clothes made from sustainable materials, they step into their destiny of fixing the big problem we all had but didn’t know we had. 

This is kind of the fantasy a lot of kids keep tucked away in the recesses of their short attention spans. 

It’s not enough to be a good person, anymore. It’s not enough to raise a healthy family or hold down a productive job. It’s not enough to learn a craft or a trade and get really, really good at it. 

No. All that stuff is for those who are a little more “basic.” Today’s young gun is about being a bone fide world-changer. 

Raised on a steady diet of Steve Jobs worship, Iron Man movies and every imaginable build-your-confidence campaign and celebrate-who-you-are day/week/month, the youngsters, who have been told since their conception, that they were special and unique and gifted and glorious, have emerged to think of themselves that very way. 

Huh. Who would’ve thought?

I love the fact that we have young people out there with confidence. That’s a good thing to have in this world. But confidence must always (and ONLY) follow actual achievement. 

And sometimes I wonder if that’s where we (as the people who raised these monsters) may have dropped the ball a little. 

I literally just (like, 14 minutes ago) had an exchange with a seasoned Nashville songwriter, who was lamenting some things he’s been watching from the younger songwriter crowd. Not staying around, at a writers night, to listen to the other writers. Walking away from the “round” after their song and talking to friends (or worse – TEXTING) while the other writers do their songs. And generally acting like they are the show, rather than just being a part of the show. 

It’s fine if you are the show. But we’ll know if you are. You know how? Because YOU will sell all the tickets and YOU will do a 90-minute set – by yourself – that will set the crowd on fire with every song. You will not only hold their attention but mesmerize them and make them not only feel like the door price was worth it…but make them feel like they could’ve paid double and it still would’ve been worth it. 

Until you can do that…you’re not the show. And you’re not ready to be. 

Maybe the word I’m looking for is humility. That seems to be the missing piece. 

This week, Sam Bankman-Freid (top) got arrested on a slew of financial fraud-related charges. The details of his shenanigans are for others to parse. It was a Ponzi scheme, a pump-and-dump, a shell game and good, old-fashioned money laundering to political causes, all rolled into one. 

We keep seeing stuff like this play out in front of our eyes. Elizabeth Holmes is in jail for selling a bunch of people on a world-changing idea…that wasn’t actually anything. 

And Adam Neuman became a billionaire by basically selling people on the idea that working in a colorful commune-type whatever was better that working from home. It’s not, by the way.

Fraud is nothing new. 

But what IS new is the WHY. Why did perfectly intelligent people hand billions (with a B) of dollars over to this SBF kid in the first place? Because we have oriented our society to believe in the new, the fresh and the young. We are now living in an ethos that shuns conventional wisdom and embraces the odd, as if it has some intrinsic value.

As the story goes, SBF was playing a video game while securing his first huge buy-in from investors. That’s a cool look for people who think they’re about to be riding the next wave created by a world-changer. But at some point, if you’re handling my money, I want a stodgy old adult to stand up and say, “Hey kid. Put down the controller or I’m walking out. This isn’t a game.” 

But nobody does that anymore. We have no salty sages looking over their glasses, calling bullshit. I mean, we do. But we don’t pay attention to those guys anymore. They’re always (and I mean ALWAYS) the obstacle or the villain of the movie. They’re never the hero. 

And that’s a problem. Because they may be right more often than we want to believe they are. 

I met and interviewed Joe Crowley, a few years ago. Really nice guy. And also, very well versed in the issues that surrounded his congressional district, as well as the issue (and reason why) I was personally on Capital Hill. He and I didn’t agree on everything but I knew that he had full command of the facts and wasn’t a lightweight. 

About a year later, he was replaced by a young, fresh-faced bartender, named Alexandria Occasio Cortez…

Her first proposal to congress wasn’t even a bill that anyone could vote on. It was “an idea” called “The Green New Deal,” that (among other things) called for the retro-fitting of every office and private residence in The United States to wind or solar power as well as a 2500-mile land bridge from California to Hawaii. 

