What’s wrong with the GOP?

elephants-fighting1-570x301Whenever a controversy erupts, why do democrats seem to always circle their wagons and protect each other, whereas republicans will immediately eat their own? Is it part of the loyalty pledge? What causes one party to act out of self-preservation while the other seems bent on self-destruction?

The Democrat Party has long prided itself on its diverse views of culture and social mores. Until the rise of the Regressive Left phenomenon (a topic for another day), the attraction of the Left has been their promise not to judge anyone’s values. All thoughts and ideas are welcome, no matter how strange or bizarre to those on the Right.

Conversely, the Republican Party has prided itself on longstanding cultural traditions, to include religious and family values. The attraction of the Right has been their support of the Constitution and the principles of cultural assimilation, no matter how old fashioned it may appear to those on the Left.

Looking at these two disparate perspectives will give us a starting point for knowing why each party reacts in polar opposite fashion. But, we need to know one more thing before we can proceed. It is important to understand the concept of groupthink. It is a psychological phenomenon where individuals yearn for harmony or conformity within their group, resulting in irrational or dysfunctional decision-making. They try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus without critical evaluation of alternative perspectives, usually by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Because those on the Left typically accept a much wider range of social behaviors or actions, their reaction tends to be one of  tolerance. If that person is truly a member of their group, without question, the others in that same group will say to the offending member, “You are one of us so we are not going to judge you.” Therefore, their behavior or action is whitewashed through the prism of tolerance, even if it seems to defy logic and reason

On the flip-side, those on the Right, who typically demand self-control and to aspire to a higher moral code, will invariably choose to dissociate from the wrong-doer saying, “You are not one of us and we don’t want others to judge us by your actions.” Therefore, whatever the problem or failing, the fear of being lumped in with an aberration fuels a need among the Right to isolate and deride the individual, rather than forgive or show compassion.

They Left elects to accept the problematic person or situation, employing a sort of secular forgiveness and absolution while the Right chooses to pass down judgment and condemnation, ignoring the very religious tenants that are supposed to be at the core of the party.

I should note that it would be wrong to paint every Democrat or Republican with the same brush. Groupthink exists within the core — the rock solid center. It is made up of those who tend to be very vocal, militant in their stances and opinions and often are in positions of power, whether it be a political position or one within the halls of opinion, talk or social media. The further out one gets from the core, the less likely to be affected by the blinders of groupthink. And not everyone within the core will suffer, it just becomes far more prevalent.

Once the problem person or action has been identified, both parties will strive to regain conformity within their respective groups. The Left attempts to dilute the situation by surrounding, supporting and, in some cases, embracing the action or behavior of one of their own. Hence the notion of always circling the wagons. Conversely, the Right attempts to absolve itself from the nature of the problem by going out of its way to inform everyone that the behaviors or actions of the one individual do not represent the rest of the group.

This explains how someone like Bill Clinton, with a proclivity toward chasing and bedding women and a habit of lying can be dismissed by those on the Left. Those flaws become explainable. It’s the stress of the job. It’s the allure of the office. It’s a natural byproduct of the weight of the office. No one wants to be judged within their group so no one will do it either. The behavior or action is not only tolerated, in time, it also becomes something to admire.

On the other side, someone like Donald Trump, with a proclivity of boorish behavior toward women and a lack of political-correctness, is unacceptable within the ranks of the Right. Such behavior reflects poorly on the group identity and where Bill Clinton gets a pass from his own party, the exact opposite takes place on the Right. The need for sanctimonious piety precludes any acceptance or forgiveness. There can be no consideration given to an alternative viewpoint.

It explains how, in the last several election cycles, whichever candidate comes to the fore in the GOP, will have their flaws documented, amplified, exposed and used as reasons to then reject and dismiss. It also explains how those on the Left are willing to accept any flaw, even lawlessness and thievery, when their chosen representative ascends the mantle of power.

Many of our Founding Fathers, like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, did their share of drinking and many engaged in unseemly activities. War leaders and heroes like Franklin D. Roosevelt, George S. Patton and  John F. Kennedy have had their vices and vulgarities made known. We should always strive for the best, but our history is replete with individuals who will forever be remembered more for their leadership, bravery, intellect and patriotism than any social flaw or defect.

When the election cycle comes to a close, the GOP needs to engage in some significant soul-searching. There needs to be room for more tolerance. There needs to be room for more forgiveness. Fake outrage will not help the party. Sanctimonious tirades only serves the individual feigning disappointment. The Right needs to recognize that every human being is inherently flawed and to hell with worrying about what the other side is going to say. They need to worry more about achieving strategic victories and less about condemning individual foibles. Failure to understand and address these issues will lead to an even more fractured, divided and angry GOP; a pale shadow of it’s former self.

Maybe what really is wrong with the GOP is trying to shoe-horn too many rigid ideologues under the same tent. Who knows? But, if we cannot figure out how to be a little more flexible and a whole lot more focused, we will watch as the Grand Old Party rips itself apart along ideological lines.

And the Democrats will reign for an age.




Libertarian: It’s About an Ideology

An interesting thing is happening outside the two major political parties in the United States. For the first time since Ross Perot, third parties are getting some decent press. Perot wasn’t a “party” when he was doing his best in 1992, but he was an outsider of the two party system. And he did go on to create the Reform Party which was covered by the press in the 1996 election. But once Perot left, the party dwindled. It still exists but is pretty much on life support, with no actual direction or cohesive platform to rely on.

After Ross Perot, the next outside contender came in the form of Ralph Nader. Nader could have run as just Ralph Nader instead of becoming the Green Party’s nominee and probably still nabbed the nearly three percent he did in the year 2000. But after Nader stopped running for president, the Green Party returned to regular third party stats: Under one percent of the presidential vote totals, every four years.

The Green Party, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party (formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party), Reform Party, they all receive equal to or less than one percent of the presidential vote totals on a regular basis. The only time this has not been the case is when a cult of personality forms. This has been the problem with third parties for some time now. They get good press when a famous person comes around but then go back under the rock when that person leaves.

In my own party, the Libertarian Party, we make a big deal of celebrities that count themselves as libertarians and we sometimes pine for them to run for office. Clint Eastwood identifies as a libertarian and I have little doubt he could be elected president if he chose to run. But he could run as just Clint Eastwood and still win, no party affiliation. This is the problem with trying to get celebrities to run under your party name. You’ll never know if people are warming to your platform or just voting for the celebrity. Because after the celebrity is done with their term if office (should they get elected), your party could turn into what’s left of the Reform Party. It’s best if you don’t have a celebrity run to avoid this.

The Libertarian Party has not had a celebrity run for president. The people who run do so because they are concerned that the United States is moving further and further away from the original intent of the government. The candidates are generally in sync with the ideals of the libertarian platform. When you vote for a Libertarian, you are pretty sure where they stand on most issues. This is unlike the two major parties where you never really know what you’re going to get. When you vote for a libertarian, you’re not voting for the person, you’re voting for a political ideology.

Almost three years ago, I piggybacked on Harry Browne’s What We’re Up Against, noting we in third party land were still up against the same election roadblocks now as when Browne mentioned it.

It’s worth repeating, Michael C. Ruppert said of the Democrat/Republican roadblock, “It’s organized crime. All you do is you call the Republicans the Genovese and you call the Democrats the Gambinos. The people at the top, they treat it like a crap game, like it’s their crap game, like their making lots of money. Occasionally, somebody at this table shoots each other but the moment anything threatens their crap game, they all unite to protect it.”

Libertarians have won smaller races. We’re not always benched. But it’s like the Libertarian Party has been the kid seen as unfit to participate by other members of a team. Every now and then they let him have the ball, become the mayor of a small town. But there’s no way the team is ever going to let the poor kid quarterback.

However, now, because the two major parties have chosen two of the most unlikeable candidates, perhaps, in their history, third parties are getting more attention. The roadblocks are not as solid as they used to be. Third parties, especially the Libertarian and Green Parties, are getting some front page coverage.

