Category Archives: politics

Here’s What I Think

pathsI don’t see this as being about my “political” views, but, simply, my world view. It seems to be a challenge these days not to allow how one sees and interacts with and in the world to become politicized. I can assure that is not my intent. Let’s keep it clean, adhere to the Golden Rule and be respectful, folks. 

I want to be clear about where I stand regarding Politics – defined by Merriam-Webster (let’s just assume anymore definitions of words are coming from a valid dictionary of some sort in the instance I don’t provide a link) as (a) the art or science of government (b) the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy (c) the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government.

So as to what “side” I’m on, since that tends to be what people want to know when it comes to our very American two party system, the answer has to be…neither. I used to always say the lesser of two evils at the time. There really are so many layers these days which makes “neither” and my formerly pat response seem less than adequate. Frankly, I think it makes a two party system inadequate. Of course, the layers have always existed. So what I mean is the layers these days are much more visible and explicit. That isn’t necessarily good or bad. It’s just different than it has been for quite awhile. I think that’s due to the Nature of Media.

By Nature of Media, I mean (If I lead with “I mean” or “I think”, I’m explaining myself, what I think or believe or a construct I’ve developed – which makes it my opinion or something I’ve created to explain something I’ve seen or encountered in my life that I felt the need to interpret. It’s not fact, it’s opinion.) it has never been easier to publish or broadcast a point of view in terms of frequency (there’s no cap to the amount of times a person can say what they want to say or no cap to the amount of times a person can see or read what they want). Reach is a bit of another story based on the platform used to generate the frequency, but I will grant that if a person wants to find a point of view, they can find it. And in most cases, if they want to be “reached” by certain points of view, they know how to or can, by their behavior, allow it to happen. 

Further, as most media is digital (composed of data in the form of especially binary digits) and most information about what we do or like is, also, digital, it is easier for the Media-Industrial Complex (what I mean is all the companies, organizations, entities, and other groups that have created and/or use technology to match behaviors and/or stated or implied interests with media of some sort; in most cases, those creating content are either explicitly or implicitly involved. H/T to Dwight Eisenhower’s Farewell Address) to show us more of what we like and less, or none, of what we don’t.

I believe side effects of the Media-Industrial Complex are (1) believing there are “a lot” of people who believe what you believe or “most” people believe what you do, (2) deepening belief that what you believe is correct since that’s mostly what you see or hear, (3) deepening belief that what others believe is wrong, (4A) less interest or willingness in seeking to understand what others believe and/or (4B) less interest in granting that it is OK for others to believe in other things and then (5) “calling people out” who are viewed as “wrong” because they do not believe the same things.

My background is in media, so you can expect I have expounded upon and will come back to themes related to nature of media, digital and Media-Industrial Complex. I only insert it here as I believe it’s relevant to explain what I believe. I assume most people in providing a view to their views don’t incorporate the “Media-Industrial Complex”.

Anyway, back to the question of Politics and our wonderfully American two party system. I’m not a republican, democrat, conservative, liberal, evangelical, snowflake, communist, socialist, anarchist, totalitarian, autocrat, monarchist or member of the green party. I tend to lean to Libertarianism due to its purity and simplicity (well, I guess that means I lean a bit to the right), and sometimes I think I lean that way because of my admiration for the fictitious Ron Swanson. (See Parks & Recreation, Season 3, Episode 2: “Libertarianism is all about individual liberty, and it should never be defined by the terms liberal or conservative.”) My main issue with Libertarians – at least what is seen as Libertarianism in the 21st century United States – is they can be a bit too rigid, incapable of what tends to make our system of government (and life in general) work – compromise and tolerance. (Some would say this means I lean to the left.) I guess a Libertarian, whether focused more on individual rights or on markets working better than government, would say compromise is fine as long as you don’t tread on me, and once a market can’t tolerate it, it’ll fix itself. Or maybe that’s a Gen-X’ers interpretation…a proverbial, “Whatever. We’ll see how that works.” Or maybe Adam Smith’s and Ayn Rand’s love child is Generation X…hmmm, topic for another day.

Anyway, the important ideas from the prior paragraph are compromise and tolerance, which I firmly believe DO NOT MEAN acceptance. (This piece provides a nice overview of definitions and interrelations between tolerance, acceptance and understanding.) However, there is, in my view, a definite need of more tolerance and understanding, regardless of people’s ability to accept others people’s beliefs, lifestyles, etc. (And now I seem to be leaning to the left, again, with my why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along notions – though I’d say it’s really just the Golden Rule, which some would say is a Judeo-Christian concept and now I must be some purveyor of the right.)

