‘Puter’s Day

Hello, children. Hello.

The Mandarin knows many of you like ‘Puter here on this site as well as on the Twitter machine, and wondered if you all had any idea what he’s really like outside of the Castle.

So your Mandarin followed him for a couple of minutes with a camera yesterday, and thought you’d want to see what he does in the course of a late morning.

Playtime at the Castle

The Gormogons are all fans of getting outside and enjoying the fresh air and some healthy exercise.  Some of the castle dwellers wanted more variety around the grounds for our enjoyment so our official contracts officer, ‘Puter, put out a solicitation for playground equipment that we could install on the premises.  We reviewed them as they came in:

enhanced-buzz-11950-1412762870-16Wow.  Not sure what to do with this one.  Maybe we just got some oddball trying to prank us.

A few days went by and we went about our usual business.  Then, the mail came flying over the castle wall and ‘Puter excitedly ran into the rumpus room announcing that we got two more responses to the request.

enhanced-buzz-3302-1412763107-15Dr. J and the Mandarin just stared blankly at the proposals and then at ‘Puter and then back at these images.  Volgi put his head in his hands and began uttering something in a dialect that none of us recognized.  It seems like Sleestak really was looking forward to the rainbow-colored arches with figures…but held back as the Czar started getting red-faced.  GorT’s laser eye started glowing brighter.

“What in all that is holy did you put in the request for proposals, ‘Puter?” demanded the Czar.  ‘Puter searched around the messy table looking for the request and finally found a coffee cup stained copy and began to read a section:

 

enhanced-buzz-19191-1412782961-11The Gormogons seek proposals for exciting and unique equipment suitable for various aged persons to enjoy in an outdoor setting.  The goal is to enable frolicking and fun in a fraternal setting.  Design should make great use of color and incorporate a sense of humor that the client would appreciate.

“Seriously?  You put that out to companies?”

After the shoving and yelling ceased, we all stalked off to our respective areas of the castle.  It remained quiet for a few days with little discussion and no acknowledgement that this project was even under consideration.  A few more responses trickled in but none really took hold and garnered any support.  The Czar did tack the following idea on ‘Puter’s door with the following caption, “Dude, I would so support having public restrooms on our playground if they were like this”

enhanced-buzz-23225-1412782811-8

‘Puter just stuck the following sticky on the Czar’s door.postit4_www-txt2pic-com

Digamma and Other Aging Letters

The Czar has discovered some emails floating in his networked world that should have seen the light of day earlier, and so he apologizes that some of these may not be topical by this point.

First up, Boneman writes in, having spent the day doing stingray archery. Have you tried this? No, you don’t shoot stingrays from a boat using a bow (in fact, no boat is used at all); you fire stingrays out of bows into dry targets.

Oh great and dread Czar,

Your trembling minion on the plains is loath to wade in on a topic on which so many words have already been spewed for fear of appearing to bloviate on dated topics. Howsomever, since Boneman has been around the track a few times and knows him some “stuff” about chemical, biological, and radiological stuff, he feels obligated to address Ebola even at this late date. Boneman had a saying (although Boneman did not invent this saying) for when the government was obviously pumping sunshine onto a situation (“Don’t panic! Everything’s under control! The contagion was contained within the base’s perimeter”) that they were “peeing down my back and calling it rain.” Due to this administration’s proclivity for deception, even pointless deception, this phrase boxes up Boneman’s suspicions quite nicely. What we are hearing from the CDC certainly feels like rain. Ebola is obviously a spectacularly “catchy” and immensely lethal bug. The government knows this and is deep obfuscation mode.

Well, no problem now—the President has selected someone with no immunological or epidemiological experience to head up the Ebola effort based on ths size of the dude’s checkbook. Wouldn’t we wish the Czar was being sarcastic about this. Here’s what Operative BJ has to add on the subject:

Your Highness, Dr. Tom Frieden, the head of the CDC, has changed his tune on Ebola more than once. First it was “we know everything we need to know about it.” Then it was “we may have to revisit what we know about it.” Now it’s “we don’t know how a nurse in full protective gear got it.”

This is the same government, run by the child-king Obama, that told us that Nidal Hassan’s attack on Ft. Hood was not a terrorist attack even though he was screaming Islamic war chants while shooting unarmed soldiers. And the same government that blamed the (ahem) “spontaneous” Benghazi attack on protests over a film even though on-the-ground observers knew it was terrorist-based from the start. And the same government that gave weapons to Mexican drug cartels and is now shocked – SHOCKED – to find out that the murders of two US Border Control Agents were committed with those weapons.

