Archive for the ‘Idiots’ Category.

What If… Shirley MacLaine is Just an Idiot?

I’ve always liked Shirley MacLaine. I liked her in Billy Wilder’s movies opposite Jack Lemmon in The Apartment and Irma la Douce. I even watched her videos in the 1980s to understand my New Age girlfriends better, and enjoyed her scene stealing in recent Downton Abbey episodes. But the actress turned New Age flake has sparked controversy with her new book “What If…” in which she suggests those killed in the Holocaust were paying for the sins of their past lives. The Daily Mail quotes the passage, “What if most Holocaust victims were balancing their karma from ages before, when they were Roman soldiers putting Christians to death, the Crusaders who murdered millions in the name of Christianity, soldiers with Hannibal, or those who stormed across the Near East with Alexander? The energy of killing is endless and will be experienced by the killer and the killee.’”

MacLaine is a former Baptist and this view expressed is not much different from Baptist teaching which views our souls as steeped in Original Sin. No one born is truly innocent. It is also a form of Deuteronomic Dualism where the theological question “Why do innocents suffer?” is answered “Because they are not truly innocent.” In MacLaine’s view they are being punished for actions made in their past lives.

Let’s look at Shirley’s numbers.

It is estimated that the Holocaust killed somewhere between 5 and 17 million people, with most sources agreeing on 8 million deaths.

Ancient RomeA current obsession of mine... It turns out Rome was extremely tolerant of religions and it wasn’t until Nero’s reign that the Romans began persecuting them, and even then the evidence is for only a few cases (notably the martydom of St. Peter and St. Paul). After Nero it wasn’t until Domitian demanded Christians express religious fealty to him that they were persecuted again, and as under Nero the cases were sporadic. Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius protected Christians, and although Septimius Severus had a few Christians killed, there is no systematic persecution documented by Roman sources until the middle of the Third Century with the rule of Decius and later Valerian, Diocletian and Maxentius who was defeated by Constantine, the emperor who converted to Christianity and made it the official religion of Rome. The Christian emperors after that and the church itself tended to play up the number of Christians killed by the previous regimes, but today the number of deaths is thought to be in the thousands, not tens of thousands and certainly not more than that.

Crusades – Most estimates put the number of murdered around a million.

Hannibal and Alexander likely killed in the tens of  thousands.

But how many ancients have blood on their hands,  enough to justify being reincarnated as a Jew or Gypsy in Eastern Europe in the 20th century?

Hannibal and Alexander fielded armies numbering in the tens of thousands. Assuming that each soldier killed 1 innocent person, and we’re looking at roughly 100,000 “killers”. Assuming the same 1:1 ratio between “killer and killee” to use MacLaine’s terms in the Roman Empire, and we’ll generously estimate 100,000 “killers” in Rome. Of course the Crusades were a busy time for killing, and although the number of soldiers fielded during the Crusades is likely in the tens of thousands we’ll keep that 1:1 ratio and grant a million killers to the Crusades.

Total killers for all the events mentioned by MacLaine? 1.2 million – and that assumes that every soldier took one life when it is much likely that only a fraction of that number actually killed innocents.

So where’s the missing 6.8 million – those who had killed in their prior lives and were reincarnated only to die as innocents during the Holocaust?

There were of course other genocides in the 20th century. The Armenian Genocide that killed 1.5 million. The Russian and Chinese civil wars killed upwards of 20 million. The famine that followed Mao’s Great Leap Forward is estimated to have killed 40 million. Civilian deaths in World War I and II: 150 million.

It’s not an issue of karma but of demographics. There were many more people around in the 20th centuries than there were in prior centuries, especially compared to the ancient world. There are simply too many innocents dying this century who could have been killers in prior centuries.

But the main problem with MacLaine’s argument isn’t the numbers, it’s the philosophical logic. It rationalizes, even justifies Evil. The innocent woman raped and murdered deserved it because she was a killer in a past life, for example. There’s no point in punishing her killer because he will be reborn as a woman and suffer the same fate in the future.

Worse, it rationalizes anything. The poor deserve their fate today because they were wealthy and greedy in their past lives. The disabled must have injured others sometime long ago or else they wouldn’t have been born damaged. The ugly? Beautiful narcissists in the past. The rich and powerful today? The lot must have been humble and meek to deserve their current stations. This is nothing more than the justification for the order of things used by the Church and nobility in the Middle Ages to support feudalism and the oppression of the peasantry just with an Eastern twist. It is also a naive view of Karma and a gross oversimplification of Buddhist philosophy, the Baptist Sunday school taught to 5 year olds in MacLaine’s hometown of Richmond Virginia compared to the subtle nuances found in the writings of Thomas Aquinas.

I don’t think MacLaine should be censored for her views. I believe she has the right to her opinions just as she has a right to her flaky religious beliefs. But I do think she should be mocked, because while she has a right to her opinion as a public figure she gets a lot more attention than my loony neighbor who believes the Rapture is coming any day now. MacLaine has a microphone whereas my elderly neighbor does not.

Shirley MacLaine is an actress and we need to stop believing actors and actresses to be better people than we are. An actor’s job is to speak other people’s words,  not to have opinions of his own that are somehow more informed or better than yours or mine. Actors and actresses were looked down upon by most cultures until recently, and the Ancient Chinese and Greeks would think we were nuts for caring what an actress had to say about anything. Perhaps this is another lesson the Ancients have to teach us.

Mom’s Facebook Post Attacking Anti-Vaxxers Goes Viral

A Canadian mom who suffered the loss of  her five year old and whose newborn may have been exposed to measles goes on a rampage in a Facebook post and the post goes viral. The Daily Mail provides the post in full, but here’s an excerpt.

You think you are protecting them by letting them eat their shovel full of dirt and reducing antibiotics and eating organic? You aren’t. As an unvaccinated person you are only protected by our good graces. WE LET YOU BE SO PRIVILEGED thanks to our willingness to vaccinate ourselves and our children.

You know what vaccines protect your children from? Pain. Suffering. Irreparable harm. Death.

Read the entire thing here.

Canadian moms. Don’t f**k with them.

Terf Wars

The New York Times had an interesting piece on transgender people at women’s colleges,  “When Women Become Men at Wellesley.” Women’s colleges like Wellesley are grappling with how to maintain their status as women’s colleges in an age when gender is no-longer binary and is decoupled from sex. As the trouble at Wellesley shows things aren’t easy for anyone in this hyper-politically correct atmosphere.

Brian O’Rourke who oversees enrollment at the college says “We had a national speaker on trans issues join us on campus about a year ago, and one of the things she suggested is that we stop referring to Mills as a women’s college, because that concept is exclusionary. In the auditorium, there was an audible gasp. We’ve had a lot of conversations about how to stress women’s leadership and women’s empowerment and at the same time, include people who may not identify as women. The answer is: We don’t know yet.”