I would like to see a viable 3rd party, maybe even a 4th. But, if you will entertain an analogy, I will say I did like Major League Baseball better when there were 26 teams total, 2 divisions in each league and one round of playoffs before the World Series. So let’s not get too crazy. We just need some other teams to choose from is all I’m saying.

I like to try to keep informed of “the issues” and where those running for office stand on “the issues.” I also like to see what I can learn about how someone has behaved, in general and in executing their duties. I like folks who seem to align to the Golden Rule, but I have enough understanding of the flaws many seemingly great people in history had to understand its very difficult to find a leader in the political system without some skeletons in the closet of some sort. That doesn’t forgive the flaws. It just means I feel the need to balance the apparent flaws in character with a person’s ability to provide solutions for the greater good. Some flaws (not going to list them all…) I do believe are not acceptable, I don’t accept them and choose not to tolerate them. Regardless, If we didn’t balance flaws with the ability to deliver for the greater good, I’m pretty sure no one would be worth electing ever.

I’ll then make a choice on who I think would do the job best. I think that’s how Democracy within a Republic is supposed to be. I have found as someone who has hired many people that are driven by Capitalism, this is a pretty good way to select people to do a job, which is what representing my interests in local, state and federal government is – a job. Funded by my tax dollars. Thus, I am the hiring manager. We all are.

I do believe in Democracy – a system of government where the people directly participate through elected representation.

I like a good Republic – a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.

I believe in Capitalism – an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

However, I don’t completely buy into Adam Smith’s take on the purity of how markets work and fix themselves as needed – which is why it’s hard for me to be a Libertarian and why I do think there are some times where government does need to be a bit more involved in economic policy (Notice I did say “some times” and a “bit more involved”…ours – Americans – is, after all, a government that sets budgets against what seems to be an ever-rising debt ceiling and can’t figure out if a wall has more value than healthcare, education, global warming or investment in infrastructure that isn’t a wall).

I do believe in God, grew up going to Christian church, have been way too sporadic in attendance in my adult life, and need to be more consistent in my spiritual life. From what I can tell, Evangelicals and Atheists, not to mention those of religious beliefs other than the broad swath that is “Christianity”, would have issue with that sentence for very different reasons.

As I’ve already mentioned it a few times, I believe in the Golden Rule in the New Testament sense – treat others how you want to be treated – regardless of the views or beliefs held by that person. And even though I just mentioned the New Testament of the Bible, that doesn’t mean I have any issue with those who practice religions not based on the New Testament of the Bible. (See “treat others how you want to be treated”.)

I value respectful and passionate debate, even if it gets heated, and do not expect everything you say to be proven as verified fact. We all have things we believe or have faith in, even if we don’t have verifiable facts on their truthfulness. I’ll do my best to specify when I’m sharing what I believe or what is my opinion vs. what is actual fact (I’ve done that a few times already). Most likely I’ll do what I can to lay out my logic of why I believe something. I’d love to hear your thoughts in return to help sharpen my thinking, or just to have a conversation on the matter. Just recall this is my site and that I value RESPECTFUL debate and, again, The Golden Rule.

Since “facts” and “truthfulness” have made an appearance, I do not believe in “alternative” facts or “truthiness”. What do those things even mean? (That’s a rhetorical question – please no links to enlighten me.)

My Belief (an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or something) is that Fact (a thing that is indisputably the case), Belief and Opinion (a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge) are getting intertwined, but not explained or clarified, by the Media-Industrial Complex (but I don’t believe in the “deep state”), that some folks are better at manipulating belief and opinion than others, and that some folks are better at sniffing out what is BS and what isn’t better than others. This is not new. We just have much more efficient ways to allow a statement or event to travel around the world a number of times before anyone bothers to validate it is true or actually happened.

So now you know. My opus to anyone who might come across what I have written or will write here or elsewhere. It seems to be required in the zeitgeist. You’ll have to let me know if that’s enough for you to effectively pass judgement on me and my views, or to determine if anything I might say is worth your time to read or respond. I’d be more than happy to further clarify as needed.

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Random Musing on Shutdowns and Ceilings

JERRY’S NOTE: Wow. Posted this in 2013. Change “Obamacare” to “The Wall” and it’s, pretty much, all the same…

I’m on a news watching/reading/listening shut down since my tolerance ceiling for childish national legislators has been exceeded.

Are the potential negative outcomes of Obamacare equal to or greater than the potential negative outcomes of continued government shutdown that will seem to lead directly to not raising the debt ceiling?

