Climate Change Goes Crackers

Over at Pocket Full of Liberty today, you can find my latest piece on climate change hysteria: “The Death of Global Warmism.” Global warming appears to have suffered a “death,” at least insofar as there has been no warming of the globe for nearly two decades; but it’s global warmism—the ideology that has driven the histrionic climate change movement—that is suffering the most prominent death throes. To be fair, if your entire raison d’être were falling apart—if the environmental phenomenon you were fighting against appeared to not really exist at all—wouldn’t you go a little nuts, too?

Speaking of nuts, I mentioned authoress Naomi Klein in my article; Klein considers many corporate profits to be “not legitimate in an era of climate change.” The Left, of course, has always had a marked disdain for profits of any kind, but the double threat of corporate profits that accentuate “climate change” is just too much for them to bear, as Klein herself shows in an op/ed in yesterday’s Guardian:

The astronomical profits these companies and their cohorts continue to earn from digging up and burning fossil fuels cannot continue to haemorrhage into private coffers. They must, instead, be harnessed to help roll out the clean technologies and infrastructure that will allow us to move beyond these dangerous energy sources, as well as to help us adapt to the heavy weather we have already locked in.

When Naomi Klein says she wants to “harness” your profits, you’d better run for cover. Actually, it might be helpful if someone would point out to her that it’s not “these companies and their cohorts” that are “burning fossil fuels;” it’s people, average human beings like you and me (and even Naomi Klein). Your garden-variety radical environmentalist likes to pretend that it’s the evil “corporations” who are doing all the fossil fuel burning, but that’s really not the case: we use fossil fuels to get the kids to school, to get the work, to heat the house, to power our appliances and cook our food and do a million other things. Fossil fuels, in other words, are a normal and vital part of nearly everyone’s lives. Naomi Klein can pretend to be disgusted with “companies” and “cohorts,” but in reality she’s disgusted great multitudes of humanity that have benefited immensely from cheap and abundant energy. At its heart, environmentalism often appears to despise human happiness and flourishing as much as it cares about protecting the environment.

Marriage Is What Brings Us Together Today

Recently, NPR had a segment that took a look at the institution of marriage, focusing particularly on the dire straits that marriage is in: for my boneheaded Millennial generation, the out-of-wedlock birth rate is nearly fifty percent, and the post-illegitimate-birth wedding rate is low. Way to go, geniuses.  “This family structure,” Jennifer Ludden writes, “once common mainly among African-Americans and the poor, is spreading across races and into the middle class.” What’s driving this sociological upheaval?

Like half of all U.S. pregnancies, Sheridan’s was not exactly planned.

“We think we mistimed something,” she says. “But it wasn’t really, like, a bad time, or, I don’t know … it just … seemed like an OK thing to do?”

“I stared at the pregnancy test for 10 minutes, waiting for it to change,” Underwood says.

“But then he got really happy — it was actually really cute,” Sheridan says.

It wasn’t Sheridan’s first child. Her older son, Logan, is 8; his father left before he was born. Michelle spent four years as a single mom before meeting Underwood, and says she felt no stigma or fear about that.

So Ms. Sheridan had had a child before, by a man who was either too cowardly to hang around and take care of his family or else too worthless to stick with; either way, Sheridan apparently learned nothing from the experience, feeling “no stigma or fear” about single motherhood—to the point that she had yet another child without being married to the father, seemingly without any awareness that the circumstances were, yet again, sub-optimal: it “seemed like an ok thing to do?” according to Ms. Sheridan. Why doesn’t she go ahead and get married to Mr. Underwood at the very least, now that she’s had one of his children and he’s evidently helping to raise both kids?

Like so many children of the 1980s and ’90s — the decades when the nation hit its highest divorce rate — both Sheridan and Underwood are also wary about the institution of marriage.

Underwood says when he was a baby — or when his mom was still pregnant, he isn’t sure — “my dad left for a loaf of bread and never came back.”

Sheridan’s parents stayed together but fought a lot.