An audible gasp! I’m surprised no one fainted especially among those of the fairer sex, which to be fair, is hard to discern at Wellesley these days.  Not to be outdone a student group at Mount Holyoke has banned the Vagina Monologues because it discriminated against “women without vaginas.” The group sent an email to students on campus stating, “At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman.” The Vagina Monologues were written by Eve Ensler in 1996 to “celebrate the vagina.” Two years later Ensler changed the purpose to stopping violence against women. No word on whether her intent was to exclude violence against women without vaginas.

Back in the Day a few of my friends and I decided to form a group “Female Athletes in Bondage” even though we weren’t female, we weren’t athletic and as far as I know, we weren’t in bondage. Nevertheless we claimed we were lesbians trapped inside male bodies for what reason I don’t recall. Back then we were just horny teenage boys attending an all-boys Catholic prep school, so creating a club with the word “female” in it was enough. But today… Our lives would have been completely different. We could use our little club to gain entrance to a woman’s college. Then again, perhaps it’s a good thing we were ahead of our times. I pretty much wasted my entire first year in college in a girl’s dorm room as it was without the support of the administration; I can imagine what trouble I would have gotten into had the college sanctioned my (ahem) “gender studies.”

As it turns out there is such a “thing” as lesbians who feel they are trapped inside the bodies of men. Dr. Brian G. Gilmartin, in Shyness & Love: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment (University Press of America, 1987) writes,

 

Specifically, a “male lesbian” is a heterosexual man who wishes that he had been born a woman, but who (even if he had been a woman) could only make love to another woman and never to a man. Unlike the transsexual, the “male lesbian” does not feel himself to be “a woman trapped inside the body of a man”. Moreover, none of the love-shy men studied for this research entertained any wishes or fantasies of any kind pertinent to the idea of obtaining a sex change operation. All wanted to keep their male genitalia; all wanted to remain as males. However, all deeply envied the perogatives of the female gender and truly believed that these perogatives fitted their own inborn temperaments far more harmoniously than the pattern of behavioral expectations to which males are required to adhere.

 

An internet search of the opposite, a gay man trapped in a woman’s body, finds a lot of speculation and anecdotal evidence supporting this concept although I didn’t see anything vaguely empirical. Still it’s clear from experience that gender identity is complex, and since it’s impossible for us to live life in a different body it is also impossible to imagine what life is like as a woman, a man, or anyone else for that matter. So to avoid offending people writers like Eve Ensler either have to include everyone born with vaginas (heterosexual women, lesbian women, gay men trapped in women’s bodies) and those without vaginas (transgendered women, lesbians trapped in men’s bodies), excluding only gay and heterosexual men – men who self-identify as the male gender. And yes, if my teenaged self were around today he would likely demand Ensler include members of the “Female Athletes in Bondage” in her monologues, because he was a bit of a sacred cow slayer and rouser of rabble (blame the Jesuits.) And by doing so Ensler would end up writing a worthless piece of pablum that would be even worse than the tripe she’s come up with in the Vagina Monologues.

You see, the bottom line is that whether or not a guy feels like a lesbian trapped in a man’s body, he’s going to keel over if someone kicks him in the nuts. Similarly a transgender woman will never know the misery of menstruation or the pain of natural childbirth no matter how many operations she has. She also will never know “the feminine experience” – an empty concept since it’s impossible to know what it means to be anyone but ourselves.

Feminists like Ensler get this, which is why they are being attacked as “TERFs“  – transphobic exclusionary radical feminists. Using Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals #12, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it,” feminists who believe that sex and gender cannot be altered through surgery and that biology is in fact destiny, are being defined by those who think otherwise and are determined to destroy those who disagree with them. And when feminists fight back they immediately play the victim card. Transgender woman Kelsie Brynn Jones writes, “Merely by taking a stand against them, I and others like myself have been subjected to threats against our personal safety, been bombarded with spam, pornography, and signed up to various mailing lists in an attempt to silence our voices.” And the same thing and worse is not happening to biologically born women?

Nonetheless some feminists are fighting back. Deep Green Resistance (DGR) is a group of radfems (the preferred term of radical feminists who support excluding the transgendered – any more terms and I’ll need a glossary at the bottom of this post similar to that at the back of Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange) that believes “a person born with male privilege can no more shed it through surgery than a white person can claim an African-American identity simply by darkening his or her skin,” writes Michelle Goldberg in the New Yorker. Good point. Michael Jackson’s skin treatments didn’t stop him from being a creepy pedophile. Paleofeminist Germaine Greer says it’s impossible for a man to understand what it’s like “to have a big smelly hairy vagina,” although BritFem Sheila Jeffreys points out the man-made vaginas owned by the transgendered “do not resemble vaginas… and cause serious smell issues for their owners.” Jim Goad writing at Taki’s Magazine notes “leftist intersectionality has devolved to the point where real women and fake women are arguing over whose vaginas smell worse.”

To a white person born of male privilege all this fighting is about as violent and meaningful as a catfight – a lot of hissing and spitting but very little damage. A dose of perspective is in order. Not more than a long plane ride away there are men throwing gay men off buildings and stoning to death those who survive.Women are being raped and forced into slavery. Adulteresses are stoned to death. A fellow Sunni Muslim was burned alive in a cage. What would the psychopaths at ISIS think about such screeching? I doubt female-to-male transgendered individuals would get a pass from such barbarity, nor would male-to-female transgendered avoid a long fall from a high place. As the lives of women slide slowly back into the Stone Age the privileged elite in the US creates acronyms and emails hate porn.

Me-0w!

 

To My Wife’s Patients: Things She Can’t Say To You – But I Can

My wife is a family physician. On average she sees 25 patients a day, works through her lunch and usually arrives home after dark. During her career I estimate she has seen around 35,000 patients. In order to become a doctor she had to do the following:

  • Graduate from a four year college.

  • Take advanced courses in calculus, chemistry and biology required by med schools.

  • Sit for and do well on the MCAT exam.

  • Get accepted into med school.

  • Spend 3 years taking full-time classes and 1 year doing rounds at hospitals and offices under the supervision of doctors.

  • Work 80+ hours a week for 3 years in internship and residency.

  • Pass several all-day written and hands-on exams to become board certified.

  • Spend several days each year in continuing education classes to keep up to date on the latest medical research and treatments and maintain her credentials.

Doctors used to be treated like gods. They were fawned over and never questioned by patients. Today we’ve swung to the opposite extreme where patients are treated as “clients” and management encourages staff to believe the “customer is always right” as they compete with other health care providers and health care systems for business.  To me much of the below is common sense, but it’s amazing how uncommon common sense has become.

