Archive for the ‘National’ 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.

Civil Discourse

Posted: September 13, 2012 by davishipps in Chicken Little, National

Ren mentioned on the show last week – and on this week’s rebroadcast of the same show – that I have several articles floating around in my head. This is true. Over the past month or so I’ve planned an article on Paul Ryan, one disputing the claims made by a popular Internet sign about why the sign’s creator is voting to re-elect President Obama, one about the shoddy treatment of several state delegations to the Republican National Convention by the RNC itself, and, most recently, one on a surprising similarity between the Democratic and Republican conventions, plus a few on more general topics. However, this has been a very busy time at my work and with my soon-to-be-expanding-again family, so I haven’t felt like I’ve had time to properly research and flesh out these articles. I hope to be able to get to them all at some point before the election.

Today, though, I wanted to tackle a broader topic. I’ll try to keep it short, and I’d like everyone to be in the proper state of calm when you read this. So, if you would, please take a deep breath, and slowly let it out.

Now another one.

And one more because I like the number 3.

Okay, now that we’re all relaxed, here’s what I need you to know. When someone disagrees with you on a particular subject, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re an idiot… even if it’s a very important subject. If you tend to be more right-leaning politically, you need to know that not everyone who is planning to vote to re-elect President Obama is doing so out of deference to his skin color. Nor is it because they’re Socialists, anti-American, or suffering from wealth-envy. If you tend to be more left-leaning politically, you need to know that not everyone who is planning to vote for Mitt Romney is doing so out of disdain for the President’s skin color. Nor is it that they hate poor people or love corporations.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Duh. I already know that.” But, honestly, when I look at Facebook, blogs, and the comments on news articles, this is the level of discourse that I’m seeing. It boils down to “either you agree with me, or clearly I am smarter than you.” I’ve also seen it put this way: “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.”

But can this possibly be true? Think for a moment about the people in your own life – your friends, co-workers, and relatives. Do you know any real people who have different political opinions than yourself? If you’re on the right, would you characterize those people as idiots? Have they ever said or done anything in your presence that would indicate that they are less than intelligent, out to destroy the country, or only looking to soak the rich? If you’re on the left, would you characterize those people as evil? Have they ever, in your entire experience with them, said or done anything in your presence that would lead you to believe that they are racist, greedy, or filled with hate?

I’ve already gone on longer than I intended, but I just wanted to put this out there. Claiming that someone with an opposing viewpoint is evil or stupid is a cop-out. It allows you not to have to consider the merits of whatever argument they’re presenting by labeling them as having a defective character. It prevents intelligent discussion of issues. It prevents you from possibly winning them over to your side, or at least helping them to understand where you’re coming from. Let us remember particularly in this, the silly season of national politics, that for the most part our differences are a matter of beliefs sincerely held about the proper role of government, and not a matter of hatred or ignorance. Please post your comments accordingly.

The Importance of Staying Informed

Posted: January 24, 2012 by davishipps in GOP, National
Tags: ,

The results are in from Saturday’s “First in the South” Republican primary in South Carolina, and what we saw there has caused me to reflect on the importance of staying informed.

Newt Gingrich won South Carolina with about 41% of the vote. As recently as the previous Tuesday, he’d been polling at around 21%. If you remember, he had experienced a surge in his candidacy back in November and early December after some strong debate performances in which he’d especially gotten a chance to attack the moderators. This seems to have been what happened Saturday as well. The former Speaker is at his best when he’s attacking the media and showcasing his rhetorical skills, and the debates last week allowed him the opportunity to do both.

And the voters respond. He is envisioned as being able to out-debate President Obama, he is given sympathy by a Republican electorate that rightly detests the mainstream media, and his record and his actual policy proposals fall by the wayside, which is a shame.

What really prompted this post was seeing a reporter tweet that “SC Exit polls show Gingrich edge with conservatives, Tea Party & religious voters.” I took this to mean: voters who identify themselves as conservatives have either forgiven or forgotten Newt’s bizarre record of aligning himself with liberals on issues like Climate Change and attacking conservatives on issues like Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal; voters who identify themselves as Tea Party members have either forgiven or forgotten Newt’s (somewhat reluctant) support of TARP and his endorsement and praise of RomneyCare; and voters who believe their President should be a strong Christian have forgiven or forgotten Newt’s various personal moral failings.

