Interview with Kathleen Saucier

It was my pleasure to interview Kathleen Saucier, the mother of imprisoned sailor, Kristian Saucier, who was sent to jail for a year for having six pictures/selfies on his cell phone that were considered confidential. Even though there is no evidence that Kristian transmitted pictures anywhere and was only doing what so many of us do with our phones, he’s in jail while Hillary Clinton is still walking free after causing far more harm with her private email server containing hundreds of classified emails, all the way up TS: SAP.

Our out-going Commander-in-Chief has pardoned or commuted a record number of felony convictions while in office, but he refuses to address the obvious double-standard surrounding this particular case. Perhaps, with enough awareness and sharing their story on social media, President-elect Trump will once again be asked to clean up yet another steamy pile left behind.

 

Let’s Talk Health Care

Let’s talk about health care. First, some things I won’t do. First, I will not invoke the Constitution. Second, I won’t debate whether it’s a Right or not. These two items alone have caused more weeds in the discussion than results. I won’t do any of these things because regardless of where you fall using these methods, they don’t solve the problem. The problem is that health care is expensive and everyone wants to be able to afford it. So instead of fighting for making it a Right or defending whether or not it’s Constitutional, what we should be doing is discussing how to make health care affordable. So that’s what we’re going to do.

So let’s talk about health care. It’s a hot topic and rightly should be. Everyone wants to be free from illness and the stress that comes with it. According to this Gallup Poll, it’s the second biggest thing in terms of importance. Sure said poll is over a decade old but I’m going to make an educated guess it would be the same today. At any rate, it rightly should be at the top of everyone’s list on most important matters in life. So why isn’t it?

According to this report from Marketwatch, Americans are spending more on eating out, getting new cars and entertainment than health care. In fact, more than double. I’m sure these numbers fluctuate over time but let’s understand something. If Americans spent less time being entertained, more time cooking at home and maybe scaled down on the need for new cars, I’m betting that money alone would pay for a health care insurance plan.

I noted in a previous post (which I’d encourage reading again even though it was posted before the Affordable Care Act became law) I noted first, that government was responsible for the high costs of health care. Second, I noted that many people, even those considered “poor”, have cell phones and cable television. Even a basic cable plan and an iPhone with a data plan totals today about $150.00 or more. Do you need cable television? Nope (I don’t have it). Do you need an iPhone? Nope. It’s nice to have these things and you can have a smart phone. Just scale down the unnecessary big channel and data plans. I’m betting all that data is being blown on social media, YouTube, Netflix…in essence, entertainment.

Now what else are Americans spending money on? America gets teased because it’s a consumer nation. We want big toys. A friend of mine once remarked, “America. We want big cars, big houses. Big boats and big plates with lots of food. We want big televisions and computers. We want big everything. Except for our bodies.” But it’s precisely because of our consumer nation that we have big bodies. And what do big bodies get? That’s right, health problems. Being over weight brings health problems and more needs for doctor visits and medications and…

Here’s my point. Americans have the money. They’re just putting it into things that are not important and quite frankly, causing health problems. America, you could afford health insurance before the ACA, you were and continue to spend your money on unnecessary things.

I’m convinced we could reduce the cost of health care if we got government completely out of health care. Everything I noted above that Americans afford are for the most part, not regulated to death by the government (except cars). Certainly no where near how the health care industry is regulated.

Let’s concentrate a moment on cell phones to see how to solve this.

Even the cheapest of today’s smart phones have more computing power than all the computers that sent man to the moon in 1969. And yet, when I wanted one, my cell phone company pretty much gave it to me in exchange for a monthly service plan. I had a choice of services to add or remove from the plan. I had/have choices. I only pay for what I want. Why doesn’t the health care system work like cell phone companies?

What if you could walk into a doctor’s office or hospital and say, “I’d like a health care plan.” And then someone comes out with a catalog of things you could buy. And on a monthly basis, you would pay for them. It could work something like car insurance. You buy based on your risk assessment.

Of course, the question always arises. What if you plan poorly and you get hit with something you did not foresee? Well, maybe the hospitals could have an “Act of God” option. Pay an extra $10 a month for it.

I don’t have all the answers. And maybe my suggestion would suck. Could it be any worse than what we have now? Couldn’t we try it and if it doesn’t work, we just go back. Right?

Let’s massage this out. Let’s keep looking for more ideas and less “But the Guberment gotta do something.” Let’s be more creative. Continue the discussion in the comments section or on social media.

Alan Sanders interviews Congressman Barry Loudermilk

As part of my radio duties, I have had the honor and privilege of cultivating relationships with many leaders in my community, including several elected members of the Georgia State House and Senate as well as our District 11 U.S. Representative Barry Loudermilk from the state of Georgia. With the start of the 115th Congress, I will be interviewing Congressman Loudermilk every three weeks and will be sure to post his words on the Freedom Cocktail Facebook page, Twitter account and website. Hopefully this will give you an insight to how hard this Congress is working to undo the harm implemented by President Obama’s administration.

In the opening interview, we spent a great deal of time discussing the steps the Congress is taking in repealing the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. I think it’s important to note that the pieces of the ACA that work and are wanted by the American people will be incorporated in a new solution. Their first concern is to create more flexibility and freedom and to push healthcare back to being a state’s rights issue and not a bloated bureaucracy existing at the federal level.