Now, this same government expects us to believe Dr. Frieden when he draws a “red line” around the communicability “rules” of Ebola. We are told that the Ebola virus can’t be spread by [method redacted], and then hear *from a news organization* that someone contracted Ebola by [method redacted]. That report is then reluctantly confirmed by an official government spokesman, and Dr. Frieden redraws the Ebola communicability “red line”.

Moreover, this same government is now restricting domestic air travel rights of certain Americans who are “suspected” of having “possible contact” with people who “may have been exposed” to the virus, while continuing to allow international travelers from the Ebola “hot zone” to freely travel to the United States. The excuse is that we may need to get medical support into those “hot zones”. If it was really about “getting medical support where it’s needed”, I’m sure that chartered flights or military transports could provide that service on an as-needed basis.

To make matters worse, some of the same well-known individuals who once espoused that “we need to operate as normally as possible” are now saying that perhaps – and ONLY “perhaps” – we should consider whether flights from the “hot zones” should be curtailed. Another example of “closing the barn door after the horse is gone?”

Your Greatness, I wasn’t aware that foreign travelers had the absolute and irrevocable right to enter our country. A visa doesn’t grant a right of entry: it only grants permission to enter. A visa can be revoked or canceled at any time. And a visa is issued by the host country after an application is filed: nobody can demand a visa to enter the US and expect that demand to be honored.

Perhaps it is time to revisit whether those in Ebola “hot zones” should have the unabridged and uncontrolled ability to enter this country without a full medical examination to determine whether they carry the Ebola virus. Why? If Thomas Eric Duncan can falsify the emigration form in his country of origin and travel here when he is already sick, perhaps it is time to stop all travelers from Ebola “hot zones” and fully examine whether they are, as Duncan, fleeing an area without advanced medical care for a country where they have a better chance of survival.

Rats flee a sinking ship. The United States should not be the life raft for the rest of the world, because even a life raft can be capsized when overloaded.

The Czar will miss Thomas Eric Duncan. He was awesome in The Green Mile.

Not to forget this, from Operative KL5:

Czar, do you think President Carter is more likely to watch Starsky & Hutch or Charlie’s Angels, and why? A buddy of mine has a bet going worth a case of Oly.

Some emails have been floating around a while. Sorry. The Czar did not watch either program, really. During August of 1978 (and really, the whole year), the Czar was focused on the upcoming maiden flight of the F-18A Hornet, and its weird and thus-far undocumented link to the Kiss solo efforts.

What the Fučik?

Probably a good many of our readers never heard the name Julius Fučik, even though the Czar is certain you can hum every note to the first third of his military battle march “Entry of the Gladiators,: (Vjezd Gladiátorů, although he preferred to call it « Grande Marche Chromatique»), composed in 1897.

Like many academics of his time, Fučik was a neo-classicist and was smitten with the glory of Rome and the notion of gladiators killing each other. Given the spread of nationalism at the time, he wrote a march that could be used by troops going off to war or marching triumphantly into a bombed-out city. This was a badass piece of music, certainly designed to overwhelm you with pride for the military machinery you were watching.

Here’s the piece, so you can remind yourself how supercool this march is.

Of course, you probably associate this march with something quite different than infantry and cavalry troops in precise formations. In 1910, this piece got picked up by a very different industry that was into campgrounds, tents, and horses and its popularity soared around the world. Fučik died only six years later, and the Czar always suspected that the popularity of his prized work gnawed at him. He died an unhappy man for a lot of reasons, but Fučik must have cringed every time this tune played.

Hey, that’s how irony works, folks. You do something great, like write for this site, and eventually some shaved troll like Ghettoputer barges in here and soils it all up. But here’s the real irony: very few people outside of the Czech Republic would have any clue who he was, and his music would languish at the bottom of stacks of yellowed sheet music if it wasn’t for this weird twist of fate. Today, not many people know who Julius Fučik was, but probably a billion people can start humming this march off the top of their heads. On key, too.

And for a musician, he ought to be pretty proud of that accomplishment.

Ominous fingerpost for religious liberty

Qui tollis peccati mundiHouston has subpœnaed a bunch of pastors’ sermons in the name of “non-discrimination.” Confucius* holds no particular brief for these pastors or whatever they might preach, but finds it more than a little troubling that enough government employees considered it a good idea to issue such a subpæna.

