Archive for the ‘Voting’ Tag

Is He Making Things Up?   3 comments

I’m continuing my rundown of the massive Democratic primary field, starting with the lowest ratings and working my way upward. You can check out my previous articles by following the links below. And, you’re always welcome to comment.

Senator Cory Booker’s (D–New Jersey) announcement that he will be seeking his party’s nomination for president set off a flurry of speculation about the candidate’s ideology, chances of success, and whether or not his drug dealer friend T-Bone was ever real. Depending on the articles you read, he’s a hero (once went on a 10-day hunger strike, kept the budget of a typical New Jersey food-stamp recipient for a week, carried a woman out of a burning building, helped shovel a 65-year-old man’s driveway and rescued a freezing dog). I don’t know if any of these things are anymore real than his drug dealer friend and I’m not all that impressed with some of them (my son has been shoveling the driveways of older people in our neighborhood, entirely for free, often without their knowledge, since he was in junior high school).

Booker, 49, was the first black US senator from New Jersey and the first vegan senator. Before that he was mayor of Newark, where he’d been on the City Council since he was 29 years old.

He’s a career politician who is also a member of the political elite, worth more than $4.1 million and gifted with a newly-signed New Jersey state law that will allow him to run for president and the U.S. Senate at the same time, if he chooses. 

Although he derides Citizens United v. FEC, Booker already has a super PAC helping him with his election. And, if you’re into following the money, First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, collected $41,000 worth of donations for Booker’s 2013 Senate special election campaign and conducted a fundraiser for him at their Park Avenue home. My reporter spidey senses are all tingly over that news.

Critics point to Booker’s popularity with Wall Street: From 2013 to 2014, when Booker ran in both a special and a general U.S. Senate election, he brought in $2.2 million from the securities and investment industry, more than any other senator that cycle, according to data. From 2017 to late 2018, he fell lower on the list, with $439,000 from Wall Street workers and PACs. He also drew flack in the 2012 presidential election for saying the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital were “nauseating.” Booker does, however, vote against Wall Street interests occasionally.

In February 2018, Booker announced he would no longer accept corporate PAC contributions, one of now seven senators to make such a pledge. The word “corporate” is key: Booker has since taken donations from the PACs of membership organizations and unions. Yeah, that would make him seem a bit unethical. In his campaign finance disclosure report covering July through September, he listed $9,225 received from a handful of PACs, including those connected to the Transport Workers Union, National Air Traffic Controllers and Environment America Voter Action group. Booker has also raised corporate PAC money for his 2020 Senate reelection campaign — and he can transfer all that cash to his presidential campaign effort: An analysis by NJ Advance Media found that two-thirds of the $505,000 in PAC donations Booker received came from corporate committees from January 2015 to January 2018.

Booker’s January 2017 vote opposing a symbolic measure to allow prescription drug imports from Canada faced backlash, especially with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who backed the amendment. Booker was one of 13 Democrats that voted “no”, saying the measure didn’t guarantee the safety of the imported drugs. (He later teamed up with Sanders on new drug import legislation.) New Jersey is home to many large pharmaceutical companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, and Booker has received large donations from the industry: During his 2013 and 2014 campaigns, Booker took in almost $330,000 from pharmaceutical company PACs and employees, the second-most of any congressional candidate behind Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.  

In 2014, Booker was backed by a super PAC called the Mobilization Project. It spent $532,000 supporting him, and donors included Edward Nicoll, cofounder of Structural Wealth Management LLC ($137,000), mattress maven Michael Fux ($100,000) and billionaire hedge fund manager Seth Klarman ($100,000).

Then there are his links to corporate media outfits. In March 2012, Booker co-founded a video curation startup called Waywire, which counted Oprah Winfrey, ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner as investors. He reported he had an interest of between $1 million and $5 million in the company.

Former Booker donor and ally Linda Watkins Brashear was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for her involvement in a bribery scheme while leading the now-shuttered Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. at a time when Booker, as mayor of Newark, was also chairman of the development corporation’s board. Brashear admitted to doling out $1 million worth of contracts to family and friends in exchange for bribes. Booker and his lawyers said he was not aware of the kickback scheme and noted he never attended a meeting of the agency. Last year, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the agency’s trustees against Booker.

So there’s a lot about Cory Booker that is sketchy, but I want to focus on his views on the increasingly salient issue of housing.

As rents and home prices continue to rise for likely Democratic primary voters in progressive, coastal cities, candidates for the party’s nomination are expected to peddle some sort of solution.

