What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Protests. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember a sign waving, getting in the way of things protest that I’ve ever knowingly supported. The tactics most protesters employ seem almost perfectly designed to guarantee that I’ll either quietly oppose them or openly mock and deride them. The small “r” republican protestors who have been popping up in London this week aiming to disrupt the most solemn state occasion of the late Queen’s funeral are probably exactly the kind of friendless cranks you might expect to engage in that kind of ill-timed, boorish behavior. I’m not saying the Crown should necessarily haul them off to the tower, but if the rest of the populace got together and heaved them directly into the Thames, I’d likely look the other way and then have a good laugh about it.

2. Lindsey Graham. For the last six months every Republican who could find a TV camera earnestly declared that abortion was an issue that should rightly be resolved by the states. That the federal government has gotten too large and overreaching is a reasonable argument. The remedy, of course, isn’t to hand that misbegotten power to the states, but rather return it directly to the people, who are the font of power under the American system, and allow them each to decide based on their own particular light. But then here comes Lindsey Graham, boldly introducing a bill that not only flies in the face of small government orthodoxy, but which will be wildly unpopular with 60% or more of the electorate. It might buy him some votes from the Republican base in South Carolina, but otherwise it makes him look like a fucking moron.

3. Eyes. My eyes suck and have since I was a kid. Take away my glasses and I could probably squint my way through things at very close range, but forget about telling the difference between a car and a cow more than a couple of dozen yards away. I’m headed off to my annual eye exam tomorrow, where I plan to spend my hour griping and complaining that by 8PM, my eyes are shot. It’s a situation that’s beginning to interfere with my evening reading and that obviously can’t be allowed to stand. With the return of wasting hours of the week commuting to the office for reasons that defy logic, but make perfect sense to management on the near horizon, I can’t afford to lose another hour or two in the evening with my eyes running everything together into lines of black smudge. 

The injustice of the month club…

Oh good. As expected, we just couldn’t let the truck protest have it’s time to shine in Canada. According to The Hill, there’s a plot afoot to bring traffic on the Washington beltway to a halt. 

As someone who spent a portion of his career commuting into and out of DC on a daily basis, let me just say fuck directly off with that asshattery. The only people you’ll be screwing with are the working schmucks who just want to get home and get on with their lives – exactly the kind of people I’d think you would want to support your little protest, no?

Of course they are, but deep thinking never seems to be among the traits displayed by people who plan this kind of goofy ass protest. Thinking in broader strategic terms is a game for grown adults rather than those whose notion of how to go about doing things was stunted around the time they were 17-year-old. Truly they’re almost always driven and supported by the kind of people I don’t even bother arguing with – or engaging with at all if I can avoid it. I just don’t have the patience anymore to suffer fools with anything less than complete disdain.

Look, I know I’ll never be mistaken for any kind of man of the people. That’s fine. It’s good that I’m not king, though, because given my preferences, I’d pull back and nuke this shit from orbit. But we live in world where even the village idiot is allowed to have a voice and we’re legally obligated to allow him or her to use it. So do what you want to the beltway and tens of thousands if commuters, I guess. I can only hope you turn every single one of them into opponents of whatever grave-injustice-of-the-month it is you think you’re trying to highlight. 

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. Ah, Florida. How is it not surprising that it’s Florida? Let me be blunt here: Some guys like dick. Some girls don’t. Pretending that simple fact goes away because legislation prevents people from mentioning it is ludicrous. Not “agreeing” with someone else’s lifestyle isn’t sufficient reason for the state to censor them. Your flavor of religion calling something sin isn’t sufficient reason for the state to censor them. Getting up in your feelings because someone says words that make you sad isn’t sufficient reason for the state to censor them. I wish to hell these right-wing snowflakes would try reading the Constitution instead of just wrapping themselves up in it like day old fish. 

