You Won, Mr. Trump.  Now What?

It has happened.  The election of 2016 is now over, and the American people have spoken.  In the closest Presidential race since 2000, and in a similar electoral-map-only win, President-Elect Trump has won the election on a wave of populist, isolationist support led by white males from the “rust belt” of America; Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Candidate-Trump’s premise that he is a “winner” and that American would “win again” under his leadership will now be tested.  Yes, he has won the election, and those people who had their front page spreads and Facebook memes ready with “LOSER” stamped across Trump’s face are sadly throwing away a lot of work this morning.  Yes, Trump has emerged a “winner” again in a horse-race where there could be only ONE winner; a presidential election.  For him and those that supported him, they can have today to bask in that glory of victory — but tomorrow, it’s time to go to work.  “Winner” is the title we give to those who have reached the end of the race, but in this case, the race for our future is just beginning.  In the governing that lies ahead, the challenge won’t be defining winners and losers, but will be finding a way for America to improve and move forward.  And I wonder if Donald is up to the task of winning that race, or all our sakes?

I am really glad my sons are young enough that I didn’t have to explain this to them this morning.  Honestly, I’m trying to make sense of it myself.  Looking at the results and at how the rust belt played a critical role in this election, I can see in hindsight how Trump’s message resonated.  While I and most of the people I live and work closely with in Texas, California, New York and overseas have mostly recovered from the Great Recession and feel positive and optimistic about the future of America, there are still great numbers of people who feel left behind.

In one sense I lay that failure at the feet of the Democrats.  They have talked a good game when it comes to the “new economy” and “clean energy jobs”, but have failed to deliver that in a politically meaningful way.  I think you can point to specific success stories, but nothing that moves the public opinion needle and soothes the anxiety for the production economy lost over the last quarter-century, particularly in this region of the country.  And while we all thought that the palpable enthusiasm among women to elect the first female president could propel Clinton forward, she ended up hampered by her own history and her husband’s history — not in a fashion that was an outright rejection, but in a fashion that just couldn’t put her over the top.  Too many places could only get behind her 48 or 49% of the way, which was — in the end — not enough when it counted.

Trump, for his part, is the first person we’ve ever elected to office with NO history of political, public, or military service.  We know precious little about what he will actually do with this new position.  Since 2006, factions of America have been on a witch-hunt to root out centrists and career politicians, and this perhaps is the culmination of their efforts — a complete unknown quantity with the temperament of a 3 year old who we’ve now elevated to the leader of the free world.  God help us all.

The only positive thing I can see from this year’s rebuke of the Clintons — and for that matter Jeb Bush — is that this country is not going to be a country of political dynasty.  The thought of giving our next four years to either of those families that already influenced 16 long years of American politics didn’t sit well with me, ever, though I will admit my support for Clinton grew as Trump descended lower and lower (rhetorically and morally) as the campaign wore on.

And that’s the part I struggle with the most.

I want to point to our country’s leader with pride.  I want my sons to look up to him and want to be like him.  I just can’t do that with Mr. Trump.  He represents nothing that I want my sons to become.  Can we go back to 2012?  Romney or Obama would be about 1000000000% better — both family men, respectful, educated, distinguished.  Standing at the end of this bruising 2016 cycle makes me feel all kinds of violated and betrayed, and trying to make sense of my new reality going forward — something like some of those women Trump has violated over his lifetime must feel.

So, that’s where this thing stands this morning.  I want America to move forward, and I take comfort in knowing our political system doesn’t depend on any single person.  Trump will have to go to Washington and work with all those “establishment” people to actually get work done.  I am curious to know exactly what that work will entail, since we didn’t really have many practical policy statements as part of his candidacy, so there’s a HUGE dose of un-surety that comes now, because none of us know really what we just signed up for.

As for the future of the Democratic party, I will say this: Hillary came within single digits in Texas.  Hillary had a campaign headquarters in Utah, which did not support Trump anywhere near the level it supported Romney or Bush.  States like Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina were swing states.  The Democratic party is the party of growth and inclusion, and still appears to be the party of the future.  The GOP has a huge mountain ahead of them in terms of coming to terms with what this new Trump coalition means for them and for whatever rebrand or reframe lay in store for their future.  We are still unsure of what platform will come to power in January since the Trump policies don’t exactly square with the rest of his party, or whether relationships marred by lack of support and enthusiasm for his campaign will devolve into petty grudges held within the GOP for years to come.

And finally, for those of you still staring at the ceiling today, wondering what happened and how you will solider on, I offer Stephen Colbert’s very raw and heartfelt analysis, which was finally the thing that helped me snap out of it this morning:

Mitt: The Documentary

get_small_image.cgi_PRN19-NETFLIX-INC-GREG-WHITELEYS-MITT-yh_originalI watched the new Mitt Romney documentary last night and really, really liked it.  It’s no great piece of filmmaking, but it does a lot for me on a lot of levels:

This is the first real glimpse we have behind the scenes, to the “off the record” stuff that goes on between a candidate and his family. you can see it really does matter to them, and you can see how invested they are. you can see what happens on a good day and what happens on a bad day – and how hard these guys take it when things go wrong.

