Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Debating the Fair Tax: when the Progressive Left should quit while behind

I have been an advocate for the Fair Tax for almost a year.

(I used to promote a flat tax, but an explanation for that change of heart is forthcoming…)

In my occasional use of Twitter, a few weeks ago I mentioned the Fair Tax in a tweet (one of a series of tweets) to a conservative who was promoting Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Naturally, I was espousing the virtues of Gary Johnson.

A third individual – who enjoys trolling the “Twitterverse” for #FairTax mentions – using the handle @FilmCriticOne and goes by the moniker Mark DC injected himself into the exchange out-of-the-blue with a string of tweets. It was a rather spirited conversation (the link doesn’t display every single tweet, unfortunately), full of colorful commentary on Mark DC’s part. I thought I had managed to shake him loose, but it was only for a few hours.

By the time the cyber-dust settled, I had reasoned that even if his arguments are accurate and reliable regarding the specifics promoted by Fair Tax-dot-org, I still fully believe in the concept of a fair tax, even if it’s not the Fair Tax presently being touted.

But wait! There’s more...
What continued to linger in my mind in all my silent deliberations over the Fair Tax were the contents of a pair of Mark DC’s later replies to me.

He posted, “Those ‘provisions’ are 3/4 of it’s [sic] revenue...from city county and state ‘expenditure’ taxes.” and, “If you remove ‘those provisions’ you have to triple the tax rate.”

For a time after reading that specific portion of his feedback, I knew I was missing a very important point – and it would turn-out to be one he had unknowingly raised. While on the surface it may not seem reasonable to tax federal, state, and local government expenditures and the numbers he presented initially appear startling – making it an easy red flag for him to wave – the epiphany eventually hit me.

Disguised as outrage over a supposed “fraud” was his real driving force: fear that is intense enough to wedge his knickers into a knot.

What it boils-down-to
If Mark DC’s assertion is correct – that almost 75 percent of revenues generated from the Fair Tax as it is presently written would come from taxes on government expenditures – then the absolute last nugget of knowledge the Progressive Left in America wants entering the popular consciousness is this: public-sector consumption is outpacing private consumption three times over!

Of course, there is some truth in popular discourse over the fact Americans have become too accustomed to excessive consumption of goods: from electronics to automobiles to various novelties. And, we are reminded endlessly of the ruthless avarice of the corporate world.

But, if the Fair Tax were to be enacted and if the numbers being trumpeted by its opponents such as Mark DC accurately reflect the actual revenue streams, Americans would have statistical evidence at their disposal of how much government in general consumes in comparison to the overall private sector – to reiterate: three times the rate of consumption by government at all levels in comparison to consumption rates in corporate America and by individuals combined.

As that conversation would take-on a life of its own, we could expect to see a rise in the number of residents in almost every conceivable jurisdiction who begin to demand government spending be reined-in – as opposed to clamoring for higher state and local taxes to offset what would be due to the U.S. Treasury.

And, as public sentiment turns against Big Government, the libertarian movement will pick-up even greater steam.

So, thank you, Mark DC. As a Progressive, your impassioned criticism of the Fair Tax could be a Libertarian’s best argument for it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

From the Faith & Liberty series: Be the proof of God's love

In these essays written in the spirit of spreading the message of Faith & Liberty, of all the verses in the Bible you can expect me to quote with great regularity Matthew 7:1,2.

If you’re more of a fan of the King James Version, those verses read: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with that judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with that measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

If you prefer the more modern English translation, the New American Standard Bible tells us: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

These seminal words of the Sermon on the Mount were Christ’s calling to His disciples and the multitude which had followed Him into Galilee at the time to refrain from looking upon one another as anything other than equals and fellow children of the Father.

When one examines how we regularly address one another directly and gossip about each other in private, it is hardly a stretch to deduce these two sentences also were His prophetic warning to us all in anticipation of our behaviors in modern times.

One such trend along these lines is how Christians – be they devout or in name only – regard those who are not believers. This refers to minor disdain all the way to outright scorn.

Be honest: if you happened upon someone wearing a T-shirt displaying the message, “Proud Atheist,” in what manner would you acknowledge them?

While (admittedly) the example above may be exceedingly rare in occurrence, my advice is instead of reacting to such a person negatively, give consideration that at least any banter with them will be absent of any pretense – which is a good thing.

Refrain from showing others with differing beliefs (or an adamant absence of belief) contempt or derision. If you believe we all are children of God, and if you believe in His Son and His holy Word, then recall his declaration to the apostles after the Last Supper in John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Thus, to disparage anyone who does not believe (or even believes differently) in Christ is to ignore the Biblical truth that we must love our neighbors as ourselves and do unto others as we would have them do unto us – and do so regardless of how we may be received by them, including turning our other cheek to such a neighbor.

