The Worst Election Choices in My Lifetime – An Analysis

Trump vs Clinton.

Racist, sexist narcissist vs proven liar, opportunistic, war-waging neocon.

Some choices. #neverTrump vs #neverHillary.

Just shoot me.

Unlike most Americans, my default position on politics is one of fear and loathing, so I get #neverthesetwo. In spades!

But let’s think on this for a bit, let’s analyze our deep dissatisfaction, parse the situation, and see if there is not a rational alternative.

Say you’re voting for Trump because #neverHillary. The problem is, Trump is not going to win, period. The hole he has dug for himself with wide swaths of the electorate cannot/will not be overcome, so no matter how much you hate Hillary and do not want her to be President, your vote for Trump is simply, logically, and unalterably, a wasted vote. No amount of huffing and puffing can nor will change that fact.

What of the obverse? What if you are voting for Hillary for no other reason than #neverTrump? No one can really blame you, but go back and reread the previous paragraph for a moment. If you are only voting for Hillary because #neverTrump, and Trump has no chance of winning, then voting for someone you do not really believe in, in this case Hillary, is likewise a wasted vote. You are ratifying a personage and platform you truly deep-down do not care for, and doing it unnecessarily. How dumb is that?

But what if…

All the #neverTrump voters and all the #neverHillary voters refused to vote for either and instead cast their votes for someone else, say a successful and lauded two term governor, who was also a successful entrepreneur, who had never been tarnished by scandal, was against nation-building and America being the world’s policeman, had a reasonable plan to kick-start economic growth, and has pledged to bring our nation, political parties, and people together to address our problems of debt, economic stagnation, violence, and crony capitalism?

What if… Gary Johnson?

Yeah, I know, he can’t win, so a vote for him is a wasted vote. I’ll forgo lecturing on how a vote cast in good conscience is never wasted and simply refer you to the above. Trump cannot win, so a vote either for him or against him is an even greater waste.

Except, if all those wasted votes were instead wasted on the most qualified candidate in the race, he would be elected President, we would be without either of the most horrible choices in memory, and we could begin the process of healing our nation and restoring the Republic.

And, as Governor Johnson has said more than once, if after four years of peace, freedom, and prosperity we decided we really don’t like those things, but preferred war, debt, unemployment, crony capitalism, and being spied on, we could always vote the two old parties and their self-serving, destructive policies back into power. What do we have to lose?

#neverAgain!

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Dear friends…

It’s been quite a while since I’ve made time to write, but the present Presidential campaign makes me feel the need to reach out to my Democratic friends, whom I genuinely like and respect:

I get your disdain for Trump. Really. You cannot possibly dislike him any more than I do.

What I do not get is your infatuation with Clinton. Before you scream, allow me to explain:

Hillary is a neocon, as big a neocon as anyone in the Bush Administration ever was. As a Senator she voted for every incursion, intervention, and invasion that came before her. Every one. As Secretary of State she was a principle architect of our obviously failed policies in Libya and Syria, to name two. Her decision to arm Islamist militias in Libya led directly to American weapons falling into the hands of ISIS. She is a neocon.

She is deeply involved in Crony Capitalism. Check the source of the bulk of her funds in her Senate and Presidential campaigns. Check her votes for bailouts in the Financial Crisis. Check her (and Bill’s) speaking fees from just about every major money-center and Wall Street bank. She is part of the system, and will not do a thing to reform, much less end, it. She is a Crony Capitalist.

Finally, consider how she has skirted ethical issues her entire adult life. Her attacks on the women Bill raped. The Chinese funds during Bill’s campaign run that had to be returned when they were discovered. The curious correlation between contributions from foreign governments and persons to the Clinton Foundation, immediately preceded by or following her signing off on aid to those same nations. Did she violate any laws? No, not that anyone will ever prove. Are her actions time and time again indicative of being ethically challenged? I don’t see how anyone can say no.

On the other hand, there is a candidate who has never been tarnished by scandal, who does not try to be everything to every one, and who even tells the truth when it is inconvenient. One who supports a woman’s right to choose, LGBT rights, an end to the War on Drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing, an end to the Security State spying on American citizens without warrants or cause, who has proposed reasonable immigration reform, and lastly, an end to foreign intervention and endless war.   Check it out.

Really? Clinton?

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God’s Problem

I write on the 383rd anniversary of Galileo’s appearance before the Pope’s Inquisition in Rome to answer for his audacious heresy in claiming the Earth orbited the Sun. As silly as such an event might seem to us now, in truth little has changed. Science and reason remain challenged, and often thwarted, by religious zealots and their enablers today much as in 1633.

Stem cell technology, climate science, and medicinal marijuana are easy examples of the ongoing religious pogrom against progress, there are of course others. All of which begs the question, in the twenty-first century, how can such primitive superstitions and myths still wield the influence they do, why have they not long been cast aside?

The defenders of the inane of course won’t be dissuaded by such questions, much less bother thinking about them. Truth and right are on their side, their god has told them so. Science and skepticism are as much faith-based as any religion, even more so. Prove they are wrong.

In any rational discussion the shoe belongs on the other foot, it is the maker of the existential claim who bears the burden of proof, not the skeptic. I could make any wild-ass claim I wished, and no matter how nonsensical, you could not prove me wrong. That’s just the way logic works.