Be polite to her. I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but manners have seemingly gone the way of men wearing fedoras and women wearing head scarves. When she enters a patient exam room,  she has had less than two minutes to review your chart (which often has hundreds of pages in menus and submenus in the electronic health record) and learn what you are there for from a medical assistant or visit notes that often say no more than “Fever.” When she opens the door, no matter how she feels herself you will have her full attention. She will make you the center of her universe for the few minutes that she is with you whether or not you deserve it to an outside observer like me.

Medicine Can’t Cure Everything. When you tell her, “I can’t be sick” with a cold or the flu because you are going on vacation or a wedding, tell that to her patient with pancreatic cancer, but you’ll have to go to his gravesite to do so. He didn’t want cancer but Fate had other plans. My wife is a doctor not Jesus. The truth is that your body will heal itself, and it’s my wife’s job to help it – and it will take its own sweet time doing so if it wants.

Antibiotics are powerful drugs and should only be used when needed. If she says you don’t need an antibiotic, you don’t need an antibiotic. What this means is you have a virus – likely a cold or a flu virus and antibiotics don’t affect viruses at all. If they did people wouldn’t be dying in Africa from Ebola because we could treat them with antibiotics, but we can’t because antibiotics don’t work on viruses.

If you say “But the last time I had this a doctor gave me a Z-Pak and I got better,” the Z-Pak had nothing to do with your recovery; your body beat the virus itself and the doctor only gave you an antibiotic because it was easier to give you one and shut you up than to be honest with you.

What you may not realize is that antibiotics have side effects, something the Wife knows first hand. Years ago she was treated for a bacterial kidney infection with a Z-Pak and the drug damaged the smell receptors in her brain. She couldn’t smell anything for a year, and it took two years more before she could smell the roses in her garden, five before she fully recovered. Antibiotics not only cause bacteria to become resistant, making the drugs less effective for everyone, they can also in rare cases kill you. Z-Pak has been found by the FDA to cause irregular heartbeats that have kill 47 people per million doses, and 245 per million for those with heart conditions. Even penicillin and its variants can damage your liver and kidneys. A common side effect is they screw up your body’s natural defenses, killing the so-called “good bacteria” that populate your gut and skin, causing yeast infections and diarrhea that can be worse than the cold that caused you to see the doctor  in the first place.

Immunizations save lives. If my wife notices you are not up to date on your immunizations she will offer to bring you up to date by vaccinating you in the office. If you then say to her “Vaccines are dangerous,” you’ll immediately reveal your idiot status although she won’t say so. Instead she will waste her time trying to educate you on how vaccination is the greatest medical discovery of all time. She’ll tell you that vaccines have saved more lives than any other drug or treatment ever imagined by Medicine bar none, and that idiots like you have only not gotten polio because the rest of us had parents who weren’t morons and got us vaccinated. The wife and I have been to places in the world where polio destroyed young lives, and have given money to paralyzed beggars in the streets. She’ll try to change your mind to help save your life; I’ll just laugh at you and say “Darwin Award!”

My wife is not a drug dealer. If you come to see my Wife because of back pain, she will likely explain that back pain can take as long as two years after an injury to heal if surgery isn’t warranted. My wife knows about back pain first hand. She was nearly killed by a tree branch falling on her neck in Africa, and she has suffered occasional back spasms that last for weeks ever since. She doesn’t take pills for these spasms. Instead she stretches her back, does some yoga, and lays on a heating pad.

If you come looking for narcotics, you will leave empty handed. Thanks to computerized medical records and a federal government centralized reporting on prescription narcotics, it is very easy for her to see who you got your meds from, what narcotic was prescribed and how many pills you got. If you tell her (as some patients have) that you’ll just get the drugs on the Street, go right ahead. There’s nothing you can say to her that will erase her sorrow at the loss of one of her patients, a young boy killed in an accident caused by his parents who were drugged up on Oxycontin they had gotten from other doctors. Later she’ll worry about whether there’s anything more she could have done to help your addiction; I’ll remind her of that dead boy.

Speak up. My wife is not a mind reader, and is a people doctor not a vet, so she will ask you questions and doesn’t need to guess. Speak up. Be honest in your answers. Ask questions if you don’t understand. My wife seriously wants to help you. Ask a med student why they want to be a doctor and chances are they will say “to help people.” That’s what my wife said, and it’s true.

But shut up if you don’t like gays, Jews or African-Americans. My wife is not a racist and is open minded just to the point where her brains don’t fall out. She respects everyone, and even if you don’t just keep it to yourself.

Don’t assume she’s rich just because she’s a doctor. My wife has chosen the second lowest paid specialty because she felt called to it, not because of any financial windfall. Every month I cut a mortgage-sized check to pay her student loans and will continue doing so for another couple of decades. We do have 4 cars though: One is a subcompact she bought used. One is a Southern Lawn Ornament, broken down at 170,000 miles. The other two (mine and my son’s cars) have 200,000 and 150,000 miles respectively. On a per-hour basis my wife makes about as much as a plumber does – and he can’t kill anyone or be sued if he does. And he sure didn’t finish plumbing school with $225,000 in plumbing school debt. (That’s a hint to any kids considering medical school who stumble upon this post.)

My wife works in a medical office not Burger King. You can’t have it your way. You can demand an MRI as one of her patients did, but you won’t get one. My wife is specially trained in soft tissue and musculoskeletal disorders and doesn’t need a $3,000 test to tell her that you have tennis elbow, the treatment of which is like many conditions in medicine: Time. You can’t have it your way because a) you aren’t a trained doctor and b) you really don’t know what is best for you. If you did you wouldn’t weigh 400 lbs and complain of knee pain. Perhaps the cases of Mountain Dew and bags of potato chips I see in your cart at WalMart have something to do with your problem, and again, if you want a miracle ask your pastor, not my wife. Exercise and limiting your calorie intake will do more to fix you than any drug she can prescribe, and I’m sure even Jesus would tell you to lay off the pork rinds.

My wife isn’t perfect, but she is the most intelligent woman I’ve ever met which is one reason I had to marry her. She also cares about people, many of whom don’t deserve it in my opinion. While some of you treat her respectfully a lot of you don’t, and you make me angry because it’s up to me to remind her of the lives (yes, LIVES plural) she has single-handedly saved. In addition to those she has made countless lives better through the exercise of her clinical skills, training and experience combined with her natural intuition. There aren’t many plumbers who can say that.