We cannot limit extending goodwill only to others who believe as you or I do. We must love all, not just our fellow Christians.

Bear in mind this lesson from earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:46: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”

Just as important, if you wish to convince others who do not share your faith that following it is God’s calling to us all, we must do far more than simply commit Bible verses to memory and share thoughts on His glory during times of fellowship: we must live our lives to serve as examples of God’s glory.

We must be the evidence of His eternal love.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The 'Do-it-yourself, one-man Twitter Bomb'


This is yet another blog about my exploits on social media.

As a change of pace, I have decided to focus on Twitter this time (although, I still love Facebook... perhaps a little too much).

Among the efforts of supporters for Governor Gary Johnson is regular "Twitter bombs" intended to get his name trending.

I posted the battery of eleven tweets below and will likely do so again on a regular basis to drive my point home. All I will need to do is copy-and-paste them in sequence when the urge strikes me.

I would encourage you, Dear Reader, to do the same to get Twitter awash with entries carrying the name "Gary Johnson" and containing other hash tags (prefaced with a #) intended to reach the widest audience possible. Not every tweet has all the same items (either with # or @) as that was due to the need to edit some to fit in the 160-character limit.

Also, I like the show "Red Eye." Feel free to replace that with whatever suits you.


9 reasons #Romney is just like #Obama (a.k.a., vote 4 #GaryJohnson) @GovGaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #Liberty #election2012

1) I’m supposed to believe #Romney's had change of heart on #abortion @GovGaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #Liberty #election2012

2) & supposed to believe #Romney had change of heart on #GunControl @GovGaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #Liberty #election2012

3) & I’m supposed to believe #Romney's had a change of heart on #IndividualMandate for insurance #GaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye

4) & I’m supposed 2 believe #Romney had a change of heart on #taxation @GovGaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #Liberty #election2012

5) & I’m supposed 2 believe #Romney had a change of heart on #spending @GovGaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #Liberty #election2012

6) & I’m supposed to believe #Romney had a change of heart on raising #DebtCeiling @GovGaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #Liberty

7) & I’m supposed to believe #Romney's had a change of heart on #CorporateBailouts @GovGaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #Liberty

8) & I’m supposed to believe #Romney's had a change of heart on business #regulation #GaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #Liberty

9) & I’m supposed to believe #Romney has had a change of heart on #GovtGrowth @GovGaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #election2012

All that defies common sense and #Conservative’s know it! @GovGaryJohnson #Libertarian #TeaParty #RedEye #Liberty #election2012 #BigGovt

Saturday, September 8, 2012

An open letter to anyone trying to dissuade me

How can I tell we're in the home stretch before the election?

That's easy: the pace of Republicans posting, commenting, and messaging in social media is picking-up regarding voting Libertarian.

A few are genuine in their patriot-to-patriot approach to the subject (such as the individual to whom I replied with the comments below) and handle the banter with respect while others are behaving amusingly like Democrats.

To all of you, no matter your level of civility, I will not waiver.

The problem is nothing will change under a Romney Administration. He may refrain from abusing Executive Order power to the extreme that President Barack Obama has...

But, in the end, nothing in terms of government size, approach to government intervention in the economy and all other aspects of "domestic policy," deficits, and encouraging unconstitutional dependence upon government by the people will change.

It will only have a right-wing slant intead of Obama's extreme slant to the left.

What Romney is going to do, if elected, is leave all the government power structures in place for the next Obama-ite who is nominated to unseat or succeed him.

And then it will be the same intellectually dishonest arguments all over again: "We can't let that guy get elected so you mustn't vote third party..."

And the cycle will continue until our children and grandchildren have witnessed how we allowed Friedrich Hayek's "The Road To Serfdom" to go from a book on politics and economics into a prophecy.

I'm taking a stand now... Now and for the remainder of my time on this Earth.

The only "wasted vote" is one cast for someone you don't believe in.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Give me a ‘Y’! Give me an ‘A’! Give me a ‘W’...

So, another season of big-money football is underway.

Pardon me while I let-out an exaggerated yawwwwn...

Between the collegiate openers this past weekend the NFL’s kick-off this week, I’d say, “Someone wake me when it’s over.” But, there’s too much work to be done for me to play Rip van Winkle just yet.

As big-leaguers suit-up for over four months of gridiron action, we will be treated to professional debuts of a couple hundred football players who blew-off – oops, um, who deferred – their remaining coursework of their final academic year to focus on becoming the most drool-worthy cut of meat at the butcher store – oops, um, to get the best look possible for the draft back in the spring.

They dedicated four years – or perhaps three years (or even in a few cases two years) – to prepare themselves for that rite of passage.

