Saturday, December 15, 2007

This Just In: Sometimes People Make Bad Decisions

Every once in a while I hear somebody say that a politician's policy or plan "sends the wrong message." And that really gets under my skin. Why? Because our politicians aren't hired to send us messages. They're hired to solve problems. To assume a politician's solution encourages bad decision making is to assume there's a parent-child relationship between the politician and his boss (the people), respectively. If anyone should be sending messages, the people should send them to our political figures.

For those who are new to this democracy thing, here's a news flash for ya: Your fellow countrymen are going to make crappy choices from time to time, no matter what the message is. When that happens, the best thing to do is create policies that protect the responsible ones from the silly decisions of others. Don't withhold good policies simply because you're angry at the people who screwed up. A Government of Vengeance might give us a brief sense of satisfaction, but it is its own kind of dumb-ass decision.

For example, let's look at the current mortgage crisis and proposed bail-out.

If you're not familiar with the mortgage crisis, this is it in a Nutshell: a lot of folks took advantage of some juicy sub-prime mortgages to purchase houses they could not afford, the housing market crashed, housing prices tanked, and a lot of people ended up owing more on their homes than they could sell them for while their interest rates and payments started to skyrocket. As a result, a lot of people are losing their homes.

A bail-out has been proposed where the buyer's interest rate is frozen at the initial price so that they can afford their home and avoid foreclosure, thus reducing further damage to our entire economy and the property values of neighborhoods nationwide. This should even concern non-home owners because the ripples of mass foreclosures will have had an impact on all aspects of our economy, freezing consumer spending, demoralizing consumer confidence, and chilling local and state economies.

The proposed bail out is wise, sound policy. But listen! Listen close. Actually, you don't have to listen too close because some people are SCREAMING about this because it "sends the wrong message."

The people who recklessly who took out sub-prime loans they could barely afford and bought huge houses in big cities on the gamble of cheap money are about to be bailed out of their bad decision with American tax dollars. Understandably, those who resisted the siren song of cheap money, who moved to more affordable cities, who scrimped and saved to live within their means are pissed off. They're pissed off because the government seems to be rewarding the people who made poor decisions at the expense of those who made good decisions.

It's fine to be pissed off. But the policy is intended to reduce foreclosure rates which will drive down every home owner's property values and will drive down every home owner's equity and savings. We can't worry about what message the bail-out sends. Rather, we should continue to tend our own gardens and not let ourselves get dragged down by the decisions of others simply because helping them offends our sense of justice.

Let's be realistic. We will never, never, never eradicate poor decisions. We all take turns being That Guy who made the crappy choice. Except in the case of broken laws, policies should not be crafted to punish those who make bade decisions in lieu of policies that protect those who didn't.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Blue Cross Blue Shield Bait 'N Switch

So my wife's employer had difficulty paying the insurance company so our family insurance was suspended. Had my wife not been 5 months pregnant, this would not have been a problem. We found out about the suspension when we started receiving bills for the doctor-ordered ultrasound.

We decided not to wait around for my wife's employer to get back on its feet and bring payment up-to-date. Instead, we opted to buy our own insurance from Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Michigan. This should be simple, we thought. We're already using Blue Cross...we'll just take over the payments and choose a policy.

After several calls to Blue Cross I was directed to their website, which outlined a number of policies. While checking one out I clicked some button that made like I was going to request more information from Blue Cross, when in fact it directed my information to a third party agent who would "help me" select the best policy.

Suddenly the phone rang. It was some random agent on the other side of the state. I told him I was already in contact with somebody at Blue Cross and he said "Well...I'm an agent for Blue Cross, they train me about their policies. The people you call, they just answer phones. They really don't know about the policies." Having gotten three different answers from three different people at Blue Cross, I believed him. Okay...let's do this, I said:

So he spat a bunch of numbers and policy names in rapid fire succession, weaving in and out of policy descriptions in non-linear way until I wasn't sure what policy did what. Finally, after about a day of this, I said I wanted just the standard Independent Blue package for a family, which would do the usual co-pay deal for our health stuff...they pay some, I pay some. NO! he said. This was a lousy choice, since the FlexBlue with the Maternity rider would pay ALL OFF MY MATERNITY EXPENSES.

