13 November 2016

The Hangover- 2016 Presidential Election Analysis.

The Hangover

Please note.  This is not a sour grapes post, meant to be incendiary or otherwise agitating.  I am not looking for a fight, however I wouldn’t be opposed to any proactive debates.  I know some think that the time to be civil is over, to which I suggest going back to your own little world and continue thinking that you are always right, there is nothing wrong with you, and you should never challenge your own views. 
After the appalling display from some this week on both sides, I would advise against reading this if you are feeling overly emotional about the results of the 2016 presidential election.  I am not hardwired for emotional sensitivity and my form of empathy comes from wanting to understand problems and look for solutions.  My brain loves to analyze the way people make decisions, and this is my theory on what the hell happened.
I also will let you know that I attempted a more subjective approach this time around.  I realize that at nearly 5000 words, this is a long one.  I don’t address every single issue in this post, and if you are curious to what my particular stance is on any issue, please feel free to ask in the comments.  Because my intention is not to be upsetting, I would appreciate NOT sharing this post over social media, at least until the dust settles.  I’m not in the business of telling people what to think, and in a subjective approach, I am merely stating what I think. In all active political debates, I have tried to remain respectful, even when not treated with respect, this is not the place I will be.
Part One: Pregame: The evil of two lessers.
Monday came, and I had election fever.  I kept seeing Hitler posts.  Email posts.  Dead people in Benghazi posts, Concentration Camp posts, the dead Syrian child posts.  I was engulfed in the frenzy.  It is easy to forget that I cannot recall a time in my life where an election affected my life in one way or another, but I can always count on the media to get a good panic going.  I consider the above a privilege and a blessing, and not really a blanket statement that can be applied to all Americans.  However, this one was different.  People had legitimate concerns about the two candidates and it seemed that no one was willing to stop inciting destructive rhetoric.  I felt overwhelmed.  I took a deep breath, and posted what I believed was the case, and will always be the case.  In case you missed it...
One thing to remember, America has never been nor will be great because of its government.
It is and always will be great because of its people.
The people demanded every major change that has made this a more perfect union.
Government, by definition of necessity is the last stand for the status quo. It needs to be. We just need to demand that it be better than what we are getting.
I have done my fair share of griping about the shitshow tomorrow, but all in all, I haven't really been demanding better than what we have been getting. I hope this is a wake-up call that we need to be more active in what we want from our leaders.
Regardless of what affiliation you belong to, if you hate what we have to do, remember that we can discuss Caitlin Jenner, Kanye vs Taylor, and all the other bullshit that doesn't matter in the long run, but until we demand more from our press, our leaders, and our media, be prepared for more nasty elections that feel like a hyperbolic metaphor of wrestlers talking to each other.