That’s definitely a world-changer type move. The only problem is it’s also maybe the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. And the fact that it came from a sitting United States representative should embarrass you, as it did me. 

We don’t need two-thousand mile land bridges (that would also require hotels, restaurants, hospitals, shopping centers, and thousands of private residences to accommodate the work force you’d need to staff all those places) through the most daunting body of water on the planet, to Pacific Islands, BECAUSE. WE. CAN. FUCKING. FLY. THERE. We already fixed it, kid. Focus on something else. 

But we cheer these children (and if you actually believe your faux legislation or your phony crypto currency is going to have any REAL affect on the global climate, then, yes…you’re still a child) regardless of whether or not what they’re saying or doing is not only flawed or ridiculous, but downright dangerous. 

There was a time when adults probably cruelly crushed dreams and potential by being unable to think creatively and by refusing believe in their children’s ideas. And we shouldn’t do that. At all.

But we’ve swung the pendulum so far the other direction that some kid who should’ve been selling vintage comic books and delivering pizza as a side hustle, just conned some of the richest accounts on earth out of enough money to tilt the balance of planetary power. 

Belief is just the starting point. The counterweight to belief is the action that must be taken. And that action has to work in real ways, in the real world.

If it doesn’t, at some point, in all this celebration of youthful energy and fresh creativity, it might be time for an adult to show up and harsh everybody’s vibe. 

At least till the kids grow all the way up.   

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WE JUST DISAGREE …

It was one of those little online skirmishes you wish you hadn’t gotten in. 

But I did. 

We all feel the need to correct the misguided and misinformed, online. That impulse is why social media is such a psychological war zone and has been for years. It’s also the reason we have certain elected officials that we have, and the balance of world power is what it is. 

Because some people just think a certain way. And no matter what you do, you can’t fix it. 

Last night, one really bad candidate in Georgia beat another really bad candidate in Georgia, for the United States senate. Some of my friends were ecstatic. Some were incensed. 

I realized that my little online skirmish had everything to do with it… 

See, the volley was about how there’s this new law requiring sites like PayPal and Venmo to report taxes to the government, of anything over $600. That sounds perfectly reasonable. Doesn’t it?  

After all, as this person very calmly and methodically explained to me, we have to report taxes of everything over $600 anyway. This is all part of the tax code and this is a good law because it helps the government tamp down tax fraud that may be occurring on these sites. 

That is a cogent, well documented stance. It’s really hard to argue with. It is logical as can be. Unless…

You don’t believe the government should be taxing income in the first place and you definitely don’t believe they should have more access to your financial profile than they already have. 

Why would someone think like that? 

You start thinking like that when you finally uncouple from the idea that government is the end-all, be-all of existence. When you stop believing that government (even ours) should be the ultimate arbiter of everything that touches our lives and that every dollar turned in this country should end up in Washington D.C, you kind of get out of the Matrix and think about things differently. 

See, I don’t care if you commit tax fraud. I don’t care if you never pay another dollar to the United States treasury, for the rest of your life. I don’t need to know what you’re doing with your finances. That is between you and the I.R.S. 

It only becomes a concern of mine, when I start believing that the government is the sacred wheel we must all turn with as much force and toil as we can muster. If you see government as the fountainhead of all running waters, you will make it your business to oversee every dam. 

But I don’t see government that way. I see it as a necessary evil we must endure, while keeping it as pragmatically small as possible. It should only do what it’s designed to do and not an ounce more. 

And it should behave in such a way, and structure its tax policy in such a way, that the citizens aren’t having to hide money from it in order to build any sort of future for themselves or their families. 

And it has no business having access to the personal finances of any of its citizens. 

And if your first knee-jerk reaction to this is, “Yes, but …” then you simply don’t understand Libertarianism. And I probably can’t explain it to you in any sort of way you will comprehend. 