Look at what the clown is tweeting now — and that’s just why he does it

trump-texting

There has been an idea been rolling around in my head for the last few weeks. With each announcement of another cabinet position for President-elect Trump’s team, I find my suppositions being confirmed. He is putting some of the best, brightest and most successful people in positions around him. These are not academicians, coming down from their vaunted ivory towers to take a faculty lounge approach to governance. The list, populated with actual adults, puts some of the best possible people in key positions within the administration. Contrary to the media’s portrayal, Donald Trump is not putting mindless sycophants around him. His cabinet is not being filled with empty suits of yes-men and yes-women. He is taking his win seriously and knows he must surround himself with intelligent people who know how to achieve objectives and solve complex problems.

So, why does he continue to engage in what appears to be silly, juvenile squabbles on Twitter? When actress Meryl Streep chose to go after Trump instead of thanking the people with whom she has worked for decades, rather than let her comments fall on deaf ears, he chose to counter-attack. Those tweets, as they often do, sucked up the next 24-36 hours of the round-the-clock news cycle. Even I found myself suggesting sometimes it is better to crush your opponent with the weight of their own insignificance by remaining silent.

And that’s when the nagging thought in the back of my mind came to the fore. He was going to take a page from the Obama administration’s playbook and turn it around 180 degrees. We all know that whenever Obama wants to further his socialist agenda, he will often get us, with the help of the willing mainstream media, to look at some shiny bauble in his other hand. And, so long as the majority of his audience allow themselves to be distracted, the real agenda gets pushed from the other hand. His army of automatons will “go forth and do” as Dear Ruler commands. It’s like watching the Pharaoh Rameses in the Ten Commandments — “So let it be written; so let it be done.”

But, instead of getting us to focus on some other distraction across the room, Donald J. Trump IS the distraction. While we scoff and laugh and roll our eyes, and the media floods the news cycle with as many offended talking heads as they can find, work is being quietly done behind the scenes. The average Joe (and most of the Left) would struggle to name even three of Trump’s appointees, yet they can tell you about his tweets and can regurgitate pieces of fake news that match the narrative in which they believe: Trump is a clown; Trump is an idiot; Trump is a fool.

Since his win, the stock market has been on a rally  (contrary to all the predictions of the experts), US companies are rethinking their plans to build factories outside the US, businesses are keeping employees here and the optimism index of small business made one of the biggest jumps in its history. The mainstream media is not touting these early positives. Instead, they are digging for any story they can find, fake or otherwise, in an attempt to chop Trump’s legs out from under him. And Trump knows it!

Rather than run or explain or kowtow to the press, he helps them by jumping on Twitter and giving them round after round of nutrient rich crap in which the mushrooms of each 24 hour news cycle will grow. He knows they are out to destroy him. He knows they are not honest. He knows they will resort to fake news. In fact, he’s counting on it!

When I and others look back on the first few years of his presidency, this piece may turn out to be just as full of manure as anything the mainstream media has already been shoveling. It could be this post will be worthy of nothing more than digital fish-wrapping. But, at this moment in time, watching the events of the last few weeks through the prism of how Donald Trump has succeeded at each step where every expert assured us he would fail, it feels like Trump is playing the role of the wise fool. He’s the Yoda we first meet in the Empire Strikes Back, acting silly and talking nonsense in order to both weaken Luke’s defenses and to get to the heart of who Luke really is. It’s only when we’ve doubled-down on the certainty we are dealing with a fool that the wise soul will show itself.

I hear some of you yelling at me right now. Why am I letting the Left know what he’s up to? Why reveal the ruse?

My answer: It doesn’t matter. And, Trump knows that too! Just look at what happened over the course of the first couple of days since election night. One mainstream news outlet after the other, still with stunned looks of disbelief, acknowledged they had been wrong and needed to learn to listen to a wider array of voices. How long did that last? Not more than three days. Suddenly, instead of learning from all they did wrong, the media decided to double-down on their own narrative. It couldn’t be them. It had to be fake news, Russian hacks, stolen ballots, the FBI, FoxNews and on and on and on.

The Left and the elitists who are opposed to Trump will not believe one word of anything I’ve said. They cannot bring themselves to believe it. So, while they will continue to throw as much fake news as they can find against the wall, hoping something sticks, Donald Trump will keep the spotlight on himself, while his team is left to quietly get to the job of undoing all of the harm wrought by President Obama. While the talking heads continue to call Trump a clown, freedom and capitalism will be returned to the marketplace. As the snowflakes and statists look for ways to protest and march in the streets, our enemies will shrink back into the shadows and our allies will be rejuvenated. And while his detractors on social media will continue to nit-pick any and everything he does, GDP will rise, the misery index will drop and America may really find itself being great again.

And, just like that, you can hear Yoda, with a twinkle in his eye, laughing as he logs onto Twitter.

 

Breaking the Cycle of Abuse

Donald Trump will abuse the office of the presidency. I am convinced of this. During his campaign, he routinely said he knew more about things others did not. He routinely said he knew more about things than anyone else. He routinely said that only he could fix things. In essence, the Donald Trump campaign was a bumper sticker: Let Go, Let Trump.

He was voted in because a large portion of voters were tired of being called racists, homophobic, bake that cake, etc. He was voted in because a wild card was better than a Crooked Hillary. He was voted on a hope that it would be better than Hillary. It is the GOP version of Nancy Pelosi’s “We gotta pass it to see what’s in it.”

Speaking of Crooked Hillary, he campaigned so hard on this that his campaign wanted an emoji added to it if it was used as a hashtag on Twitter. He said Crooked Hillary over and over and branded the Clinton Family as the worst in politics. In the second presidential debate, Trump promised to organize a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s email “situation”. After Clinton’s rebuttal, Trump threatened that if he were president, she’d be in jail.

I started to think that this wild card was even wilder than his supporters thought when the Sunday after he won the election, when he was interviewed by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes, he softened his stance and actually said he didn’t want to hurt the Clintons because they were “good people”. Huh?

Donald Trump has been caught in numerous lies and exaggerations and doesn’t even bother to respond when called out on them. He’s mastered the art of making a claim that benefits himself knowing that said claims are rarely investigated. Or, if so, corrections that come afterwards are rarely reviewed by the public. Proof positive is how memes move so fast around social media without any fact-checking. Trump understands this and works it.

Do we have any idea what we’re about to get on January 20, 2017? All we know for certain is Donald Trump will abuse the office of the presidency. I know this because of not only what he’s said himself (summarized above) but by the precedent that was set before him.

The office of the president has been abused for decades by both the major parties. And we the people, keep right on voting for them.

In my professional experience with Domestic Violence victims, one thing has always stood out as odd. Despite the physical and mental torment, they stay. They stay with their abuser sometimes until their own deaths at the abuser’s hands. They stay because in most cases, they have no where else to go. They are usually financially dependent on the abuser, they may be transportation dependent, dependent regarding food and shelter, dependent for caring for shared children, dependent, dependent, dependent. What the abuser has over the abused is force. The household or relationship is one of force over a dependent party. And the dependent party feels stuck.

Government operates on a larger but similar scale but is essentially in a domestic violence relationship with its people. There is a group of people in power over the majority of other people and if the other people don’t abide by the rules of the power-people, then other people with guns come to make “corrections”. The people who are ruled may petition the government for a change and, like a domestic violence abuser, the government may send flowers from time to time (small tax break, school grant) but the model of power and control remains in place. What has happened, is the American people have sunk into shrugged shoulders of acceptance thinking that if you can’t beat them, join them. Just make sure your abuser is nicer to you than others.

Government has become the provider of so many services and programs, that American elections have boiled down to which candidate can gimmie my stuff. Which candidate can force other people to gimmie, gimmie, gimmie (I love that Black Flag song, look it up). The American people have become dependent on a government that provides so much, they look the other way when bad things happen to good people as long as their share, any share, remains flowers.

Government is force. That’s it. When someone says government should do something, what they’re really saying is government should force someone to do something. And while it benefits the good of all when using force to stop infringements on your personal property or natural rights, it has been stretched to force people to bake cakes and regulate the size of your toilet.

I’ve noted here (and it’s worth reading/revisiting then returning to this essay) that the president is one person with a cabinet and numerous federal departments and fifty governors and congress and many more people that can keep him in check. Also noted is that the presidency has become much more powerful ever since the Vietnam era, over reaching so aggressively that when Barack Obama decided he was going to go it alone with his agenda, he came right out and said that if Congress wouldn’t act, he had a pen and a phone. He didn’t even try to hide the power he wielded.

This leads me back to Donald Trump and the big question that always bugged me about his desire to run for office. Why would Trump, a billionaire with worldwide properties and a glamorous Hollywood existence want a stressful, $400,000 a year job that’s run out of a two-hundred-year old house? Based on Trump’s blatant narcissism, the answer appears clear: It’s the power. It’s the ability now to force his will. Instead of having to make deals and compromises in the business world, he can use the force and power of the federal government to do what he wants. It’s not about making America great again. It’s about making the Donald more Donaldly.

Will Congress keep any outlandish executive orders in check? Will they be able to or willing to stop anything as ludicrous as, say, a wall between the United States and Mexico? I don’t know. But an interesting first test may have played itself out on the very first day the 115th Congress took office.

On January 3, 2017, the first thing the new Congress did was gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, essentially allowing Congress to now investigate itself as opposed to an independent third party. Conflict of interest much? But then later in the day, Congress reversed itself and decided not to do this. Why? Well, people called their representatives and complained. But Donald Trump also wielded his Twitter account, tweeting, “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog…”.

Did Congress reverse itself because of calls from the people? Or did this now majority Republican Congress do it to show a unity with its incoming Republican President? I don’t know. But what I do know is that parties usually stress unity. And after Trump won, it was quite a site to see the GOP on its struggle bus getting to accept it.

Liberals that enjoyed the eight years President Obama had forcing his agenda now have to come to grips with a new president with the same power that seems to oppose everything they worked for. The same government that forced people to get into a health care program or suffer a penalty will now be used at Trump’s pleasure. He, too, will have the pen and the phone. Watching liberals on social media and talk shows speak of resistance and limiting Trump has been sweet yet bitter desserts. It’s sweet because they’re doing the “I Told You So” without me having to and yet bitter because I’m not sure they’ve learned the lesson. So let me spell it out:

The solution to stopping future Trumps, is to stop government from being too powerful. Those with desires for power seek out positions of power. The solution is not to be working towards the next election to get your people in that will use the power to give you your programs back. The solution is to be looking for candidates that want to remove government powers. Anyone who talks like Trump, doesn’t qualify.