All three sitting senators running for the Democratic 2020 nomination (Booker, Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D–Calif.)) have introduced housing bills that provide a glimpse of how they’ll approach the issue.

Booker’s bill—the Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity or (HOME) Act—was introduced back in August 2018, and would do two major things.

First, it would offer renters making less than 80 percent of area median income (which usually qualifies one for affordable housing or federal housing assistance) and spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent, a tax credit worth whatever amount they are spending above that 30 percent threshold. The tax credit would be refundable, meaning even those with no federal income tax burden could still benefit from it.

Booker’s bill would also condition federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)—a federal housing grant program with a rather spotty track record—on localities adopting “inclusionary” land-use policies designed to increase housing supply and access.

The HOME Act includes a laundry list of policies that might satisfy this requirement, including a lot of things libertarians could get behind like upzoning, eliminating off-street parking requirements, eliminating height requirements, streamlining permitting, and even making development “by-right” (meaning local bureaucrats wouldn’t have the discretion to shoot down a code-conforming project).

Conversely, Booker’s bill would reward localities for adopting a number of more interventionist policies, including increasing the number of rent-controlled units, banning landlords from asking prospective tenant about their criminal history, and taxing vacant land.

It’s not a free marketer’s dream bill, but the focus on removing local restrictions on housing supply are welcome. By threatening to take away funding from more restrictive municipalities, Booker’s bill includes a lot more stick compared to his carrot-offering competitors in the Democratic primary.

Warren’s housing bill, also introduced last year, would have set up a $10 billion fund to reward communities that made development easier, but her bill did not threaten to take any federal funding away from cities that didn’t play ball, blunting its effectiveness and making it less palatable than Booker’s bill.

Harris’ housing bill, by contrast, totally punts on the question of local restrictions on development. Instead, the California senator’s proposal would issue refundable tax credits to “cost-burdened” renters making as much as $125,000 a year. Uh, yeah, that’s about three times what I make, so you can imagine how I feel about that. Rather than make housing more affordable, this approach would likely just raise costs for renters by subsidizing demand, while doing nothing to address restrictions on supply.

It’s still not a good reason to vote for him if you desire smaller government.

Libertarian-Lite?   6 comments

This is my series looking at the Democratic candidates from a libertarian perspective. There are 23 declared candidates. I’m working off the following list of 13 because they have qualified for the debates later in June. I’m looking at them from lowest rating to highest.

I’ve been mostly negative about the 2020 Democratic candidates because most of them are statist control freaks who seem unfamiliar with basic math or economics.

But Tulsi Gabbard is cut from a slightly different cloth. It is a different enough pattern from the usual Democratic fare that Ron Paul came out in mild support for her. He didn’t endorse her and didn’t say he would vote for her, but his comment set the libertarian blogs on fire, making my analysis a bit easier.

I found there are a lot of pros and cons and some commentators feel the pros very well could balance out all the cons.

Dr. Paul was asked about the number of candidates in the Democratic Party, and specifically, which ones looked promising. Dr. Paul praised Gabbard’s outspoken disdain for the ongoing wars and nation building, but clarified he didn’t agree with her on economics. Still, there is now a push to get Libertarians behind Gabbard.

Libertarians are largely anti-war and anti-foreign intervention, which is why commentators are a bit obsessed with Gabbard, who ran for Congress on ending the “war on terror” and the war in Syria. Unfortunately, Gabbard has no political platform lined out on her presidential page.

War is a big issue to libertarians and I want to see the country end those wars too, but not at the expense of domestic issues. Gabbard is not proposing saving the war budget so it can be spent on paying down the debt or returned to the people it was coerced from. No, she has her own plan for spending all that money. She already has several ideas laid out like environmental policies, net neutrality, jobs programs, housing programs, government mandated GMO labeling, Medicaid for all, social security, and more.

Just because Gabbard is good on war doesn’t mean that she is the right choice for president. While stopping the overseas slaughter and nation-building is important, we need to balance that against plans to overhaul the economy to be state-owned.

A Gabbard presidency would inevitably end in less foreign intervention, but far greater domestic intervention. Many argue that this will happen anyways. Yeah, it will! The enslavement of the American people has been underway for a century. It’s not going to stop anytime soon. However, I believe it will come at a much quicker pace under Gabbard. Once we lose any ground to the government, the likelihood that we ever see an ounce of it again is a pipe dream. Maybe Gabbard will end the wars, but she could become JFK instead. And, even if she doesn’t end the wars, she will surely still advocate for the programs that she currently would fund with the war budget. Therefore, creating inflation, theft, and extortion.