For many of them, first it was draft day and now their opening games will become the most important days of their lives... as opposed to graduating from college... or a wedding day... or when one lands the job of a lifetime... or the birth of a child... and so on.

”Stating the obvious” alert!
I won’t lie to you, I harbor an emergent bias against big money sports. Ironically, I used to be one of the biggest sports junkies you could ever experience the disdain for meeting. But, that has been giving-way to a new perspective.

On the one hand, there are directly related points which steered me to this line of thought: the hyper-saturation of sports on television (not to mention online); the farce which has become of every league’s collective bargaining agreement processes – which boil-down to millionaires quibbling with billionaires; that so many of us feel driven to excuse every kind of insidious behavior by athletes from domestic abuse to drunk driving to running dog fighting operations; and my growing abhorrence for celebrity worship – which glorification of sports inevitably entails.

On the other hand is the myriad of real issues and stories such as 9% unemployment, the continued decline of our currency, the failure of the War on Drugs, war of some nature taking place on six out of seven continents, and the loss of freedom and liberty at the hands of a growing, out-of-control government.

But wait! There’s more...
Additionally, it is undeniable that society’s entrenched, unshakable obsession with sports is intertwined with several sources of misery in everyday life – which stem from the fact far too many of us seek (as discussed above) to turn a blind eye to the behaviors of athletes.

It begins in high school. Our youth very quickly grasp that as a result of their participation in sports they enjoy being treated differently by being allowed to conduct themselves under a more relaxed set of standards. The top-performing players even take-on a degree of celebrity status that simply is not healthy for someone at such a young age.

As a result, the inclination for bullying increases. Every one of us has witnessed this in our own life experiences – a herd or mob mentality creeping-in as young people realize the value of safety in numbers – under the guise of unity – when engaging in bullying.

Such privileged treatment all too often fuels a sense of entitlement and superiority that a number of these individuals will carry with them for a lifetime: these are people who will grate our nerves on a day-to-day basis. We all have had someone like that as a co-worker, relative, neighbor, or somewhere in our lives.

And, it only gets worse in college. I’ve seen it. As an erstwhile sports editor for my school’s student newspaper, I have seen it.

Through the decades, the immunity and entitlement mentalities clearly have trickled-up into the ranks of coaches and administrators – as demonstrated by the horrific Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.

I’m sure a number of you don’t agree with the reasons for my waning enthusiasm toward sports. I know to my west there are football fans by the thousands excited about former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck coming to their team. Of course, to my east, there is the burning question of whether the Steelers can find a serviceable backup for Ben Rapistburger... er, I mean Ben Roofieburger... er, I mean... Oh hell – you know who I mean.

Still, in anticipation of another autumn of increased intellectual drudgery, part of me has drafted a big yawn while another part is recruiting my hand to cover the resultant void.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Obomneycare: prepare to watch the next shoe drop here in Ohio

There has been no shortage of doomsday memes targeting the so-called Affordable Care Act since President Barack Obama and his koolaid-drinking worshipers (er, rather, his fellow Democrats in Congress while they held the majority in both houses of it) began promoting it in 2009.

If you’re a regular at Politifact, then you can be reassured they’re all patently false. Certainly, Politifact is entirely free of any bias or agenda; you can trust them, of course.

Well, getting ready to join the dot-com bubble, housing bubble, and banking bubble in bursting is the left-wing fairytale bubble.

We were all reassured via teleprompter talking points, “If you like your present insurance plan, and you’re happy with it, you’ll be able keep it.”

That sounded so wonderful so long as you utterly ignored economic and market histories and the reality they tend to predict with annoying accuracy.

My fellow Buckeyes, reality is trying shake us all out of a slumber-like haze.

Days ago, I was informed during this particular shift that at a recent roundtable session between production associates and management, one of our co-workers asked a straight-up question regarding benefits down the road. When Obomneycare [my reinterpretation of the actual term used] goes into full-swing, what will happen to their insurance coverage?

What this individual received was an equally straight-up, eye-contact answer.

When the provisions of Obomneycare are fully implemented, Honda of America Manufacturing will drop its employer-based health insurance plan and simply pay the IRS penalties – as that will be less expensive than providing a coverage plan under the forthcoming health care regime.

This news got others at the area of discussion wondering out loud what their choices will be. That will be simple: they either can sift through the sea of federal laws and regulations in order to pursue their own health insurance or be moved into the government implemented insurance exchange.

As the prospect of the second option quickly sank-in, I heard people who have been employed with Honda for the better part of 20 years ask a very pointed question. What even is the point of working like we do if everything we need can be had through public assistance?

Here we have two seminal exigencies that beg examination.

First, what will the overall economic impact be here in Ohio (not to mention nationwide) when one of the three largest job providers in this state has every intention of canceling insurance benefits?