The Monday before the election, a very good friend of mine sent me a private conversation making the case to consider changing my vote using an argument that appealed to my reason and not my emotions.  If you want to get something done with me, you would know that I prefer a rational approach and would more sincerely consider that over a push towards the feels.  I don’t trust my emotions and prefer to keep myself on neutral ground.
My vote was since the nomination of the two candidates going to Gary Johnson.  Someone whom I agreed with 81% on the issues, more than the two major parties, 39% Trump (Some economic issues, Reducing involvement in the UN and NATO), and 31% Clinton (Social issues/ I actually believe in climate change, but disagree with the Democrat’s proposed solutions.)  However, I did not want Trump, and I certainly did not want Pence.  
I am a registered Republican.  I typically vote on economic issues because I don’t think that Congress has the backbone to actually do anything at all about social issues, and will defer to the Supreme Court because they don’t twitter and equally important, don’t have to face reelection.  This is critical in my thinking.  I have a hard time sleeping.  I didn’t think Hillary was going to beat Trump (Something I had said during the election, despite hearing about Polls and double digit leads and red states turning blue.)  I didn’t particularly care for her as a candidate or as a person, but more so, I thought at best case scenario, she would be the typical politician, pass a couple of watered down earmarked bills, not really enact any sort of change, and ensure the protections recently granted for gay people, something I strongly believe in.  Basically, a continuation of the last 16 years, probably longer, though my activity and objectivity were fledgling before that.
Part Two: Beer, now there’s a temporary solution.
Tuesday morning, I wake up.  I get Olive ready for school, and we leave to go to the polls before she goes to school and me to work.  It was a bitter ass cold day, much like the one she was born on 5 years ago today.  There is hardly a line, and I am at the polls in about 5 minutes, mostly because they struggle to spell my last name and find me in the books. 
I’m taken over to the polling station by a very friendly man, and put next to a woman with 2 daughters, as well as Olivia staying behind me, messing around on my phone.
I’m proud to say that I’ve never voted straight party in my entire life.  This year would go the same.  But, the first question was President of the United States.  It was not the thing I was looking forward to.  United States Senator, yes, but President.  Being a nonconformist, I first picked Pat Toomey for Senator.  He was the main reason I was showing up at all, plus a former client of mine was running for state senator and I wanted to support him.
But the first screen is always the hardest.  It lures me in with the straight party option, of which I always ignore, but the presidency is hard.  I think of myself and what my values are, what my opinions are about how things should run, and where I would like to see the country go.  I select Gary Johnson.  It’s my brain saying that I should support the candidate I believe in, even if he wasn’t going to win.  Olivia is behind me and I don’t hear the Barbie Magic Makeup game going on.  I panic, and I look behind me and she’s already moved on.  I see the woman with two kids.  I unselect Gary Johnson, and I vote for Hillary Clinton.  I felt like I was in a teachable moment, and I wanted to find which lesson it was that I was trying to teach myself and my daughter.
After the drama of the first screen, I make considerably easier decisions.  Republican for Auditor General, Democrat for Treasurer, Constitution for State Senator.  I pretty much voted across the board.  I actually like gridlock and people forced to work together.  I feel when I’m optimistic about politics, the best work gets done because everything and everyone is in check.  Though, if memory serves me correctly, the past elections there has been a lot of gridlock and bullheadedness.  Sometime, maybe even always, politics became less about leadership and ideas and more a game or team sport, obsessed with winning on its own team’s goals.  That works in branding, but not in a country that is diverse, and certainly not one that is divided.
I get my confirmation, and I get the hell out of there.  I stop at Rite Aid where I parked and get a soda for my lunch.  I feel physically ill.  Liv and I get in the car, and in her own way, she can tell that I’m a man unhinged.  She asks me what’s making me sad.  I tell her that I made a difficult decision.  She asks “is this about the election?”
“Yes” I tell her.  “Daddy is feeling conflicted about his vote, and I don’t know what to think.”
“Did you vote for Gary Johnson?”
“No.  I voted for Hillary Clinton.”
“Why did you change your mind?”
“Because Daddy knew that Gary Johnson wasn’t going to win.  Remember when Daddy ran the store?”
“Well, when daddy ran the store, he had to hire people.  The election is similar to that.  We hire who is going to be in charge of important jobs in our country.  One thing Daddy had to do is hire people he didn’t agree with, and didn’t agree with me.  It wasn’t that they were bad people, but I have my own priorities.  This election, the person who best met my priorities was Gary Johnson.  However, Gary Johnson was not going to win.  I don’t like Donald Trump, as you know.  I don’t like Hillary Clinton either. However, Daddy recognizes that Ms. Clinton would more likely be a better president than Donald Trump, and possibly Gary Johnson.  Sometimes, when you grow up, you have to recognize that you aren’t going to get along with everyone, but you need to make decisions based on who is right for the job.”
“Okay.  Can I have your phone?”
In my mind, I justified my action.  I am in a battleground state, even though PA always goes blue and it is a fool’s errand to try to go red.  My head is killing me, and I went through feeling some sort of shame for selling out at the last minute to the candidate that I related to the least.  I remember when the primaries and debates started, and I said good thing for me is that there are literally only 2 people I would never vote for.  Her and Trump. 
But here I was, voting for someone who I didn’t like, didn’t trust, and didn’t relate to.  Furthermore, in one of the great missteps of all time, she did not bother to reach out to center right republicans who were freaked the hell out by Trump.  More on that later.
I am looking at the clock, feeling the tensions rise, and anxiously awaiting a drink or 6.  I proceed to have said drink, and I look at the flatscreen and see that DT was in the lead, but more importantly, he was winning Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and New Hampshire, and end up going to my buddie’s house to watch Tombstone which is an awesome movie that I almost always forget how much I love it.  We go back to the polls and it doesn’t look good for Clinton.  I’m drunk at this point.  I get choked up, thinking that Trump was going to be president.  I feel the shame again for voting for Clinton, and selling out, but I was concerned about the world and for friends and family. 
Then, by a sheer stroke of randomness, I see that one of my favorite movies was on, and frequent reference to most political conversations I have, Richard Pryor’s masterful Brewster’s Millions.  I watch and sober up, as it finishes, the election is called for Trump.  I head home after a cigarette. 