I am a libertarian who still votes, although increasingly I wonder why. I voted for Gary Johnson in the last two presidential races, not based on what he said (which was often confusing), but rather his record. As the governor of New Mexico, he had a list of liberty-minded successes, which also led to prosperity in New Mexico. I will vote for people when I believe that they will do right. I am not going to vote for a socialist simply because Ron Paul says that of the two dozen, or so, democratic candidates, Gabbard looks to be the most promising. Gabbard would have to demonstrate some economic literacy before I could even begin to contemplate voting for her.

Gabbard is an intriguing and highly charismatic person, and the push for a presidential run makes sense. I think she is a political reality in the landscape and certainly worthy of a lot of discussion. I believe she is a probable front runner for the Democrats in 2020, and could very well have a shot to win the presidency.

But, before I get too carried away with assuming her frontrunner status, it’s important to point out a few of the things that might hold her back with Democrats.

She isn’t their perfect candidate in terms of policy positions, and in terms of the Democrats’ understanding of where she sits on the left-right political spectrum. Her thinking can be difficult to pin down, and her place on such a linear spectrum can be very confusing to people who see politics that way as right-left. This is because Gabbard holds a couple of libertarian-like social positions.

She states that she is personally opposed to gay marriage but supports withdrawing the government from making such determinations. She personally opposes abortion, but doesn’t believe government should interfere with such personal choices. While libertarians understand these positions well, based upon a two-dimensional, linear understanding of political positions, Garbbard a mystifying figure on social positions for the majority of Democrats. From the perspective of a majority of Democrats, these positions can be a challenge. Many in the LGTBQ community openly state that they don’t trust her because of what they view as ambiguity. Through the narrow lens of liberal vs. conservative, it’s hard to place these positions on that flat line. Vehement pro-choice people in the Democratic Party demand a purist position. They don’t like ambiguity.

She is anti-war in the big picture, being very vocal in opposition to war in Syria, and opposing continued US military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, she also was openly opposed Obama in his deal with Iran, and it was a very unfavorable position for Democrats to oppose their hero and idol on much of anything. And, while she opposes war in general, she calls herself hawkish, and strongly supports covert military action involving small forces in surgical attacks; something many Democrats and libertarians see as distasteful operations with too many collateral casualties.

Gabbard is also a decidedly anti-establishment figure within the party. She withdrew from being a party leader in order to better support Bernie Sanders when all the other party leadership were plotting to override his bid for president in favor of Clinton. The open opposition she has had on occasion with Obama is a huge negative not only to the majority of Democrats but especially to party leadership. While being overall anti-establishment can be a positive for her among the common everyday Democrats, it can be a hindrance if party leadership does to her what they did to Sanders.

That being said, party leadership likely cannot afford to override majority support this time around. Not without risking a major schism in the party that could destroy cohesiveness and potentially turn some of the faithful away. Using super-delegates to lock out anti-establishment candidates will likely not stand in 2020, lest there be a mass exodus of people fed up with the status quo. In this sense, Gabbard’s position as the anti-establishment rock star helps her tremendously when the entire country’s mood is anti-establishment. The frontrunners on both sides in this past season’s primaries were all anti-establishment, save for Hillary Clinton.

For many Democrats (and sometimes Republicans), certain states of gender, minority, and religious affiliations, can override policy positions in terms of importance and qualifying factors for support. For many Democrats, the fact that Talks Gabbard is a female, Samoan-American Hindu checks off three of the intersectional boxes that can be more important than where she stands on policy. Sometimes Democrats (especially those further to the left) can overlook a lot of policy positions in support of electing a minority figure. For them, electing the first whatever minority president with a Democrat label is at least just as important, if not more important, than electing someone who agrees with them politically.

Her large support of entitlement programs also overrides a lot of other policy positions for the majority of Democrats. For many in the party, support for things like universal healthcare and shoring up Medicare and Medicaid are more important than social or foreign policy. Entitlement programs are a very big deal in the Democratic party.

Lastly, Democrats and Republicans alike always express the sentiment that their candidates should represent moderate positions to make them more palatable for centrists, assuming that support from their party members is automatic and that independent voters are the ones who elect presidents. Political policy arguments give way to believed moderation in importance for both parties. While making a case for policy is actually what wins elections, there is a dogged belief that only moderates can win. Tulsi Gabbard feels like a political moderate, and therefore a very desirable candidate to many Democrats.

