Smoke and Mirror Town Hall

Remember those Town Hall meetings where politicians are supposed to meet the public and answer questions or concerns? It seems that we are a bit too loud for our members of congress or senators. Apparently, the Town Hall meeting has become somewhat similar to a lynch mob of angry constituents that want answers but don’t receive them. Needless to say, it was politicians with intelligent talk during the election cycle that demanded accountability in Washington has now gotten full throttle from its own people… but members of Congress don’t like it.

 

Before I become the conspiracy theorist at large, I want to say that when politicians throw accusations that Town Hall meetings are filled with staged protesters. Let’s not forget when the same thing was lobbed and mentioned during the Democratic town hall meetings. Now that the Republicans have a taste of their own medicine they can either choose to blame the media or blame the people that interrupt the meetings – or both. But one thing is for sure, politicians won’t answer pressing questions. In fact, I have heard one politician say, “there is no one size fits all” plan. I hate to say it, but that is what legislation and law should be all about. You don’t create a law to hurt one side and allow the benefit to the other. This is why past laws are vague enough to balance between both sides.

 

Today it seems that Congress wants to strip away the layers of balance between liberal and conservative. This is why laws are clogged in our court system. The constant bickering back and forth over the same rehashed legislation continues to divide people. Town Hall meetings are intended to listen and facilitate balance so that laws protect people, not hurt them. When politicians run from the microphone from town hall meetings and instead seek ten thousand dollars a plate fund raisers naturally people will be pissed.

 

Now is the time for politicians to learn to approach its constituents from both parties and find out how to balance effectively and seek diplomacy. For once in my life, I somewhat wish we had a system in place similar to Great Britain. Once there is a no confidence vote or election process then the entire house is abolished, and elections occur rather quickly. There are no three years of presidential campaigning. You can’t run from the microphone, the press or the people in Britsh politics. Also, you must form a coalition with another party to form a substantial majority. I do like that idea. Perhaps as leaders of the free world we should reevaluate are we actually listening to the people is politics. In American politics we nothing more than smoke and mirrors filled with artificial applause and artificially placed people?

Sore Losers

I didn’t want to start off my blog with a rant about President Trump. In fact, I won’t. However what I will rant a bit about is the lack of respect from the opposing party that didn’t win in the recent U.S. election. It is no secret that I am a Democrat. But perhaps I try to be a better person rather than bitching about Trump taking the oath of office. What disturbs me the most about recent political protests is that it sends a horrible message about the “transfer of power.” To me, the transfer of power should always remain professional and cordial as a united people in the United States. We do have our differences, but we must learn to get past them and take that negative energy to turn it into advocacy for whatever our causes are.

I have to admit that I didn’t want to watch the inauguration. However, out of respect, I did. Okay, I didn’t like President Trump’s speech to the American people. It seemed more critical of the political establishment rather than the corporations responsible for moving those jobs overseas. There were many speakers, hecklers and those just wanting to argue or rehash old news. What made me sad was when people would boo other people. Hillary Clinton, in good taste and poise, was invited to the inauguration and did so even despite her personal feelings. I feel she honored the code of transfer of power and an ability that many Americans so often forget – good sportsmanship and conduct. When the giant screens along the Mall would show Hillary’s face, people would boo. Of course, we have free speech. But today our civility seems completely lost. The world cannot respect the United States if we are not the real leaders of respect and a united people.

Of course, political leadership will continue to argue with the press and attempt to put a spin on things. I don’t think the popular television show House of Cards would ever be popular if we didn’t already know the backstabbing plots and twists among our nation’s leaders. It is all about power. But what is most amazing is despite that power struggle there is still a level of respect and decorum for each other. The American people seem more interested in a sudden death match as if politics are somehow going to break out into a WWE main event cage match. This is not how diplomacy works. We must be mindful that diplomacy is the issue at hand rather than the personal vendetta or agenda. The agenda is about what is right for all people.

Lastly, while I am growing disappointed in American people not trying to work simple differences, I am saddened at how we have become somewhat sore losers. If the amount of bitching and negativity were energized during Election Day, we might have a different outcome. I personally know of many Democrats that didn’t vote on Election Day because they assumed Trump would lose. To me, that is arrogance while blaming the opposition for winning and then being bad sports about it. Perhaps we should be living a bit more like Kennedy’s speech of. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” During the next four years, all Americans should be working towards what is best for our nation.