When did governing become some sort of Clint Eastwood spaghetti western where the first one to blink is a loser?

Are politicians ever elected to just do one thing, overturn one law, at all costs, no matter what?  If they are successful in doing that one thing, what will be the next thing they focus on, at all costs, no matter what?

Can we afford to have one-issue politicians on either side of the aisle that do not seem to understand – or just simply don’t care about – the inter-related nature of, well, just about everything?  Even if they don’t care about the inter-relatedness of global markets, surely they understand that domestic policy decisions are also inextricably linked?

Can we afford to have politicians with experience in compromise and negotiation responding to the one-issuers by digging their heels in vs. leading – showing how to compromise and negotiate?

Or, maybe, if neither side blinks and their actions send it all over the proverbial cliff, the short term pain would be worth the long term benefit of a “reset”, if you will.  The public would be so fed up with all of it that the preponderance of all current elected officials doing the bidding of the people would all be voted out – regardless of party affiliation.

If a compromise is reached before the proverbial cliff, some entity is not going to be happy.  Will that lead to the development of a viable third party – or at least a thing outside of the two current ones where people can feel like their needs/wants are served and they have some sort of influence or say in issues?

Or would it lead to secession?

That seems like an appropriate place to leave off on these musings.

ADDENDUM

Roughly 5 minutes after posting this, I received a phone call of a recorded message from Rick Santorum on behalf of a PAC that I think he runs or runs him or whatever.  Anyway, it made me realize I hadn’t updated my phone numbers on donotcall.gov for quite some time (I’m sure PAC’s have some sort of loophole related to donotcall.gov but anyway), so I go to the site and see the following.  Doh!

“Due to the Government shutdown, we are unable to offer this website service at this time.  We will resume normal operations when the government is funded.”

 

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Politics of Numbers

90% think something should be done. So let’s say that’s an over statement…a bit more than half of that is still half of the country. Most polls, of course, tend to be off by 5 percentage points in either direction at most.

An organization representing roughly 1.5% of the country doesn’t think anything should be done. Let’s say this number is under stated by 100%. That’s 3% of the country. (And, actually, I am recalling numbers showing that something like 60% or more of said organization agrees with the 90%).

A body supposedly elected under the principle “of the people, by the people, for the people” sides with the organization representing roughly 1.5% – or maybe up to 3% – of the country.

(Editor’s Note – this is a personal blog. I am not a fact checker. Feel free to fact check me if you like. Maybe I’m woefully misinformed. But that is why I hedged on the stats above potentially being significantly higher or lower than what I’ve seen, heard and recall.)

I respect the Constitution. I don’t always agree with issues that are passed into laws, but I respect that these things are law and we have the opportunity to freely debate these things, not to mention keep or get rid of those who develop and pass – or not pass – policies into laws. I typically respect them to the point of not discussing them because, of late, it’s hard to have constructive discussions on these issues.

Heck, my wife and I (who don’t always agree on politics) have even discussed with our kids about respecting laws or legal decisions that you may not personally agree with. We have also let them know about the potential for hard feelings that can occur because of discussing “political” issues – not that they shouldn’t do so and not that they shouldn’t have personal opinions on the issues, just that feelings can run high and friendships altered when “issues of the day” are discussed. And we couched it as what makes our country great, that many places in the world this cannot happen without serious repercussions or violence.

To be clear…

I think people kill people.

I would like people who shouldn’t have guns to have less opportunities to get guns.

I don’t understand the need for high capacity magazines in non-military situations.

I don’t think the government is plotting to take guns away from people who have lawfully obtained them.

I don’t think there should be a registry of gun owners (and I don’t think one is in the making).

I would say I’m more of a pragmatist than a party-affiliated person when it comes to “politics”.

But that aside, to me, the action taken – or not taken – in the face of the numbers above are hard to comprehend or rationalize, Constitutional amendment or not. Issues aren’t being “politicized”. They’re being bought and sold. On both sides of the aisle. Across seemingly every issue.

Yeah yeah yeah, special interests have “always” done this. Fine. Then let’s have our distinguished senators and representatives voted out of or leave office so they can work directly on behalf of the special interests of their choice and not pretend to be representing their constituents desires or protecting the Constitution. They can line their pockets all they want as private citizens. I do have a firm belief in capitalism.

It seems they are more than willing to make – or not make – decisions on the special interests’ behalf, while perpetuating indecision on behalf of the American people. And, to me, that just doesn’t add up.

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