If an employer the size of Honda of America Manufacturing, which keeps thousands of residents working, will no longer carry job-based insurance there can be no way to predict how long will a prominent portion of one-sixth of our economy even remain in existence.

That is, unless your prediction is that sooner – rather than later – it won’t.

Second, I watched regular, salt-of-the-Earth people unknowingly discuss what latter-day philosophers such as Alexis du Tocqueville and Frederic Bastiat have predicted as the inevitable consequence which results from making more and more components of life a matter of public distribution.

When one hears hard-working, blue-collar folks question the very purpose of staying employed and being productive contributors to society – people who are at a point in life when they have been working for the majority of it – what impact will that have on future generations who will seek everyday examples to guide their own choices?

The alarm clock of reality is ringing, everyone. Please stop hitting the snooze button.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A well regulated Media, being necessary to the security of...

I can’t get enough of online social media.

You probably already know this: you’re 99.99% likely to be reading this at my public Facebook page. My regular stream of posted links demonstrates it – as does my still-expanding waistline.

There’s also the occasional game session via Facebook’s apps.

Read through my body of writings and you’ll see that a number of my essays are the product of comment-section debates or even a direct copy-and-paste of an entry in one of those exchanges.

When it comes to my private timeline, I’ve allowed myself to become swept-up in the latest craze of “Sharing” pictures (you know, this current trend of activity that has Facebook looking suspiciously a lot like MySpace). I have no doubt my indulgence of said trend is to the chagrin of my friends who are less libertarian than me.

However, one “Share” by someone on my friends list shortly ago has my mind’s red flags waving as if a meteor strike were impending.

I am largely in agreement with the graphic in question, which explores the various forms of doublespeak which have been circulating through the mainstream media (particularly over the last 10 years) – that is, except for the statement, “Well, that’s what happens when governments transfer the public airwaves to private corporations in a practice known as deregulation.”

While much of the other commentary contained in it is a legitimate criticism of what our federal government has been doing for far too long, I am curious how one is able to argue that the best remedy for inadequate scrutiny of governmental activity is to put operation of broadcast media (news media in particular) in the hands of the same government.

The author of the graphic points to the embedding of reporters among our military while they are in theater – thus compromising their objectivity when it comes to covering all that transpires.

That last point is a valid one. However, to use it as the basis for arguing – or even suggesting – we need greater regulation of media (if not outright handing-over of the airwaves entirely to a government monopoly) is to miss the point completely of the following axiom in the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...”

To belabor my point, how does it make sense to put any form of media under the control or constraints of government if its first-and-foremost function is to keep watch over the actions of government?

I contend that, even in their present state of so-called deregulation, America’s major media operations have been doing a good-enough job of serving as lapdogs for the elected and appointed statists – without making them outright agents of the state.

Additionally, given the size and scope of the Federal Communication Commission’s authority (especially in recent years), the whole notion of the airwaves lacking for regulation is downright laughable.

Further problems I have with any pro-regulation argument is the fact our understanding of concepts such as “speech” and “press” has necessarily had to evolve with the advent first of radio broadcasting, followed by television, then cable and satellite transmissions, the Internet, and now wireless handheld electronics.

“Speech” and “press” arguably can (if not must) be thought-of under the blanket delineation of “media” – with “media” being afforded the exact same constitutional protection today as “speech and press” were understood to enjoy 225 years ago.

If this notion does not reign supreme in the consciousness of our society we run the risk of it embracing such rationales as the airwaves are public domain and even the Internet is a public utility – thus both must be governed in the same manner as a utility.

What would be the next domino in the row to fall: independent blogging along with video posting (a la YouTube) inevitably suffering the same fate as all other independent enterprises in any hyper-regulated industry?

For example, independent farm operations are being steadily squeezed out of existence by an ever-growing body of laws and regulations that are popularly perceived to exist in order to keep large corporate agricultural and food production operations in line – all in the name of public safety for the masses at large.

Just look at the growing crackdown by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on independent operators offering farm-fresh versions of products such as milk, cheese, and eggs in rural locales. This development in the regulatory nanny state is the inevitable next stage in the progression of a government that believes it exists to save us all from ourselves.

Consider the consequences of, for example, taking the equivalent approach by the USDA toward Amish farmers and applying them in the realm of traditional and new media.

Imagine if the provisions of the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002 (thankfully which had key components struck-down by the U.S. Supreme Court in its January 2010 decision in the Citizens United case) were still in play and even expanded via interpretation by the courts to hold dominion over online activity. What would become of print and broadcast media – and potentially any electronic access to information – if such laws and regulations were applied by the FCC with the same tenacity local produce co-ops have had to endure at the hands of the USDA.