WOW! ALL of our maternity expenses? He sent me the information. There it was. Right in the HTML e-mail description generated by Blue Cross..."Maternity Pre and Post Natal Maternity Care Covered -- 100% (in network)." This description is also found in a brochure of policies held by my wife's employer.


So we got the policy, shelled out $1334 to Blue Cross, we got our cards and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Phew. Pregnant wife is insured. Ahhh...

A week later...our ultrasound claim came back as Not Covered. WHAT? The bill read "Ultrasound - Pregnant Uterus" You can't get much more Pre-Natal than that. So I called Blue Cross and asked what the hell was going on. Turns out, when they said Pre and Post Natal stuff is COVERED. What they MEANT was Pre and Post Natal stuff is NOT covered until after the deductable...

Here's why that's a problem for us. We opted for the FlexBlue plan which has a nasty $3000 deductible...the insurance pays nothing until the deductible is met. To make matters worse, the deductible is reset to ZERO on January 1st, and baby is born February 7th. So...we pay out of pocket for every ultrasound, doctor visit, pre-natal test until January 1st. And THEN we pay for the delivery and nursery. That's a massive assload of medical bills.

WHY would we choose such a CRAPPY policy? Because our agent told us ALL Maternity is covered.

Well it's F#$&ing not.

But here's the thing...SOME people at Blue Cross knew that, and some didn't. Some were absolutely sure it DID cover it. Some were absolutely sure it DIDN'T. Nobody knew for certain. Today I called Blue Cross and the lady, assuredly telling me I was covered.

"Are you SURE?" I asked


"Can you send me a copy of my benefits so I can have it in my hand?"

"Yes. We can print one for you and mail it to you in 21 days."

"21 DAYS? I have a baby coming and I need to change my policy now if I don't have what I think I have."

"I understand. Let me..." She stopped in mid-sentence and said "huh...I have two different policy descriptions for the same policy here."

Aha. So...for ONE policy there are multiple possible policy descriptions?

Blue Cross / Blue Shield, it turns out, had "accidentally" printed two different versions of the same policy.

The question is this...if the very people giving out information at insurance companies, and their agents, can't give out accurate information about THEIR OWN POLICITES. How can we as consumers of medical insurance POSSIBLY hope to make an informed decision about our consumer habits?

The system we have is Messed Up. It's not a free market system. It's a free market humunculous...some twisted, perverted version of free market practices. There can't be a claim of free market supremecy of our medical system, because market pressures do not apply to our current medical system. Choice, consumer transparency...they don't exist. Compared to our current system, state funded health care offers a much more viable solution, especially for small business people who don't have the option of negotiating with insurance companies. Our current system chills entrepreneurialism and leaves the unemployed or underemployed to the wolves.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Intelligent Design Advocate, Ben Stein!

If this trailer for the movie Expelled - - isn't actually a joke, Ben Stein has turned from Trial Lawyer/Game Show Host to Science Critic and an advocate of Intelligent Design. From my impression of the trailer, the movie seems to brand itself as a rebellion against Big Science, the David to the Goliath of DARWINISM. Following in the footsteps of cigarettes, beer, and drugs, the film is trying to make Intelligent Design seem counter-cultural and cool.

Note to Kids: When something brands itself as counter-cultural and cool, it's usually really bad for you.

What can I say about Intelligent Design that hasn't already been said? It's a religiously based ideology. If you want to believe in Intelligent Design, you're more than welcome to. Meanwhile the US continues to produce fewer scientists while China and India gleefully continue to pick up the slack. As creationism and Intelligent Design have increasingly presented themselves as alternatives to "big science" (read: actual science) in the schools, does it seem like a coincidence that our kids' math and analytic scores have taken an abysmal turn compared to those of other advancing nations?

When trusted people and institutions, like our religious leaders and churches, spend their capital trying to undermine the credibility of the very concepts that have propelled Western Civilization into global dominance, what do they expect the outcome will be? What do they think our children will do? Withdraw from "big science" as they have?