“That was hard to watch,” she says. “I don’t want to go through that, and I don’t want my kids to see it.”

Here are two excellent examples of both mindless fatalism and Millennial cluelessness, respectively: Mr. Underwood is convinced that, because his dad left when he was very young, he is probably fated to do the same thing if he himself gets married. There is no indication that he believes he is capable of doing otherwise; the contemptible actions of another man have made him “wary about the institution of marriage,” as if marriage itself, instead of laziness and cowardice, made Mr. Underwood, Sr. walk out on his responsibilities all those years ago.

Meanwhile, Ms. Sheridan witnessed her parents “fight a lot” when she was young; “I don’t want to go through that,” she says, “and I don’t want my kids to see it.” Here’s some advice: if you’re worried about “fighting a lot” with the man who’s fathered at least one of your children—so worried, in fact, that you do not want to get married to him—then you should probably not be with that man; if your relationship with your lover is so acrimonious that “you don’t want your kids to see it,” perhaps you should find a new relationship, immediately, and stop having babies with the guy. Call me crazy.

Ms. Sheridan also expresses the financial concerns that motivate both her and Mr. Underwood to delay marriage—“it’s hard enough,” she claims, “to work up just on your own”—and to be fair these financial fears are not limited to one particular class or demographic:

At the other end of this marriage divide, Diana and Dave Black of Harrisonburg, Va., started dating in college and now have graduate degrees and budding careers.

The couple is among the minority of millennials who feel secure enough to say “I do” — though Dave waited to propose until he got a handle on his student loans.

“I had the bulk of them paid off at that point,” he says, “and I felt like I was in a decent place to shell out the additional money for the ring.”

There are a few lessons to be learned here: first of all, perhaps it’s wise to avoid a college career if it requires a boatload of student loans that will put you on the financial defensive in your younger years. Maybe the Blacks needed to attend college in order to realize their “budding careers,” in which case their debt is understandable—but as a general rule it’s worth wondering whether or not your poli-sci degree and your basket weaving minor are worth a five-figure debt load you’ll be paying off for years and years. As well, Mr. Black appears to have had to “shell out…additional money for the ring,” which implies that the ring cost a lot. I’m sure it was a pretty ring, but seriously, here’s a tip to the fellas in the room: you can save a boatload of money by shopping smart on engagement rings. You don’t have to break the bank. I’m speaking from personal experience here. (Caroline, if you’re reading this: if I could have scratched the cash together, sweetheart, I would’ve bought you the Hope Diamond.)

More broadly speaking, both the Blacks and the Sheridan-Underwoods seem not to understand that marriage itself brings a whole host of financial benefits; there’s the myriad tax breaks you get when you tie the knot, for instance, and then there’s the combined incomes and the efficiency and practicality that comes along with combined incomes: once Caroline and I get married next year we’ll have one grocery bill, one utilities bill, less gas used going back and forth between each other’s dwellings, etc. Diana and Dave Black “feel secure enough to say ‘I Do,”‘ but marriage itself typically engenders financial security, or at least more security than you have when you’re single. Perhaps marriage rates would go up, and illegitimacy rates down, if people treated marriage as the harbinger of a stable lifestyle instead of, as Ludden puts it, “the cherry on top.”

Not For the Faint of Heart

If you’ve been following the controversy surrounding the bizarre “affirmative consent” law that passed in California recently, then you’ll know that a great many feminists are, as Heather Mac Donald puts it, hell-bent on maintaining “the prerogative of no-strings-attached sex while cabining it with legalistic caveats that allow females to revert at will to a stance of offended virtue.” Today’s feminist establishment is trying very hard both to sustain an environment of sexual licentiousness while drenching it in a suffocating priggishness. California’s law declares that

(1) An affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by both parties to sexual activity. “Affirmative consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.