It shows Mitt as a real(er) person. Everyone who watches this movie is going to say, “Where was THIS guy during the campaign?”  Maybe people who went to fundraisers and rallies saw it up close, but most people just saw a very wooden, rich, white guy through the TV cameras, whose fate was sealed with the 47% comment because it confirmed everyone’s worse fears about Mitt; that he was totally out of touch with middle-class and poor America.

To continue the previous point – It does actually confirm that Mitt is kind of a stodgy, rich, white guy from the northeast.  The way you see him relate to his family is in stark contrast to the way you see him running his campaign.  And it’s no wonder people can’t “be themselves” when running for political office at that level – a truly middle class American would be so uncomfortable and out-of-place riding around on a private charter, dressing in 3 different sets of clothes all day long, putting all your energy into pretending to be interested in everything everyone said to you at a rope line or fundraiser.  Politics is a rich man’s profession.  And let’s not pretend that’s new, either.  All of our “founding fathers” were rich, white men – and nothing’s changed since.  (Except the “white” part.)

It confirms what I’ve long believed about the Republican party – that it’s a party of old white men who all get in line to run for office.  I can’t remember which brother said it, but he basically confirmed that the 2008 defeat was simply Mitt’s preparatory performance – that it was McCain’s turn – and that it would be his “turn” next time.  In my mind’s eye I’ve always been able to see Mitt’s call to McCain before conceding the race. McCain would say something like, “Mitt, if you throw your support behind me now, I’ll be there for you with an endorsement in 4 years” — and I can see that same phone call happening between Mitt and Rubio or Ryan at the end of Mitt’s loss as well.

On the more positive side, it shows an awesome Mormon family being totally, normally Mormon.  We see a well-functioning family with members being helpful,  members keeping him grounded, grandkids being part of Mitt’s life – and Ann keeping it all together.  A couple of very sincere, very un-staged family prayers are shown.  It actually kind of makes me want to be a Romney in a way – that they have such well adjusted relationships to each other that they can so easily relate to each other and that parents can take so much counsel and rely so much on their grown children.  It’s really something to envy.

The “flipping Mormon” segments are HILARIOUS! Such a double entendre for the Mormon crowd…  For those who may be reading this who are not Mormon.  “Flip” or “flipping” is a somewhat famous euphemism in the Mormon crowd for the real F-bomb.  When Mitt was getting hammered in the 2008 primary race for being a flip-flopper, we get to see his reaction to this with his family — who at the time was really worried about the way Mitt was being introduced to America — and their concern that America would only know Mitt as a “flipping Mormon.”  Then they said it about 20 times.  Funny inside joke.

Finally, I really identified with Mitt with one single thing he did during the movie – picked up trash.   This wasn’t the first time I’d seen video of Mitt doing trash duty.  There was some footage that got into official campaign stuff – which might have seemed staged or purposeful – but let me say from one Father to another and from one Mormon priesthood holder to another – I can relate to Mitt picking up trash.  I feel like I spend most of my time at home milling around the house picking up trash.  I was taught from a young age the importance of picking up trash at Church, and spent a lot of teenage years setting up chairs and picking up trash as a young Mormon priesthood holder.  In this thing, Mitt is a man after my own heart.  When you’re bogged down, trying to figure something out, stressed, tired, or just bored – you can always find some trash to pick up or take out to the curb.

Here’s a fun clip of him on Jimmy Fallon and the link to the Netflix movie:

The Way Forward on Guns

OK. I’m ready to talk about the guns thing now.

First of all, thank you to everyone for laying off for a few days. I know it’s old-school, but we really all should take a breath and mourn the tragic loss of these young lives before we delve into too deeply into this political minefield that is loaded (pun intended) with emotion.

As I frequently do, I feel a little like I’m straddling a chasm here.  I grew up in rural America.  My family is a gun-owning family, and we target shoot for fun during our family activities.  I was brought up to both use and respect firearms from a young age.  I distinctly remember as a child being taught to shoot a .22 rifle by my Dad.  I remember being so frustrated because I couldn’t see down the scope because I didn’t know how to place my eye in relationship to the scope.  I have also lived in the 2nd largest city in the world, and was held up at gunpoint in that city by drugged out idiots who were just looking for money.  I currently live in DFW – one of the most crime-filled cities per capita in the nation.  And despite the healthy appetite for guns here, it hasn’t stopped crime or given anyone more of a feeling of societal security.

With that as a backdrop, I think the gun-owning public needs to just calm down a bit. No one is sending federal agents to go collect all your firearms. Rest easy knowing that the 2nd amendment has been very recently interpreted by SCOTUS to be a protect of the individual’s right to own weapons.