I mean, I can explain it to you. But I can’t understand it for you.    

I didn’t win that online debate. I mean, I won…I just didn’t win. The person insisted on holding to the notion of what needs to happened for the government to function “more effectively.” For them, that meant the government having better access to my financial information…and yours. 

I simply don’t see that as “more effective.” I see it as “more intrusive.” 

Agree to disagree, I suppose. 

But that’s it. That’s the very heart of our differences. We simply see government in different ways. 

Some people see the seat of power as “America.” And that’s what they love about the country. I see you and your family and your reaching for your ultimate potential and your chasing a dream and starting a business and sacrificing for your children so they can get to places you couldn’t reach, as “America.” 

The government we put in place is simply supposed to protect that spirit and not interfere with it. When it starts doing that, it violates the spirit of America and it’s the problem. Not the solution.   

Whenever I hear a politician (on EITHER side of the aisle) say, “We need do to get a lot done,” I yell to myself, “NO! Stop getting stuff done. Go on vacation and stay there for a very long time. Leave us all alone. No more law, please.” 

As I always say, whatever beast you build must be fed. And if you build a professional law-maker class, complete with 6-figure salary, the best benefits on the planet, and instant fame, don’t be surprised when they become really good at making law after law and creating statute after statute and making the country bow to them. Because those laws they make aren’t just frivolous corporate community standards. 

Those laws come with jail time and life-destroying penalties. 

That means, that beast has ALL the power. ALL. OF. IT. 

If you like it that way, you are very inclined to vote for Democrats. Democrats make no bones about giving more power to government. And I actually applaud them for their clarity and commitment. They’ve done a really good job of training generation after generation to rely more and more on them. So, when it comes to election time, the weakened masses allow them to gather more strength.

For some, this is seen as a victory. For them, it was last night. 

But if you have the least bit of concern over the size, scope and reach of the state, you will find yourself voting for Republicans. Not because Republicans are good candidates. Most of the time they’re horrible. Many of them are just not up to the task of articulating a counter argument to the status quo, which is what you HAVE to be able to do, to win as a Republican, and something Hershel Walker (as much as I tend to like the guy as a person) wasn’t up to. 

But here’s the thing about voting for Republicans…

I learned, years ago, that you should ONLY vote for the party…not the person. Because Republicans are the only ones willing to consider constraints on the expansion of power. 

Governmental power grows naturally, in the first place. It’s almost impossible to stop. And when it is run by people who don’t want to stop it, it can become a nightmare. You’re living in that nightmare right now. 

Wonder why your trip to the grocery store costs almost twice what it cost last year? Part of it is because Joe Manchin, the good ‘ol boy from West Virginia, who won his first election by doing videos of himself out shooting guns and showing his best “I’m-a-conservative-at-heart-I-just have-this-D-by-my-name-for-show” routine, locked arms with his party and voted in a spending bill that has flooded the market with so much cash, it’s almost not worth anything anymore. 

Joe is probably a good man at heart. But he basically broke the world with his vote. 

You’ll see it play out this winter, when you’re wondering why your natural gas bill is higher than your mortgage payment. 

But don’t worry…somebody online will be able to tell you why that’s Republicans’ fault. And we probably need more regulation to make sure everybody’s taxes are reported accurately.           

R

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THE KNOWN …

I was on the debate team, in high school. 

I was undefeated, by the way. But I digress …

There are some rules I learned, that have stayed with me through the years. A few of them have come in handy in marital arguments. Some of them have served me well in the public arena. Some of them have sent me down some online rabbit holes I wish I had stayed out of. Nevertheless…

One is: always force your opponent to defend the details. 

That means, make brash claims, based on “chapter and verse” of something obscure. Then, put your opponent in the position of having to refute your knowledge. 

Example: “page 38, paragraph 10, section 33, of the New York penal code explicitly states that this is a crime.” 