Francis Cardinal George, the retired (and dying) cardinal archbishop of Chicago, rather famously said, apropos the increasing aggression of our secularizing culture, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” This subpœna adds a tiny ring of prophecy to the Cardinal’s words. (For the context, and his denial of any prophetic intent, see here.)

When the ruling class finds raisons d’état to attack its subjects’ religion (and we’re being treated as subjects here, not citizens), they are always increasingly frustrated—because religion is not merely stronger than politics, it resists the latter. If the rulers don’t give up, eventually persecution sets in. Are we there yet? No, but these acts of harassment bespeak the hostility which could eventually fuel measures more serious than cavalierly bankrupting bakers for their scruples in frosting preferences.

What would this look like? Well, as it happens, there’s a very readable book just out called God’s Traitors: Terror & Faith in Elizabethan England which depicts in detail, following a particular family down the years, the measures and cruelties dealt to those who held to traditional Christianity in the face of the established church. Aside from the zealots on the fringes, neither side really desired to escalate the conflict—most Catholics were happy to be civilly obedient to Elizabeth, and the government did not start out looking to stamp out Catholicism. However, the logic of the situation—and the identification of state and established religion—drove both groups to increasingly extreme behavior.

Americans, in our public culture, are children of Britain and until very recently have been largely (when not vehemently) sympathetic to the narrative of Protestant enlightenment driving out Catholic superstition, backwardsness, and foreignness. This grand narrative—without minimizing the intellectual achievements brought about in Britain during its Protestant heyday**—and the natural human tendency to valorize the victorious tends to elide over the plight of everyday people trying to practice their religion as their forebears did and emphasize the villains and assassins the losing side produced, while eliding the cruelties and emphasizing virtues of the winning side.

The danger in our situation is that the “culture war” in our society has increasingly driven the religious to one side and the anti-religious to the other. Both of these groups have mutually exclusive claims about the nature of life; the revolutionary side has pushed legislation and enacted judicial degrees to have their morals enshrined; and now seems invested in painting policy opponents as wicked. The traditionalist side has fought back in kind, and we seem to be entering a similarly polarized spiral into mutually incompatible claims about the nature of citizenship.

One lesson from Elizabethan England is this: if you hold the high institutional grounds, you can win. You can marginalize your opponents and gradually convince the bulk of the citizenry that they are suspect in their loyalties and harbor wicked designs on the polity (as indeed some of them inevitably will as they become convinced the polity is bent on the destruction of the Good). For traditionalists—particularly the religious—this should stand as a dire warning.

Given the ascension of angry secularism as the invisible religion of the Left and its increasing function as the moral lodestar of the Democratic Party, media, academia, much of the judiciary, etc., Protestants as well as Catholics, Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus, should very much worry that they could find themselves in a position analogous to that of English Catholics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Worried about this? Might Confucius suggest a symbol appropriate to Christian concern is the Lamb of God. This symbol on a medallion was one of the many bits of “popery” outlawed by the Elizabeth authorities. Given its impeccable scriptural provenance, our Protestant brethren could also embrace it as a symbol of the Christian Church under duress.

*For those who came in late, Confucius has the pleasure to serve as the Gormogons’ Volgi Œcumenicæ, or Œcumenical Volgi. ’Puter also visited him last week, but the Volgi is unutterably dull and their doings therefore not worthy of recounting. Though a Lambeau Leap may or may not have been involved.

**The Volgi thinks the two are less closely tied than, say, Daniel Hannan in his recent work, but leaves the correlation-causation dispute for another day.

Gormogonicon 2014: ‘Puter, Czar and Mandy Get Their Collective Freak On

It’s a little-known fact, but according to the Gormogons’ by-laws, no more than four Gormogons can ever be in the same place at the same time except while on Castle grounds. At least that’s what ‘Puter recalls the by-laws say, since no one’s actually seen the by-laws since the Battle of Vienna in 1683, when in a fit of pique Volgi absconded with the by-laws after ‘Puter and Czar on a drunken dare assisted Jan III Sobieski in repelling the Ottoman infidels.*

So on those rare occasions when a large number (greater than two, in most instances) get together, it is an occasion of note. When Czar and ‘Puter get together, it is an occasion for mass panic. Physicists recommended against ‘Puter and Czar meeting outside the Castle, fearing it may trigger a world-ending cataclysm, or at least a state-wide panic. Undeterred, ‘Puter and Czar vowed to meet at Czar’s dacha, with Mandy in attendance to document the proceedings for posterity.