The solution is to keep your important things out of government hands. The solution is to not becoming dependent on government for solutions. The lesson that should be taken away is that if you give government your things, you only get what you want for a brief period of time and your wants are easily taken away with the next administration.

The solution is putting all of our important affairs in a free market.

Break the cycle. Stop being dependent. Stop being a victim. Get the federal government out of everything not authorized in the Constitution and we all win.

We have lots of articles here at the Freedom Cocktail blog showing how this can be achieved in many areas of life. But if you wish to ignore it all and start fresh, feel free to continue the conversation in the comments section at the top of this essay right up there. ⇑

Maybe #fakenews represents lies Leftists tell themselves

fakenewscartoon

I’m already tired of the phrase. Fake news.

Hillary Clinton began spouting it nearly non-stop following her concession after the November presidential election cycle. That phrase was gobbled up by the brainless fowl in the mainstream media who were all too willing to parrot the latest talking point meant to deride deplorables. It has been uttered by professors, students, elected officials, government spokespeople and even the president of the United States of America. And, as usual, Leftists are fantastic at propaganda and misleading terminology.

Think about the construction of the phrase:

Fake – A thing that is not genuine; a forgery or sham.

News – Newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events.

Butt them together and the impression it creates in the head of the listener is of an effort by some to forge or invent stories that pass themselves off as factual about current events. Thus, Hillary Clinton desperately wants her supporters to believe there was a concerted effort to create false stories in the media to derail her campaign and that’s why she lost.

So, let’s see if we can document some of the more glaring instances of “news” stories that I believe fall into the category of fake news:

  • It starts with Dan Rather reporting about physical evidence, showing then candidate George W. Bush had misled the public about his service records from his time in the military. It wasn’t until someone realized the font and spacing in those documents could have never been made by any typewriter that existed at the time, that the story fell apart. Dan Rather was forced to resign, but has made a slow come back, going so far as to now lecture us about fake news.
  • What about Hillary Clinton’s story about that time she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire? Only, that never happened, even though it was widely reported in the mainstream media.
  • Did you know Hillary said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary for his exploits? The mainstream media was enthralled with the imagery conjured by that relation. Unfortunately, Hillary was a toddler before Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest.
  • Brian Williams had to resign as the anchor of NBC Nightly News after he was caught in not just one lie about being under fire in Iraq, but a history of lying, embellishing and fabricating “facts” to go along with a narrative in which he believed.
  • Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton told the world that the attack in Benghazi, that left our Ambassador and three other patriots dead, was the result of a badly produced YouTube video, which appeared to mock the prophet Mohammad. The mainstream media reported that line for months.
  • The death of Trayvon Martin was sold as a racist attack by a “white” hispanic. The mainstream media was caught editing the 911 call, photoshopping images and repeating a false narrative over and over. A jury, when presented with all of the facts, acquitted defendant Zimmerman.
  • Hands up; don’t shoot! Remember that one? The gentle giant who was just minding his own business when a diminutive white cop decided it was his turn to randomly shoot and kill a defenseless black man? Unfortunately, once again, when the facts were presented in a court of law, a jury realized the media had been spinning a yarn as thick and long as any told around a campfire.
  • Rolling Stone magazine got themselves in hot water with their report on rape on the campus of the University of Virginia? Even after the reporter was caught in a deceitful story, her excuse was just because this one event wasn’t true, didn’t mean a rape culture did not exist on campus. Again…the narrative and the belief was more important than actual facts.
  • Remember Hillary’s incident this past September when she had to leave a 9/11 memorial? At first the media (taking the talking points from her campaign) said she was just over-heated from the weather — until the weather reports didn’t jive with that line. Then the video surfaced of her stumbling and falling head-long into her vehicle and the story shifted to pneumonia. But, just a couple hours later, Hillary emerges from her daughter’s apartment, playing with her grandchild, leading many to ask why anyone with something as infectious and debilitating as pneumonia would be up and about playing with a child? That’s when it shifted yet again to just a mild case of the flu. So many shifts and the mainstream media was okay reporting it as fact every step of the way.

These are all just a handful of stories I have recalled off the top of my head. It barely scratches the surfaces of stories that had been reported from actual news media outlets — not from blogs, podcasts, social media posts or memes. I have not even started down the road of man-made climate change stories that have been found repeatedly false, misleading or reliant on flawed computer modeling or altered data!

Let’s fast-forward to the election cycle where pollsters, news agencies, talking-heads, radio personalities, bloggers and social media mavens put forth data, charts and interviews proving that Hillary was going to win the presidency and Trump was a lost cause. Many (not all) in the #NeverTrump movement relished in their daily, non-stop, lambasting of Donald Trump and any of his supporters.

During all of this, millions of Americans, tired of being labeled, shouted down, called all manner of horrible names and accused of siding with the worst possible hate-groups in our nation’s history, decided to keep quiet. Exasperated at trying to engage in conversation, they opted instead for silence or passive agreement just to avoid confrontation. And while the silence became deafening to those who were paying attention, the WikiLeaks emails began to pervade social media, eventually getting into the mainstream media newscasts, albeit begrudgingly.

