Tag Archives: Politics

Weapons of War

The fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the Massachusetts ban on so-called assault weapons. The ban is a reactionary piece of legislation designed to make people feel good about doing something in the wake of the horrific December 2012 Sandy Hook Newtown shooting. The language of the ordinance makes broad definitions of what constitutes an “assault weapon,” which has been the bone of contention between gun control proponents and second amendment supporters ever since the incident. Also included in the ordinance is limits magazine capacity.

The court, in ruling in favor of the ban, stated in the opinion that “weapons of war” are not covered by the Second Amendment. This is a gross error of thinking by a panel of liberal judges who clearly do not understand the history of the amendment nor its language.

The second amendment was created by congress to protect Americans’ right to arm themselves in the event of war. This war could come from foreign forces, or from the organized military of a tyrannical regime. The language says this in the first phrase: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” This phrase says militia. It doesn’t say Army, or even organized military. It does not call for the creation of a standing Army. It was written in such a way to state that Americans could unite into militias to defend themselves, and as such need access to arms. This presupposes that the militia would need “weapons of war.”

The Second Amendment was not written to provide Americans the right to have flint-locks, or shotguns, or even bolt-action rifles for use in hunting or even self defense. It was written so that citizens could rise up to defend themselves from the enemy in a time of war, whether that war was a world war or a civil one. This is a fundamental American right. This right is one of the things that separate America from the rest of the world, and make us the envy of other nations.

The single most popular weapon in America.

The single most popular weapon in America.

Gun control advocates claim that putting “common sense” limitations in place is reasonable. The amendment has a word that addresses this thought: infringed. To infringe is “to act so as to limit or undermine.” The language of the amendment says specifically the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall NOT BE INFRINGED (emphasis mine), meaning shall not be limited. Our rights to possess “weapons of war” cannot be limited. To enact limitations is to violate the Second Amendment. It is plain and simple.

Do people abuse their rights? Of course they do. Do we throw out our rights because of those who abuse them? No, we don’t. In fact, we double down on defending them.

The fourth circuit is wrong in this decision. This is the result of seeding the bench with too many activist liberal judges. This case needs to move on to the Supreme Court AFTER Trump’s pick to replace justice Scalia is sworn in, so it can be reversed and our rights remain protected.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics, Society

The Sweet and the Bitter of Election Day

Tuesday the 8th of November, 2016 will be a bittersweet day for many people in this country, if not the whole world. It is the date that the worst campaign in the history of this country will officially end, which is the sweet part. The bitter part is that it is also the date that we will have elected the person who will no doubt go down in history as one of the worst world leaders ever. It is not because we have been forced against our will to endorse a tyrant, but rather we have degraded the principles of liberty so much that the citizens of this country no longer know any better than to elect people based not on capability, but instead on popularity. Knowledge and logic have been supplanted by feelings.

This is not new to this election cycle, unfortunately. The election of Barack Obama was the first time a president was chosen not because of skill, knowledge, or experience, but rather because of social popularity. Obama was not elected because he was the most capable, he was elected because people thought it was time we had a black man in the White House. This election is another opportunity for the populists who want social justice to ring their bell by not electing the best candidate, but by electing the first woman to the presidency. In fact, it has become the media catch phrase as pundits tout how America will make history by electing Hillary Clinton.

The social justice warriors who gave us affirmative action and hiring quotas are now trying to staff the White House, as if the qualifications for that job are limited to the color of one’s skin or the gender to which they self-identify. A knowledge of history, or law, or economics or anything understood to be a formal education are not even mentioned in the candidate selection process. None of the candidates who ran in either primary touted their academic credentials. Very few of them mentioned their relevant experience. All of them threw out their feelings on the issues about which the media had drummed the populace into a frenzy and batted sound bites around like a litter of puppies fighting over a toy, and we the people watched with similar fascination as we decried the responses that hurt our feelings and shouted along with the ones that echoed our own beliefs.

As a society, we have become so focused on feelings, that real matters that have meaning are relegated to whispers among the like minded, too afraid to speak out in public for fear of being labeled a bigot, racist, misogynist, extremist, leftist, right-wing, birther, libtard. If we cannot discuss the serious matters facing society as a whole, how can we hope to find a leader willing to do it? We can’t. This is why our politicians have become so impotent lately. They are afraid of being on the losing side of legislation being voted on by a public who cannot be counted on to actually learn anything different from their preconceived notions and ideals and who think it is time we had a woman in the White House even if that woman is a proven manipulative, elitist liar who doesn’t even think members of her own party are worthy of consideration.

