Friday, November 11, 2016

The Problem with Globalism

I sat and listened through a painful segment on MSNBC's "Morning Joe this morning.  They were still wringing their hands about the election. A few of the guests, along with Michael Moore, were discussing how Trump managed to win. They seemed to believe that anyone who voted for Trump was either: a) desperate and struggling and had to vote their own self interest because they've been forgotten, or b) ignorant to the diverse, multicultural world that lies just beyond their middle American, small town reality.

Michael Moore took some offense to that, but then still offered the observation that they (the elites) need to understand that Americans who voted for Trump actually watch shows like "Celebrity Apprentice," "The Bachelorette" and know the Kardashians by name. Okay. I'm not sure this was meant to combat or reinforce the previous concept.

Here again is another example of elites trying to rationalize the results and coming to the conclusion that those who didn't agree with them are somehow dumber or more ignorant than they are. They also offered the very bizarre feeling that while they may lack curiosity to understand how white, middle America thinks, they also feel that white, middle America should make more of an effort to understand how they think.

I thought my head was going to explode.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who sees the obvious. Over the past few months, about three months before the Brexit vote and a few weeks after, had the opportunity to speak to a number of Brits. I would ask "how's that Brexit vote looking?" I would get mixed responses, mostly in support of leaving the EU. I would usually throw in a question that would surprise them, and was rewarded 100% of the time the answered that affirmed my belief. I would ask: "so...this is primarily about having an open border with another country that has pledged to let in over three million refugees, right?"

Usually, the answer wasn't just "yes", it was "absolutely" or "hell yeah." Even those who were going to vote against Brexit would admit that was the only real issue. And yet, our news media kept showing us shopkeepers upset this, or teapot makers upset about pesky bureaucrats in Belgium telling them how to make a teapot. We were shown Brit after Brit with a similar, minor complaint as if the question was about bureaucracy.

It wasn't. It was about Brits feeling like they were losing their way of life.

Its funny. When countries fight wars to preserve their way of life, the combatants are called patriots. When citizens try to formulate immigration policies that will preserve their way of life, they're called xenophobes or racists.

A nation's culture and values are precious. The plot of land isn't the most important feature. America is not some international enterprise zone. This is our home.

There isn't enough time or patience on the part of the reader to go into the many ways how our nation has changed, but I will state just a few very obvious examples. We, Americans, used to all believe in the Constitution and our political discourse was about what the tax rate should be or where to build a new road. Now, we are debating the very validity of the Constitution. Believing in the Constitution used to not make you a reactionary, it made you an American.

It isn't that one side doesn't want to build a wall or deport people that have been living here for a while and have families, it is that they truly don't want to stop the next person from entering illegal. They truly don't believe in the whole idea that nations should have borders. They act like the whole concept is medieval. And for us in the middle, we recognize the REALITY, that if we don't agree on the rule book as to how our government is supposed to function or believe we have the right to maintain a border, you really don't believe in the country.

They want us to live in some fantasy world where an ESPN announcer can say, with a straight face, "you can say many things about Colin Kapernick not standing for the national anthem, but don't call it un-American." The logic is that the right to protest is protected as one of our values of free speech, so therefore even if what he is protesting against is America, his protest isn't un-American. Huh?  By that definition, no form of protest could ever be characterized as un-American. So, burning the flag, wearing a shirt that says "America sucks!," or how about the Imams of Iran saying "Death to Americans!"

The left says that when the right accuses them of being un-American, that this hyperbolic rhetoric. But it has gotten to the point where if we have a standard that anyone, no matter where they are from, no matter what they believe (either religiously, politically or culturally) have just as much to be here and acquire US citizenship just because THEY want to, then you tell me how we can actual have a sovereign nation. Or, ever maintain an American culture or way of life.

To some, they not only support this but they take pleasure in it. They say things like, well, since the white Europeans who came to America did it to the Native Americans who are we to say the rest of the world doesn't have the same right to come here as our early settlers. Who are we to say? We are actually the Americans living here.

This struggle isn't about philosophy. It is about reality. Some may have been convinced that this is a debate somewhere in the margins, fine points of distinction. But that is not true. If you do not believe in the concept of a border, do not agree that the Constitution is actually the rule book on how our government functions, and believe that we have the right to limit and control who is allowed to join us within this are an enemy to me and my way of life.

You are no less than an enemy than any potential invading army who also doesn't believe our border should be respected or our values worthy of continuing. And we spend trillions of dollars keeping our military strong enough to defend our way of life. We don't do that so that we can voluntarily bring in the very element from which we defend ourself.