This does not mean we shouldn’t more closely regulate the gun trade. There are many practical things we can do to make getting weapons, ammunition, and associated paraphernalia harder. The automobile analogy floating around Facebook is quite good: we go to great lengths as a society to identify, regulate, tax, license, and track auto sales in this country, it is silly to think that we could not do so with weapons, especially the most dangerous kind that are uniquely designed for killing people.  I applaud’s taking down of their Guns section of their popular classified ads.  I support closing the gun show loophole.  I even support laws, similar to what California has, requiring all private party gun transactions to be run through a registered gun dealer.  I suspect I support going deeper and tighter with these regulations than most of my conservative friends would agree with.  So be it.  I know we’ll never stop guns from getting into the wrong hands (save your breath and keystrokes), but we can put up enough checks, rechecks, roadblocks and barriers that it becomes a burden to anyone who doesn’t have a clean record, a good deal of patience, and money – just as it is to get a car.

But the mere existence of guns isn’t the issue.  What can we do about the obsession and adoration of violence in this country? I believe that no one is born a psychopathic killer, and at some point in their lives, the idea of senseless, wonton violence had to be implanted into their minds. For me, this extends to the obsession some have with collecting weapons. I say obsession, because for a small, vocal minority it is more than a hobby, more than an interest, more than a right to self-defense; it is a weird obsession with having the most dangerous, outlandish, diverse collection of armaments known to man. I’m not talking about having somewhat of a museum, I’m talking about having somewhat of an arsenal. We don’t need that. It doesn’t help anything.  And the fact that talk of their arsenal monopolizes conversation with pretty much everyone they meet in whatever context (work, church, little league, etc), leads me to wonder about their mental health…

… and speaking of mental health…

We can all be more cognizant of those who are among our families and friends who suffer from mental illness. Several heartbreaking articles have been written in the past few days of parents who fear this is the future for their mentally ill child, and who have no recourse other than to wait for the child to commit such an heinous act. This world has a terrible history of treating the mentally ill, with unthinkable “treatments” being practiced well into the 20th century. I pray that in the 21st century can lead to as many breakthroughs in mental health as the 20th century had in physical health.

One specific thing I have to mention is regarding the sentiment that the solution to the insecurity of our schools is to arm every teacher and principal and janitor in the school.  Really?  I don’t think this is an effective use of our teacher’s capacity.  Many will not be comfortable with it, many are not capable, and I simply dont’ think it’s a good idea for your teacher to be wearing a holster.  Our teachers are in the schools to educate, engage, and enlighten young minds.  This is not prison and they are not the prison guards (as much as some schools resemble that nowadays). They are not there to babysit and are not there to bodyguard.  If more protection of our schools through the presence of firearms is what we really think is necessary to protect our kids, we need trained policemen/security in the buildings – not a ragtag, adhoc training of some kindergarten teachers to be prepared at any time to switch from reading Goodnight Moon to her class to capping a stranger who walks through her door in a long trenchcoat.

That about sums it up. I’m sure all of you found something to hate in there, and you probably won’t hesitate to tell me about it. 🙂 Whether you agree or disagree, can we at least agree that now is not the time to do nothing? Can we agree that the status quo – of having so many of these tragic mass shooting among our most vulnerable citizens – is untenable and must change? Let’s agree to agree on that, and move on from there.

Thoughts Before Election Day

I think I can speak with the majority in saying that we will all be glad when this is over and we can all go back to being friends again, and that’s probably the last thing I’ll say in this blog that the “majority” of you will agree with.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that a different 47% of you will agree with every other sentence of this blog, depending on who your guy is.  It’s strange to see how divisive politics has become, and how absolutist both sides are in their dread/elation for their candidate losing/winning.  Fear is a powerful tool in political campaigns, and it’s been dispatched in massive quantities in this election on both sides.

Tomorrow will come, however, and barring some silly reenactment of 2000, we will have a new President-Elect by tomorrow night (or early Wednesday morning).  We’ll all wake up, put our pants on one leg at a time, and go to work/school/playgroup/group-therapy (or whatever your schedule happens to feature on Wednesday).  No matter who wins, I’m going to safely predict that the world will not stop turning on its axis, and the United States will not fall into the ocean.  Sure, social media will be awash in both the agony of defeat and the ecstasy of victory, but shortly after that will come a moment when everyone will forget that, for the last 6 weeks to 6 months, we’ve been watching the strangest political contest ever.

The madness started with the Republican primary in which 8-10 people pandered mercilessly to an ultra-conservative, ideologically-driven party base.  I thought this clown-of-the-week contest hit a new low when Michelle Bachmann said, with a straight face, that TWO parallel fences between here and Mexico would be good immigration policy.  Surely, if one fence is good, two fences would be better.  Do I hear three?  Four?  Five?  Each candidate, not willing to be out-flanked by the other swung righter and righter until there was no more right to be had.

Then, when everyone else ran out of money, Mitt Romney was finally declared victor.

Then, the real race began.  And the real money started pouring in.  Before this is said and done, $1,000,000,000 will have been spent on this presidential campaign.  That’s 1 billion dollars that people and corporations pulled out from their own money, trying to buy power and influence in Washington.  (Citizens United was the worst thing that could have possibly happened to campaign finance, and I can’t believe we sit by so passively and let it stand.)  We should be absolutely disgusted by this.  This is money that could pay for things people really need.  This is money that could go to really good use.  Instead it is spent on the world’s weirdest beauty pageant.