Clinton said in an interview that she wants to be the president of those who vote for her and those who vote against her. Well, that is as stupid a statement as any candidate has ever made, but nothing more can be expected from someone who has manipulated the system at every turn to ensure her victory in the election, even going so far as to have defrauded the country by negotiating back room deals, including selecting her opponent, to lock in her win, no matter the outcome of the ballot count. When Hillary is announced as the winner (and she will be) understand it will not be because of the ballots cast. It will be because she defrauded an already corrupted process and was validated by a population that wanted a woman—any woman—president. Wednesday morning, there will be no more campaign commercials and no more news time devoted to the campaigns, but we will have someone who will no doubt end up being the worst president in history sitting in the White House. Bittersweet indeed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics, Society

Call Me Crazy

People cannot accurately parse what is happening around them anymore. It is like the apathy that has led to the current socio-political climate in this country is continuing its effect by making people unwilling to recognize the danger or take steps to prevent the damage. When I point out the situation and indicate the likely outcomes, people tsk tsk me as though I am missing some key mental faculty needed to function in society. I have heard some fanatical ranting over the years, and my ideas are not radical by any measure, but call me crazy if you must. Just listen first.070716_1756_1.png

It has been my position since the beginning of the primary season that Donald Trump does not want or expect to be President of the United States. Trump is a long time friend and ally of the Clintons. He supported Hillary’s ’08 campaign financially as well as campaigning for her in key states. It is my belief that Hillary, knowing that the Democrats are not in the best position to keep the White House given the shellacking they took in the mid-term elections and the debacle that is Obamacare, needed a ringer in the republican race to keep conservatives from rallying around a serious candidate. Trump—a long-time democrat—entered the race as a republican to be that ringer. At best, he was expected to split the vote, thus weakening the eventual candidate, at worst, create enough infighting that the candidates would dig up enough bad press to tarnish public opinion about all of them. The plan was brilliant and it worked better than anyone could have predicted.

The argument I get is that no one would spend the money Trump has spent just to lose an election. This argument presupposes that the goal was just to lose. No. Trump’s goal was to have a president that would favor Trump with financial rewards through government contracts or relaxed regulations or fast-tracking certain permits needed for Trump’s projects. Can I name them? No, of course not. But by his own words, Trump has said many times that he backs candidates that benefit his businesses. As President, he cannot enact any regulations that benefit his businesses. It would be a conflict of interest. As a losing candidate, he is not limited by conflict of interest, nor is Hillary. She can help him all she wants.

I also doubt that Trump spent that much of his own money. Creative financing can hide DNC and corporate campaign contributions, not to mention the Clinton Foundation is rife with graft and corruption. Trump’s personal funds have not really been used as much as the media would have us believe.

Before anyone suggests that such a deal would have been uncovered by the news, let me tell you that the major media outlets are owned by the same corporations that are funding the campaigns. The media has a part to play in this sham of an election, a huge part. Their job is to distract the public and to direct their attention to minutia rather than focus on the real issues. The news (both network and cable) have done an admirable, if insidious, job of making the public feel like Trump is a real candidate and the people are eating it up. They trot out polls that show this candidate or that candidate as being in the lead among certain voters in certain locations in certain states. This practice effectively forces people to vote for the candidate in the lead, since no one wants to vote for a loser. The media is also in charge of redirecting attention away from Clinton’s scandals. If a republican had faced similar circumstances, the fact that the FBI refused to proffer charges against a presidential candidate charged with a felony would have dominated the news cycle as all of the media outlets dug down into the evidence themselves and then castigated the candidate in the court of public opinion. With Clinton, the media celebrated the news as a vindication of their favored client.

Anyone who has studied psychology, sociology, or media relations should recognize these tactics. I have studied all of them. Look at how the Clintons managed to dodge an indictment on the email scandal. The very fact that the director of the FBI issued a press conference to publish their findings was unusual and indicative of corruption, especially in light of the meeting between Bill Clinton and the head of the Department of Justice. Obama has done everything he can to stack the deck in Clinton’s favor, including the amnesty and relaxing of immigration rules so that non-citizens can vote for Hillary. With the death of Justice Scalia, if the Supreme Court has to decide the outcome of the election, the bench is now more left-leaning, giving the edge to Clinton.

