target

Dear Valued Customer,

And by “valued”, we mean we value the money you give us. We could care less about anything else.

Speaking of caring less, it has come to our attention that there is some confusion about the primary services we provide. The reason we exist is to sell you merchandise at a price that exceeds the cost of goods and the costs of providing the logistics of selling you those goods. In that way, we turn a profit. Contrary to what seems to have become somewhat popular belief, restroom services is not a primary service we provide.

Restroom services do not make us any money. Heck, we probably wouldn’t even have restrooms if it wasn’t required by law (if we serve food) or if we didn’t fear that there’s a slight chance that nature’s call will force you to leave the store without spending money first. Therefore, while it may seem like we have the security of Fort Knox controlling who can and cannot go into the restroom, really we don’t monitor it at all. (In as such that we monitor restrooms, it’s just to make sure you haven’t ignore the “no merchandise beyond this point” sign.  See, stealing our merchandise does cost us money, so yes, we actually care about that.) We instead put our trust in the society to be able to figure out which restroom to use.

So while we may release a statement regarding our “inclusiveness” of restroom use, it’s actually that we just don’t care (we are very pro-inclusive as far as buying stuff from us….we want everyone’s money!). This is not new. We’ve never cared. The only reason we released that statement is because of a rash of recent silly state laws, and we have a public relations department that thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone that we want everyone’s money….er….I mean that we welcome everyone!

As far as any fears of “pervs”, unfortunately “pervs” have always existed and certainly some of them are not very discouraged by the laws on the books banning such “perv” activity. As such, as you might imagine, they aren’t very discourage by store policies or stick figures on doors either (and that’s ignoring the fact that some “pervs” prefer the same-sex anyway). The good news is that there are very, very few people of this nature, and even fewer that choose big box department stores to participate in this activity. If you do fear for your kids privacy or protection, we do allow adult supervision in our restrooms. We also encourage you to report any suspicious activity to us and we’ll call the police. We believe the difference between using the restroom as it is intended and perving is generally really obvious, and we trust you will know the difference too.

We hope that clears everything up.  In summary, we care about making money. We don’t care which restroom you use. In the extremely unlikely event you run across a “perv” (whether in the restroom or not), please report it.

Thank you and have a nice day (of spending a lot of money in our store)!

 

See Montgomery Burns as Robert Bentley in House of Cards: Sweet Home Alabama.

See Montgomery Burns as Governor Robert Bentley in House of Cards: Sweet Home Alabama.

Really, at this point, Alabama state government has become just an awful soap opera….even more terrible than “House of Cards”.  I mean, check out the characters….er….I mean real actual people (….how is this really happening????  How could we have elected such terrible folks that the Onion couldn’t have made them up any better?).

Governor Robert Bentley – The main protagonist….the Frank Underwood if you will.  After a career in dermatology and a short stint in the state’s house of representatives, Bentley was first elected governor in 2010.  One of his big hooks is that he doesn’t accept the salary offered for the governor’s position (he says he won’t take it until Alabama’s unemployment is 5.2% or below, something that hasn’t happened during is tenure….but don’t pass around a collection plate, he regularly reports six-figure incomes….he’s doing fine).  Reelected in 2014, he decides a couple of days after the election would be the ideal time to announce the state had a budget crisis (wouldn’t want that getting in the way of a campaign you know).

But this isn’t fit for television.  We need some plot twists.  So Bentley’s wife leaves him in August, 2015.  Rumors swirl over a supposed affair by the governor.  Hogwash he says!  Ah, but then audio tapes surface, and it has recordings of him talking ‘sweet nuthings’ to another woman!  Bentley is all ‘ok, that’s me….but I swear that it’s……just very imaginative talk……nothing physical….after all, who among us can say they haven’t talked dirty to their senior political advisor????’  Still, he gets booted from his church and now there are those who want to impeach him.  The scandal!