"We just want a fair hearing!" beg the Intelligent Design folk. "You're not even listening!"

Ah. But we are listening. You have gotten a fair hearing. And we Do understand. Intelligent Design is not born of science. It's born of religious belief.

What proponents of Intelligent Design choose to omit is that SCIENCE is not a conclusion. SCIENCE is a process. It's a method for answering questions. In a nutshell, this is science:

When you start with a conclusion, and search for ways to bolster your conclusion, you are way outside the realm of science. Does that mean your conclusion is wrong? Not necessarily. But it's not SCIENCE. Intelligent Design falls apart as a scientific theory at the fourth step, Test With An Experiment.

So you believe an absolute creator zapped certain creations into existence in an instant. How do you test for that in an observable way?

We're confronted with the challenge now of testing for two things 1) That there is an absolute creator and 2) that the absolute creator designed elements of life in an instant.

Do you see what's happening? Intelligent Design, in its zeal to be treated as science, tries to subject religious faith to scientific scrutiny. This beautiful, spiritual part of the human experience is now cast into the cold, clinical light of science; a franchise entirely based on experiences of the flesh...what we can observe with our human senses. Why the faithful community would want to do this is beyond understanding.

How far has religion fallen? Rather than embracing the scientific method as an extension of itself, a spiritual gift from God, it is now trying to conform to science. Rather than being above science, it's trying to BE science.

It seems to me that the ones lacking faith are those who are trying to prove their religious doctrine in earthly, scientific terms. Ben Stein, Pat Robertson, advocates of Intelligent Design, that would be you.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hands Off the Water Part II

See that smiling dude on the right there? That's Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico and presidential hopeful. A couple weeks ago he suggested a National Water Policy, saying that "states like Wisconsin are awash in water."

Translation: Let's take their water!

Unfortunately the Great Lakes are occasionally a political bargaining chip as our national political folks pander to the growing west by offering them our water. Water diversion from the Great Lakes water basin is a very real danger.

Hey, I know. While we're moving Michigan's water to the arid west, let's move Iowa's fertile soil to South Dakota, we'll move Kentucky's coal mines to Minnesota, and as a Michigan resident I've always felt we missed out on trade because we don't have access to the Pacific ocean, so we should shave off portions of the the states between Michigan and the Pacific so we can have the same level of trade as California...which will be fine because all of our fresh water will be in Las Vegas anyway. Everybody wins.

With six quadrillion gallons, or 5,472 cubic miles of fresh water, the Great Lakes seem like all the fresh water in the world when in fact it's only 20% of all the fresh water in the world. We are indeed awash in water. More like seas than lakes, they affect the weather and are a way of life for the thirty million people who live within the water basin. And yet, it shouldn't be moved to accommodate unsustainable settlements in inherently dry regions. The Lakes are not simply a commodity to be bought and sold.

As Michigan loses jobs and citizens to other parts of the country, growing states out west are asking us to help them continue wooing companies and taking our jobs by sending them our water, too. As it turns out, their growth is wildly unsustainable due to an inherent limit to vital resources.

See...these states court national businesses and manufacturing claiming a high standard of living and a clear growth momentum, pointing out that states like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are the old guard with an aging infrastructure. Meanwhile they wring their hands about lacking the most essential ingredient to human life and civilization...water. So they come knocking on our door asking for ours, or as Bill Richardson suggests, they simply take it.

Look at civilizations and cities around the world from antiquity on. They tend to be built on or near bodies of water. Without that, growth is unsustainable. It's a historical fact. And the fact is, the very thing that made Chicago, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and New York important manufacturing and economic centers is the very thing western states don't have enough of. Why should we help them take our jobs by sending them our most precious resource? The most precious resource in the world? And when when the water gets there, will it find its way back into the Great Lakes basin? No. The Great Lakes simply shrink and shrink and shrink.

As climate change continues to exacerbate drought and water shortages, this issue will become more pressing and more political figures will attempt to sell out our resources and eco-system for political gain. We need to tell them to go stuff it. If businesses want our water, they need to move where there's water.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Don't Look At My Water!

