Latest entries

Wealthy CEO walks away from millions after daughter’s challenge

by David McElroy

Mohamed El-Erian

It’s easy to say you care about your spouse and children, but words are empty compared to actions. Earlier this year, a California multimillionaire was forced to decide what was most important to him in life.

Mohamed El-Erian was CEO of a $2-trillion investment firm called PIMCO. He’s a very successful and hard-driving businessman who has made a lot of money. In 2011 alone, his income was $200 million. But he shocked the financial world in January when he quit his job — not to jump to a rival firm, but to spend time with his wife and daughter.

We can all learn something from his choice.

El-Erian was forced to decide what was most important to him — his family or his income — because his daughter challenged him. Writing for Worth magazine in May, El-Erian explained his crisis of values.

He said he asked his daughter to do something — which he recalls as brushing her teeth — and the two ended up arguing about her lack of compliance. He reminded her that she had always been quick to obey him, but she asked him to wait a minute, then she disappeared briefly to get a piece of paper from her room.

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A broken heart is devastating, but closing yourself to love is far worse

by David McElroy

Broken heart

Is love the best thing in the world? Or the worst?

Do you remember your first love? I remember mine well. The world seemed perfect. Everything was right as long as I could be with her. Do you remember your first heartbreak? I remember mine painfully well. The world seemed black and dark. I couldn’t possibly be happy again, because I couldn’t be with the one I loved. You’ve felt that way, haven’t you?

I’ve been thinking about love all week, both the good and the bad, because of an experience a friend has just gone through. He sent me a note Tuesday to tell me what happened to him and ask for advice. I’ve been slow to respond, because I’m not sure what I can say that’s useful. How can you help a man whose heart has been broken?

My friend just experienced his first love and then his first break-up. The relationship didn’t last but a couple of months, but it’s changed so much for him — and he’s left confused and hurting.

We’re going to call him Josh, but that’s not his name. He’s a smart and insightful young man, but he’s struggling to reconcile the horribly conflicting emotions that took him from an amazing high to a devastating low. He described everything that had happened and then asked, “Any advice?”

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Demos, GOP name Charlotte Clinton and Bush baby to be named for 2056

by David McElroy

Chelsea Clinton baby

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After two days of tense negotiations, smiling Democrats and Republicans emerged from behind closed doors to announce that their nominees for the 2056 presidential election cycle will be Charlotte Clinton and a planned Bush baby to be named at a future date.

“This is just the right thing to do,” said Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee. “An agreement like this will save the country from having to go through a series of divisive and unnecessary primaries in order to reach the result we all know is coming.”

Although Charlotte Clinton’s legal name is Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, her marketing team has decided to shorten it to take advantage of the Clinton brand, which was key to her winning the nomination at the tender age of 1 day old.

“The team hasn’t decided whether Charlotte will be married by the election, but we’re definitely going with the proven winner with the name Clinton,” Schultz said. “We’ve already registered ReadyForCharlotte.com and we will be flooding Facebook and Twitter with staged photos soon. It’s really the only way to make this exciting for everyone.”

Although most of the attention about the agreement is focused on Charlotte Clinton, the most interesting part of the deal reached today concerns Baby Boy Bush.

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Dear FBI, NSA and all three-letter agencies: ‘We don’t trust you guys’

by David McElroy

iOS_8-Encryption

Mr. James Comey
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Comey:

It was with great interest that I read your comments to reporters on Thursday attacking Apple and Google for their recent moves to increase my privacy from your snooping eyes. According to news reports, you said, “I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is beyond the law. What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

You are upset that Apple announced it will no longer unlock devices such as iPhones and iPads for government agencies. The company has taken steps to make sure it doesn’t even have the technical capability of complying with orders to unlock iOS devices, and a statement from Apple CEO Tim Cook was very direct about the company’s desire to protect the privacy of its users.

Google quickly followed suit and said it would start turning on encryption by default, too. You don’t seem to like this, Mr. Comey. And your spin was pretty interesting. You went for the oldest trick in the book. You said your concern was all about the children. That was hilarious. Here’s what you said, according to the reporters who were there:

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With each ‘improvement,’ we’re losing family and community

by David McElroy

Children playing in street

One of my neighbors died two weeks ago today, but I didn’t know about it until a few hours after he was buried — four days later.

I’d lived across the street from William for many years. He’s cut my grass several times. I’ve given him rides to the store. I’ve chatted with his wife, Anna, and him when I’ve bumped into them at the grocery store. Every now and then, he would come over as I was getting home, just because he wanted someone to talk with.

So why did it take me so long to find out that William had died? And what does this imply about modern communities?

Every indication I see or read says that communities haven’t been as strong for the past couple of generations as they once were. Those same decades have been filled with incredible advancements in our living standards and options about life. Could it be that the choices we’ve been making are filled with tradeoffs that we’re not entirely sure we’re making? I suspect so.

At one time, the people in communities and neighborhoods had to know one another, because they were all they mutually had. They didn’t have cars to drive to places across a city or state. They spent most of their time within a short distance of home.

They stayed outside more, because it wasn’t that long ago when normal people didn’t have air conditioning. (And it wasn’t too many years before that when air conditioning didn’t exist. I don’t know how people lived in the South at the time.) Children played outside. Adults worked outside and they sat around on porches and talked when they weren’t working.

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We can’t control when death comes, just what we do while we’re waiting

by David McElroy

Death waiting

Three stories caught my eye in rapid succession Saturday night. They were all three about deaths of people I didn’t know, but they left me with an uneasy feeling that I’m not really living my life. Maybe I’m just sitting around waiting to die.

The first was about a victim of the serial killer Jack the Ripper. Although she’s been dead for 126 years, I saw a picture of a man with the blue and brown shawl she was supposedly wearing when she died.