 

 

Concensual Incest Puts Progressives on Slippery Slope

I support gay marriage on the principle that the Government should not be in the marriage business. To me marriage combines two unrelated components: a legal contract for asset accumulation/division plus a religious component that creates a moral contract between two people witnessed by the religious community. Marriage is one of the last vestiges where Religion and State are intertwined. The government controls marriage licensing, determining who can and cannot marry, and requires a religious ceremony to finalize the contract. While two atheists can have a completely secular marriage in which the religious ceremony is replaced by a Justice of the Peace witnessing the exchange of vows, the State will not recognize a completely religious ceremony, where vows are exchanged in a religious context but the newlyweds refuse to obtain a marriage license.

While Western countries have removed barriers to the issuing of marriage licenses to homosexuals, movement by religions to recognize such marriages has been glacial by comparison. The Roman Catholic Church, most Protestant sects, mainstream Jewish sects and all of Islam refuse to recognize gay marriage. Part of the success of the Gay Rights movement has been due to the equation of gay marriage to the American Civil Rights movement of the 20th century, particularly the state laws that prevented interracial marriage and the attitudes supporting those laws that the Civil Rights movement overturned through non-violent protest.

One of the arguments employed by supporters of traditional marriage was that by legalizing same-sex unions, Society is placed on a slippery slope whereby other non-traditional practices such as polygamy and incest become the next in line for legitimacy. Samantha Allen confronts this challenge in her piece “Consensual Incest is Rape.” In the article Allen, who supports gay marriage, takes issue with the attempt by those calling for the decriminalizing of incest between consenting adults to hitch their issue to the gay marriage movement in the same way the gay marriage movement attached itself to the civil rights movement. Referring to a pro-incest blogger, Allen writes, “Pullman tries to boost his marriage equality credentials by also promoting the legalization of same-sex marriage but a more apt description of affairs would be that he wants to hitch incest to the same-sex marriage wagon. In his post “Gay Marriage and Incest in the US,” he tries to link same-sex marriage with incestuous marriage by saying that both take place “between consenting adults,” they “don’t hurt anybody,” they are both “subject to discrimination,” and that there is “no rational reason” for their prohibition. “Gays and lesbians do not choose their orientation and people do not choose the parents to whom they are born,” he adds, in a staggering leap of logic.”

Unfortunately Allen’s argumentative skills are lacking in the piece. She is unable to muster a defense against writer Keith Pullman, whom Allen refers to as  “adult incest advocate” except by using the words “staggering leap of logic.” I have not visited Pullman’s website nor do I have any interest in his arguments advocating the legalization of incest, but I find it interesting to see supporters of gay marriage who base their arguments on civil rights squirm when the same arguments they used are turned against them to justify practices which they find as heinous as the religious find gay sex. Allen concludes her piece stating flatly, “Supporters of incest are not part of the marriage equality movement,” but does little to explain why that’s the case.

In her article Allen’s sole weapon that separates gay marriage from incest is power. She quotes incest survivor McKenzie Phillips, ““[T]here really is no such thing as consensual incest due to the inherent power a parent has over a child,” she said. “So I wouldn’t necessarily call it a consensual relationship at this time,” although a year earlier she described sex with her father John Phillips as just that on Oprah. Allen quotes psychotherapist Robi Ludwig on Phillips’ incest, “But you can’t say it’s consensual, because there’s always a power imbalance when it comes to a parent and child,” even when both parent and child are both adults.

It’s no surprise that Samantha Allen resorts to the issue of power, since Leftist thought is based on the assumption that the unequal distribution of power underlies all conflict. In fact the imbalance of power between the sexes is one reason why traditional Feminism has been opposed to marriage. Since men always had more power in our society it was impossible for women to be treated fairly in marriage. It’s only recently that feminism has evolved to accept marriage, and usually only within the context of gay marriage.

But power is a poor choice against incest. It fails to address the issue of incestuous siblings, for example, who lacked the “power imbalance when it comes to a parent and child,” yet I doubt that Allen would support incestuous marriage between adult brothers or a brother/sister pair with equal power. By using power imbalance to ban marriage between parent and child, the usage of the term implies that marriages require a balance of power. Since power can take many forms this opens up a whole new arena for restricting marriage.

Leaving aside the issue of the subjectivity of power (Who defines it? The State? The marrying parties themselves?) this usage of the power c0uld ban marriages between adults of differing financial backgrounds, since the wealthier party in a marriage would have more power than the poorer one. It would ban marriage between adults of different ages, since an older, more experienced partner would conceivably have more power than a younger less experienced one. Alternately the younger person in such a relationship could have more power since youth is valued more highly in our society than age, putting the older spouse at a disadvantage. Finally the imbalance of power would ban all marriages between whites and minorities since white privilege by definition gives the white person more power than the minority.

The result of this would be laws banning marriage between whites and non-whites, between social classes, and between those of different ages. Congratulations Ms. Allen, you’ve recreated the restrictions of Victorian England or the the American South prior to the 1970s.

The only way for a progressive to avoid the slippery slope that ends up undermining her argument supporting gay marriage is to give up on the concept of traditional marriage entirely and take the libertarian view. There any number of adults of varying sexes can have contracts, and the age of consent becomes the line at which a child is recognized as being old enough to be a partner in a binding legal contract. Religions are then free to continue to marry as they see fit. If a Mormon sect wants to marry one man to multiple women, so be it. Similarly if the Catholic Church refuses to marry two women it is free to do so because of religi0us freedom. The role of the State then becomes the enforcer of contracts, a role that it has had throughout history and one that does not come into conflict with religious and personal freedom.

The problem for progressives like Ms. Allen is that they seek to expand the role of the State in people’s lives, the opposite of libertarians. While a libertarian believes the government should be limited and as small as possible, the progressive views government as a tool to create a society based on progressive ideals. There is little difference between progressives on the Left and conservatives on the Right in this regard, since both see the State as a means to their different ends. This is why government ballooned under Reagan in the 1980s and Bush in the 2000s, just as it has grown under Obama over the past 6 years. It also explains why progressives have encouraged censorship and curtailed basic freedoms such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion under Obama just as the conservatives did under Reagan in the 1980s.

But keeping the government in the marriage business will present logical dilemmas such as incestuous marriage or polygamy, making sure the ground beneath the feet of progressives is icy and sloped. Advocates for such unpopular views simply need to follow in the footsteps of the progressives and wait for legal cases and popular opinion to swing their way. In the meantime those on the Right including libertarians such as myself will enjoy watching progressives like Allen rocket down the icy slope.

Writing in a Neo-Victorian Age

Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes for Reason on the return of Victorian-age sensibilities in modern life, “(I)t’s taken the form of fighting to shield delicate sensibilities from “offensive” ideas, limit the parameters of free expression, and return women to the realm of dainty dolls needing special protection.” The assault on freedom is particularly acute to those of us who came of age in the 1970’s and 1980’s when the attacks came primarily from the conservatives and right-wing, although one shouldn’t forget that Tipper Gore, wife to then senator Al Gore and co-f0under of the PMRC, lead the charge against rock music lyrics making censorship a bi-partisan effort. Today’s attacks however come primarily from the Left and appear under the guise of “rational for banning/criminalizing hate speech is that it’s so emotionally traumatizing it serves, even in the absence of any incitement or physical consequence, as a form of violence, and this trumps free speech concerns.”