Of course, you need celebrity cameos. And a crazy Vegas episode. Like the one where the governor and his mistress/not mistress went to Las Vegas to see Celine Dion. Hey, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, amirite? Oh, and you need wacky hi-jinks.  Like the one where the governor gets in an argument with his wife and leaves in a huff to the beach (to hook up with/not hook up with his mistress/not mistress). But oopsy, he forgot his wallet! Oh what to do, what to do? Going back would be SO embarrassing! Ah, just send security back to go get it…it’s just taxpayer money!  (“But sir, what do I tell everyone???”  “Tell them it’s a matter of state security.”  Hilarious!)

Rebekah Mason – The mistress/not mistress.  Or top political advisor….with privileges! Whatever the case, she clearly had won a lot of influence with the Governor, even if that advice was often terrible. So, how did she get paid, anyway? Why, dark money from a shadowy non-profit, of course!  The organization, called ACEGov, was first established using leftover campaign funds under the pretense that it would be used to help good causes, like foster children. Or apparently, a source for the mistress/not mistress’s pay check. I guess “good causes” are in the eyes of the beholder.

So was Rebekah Mason married? Of course she was! So what of her husband you ask? He says he has resolved this issue with his wife a long time ago. I am sure that the $91,000 position with the governor’s office helped.  I’m sure the hundreds of thousands of dollars his consulting firm received from the University of Alabama that the Mason’s didn’t want anyone to know about helped even more. But who’s to say?

Mike Hubbard – Speaker of the State House. He would be leading any impeachment hearings for Governor Bentley. But alas, he has his own problems. He has been criminally charged with 23 counts of felony ethic violations. Hogwash he says! Hey, if you can’t use your office for personal gain and make votes for your own interest, what is the point of being in government anyway? To serve the people? Pfft.  But along with this, there’s another plot twist that makes this important.

Spencer Collier – Head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.  Well, actually former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Why former? He was fired by Bentley. Bentley says he fired Collier for misuse of funds.  But Collier says he was fired because Bentley asked him to interfere with the Hubbard investigation (specifically, he asked him to sign an affidavit claiming that an investigation of claims by Hubbard’s defense against the AG’s office were still ongoing rather than say they found no wrong doing) and he refused. Whatever the case may be, once he was fired, he decided it was time for all the secrets to come out, including the Bentley/Mason affair/not affair and the tapes (which do definitely exist).

Heck, with all these twist and turns, maybe this wouldn’t be terrible television after all.  But it’s really terrible reality.

Easter

Posted: March 27, 2016 in Miscellaneous
Tags: ,
"Hey, we chocolate bunnies have also made sacrifices on Easter...deep, deep sacrifice!

“Hey, we chocolate bunnies have also made sacrifices on Easter…deep, deep sacrifice!

So it’s Easter today.  But so what?  What’s it about?  I mean, yes, for Christians, it’s the celebration of the day Jesus is said to have arisen from the dead after his crucifixion.  That’s cool and all, but what does that mean for us in the here and now, in 2016?

Bear with me, as I make no claims to be any sort of theologian.  I guess one takeaway is that if you believe this, you believe there is a path for us all to heaven.  And while there are different conceptions of what heaven exactly is, the general agreement is that heaven is pretty great and, better yet, forever.  So yay us!

But another takeaway, at least for me, is that as the story goes, the reason Jesus was in the position to arise from the dead in the first place was that he had died for all of our sins and so the rest of us may be forgiven.  In other words, he made a sacrifice for the greater good of society.  That’s a lesson that’s appealing to me, because that’s something we can apply to the here and now.  I think that’s a lesson we can take and apply, whether it’s toward public policy or toward our own actions just in daily life.  Doing good, doing the right thing, often does not benefit us directly and sometimes isn’t even free. (By not being “free”, I don’t even necessarily mean it costs money.  It can be things like time.  Or convenience.  Or security.  Or even just comfort.)  Some sacrifice for the greater good can be worth it.

