San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Republicans Are Not To Blame

The political posturing taking place over Donnie-care is monopolizing the coverage of all the major news outlets.  Liberal outlets gleefully report how the Republicans do not have the courage to "repeal and replace" Obamacare.  Conservative outlets, depending upon their degree of conservatism, either praise the Republicans for attempting to craft a Donnie-care deal that will pretty much look like Obamacare or curse them for refusing to repeal and replace, with the contents of the "replace" portion being a gigantic question mark.  No matter how you cut it though, the Republicans look like a bunch of fools.  They have been passing bills, without dissension from within the Republican camp, for the past six years that would have immediately repealed Obamacare, knowing that the Senate and King Obama would never allow them to make progress forward.  It was a good way to gain political capital with the people back home while not having to really do anything of substance.  But now they control the entire political apparatus and they do not have the guts to repeal Obamacare and go back to some sort of quasi-free market health insurance market.
I have a personal interest in Donnie-care.  According to numerous sources I fall into the sex and age cohort that will experience the greatest increase in health insurance premiums.  Most estimates for men of my age predict that my monthly premium will rise by 250% under the terms of the proposed Donnie-care.  Since I make too much money to qualify for taxpayer financed subsidies I will be forced to pay the entire bill myself.  I pay $600/month today for Obamacare. Donnie-care will therefore cost me $1500/month, more than any of my regular monthly bills, if current estimates are correct.  I find that disturbing and I suspect a lot of others in my predicament do as well.  Indeed, Donnie-care makes Obamacare look pretty good to me right now.
A big problem is that nobody is willing to trust the free market.  Both Republicans and Democrats are committed Statists and will never even consider allowing the free market to sort out the health insurance market woes experienced by so many in this immoral and sad land.  By automatically ruling out a free market solution to a problem created by government, the government sets itself up for certain failure.  What all career politicians refuse to admit is the simple fact that there is no such thing as a new and improved Obamacare.  Indeed, there is no such thing as any socialized health insurance program that will actually work in the real world. Repeal and replace will not work.  Plan A followed closely by Plan B and then Plan C will not work.  Keeping Obamacare will not work.  As far as health insurance in this country goes, we are all doomed.  The only thing that can save us is the free market but the free market is precisely the one thing everyone in power believes must be permanently avoided.
Ultimately the issue boils down to a simple truth...we are all socialists now.  We have all been feeding at the trough of Obamacare for several years and nobody wants those freebies to go away. Everybody has adapted to the present system and change is the last thing anyone wants.  It does not matter that Obamacare is prohibitively expensive when compared to what the free market would produce.  All that matters is that the citizens of this envy filled land are thoroughly accustomed to socialized health insurance and nothing is going to change that.  The Republicans know this and they also know that if they do mess around with people's Obamacare they will face political opposition in the mid-term elections.  Since getting re-elected is the only thing a career politician really cares about the Republicans in control of Congress have a real propaganda problem on their hands.  They want to appear as if they want to repeal and replace Obamacare but then they will, for some last minute reason, protest that their hands are tied and we are stuck with Obamacare against both their will and ours.
The Republicans are not to blame for what is going on in Congress in regards to socialized health insurance programs.  They are an easy target and the liberal press will make as much hay as it can on the issue but ultimately the Republicans are not to blame for the health insurance debacle.  The blame for what is transpiring in the halls of Congress falls squarely on the shoulders of the majority of the citizens of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  According to a poll taken by USA Today, a full 58% of Amerikans want to keep Obamacare.  Not surprisingly, only 8% of Amerikans want a free market solution to the health insurance dilemma.  And that, my friends, is the real issue here.  The majority of the citizens of this land are dedicated socialists and it is high time we acknowledge that truth.  Socialized health insurance is here to stay.  More socialized programs encompassing other parts of the economy are sure to come.