Call me crazy, but unfortunately I am predicting a Clinton win in November, and not my some small margin. If Trump is still a candidate, he will be blown away. Even if every person in the country votes for him. The fix has been in since 2008. But don’t fret for the Donald. He will come out of his loss just fine with some lucrative contracts and business deals to ease the pain of losing the presidency.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics, Society

The Donald’s Big Move

In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, Trump has come out supporting a ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States. This plays to the justifiable fears of Americans who worry that Islamic extremism is coming to main street America. While—from a paranoid viewpoint—there is some merit to the idea, America has always been a nation of immigrants. Banning immigration goes against the very foundation of this country. Having said that, many people are attacking Trump for his position on Muslim immigration. One might even wonder how he could hope to remain a presidential candidate after saying something like that.

Now that the primary is getting near, more people are beginning to see the Donald for the whack that he is. This is not accidental. This is not even unexpected. It is planned. Trump’s bid for the republican nomination was never a serious bid for the presidency. Donald doesn’t really have ambitions for the White House. His primary mission, from day one, was to throw the republican party into disarray and to prevent them from rallying behind a serious candidate to challenge Hillary. His mission was to draw the GOP into following him, then to drop out at the last minute so that voters won’t have unity in the republican party, thus allowing Hillary to benefit from the fractured electorate. He will probably drop the GOP and run on the ticket as an independent.

It is a brilliant strategy. The Clintons are well known for brilliant strategies. It follows they masterminded this one, just like they masterminded Bernie Sanders’ vice-presidential bid. Sanders is not a presidential primary candidate. He is there merely to make it look like the DNC is taking the primary seriously. Hillary was promised the nomination in ’08, when she (not-so-graciously) bowed out of the primary for Obama. Sanders is her running mate.

The GOP needs to rally behind a real republican candidate now before the fractures get too big and the disenfranchised voters jump ship for an independent candidate, or worse, follow the Donald to an independent ticket.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics, Religion, Society

Culling the Herd

This blog has been silent of late, due, in no small measure to my own laziness, but also and more significantly by my ennui about all things political. Public reactions to the issues of the day and the coverage of the media have left me stunned silent and unable to articulate a response. I cannot grasp how an intelligent person can think the way that so many people seem to be thinking lately. I cannot follow how rational minds can accept the overreach of the judiciary and the executive branches of government without so much as an outcry about checks and balances. But before I go completely into rant mode, I do want to answer a political question my niece asked me in response to a comment I made on a friend’s Facebook post.

My pastor, Randy White, wrote a blog in which he analyzed the Fox news republican “debate.” I put that in quotes because it was not so much a debate as an attempt by Fox to rank the candidates. I won’t spell out Randy’s entire post here, but suffice to say he and I agreed on almost every point. This is a lot of why he has been my pastor for the past 9 years. He’s leaving the church now and I am very upset about it.

The debates are supposed to help the public find a candidate to support. This should allow the field of candidates be winnowed down to a reasonable number. We started the campaign season with a record seventeen republicans; too many to appear on one stage at the same time. Fox divided them up according to their polling numbers, which is no small statement about their viability as a candidate.

The candidates I feel have a shot:

Ted Cruz: He’s a long shot, but it is not outside the realm of possibility that he could pull off the nomination with some money and a good CM.

Mike Huckabee: One of the best speakers in the field. He communicates well and he has a lot of good ideas. His biggest weakness in the election is his strongest asset to his base: his faith. As an ordained minister, a lot of people are not comfortable with someone so strong in his faith leading the country, which is a shame. We need more like him.

Marco Rubio: Young, energetic and Latino. I differ from Randy on this one. The pundits like him and they love to categorize him as the republican’s best hope for relevance in the future. His youth may work against him unless he gets a crack team on his campaign. My biggest problem with him is his support for amnesty for illegal aliens.

Jeb Bush: Pros: Experience, name recognition, good speaker. Cons: Name recognition, waffler, past support for Planned Parenthood. I’m not a big fan of the younger Bush, and a lot of moderates are similarly unimpressed. Liberals will shut him down out of spite for GW’s administration. He has the best chance, however, of sustaining a campaign thanks to the established power base within the party.

Kasich: Was on the stage as a nod to Ohio only. He had some good responses to the questions he was soft-pitched, but he hasn’t spelled out his policy platform yet, aside from commenting on the media issues of immigration and abortion. He doesn’t have enough wide-spread support to maintain a campaign.