At no time did the DNC say the information contained in those emails was untrue, save for Donna Brazille, who was caught sharing debate questions with Hillary Clinton, only to resign her position at CNN in shame. Instead, democrats and the campaign chose to blame “Russian hackers”, trying to get everyone to look at the shiny object across the room instead of the glaring black and white facts staring them in the face. The experts told us it would not affect Hillary’s coronation. She was going to be the next president of the United States of American. Even President Obama admitted he was made aware of potential hacks from outside entities (still yet to be proven), but wasn’t worried enough to do or say anything about it. We can surmise, by his own words when he said he would leave it for Hillary to address, he believed her election was a foregone conclusion. Makes you wonder if it was that negligible prior to the election, why is worth blaming today?

Now, in the weeks since the election of Donald J. Trump, the chorus of sore losers continues to yell FAKE NEWS from the rooftops, rather than deal with reality. It has to be some nefarious foreign government who changed the course of the election. The polls and pollsters convinced them of a win. The talking heads on television confirmed it nightly. Social media was the only place where the whisper of the truth could be heard if one wanted to listen. But, hey, social media isn’t news, right? It’s all fake there.

The whining, stomping, tantrum throwers still refuse to accept reality. They tried protesting, violence, recounts, threatening electors and produced Hollywood videos in an effort to change the results of November 8th. In the end, in a display of wonderful irony, it was a handful of Hillary electors who changed, or wanted to change, their votes.

It seems to me, given all we know and all we have experienced, there is something else afoot here. In every instance of false reporting documented above, at the root was a reporter (or news agency) who so wanted to believe the narrative of their story, objectivity was kicked to the curb. The story line fit their world view, therefore it had to be true. The idea it was they, themselves, putting out a “fake” story still has yet to cross their minds. The fake news has to be elsewhere.

It makes me wonder if, at some point, Leftists will come to realize the fake news they keep talking about is the lies they keep telling themselves?

Trust No One

The last time a kid came out of Macedonia and took over the world and changed governments was Alexander the Great. Today, it’s Fake News. Teenagers making it rich by making shit up. Isn’t that what kids do? Make believe? Yeah, and lots of people all over the world are falling for their stories. In fact, some are saying it’s what caused Donald Trump to win the election. I doubt it. I think comedian Jonathan Pie is probably more on the mark. But people are passing these stories around on the Facebooks and Googles, so much to the dislike of these companies that they are taking steps to block them outright.

Now, these companies have the right to block whoever, whatever they want. The First Amendment isn’t the issue here (let’s also understand these companies serve the entire globe and the First Amendment only applies in the United States). These companies are trying to serve their customers or, at least, a vocal enough section for the companies to take action. They’ve got Terms of Service agreements and if you don’t follow them, you can lose access to their service.

At any rate, blocking fake news is a bad idea and here is why:

1) The companies are going to be playing Whack-a-Mole forever with this. Garbage is fluent on the Internet. And when you block a site or user, they come back under different domains and names. Seems like a waste of resources to be constantly banning.

2) The block-Net could end up catching non-fake news sites thereby forcing the owners to plead their case to be unblocked. And what about fake news sites like The Onion that everyone loves? There’s tons of other fake news, satire sites. Mistakes can happen.

3) Blocking reduces reader’s choice. If you’re going to block fake news sites, why not block reports on spell casting, astrology, demonology, alchemy, spirit photography? I could post a picture of a flying saucer every day and say this was over my house and social media wouldn’t do anything about it. But if I create a website which looks like the New York Times and report that Donald Trump reports seeing a flying saucer while aboard his jet plane, well…

4) News that readers report as fake may just be news they don’t agree with. Where’s the fine line? Should we also block 9/11 Truther websites too? How about Who Killed JFK websites? Or websites dedicated to demonizing or pledging allegiance to Israel?

5) What actually counts as “fake news”? Erick Erickson penned a good piece showing that the mainstream media sometimes fails to tell the truth too. Sometimes it’s a mistake in the material the journalist is working with. Sometimes out right lies.

6) If Facebook and Google swear to block fakes, the users may fall into a sense of false protection and start figuring if they’re seeing it, the services must have determined it’s real and if the service is allowing it, it must be true. Again, it takes away reader’s choice and most of all, a reader’s use of judgement, for better or worse.

These are just six reasons off the top of my head for not blocking anything called fake news. But the critic of my reasoning might point to PizzaGate or the Sandy Hook conspiracy victim threats and note that false information can result in very dangerous actions. Yep, that is very true. People believe lots of stupid things and end up injuring or killing others. Parents who believe vaccines cause autism come to mind.

Why should it be up to Facebook and Google and those who follow their lead to ban things? Should, say, bookstores follow their lead? Booksellers, big and small, they carry all kinds of literature. They carry books on alien abductions and government conspiracies, astrology, spell books, self-help (most of which is nonsense, garbage psychology), Dianetics, and more. And yet despite the nonsense, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million and others continue to sell them. In fact, some bookstores specifically exist for New Age material. They’re not responsible for the content, they have chosen to give their customer’s choices. In fact, Barnes and Noble celebrates every year this freedom with Banned Book week.

I have a better solution that social media companies could implement instead of blocking and banning. Here it is: An education on critical, skeptical thinking. These tools, if properly used, combat all forms of nonsense. Social media companies or otherwise could offer advice on how to treat everything their customers see. Here’s what I do with everything I see that these services could dedicate a page to:

1) Look for obvious falsehoods. When I read a headline that Barack Obama was going to refuse to leave the White House on January 20, 2017, I knew it was an instant fraud. Just applying what I know about him was enough to know that isn’t going to happen.