My point is not necessarily to bash Newt, but to bring up facts about his candidacy that might get overlooked after a rousing media-bashing debate. He may be a great debater (or not), and he may hate the media with a righteous indignation (or not), but his record (especially over the past decade+) should give Republicans pause, and the lack of specifics in his proposals should concern those voters who are naturally suspicious of politicians’ vague promises. And, lastly, his inability to even appear on the ballot in multiple states and his significant lag behind Obama in national polls should probably prevent all but his most loyal supporters from taking his candidacy seriously.

If we are researching these candidates and have a solid understanding of their history and positions, we won’t be so quick to vote for someone based on their Presidential looks or ability to entertain us. Stay motivated and stay informed.

Roofer With A Mortgage Writer goes Rogue with own Blog

Posted: December 11, 2011 by rooferwithamortgage in GOP, National

Davis Hipps has gone rogue with his own blog, votepaul.wordpress.com. His first post was nothing more than a cheap bait and hook technique. In it, he promised that his subsequent posts would reveal 7 reasons to support Ron Paul for President. Well I must admit that I was hooked from the first day and have eagerly waited for each daily posting like Oliver Twist begging for more. Davis is a gifted wordsmith and his prose, written candy. It is wonderful to see him use his gifts and talents for such a noble cause.

Furthermore, he is spot on in his assessments thus far and his reasons have mass appeal. If you want to learn something, jump on over to his blog right now.

If you are the type that likes to get the whole season of a television series on DVD to watch the episodes back to back, then you might be well suited to wait 5 more days until the entire series is complete.

If you are new to the Ron Paul Revolution then you should probably get started now. It might take some research and soul searching on each point before you are ready to digest the next course of this banquet of wisdom and paradigm shift.

As the series gets closer to an end, please remember what my kids’ gymnastics coach tells them each week, “It’s okay to cry!” when you realize that for the past 40 years we have let the mass media spoon feed us false premises, damaging opinions and party rhetoric. When you realize that neither democrat nor republican politicians have helped the American people one scintilla and that all the candidates in the race, with one exception, Obama included, are ostensibly the same. Their policies are all tweaking around the edges as we sink deeper and deeper into trouble and prepare to leave our children with mountains of debt and no liberties with which to affect any change.

It is time now to do what is right and take a bold stand and support Ron Paul for President, before its too late.

Comparing the Republican Candidates’ Economic Plans

Posted: October 29, 2011 by davishipps in GOP, National

Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney released his 59-point “Believe In America” plan at the beginning of last month. Over the course of the past several weeks, most of the other candidates have announced their plans as well, including Herman Cain’s “9-9-9″ plan, Ron Paul’s “Plan to Restore America” plan, Rick Perry’s “Cut, Balance, and Grow” plan, and Newt Gingrich’s “Jobs and Prosperity Plan.” I’ve tried to pull some points of comparison from these different plans and compile them into a spreadsheet based initially on Newt Gingrich’s chart comparing his plan with Rick Perry’s.

A few notes: Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman have both released economic plans of their own, but I didn’t include them in the chart because their campaigns have been polling less than 5% for some time now. Their plans are linked to their names in the previous sentence. Rick Santorum has not released a detailed plan but has covered some general principles here. Also worth mentioning is that every plan (with the exception of Huntsman’s) eliminates the Estate Tax (often referred to within the plans as the “Death Tax”), so I didn’t bother including that in the spreadsheet. And finally, it’s important to note that the Cain plan is predominantly a Tax Plan, the Paul plan is predominantly a Spending Plan, and the others are both more vague and more inclusive about both aspects.