Rand Paul: The hothead. A lot of bluster and good interchange between him and Trump and Bush. Makes for good television, but that’s all he’s good for. He reminds me of the one guy hollering at the back of a crowd that desperately wants him to shut up, even if they know he’s right. I don’t see him riding it out until the end. He doesn’t have a presidential bearing.

Ben Carson: I loved his responses and I love his message. If no one had to actually hear him say it, he would go a long way. As it is, he looked unsteady on the stage, pale, almost sickly and tentative in his tone. He did not look presidential, even though he had some of the best things to say. If he gets an image consultant, he may last it out, otherwise not.

Donald Trump: I may be alone on this, but I hope not. Trump is NOT a republican candidate. Trump is on the Clinton campaign. His mission is to split the vote, and he is well on his way to doing so. Allow me to elucidate.

The current Democratic Party contest consists of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders is an admitted socialist running as a democrat (semantics, I know, since they have become one and the same) and not a genuine candidate. The party just has to have someone else to look like they are having a real primary since they have no incumbent. Hillary took a dive in ’08 so the party could elect the first black president in history with a proviso that she would be the candidate in ’16. There will be no other viable candidate on the democratic ticket unless Hillary gets convicted.

Now, the democrats are well aware that Obama has lost a lot of the moderate and independent voters that helped get him into office. Since those voters are up in the air, the only way to ensure Hillary gets elected is to prevent those independent and moderate voters from voting republican. The best way to do that is to give them an alternative: enter Donald Trump. Trump is spouting the republican battle cry like a seasoned general—almost like he actually believes it. Heck, I like what he’s saying. I agree with most of what he is saying. The problem is that I don’t think he actually believes what he is saying.

He won’t get the nomination. He will announce as an independent. He will do his best to keep the support he drums up through the republican primary, thereby weakening the republican candidate’s support. If you do not want Hillary in the Whitehouse, do not support Trump.

The second tier candidates had a mini debate before the main show and none of those are likely to survive the first wave of cuts. Rick Perry’s campaign is already on the rocks financially. Fiorina has a lot going for her if she can get more exposure. If she can get her numbers up, she may ride it out. My biggest problem with her is her support of abortion as a “women’s health” issue. You will find that she won’t tow the party line on abortion and she will probably duck the issue the whole way through the campaign. I anticipate the campaign will be narrowed to ten before Thanksgiving, and four or five by Caucus time.

It is too early to pick a candidate now, however. Always use the whole primary period to research all the candidates and when voting time comes, then make your decision. Please do NOT rely solely on the media for this information. It would be akin to buying a car solely on the salesman’s pitch. Look the information up yourself.

Happy voting.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics, Society

Pitching the Vote

As we head into the big election week for the congressional midterms, the media is all aflutter trying to predict the outcome well in advance of actual voting. This is ostensibly in keeping with a trend of trying to be the first media outlet to accurately announce the winners. I think it is more than that, however. I believe that the media—ever so left leaning—is trying to use the cover of prognostication to actually effect the election results.

It is human nature to want to be on the winning side in any contest. No one wishes to be associated with a losing team, or losing effort, and those who find themselves in this unenviable position often try to distance themselves from the team to avoid embarrassment. If a candidate is predicted to win, this prediction may actually swing undecided voters to support the candidate based on their chances of winning, rather than voting for a candidate that more closely aligns with the voter’s ideology.  No one wants to vote for the losing side.

Look for numerous ads paid for by campaigns and political action committees designed to sway voters, but also, be on the lookout for articles run in newspapers, magazines and on TV that ostensibly are trying to cover the race, but are actually casting one side or another in a negative light—even if it is only saying something banal such as “this campaign is struggling with funding” or “this campaign is x number of points down in polls.” Those supposed news stories are nothing more than attempts to get voters to vote against those campaigns by painting them as losing propositions.

Also, look for stories that tout as successes that which has previously been panned as failure. An article on Yahoo from Business Insider this morning praised the successes of Obama Care even though it is pretty much recognized as an abysmal failure by both parties. The article says that it is a success because more people have insurance than had it before. It doesn’t mention any of the controversial issues that have arisen from the measure.

The most egregious issue with campaign ads are the blatant lies and obfuscations that campaigns issue during the elections. One candidate has taken an opponent’s words on abortion out of context to make it appear as if he supports rape. Ridiculous. Another ad for another candidate tries to intimate that the opponent would be a bad representative because he made millions as an insurance salesman. I’m sorry, but I think a person who earns millions of dollars in their job is a success and would probably make a pretty good representative. If he were running in my district, I’d vote for him.

