Hooray!..I guess…

So, the government shutdown is over and the world can get back to running as normal.  Or, can get back to running as normal as it can considering we’re governed by the me and women we are.  Nonetheless, the sky isn’t falling and the late Senator Lautenberg’s wife gets the customary payout widows tend to receive.  I guess that’s all a good thing, except for the fact that Republicans have managed to screw up their messaging more than their governance during the profligate Bush years.

Both sides in this are guilty in this whole debacle.  Before going into exactly how they are guilty, I think it is important to discuss the two sides I am talking about here, neither of which is the Democratic Party.  It’s a given they wish to govern with a greater role for the central state and all that comes with that – wealth redistribution policies, higher tax burdens on the “wealthy” and more social assistance for those in “poverty.”  Generally speaking anyways, they are pretty consistent.  No, the problem is in the Republican Party itself from two sides that individually are quite craptastic.  Together, we could be amazing, but that bridge refuses to be built.  Instead of meeting in our own Promontory, Republicans on each side are demanding that the effort be made at the expense of the other.  For all the talk of game theory involved in this debacle, we seem to have poor players.

So, that said, who are those players?  Well, if you live here in Georgia like I do, it’s probably just convenient to label them “establishment” and “liberty,” regardless of how ridiculous those names are to begin with.  Names aside, the context in which both operate are pretty consistent.  “Establishment” = demande we play the politics game with all players involved, negotiate and compromise, assume the public notices the big things and not the details.  “Liberty” = play the drum loudly, decry compromisers, appeal to emotion and assume the public gets it.  To a degree, both sides have the answers.  Problem is, they want to have all the answers.  That’s just not possible, as demonstrated by the ridiculousness of this Obamacare fight.

First, I think it’s a bit ridiculous that Mitch McConnell negotiated a partial rollback of the sequester cuts that took place.  $19 billion is a drop in the bucket to be sure, but the fact that the cuts did not in any fashion lead to the end of the world – at least no more than the shutdown did – proved that the hard fought compromise they represented was worth retaining in the form they were developed.  It’s hard to explain to the conservative, anti-government base that you’re working on their side if something that small is unimportant to you.  Small things matter.  If nothing else, the rise of folks like Cruz should signal that.  After all, he took quite small differences with a very conservative Lt. Governor Dewhurst all the way to a U.S. Senate seat.  You’re not going to gut Obamacare right now, Mitch.  At least stand for the small victory that you’re able to have up to this point.  Oh yeah, don’t allow a $3 billion pork project either.  That’s kinda crappy.

Second, I think it’s a bit ridiculous that Ted Cruz feels the need to filibuster – wait, not filibuster – against a bill to defund Obamacare that he supports by comparing those that don’t want to defund Obamacare to Neville Chamberlin.  Yes, he filibustered a bill that he supported because the Democrats in the Senate would change it.  I think the hard cores “get it” Senator Cruz, but Republicans who aren’t activists probably don’t.  Not because they’re stupid, but because they see the obvious political theatre you’re engaging in.  Theatre isn’t reality, which explains why college students who major in it are working at Starbucks.  When Republicans are in the House and Senate trying to find solutions to a troubling situation, you stage a talk-a-thon devoid of any intellectual consistency.  After all, voting for the bill that you just filibustered that you initially supported is wildly inconsistent.

alien_vs_predator_ver3

The truth is that this is all just a microcosm of the schism we see here on the ground.  It’s just rather sickening, honestly.  I canno do anything but shake my head in disgust when I see someone point to the compromise and say “I wish our Senators could be more like Ted Cruz…”  Here’s a tip, principles are meaningless if you’re the only one that believes in them.  Then again, I don’t know that I can feel good about party elders bashing the “libertarians” in the party and ostracizing them in the process when the antics of McConnell are the result.  Really, it just make me feel like being a Republican ain’t worth it anymore.  It’s like the AVP poster says – “Whoever wins, we lose…” So, hooray!..we just let the Democrats retain their ability to govern horribly…

 

Having the liberty to be a douchebag doesn’t mean you should use it…

A recent video posted on TruthSeekerDaily.com details the encounter of a Libertarian Open Carry Protester vs. 6 Police Officers.  I have to say, I’m a little disgusted by what transpires in the video.  (Warning:  The douchebag – I mean protester – uses the foul language in this video).

Here’s what I have to say about encounters such as this.  Government is nothing more than a collection of individual people organized to maintain social order.  Although there are many, many differences with a corporate entity, it does have commonalities that are key to remember (organization hierarchy, mission statements, measureable objectives, etc.).  That said, effectively dealing with government means effectively dealing with the agents of government.  Essentially, you’ve gotta be willing to be a people person.  This noticeable demonstration of douchebaggery is a ridiculous example of ignoring that.