After Mitt becomes the presumptive nominee, all the etch-a-sketch talk began.  When would Mitt reintroduce himself to the public?  (As if the “public” wasn’t watching the whole time during the ugly primary) And could he actually shake the etch-a-sketch hard enough to erase hours of debate footage of him signing up to a Tea-Party tailored platform?  Well, it happened in the debates, where Mitt suddenly went from being a “severe conservative” to every undecided’s favorite moderate.  Suddenly there was a new injection of nuance into the picture that had been missing for the last year or more.

This is to say nothing about President Obama, who has marauded around the country for the last year offering no real agenda for a next term, and campaigning on a “the devil you know beats the devil you don’t” platform.  I partly understand that this may be – because he has no legislature to work with.  Clearly the current debt crisis we are in was pushed until after the election in order to “read” the people and hope that someone (Republican or Democrat) got a clear mandate from the voter box on what the public wanted.

Which leads me to wonder: is our government becoming too democratic?  Is the power too close to the people?  Part of the genius of the American system was that a representative democracy (or republic, if you prefer) would transfer the burden of government and leadership into a specialist occupation for statesmen to represent the best interests of their constituents – as opposed to a pure democracy in which majority rules on every issue.

Perhaps the information age has minted leaders who are too tuned in to their constituents, too cognizant of the micro-politics of their decisions, and too wrapped up in the day-to-day workings of the government.  There was a great piece earlier this year (sorry, I can’t find the reference right now) on the affect that CSPAN has had on the Congress since it’s introduction.  The number of floor speeches to an empty chamber has skyrocketed since it’s introduction.  Congressmen appear more often for the camera than they do to actually vote.

Is this wise, though?  President Obama brought a new commitment to transparency to government, pledging to create website after website that would make data easily accessible, including expenditures from the Stimulus package (  But has it been effective?  The net effect has been more data to spin, more opinions to be had, and less clarity on what is actually going on.

Congress is now worried about winning news cycles and driving fundraising and winning more elections.  There simply are not enough hours in the day to spend time governing after you’ve spent most of it fundraising and appearing for cameras.

Perhaps we are migrating too far away from the representative democracy, or republic, that our founders intended – where Americans could blissfully go about their lives, and check in at the polls periodically – every few years – to provide course corrections as to who should represent them in that democracy.  The statesmen elected would go about doing what was right for the country and in our best interest, with the checks and balances on power from the other branches of government, and the ultimate check of the ballot box.

I think we’ve become too smart for our own good, and the information age is ruining the effectiveness of government.  We see this most evident in Congress, with its historically low approval ratings and a sensitivity to the proclivities of their constituencies that seems unprecedented.

Just a thought there.  Lots more to think about in that vein, but running out of juices here and want to get to the good stuff…

So where do I stand on this year’s election?  (If you’ve made it this far, you probably deserve to know)

I don’t think President Obama is the devil incarnate, and I think he’s been a decent President.  Not the best, but – by far – not the worst.  I think, in the longrun, he will be viewed as a less-controversial President (in terms of policy) than even George W Bush.  I don’t think his Presidency has been a complete disaster.  Sure, he made some mistakes, the foremost of which was to pick healthcare, a “legacy” issue (an issue so politically divisive that it could potentially sink his reelection), as the focus of his first term, but there have been some good things, too.

On foreign policy, I think the President has doen a decent job at the 40,000 ft view (and so does Mitt, since in the debate he seemed to agree in substance with about 90% of what the President said).  Sure, there are going to be disagreements at the 10,000 and 500 foot level – and it’s a little comical to watch the debate at that level in terms of who loves Israel the most (gag me with a steam shovel) – but all-in-all I can’t say that there isn’t much daylight between the candidates on foreign policy, which the 3rd debate made painfully obvious.  Obama ended a costly and protracted war in Iraq and is winding down a second in Afghanistan, all while doubling down on disrupting terror networks and terror cells, increasing the controversial drone attacks, and – of course – he got Bin Laden.

On the economy, I don’t think President Obama has done a great job.  He’s done a passable job.  What I want to believe is that our economy is rebuilding slower and more carefully because that will lead to a healthier economy.  We do not want to replace a housing bubble with another bubble!  We need an economy based on sound business: production of goods, protection of intellectual property, and an ethical and transparent financial sector.  I think we are working on getting all the bad guys out of each one of those – especially #3 – but the recovery has not been fast enough for the political timeline, and Obama has not done enough to respond to business’ concerns about the regulation and taxes – leading to this “regulatory uncertainty” that may be artificially slowing growth.

I also don’t think Mitt is a robot from the planet of Corporate Automatons   I think he’s a pragmatist running in an ideological party, which is the root of why he’s looked like a fish out of water for the last 5 years of his campaign.  He wants to look like he cares deeply about things like contraception, but I don’t think he really does and I don’t think they will be centerpieces of a Romney presidency.  I think he would be a decent, problem-solving President.

