Tag Archives: Tea Party

Modern Libertarianism Confuses Me

Quick disclaimer: I’m not 100 percent certain that there is a classic libertarianism I should be differentiating from… but on the off chance that there is and that the libertarianism I want to talk about, the type as I’ve seen it played out in today’s political landscape, is distinct and notably different on the issues I want to mention, I want to cut people off before someone that missed my point comes in and tries to take my head off for equating non-equatable political ideals. I’ve kinda been burnt on that before.

So, libertarianism has been, I think, seeing a bit of a hey day in recent years, particularly through Ron Paul’s past two presidential campaigns and the creation of the Tea Party movement. While the Tea Party movement has strayed, via its leaders/candidates, from the original message, a message that is almost like a distilled Paul campaign description, the feelings of the grassroots it started with are the same types of feelings people (often young people) had with Paul and with 2012’s Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.

Basically, libertarianism as it has come about today can be put in terms of a Venn diagram. On one circle, we have Democrats. Democrats are currently the party of social freedoms. Keep the government out of bedrooms, eliminate censorship, et cetera. It may not be doing so great with that, but it’s the pro-choice, pro-legalization, pro-gay marriage party, particularly compared to the Republicans. Their economics, however, are more restrictive and government involved. Tax and spend fiscal policies, regulations on banks and businesses, et cetera. The other circle hosts the Republicans. They’re the party that, on the social end of things, wants government all over everything. Nowadays, while they talk about small government, they simultaneously talk about constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage, increased surveillance, more military/wars, ban abortions… the legislate morality party. Their economics, however, are (in theory) more hands off than the Democrats. Roll back regulations, lower taxes, cut spending.

So, where the two circles meet is with Libertarians. They are the party of the laissez-faire, both in economics and social policy. Hands off the free market. Let people decide what they want to do, get government out of making choices for people. It’s the Democrats’ social policies and the Republicans’ economic policies.

…again, in theory.

See, the thing is, while Libertarianism is the confluence of similar ideals from the main two political parties in America, neither of those parties is really looking to pull away federal powers. President Barack Obama did, surprisingly, talk about looking into more clearly defining and limiting the powers of the Executive Office, but that’s not really a sentiment you hear too often from either party. The Republicans, more often than not, want to make certain issues states’ rights issues, but those tend to just be issues they don’t think they can win federally.

What confuses me about modern libertarianism is that, the more I hear from them, the more it sounds like they want EVERY issue to be a states’ rights issue. Insofar as, they would rather the federal government to bow in power to the state governments.

When America was being created as a nation, our first attempt at creating a government was an utter failure. A rope of sand, as someone called it. For about eight years, the law of the land was dictated through a document known as the Articles of Confederation. Basically, it didn’t recognize the United States as a singly governed entity, but rather a political alliance between the 13 separate states. If one of them was attacked, they’d help each other out. They were to assist one another, but still be mostly left to their own devices. And it failed pretty spectacularly, as the national Congress was almost completely ineffectual and each state felt no real reason to actually help out the other states, making commerce and land contracts and, well, everything begin to fall apart. When Shay’s Rebellion started in 1786, combined with everything else that was happening, Alexander Hamilton and others essentially staged a coup and reworked the entire government, writing the Constitution. The Constitution created a far stronger federal government while the Bill of Rights were added to help protect individuals and the states’ sovereignties.

Now, I understand the desire to get the federal government out of being involved with many things. As a liberal, I think marijuana should be legalized (huge economic benefit there), same-sex marriage should be legal, pretty much all the social policies should be left unfettered, by and large. I still think a completely free capitalist market runs contrary to democracy and would implode our ability to govern and be governed, but others disagree. What I don’t understand is the apparent desire of many modern Libertarians to seemingly peel back the federal government almost in its entirety and bring us back to the Articles of Confederation.

It’s thoroughly possible I’m completely misunderstanding or misrepresenting this particular political belief. But I have many friends that are Libertarians. And when they talk about their politics, they often talk about letting states have power as opposed to the federal government in nearly every issue. And that, it seems to me, is a bit contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.

The preamble to the United States Constitution talks about creating a more perfect union. Considering that was written up after the quite imperfect coalition under the Articles, it makes me think that maybe the framers wanted the federal government there to help encourage states and citizens to help other people out. Yeah, sometimes it means Texas has to help bail out California, that your tax dollars get spent in some state you couldn’t care less about… but the theory is, we’re all in this together. We are a united nation, a group of united states, and we leave no one behind.

Maybe I’m wrong. But that’s how it seems to me.

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The Problem With Movements

I was pondering the other day on the nature of sociopolitical movements.

They’re really weird, don’t you think? But amazingly so. They happen typically from some sort of organic collective of shared emotions, often caused by some inciting incident, and they can wreak all sorts of havoc on the status quo.

Movements today seem to lack that a bit.

Based on cursory knowledge of some of the more successful movements of modern history (the Civil Rights movement, Gandhi’s drive to free India, ending apartheid), here’s what I observed (and I’ll define successful during this):

1) There is a problem some person or group of people wish to fix.

2) They stir up fervor amongst the apathetic, ignorant and disorganized.

3) A leader grows out of the movement.

4) They hammer their disdain for the problem over and over again.

5) There is a martyr of the movement, usually being the leader.

6) They succeed in fixing the initial problem.

Now, I wish I could honestly say that No. 5 was optional, but when I thought about it… Martin Luther King Jr., killed. Gandhi, killed. Nelson Mandela, imprisoned. (Not all martyrs need be killed, after all… right? …Merriam-Webster’s second definition gives me wiggle room. I’ll take it.)

As for success, that’s No. 6. They resolve the problem they set out to resolve. For example, the Civil Rights movement had an extremely specific goal within their general manifesto of “Hey, can we please be treated like equals?”: Desegregate the nation. Now, other sects within the movement had some different goals added to that, but generally, that was the movement’s main goal. Gandhi got India free from the U.K.’s rule. Apartheid ended. These are successes.

So, let’s think of the movements we’ve seen in today’s day and age. The Tea Party movement. Feminism (third wave, I suppose). The gay rights movement.

While some have been working for years (gay rights) and some for, well, a couple of years (Tea Party), none have been extremely successful. Here’s a breakdown.

The Tea Party movement had the organic growth movements need. They’ve gotten number 2 solved (depending on your definition of ignorant). We’ll pretend they’ve even had number 3 nailed. And they’re certainly hammering their disdain for their interpretations of problems over and again. But they fail in a few places. First, they don’t really have any specific problems they want to hit. They do have several they’re upset about, though, so that’s not a huge issue. They certainly have no martyrs, though, no one willing to fully give themselves to the movement and lose everything. And, quite simply, they had too many people they considered leaders, like Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann. But more on that in a bit.

Third wave feminism (I specify third wave because first wave, based on my understanding of it, was a successful movement that afforded women the right to vote.) has yet to succeed because it currently holds too general a manifesto, firstly. Instead of systematically taking out issues one by one, the modern feminist movement rails against all the issues simultaneously. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s noble, and it’s right. But it’s inefficient and ultimately accomplishes little, unfortunately. Or not much very quickly, at least. And due to the lack of specification of goals, infighting has cropped up all over the place, people dictating who is and isn’t a “true feminist,” something I attempted to talk about before and failed miserably at. Fighting from within while trying to target every injustice simultaneously makes it difficult for a movement to truly grow. It stagnates before it can really achieve the third step of gaining a visible leader.

The gay rights movement definitely has the first part: Legalize same-sex marriage. Legalize same-sex adoption. Let gays donate blood. Criminalize harassment via sexuality. A few others, I’m sure, but those are the first few specific examples I can think of. The gay rights movement even had an inciting incident: The Stonewall Riots. Not every movement gets one of those. But the gay rights movement finds itself faltering with no leader and no highly visible martyr. In actuality, Matthew Shepard is that martyr, but with a lack of organization and leadership, that martyrdom has become something only the truly passionate in the movement remember with sadness. Some people that are pro-gay rights don’t even know who Shepard is. And as for leadership, perhaps the most visible leader of the movement is Dan Savage, who is too divisive and confrontational to be a truly effective leader of a movement. As opposed to supporting the movement, he often satisfies himself with lambasting the people in opposition of it, which isn’t how the successful movements found success.

Really, though, I think the Internet might be to blame, partially. When it comes to movements, it’s both a blessing and a curse. On the internet, there is a moment, a brief momentary spark, where your movement can catch fire. For many internet-driven movements, the damage doesn’t have to be massive. A few tens or hundreds of thousands of signatures, a mere drop in the bucket of human existence, on someone’s Change.org petition can get the job done. For movements that need a bigger support system, like the ones I’ve mentioned, the internet can be a bit more of a problem. See, thanks to the internet, things can move quickly. That’s how SOPA got stopped, after all. Things are also mercilessly recorded, allowing for more pointed pettiness and vicious tearing apart. And what’s worse: Everyone can be a leader on their own.

Hell, look at me on this blog. I’m constantly talking about things that I wish would change, things that need to be fixed. And I know there are others that agree with me. But I’m not the leader of any movements. I’m barely even an active member of any. At best, I’m often and intellectual supporter. And why is that? Because on the internet, it seems like that’s all you need. You can get so many like-minded people to swarm upon your opinion and lift you up that you feel like a leader. For years, I was generally considered to be one of the leaders of the gay rights movement… on the Gaia Online forum. And by years, I think I mean two, maybe three or four. The internet moves quickly and unsustained dialogues can be forgotten. For that period of time, my posts, my literature was reposted and debated all over the internet. I had several hundred vocal supporters, and more silent ones. People asked if they could print my posts off and hand them out in real life.

And while I’m not saying that didn’t necessarily help… It’s simply not enough. With the internet, too many people can be too vocal simultaneously. Before that, though, a single person’s voice could shine above the rest of the maddening crowd with clarity and charisma.

For making Progressive or Todd Akin look terrible, or spreading the word about Kony or Trayvon Martin, or getting people to love or hate Chick-fil-A… the internet is great. It’s fabulous for all that. The problems are somewhat general and don’t require much action to fix. Just a tweet, email or share. Some would call it armchair activism, or slacktivism. It can get results, even if the result is eliminating some ignorance, but it simply doesn’t require much.

Other movements need more support, more power behind them. To see women and the GLBT community treated as equals, it takes more than a tweet, email or share. It takes feet on the streets. It takes organization. It takes leadership. It takes vigilance, seeking to destroy the problems facing them one at a time.

…Tweet, email or share if you agree, I suppose.

EDIT: To add to this, someone pointed out that Gandhi and MLK died after the main crux of their movement’s goals were met. They were both still martyrs for their movement, MLK being jailed unjustly and Gandhi going on hunger strike. What their deaths accomplished, however, was permanency of acknowledgement. Now, any movements spawning from the original, or any goals the movements want to revisit, have a permanent figurehead and reminder, a permanent leader to refer back to. Not every movement needs their leader to die, of course. But consider how much stronger and longer lasting those movements have been over the years. Movements like… Well, Christianity.

Just some additional clarification and food for thought.

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Santorum Is The Most Liberal Candidate In 2012

I desperately attempted to avoid political jibberjabber during the past two days I was at home. I did not even come close to succeeding, but I did manage to (barely) avoid picking fights, simply saying stuff that was, in general, either hilarious or agreeable even to my parents, whose politics don’t exactly mesh with mine in the same way the North Pole isn’t exactly next door neighbors with Antarctica.

But now that I’m on my blog, which can be seen by everyone including my parents, clearly this is a safe environment to start stirring up trouble. So, trouble, here I stir.

As many of you likely know, Rick Santorum is currently the GOP presidential candidate that could ruin everything for Mitt Romney. According to the math I’ve done, if Romney doesn’t win several “winner take all” states and at least 50% of the proportional delegates, he’s in a load of trouble. And with Newt Gingrich and Santorum sapping away the proportional delegates and planning to stick with the race either until August or until someone gets the necessary delegates to be the nominee, Romney might be in trouble on the proportional front. And since Santorum has been winning states, there’s a chance Romney may have to fight all the way through the Republican convention, which will give whoever the nominee actually is about a month to go toe-to-toe with incumbent Barack Obama.

Now, I suppose I can see the appeal of Santorum. He actually has some beliefs, unlike Romney. He’s severely socially conservative, unlike Ron Paul. And he actually manages to live out some of those moral standards, unlike the ever-philandering king of smug false piety Gingrich.

Santorum claims to be the conservative alternative to Romney. The alservative, if you will. But, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s a bit of a hypocrisy in the conservative political stances these GOP candidates take, and Santorum is perhaps the worst offender.

You see, the rallying cry of the GOP, especially the Tea Party movement that took conservative fury and congealed it into a rather odd duck of a political movement, has generally been one of small government. Cut down the bureaucracy. Limit federal power. Let the states decide moral issues. End regulation. Et cetera. And there have been Santorum supporters that like his desire to create a small government.

Except that Santorum has no such desires.

Santorum is one of the biggest proponents for a massive government the GOP has seen in a while, if not ever. Definitely the biggest of the four remaining candidates. Besides his desire to target businesses he finds immoral such as the pornography industry and his apparent desire to require states to make English their official primary language, Santorum has been long known for his severe moral stances he wants to turn into federal law, including a Constitutional amendment to permanently ban homosexual marriages in the United States.

Now, let’s ignore how laws and amendments like that have tended to cause the exact opposite effect once they climbed their way up to the Supreme Court (see: Roe v. Wade, Loving v. Virginia) and instead focus on exactly how massively big government this is.

Santorum plans to take away a state’s rights to decide whether they want to allow gay marriage. Which is pretty anti-state’s rights. He wants to end businesses (that frankly make America a crap ton of money) based on moral standards. Which is regulation of a really weird kind.

Sure, Santorum is all about the “moral, religious” stances that the political right likes to espouse… but he’s going about it in such a hugely unabashed, non-conservative fashion. It’s, quite frankly, ridiculous. The things he proposes to do are so massively in disregard for the structure of power in our government, so massively in disregard for the rights of the people that he is in fact the most liberal candidate on the ballot. Including Obama. His suggestions are so liberal and expansive of federal, and specifically presidential, power that they don’t even really exist on the map of American politics. Not since Franklin Roosevelt has anyone suggested such a massive, heavy-handed application of power, and all FDR did with his version was, by and large, create federal infrastructures. The closest thing Obama has come to any power sweeps on the level of Santorum is the recent contraception mandate, which he later revised.

Do you really see Santorum revising his views on social issues?

So, Santorum supporters. I have to ask you this: Can you explain why you agree with this guy? Seriously. He appears to be standing for what you believe in, but at the same time, he’s spitting in its face. If all you care about is social issues, then I guess he’s your guy. But if you want the federal government to limit its power and back off of our personal lives, then how the heck can you vote for him?

Though, really, I guess I can’t blame you too much. None of the candidates are really any good. But if you like Santorum and you like limited government, take Santorum’s advice: Vote for Ron Paul. Or, take mine: Stay at home and realize that you’re not going to get what you want out of any of these guys.

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What Makes The Government So Inherently Evil?

In watching and reading the events of this political season, I’ve noticed a funny little trend going on that seems perhaps strangely related to the disdain to progressivism I’ve mentioned before

See, the past year has been focused almost entirely on the GOP, since they’re the ones trying to break into the incumbency of President Barack Obama. So, of course, we hear a whole lot of rhetoric and statements from them. And one of the common threads I keep noticing is just how terrible the government is.

It’s weird. They talk like the government as a system is designed to ruin lives. Like citizens should fear the government, especially in its current form.

…by, you know, voting to let one of them be in control of that really terrible evil thing.

And I don’t get the rhetoric. Really, it makes no sense. Just like the Tea Party rhetoric makes no sense often times to me. Because it always seems to be this outcry against the government, the federal machine as a whole… except for all the wonderful things they’d like to keep around. Y’know, like roads, cops, Medicare… That stuff.

The GOP candidates, on the other hand, decry the federal government and how terrible it is… but they’re all running to, well, run it. And with exception of Mitt Romney, they’ve all been a part of it. Granted, I don’t recall Ron Paul ever saying the government is evil, but his stance is definitely anti-federalist.

Now, if every one of them were talking about shrinking the size and scope and power of the federal government to eliminate its direct effect on the lives of its citizens, I’d understand. But Paul is about the only one that thinks that. The other three are all about having the government make drastic changes, they just want it to be drastic sweeping changes in their political favor.

Mitt Romney wants to repeal “Obamacare,” which could just be seen as a reversal of a sweeping change, but really it’s the only thing I’ve found he’s said and stuck to mostly. Rick Santorum wants to reinstitute “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and federally, nationally ban gay marriage through a constitutional amendment, which flies in the face of state’s rights, something most conservatives are all about. And Newt Gingrich wants to build a moon base. I suppose that’s not really a great example, but it is a bit silly. Which Gingrich is.

If you listen to each of them, they demonize federal government. And if you listen closer, they want to use it to make drastic changes. The examples were perhaps more plentiful when Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry were around to talk about things like immigration, but perhaps you see my point.

When did the federal government become something despised? Something people refuse to see as something potentially helpful? Granted, Congress certainly doesn’t help the image much, but the federal government is there for a reason. So many people talk about the Constitution and how awesome it is… well, that Constitution gave us the government we have. Now, I may be risking cries of treason being thrown at me, but our government isn’t perfect. Gasp. Shocking, I know. There are several issues with our government, often dealing with money being too easily bandied about and into the pockets of Congresspeople. But we can use the system to help. We can make things better with it.

But only if people stop talking about how evil it is. Until people start talking about how they will use the government to do things and not how they hate the government and we should protest everything they do always, nothing good will happen.

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Obama V. The Current GOP Lineup

Well, the first votes for the GOP presidential nominee have come and gone, and you’ve likely heard about the results. Mitt Romney squeaked past a last second Santorum surge from behind (eeeeeeeeew, gross) with an 8 vote win. Or a 29 vote win. Or a 12 vote loss. Whatever. Ron Paul gave a rather impressive showing as well, gathering 21.4% of the votes, only 3.1% less than both Rick Santorum and Romney. Newt Gingrich pulled off only 13.3%, but is not to be counted out as John McCain placed fourth in Iowa in 2008, as I recall. Rick Perry grabbed only 10.3% of the votes despite spending the most money in the state, and former Iowa straw poll winner Michele Bachmann grabbed a pitiful 5%, forcing her to pull out of the race.

And so, we are now left with 6 candidates people have heard of plus Buddy Roemer, since Jon Huntsman didn’t participate in the Iowa caucus and has been focusing fully on New Hampshire. And as the votes continue to crawl on, we’ll have fewer and fewer, until there is only one.

But who is it to be? People like Jon Stewart think that, despite the GOP’s almost adamant refusal to get fully behind Romney, that’s who they’ll end up with. Yet high up members of the Tea Party movement, who still hold a heavy grip, especially in the southern states like South Carolina, think Romney sucks a whole heck of a lot. Yet so many people think Romney has the best chance to beat Barack Obama in the general election. Allow me to break down the way I see things now, not in who will get the GOP vote, but in who will be best against Obama.

Starting with the least likely:

Rick Perry – Before you ask, I actually am including Roemer on this list. I think Perry has the worst chance of any candidate to win against Obama. Why? He has shown a complete lack of ability to harness the excitement his own party had for him, has become the king of gaffes the way Joe Biden could only have ever dreamed, and can’t seem to choose between the image of serious man and drunk frat guy. With Bachmann dropping out and Cain gone, Perry is the most caricatured ridiculous GOP candidate still on the list.

Buddy Roemer – Unfortunately, I have to put Roemer here due to the simple fact that he is complete obscure. Even if he did manage to gather enough last second (like, seriously last second) popularity amongst the GOP to get the nomination, he’s been too obscure to get the general election excited about him. I think he’d actually debate really well against Obama. But he has a lot of liberal tendencies that I don’t think would allow enough of the GOP to want to vote for him.

Newt Gingrich – Okay. This guy is kind of a giant jerk. And a bit of a clown. He may have sustained a surge that granted him some spotlight, but he wasn’t really gracious about it. Not to mention, the ideas he wants to institute are, frankly, crazyballs. Even many in the GOP thought his best two out of three application of Constitutionality was insane. And liberals want to keep him far away from the White House, which would gather up a powerful amount of votes against him.

Now, these three are actually far behind. The next four are much closer to each other than these three and depend on several factors.

Rick Santorum – Not a candidate anyone took seriously before… well, this week, he is kind of like a Rick Perry that doesn’t gaffe like a crazy man. He’s got the social conservative values the GOP adores so much and is willing to apply them with extreme prejudice. Now, he’s on the bottom of this because, again, liberals want him far and away from the White House. No one with a liberal leaning wants a Santorum presidency. If you’re disappointed in Obama for not doing more, Santorum would be like anti-what-Obama-promised. He’d make sure EVERY liberal ideal was scorch earthed, or die trying.

Mitt Romney – Let’s face it. This guy is the 2012 GOP John Kerry. He’s boring and says absolutely NOTHING of value. Even all the hate the GOP has for a second Obama term would not garner enough excitement in Romney being president. Romney has said exactly everything that he thinks any voter pretty much ever may possibly want to hear at some point. The only thing I know for sure about a Romney presidency is that the Occupy Wall Street movement would probably grow like crazy, because Romney would make the 1% so far away from everyone else, it’s really quite sad. Very pro-Wall Street, this guy, but that’s really the only thing I know about him.

Jon Huntsman – Yeah. I’m putting Huntsman above Romney. People can actually get a bit excited about Huntsman. Plus, with Huntsman’s slightly larger amount of open-mindedness, he could more easily court a slightly more liberal vote. This is something the GOP seems to fail to realize as a whole: Liberals are fair game for them. While his approval is getting a last second surge as unemployment drops and he stands up to a rather annoying Congress, Obama has still disappointed many liberals by being a bit too friendly with Wall Street and a bit too lacking in the chutzpa when standing up to a belligerent Congress. There are liberals that could be talked away from the Democratic vote. Why do you think Democrats have blue dogs? There are fewer slightly liberal GOP members than slightly conservative Democrats, from what I’ve seen, especially evident during the health care battle. Further, Huntsman has been pretty consistent with his message, while Romney has yet to have one that isn’t “Beat Obama.”

Ron Paul – Those keeping score knew he’d be up here. Yes, I feel Ron Paul actually has the best chance of beating Obama. Why? Because he courts the liberal vote like crazy. Because he’s a libertarian. He is consistently, 100% for an actual small government, one that stays out of citizens’ personal lives as well as the market, making him very much for many of the things most GOP voters claim to be for. Sure, some of that small government stuff means they lose a bit of their moral institutionalization, like by seeing an end to the war on drugs, but Ron Paul has the easiest time grabbing both GOP and Democrat votes. He has a lot of the same pull on young voters that candidate Obama had, and they were a big help in winning Obama the election. Sure, some people think his ideas are a bit crazy, but he could be tempered by Congress and the courts. Sure, it’d mean Congress will have to DO things, but the voters might like that idea.

What it all boils down to is this: Can GOP voters rally behind someone who is closer to center than they would perhaps like, someone who appeals to the disenchanted liberals and the angry conservatives alike? And can Obama remind people that, while his presidency hasn’t been perfect, he has scored some big victories that would likely be immediately lost with pretty much any of the GOP candidates, and any good (from a liberal’s perspective) gained in the last 4 years would be completely lost with a GOP presidency?

The beginnings of socialized healthcare, the repeal of DADT, the removal of troops from Iraq… versus the recent law of indefinite detention, the bailouts and the drones.

Obama’s had his disappointing moments, and still does… but I think, if we re-elect a better Congress, Obama will have a better showing in a second term than in his first. Now that he has a better idea of what he’s doing.

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Why Aren’t People Looking At The Candidates?

This post will likely be brief. Long hours at work and the nearing Thanksgiving holiday find creative ways to eat at my time and energy. I will hopefully introduce the discussion in this post and go into more intelligent, pensive depth in a later post. Apologies for the low quality as of late.

Something I’ve noticed lately, brought on by a passing, brief joke made by Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” is that voters don’t seem to be paying very much attention to the candidates at all. Stewart’s joke was something like, “It’s amazing what paying attention to a candidate can do to their campaign.”

And isn’t it? Every single GOP front runner that has not been Mitt Romney, that has basked in severe media adoration, has seen a cataclysmic fall the moment scrutiny is turned toward them. Michele Bachmann suffered when people realized, via HPV vaccines and other subjects, she didn’t seem to know much about what she was talking about. Rick Perry suffered from racist rocks at hunting grounds, confusion and weariness at debates, and a speech a man would be hard pressed to emulate without alcohol in his system. Herman Cain got slammed by a complete lack of knowledge of foreign politics and a completely too thorough knowledge of women that aren’t his wife. And now Newt Gingrich, as the front man, is being hit with accusations of greedy lobbying, “dickishness,” and rather ridiculous plans that are grounded in the idea that child labor laws are stupid.

…my question is, how did these guys become front runners in the first place? Why don’t people actually research and get to know the candidate beyond a random sound bite? Bachmann’s popularity soared with her Tea Party backing, as did Perry’s. Cain’s homespun attitude and political purity, plus his status as a cancer survivor, helped out quite a bit. Gingrich’s disdain for all things liberal and seeming refusal to be afraid to show that disdain have given him a boost.

Note that pretty much none of those things have to do with what a president of the United States needs.

Final thought for now: The constant second place runner, the man most likely to be nominated by the GOP, has pretty much resorted to blatantly lying, or at least being blatantly dishonest, to gain more press coverage and news time covering his taking the fight to Obama. Do we really need a president that will do that without even pretending to have moral qualms?