I believe the best way to deal with a socialist is to give him everything he wants.  The great majority of the citizens of this country are socialists and it is time they all get precisely what they deserve. That way the economy will collapse more quickly and free market principles can be taken up once gain, rising from the ashes of a dead economy executed by socialism.  To aid the economic collapse of this socialist land I propose we make Bernie and Elizabeth co-royalty and allow them to do whatever they please with the laws of this land.  Let them be recognized as economic czars and give them total power to do whatever they want.  With those two at the helm we are sure to experience a sudden and catastrophic economic collapse along the lines of Venezuela.  Then, after we have all lost our nest eggs and a lot of excess body weight, those of us who believe in freedom and personal responsibility can pick up the pieces and start afresh. I would guess that we would have a decade or two to rebuild things before the socialist parasites once again would take over and take everything we produce.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Quick! Call My Employer

Ask Amy had a letter last week that reminded me of a topic I have wanted to post on for a long time.  A lady was upset because a professional athlete had moved into her neighborhood.  At first she appreciated the notoriety associated with the presence of a pop icon in her neighborhood, especially after the athlete and her husband became friends.  Her joy turned to dismay however when the athlete turned out to be a colossal jerk.  As seemingly all professional athletes do, he had wild and debauched parties at all hours of the night, thus disrupting their peaceful enjoyment of their own property.  She asked Amy for advice on how to handle the situation.
I don't recall precisely what Amy advised her to do at the time but a follow up letter to Amy had this to say, "I liked your advice to 'Not a Fan,' the woman whose quiet neighborhood was shattered when a professional athlete moved in next door.  However, her first call should be to the PR person or GM of the sports team that employs the athlete.  They would want to know."  Amy responded with a simple, "I agree."  Does anyone besides me see the problem with this answer?
I am sure you have all noticed how anytime a professional athlete goes afoul of the rules governing this immoral and government worshiping country, the first thing the news media does is run to the General Manager or Head Coach of his team and ask what he is going to do about it.  These sorts of news stories inevitably make the first couple of minutes of the nightly news.  Clearly people like to hear news reports anytime a professional athlete commits sins against the State and they are apparently also equally interested in what the offending party's employer thinks about his behavior.  As far as I am aware, no one has ever questioned the practice of immediately running to the athlete's employer the moment he runs afoul of the law.  How strange it is that the opinion of the employer should matter at such a moment.
How would you feel if the moment you got a speeding ticket the local press ran to your employer to ask what he is going to do about it?  Amy thought it was a good idea to ask the head coach of a professional sports team what he was going to do about one of his players who had too many loud parties.  Why is it the business of your employer that you were speeding and why is it the business of the head coach that his player had a loud party?  What would you think about a news story on your local television news reporting that an accountant had been caught driving drunk and the first reaction of the press was to go to his employer and ask what he is going to do about it?  What if the kid who hands out the shoes at the local bowling alley is caught with 1.5 grams of marijuana and the first thing the press does is run to his supervisor and ask what he is going to do about it?  What if your plumber failed to make his child support payment and the first thing the press did was run to his employer to ask what the plumbing company was going to do about the fact that one of their employees was late on his child support payment?  When was the last time you heard of a janitor publicly apologizing to his fellow janitors and being forced by his employer to run laps around the building he cleans all because he got a ticket for DWI?  When was the last time you saw a news report about the local deli manager being forced to apologize by his employer to all of his fans when he got caught pilfering some cheese?  These things just don't happen in the real world.  But then the world of professional sports is not the real world. 
All of the examples I list, except those related to professional athletes, are patently absurd.  I believe everyone can see the absolute stupidity of asking an employer what he is going to do with an employee who has violated a law or rule of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  In every case, if a member of the press were actually dumb enough to conduct the interview, the employer would say something along the lines of "what business of mine is it that Joe drove drunk?  Why are you bothering to talk to me?  Go talk to Joe if you want to know what happened."  Yet when the offending party is a professional athlete the first person who is interrogated in regards to potential punishments for the offense is the athlete's employer.  Something is desperately wrong here.
I have racked my puny little brain and am unable to come up with a definitive answer for why this sort of thing takes place.  Why is every citizen of the SDA accountable to the civil government alone when it comes to an offense but a professional athlete is first accountable to his employer and then to the civil government for the exact same offense?   I am forced to speculate as to what might be going on here.
Professional athletes live sheltered lives and are never required to grow up or assume  responsibility for their lives.  They are pampered until the day they are no longer useful as athletes and then they are cast aside.  While they are still useful they receive millions of dollars and the adulation of the public.  The coaches in this system become a sort of surrogate father to these wayward little boys.  Both sides accept their roles as the athletes run to their coaches for protection from the real world when they do something wrong and the coaches expect their players to come to them whenever something bad happens to one of their kids.  Given this emotionally unhealthy system it makes perfect sense to run to an athlete's employer the moment his child sins.  The exact same thing could easily be done when a minor commits an offense and the press interviews the minor's parents about the matter.  In other words, professional athletes are nothing more than emotional children and the world in which they live perpetuates that reality, at least until the day their contracts run out.