Cain Gingrich Paul Perry Romney
Personal Income Tax Rate 9% in phase 1, 0% in phase 2 15% Unchanged 20% Unchanged
Deductions for Charity Everyone Everyone Unchanged Families under $500K Unchanged
Deductions for Home Ownership Unclear Everyone Unchanged Families under $500K Unchanged
State/Local Deductions No one No one Unchanged Everyone Unchanged
Payroll Taxes Eliminated Eventually replaced w/ personal accounts Unchanged Unchanged Unchanged
Tax on Interest Income Eliminated Unchanged Eliminated Unchanged Eliminated for taxpayers with adjusted gross income under $200,000
Earned Income Credit & Child Tax Credit Eliminated Unchanged Unchanged Unspecified Unchanged
Benefits from Capital Gains Tax Elimination Everyone Everyone Everyone Only long-term gains eliminated Only taxpayers with adjusted gross income under $200,000
Corporate Rate 9% in phase 1, 0% after that 12.5% 15% 20% 25%
New National Sales Tax Rate 9% in phase 1, 30% after that N/A N/A N/A N/A
First Year Spending Cuts Unspecified  Unspecified $1Trillion $100 Billion $20 Billion
Year Budget is balanced Unspecified  Unspecified 2015 2020  Unspecified

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.

Rick Perry After Further Consideration

Posted: September 25, 2011 by davishipps in GOP, National
Tags: , ,

In my last post, I listed some things that voters might like about Rick Perry, especially Republican voters since we’re in the primary season. In this post, I will discuss some of the mitigating factors surrounding these reasons, and why they may not, perhaps even should not, be enough for Perry to win the nomination of his party.

Elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas under George W. Bush in 1998, Perry was effectively promoted when Bush became President in January 2001. He’s since been elected Governor three times in his own right, and in all of that time has presided over significant economic growth, especially when compared to the rest of the country as a whole. This is clearly a good thing for Texas, though how much this growth can be attributed to Governor Perry and his policies is up for debate. Critics claim Texas is largely benefiting from the higher oil/gas prices which hurt the rest of the nation, and even supporters admit that Perry hasn’t so much promoted growth as he has refrained from hindering it. There is also some concern that when recent immigrants (both legal and illegal) are factored out, “the share of working-age natives in Texas holding a job has declined in a manner very similar to the nation a whole.” In other words, there is evidence to suggest that Texas’s economic success has been greatly exaggerated.

On the 10th Amendment, Governor Perry made headlines two years ago regarding the state sovereignty resolution linked to in the previous post. Most of the headlines related to the media’s characterization of the resolution as advocating Texas’s secession. My point here is not to highlight the media’s desire to generate headlines through sensationalizing, but to point out that Perry’s association with the 10th Amendment is not always positive. And while Republicans do indeed value states’ rights and the 10th Amendment, it is hardly a stand-out issue for Perry. Congresswoman Bachmann has long been associated with the “Tenther” movement, and Congressman Paul has been advocating for states’ rights for years.

On that note, I need hardly mention that his opposition to ObamaCare and abortion are standard (and therefore not stand-out) Republican issues. And, while Perry has again made headlines for his stance against the Fed by saying another round of quantitative easing would be “almost treasonous,” (and even Gingrich has begun speaking against the Fed), Ron Paul has been the leader on this issue for decades, having written books on the subject as early as 1981.

It is also widely known that all of the major candidates claim to be Christians, be they Baptist (Cain, Paul), Catholic (Gingrich, Santorum), Evangelical Lutheran (Bachmann), non-denominational Protestant (Perry), or Mormon (Huntsman, Romney).

In short, in terms of positive reasons that he should be President, Governor Perry doesn’t really stand out. He does, however, stand out strongly in terms of negatives. His comments during the most recent Republican debate reflecting his views on illegal immigration are starkly at odds with the other Republicans in the running. He also seems to have no real foreign policy to speak of, as evidenced by his answer to the 3AM question, again in the most recent debate. At a time when America is fighting at least two commonly-acknowledged wars in the Middle East, this strikes me as a major handicap, especially if he were to make it to the general election. All-in-all, it seems to me, the pros for Rick Perry are comparatively weak, and the cons are far too strong for someone running for the Presidency.

What Do You Like About Rick Perry?