Many religious apologists of course avoid such a discussion and instead rely on carefully designed arguments to defend their claims. The four pillars of this approach are the Ontological Argument, the Cosmological Argument, the Argument from Design (or, as Richard Dawkins has called it, the Argument from Personal Incredulity), and the Moral Argument.

All are weak and easily countered, but more importantly “prove” nothing and thus are useless, because – and here I repeat myself – empirical claims require evidence, not arguments. Christopher Hitchens perhaps expressed it most eloquently: “That which can be asserted without evidence can be rejected without evidence.” The fact is there is no evidence for the existence of any god, ever.

Simply put, and herein may well be the reason religion fears and attacks science as it does, every discovery ever made about the natural world has reduced the need for god(s) as an explanation, and often demonstrated that claims made for and about god(s) are simply wrong. Look no further than the first two chapters of Genesis for several prime examples of that.

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Be Libertarian Just One Time…

There is nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain…

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The Muslim Dilemma

“Muslim Americans fear their religion will be demonized and Islamophobia will spread after a young Muslim couple was accused of carrying out one of the bloodiest mass killings in the United States.”

Those words introduced a recent story stating, rightly I grant, that most Muslims reject terroristic violence and do not support such activity.

Fair enough, even though if one grants the truth of that claim and accepts the sincerity of its proponents, it remains shallow and useless on its face.

There is no such thing as Islamophobia, Islam is the problem. Which is not to say all Muslims are a threat mind you, the spectrum of adherence to Islam among Muslims is probably much like the degrees of seriousness with which Christians at large adhere to Christianity.

But Islam clearly does call for the subjugation, one way or another, of all non-Muslims. It does classify women as second-class citizens at best, and mere chattel most often. It does demand the death penalty for gays, apostates, and blasphemers. It sanctions, by the example of its prophet, the marrying off of mere children to old men, effectively resulting in rape.

I would suggest that Muslims who are truly worried about their faith’s image must do more than merely lament the violence of terrorists, they must actively work to change their faith, including many of its foundational tenets. Plainly speaking, Islam as it exists today is incompatible with peace and civilized society and will forever remain so.

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What ISIS is, and is not…

There are two things many people get wrong about ISIS, and these misunderstandings could produce failure in the West’s efforts against it. The frustrating thing about this is that the facts are readily available if we simply read what its founders and leaders have written and said, and take them at their word.

  1. ISIS is a terrorist group, and can be defeated using normative anti-terrorist tactics: In fact, ISIS is a nation-state. It occupies a set geography, which it seeks to expand, has a standing army of more than 20,000 fighters, has a set government structure, engages in foreign trade, provides basic services such as water and electricity, and supports a welfare state within the areas under its control. While it utilizes terror as a tactic, it is far different than al-Qaeda and similar groups who prefer to remain hidden, emerging only to strike a target and then retreating into the shadows. ISIS will need to be cleared from the territory it holds in order to subdue it. And
  2. ISIS is “unIslamic”: On the contrary, ISIS is deeply rooted in Islam’s original medieval form. It takes all of the Koran and Hadith literally, and seeks to fulfill Islam’s apocalyptic prophesies by bringing about a conflict with “Rome”, which will usher in the end times and the return of Jesus (yes, really) who will lead Muslims to a final glorious victory in a battle for Jerusalem. It is this part of the ISIS program that attracts Muslims from around the world to its ranks, and the only way to defeat its appeal is to inflict a total and ignominious defeat to its forces on the ground. The loss of its Caliphate would serve as evidence to Muslims everywhere of the illegitimacy of its claims, and is the only way to bring the threat it poses to an end.

The information I reference above is readily available, although our President, along with many other government officials in our nation and others, doesn’t seem to get it. Which is why a year of flailing at windmills has achieved nothing but the strengthening of ISIS’s hold in Syria and Iraq. (The lone exception to this sad state of affairs seems to be the Kurds, whose Peshmerga have sought to engage ISIS fighters and drive them from territory they hold.)

I do not, before I am so accused, suggest sending American ground forces to undertake this task. France, Turkey, and Iran, among others, are far better suited, and have more at stake at this time, than do we. But, sooner or later it will need to be done, and it would probably be best if it were done before the number of fighters under ISIS’s command is in the hundreds of thousands.

 

 

 

 

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Dammit…

My favorite memories of Allen Patterson include neither politics nor beer, even though we engaged in a reasonable amount of both over the course of the decade I knew him.

I cherish most the 30 minutes or so Allen and I spent discussing Lucretius, sitting outside a hall where Gary Johnson was holding forth. We’d both heard Gary’s stump speech numerous times, and a few weeks earlier I had given Allen a copy of The Swerve, a book about how Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things had been rediscovered, copied, and preserved by a former Papal secretary.

The book had motivated Allen to read On the Nature of Things, and we spoke about how that work’s preservation had contributed to the Enlightenment and Western thought. We shared our wonder as to how a Roman devotee of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, sometime around 70 B.C., could have hypothesized on the existence of atoms, and a limitless universe, while finding no need for the supernatural to explain the world he observed. If we had only had a sixpack, we may have talked all night.

Then there was the time Allen, guitar in hand, pulled me aside to sing and play a song he was writing, a song that expressed humorously his meandering journey to Atheism. He wanted me to hear it because he felt comfortable opening up to me about his beliefs, or lack thereof, due to knowing I had traversed the territory he was exploring several decades earlier. I smile every time I remember that.

Allen was the kind of guy you didn’t have to spend a great deal of time with to create lasting memories. He was warm, kind, and funny.

I miss him already.

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