Pardon my boldness, but I’ll gladly take my chances with media in our nation being able to take to the presses, airwaves, and Net – free of regulatory circumscription.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

As '4/20' comes and goes, only honesty will win discussions

Some people would have us believe that if the United States were to "stop enforcing the War on Drugs" our country would "turn into Mexico."

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it ignores one simple truth: as the violence in Mexico escalates, it is slowly spilling over our borders because of the "War on Drugs."

The reason why Mexican drug cartels are so brutally and cold-bloodedly violent is that since what they're doing already is illegal, there's absolutely no incentive to spurn other criminal actions such as turf wars, kidnapping, and so on. Instead of vying for customers through marketing and offering a superior product – which is the case with legal goods, the most assured way to get and keep customers is through violently eliminating the competition.

By legalizing at the very least all-natural intoxicants such as cannabis, the raw coca leaf, and poppy plants, there becomes incentive for those who still would engage in distributing and/or selling them to not just step out of the shadows but even to comply with regulatory statutes such as those governing the production, handling, marketing, and sales of alcohol. There would be no point in violent activity directed at competitors.

Also, by ending the "War on Drugs" that would mean no longer aggressively pursuing, prosecuting, and incarcerating those who use drugs: there becomes incentive for those individuals to step out of the shadows with their choices (much the same as what happened with alcohol consumption once Prohibition ended as a result of the repeal of the 18th Amendment), which would in turn make it much easier for those who wish to engage in drug abuse outreach to identify the people they desire to help.

That, right there, is billions (if not tens-of-billions) of dollars saved every year. Much of the remaining tens-of-billions of dollars saved comes from not having to house the vast majority of those who are in prison for "drug-related crimes" – particularly those prosecuted as felons for simple possession of small amounts.

Also, the reason why Mexican drug cartels are multi-billion-dollar operations is that there is (for a lack of a better phraseology) a market for their products. If those who would produce, ship, and sell legal intoxicants were given the incentive to stay out of the cross-hairs of the criminal justice system (licensing, taxation compliance, local zoning ordinances, etc.), there would be an even further quelling of violent and corrupt practices as operating completely above board offers the promise of staying out of prison.

When the 21st Amendment was passed, America did not descend into a sea of drunkenness where anyone and everyone old enough to unscrew a bottle cap would die by drowning in booze and their own vomit. The same will hold true with drugs.

It is beyond time to do-away with the irresponsible rhetoric permeating this issue.

Monday, April 9, 2012

GOP antics took ugly turn

Just when I thought it was safe to deduce partisan politics couldn’t get any more bizarre in Ohio, another story emerges which boggles the mind.

Bill Yarbrough was an erstwhile candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2010: he sought the 3rd District State Senate seat then. For this year’s election cycle, he made the decision to re-identify himself as a Republican and challenge incumbent congressman Pat Tiberi for that party’s nomination for Ohio’s District 12 seat. At his Website he even discusses frankly the fact he “ran as a third party candidate to learn the ropes” about pursuing public office.

Since getting to know him during our respective campaign trails two years ago, I came to admire Yarbrough. Naturally, I was disappointed to learn he had chosen to make the switch in party identities. But, I will do my best to respect his choice – the freedom for him or anyone else to do so is one of the many little things which make America great.

That choice, however, led to circumstances I doubt Yarbrough (or anyone else, for that matter) could have anticipated.

When I spoke with him during the recent Libertarian Party of Ohio state convention, he told me when he began his run for Congress he contacted each of the Republican Party chairs in each county the 12th District touches. His main goal in doing so was to seek potential endorsements from the county parties.

What he got, instead, from Delaware County’s Executive Committee chair Bob Mann was a complaint filed with the Ohio Elections Commission alleging Yarbrough had committed federal election fraud.

And the heinous crime about which Mann felt so strongly that he sought federal felony charges to be brought against him?

Yarbrough identified himself as “Republican” on his candidate petitions.

That’s right: for engaging in the sinister act of realigning himself with the Grand Ol’ Party, it was not enough in Chairman Mann’s eyes to petition the OEC to have Yarbrough removed from the Republican Primary ballot – Mann was fully ready to have him prosecuted and incarcerated.

So, instead of being able to run an effective primary campaign, Yarbrough had to begin pouring money into his legal defense, spend time publicly clearing his name in the weeks leading-up to the March 6 primary, and watch the inevitable stress on his wife and children mount.

Needless to say, Tiberi coasted to his party’s nomination by a wide margin.

This is where my blood begins to boil over this situation. I don’t give a damn what your party affiliation may be, no one can deny that Mann was perfectly willing to risk destroying the life of an innocent man, a good man, a family man with young children. And, he was willing to do so for the narrow, repugnant purpose of preserving the status quo.