I woke up for work, left in enough time to get a red bull and went to work.  Trying to figure out why this happened.  I started listing reasons in my head. And outloud, dropping F bombs left and right.  I was pretty angry.  Mercifully, I took a break from social media, because I didn’t want to see it.  But I was curious.  I got to work, did my job, and went out for my break.  It was a bitter ass cold day, and none of my smoker buddies were outside, so I went on Facebook.
I was fucking appalled.
Here it was, grown ass adults, acting like children.  It didn’t matter which side you were on.  I thought that people would be mad, or whatever, but this was a full grown panic.  Riots.  People being outlandish dicks to other people.  I expected people to be disappointed, I expected some gloating.  However, this was different.  This was special, especially considering most people on either side of the fence wanted someone different in the semifinals. 
I started thinking of my election analysis that I do for every presidential election, and trying to figure things out.  My conclusions are to be as followed.
Part 3 – The Hangover
How the hell did she lose to him?
That was the first question I asked.  For someone who billed themselves as a Washington professional, she sure didn’t know shit about running a campaign, which is doubly awful because she also ran before for the office and lost, she barely campaigned.  If there is a silver lining to all of this, she spent nearly double, raised nearly double and still lost.  I guess you can’t buy an election after all.
One of my criticisms of her, when I was making my blanket statement stating that I will not vote for him or her, was that she often felt disingenuous when discussing issues.  Which is strange because most of those issues are her taking what essentially is her party’s position.  It is true that Bernie Sanders pushed her left, and it was obvious that was not her comfort zone.
I can see that her defeat was clearly a matter of missteps.  She had the possibility of turning some red states blue, but the opposite happened.  In some ways, that was what I was expecting to happen towards the end.  Though, certain things were bothering me.  Essentially, I was expecting her to court conservatives whom were not thrilled with their nominee.  She is essentially a conservative when it comes to trade.  She was for, then against, then for again the TPP.  It would be obvious that she was going to have to defend NAFTA, when free trade is a traditionally republican stance.  She did not.
The essential argument that remained at the end of the election was Trump was a racist and sexist, and she was not, well, at least not anymore.  She did not do press conferences, which I found strange because essentially the press was doing her dirty work for her at this point, and she assumed she was going to win.  That brings me to the 800lb. gorilla.
Why I think Trump won.
Wednesday morning, I felt like I was drunk on bullshit, and all my medias were spinning.  What an embarrassing loss.  Was America a racist country?  I started forming my ideas on what happened.  The courting of frustrated republicans like myself was the key that would unlock what I felt was basically the surprise of my life.  I don’t think it would have been possible if I didn’t change my mind and vote for her.  If I would have voted for Johnson, my conscience would have been clear, but I was interested in finding out why my emotions were so high that I betrayed my conscience and what I believe is right. 
I made a decision for my daughter, for an ill-informed reason.  The birther thing, the white supremacists supporting this man, the sexist comments (of which I feel there still is not a good excuse for), I realized that I found him so dislikable that I barely put myself in a position to accurately judge this person, and did not research his stances, his character outside of media spin, and essentially look for enough outside complete talks or assume that the messages have been presented unaltered.
The thing is, I am a big fan of context.  I believe that the media commonly attempts to manipulate us.  This is important for a later point.  Things that would have been obvious to me were so rare, and I believe that there was a larger, bigger attempt in spreading the salacious and the scandalous nature of our opponents.  More people were spreading articles about Nazi’s.  Nazi’s.  Saying we were at America’s critical point and juncture, and this would be a time for I say, to take out the trash.
I was saying that the Republican Party, of which I am a member was doing the things that I hate more than anything.  It was being exclusive, not inclusive.  It was promoting rampant homophobia.  Then, there is Mike Pence, human nightmare (a position I still hold to this day.)
The thing is, was Trump really racist?  Or was this simply a maneuver that did not work well in 2008.  Was Trump homophobic?  Then I started to try to look at things objectively.  Donald Trump polled the worst with Evangelicals, similar to Mitt Romney.  It was clear that the Evangelicals wanted Ted Cruz, judging by the numbers.  The Evangelicals want a blatant Theocrat, and when Romney picked Paul Ryan as a running mate, the evangelicals pretty much jumped ship and did not show up.  RINOs don’t get the votes.  I disagree the most in party with people like that.  In this election cycle, it was not uncommon to hear an Evangelical say something like I hope that something happens to Trump so that Mike Pence can be president.  It is no secret that I disconnect with the Evangelicals in my party, despite being both Christian and Republican. 
Donald Trump won this election because he did exactly what I have wanted Republicans to do, run a campaign that was inclusive.  I know that isn’t the story that people expect, but objectively looking at the groups he targeted and campaigned to, he spent a great deal of his time in talking to groups that traditionally did not vote Republican.  He went to labor unions, he went to cities that always go blue from the city where I grew up, Erie, which hasn’t gone “red” in forever, to Detroit, one of the bluest cities in America.  He spoke to groups that were LGBTQ, proudly holding up the rainbow equality flag.  He even became the first republican presidential candidate to have an openly gay man speak at his convention, not only that, Peter Thiel was his keynote speaker.  Not only that, he went to Mexico.  It isn’t like Hillary Clinton went to a megachurch or an NRA meeting.  This being said, he did not make the fatal mistake of not choosing someone that the Evangelical’s wanted when you are not that person, so he did not abandon a large part of the party, and it worked.  More minority groups voted for Trump than any Republican candidate since Reagan.  I started to think that I probably should have voted for him. 
Given the current climate, I realize that it is not a popular opinion, however realizing that he did what I have been begging Republicans to do, I really should have been more objective and open minded; which something I particularly dislike about both political parties, there are no open minds, objectivity, or attempts at unity.  In the long run, my vote for Clinton didn’t really matter.  I made the decision on behalf of my daughter.  If anything, I try to be a good father, and it wasn’t like he made the choice easy.  He said some and has allegations of doing some awful stuff, in particular about women.  He was and probably still is a pig. Granted, that has never been a point in particular that I ever voted on, and I assume comes with the territory.  I can’t get too upset about disrespect to women when the opposition is married to a guy who put a cigar in a woman’s vagina, and then was impeached partially for perjury and obstruction of justice in a sexual harassment lawsuit.  I understand that her marriage is clearly not a traditional one.  I would still vote for Kennedy, and I would consider voting for FDR, although I don’t particularly know much about his opposition, like I do about Nixon.  I would still vote for Clinton over Dole, and I am too young to remember the particulars of the 92 election and the presidency of George HW Bush.  I realize that I focused on sex scandals of Democratic Presidents, as it turns out, I don’t know of Republican presidential sex scandals.  Theirs usually involve corruption and power, such as Iran Contra, Halliburton, etc.  Those are usually a higher probability of shifting my vote.