There may be no page 38, paragraph 10, section 33 of any New York penal code. You may be making it all up. But in a debate, your opponent is supposed to know all of that. So, the more details you can throw at them, the more confused you can make them. 

A weak debater will say something like, “Yes, but the spirit of that code is this or that…”

A strong debater will say, “There IS no page 38 of that code. I read it yesterday. And it doesn’t say that. It says this …”

Then, they’ll make up whatever they want to make up. 

And a big part of debate strategy is for each debater to bluff their opponent into believing they have a greater command of the facts than the other one does…whether they actually do or not. 

The strongest debaters of all, however, will actually have the facts. 

But keeping mountains of facts and oceans of figures at your constant disposal is difficult. We forget names and dates and penal codes. So, one of the more subtle nuances of general debate strategy is this: don’t get dragged into the speculative, when you can win on the known

That means don’t go off into the weeds on paragraph 10, section 33, when your opponent opened the door to page one, paragraph one, which everybody in the room can recite with their eyes closed.  

I’ve always found it interesting that people get dragged into an argument about how long The United States had slaves. The New York Times did an entire series on it, called The 1619 Project. 

But it’s not true. The United States didn’t have slaves in 1619. The United States only had slavery for 87 years. And do you know how I know that? 

Because it’s in the first line of the most famous American speech ever given…

“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a NEW nation…” 

That’s Abraham Lincoln…saying we’ve only been in existence for 87 years. Earlier that year, he had emancipated the slaves. 

This is a page one, paragraph one situation. The known. We don’t need to get into the weeds about page 38, paragraph 10 regarding 1619. That’s all British colonies and royal subjects and pre-revolution thinking. The debate is over based on the known. 

87 years ago, we started over. 

Anyway …

I have always maintained that the Hunter Biden laptop story is the most important story of the last decade. I’ve written about it many times. 

And it has nothing to do with Hunter’s personal problems or addictions or proclivities. I care about none of that. I would venture to say that most people don’t. 

And the story might have just been about garden variety political corruption, which is clearly what the Biden family is (and has been) engaged in for decades. That’s not really debatable either…based on the known. 

Truthfully, I don’t even blame them. I blame the nature of bureaucracy and the corrosive influence of power itself. This is why politicians in America should get out as soon as they can. Once you start seeing the people’s money and time as yours, corruption is only a whisper away. 

They answered the siren call. It’s clear. 

And I base this assertion on the known…not the speculative. 

Here’s what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears:

Hunter Biden, in an ABC interview, admitted that he has NO expertise in oil and gas exploration. And yet he was placed on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian oil and gas exploration company, making 80k a month just to sit on said board. 

When the interviewer asked him if he thinks he got that gig based on who his father was, he answered that he probably got a lot of opportunities in his life based on who his father was. 

And my next question was…WHY? 

What would a company anywhere in the world GAIN from having a senator or Vice President’s son on their board? There is only ONE answer…access. 

Access to what? American power. And if that’s the case, the Biden family was profiting off the elections of Joe.    

That is the known. 

Then, the video of Joe Biden bragging to the Council on Foreign Relations about withholding official government assistance to that country (tax payer dollars) if they didn’t fire a particular prosecutor. That’s known. His words. Not MY speculation. 

What was so important about that prosecutor? Well, we KNOW he was investigating Hunter Biden’s involvement in the Burisma company. 

Again…known. 

There may have been a dozen other reasons to fire that prosecutor. He may have been more corrupt than anyone we know. But I can’t make Joe Biden’s actions not be what they were. And even though there may have been all those other reasons to fire the guy, there was also a son sitting on a board, being investigated by a guy the dad forced to have fired, by withholding public dollars from an ally. 

So far, I haven’t had to make ONE claim about the Biden family. They’ve done it all for me. 