As Czar noted, ‘Puter and Mrs. ‘Puter arrived at Czar’s summer dacha shortly after Mandy and Mrs. Mandy. ‘Puter knows this because he hid in bushes across the street until Mandarin and family arrived. Mrs. ‘Puter rolled her eyes, refused to lurk with ‘Puter, and insisted on waiting in ‘Puter’s rented swagger wagon (a Toyota Camry) until ‘Puter was done “being a paranoid, drunken ass-clown.”**

Preliminary intra-marriage passive-aggressive hostilities out of the way, ‘Puter and Mrs. ‘Puter made their way up the oyster shell (actually, ground bone, but ‘Puter didn’t want Mrs. ‘Puter to freak out) path to Czar’s iron clad door. Mrs. ‘Puter rang the doorbell.***

Czar answered the door himself, most likely because he had killed yet another unwilling butler on a whim. Czar was attired in his casual regalia, a gold lame man thong and a bearskin cape. Czar even deloused his beard and corn-rowed his back hair for the occasion. Mrs. ‘Puter was suitably impressed with Czar’s efforts.

Czar immediately handed ‘Puter a gallon plastic milk jug filled with a brownish liquid and ice and said, “Here, drink this, you God-forsaken son of a whore!” Since Czar asked politely, ‘Puter obliged. ‘Puter assumed the milk jug’s contents would be his favorite Courvoisier and Kool-Aid, but no. Czar had outdone himself, handing ‘Puter one of the best Manhattan’s he’d ever had. After ‘Puter had finished the first jug, Czar handed ‘Puter another, and the evening was off the races.

‘Puter, Czar and Mandy then retired to the lanai to continue to grill chicken and catch up on official Gormogon business. As loyal readers know, all your Gormogons good cooks, and several if not all are master grillers. Czar chose to prepare apple wood smoked (on the grill) beer brined barbecued chicken for his guests (not to mention Polish sausage and pierógi). The chicken was delicious, as was the company.****

After dinner, Czar served more drinks including a delicious milk stout while Czar’s youngest offspring explained the origin of the phrase “the cake is a lie” to Czar. Czar accused ‘Puter of lying about the phrase’s origin, necessitating a true expert on Portal to explain it. After Czar beat his offspring for so completely proving Czar wrong, the men retired to the dacha’s Russian themed techno dance club, complete with overweight Russian mobsters trailed by lamprey-like meth addicted wannabe models. The ambiance was perfect.

‘Puter immediately noted the presence of someone he hadn’t seen in while, Kim Jong Un. Czar explained Kim showed up about a month ago and refused to leave, claiming Dennis Rodman was stalking him. Being a neighborly despot, Czar let him stay even allowing Kim to whip up North Korea’s national dish (tree bark, grass clippings and newspaper soup) in the club’s well-equipped kitchen.

Here’s a picture of all of us partying like rock stars in Czar’s club. Come to think of it, there was a rock star present as well. Robert Plant heard there was to be a Gormogonicon and showed up out of the blue. ‘Puter isn’t really a Led Zeppelin fan, but didn’t have the heart to tell Mr. Plant to go home. After all, Bob (that’s what his friends call him) traveled a long way.

'Puter doesn't recall inviting Sleestak, Dat Ho or the flying pussy. Their punishment will be severe.

‘Puter doesn’t recall inviting Sleestak or Dat Ho. The punishment will be sever.

After this picture was taken, it all gets a bit hazy for ‘Puter. He vaguely remembers playing pin the tail on the waitress (using throwing axes) with Kim and Bob and singing karaoke with Czar and Mandy (“Back in the USSR,” (Czar’s choice) “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer,” (‘Puter’s pick) and of course, “Mandy” (Mandy’s selection))

‘Puter awoke the next morning in the dacha’s Emperor Suite next to Mrs. ‘Puter, who still hasn’t spoken to him. ‘Puter threw open the window to survey the grounds. This is what he saw.

Mandy surveys the damage. Or maybe Mandy's looking for another "volunteer" for his experiments. Either way, it's all good.

Mandy surveys the damage. Or maybe Mandy’s looking for another “volunteer” for his experiments. Either way, it’s all good.

Fortunately, the world didn’t end as predicted, and all Gormogons along with most of the other guests survived. Bob seems to have gone home, and Kim departed in the night, apparently deciding North Koreans needed their chubby dynastic dictator back.

Based on this gathering’s success, we will most certainly be having another Gormogonicon soon, likely at ‘Puter’s hovel located in an undisclosed location in Upstate New York’s frigid wasteland.