2) Corroborate the information. If Obama really wasn’t going to step down on January 20th, other sources would be reporting this. In fact, this would be the front page of the New York Times and every other news source in the entire world.

3) What do the experts say? Expert doesn’t mean authority. Leave authority for the Pope. No, I mean people who major in the sort of thing you’re looking into. If you, like me, are a cancer survivor, don’t get excited about the latest cure in the tabloids. Talk to your oncologist or two or three.

4) If you can, ask that person directly. I love Twitter for this and am usually pretty good about getting responses. If I hear someone said something, I go to Twitter (or occasionally email still) and ask that person if the quote is real.

5) If you believe something, ask WHY. This can’t be stressed enough. You must challenge your own beliefs much more than what you don’t believe. Always be asking yourself why you think something is true. Make a graph, if necessary. I’m betting Trump supporters more easily bought fake news about Clinton than Clinton supporters and vice versa. I’ve been spending some time lately with socialist articles and conversation because I feel if I can defend libertarianism over it, then I’m in the right camp. You strengthen (or change) your own stance by engaging with the other.

6) Do Gut-Reaction-Mathematics. Ask yourself what is the likelihood this would happen? Size up the claim to history and what we know. If you read that there’s a mother who keeps bringing her child to the hospital with fresh wounds because she’s suffering from attacks from a poltergeist, what do you do with that? Conclude there’s awful poltergeists? Or figure more rationally the mother suffers from Munchausen Syndrome?

These are just six things from the top of my head anyone can do when they read something or hear it reported on the nightly news. In the end, no matter who’s trying to save you from bad information, it’s up to you and you alone.

When my own children ask me questions about whether Santa Claus or mermaids or god exists, or if it’s true that we live on a planet in space, I always tell them that’s an interesting question. How about we examine the evidence? This has led to a lot of good conversations with my kids and book purchases for study. Because in the end, I won’t always be able to censor what they read or hear, now or in the future when they’re adults. They’re already bringing home misinformation from other kids at school. It’s better if I give them the tools to think for themselves than give them direct answers whenever I can. And it’s always very possible I’m wrong on something. So if I provide the tools, they can question me. We all get to learn something.

In closing, I can’t recommend highly enough some publications worth investing in regardless of how good you think you are at skepticism and logic. I subscribe to the Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic magazine. Both excellent publications and rather cheap for digital subscriptions. I also recommend using Snopes.com for everything. I mean every rumor or story or otherwise. And for United States politics, I recommend PolitiFact.com.

The Truth is Out There.

Lies, damn lies and reporters

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By  |  December 8, 2016, 05:00am  | @ewerickson

 

On September 11, 2016, Hillary Clinton left a 9/11 memorial service early. Her campaign vigorously denied Republican claims Clinton was ill. The press ridiculed Republicans for suggesting it, calling them conspiracy theorists.

Shortly thereafter, a video appeared showing Clinton collapsing. Secret Service agents caught her and helped her into a van. Republicans took it as confirmation Clinton had a health problem. Undaunted, Justin Miller of the Daily Beast tweeted, “Trump and the right have so traduced Clinton’s health that coughing or getting too hot is made out to be signs of illness.”

“Hillary Clinton left the 9/11 memorial ceremony early on Sunday after feeling “overheated,” her campaign said,” a Politico reporter wrote. Peter Daou, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, tweeted, “To Hillary haters jabbering about NYC weather, I LIVE HERE. I usually play outdoor summer hoops and today it was too hot even for a stroll.” At the time Hillary Clinton left the 9/11 memorial service the temperature was in the mid-seventies with a mild, cool breeze, and low humidity. The high in New York City that day was 84°F, apparently a temperature in which “it was too hot even for a stroll.”

Once conservatives pointed out the inconvenient truth of the weather, the Clinton campaign came up with their third excuse. Hillary Clinton had bacterial pneumonia and her doctor put her on antibiotics. Why then, Republicans wondered, did the Clinton campaign release pictures of Clinton playing with her grand daughter after leaving the 9/11 memorial? If she had to be put on antibiotics, surely it was not healthy to play with a toddler. But the media again dismissed the questions as an unhealthy fixation and conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton’s health. The poor lady had pneumonia.

The next day, on September 12, 2016, Bill Clinton addressed a crowd in Las Vegas and said Hillary Clinton had the flu. So, to review, first she did not leave the event in ill health. Then a video surfaced and she left not in ill health, but because she got overheated. Then the temperature data was released and she left in ill health with bacterial pneumonia, but was not contagious and could play with her toddler grandchild. Then it was the flu.

To raise questions about any of this was to be dismissed by the media. Donald Trump’s suggestion that the election was rigged was an affront to democracy until he won. Then it was okay to believe the Russians stole the election. Republicans obstructed Barack Obama’s nominations so much it was okay for the Democrats to scrap the filibuster, but the GOP better keep it for Supreme Court nominees.

Trump did terribly with black and hispanic voters, the media told us, until we learned he bested Mitt Romney with those groups. Trump won because of fake news reports reported the same press that reported the ISIS loving Orlando night club shooter shot up the place because of a gay relationship the FBI says never existed.