I’m not here to suggest we can all be Jesus.  We aren’t perfect and never will be.  However I don’t see the harm of striving to be more like him (or the stories of him if you choose not to believe) though, even if the sacrifices and good are just small.  No reason why we can’t make the world we live on now the best world we can make it, even if our time here is temporary.

You know what else Easter is about?  Cadbury Eggs.  Lots and lots of Cadbury Eggs.  Mmmmm…..Cadbury Eggs……*droooooool*……….um, what was I writing about?  Oh….yeah…..Happy Easter everyone!

“No Matter Who You Are….

Posted: March 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

I was going to post about another topic, but in light of the recent events at the GOP front runner’s rallies, I’ve decided to re-post an entry I wrote about 3 months ago. But I did want to add a little commentary.

In this post, I reference the rhetoric “as of late”, as if only most recently the rhetoric had gotten ugly. But that’s not really true. It has been years and years of rhetoric from politicians, radio and television talk show hosts, bloggers, etc. that has in my opinion culminated into the Trump phenomenon. Trump doesn’t happen out of the blue. For instance, when you have had years and years of rhetoric regarding the President purposely damaging this country, pitting people against one another, literally destroying the nation, then isn’t a civil unrest movement the natural reaction to that if it was actually true?

Still, Trump’s own rhetoric is definitely playing a large role, and it is disappointing to me that he seems to have decided to pour gasoline on the fire rather than to at least attempt to disarm the situation. I am fearful that somebody is going to get very seriously hurt (if not worse) at one of Trump’s rallies (if not elsewhere, as I am also worried that this is going to escalate and spread).

So finally, I will just invite all to read my earlier post. I think it’s important to remember that we are all people (as cheesy and idealistic as that might sound)….and I think we need to start holding our leaders and all of ourselves to a higher standard of respect toward one another and differing views.

World's (Not So) Funniest Blog

different…or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God….”  President Obama said this during his prime time speech regarding ISIS.  A church I attend semi-regularly goes further, “No matter…no matter what your standing is in the community, or where you live, no matter your age, no matter your gender or race, no matter who you are, where you come from or where you’re going, no matter what you believe or doubt, no matter who you love, God loves you, and you are welcome here.”

With the horrible acts and hateful rhetoric as of late, I think it is time we try to put things back into perspective.  While we have all kinds of different experiences and circumstances, the bottom line is we are all people.  Men, women, and children.  And it’s in all of our best…

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alabama constitution

The state of Alabama recently passed a bill which in my mind is the worst kind of state legislation, the kind that tells city/local governments what they can or can’t do.  In this case, the law they passed says that cities/municipalities in Alabama can not set its own minimum wage.  This was in direct response to the city of Birmingham passing an increase of its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

This is just frustrating to me as a Birmingham resident.  First, the city of Birmingham continues to struggle economically, with over 30% of its population living below the poverty line.  The city leadership has been pretty useless when it comes to actually doing something about this.  And then when they finally actually try to do something, ANYTHING, to affect change, the state steps in and says no?  Geez louise, the city is “do-nothing” enough even without the state squashing one of the few actions the city actually managed to pass.

Seconds, as a voter who supports this increase, what am I supposed to do?  Obviously the elected leaders of the city supported this.  Additionally, the state representatives from the city ALSO supported this.  The state representatives that killed this all represent OTHER communities.  I can’t cast a vote against them (and convince my fellow members of the community to do the same).  I suppose I could call these others, but they really have no reason to listen to me.  After all, they don’t represent me in the first place!

Of course, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  The state’s very constitution was created to consolidate power with state legislators at the capital of Montgomery (and to help ensure that “power” remained with well-to-do whites).  Almost any local legislation has to go through Montgomery first, often requiring a state constitution amendment to so (for example, there is a state constitutional amendment up for vote Tuesday that would allow Shelby County to allow alcohol sales on Sundays).  This has led to the creation of a ridiculous constitution document that now has nearly 900 amendments.  It has also led to ridiculous situations where local provisions have been approved by the impacted voters, but overruled by other statewide voters.

