100 Days

I saw a post from a former pastor of mine.  I consider him a friend and mentor – at least, I considered him one.  It’s a confusing thing.  I still love and respect him, admire much of his character and have nothing but the deepest appreciation for the things he has taught me over the years.  But, I feel conflicted, too.  Our ideologies are not the same, and though I have faith in God, I would no longer characterize myself as a fundamentalist Christian in any form.  Over the past few years my friend has become increasingly more vocal in political and religious matters, something I will certainly never criticize, however it has highlighted the rift that is between us when I compare what we think and believe.  He is unabashedly both conservative Right and conservative Christian,  even when those two viewpoints are in direct contention.  More recently, he has taken to bashing both the Left and the Islamic religion, often conflating the two in order to make a skewed point.  Given his background as both an IBM engineer and a teacher of Philosophy, I have no doubt he understands faulty logic- but he no longer pays heed to that in service of rhetoric.  This depresses me.  There was a time when he measured the character of a person by when they were willing to keep their mouth shut.  Have we moved so far past civil discourse that even good men step over the line to protect what they see as their way of life?  Is the perceived threat to Christianity, whether it is by political, social or religious agenda so great that we must forget our principles?

I hope not.

Running for the Republicans

So yesterday I posited the idea of running for the Democrats as a non-Democrat, and not in the Bernie Sanders kind of why.  I can’t say I’d do the same for the Republicans, at least not at this time.  The first reason is that the Democratic party has, at least locally, accepted the notion that they are a party in disarray.  They know this.  Second, I can get behind a lot of their social programs without accepting their economic ones.  The Republican party?  Yeah, not so much, and it might be because I came from them originally.  I’ve found I disagree with many of their social stances, and I’m opposed to their attempts to push the Christian religion as the basis for our government and policy decisions.  On paper, I agree with many of their stated goals, at least as far as limited government and fiscal spending go, but in reality I have found that they have no desire to actually abide by those ideals.  It’s not a sales thing, or a presentation of the platform, it’s that in many ways, they are actively working against their stated principles.  To me that’s a longer row to hoe.  I also think that, as a party, they are still unaware of just how broken they are – Even as they laud their victories in the last election, they fail to see that many of those victories were on the back of Trump’s platform, which ironically, was similar to President Obama’s.  Change.  The people aren’t happy with the status quo and they’re looking for options.

I don’t think politics will ever change, but it could be an interesting political landscape in the next few years.

What are we fighting for?

Editor’s Note:  I wrote this back about 3 months or so, ago.  I was going to add a paragraph or two about my Dad, which I might do as an extended piece, but I thought I would get it posted now, as it has spent far too much time on my “To Do” list.

 

 

As the debate about health care continues, with President Trump and many of his supporters leading the way to repeal the ACA despite the lack of a real plan of action to replace or repair what is left, I find myself considering what it is we hope to accomplish with our country, our government.  What do we consider important at the national level, as a nation?  To what use do we put that blunt instrument that is our federal government?  That our government has grown large and unwieldy, straining under its own massive weight is no surprise to us.  We know it is fat, and growing larger.  We know that is too large, too heavy to support.  The Fed has grown in size and weight, but accomplishes less and less despite its increase in size and resources.  Both corporations and private citizens have attached themselves to that bloated mass, feeding off its excess like a tick to a mangy dog.  And those very fat, very happy ticks, they don’t want anything to change with their host.  No, even if the overall health and state of the union should falter, do not change anything lest their meal ticket become endangered.