We have come to the point where these two counter positions are no longer sustainable. The globalist mentality that the world would be a better place if every country looked the same by racial make-up, had similar diversity in world religions, etc, wars would be obsolete. This is a pipe dream, at least at the pace it is occurring now. We are not teaching incoming residents about our values, we are no longer proud of our history. We are now in the precarious position of letting in millions upon millions without a shared culture or values while simultaneously teaching our young everything wrong with America.

Our mainstream culture disproportionately denigrates American values. More and more promotes criminality (again, don't make me list the many examples of when police dramas changed from the central message of "crime doesn't pay" to "where all criminals, really, even the police." I mean, come on, two of our most popular shows where actually told from the perspective of a meth dealer and serial killer). And maybe it is't that Trump supporters are watching "Celebrity Apprentice," the issue is what exactly the millennials who voted for Clinton are actually watching.

If we continue down the pathway of normalizing the world, we will cease to be "great." Not because those who come here diminish or weaken us, but because it is the reality of equality. Those who argue that America was never great, or mixing apples and oranges. They are stuck in this jingoistic world that puts bumper stickers on cars that read "It's nice to be great, but greater to be nice." Well, those are two different things. We don't live in a bumper sticker world.

We are not ignorant, or racist, or xenophobic. We have had enough of the elites putting us in a world we have to apologize for wearing a pilgrim costume on Halloween. We shouldn't have to denounce every aspect of our past. You are not great only because you are nice, you are great because you achieve great things.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why the Electoral College is Still Important

Once again we are bombarded with images of protesters, usually in California, who are angry about the outcome of an election. They are carrying signs promoting two ultimately contradictory positions: 1) the Electoral College should be abolished, and 2) California should secede from the union.

I consider these positions conflicted because one (the idea of secession) is buttressed by the notion that California -- or any state for that matter -- still exists as an independent government in union with a group of other independent governments, while the second (direct election of President) seems to presuppose that there are no state affiliations or divisions.

As Madison argued in Federalist No. 39, the Constitution established a mixture of state-based and population-based governments. Originally, in the legislative branch of government, the Senate was supposed to be selected at state level, while the House of Representatives was supposed to be directly elected by the population. The Judicial branch was to be selected by Executive and then confirmed by Legislative. And then the third branch, the Executive, was also to be elected by a mixture of the two modes. Hamilton wrote about the electors in Federalist No. 68:

"Men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under 
circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the 
reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice."

At a time when the general population had less access to information about each candidate, it was important to provide a hierarchical approach. Remember, at this time all elections were local in nature and the largest voting pool was at the state level.

The Constitution provides the algorithm for determining the number of electors and mandates that to win the Presidency a candidate must receive a majority. Since the election of 1824, most states have appointed their electors on a winner-take-all basis, based on the statewide popular vote on Election Day.  We tend to look at the Electoral College only in terms of its impact on binary, two-party elections, but the true measure or restrictive nature may come in our future if the number of viable political parties or movements expand in America. For example, in a true three-candidate race, the winner would still need a majority of electoral college votes. If such a majority is not reach, the election is determined via a contingency procedure established by the Twelfth Amendment. This process involves the House of Representatives voting as individual states for President. This requires any minority candidate to build some sort of governing coalition of support.

We tend to try to compare American political systems against other nations without real knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of others. For example, in a Parliamentarian government, the Prime Minister is not directly elected either. Each party has a person they would consider their leader, and if that party wins a majority of seats, then their leader becomes Prime Minister. No Brit ever voted for Margaret Thatcher, they voted for her party. In those cases, and even other countries that directly elect an executive leader, they then must still put together a coalition of support within the Parliament.

Direct democracy is not only difficult in a nation of America's size, but can lead to factionalism that is harmful to the running of a republic. The "dual-mode" system put in place by our framers serves a valuable purpose of never forgetting that we are indeed a collection of states. A collection of states that come together as part of highly structured compromise that tries to temper the power of any state over another. To give equal power to Rhode Island as compared to California would be grossly unfair. But, to put forth a system in which a person may get a disproportionate amount of support among a very few states that can outweigh the decision of forty other states would also be just as wrong.

Our system now seeks to find a delicate balance. It usually doesn't come into play, but now twice in the last twenty years, a person has won the Presidency with a majority of electors but failed to win the national popular vote. And not surprisingly, each time it happens, a small group of disgruntled appear argue that the system has failed.

If, of course, the goal of the electoral college was to elect a President that the majority of voters had chosen, then it would have failed. But, if that were the goal we wouldn't need it in the first place. And remember, it wasn't done to limit who could vote, or because we didn't have the apparatus to conduct a nation-wide population-based election. It was an attempt to compromise between population and state's rights.