I realize that is a bit controversial, but then goes the issue of racism.  As the above link to the 2008 article from the Huffington Post, it was obvious that Hillary would have to turn the story about Republican racism.  Racist groups were given a megaphone and complied with the orders of being repulsive.  However, Trump never addressed it, as they said.  However, it was CNN and ABC validating and normalizing hate groups.  Which wasn’t that hard to find when you had the primary opposing party candidates being a New York City Liberal woman and a Jewish Socialist in an era where we have to be reminded that Black Lives Matter.  Of course they would be out in large numbers. 
While I agree that Stop and Frisk was a big reason to not vote for him, considering I am not into illegal search and seizure, the constitution does matter to me, I also have concerns that communities have issues with crime.  Ultimately, the murder toll in Chicago is reason enough we really need to assess what we are willing to allow in the country.  I don’t think the answer is easy, and I don’t know what it is.  When crime rates are high, it creates awful conditions for education, which leads to more crime.  I don’t know what the answer is.  I do however, like his inner city career training, job programs, and policy of Law and Order. 
To continue the racist claims, some of which are warranted, and some of which are not, comes to immigration.  I see in the past few days that he is going to continue President Obama’s policy of deporting any undocumented immigrant that is found guilty of a crime.  I agree with that policy, and I believe that it is correct.  Deportation is one of two ethical choices, amnesty being the other.  What is unethical is what has been the case for a very long time, being under President Bush or President Obama, which is to not  vote on one or the other, and continue to allow people to live as phantoms only to be exploited.  I see the argument to both, but unfortunately, it isn’t politically expedient to vote on those solutions.  While some hold the broken promise to establish citizenship, or a path to citizenship, Hillary didn’t say amnesty, and Trump said deportation, I at least admire for making a decision on policy.
The Reconciliation.
Regardless of this, going on 4000 words here.  I am not thrilled about President Trump, even though I feel like I did not accurately judge him, but I appreciate what I did not even realize what was going on.  I remain cautiously optimistic on further investigation.  The fact remains, I’m a progressive Libertarian like Gary Johnson.  I believe in focusing on our nation, not getting involved in wars, protecting civil liberties, and defending all parts of the constitution.
In further exploring what I believe to be the case, I sincerely hope that President Trump is better than Candidate Trump.  That his focus is truly making this country great again for all Americans.  I hope that he is successful.  The one thing that I am somewhat relieved about is that his presidency will be under a microscope.  As the press really did not do their jobs over Washington failure (both in the Executive and Legislative branches).  I for one am planning attempting to clean up my party, to call my senators and representatives.  You can do the same here.
From what I understand, email can be deleted, however phone calls cannot.
He has the potential to be disgraced or admired.  What he does now is out of my hands.  I hope that he is sincere about draining the swamp, and I certainly hope that he starts with McConnell and Ryan.  He took down 16 other republican candidates, some of whom I liked, some of whom I didn’t.  He took on the biggest political machine of all time who outraised and outspent him 2:1.  I hope that he is as smart as I am starting to think that he is. 
Going forward, things I would like to see:
1.       That he survives his entire term and Mike Pence never becomes president.
2.       That he stops saying stupid things about women.
3.       That he gets term limits for all elected officials, and implements the “No Compete” clause that elected official cannot work as a lobbyist or consultant for a foreign entity for life, and for a domestic firm for 5 years after leaving office.
4.       That he doesn’t get us involved in more wars.
5.       That his Supreme Court picks aren’t terrible.
6.       That he successfully renegotiates NAFTA and meets his campaign promise to withdraw from TPP
7.       That we have an overhaul of immigration and takes a model similar to that of Canada (which is pretty much his plan.)
8.       That he ends Off Shoring Act
9.       That he is successful with his repatriotizing plan.
10.   That he finds a way to deal with Ryan and McConnell.  It was criminal what those two did against President Obama.
11.   That he continues to practice inclusivity within the Republican Party
12.   That he is successful in amending or replacing the Affordable Care Act.
13.   That he pushes through his inner city development plan to improve education, career training, and jobs program.
14.   That he realizes that not all Democrat ideas are terrible, and works to push through some of their agenda as well. 
15.   That he realizes that he barely won, and he did because people are trusting him to do the job.
16.   That he works to end the influence and pettiness of partisanship, that no party has an exclusivity on good or bad ideas, and despite the claims of each other, no party is evil.
17.   That he does spend the money going to the UN Climate fund on environmental projects here, as well as rebuilds our water infrastructure. 
18.   That he does get his wish to rebuild infrastructure.
19.   That he gains the temperament and respect of the leader of the free world.  (Not holding my breath.)
20.   That he uses his salesmanship to get the best ideas.
Things I am going to do:
1.       Keep a watchful eye to make sure that civil liberties are not being violated.
2.       Be more involved in my senators and representatives lives.  Make phone calls, send emails.  Have a general idea of what is being voted on.
3.       Be sure to champion bipartisanship.  Make sure that I acknowledge democrat’s ideas that I believe in.  Look for common ground to rebuild after the nightmare that was.
4.       Be sure to call out republican obstructionism.  Encourage the common ground issues to build better relationships within.
5.       Thoroughly research candidates. 
6.       Call out biased reporting whenever I see it, be it from Fox on the right or CNN on the left.
7.       Try not to be dismissive of opinions differing from my own
8.       Continue to defend the policies of President Obama in which I agree.
9.       Continue to vocalize my dissent from Republican Party policies that I dissent.  One of my major gripes post-election was the complete blind eye to the problems the candidate people sided with.  I was very much aware of Trump’s flaws, however most people dismissed the concerns with Secretary Clinton.
10.   Continue practicing kindness, respect and tolerance.

