What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Allegany Busted. I joined a Facebook group a few months ago that shows who’s been arrested in my old home county. It gives you a picture, a name, some vitals, and then their arrest record. If anything has ever sent me into a rage about the American justice system it isn’t that it’s slow or biased, but rather that it’s possible for someone who’s 28 years old to have been arrested 20 times and was somehow free to move about the county and get himself arrested for the 21st time. Maybe three-strikes-and-out is a little too excessive, but can we not agree as a society that by about your 20th strike you’re not going to be rehabilitated and constitute a clear danger to the health and welfare of the community? How someone like this should ever been entitled to breath free air again is simply beyond me. We humanely euthanize dogs that are vicious and can’t learn to live with the pack. I feel badly when society has to put down a dog, though. I wouldn’t bat at eye if we gave a short drop and a sudden stop to members of this professional criminal class.

2. You’re Fired. Social media is rife with “well informed” “opinion leaders” trying to make an argument that President Trump can’t fire Attorney General Sessions. Given the Attorney General’s position as a political appointee, AG Sessions served, using one of the most delightfully flourished phrases in the language, “at the pleasure of the president,” and he can and was fired. Sure, you’re free to use “asked to resign” as a euphemism, but the end result is exactly the same. The Office of the President often has a Senate conformation hurdle for hiring, but has pretty sweeping powers when it comes to terminating someone from the ranks of the political appointee class. I can only assume what these amateur political scientists on social media mean is that President Trump *shouldn’t* have fired Mr. Sessions. Even with this broad interpretation, their accuracy remains to be seen based on the amount of political fallout that’s generated and how it settles out. It’s certainly not going to damage the president’s standing with his base and he’s pretty consistently displayed an abject disregard to the opinion of the opposition party so the whole thing could end up being just another day in the West Wing in 2018.

3. Jim Acosta. Jim Acosta, CNN’s White House correspondent, has taken to the airwaves and social media platforms, retweeting that “freedom of the press is under attack.” Whether revoking press credentials from one individual employee of a company that has a healthy population of other employees more than capable of picking up his slack is actual an “attack,” of course is subject to debate. That said, it seems he does not like to see his rights abridged or trifled with by the government. Personally, I welcome Mr. Acosta and his company at long last to the defense of constitutional liberties… but until as he takes up the banner to defend all of the other liberties so carefully enshrined by the founders, I’ll opt not to give one good goddamn about what Mr. Acosta thinks.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Looking busy. During an average year there are plenty enough times when the number of requirements arriving over the side are large and numerous enough to swamp you before you ever get a chance to close them out. The few days before Christmas are not, generally, one of those times. The real issue now is no matter how important the thing is, the people you need to provide the answers, aren’t around. Sure, you’ll make an effort to close out those things that can be closed out without needing a lot of outside input, but with that done, you’re left largely with either make work projects or simply trying to make yourself look busy. At least when I get back after the first of the year, I’ll have a beautifully set up file system already built for all of those new 2018 emails. You can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes.

2. CNN. The day after a bill passed out of Congress giving most Americans an income tax cut, CNN’s website lead off with the banner headline “Enjoy your tax cuts while they last.” They go on to concede that “a lot of households… will see a lower tax bill in the next several years.” The article largely focuses on the expiration of many of these individual cuts by 2027 – a decade hence. The thing is, though, Congress can pretty much do whatever it wants. Tomorrow they can pass a bill making these cuts permanent. The next day they can pass a bill that changes the date they expire to a week from Tuesday. Sure, I would have loved to see the individual tax reduction provisions made permanent in the original bill, but I’m damned if I’ll reject a reduction now when balanced by what might be a decade in the future. A decade is a hell of a long time in politics – more than enough time to apply maximum pressure to our duly elected representatives to ensure the cuts they’ve made now are made permanent or replaced by better alternatives… and bird in the hand and whatnot.

3. The shortest day. We have the solstice over with now, but it’s a long, dark climb back to a point when we don’t exist as a race of mole people, traversing to and from home each day in utter darkness. I’m sure some people will wax poetic about the majesty of the shifting seasons, but I’d be happy enough stuck on high summer with its ready supply of daytime in big, beautiful 15 hour blocks.

Neutrality….

I’m not a parent. It’s not a decision I’ve ever had a reason to regret. While I haven’t had the direct experience of what it’s like raising kids, I can speculate at least from the perspective of having been one once… contrary to the misguided notions that I was either hatched in a lab or sprung full grown from Zues’ head.