Just once I would like to see a professional athlete who finds himself in trouble point out that his problems are none of the business of his employer.  Just once I would like to see a head coach refuse to entertain questions about the off-field behavior of his players.  Just once I would like for a player to act like an adult.  Just once I would like to see a professional athlete refuse to issue a written "apology" to his employers, teammates and fans for what he has done.  Just once I would like to see a professional athlete act like a responsible and independent man.  I won't be holding my breath on that one. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Questions For Gorsuch

I watched a couple of minutes of yesterday's marathon confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.  It was typical Washington DC theater.  The career politicians who were grilling him with questions would preface their interrogatories with long-winded speeches about the virtues of their favorite doctrinal tenet of government worship or socialism.  After the lecture was finally over they would ask some inane question designed to make him look bad.  In the end they only made themselves look bad.  Making a career politician look bad is an easy thing to do, even for a career politician.  Throughout the entire process there were many references to the archaic document known as the Constitution of the United States.  It never ceases to amaze me how much these mental midgets refer to a document they swear a vow to uphold but refuse to submit to.  As the proceedings went along it occurred to me that I would very much have liked to have had the opportunity to grill Gorsuch with some questions of my own.  The folks who support Gorsuch are claiming that he is a strict constitutionalist and would be an excellent addition to the Supreme Court of Jokers.  Since I could not ask these questions in person I will ask them here today in my blog.
  1. Do you believe the covert spying activities of the FBI, CIA and NSA upon the citizens of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika are a violation of the 4th Amendment?  If not, why not?  If so, what would you do about them?
  2. Please explain how the office of President of the United States, as strictly defined by the Constitution of the United States, includes the following functions:
    1. Creating jobs.
    2. Crafting the federal budget.
    3. Creating economic growth.
    4. Making tax policy.
    5. Enacting tariffs.
    6. Building a wall along the border with Mexico.
    7. Rebuilding Amerikan "infrastructure," whatever that is.
    8. Generally acting like a King.
  3. Does the Constitution grant retirement income security (Social Security) to all citizens who reach age 65?  If so, where is it found?   If not, what would you do about the Social Security program we currently live under?
  4. Does the Constitution grant medical care payments (Medicare) to all citizens who reach age 65?  If so, where is it found?  If not, what would you do about the Medicare program we all currently live under?
  5. Do you believe that Obamacare is simply a tax and therefore constitutional?  
  6. Please explain the constitutional basis for drafting women into the military of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  If there is no basis for that practice what would you do with the current state of affairs in this country in regards to women potentially being drafted?
  7. How do you reconcile federally defined "free speech" zones with the 1st Amendment?
  8. Where in the Constitution is the principle discovered that women can legally conspire with government medical professionals to murder their unborn babies?
  9. Is the Constitution easy or hard to understand?  If it is easy to understand, why is there so much difference of opinion among the members of the Supreme Court of Jokers about what is constitutional?  If it is hard to understand, give some examples of items within it that are indiscernible or undecipherable.
  10. Does the Constitution justify the Amerikan Empire?  If so, where?
Now those are the sorts of questions I would like a supreme court nominee to face.  Of course that will never happen because the game is rigged.  Everyone has agreed in advance to merely pay lip service to the Constitution.  Every question is asked and every answer is given with fingers crossed.  Nobody, including Gorsuch, believes in or will strictly enforce nothing but the Constitution of the United States.  Ultimately that means that the present proceedings are nothing more than a dog and pony show.  They are opportunities for career politicians to attempt to make themselves look good in the eyes of the people who voted for them and not much else.  It is a good thing the baseball season starts soon.  I will be able to watch the Rockies rather than CSPAN every night.  I will be equally disappointed in the outcome but at least baseball does not take one third of my income, spy on my emails and draft my daughter into the military. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Marshal Madness

If you golf you know what a course marshal is.  The marshal in golf is just like the marshal in the old west.  He roams around the golf course making sure people are obeying the rules.  The rules that the marshal is empowered to enforce pertain to the operation of the golf course and not to the rules of golf.  When some bozo decides to kick his ball out of a sand trap, or improve his lie, or not putt out, or drop a ball without a penalty the golf course marshal has no jurisdiction to punish the wayward golfer for his profligate ways.  The marshal is responsible primarily for making sure golfers replace their divots, repair their green marks, obey the signs with regards to where the golf carts may be driven and, most importantly, maintain pace of play.