To all of you who identify as Republicans, there is no middle ground on this item. Anything less than an unequivocal repudiation of Mann’s actions constitutes complicity and approval. Sympathy for Yarbrough is cheap. You need to show a backbone and fully denounce what Mann did.

Furthermore, it is easy to see Chairman Mann clearly wanted to set a precedent that was intended to have a chilling effect on anyone further down the road who might dare challenge any Republican incumbent within the party – especially if they’re running as a liberty candidate or constitutional conservative.

So, Tea Partiers, take heed of Bill Yarbrough’s ordeal. To those of you who insist the path to restoring America must be accomplished by reforming The Republican party from within, does your beloved political party really want that reform?

In his run for State Senate two years ago, Yarbrough successfully earned the endorsement of local Tea Party groups and identifies heavily with the Tea Party movement.

Now, we know what the Republican Party was willing to do to him.

What will they be willing to do to you?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Olbermann wears-out another welcome

The inimitable Keith Olbermann has once again found himself wanting for a job.

Evidently, in the waning days of the month of March, he was terminated by Current TV for breach of contract. As is being reported by those who simply may have been bored due to a lack of real news to cover, the folks at Current got tired of him being an incomparable ass.

Being that much of an ass is not new to Olbermann. It was the catalyst for his parting ways with ESPN in 1997 as well as Fox Sports Network in 2001.

When it comes to his abrupt departure from MSNBC, his droning and baseless commentary of the Tea Party’s inherent racism opened the door for karma to rear its ugly head. As was noted by members of the Tea Party in Dallas, the percentages of people of color at Tea Party rallies was dramatically higher than could be found on that network’s daily line-up of political coverage.

True to form, Olby didn’t let this obvious hypocrisy deter him from perpetuating this meme – for what would be the remainder of his tenure at MSNBC.

One thing about his dismissal from that channel which continues to surprise me is the fact no one in mainstream media or even an online alternative source was able to reach the following observation: Olbermann got bitten by the quota bug.

I have no doubt executives at MSNBC were feeling significant heat for maintaining such a monochrome corral of talking heads while allowing their primetime darling to decry the absence of color at Tea Party events. "Where are these people?" he once droned.

It had not yet occurred to me when the network hired Cenk Uygur (also known for his work on The Young Turks) for what would prove to be an eight-month run how desperate executives there were to combat the issue. It was when they hired Rev. Al Sharpton to fill the 8 p.m. slot that my epiphany happened.

Perhaps the clearest example that the era of Olby was waning at MSNBC came when he felt compelled to bring his college diploma with him to work to prove he earned his degree from Cornell University (if you watch the video, the highlight takes place at the 1:40 mark).

And, now, he managed to irritate executives enough at a network co-founded by Al Gore – of all people – to prompt his latest dismissal.

Karma: she is as unforgiving as she is entertaining.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Morality Card versus the Race Card

To the inevitable chagrin of readers who lean to the right, it is time to restate the obvious: former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is blurring further the lines between the Democratic and Republican parties.

The only genuine differences between those two parties are their target audiences (in terms of appealing to their respective voter bases) and the occasional controversy du jour.

While I already have examined Santorum’s argument for Right-Wing collective salvation, his campaign stop at the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Louisiana on March 19 and the more notable activities therein have prompted me to take my analysis one step further.

Conservatives and libertarians alike have long lamented the left-wing propensity for playing the Race Card in political discourse – a tactic which especially hit overdrive when President Barack Obama began to emerge as a frontrunner in the Democratic nomination process in 2008.

However, in 2012 Santorum may have perfected a mirror image of this argumentation device and given the American Right Wing its own card to play when the debates and public sentiment aren’t going the way they like: the Morality Card.

Playing the Morality Card at this juncture of the primary and caucus process appears to be the logical next step for Santorum’s campaign. He has tried to portray himself as a fiscal conservative and staunch defender of Christian values. The problem for him is his voting record does not back that up, having cast “Yea” votes for No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and various pieces of legislation he knew contained earmarks for Planned Parenthood. That is just the tip of the ice berg.

So, what is a candidate left to do when they cannot run on their record? The answer is find the quickest boogeyman against-which to redirect everyone’s attention. In Santorum’s case, it’s the steady decline in America’s moral compass. It is the perfect way to rally the GOP’s Christian Conservative base – pandering to voters who place much of their focus on issues of morality.

I am a lifelong Christian. I have recently come to understand the importance of Evangelism in spreading and promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have no problem seeing right through Santorum’s rhetoric.

Please tell me I’m not the only Christian who does.

Cheney story illuminates wider ballot access issues

Don's note: if you're not fully familiar with the developments surrounding the would-be independent candidacy of Brian Cheney for Allen County Commissioner, read the initial story at The Lima News and the recent follow-up article.