The interwebs are cheering Target’s bold, forward thinking decision to do away with gender-based signs in favor of gender neutrality. The CNN article on the topic quotes a Target shopper as being thrilled because she was “so tired of my daughter trying to play with her best friend (a boy) and him not wanting to because whatever she has is a girl toy. Or not wanting to watch the show she suggested because it’s a girls’ show…”

Now it’s been a long time since I was a kid, but I don’t remember making thoughtful, informed toy choices based on color or what aisle something happened to be in – I wanted GI Joes, Micro Machines, toy guns, and styrofoam airplanes that were guaranteed to crack the first time you threw them. In fairness, growing up we were just as apt to make our own toys out of pointy stick and rocks, spend the afternoon trying to catch frogs, or throw a dam across a stream, knock it down to see the “flood,” and the build it back again as we were to play with anything store bought. I don’t remember my toys ever being so much about gender as about interest.

None of that is really the point though. I don’t rightly care if you want your little Johnny to play with dolls or your little Susie to play with balls (or whatever it is that boys are “supposed” to play with these days). My point is we seem to spend a hell of a lot of time and effort in this country to satisfy whatever wild ass issue of the day one special interest after another comes up with. The better option, if I may be so bold, is for the parents out there to actual do some parenting.

Instead of expecting Target to do it for you, how about you as a parent decide what is an isn’t an acceptable choice for your child. Just because Target or Sears or LL Bean put something in a particular aisle, really shouldn’t flavor how you’re choosing to raise your lovely little hatchling or what you’re encouraging them to play with. Kids, being the ill tempered, uncensored little hoodlums that they are will tell you quickly enough what they want to play with and whether they consider it a “boy toy” or a “girl toy.” That’s a decision for you and them… whether Target puts it in Aisle 4 in a blue box or Aisle 6 in a pink box is likely to be incidental at best.

Sensational…

As if anyone who’s paying even a modest amount of attention to the world doesn’t already know, the media are a sensational bunch. And I don’t mean that they’re really terrific and should be applauded for their hard hitting journalistic ethics.

CNNCase in point, I give you the banner headline from CNN.com, proclaiming “Historic, crippling, catastrophic ice” for Atlanta.

I don’t mean to minimize the grave trauma the American south is surely about to face, but it seems to me that description might be a bit of a stretch. Sherman burning Atlanta, that’s historic. An asteroid slamming into Stone Mountain, that’s probably catastrophic. And staying home for a day or two until it warms up enough to melt the mess, doesn’t quite equate to “crippling” at least in my lexicon. Wintry precipitation falling from the sky just doesn’t seem to rise to that level of noteworthiness – especially since it’s happening in the middle of the actual winter. If it were happening in August, well, there you’ve got some news for yourself.

So there you have it. Hide your kids. Hide your wife. Buy up ever loaf of bread and roll of toilet paper in the state. Fasten all seat belts. Seal all entrances and exits. Close all shops in the mall. Cancel the three ring circus. Secure all animals in the zoo… because what we’re most likely to see here is nothing more than a classic American shitshow and a corresponding media overreaction. At least that’s what we’ll see until the power goes out and we’re all plunged into the inky mid-winter’s darkness.

May God have mercy on our souls.

Communist News Network…

Last week I was watching CNN, which is not something I usually do, but the hospital is too cheap to get a decent cable package apparently, although they do charge $10/day for using the TV. Lou Dobbs, who once upon a time was their financial guru, has been running a series of “special reports” under the headline “War on the Middle Class.” Now aside from the obvious political slant of the headline (Fox isn’t the only news channel with an agenda, people), the issue that I have with this particular episode was that it was decrying the lack of a federal response to the “home loan crisis” and calling for a government bailout of people about to go into foreclosure.

As someone who did my homework, read every page of my loan origination documents, asked questions, and bought a house that I could actually afford to make payments on, I am absolutely livid at the suggestion that the US government should subsidize people who either through stupidity or negligence saddled themselves with a mortgage that they could not afford. I used logic and financial analysis to make my decisions on how, when, and where to buy, so I am having a hard time digesting the idea that because I made good decisions, money should come out of my pocket to pick up the tab for those who made bad ones.

This isn’t a war on the middle class in America. This isn’t even the government offering aid to people who found themselves in harm’s way during a natural disaster or terrorist event. This is about people being kicked in the teeth by the free market because they chose poorly. It’s not my responsibility or yours to compensate them for their own bad decisions. Government interference in the market always has unintended consequences and the inevitable bailout of these people sets a dangerous and damning precedent.

News of the world tonight…

I just did a quick check of the headlines a few minutes ago and as expected, most of the major outlets are still running something about pot-smoking kids as the lead story. Another link on CNN was a story about a baby whose nose was chewed off by rats. I can’t help but think that if there these are stories that make the news, there are probably more examples of similar experiences out there that have simply never made it to tape. These stories appear to be the latest confirmation of my pet theory that the collapse of a civilization occurs exponentially more quickly than its rise. Using the year 1900 as a baseline for the start of the “American Century,” the rise took approximately 125 years. With parents who allow their young to have appendages removed by rodents and get stoned with the family (while the mother was apparently cranked out on pain killers according to the report I heard on news radio), I’m guessing we have maybe 25-30 relatively good years left before the scale is completely tipped and the inmates have achieved the critical mass needed to take over the asylum.