I would argue that the measure as to whether the electoral college is successful is in those cases when it differs from the popular vote. Did it temper the power of more populated states? In this last election, it appears that Secretary Clinton will win the popular vote by a 0.23% margin when limiting the choice to just those two. Or to put in raw vote totals, among the nearly 120 million votes cast to either of those two, the margin of difference is 283,000 votes. So, if we chose solely by popular vote, Mrs. Clinton would win.

Now, let's look at state dispersion. Mrs Clinton won 20 states and the District of Columbia while Trump won 30. Mrs. Clinton won two with as few electors as three (which is the minimum) while Mr. Trump won four. The largest prize for Trump was 38 for Texas, while Mrs. Clinton won all 55 from California.

This system, is not perfect. But then again, no three people would agree on what perfection would look like. If you want to know what tyranny would look like, imagine a candidate that might win New York, California and DC, by 90%, but then lose the remaining 48 states by a few thousand votes each, and win by a landslide of the popular vote. In that scenario the choice of the three main power centers could dictate to the rest of the citizenry. A candidate's message might only have to address the needs of those powerful states. You could in theory win on a platform of excluding California and New York from federal income tax. Not that it would happen, but it is possible.

Our current system requires our presidential candidates to actually visit the farmlands of Iowa, or the badlands of the Dakotas. They must actually meet the people. Sometime, when they take states for granted like Mrs. Clinton did Wisconsin, they get punished.

In conclusion, we either agree in principle to what the electoral college is attempting to do, or we don't. Stop arguing that it is broken when the two outcomes don't match. It wasn't designed to match. And its value still today in our society isn't in its ability to match. It is designed to ensure that the person who will be President as broad appeal across a majority of independent states.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

2016 Crisis Part 5: A Media Coup D'etat

The second Presidential debate was quite interesting. Besides my typical dismay about the fact that our choices are down to these two, I never cease to be entertained by the media. They were immediately fixated on a comment by Trump that when President, he would appoint an independent prosecutor to, as he said it, get to the bottom of what actually happened. He then later made a joke about that if he was in charge of the justice system Hillary would be in jail. I say that was a joke because he already said what he planned, to actually have a prosecutor appointed to get to the facts, not just outright jail her. But, that didn't stop the media from misinterpretting Trump's words to the absolute worst possible meaning. That, when elected, officers were going to show up at Clinton's doorstep with shackles and haul her off as a political prisoner.

Their outrage was obvious. "This is like living in a banana republic!" "This is the actions of a third-world dictator!" Blah, blah, blah. All the while missing what a third world dictator wouldn't do...which is to get to the truth through a transparent legal process.  You know, the type of legal process that was used to investigate Watergate, Iran/Contra, Valerie Plame leak, White Water, etc. If there is one thing we've learned through this investigation it's that the Justice Department and FBI seem incapable of investigating the Administration currently in power.

Then there was the next shoe to drop. Trump had answered that he never actually did the behavior that he discussed in the hot mic incident. Within a day, the floodgates began opening up of video testimony from women who claimed to be the victim of sexual assault.

(As a side note, just because I have a hard time letting any left-wing media hypocrisy go unhighlighted, I want to point out that groping in these terms and "kissing" woman without permission is now considered "sexual assault." During the Clinton scandals we were asked by the media if oral sex was really sex since vaginal penetration hadn't occurred. Just thought I'd mention.)

The video testimony didn't take long. Over the next few days I can summarize CNN's coverage as follows: Have a Trump surrogate on the panel, make the Trump surrogate watch the video tape of an alleged victim say in her words what happened, then turn to the surrogate and ask something like "how can you still support Mr. Trump given these revelations?"

If they even hinted that none of these accounts are actually proven, the women on the panel explode and ask "why would all these women lie?"

I'm sitting there, as a viewer, and as a US Citizen, and I wonder if this is how elections are always going to be in the future. Besides the fact they keep misrepresenting Mr. Trump has not talking about issues (he has given major policy speeches on a) the economy, b) immigration, c) the military and defense, and d) cleaning up corruption in government. During the entire campaign I can sum up the Clinton policy as making sure the rich pay their fair share and we don't build a wall. And, almost every time she is asked about policy, she refers the moderator to her web site.)  Issues really don't matter. Just has Saul Alinsky said, make your opponent a villain.

Hillary supposedly won all three debates. And, if you asked the media without forewarning them about where you would go with their answer, they would most likely summarize those victories for these reasons: Debate 1: She pounded Trump on not releasing his taxes and Alicia Muchado comments, Debate 2: He threatened to imprison her and said he didn't sexual abuse women, which they were able to discredit, and Debate 3: He said he wouldn't commit to conceding until he actually sees what happens during the voting process.  They would never even attempt to convey that she convinced the majority of Americans that building a wall is wrong, that lowering corporate taxes isn't a good way to stimulate the economy, that re-negotiating NAFTA isn't the correct thing to do. I could go down a laundry list of items that Trump's issues align with the majority of Americans. All of which Clinton has done nothing to persuade the majority of Americans that they are wrong. All of her "victories" are all about how she has been able to personally demonize Trump, all of which are amplified for about a week following the debate, with video tape, on all media outlets.