Still, Alabama is not the only state that does this sort of thing.  For instance, the state of Tennessee passed a law forbidding cities/local governments from being able to ban guns from its own public parks.  The Missouri state government says that cities can’t ban plastic bags or set minimum benefit requirements.  In Nebraska, the attorney general said that its cities can’t pass ordinances designed to protect the LGBT community.

One of the ideas that proponents of small federal government often push is the idea that local governments can be “laboratories of democracy”,  where ideas can be tested without having a larger impact on the larger population.  And what better laboratory could there be than at the city level?  If it works, great, maybe others will adopt the same ideas.  If not, then we the local citizens can push for change and hold our representatives responsible and meanwhile no one else would have really been affected by the failed policy at all.  Yet it seems when the ideas go against the political beliefs of those in charge at higher levels of government, all of a sudden the idea of “big brother” stepping isn’t a violation of small government principles after all.

Let Birmingham (let us!) give its minimum wage increase a shot.

 

Admit it, you've never seen them both at the same place, have you?!!

Admit it, you’ve never seen them both at the same place, have you?!!

While I have trouble understanding the appeal of Donald Trump, I have less trouble when it comes to Ted Cruz, who has just established his bona fides as a top GOP presidential candidate by winning the Iowa Caucus. I see him as a really, really conservative that sees politics as a war between viewpoints and wants to apply tactics as such (compromise = losing, there are only wins and loses). If the country burns for a while as a result, well that’s just collateral damage for the “right side” winning. I can only imagine he is a dream candidate for the Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh’s and many of their listeners, who take that same view of politics.

That said, I think in any other year, one without a celebrity billionaire egomaniac which the press can’t quit obsessing about, Ted Cruz would be viewed as the extreme non-mainstream candidate. Here’s my rationale:

  • It seems like nobody who gets to know him actually likes him, not even people on his own side.  Bob Dole surely doesn’t.  People from George W. Bush’s presidential campaign didn’t.  John Boehner?  Nope.  People at Princeton where he went to school?  Not so much.  As President, it’s going to be hard to get around working with people, and while maybe it’s not a requirement, it may be easier if everyone doesn’t see you as an a-hole (then again, if you take the view that politics is war, then maybe you could see someone being YOUR a-hole as a plus).
  • His tactics are slimy. In Iowa, first his team sent out mail flyers to voters falsely stating that they were required to show up for the caucus, else it would negatively impact their imaginary voter participation grade. Then, his team took a CNN report that Ben Carson was flying back to Florida and used that to falsely tell Carson supporters that Ben had dropped out of the race so you better support Ted.  (Once again though, it you think politics is war, then this is just ‘ends justify the means’ kind of stuff.)
  • Ted Cruz and lies have a special relationship.  Check out Politifact for yourself, but by my count, out of all the Ted Cruz statements they have scored, roughly 70% have been scored as mostly false, false, or “pants on fire”.
  • Ted Cruz believes in conspiracy theories. Whether it’s Agenda 21 (including the abolishment of golf), communists at Harvard Law School, the supposed threat from Sharia Law, checking in to make sure the U.S. military wasn’t invading Texas, state nullification of federal law…..if there is a weird right-wing theory, Ted Cruz probably subscribes to it.
  • Ted Cruz is a big believer in using government shutdowns as a “negotiation” tactic.  I have no doubt that as President, he would continue to use this tactic, and it would potentially be a much more potent here.  After all, he’s only one out of hundred in the Senate, but as President, all continuing resolutions and debt ceiling bills would come to him.  I could imagine where we could get to a point that the continuity of government could become dependent on Congressional veto overrides.

Personally, I think anyone elected President, while certainly having a vision for the country, still has to act in the best interests of the country as a whole and every citizen, even those he/she disagrees with.  I don’t think it’s the place for a demagogue who views politics as a war to be won by any political means necessary.

