Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Living in a Real World

The good news is the national nightmare that is the 2016 Presidential Campaign is almost over.

These are the realities.

You have two candidates.  Republican pundit, Anna Navaro summed it up this way, "They (the voters) are faced with a choice between a bad person or a person with bad judgment."

I know what you're thinking, "Mr. T, what about Gary Johnson? What about Jill Stein? What about Evan McMullen?"

Living in the Real World: 

You may hate the two party system. It may be time for it to change. But on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, it will not change. If you want to change the two-party system, you will need to start sooner than a few weeks or months before the elections. If you start now, you might make a change by the next one, but it is more likely that you will change one of the parties than the system. The truth is, I can think of no election in any other country or in this country that has not boiled down to essentially two parties and two candidates.

Living in the Real World:

Gary Johnson will not become President.
Jill Stein will not become President.
Evan McMullen will not become President.
Not one of the multitude of other parties will have a candidate that will become President.

But voting for one of them could put a person you may fear into the White House.

Living in the Real World:

Reports say that of likely voters only 3 to 5 percent of them are undecided. To them, I say, "What the (expletive deleted) is wrong with you?"

Living in the Real World:

One of the candidates has been rated by Economist Intelligence Unit of The Economist as the 6th greatest danger to the world economy.

The other of the candidate is likely to have her presidency blocked by constant investigations and is plagued by 30 years of scandals, some real and most imagined.

I can put it no more simply.

Living in the Real World:

Sometimes, we must make hard decisions. This is one of those times.

Pull up your big boy and big girl pants and VOTE.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Logic by Omission

Logic? Logic.
Yep, logic.

Let's forget that  the people spreading this meme don't have a security clearance either, for a moment. Why would we want to bring that into the argument? But then that is the problem with the logical fallacy of appeal to an improper authority in the form of an appeal to accomplishment.

Let me put it another way by reversing the meme:
"When a person without a security clearance  tells you that Hillary did break the law."

Or how about
"When a person who is not in law enforcement tells you Hillary did break the law'?

"When a person who has no law degree tells you that you should put someone in jail without trial."

Divisive much?

You cannot hold a presumption of innocence if you chant "Lock her up" without any charges or trial.

But there is this.

Hillary has never been tried or even charged in relation to her emails. The presumption of innocence does not judge the smartness of what she has done, but the highest ranking member of law enforcement has announced that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring charges.

If you are for law and order, then perhaps even a basic understanding of the law would be good.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No...Not Lincoln!

I am not sure which one of our two best-known presidents are abused and misquoted more often, Lincoln or Washington. I willing to bet that it is pretty close. Besides the quotes attributed to them that never occurred, there are the ones that are taken out of context and others that simply got history wrong. So let's take a look.

The third-party crowd has been floating this one around. Lord knows, being perfect, I've never got anything wrong and what makes this meme worse is how it got started. Bill Moyers, who is well known as a political commentator and a pretty good journalist, announced that Lincoln was a third-party candidate back in 2012 . Lincoln wasn't. He was a member of a relatively new political party. The Republican party was about six years old. The Whig party had pretty much imploded over slavery and disbanded. Those in favor of slavery went to the Democrats and those opposed joined the fledgling Republicans. The Republicans had run a presidential candidate, John Fremont in 1856. He came in second. Not only did Lincoln win in 1860, but so did the Republicans in 1856 actually making them the other party.  In 1856, Republicans won 15 of 62 seats in the Senate and 90 out of 237 seats in the House. That makes them a major player. If there was a third party in 1856 it was the short-lived Know-Nothing Party which held 14 seats in 1856. Sorry, but being the young party does not make a third party in 1860. History....

And then there is the quote out of context. Yes, Lincoln did say this, sort of. What is not included is what he said before this:

"We must not disturb slavery in the states where it exists, because the Constitution, and the peace of the country both forbid us — We must not withhold an efficient fugitive slave law, because the constitution demands it —

But we must, by a national policy, prevent the spread of slavery into new territories, or free states, because the constitution does not forbid us, and the general welfare does demand such prevention — We must prevent the revival of the African slave trade, because the constitution does not forbid us, and the general welfare does require the prevention — We must prevent these things being done, by either congresses or courts — The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it —"

Sort of changes the entire complexion of the above meme, huh? He is talking about changing public policy, not a revolutionary over-throw. 

Before you post that quote from a founding father or a great leader, do just a tiny bit of research.  I found the information in just a couple of minutes on Google. 