A slow pace of play, I have been told, is the number one peeve of golfers.  I understand that.  A golf course near my home, called Raccoon Creek, had a pace of play for 18 holes that was so slow I quit playing there.  After finishing several rounds in a row at over five and a half hours, with no marshal in sight to speed things up, I decided my golf dollars could be better spent elsewhere.  Having spent a few days out golfing during my life, I believe pace of play is the biggest item of contention for most golfers.  It is a strange but true fact that the group of guys I randomly get assigned to play with are automatically good guys while, at the same time, the randomly assigned groups ahead and behind us are automatically bad guys.  Many a round of golf is played while complaining about how slow the group ahead is playing or how much the group behind is "pushing" us to play faster than we want to.  It is into this highly volatile mix of style of play, pace of play and far too much testosterone that the hapless marshal interjects himself.  No wonder they are less popular than lawyers and politicians, unless they are speeding up the group ahead of me.
I have rarely seen a good marshal on a golf course.  The mistakes they make are common and most all of them make the same mistakes, time and again.  The biggest mistake is suddenly disappearing right when the pace of play has ground to a halt behind some group of ladies out for a stroll or some group of geriatrics who can't seem to get it through their heads that people are waiting behind them.  I was playing a local course once and had the misfortune of getting behind a group of teenagers who had no clue how to play golf.  Now I am a kind and generous soul, as all Welshmen are, and was happy to see the youth of my town out playing the noble game of golf.  But these kids were jerks.  They sauntered down the fairway, hacking their way along, and paid no attention to the group behind them, which happened to include me.  I finally borrowed a cell phone from one of my playing partners and called the club house to request that a marshal be sent out to resolve the situation.  I quickly discovered that I was not the first one to call and the kids were soon escorted off the course.
Not being there when they are needed is a big mistake on the part of course marshals but an even bigger mistake is being there in the wrong way.  I am yet to meet a marshal that regulates the pace of play according to the stated time the course is supposed to be played in.  All golf courses have a pace of play, expressed in hours and minutes, that will usually be somewhere between four and four and a half hours for 18 holes.  If a person or group comes in over that pace of play they have been playing too slowly and should have been moved along by the marshal.  On the other hand, if a group comes in faster than the posted pace of play they could have played more slowly and still finished on time. You would expect that a course marshal would have an estimate for how long it takes to play each hole and would know exactly when each group is on pace at any hole on the course, but that is not the case.  Instead, marshals determine if a group is playing too slowly almost exclusively by looking at the gap that opens between each group of golfers.  If a gap opens up on the course the group just behind the gap is going to be yelled at for playing too slowly.
I was playing a round of golf on a course in Mesquite last week when the marshal noticed a gap had opened between my group and the group ahead of us.  In addition, the group behind us always seemed to be waiting on us while we worked our way down the fairway.  The pace of play for this particular course was 4:30.  Sure enough, after just two holes of play the marshal was waiting beside the green on the third hole with the unwanted information that we were playing too slowly and needed to pick up the pace.  I flew into a rage, although he did not know it.  Let me tell you about it.
The guys, and gals, I play golf with like to play from the tips. That means we play the course as long and as hard as we can.  That means it takes us longer to play the course than people who play it shorter and easier.  We would much rather shoot a 99 on a hard course than an 89 on an easy one.  As you have probably surmised, most golfers are not like us.  Most golfers play the course short and easy.  They cheat along the way as well.  Their goal is to play fast and get a low score.  Indeed, I truly believe that some golfers do not care about their score at all and only play to see how fast they can get around the course.  Inevitably those are the folks who are ahead and behind my group.