This last week, Donald Trump nominated General James Mattis to lead the Defense Department and General Jack Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security. “Three generals and maybe a fourth. Can we just cut to the chase and call ourselves a junta?” tweeted Julia Ioffe, a writer for Foreign Policy magazine and the Politico. After nominating Iowa Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa to be the Ambassador to China, liberal writer Ian Millhiser tweeted, “I’m sure the governor of a small, rural, landlocked state full of white people will totally know a whole lot about China, and stuff.” Governor Branstad is friends with Xi Jinping, the President of China.

I recount these things to note the one group in America refusing to do any post-election self reflection is the media. Convinced of their righteousness, they will continue to hold Trump voters in bitter contempt, they will continue to suggest Republicans are conspiracy theorists while peddling their own fake news and conspiracies as true, and they will refuse to admit they got anything wrong in 2016. Reporters used to report what happened. Now they tell us what to think and resent like hell that any of of us might think differently.

This Is How Government Works

It’s been over a year since candidates started running for the Office of United States President. And yesterday, the American public picked one. But the story I just told is so much bigger than the two sentences you just read. Because the takeaway this election showed everyone is that this is how government works. Which logically should lead everyone to ask, is this the best way to solve all the matters we’ve given over to political control? Do we really want matters such as health care, education, economics, etc decided like this?

What the American people went through with all the anxiety and fighting and loss of friendships and family and anger is how laws and government programs are made. What the American people go through to elect members of their government is just the beginning of more anxiety and fighting and loss of friendships and family and anger getting things done.

Senators and Congressmen, when drafting legislation, turn everything into political footballs. They battle and fight and slander each other. They do so because they have so much power over just about every aspect of our lives and the American people keep giving it to them by voting in the same buffoons from the two major parties. Here, from an older piece of mine, I’ll show you how government programs are made:


Before you can turn your idea into law, you have to gather a group of people who feel the same way about your plan and promote it. But since no one person is exactly alike as the other, you’re bound to make a few compromises to retain your support. Then you’re required to bring it to your Congressmen’s attention and if they wish to work with it, you’re going to end up with even more compromises and changes.

Once in government, your idea will go through various committees and debates. All participants in the plan will modify and change it to suite their needs. Your idea is slowly becoming someone else’s and will no longer represent your intentions.

When and if it gets past this point, you will not be the one to write the law, the politicians will. They will be the same politicians who made the many failed programs you object to now. Then once law, you will not be the one to enforce it, bureaucrats will. They will enforce only the parts they agree with and end up using it to appease their political cohorts.

Of course the new law will have its opponents, so it will end up before the courts which will have their way of interpreting it as well.

By the time your idea ends up running the gamete of government, it will not be what you intended it to be. It will now be another political football for the politicians to use against each other and to satisfy their political supporters. And you’ll look back on all that time you wasted asking government to solve your problem.


In other words, the American people went through over a year of election-hell so that important items like health care and education and economics could be solved in a Fight Club, in the most inefficient way.

I think there’s at least three reasons why America keeps voting like this:

1) Again, we were under the impression that this was the most important election of our lifetimes. It’s always sold this way. Each election I’ve been involved in has always been about the sky ready to fall if one or the other major party candidate is or isn’t chosen. So this shies away people feeling out third parties.

2) The American public doesn’t spend a lot of time on politics. Even during an election, it’s all surface research. In this election, they seemed to spend more time on Donald Trump’s Twitter account, pussy grabbing and on Hillary Clinton’s husband’s bad past, her email server and the fact she is a woman. What about policy? Most people do not involve themselves in political theory. It sure can be dry. But it’s an important dry.

3) The American public doesn’t really know how government works. They may think that if we only get the right people into government, those people can handle our health care, education, etc. And that is why they fight so hard for their “right” people. They don’t realize that what I wrote up top, is how it works regardless of who’s at the helm. The solution, is to not let government have the helm of important matters.

So what to do about it? A continued outreach on the part of a small government, libertarian leaning army is in order. Letting people know that what they went through with the 2016 election is what they’re going to keep going through if they leave those important matters in the hands of government.

If the top of the Libertarian Party ticket had won in 2016, if it brought in libertarian senators and congressmen as well, we wouldn’t have to go through this anymore. Who was president, wouldn’t matter much anymore. Who was your congressman or woman or senator, wouldn’t matter much anymore. Because you wouldn’t be constantly fighting to elect someone to do your bidding. You’d be doing your own bidding in the free market where libertarians want to turn over important matters like health care, education, etc. This is the message we should be sending out. And using this awful, angry election as an example of what government is would be the first time in a long time I’ve seen something come from a government program that works.

Where the Five Percent Dream Lives

When I was on college radio, we had no FM or even an AM band. This was before the Internet so traditional, over the air broadcasting was the only way to reach a wide audience. So due to our lack of any substantial tower or antenna, our only audience was on campus. But us disk jockeys played to the audience we wanted, the ones we imagined were out there, if only we could reach them. I know that’s what I did. I had CD giveaways, vinyl giveaways, poster giveaways. I had a partner for one semester and we did a bundle give away for any listener who could give us a good name for our show. That, was the only give away where any one answered. And yet, we continued to broadcast and ask for audience participation anyhow hoping one day, they’d be there. Our official unofficial tagline was “WOUX, Where the FM Dream Lives”. Our manager never let us officially use it even though we said it a lot on the air. He never stopped us. It never stopped us. The Dream kept us spinning the tunes.