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Democracy Plus Capitalism Equals Eventual Failure

Okay, first… How the heck did my link post cop out, which was called a cop out in the title, get more reads than my article on why Chris Christie shouldn’t run for president? Man, maybe Christie wasn’t nearly as popular as I thought…

Anyway, as I hinted before, today’s post is going to be a look into why I feel capitalism and democracy are a doomed combination. I’m sure if people actually read this blog and cared about who the heck I was, I’d be branded an anti-American socialist pig, forcing me to go on a publicity tour defending my honor and getting my message out there far better than if I had been left alone.

…if only.

But on to the actual content.

Let’s boil down the basic philosophy behind democracy. Yes, America is… not quite a democracy. It has democracy, republic and constitution all wrapped in a bald eagle. But for simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to use “democracy” as the American form of government. Let’s face it, that’s what we most often call our government. Anyway, what is the basic philosophy that democracy founds itself upon? A democracy, at its core, recognizes a belief that all people have an equal say in what happens. The entire reason for our Senate and our House of Representatives was to allow each state to continue to be a sovereign, separate entity while being as equal in power and say over what happens in the nation as possible. One person, one vote. (At least, that’s how it ended up after we dumped that 3/5s rule and let women vote.)

Now, what is the core principle behind capitalism? I think Herbert Spencer (who many think is Charles Darwin in this case) may have coined the phrase that best describes capitalism’s core: “Survival of the fittest.”

Capitalism, the free market, et cetera, is all about letting the people that understand what people will pay for get ahead, while those unable to grasp the intricacies of the economic game known as capitalism fall behind. And the winners, those that are ahead, create the rules. They decide who gets to have access to their money. They may have worked hard for it, but they can give it away to any random bloke they want. And companies are subject to the whims of the consumer as well as the whims of other competing companies. It’s a convoluted pile of crazy that eventually boils down to people doing whatever the heck it takes to win, where winning is defined by greed. He who makes the most money is furthest ahead on the board.

Now, consider what these two philosophies combined creates. One philosophy says, “All have an equal say, an equal share in what happens.” The other says, “Every man for himself. You fight for your niche and are at the mercy of those ahead of you.”

To me, that seems like some kind of crazy paradox.

I mean, look at what has been happening to the nation as of late. Our economy is falling apart, due in no small part to the piss-poor decisions made by many of the largest money holding corporations in the country. They have dodged attempts to be regulated, used poor and sometimes illegal business practices, and sent jobs overseas to places like China for the sake of a greater overhead. And, really, in a truly free market, it seems like that sort of thing would be completely acceptable. All the strides we’ve made over the years to correct inhumane business practices, like banning child labor, requiring equal pay for women and racial minorities and 40 hour work weeks, have been met with resistance from corporations because they know, by and large, that such restrictions simply cut into their ability to make as much money as possible.

As Occupy Wall Street and even the initial ideologies of the Tea Party have shown, people are tired of the way corporations are able to spit in equality’s face. Every person should have a say in how things happen in this nation, including economically, but corporations have taken that power away from us. And politicians, by and large, have allowed it to happen because, in the end, they play the capitalism game, too. They want to make money and live in comfort many Americans are not able to experience. They allow tax loopholes for corporations to exploit and continuously give tax breaks to those whose incomes and tax rates require no such breaks. It stifles the entire philosophy behind democracy.

Every year that goes by sees the American dream of success through money slipping further and further away from the people of America. The money the upper 1 or 2% hold stays with that 1 or 2% and continues to grow. The more money they hoard, the less people are able to have a say in things like the economy. It is a cycle that seems to come closer and closer to the end every year. Unless some very drastic things happen very soon, within the next 50 years or so, it may end up that America becomes a failed experiment.

Our capitalism must be tempered with democracy. Not the other way around. Otherwise, we are doomed.

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Tea Partying On Wall Street

While I’m sure I could annoy several people by writing a post about how, while unfortunate, Steve Jobs’ death isn’t really that big of a deal, that he didn’t really do all that much for humanity and was simply a good businessman that knew exactly how to mix innovation with money-making, and that Apple is likely to collapse in 20 years just like it almost did last time they lost Steve, I’ve decided to go for a post that is far more likely to get people all sorts of upset with me. (Although, even though I may come back and write a post on this subject later, let me ask how the hell Apple products are user friendly? Maybe it’s just me the Mac computers hate, but I’ve grown to despise the spinning beach ball of “You’re not going to get any work done today” far more than I ever grew to hate Clippy the Crappy Kiss-ass Wannabe from Hell.)

In this post, I’ll be comparing the Occupy Wall Street movement with the Tea Party.

…have you stopped being upset and are back to reading by now? (Just kidding. I’m pretty sure the handful of people that will read this frankly won’t care that much about my comparing the two movements.)

I mean, I’m not the only one who sees some of the similarities between what the Tea Party is supposed to be and what Occupy Wall Street has seemed to pull off at least a bit more skillfully. Even the ever witty yet somehow still poignant Jon Stewart seems to think there are comparisons to be drawn.