The coverage is interesting in itself. The two moments when Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Gary Johnson seemed to gain the most attention was when he feigned some ignorance over a question regarding the conflict in Aleppo and as of recent, when he was asked to name his “favorite foreign leader“ where he could not. This is much different than if he were asked if he could name any foreign leaders. (Recall George Bush in 1999 had this problem and yet, went ahead and became president anyhow).

But regarding these two issues, who cares? I addressed the Aleppo bunch of nothing here. And regarding favorite foreign leaders, does it matter if he does or doesn’t have one? I can’t name any foreign leader I admire either. Give it a try for yourself. You may also have a hard time coming up with one. And if you do have one or a dozen, so what? I fail to see how this is a qualifier for the job of president.

Donald Trump says nonsense on a daily basis and yet his supporters are not fazed in the least by it. In fact, regarding foreign leaders, Trump has made it rather clear he’s got a hard-on for Putin. But, ho hum, this doesn’t seem to alarm any of Team Trump. Hillary Clinton has led a political career of lies and deceit and yet, she has the full support of the liberal left. Quite frankly, if the press has Johnson by the Johnson on the Aleppo and Favorite Foreign Leader questions, if that’s the worst they can dig up on him, then we’re winning by comparison.

Despite some media outlets having a good poke at Johnson on these insignificant issues, for the first time in my party’s history, major newspapers are endorsing us! Again, here’s some winning right here.

The current polling numbers are putting the Libertarian Presidential ticket of Johnson/Weld at about ten percent. That is incredible considering, as we’ve observed above, third parties routinely can’t even break the one percent barrier. True, the election hasn’t been held yet. But with polling results like this, I’m betting the Libertarian Party will make some history with vote totals this year.

All of this is already a win for me. In November, if we drop from today’s polling numbers and only manage five percent of the vote, it’s a win. Because next time, maybe we’ll get eight percent, or eleven. This isn’t just wishful thinking. Let’s look at some numbers.

Year Pres. Candidate / VP Popular votes Percentage Electoral votes
1972 John Hospers / Theodora Nathan 3,674 0% 1
1976 Roger MacBride / David Bergland 172,553 <1% 0
1980 Ed Clark / David Koch 921,128 1% 0
1984 David Bergland / James Lewis 228,111 <1% 0
1988 Ron Paul / Andre Marrou (campaign) 431,750 <1% 0
1992 Andre Marrou / Nancy Lord 290,087 <1% 0
1996 Harry Browne / Jo Jorgensen 485,759 <1% 0
2000 Harry Browne / Art Olivier (campaign) 384,431 <1% 0
2004 Michael Badnarik / Richard Campagna (campaign) 397,265 <1% 0
2008 Bob Barr / Wayne Allyn Root (campaign) 523,713 <1% 0
2012 Gary Johnson / Jim Gray (campaign) 1,275,821 1% 0
2016 Gary Johnson / William Weld (campaign) TBD TBD TBD

Table pulled from Wikipedia.

What do you see? I see a progressive accumulation of increased votes. From 1972 to the present, we keep getting more. Some years dip and some, like 1980, have deviated up (when David Koch was on the ticket, the closest the Libertarian Party has had to celebrity). But the general progress is in the positive. To me, this means that the Libertarian Party is gaining despite the laws and hurdles the two major parties have thrown up. Now, in 2016, with the Democrat and Republican choice of two unlikeable candidates, the numbers for the Libertarian Party will surely sky rocket.

Will this momentum carry over in the coming years? I don’t know. But the numbers over the past few decades suggest that over the long term, the answer is yes. I’m not worried about my party. It is doing fine considering today’s political climate. We’re moving in the right direction. To me, we’re already winning.

The bigger question is what will happen to the two major parties after 2016?

I’ve predicted the shatter of the Republican Party for years now based on their poor choices. You can read about my concerns here, here and here. Regardless of whether Donald Trump wins or loses, the Republican Party is damaged and recovery may take a long time if ever. If he wins, other Republicans will solidify around him and support his decisions no matter how bad. They’re already working overtime as apologists now, why would it be different once in power? See Ted Cruz, see Sean Hannity. Big props, however, to Glenn Beck for holding his ground. Because of Donald Trump, a lot of Republicans have left the party to join the Libertarians.

I suspect the Democratic Party will be fine. All they’ve really done is chosen Barack Obama again. A Hillary Clinton White House will be a continuation of Obama’s White House. On the other hand, since Obama didn’t turn out to be the savior figure he allowed himself to be built up to, another continuation of his policies now in the hands of Clinton may be just the ticket to get Democrats fleeing to third parties too.

But let’s not pay too much attention anymore to those two big galoots. Let them flounder in their own mess. For those of you looking for a small government, freedom loving atmosphere, keep rolling with the Libertarian Party, increasing our vote totals. Let’s keep our own house in order and clean. Let’s learn from the two major’s mistakes and not make the same ones. Let’s keep working on ourselves, getting the message out and staying on target. Let’s be most concerned with message and not concerned with getting some celebrity to run. Let the people come to us because we have the best message, not the latest celebrity personality. Ideologies stick around, people fade away.

Johnson’s Aleppo Gaffe is a Positive Thing

Everybody hates a know-it-all. You know, that person who never asks questions but always has answers? Or, that person who asks a question just so they can school you on the right answer? Yeah, we all hate those people.

For decades, Libertarians have made the case that that is exactly what the two major parties have been giving us. Ask any politician either serving, once served or trying to serve and they’ll have an answer for everything.
How should we make health care better? They have an answer.

How should we make our schools better? They have an answer.

What should we do about Russia in the Ukraine? They have an answer.

What should we do about drug overdosing? They have an answer.

What should we do about…?

Donald Trump is the ultimate example of this. His campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again” but he hasn’t said how. He says things like, “Trust me, it’s going to be great. It’s going to be so great. Our plan is simple and will work. I guarantee it will work.” It’s his go to answer for every question. In fact, Trump has now made having no plan the plan. As of the Commander-In-Chief forum sponsored by NBC News on September 7, 2016, Donald Trump said regarding his plan to defeat ISIS, “I have a plan…if I win (the presidency), I don’t wanna broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is.” On the surface, this sounds like sound policy. After all, Eisenhower et al kept D-Day a secret from the Germans. But this is how Trump answers everything. And yet, we’re asked to believe him, he can fix everything.

Hillary Clinton is no different. Ask her anything at all, and she has a plan to fix education, ISIS, schools, you name it. She has a government plan. Look at her positions on issues on her campaign website. There it is. All government run solutions on all the major topics.

The Libertarians are the only party that have consistently made it clear they don’t want to run your life. Why? Because they admit they don’t have all the answers. Look at the Party Platform. Most solutions are removing government from the equation and letting peaceful people cooperate into a solution that works for them. Libertarians understand there is no one solution for everyone. They understand government is rarely the solution. And when asked about things they don’t know, honest candidates say, “I don’t know”.

So on September 8, 2016, in a 5AM interview on MSNBC, Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Gary Johnson, was asked, “What would you do if you were elected, about Aleppo?” His response was, “What is Aleppo?”

That unleashed the Kraken on social media and everywhere else, including I’m guessing, the dark side of the moon.

Perhaps he should have known what was being asked of him. I admit myself, if I’d been asked about Aleppo, I might have stuttered a bit too. Why? Because I know the conflict mainly as “Syria”. If Johnson was asked “What would you do if you were elected, about Syria?” I’m betting this never would have happened.

In any case, Johnson immediately issued a tweet owning up to it and advising everyone he was simply human. He followed up with the following statement:

This morning, I began my day by setting aside any doubt that I’m human. Yes, I understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict — I talk about them every day. But hit with “What about Aleppo?”, I immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict. I blanked. It happens, and it will happen again during the course of this campaign.

Can I name every city in Syria? No. Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes.

As Governor, there were many things I didn’t know off the top of my head. But I succeeded by surrounding myself with the right people, getting to the bottom of important issues, and making principled decisions. It worked. That is what a President must do.

That would begin, clearly, with daily security briefings that, to me, will be fundamental to the job of being President.”

Can you imagine either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton saying such a thing? Trump would have answered the Aleppo question with something about a secret plan and Clinton would have given something akin to America knows best and if she could get elected she’d keep digging in to that mess, dragging America deeper into foreign entanglements. AND, both would be pretty much saying, “Trust me, I know how to solve this.”