I didn’t think Trump would win the 2016 election, so it’s easy to be wrong in predicting political movements and candidacies, but that’s my analysis. I like Gabbard among the Democratic hopefuls, I still likely wouldn’t vote for her. However, I think a whole lot of people would. If she can offer enough free things and special advantages to enough groups of people, while having the right message defined, it’s very possible that Trump (or whatever Republican) could get a very strong challenge in 2020, and Tulsi Gabbard may very well occupy the White House, if not in 2020, sometime in the future.

Posted June 20, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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Subsidizing Everyone   14 comments

I’m running down the top 13 candidates in the Democratic Game of Thrones, in reverse order of their polling, and today I’m looking at Andrew Yang. You can catch my earlier posts in the hyperlinks below.

freedom dividend

Ten days after the midterm election, Andrew Yang gathered a group of about forty people, mostly college students and active community members, in Iowa City, Iowa, to discuss the 2020 presidential election.

Yang seems intelligent, articulate, and he’s done his homework. His website has his views on more than 70 different issues and policy proposals. He could talk in depth on just about all of them. The biggest piece of his platform is a Universal Basic Income, which he calls a “freedom dividend,” but it isn’t the only idea he’s trying to bring to the forefront of political discussion. He also wants to modernize the metric for national success, which is currently the Gross Domestic Product, and provide an alternate currency for community involvement. He’s definitely not a libertarian, but his ideas ought to be discussed.

If I was a Democrat and could only have five candidates to choose from, I’d want Yang to be one. His ideas are new and different, and still boldly progressive. He’s a genuine, intelligent, and well-spoken man.

If I was a Trump supporter and wanted a sure victory, I would not want Andrew Yang to be nominated. Trump could defeat him on the fringe ideas alone (UBI is largely untested anywhere, let alone in the US, except in Alaska and it’s failing here), but it wouldn’t be the sure win as he could manage against Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker, polarizing politicians with a wealth of public garbage to pick through.

Yang is not a career politician (sound familiar?), so he lacks that incredible baggage train of just about everyone else in the race, including the one Trump has now accumulated, and he’s focusing on solutions for blue-collar swing-state voters who handed Trump the 2016 victories. I’m not saying Trump wouldn’t win, but that he’d have a headwind with Yang that he wouldn’t have with most other candidates.

And if I were a conservative Republican (which Trump isn’t), I’d be gearing up for 2024 on a platform of cleaning up the mess Yang’s UBI would cause. Trust me. Check out the Alaska Legislature if you want to see what that might look like on the national scale.

Yang is definitely more qualified to lead than Marianne Williamson and if I weren’t living through the mess in Juneau, I might think UBI was a tempting idea. But I just know that it makes no sense to tax one group of American who produce a lot in order to subsidize another group of Americans to sit on their rears. There’d never be enough money to support everyone who wanted to sit around watching daytime television.

My big libertarian issue with Yang is that his proposals require a LOT of aggression to accomplish. The math on UBI requires tremendous redistribution and redistribution is nothing more than hiring government agents to stick up your wealthier neighbors in the park. It’s a violation of the non-aggression principle.

Socialist with a Side of Therapy   13 comments

This is the start of my series looking at the Democratic candidates from a libertarian perspective. There are 23 declared candidates. I’m working off the following list of 13 because they have qualified for the debates later in June. I’m looking at them from lowest rating to highest.

Marianne Williamson - 33252886458 (cropped).jpg

Marianne Deborah Williamson is a 66-year-old author, lecturer, and activist. She has written 13 books, including four that have been New York Times #1 bestsellers. She is the founder of Project Angel Food, a volunteer food delivery program that serves home-bound people with life-threatening illnesses. She is also the co-founder of The Peace Alliance, a nonprofit grassroots education and advocacy organization supporting peace-building projects.

Williamson was born in Houston, Texas, the youngest o three children. Her parents Sam and Sophie were an immigration lawyer and a homemaker. Her family is Jewish. After graduating from high school, Williamson spent two years studying theater and philosophy at Pomona Collect, but dropped out in her junior year and moved to New York City, intending to become a cabaret singer. She returned the Houston in 1979 to run a metaphysical bookstore/coffeeshop.

In 1983 she moved to Los Angeles. She began regularly lecturing on   A Course in Miracles  in Los Angeles and New York City, and eventually in other cities in the U.S. and Europe as well.

She published her first book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, in 1992.

She’s been advocating for the fundamental transformation of American society along her philosophical beliefs ever since.