Now, believe you me. I find myself far more sympathetic to the cause of OWS than that of the Tea Party. Mostly because, no matter how the Tea Party began, it seems to have devolved into a lot of outwardly angry people that don’t make any sense in terms of being able to do things remotely realistically. It doesn’t help that the very things they seem to want to do to help them out would likely only eventually screw things up more. But taking on the corporations whose CEOs write themselves checks averaging 475 times the size of the average worker’s pay, corporations that have decided to meddle so thoroughly in our political process that nothing can actually ever seem to get done? Yeah, I’m a bit more okay with that.

Still, it is a grassroots movement taken up by people that are largely dissatisfied with the status quo, that want someone to answer. Instead of blaming everything on the government (which admittedly has a lot of responsibility for things being screwed, particularly in the halls of Congress where getting a bill signed to allow someone to use the bathroom in their private home would take years of bitter political infighting and name-calling), the OWS movement blames the people that are holding the majority of America’s money. Well, the Americans holding the majority of the country’s money, as occupying China might be a bad idea.

And as Stewart is keen to point out, the TV media seems to have gone from abject dismissal of this as a news story to inviting everybody to the ball that is “What is your opinion, oh person that no one actually cares about who is uninformed and ignorant on what the subject actually is?”. Which makes the biggest difference between the OWS movement and the Tea Party beyond target and ideals that FOX News finds OWS to be ignorant and unAmerican.

But this movement is a good thing, I think. Do I think it will get terribly much done? Nah. But it is getting the apparent disgruntled majority to rise from their contented, apathetic slumber. OWS isn’t limited to New York City. It is, in fact, taking place in cities all across America, and apparently across the globe (since greedy people are assholes all over the place, it seems). And that’s what America needs most right now. Not a leader or leaders. Not a bunch of talking heads. America needs a place to stand as a people and say “We’re as mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore!”

Who knows? Maybe if enough disgruntled regular people, unsupported by the political machines and corporations dragging this country through the mud, get up and take a stand, we can actually see some change. Maybe we can actually tell Congress to fix stuff instead of making everything a game of power and money.

Of course, maybe, no matter how many people peacefully revolt, it could be that the days of the Gandhis and the Martin Luther Kings managing to instill change are over. It could be that peaceful protests can no longer instill the change they once did.

…No, I’m not calling for violence in the streets or anything. But, hey. The Boston Tea Party was all about backing up their words with some very indisputable actions.

But to sum up, a friend recently asked me if I wanted to “punish” people that earn more money simply because they earn more money. Really, I don’t think of taxes as punishment. I think of them as a civic duty, a requirement to keep the nation running. But, in the end, yeah. I think punishing people for applying economic injustices for their own personal gain, letting the people that help keep them their wallow in despair and destitution, is just fine. Punish injustice. Correct what’s wrong. Fight against unfairness.

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Leave Christie Alone!

Imagine that blog title as Chris Crocker might say it to get the full effect.

As many of you politically aware folks may know, there is a strong, rallying cry for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to throw his hat into the ring that is the GOP Presidential nomination race. (I wonder where the phrase “to throw one’s hat into the ring” came from? Anyway…)

The media has been one of Christie’s biggest fans, clamoring incessantly, 24 hours a day, practically begging Christie to run. And despite Christie saying “no” in more ways than I thought possible (I mean that. I’ve never heard someone say no by telling people to watch a video on Politico.com, a video that was 2+ minutes of Christie saying no in many varied, creative ways.), the media continues to pretend that Christie totally still wants to run for president just a little bit.

If the media was a person and the subject were sex, this would be all sorts of creepy and literally bad touch. It’s still a little creepy as it is now. I mean, he has flat out said no, and the media talks about him leaving the door just a teensy bit open. Creepy. And in today’s USA Today, a story ran on page 4 with the headline “Christie still quiet about presidential bid.”

The lede (that’s no typo, that’s newspaper speak, pronounced like “leed” but spelled that way to differentiate it from the word “lead”) reads as follows: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie remained mum about his future plans over the weekend, leaving pundits and fellow politicians to fill the void with speculation about whether he will launch a presidential bid and shake up the Republican field.”

Insert exhausted sigh here.

Now, maybe all this hubbub and support from big named people has actually caused Christie to reconsider his original position of “Hell no, I won’t go.” But if he does change his mind and become a contender the way Marlon Brando could only hope for, I’m going to have to say he’ll be in for a world of hurt.

Don’t get me wrong. I can see what people like in Christie. He takes the stereotypical New Jersey no-nonsense, tell it like it is, tough guy attitude and applies it to his politics. And he does it without sounding like The Situation. He’s got some charisma, some poise and speaking ability, some smarts and some dislike for the current administration. All good things to have in a GOP candidate for president.

And more likely than not, he’ll get booed straight back to Jersey even faster than Perry did with his “have a heart” immigration stance.

He thinks people afraid of Sharia law sneaking into America are crazies. He believes climate change is real and affected by humans. He is quoted as having said that being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime.

In other words, he is a whole lot of everything the Tea Party infected GOP base is going to hate with a rabid passion.

So why the heck is everyone on their knees desperate for his participation?

Well, the media wants something to talk about. I’m actually starting to wonder if the GOP base wants the people because they actually think they’re good for the job, or if they think that because the 24-hour news networks tell them. Did people in the GOP know who Rick Perry or Chris Christie were before the media said they should join the race? Or does the media like having upsets, competition, new headlines, new fights, new underdogs and top dogs and upsets and things that make “good” TV?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s probably the second one.