* Volgi really, really likes the Ottomans. To this day, ‘Puter and Czar will occasionally find themselves assaulted on the way home from the Leaping Peacock by an orta or five of Janissaries “conveniently” passing by. When ‘Puter and Czar confront Volgi about it, he always denies having anything to do with the mysterious presence of Ottoman elite military units abolished in 1826. ‘Puter’s beginning to think maybe Volgi’s lying.

** That’s not the first time, nor is it likely to be the last time, ‘Puter’s heard that line come out of Mrs. ‘Puter’s word hole.

*** Actually a serf laying under the front portico that one punches in the groin. The serf’s pained screams and incoherent Russian curses alert Czar to a visitor’s presence.

**** For a full menu, see Czar’s post on the Gormogonicon here.

All of Gaul Is Divided Into Three Emails

Today, we have three letters worthy of reply, or as any of the six remaining speakers of Esperanto might say (and rightfully so): «Mi parolas la stulta bastardo langugage de Esperanto.»

First up, Operative DH has a thought about distaffing women:

O Most czarist Czar ever:

About the war on women.

I say that the big advantage of the left is that they can promise stuff. They believe big government can solve everything, they just need to point it in the right direction, and feed it enough money and the problem will be solved.

Of course, all of this is nonsense, but no one seems to notice. I don’t think it’s an accident that the left prospers in two situations: When things are really good and when things are really bad. What is interesting is that they are able to make people believe both things simultaneously. The War on Women is a good example. They have created the image that Wymyn are in a victorious crusade against an evil and powerful empire of antifeminism. I personally believe the victories are overated, and that there is no actual enemy. But without the drama, we don’t have the emergency that demands a big government solution to the problem. And the fact that there is no actual enemy means that any movement at all, in any direction, can counted as victory.

But without the drama, people start noticing the actual sequence of events. We declare a War on Poverty, but people are still poor. We declare a War on Drugs, but people are addicted. We declare a War on Women, but after all this time, are there really any winners? Certainly the role of women in our own society has changed over the last 50 years, but I think the proportion of happy vs. unhappy women has remained the same. It’s just a different skillset that is now unhappy.

I think if Republicans are going to deal with the whole “war on” mentality, they need to figure out a way to lessen the drama. Look at the promises. Look at the results. Was it really worth the cost? But of course drama is fun, so I’m not sure how you push actual reality in a society that is more concerned with the drama of the reality show.

Of course, this is all correct. The Czar will merely underscore the readers’ understanding that the Left’s War On… approach of course dates back to the Wilson era. We’ve had two outstanding conservative/libertarian periods in American history since then—Coolidge and Reagan—and numerous conservative Congresses, which shows that ultimately the War On… strategy produces zero results for Progressives or against Conservatives. It’s just a thing we have to keep getting through every other generation.

Just FYI: I used to work for Polaroid’s DL/ID (Driver License / ID) division – I was responsible for implementations in WV, IN, and CO – so this is something I do actually have real knowledge of.

AAMVA, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, is a cross-state organization that every DMV/RMV either belongs to or subscribes to. AAMVA publishes standards for driver license contents, specifies many of the “devices” that appear on licenses (organ donor info, restriction info such as eyeglasses and artificial limbs, additional certifications such as motorcycle or CDL, etc.), and even sets standards for the contents of magnetic strips, 2D/3D barcodes, and implanted “chips.”

Yes, you must obey each individual states’ laws when driving in each state, but AAMVA determines the means that help guarantee identification of the driver. And AAMVA also provides for a cross-state demographics transfer when states wish to retrieve the driving records of individuals moving into their states (although they are not bound to either accept or use that data, which is why “points” usually don’t follow you but your previous address and DOB info do).

Just thought you’d be interested, that’s all.

(MA issues driver licenses to illegals, so a MA DL can’t be used as ID for entry to military establishments or taking an airplane – but that’s not the fault of AAMVA: it’s the fault of MA. But those licenses still implement AAMVA standards for look and content.)

Operative BJ

Of course, this is exactly the sort of arcane thing you would expect the Czar to already know, but amazingly, the Czar did not. And Operative BJ was right in anticipating the Czar would indeed be interested by this. Yes, this makes a great degree of sense: your driver’s license should be easily looked up in any of the other 49 states and handful of protectorates (there are 57 states, yes?), so it makes sense to have standardized reporting. And the idea that one’s body-part-donation can be verified in other states is very useful for accidents when you’re on the road.

The Czar of course does not donate his body parts to other people, but is awfully quick to take them when angry. Often well before folks are finished using them.