Gary Johnson’s statement about the gaffe is wonderfully Libertarian. He admits he can make mistakes and therefore, admits he doesn’t know everything. This keeps plenty with the platform of keeping government (himself, if elected) out of subjects he isn’t familiar with. He isn’t quick on the draw but will take time.

But most of all, he’s willing to ask questions for clarification.

It is the greatest virtue to admit you don’t know something. It’s even cooler if you say you’re willing to investigate for a solution. It’s okay to admit you don’t have an answer right away and that you’ll get back to someone once some research is done. And it’s even more incredible when you see someone who once held a very strong opinion change their mind in real time when confronted with greater evidence to the contrary.

Many of us praise when someone asks questions rather than claim to know all the answers. If you want a candidate that “knows” everything, you got Trump or Clinton to choose from. In fact, that’s the problem in government meddling in every aspect of our lives. We hope they know everything they claim to know but we’re all pretty sure they’re pretending to know.

Gary Johnson has also said things like, regarding the Black Lives Matter movement that it “opened his eyes”. That’s another admission of I Don’t Know. Again, imagine Trump or Clinton saying this.

I Don’t Know is okay. Asking questions for clarification is okay. Libertarians are the only candidates admitting they don’t know everything which is why government shouldn’t control everything.

Gary Johnson should not be dismissed or considered unable to be President of the United States. He deserves credit where credit is due.

Dawn in Bangkok

A little over ten years ago, I bought myself a hand-held chess computer. This was before the days of smart phones where now you can just download a free app. So I spent $60.00 on this one hit wonder that came with a stylus. The purpose was two fold: One, I like chess and didn’t have anyone to play with other than online strangers who’d yell at me that I was wasting their time because I ranked myself incorrectly and; two, because my son was about to be born and I imagined pining away my time on this hand-held device while he napped in my arms.

The only time I could beat the machine was when I played it on the dumb-dumb setting. Or something like that. If I went too high in level, I couldn’t match it. And at the top Grand Master level, I suffered an early thumping every time. But I don’t feel so bad.

In 1997, for the first time, a machine by the name of Deep Blue beat Master chess player, Garry Kasparov. Since that time, the machine has only improved. Today, there is no human player that can match the machine. Short of total war and annihilation, this is how it’s going to be for the rest of the future. No biological entity will ever match it or catch up. Biological evolution is much too slow. But the machine…it’s becoming terrifyingly too fast and intelligent.

The machine isn’t just beating chess, it’s beat Space Invaders. At this point, Google’s Deep Mind has managed to become the best Space Invaders player and no human will ever be as good. Sure, it’s just Space Invaders, but there’s more important perfections to come.

I’m a firm believer that the American Civil War did not have to happen to end slavery. I am a firm believer that it was the second industrial revolution that would have brought an end to forced human labor even had the war not happened. It’s much easier to maintain a tractor or two with related equipment than a few families of people. And, the machine’s productive value is much better. I know, hindsight is twenty-twenty, but I’m still pretty certain the machine would have won out over human slaves.

Today we have replaced a lot of what was once human labor with machines. Two hundred years ago, ninety-percent of people worked in agriculture. Today, it’s only two-percent. And yet, we have more food (at least in the West), than we know what to do with.

One hundred years ago, you were a doctor. But today, you have to specialize because it’s impossible to know everything about a human being. You have doctors specializing in just the colon. And there are specializations within specializations. Even in automotive, there are shops that simply deal with tires, shops that deal with oil changes and bigger shops that deal with it all. And yet in order to do that, they have specialists employed to deal with every aspect of the vehicle. In engineering, there are whole businesses whose sole purpose is to design a better axle.

But what if we managed to create a machine that instead of piecemeal, could assimilate all the knowledge on a particular subject? Regarding medicine, what if we could build an intelligence that knew everything about the human being? What if we could run a “systems check” like our computers and input the results of blood test, spinal fluids, colon, heart, liver, bladder, and let the machine crunch the numbers to tell us exactly what was going on? What if it could predict heart attacks, lung cancer, the next seizure? We’re not far from that. In fact, we’re doing it now with finding various genes responsible for some cancers. But what if we could go further?

A few years ago, researchers began the study of blood cell size devices that could be injected into people to do everything from increase oxygen in the blood, to monitor organs and the body and make diagnosis or make corrections when problems present themselves. And this could also apply to my personal vested interest: Hunting down cancer cells.

Nanobots for cancer. The thought intrigues me. Imagine if instead of being diagnosed four years ago via a colonoscopy that I had colon cancer, and then a week later put under a knife, then for the next six months undergoing preventive chemo-therapy, I had cell-sized bots patrolling my blood stream, looking for mutations. And, without me even being aware, the bots zapped them and went on their way looking for others. Your body already does this. Cells are programmed to expire on their own. Sometimes, they don’t. This is how cancers can form.

What if in the near future, a patient comes to a “clinic”. She is young and in good health and wants to keep it that way. In fact, this is a hypothetical future where every one does this as commonly as entering high school. She sits in a comfortable chair and is injected with a solution containing General Non-Specific Information Gathering Nanobots. She is then asked to return in a week’s time. A week later, she returns, a blood draw is made and the sample is inserted into another machine. That machine makes some calculations and she is told exactly how her body and organs are functioning, the percentage and risk to which she may suffer various problems as she ages and her entire genome and DNA is mapped for errors or defects. She can then make decisions on what to do next.

Let’s say said patient, like myself, is diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome. This is a Syndrome where the DNA doesn’t always repair itself should a defect occur and cancer, especially colon cancer, can form. In our future world, at this point, the patient decides to be injected with Specialized Nanobots that hunt for colon cancer cells and she has to return to the office every ten years for a new upgrade/injection. And with that, she never has to worry about colon cancer.

What does all this have to do with freedom? Well it should be obvious by now. Saving you from time intensive labor and preventing debilitating diseases would free up much of your time to engage in…other things.

That’s where a problem presents itself. It sounds great on the surface but…

How will this affect jobs? What about surgeons being replaced with cancer zapping nanobots? What about family doctors being put out of business because they’re not needed for yearly physicals or illness diagnosis anymore? What about the pharmaceutical companies themselves? What about engineers being replaced with the perfect machine that can spot minor defects a person can not? We’re already seeing signs of minimum wage, fast food jobs replacing workers with machines. Could people employed in advanced areas of knowledge and learning be at risk with the creation of artificial intelligence? Could the human being find itself like in the movie WALL-E, where it does nothing but lounge on a mobile chair all day because the machine provides everything it needs? Do we want this?

Imagine with this technology, people get to live a very long time. Cells get repaired without the person even being aware it’s going on. They don’t age much anymore. Short of an accident, people now live to be about three-hundred-years-old (I’m just making up this number for an example). This opens up so much more and here’s at least one area I see jobs developing. Space travel now becomes doable because people live long enough for trips to and back. And colonization can begin.

That’s some pretty cool other things.

As optimistic as I am about all this, there is a dangerous side to continuing to build an artificial intelligence, especially one that can write it’s own code and evolve.

The same algorithm that let Deep Mind beat Space Invaders, has been used to beat several other games from the 1980s like Breakout. The same algorithm! In other words, it is learning even though each game’s rules are different.

It’s not just Atari games. A flight simulator program beat out human pilots in simulated aerial combat. This is where it gets scary and more real.

A machine is now the leading champion in chess, several Atari games and simulated aerial combat. And a human being will never be better. One day the machine will be the best at just about everything else. The machine will be the best oncologist, the best auto-technician, the best guitarist, the best race car driver, the best chef and so forth. And we’ll be able to combine these skills like in today’s smart phones with multiple apps. A machine will be master of, well, maybe everything. What will be our place in this new world?

A year ago, I upgraded to the, then, top of the line smart phone. After about a month of use, I noticed something very interesting. Monday through Friday, a half-hour before leaving for work, the phone would put on the display something like, “Estimated time to work is 17 minutes.” Then, about a half an hour before leaving from work, the display read, “Estimated time to home is 18 minutes.” This astounded me. I never told my phone about my schedule and no one told me it would do this. But an algorithm running within was keeping track with a GPS of my daily activities and took a correct guess that this is exactly what I was doing going to the same address every morning and returning to the same address every afternoon. I wonder, what else is my phone keeping track of?