Let me help. Quotes that Lincoln did not say.

Friday, October 21, 2016

It's Not A Contest

 I see a bunch of memes  that uses the technique of what is commonly called "the other."

People who burn flags are not necessarily on welfare.

And so what if they are? You cannot protect only the people's rights only if they agree with you. It's not only illogical; it is unconstitutional. BTW, we don't know if these people are on welfare or if they are even American. A picture with writing on it means nothing.

"The other" argument comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. Someone who uses drugs and smokes does not necessarily have food stamps or welfare. The vast majority are on welfare less than two years.  BTW, the Food Stamps is now called SNAP. People on SNAP may not use them to buy any of the things listed or implied by this meme. They are on SNAP on average 8-10 months and the average recipient receives just under $1.50 per meal based on 3 meals a day for 30 days. 

The fact is most folks don't want to be on welfare. But because they are, maybe this meme's author would be happier if they lived in a packing crate.  We are supposed to protect the least of us. It is not our job to judge. What's that old saying about "walking a mile in another man's moccasins"?

1. There has not been one case of a Syrian refugee coming to the United States and causing terrorism. Since 9/11 as of 2015 "Of the almost 750,000 refugees who have been admitted to America since 9/11, only two Iraqis have arrested on terrorist charges." The FBI has described current terrorism in the USA as "Americans attacking Americans."

2. Causing homeless Vets is not the fault of these "others." Homeless veterans are a far more complex problem than protecting mostly women and children from Syria.  (P.S. Not all Syrian refugees are Muslim but the number that aren't, is admittedly very small.)

We are a rich and powerful country. Why can't we do good for both?

What have Fast Food workers ever done to this meme's creator besides serve him or her food? Why shouldn't they make a living wage? And why aren't we paying the man on the left more? Oh yeah, the meme creator probably voted against the tax raise or voted for something stupid like TABOR which prevents this very important and valuable public worker from getting a raise.

His pay is attached to taxes if he is an EMT or Firefighter. The fast food folks on the right are paid by the multi-national, multi-billion company they work for not by tax dollars. If you don't like that cost of food may go up slightly, then don't eat there. It really is that simple.

Every faith and every decent person should be more concerned about helping "the other."  I suppose the folks who write these memes and those who repost them can continue to follow the dividers or perhaps, just perhaps quit living in fear of "the other" and start thinking about them as fellow human travelers instead.

Give it a shot. There are no "OTHERS." There is only us.

Or just think about this meme...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Peaceful Transfer of Power

At the third debate, a presidential candidate announced not once but twice that he would have to wait and see if he would accept the will of the people. It is an unprecedented statement.  After a week of announcing the election is rigged in various places against him by mentioning specific areas of color in cities, he also made the statement unlike any candidate before him, that he would not necessarily accept the outcome of the election. He has accused the press, the democrats, state officials, the majority of whom are Republicans secretaries of state and governors, Republican leaders and even a Mexican billionaire of rigging the election against him. It is a massive and unsupportable conspiracy theory.

While surrogates have said that he clearly means the "liberal" media, in his stump speeches, this candidate has clearly stated that voting stations are being rigged and that the dead are voting. A recent study has found that from 2000 to 2014 there have been 31 cases of identity voter fraud in one billion votes cast. That's .000000031 percent. There have been cases of dead people voting through mail-in ballots, a felony, but that's not at the polls and there have not been enough to actually influence an election.

He has demonstrated horrible morality. He has encouraged a foreign power to hack American citizens. He has demonstrated an unsteady temperament. He has announced that he would unconstitutionally use his office to put his opponent in jail, he announced he respected women and then called his opponent "a nasty woman." He has now threatened one of the very principles of Democracy by refusing to validate a peaceful transfer of power, perhaps the most horrifying thing he has said. This statement is not some scripted Reality show; it is reality. This is not some game.  If he can make this dangerous of statement as a candidate, what will he be like as the most powerful person in the free world?

Please, do not vote for this man.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Wasted Vote

As ballots are mailed this week, I thought I would talk about the so-called "wasted vote." While it is true that voting for a third party candidate is unlikely to elect that candidate, and there is also the chance, historically speaking, of ensuring that the least liked of the two major candidates could be elected, I believe that the only wasted vote is the one not cast. It is true that in 2000 that Ralph Nader probably garnered enough votes in Florida to prevent Al Gore, who won the popular vote, from becoming the president in the electoral vote. It is also true that Teddy Roosevelt's third-party run ensured the election of Woodrow Wilson. Still, I believe you should vote regardless of the consequences or spoiler effect. I too have voted for third-party candidates because I believed in them, although one was probably a result of not doing the homework I should have done.

