Archive for the ‘Getting Involved’ Category

The Choice Is Clear

Posted: October 25, 2012 by davishipps in Getting Involved, National

With a very short less-than-two weeks to go until the big Presidential election, it’s time to make your choice. And, for those without a strong party affiliation already, those who claim not to be interested in party politics but in choosing the best candidate, the choice can be a tough one. People are calling this the most important election of our lifetime. People are saying that this is the election where our nation chooses between the paths of bigger or smaller government in a permanent way.

To quote a dear friend, “Hogwash!” Part of the reason the choice is tough this year is because the Democrat and Republican candidates are virtually identical. One has sons; the other has daughters; other than that, all the differences between them are superficial. Let’s take a look at the two broadest areas of agreement:

1) Foreign Policy: Mitt Romney spoke in the primaries about increasing military spending, and in this week’s foreign policy debate, he suggested he would continue using drone strikes. This is hardly an area of contrast between himself and the President, who promised in 2008 to end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, only to initiate and support hostilities in Libya, Yemen, Egypt, and Syria, and who inaugurated the use of drone strikes. In that same debate, the President boasted that “our military spending has gone up every single year that I’ve been in office… We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined.” These two agreed so strongly that Jon Stewart of the Daily Show remarked, “Mitt Romney’s basically come around to Barack Obama’s position on foreign policy, and Barack Obama’s pretty much come around to the Bush administration’s policy on aggression overseas.”

2) Domestic Policy: In 2008, Candidate Obama referred to adding $4 Trillion to our national debt over 8 years as “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.” As President, however, he has overseen the addition of another $5.5 Trillion in half the time. Still, this is no reason to think Romney would be much better, as Business Insider’s best-case analysis of his plan shows that it would add roughly the same amount over the same time period, and more realistic cases show it would add more.

I could cite many more examples, but the point here is that both these men actually have remarkably similar visions for our country, despite some relatively minor differences. More troubling to me is the idea that neither of them want to take the country in a direction it wants to go; more to the point, almost no one reasonably expects their actions to match their words on any given issue.

There is, however, one candidate who will be on the ballot in all fifty states who has been a successful businessman, who has been a successful two-term Republican governor of a majority Democrat state, who has a proven track record of turning around his state’s budget deficit and leaving with a surplus without raising taxes, and who generally seems to say what he means and do what he says. I refer, of course, to Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s candidate for President.

Some would argue that a vote for a third-party candidate is wasted. I would argue that no Presidential election has ever been decided by one vote, nor has any state’s Electoral College vote been determined by a one-digit difference in the state’s popular vote. My state of Georgia, for example, will probably go for the Republican no matter how any individual voter votes.

It may seem like I’m saying your vote doesn’t matter. It depends on how you want it to matter. My vote matters to me as an expression of my political opinions. Statistically, my vote does not matter towards determining who becomes President. In this case, there is no reason for me to vote for someone that I do not believe would be a good President. I vote for the person that I want to be President. I do not vote to prevent someone from gaining or retaining the Presidency. I do not vote to say one person might be less bad than another as President. If there is no candidate who would be a good President, I don’t cast a vote for President.

In this way, the choice is clear. Neither of the major-party candidates is a good choice to be President based on either their rhetoric or their records. The election of one would lead to only marginally different results than the election of the other. The election of Gary Johnson, on the other hand, would bring about a change of direction for the better in both foreign and domestic policy. If you’re the type of person who looks for the best candidate regardless of their party, please research Gary Johnson for yourself and consider casting your vote for him on November 6th.

Protesters Without a Cause

Posted: October 6, 2011 by davishipps in Getting Involved, National

For the past week or so I’ve been fascinated to see the news coverage of the Occupy Wall St. protesters. An old friend of mine had made mention of it on Facebook, and I wanted to see what it was all about. I’d probably read three or four articles on the protests before it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen anything about why the protests were happening. Among my research, I’d seen a video from a guy who was interviewing some of the kids at “Occupy DC,” a branch of the Occupy Wall St. “movement,” which made me think that the folks there hadn’t really thought things through.

It turns out, this suspicion was correct. The original impetus for the protests seems to have been a call for a “Tahrir moment” put out by Adbusters, a self-described media foundation with a mission statement that is nebulous at best. “We are a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age. Our aim is to topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century.” To paraphrase, Adbusters is a group looking for a cause. Any cause will do,¬†apparently.

They do at least recognize the need for a cohesive message, citing the “Mubarak must go” demand in Egypt as the reason the protests there were successful. The end of the piece calling for the Tahrir moment (linked above) says, “Post a comment and help each other zero in on what our one demand will be. And then let’s screw up our courage, pack our tents and head to Wall Street with a vengeance September 17.” Evidently the deadline came to occupy before the “one demand” was agreed upon. The initial post at occupywallst.org concludes with the somewhat cryptic “Why occupy Wall Street? Because it belongs to us! Because we can!” Not exactly an actionable demand.

Let me close with two things. First: I get it. I’m young enough to remember that when I was in high school and college, I too wanted to rebel. It was very frustrating to me that, as an American citizen born into a fully-functional family, there was nothing to rebel against. Opportunities were mine to enjoy or to squander. If we’d had a down economy when I was in college, and if I was looking into a future filled with a mountain of student loan debt and no real job prospects, I’d have jumped at the chance to be part of a protest. Protests are exciting, a chance to speak your mind and maybe change “the system” that is keeping you down. The weird part to me is that it’s been 2-3 years since the bailouts, against the injustice of which the Tea Party movement was largely founded. Why now? Only because some people at an anti-capitalistic magazine saw protests against a dictatorship work this summer and thought, “Hey! That looks like fun!”

Second: I would be remiss if I did not point out that there are no good guys here. Protesters don’t seem to have a clear goal other than to be intentionally disruptive to business. The police reaction to the protests goes way beyond what a reasonable observer would feel is warranted, including physical assault of people standing still and arresting hundreds of non-violent people who are, at worst, standing peacefully in the way of other pedestrians or traffic. The bankers on Wall Street really did have a hand in wrecking the economy and, far from suffering the consequences of bad business decisions, were instead rewarded for their efforts by the federal governments bailouts. Protest-worthy, to be sure, but (as evidenced in the video linked above) the protesters have no real conception of what should be done, and that’s not necessarily even why the protesters are there. It seems they’re mostly just there because they’ve got nothing better to do.

Why does it matter?

Posted: December 1, 2010 by rooferwithamortgage in Getting Involved

Rankin Fitch: You think your average juror is King Solomon? No, he’s a roofer with a mortgage. He wants to go home and sit in his Barcalounger and let the cable TV wash over him. And this man doesn’t give a single, solitary droplet about truth, justice or your American way.

Runaway Jury