As a professional writer (not here) self-censorship comes with the job. Self-censorship for a writer is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s an editing tool that can help a writer get his or her point across. But I find myself censoring myself more these days outside of the professional realm to avoid trouble. In fact I just did it in the previous sentences, replacing a short and visceral reaction to living in a neo-Victorian prison with more palatable fare. Worse, I did it without thinking and a careful review of my writing here confirms that even though I argue against such censorship, I capitulate to it more than I should have to as a free-born human being living in a free society under legal protection.

Fuck that. It’s one thing to have to self-censor on the job, it’s another thing completely to do so on an online journal. Nevertheless fighting against self-censorship has consequences, and a writer must decide whether the exercising of  expression is worth it. Unfortunately today those penalties become increasingly harsh as Culture continues its crawl towards authoritarianism making the choices more difficult and painful.

Here’s a reminder of simpler times from Burke Breathed’s classic comic Bloom County.

Rolling Stone Rape Fiction An Affront to Rape Victims

My first year in college I got way over my head in a relationship. As many first relationships are, it was at times sublime and other times horrific, and what stands out now almost 30 years later is its brutality. It scarred me, and one of the experiences that came out of it has come to mind with all the talk about rape on campus. One night long ago in Chicago my girlfriend and I had one of our many rows. She left the dorm and disappeared for several hours. When she returned she was bloody, bruised and crying. She had gone to the beach to cool off alone and while she was there she was gang-raped by two black men.

I remember her best friend and I taking her to the hospital, and the police laughing as they interviewed her. I screamed at them for their insensitivity and was held against the wall with an arm on my throat and threatened with arrest for my trouble. For days after that our lives were turned upside-down. There is nothing like having a loved one recoil from your touch, or waking up in the middle of the night screaming. It shredded me, and made me feel powerless. It became the beginning of the end of our relationship, one that gradually spiraled down into a pit of loneliness and despair. She took to cocaine to forget; I took to cheap vodka. Eventually my mother had to mount an all-night rescue mission where she drove non-stop from St. Louis to Chicago, put me and the few things I had left (that my girlfriend hadn’t pawned) into her car, and headed the 333 miles back home.

Whenever I read stories about rape, whether of women or men, I am touched by them. I’ve seen the damage the violence causes first hand, and as a man who has held a woman screaming in his arms as she relived her rape, I’ve been damaged by it. All these years later the scars are still there and they still hurt, but as I get older I’ve learned that as one ages the pains of aging and Life increase. You just suck it up and keep living.

Rolling Stone’s recent piece detailing the gang-rape of a freshman at the University of Virginia received a lot of publicity when it was published, followed by scrutiny. Now the story is falling apart and it appears likely that the protagonist “Jackie” was not raped as she claimed to have been. There have been other cases where women have gone public with rape claims only to later have them proven lies. The most horrific case was the Duke Lacrosse Rape case where a stripper’s lie ruined the lives of three students she accused of the crime. There’s a kind of masochistic sainthood that comes with claiming to have been raped when you haven’t, an ego boost that doesn’t come to those who actually were raped. In my girlfriend’s case she buried the event under the sedation of alcohol and cocaine; the last thing she wanted to do was talk about the rape.

I grew up with four older sisters and a mother who ran the financial affairs of the house. I was taught to respect women by the same women in my life who value me as a man. The girlfriend survived. Last I heard she was happy living in the Midwest, having put her drug abuse and her rape behind her.

But “Jackie” and her enablers do women like her a disservice by lying about rape. It belittles the real victims of rape and those who have been injured in the aftermath. There is nothing good that comes out of rape. There’s nothing heroic or noble about surviving it. The only thing worse than claiming to have been raped when you haven’t is to be falsely accused of rape. That’s something the Duke Lacrosse players and an entire fraternity on the UVA campus have experienced first hand. Will Rolling Stone do an in-depth article on the hell they’ve gone through? I’m not holding my breath.

Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone has brought this disaster upon itself, proving once again that the best days of that rag lay at least two decades in the past. Peter Suderman at Reason.com writes, “And by failing so thoroughly to corroborate so many essential details of Jackie’s account—and by insisting, even after reasonable questions were raised, that the story had been verified to be true, they have made life much harder for the same victims of assault and advocates of awareness that a story like this ought to help.”

Nice job assholes.

Gambian Leader Claims He Can Cure Ebola

Gambian Dictator President-for-Life Yaya Jemmeh spoke on Gambian television and radio, claiming that the herbs he uses to cure HIV can also cure Ebola. Evidently he notified Sierra Leonian president Ernest Bai Koroma about the cure in a meeting at the UN General Assembly.

No word when Yaya will arrive in the Freetown to administer the cure to Ebola sufferers face-to-face.

It’s Jews All The Way Down

The name of this journal is in honor to Occam’s Razor, the tool of logic used to decide when faced with two theories having the same evidence the simpler theory is most likely true. I selected this name because of the explosion of conspiracy theories that followed the 9-11 attacks. Occam’s Razor is to a conspiracy theory what a can of RAID is to a cockroach. In the immediate aftermath of the attack there were a multitude of explanations and justifications, from Bin Laden striking the blow to protest America’s refusal to curb global warming to the controlled demolition of the towers by the US government itself. Like cockroaches these theories managed to survive and evolve into what we now call 9-11 Truthers, a movement that has become a cottage industry where the only people not responsible for the 9-11 attacks are the ones who actually claimed responsibility for committing them.

Every generation has its tin-foil hat crowd, as do both sides of the political spectrum. FDR knew about Pearl Harbor well before the Japanese launched the attack. JFK was killed by the CIA, mob, Cubans or a conspiracy involving all three. The moon landings were faked as was Elvis’s death. Reagan was killed by Hinkley and replaced with an imposter. The CIA was behind the AIDS and Crack epidemics of the 1980s. Vince Foster was “suicided” by the Clintons.

There’s an anecdote where a great scientist delivers a lecture on cosmology in which he remarks the earth orbits around the sun. At the end of the lecture an old woman stands up and shouts, “That’s poppycock. Everyone knows the earth sits on the back of a giant turtle.” The scientist then asks the woman, if that were true what is that turtle resting on? “It’s turtles all the way down,” she answers.

I’m reminded of this anecdote whenever I visit sites like Zero Hedge where it seems the vast majority of posters are advocates of one conspiracy or another, and often many. Whether its the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17, the rise of ISIS, the civil war in Ukraine, rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza or the Ebola outbreak, some insidious group is behind it – and it’s never the obvious the person or group claiming ownership. Instead that person or group is claimed to be a shill or patsy.