The next story was about a theatrical actress in Chicago who was killed Saturday when a falling tree struck her as she rode her bike. I don’t know anything about the woman, but her piercing eyes stared at me from the picture.

The last of the three stories was about a 34-year-old mother of two in Chicago who was killed this week when a stone gargoyle fell off an old church and hit her as she walked by. She was on her way to have lunch with her fiancé, who was the mother of her children.

None of these women realized she was about to die. One was unexpectedly murdered. The other two were victims of what could only be considered freak accidents. Seeing their stories in rapid succession like that made me think about the rest of us, including myself.

I have no idea when I’m going to die. I honestly believe I’ll be here for many years to come. Maybe it’s simple denial, but I’ve always thought I’d be one of those freaks who lives until 120 or something. But I have no way of knowing.

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Loving a depressed person means holding tightly on trips through hell

by David McElroy

Depressed woman-window

When I was a small child, there were times when my mother didn’t get out of bed in the mornings. I didn’t know why at the time. I understand now.

My mother was diagnosed with manic depression, which we call bi-polar today. I don’t know when I learned those words. I can vaguely remember thinking about them at some point and trying to figure out what they meant. I can remember the vague sense of something being wrong. It was a vague sense of being abandoned and alone.

I suppose I was about 4 or 5 years old in the images I recall. I had two younger sisters, about 3 and about 1. My father would be gone to work and we were at home with Mother. And I felt all alone. In a lot of ways, I’ve never gotten over that feeling of being all alone and abandoned. In a way, I’ve been replaying that script over and over and over.

All of the discussion about depression in the past two days — in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide — has been really emotional for me, because it’s brought up disturbing experiences that I’ve gone through with people who I’ve loved.

My mother was diagnosed when I was about 5. That was about the time when she started trying to leave my father. It’s also the time when she went into a mental hospital for awhile. (I seem to recall it as about six weeks, but I might be wrong.) I saw her struggle for years to be stable and to be the smart, artistic and happy person she was at her best. I wrote more about her last year.

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Rhetoric about freedom means nothing without right to secede

by David McElroy

Trumbull-Declaration

The Declaration of Independence is evidence of the ability of powerful men to use beautiful rhetoric of freedom to justify their secession from a political power they didn’t wish to be part of.

The War Between the States less than a hundred years later is evidence that the resulting regime didn’t believe its own rhetoric about secession and self-determination.

Subsequent actions by the federal government are further evidence that following the principles of the Declaration of Independence will get you imprisoned, not freed.

The Declaration of Independence is filled with beautiful, soaring words, but the men who wrote those words couldn’t conceive of letting individuals have real freedom. They could only conceive of groups of powerful white men controlling some specific territory and ruling over those who lived there.

The Constitution is proof that the men of the day imposed their rule on the territory which they seized from Great Britain rather than allowing individuals to rule themselves. It was an experiment in “limited government,” which they believed would somehow be different from all previous attempts at coercion.

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One year later, late-night phone call and suicide threat still echo in me

by David McElroy

Hiding Behind a Mask

She went to the bridge that night to kill herself. That’s what she said, anyway. All I know is that I believed her.

It was a year ago tonight when I got a text message. She told me that she was on a bridge and was ready to die. She had threatened repeatedly to kill herself during the two years prior to this, and there had been several times when I’d been truly afraid. There were times I talked with her most of the way through the night — on the phone from almost a thousand miles away — just trying to keep her alive until morning would arrive and the suicidal demons of depression would slip away from her. At least until it was dark again.

I loved her. We had a long and complicated history. That part doesn’t matter anymore. But I loved her more than life itself — and I do love my life very dearly. I loved her even more.

She told me in her text message that as she stood there thinking about what she was about to do, I was the only one she wondered about. She was worried about how I would take it. She worried about whether it would affect a film I was working on at the time. She said it surprised her that I was the only one she thought about. She had no reason to lie, so I believed her.

After texting for a few minutes, I asked her if she would talk on the phone. She didn’t reply for a minute, but then my phone rang.

There had been nights when she had been hysterical with emotional pain. Tonight, she was numb and calm. She just wanted to die. She hated life and the pain that came with it.

We hadn’t talked in months. Despite the odd and painful circumstances, I was happy to hear her voice. It made me feel as though I could almost touch her. I wanted to hold her hand. I wanted to tell her that everything would be all right if she would just believe me and let me help her.

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After previous ObamaCare decision, Hobby Lobby case just a sideshow

by David McElroy

Great American Sideshow

After a divided Supreme Court ruled today that Hobby Lobby can’t be forced to buy birth control for its employees, the reactions have been predictable.

Social conservatives are hailing it as a great blow for freedom. Progressive leftists are screaming that this is about bosses controlling access to birth control for their employees. At any moment, I expect to see the chant start somewhere that the five justices on the winning side hate women.

I have trouble working up any enthusiasm about this case. Yes, it’s a good decision in a narrow way for religious freedom, but it’s pretty hollow when seen in context of everything else.

The Supreme Court has already ruled that Americans can be forced to buy things they don’t want to buy for themselves. Think about that. If the government believes you should buy hamburgers from McDonald’s or a subscription to National Geographic or a specified array of sex toys, the court has said it’s fine for government to require that of you and punish you if you don’t comply.

The court has already said that it’s perfectly fine to force employers to buy health care for their employees — plans that the government must approve. Whatever government deems to be necessary, companies can be forced to buy for you, whether you want it or not.

The Hobby Lobby decision only says that if a company’s owners object to birth control on moral grounds, they can’t be forced to purchase that particular coverage.

That’s all this decision does. While it’s right in the very narrow sense, it’s so utterly inconsequential compared to everything else that’s already been mandated that it’s hard to believe it matters.

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