And why does the GOP base go along with it? Because they have absolutely no idea what they want. I’ve talked about this before. They are suffering a bigger set of ideological schisms than ever before. Fiscal responsibility meets people that want the government to stop taxing them entirely. The “common man’s” party is plagued with the super rich 2% demanding their taxes be kept low while the poor 50% get shafted. The party that is all for the troops can’t figure out what to do with gay soldiers. The party of life applauds death.

Until the base figures out, as a whole, what the heck they want, they’re going to keep on calling for new blood that at first glance seems to be their dream candidate, but as soon as they learn about them becomes the next candidate for them to have mixed feelings over.

If Christie enters the race, one of two things will happen. One, he will, as I’ve predicted, get slammed the moment the GOP realizes they convinced someone that is rational and unafraid to voice his rationalities to get involved. Or two, he will be the splash the party wants, he will buck the system and push Romney and Perry to the back of the line and become the nominee of the GOP. After which, just like the moderate McCain of 2008, he will be forced to completely change his stances on the issues and run to the paranoid, nervous right, destroying his integrity for votes.

For his sake, I hope Christie sticks by his original statements and refuses to run. Neither of those outcomes are really worth the presidency. We shouldn’t lose our politicians that still have a modicum of integrity, and we shouldn’t prove to the world that we’re crazy enough to vote with out gut instead of our brain.

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Jesus Would Raise Taxes

Being a work day and a church night for me, as well as being a week slowly filling with my lingering disgust for all this idiotic Tea Party nonsense, the thoughts of money and religion were bound to come bouncing into my head.

And I think it’s strange… See, the conservatives of America would like to claim Christianity, it seems. The loudest, most outspoken Christians always seem to be Republican, and talk of being “God-fearing” and church going seems to inevitably get tossed about by the right. Just reading their thoughts on evolution has more mention of God than the Bible. Meanwhile, those liberals, those Democrats and Communists and what else have you, they’re all godless. Because, apparently, being godless means your political opinions aren’t worth beans.

So, the conservatives have all this talk of God being on their side, and they use God to defend their social conservatism banning sodomy, banning homosexual adoption, not allowing liquor sales on Sunday, banning gambling… Yet, the moment it comes to economics, God can kiss His liberal butt goodbye.

See, for all the times people ask for wealth and enjoy wealth in the Bible, and for all the times God grants wealth, He and Christ don’t actually seem to be terribly fond of it.

In the English Standard Version (which I’m using because mine has a concordance), Mark 10:23 says, “And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!'”

Luke 6:24 says “‘But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.'” A little footnote in my Bible says of this verse “Care for the poor and the dangers of riches are common themes in Luke.”

Luke 1:53 – “‘he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.'”

James 5:1 – “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.”

I could go on, but it gets embarrassing.

…okay, one more.

Acts 2:45 – “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” Similarly, Acts 4:34-35 – “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

Those there are descriptions of the first church, founded by Simon Peter and the other 10 living Apostles of Christ. But, wait… they were gathering all the money together and distributing it to everyone as needed? Doesn’t that sound like spreading the wealth? Like… socialism?

That’s right. First church? Kind of socialist. Heck, Peter/God killed Ananias and his wife for trying to hoard their money.

And how many times does Christ demand we feed the poor, the hungry? Even the Old Testament God, which many feel is a generally meaner God than the New Testament one, demanded that communities care for the less fortunate, like the widows.

Yet the party that’s all about Jesus and Christianity seems to flat out ignore all the parts of the Bible that tell them they’re 100% wrong.

Watching old episodes of “The Daily Show,” I ran into the one that came out after Warren Buffett wrote his column to The New York Times practically begging to be taxed. Insert clips of people calling Warren Buffett a socialist, anti-capitalist who hates the rich and thinks they’re evil.

…Right.

Then, insert clips of FOX News pundits subtly suggesting that 50% of the nation doesn’t even pay income tax. And maybe, instead of raising taxes for people, they should be taxed. Because that’s not raising taxes, that’s just asking people to pay taxes.

This is the point where Jesus starts flipping over tables and getting really, really pissed off.

What the hell, guys? Adamant refusal to raise taxes on the rich comes from what, exactly? “Oh, but they’re job makers!” What a load of bunk. How many small businesses do we have in America? How many wealthy, rich people do we have that have made businesses with their money? How many of those Fortune 500 companies started as small businesses? How many of the rich inherited their wealth?

And how many times does the Bible have to say you would be better to give every last penny of what you own to the needy and follow God than to hold on to your billions before you’ll recognize the massive amounts of your hypocrisy? This isn’t class warfare. This is human decency.

Frankly, it’s all disgusting to me. Disgusting how blind and greedy this nation seems to be sometimes, and how there are a group of politicians that would rather cut PBS, NPR and the Department of Education than ask the people that have benefited greatly from the financial opportunities this country grants them to have a slightly stronger sense of civic duty and part with just a little more of their cash.

If you’re not willing to DEMAND government programs that help the needy and poor, in money, in education, in jobs… then stop saying you’re the Christian party, the Godly party. You’re just bigots that want excuses.

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