So, if we go back to the poor Trump surrogate sitting on the panel, when they are confronted with the video tape, I wonder what the reporter expects them to actually say. They fake surprise when they defend Trump is almost as if they expect them to say "Yep, your right. We give up."

Never mind the fact that he is a major party nominee, has the support of millions of America. The fact that hey five, even ten women, or maybe even more, who are willing to come forward and say he is or was a scoundrel, that alone overshadows everything. Let's be clear, we are talking about allegations with absolutely no corroborative evidence, no contemporaneous complaints of any kind. In fact, one of the biggest reasons sexual abuse or assault sometimes goes unreported is because the man, or the one doing the assault, has all the power. But in one case, we are actually expected to believe that a reporter for a magazine that is expecting to write a story about Mr. Trump's first wedding anniversary, was assaulted when his wife left the room. Seriously. She had all the power in this scenario. He knew she could write anything she wanted to in the story. The actions were actually germane to the story. I mean, isn't the fact that the husband is hitting on the reporter a point of discussion in an article about the state of his marriage? It is the most ludicrous assertion.

But again, I don't want to look just at that. I want to discuss what we as voters are supposed to do with these sorts of things. I mean, in the last election it was that Romney didn't care about a fired employee whose wife had cancer, or that he put his dog on the roof of the car so that it wouldn't vomit in their car. Or, the election before that when McCain had a supposed affair with a lobbyist, that we were later told by the Washington Times that they never really meant to insinuate he had an affair. Or, before that the fake documents that showed Bush never really did his national guard service. Or perhaps before that Bush's DUI arrest just days before election. It seems as if they are getting more serious about personally destroying any Republican nominee. It seems more extreme this year because Clinton is such an awful candidate. I recognize the warts of Trump. And, I recognize that for a lot of Americans they have a difficult time accepting that he might actually be President. I do understand. But, those feelings doesn't give the media the license to do what they are doing.

We are a nation of 320 million Americans. Of those, about 220 million are eligible to vote. The will of those 220 million cannot be governed by the uncorroborated, unprovable allegations of ten to fifteen women. We cannot give that much power to that few. You cannot run a democracy this way. We have freedom of the press to protect our democracy, not to attack it and try to control it. I'm not saying you don't report these incidences, but I am saying that you try to put them into some proper context and proportionality. With each passing day the media sound more like petulent children, trying feverishly to find a new allegation that will help them get what they want. But, allowing about 100 media elites and a few women making allegations just a month before an election, determine who are next President is nothing short of a media coup d'etat. Please don't give them this much power.

2016 Crisis Part 4: Radio Free America

WikiLeaks. A simple phrase or word (not sure...two capitals but no space. I'm stumped) but one that inspires a lot of controversy and debate. I think it is important to separate the information into different buckets.

Trump, in one of his most brilliant statements of the campaign, said that he hoped Russia or WikiLeaks has some of the 33,000 emails that Clinton deleted because he was sure that the journalists would be reward them for making them public. I call this statement brilliant because it beautifully exposed the American corporate media complex for the frauds they are in this particular controversy. They do not want to see those 33,000 emails.

Immediately both the left and the media (redundant?) lashed out saying that Mr. Trump just encouraged Russia to hack private email accounts. Two things about this: 1) he is talking about something that would've already had have to had happened and therefore he is not encouraging any new behavior, and 2) we DON'T HAVE TO ENCOURAGE our enemy to do those things that enemies naturally do. This one stupid misconception of the world could spark voluminous posts, but I'm going to put that aside for now.

The main issue pertaining to these emails, the supposed 33,000 deleted while under subpoena, we as Americans have a right to see. Either with our own eyes, or the eyes of our Congressional representative doing the people's work on Capitol Hill. We elect them to provide oversight, and in doing so issued a lawful subpoena. One that the former Secretary of State chose to not comply with. So let's put those in a bucket we'll call the one's we deserve to be exposed.

Then, let's look at the public/private speeches Mrs. Clinton gave and was paid to give. Unless each person attending signed a confidential agreement she should not have an expectation of privacy. Let's be serious, she's speaking in a large forum with hundreds of attendees. This hardly passes as private communication. Anyone who ran an audio recorder on their phone and leaked to WikiLeaks I feel that we as voters have a right to know. After all, knowing the person running for President dreams of a hemispheric open border is important. So, I'm okay reading her speeches.