YOU! I see you. I see you eyeing up my Lake with those lust filled eyes like my Lake was put here on earth for your gratification. Well, stop it you sick bastard. Cuz you're not getting a drop. Not a single drop. You want WATER? You come live where there's water. All you city managers and civil engineers out there in LasVegas belly aching about your dwindling water supply need to suck it up and realize you managed to build a metropolis in the middle of the frickin' desert. No water? Holy crap. Who would have guessed? No water in The Frickin' Desert.

I recently read an article about the effects of global warming on water supplies, and it sounds like things are going to get pretty tight, and probably forever. And so naturally, eyeballs turn to this vast chunk of fresh water in the Midwest, this beautiful and unique ecosystem. That's when my dander starts to rise.

The answer is no. No. You don't get a DROP. We're not going to drain the oceans and flatten the mountains because everybody wants absolute choice. We're not going to strip all the topsoil from Iowa because people in LA want to grow corn in their front yards. And we're not going to siphon off water from the Great Lakes because civilizations chose to settle in locations unsustainable for vast populations.

Yes, I value the lives of my fellow man, and feel they are entitled to clean, safe drinking water. All I ask is that people value their own lives enough to live within proximity of it. We're not going to export water away from the Great Lakes. And that's that.

Global warming sucks. And it's drying up previously reliable sources of water for many places in the United States. The solution is not to engage in the same tampering that got us in this mess in the first place. Those of us living along the Great Lakes watch them recede more each year, and watch channels dry up removing shipping ports, commercial fishing ports, and revenue from recreational use of these lakes.

Keep your cotton picking hands off our water.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The DC Show

I like everything about the United States system except for the people running it.

Here's my plan for fixing it:

We build a Great Big Dome that looks like the sky from the inside, like on the Truman Show. And we place it over Washington DC. Then we just start a new capital someplace else, with exactly the same rules...just different people. The CIA can come, too, as long as they don't put me on some crazy list.

Meanwhile, we can let the ""statesmen in DC think they're still in power, except it would be for our entertainment instead of For Real. We can feed them fake national events and see how they respond, or send them emergency calls...we can create airplanes with tinted windows that make them think they're flying to important meetings. Of course it would all be televised. Don't worry about their wellbeing...we'd feed them and water them and change their litter boxes as needed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Black Gold

Step back for a moment and look at how awesome we have it in the United States, from a global and historical standpoint.

Inkeeping with my recent fascination with wood as a source for energy and heat, today I learned how much coal it takes to run a light bulb per year.

See that light bulb? It takes about 746 pounds of coal to run that light bulb for a year, assuming Normal Use.

746 pounds. Of coal. To run a light bulb for a year with normal use. People go several thousand feet under the earth, stick dynamite into holes in a cave, blast out coal, and haul it up from the belly of the earth. Then they ship it all over the country to feed the power plants.

Now...coal is considered Energy Dense compared to most other potential energy sources. The fact that it takes over a quarter ton to light a bulb for a year isn't a deficit on the part of coal. It's simply revealing how much energy we actually use. We use a lot.

Estimate about 7 pounds of coal per annual kWh. A modern refridgerator takes well over 4000 pounds of coal for a year. 18,000 pounds for the AC. 746 pounds per lightbulb. 4000 pound for the computer, and so on and so on.

You see where I'm going with this. The average household consumes 15,600 kWh of electricity per year, or 109,200 pounds of coal per household. Each one of us has a mountain of coal set aside just for us.

This, of course, is awesome. I mean, wow! This is a huge, graphic testament to the efficiency of our economic system and economies of scale. To personally produce the amount of energy you'd need to keep your standard of living, you'd need to haul 95 tones of coal from the ground each year.

