Freedom of Speech, Politics, and Yellowstone NP

There are noises on the airwaves. Some of them relate to Freedom of Speech. 

But, before I get to something that means a lot to me, I want to touch on the underlying reason I’m writing this. 

June 2015 trip to Wyoming

I am referring, of course, to the 2016 Presidential Election.

By the way, I’ll go on record right now . . . for the first time since I’ve been eligible to vote, I will choose not to.

I’ve argued the eventual rebuke before, but I’ll briefly summarize it here . . . I am not responsible for whatever happens. Instead, I hold people who do vote as responsible for whatever is to come. 


Lest people are unclear, let me spell it out. If you vote for any of the current candidates, and one of them gets in office, I hold you responsible for whatever befalls us. 

I’ll go one step further . . . if you vote for any of the current candidates, even if the person you voted for loses, I will still hold you responsible for whatever befalls us. 


By the way, all these photos are from our 2015 trip to Yellowstone. Click on them for a larger version. Go to the SmugMug Gallery for the full-size versions.

But, back to politics . . . when I say I will hold you responsible, understand I mean that without rancor or blame. It’s your decision to play the game, rigged as it is, and you are entitled to your decisions.

What you are not entitled to, is saying I am somehow to blame for no longer wanting to participate in what I consider a charade, a farce, a pointless exercise in futility. 

I recently had a conversation with some Barbie-loving folks about mandatory voting. Here, watch this video. 

Along with that, you might want to watch this video:

For the sake of argument, assume I’m an informed, educated, and well-off voter. Should I be forced to vote?

Before you answer, let me let you in on  a secret: none of the candidates represent my views. Oh, sure, some hold one or two views I cherish, but I’m done voting on single issues. I’m done because supporting those single issues gets me a whole lot of baggage I no longer care for. 

But, it goes beyond that.


At the core of my decision are the following observations. I might even dare calling them facts. 

1: there is no way any sane person can possibly believe the people currently vying for the highest office in the land are the best this country has to offer. Hence, elections are a farce. 

We have a consummate politician I know is only interested in money and power (in that order), an idealist who promises the moon but has no clue how to build a rocket, a bombastic self-absorbed troll whom I firmly believe is in it only to build his brand, a couple of religious zealots who want nothing short of a Christian version of Sharia law, and a few other stragglers who fall in the spectrum of from not having a clue about anything to having nothing better to do at the moment than annoy everyone with their vacuous pronouncements. 

Seriously, you want to argue about it? Go ahead and tell me. Tell me that I have to choose one of these slimy creatures for “the good of the country”. Nosiree . . . I don’t have to choose squat. 

You, the informed reader can choose based on your informed opinion. Me? I think you’re settling. Worse yet, I think these slimy creatures are being forced upon you under the guise of freedom of choice. As in, a variation of the phrase Henry Ford never uttered . . .  you can vote for anyone you want as long as it’s one of these people.


Then, there is this:

2: even if these were actual choices, the process by which “we” decide who to support and give money to is based on starting in the least representative areas of the country and treating those small number of votes as representing the will of the country.  

Honest, I could not come up with a more screwed up system if I were paid to do it. Most troubling is that the parties like it that way. It’s the ultimate way to control “your choice”. 

Watch the video below. By the way, all of these are short videos. And, if you are one of them “civic-minded, do the right thing, vote for the good of the country” folks, then it behooves you to be informed. Unfortunately, you are not, and you don’t want to be. 

Oh, you say you are. You’ve been told you are . . . by the political party you married. I know less than one percent (1%) of people who read this piece will watch any of these videos. But, my job stops at linking them here. I can’t force anyone to inform themselves.

So far we’ve learned a few reasons why I’m not voting. How are we doing? How about another photo?


Here is my last reason. 

3: there is no real substantive difference between the parties.

Oh, I can practically see it  . . . the furrowing of the eyebrows, the straightening of the back, the incensed look in your eyes.

“What about guns, religion, civil liberties, immigration, national security, blah, blah, blah . . . “

Those are individual issues which, while important on their own, are not really what we should worry about when electing politicians. 