A great many commentators have fallen all over themselves trying to justify the absurdity of this approach to sexual relations. Jenée Desmond-Harris claims that the rule “probably means saying ‘yes’ out loud, or at least offering an enthusiastic smile or nod, at the outset of every single sexual encounter.” (You can see the allure: “Oh, baby, I love it when you enthusiastically nod like that.”) Ezra Klein is quite honest about how dumb this particular law is: it’s “a terrible bill,” he says. But: “It’s a necessary one.” What about the heightened risk of false and/or misguided rape accusations that this law presents? That’s okay, according to Klein, because in order to reduce instances of rape, “men need to feel a cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter.” That heady mix of enthusiastic smiles and cold spikes of fear—it will get your blood rushing every time.

The prevalence of sexual assault on campus—allegedly “one in five” women suffer rape or attempted rape in college—demands such a drastic response, according to Klein. As he puts it:

The Yes Means Yes law could also be called the You Better Be Pretty Damn Sure law. You Better Be Pretty Damn Sure she said yes. You Better Be Pretty Damn Sure she meant to say yes, and wasn’t consenting because she was scared, or high, or too tired of fighting. If you’re one half of a loving, committed relationship, then you probably can Be Pretty Damn Sure. If you’re not, then you better fucking ask.

Yes, Ezra Klein has figured it out: the problem with rapists is not that they’re psychopathic, violent criminals that wish to inflict pain and humiliation upon their victims; it’s just that they’re “not pretty damn sure” that their victims do not want to be raped. If all rapists would simply ask beforehand—if they would Be Pretty Damn Sure—then we could solve the problem of sexual assault overnight.

As we’ve seen, progressivism is largely incapable of addressing or even understanding the problem of rape: any constructive suggestion offered to women—don’t drink too much at frat parties, don’t walk home alone—is decried as “victim blaming,” while questioning the party line on rape pathology gets you the title of “rape denialist.” The Left’s inability to intelligently examine the problem of rape will inevitably result in such terrible laws as California’s SB 967—and, when aware of and embarrassed by their own ignorance on the subject, leftists will resort to the ugly honesty you seen in Klein’s piece: they wish to make sex into a fearful, dangerous encounter that punishes men for mistakes they did not even commit. Young men on college campuses would be wise to avoid the “cold spike of fear” altogether, and just forego sexual relations with any woman they encounter; in California, and probably soon elsewhere, the risks are just too significant.

Seizing Up

I’ve no intention of becoming a professional Cop Watcher—there are many other things to write about, many of them more important than whatever the local police department is up to—but, following yesterday’s post on police corruption and incompetency, well, sometimes the police make it so easy to call them out; witness the latest dispatch from the Washington Post this morning on police gone wild:

Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear. They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.

On the plus side, Sparkles the Clown will probably get a lot more bookings in the wake of these revelations. It’s concerning enough that our county’s police officers are using hundreds of millions of dollars to turn their departments into quasi-militarized strike forces, but here’s the kicker:

Of the nearly $2.5 billion in spending reported in the forms, 81 percent came from cash and property seizures in which no indictment was filed, according to an analysis by The Post. Owners must prove that their money or property was acquired legally in order to get it back.

Got that? Over two billion dollars was seized in situations “in which no indictment was filed;” in other words, cops have seized billions of dollars from innocent people—and then the police have forced these poor souls to “prove that their money or property was acquired legally in order to get it back.” So a great many police departments are operating under the principle that your stuff is illegal by default, and you have to present evidence that your property is not contraband in order to have it returned. In the meantime the police are blowing your money on more powerful firearms and BearCats, because, hey—they have to have a lot of firepower to snatch your money away from you.

This kind of behavior is indicative of a culture of law enforcement that has fundamentally detached itself from the citizenry to which it is ultimately subordinate: to these crooks, you’re just some assets waiting to be forfeited so they can pile on another armored car or two. It’s assuredly true that not all police departments do this, and not all police officers approve of it, either—but $2.5 billion is a great deal of money involving a great many cops. This is not isolated and it’s not a one-year one-off. The solution is not to despise cops or abolish police departments; it’s to be as suspicious as police officers as we are of any other powerful government employee, and to bind police departments as tightly to civil subordination as we (theoretically) do any other government bureau or department. A good place to start would be, “Hey, sorry, police officers, but you can’t seize our property just because you feel like it. Tough luck.” They’ll deal with it—and honestly, if a police department can’t function without stealing from law-abiding citizens, then they don’t really have any business existing in the first place.