Democratic History Lesson

In the past few weeks, I have watched our democracy nearly wash away the checks and balance of power and open democracy. In North Carolina, the newly elected General Assembly, which is controlled by the Republican Party in both chambers, has stripped the newly elected Democratic governor of his powers with a series of rapid laws shifting power. The U.S. Congress has already begun to erase certain laws and change rules. Of course, this is their prerogative, but I question at what level of checks and balances will our government experience before the process collapses?

 

I am aware that our nation is bitterly divided. The recent election and past elections clearly show how divisive our nation has become. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I feel that bureaucracy is a good thing because it keeps a check and balance on government. It is when a branch of government changes power or policy to favor itself then it creates a further division and essentially becomes an expensive lawsuit or future Supreme Court case. A positive step for politicians is to stop trying to tilt government in your favor. Rather leave the system alone and introduce your legislation. Merely trying to amend the rules is like playing football and moving the goalpost closer to cheating your way to a win. This pisses off everyone because eventually, the opposing party will use the same tactic at a later time.

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Another problem is that Congress and politicians, in general, need to stop playing the blame game. First, you bring an idea to the table. Each side discusses or debates the good and bad of the idea. It goes to committee and hopefully has better ideas interjected and weak ideas deleted from the bill. Then when it’s all said and done, it goes to the house or senate floor for a bit of further debate and a vote. That is how it’s done and has been done for hundreds of years. Congress today seems to be skirting the rules and procedures to ram through what it wants rather than people want. Therefore it’s no longer an agenda of citizens but a personal policy of a few. Eventually, it affects everyone and we the people are tired of the bickering.

 

This upcoming Congress will have an all republican congress and president. But there should be a fair warning to all those Republicans because not too long ago the Democrats had the same scenario. The plans they had completely backfired because of rule changes and forced legislation. If the Republicans should have learned any valuable lesson from that era was not to become radical and change the rules. Otherwise, it may be the shortest-lived control of Congress in history.

Who is Milo Yiannopoulos?

In all honesty, I have never read or looked at the conservative Breitbart website. Another blog follower recently sent me a YouTube clip from a Breitbart Editor named Milo Yiannopoulos. At first, my fine-tuned gaydar went off, but I was thinking to myself “a gay conservative?” I kept listening and actually couldn’t believe my ears. But then I stopped myself short of becoming somewhat like sheep and falling into the trap of listening to sound bites to sought out more of a full speech site to make my final determination.

 

Folks, it is no hidden fact that I am very liberal. But in certain situations, I cannot follow the party line all of the time. I remember my time as a college student senator where I vehemently voted against an expensively overpriced Talley Student Center. I was the liberal that was trying to save students money and stop a student government organization and faculty from continually practicing campus cronyism (which continues to practice). My lone ‘no’ student senate vote was squashed because the “sheep” of student government wanted to impress school leadership and its compeer relationships disregarding a popular vote against funding a new Talley Center. I remember distinctly hearing other student senators and campus faculty advisors that wanted to control, accuse, intimidate, or impeach me because I didn’t follow the majority in student government and campus administration. An apparent blow to democracy and similar to those that protest Yiannopoulos at his campus events. Back to Yiannopoulos.

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When I heard this guy speak I couldn’t help but think he is lecturing in an unfiltered manner. Of course, he is popular because he is voicing and rallying against the very institutions that have created safe spaces or the practice of becoming sheep before the slaughter. Do I support everything Yiannopoulos says? No. However, I do subscribe that he brings an excellent and compelling argument that both sides should have an opportunity to be heard. Do I think Yiannopoulos is a member of the Alt-Right or supports white supremacy? Emphatically no! What I do think he does, and efficiently but perhaps not academically, trigger what we have hidden as our inner voice and begin to reassess if that voice is not being challenged effectively. Naturally, Yiannopoulos has a trolling way of inciting a discussion and keeping his cool. What seems to occur on nearly a frequent basis is opposing audience members fall prey to appearing self-centered in hopes they are viewed as social justice warriors with poor to sad results. One thing I will say positive about Yiannopoulos is that his assessment of the Republican and Democratic U.S. parties are spot on. He has plausible arguments about Title IX laws (as I previously blogged about). I can see where he has an active following. But let me be clear, Yiannopoulous doesn’t represent either major political party in the United States. Instead, he focuses on the whitewash of policies that may have strayed from the original design that favor particular groups or interests. The design of system policies should avoid fluctuating for protected classes. Rather policy should be designed to equally and adequately safeguard and preserve all matters with the same level of scrutiny.

 

A problem for liberals like myself is that a majority of those that represent the left fail to properly listen to the opposing side and try to learn from its perspective. I, on the other hand, seek to follow my conscience and levels of compromise to look for a middle ground. This is the art of diplomacy and something we should learn to re-engage with. Sure it’s heated. Sure it’s divisive. Yes, sometimes it becomes personal. But hopefully, we walk away after the debate that we can build a bridge towards compromise or understanding. Yiannopoulous said something rather interesting in one of his videos. He mentioned that two of the top billed comedians wouldn’t appear on college campuses because “college kids are too politically correct.” He is right that we have become a society of censorship and liberalism with its importance of equality and creativity is being redefined as an a la carte safe space where laughter is punishable. This concerns me and should concern you. I am still a liberal and human with good intended qualities. My hope is that you will be human too and allow speech to continue regardless of our differences.

Tax the Church

I rarely get angry about things I read. Today I read that conservative Christian evangelist Franklin Graham saying that he doesn’t believe it was the Russians who intervened in this year’s controversial presidential election. Instead, he said, “it was God. God showed up.” I could not have been more disgusted at the way religion is consistently misused for personal and political gain in our nation. For starters why should any pastor, layman, or evangelist claim that religion works in its favor? Is this to imply that any independent or democrat voter an agent of the devil? I think not. What Mr. Graham did was blasphemy and use the pulpit to create more division in our nation. Graham has disguised himself as a servant of rightousness by an orchestrated choice of words rather than the guidance of God and the holy spirit.

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In my lifetime I have tried very hard to keep religion separate from my civic duties and obligations. I pray for most people. What makes my prayer different is that I pray for peace, pray for others that include our enemies. Sure, I may sound like the Catholic boy, but I am not Catholic. I was always taught to think of others before myself. This method seems to be doing just fine until I hear more rhetoric from Graham. I remember when Graham referred to Muslims as engaged in “a religion of hatred. It’s a religion of war.” Only later would Graham continue to spread doubt by claiming President Obama was Muslim and that references to Mormonism as a cult implying doubt about Governor Mitt Romney’s ability to be President. What is most disturbing is Graham’s political plans from the pulpit. He said, “I have zero hope for the Democratic Party; I have no hope for the Republican Party. I am running a campaign to put God back in the political process.”

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I would like to point out that Franklin Graham has a net worth of over $25 million dollars. That is money that was collected tax-free by contributors. There is no product to buy except fear based on his words. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that using politics in the church is a dangerous mix and somewhat unlawful by revenue standards. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a clear rule when it comes to churches. The law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

It is time for our nation to confront the combination of politics and religion. Once again it has become out of hand and dangerous by self-appointed ministers interpreting based on its capital need rather than scripture. America may see the expensive cars, mansions and offshore bank accounts by tax-free deposits of people such as Franklin Graham and his misguided rhetoric by using God for material and political purposes. It is time to start taxing these “churches” that harvest an armageddon of theater news Graham and others create for their congregations and ministries. This has nothing to do with free speech. This matter has more to do with tax-free speech and the law as it is written. God should never be used to determine politics. This is the free will of the people something religion holds dear and sacred. But, in fairness, if you want to talk about politics then you may do so if you forego the IRS 501(c) statements and disclose this to your followers. Be transparent just as God would want.

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If Graham wants to use religion in politics, let’s use the law and begin taxing his ministry. Maybe Graham should read his own Bible once in a while and reference Romans 13:7-8 “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Democrats felt the Bern on Election Day

Democratic Party and Hillary campaign staffers ultimately shuttered out Bernie Sanders supporters.

Since the day after the election, I have watched media outlets nearly overload its own circuits at how Trump miraculously won. It is somewhat like watching and listening to everyone taunt that Santa is coming to town, but he fails to show. That suggestion alone may be another reason that Hillary lost the election. Sure, we could go through all the conspiracy theory rhetoric claims from Russia, the CIA director, voter fraud and other issues. But one thing is very clear, the Democratic Party and Hillary campaign staffers ultimately shuttered out Bernie Sanders supporters. The Democratic Convention was perhaps a warning that Sanders supporters would alienate its own party on election day.