Regardless of how you voted this election, I hope that you can at least have an open mind about the results, and stop attacking supporters (that are not affiliated with a hate group).   It was my intention to offer a form of optimism with this post.  As stated prior, there is a whole lot of negative bullshit going on.  This country succeeds or fails based on being able to work together.  Many on my side of the fence have failed to live up to that, I will fully support any attempt to remove those people from office.  I hope that you do the same.
Paul of the Future.

18 February 2014

Loose Footing

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog, but this subject has been on my mind a lot lately.

Let me begin by stating that I am, for the record, I proponent of the second amendment.  I believe in self-defense.  I believe in the right to bear arms, I also believe in a well-regulated militia.  I usually oppose any assault weapon ban because I don’t think they are effective.  I believe in personal responsibility and I believe in consequences.  I am, above all, a proponent of freedom.  That being said, I will never understand the bloodlust in our party.  Standing by stand your ground abusers doesn't make sense in any sort of small government, personal responsibility, consequences for your actions mentality, which are the cores of conservative values. 
The stand your ground law gets a lot of attention lately, being that people are killing unarmed people because they feel threatened.  As a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I don’t tend to base my opinions on hearsay or the news.  I was not a witness to any of the events, and neither were anyone on the news or the politicians.  I did not review any evidence, and I don’t have the proper training to do so even if given the opportunity.  So my opinion about the facts of the case are as meaningless as those on any other political garbage show/blog/etc. that tries to orchestrate mass opinion.  They were not there and they offer speculation rather than fact, and that’s important to remember.   However, the inherent problems with Stand Your Ground, are based on the fact that people are getting killed that didn’t need to die.  
I tend to be put off by the people on my side of the political spectrum, mostly, because they refuse to admit that there is a troubling sense of ambiguity in the law.  It’s problematic.  If you don’t believe that it is, consider the author of this article was packing heat, could she in theory shoot every man she came across?  An extreme example, I’m aware, but it’s bothersome to think that your life can be ended because you are a bit on the scary side.  What’s worse is that they are quick to defend the person who uses the defense, however, it seems to go against our core values of personal responsibility and consequences.  In the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, I understood there was blatant media manipulation, and that in it of itself is disturbing, however, in my armchair detective/jury/judge sort of way, I believed that Zimmerman was guilty of manslaughter, and that was what they should have prosecuted for in the beginning.  What bothered me on the way the right media handled it, is that everyone was cool with a security guard using lethal force on an unarmed young man, a security guard that did not carry mace or a Taser, which, along with a pistol, my sister in law constable also carries, because sometimes there are better ways to deal with a threat.  The question becomes, should George Zimmerman, or any of the subsequent abusers of the stand your ground defense used nonlethal force to subdue the alleged perpetrators?
I wish that the NRA, police, or what have you would promote and educate people about nonlethal weapons such as pepper spray or Tasers.  If the old guy with the loud music was threatened, or this fool cop (who should know better) in the movie theater felt “threatened” but could not verify that someone is armed, would it not make more sense that he would have used mace or a Taser?  Yes, I am aware that these things can be lethal, but your odds are significantly better than one in the chest from arms-reach.  The problem with guns is that it escalates too much.  It makes a situation of fight or flight become life and death, and I’m not thoroughly convinced that it needs to be so.
I don’t really have a problem with conceal/carry.  I think that guns can be a good deterrent by being brandished and not fired.  That being said, so can the non-lethal forms of subduing a threat.  And they are significantly less expensive.  So what I propose is this, in conceal/carry, stand your ground states, if you are going to pack heat, you should pack either mace or a Taser. I think the NRA could get behind that, because it protects gun owners from liberal agendas, and it gives someone a chance to fight another day.