My personal machine “sees” me. It sees me when I’m about to go to work and come home. It knows my likes and makes suggestions. And it sometimes just starts playing music on it’s own when I get into my car because I synced it up when I got it. We are on our way to creating something even more complicated, more helpful and yet, potentially more intrusive.

Human beings have been populating their world with gods from time immemorial. But this time, with artificial intelligence, we’re about to create the first one that does something and will truly be greater in intelligence than any human being. This god can be evil and it can be good. And it might not even know what these terms mean but end up doing what it thinks is right to the detriment of human beings. We’re talking about the eventual coming of self-replicating, self-reprogramming and compiling, improving machines that will outmatch anything the human brain can come up with. How are we ever going to, in our programming, account for every possibility for safety measures?

What happens when we program an AI for one purpose but it ends up capable of doing something else? This is referred to as Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines where we’re not programming the machine with the way to solve a problem but we’re giving it the problem and letting it write it’s own software to get to a solution.

It is important now to start the discussion on how we’re going to handle this. I don’t believe we can stop the development. No law will do. Even if the United States banned the development of AI, it doesn’t apply to the rest of the world. And like the drug war, even a ban wouldn’t stop the development from going underground. AI is going to happen.

The human race is working towards creating it’s first real god. We have to start planning for the implications right now. We may not all be programmers, but we’re all involved in politics, economics and ethics. Our economy is going to change and jobs will be radically altered. What kind of political system is capable of handling AI? Can we possibly program a safe AI, especially when we let it evolve? We all have to be part of this project and all have something to contribute.

Make the political argument, not the personal attack

CheetoJesusSomething has been irking me for a while now. Initially, I couldn’t put my finger on it. It’s been building over the last couple of months. It’s not so much the entrenched corners so many have willingly put themselves in when debating the virtues and vices of the presidential nominees, though that is a part. It has more to do with the tenor of those who have been aligned with the voice of conservatism.

One of the founding ideas behind Freedom Cocktail was to create an environment for the free exchange of ideas and dialogue, so long as civility remained the setting and logic and reason the atmosphere. Any object could be set on that imaginary stage (or bar) and discussed, so long as those conditions remained. Over the 4+ years of our existence, we have had posts covering everything from current events to philosophical views on raising children, our changing culture and everything in between. In every case, no one resorted to name-calling. With each successive post, acute attention was placed on not ignoring contrary facts or shifting arguments away from contrary evidence. It is something we pride ourselves on when we identify as conservatives or Libertarians.

One of my favorite quotes, in terms of debate, comes from former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” That comment has always stuck with me and helps to drive my choice of words whenever I debate someone, whether in writing or in person.

I appreciate my Libertarian friends who have almost always backed the Libertarian Party candidate. When they write about their decision to back Gary Johnson here in the 2016 race, they are being consistent with their ideals and firmly held beliefs. And, generally speaking, they do not delve into personal attacks or Mad Magazine-style lambasting.

On the flip side, Leftists cannot help but fall into the 3-step playbook whenever they are trying to engage in political commentary — they will first shift the subject when anyone is able to rebut their initial claim; they will then ignore the facts being presented to them (or anything contrary) that would force them to revise their initial claim; and, as a final step, will resort to name-calling. They cannot help it. They may never admit they are wrong, but as Maggie Thatcher was keen to notice about human nature, when you have not one single political argument left, all that remains are emotional outbursts designed to attack personally.

Much like Maggie, I swell with joy and pride when I can drive a Leftist to resort to their 3-step playbook, turning them into red-faced blowhards, vomiting nonsensical platitudes and horrible vulgarities as fast as they can conjure them. I know, I should not take joy in the emotional wreckage I have wrought by the judicious application of logic and reason, but I’m human, too. I have my weaknesses.

On almost equal footing to the personal insults, what angers me (and most conservatives) is the notion that Leftists have of themselves as being so much smarter, they need to think for the rest of us. They want to tell us what food to eat, what light bulbs to use, what cars to drive, how much we should earn, how much health insurance we need and how to raise and educate our own children. They convocate in their Ivory Towers and their hallowed halls of Marxist principles, doling out their wisdom to the rest of the poor, common-folk, too uneducated and unenlightened to know what’s best for them. So what if the messengers do not need to heed their own advice — so long as the masses conform, the select few are entitled to the spoils, are they not? Ever wonder why it’s okay for Leonardo DiCaprio to own a mega-yacht, Al Gore to fly on a Gulfstream and Bernie Sanders to buy his 3rd mansion while the rest of us are scolded for firing-up a grill or driving a 4×4? It’s because, in their minds, they are part of a different caste and as long as the vast majority can be convinced to go without and relegate themselves to the bottom rungs, the elites get to break their own rules. After all, they are so much smarter and better than the rest of us, we should just be thankful they allow their wisdom to be forced down our throats, right?

This brings me back to my quandary.  I’ve already written my thoughts about the #NeverTrump movement (here and here) so I will not belabor my earlier arguments. I’ve said all I think I can to sway someone with my point-of-view. However, what I want to do is implore those who have gone all-in on the #NeverTrump movement is to consider a couple of thoughts.

CheetoJesus2First, your choice of words and phrases. Take a lesson from Maggie. Terms like Cheeto Jesus, The Angry Cheeto, Cheez-Whiz and the Clown Prince of Politics are not political arguments. Equally, to label supporters of Donald Trump as members of the Branch Trumpidians, Trumpites, Trumpettes, Trumpeteers, Trump-chumps or Trumpkins is akin to trying to win a debate by calling someone ugly. Or fat. They are insults and devoid of any political merit or substance whatsoever. Sure, to those in the same caste, it’s uproariously funny. Like the rich, mean girls teasing the poor kid from across the tracks, everyone knows it’s wrong, except them. And it eventually turns sympathy toward the one being personally attacked.

Which brings me to the self-righteous, we-know-so-much-better-than-you, that is equivalent to the hubris exhibited by the elites on the Left. It is the height of arrogance to presume you belong on a different plane than everyone else simply because you deem it so. No one likes to lose, but worse is the loser who takes their ball and goes home, only to blame everyone else for why their team had to quit the game.

But it’s not fair!

Every parent, at one time or another, reminds their children that life isn’t fair. Sometimes, the bad guy wins. Sometimes, you don’t get what you want just because you demand it. Sometimes, you have to act like the grown up and press on, waiting for the next opportunity to present itself.

Be a member of #NeverTrump. You have every right to choose whom you wish to vote for and where you will throw your support. But keep the principles of logic, reason and civility foremost in mind. Choose your words and your arguments carefully to avoid mirroring the very same tactics and behaviors we detest in those who would prefer to have dominion over every aspect of our very lives. Otherwise, all you will succeed in doing is solidifying the support of those whom you offend and alienate those who might otherwise be open to a more persuasive and dignified alternative point-of-view.

People should vote their conscience

cruz-trump-2016I’ve been known to “real-time” tweet during political events, like the State of the Union address or the primary debates for both the Republicans and the Democrats. Thousands of others do the same. It has become a means for political junkies to feel like they are making their voices heard. Social media is an amazing innovation. Anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer connected to the internet can become a news-talk station of one.

In the last few days, I’ve decided to spend less time commenting (in fact very few tweets each evening) and more time reading what others were saying. I started to experience that sinking feeling you get when you sense something is going wrong, but are powerless to stop it. There were some very good tweets, with thought-provoking analysis and insights, on both side of the aisle. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority seemed to be involved in a contest to see who could be fastest with a smarmy, wry tweet full of hyperbolic vitriol. Very few were listening and even fewer could maintain a civil discourse. There was no conversation taking place. Both sides were entrenched, having painted themselves into their respective corners with such a wide gulf between, that both sides felt they needed to fire intercontinental ballistic insults in an effort to score a hit.