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What I failed to hear from Hillary over the course of her campaign was her connection to the working class. Instead, I would argue that Trump made a much better connection with these voters primarily with his snake oil sales pitches. Hey, it doesn’t have to be true, but you do have to connect to get voters to the polls. Apparently, Trump won those voters while Hillary alienated the Sanders camp. There was little or no mention about Bernie’s visions and how to mesh those camps together, other than just get to the polls. This was, in my opinion, no way to connect with its party and perhaps a crucial part of how Hillary lost an election. What I did hear over and over is that Hillary would be our first female president. While I would have been grateful to witness that moment, it didn’t provide a credible quality to my needs as a voter.

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Many political observers felt during the election cycle that the Republican Party was dead. Instead, Trump rebranded it and sold it to the American people. The Democratic Party had a fracture all along and pretended it had no outstanding issues. The biggest problem was that it didn’t rally its own party to show to the polls and perhaps abandoned nearly half of its Sanders supporters along the way. I would argue that the Democratic Party might be on life support or in need of some anti-anxiety medication for future elections. Perhaps the Democratic Party needs to rebrand itself. It’s going to be a huge struggle now that we have a Republican president and Republican controlled house and senate. There is also a significant possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will shift towards becoming majority conservative. Was the Republican Party really dead? I think not. It was the Democratic Party that became complacent and overly confident of the American people. It was the Democratic Party that fell asleep during this election year and incidentally gave out Ambien pills to the Sanders supporters it should have been energizing all along.

What Will a Trump Presidency Look Like?

It has been a few weeks since Trump was elected President of the United States. Naturally being a registered democrat I would have liked to have seen Hillary win, but it didn’t happen. But what draws me to a bit of disappointment in my own party is how Democrats overall have handled the post-election situation. Let’s face it, Donald Trump will be an unconventional president. Sure, Trump ranted during the election cycle about what he would and wouldn’t do only to change his mind like the wind. But to be candid nearly all past political winners did the same thing – but perhaps a bit more diplomatic.

I think it is safe to say that many Americans are growing tired of the politically correct atmosphere of this nation. I admit that I do enjoy the rare benefit of civility and speaking well of my neighbors even during opposition. However, the division in our country is so toxic that civility and respect for one another are no longer swept under the rug. Instead, it is shoved out the door! I have always supported a free press. What I do not support is a free press that interprets issues as if they are facts. I am beginning to see the free press somewhat morph into a level of hysteria and a quasi-form of a branch of government. Funny that the same press that wanted to hang and convict Edward Snowden is somewhat embracing the Snowden effect. Put it this way, with the election of Trump newspapers and the media may see an increase in revenues because of the entertainment value of how this administration will operate in unconventional methods.

Will Trump drain the swamp? Effectively, no. Trump is a businessman, and if you ever watched his reality TV show, you will know he seeks experience while enduring pressure. If that doesn’t seek in then, start watching Gordon Ramsey Hell’s Kitchen to better understand that concept. There will always be large fish in the water that keeps the swamp filled with legendary tails and stories to last for quite some time.

Will Trump build a wall? Yes and no. The Berlin Wall style along Mexico won’t happen. A fence? Yes. But there will be a comprehensive deportation schedule assembled, to begin with, those charged with crimes that still remain in our jails and prisons. A problem Trump will have is a new crime wave of Cartels and criminals attempting to sneak across the border. Those Cartels and others will begin to build elaborate tunnel systems. It won’t matter about a wall. Our nation will be spending tons of money to sniff out tunnel systems.

Speaking of drain the swamp. Unconventional methods mean unique styles on both sides of the political isle. The general public enjoys popularity instead of stability. The populist style may be the death of not the republican party but the democratic party too. Trump snatched the typical Republican establishment just like Sanders somewhat did with the Democrats. They styles were from the hip and very populist in general. This is the future of our politics for now and perhaps on both sides of the political coin.

The media should stop slamming Trump about his Twitter account. Trump and Twitter keep Trump alive and controversial and scores trends always for Trump. He knows this and his staff knows this. It won’t change anything. Sure, it’s not presidential or diplomatic. But it is controversial and unconventional. Most of all it is popular. The only people that really get upset is the media – especially when Twitter is a media style application! The press should begin to use Twitter to change behaviors and own it. There is a big difference between Twitter and standing before the American people. Basically, the press has to become a bit controversial themselves without breaking the ethical standards or laws to keep up with this presidency.