Open to Criticism

Last week’s column, on the bombastic and over-aggressive tactics of many modern police departments, resulted in an almost-entirely negative response: if you criticize a police force, prepare to seriously offend a bunch of people who are mostly convinced that policemen are almost completely beyond censure. Multiple people recommended that I take a ride-along with a police officer to learn about the job. I actually have done a ride-along, and I pointed this out to my critics; a former Richmond police lieutenant subsequently insinuated that I was lying (he’s welcome to check the records, if they keep records on that kind of thing).  The ride-along was fun and interesting, yet it didn’t do much in the way of convincing me of the saintliness of the average police officer; but hey, maybe I should have been riding with Officer Aaron King of the Ankeny, Iowa Police Department:

During the traffic stop, Officer Aaron King asked if the driver, Scott Beckwith, plays frisbee golf.  The officer asks, “Answer me this question, why is it that everyone who plays Frisbee golf smokes weed?”

Beckwith answers, “Nope, it’s not everybody. King continues, “It’s everybody man, you can’t tell me you’ve never smoked weed before.”

Beckwith says, “I’m not going to tell you one way or another.”

King then asks Beckwith how much weed he has in the car. Beckwith said he has nothing on him or in his car.

In Officer King’s defense, I don’t play Frisbee golf and I also don’t smoke weed: QED. How can you argue with the evidence?

To be fair, this is just one nobody cop in one single nowheresville town in the middle of Iowa—but then again, it’s a valid question as to why Officer King was ever let on the police force in the first place if he’s willing to treat an average traffic stop like a quota-padding self-incriminating drug bust: does the Ankeny Police Department have no way of screening for such thugs? What other goons might they have let onto their police force, and what other abuse might they have been covering up all these years? Well, at least Mr. Beckwith got off easier than some others:

Authorities who went to the wrong house in search of a wanted fugitive and shot a beloved family pet are refusing to take responsibility for their actions, according to a Michigan attorney who has filed a lawsuit against them.

“These officers came into the wrong house, shot this dog, told the owners they would take care of it and then never returned their calls,” Royal Oak attorney Chris Olson told The Huffington Post.

Gee, so the Michigan state troopers acted with a vicious incompetence in executing a fugitive search, shot a dog in the face, and then bailed on their responsibility: what’s not to like?

These are but two examples in two different situations in two different localities, so they hardly serve as an indictment of the institution of the police department generally: the point isn’t to suggest every cop is a reckless, incompetent criminal, but that they can be; there’s nothing magical preventing a police officer from being savage and unduly violent. This is kind of a problem with my friends on the Right. Conservatives, broadly speaking, are quick (and correct) to mistrust the average Federal and state bureaucrat due to the power–and the potential to abuse it–that a government position holds. Yet you don’t often find the same suspicion directed towards police officers, who are also in positions of authority and who are just as capable of abusing that power or just wielding it in a clumsy and detrimental manner. We shouldn’t hate cops, yet neither should we place them on an infallible pedestal. Sometimes police officers are inept, cruel and unfit for the position and the power they’ve been given; police departments will always have a squad of knee-jerk cheerleaders who refuse to question anything they do, but the rest of us would be wise to be as reflexively suspicious of them as we are of any other powerful government employee.

Substance and Material

In recent years there has been  an increasing push to introduce the concept of “transgenderism” to children; trans activists have quite rightly concluded that if they are to effectively expand their own worldview, they will have to start transmitting their ideology to the youngest audience possible. The latest development in this ongoing cultural war comes to us from Lincoln, Nebaska, where middle school teachers have received instructions on how to fashion a classroom of “gender inclusiveness,” e.g.:

Don’t use phrases such as ”boys & girls,” ”you guys,” ”ladies and gentlemen,” and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention. Instead say things like ”calling all readers,” or ”hey campers” or “could all of the athletes come here.” Create classroom names and then ask all of the ”purple penguins” to meet at the rug.