Then there is the third basket, the private emails among her staff. These were not government employees at the time and there was clearly an expectation of privacy. One staffer, saying to another staffer, that Bernie Sanders is a "doofus" hardly constitutes something I should consider when voting, or should have a right to know. And yet there are some of those, in which a Clinton campaign workers communicates to a government employee in the White House that they need to "clean up" the fact that there may be emails between the President and the Secretary of State on a private email server, now that is also a slight different animal in this basket.

The left and most of the media refuses to really discuss the content some of the content of the WikiLeaks emails because they claim they shouldn't have to address matters that are only public because they were stolen. That didn't stop Mrs. Clinton from discussing the contents of a stolen tax form to an audience of 71 million Americans during the second debate. But, we have come to expect this level of hypocrisy from the left. No new news here.

For the purpose of this post, I want to narrow my focus to the first basket, those emails that were under subpoena, and the media's response to what Trump actually said. Their issue appears to be that even though we as citizens have a right to see that information, when it might be made public by a foreign government then it is wrong. This constitutes a foreign government manipulating the American political process. And we all stand solidarity against that sort of thing.

I started thinking about that for a while. It didn't take long to come to a sad realization. We were now relying on a foreign government to get information that our own government was legally compelled to provide. In America, we used to be all about providing that kind of information. In fact, we were all about making sure those living behind the iron curtain had that type of information about their own governments. It was called Radio Free Europe. It would attempt to educate what the Soviet Union government was really like. And, how what their state run media was telling them was inaccurate. And so with our media not really holding a government official accountable refusing to comply with a subpoena, have we finally reached the point where we as citizens need an outside force to make sure we are getting the truth from our media and government. Do we now have a state-run media?

When the media tells us they are outraged that a foreign government may try to influence our election, are they protecting our soverignity or just upset that they have competition in influencing our elections?  What I didn't hear, from any of them, was any desire to actually see what might have been in those 33,000 emails. And much to our disappointment, with none of those as part of the WikiLeaks material, perhaps the BleachBit got to them before the hackers.

Let's be clear about that last statement. If the emails (again, very clear, we are talking about the emails on Clinton's private server that she sent or received while Secretary of State) were hacked, they would have been hacked before disconnecting server from internet and wiping clean. There are different windows of time that need to be considered. If, as some hackers such as Guccifer claims, had access to read in real-time, then the use of the server could have costed American lives. For some unknown reason we seem to be stuck in this narrow box that we are looking for emails related to Benghazi in which Clinton admits that she knows it is a terrorist attack and is going to lie to the American people. It could be worse. There could be an email from Clinton to Ambassador Stevens that says what time and who is supposed to show up on that night to get the weapons he is trafficking (whoa...before you get all upset this is a hypothetical scenario that I do not have sufficient evidence to state as fact...I'm just saying). Then the whole debate isn't about what she knew and when she knew it, the issue if far more serious for Clinton. The issue then is whether or not her sending such emails over a private server is actually what alerted the wrong team to show up on that night. The reality is we don't know because she hid those emails. And there had to be something serious enough to suffer the political wounds of failing to disclose.

But I hope. I truly hope that foreign governments and/or hackers weren't reading emails from our Secretary of State in real time.

Then there is the time period after she was Secretary of State and before she deleted. If some other government actually has those we, as Americans, would like to see them. I say this for several logical reasons: 1) we have a right to see them, and 2) we need to know whether or not a foreign government has for our future security. I say that because the worst case scenario is they are not made public, but Putin actually does have them. Then, at any time during her presidency, he has the ability to exert force and blackmail our President. So if Russia or WikiLeaks, you better hope they realize before the election.

Secondly, apart from the blackmail perspective, it would also be good to know what your enemy actually does know. Since Clinton stupidly chose to do her job over a private unsecured server, we are left guessing if everything she communicated is actually known in the Kremlin, or Iran, or North Korea, etc. This middle ground we are left in, where we don't really know what has been compromised, leaves us at a serious disadvantage. And Mrs. Clinton has put us there.

For their part, the media couldn't care less about these issues. They seem more worried about Russia influencing our elections than actually controlling a President. The actual truth, which the American people deserve, might be third or fourth on their list of concerns. And so we are left with WikiLeaks taking on the job of Radio Free America helping us get to the truth. However, don't be fooled. Although WikiLeaks now might be providing a public service, there is a dark and sinister side looming just around the corner. Because our media has failed to provide the type of oversight we deserve and expect we are left relying on a source that does not have a our long-term best interest at heart.

So just how did both the media and Clinton make Trump out to be the villain in this one?

2016 Crisis Part 3: We Might Be Tyrants

I think it is time we took a long, hard look at ourselves. We tend to believe that the only force that can have tyrannical control over us is a dictatorial government. But in reality, the mobilizing force of the majority no longer needs a government sanction to wield its power. Webster's simple definition of tyranny is "cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others". A representative government, in essence, is nothing more than an institution that carries out the will of the majority in a society for the purpose of improving or protecting that society.