I think it’s safe to say there are numerous example of government officials overstepping their bounds.  This is not one such case.  Police officers do not have easy jobs, and there are probably ten men and women out there more than willing to point a gun at an officer and shoot for every one of these “peaceful” protesters exercising their rights.  I won’t say that officers have the authority to do what they did, but I also won’t say the actions of this particular individual are justifiable.  The man was wrong, and he was a douchebag to boot.  In fact, the officer went so far as to say “…can I just explain something to you, work with me here?”  That’s hardly the comments of an “scumbag” police officer.

Our interactions with people are both learnable and teachable moments that we need to take advantage of, none more so than interactions involving the agents charged with protecting the safety and welfare of our communities.  This was one such instance where a 2nd year law student, because of course 2Ls obviously know more than veteran police officers, could have communicated in a more interactive and engaging manner instead of being an ass.  As someone who values my liberty quite a bit, I’m actually kind of pissed this child made these officers more likely to react aggressively themselves towards similar situations in the future.  Furthermore, a chance to educate them about their responsibilities as government agents was just missed.  Someone who has a greater degree of intelligence might recognize the long term goals of protecting our freedom are better served with some warmth and kindness.  I suppose they don’t teach you that until you’re a 3L, though…

Grow up, douchebag.  You’re the reason we can’t have nice things.

Might We Teach Some Common Sense, Please?

Yesterday, the Marietta Daily Journal reported that an upstanding young man was arrested and given a felony weapons possession charge.  Normally, we’d probably shrug our shoulders and say, “Good!  Another violent thug busted!”  Except, the case is not so cut and dry.  Furthermore, it raises serious questions about how and why we treat students in such a fashion.  We have become so prepared to other trying to hurt us that we have become hyper-sensitive to any “potential” threat and therefore cannot distinguish real risks from faux.  It’s a problem that our communities need addressed.

According to the MDJ, this all started with an anonymous tip that homeboy was smokin’ the refer and “smoke” was rising from his car and from there the knife was eventually found.  You can read the account of the entire incident here.

Here are some of the telling points that stuck out to me in the story:

  • Under closer examination, it was clear that the contraband in question wasn’t an ordinary pocket knife but an EMT rescue knife. Williams had placed it in his car with the knowledge of his parents for a very specific reason.”
  • Andrew was in a terrible car accident in February where he had to bust the window out and start dragging his friends out because he thought the car was going to blow up, and literally two weeks after that he went out and bought an EMT rescue knife.”
  • If found guilty, the weapons charge carries a fine of up to $10,000 and two to 10 years in prison.”

Here’s the problem I have with this whole incident.  Administrators and public safety are failing to distinguish between real potential threats and those that are not a consideration at all.  As a result, young men like Andrew Williams are not given the credit deserved for being responsible young people, and those that are risks don’t get the due attention they need in order to prevent something tragic from occurring.

Our laws compel education for young people, and that means for the vast majority of students it’s attending the public schoolhouses.  At the schoolhouse – which the students are legally required to attend – they have minimally protected constitutional rights that are far, far less protective than regular society.  More than that, our administrators begin to assume the worst about all of them – they’re all criminals, they’re all violent, they’re all dangerous.  At the very least, the assumption is that in instances such as these.  This is not the first time that an overreaction has led to criminal charges for a student that did nothing wrong.

We’ve become this society that tries to protect ourselves against every conceivable threat instead of really targeting the big risks and work our way down.  It’s understandable we fear the Newton tragedies, but for some reason we don’t ask lawmakers to institute policies which allow resources to flow to at-risk youth.  Instead, we target young men like Andrew and make sure that people see we have a “zero tolerance” policy and continue to be tough.  It may make soccer moms feel good, but I don’t believe we need to sacrifice a few lambs to make the herd feel secure.

What we need to focus on is ensuring that administrators and public safety at our school houses have the necessary training and flexibility to use discretion effectively in instance such as this.  After all, while the adminstrator search Andrew’s car, undoubtedly a student with real problems (emotions, family, learning difficulties) was not getting the administrative attention he needed.  Therefore, that real problem is still festering and could possibly explode into something far, far worse than finding an EMT knife in a vehicle’s console.

Why I think Karen Handel might be on to something here…

Being out of the loop for the last couple of months, I tried in a limited fashion to keep up with things on the home front.  Being a consultant type guy that dreams of big things, that means continuing to be a consumer of information about the large Senate race taking place.  I’ve not minced any words on this – I’m a big Karen Handel supporter – so naturally I look at the race from that perspective, too.

In meeting a good friend last night, he asked me my thoughts on the Senate race.  One thing that I made a comment on was that I thought Handel’s method of campaigning was pretty interesting and effective.  She’s constantly asking for input from people, making them stakeholders in what the campaign does as a level unseen by other campaigns.  It may not seem like much to some folks, but I think asking for public input on a billboard is a brilliant campaign tactic.  People get engaged and the inquiry gives them some ownership of decision-making.  In an era where consultants and politicos like to banter back and forth about who has the most money, it’s often overlooked that successful candidates ask the most important question first – who best communicates with the most people?