People have been calling for campaign reforms for decades. Unfortunately, this will never happen. The first amendment provides for free speech and, aside from some case law that prohibits out-and-out lying, a candidate can say pretty much whatever they want in an advertisement and can buy as much air time as they can afford. What this means for you and me is that we get deluged in political advertising from TV, radio, internet, mail, email, and even phone calls from all directions until election day filled with some of the most inflammatory statements of dubious veracity ever imagined.

I would love to recommend a law prohibiting such commercials, but again, it is provided in the first amendment and I am an unrepentant supporter of the constitution and the bill of rights. The only way to combat this onslaught of lies is through education. Research the candidates and find out through their voting record what is fact and what is fiction. Caveat emptor applies to the electorate. Do not blindly accept the advertisements of political candidates any more than you would blindly accept a salesman’s pitch. But also, do not listen to the news media telling you who will win. You determine who will win only when you vote.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics, Society

One Land, Separate Ideals

America has never been so polarized, so divided or so fractured—or so says the media. Many pundits and analysts have offered observations and predictions based on this perceived dichotomy that is American society. Red states and blue states, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and republicans and other designations are the rally points for differing ideologies across the nation. Issues from immigration to gay marriage, from education to health care, and from foreign policy to domestic issues are driving the debates that separate the nation. Many people wonder why America has come to these crossroads especially given the advent of the Internet and the social media that was expected to unite everyone in the utopia that is instant connectivity of shared ideas. This is not just a fallacy; it is exactly the opposite of what is happening. The Internet is actually the tool that is dividing us.

idealpqThe mainstream media, ostensibly a long-time proponent of free interchange of ideas, touted web 2.0 tools such as Twitter and Facebook for their role in the 2010 Arab spring uprisings in the Middle East, which was expected to foster democratic movements in those countries. The ability to reach out and contact so many people at once is supposed to have been the cause for so many people coming together in such short order to force the revolutions and ouster of the supposed dictators of those countries.

While that may be true (and we have yet to see those Arab Spring revolutions foster democracy in any of those countries) the ability to communicate with so many instantaneously is also fraught with peril. The Internet is worldwide, to be sure. But in this wonderful wide world, there has long been a collection of disparate, different and dissonant societies, many of which who cannot tolerate those that are different. They have existed on the same ball of dirt simply because of the distance that separates them. Now that the Internet has removed that distance, those conflicting ideas ignite into hostility.

This is observable in America as well. The map of the United States shows how the divisions play out. People tend to cluster around like-minded people. This is how communities began. This is how the colonies got their starts in the 1700s. People gathered around those with whom they could identify; typically people of the same nationalities and ethnicities held the same beliefs systems. Thus the community prospered with minimal ideological conflict and churches fostered and nurtured the community.

With the advent of technology, people began travelling to other communities and clustering in cities and in those groupings, nationality and ideology were pushed aside for economic development and prosperity. But the stressors of ethnicity began a slow boil that eventually erupted into the civil rights movement. People of different ethnicities and nationalities began to bicker and fight. Legislation may have quelled the worst of it, but even today different ideologies thrust together into common geographic space breed hostility.

At the foundation of our nation, literacy was not commonplace. Only a few learned individuals possessed the tools and skills to communicate to the masses effectively. In those days, “the masses” was defined by those who gathered around the public square. Again, in those days, the public square was in a community of like-minded people with shared nationality and ethnicity and ideology. Today, anyone can say anything to anybody at anytime. Instant public speech is possible with a world-wide audience.

In England, the people were forbidden to speak out against the government. One of the founding principles of American government was the freedom to speak out against the government without fear of reprisals. It is inscribed in the first Amendment along with a line about how the government cannot dictate how individuals practice their religious beliefs. This freedom has been bastardized by those who think that it allows anyone to say absolutely anything they desire. This is not true. It just means one cannot be arrested for it. Many people have found out through lost jobs and lost relationships that speaking one’s mind on the internet can have consequences.

A teacher posted a picture in which she enjoys an adult beverage while on vacation. Her school terminated her for the posting. A healthcare worker posted a comment in which she advocated mass murder for criminals rioting in Ferguson Missouri. She was terminated by the hospital that employed her. A college professor was fired after joking on a Facebook post about hiring a hit man. Many celebrities have been called to task when they make comments that are picked up in the media and broadcast. Public outcry resulted in the forced sale of the L.A. Clippers after the owner made private comments that were made public by someone else.