But let’s set all that aside and pretend, for a moment, that everything was on the up and up and that it’s all legal and pure as the driven snow. Those kinds of political back room deals don’t make the laptop story all that important…until 2020. 

Once the laptop story broke, and the corruption claims could actually be verified (or debunked) with some basic 101 journalism…but WASN’T…it became the most important story of the decade. 

Why?

Because now, the entire media establishment was picking a side and intentionally squashing a story to affect an election. And they weren’t even being coy or clandestine about it. They were doing it in broad daylight. 

Now, it wasn’t a story about political secret handshakes and cigar smoke-filled rooms, where the power gets transacted. NOW, it was a story about an entire sector of the United States putting its finger on the scale of an election; something we’ve never seen happen in the raw light of day. 

And we’ve told ourselves for years that we don’t do that here in America. Well now we do. And it’s known. 

This weekend, Elon Musk started releasing actual documents proving this story to be even more far-reaching than we could’ve ever speculated about. 

The known is now more corrupt than the original speculation. As it turns out, the conspiracy theorists weren’t thinking creatively enough. 

People talk about “election deniers” as if they are some fringe group of the insane. I am now wondering how anyone can still have faith in that election at all. The people who accept it as free, fair and secure are the crazy ones to me.

And that’s not based on some obscure voting anomaly on page 38, paragraph 10.   

What I’m talking about is based on the known.  

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TWO MINUTES …

It was all over two minutes. 

I’ll never forget it. 

My (then) 6-year-old son had asked me if he could stay up till 9:30 and play with his toys. I agreed. At 9:28, I came up and told him to start getting ready for bed and that by the time he got everything put away it would be well past our agreed upon time. 

“But you said I could play UNTIL 9:30,” he reasoned. “It’s only 9:28. That means I still have two minutes. This isn’t fair!” 

We spent the next ten minutes going through the gyrations of what it meant to get extra time to stay up and how two minutes wasn’t that much in the scheme of being allowed to stay up past your bed time, and how you have to factor clean up time into your bedtime equation, etc, etc. 

But as I put him down and was tucking the covers up around his neck, his scowl and quivering lip told me that he’d still not understood the issue as I understood it. 

Finally, I said, “If I let you get back up and play for two minutes will you be satisfied with our deal?” 

“Yes,” he replied, defiantly. 

So, I let him get back out of bed and play in his play room for EXACTLY two more minutes. I stood there and timed it. And when the alarm on my phone went off, he didn’t question anything. He simply got up and voluntarily went back to bed. Because my son is one of those people who is all about the letter of a thing. Not just the spirit of it. 

He doesn’t like phrases like, “around 20 minutes or so” or “roughly 80 pounds.” He needs specifics and he expects precise accountings. Some people are just that way. 

Yesterday, Donald Trump announced he is running for president again. 

Some people are elated. Others are horrified. When I saw it, all I could think about was “two minutes.” 

See, here’s the thing…

If you are one of those who believes we should move on past 2020 and simply forget all the craziness and look to the future instead of the past, you’re missing something really foundational. Donald Trump still believes that the 2020 election was stolen from him in broad daylight. Millions of others believe this as well. I happen to be one of them. 

Why do I believe this? Because Time Magazine admitted to it. 

Their admission wasn’t about ballot harvesting or 2000 Mules or any of that. But they did do a whole cover story on how the press colluded with Hollywood and social media and the Democrat election apparatus to get Trump removed from office. They were proud of it. 

For me, it was always about the Hunter Biden story. I said then, and I still maintain, that that story was the most important story of the moment. And it still is. 

And why, in a world of Covid, Russia invading Ukraine, January the 6th, inflation, gas prices, Roe V Wade being overturned, would that story be the most important one? 

Because in that story, we get to the core of all the other ones. 

In Hunter Biden’s laptop, which we all know is a real thing, now, we get a glimpse into the world we always had a hunch existed but couldn’t prove. We get to the heart of what Donald Trump represented to millions of Americans in the first place. We get to see all the secret handshakes and back room deals everybody hates about what American politics has become. 