If you don't vote, I feel free to blame you for not making a choice. Your "I don't like any of the candidates" statement is a cheap out for not doing something that very few countries have a right. I disagree with a statement that Mike Rowe made the other day that we shouldn't encourage everyone to vote. In all honesty, such a statement smacks of ideas like the voter tests of the Jim Crow era. Yes, it's true any crack-pot can run, anyone over the age of 18 can vote, and they can, as long as they have no felony convictions, vote. I have no problems with the right to vote. Anyone, from the least intelligent to the most socially inept has that right and he or she should vote. Would I like them all to become informed? Yes. But a false equivalency of voting and gun ownership is not about voting as much as it is about preventing those who don't vote as you do from voting. Encouraging someone to vote is not wrong, even if you disagree with who they are going to vote for. No, Mr. Rowe, involvement with picking the people who will impact your life is important. Encouraging people to become involved is not wrong. There is nothing deep or wise about your statement.

What I find interesting is the selection of who people vote for. Humorist John Oliver recently pointed out that those turning from the major party candidates to the third-party candidates need to consider if they are voting for that candidate or because of the "I am not going to pick from the lesser of two evils" premise. If you are for example choosing Gary Johnson or Jill Stein are you voting for the candidate or are you voting for the candidate's party platform? If you have dismissed Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump because of who they are, then you should be looking at the third-party candidate because of who they are too. 

Take for example the idea that several of the "Feel the Bern" crowd picked Johnson because they don't like Clinton and Libertarians seem more in line with Bernie than Hillary. However, the Democratic Platform is far closer to Bernie's beliefs than that of the Libertarian. If you look at Johnson the candidate, his knowledge of that beyond our borders is seemingly very slim.  It is not just his gaffs of not being able to name a world leader or know about Syria and Aleppo, but as Oliver points out, his domestic program is overly simplistic, and it is also clear he knows very little about what the programs he advocates cutting do. The three programs he mentions in the Oliver video aren't the only ones he wants to cut. In fact, do you know what the candidate actually supports? Here is a list. It's actually a bit away from the Libertarian platform. There are even a few articles around from Libertarians who remind us that both Johnson and his running mate Weld were Republicans not long ago. 

Implementation of the platform is rare. A political platform, be it Democratic, Republican, Green, or Libertarian, is the ideal of the party and often written for the base. Its implementation, however, is a different matter. Jill Stein's belief while sounding noble is also incredibly simplistic in understanding about how budgeting works and her responses are often problematic for someone who wants to be the leader of the free world. If you dismiss one candidate because of who he or she is but accept another based not on the candidate but on the platform of the candidate, you will not get what you are voting for. 

Donald Trump, the candidate, seemed to be quite apathetic to what went in the Republican Platform which is one of the most extreme right platforms ever written. In fact, only one plank of the platform was removed by the Trump campaign and that platform had to do with anti-Putin support for the Ukraine. Oddly enough, Paul Manafort who has since been associated with Russia and the Ukraine was Trump's campaign manager at the time. Other than this, the Trump Campaign, in fact, put very little into the Republican platform. If you want more about Trump, I have a whole blog about his problems which have only grown since I wrote it.

Hillary Clinton has her woes. Despite what the "but Hillary" group would have you believe, there isn't one thing she has been charged for by any organization that has investigated her. The email was a huge mistake, and she has openly admitted that it was and if she were to do it over, she would probably do it differently. She was clearly dependent, technically speaking, on younger staffers. Not an uncommon problem for someone over 60. No, she has never murdered anyone, nor despite claims "viciously attacked" the women of Bill's amorous adventures. As one writer put it, during the investigations, Ken Starr was the Javert of Clinton's affairs and even he failed. Republicans tried to blame Hillary in the 90's and failed. Bill is not on the ticket. 

 Hillary has several problems. I will not dismiss them, but I will also not give credence to over 20 years of innuendo and partisan politics. Hillary has issues. She is both not transparent about her own actions and at the same time perhaps the most vetted candidate in history. She has flipped on a number of issues, and it is unclear if those flip-flops were because she has changed her mind or if she found it politically expedient to do so. Her campaign did negotiate with Bernie's campaign and, as a result, the Democratic platform is one of the most progressive in history. The steady drip of unverified emails from WikiLeaks has proved mostly that the Democratic campaign is political and actually did political things. They actually show little about who Hillary really is. Political? Yep. Calculating? Yep. Welcome to politics, boys and girls. Does Hillary lie? Yep. The problem is that she does it well, except when she doesn't. Hence the trust issue problem. She has been clearly not a progressive, but a centrist in her beliefs. Her public personality is generally not warm and fuzzy. 