2. Intellectual inconsistency. A year ago, there was a group Black Lives Matter activists who, on several occasions, blocked up traffic in North East, Maryland. The local Facebook groups raged about them hindering commerce, being a danger to public safety, and generally being a pain in the ass to anyone just trying to get home from work while they filled the crosswalk. Now that same Facebook group is cheering wildly for the Canadian truckers blocking off whole interstates and downtowns. The truckers, of course, are heroic freedom fighters. Intellectual consistency is far too big an ask in our dumb 21st century. Personally, I think the worst way to convince people of the rightness of your cause is by making a general nuisance of yourself. It’s a stupid way of trying to win over people who largely don’t give a single shit about what you want them to care about. It doesn’t make a bit of difference to me if you’re BLM, a bunch of Canadian truck drivers, or the inevitable Americans who decide we need our own road closing protests. If I had my way, we’d read out the Riot Act and clear the rabble so the rest of us could continue on with our business. On that position, I’m absolutely consistent.

3. Taxes. I’m beginning to assemble the sea of paperwork required each year to file my taxes. The sheer complexity of it, even while filing single, is probably more rage inducing than annoying if I’m honest. This is just the grievance before I even find out the total butcher’s bill for 2021. I’m not one of the oddball “taxation is theft” types. I like living in a country whose military has more bits and bobs than the next ten countries on the list… combined. For now, it’s just the fact that I have 20 or more bits of paper (with more yet to come in), that all need to be coordinated before I can even send the whole mess off to the guy who actually understands how it’s all supposed to fit together and save me from handing over one more thin dime than is legally required.

The protestor mentality…

I’ve never quite understood the “protestor mentality.” You know the ones I’m talking about – everyone from the kids a decade ago who hated Wall Street so much they wanted to physically occupy it or the Canadian Convoy who are determined to stay in Ottawa until the government there agrees to their right to die horribly from a largely preventable illness or the fading rock stars who threaten to take their catalog and go home unless someone gives in to their demands.

Mostly I don’t understand from where these people find the time. I mean I’m not the busiest guy on the planet, but while they’re out marching around waving signs, I’ve got a job to do, meals to make, animals to tend, and the thousand other things that go into keeping a household running. Most of the time, that’s a full day’s work right there… and what hour or two of unallocated personal time I do manage to carve out, I can find more rewarding things to do than standing on a street corner with my bullhorn antagonizing people like some kind of asshole.

Maybe some of these people have valid grievances, but it seems that I’ve always had better results in finding redress by talking directly to the people who can do something about whatever my problem happens to be. I can’t think of anything less apt to convince me of the rightness of your position than seeing you and your friends throwing big adult sized tantrums for the benefit of the howling mob, or news cameras, or your social feeds.

It doesn’t make you look principled, it makes you look like a moron. If you’re bored enough that marching around in the cold sounds like fun, shoot me an email, I’ll be happy to set you about doing some winter yard projects for me. With a little bit of my own time freed up, maybe I’d even find time to more deeply consider, but probably still not care about, whatever happens to be the flavor of popular outrage this week.

Pro-plague protestors…

This past Saturday afternoon employees of our regional medical center marched for their “right” to remain unvaccinated.

Their Facebook posts seemed to gin up all the usual things you’d expect. Arguments like “it’s not a vaccine,” or “the FDA hasn’t approved it,” or “I won’t be a lab rat,” or “government tracking,” or “my body, my choice,” or, more creatively, an oddly undefined “right to choose” abounded. 

The thing here is, Christiana Hospital is a private entity. They have all the right in the world to establish their own conditions of employment. Employees, like the assembled jackasses who have decided the COVID-19 vaccination is a globalist plot to sap and impurify their precious bodily fluids, are free to either meet those conditions or go off to seek employment somewhere willing to tolerate their bat shit crazy ideas. 

The only thing anyone is being forced to do here is make a decision – and then live with the consequences. As it turns out, people really hate it when they’re faced with consequences. 

I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to call these people “anti-vaxers.” What they really are is pro-plague. In word and deed, they’re actively advocating medically irresponsible and dangerous theories. Frankly, the hospital system should be glad they’ve so helpfully self-identified. They’re exactly the kind of people that shouldn’t be involved in providing health services to the public. 

If these pro-plague healthcare workers had the courage of their convictions, they would immediately resign in protest – refusing to participate in a system they believe is doing direct harm to patients or is otherwise engaged in unlawful practices. As it is, I can only assume what they really are is attention whores who want to stomp around shouting “look at me, look at me.”