First and foremost, this press release is not authored with the intent to comment on any of the particulars surrounding the Allen County Board of Elections’ decision to reject Brian Cheney’s candidate petitions for county commissioner, his ties with other local public figures, or even Cheney himself.

The one hidden story in the recent events that warrants greater exploration is the fact Cheney – in order to run as an independent candidate – had to gather almost seven times as many signatures as any of the major party candidates and more than 13 times as many as a minor party candidate.

State election laws require independent candidates for an office to gather signatures equivalent to one percent of the votes cast in the previous election for the given electoral jurisdiction. In the case of Allen County Commissioner in 2012, a prospective independent had to get 330 valid signatures – compared to 50 for someone vying for a major party nomination and 25 for those of us affiliated with a minor party.

It should not be difficult to conclude the wide disparity in requirements is nonsensical.

As a current and past candidate for elected office, have I benefited from such variations? Yes, of course. Do I agree with this setup? That answer is, “Absolutely not.”

The only possible legitimate argument for placing such a high threshold for independent candidates is the fact any registered voter may sign one of their petitions regardless of how the Ohio Secretary of State’s office lists their party affiliation (which is another issue in and of itself regarding violation of voters’ privacy rights – but as usual, I digress) – thus an independent candidate has a potential “unfair” advantage by having any-and-all would-be petition signers available to them.

In truth, it is an underhanded means of deterring anyone who would demonstrate the audacity to engage in the electoral process outside of the party system.

For my personal perspective, it is my hope the situation involving Brian Cheney proves to be nothing more than an honest mistake. It would seem obvious to me the inevitable “mad dash” for signatures – created by the State of Ohio’s disparate candidate requirements – is sure to increase the likelihood of mistakes being made. Also, as evidenced by my body of essays and posts in social media, I simply am not a fan of aggressive prosecution for non-violent offenses.

As all this relates to Ohio election laws, my hope is now that the potential consequences of these provisions have hit close-to-home for someone in leadership in the state’s prevailing majority party (meaning, Allen County Republican Party Chair Keith Cheney), we may finally see some long-overdue reform of those laws that actually fits such a description.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Don’s Debates – when the Straw Man ariseth

It’s been a few months since I enjoyed a good argumentation rodeo. One presented itself on a friend’s discussion thread in social media recently. I had been resisting the urge to throw-in my two-cents’ worth (or five bucks, depending on perspective).

By the way, as a matter of pure happenstance that friend is a fellow Libertarian.

In this latest installment of Don’s Debates, a video spoofing stereotypical comments made to libertarians by three pro-big-government characters was posted.

It appeared as though it was going to turn into a run-of-the-mill libertarian-love-fest in the comments section. Right after I posted a quote by Frédéric Bastiat there came a pair of replies by someone less libertarian-leaning. Another individual followed those two comments with his own selection of a Bastiat quote: “It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

Then the straw men were erected by the less-libertarian participant. He contributed the following observation: “State raised grain is inferior in some way to privately raised grain? Less iron or protein, or you just don't like anything any government might do? Will it feed fewer people?”

The banter continued after I had logged-out to start getting ready for work. It became a tad circular in nature while I was away. It had been my intention to not embroil myself in an elongated point-counterpoint session. But, I allowed Mr. Statist to suck me into the conversation when he opted to proclaim those who disagreed with him weren’t adequately making their point.

So, I gave-in and replied with the following:

The problem, [name omitted], is when government (be it here or anywhere else in the world) decides to participate in any industry – in the case you're attempting to make, agriculture – virtually all actions must be run through its internal bureaucracy which makes the production and delivery of the grain inferior: not the grain itself.

When the production and delivery are inferior, less of it gets to its recipients in a timely manner. The delays and inevitable loss to spoilage leads to increased hunger.

You're engaging in a complete straw man argument.

You're deliberately omitting the fact when government is thrust into a sector of the economy it soon disapproves of competition. This leads to laws and regulations that squeeze-out private-sector competitors and leave people few-to-no choices of alternate sources for that grain.

Adding to the potential for rampant hunger is the unavoidable political component when those elected (or appointed) insist distribution be fair, which then requires a massive regulatory establishment to oversee said fairness.

That doesn't factor [further] increased hunger in certain segments of the population where the political connections aren't as vibrant – thus the component of fairness becomes flexible in its definition as a result of cronyism.

Does cronyism exist in the free market?

Of course.

But, in a free market we are all consequently free to pursue our desired goods (such as grain) from other sources when that situation becomes intolerable. Or, depending on the circumstances of one's situation, some among us are then free to take it upon ourselves to engage in that industry and produce that good.

Mr. Statist responded later that morning with this end-all-be-all post:

“We don't have anything even approaching a free market. Talk about straw men!”