The other thing about that story is that the suppression of it by the press and social media (and I mean, adamant suppression), lies at the heart of what everybody believes about the corruption of the press and the cabal they have with the Democrat party. 

If it had all proven to be a false story, the narrative could’ve been that Republicans (like Rudy Giulianni) were just trying to pull an October surprise on ‘ol Joe. But it was all true. And the FBI (according to Mark Zuckerburg) was apparently in on it. 

And that is political corruption at it’s zenith. That is Watergate, Iran/Contra, Monica Lewinski, and bombing Cambodia all rolled into one. And it still hasn’t cracked the front page of any major newspaper. 

Every poll taken on this, shows that if that information had been allowed to be released, the 2020 election would’ve swung by as much as 8 points. And you’d probably be paying around two bucks a gallon for gas right now (apologies to my son, who would prefer a specific number). 

In this entire narrative lies the January 6th event and people being imprisoned without due process. In it lies the retreat from Afghanistan. In it lies the billions of dollars given to Ukraine, that can’t seem to be tracked or accounted for. In it lies why Elon Musk even wanted to buy Twitter in the first place. In it lies 40-year-high inflation and American energy policy.

And in it lies the most recent 2022 midterm elections, and the dark cloud of mystery that still hovers over certain states’ voting practices. 

So, yes, Donald Trump sees all of this. And if you think a guy like that is simply going to throw up his hands and say, “Okay, guys. You got me. Good one. I’m just going to pack it in and take the L,” you don’t know anything about New York billionaire real estate tycoons. 

To me, Donald Trump isn’t the issue and never was. And none of this is about him. 

It’s about the power of the state and what it can do to people who are disrupting it. Is there ever a chance for a real outsider in American politics? Or do we have such powerful and well-oiled systems in place that we can thwart the will of the people whenever we need to, by simply pulling certain levers?

Nobody wants to believe that is the case. We all want to believe the American experiment isn’t being run by some invisible cartel that answers to no one. But 2020 makes you take a hard look at it and wonder. 

The thing about elections is that the winning side sometimes gets lulled into believing that just because they won a political battle, the other side is simply going to vanish. 

But that’s not how it works. 

People regroup and re-tool and come after you again. And sometimes they figure out how to beat you the second time. 

I don’t know if Trump can do that. And, to be honest, I don’t actually care. But what I do care about is my country and this really special thing we are all privileged to be a part of. 

And I think you can make a strong case that in 2020, that thing didn’t get its two minutes. 

R

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BALLOTS ON THE BALLOT …

Fluorescent lights. 

That’s the image that is always burned into my brain when I think about a government building. Then, I paint the rest of the picture. It usually includes beige walls and nondescript, utilitarian flooring of some kind. Then, of course, there are the obligatory drop ceiling tiles. One or two of them will have water stains just for good measure. 

It usually has the faint smell of coffee, cigarettes and some off-brand perfume. 

It’s nice enough and functional enough. But it’s never as exciting as the office building of a young, hip, private company.  They’re just two different worlds. And there are reasons for that …

If you want to see the major difference between the public and private sector, look no further than an election. 

As of the writing of this piece, we still don’t know who won some districts in yesterday’s mid-term elections. 

In the coming days, there will be endless analysis of the races themselves and why there wasn’t the red wave everybody thought there was going to be, and where the country’s mindset is and what drove voters to this or that. 

But, as a fairly simple man, my focus is always on the easy-to-point-out stuff others may not be talking about. And I have been baffled for many years (decades, actually) at how the most powerful nation in the history of the human race, still has ANY issues at all with its voting processes. 

We have fixed every major problem humans have ever had. We figured out how you can order an entire meal at one speaker and have it in your car by the next speaker. We figured out how to broadcast ourselves talking about literally nothing, to the rest of the world, holding the same device we are holding. 