Those issues have never been resolved by electing politicians. They have always been resolved by the pressure of public opinion. I know you do not believe me, but study some history, will you? 

With very few rare exceptions, politicians have always, always trailed public opinion. The only time they don’t is when they are acting out of self-interest or the interest of well-funded campaign contributors (lobbyists). But those “forward thinking” instances always have to do with business interests, not any of the above issues. Trust me . . . the majority of politicians don’t give a shit about you as a citizen or as a voter, and they certainly don’t care about what you care about.

From civil liberties to the freedom from religion to gun laws to immigration to blah blah blah . . . action has always been taken after public opinion passed a tipping point. 

Here’s a short video as to why politicians are all the same. As you watch this, keep in mind two things: one, there are more people in the so-called middle than the two demented factions at the extremes. Two, politicians are only concerned with one thing – getting re-elected. Politicians are ALWAYS running for office. 

Now, you can argue everything you’ve read and seen so far (those of you who watched the videos – everyone else has to agree with me), but let me continue to the next point.

But first, a photo.


Much has been made about the need to stop Trump and/or Bernie. I’ve read scores of opinions from pundits, bloggers, celebrities, and even (!?) authors.

Here’s what I think: the vast majority are missing the significance of what’s happening. 

Some want to simplify Trump’s success as due to bigoted, angry, entitled white men. Some want to simplify Bernie’s success as due to entitled, lazy, wanting-a-handout people.  

I think something else is going on. I think it’s not just happening here. I think if Trump or Bernie don’t get into the White House, the 2020 election is going to be a literal bloodfest. We’ll have a preview of it in Europe.  

I’m not going to explain it here. In fact, I don’t want to explain it here. 

You see, I am white, so automatically racist. I am male, so automatically misogynistic. I am relatively well-off, so automatically part of the oppressive class of rich people who can never understand the plight of poor disadvantaged people. 

Why, were I to even attempt denying any of those things, it would be seen as nothing but a confirmation that I am all those things and more. 

Do I need that in my life? No. 

Besides, the moment I am called any of those things, there is a strong temptation to actually move toward those things, so I don’t want to risk it. 


However, what I can do is link to articles encompassing some, and I stress “some”, of my views about what is actually going on. 

You really should read them:

THIS article touches on some of the sentiments of the voting public. In particular, the middle class, the most under-represented group currently within the border of the US. 

THIS is a similar article, perhaps digging a bit deeper into the mood of a large group of people. I think this is a very good article, especially the bit about the man’s mother. In my book, a real person. There is nothing I hate more than people who proudly declare themselves Republicans or Democrats, Conservative or Liberals. We are not pegs who fit neatly into a given hole. The opinions of real people are fluid, span both sides of the political spectrum, and, at the core, are solidly in the camp I call “humanist“as far as ethical matters are concerned. Yes, some are tainted by the stink of religion . . . but give a person the chance to learn, to understand others, to interact with others, and all but the most rabid brain-addled morons come to the humane and ethical conclusions on matters of concern to us all. 

I’m throwing THIS in here because some readers will still fall into the misconception Trump’s endearing traits are only attractive to racist white guys. Not so, and if one cares to poke around a bit, one can find plenty of examples like this one, and not only for African Americans but also for other ethnic groups. I think I know why; it’s because the middle class, that group that has been under the most economic pressure in the past 10+ years, is not all lily-white, but comprised of multiple ethnicities. They, the non-whites, are perhaps most upset about seeing the gains they made slowly erode away and taking them back to a lower standard of living. It’s not because of racism . . . it’s because governments are sucking the very life out of the middle class.

Got a few more, but we also need a few more photos.



THIS article points to the idea we are seeing a shift in the politics of this country, with Bernie and Trump being bellwethers for things to come. I mentioned above about keeping our eyes in Europe. The reason is that things will go faster there. I think, and this is my opinion only, that’s because they have multiple parties, and in some countries, all it takes is a vote of no confidence for whole governments to turn on a dime. If you think people are pissed off here, you should read the rhetoric across the pond. I dare predict that if this country had a viable third party candidate who was even mildly charismatic, capable, and centrist, they would be elected President in a flash. 