It was all about finding a GIF or a screen grab and rapidly making a meme to share. It was about crafting venomous retorts, full of bile with a hint of acerbic wit.  Sometimes the insults were moronic; others sophomoric. Some were full of utter hatred. Across the spectrum, emotions were running high and, for the most part, were ruling the day. Logic and reason were lost in the deafening white noise of nonsensical protestations.

A very good friend of mine has repeatedly stated that both candidates are equally unqualified. A new hashtag has begun to run — #NeverHillaryandNeverTrump. In fact, I am hearing from more and more who will not vote at all. Those who are thinking of voting have said, beyond finding a third party candidate or a write-in, their conscience will not allow themselves to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”

First, let me try to get you to think about this for a moment. This coming election cycle has candidates across the board: local elections, state-wide races, congressional races and the presidency. Though the presidential race bring out the masses, it’s the local races that have an immediate impact on our day-to-day lives. No matter what, you must vote! Do not stay home because of only one line on the overall ballot.

Second, I want to address this notion of “the lesser of two evils.” I am so tired of this hyperbole. It is an overused and ridiculous cliche. But, let us go with that, since so many buy into this platitude, hook, line and sinker. Is not another way of saying one person is less evil than another, is to say that one person is better than the other? After all, what makes one person “less” evil than another? It’s because one person has a little more good in them than the other? If that is the case, why can’t we turn it around and say you have to pick the best of the two options before you?

We are so mired in the negative that we now spend all of our energy literally trying to find something wrong with everything! We are quick to complain, slow to praise. We go out of our way to post lines and lines of angst and frustration on social media and rarely take a moment to spread joy and happiness. If you doubt me, just go through your feeds right now and take a quick tally of the posts in the last few hours? Unless all of your friends are crazy-cat-ladies, it will be easy to show how social media has become the conduit for negativity. We look for “perfect” candidates and then spend our time and energy looking for any misstep, flaw, problem or difference of opinion they may hold and then publish those failings (in our minds) to the masses online.

Let’s take this one step further. Let’s pretend we have convinced ourselves that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are so terrible, that neither one deserves our support. Are they both equally terrible? Do their poisonous spheres reach equally wide? Do their evil tendrils fill the same number of cracks and crevices? Are their villainous dispositions equally capable of corrupting the exact same number of hearts and minds?

Alternatively, does Hillary Clinton surround herself with the same kinds of people with which Donald Trump surrounds himself? Has Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments mirrored, precisely, those of Donald Trump’s? Of course not. Despite what Leftists wish, we are all individuals and thus are all unique.

So, if we believe in the uniqueness inherent within each of us, it becomes clear that even if someone isn’t your preferred choice, you can pick the better of the two. It isn’t about some self-imposed morality. The choices laid before us were a result of millions of shared voices. Just like the world really is not out to get you (being you are 1 of billions), the world is not out to hold you responsible for the presidency. The only way that holds any truth is if you are the only one who votes. To think your one vote is tantamount to 30 pieces of silver is to suffer from extreme delusions of grandeur.

Donald Trump was not even in my top 10. I kept waiting, like so many, for him to wash out with his many missteps and stupid comments. But, people are angry with career politicians and the corruption of big government. People are tired of sending fresh voices to change the direction of our nation only to see the hammer of special interests and powerful insiders crush the good out of people. Americans, by and large, are tired of being lied to, with one empty promise after another spewing mindlessly from the lips of our elected leaders. For years we’ve heard the rising cry for an outsider — someone with no connection to Washington, D.C. And, when that guy comes forth, warts and all, he wins more primary votes of any Republican in the modern era. That same “fly-over” country that we all defend from the elitists in the northeast and the left coast are the same ones who wanted Trump.

You cannot in one breath, talk about the collective wisdom of the common man in middle America, and then in the next, wail about them being misguided and fooled into selecting the wrong candidate. You do not get to move the goal posts because you are disappointed with the way the game is going. And the worst move you can make is to self-righteously proclaim you are so superior to everyone else that you are going to take your ball and go home under the guise of now being morally superior, all while abdicating your personal responsibility to do your civic duty.

The primaries were a chance for everyone to get in the pit, slinging as much mud as we could at each other, battling it out until one survivor remained. That was the time to bite, kick, punch, scream and rally forces to do battle. The smoke has now cleared and though we all have our various collective wounds, the internal fight has to end — for the sake of our nation.

I mentioned above that it is impossible to see both candidates as the same. One is better than the other, if only in the influence they will have on our body politic for years to come. I do not believe there is anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton will submit Constitutional conservatives to the Supreme Court. She will do all she can to infringe further on the 2nd Amendment. She will continue to explode our national debt. She will continue to shrink our armed forces, ignore the problems inherent with illegal immigration and open borders, allow more and more unfettered refugees from Islamic held territories into our country, expose our national secrets, will lie uncontrollably and will be able to be bought by the highest bidder. We all know this. This is not conjecture. This is fact. This is her track record and there is no indication she would act differently as Commander in Chief.

Is it possible that Donald Trump would nominate liberal judges to the Supreme Court? Yes, but seems less certain based on the list of names he said he would consider. Would he work to infringe upon or repeal the 2nd Amendment? He has repeatedly said he wants to protect it and is proud of being endorsed by the NRA. Will he explode the debt? Perhaps. He has mentioned a number of programs and initiatives, but he’s also said he wants to bring business back to America by lowering the corporate tax rate to 15%, making it one of the best rates in the industrialized world instead of one of the worst. As a businessman, he wants to win, so why would this be different as the CEO of the US economy? Trump has declared a need to rebuild and strengthen the armed services because he wants to restore law and order, both domestically and in terms of national defense. We know he wants to close the open southern border and fix illegal immigration. Is he lying? He wants to stop the influx of refugees from known terrorist strongholds. Will he pretend he never said that? Will he expose our national secrets? Will he lie uncontrollably? Will be be able to be bought by the highest bidder? I do not believe it, but only time will tell.

One final thought if you are still part of the #NeverTrump crowd (and was the subject of a prior piece I wrote last month), Congress is the check and balance against the power of the Executive Branch. Many of the initiatives President Obama has been allowed to push through are not because it was allowed by the Constitution, but because the Congress chose to abdicate their own responsibilities in keeping his overreach in check. Given the two possibilities facing us, which candidate would make it easier for Congress to fight future overreach? Would fear of being labeled misogynistic continue to have the same paralytic effect as being labeled racist has had?

I’ve heard many say they must stay true to their conscience, which will not allow them to vote for Donald Trump. At first glance, I understand from where that is coming. I would like to look at this, but from a different angle. I would prefer to ask, is allowing someone with Hillary’s known record, over Donald’s unknown, to ascend to the presidency, an act of good conscience? Based on the facts we all know, I would argue that it is far more objectionable to let Hillary win. Trump might be a horrible alternative, but when compared to what we know, to elect not to pull the lever for him is the real unconscionable act.

Hillary’s email server: willful deceit or gross negligence?

Comey and Hillary

Earlier today, much of our collective breaths were held as FBI Director James Comey took to the microphones to discuss the finality of the investigation into then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. One line stood out prominently in his opening comments: No one knows what I am about to say.


Let us examine the timeline from Tuesday of last week through to today’s press gathering. In a secret meeting, that was not supposed to be known, but was somehow accidentally discovered, the public found out Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch met on a runway in Phoenix, AZ for an impromptu discussion. The controversial liaison erupted in the media and online about the nature of that meeting, given the FBI investigation was ongoing and their recommendations would eventually land on Lynch’s desk. Why would the Attorney General of the United States put herself in a position of the appearance of impropriety by agreeing to a secret meeting with the husband of the woman who was being criminally investigated?

The initial response was, it was a “chance meeting” where they discussed the Clinton’s grandchildren, golfing and other non-official topics. Isn’t it odd, though, they had their security details stationed outside the plane and not on-board? No one was left within earshot of any of their conversation.

While we were all asking, “What did they really talk about?” the Justice Department was busy filing a brief to protect any and all emails that took place between the senior staff of the Secretary of State’s Office and the Clinton Family Foundation. All of those senior staff were under the direction of Hillary Clinton. Why did those emails need to be isolated and sealed for more than 27 months? (We still have to wait and see if the motion is granted.)