Chime in on the comments below.  If you agree, tell me why, if you don’t tell me why not.

22 May 2013


How social media and cable news are changing the face of politics and human interaction…  For the worse.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
"Don't believe everything you read on the internet"-Abraham Lincoln

I remember a time when I was a young and not so jaded person and it didn’t really matter so much that a friend was more liberal or conservative, some were even socialists and libertarians.  We respected each other’s viewpoints and though we disagreed, and argued passionately about what direction the world should go in, there was some base of friendship there that was more powerful than the pettiness and ultimate there really isn’t much we can do about it.  Let’s have another beer, play another round, and move on with our lives. 

This was a happy time for me, since I’m a self-confessed idea junkie.  I often read things that I know I will disagree with because it helps me either strengthen my argument, or force myself to find another viewpoint that could be better than my own.  Some people would call that ideological anarchy, I call it mental exercise.  It teaches me what guns I’ll stick to, what I’ll give in on, and most importantly, what I am wrong about.  I think it makes me a better, more well-rounded person.  It makes my ideas stronger, and it also helps me cut out my own bs. 

However, social media has given a voice to the masses, and ultimately, the masses decided that there should never be compromise, that we should hold steadfast to our own ideas and ideals, and those that oppose us should be ridiculed, silenced, and punished for disagreeing with our own viewpoint.  Instead of moving forward to an understanding that no one has it all figured out, we have moved in extremes in our political parties to the point of catastrophe is better than compromise, like a bad skit of keeping it real gone wrong. 

The internet has offered a massive sense of anonymity that is present in everything we see.  IFC cannot post a link on facebook without a slew of people complaining that there are commercials on it now, even though it has always been a free channel.  Go on Xbox live or PSN and hear the way people talk to each other over a video game.  I wouldn’t talk to someone who cut me off in traffic the way some people act.  We’ve gotten away from being polite and respectful, and we’ve forgotten that respect is earned, not freely given.

It was initially dumbfounding in the age of the internet and the 24 hour news cycle that we can’t just get anything done, or at least anything meaningful done.  There should be total transparency and ultimately, results and accountability.  However, in the age where we have more access to the political process, more information outlets than ever before, and now faster than before, the goal it seems is to manufacture outrage at every given opportunity.  I am not opposed to outrage when it is warranted, or dabbling in outrage.  But it seems every little thing one party does outrages the opposition, and that isn’t a partisan line either.  I’m a republican, and many, many times people in my own party have been unjustifiably outraged by President Obama or the democrats in general that it seems almost completely impotent when they have every reason to be outraged at the opposition, and there has been enough occasions this term and last for them to do that.  How many symbolic repeals of the taxcare bill do we have to go through before someone mans (or woman’s) up and introduces real conservative healthcare reform like George W Bush asked them to do in 2006.  But I say that as a ruse, because liberals are outraged over everything the republicans do. 

This would be fine if our system was not founded on that we might not always agree, but we want what’s best for our country and we will respectfully argue and defend our positions.  But unfortunately, we are trying to govern parallel lines and the middle ground is completely obsolete.  It’s not the sexiest thing to say that I’m passionate for the middle.  People that tend to go the middle road are often ostracized by their own parties.  Republicans call them RINOS, democrats call them hacks and sell outs, and no one comes to the peacemaker’s defense.

Ultimately, if you ask a democrat what’s the problem with the political landscape, they will undoubtedly go to Fox News.  If you ask a republican, they will say liberal media bias.  If you ask an independent, they say both parties have gone too extreme.  I tend to think the independents have it right.  Not to toot my party’s own horn too much, but it’s pretty amazing to see the very bias in action.  Take this for example…  But, marching orders are indeed, just that.  I’m supposed to be more outraged over the Benghazi cover-up, but what I’m most outraged about is there is a filmmaker STILL in jail whose life as well as his family’s lives that were put in danger over using his first amendment right, and EVEN if there was a judgment against him saying that he was not allowed to use a computer, that violates his 7th amendment rights, because I bet you can’t name 4 jobs that do not require the use of or access to a computer.  But I don’t want to make this political blog about politics, unless you are interested in demanding freedom for the youtube auteur. 