In a pure democracy -- without any control measures -- the will of the majority can be absolute and oppressive. Our founders wisely recognized that individual liberties and rights needed to be protected from the potential tyranny of the majority. We often look at how the three branches of government work as checks and balances on each other but fail to recognize that the Bill of Rights itself is the ultimate check and balance to the will of the majority.

The First Amendment is a preservation of your right to politically speak, assemble and associate with whomever you wish, and freely express and practice your religion however you choose without fear of retribution or punishment from your government. And, since we assume the government is comprised of representatives of the majority, this prohibits the many from applying a tyrannical force on the few, or the one. Remember, their are no rights enumerates to any group, or not even a minority, just individuals. And, our legal system has logically applied a singular check and balance to these rights with the realization that your rights do not supersede another person's individual's rights.

At the time our founders composed and ratified the Constitution, they probably couldn't have envisioned a time when almost each and every citizen had the power to mobilize large segments of the populace and exercise force without the mechanisms of government.

In the 219 years since the ratifying of the Constitution we have pretty much abiding by it in principal and expanded upon the sentiments. This hands off approach to speech and assembly has enabled major positive movements of social justice to gain a voice and manifest in necessary societal change. And, we have put limits even on how individuals can exercise punishment in relation to those individual rights. For examples, employers cannot discriminate when hiring based on someone's political affiliation or religion because that would be exacting a punishment against someone based on a choice that they had made, when they had the right to make that choice without fear of punishment.

But something has changed in our public discourse, and it is palpable. Yes, you have a right to feel anyway you want to feel about someone based on how they exercise their right. That is your right as an individual. But before you go to your Facebook page or twitter feed and start encouraging others to take actions based on how you feel I would appreciate you take a moment and reconsider the merits of such action. Each situation may be different. All boycotts or movements are unique based on the actions that are inciting the punishment or retribution. I want to confine this discussion only to matters where we are talking about those rights we thought were sacrosanct enough to be enumerated.

For example, let's look at two scenarios and compare. In 1933 Germany a Christian paints a Star of David on the wall of a business alerting other Christians not to shop there. In 2016 America you post on your Facebook page that you shouldn't shop at a store because the owner is Jewish. Is there a difference? And again, you might think to yourself that you would never do such a thing. So, let's go one step further and expand to actions that might be compatible with someone who is Jewish. Let's say you post something like "I just heard to the guy who owns that shop is a zionist and supports Israel. I'm never going to shop there again!"

Now, the government can't take any action to damage his business or harm him, which means you can't do it by electing enough people who think like you do, but you think it is okay to do it if you just convince enough people to do it. Aren't you a tyrant?

I have heard all the arguments against this. There are the screams that "I have the right to spend my money as I see fit!" Yes, you do. But my question is a different one: "should you?" If last week you shopped there, liked the service, liked the value of what you received in return for the price, should you spend your money elsewhere just because the shipowner's political viewpoints do not align with your own?

In our society's attempt to be more tolerant of others we have reached a point where acceptance and agreement is required by some, and if you fail to provide that, they feel it is okay to exact punishment. Let's be clear, denying someone an earning is about as severe a punishment as you can think of. In our new hyper-political social media world it seems that we are more and more becoming aligned into a certain community, and advocating punishment toward others. Whether it is a CEO of a tech company who doesn't believe in gay marriage or just someone who might put a Hillary "Stronger Together" sticker on their car. Who are we to try to take away his/her job because they think differently than we do.

I am about as outspoken a person as you will ever find. I have no problem discussing disagreements with people and trying to convince them to see the light. But I can honestly say that at no time felt the desire to ever punish someone for thinking different when it comes to religion or politics. Heck, I happen to think the whole Wiccan thing is a bit silly (spare your comments, please). But I would never not buy a candle in their shop because I knew the owner was Wiccan. I wouldn't buy one just because they were, but I don't think it is a factor in the consideration.

The goal of some appears to be that they will only spend their money on businesses that think the way they do. Which begs the question as to why. What is the end result. They can say it isn't about control or punishment. But even when they fully expand on the activity it eventually gets to that they want to see those who think like them be successful. And the converse of that is that their competition is less successful and maybe goes out of business. Is that not punishment and control. It may be one you can sleep with at night, but what makes it different than the government looking just a little longer at certain forms from Tea Party groups than they do at forms from Acorn. Your knee jerk response is because that is the government. But WE are the government. If it is wrong for me to do it through the ballot box isn't just as wrong to do it through Facebook?