In many of these cases, advocates claim these people should be protected by the first amendment for free speech. Again, none of these people have been arrested for their statements. None are facing federal charges. The first amendment is working in these cases. It is other people who are squelching the principle of free speech.

This is because people are communicating—albeit inadvertently—with a global audience and not a local community of like-minded people. A statement decrying abortion would gather great support in a small community where everyone shared nationality, ethnicity and ideology. Make the same statement on the Internet and it is likely to be met with hatred, vitriol and threats of violence.

Human beings are not the same. We still have unique nationalities, ethnicities and ideologies and many of these are incompatible with others. The crisis is the middle east is a glowing example. Ideologues from Palestine cannot abide the existence of an Israeli state and no amount of negotiation can change that. Radical Muslims will never accept any other religion and will always refer to any non-Muslim as “Infidel” and declare a Jihad to kill them.

Democrats and Republicans have different beliefs of the role of government. These differences are fundamental. The only way both can exist in governing is to be willing to surrender some of the ideals in order to achieve a greater good. This idea sounds great in theory, but those who are steadfast in their beliefs cannot abide surrender and they have the support of like-minded community members who rally around them shouting and holding signs. These people look crazy to the members of the opposing community who also rally together and try to shout down the opposition. This is where the dichotomy breeds and it is nowhere more apparent than on the internet.

We are products of our communities; we develop ideals based on interactions with those around us. The “Global Community” is a dream that cannot be realized because of the vast differences that exist between nations, ethnicities and ideologies. Perhaps in a century, if all national borders are eradicated and all ethnicities have blended into a homogenous amalgam of humanity, we might be close to a universal ideology. But don’t count on it. I, for one, would not want to live in such a world. And many in my community agree with me.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Media, Politics, Society, Technology

If It Ain’t Broke…

Reform is a word that has long been the bitter pill of society and politics.  It has three forms: verb, noun and adjective and how it is used makes a bit of difference.  In its verb form, it means to “make changes in something (typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.”  The very concept is based on the need to change something, which is predicated upon the idea that something is substandard or needs to be improved.  There are two camps in the change debate: those who think that everything can be and should be constantly improved and those who subscribe to the maxim “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Given these competing notions, the real question seems to be how one decides what needs to be reformed, what would constitute improvement and more importantly how should the improvements be implemented.
In the health care debate, people from across the political spectrum uniformly acknowledged that the system was far from perfect and that improvement was necessary.  The debate ignited over what the reformed system would look like.  Unfortunately for most Americans, the democrats put forth a plan that was impractical and based on the incorrect assumption that health care is a right afforded by the constitution.  They refused to enter into discussions of any plan that did not provide coverage for every person regardless of ability to pay.  This is indicative of the real problem with reform.  The democrats had a different idea of reform than the republicans.
In the immigration debate, again the democrats and republicans are looking at the issue for different perspectives.  Both parties acknowledge that the current system is ineffective and inefficient and needs to be overhauled.  The difference is that democrats seem to think that anyone who wishes to live in our great nation should be able to do so with no barriers or borders while republicans want to maintain border security.
In the great Cohen brothers’ film “O Brother Where Art Thou?” Charles Durning is running for reelection and bemoaning the success of his opponent’s reform platform.  One of his campaign managers suggests that he “get some of that reform too.”  The media loves reform.  Society screams for reform, particularly when the incumbent administration is unpopular.  But as we learned with Obama’s “Hope and Change” reform platform in ’08, reform only works when there is a logical and well-considered plan for what needs to be changed and how it should be changed.  Without specific steps in an organized plan, reform may only serve to make matters worse, or possibly bring things to a grinding halt as we have seen in this administration.
These are not novel ideas.  They are an integral part of project management, one of the most besought careers today.  Problem analysis is supposed to lead to a project roadmap that leads to specific outcomes that can be measured.  The plan is supposed to be considered, tested and approved before implementation.  Unfortunately, nothing that has come out of the current administration or the senate has passed these simple steps.  When the house tries to slow things down in order to test the plans and consider them, they are accused of stone-walling and being obstructionists.
Why the rush?  Obama wants his legacy.  He wants to go down in the history books not only as the first black president, but also as the one who made universal health care and immigration reform realities and the democrat-controlled senate is lock-step behind him.  What we should see in government is open public discourse of the issues before they are enacted.  Whatever plans the house or senate develop should be published for public review before voting.  We cannot tolerate “we have to pass this bill in order to see what’s in it” rhetoric.
When we change things without due and proper consideration, we risk creating a whole slew of new problems that could be worse that the problem they were expected to fix.  Imagine dealing with the problem of icy bridges and overpasses.  The ice is slippery and creates a lack of traction for cars that drive over.  The fix?  Put down something that creates traction.  Gravel.  Gravel would be good.  But suppose that no one considered what size gravel to use.  Or how much.  Now there is the new problem of oversized gravel being flung by the tires and breaking windshields.
Change for the sake of change is not a good thing and should be avoided like the plague.  While I am solidly in the “if it ain’t broke” camp, I do admit that health care and immigration are two broken systems.  But I advocate for a slower more thoughtful consideration of both problems before rushing to implement “fixes” that can cause more harm than good as we are seeing with the healthcare law.