She wrote in the book,

It is a task of our generation to recreate the American politeia, to awaken from our culture of distraction and re-engage the process of democracy with soulfulness and hope. Yes, we see there are problems in the world. But we believe in a universal force that, when activated by the human heart, has the power to make all things right. Such is the divine authority of love: to renew the heart, renew the nations, and ultimately, renew the world.

In 2014, Williamson ran unsuccessfully as an Independent for the California 33rd Congressional district of the US House of Representatives. On January 29, 2019, she announced her campaign to seek the Democratic nomination for the 2020 United States presidential election.

While emphasizing that politics needs more than external remedies, Williamson has stated that she agrees with many of the positions of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, including Medicare for All and the $15 minimum wage. She has also spoken favorably of Glass-Steagall legislation. She has publically advocated for racial justice, demanding public apologies for slavery and paying reparations to the descendents of slaves. She supports reformation of the criminal justice system. She has embraced the Green New Deal and wants the United States to sign onto the Paris Climate Accord (remember, Obama “signed” onto it, but Congress never ratified it), and she wants to reform the Environmental Protect Agency.

She is a life-long anti-war activist who condemned Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, including favoring an embargo on American arms being sold to the Saudis. She says the US needs to be an “honest broker” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and she isn’t sure how she feels about Afghanistan. After all, she’s only anti-war unless there’s a need to free women from the Taliban.

She has a 24-year-old daughter named India.

Williamson doesn’t hide that she is a “progressive.” She is proud of it.

There are some good things about progressives, but from a libertarian perspective, their ideals are problematic. She ran as an independent in 2014, but she was really not an independent. She was and is very much a Democrat, who was endorsed by Democrats during that failed race in 2014, including Dennis Kucnich and Keith Ellison.

She is essentially a female Tony Robbins running for President. How is that better than Donald Trump? Yes, she’s charismatic and attractive, but let’s be honest about this — she’s a Hollywood self-help guru. We need someone who can figure out how to reduce the debt, stop deficit spending, reform entitlements. Does her history suggest skills in any of those arenas?

Do we really need a Therapist-in-Chief?

Snarking aside, my libertarian objection to her is that her policies would require major redistribution. While she claims to be a very peaceful individual, the violence and coercion necessary to move that much wealth around (against the will of the original owners) is massive. We should stop the wars that abuse the citizens of other countries, but the alternative should not be to abuse our own citizens.

Final 13   1 comment

This is an update as I decided to add some of the other Democratic candidates who are trying their shot at the nomination for the general election, still over a year away.

John Delaney

Yeah, 21. (Picks up jaw from floor). So, who would you vote for and why? Yes, you can vote if you’re not an American. This is my unofficial poll of sentiment on the Democratic field. But please say why you’d vote for the candidate you’d vote for.

According to an ABC News analysis, among the 21 qualifying candidates, 13 have cleared both the polling and grassroots criteria set by the DNC, clinching a secured spot on the stage for the first debate (June 26-27).

The qualifying candidates are –

  • -Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • -New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
  • -South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • -Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
  • -Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  • -California Sen. Kamala Harris 
  • -Washington Gov. Jay Inslee 
  • -Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar 
  • -Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke 
  • -Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 
  • -Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • -Tech Entrepreneur Andrew Yang 
  • -Motivational speaker Marianne Williamson

I’ve decided to research these candidates to see if any of them are worth voting for. I’m going to take a libertarian view of this, so let’s see where that takes us.

Posted June 5, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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America’s Largest Minority   4 comments

A friend shared a video of CNN commentator Van Jones, clearly upset by the results of the election, claiming Democrats got “white lashed” by an electorate pissed off at having a black president and becoming an irrelevant minority group in the near-future.

Image result for poor appalachia white privilegeWhile he’s pointing that finger at the white “racists” of this country, he ought to note the three fingers pointing back at himself. Van Jones, more than any other Obama administration representative, has spent the last eight year weaponizing entire racial groups, setting them in sometimes violent opposition against other groups. Jones and his fellow political hucksters did this in order to advance a narrative that suits their agenda, but in doing so, they inoculated the intended victims against their race-shaming rhetoric and now they’re upset that voters have become resistant to voting as they’ve been told they must vote if they don’t want to be called “racist”.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that white working class voters decided to vote like a minority group since they recently became less than 40% of the electorate and have just spent eight years being told they should have no say in the country they live in. That observation came from Nate Cohn of the New York Times twitterati. Way to go, Nate! The Grey Lady may have hope for relevance once again with guys like you around.