It is a genuine, honest question whether, if we are to adhere to the neurotic and obsessive mores of modern liberalism, we should be so non-exclusionary that we avoid any “phrases” whatsoever: if there are children in the class who struggle with reading, is not “calling all readers” an offensive slight against these students? What about children whose parents are too poor to afford camping equipment—should they suffer the indignity of being called “campers?” Should bookworm-ish, non-athletic children really have to be called “athletes?”

This may seem like a fun thought experiment at the expense of overwrought, histrionic progressivism, but in the end this kind of neurosis is deeply concerning: these people are in charge of your kids, after all, and they getting more delusional by the day, so much so that they are dispensing with biological fact in favor of fantastical whimsy—and with pre-teens, no less. Ponder this for a moment: Lincoln, Nebraska’s public school administration is so terrified of human anatomy that they are dispensing with the term “boys and girls” and replacing it with “purple penguins;” that is to say, they’re not comfortable with labeling human beings as human beings to the point that they prefer to label them as another species altogether. What do you say to people who consider this acceptable?

(UPDATE: The LPS Superintendent Steve Joel has denied that these changes are taking place: “There is no policy, there is no procedure, there’s no changes being made to bathrooms in schools,” according to Joel. Rather, teachers have simply been instructed to

“think about gender neutral phrases that could be used, such as scholars, students, kids or Wildcats.”

So there’s no transgender-sensitive “policy” or “procedure” being implemented here, aside from the very policy Steve Joel admits is being implemented: teachers must “think about gender neutral phrases” and, presumably, use them in place of gendered language. Thanks for clarifying, Mr. Joel.)

A Whole Lot of Cheese

Writing on the recent conservative efforts to crack down on abortion in several states, Kevin Drum speculates:

We are rapidly approaching a point in half the states in America where abortions will be effectively available only to rich women. They’ll just jet off to clinics in California or New York if they have to. Non-rich women, who can’t afford that, will be forced into motherhood whether they like it or not. At which point conservatives, as usual, will suddenly lose all interest in them except as props for their rants about lazy welfare cheats.

Well, we certainly wouldn’t want poor people breeding out of control. Actually, even for Mother Jones, this is a surprisingly ugly and mean-spirited characterization of conservatives; if you’ve spent any time around them (that’s asking a bit much of Mother Jones), you’d know that most of them have no desire to use “non-rich women” as “props” for anything. It’s advisable, of course, to let folks know that they shouldn’t have kids if they’re poor—but even if you’re broke and pregnant, it’s still hard to see the virtue in, I don’t know, exterminating your unborn child. There are resources you can use to help you do otherwise, many of them administered by consrevatives.

Abortion is at an odd philosophical crossroads. Part of the justification for wider access to contraception has been that it will reduce abortions; writing at Slate the other day, Will Saletan framed the issue quite starkly:

So the debate boils down to this: Which approach can overcome the weakness of human nature? Can the abstinence crowd find a way to keep people chaste? Can the contraception crowd find a way to make people stick to their birth control? Can either side deliver the bottom line: fewer abortions?

Great, so it’s desirous to have fewer abortions. But wait, what if you’re Sady Doyle? Reviewing Katha Pollit’s latest book and praising it for identifying abortion as a “palpable social good,” Doyle declares:

Personally, I like abortion. I’ve never needed one. I’m still glad to have the option. I’m glad for the people I’ve known who got pregnant at the wrong time, with the wrong people, and didn’t have their lives ruined by it.

If Pollitt gets her way, more of us might feel free to admit that, hey: We like abortion.

“Hey, we like abortion.” “Personally, I like abortion.” This is not the language of someone who wises there to be fewer abortions in the world; this is not even the rhetoric of a person who is ambivalent about it one way or the other. If you “like” abortion, if you consider it a “social good,” then you want more of it—which is to say you want the body count of dead babies to keep rising.