Take for example the Ukrainian civil war. Although Russia is the obvious aggressor because it has the most to lose by having an independent and prosperous Ukraine on its border, the Russian government is not to blame. Instead a belligerent undercover NATO forces are massacring Russian speakers in the East and goading Russia into the war. NATO also bombed Flight MH17 and fabricated the telemetry and satellite data showing the plane was downed by a missile fired from Russian controlled territory. The whole purpose of this exercise is for the West to ignite a war with Russia, one that will cause the price of fuel to skyrocket for the benefit of American energy companies.

Then there’s al-Qaeda and its off-shoot ISIS. It’s a common belief that these groups are under the control of the CIA and the Mossad. All the terrorist attacks committed by these groups, all the beheadings and massacres are manufactured by bureaucrats in Langley and Tel Aviv, operating “false flag” divisions devoted to creating mayhem that then provides justification for their governments to meddle in the Middle East on behalf of the TPTB, the Powers that Be.

Mind you there is not a scintilla of proof behind any of this, and when proof countering this narrative is raised the conspiracy theorists simply move the goal-posts onto another area where the proof is not as definitive. Or they claim the proof offered was itself manufactured, making it impossible to disprove their position. Conspiracy theorists believe such maneuvers make their positions stronger, but the impossibility of disproving a theory actually weakens it from a rational point of view. For example a single piece of evidence could disprove Evolution; simply find the fossil of a modern animal such as a human or horse in sediments dating from the Jurassic Period, and the theory would be gravely weakened. Yet there is no such evidence that can possibly refute the theory that the World Trade Centers were destroyed through explosives set in the structures by the CIA or Mossad as many Truthers believe. The fact that we have video and thousands of eyewitness accounts of the airliners slamming into the buildings does not weaken their convictions. The dearth of such acceptable contrarian evidence forces these ideas out of the realm of factuality and into faith.

And who are the TPTB? It depends on whom you ask. For many it’s the extremely wealthy oligarchs that run the world’s economies, men of unimaginable wealth whose faces are not known, but who control the fates of Man in the same way the gods controlled the fates of the Greeks and Romans. But then one could ask, well, who controls The Powers That Be? Inevitably we run into the Jews. The Jews are the world’s favorite Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain that controls everything Evil. If something bad happens there is inevitably a Jew behind it.

But why stop there? Who’s behind the Jews? And then the lady at the back of the room stands up and says “It’s Jews all the way down…”

Over the past 5000 years of their existence other tribes and their religions have come and gone but the Jews remain. They have survived countless persecutions, pogroms, and the greatest mass-murder in History and still they remain true to their faith and identity. Over that time Jews have risen to the heights of power in every civilization they have lived in, wielding power in service to Ottoman sultans, defining Communism in Russia, and serving the cause of freedom and democracy in the American senate. Their success in the Arts is unparalleled. Countless writers, actors, directors and musicians hail from the ethnic group. Their importance to finance, established during the middle ages due to the prohibition of usury by the Catholic Church, gave them the control of wealth that lays at the heart of most anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. This survival and even thriving at times is historically unusual, and when you put success together with survival over 5 millennia, you have a recipe for those of weaker minds to fall for conspiracies involving favoritism or treachery.

And I must emphasize that anti-Semitism is the purvey of weaker minds. It takes much effort to understand History and its complexities, and that is simply too much for many to employ. It is much easier to fall back on conspiratorial beliefs that are simplistic but with a strong history of their own. And that I think is the problem with facts: they take more effort to put together to create the Truth than to weave falsehoods into a great Lie. It is much easier to dream up a conspiracy theory that explains the loss of Malaysian Flight MH17 than it is to objectively examine the evidence. It is also a much more compelling story. But just because it’s compelling doesn’t mean it’s correct, and that apocryphal lady’s belief in turtles will not pluck the Earth from orbit around the Sun and set it upon an infinite column of reptiles just as the Jews are as guilty or innocent as any other ethnic group for the sins of this world.

Weasel of the Week: Rotherham City Council

The Watcher’s Council has awarded it’s first weasel of the week award to the Rotherham City Council.

For 16 years these politicians and constables protected a ring of Muslim Pakistani men who raped, beat and sexually abused 1,400 young British girls in the Yorkshire area. The number of victims who suffered is only surpassed by the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church for two decades. But while the Pope has plausible deniability for these claims , the head of the Rotherham City Council head Martin Kimber and South Y0rkshire’s Chief Constable David Compton don’t. They knew what was happening and protected the pedophiles, even sending a researcher to diversity training in 2001 and telling her to never ever speak about her discoveries again. Had they acted hundreds of young girls would not have suffered, but instead they clung to their politically correct faith that believes all cultures are superior to ours, even those that encourage child abuse.

1,400 young lives irreparably damaged, no thanks to Compton and Kimber. Your families must be so proud.

Given the scope of the scandal, I think Rotherham needs to change it’s motto. Here are my suggestions:

PC Authorities Silence Sex Abuse Victims in the UK

Political Correctness is the monster created by the Left and that monster is stampeding across Great Britain leaving suffering in its wake. 1,400 young white girls systematically abused over 16 years in Rotherham, and the authorities not only knew about it, they sent one of their own to a re-education camp diversity training for raising the alarm about it. The scale of this scandal is only surpassed by the sex scandals of the Catholic Church. In both cases ideology served to blind the authorities to their own morality if not common sense. Just imagine the outcry if the races of the pedophiles and their victims were reversed – white men gang raping 12 year old Asian kids – the outcry would be tremendous.

The politically correct doctrine is as racist as the Klan’s and as sexist as Wahhabi Islam that keeps women covered head to toe in black bags in Saudi Arabian heat. At the heart of political correctness there is the racism of “the white man’s burden” whereby whites know better than other ethnic groups, and critically that only whites are morally and intellectually capable of Evil; other ethnic groups are blameless since they are incapable of understanding right and wrong due to their oppression by whites. There is also unrelenting sexism that a Victorian era gentleman would understand. Women are weaker and incapable of making their own decisions and must be controlled – only by the State instead of their husbands, and women are victims of a patriarchal society and incapable of independence. When these two come in conflict, however, racism trumps sexism; the way the female victims were treated by these so-called “enlightened” authorities in Rotherham appear as progressive as the members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

There is a special place in hell for pedophiles, but there is also an even crueler place for those who know about such abuse and remain silent. The sooner these authorities experience that place the better.

Dawkins Advocates Abortion of Gays, Blondes and Brits

I read Richard Dawkins’ Selfish Gene back in the day. At the time I thought the book to be overrated,  and now find it pretty much outdated, proven wrong by later research. But that proof  hasn’t stopped Dawkins from parlaying his initial fame into a long career that recently has evolved into becoming the bete noire of Christians. He and his supporters like to portray themselves as standing against ignorance and don the mantel of the scientific greats who suffered under the Inquisition, but these days are quite different than the time Galileo lived. In fact given the tendency for some followers of a particular “religion of peace” to saw off the heads of non-believers, I’ll start taking Dawkins seriously when he dons a Mohammed mask and pees on the Koran. It’s easy to rile up Jews and Christians; they won’t stick a dagger through your heart (as one member of the religion of peace did to Theo Van Gogh) or issue a fatwa against you the way the Ayatollah Khomeini did to Salman Rushdie. Islam is another matter, and I’m always amazed how the Left censors itself in regards to that religion, focusing their ire instead on Christianity, as if the Pope will send a suicide bombing altar boy to silence them.

So Dawkins’ latest rant calling for the abortion of babies with Down’s Syndrome is just so much more greenhouse gas emissions by the former scientist. As the uncle of no less than TWO kids with Down’s, I could expound on how these children are endless fountains of Love in this despairing world we live in, but instead I’ll take another tack.

Dawkins’ argument is that those with Down’s suffer a poor quality of life and it is our duty to kill them to prevent their suffering. “I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”

So if the standard to judge is quality of life,that a Down’s child has less quality of life than a non-Down’s child, then shouldn’t we apply this logic to other conditions? Perhaps we could take it a step further down this slippery slope Dawkins has plopped his atheistic butt on. Current thinking is that people are born gay, and if true then it should be possible to eventually determine whether someone is gay while they are in utero. Since gay people are more prone to drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide than straight people, then should Dawkins morality apply to those as well? After all if gays suffer a lower quality of life than straights, shouldn’t the parents abort the gay baby and try again? Ditto children with autism, left-handedness (lower quality of life than right handers), brunettes (lower quality of life than blondes), and those born in Britain (lower quality of life than Americans).

My opinion? Anyone who bases their reproductive success on the opinions of that bloviator shouldn’t reproduce in the first place.

Missouri’s Petulant Police in Ferguson

Last night the police didn’t intervene as the looters took to the streets of Ferguson Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. “I think the first message is to remind all law enforcement that they are hired to serve and protect and if they’re going to sit back and watch looting, they’re not serving us; they’re not protecting us,” Pastor Robert White told the local Fox News affiliate. Former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch tweeted: “You did not see “police restraint” overnight. You saw police reluctant to act. We cannot keep stoning the keepers at the gate.”

This is a case of a police force clearly acting as petulant as a five year old who doesn’t get its way. Either we allow the police to do what they want, treat American soil as a de facto warzone and act as an army of occupation that is allowed to shoot first and ask questions later, or it’s not going to do its job. The “keepers at the gate” referred to by former police chief Fitch clearly have forgotten their mission to serve and protect. Their motto isn’t to disarm and pacify. This is Ferguson not Fallujah. Perhaps they need to get stoned to remember that, and if one of those rioters can’t hook them up Colorado is only 2 states away.

Do all American cops think this way? Do they see themselves working in a constant state of war in hostile territory? I need to understand how cops have become more paramilitary forces who subjugate and pacify the enemy and less beat cops who know the people they protect. I don’t see why such paramilitary tactics are needed in cities and suburbs in America of the 21st Century. We are a less violent society today than we were 40 years ago, so why are cops dressing and reacting as if they are living in a dystopian nightmare from the 1980s movie Robocop?

I want to believe that all cops don’t think this way, that there are some who understand the difference between policing and pacifying. But just because I want to believe doesn’t make it real.

We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thang

Compare and contrast the following videos. In my opinion Laibach does the Euro-fascist thing much better than the Putinites.

How My 2006 Nissan Xterra Became a Lawn Ornament

 

In 2005 to celebrate her impending graduation from medical school the Wife decided that she wanted to buy a new car. Since she is obsessed with Africa, her idea of transportation is this:

(photo credit: Muda Mrefu)

Of course we didn’t have the money for a Land Rover, particularly one that comes with dents from rhinos, so she ended up settling on a Nissan Xterra. I wasn’t very keen on the truck. Although I had nothing against Nissans the Xterra got terrible gas mileage (17-19 mpg at first) and seemed to be more truck than she needed. But Wife gets what Wife wants, and so we used the USAA car buying service to find and price the Xterra she wanted. We drove to the dealer after settling on a car and price, but as we sat down the dealer refused to sell us the truck at the price negotiated by USAA. Our first mistake was not walking out, but with a youngster in tow and a crest-fallen wife I tried to negotiate the deal myself on the spot – which means I got screwed. I ended up paying about $2,000 more than planned for a stripped down model instead of the fully appointed one USAA promised.

At first things went okay.  The Wife took the truck up to northern Pennsylvania on her rural rotation and the truck seemed to enjoy the rough roads. We quickly learned that while the exterior of the truck was pretty tough the interior suffered from flimsy plastic and vinyl. Within weeks there was our first casualty: the cupholder snapped off from rear of the passenger console.  On one of the maintenance runs to the dealership we asked for a replacement. They said since we broke it, it wasn’t covered by the warranty. They wanted to charge us $500 for the cupholder. A few months later the dog’s claws had punctured through the vinyl cover of the console; also not under warranty – but we spent $400 replacing the vinyl.

The sound system that came with the truck was terrible. Everything that played sounded flat and almost mono. First I replaced the speakers, and there was no change. Then I replaced the car stereo with the exact same Panasonic model I used in my ‘99 Honda. While music sounded better there was something about the truck’s acoustics that just ruined it. It didn’t matter if you were listening to Bach or Bad Brains the sound always seemed smashed together with no bass or treble highlights to speak of.

But hey, we’re adults. We can live with bad sound. What we couldn’t deal with was the gradual decline of the car as soon as the warranty expired. The wheels ate bearings like tic-tacs to the point where once the mechanic needed to heat the axle in order to free them. All four wheels had their bearings and associated control rods replaced at least twice during our 8 years of ownership.

For some reason the car couldn’t maintain alignment which caused me to burn through tires, a problem I exacerbated by buying larger alloy wheels. Yes I am an idiot. I thought that bigger tires would provide the Wife a better ride. All I did was jack up the cost of each tire by $30; there was no change to the ride. I tried to rotate the tires every few months and had the truck aligned about twice a year but never managed to get the treads to wear evenly. Several times I had the car aligned and brought it back to the shop immediately afterward only to be shown the computer printout stating the truck was aligned. It reached a point where I simply thought the roads were made concave and maybe higher center of gravity trucks were more sensitive to this than my Honda.