A new guy in the White House could have some advantages, though.  I believe that a Romney presidency could reset relations between the Executive Branch and Congress, and that the legislative skids could possibly get enough grease for compromise to reign in the Senate once more, if Romney can strongly keep the Tea Partisans onboard and convince them that “compromise” is really not a dirty word.  (It’s what the Senate should be all about!)  I think the “regulatory uncertainty” that has been hovering over the market will ease a bit, and we may see more injection of capital into the market with a Romney presidency.

However, I’m not comfortable with the tax policies of the Republicans and a potential President Romney, and really, really, really oppose a continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  We couldn’t afford them in the first place, and now they hang like a weight around our deficit.  Even though we all seem to agree the tax code is broken, somehow I really don’t trust the Republicans to rewrite it in a way that is better or more fair than it is today.  I also don’t trust the Republicans to do the right thing for our social safety net and education.  (Privatization of everything is not the answer, people, and has a dizzying array of unintended consequences for the most vulnerable of our citizens!)  So I approach a Republican presidency with some trepidation, here.

Unfortunately, what will probably push me over the edge for one of the candidates this year is the same thing that pushed many African-Americans toward Obama: emotion.  We all vote from our gut anyway, and having a Mormon – one of my own faith – running for the highest office in the country, is an honor and source of pride for me.  If he, by some miracle, beats the odds and wins tomorrow – I will have something of my own “Oprah” moment where I will feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of my immigrant ancestors who came to this country to pursue a belief system they embraced with their whole hearts, only to be  expulsed and legally exterminated for believing something a little different – a little more nuanced and a lot more specific – than what others were used to.

And what’s more American than that?

Am I a liberal?

The other day, my wife asked me whether I was going to join the “Mormon Liberals” group she stumbles across on Facebook.  I looked at her and said, “I’m not a liberal.”  Then she looked at me and said, “Yes, you are.”

And I was at a loss for words.

They say your wife knows you better than you know yourself, but I didn’t think this was the case.

Let me be clear.  In college, I used to be a Hannity-listening, O’Reilly Factor-watching conservative.  I particularly liked Hannity’s sharpness on the air.  My family are all conservatives.  But for most of the last decade, I’ve becomes more and more of a moderate or independent.  I can’t stand the openly partisan news channels (fox and msnbc) anymore, and in political discourse, I find myself as the guy poking holes in people’s platitudes, rather than spouting them myself.

But then, this morning, someone posted the following comment on Facebook, in response to Mitt Romney’s latest gaffes.  They put forward this list of “true conservative” values, and as I read it I couldn’t help but ask myself: “Wow.  I identify with very little of this… maybe I really am a liberal?”

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, is the epitome of American conservatism according to some. Specifically, conservatives seek or support: Limited government and balanced budgets, Capitalism and free markets, Classroom prayer, Respect for human life and prohibition of abortion, Abstinence education, Traditional marriage, not same-sex marriage, The concept of retribution for crimes, including the death penalty for heinous murders proven beyond reasonable doubt, Family values, including traditional relationships and division of labor within the household, Respect for differences between men and women, boys and girls, Laws against pornography, The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity),Parental control of education (parental rights),Private medical care and retirement plans,Canceling failed social support programs,No world government,Enforcement of current laws regarding immigrationRespect for our military … past and present,Rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming,Minimal taxation,Federalism (Separation of powers among the National, State and Local governments),Favoring states’ rights over federal power, while accepting the Constitutional role of the federal government,A strong national defense,An Originalist interpretation of the Constitution,A dedication to the truth, and an ability to seek it

(First, I have to just interject that Ronald Reagan and many of his contemporaries, including Chief Justice Warren Berger, were NOT originalists, which kind of casts into doubt the intellectual honesty of this entire list… but even so, I’ll bite…)

Here’s my take on these.  I still hold that I’m a moderate and an independent.  But maybe I am a liberal?  I dunno, you decide.  You can argue with me on stuff you think I’m wrong, agree with me when you think I’m right, or just ignore it completely.  Whatever.  I’ve tried to be succinct, but I realize it’s kinda long…


Limited government and balanced budgets

Check.  I like this.  Government by the people and for the people.  But I also think it’s impractical to think that our government will never run a deficit.  Especially in light of the recent financial crisis, where government becomes the last man standing – the only entity who can spend.  I think balanced budgets should be MORE the norm than they are, and I think we should build a rainy day fund rather than giving tax revenues back as tax cuts.  I think the Bush tax cuts were (and continue to be) a travesty.

Capitalism and free markets

Check.  I like them.  I think they need to be regulated, generally, because there are a lot of dishonest people out there, and we need recourse to protect ourselves against them.

Classroom prayer

I have nothing against prayer.  In fact, I strongly endorse prayer.  But I endorse it as a private action which is best employed with people who share your belief in deity.  I feel that, in a pluralistic society, there is little virtue in mass school prayer, unless it involves representation from all religions present – and then it just becomes cumbersome and tedious.  Let each pray how they will.  As long as there are tests in school, there will be prayer in school.