We are our won worst enemies when it comes to this new open, communicative society we have built. We buy more on brand than we do value (which IS a part of brand). As we approach two coffee shops on the corner, do we really need to know which charities they each support before making a decision where to buy our latte and croissant? The world was much simpler when that choice used to be made on which croissant you thought actually tasted better or was cheaper.

And no matter how removed or safe you are today, just wait. Eventually someone is going to catch you disagreeing on something they think it is important. And perhaps your twenty years of blood, sweat and tears to build that business are no longer as important as compliance. What will you do? Will you conform for your own personal survival or cling to your ideals or beliefs?

Its funny. No one likes a bully but we seem to get new one's every day. And if we accept the behavior of tyrants in our every day life how long will it be before we accept it in our government? Or more importantly, is our new social media world actually more powerful and tyrannical than our governments ever could be?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

2016 Crisis Part 2: The Rule of Law

There have been few things that have angered me more than the new, very scary perception of what the corporate media complex seems to believe makes our democracy work. They seem to believe that one presidential candidate conceding defeat after the election is "the bedrock" of our political system. This would be laughable if not for the fact that the tantrums appear to resonate with a large segment of the American populace. So let me state in no uncertain terms that this belief is a danger to democracy.

The bedrock of any free society's democracy is the rule of law. Not, some gentlemen's agreement between the elite ruling class or party big wigs to go along blindly with the reported results of an election no matter the circumstances. The American voters deserve, scratch that, have a right to have the rule of law maintained throughout the election process. This is the true bedrock of our political system.

Mr. Trump never even hinted about an insurrection, violence, or doing anything he didn't have a legal right to do. I don't know what the media thinks they heard, but I heard nothing threatening to our political system. In fact, what they seem to romantically hold up of "how it is supposed to work" is this anecdote about Nixon knowing he probably really won Illinois but the corruption within Cook County, and supposedly boxes of missing votes showing up on the side of the road somewhere, and that he still chose not to challenge and conceded. It is said by the media today that this is an example of Nixon putting the country ahead of his own personal pursuit of power, something they know Trump would never do.

It is hard to find more bolderdash than what is present in that perception. Since when is disenfranchising American voters in the best interest of the country? If you think the voters of Illinois actually voted for Nixon, and that it is okay that the candidate who actually should have lost was sworn in as President, than you are a threat to democracy. In fact, I would argue that this was an early foreshadowing of Nixon's flexible moral compass rather than a sign of his patriotism.

So if I understand the media exactly...we know the election of Kennedy was rigged by Cook County corruption, but stating that elections can be rigged, is dangerous. What is dangerous is a media that doesn't seem to believe in the rule of law.

A testament to what IS the bedrock of our political system is what happened in 2000. There was an election. The entire outcome hung in the balance. Florida was either going to put Bush or Gore in the White House. The margin of victory was less than 600 votes. Gore, upon realizing he had options, pushed the system to apply the rule of law.

According to Florida law, he had the right to ask for recounts in counties. He had to file those contestations within a certain period of time and the counties had to have margins of victory less than certain parameters.  He chose not to call for recounts in all counties that met those requirements because he thought he had a better chance of winning by calling for recounts in more populated counties in which he actually won. After all, he only had to find just just under 600 new votes. When those recounts were finished, he still was short more than 500 votes. Then, a plane load of lawyers descended upon the state and tried to call for recounts in counties in which the time period to file had expired. When the governments of those counties agreed to recount, the Bush campaign cried foul and tried to legally block them in the courts. The question went to the Supreme Court of Florida. They ruled, although there was no law to support that ruling, that the entire state should be recounted. In their words that would be "more fair."

"Fair" is a little subjective. The Bush people immediately went to the United States Supreme Court which cited a federal law that stated that it was illegal for any state to change laws or rules of a federal level election AFTER voting during that election had begun. In other words, one state can't change the rules mid stream in an election that might impact another state. And since Gore had run out of proscriptions that were present in Florida law, the election was over.

On the date mandated by law, Bush was sworn in. For some, this marks a low-point in American politics. For me, IT is the essence of what separates us from other nations. The results were legally challenged and resolved peacefully in the courts. And after done, without a single shot fired, we resolved the issue. That's the way a nation governed by the rule of law resolves an election that the margin of victory requires a closer inspection.

So while some were embarrassed watching those good Floridians looking at chads with magnifying glasses and the message it sent to the world. What I saw was Americans trying diligently to get to the truth. And to me, I'd rather rely on that then the leaders of our political parties arbitrarily deciding what level of fraud or corruption the American voter should accept.