By Friday, three days after the meeting between Lynch and Clinton had been taking up all the oxygen in the room, the Attorney General, through a spokesperson at the DOJ, said she would accept whatever recommendations that were given to her by her senior prosecutors and the FBI, to include FBI Director James Comey. This gave rise to varying predictions from all the talking heads across every cable-news network. Some said Lynch met with Bill Clinton to let him know his wife was going to be indicted, but Lynch was going to insulate him and the Clinton Family Foundation through her action to block the release of those emails. Others saw the opposite, that Hillary was going to be safe, but only as it related to the private email server, and Lynch was trying to protect the family by sealing the emails between the Secretary of State’s Office and Clinton Family Foundation personnel. Regardless of the finding of the FBI investigation into her use of a private email server to conduct government business, the question still remains: why isolate those emails?

On Saturday, the FBI spent 3½ hours interviewing Hillary Clinton, an indication their case was moving toward completion. The meeting was said to have been voluntary on the part of Hillary Clinton, who met with several investigators at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. The talking heads were back throughout the weekend, concluding the FBI had all the information they needed and the interview was meant to see if she would contradict herself or their findings. Who knew we were less than 48 hours away from the big press release by the FBI Director himself?

Earlier today (Monday morning), the press reported Hillary Clinton would be flying with President Barack Obama on Air Force One to a campaign appearance in Charlotte, NC, where the President would help the presumptive democrat nominee in her bid for the presidency. Once bitter rivals during her former attempt to win the office, and many have suggested there is no love lost between the Clintons’ and the Obama’s, this projection of solidarity has been one of the strongest shown yet by the President toward Hillary Clinton.

Then, just a few hours after the announcement of Hillary Clinton and President Obama flying together to a rally, FBI Director James Comey takes the stage to tell us about the FBI’s investigation into her private email server and it’s outcome. At this point, having read this far, you likely know the FBI has determined that no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges against herAfter spending more than 15 minutes explaining all of the rules and statutes she broke, detailing the missing emails they had to piece back together, the exhaustive search to rebuild whole conversation chains, the many emails that were classifed, some to the highest level possible at the time they were being sent/received (not just up-classified after-the-fact) and the likelihood hostile actors infiltrated her private email server, FBI Director James Comey came to his odd conclusion. “No reasonable prosecutor would bring charges.”


This can only lead to one of two conclusions:

  1. There is an act of willful deceit taking place within multiple agencies in the Executive Branch; or,
  2. There is an act of willful negligence and incompetence within multiple agencies in the Executive Branch.

There can be no other way to interpret the timeline of these events.

Let’s look at FBI Director James Comey’s statement that no one had any knowledge of the findings of the FBI investigation, nor the words he was about to say. If that’s the case, why did Attorney General risk the optic of being caught with Bill Clinton, less than one week before the FBI’s findings? If she knew there would be no recommendation for charges, it means James Comey is lying. If she didn’t know, it means Loretta Lynch was incompetent in her lack of basic judgment.

Similarly, President Obama publicly revealed he would attend the rally with Hillary Clinton just hours before Comey was set to read his statement. Why would the President put himself in the situation of being joined at the hip with a woman who was going to be indicted? Once again, it appears Comey must have been lying about no one knowing what he was going to say. Otherwise, it means the President was showing a lack of judgment by taking a major risk in being seen on Air Force One with someone about to be charged with felonious activities.

Finally, going back to Comey’s full statement — the overwhelming majority of which castigated Hillary Clinton and the Secretary of State’s Office with an intense tongue-lashing for their incompetence and gross-negligence in the protection of highly classified information and proper regard for national security — how can he let her off the hook by claiming there wasn’t enough evidence of an intent to break the law? He just spent a quarter of an hour detailing all of the evidence. Besides, how many times have we heard the phrase, ignorance of the law is no excuse?

Are we really going to accept that a former First Lady, a former US Senator from the state of NY and a former Secretary of State had no ability to understand the importance of protecting our national secrets? Are we to allow the smartest woman in the room to use the “whoopsie” defense? Is FBI Director James Comey letting Hillary Clinton off simply because she looked at him and said, “My bad”? What does this say about the confidence in the FBI’s ability to do their job?

Either Hillary Clinton is one of the most incompetent, ignorant, grossly negligent and disqualified person to ever be considered for any state office, let alone the Presidency of the United States, or she has been willfully deceitful, flouting the law and demonstrating her unworthiness to be President. Regardless of political affiliation, painting Hillary Clinton in either light leads to the same conclusion — she is unfit to be the Commander in Chief.

She is either grossly negligent or she is willfully deceitful. Or maybe she is just too big to jail.


The EU is nothing more than a bloated HOA

Brexit-39-650For anyone who has ever come under the auspices of an over-zealous, obnoxious and hindering home owners association (“HOA”), the #Brexit vote will become immediately clear. The vote had nothing to do with wanting to hurt the world economy, deprive economic opportunity to its citizens or bankrupt a nation. On the contrary, it’s the dashed hopes and good intentions of the HOA making such accusations in the face of the UK’s referendum to leave the European Union (“EU”). In some ways, it feels appropriate to see a nation who once believed in the divine right of kings, whose empire stretched around the globe, who then became subjugated under the will of an ever-reaching, untouchable authority, reach the same conclusion we Americans did back in 1776. The #Brexit vote was simply a vote for freedom.

The advent of the home owners association was sold as a way to work together to keep the value of each person’s property growing. Who would not be seduced by the promise of carefree living and recreational amenities for a dollar or two a day? Similarly, the EU was meant to provide a single block of European nations to help maximize trade negotiations with the rest of the world. Every country was going to benefit from the shared power of a single union all working together. Ambrosia was going to flow from the streams while manna would fall from the skies.

Then the HOAs began to slowly morph. The power held by a few could literally impose such controls as approving the only paint colors allowed, mandating mailbox designs, telling residents where to park, how to light their homes, how to landscape or decorate and the list goes on and on. The elitists get to push their world view onto the rest of their fiefdoms and if any dare oppose, those leaders can file actions designed to lead toward the potential annexation and foreclosure of a person’s home. HOAs, instead of benefiting the residents (citizens), have come to benefit municipal governments, builders/developers and the many other sectors who have found a way to feed off of the hapless homeowners (people), such as property managers, legal services, landscape design and maintenance, pool maintenance, CPAs, insurance and banks.

HOAs become a double-tax on the home owner. Not only do residents pay taxes to their local governments (who have shunted their responsibility to maintain sidewalks, lighting, etc. within the subdivision over to the HOA), they also have to pay the annual dues to their HOA to maintain those very same items! And, as many now know, those dues often are not used properly and facilities fall into disrepair and neglect. Eventually, the topic arises: the need to increase the annual dues to cover “unexpected” (failing countries) costs for repairs (to prop up). The financial hits keep coming. But, rest assured, it’s all for the good of the increased and guaranteed protection of property values, right? Just how much value is provided when the surrounding infrastructure and amenities fall into disrepair? What happens when certain parts withing the union are not really contributing to the whole?

Now replace the term HOA with EU and convert the subjects of paint color, mailbox placement and landscape maintenance with such analogous discussion points as immigration law, border control and mandated value added taxes (“VAT”) on certain goods or services. The similarities are inescapable.

But we live in a free society with protections afforded to us by the Constitution, right? Tell that to the military veteran who wants to fly the American flag on a pole in his front yard as a demonstration of his First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Not so fast, señor! The HOA has the ability to trump the Constitution of the United States of America, just as the EU has slowly developed the same ability to force nations to cede their own sovereignty to a handful of bureaucrats in Brussels whose might and authority rivals the kings of old.

Last week, the UK had enough. They had been paying their dues (to the sum of close to £350 million pounds a week) and watched as their judiciary became subject to laws overriding their own rulings. Members of parliament were finding close to 60% of their discussions regarding self-governance had to be filtered through (or were started by) the governing body of the EU. Their ability to be unique, free and independent was slowly eroding and they came to the decision to end it. They were no longer interested in being tied to the onerous and pompous rules of an unregulated and dictatorial HOA. As much as the new elitist, professor-class in government wanted to keep them in the collective (where resistance is futile), the people understood there was far more to gain in being an independent and free United Kingdom, than to continue their subjugation under the yoke of the EU.