I’m standing in the gallery cheering at the idea of removing Government from the marriage equation. Let folks apply for domestic partnerships at city hall and get “married” by the religious officiant of their choice. And while we’re at it let’s take medical insurance out of the benefits package and let folks buy their own. Those two ideas would solve a host of problems and get the government and your employer out of your business. I know it’s more complicated in the long run but I think it would help swing things in the direction of personal responsibility.

Operative FR is right, but let us educate some of our readers on the history of health care benefits.

During World War II, the statist jackass F.D. Roosevelt, who was President a little after Coolidge, had the incredible audacity to fix salaries by government mandate (executive order 9328). Imagine. Why, it’s almost as stupid an idea today.

In order to lure top talent to companies, who couldn’t offer pay incentives due to the salary cap, employers began to offer numerous benefits to job candidates. Chief among these, as it turned out, was healthcare insurance. And lo, soon this was extended to middle management and eventually lower-level job applicants. Before long, everybody was getting healthcare insurance picked up by the employer.

When executive order 9737 rescinded that portion of 9328, folks weren’t too keen on giving up on the new benefits, and employers found them particularly useful in the post-war hiring boom. So here we stay, with employers paying for something that doesn’t necessarily help them attract talent the way it used to.

Gormogonicon 2014

The Czar is pleased to have hosted the 2014 Gormogonicon party at his dacha.

dacha-4

The dacha was colorfully decorated for this year’s theme, which was Booze and Chews (which narrowly beat out Hug and Chug).

gormogonicon 2014 3
Mr. and Mrs. Mandarin, plus his youngling, were happy to arrive moments before Mr. and Mrs. Ghettoputer. The Czar was happy that Sleestak was able to accompany them, since it gave Inetef-Te-Henqet, our mummy butler, someone to not speak to. We may have purchased too much beer, but it seems ‘Puter was a little off his game last night due to the long drive he endured.

Gormogonicon 2014 dog
Also in attendance was the ‘Puters’ dog, Sadie, who totally fit in well with the Czar’s kennel.

gormogonicon 2014 dogs

Here’s the Czar’s kennel.

The menu, lovingly described by Juvenal, consisted of:

  • Applewood smoked-grilled chicken
  • Three different kinds of kiełbasa, grilled and smoked
  • Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, which alas the Czar overcooked because he spent too much time garnishing Mrs. ‘Puter’s gin and tonic with a custom lemon thing.
  • Corn casserole
  • Authentic potato pierógi
  • Acorn squash
  • Cinnamon apple pie
  • Jellyfish and eggs
  • Sow’s udders stuffed with milk and eggs
  • Boiled tree fungi with peppered fish-fat sauce
  • Sea urchins with spices, oil and egg sauce
  • Fallow deer roasted with onion sauce, rue Jericho dates, raisins oil and honey
  • Boiled ostrich with sweet sauce
  • Turtle dove boiled in its feathers
  • Roast parrot
  • Dormice stuffed with pork and pine kernels
  • Flamingo boiled with fresh dates

In addition to cooking for these honored guests, the Czar was pleased to tend bar as well. The 1870 recipe was used for Manhattans, which flowed quite copiously. Because the Civil War is over, and bourbon is now available again, the Czar opted for switch rye whiskey with Corner Creek bourbon. Many of the ladies opted for Hot Apple Pie shots.

Then the party really got hopping as other special guests arrived. Ghettoputer will be providing you those details shortly.

Un-Defining Marriage

Operative BJ has been thinking a lot about the way things are worded in today’s world. And with darn good reason. For example, he’s been toying with the idea of same sex marriage. No, wait—that came out wrong. He’s been considering the wording of “same sex marriage.” See how much better that sounds?

Your Majesty,

This henpecked one comes before you to comment on the most recent decision from the SCOTUS in regard to same-sex “marriage.” Or, to be more accurate, the NON-decision rendered by the 9 robes.

The decision was made to NOT decide whether two same-sex individuals may “marry.”

The SCOTUS must have recognized that there was no authority granted by either the Constitution or in any of the Amendments to permit them to make a decision regarding the nature of marriage. Marriage is a contract regulated by state law. The Constitution and the Amendments are silent on marriage, and the 1st Amendment prevents the government from imposing itself as an arbiter in a States’ rights debate – especially one with deeply felt religious overtones. (No, the Hobby Lobby decision is an entirely different situation.)

DOMA was found to be unconstitutional primarily because it was an egregious overstepping of Federal authority onto the domain of States’ rights. This was exactly the right decision: there was no basis for the law other than to satisfy some legislators’ personal religious agendas.