Respect for human life and prohibition of abortion

Absolutely!   I also believe in a doctor’s ability to care for her patient.  Sadly, I think doctors are viewed as customer service agents rather than respected medical professionals, who focus more on giving patients what they want instead of what they really need.  Due to this reality, I support government banned abortions.  In a better world, I’d be much more of a libertarian on this front.

Abstinence education

I’m cool with abstinence, but I don’t support sex education that denies the existence of sex, or that people will have sex sometime in their life.  I see nothing wrong with full, honest sex education that discusses contraception, sexually transmitted disease, respect for our own and each other’s bodies, and gender perspectives on sexuality.  I think that if we de-mystify sex, we better equip teenagers and young adults to be abstinent if they so choose, because there is less impetus to experience something they don’t yet understand.

Traditional marriage, not same-sex marriage

I’m a huge fan of marriage.  I love mine.  I think if heterosexuals spent just as much time and energy taking their own marriage seriously and defending it from their own tendency to sabotage it, and a little less time defending it from homosexuals, we’d see a lower divorce rate overall.

The concept of retribution for crimes, including the death penalty for heinous murders proven beyond reasonable doubt

This one, I cannot get behind.  I can’t see why the party who is so attached to the sanctity of life for the unborn so readily accepts the responsibility to judge who should live or die after they commit a crime.  Take a look at the innocence project, and other statistics and perspectives on our incarceration system (falsely called a correctional system).  I do not and will not co-opt God’s right to choose when and how a soul will leave this world.

Family values, including traditional relationships and division of labor within the household

So, I’m not sure exactly what the punctuation means here.  Does “traditional” modify both “relationships” and “division of labor”?  If what this is trying to say is that men should take a brief case to work and women should cook and clean, then I heartily disagree and think it’s foolish to put in a political party identity something that automatically disqualifies more than half of today’s working parents.  I have much more to say on this, but I think I said it best in my this recent post.

Respect for differences between men and women, boys and girls

I have no idea what this means.  “Boys have penises and girls have vaginas.”  That’s from “Kindergarten Cop”, which, I think, qualified as all the sex ed I got until 7th grade.

Laws against pornography

So, in other words, first amendment rights only apply to the things you want to hear/say?  Gotcha. Obviously, this is a non-starter.  Hey, it’s a pretty disgusting thing, so I say tax the daylights out of it.

The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms

I’m cool with guns.  I like to shoot them, and I think people should be able to own them.  I really doubt I would be able to shoot someone, though.  What I don’t get, though, is that it takes a more extensive process of background/credit checking to buy a cell phone contract than it does to buy a gun.

Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)

So, this is the belief that the market should be left on its own to create or destroy products and services.  So, I generally agree with this, except I acknowledge government’s role in taxing (or choosing not to tax) some up-and-coming industries to give them a leg up, especially those who are pursuing scientific advancement that would benefit the whole nation.  Much of the scientific achievement of the 20th century was accelerated because of government either fueling the fire or getting out of the way.  The trick is having the wisdom to know which track should be followed.

Parental control of education (parental rights)

I think parents should take an active role in their child’s education.  I don’t think parents should to take their children out of school because they hear or teach something they don’t agree with.  Part of being educated in a pluralistic society is that we get to hear viewpoints that we disagree with, and the way we make that society civil is by educating our young people on how to deal with those we do not agree or get along with.  This nation has a rich history of public education.  In fact, I believe public education has been the biggest achievement of our nation.  It is the great springboard from which every child, even the most impoverished, can springboard themselves into a life of achievement.

Private medical care and retirement plans

Yep.  I’m definitely for these as well.  I’m also for a social safety net that catches those members of our society who are poor, disabled, and who may – in some cases – literally die if we didn’t have some kind of system of social medicine and pension.  I don’t think our social security system should be viewed as a cadillac retirement plan, but I think it can and should be taken advantage of as a least common denominator – a safety cushion that supports all the investing and other retirement activities going on in a normal middle or upper income individual’s life.

Canceling failed social support programs

I’m all for getting rid of programs that spend too much on a few.  I’m all for making welfare a way to help people become independent and self-reliant.  But I’m not OK with the wealthiest nation on earth standing by while hundreds of thousands of its citizens go hungry and shelterless.

No world government

Yes, but it’s nice to have a forum where America can bully other nations I mean, where we can work out diplomatic relations with other countries and broker solutions to the world’s problems.

Enforcement of current laws regarding immigration

I’m OK with that, but can we also have an immigration policy that makes sense, taking into account the economic realities of our country?  We need guest farm workers.  That’s good for farm business.  We need highly-educated engineers and technologists from all over the world.  Why do we hassle them so much about getting in?  Let’s make an immigration policy that makes sense and acknowledges that we are all immigrants to this nation.