In a sense this is unsurprising: it feels like things have been going this way for a while. Earlier this year, Amanda Marcotte declared that babies were “time-sucking monsters;” she announced that she enjoys being able to have sex wherever she wants in her house without having to worry about a baby; she also likes being able to watch television shows without worrying about putting the baby to bed. What about carrying the baby to term then giving it up for adoption? “Fuck you,” Marcotte replies. Why won’t she carry a child for nine months to spare its life? “I like drinking alcohol and eating soft cheese,” she says. So too might an unborn child, one day—though millions of them will never find out.

The pro-abortion movement is becoming more barbaric: not satisfied with the mere legality of infanticide, a growing number of leftists wish for us to take genuine pleasure in the act of abortion, and for such dazzling reasons as, “I like to watch Netflix a lot.” In a sense, there’s a bit of an upside to the whole thing: you cannot sustain such an ideology for very long, as its hatred and violence will eventually exhaust itself and repel enough supporters to keep it viable. It can, however, kill a lot of babies before it gets there—over fifty million, and counting. That’s an astounding number of extinguished lives. But hey: at least we have cheese and alcohol.

The Dangers of a Video Game Vacation

“The oceans,” Lindsay Abrams writes today at Salon, “are heating up a lot more quickly than we thought:” a new study (there’s always a new study) has shown that earlier climate models were yet again wrong, that the oceans are warming “24 to 58 percent more quickly” than previously imagined. This, according to Abrams, is “great data to throw at anyone” who disagrees with the popular talking points on global warming. “In other words,” Abrams writes, climate change

isn’t over. It’s just getting started.

Yes, yes, it’s always “just getting started;” next year comes the Manhattan tsunami and the climate collapse and the polar bears running around in the middle of the Sonoran: it’s always just around the corner, just out of sight and sure to come in the next nine to fifteen months unless we pass the Fossil Fuel Abolition and Radical Environmental Socio-Justice Act of 2015. Hurry!

At some point most people got tired of this act, the perennial re-upping of the climate disaster forecast; even if you were genuinely beholden to the radical environmentalist party line over the past few decades, you have to have grown weary of the ceaseless doom-mongering that has always marked the movement. The only redeeming aspect of the whole mess has been the comedic efforts to forestall climate justice by increasingly-more-comical methods, such as what the Guardian terms “virtual tourism” that could satisfy “many people who care about the environment still want to be able to see the world:”

A 23-year-old film graduate from the University of Texas, Wolf is working on an interactive TV show that promises to transport viewers on the holiday destination of their dreams without ever leaving the couch.

Sounds great, right? Sadly, there could be terrible unintended consequences:

Indeed, some fear virtual tourism could feasibly have the reverse effect that environmentalists hope. Once content with a week’s caravanning, holidaymakers could become so inspired by a virtual trip to the Amazon that they book themselves onto the next flight to Brazil.

What a disastrous outcome: unsatisfied with a mere imaginary vacation, people could be inspired to fly to a foreign country and actually experience it. If folks get such ideas in their heads, there’ll be no stopping them. Better for everyone to hold off on the virtual tourism and insulate people from the possibility of wanting to go other places.

A Government of Incompetent Acronyms

Recently, National Review’s Charles Cooke, fed up with a trip to his local Department of Motor Vehicles, announced:

I have to say, though I often find my local branch of the Virginia DMV to be boring and occasionally time-consuming, I’ve never found it the comically-inept paragon of inefficient government that many of my fellow conservatives and libertarians believe it to be: mostly it’s just a pesky nuisance I have to visit once every eighteen months or so. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why more people aren’t disgusted with the United States Postal Service, which assuredly ranks among the most inept government organizations this country has ever scribbled into existence. My job takes me to the post office a couple of times a month, and it’s always a genuinely inconvenient and unpleasant experience: the line moves at a glacial pace; there’s only one clerk, occasionally two; when you finally arrive at the front of the line, the clerk invariably hands you a new form to fill out, forcing you to return to the back of the line; and so on and so forth.