This is by no means a condemnation of our energy usage. But we should realize just how MUCH power we use, and most of it comes from coal. Nationwide we're looking at at least 11,000,000,000,000 pounds of coal brought up from the ground and pumped into the atmosphere each ear in the United States alone. That's over 11 TRILLION pounds of buried coal, set aflame and put back into the atmosphere Each Year. It's impossible to believe that has no impact on the atmospheric makeup. Imagine lighting a cigarette in a football stadium. Now imagine everybody lighting a cigarette in a football stadium. How long will it take before somebody walks in and says "I smell cigarettes."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I See Living Things

If you've ever looked at one of those hidden picture activities as a kid, or one of those headache inducing 3D pictures they had in the 90s, you know that it takes a little while for the brain to know how to look for something. But once you see it, you wonder how you ever missed it.

I remember this lamp shade I grew up with as a child. I clearly remember this patch of blue and yellow and white lit up by the lamp. It was always there, that mottled mix of colors. Then, one day, I remember looking at it and suddenly realizing the white splotch was a sail attached to a ship on a stormy ocean. I could never go back to seeing that lamp shade the same way again.

In a flash it went from a chaotic jumble of color to a meaningful picture.

Try to look at letters and words as meaningless symbols and it requires a strain to remove meaning from them.

There's that moment between seeing chaos and seeing patterns, where the threshold is crossed and it can't be undone.

Some day in the not-too-distant future we will find life beyond Earth, no matter how lowly or small. And when that day happens, we'll start to find it everywhere. It'll be all over. And we'll wonder how we ever missed it.

Recently the Cassini probe discovered why Saturn's moon Iapetus seemed to darken and lighten as it orbited Saturn. Dark, organic-rich material is spread across a whole hemisphere. Meanwhile jets of fine water have been observed spraying from an ice fracture on the moon Enceladus. Some day soon we're going to find alien critters, and from then on we'll find a universe steeped in life.

Why does that matter?

Once we find it there will be a brief period of awe and wonder. Some will deny it - The same jerks who deny moon landings, holocausts, and the spherical nature of the Earth, and so on. The nutjobs and people with something to prove. But overall, there will be wonder and amazement. And then, it will be normal. We'll go to work and talk about it at the water coolers. Then we'll talk about sports. Then family. Then so and so's health. And alien life will fade in importance to our lives. Religion, and politics, and economics will continue to be conduits of power just as it has always been. There will be no dramatic moment where our leaders see their own hubris and lay down guns and suspicion and all the wonderful tools of power. Meanwhile everybody will find in this event a way to confirm his or her own life view.

We'll discover a universe of life and our lives will pretty much be the same.

So why does it matter?

Because as far as we know, we are the consciousness of the universe and all of our eggs are in one very small basket. Today all evidence points to Earth as the sole inhabited planet in the universe. Talk statistics all you like, but on evidence alone, we're it. When we're gone, consciousness, art, science are gone. And it takes one asteroid to wipe that spec from existence. When we find life, our lives will be the same, but our perception of the universe as a cold, barren, and hostile environment will evaporate. Like Polynesians watching the migratory patterns of birds before setting off on a vast ocean trek, we will begin to speculate about where we might set off in search of a second and third home.

Finding life will be the moment we grow up and realize that the universe is ours for the taking.

I like to imagine that ten thousand years from now a father will be telling his little boy about some place far away where people all came from.

Tonight Oscar sat on my lap and we explored Google Mars online, and he spoke in the dreamy way he does when his imagination has taken over. He asked to go to Mars. He suggested we sell the car and buy a rocket ship so we can go to Mars and see the Mars Robots.

We talked about how the Mars Robots are looking around for life. He suggested that maybe the robots will find worms and eat them.

I told him, "That would be so awesome."

Friday, October 5, 2007

Lignin Dreams

Plagued by a drive toward self reliance? No? Well I am. And I've got a massive pile of wood to prove it. But not massive enough apparently.

This year we're heating our house with wood. The Lady and I got an attractive and efficient fireplace insert installed where our regular fireplace used to be. Loaded up, it keeps our home comfy.

How much wood do you need to heat your house all winter? As it turns out, a LOT. A lot of damn wood. At least five cords. What's a cord? I didn't really know until I started this whole adventure. A cord is a HUGE amount of wood. It's a legal volume, a neat stack of wood measuring 128 cubic feet, or 8' x 4' x 4'. Or about 3000 pounds of wood. Five cords then would be a wall of split wood 40' long x 4' high x 4' wide and 15,000 pounds.