Respect for our military … past and present


Rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming

Since science is the pursuit of truth (which you say down below you highly value), why get so judgey on an institution that’s just trying to do its best with the data it is observing.  Rather than squashing it and viewing it as a threat to your religious beliefs or economic interests, why don’t you appreciate the dedicated human beings who are trying to explain the phenomenon they are studying?  There is room for faith and science together, and if the USA was tiny island country in the middle of the ocean who was losing its very land to rising sea levels, you bet we’d be a little more concerned about it and not call those who were trying to explain it “junk scientists”.

Minimal taxation

Hey, I’m all for less taxation, but I’m also for responsible government.  If we make a commitment, then we need to tax at the level that will fulfill that commitment.  Nothing nauseates me more than Republicans who stump on preserving social security and Medicare benefits for seniors (to capture their vote) but then who destroy the very funding sources for those programs.

Oh, and I hate Grover Norquist.  I think our founders turn over in their graves every time another legislator puts their votes in his hands.

Federalism (Separation of powers among the National, State and Local governments)

Since that is, like, a bedrock principle of the founding of our nation, I have to say I’m 100% on board with that.

Favoring states’ rights over federal power, while accepting the Constitutional role of the federal government

This goes back to the previous one.  I’m not sure either one should be “favored”.  I think if you read the Constitution (and associated amendments), this ball keeps getting hit back and forth.  And I think that’s how it should be.  In good Federalism, there should be constant give-and-take between state government and federal government.

A strong national defense

Check.  But c’mon.  Let’s be reasonable about it, too.  We have more nuclear weapons than the rest of the world, combined.  I’d rather have modern defenses.  Stuxnet represents the new kind of warfare, and we need to be on the front line of that war, not seeing who can make a faster airplane.

An Originalist interpretation of the Constitution

I throw up a little in my throat, because I find originalism intellectually dishonest.  Originalism wants you to suppose that you can know what the Framers had in mind when writing the constitution.  But you can’t.  All you can do is look at the 18th century through your 21st century lens.  I don’t care if you wear a powdered wig or not.

A dedication to the truth, and an ability to seek it

Well, this is just too nebulous to waste time talking about, unless I just don’t get it.


Santorum Scares Me

So, with my only 45 minutes of free time today, I watched Meet the Press and was left speechless after the Rick Santorum interview. I really can’t believe that the GOP seems to be turning to that clown.  I don’t know what made me feel that way today more than before.  The talking points were largely the same, but he sounded more confident and determined than ever.

Maybe it’s this string of southern primaries and caucuses? Or maybe it’s the fact that one only has to drive through the state of Kansas, observing the hyper religious pro-life signs all over the sides of the roads, to realize that, yes, there is a religious-right in the Republican party who really thinks Mitt’s religion is so untenable they’d vote for a washed up Senator who couldn’t post a win in his own district or a deluded old Speaker who seems to be marauding the countryside looking for a second shot in the post-neocon era, despite what any numbers seem to say.

And that same religious right would go so far as to make this election about social issues – when the winning strategy was clearly to make this about economics.

Look, I think Mitt is a clown in his own way as well, but much less of a clown than those two. I even consider Ron Paul less of a clown than Santorum and Gingrich.

But here’s my real question when it comes to this whole process: When is the Republican party going to stop shooting itself in the foot and start making President Obama run for reelection?  The longer this draws out, the more rope the challengers are giving the President to hang them with, and the more President Obama goes laughing to the bank.

It’s a well-known fact that independents and moderates in a few critical states (which BTW, Santorum is terribly weak in) are the only way to win in the fall.  The GOP needs to realize that they aren’t getting that vote with Santorum; the guy who has completely alienated that demographic AND the women voters as well.

Right now, I see very little chance for a GOP win in the fall.  People are talking about how the GOP convention will be a “reset” for the nominee, but I don’t think so.  I think in Romney you have a base that will be less motivated to turn out, and in Santorum or Gingrich you will have a critical group of voters completely turned off from them as a Presidential candidate.

…Just my humble opinion…

Opposition Research: Mitt Romney

With Romney’s win in New Hampshire, the pressure is on in South Carolina.  It is definitely the last hope for any challenger candidate.  As such, the campaigns are now doing their worst.  SuperPACs (not affiliated with the campaigns and certainly not in coordination with the campaigns) are funneling money like crazy in negative ads, and everyone is hoping for a Romney gaffe so that this thing can drag on into the spring.

Professional opposition researchers and national news media have now had over 6 years to do serious opposition research and skeleton digging with Romney, but they have met their match.  Recent smear attempts show that the worse they could do was:

#1. Romney, as a volunteer ecclesiastical leader, once counseled a single-parent to give her child up for adoption.  The woman alleges that Mitt threatened her with Church disciplinary action, but Mitt has denied that allegation.  Keeping a child conceived out of wedlock is not grounds for church discipline in the LDS Church anyways, so clearly there is a disconnect in the story.  It’s possible that Mitt informed her that continued sexual promiscuity on her part would lead to church discipline, as adultery and fornication are not especially encouraged (but are grounds for a church disciplinary council).

At any rate, take a step back – he is being attacked for — wait for it — encouraging an adoption.  Whoa.  The horror!  Imagine that, an ecclesiastical leader trying to encourage people to raise their kids in homes with both mothers and fathers.