When the gap opened ahead of us it was because the group ahead of us was hitting from the forward tees, even though they were good enough to play from the back tees.  The group behind us also should have been playing from the back tees.  We were putting on one particular green when one of the big studs from the group behind us drove his ball all the way across our green, while we were still on it.  It was over 320 yards long and uphill and he was hitting from the forward tees.  Needless to say his ball ended up somewhere other than where he had hit it.  When the marshal saw the gap ahead of us and the people waiting behind us he ordered us to play faster, even though it felt like we were running all the time just to catch up to the group ahead of us.  It made the round far less enjoyable as the marshal hovered around us, just waiting to tell us to pick up the pace.
On the 18th fairway we were just finishing our round when the marshal drove up.  I was sitting in my cart at the time and he came up to chit-chat with me.  We were going to finish the round in 4:15, a full fifteen minutes ahead of pace of play.  I expressed the opinion that I did not like being pushed to play faster when we were actually coming in ahead of pace.  As usual my opinion fell on deaf ears.  I think I will stay away from that course in the future.  I don't appreciate being hassled for doing the right thing.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fast Lane Follies

I was driving east on I-70 through the Colorado mountains on Saturday evening when I had my first experience with CDOT's new tolled "fast lane."  I-70 is a mess.  With the number of people living in the Denver metro area skyrocketing and with limited ways to get to the cherished resort areas found in Summit county, I-70 more closely resembles a parking lot than an interstate highway these days.  Things have become so bad I rarely go to the mountains anymore.  In the good old days it was possible to drive to the mountains via I-70 on a summer day with very little traffic, especially if I started early.  Now that the ski resorts of Summit county have become year round destinations that is no longer the case. 
In a vain attempt to resolve the problem of way too many people using an interstate highway with limited opportunities for expansion, CDOT added a third lane to the east bound lanes in the hope of breaking up a bottleneck that always occurrs at the same location between the junctions of US 40 and US 6.   Yesterday provided me with my first opportunity to sample the new express lane.  I knew before I got there that the toll charged for using the lane was variable, depending upon CDOT's comprehension of the relative demand for the lane.  The higher the demand, the higher the toll.  I appreciated at least that slight acknowledgement of free market principles.  Unfortunately, that was the only nod in the direction of free market economics evident yesterday.
As the toll land approached I was inundated with a barrage of signs explaining the various rules for who can use the lane, how it can be used and how much it would cost to use it.  Being a quick reader and a slower driver I was able to digest all of the information without incident. The extra lane is probably about ten miles long, maybe a bit more.  According to the rules, I had to make up my mind about whether to use the lane prior to the start of the lane.  That rule struck me as being extraordinarily stupid.  How did I know if I would be willing to pay the toll before I got to the extra lane?  I couldn't tell how crowded the two regular lanes were, or were going to be, before I was forced to make a decision about using the toll lane.  It was all or nothing and with very little time to make up my mind. 
The electronic sign proudly proclaimed that today's toll was going to be $4 for the alleged privilege of going faster than the slow-poke losers in the two regular lanes.  Not seeing anything other than very heavy traffic in front of me I decided to save the $4 and forgo use of the toll lane, hoping I could make it to US 6 without encountering a traffic jam.  After a couple of miles of heavy traffic I suddenly encountered a section of the highway that had ground to a complete halt.  I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of me.   Not knowing how long this traffic jam was going to last I looked longingly at the toll lane, wishing I could cross the solid yellow line, pay the $4 toll and soon be speeding on my way home.  But the regulation was clear....I had to elect to use the toll lane within the first half mile of its existence or I was forbidden from ever entering it again.  That open lane was nothing more than a tease as I sat there stuck in traffic, unable to use it legally and monitored by a barrage of cameras sure to catch my felony violation for jumping over the solid yellow line. 
Can you think of a dumber rule for a toll lane than the no entry after the first half mile rule?  I can't.  The whole point of the lane is to relive traffic when traffic needs relief.  Forbidding drivers to jump to the toll lane when the traffic jam starts virtually guarantees that the new fast lane will do nothing to alleviate the traffic jam problem.  As I sat in the traffic jam, watching almost nobody go by in the fast lane (since the traffic jam had not yet backed up to the start point of the fast lane), I wondered what brainless bureaucrat had concocted the rule that prohibited me from getting home in a timely fashion.  I am sure she had some great reason for forcing me to stay in the traffic jam but as I sat there fuming I could not fathom what it could be.