Rather, they would, were it not for them getting no press or national exposure and having the two major parties combine to squash them into non-existence. 

In the absence of such a candidate, here and in other parts of the world, we’ll end up with a despot.

In fact, you are seeing that now. The stage was not ready, and hence, it was very smart of Trump to run as a Republican. You would not have heard or seen much of him had he ran as a Third Party candidate, but in effect, that’s what he is. Even if Hillary wins this year, I’ll predict that someone with lots of money will run as an independent in the next election. If they touch all the right buttons and are not as brutish as Trump, you’re going to see the rise of an independent movement, especially given the amount of money Bernie has been able to raise independently of big political donors.  

THIS article points to one of the big problems in the way Obama ran his presidency. I’ve argued before with a few “liberals” and “progressives” and “Democrats” about the way Obama went about wielding Executive Power. I couldn’t understand how they thought it was a good thing. Wait until someone like Trump or Cruz come into office, and if you think it won’t happen, you’ve obviously not read any of the links. It might not happen in this election (although I would not want to bet on it), but the status quo can’t go on much longer, and neither of the parties is showing any willingness to adapt. There is a reason so few people vote in US elections; most recognize the parties are not there for them. BUT . . . give them someone who is even mildly perceived as being in their corner, and then talk to me about voter turnout. And then, imagine, for a moment, someone like Trump or Cruz or Bernie wielding Executive Power like Obama did. Hillary, if she gets into office, will further push that “right” of Executive Power, and eventually we’ll pay for it, and pay big time.

And that brings me back to Freedom of Speech. I just saw a blurb about students, as they often do, demonstrating and disrupting a Trump rally. The term “Freedom of Speech” and the First Amendment are being thrown about all willy-nilly like.

I also read various people on Twitter and Facebook (from regular people like me, to pundits, to pseudo-journalists, to celebrities, and even (!?) authors) expressing support for one side or another, and doing so by claiming Freedom of Speech. It’s interesting how their definitions all involve limiting for others what they claim for themselves.

It also struck me as interesting that demonstrators, when asked what they objected to, declined to give an answer. Honestly, I don’t think they knew. Someone told them to be jerks, and they gladly obeyed. 

Lest someone thinks I’m taking sides, let me be clear . . . I have no side. However, I do have opinions when I see dickish behavior. 

I think I mentioned once before my feelings on Freedom of Speech. Namely, it’s unlimited. BUT, it goes both ways. You don’t like hearing what someone else has to say? Great. That is your right, as is your right to raise your voice in opposition. What is not your right is interfere with their right to say it. 

Now, I could explain my position on the matter, but I will let a far greater voice speak on my behalf. You can assume everything he says matches my opinion on the matter. I say that with full awareness that there are both Liberals and Conservatives who will not agree. If you are one of them, you are wrong. Do some research. Hitchens mentions a few things you should read. You do know how to read, right? Oh, you also have to know how to think. 

OK, I’m done with my opinions and insulting my readers with my dismissive and condescending tone.

I mean, I could go into matters regarding the Supreme Court, the way Congress works, or even how Democrats and Republicans are both quietly moving to give corporations major tax breaks (at our expense) in return for repatriating the huge cash stores sitting in off-shore accounts. But, that would just piss me (and you) off.

Instead, here are some Ducks. The first photo is a small piece of the larger one . . . I do like my 400mm (600mm equivalent) lens. 


20150603_DSC8368_1_DSC8368-Processed-2_DIGIAnd, of course, you can’t be at Yellowstone without seeing Elk . . . Actually, you can. We saw very few, and these were about a half mile away.


However, you can see flower up close and personal . . . 



I liked this pair, although they are not the same species. 


Yes, that is a fly on that flower. All of these came from a small patch . . . this patch. To be clear, this was a small patch of a much larger field full of these flowers. 


Here are photos of the individual flowers. 





BUT . . . I can’t leave it at that . . . Here are a few more goodies. 

Politics - rest of the world wallow in debt kicking the can Dear god not this Debate one of us president Truth in advertising

War Worry_about_gays_getting_married We_have_no_leaders Stuck_With_Us I_only_Drive_It

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