2016 Crisis Part 1: The Presumption of Innocence

It was about a year ago Hillary Clinton had a statement on her campaign website, which she echoed in speeches, stating that victims of sexual abuse had a "right" to be believed. She later edited the website to change the wording to read that victims "deserved" to be believed. She took a lot of heat for both statements from the right due to the hypocrisy surrounding her husband's defense against such claims. But the true damage of such thought goes far beyond a personal hypocrisy.

One of the most basic principles of our judicial system is the notion that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. Am I saying that anyone making a claim of sexual abuse or assault should be dismissed? No. But there is no special status on these crimes that lessens the rights due the accused. Flipping this paradigm on its head places the rights of every American in jeopardy. And, if you think I am exaggerating, just consider this election cycle. In the case of this election, I will later go into more detail as to how it threatens to also undermine our political process. But this post isn't about that.

Now, lets clear up some of the history and logic pertaining to this concept. Not being proven guilty doesn't make someone truly innocent. After all a person is in fact either innocent or guilty of any accusation. What a jury of twelve may believe has no bearing on that reality. But, innocent until proven guilty means that a government can take no action to punish you unless you are proven to be guilty.

This is not only an American ideal, but one that has come into our justice system through what is considered common law. It is not codified anywhere in the US Constitution, but is implied by things that are such as the right to remain silent and the right to a trial by jury.

Thomas Jefferson said "I consider Trial by Jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."

When it comes to accusations, we live in strange times. When Jefferson said that, the only way to expose accusations to the public required the help of those who bought ink by the barrel. Now, even mediocre celebs have twitter followers in the hundreds of thousands or millions. Accusations, as absurd as to whether Ted Cruz's father was part of the Kennedy assassination or as germane and serious as Secretary Clinton deleted thousands of work-related emails that were under congressional subpoena, are widespread. But when those accusations are made, the media generally approaches them with the spirt of verifying the veracity.

What has been interesting to watch is the way most of the media responds when someone on the right refers to Secretary Clinton as a criminal. They interrupt and say that according to the FBI she isn't a criminal. And they are correct. And while I believe that the actions that I have seen evidence of do rise to the level of criminality, she has not faced a trial by jury.

Now compare that to the way accusations pertaining to "sexual abuse" against Donald Trump are covered. Anybody asking for just a shred of corroborating evidence is peppered with undermining questions such as "why don't you believe these women?", "why would so many come forward if it wasn't true?", or even "why do you hate women?"

I believe, but have no proof, that his idea that victims had a "right" to be believed was purposely put out there to prepare the landscape for the very way they were planning to undermining Trump. Because unfortunately, the media and a large segment of Americans believe that women should be believed.

Now, each and every person has a right to believe what he or she wants to believe about Donald Trump. Just as you have a right to believe that O.J. Simpson slit Nicole Brown Simpson's throat even though the jury couldn't convict beyond reasonable doubt. This presumption of innocence principle singularly pertains to the power of governments to punish.

But cases of sexual abuse are unique in that there is typically little true evidence. But specifically in these cases, there is a noticeable absence of any corroborative evidence of testimony. In contrast to the accusations pertaining to Hillary we know the elements of the crime actually occurred. We know the emails weren't handed over in compliance to the subpoena, we know they weren't all personal, we know she sent and received that carried the classification of "confidential." What the FBI said they couldn't prove what that Hillary Clinton deleted those email with the intent to obstruct justice. So the personal belief that some have that she committed a crime is more than a mere accusation. In the case of Donald Trump, the only evidence that exists that a crime may have been committed at all is the public accusation.

Do you want to live in a world where the mere accusation con ruin someone? It was only a few decades ago when we had a similar situation during the confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. In that instance, the left's rallying cry was that "seriousness of the charge" required them to investigate. And they had a hearing to make a determination. And in the end, Thomas was confirmed.
Now, we apparently are in a very different time when we are supposed to, because of the seriousness of the charge, not worry about truly investigating. Just believe the accusers. I find that frightening. And in this case serious political ramifications against the citizenry.

Now, I can already hear the attacks against what I have written here. How I hate women. How I am enabling sexual abuse. But lets be clear, the only principle or value I am defending the bedrock American value that a person should be considered innocent until proven all crimes. There is no new right to victims of sexual assault or abuse. That they have every right under the flaw to pursue justice, to make their case, or to even pursue civilly. But the reality is that not a single one of these accusations could withstand any of the most basic questions that would come up in a criminal or civil proceeding.

A right to be believe, or even deserving to be believed, may sound compassionate and reasonable, but it is dangerous to the American justice system. And it prodominately adversely impacts one sex against another. We have made great steps to level the legal playing field for both men and women, for all races and religious groups, and we shouldn't let the pendulum swing past that just because it makes us feel good. We all deserve equal protection under the law. That doesn't mean you have to vote for Trump. You don't have to like him. But please, don't give up on the presumption of innocence even in cases of sexual assault or abuse.