This piece isn’t an analysis of the government, however.  It isn’t here to discuss the wasted resources and corporate whore mongering that goes on in our nation’s capital.  This essay is here to ask a basic question of ourselves.  What is it do we want our government to do for us?  What freedom and pursuit of happiness are we defending with our military?  What justice do we purport to provide to those of our nation that are too broke to pursue our self-evident truths?  In a nation as rich as ours, in a land as large as ours, truly our government should be responsible for very few things at the Federal level.  It is rarely the best tool for the job.  Help keep the common law consistent.  Help keep our perspective on infrastructure.  Facilitate communication among the States and their people as a whole, these things a Federal Government can do.  I would suggest to you that central to all of these things is the People.  Whatsoever our government does, it should be in the most benefit to her people, to the support of the pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness.  But what good is life, if we cannot enjoy it?  What good is liberty, if we cannot live it.  How can we have happiness if we are not healthy enough to pursue it?  People are the life’s blood of this country, the means be which everything is accomplished.  If our People are not healthy, how can our nation succeed?  We can educate ourselves, feed ourselves, defend ourselves- but only if we are healthy enough to do so.  In the past, collectively we have agreed that things like education, warfare, defense and trade are things we should spend our wealth on.  They are things that we considered integral to our nation, enough so to put into the Federal Government’s hands.  Why then, do we not consider our health such an asset, one worthy of our collective effort?  What else is worth fighting for if we don’t have our health?

 

And your new Democratic candidate is… Not a Democrat

Dear God, help us!

Heh.  Still between that article, and another one I read but cannot find, the Montana Democrats are in need of a few good candidates.  Perhaps I should throw my hat into the ring as the kind of candidate they need.  You see, I’m not a Democrat.  I’m not a Republican any more, either.  The Democrats have a tough go of it here in Montana – their social platform actually benefits a lot of the state, but they have no concept on how to market it.  On the economic side, well, Democrats suck.  We might identify, economically, as a state/nation of have nots, but even though the idea of sticking it to the man is appealing to many, even more of us want to be well off.  Sure those guys oppressing us are rich, but we wanna be rich too.  Taxing the rich isn’t something a lot of Montanan’s get behind, I think because many people identify wealth with hard work.  And while that isn’t as accurate as it used to be, we’re not really ready to throw that association out, not around here.  And truthfully, we shouldn’t.  Whether Democrats like it or not, the wealthy already foot the bill for the majority of our expenses- taxing them more just because we feel they can afford it is not a policy we should ever agree to.

So that’s where I come in.  Let’s get back to the basics of streamlining our government.  Less at the Federal level, more at the State.  Let’s invest in our infrastructure – our people, and we’ll sell it as good for business, good for the environment and good for the profits of everyone.  Well, almost everyone.  🙂  Let’s move from the extremes of both parties and find some ground that actually lets us accomplish some work in our country.

A take on the healthcare plan

Economix had a fun tear down of the current plan put forth by the President and the GOP to replace the current ACA.  The author’s politics run counter to Trump’s and the far right, but he does a pretty good job of keeping it real from an economic standpoint.  He also points out that one of the big issues of repealing the ACA is how much of it was based on Republican ideas.  If you’re protesting your own ideas, your alternative options tend be even more limited and extreme.

One of the things he briefly touches on, but doesn’t really address, is that success is sometimes measured by how we failed less than previously.  Specifically I am speaking about the rise of costs and premiums, which continued to rise at rapid rates during the ACA, with many traditionally conservative states seeing the largest increases.  The success is that some of the increases were less than the increases seeing prior to the ACA.  That kind of measuring for success works in the short term, but if you’re measuring against a flood, either do something different or build a boat…
Another thing the author glosses over is the use of subsidies.  Although he points out that the Feds will subsidize the premium for the States, which he uses as an argument for why some states should have adopted the ACA, he ignores their premise for why they might have rejected it in the first place – It doesn’t matter whether the Federal government or the State government subsidizes the premium, it’s still a redistribution of wealth.  If you’re opposing the ACA, or any similar plan, because of your opposition to Taxation, any argument involving subsidies is going to fall flat.

Take the analysis for what it is, a visual breakdown of the shortcomings of the current and proposed plans, as well as a bit of insight as to why things might not be working as they could.  It’s a fun read and he lists his references, so if you disagree with a particular point, you can at least see what he based his argument on.

Post Debate – The First Penis

Back around 1996 there was a movie featuring Jack Lemmon and James Garner titled, “My Fellow Americans“.  Tonight’s debate, and the references to certain anatomical parts reminded me of a scene in which former President Douglas, played by James Garner, is using the restroom.  In comes a gentlemen who recognizes him and wants to shake his hand.  Garner’s line is fantastic, “I can’t shake right now. Have to keep my hands on the First Penis.”  Very apt, this evening.