Sources:

https://www.yahoo.com/politics/bob-dole-ted-cruz-cataclysmic-154736208.html

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/ted-cruz-jerk-hated

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/ted-cruz-unites-both-parties-in-belief-ted-cruz-a-jerk/

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/ted-cruzs-iowa-mailers-are-more-fraudulent-than-everyone-thinks

http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/02/05/ben-carson-campaign-releases-tape-of-ted-cruz-worker-spreading-rumors/?_r=0

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/ted-cruz/statements/?page=1

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/05/01/1946211/five-conspiracy-theories-2016-hopeful-ted-cruz-actually-believes/

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/ted-cruz-reached-out-the-pentagon-about-martial-law-conspiracy-theory

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/ted-cruz-texas-senate-conspiracy-theories

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/02/228376346/why-sen-cruz-looms-large-in-government-shutdown-drama

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-09-08/ted-cruz-to-star-in-government-shutdown-the-sequel

 

 

 

donald trump

My hair alone could run this country.

Statistician Nate Silver had been my rock when it came to the chances of Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination.  No matter what the rest of the press was saying, there would be good ol’ Nate saying Trump won’t win.  But with the primaries starting tomorrow and with the collapse of Trump in the polls that I think many of us expected not occurring, well even Nate has backtracked now and is saying Trump has a legitimate chance of pulling this off.  Further, his models now has Trump as the favorite to win Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

So Donald Trump is not a reality television side-show entertainment candidate.  He is an actual real candidate.  As voters start going to the polls, I hope they do their homework on Donald Trump.  For your consideration:

  • Trump says he is a successful business man because he’s made billions.  There are important things to remember though.  First, he inherited around $40 million from his dad in 1974.  So it’s not like he went from rags to riches.  Further, while he is now worth around $3 billion today (not bad right), some say that had he just invested his money in index funds and reinvested any dividends, he would be worth much more.  And Warren Buffet, who was worth about as much as Trump in 1974, now is worth $67 billion.  Doesn’t necessarily prove Trump is a bad business man.  But perhaps he’s not exactly good either, or at least not as good as he purports.
  • Trumps says he is good with money.  But he has filed for bankruptcy four times.  Hey, that’s allowed.  Still, I don’t think anyone has ever responded to the question ‘how are things financially?’ with ‘great, I just filed for bankruptcy!’
  • Trump is self-financing is campaign.  Except not exactly.  Go to his campaign website and you will clearly see a “donate” button.  He’s taken in millions from donations.  And in as such as he has contributed himself, it’s mostly be in the form of loans in which he can pay himself back for at any time using the raised campaign money.  There’s also a Super PAC backing him (“Make America Great Again”).
  • Trump is a man of principles.  And if you don’t like those principles, just wait, they will probably change.  He’s for legalizing drugs, he’s against legalizing drugs, he’s pro-choice, he’s pro-life, the rich should pay a wealth tax, wait no they need a tax cut, he’s for universal  healthcare, oh wait nevermind, Hillary would be a great President, no she would be a disaster, Ted Cruz is a great friend and also a very nasty person……

Clearly some see something in Trump.  I think it may be that what I may see as narcissism, others see as confidence.  Maybe what I may see as boastful and braggadocious, others see as leadership.  What I may see as offensive and racist, others see as courage to call it like he sees it.

Anyway, in case you couldn’t guess, I’m not a Trump supporter and find him a particularly weak candidate.  I think he has lived in a bubble all his life and doesn’t have a lot of real world knowledge.  I think in his arrogance, he has decided that being President would be easy (for a guy like him).  I think his extremely low tolerance to criticism is a major and potentially dangerous character flaw.  Finally, I think he would say or do anything, but only in what is in the best (perceived) interest of Trump (which he would probably think would be in the best interest of everyone anyway).

But I invite everyone to at least do their own homework in regards to Trump  (of course a good idea regardless of who you are voting for).  In my opinion, There’s more to being President than being outspoken.

Sources: