Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Worst State Capital

Spoiler alert. It's Hartford.

But I coulda told you that years ago.

Now it's official.


There's a little place, a coffee shop, here in my relatively-new home town of New Haven. It's called Blue State Coffee, it's pretty f'n good, but pretty overpriced. At least when compared to the pervasive amount of Dunkins that exist here, truly an epidemic of historic proportions. But it's great coffee, it's not a chain, and the two and only two Blue States are within walking distance of Yale. Yes, you get what you pay for. And they can get away with it because YALE.

I had a co worker who has since moved away, and although we'd disagree somewhat about those two things you should always talk about at parties and with strangers - politics and religion - we remain great friends. He used to joke about the liberal-ass lattes there, the prices, the taxes, etc. And I'd say, hey, I would've just gone to Red State Coffee where it's cheaper with no taxes, but it's falling apart, trashy, unsafe, and the coffee just sucks.

To be fair, Blue State Coffee is simply named after the Blue State in which it resides - Connecticut. And Connecticut sure has its problems. When that same co worker and I would chat about the perception of Connecticut; the yachts, the hedge fund mansions, the New England quaintness, VS the real Connecticut; the satellite dish infested boarded houses, the high cost of living, aging cities that feed off themselves, he'd often end with a comment such as, "Well it's a Blue State!" An obvious negative connotation, to him.

And he wouldn't necessarily be wrong, though I would smugly grin while pointing out the fact that Red States actually have the highest crime rates. Not to mention the highest illiteracy rates, the highest STD rates, the highest poverty rates, the highest obesity rates.... I could go on.

But I will say though, that there are good and bad examples of Red States, and good and bad examples of Blue States. Some of the things that make one good or bad are, of course, influenced by things beyond its control sometimes. I think Texas may be a Red State that is doing it right. Same with Alaska. But that may be solely due to a plethora of natural resources, that and its small population when it comes to Alaska. And states like Maryland are good Blue States, maybe due to a high concentration of federal government there. Minnesota as well, maybe partially due to its polite and efficient German influence. Who knows.

After living here over five years, however, I must admit that Connecticut is an example of a Bad Blue State. I see it everyday. More people move out than in every year. The state government just laid off 1000 workers and is cutting essential services yet is still running a nineteen-million dollar deficit. I see cities such as New Britain, Waterbury, and Bridgeport literally feeding off themselves, where the few brave souls who venture downtown to shop and stimulate the economy ironically are hounded by the parking authority hungry to give out $35 tickets.

Maybe it's the Libra in me, favoring balance and fairness, but that is what any government, any organization at that, needs to be successful: balance.

You can't cut your way out of your problems, just look at Kansas. But you can't tax your way out of them either. Look no further than our Capital, Hartford, where I literally can't think of any nice neighborhoods yet it's tax mill rate is 74! I'd never consider moving somewhere where the cost of living is just as astronomically high as your chance of having your car broken into. Or worse.

This state is like a forest fire right now, let's just hope it can be destroyed and rebuilt.

The Murder of Scalia

In 2006 while sitting in the armchair at my computer in a messy house on Earl Street in Shippensburg, PA which I shared with three college buddies, I became utterly convinced that the Bush Administration was responsible for the World Trade attacks. And by responsible, I mean, they actually knocked them down in a controlled demolition. To be fair, it wasn't just Bush. It was Cheyney, Rumsfeld, some other top CIA and DOD people, as well as the Illuminati, of course.

I knew this, because I watched an extremely-compelling documentary online called Loose Change. This movie explained the entire cover-up, how it was executed, why it was done, and who benefited. And believe me, if I had any doubts at the time about the intentions of the Bush Administration, and I did, well, this flick pretty much solidified them. 

I mean, we were at war! And a terrible one. We watched on live tv this invasion of Iraq and read on the AP daily about another roadside IED that killed and maimed a bunch of 19-year old Marines, the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis killed and displaced, the fact that our own government bungled this so badly. But without this false-flag operation we called 9/11 carried out not five years before, well, this wouldn't have happened. Without 9/11, there would be no pretext for war.

But even as a 21-year old, the second I found out that this "documentary" was nothing more than a movie project directed and produced by a few college students not much older than me, a project based on pure fiction and pot-induced imagination, I quickly disregarded it. It didn't change much about my opinion of Cheyney and Bush. But at least it made null and void any argument about the evilness of our current government for purposely destroying two huge buildings in downtown Manhattan and killing thousands of innocent US citizens just for an excuse to go to war, while engaging in heated and drunken political arguments with my more pro-Bush college peers.

I would always argue that Iraq was our worst foreign policy decision ever, that it actually created the very thing it set out to destroy: a terrorist safe haven. I would argue that it was poorly executed, and very stupid, and possibly even criminally negligent. I would also argue that the Bush tax cuts were detrimental to our economy, or that how is it fiscally-conservative to fight a war without raising taxes to pay for it, and turn an abundant surplus into a devastating deficit? And I still argue this, but never will I bring up the evil conspiracy argument.


Well among other things, it's just dumb. And incredibly pointless. And I know how stupid you look when you argue things such as Obama is a Kenyan-born Marxist Secularist while also somehow an Islamist...just as stupid as you look when you argue that Bush knocked down the World Trades. Yet I do believe that poor decisions, unintended consequences, innocent mistakes and stupidity sometimes are the reason these conspiracy theories exist. Like invading a foreign country for sketchy reasons or not thoroughly investigating the death of a sitting Supreme Court Justice.

I think that in this hyperpartisan foul year of our Lord A.D. 2016, political belief has become interchangeable with religion, and maybe it always has been. We are quick to blame the other side for any bad that happens on our side, while always seeing our side as the well-intentioned one. Some also say that we are innately hardwired to believe in conspiracy theories. I know I was at one point, as a child, when I became fascinated in UFOs and secret societies and government coverups. But, ya know, I eventually grew up. And even more significantly, I like to believe I gained some common sense and critical thinking skills along the way.

And if you let emotion or partisanship get in the way of common sense and critical thinking, well, you may or may not be an idiot, but you damn sure look like one.

Scalia died peacefully in bed, one year older than the current life expectancy of an American male. Let's try to give society the benefit of the doubt, that maybe just maybe, it wasn't the CIA smothering him with a pillow (then leaving the murder weapon on top of the body). 

Maybe, just maybe, sometimes crazy awful life-altering things just happen. Sometimes it actually is a small group of hijackers with box cutters. Or the weather. Or just one guy with a gun. 

Except with the JFK assassination...that shit was a goddam cover-up.