Posted: September 23, 2011 by davishipps in GOP, National
Tags: , ,

Ren has posed the question on the show a couple of times, and I know he’s asked members of the Republican Party in private, “What do you like about Rick Perry?” He has also said that he has yet to receive a satisfactory answer, so I’ve tried to do some digging on my own in hopes of finding these reasons that people, for whatever reason, haven’t been able to articulate. Here are some possible answers:

  • You may like that Texas has enjoyed the highest job growth in the U.S. during Perry’s tenure as governor, and this while many states are losing jobs.
  • You may appreciate Perry’s strong advocacy of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which declares “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

These are all reasons that people may like Rick Perry. I hope this is helpful. I’ll be continuing this discussion in my next post, so be sure to check back.

9/11 Remembrances

Posted: September 11, 2011 by davishipps in National
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On 9/11/2001, I had been working at the North Carolina School of Science and Math for not quite 3 months. I’d gotten to work and checked my email. I think I had done an update to a server or something, and I had gone upstairs to assist a Mac user on the floor above me with an issue she was having. There was a conference room just before her office on the other side of the hall. Someone came out and said, “Davis, come in here.” I said something like, “If the update broke something, I can just go uninstall it real quick.” He said, “No, it’s not about that. Just come in here. A plane just hit the World Trade Center.” I remember thinking that it was awful, but not fully comprehending what had happened. As I became aware that it was a passenger plane, and that it had struck an office building with people in it, I started to feel physically ill. As we were watching the news report of the smoking building, another plane came into view. We watched horrified as the second plane struck the second tower. After that, things are a bit of a blur now. I remember that we watched as the buildings collapsed, I remember that the news report mentioned the plane hitting the Pentagon and another one going down in Pennsylvania, and I remember at some point calling my wife to find out if she’d heard the news and if she was okay. Ren was right when he mentioned on the show that it felt almost silly to call my wife; I knew she’d been home that day, and I didn’t think she knew anyone at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. Still, I wanted to hear her voice and to know she was all right. Most of my co-workers did the same. I don’t think any of us did any work for the rest of the day. Some went home right away. I remember other people sitting around sad and stunned. They left the news on in that conference room all day. Some of the folks I worked with had friends in New York, and we all went home early.

What were you doing, and how did you hear the news? Post your 9/11 remembrances in the comments below.

Congressman Rob Woodall held a town hall meeting to a packed room at the Barrow County Administrative Annex Monday night from 7-8PM. Below are my thoughts and reactions:

  • The turnout was amazing. Every seat was filled, people were standing all along the back wall, all along the side wall closest to the doors, and there were even some folks standing just outside the doors.
  • The assembly was also much more diverse than I’ve witnessed at previous town hall meetings, both physically and ideologically, so that it really did feel like the community was well-represented.
  • I appreciate that the Congressman remains courteous and civil, even when his constituents do not pay him they same courtesy. There were some folks who insulted the man to his face, and the Congressman let them know that he was offended, but he did so politely, and encouraged them to research his record on voting and his finances before insulting him again.
  • Congressman Woodall strikes me as more of a political science teacher than a politician, patiently explaining his reasons for voting the way he has. I appreciate that he has plausible reasons that aren’t laden with sound bites or political jargon. For example, he explained that he’d voted No on all of this year’s Debt Ceiling Increase bills until this last one, when he believed that the opportunity to require the Senate to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment within the next 3 months trumped his normal reservations about endorsing continued federal spending.
  • The meetings themselves are always tense, and Monday night’s was no exception. This is the people’s chance to speak with their Congressman, and the people of Barrow County vary in their opinions of his performance and philosophy. The emotions ranged from praise to disappointment to frustration and anger, and there were some outbursts where I wondered whether the speaker might not have to be restrained or removed. The Congressman’s calm responses seemed to win out, however. He fielded questions on Social Security, the debt ceiling, foreign trade, and the Federal Reserve System, and he tried to have an educational answer to all of them, though his teachings weren’t always accurate.
  • Overall, I’d say it went as well as the Congressman could have realistically hoped, given his vote on the recent controversial debt-ceiling increase and the variety of opinions represented by the people in attendance.

The Congressman’s final Town Hall meeting of the summer is tonight at 7PM in the Snellville City Hall Community Room.