On a final note, the UK hasn’t gone bankrupt. The “company” has not been dissolved. The fact that world markets went tango-uniform for a couple of days is more of a reaction to those elitists who are committed to squashing individuality in favor of conformity, than to any real worry over the UK’s economy evaporating. The country is still there. Their economy is still there. And, like the homeowner who suddenly finds increased finances after the HOA is dissolved, they will begin to engage in free-trade around the world, without being controlled by someone else.

Understanding #Brexit is as easy as understanding how many feel about their HOA. Those who love to control others and the forced collection of wealth through fear are likely the ones bemoaning a free and independent United Kingdom. There will always be those who have created an existence at the expense of the pain and misery of others. This past Friday, the UK plucked those leeches from their body. As Boris Johnson, former mayor of London, stated to the press, “Today represents our independence day.”

Somebody queue up the Bill Pullman monologue from ID4. And pour a dram. Cheers and congratulations to our friend across the pond.

It’s about time.



Maybe Congress will do its job if…

TrumpvHillaryI almost always try to choose my words carefully in any situation. Maybe it’s my background as a writer (both fiction and commentary). Maybe it comes from my many years behind the radio microphone. Perhaps it comes from being a husband to my wonderful wife and father to our four beautiful girls. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above, sprinkled with a healthy dose of rationality and reason.

I am not a #Trumpkin. But, I’ve never been #NeverTrump. Throughout the primary season, I was not a fan of Donald Trump. But, I didn’t feel the need to make ultimatums about him, either.

My hope is for everyone to read this article to the end before making up their minds about my reasoning, and I worry the only way to accomplish this is to put all of the aforementioned caveats in place. I’m not trying to alienate either side — at least, not yet.

The art of having a conversation is dying faster than teaching cursive in elementary school. It is becoming lost in the noise of all the hashtag-Never X (#NeverX), where X is someone’s rage du jour. A conversation does not mean you have to agree with the other party. It does not mean they have to change their minds after listening to you. It means each party is granted equal opportunity by the other party to present their thoughts and ideas. It’s an exchange. Each party takes time to listen and digest the words of the other before responding. Maybe common ground can be found. Maybe we agree to disagree. Maybe we learn some new perspective and it helps reform or reshape our own views. Maybe we do the same for someone else.

This has always been the underlying goal of every piece we publish here at Freedom Cocktail. A logical, reasoned conversation in order to educate and learn at the same time. When we shout others down and invent some new-found right in the Constitution of not being exposed to any contrary thoughts or ideas, there is no conversation. And, without the conversation, there is no growth. None.

Onto my topic.

Over the last 7+ years, the Congress of the United States of America has not functioned as the Founding Fathers intended. Not even close. Our Constitution created a unique form of government based on the principle of three, co-equal branches of government. Not one strong branch, one middle-ground branch and one weak branch. The checks and balances inherent were put in place to make sure all three branches remained separate but equal.

This has not been the case since President Barack Obama took office. The Executive Branch has given us countless examples of presidential overreach — from the gun-running scheme of Eric Holder’s DOJ with Fast and Furious, to the President picking and choosing which laws (or parts of laws) should be followed or ignored, to the IRS targeting conservative organizations and colluding with the DOJ, to the back-door methods of legislating through regulation via the EPA, the FCC, the State Department and more.

Congress, specifically the opposition party, though labeled obstructionist, has been unable or unwilling to stop the Obama agenda since he took office. Without a single Republican vote, Obamacare went sailing through the Congress on the eve of the Christmas holiday. The government (specifically the Executive Branch) now effectively controls 1/6th of the US economy.

In their quest to control or curtail the 2nd Amendment, through multiple executive orders, our President has unilaterally expanded background checks, closed supposed “loopholes” and tightened the process for law-abiding gun owners because, “Congress won’t act!” He has openly admitted he will take pen in hand because the legislative branch of government will not do what he wants.

President Obama is quite shrewd. He always sets the table with a negative before imposing his will, playing the part of the reluctant hero. He will paint the other side with words like, “they have failed to act,” or, “refuse to take action,” or, “continue to ignore the will of the people.” It is then followed by a pronouncement that he will somehow have to find a way to impose his will and make legislation happen without Congress. Hillary Clinton has often applauded this maneuver, stating, “Congress won’t act; we have to do something.” And now she is the presumptive Democrat nominee to become the next Commander in Chief. Why would she not want to have the same authority?

This premise that Congress exists solely to pass the laws demanded by the President flies in the face of how our country was designed to function. Congress is a separate but equal branch of government. Not a lesser branch or a powerless branch. Equal.

Obama asks Jefferson about Constitution flawThe fact the Legislative branch can stop the agenda of a sitting president is not a flaw in the design — it is intentional. Our Founding Fathers never wanted (nor should we) a king! No matter how much you may want the agenda of one president implemented by executive decree, are you equally willing to accept the same authoritarian form of governance when the opposition is in office?

The logical question to ask is why have legislators allowed themselves to be relegated to mere marionettes, attached by strings to the will of the President and the Executive Office? It’s fear. Fear of being labeled racists. Fear of being derided for opposing his agenda because of a false narrative over skin color. Fear of being mocked and scoffed by the mainstream media for being bigots and obstructionists solely due to the race of the President. As a result, the Republicans in Congress have refused to wield their Constitutional authority to be the check and balance against the will of the President. They have not exercised the powers granted to them to ensure a balanced and stable government, regardless of whom is in office. They have abdicated their role for fear of being painted as racist, bigoted, backward neanderthals, and have set a dangerous precedent, which must be reversed if we are to remain a Constitutional Republic.

Now imagine what this same Congress will do if Hillary Clinton is elected president? All of the same fears will remain because an all too-willing propaganda wing of the Democrat Party, the mainstream media, will just replace the word “racist” with “misogynist” and the word “race” with “sex”. Imagine four (or eight!) more years of a castrated legislative branch. We are already on the cusp of monarchical governance after almost 8 years of the current regime. How much longer can we go before the role of president becomes, for all intents and purposes, an actual monarch?

We need the Legislative branch to start working as designed. We need legislators who revere and follow the Constitution. I know there is a sub-set of the body politic who believe being a “true conservative” means never compromising your principles. There are some who will vote for some third or fourth party candidate so they can feel good about #NeverCaving. If only it were such a black and white case to make.

Can a wall be built if Congress refuses to fund it?

Can executive orders installing backdoor legislative programs be implemented if Congress withholds the tax dollars necessary to make them happen?

Can Supreme Court justices be whisked through and appointed with wanton disregard for their backgrounds if Congress chooses to live by the advice and consent clause?

It should never matter the race, sex, religion, age, sexual identity or preference of anyone in office. Congress should have been doing its job all along, but they have allowed themselves to become irrelevant. It is going to take some time before the Legislature feels comfortable wielding their Constitutional authority again.

If you really want to help this Republic get back to it’s Constitutional roots, we need to get the Legislative branch to stop living in fear. Like it or not, putting Donald Trump in office, a white male, an unprotected class, may be just the shot of chemotherapy this Congress needs to shed the cancer of fear and inaction. It is not going to be pretty. It is going to make us sick. But, it is the only logical choice if you do revere our Constitutional Republic.


We, the Selfish Libertarians

There’s this meme going around which reads, “All cats are libertarians. Completely dependent on others but fully convinced of their own independence.” The implication is that libertarians have deluded themselves into thinking they have the skill set to provide everything they need in life on their own without assistance. They have deluded themselves into thinking they can farm, build a car, make a house and build a furnace.

all-cats-are-libertarians-mary-fanningDoes anyone in their right mind really think libertarians believe this? Only the complainers who want to smear the philosophy who don’t understand it think this. When you meet a libertarian, ask them if they think this. None but a mentally disturbed person (or a really skilled one) would claim this.