It really gives me perspective on why everybody turned to natural gas. You can move it from here to there. You don't have to carry it into the house every night. And you don't have to chop it into smaller pieces.

But still...a rotting tree gives off as much CO2 as a burned tree, so I'm not adding any extra CO2 into the atmosphere with this, while CO2 from natural gas is dredged up from a bazillion years ago. Some folks say the particles in wood make it a bad pollutant...I'm going to settle in the middle and guess it's at least not worse, and it's a far sight cheaper than natural gas...and it's renewable. A acre of well managed woodland can produce up to a cord of renewable wood each year, so with 90 million acres of Michigan woodland there's plenty to go around without forest shrinkage.

So far I'm up to a little over two cords stacked up in the garage with smaller piles dotting our yard. Our neighbors seem amused and ask how the wood is coming along. They offer up the wood or dead trees in their yards. They actually offer to let me clean up their yard waste. And the worst part is...I actually WANT to. I've learned quite a bit about tree identification and their various fuel values. When I see a fallen tree in somebody's yard I start sizing it up in terms of British Thermal Units. Some say my wood adventure is obsessive, I prefer the term "Herculean."

Here is where I process, or "beat the hell out of" wood. It's very theraputic, and Julie helps me cut by teaching me the basics of Samurai swordplay. WHACK! Oscar likes to heckle me while I cut as he watches me from afar "Oh! You missed!"

I store my precious wood pile in the garage to keep her dry. This is about a cord and a half. I need five cords.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Simple Solution to Health Care Costs

Health care costs are rising at a blistering pace. I have a solution that will slow them down.

It's a novel idea, really. I call it "telling people how much a service costs when asked." All I want is a law that says a medical institution is required to provide pricing information when asked. I don't care if it's a 10,000 page document written in micro-print. I JUST want ACCESS to pricing when I ask for it.

Seriously. If you've never asked your doctor or hospital how much a procedure, action, shot, treatment, visit or test will cost, you should give it a try some time. Cuz here's the thing...they don't know. In fact...they look at you strange for even asking.

I'm no genius. But imagine an open market industry that's effectively a monopoly, has infinite demand, and isn't required to disclose price prior to purchase even when asked...I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that a such an industry will invariably have wildly uncontrolled price escalation FOREVER.

Maybe if we're hell bent on having a privately run health care system, we should make sure simple economic principles apply to Them Too.

Somebody out there might say "Oh but you have no idea about the complexity of treatment and how difficult it would be to actually GIVE pricing on a case by case basis..."

Indeed. Billing may be involved and difficult and yet, curiously, the billing departments invariably manage to tabulate a bill. Somehow they manage to determine: A) What was done to you and B) How much all that costs. So it's not like I'm asking for the impossible. It's not like billing is scribed cuneiform in clay tablets buried under a mountain. Today we have these wonderful things called Computers with breakneck connections that pass information as though it were the wind.

Calling up a price point for any given action is absolutely within the realm of possibility. I don't have much sympathy for the argument that it would time consuming and difficult. Shelling out money for any medical procedure at all is time consuming and difficult for the consumer. It's time for the medical industry to act like the free market system it is and take on the risks rather than shoving them off on the end consumer.

Though it's no secret the insurance companies have been the only winners in this lousy game

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beach goers, remember this friendly summer tip: take it the hell with you

Hello Muskegon! For cleaner, more healthful beaches just remember these six easy words: Take It The Hell With You. When you bring something to the beach, take it the hell with you when you go.

It’s been a fine week here on the West Coast and a jaunty group of youths had a fantastic time on the beach last Thursday; playing football, body-boarding, eating snacks, drinking the hooch, emitting pheromones at each other...all the wholesome beach stuff. A fine day for it. Some of them were drinking soda-pops, some were drinking “aged” beverages, some were munching down chips while others were surrounded by a fog of goofy smelling smoke and eating a lot of Swiss Cake Rolls, those rascals.