We figured out how to scroll on that device and find a picture of the ice skates we want, order them with the touch of a button, and have them delivered to our front door…THE. NEXT. DAY. 

And yet, when it comes to electing our public servants, we can’t seem to have a nation-wide accurate count in 24 hours. Why? 

My opinion (yes, this is an OPINION Piece) is that we can’t get our elections certified in 24 hours for the same reason we can’t get those stained drop ceiling tiles replaced before winter… 

Government isn’t a dynamic system. 

Yesterday, I was called a “conservative” on social media. And I don’t know how many times I have to write about it and yell about it and explain it, but I am a LIBERTARIAN. NOT a conservative. 

Many people don’t know the difference. So here it is in a nutshell…

Libertarians believe the government should always be the last resort when it comes to solving complex problems of the human condition. They also believe in the most amount of personal freedom for the most people. We usually end up having to vote for Republicans because Republicans are the only political party left willing to even discuss this idea.  

One of the driving forces behind the Libertarian belief is that all government (ours included) necessarily creates a dispassionate pragmatism within itself, that has no incentive to innovate or create. And that’s okay if you’re building roads and bridges. But government is a static ecosystem populated by people without expertise in all the things we demand they be experts in. They also have no stakes attached to their decisions. 

American Idol, The Voice and AGT can receive and count millions of votes in mere hours…because they have to. Their very survival as a thing depends on them getting the job done. 

When government does it, however, there is no place else for the consumer to go; no competition lurking in the shadows, waiting to replace them. They’ll get it done when they get it done. Take a number and sit down. You’re stuck here. 

Now, obviously, TV shows don’t have the same sacred mandate and constitutional responsibility as representative government has. And allowing people to vote for a public servant from their phone comes with all sorts of issues that would take people much smarter than me to figure out. I’m not even advocating for that particular thing, anyway. 

I’m simply saying that if we are going to continue to give these people more and more power – and that seems to be what Americans are simply hell bent on doing – then shouldn’t our voting systems be the most state-of-the-art in the world? 

Shouldn’t we be able to announce which C student is going to be deciding global monetary policy, by the end of the night…in ALL 50 states? Is that really too much to ask? 

As a side note: I have certain doubts about the integrity of some states’ election systems in the first place. And I have for many years. In 2012, there were those weird stories about certain districts in Pennsylvania, where 120% of the total population of a town apparently voted…for ONE candidate. I don’t know if any of that is true. 

But at this point, I’m prone to believe a lot more far-fetched stuff than I used to. And Pennsylvania sure does seem to do some weird stuff. I’ll just leave that there. But just know, Pennsylvania…I’m watching you. We all are. 

How many times are we going to hear, “All the votes probably won’t be counted till the end of the week”?

For some people, that just always sounds too much like, “We need to see how many votes we need, here, to win this thing.”  

There’s probably a pulitzer or, at the very least, A Netflix documentary, in it for some hungry journalist who wants to do a multi-year deep dive in to voting practices all across the nation, and see what in the world is actually happening in some of these places. 

I would watch the hell out of that out of sheer curiosity. 

My hunch is that we wouldn’t find some sinister force, putting its finger on the scales. My money is on the disaffected incompetence that comes with knowing that you cannot be replaced no matter what. 

My gut tells me it’s more about fluorescent lighting and ceiling tiles than it is about shadows and monsters in the dark.  

So while everybody else is going to be talking about “what went wrong” or “what went right”; what message voters are sending or what America is standing up or sitting down for, I’m over here saying, “You can’t be excited about either side of any government that can’t get the votes counted in 24 hours.” 

People tried to tell you that “democracy itself” was on the ballot, yesterday. 

I’m telling you that in 2022, the fact that your state’s ballots might not be fully counted till next week, should tell you all you need to know about how much control you should give the government. 

Get used to stained ceiling tiles.  

R

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