1 Comment

Filed under Media, Politics, Society

Citizen Who?

There is an important discussion in progress that promises to inform the debate and be a hinge pin in the midterm elections next year continuing to the presidential elections in 2016.  Immigration reform has been a topic in the public sphere for several years now, decades, even, but no one has really driven the issue to the forefront until this administration.  The left has been crying over what they perceive as a wrong that needs to be righted while the right decries the move as nothing more than an attempt to drum up more democrat-leaning voters.  While there are salient arguments to be made both ways, the underlying issue has nothing really to do with immigration or reform.  It has to do with something much more fundamental and much more important to the American way of life.  It has to do with rights and responsibilities.  It has to do with the foundational tenants of political affiliation.  It has to do with what it means to be American.  It boils down to one word: Citizen.

The Seattle Office of Civil Rights last week issued a policy letter to the city workers striking the word citizen from all official documents and replacing with the word with “resident.”  They claimed that the word “citizen” was offensive to residents who were living there without citizenship.  This is part of a larger language guidance that removes the words dinosaur and birthday among many others from official documents for the same “offensive” concern.  This is the most egregious case of political correctness run amuck to date.

The Eugene, Oregon city council in 2011 voted down a measure that called for reciting the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of all council meetings.  While many opponents claimed the words “Under God” violated their understanding of the separation of church and state, Councilman George Brown said that said that he did not feel any allegiance to the country, but rather to the world.

Is a citizen an integral component of controlling government, or does government exist to control the citizen?  This begs the question: what does it mean to be a citizen?  If you ask the average person on the street you might get answers like “to be born in the country” or “someone who pays taxes.”  These seem like good answers on the surface, but that is the point.  They are superficial.  They are easy to spit out and don’t require any thought.  But if you look deeper, there is a significant difference to how the word can be defined, and that difference, not surprisingly, can be drawn along the same ideological differences that separate liberals and conservatives.  Liberals tend to think that the citizen gives the government a reason for being; the citizen is dependent on the government for guidance and support.  Conservatives view citizenship as a duty to the greater good; that the citizen guides and supports the government.

This dichotomy is why compromise seems so hard to come by in politics.  The force behind any change in legislation is fundamentally opposed by the opposite corner.  When a politician from one side of the aisle reaches across to work with the other camp, they are accused of “selling out” and abandoning their principles.  This idea, while often harshly stated, is not far from true, but that is the definition of compromise.  No one wins the debate.  And as is true in so many polemic debates, there can be no clear winner.

So who wins in the citizenship debate?  Is a citizen an integral component of controlling government, or does government exist to control the citizen?  That is the idea that really drives the political debate and will continue to do so for as long as we have participatory government.  Once we lose the ability to debate, we have lost our government, our country and ourselves.  We would be a country of nothing but residents and no citizens.

Some conspiracy theorists have postulated that the Seattle initiative is related to the immigration reform “amnesty” that is before congress.  The thought is that if Americans come to believe that there is no such thing as citizenship, then “THEY” can come in and take over our country.  The “THEY” being socialists, communists or any other nondescript non-American entity.  While entertaining to consider, most people dismiss these allegations as extreme.  But as entertaining as it is, these theories are borne out of observation of real events and they are not all so farfetched as to be ignored.  The founding fathers warned that freedom requires diligence on the part of the citizen in watching the government, lest the freedoms so fiercely fought for would be willingly surrendered.  It would be so much easier to take the freedoms from residents than from citizens.