We learn from discourse. We learn from something that few countries have the peaceful transfer of power through elections. With that in mind, Trump's current rant about rigged elections is both wrong and dangerous because it goes against all that we believe as a nation. The fact is that we who vote must choose a candidate.  Some will vote for, some against, some strategically, and some blindly. It may be as Oliver states not picking a lesser of two evils, but a picking of a lesser of four evils, or it may boil down to something that is the crucible of American elections, choosing who is the most qualified and most closely aligns to what we hope will happen.  I hope you will pick your candidate carefully. I try to pick mine on ability and how well they might respond to the extraordinary world we live in. In this election, the candidates are far from inspirational. I will try to vote for a candidate who looks forward, not to the past that never existed or one that should have never existed. I will try to vote for the candidate that seems to understand best the complexity of the world. I encourage you to do the same. I will not waste my vote, because...

I will vote. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Winter Isn't Coming, but Baby It's Cold Outside

While it may be hard to remember, there have been numerous occasions throughout history when we have been divided.  There has been strife. There has been extreme violence.  Our government has been more than dysfunctional.  In other words, now is not a first.  It is also not the end. I don't want to seem too Pollyanna about the current strife we face, but we have faced these problems before.

So why do they seem so extreme this time? We are interconnected in ways we have never been connected before. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, even LinkedIn, does a number of things, the least of which gives us insight into another person but allows us to surround ourselves with people who think like we do.  It's like eating fast food every night may seem like a good idea, but it makes us fat and lazy. The same is true when we feed ourselves a steady diet of only one point of view. That said, most observers of the current election agree, we have never seen an election like this.

I've struggled to blog about this election because I just cannot believe that anyone can support Donald Trump. I should state that I honestly don't care about Hillary's emails because I also don't care about the emails deleted by Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice who also maintained separate accounts and deleted their emails. Dick Cheney deleted some 22 million emails, that's right 22 million, off a private server set up in the White House by the Republican National Committee. You know what all of these have in common? Nothing was wrong with that then, and it wasn't when Hillary Clinton did it. No security breaches of any kind have been discovered. We may have lost some history, but, for the most part, emails are pretty much not worth much. So if you're upset about the whole email thing, then you should also be furious about the others too. BTW, those who keep posting the meme 18 U.S. Code § 2071, you should probably fact check its use. Even the guy who first brought up the idea has agreed that this law cannot apply.

Benghazi is something else that is, excuse the pun, trumped up.  We have had 10 congressional committee investigations at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars, not including hours spent which resulted in every hearing finding "no wrongdoing" by any person or party. Other than these two incidents, I don't understand why so many think Hillary is so crooked. Is she a politician? Yep. Does she maintain multiple positions? Yep. Name a politician that doesn't. Is she highly experienced?Yep.  I suppose I should point out that I read the released speech from Wikileaks, and Hillary really was referring to the movie Lincoln. Clinton said politicians must balance "both a public and a private position" while making deals. Clinton gave an example from the movie "Lincoln," and the deal-making that went into the passage of the 13th Amendment, a process she compared to sausage-making. In fact, the only major candidate who has zero public service experience is Donald Trump. 

Before Trump supporters say, "Exactly, the point," I would also like to point out that he has seemingly zero understanding about a lot of things. If you went to a doctor or dentist, would you really want the one with no training? No insight? Just a laptop and Google for information. I just cannot keep up with everything Trump doesn't know. To announce that Hillary is a liar one must also accept that Trump has barely a passing nod to the truth.  His Fact Check file is far worse than Hillary. No! You may not blame Fact Check or Politifact as Liberal propaganda. Shooting the messenger, or the ad hominem or scapegoating, is a classic fallacy and has zero validity. Yes, Fact Checkers do have an agenda; it's the facts.  Hillary has been fact checked 266 times. Her mostly true and true statements are a 135. Trump has been fact checked 285 times. His true and mostly true statements are 45 in number. Clinton has been rated false to pants on fire 33 times to Trump's rating of false to pants on fire a whopping 149 times. Hillary's mostly false is 40 and Trump's is 51 time. Mendacity is not Trump's strong suit. 