I’m not on the inside of Handel’s campaign, but I certainly feel like it at some level.  These aren’t big decisions, and this one billboard doesn’t mean that all billboards, radio ads, television spots, mail pieces, etc. etc. are going to be “focus grouped.”  That said, this draws people in.  Besides the obvious benefits of getting an opportunity to make a fundraising pitch and identify volunteers, the campaign gets to actually involve people.  After all, it’s what the grassroots of the Republican Party has been clamoring for – involvement in the decision-making of Washington.

To be sure, Paul Broun’s got a legion of diehards (some of which follow him like a cult leader – not all, but some) and that doesn’t always mean a winning team is put together.  There is a far and wide difference between movement and progress.  Paul Broun can make hundreds of people swoon for his libertarian leanings, and that’s fine.  I haven’t once heard him ask people, “Here are some options, what do you think?”  Communication is as much listening as it is speaking.

That’s all anecodotal, and one billboard a victorious campaign does not make.  That said, it’s a subtle, but still very profound, way to build a network of support for a woman that is already a strong name in Georgia.

The Political Zombie Apocalypse is Coming…

I’m gonna come out and say it – World War Z was a badass movie.  I’m a big fan of the modern zombie genre, and really enjoy the whole concept of some viral infection wiping out the world’s population with mindless, animalistic zombies that have no emotional attachment to the world.  Plus, according to WWZ, as a diabetic I will be spared from the onslaught and can finally credentials as a badass myself.  Some of you will be saved, others will fall before my AR-15.  Suck it.

That said, I really find it a bit odd the way an Independence Day float was presented in Dekalb County this past week.  The Dekalb Young Republicans (good group of people, BTW) and the North Dekalb Republican Women (don’t know ’em) prepared a float themed “Lady Liberty Belle and The Liberty Freedom Fighters vs. the Zombies of Tyranny.”  The link provided should give you a photo courtesy of Catherine Bernard.

I get attracting people to pay attention using a catchy and unique idea to present the concept of government tyranny.  However, I have some problems.  Zombies as presented in every movie, from World War Z to 28 Days Later to Resident Evil (which, admittedly, I thought was pretty damn creepy when the first film came out), are mindless, unintellectual creatures.  Their only drive is to consume healthy humans and spread the plague.  Instinctual.  Unthinking.  Vicious.  Worst, the lack of any survival instinct (on account of already being dead) makes them a terrifying prospect.  In tying “government” to mindless animals who want nothing more than to consume and consume without any thought of the consequences.  While it’s easy to point to many in elected positions and their staff as examples, we seem to forget that millions of Americans who have the same conservative philosophy as us get lumped into that category and instantly turned off.

The truth is that simply standing up and repeating “Constitution!” over and over doesn’t make you any more of a lover of American liberty than those you criticize.  After all, labelling yourself a “Liberty Freedom Fighter” pretty much puts you in the same groups as the late Bin Laden and many a theocratic radical that dub themselves the same.  Moreover, it doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility of explaining why the Constitution is so important to American society beyond the “founders were Godly men who loved liberty.”  That’s as much a logical fallacy as anything else.  Therefore, a zombie calling another zombie “evil” doesn’t really solve the problem.  We have to kill the virus, and to do that we need to provide the cure in our personal philosophies.

One particular instance that comes to mind is my own discussion with a “liberty” person I had during the convention season.  During a long conversation, we started discussing the concept of what a “big government Republican” was and whether or not she would consider me one because I valued a large, technologically superior military force to any other nation in the world.  Maintaining a military is specifically identified as a federal power in Article I, Section 8 and the President is Commander-in-Chief in Article II, Section 2, but it’s certainly something that the “liberty” crowd rallied by Ron Paul on during the presidential primary season. The only answer I could really get out of the conversation was that I’m a big government Republican if I am willing or believe that the military-industrial complex should be enriched at our expense.

Okay?  The problem is that it doesn’t really engage the question at hand, and that’s the problem with labelling the “government” as a conglomerate of zombies.  It doesn’t answer the question of how to reduce the size and scope of government.  Fact is hundreds of thousands of government workers consider themselves conservative.  They’d happily contribute to a solution to the burgeoning government if they knew that doing so wouldn’t endanger their families, means of living, and still give them an opportunity to help those they provide assistance to.  Simply saying “reduce the size of government” is no way to go about a planning.  In fact, it’s not a plan at all.  General drawdowns must be implemented in order to not create other problems the folks that smaller government advocates are trying to help will suffer the results of.  Simply saying “reduce the government!” is a zombie-esque approach to combatting the problem.  Details and consequences matter, and zombies don’t really care about details and consequences.

I give an A for effort and creativity, but F for the effectiveness in communicating the conservative message.  At the end of the day, that’s what we need having a lasting impact.  The Constitution is not, in and of itself, an immaculate document.  It’s the philosophy behind it that’s important, and too many conservatives these days have forgotten that.  Remembering it just might be the cure to what ails the zombie plague infesting the conservative movement these days.