But trouble’s brewing! The next day, as though transformed by some cosmic crap ray, the previous day’s crowd was replaced by a pile of garbage; water bottles, razor sharp segments of aluminum cans, smashed beer bottles, a bag of something gross. Those beach goers had their fun and left their junk on the beach! Oh no!

On the carefree shores of the West Coast, we recognize it’s your life. Have a great time. Follow your bliss. But don’t leave your junk on the beach. Remember, glass in the foot is glass in the foot no matter who you are. Ouch! So be a good citizen and take it the hell with you.

Say it with me now: “Take it the hell with you.”
All together: “Take it the hell with you.”

What about beer bottles? Yes, take it the hell with you.
Pizza boxes? Take it the hell with you.
Apple core? Take it the hell with you.
Socks and other articles of clothing? That’s right…Take it the hell with you.

Your friend is about to leave something on the beach! Tell him these six friendly words, “take it the hell with you.”

Uh oh! Looks like Junior almost forgot to bring his sand pail. Mother says “take it the hell with you.”

Even Dad is getting in on the fun as he reminds his old friend Jack Daniels to “Take it the hell with you.”

Why, all around Muskegon everybody’s taking it the hell with them. Whatever you bring to the beach, take it the hell with you when you go.

Just take it the hell with you.

No Problems with America, It Just Needs its Fluids Changed

For those of you who are irritated with the direction of the country, I have a solution. Well, that's not entirely accurate. America has a solution. We need to vote out All incumbents. A real revolution.

See, the United States was built with all the tools it needs to keep it strong and reasonable and the sort of place we where want to live. We just need to use them. The Founding Fathers realized that every once in a while, every nation needs a Good Old Fashioned Revolution. The thirst for power is just too strong for even the nicest of leaders to resist, and in turn they become, as Jefferson said, "Too big for their britches." So they need to be flicked off of their high horse like a booger from the middle finger.


But revolution used to be so bloody and so violent. Nobody really LIKES revolution or decapitations or marching around with pitch forks. Look at all the countries that have actual revolutions or civil wars, Somalia...the erstwhile Yugoslavia...Iraq. They all spend long periods of time as hell holes. It's no good for anybody. So our leaders devised a brilliant way to have revolutions with no bloodshed. They called it Voting.

Now...a lot of you are thinking President. But let's ignore the President for a moment and turn our attention to Congress. Just look at them. Some of those bastards have been in power for, like, FOURTY years. What the hell are they still doing there?

If you want change, if you seriously don't like the direction of the need to flush out the old guard and replace it. All of it.

What we need to do is throw out EVERY incumbent in Washington. Vote for your party of choice, but DON’T vote for an incumbent.

(Some of you out there are saying "Oh, he's some flaming [insert party here] and is just trying to convince us to do something that puts the [insert party here] party in power." To you I say, *slap* SNAP OUT OF IT! Those jerks all benefit from us framing EVERYTHING in partisan terms. They have the rhetoric all carved up and portioned out like pre-packaged Thanksgiving turkey...they're constantly at war with each other to keep peoples' loyalties tied to Somebody in power. Just cut it out, will ya?)

The engine needs to be purged. That's it. A real revolution. No more Chuck Grassley, no more Ted Kennedy. It doesn’t matter how well they served or how experienced they are or what senior positions they hold because they control how the Washington Game is played, and it’s currently being played in a way that dangerously disregards sound decisions in favor of shoring up power.

They need to go. Your engine oil may have kept your car running smoothly for thousands of miles, but once in a while it needs a good flush. Use the same oil too long, and you damage your engine. Use the same political figures too long and they forget where they came from and who they serve. They’re only human. Power gets at everybody because it displaces them from the Real World…it corrupts even the best people. They can’t help it…the machine just gets into them and flakes off into their blood.

So replace them. Flush them out. Remove the questionable relationships and contacts the folks on K street have made with the incumbents by switching the people in control.

Replace them with people who were elected by people, and not sustained by long running relationships with companies with more money and influence than we can dream of.

Vote for whatever party you want. Vote for whatever reason you want. But Do Not Vote For The Incumbent. Those folks are the problem.