Today, I have more important dreams. One of which, I’ve had longer than getting into the FM band in my college years. This particular dream, as of this year, goes back twenty years. And it goes like this:

I would like to see the United States government go back to its Constitutional level.

It’s not the dream of seeing my political party get into the highest office of the land. It’s not a dream of seeing a particular personality get elected. No, it’s all about the ideology. That ideology is currently understood as “libertarianism”.

The only political movement endorsing the libertarian philosophy is the Libertarian Party. There are people in the Republican Party who are quasi-libertarian, like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio but they didn’t make the cut in the presidential election. The GOP has had numerous opportunities to elect liberty minded Republicans but they pass them over. And in 2016, they chose Donald Trump, the least of them deserving the name of “conservative”. But there you have it.

No, if you, like me, want to see smaller government, you won’t find it in the two major parties. Your only choice is the Libertarian Party. And yet, it’s a long shot. I’ve documented the many road blocks to our small party’s road to victory. Most of them have been set in place by the Republicans and Democrats in order to keep their lead. With a regular, predictable one percent vote count after every election, the question remains: Why do we do it?

Because we in the Libertarian Party understand that losing battles in part of every war. It’s winning the war that counts. Winning a war requires a long term commitment with strong, committed soldiers and a message the people can want to fight for. Notice in this 2016 election the two major parties aren’t fighting over a message? They’re fighting over who’s the most scandalous, who’s mistreating the most pussy.

Because of this, the 2016 election has given the Libertarian Party the best chance to win its first major victory in American political warfare. 2016 could be our Saratoga. And it starts with just getting five percent of the vote total.

What does five percent give us?

Five percent gives us access to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund because we’d now be listed as an official “minor” party and five percent would also give us a near guarantee of being on the ballot in all fifty states. Let’s analyze this.

First, about that “near guarantee ballot access”. There is a mistaken belief that five percent is an automatic guarantee the Libertarian Party would be on all fifty state ballots in 2018. But this is not entirely true. It is the states that determine their ballot access. Since states control how candidates get on the ballots, states make up the rules of who gets on and how. Some states do grant access if five percent (or even less) is achieved during a presidential election. But some states grant access based on gubernatorial and/or senate races. So this is where the Presidential Election Campaign Fund comes in.

What we have historically done is chewed up a large portion of our funds just getting onto the ballot. Federal matching funds would near guarantee we would have the resources day one, to make all state requirements for ballot access, thereby freeing up money for advertising and outreach.

And this can propel us into the debates. As Gary Johnson noted this election, the debates are the presidential election’s super bowl. If you don’t get into it, you don’t get the trophy. The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump scored 84 million viewers. Imagine what could have happened with the libertarian message if 84 million could have heard it.

There’s only one problem with this. Federal matching funds come from the same well as all federal funds. They are tax payer dollars. They are your dollars. And you may be reading this as a non-libertarian. This means if Gary Johnson scores five percent of the vote, you, a non-libertarian, would see some of your tax dollars going to a future campaign you won’t support.

Isn’t it hypocritical for a libertarian candidate to take federal funds since we’re the ones trying to stop government from taking your money for programs you may not necessarily want?

I say, it would be except for the fact that the Presidential Election Campaign Fund is voluntary tax dollars. These are voluntary donations. In other words, people putting their tax money in go into it understanding it can go to any candidate who qualifies. So it’s not like other tax dollars that disappear in Washington and show up on projects you weren’t aware or approved of.

Despite this, it still remains a sore spot for libertarians. The party is split on philosophical grounds on whether or not we should participate. But sometimes I wonder if breaking a rule is worth it. Maybe if the greater good comes from it, it is worth doing. But that opens the door for others to do whatever they want in the name of some greater good and that’s how the Libertarian Party could end up like the two major parties. I’m reminded of Thomas Jefferson, who made the Louisiana Purchase despite having no authority to do so. In a letter to John Breckinridge he justified it. He wrote, “It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory; and saying to him when of age, ‘I did this for your good; I pretend to no right to bind you: you may disavow me, and I must get out of the scrape as I can. I thought it my duty to risk myself for you.’”

The Libertarian Party will have to decide, should we get the five percent, if we’re willing to take the matching funds in the same line of thinking as Jefferson took the Louisiana Purchase. But I’m hoping we score that five percent so that instead of a hypothetical, we’ll really have to decide in 2020.

I write and publish this piece the night before the 2016 United States Presidential election. I’m hoping by tomorrow evening, the five percent will be reached. It will be a personal victory and such a payoff for being involved for so long. It’s an unprecedented opportunity that, if squandered, may not crop up again unless an unusual circumstance crops up again.

The Libertarian Party – Where the Five Percent Dream Lives. Let’s vote for it. Let’s win this battle.

My university was Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Almost thirty-years-ago, us disk jockeys at WOUX could only dream of reaching an audience outside the campus commons area. What if after a few years we gave up? Where would today’s students be?

Years ago, my alma mater did score that antenna. So today’s students have an FM station. Today’s students also have an Internet channel which reaches an audience far larger than we, back in the late 80s, early 90s, could imagine. Today’s disk jockeys at Oakland University reach every person on planet Earth. And they get to do that because those of us who started it, despite the odds, believed.