8 Comments

Filed under Politics, Religion, Society, Uncategorized

Throwing The Vote Away

Politics in this country have always been divisive and contentious.  Who one votes for can be a big part of one’s identity.  With the presidential elections only two months away, there is a lot of discussion on who will win, and by extension who people will vote for.  Some people are fed up with the current administration and want someone–anyone else.  Some are still quite enamoured of the incumbent and wish his to remain for four more years.  Some are very supportive of the challenger and wish him to take over.  There are those, however, who claim total disillusionment with the two-party system, the electoral process and the system of government.  Some of these individuals are choosing not to vote or to write in a candidate.  This is wrong on so many levels: it perpetuates the current system that is causing their disillusionment, it risks keeping an official in power who is the cause of disappointment, and it only feeds more dissatisfaction and frustration.
The reason we have elections every four years is to ensure we have fresh ideas in the white house, new perspectives to tackle our problems and to ensure that one person cannot build an intractable power base in the federal government.  The founding fathers wanted to avoid having a king in charge of the united states, and created the position of president with the limitations in place strictly to avoid that possibility.  The person we elect to the office is limited to two terms, and has to be reelected to the second term by running against and defeating a challenger.  If he cannot defeat the challenger, he only gets one term.
This is how the American people ensure we don’t have to settle for incompetent leadership.  If an elected official fails at the job they were elected to do, they don’t get a second term.  It is a simple system.  The elected work for the people, and this is how the people can fire the incompetent.
The vote has two functions.  By casting a vote for a candidate, a voter is expressing support for that candidate, while at the same time expressing disdain for the opponent.  If a third party is in the mix, the vote becomes muddied.  A vote for one candidate is a vote against the other two.  But suppose that of the three candidates, one is favored, one is a long shot and one is a contender.  The third candidate may have a serious chance of winning, except that the vote that may have put him over the top went, instead, to the long shot candidate, thus giving the victory to the first candidate.
A write in candidate rarely wins an election.  There have been write in campaigns that were organized when a potential candidate couldn’t get on the ballot for some reason.  Some of these candidates did indeed win, but most of these cases were for primary elections and senate races; never for the presidency.  Even a write-in candidate has to have the most votes.  Those that win still campaigned, getting the word out to the electorate to write their name in the ballot.  Casting your vote for a write-in candidate that no one else is voting for is throwing your vote away.  It is taking the five dollars your mom gave you for school lunch for the week and giving it away because Monday’s menu was unappealing, then wondering why you can’t eat lunch for the rest of the week.
Skipping the election is no answer either.  Refusing to vote simply perpetuates a frustrating system.  The only way to change an administration is to vote against it every chance one gets.  The country is filled with people who are fed up with the government, but who refuse to participate in it.  The government is not some foreign entity, some untouchable authority with absolute control over the citizenry.  The government derives it power from the governed.  They exist because we put them there.  If we don’t like the job they’re doing, only we can get them out.  We do this at the voting booth.
I am no fan of Obama.  I didn’t like his candidacy four years ago and nothing has happened in the past three-and-a-half years to change my mind.  In fact, my opinion has only solidified.  Obama is bad for this country.  He cannot be allowed four more years to inflict even more damage on the constitution and the well-being of this country.  He must be defeated in November and the only way to do this is to vote for his opponent.  Some would call this choosing the lesser of two evils, and that might be an apt comparison.
Mitt Romney is not my first choice for the presidency.  He is not a perfect candidate and while I do agree with a lot of what he stands for, I disagree with several of his platform planks.  But I am voting for him for the simple reason that he is running against Obama and I would vote for a monkey on a rock before I would vote for Obama.  But a vote against Obama is not enough.  If I voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, I would just be giving the victory to Obama.  Johnson has zero chance of winning the presidency.  Ralph Nader has zero chance.  Ron Paul has zero chance.  The only way I can effect change in politics is to vote for a candidate that can displace the incumbent.  The only way I can try to get rid of Obama is to vote for Mitt Romney.  Writing in my uncle’s name on the ballot will not do that.  Refusing to vote will not do that.
We rarely get the perfect candidate that we want.  We have to select the candidate that most closely reflects our personal values and will provide the leadership that is closest in line with our vision for the future.  If neither candidate provides that, select the one that comes closest.  Vote in November; but vote smart.  Make it count for something.  Don’t throw it away in protest.

10 Comments

Filed under Media, Politics, Society