Small problems continued. I ended up downloading the manuals on the Xterra and hanging out on internet forums, doing the repairs myself. But then the big hits started coming.

First it was the rear differential, setting me back $2400 and a week of a car rental. Soon after that the check engine light started glowing and a trip to the dealership confirmed I needed new catalytic converters for $3,000. At this point the truck was just over 120,000 miles. I ended up replacing the catalytic converters elsewhere with non-OEM cats for $600 but that didn’t fix the problem with the codes. An investigation determined that the 2nd generation Nissan Xterras have cast iron exhaust manifolds bolted onto a cast aluminum engine. Since aluminum and iron expand at different rates, the manifolds tend to develop cracks which allow air into the exhaust. This extra air passes through the catalytic converter and makes the oxygen sensor report the catalytic converter is bad. Another $1000 problem.

On March 30, 2014 while on a business trip the heater stopped blowing warm air. A few minutes later the engine temperature spiked but then returned to normal, and after another 50 miles the heater began blowing warm again. After returning home I took the car to a local mechanic who discovered the transmission cooler within the radiator had failed, allowing radiator coolant to mix with transmission fluid. $600 replacement of the radiator and two system flushes later the transmission slips out of gear, often at critical moments like while turning in intersections. The car suddenly became undriveable, and I had to park it in my field.

It turns out the Nissan Xterra has a transmission computer that actually sits in the transmission fluid pan. As some of you PC geeks may know it is possible to submerse computers in oil or distilled water and have them work just fine. That’s because many oils and distilled water are non-conductive, so while it may look scary, as long as the computer is designed properly for the cooling medium, all will be well. Nissan engineers in their ultimate wisdom decided this was a good idea in the second generation trucks, although the computer was outside the transmission in the first generation trucks. Also they decided to embed the transmission radiator within the engine radiator. This should be no big deal; my Honda has the same configuration. What my Honda does have that the 2nd generation Xterra lacked was a well-made radiator. Nissan’s radiator was defective, and Nissan knows it.

So you have a computer embedded in transmission oil that is cooled through the radiator which uses a 50-50 mix of ethylene glycol and water. The transmission radiator within the engine radiator failed, allowing the antifreeze to sink into the transmission. This caused the overall fluid level to dip. Since the engineers also designed the heater to pull warm coolant from the top of the radiator, the drop in fluid kept the heater from warming up. Only when the engine had warmed up in the cold March air did the fluid expand enough to feed the heater.

But the damage was done. Transmission oil is non-conductive but antifreeze is, and the mixture shorted out the computer. The mixture of green radiator coolant with transmission fluid has even earned a name in the Nissan aficionado community: the Strawberry Milkshake of Death (SMOD) – because that’s exactly what it looks like. Pop off your radiator cap and you’ll find a milky reddish mix. But it’s far from delicious, and Nissan got sued over it.

In 2012 Nissan reached a class-action settlement whereby it extended the warranties of Nissan Xterras and Frontier pickup trucks to 80,000 miles full coverage, 90,000 miles with a $2,500 copay and 100,000 with a $3,000 copay. The meager offerings to Nissan owners only prove what I’ve always believed of class action lawsuits: they are income makers for lawyers and not for the plaintiffs. I never received notice of the settlement nor was I notified of any recall related to the problem.

By this point I was well past the settlement terms. So I did what I’ve done successfully many times in the past: I wrote a letter. I wrote to Jose Munoz, head of Nissan North America.

 

Mr. Muñoz, I grew up loving Datsun. When I see a 280z on the road I notice that I’m not the only one who turns his head to watch that legend slide passed. My very first car was a 1983 Sentra that I bought and taught myself how to drive stick on while leaving the dealer. I put 90k on that car while in college and it never let me down. So as I grew older I always considered Nissan whenever I needed to buy a new or used vehicle.

I like my Xterra. It’s a good solid car with the exception of the damage caused by a poorly engineered transmission cooler. Living in rural North Carolina I need the Xterra to safely take me and my family where we’re going on and off the roads. But the cost of the repair just doesn’t make economic sense and is too much for me to justify putting into the vehicle no matter how much I like it. Still, the idea of scrapping it just offends my environmental sensibilities. This car has many miles left on it before it ends up in a landfill, but I can’t risk driving it until it’s fixed.


 

Weeks passed and on Friday I heard back from Nissan North America.

 

Actually I didn’t get this letter in the mail, although that was the gist of a curt call I had from Meghan at Nissan North America.

So now the Xterra sits in the field waiting for me to decide what to do with it. Replacement of the transmission would run about $3,000. Then there’s still the check engine light issue to deal with plus  new tires for another $2000. $5,000 into an 8 year old car with over a 150,000 miles doesn’t make sense.  I’m driving my ‘99 Honda with close to 200,000 miles on it to dealerships pricing Toyotas and Hondas, and when asked whether I have a trade-in I don’t mention the Xterra because I don’t even know how I’d get it to the dealer to trade in.

As I wrote to Jose Munoz, she is a good looking truck. I can see her from where I write. No rust. No paint issues that a good buff couldn’t fix. She loves the dirt and the North Carolina dust, and she doesn’t look like a suppository the way other SUVs do. When the wife heard about my dealings with Nissan she texted me, “So sad I loved my Xterra but she has broken my heart.” But the wife has a new romance in her life, an Italian Fiat 500 convertible. And I have my trusty Honda CRV which I had ordered specially built for me from Saitama Japan. I’ve sworn the Honda will leave me through my cold-dead hands considering how little trouble that car has given me in 15 years of ownership.

I grew up in an era when few cars made it to 100,000 miles. I’ll never forget pushing my 1983 Dodge Omni into the Toyota dealership in 1987 at 45,000 miles. The car my mother bought with that trade was still going when she traded it in at 150,000 miles. Today used cars often have over 100,000 miles on them. But there are some around like the Nissan Xterra which might look good on the outside but just aren’t built to last the way Toyota 4Runners and Honda CRVs are. It’s been a long, expensive lesson for me.

If I had run that truck into the ground rest assured I wouldn’t  have wasted time writing Nissan, but the fact that it has been a money pit since the warranty expired shows Nissan cannot stand up to its Japanese and European competition in terms of quality.

When I pushed that Dodge into the Toyota dealership I swore off American cars. Almost thirty years later I have not purchased a car made by Ford, GM or Chrysler. Nissan now joins that list.

Why complain? Why waste my time with all this writing? Because the only reason why we don’t pitch cars at the 100,000 mile mark today is because we stopped putting up with badly made cars in the 1970s and 1980s. Today there are many high quality vehicles on the road, but they are only there because consumers expect and demand them. If we let the automakers get sloppy the way the US automakers did in the 1960s and 1970s and don’t hold them to a higher standard of quality, then we’ll have only ourselves to blame.