It’s understandably upsetting the way things are turning out, but I just wish that there would be more attempt to stop and actually think about things, rather than relying solely on knee jerk and emotional reactions.  There is a complete push towards information without understanding, and like in the quote prefacing this piece, we find ourselves theorizing without all the data, twisting facts to support our theories.  My goal isn’t to make you abandon your ideas or beliefs, or even stop talking about them.  My goal is to consider that your ideas and beliefs come from your experience and background, and that they probably are not the same as anyone else’s and that does not make them any truer or better. 

24 September 2012

The Paul of the Future Platform for Today, Part One of Three

The Paul of the Future Platform for Today
by Paul of the Future

I don't really have the skin, looks, education, past history, wealth, connections, and personality disorder for being a politician, though I feel I have several good ideas on how to address the issues facing our country.  I am more of a strategist personality, also known as a coward.  Someone who is an armchair congressperson, but I take it to the fantasy sport level in which I make imaginary bills for imaginary policy, having imaginary effects on an imaginary government.  In my world, it's a one way dialogue, or lonely monologue as they are called, which is what essentially a party platform is. 

We have sat through large scale conventions with lackluster performances from the main events, receiving stronger performances from the future of the party in the republican convention, with Marco Rubio's outstanding oratory, and the past in the democrat's convention with Bill Clinton's show stopping performance.  When they were shouting Four More Years, I wonder if they were talking about Bill instead of Barrack.  I would consider voting for Clinton, since he was able to work with a republican House and Senate to get the job done.  I think Romney can work with Democrats better than Barrack can work with Republicans.  I am a republican, and I can admit that there are some in the party that will vote against Obama no matter what the vote is for.  But that  being said, the president did not necessarily understand this congress, which is the only aspect of Republican control, was elected because of the said policies of this president, and they elected whack jobs like Michelle Bachman to capitalize on the negative effects of the present commander-in-chief.  That isn't a matter of geography, or electoral college deciding that there has been a sea change in American politics.  Maybe it was healthcare, or a stagnant recovery, or an uncertainty in our ability to survive as a nation, and although Barrack inheirited  a difficult situation, he applied for the job under the pretense that he could fix it.  I am not applying for the job, but I am pretentious enough to attempt to fix it in rational ways. 

And with this imaginary hammer, I call to order the Paul of the Future Platform of Today.  Feel free to wear a patriotic hat, or hold up a homemade sign with the slogan of your choice. 

The Paul of the Future Platform for Today was written with no political party in mind, and in no means was supported by any outside influence other than my own experience, of which I have some that is irrelevant, and none that is.  I have never been the leader of a business, apart from a brief part time failure as a videographer, and that was my own doing.  I proudly present these issues, with the best intentions of perhaps one day including them in someone else's more qualified hands.  Though I am a republican in terms of governing style, I tend to be socially permissive, so I have both of what the other parties hate in me, or what makes the conversation, well awkward.  I only represent one voice, and that is my own, and though I believe part of what makes America the greatest country is that our country is founded on dialogue, rather than monologue.  We allow conflicting voices, ideas, and take the best and the worst of both sides, because it's the same coin.  Sometimes, an issue falls in our favor, sometimes it doesn't, but it isn't game over for anyone if it does.  We move, sometimes clumsily, to the more perfect union every time we vote, we govern.  I feel the following are a best practice solution from my mind in analyzing cause and effect relationships between citizens, government, companies large and small, and the vulnerable of our system.  I present to you, my ideas for a better government as seen through the looking glass of our time.

Article One:
Financial Policy, Economic Strategy, and the National Debt.