Now the SCOTUS has taken the (ahem) “surprising move” of NOT deciding whether the Federal government has the power to take away the rights of States to legislate marriage for themselves. This is only “surprising” to those who have forgotten the 9th and 10th Amendments, wherein any powers not reserved by by the Constitution and its Amendments are granted to the states. Since the establishment of marriage law is not reserved to Federal authority, it is a States’ rights issue.

This worthless one will not say whether he agrees or disagrees with whether same-sex “marriage” should be legal. But, just as a cake is a marriage of flour, eggs, and sugar that infuse together to create a new form, same-sex individuals are incapable of providing the two primary components needed to generate a new human.

Hence, in my mind, it may be termed “marriage” by the same-sex community, but it is nothing more a legal relationship between two same-sex individuals. If they wish to call it “marriage”, so be it. And if they wish to have a religious ceremony, let them.

But they should not expect nor require any entity to respect, accept, or approve of their decision beyond the requirements of the law of their respective States. And just as one State’s laws are not binding on any other State, they should not expect their “marriage” to be treated as legally binding in other States that do not yet support single-sex “marriage”.

Perhaps the lesson of Roe v. Wade is finally coming to light: that there are some decisions better left to the individual States.

This mirrors the Czar’s own conviction: the Federal government has no business whatsoever dealing with marriage.

Okay, the Feds have no business getting into states’ laws about driving, except where it makes sense to achieve some uniformity between states. In other words, ‘Puter’s New York driver’s license is recognized and valid in Illinois, but he still has to obey all of Illinois’ laws when driving here.

Many same-sex marriage arguments go in that direction: because states have different tolerances for same-sex marriage, is a New York-based same-sex marriage recognized in Illinois? Yes, in reality, but you could easily pick different states and cough up a complex chart of this. Hey, it’s even worse for firearms, folks: how and whether one state recognizes another’s rights is an ever-evolving miasma of if, buts, and howevers.

But the Czar will push this one step further: he doesn’t believe the States have any business dealing with marriage. What’s more, he doesn’t even believe the municipalities do, either. This concept is a throwback to centuries ago when the King was the Law, the King was the Religion, and the King was the Land. All ye are property before him. If you want to get married, you need the state’s permission.

That’s a crock. How about this idea that seems to get a lot of support from all different folks: how about government totally gets out of the marriage business?

You want to get married, you go to a church, a temple, a synagogue, a mosque, a shul, basilica, cathedral, or other house of worship. A marriage there is legally binding, but because they are religious in nature, they are allowed to include or excluse individuals based on their faiths. A gay couple is not going to be accepted in a mosque; a heterosexual Lutheran couple will not be married in a Catholic church, and so on.

If you’re not religious, or are otherwise excluded from marriage—say a quickie-divorced Catholic couple—you can go to City Hall and wait in line and fill out a civil union partnership. This is also legally binding, but shall be open to same-sex couples as much as different-sex couples. Both partners must be legally aware of their rights and responsibilities: this means no adult-child partnerships, no human-animal partnerships, or conscious-comatose partnerships: both signatories must be fully able to represent themselves without problem. Yes, this can means—as is presently the case—participants must either be fluent in English or must have a legally appointed translator to ensure both parties understand their duties and obligations.

These obligations wouldn’t be strict: just an understanding that the civil contract is binding equally for both parties, that they can represent themselves as a single entity for tax purposes, that each has power of attorney for the other, visitation rights, and so on. Also, and importantly, that bigamy represents a legal breach since that creates a power imbalance, and the second party now has the power to seek legal action against the bigamist partners.

All this is easy to do: in fact, the same sex couple can call this a wedding, or even a marriage, but legally it’s just a contract. If you want a marriage, go the religious route. With the civil contract, there’s no judge, no vows, no music, and a fee to be paid to the municipality for filing the paperwork. It will be as exciting as getting a mortgage (but with less paperwork).

The advantage here is that it makes a legal corporation that would be recognizable in the other 49 states. We do this already with birth certificates, right? One form is pretty much like another, and there’s little pomp or circumstance with this process.

Here’s where the states can customize the whole thing to their own ends: states can run background checks to ensure both parties are legally allowed to be married, or to see if there’s fraud about to happen. Arizona can check citizenship, Nevada can check to see they’re not already married to each other and forgot, and Massachusetts can make sure their $4500 fee has been processed. Some states can be easier, others harder—like with everything else.