No, libertarians understand very well they’re dependent on other people but what they want, is to choose who to interact with and not be forced through a government program or policy on who to interact with. So the meme remains true. But without the implication of delusion of being able to provide everything on their own. What we want, is the freedom to seek out the best people to rely on, not have a certain set determined for us.

The biggest complaint I’ve seen as of late is that being a libertarian means being selfish. Being a libertarian, they say, means only looking out for yourself and be damned your neighbors and community. But again, those that say this haven’t done their homework on what libertarian means.

The platform of the Libertarian Party reads, in part, “We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.”

Does any of this sound selfish so far? Sounds to me like everyone gets to play and be nice and be happy. I’ve yet to find anyone who can reasonably disagree with this. Wait, I mean, unless they’re ready to claim that A) Other people know better than most other people how to live so they should be put in charge; B) Some lifestyles are not appropriate even if they don’t hurt anyone and must not be allowed; C) Those smarter people from A should be allowed to monitor some people to make sure their happiness isn’t too happy or happier than others.

A, B, and C are exactly what the complainers are engaging in when they say libertarians are selfish. They think that other people from a magic land of perfect people, pulled from maybe Plato’s Philosopher Kings, should be anointed (elected) to take a bit from some people and give to other people and that it’s okay to use force because if they didn’t, some people wouldn’t voluntarily help their community. It’s forced cooperation. They claim it’s necessary because without it, people can’t seem to take care of each other voluntarily.

And yet, it’s a myth. They can’t point to any group of libertarians actually neglecting their community. They can’t point to, say, New Hampshire which has a government most closely based on Libertarian policies and show the pit of selfish, disaster they predict. Their complaint that libertarianism is selfish is based on the same incorrect assumption drug warriors have; which is, if we legalize it everyone will be stoned!

The complainers, who mostly come from the Left of the political spectrum, are usually most at odds with the economic side of libertarianism. We’re actually quite in line with the social side. Libertarians and the Left agree that gay marriage should be legalized, we’re both generally in favor of ending the drug war, we’re both open for free speech and press, we’re both pro-choice and on and on.

So let’s look at some of the libertarian economic ideas and see if they really are selfish.

The complainers claim that our preference for a Minimum Wage of zero means we don’t value unskilled labor and would, if we could, pay them sweatshop wages. They claim we’d be a nation of robber barons, selfishly keeping profits and stepping on the little guy. On the contrary, the reason libertarians want to end the Minimum Wage is because it actually pushes people out of the work force. If the Left gets what it wants, which presently is a wish for $15.00 an hour, businesses would reduce their work force, and chances wouldn’t be taken on unskilled people. So the libertarian solution is actually less selfish because what we’re promoting is more employment.

The complainers claim that our view towards private property ownership means some businesses would deny service to some people based on color or religion or race or whatever factor is unfavorable to the business owner. It’s true some would do this. But I venture lots of people making this complaint don’t know how business works. Business owners recognize they’re in business to make money and a living. Denying certain groups of people would get around. People generally don’t share good service stories. They share bad service stories. If you own a business and say, choose not to serve black people, your business may very well fold. So you’ll probably serve as many people as possible. This myth of businesses suddenly becoming selfish and closing it’s doors to some groups if libertarian economics were installed is just not valid. The complainer can point to one or two bakers who refused a gay wedding. But I challenge them to find a significant problem like a large fast food restaurant or grocery chain engaging in this behavior. Or a motor vehicle company. If libertarian economics are suddenly put in place, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Ford, Microsoft, Apple, General Motors, Southwest Airlines, you name it, will keep on serving everyone.

The second complaint about private property ownership says that our view means we’ll let the environment be trashed. But I’m not sure how this line of thinking goes. It’s always public parks and spaces that have the most graffiti and vandalism. Property owners have a vested interest in making sure their property and surrounding property are clean. They have an interest in not damaging or misusing the resources. A common complaint is that if Yellowstone Park were privatized, someone could buy it and turn it into a chemical dump. This is such a bunch of ridiculousness. Yellowstone Park’s value is being Yellowstone Park. Private ownership would keep it clean and safe for tourism to continue. I challenge that private parks are always better because owners are always ensuring they have a favorable place for customers to spend time and money where as government/public parks always rely on the mythical “someone else” to pick up the trash.

There are complaints that libertarians want to put health care into the free market and this is supposedly a death sentence to anyone who can’t afford it. The whole Right to Health Care movement is made up of people who think government should provide this very necessary service. But I never see anyone campaigning for the Right to Food and petitioning the government to take over grocery stores. Maybe because food is cheap enough while health care remains expensive. Fair enough. But the naysayers complain that it’s the greedy medical profession and industry that keeps it high because of the need. Well food is more important on a day to day basis and there’s no greed there. Doesn’t the food industry have just as much of an incentive to be as greedy? So why aren’t they? The answer comes down to choice. In most places, you have numerous grocery stores to shop from, big and small. In short, there is competition.

Why is it that a two-liter of pop is still about one dollar? Why is it that the top of the line cell phones are practically given away by phone companies in exchange for a service contract? It’s because of competition. In the medical profession, the problem is two-fold: Excessive government licensing and regulations and a general lack of competition. Prior to 1960, health care was rather accessible to everyone and doctors made house calls. Not any more. The government started up their own programs to help where they didn’t need to and drove up costs. Plus, the feds and states have regulations requiring certain things be covered where they’re not needed which makes you pay for things you don’t need. I know of someone right now who’s one-year-old daughter has maternity insurance, mandated by law.

What if the health care industry was in the same market as cell phones? This means deregulation and increase competition. And then you’d have truly affordable health care.

Competition is a theme here with all things libertarian. And maybe that’s another reason we’re called selfish. Competition sounds combative and, it sounds like someone will lose. But all competition means is several people make several businesses who compete for customers and this formula brings best services for cheapest prices to the consumers who will always be the winners. It’s working right now for cell phones, computers, two-liter sodas, television sets, automobiles and so many other products under the sun. Put health care into this formula and problem solved.

So as you can see, or should by now, libertarians want to see people excel and profit and prosper. We just have a different way of getting there. The Left considers government mandates and programs as the way to achieve this and libertarians argue a reduction of all that is the solution.

Will it work? Not for every one but it will for most. Libertarians aren’t selling utopia. Utopia doesn’t exist. It’s the Left who are trying to sell utopia with their claims that the right people in the right positions will be honorable enough to divvy up the goods and all will be happy. But we’re living that big government nightmare right now and it’s not working. At the very least, why not try the free market? We’re seeing government fail as a solution. Why does the Left want more government? Again, they’re seeking a utopia that doesn’t exist.

Libertarians are not selfish. In fact, our policies and positions help everyone get in on the action. Our platform is for everyone. The examples discussed above make it pretty evident the libertarian solutions are actions to bring more people into employment, more people into participating in business as owner and customer, giving more people access to health care.all-cats-are-libertarians-mary-fanning

So the problem of libertarians being labeled as selfish is a lack of education on what libertarian means and/or a desire to just smear because the Left has held on too long to the Utopian dream of the right people in the right positions theory. Big government (Democratic Socialist) policies have demonstrably failed. The continued push to impose them, expecting different results, is an act of faith. And faith means acting despite the lack of evidence. That’s what the Left is doing. There’s no evidence more government works. In fact, there’s evidence to the contrary yet they’re still holding on to it so they must engage in scaring people into thinking a free market, a libertarian solution is selfish.

Nope, it’s time to try what works. Let’s try the free market, the less selfish position, because we have ample evidence it works to help all people. If you want to help all people, why not give it a try? At the very worst, we can always go back. But I’m betting after a few years of a libertarian society, you won’t want to. Because no society has ever crumbled or found themselves in trouble when they’ve used too much reason.

Now go read on other topics covered in the Libertarian Party platform here. You’ll see the language is all about helping everyone. There’s nothing selfish about it. I challenge anyone to read it and find evidence where it says something about keeping out undesirables or having enough money so that others can’t get at it. And if after reading it you continue to claim this selfish nonsense, you do it at the expense of your own reputation for being disingenuous. Feel free to knock the free market. Feel free to bring up evidence against it. But libertarians being selfish? That’s ad hominem, uneducated and unfounded.