If you think about it, this isn’t even a smart attack for the left.  President Obama himself has campaigned on and been outspoken about the need for both mothers and fathers in the home, and the importance of having both parents engaged.  He himself is a model of this, insisting to his scheduling staff that he be with his young family for dinner every night possible, only allowing missing up to two dinners a week.

#2. Romney, as leader of Bain Capital, laid people off.  Now Romney says over and over that he actually hired more people and saved more jobs than he laid off, but what baffles me is that his fellow republicans – the type of folks known for doing practically anything to make a buck (inside and outside the law, regardless of ethics or morality) – would be pounding him on that.  I doubt that many republican business owners struggled to lay a few people off in the name of saving their own business or increasing their profitability.  You can’t be the part that touts free-enterprise and unregulated economies on one hand and then punish your own for adhering to those principles.

So… that’s it.  That’s all they could find.  No mistresses.  No love children.  Just those two things and an odd religion.

Compare that to the recent competition between Herman Cain and Dr. Ron Paul (the obstetrician) to see who had more exposure in their lifetime to female genitalia…  If your decision for a presidential candidate is based largely on character or morals — not only spoken of but also lived by — I think you might have your man.

GOP Field Analysis

Last night’s debate was enlightening.  Everyone’s campaign got the memo this week, with Herman Cain’s rise in the polls, that the electorate is very volatile right now, and that this debate would matter.  So everyone came out to try and make an impact.  Most of them just fell all over their own faces trying to do so.

Here’s my analysis of this week’s candidates:

Still in the lead, still making all the right decisions, and still too good to be true for the party is Mitt Romney.  He had a very refreshing response when responding when religion was brought up, and handled it far better than he ever has to date, though in my opinion he went too far in patting Gov Perry on the shoulder telling him his lukewarm apology for Jefferds remarks was “OK”.  I’m not sure if it made him look incredibly magnanimous (almost to the point of push-over) or made him look like he was in too much of a hurry to let Perry off the hook and get back to the economy.  Other than that, solid performance by Romney, and I was particularly impressed that he won every shouting match with another candidate trying to horn in on his reponse time.  I didn’t think Mitt had it in him.

As this week’s insurgent, Herman Cain got much of the focus with everyone decimating his 9-9-9 plan.  I really don’t like it either for all of the reasons that Stallion Cornell outlined yesterday – but mostly because it would be a huge tax increase for me as a citizen, a consumer, and a micro-business owner.  I’m just not sure where he gets off by saying we should look at his people’s scoring and his data.  I went to his website and the data is SKETCHY!  The truth is that the “fair” tax is a huge tax break for the wealthy and a huge tax increase on the poor and middle class.  Period.  End of sentence.

Michelle Bachmann’s best moment was when she trumped everyone else’s fence proposal by pointing out that her fence would be a double fence with a security zone in between.  I thought she was going to go one step further and explain how the security zone would be constantly patrolled by the 82nd airborne.  Hallelujah border security gods!

Sadly, Rick Perry was the only one who made a lick of sense about the border, denying the absurd idea that we need a fence or that a fence would deter illegal immigration.  I say sadly, because he was a hot mess the rest of the night.  He even merited a boo from the audience when he repeatedly called Romney a hypocrite for employing a lawn care company who hired illegals.  He’s trying harder, but not really getting better results.  I’m not sure if it’s because he’s that stupid or because he is surrounded with people who are that stupid.  I’m thinking it’s a bit of both.

Newt Gingrich continues to come out with reasonable ideas – like calling the super committee a stupid idea – but his time is sadly past.  He still subscribes to Reagan-style Republicanism that most of the candidates have abandoned for Tea Party style Republicanism.  (Clearly Reagan’s 11th commandment “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican” was thrown out the window last night)  Newt shows he has the even-keeled-ness to be a good party mover and shaker again, but I dont’ know anyone who really wants him to be their President.

When it comes to talking about things no one wants to talk about, I give the victory to Rick Santorum.  He has found a way to make himself the ‘values’ candidate for the approximately 1% of voters who care about social issues right now.  His most interesting allegation was against Ron Paul, asserting that the family was the center of our society rather than the individual, to which Paul replied something like, “I’ve given birth to thousands of babies and they call come one at a time.”  To which everyone rolled their eyes.   You can always count on Paul to say something completely sensible but that you completely disagree with the more you think about it.

Jon Huntsman did what no GOP candidate would, in their right mind, do at this point in their race: decline to be on TV.  I suppose he thought the high school cafeteria in New Hampshire would be more integral to his presidential bid; and he might be right.  If his strategy is to focus on New Hampshire, threaten to boycott any caucus that occurs before the NH primary, and try to come in 2nd or 3rd in New Hampshire, it’s the right strategy.  It’s really all he has left.  He’s gotta be running low on money and low on will to try and make himself look appealing as a moderate in this crowd of Tea Party panderers.  I know I would be.

After the debate, I watched NBC’s The Sing Off, which I had recorded from the day before.  and pictured all the candidates in an acapella group together…