There are two thoughts about this that may cause heartburn between states.

First, what’s to stop polygamy? You could have 72 people all perfectly willing to get married to each other, just as you could have 72 people all willing to start a business together, declare themselves a religion, or form a political action committee. With the Czar’s plan, this sounds like you couldn’t prevent polygamy, polyandry, or group marriage. But a civil contract with multiple partners has to be limited to two people; otherwise, you run right into problems. With a contract of two people, either can leave (divorce) at any time and the contract is nullified. With three or more people, the contract would remain in force and potentially difficult to dissolve. This becomes true if the group marriage arrangement proposes letting people leave or enter or re-enter. Since there’s no way to manage this, it makes the contract unenforceable. The only way to protect all parties equally is to limit it to two people.

For example, Glen and Debbie and Jenna want to be united as a single family under this model. They do, and after three years, Glen wants out. If he leave the contract, what happens to Debbie and Jenna? Their contract is still binding, even if they don’t particularly care for each other. They’re stuck, unless they call the whole thing off. But what if Debbie and Jenna want Marty to join in? What if Debbie does but Jenna does not? You can see how adding even a third person into this arrangement makes the contract completely worthless and susceptible to legal disputes and outright fraud. So sorry, friends of polyamory, you’re still out. There’s a reason polygamy has been booted out of most religions: it’s nothing but a pain in the ass, legally.

This leaves the second problem, which is incest. If we simplify the arrangement to siblings, what’s to stop a 32-year-old guy from going into a union with his 30-year-old brother or sister? This is a bit trickier to think about because (a) a parent-single adult child arrangement would cause no issues for inheritance, (b) inbreeding is not quite the certainty popular culture promotes, and (c) two adults do not assume a power imbalance that would be ipso facto inequitable. Outside of the ick factor, there’s not a lot of legal ground to prevent this, other than we just want to.

States might simply have to say—as all 50 do now—sorry, no siblings or children. (Contrary to popular belief, some form of first-cousin marriage is either legal or possible in most states already.)

In short—which we could have done paragraphs ago—marriage becomes a religious ritual resulting in a legal, contractual union; a religion can put as many restrictions or requirements as it chooses, because a couple can always go to the municipality as a last resort. But a state or local government can no longer perform a marriage: they can only officially stamp a legal union. Takes the romance out of it for some folks, sure, but it eliminates all the marriage equality nonsense.

Ready for the Flames?

jill-greenberg-crying-photoshopped-babies-end-times-17Wal-Mart announced this week that it will be raising health insurance premiums for its employees and will end providing health insurance for part-time employees (those working under 30 hours per week).  It probably isn’t news to anyone that the liberals will come out firing at Wal-Mart for being an evil corporation only out to make a profit.

Consider for a minute a few factors:

  • The costs for its employee health insurance coverage is rising – some reports have it rising by as much as 50%.  This is for the world’s largest retailer so they have a large pool which, if anything, should provide significant leverage for Wal-Mart to negotiate rates with health insurance providers.
  • Wal-Mart reports that the lowest-cost plan that it provides employees will have about a 20% increase in employee-paid premiums.
  • Wal-Mart isn’t the only retailer to do this: Target and Home Depot have announced reductions in benefits.

If you are reading this and thinking, “maybe the Affordable Care Act isn’t so affordable” then you might be on the right track.  The ACA law requires that, by 2015, employers with over 100 employees offer a health care insurance plan to at least 70% of the company and that it doesn’t cost more than 9.5% of the employees annual salary.  According to the annual Kaiser Employer Health benefits survey, the average premium for a single employee is roughly $6,000 annually and, on average, the employee pays $1,000 towards that (with the balance being covered by the employer).  Family coverage is up to over $16,000 with employees contributing $5,000 towards it.  Working a little math on these numbers, that means that the average salary needs to be $63,157 for a single-coverage employee and $168,421 for a family-coverage employee.*

For those who have never participated in the process of selecting a health insurance provider for a company, let me clue you in: it’s all a game of trade-offs.  You take the demographic data and desires of the employees and then, essentially, shop the options.  Wider doctor network? Higher cost or higher deductibles.  More procedures covered? Same deal…or maybe offer a smaller network or a lower “level” of providers.  Many employees don’t understand this.  They think that they should be able to go to the doctor of their choice, not pay a deductible, not have a high co-pay and have every procedure covered…and, of course, not have premiums that they and their employer cover skyrocket through the roof.  One word: fantasyland.

So brace yourselves as another round of cry-babies complain.