Look, I blogged in 2012 about my concern over the lies told by the candidates then.  That said, Mitt's, Ryan's, Obama's, and Biden's abilities to tell the truth makes them look like the Popes compared to Trump's knowledge about the truth. You cannot dismiss one for lying and ignore that the other lies too. It is not just the lying...

I can only say one thing about Trump's taxes. Do you honestly believe that other than signing them, that Trump actually does his own taxes? He has tax lawyers to do his taxes. In fact, one former Trump tax attorney from the 90's says that not only did he not do his taxes; he had no interest in them and did not seem to understand them. 

Even with that horrendous tape that released (warning it is uncensored here), all the issues were there.  Just look at his tweets. He has clearly made racist statements. He has consistently verbally attacked women about their appearance and even bodily functions. He has attacked Muslims. He has attacked African Americans. He has attacked Immigrants. He has attacked war heroes. He has attacked a war hero's family. He has attacked the entire military. He has attacked the disabled. He has hired as a campaign manager a man who once worked for Russia. He has personally praised Putin as a great leader.  He has praised Saddam Hussein and was endorsed by North Korea media controlled by Kim Jong Un. He is also clearly narcissistic. His morality attack on Hillary Clinton is moot for a man who is on his third wife and has admitted he had affairs while married to the other two.  He has dismissedded his vile comments about women as "locker room talk" while he was clearly not in a locker room but actually working and his surrogate Rudy Giuliani uses this line as a puchline. And this list is just the highlights. 

He currently has a campaign manager whose association with the alt-right is long standing.  Steve Bannon announced when he ran Breitbart that it would be a platform for the alt-right. If you do not believe that the alt-right is the new face of racism, conspiracy theory, and other populist and supremacist organizations, all you need to do is spend a minute with Google. If you want to know their talking points, the alt-right held a two-hour press conference which you can find on YouTube. There is also a post with the main talking points here. Is Bannon a member of the alt-right? I do not know, but he has clearly used them for his own purposes and Trump has espoused many of the conspiracy theories espoused on Breitbart. 

Then we have the debates. Trump threatened, to the cheers of his supporters, to put Hillary in jail. I don't know how to put this to you, but not only does such a threat have totalitarian overtones, but also it is illegal.  In fact, when Richard Nixon was about to be successfully impeached, part of the articles of impeachment included misuse of the justice system for political reasons. Trump's threat is illegal. 

Does it not concern supporters that Putin's Russia clearly wants this man to be president? Yes, I know that the hacks are actually more designed to sew distrust in our elections, something that Trump has tried to do too, but the attacks are also clearly for Trump. Despite what Trump has said, he was personally told, according to NBC news, that Russia was responsible for the hacks. It is also clear that Putin is trying to manipulate our election. He has tried this also in European nations. By the way, "Wouldn't it be nice if..." we got along with Russia, North Korea, etc is not a foreign policy; it is the title of a Beach Boys' song.

Does it bother anyone that not a single major paper nation-wide has endorsed Donald Trump? Generally, newspaper endorsements don't mean much, but there are papers that have never endorsed a non-republican who have refused to endorse Trump. There are even papers that have never endorsed anyone or have only endorsed once or twice that have come out endorsing Clinton or saying that Trump is categorically unqualified to be President.

Trump is up at 3 AM tweeting about the weight of a beauty queen. He is by all accounts unable to control his responses. If elected, HE WILL HAVE THE NUCLEAR CODES! The use of these codes requires no congressional approval. Every president in the modern age may order a nuclear strike. It is true that he is supposed to get a second confirmation, but I remind you that the "football" is always with the President. I know conservatives are worried about the Supreme Court appointment, but that will hardly matter if there is no Supreme Court left. Clinton is a centrist. Sorry, Bernie fans, but she is. She is not likely to appoint an extreme left Justice. 

This was all there for the viewing before that horrible tape came out on Friday or before the accusation by numerous women. If you're angry a Washington, I get that. If you are going to throw the molotov cocktail that is Trump at Washington and  have no plan what will replace it, you will end up with a burned down building ruled by a dictator because everything will be gone.

I will not tell you who to vote for. I am just saying, do not vote for Trump. 

Finally, I want to leave you with a moment of hope. At the beginning of my little rant, I told you we have had hard and turbulent times before. It's true. It is also true that when this turmoil has happened we have grown as a nation. We have become better. I am hopeful that this is true now.