I will start with the ultimate in my list, as the national debt has reached the 16 trillion dollar mark.  I would argue that this is our number one issue when it comes to economic policy, because it creates uncertainty in the global community.  Not only is our currency devalued or inflated, our credit rating downgraded, and that has consequences domestically, it also has consequences internationally.  The money we send as aid is devalued, so our helping hand doesn't go as far.  I understand that some people will say screw the financial aid to other nations, but often times that keeps the peace in the world.  It isn't exactly the best situation to be in, and there should be time limits on aid, and we should not aid countries that overwhelmingly have an anti-American outlook.  So, 16,000,000,000,000.  What to do about that?
A. Cut Spending
B. Raise Taxes
C. Lower Taxes.
D. A+B
E. A+C
I vote for F. Something else entirely.  F is a combination of all of the above and then something radical that ties it all together.  We do piss a lot of money away, and legislative reform is something I believe strongly in.  I believe that federal funding should a. have a clearly defined goal and a clearly defined outcome.  B. A clearly defined budget and time limit before it is voted on again if we are to continue funding, C. only partial funding is allotted for the duration goes into testing or research to verify it is going to have the desired effect, or if it is feasible to expect the results, before full funding is available.  In the case of miscalculation, ineffectiveness, we are not on the hook for a total failure, just a partial one. 
I believe that congress should have a budget that is balanced for peace time, or of no national crisis, and during wartime, or in the time of national crisis like Katrina, or the Midwestern drought, it cannot go beyond 20% of gdp.  Mandatory cuts to non-essential programs will go in these times, with the exception of war time.  A 3.65% mandatory war tax would be added to every business or individual that cannot be deducted for the sake of national security.  Our entire economy is about 10 trillion, so that 3.65% is essentially 365 Billion Dollars, or 1 billion dollars a day for 1 year.  For one, it would strongly discourage war unless necessary, for two, the war would be funded, adequately,
and at a rate that no other nation would dare attack us. 
But what about the debt?  At this point, almost all spending is actually deficit spending because the debt is bigger than the amount of revenue we take in.  It's a sad state of affairs, really, and it requires simple, principled leadership to curb this growing threat to the safety and sovereignty of our nation, I propose this.
1. Interstate Commerce Sales Tax.  Since I don't know of anyone who pays their state sales tax for internet purchases that do not have sales tax already put on, or furthermore, know even how to pay sales tax on those purchases.  I propose a win-win situation, A 6% sales tax for end user purchases made across state lines.  75% of that revenue will go specifically to paying down the national debt, 20% will go to paying down the debt in the businesses' home state, and 5% will go to the end user's home state's debt.  This will encourage states to be more friendly to interstate commerce, as well as promote job growth and business growth in the home state, and finally provide local merchants competitive footing by making sure that everyone has a goal.  Ambitious states can go lower for sales tax.  And purchases made in the home state would collect the same sales tax.  This will simplify tax collection for businesses by only requiring revenue reporting in two ways, as opposed to 50+ since some metropolitan areas have a local tax.  What happens when the national debt is paid off?  We bank it.

2. Cash flow options, since almost a majority of people receive a refund of sorts for taxes, I propose offering a tax penalty free 5 year bond at a set rate of 5% apr for your tax refund.  This will increase federal cash flow, cut down on processing fees, and offer the citizen a chance to grow their money without tax consequences.  If you want to wait 5 years, since the money you had overpaid was never part of your actual income, you can get a solid 5%.  Of course, there would be no early withdrawal, and that money would be surrendered upon death.  The goal here is to grow individuals savings, and increase cash flow, on an opt in, voluntary basis. This will also help avoid quantitative easings by the federal reserve, and at best we can have a silent quantitative tightening. 

3. Simplified tax code, with clear adjustments that are temporary.  I would keep individual deductions the same, however, I would restrict corporate deductions to a minimum based on direct impact on the economy, with a specific time table for said deduction.  I am a proponent of flat tax, and simple tax at a base rate of 25% Business and 20% individual.  In the case of capital gains, I would take Romney's plan of eliminating it for the under 250K population, and increasing it to 20% individual and corporate.  The death tax would be eliminated.

By taking these actions, the market will be able to better predict revenue, cash flow, and taxation based on strong policy that is predictable, and still remains incentive oriented, versus unpredictable and policy oriented.  It will no longer matter as much what side you vote for, since everything is laid out.

End of Part One.  Part Two on Tuesday.

05 August 2012

Introduction to Destruction

...or  How I stopped writing a blog and decided to do it again. 

Often times I find myself trying to solve global problems so I don't have to deal with my own.  Probably not the healthiest habit to have, I believe it's called transferring, but I tend to do that.  So I decided to revamp my blog and do my own thing with it, I guess that's the point of these things. 

Most of it will be me trying to predict trends, and they are just that, predictions, with no gaurantees of accuracy, and will be difficult, because my new years resolution was to be a more positive person.  I will probably repeat ideas, topics, and solutions.  I welcome comments, trolls (I tend to be one too), Troll 2's, fact checkers, grammar nazi's, and people that agree or disagree with me.  I tend to learn more from the latter, and I appreciate that people come from different viewpoints and perspectives.  Grammar Nazi's take note, I believe in the oxford comma, and I will use it.  I made up my mind that it is more correct than without it.  Diagramming sentences can be fun.  (Run-on used on purpose).

I will try to maintain organization, with no promises, since I tend to lack that, but I will classify posts to what I feel like it relates too the most.

The Catagories are as follows:
Paul of the Future: This section is my idea chamber on how to solve problems, or where I see the world heading.  I want to promote discourse and discussion from here.  Comments are open to anyone, and I like it that way. 

Paul of the Current:  This is my op-ed section.  Comments are open to anyone, but subject to review.  Only because I don't want hateful stuff on my blog.  I might decide to have a career in politics one day.

TART's: Technology and Arts Reviews and Trends.  As an active father, I tend to miss a lot of things, but every now and again I stumble upon greatness.  Look for reviews.  Comments are open.

The Barbecue: This is where I turn sacred cows into delicious hamburgers.  Comments are closed here.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy reading these, that I inspire you to think in a different way, or that I reconfirm your beliefs, even if those beliefs are that I'm an idiot.