We keep an account with the post office, and awhile ago I paid for an order by just drawing from the account; naturally, I had to take a receipt back for our financial records. No, I was told, I couldn’t have a receipt: the post office can only issue a receipt if you pay with cash or check, and there was no way for anyone present to just print me out a damn piece of paper with a dollar amount on it. Last week I called up our local branch to check and see how much money we had on our account, just to make sure there would be enough to cover a shipping order; unfortunately, there was “nobody here that can check that for you,” according to the man I spoke to. Whenever I call the post office to ask a question about bulk mailing, I’m told that “the guy who handles that” has left for the day (usually around 11:30 am). Nobody there seems to know how to do their job: recently I tried to hand a clerk the necessary forms for a bulk mailing order, but she waved them away and claimed she didn’t need them. I was thus put in the awkward position of explaining this woman’s own job to her, but there was a very long line and she was the only one on duty (of course), so I left, hoping the order would go through by way of oversight. Naturally, I received a call the next day claiming that the bulk order had been held at the post office because they didn’t have the right forms. I had to waste time, gas and money returning to the post office to deliver the forms I was told were not necessary. In some form of another, this paperwork drama has happened probably half a dozen times that I’ve been regularly going to the post office: USPS employees appear to be universally ignorant as to which forms go with what types of mailing.

It’s not just ineptitude, either. A while ago we had a mailman on our route who regularly stopped to talk to folks, give biscuits to dogs, play games with kids. He was not really wasting time—the mail might come five minutes earlier or later on any given day—but some insufferable neighbor complained about it, and instead of telling the neighbor to deal with it, the post office clamped down: no more dog treats, no more making conversation, no more playing peek-a-boo with babies in strollers. I remember seeing the guy a while later, plodding through his route with his head down—with some silent, tough-looking suit-and-sunglasses-clad supervisor following his every step, making sure he obeyed his orders.

So they can’t even allow their employees to be personable and friendly to the people they serve, and they can’t even run their storefronts with much capability whatsoever. Honestly, I’ve encountered the same ham-handedness at essentially every USPS branch to which I’ve been; meanwhile, I don’t really have these problems at the DMV—there have been some frustrating incidents there, but none of the chronic inability to do simple jobs right. I would take the DMV any day over any USPS branch. The DMV is a solid conservative gag, but I’d be much more hopeful if the Right were as disgusted with the United States Postal Service, which gets things wrong on a much more frequent basis. If you need any more convincing of how awful the post office really is, look no further than the latest dispatch out of Bellevue, Washington:

According to Police, a USPS worker allegedly ran over a man with her truck on Friday morning while “laughing hysterically.”

When they’re not busy screwing things up and clamping down on their friendly employees, the USPS is busy going absolutely nuts and running people over with their government vehicles. I’ll take the relative safety of the DMV any day of the week, thanks.

Vote With Your Vote

At The Federalist today, you can find my piece on the civic phenomenon known as voting: “Third Party Candidates Are Not Poisonous Mushrooms.” As I point out in regards to third-party candidates:

If you believe a candidate for office reflects your values and your political desires, you should vote for him. Don’t be discouraged by talks of “throwing your vote away;” this is a scare tactic people use to get you to vote for their candidate, and there’s no point in falling for it.

Yes, every time a third-party candidate pops up somewhere, the howls about “wasting your vote” start to come out—though to be fair, the howls are not always from Republicans and Democrats; sometimes they can come from unexpected places:

Robert Sarvis, the long-shot Libertarian candidate for Sen. Mark R. Warner’s seat, asked University of Virginia students for their support at a forum tonight.

“You’re wasting your vote if you don’t vote for me this year,” he said.

Sorry, Sarvis, but no. This is ugly terminology that should be reflexively discouraged; you can’t “waste” a vote by voting for the candidate you like, any more than you can “waste” a meal by ordering something you actually want to eat. You’d think Sarvis, of all people, would avoid the hackery of the whole “wasted vote” thing, but I guess everyone politician gets into the act after awhile.