Believe me, I’ve looked at you. I’ve taken your weight and measure and found you wanting in almost every possible way.

You can do both…

I spent a lot of this summer calling out lefty “protests” that descended into the looting and burning of American cities as violent insurrection that should be put down swiftly with great force.

I’ve spent a lot of the last few days calling out MAGA “protests” that resulted in storming the Capitol and the attempted subversion of the Constitution as violent insurrection that should be put down with great force.

What we have here is a case of two different things being simultaneously true. I can oppose leftist anarchy at the same time I oppose right-wing sedition. The world is not a binary system where if something is 1 it cannot also be 0. The world, as it turns out, is a complex system. It’s filled with extraordinarily few great absolutes and enormous gradients of gray everywhere else.

The number of people who want to excuse “their” side as being justified or righteous would be horrifying if it weren’t so tiringly predictable. If you’re so blinded by your “side” and its rightness, so steeped in your side’s talking points that you can’t apply a single shred of independent thought, or God forbid, analytical rigor, then we probably don’t have much to say to each other.

As for me, I feel an inherent moral obligation to oppose extreme fuckery it all its many forms from both the left and the right, so I’ll keep calling the balls and strikes just as I see them. 

Capital and lower-case…

Internet pundits have been quick to point out that what we saw yesterday wasn’t a coup because it didn’t involve the military. Pedantry aside, what we witnessed was a violent insurrection carried out at the behest of the President of the United States in order to undermine Constitution, government, and the lawful, peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. The fact that this president still occupies the Oval Office more than 24 hours since attempting to overthrow the government is a mark of moral cowardice on every Executive Branch official who has the power to do something about it and has failed to act decisively. At a minimum, each and every cabinet secretary should have, by now, called on the president to resign to his everlasting disgrace.

I have even less use for these right wing insurrectionists than I did for the lefties who burned and rioted their way through the summer. I hold them to a higher standard because when and where I come from, “conservative” implies rational, thoughtful decision-making of the head rather than zooming off in whatever direction the heart demands. Republicans very recently claimed to be the party that supported the police – the party of law and order. It’s hard to give credit for “backing the blue” when you’re in the streets and in the halls of Congress swinging on them.

I’m a Republican (capital “R”) and a republican (lower-case “r”). I believe in the virtue of small government and lower taxes, of free people and free markets. I am never going to get next to this strain of contemporary MAGA-ism that rejects science (because they don’t understand it) or rejects election results (because they don’t like who won). I’m never going to get next to the idea that we should be embarrassed by being in some way intellectual. I’m never going to get behind the idea of twisting the Constitution with wild contortionistic abandon, throwing over 232 years of precedent, to suit the aims of a single man. I’m never going to understand a group of people who want to buy whole cloth into whatever blatant lies and wild-ass conspiracy theory the internet spits out, because believing the patently unbelievable is more comforting than dealing with hard realities of the actual world.

More importantly, I will never stand with those who seek to subvert the Constitution by force or otherwise. These insurrectionists, with the President of the United States as their leader, and with the support of sitting senators and members of the House of Representatives, betrayed of not just our history and our laws, but also the spirit of America. Those who participated in, agitated for, support, condone, or in any way provide aid and comfort to them are treasonous bastards who deserve all the scorn and derision we can heap upon them and to should prosecuted to the fullest possible extent of the law.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Algorithms. Facebook has recently decided that all of my personalized advertising should be focused on selling me condos in New York, Philadelphia, or DC. I’d be hard pressed to think of where I would want to live less than any of those places. I mean if there was property for sale in a Molokai at the leper colony, I’d be decidedly more interested in it than I am in East Coast city living. Chalk this one up to one of the small ways I know Big Tech still hasn’t completely figured me out.

2. Sport. If COVID-19 hasn’t done anything else, it’s at least muted the coverage of sports in America. With wall to wall coverage of the pandemic, hurricanes, wildfires, and the presidential election, professional sports, even in the midst of their own protests, has largely been a below-the-fold story. It’s a pity it won’t stay there once the other stories run their course. Athletes, like the rest of us, are entirely entitled to have an opinion… but I remain under no moral, ethical, or legal obligation to care what a bunch of grown adults who spent their time chasing a ball think about the topics of the day.