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Right-wing collective salvation no less destructive than the Left’s

“One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, and that we shouldn’t get involved with the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved with cultural issues – that is not how traditional conservatives view the world... There is no such society – that I’m aware of – where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.”
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), interview on NPR, August 4, 2005

In political analysis, temptations are everywhere. They lie-about like a minefield – designed to snap-up and bite you at the first careless step taken.

I’ve stepped on a couple of mines already in my own still-short and obscure foray into politics. As Santorum’s comments quoted above continue to make the rounds in social media, the minefield-like temptation is to engage early and often in ad hominem commentary.

But, such an approach inevitably would steer the overall discussion away from the real issue. The man is not where our focus should be: we must dismantle the premises he has promoted with such comments. Senator Santorum and others who share his views will come and go. But, failing to adequately and accurately refute the ideology and philosophy behind such views – at a time such as this in our society – is to miss an opportunity to expand the greater understanding of what liberty truly means.

So, suffice it to say I wholeheartedly disagree with Santorum. Now, here is why...

The logic flaw behind comments such as Santorum’s is he encourages a path toward public virtue of a right-wing nature that runs in parallel to the left’s.

The growing outlook among the left in America has become the quest for “collective salvation” via redistribution of income. President Barack Obama has discussed this concept on more than one occasion over the years.

The central premise with their argument is the establishment and its crowd of elites must be entrusted with saving us all from ourselves and our uncontrollable propensity – as mere, weak mortals – for the sins of greed and material avarice.

They – and they alone – know what is best for leading society into that public virtue.

As the concept of self-reliance continues to decay in America, one need only to look at the condition and plight of our larger cities to recognize how inevitably dehumanizing Progressive governance is.

With the sociological outlook being advanced by Santorum, we can see there is an effort underway to recharge the batteries for furthering what is the undeniable right-wing equivalent to Obama’s social agenda.

The central concept is the same: government must be granted the power and authority to save us from ourselves. The left wants to social-engineer us toward charitable virtue. The right seeks to social-engineer us toward moral virtue.

The left would have us believe that prosperity for all – fair and equal in their eyes – only can be achieved through government intervention. The right would have us believe that morality for all only can be achieved in the same manner.

Redistribution of income has had an irrefutable destructive effect on the American work ethic and dedication to self-reliance. As we have reached the point where 47% of the population is receiving some form of public assistance, this trend only will continue toward total dependence on the state. As long as availability continues to expand, so will not just the demand for it but the expectation.

The result is simple: the consequence of reliance on the state is our society is eating itself from the inside out.

The combination of welfare, tighter economic controls, and regulation of business has created an environment that is best described as “the race to the bottom” where people do what has been predicted by free-market economists for roughly one-and-a-half centuries: many seek to do the minimum in order to get by in life while others aggressively seek-out every possible loophole in the laws to exploit the opportunities for ill-conceived gain.

The same principle will apply to state-sponsored morality.

As the government attempts to nudge, push, and then steamroll citizens into behavior control as well as limitations on individual personal choices, the outcome as a result of securing America’s moral fabric is bound to be the exact opposite of the promise of easier access to salvation.

It will happen because we will be conditioned to rely on government and its body of laws to guide our consciences as opposed to scripture, prayer, and God.

Human nature will inevitably kick into overdrive as people become eager to settle for the legally acceptable minimum standards in moral conduct while others look for the aforementioned loopholes. With rebellion being humanity’s natural social state, the results can only descend from there as others engage in outright defiance of the law.

And, just as we have witnessed with the Left continually arguing for more and more economic and financial control by the government each time it becomes apparent the present body of laws is not “doing the trick” for society, the right will engage in the same pattern if allowed the opportunity (just examine the history of the war on drugs).

Those on the right – such as Santorum – who expound the notion it is possible to codify God’s law into man’s law unfailingly omit one vitally important fact: the process of codification ultimately is left in the hands of politicians.

What could possibly go wrong there?

It is apparent that Senator Santorum and those who agree with him either have forgotten or chosen to disregard a critical axiom in Christian society just as his counterparts on the Progressive Left have chosen to spurn it: Virtue cannot exist in the absence of free choice.

It is our free will, given to us by God, that makes us uniquely human. It is only through our individual free will that any of us can reach the glory of salvation.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Activism, in style

While the story of Anthony Buehler [embedded below] steadily spreads across the online social media world and many (myself included) support him in his endeavor to draw full and proper attention to excessive use of force by law enforcement, I have a second pressing issue I wish resolved.

Take a good look at the picture above: where can I get a T-shirt like that?!

"D'Anconia Copper" is easy to read but I am rather curious what the rest of the printing below it says. Unfortunately, what you see up top was the best screen grab I could get during the second news segment used in the video.

Also, is it one of a matching set? You know: another has on display "Reardon Steel"; a third option offers "Wyatt Oil"...