Great movie by the way, grab a chance to watch it, if you can.

The same point, exactly.

The exact same…  You know you have heard this used, probably many times.  The odds are good that you have probably used this phrasing yourself a time or two.  And, as most of us probably remember from years of angry English teachers berating us, the use of that phrase is wrong.  Today, in two separate incidents, I heard it used in college related materials.  The first was on the radio- an advertisement for Arizona State University.  Apparently their online classes offer the exact same curriculum and benefits as their on campus experience.  The second was in this article, where a representative of Bard college notes that criminals that attend their school are held to the exact same standards…

Irony tastes sweet in the morning.

To be honest, however, I am fairly certain that exact same has firmly entrenched itself into colloquial English.  We all know what is meant, and many of us will continue to use it as a matter of habit.  Still, there is a part of me that is haunted by the ghosts of English teachers past.

To each their own…decision.

I happened to be reading this article when my oldest son looked over my shoulder and started reading along with me.  This lead to a conversation of sorts with him, which I rather enjoyed.

At first my son was actively against the shop owners.  He said he would have sued the owners, too.  Not because of any particular leaning so much as he views all discrimination as wrong.  I explored his thinking on that for a bit and I was satisfied with where he was coming from, but then I told him how things might have been different in Montana.  I shared with him how, in lot of states, the right to refuse service to anyone is available to business owners.  I also shared with him how customers have the same right not to go to a particular business.  They can complain to others about it, too, which usually works out better that just suing somebody.  It was fun to discuss the various alternatives.

We spoke on a lot of different topics related to the situation and the fun thing for me was watching him consider other viewpoints than his own.  He didn’t dismiss things out of hand, he spent time thinking about where the shop owners were coming from and why.  He considered other ways to handle the conflict and what some of the results were.  At the end of the day he held to his own opinion, for his own reasons, but he thought about things!  It was a great father/son moment, but it also made me laugh and think about how often I can’t have that kind of conversation with an adult…

Guns are not the problem

I made the post below on a local news forum in response to a letter written to the editor.  I’ve gotten a bit grumpy in my old age.  I don’t suffer fools anymore.  Not that I ever did, really, but I’m more vocal about it now.  Damn kids need to get off my lawn!  🙂  In this case, I was frustrated mostly be the fact that both sides of the debate refuse to come together to discuss the actual issues, and both attempt to sidestep the fundamental rule of individual responsibility.

 

Guns are not the problem and never have been. It’s the people behind the guns that determine the problem, and always will be. I don’t care if you label them felons, criminals, extremists, deviants or the mentally ill, the reality is that they are the ones electing to use a tool to kill people. Take that tool away and you will find other methods to achieve violence. This isn’t something in question, this is fact. You can look at the histories of disarmed civilizations across the world and you will find the unique ways in which they have found to defend themselves- and to do violence against once another.

“But Dan!,” you cry. “Guns allow people to commit violence against many people in a short amount of time!”

Well yes,- Yes they do. And it was guns that took down the Twin Towers, the planes used to crash into them and the Pentagon, Pan Am 103, the Federal Building Oklahoma, the subway in Tokyo… I could go on and on, stretching back 100 years! Except that it wasn’t guns used, was it?

You know what the major problem of the whole gun control issue is? When fools on both sides of the aisle stand there and threaten each other instead of sitting down and talking about the real issues and achieving real results. The Left threatens to restrict guns, the Right threatens violence to defend their right to own guns. Both claim a second civil war- never mind the pure idiocy of that statement. You cannot legislate free will away. No amount of law, rule or control will prevent a human being from acting out- sometimes violently. Nor can you threaten violence while decrying that you are doing so for peaceful purposes. If you’re going to sit there and make your Facebook posts about how you plan to shoot any “Federal” that comes to take away your guns, congratulations, you’ve just demonstrated that you choose violence as a first response to panic. How about both sides stop their idiotic posturing and sit down for a bit? Maybe then we can learn to move past our nonsense.