3. Baltimore. Fifty people were shot in Baltimore last week. It would be easy to blame that on guns – it’s what various Mayors and councilors of Baltimore have done for years. It’s always easier to blame the tool than blame the trigger-pulling constituents themselves. I wonder, though, how much of it is really do to what I have observed as the general ineptitude of city government throughout my adult lifetime. Currently the city can’t manage to keep up with the most basic services like trash collection. What hope, then, is there that the same august group of august leaders will stumble upon the secret sauce to bring violent crime under control? I have great faith that we can rely on them to keep doing what they’re doing while expecting different results.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

This week offers a real grab bag of topics that could easily be slotted into tonight’s post. There are rioters who the media insists we call protestors, there are those who want us to fall all over ourselves apologizing for the long history of the United States, there are people who refuse to follow simple, lawful instructions, there are local governments all over the country that are failing to provide the most basic services of government – the safety and security of their citizens, and there are those from every corner who are working all possible angles to find advantage in the chaos – whether that’s through committing acts of violence, theft, or injecting outside agitation into already unstable situations.

Like I said, there’s almost no limit to what I could have written on this Thursday. The problem is, I don’t want to. The only goal I’ve had for the last five years or so, really, is to be left in peace on the side of this hill… and that litany of topics brings me anything but peace. 

I spent some time at the office this week. I spent some time at home. I did a little work. I’ve done a lot of reading. I’ve laid down on the floor and let myself become a human chew toy. I’ve worked through a not insignificant volume of gin. None of those things led me towards burning down a car dealership or taking pot shots at someone in the street. It leads me to wonder if we wouldn’t collectively be better off if we all just stayed in our damned lane, take a breather, and give the moment a chance to unfuck itself since continually ratcheting up the pressure doesn’t appear to be getting us anywhere productive.

Since that doesn’t seem likely to happen, I suppose I’ll just stay here on the hillside, rolling my eyes ferociously and muttering to myself. 

At the risk of drawing the wrath of the wokes…

I couldn’t help but notice that Chicago was the latest city seemingly brought to its knees by what their behavior indicates is a semi-organized criminal element. Large retailers as well as small businesses and restaurants were the target of looting throughout the downtown section of Chicago on Sunday night into Monday morning. The Tribune reports that some of the criminals responsible were seen loading their loot into the back of waiting rental trucks and other large vehicles. That hardly sounds like a spontaneous protest of social-minded reformers. A hundred looters, a small minority of those the video clips show participating in the pillaging, were arrested.

Last night, Black Lives Matter Chicago held a rally supporting those who were arrested… if one can use the word “rally” to describe the act of surrounding a police station and threatening violence if the group’s demands aren’t met. One of that organization’s leaders noted that the ongoing looting was simply “reparations,” further asserting that “Anything they wanted it take, they can take it because these businesses have insurance.” So, it turns out that theft and destruction are just fine as long as you call them something else.

The incident was triggered when a 20-year old suspect opened fire on the police, who had the unmitigated audacity to return fire when fired upon. Shocking. That particular detail was, of course, buried well down below the lead in most of the sources I read this morning.

I don’t know how long we’re collectively supposed to pretend that violent criminals are in possession of the insurmountable moral high ground in these incidents. At least a few media outlets are starting to report on these events more objectively rather than trying to sell the story of saintly and peaceful protestors versus the wicked and evil police. 

Look, you want to protest, sing your songs, clap your hands, wave your signs, whatever it is that legitimately peaceful protestors spend their time doing, fine. I’m happy for you. Do your thing. Whatever. The moment you use that platform as a cover for violence and criminal behavior, any credibility you may have had with moderate observers is pretty much null and void.

I’m sure this post runs the risk of drawing down the wrath of the internet wokes and getting me cancelled for having the temerity to break with their received truth. As long as it’s my name up there on the masthead, though, you can always trust that I’ll keep saying what I think rather than what’s simply in fashion.