Image result for poor appalachia white privilegeBrad and I sometimes discuss race while mocking PBS on Friday nights. (Don’t judge. The couple that mocks together stays together, though we are in mourning for John McLaughlin and Gwen Ifil). When Hillary Clinton lumped Brad into a “basket of deplorables” for thinking of voting for Trump, he commented that “this must have been what blacks felt like in the pre-Civil Rights South.” I joked “Well, that’s what my mom felt like when she moved to Seattle, yeah”. I then paused, surprised at myself, and said, “No, you’re right. You’ve just been painted with a broad bigoted brush.” It’s a short step from recognizing that you’ve become a despised minority and deciding to push back against that bigotry. Whether we might disagree with white working-class voters that Donald Trump is the right knight for their cause, we should applaud that they pushed back at all. It’s only taken them 40-odd years to get thoroughly fed up.

Brad eventually voted for Gary Johnson because he bought my argument that we didn’t need a tyrant-in-chief, but a lot of other people voted for Trump because they discovered they were a racial minority while they were hunting for the white privilege they didn’t know they had and most realized they were lacking. Most of these people are not racist … at least none of the ones I know are. They’ve got too many other issues to deal with that really matter to give a nickel’s worth of care toward hating on the skin color of someone else. They’re fine with racial equality. They just don’t want to become a subjugated minority themselves.

Truthfully, under normal circumstances, white people just don’t think very much about race. Being the default ethnic group for most of American history, they’ve never needed to think much about race. For most whites born after 1955, racial prejudice is a shameful thing and they just don’t engage in it, but they also didn’t give it a lot of thought in the three decades between the end of the Civil Rights Era and when Barack Obama was elected president. A lot of them voted for the inexperienced half-term Senator as a final show that they weren’t racists … and then they suddenly woke up to find themselves surrounded by a culture obsessed with race, being regularly lectured by the liberal elites who insist they should think about it all the time and be very ashamed of the color of their skin.

Black Lives Matter, but your white honky life is politically meaningless. Go help your children finish their Black History Month coloring assignment from school and shut up. And don’t even think about touching that Peach crayon. If your finger even touches anything lighter than Burnt Sienna we’ll cut it off.

I move pretty freely across my racial makeup. I tan well and my natural hair color is dark brown, so I cross into Indian cultural territory pretty easily. Because of the lack of sunlight in this warmth-forsaken Siberian-esque wilderness, I get pale enough by mid-winter that most white people (who really are not race obsessed) don’t think of me as Indian. The cool thing about being able to “pass” either way is people say things around me that they wouldn’t say around someone who looked more Indian or more white.

Image result for poor appalachia white privilegeSo, trust me when I report that many whites think the above message is what was being broadcast all throughout the Obama administration. I heard it too. I might have been swayed if he’d noticed there were Indians still living in poverty on the Res, but since he didn’t, my “white” side was what was hearing and evaluating his comments and the comments of his sycophants. While that wouldn’t have mattered to most whites in the 1990 through the mid-2000s when the economy was doing well, the reality of their lives now has made them feel undervalued anyway. The loss of manufacturing jobs, the collapse of traditional marriage, the effect of drugs on families, the bad schools their kids are forced to attend — all make them feel anxious and angry. They feel undervalued and they worry about what happens to their kids and grandkids if their racial group is to be increasingly undervalued and despised. Then the elites insist that everyone deserves attention and assistance except for whites because whites hold a “privileged” place in society, so magically need no help when the coal industry is shut down by executive action or the factories close to move to China because of economic conditions. When you’ve seen your standard of living decline for three decades straight and your kids can’t get jobs no matter how well they do in school, the concept of “white privilege” is laughable. Yeah, they started to feel a lot like an undervalued minority … a sense that was bolstered by pundits insisting that they are becoming an actual statistical minority and so should sit down and shut up and let the new majority run the country.

Forced toward sentiments they didn’t really think they should have by a self-righteous cultural establishment that is always telling them how they should feel and act … well, that pissed them off and they took their well-earned anger out on the elites on Election Day.

The Democrats asked for racial politics, and the whites, forced to think about race when they had bigger concerns, decided to act like a minority sick of being subjugated and ignored. The poster child for the elites’ lack of concern for the white working class was Hillary Clinton with her “everything is fine and it’s going to keep on getting better after I double-down on Obamacare” platform. The exponentially rising costs of Obamacare are driving the white middle-class over the cliff white working-class slipped off in 2008.

You can find proof of what I’m saying by looking at the poll results from Appalachia and the “Rust Belt”. The white working-class voted in patterns similar to blacks voting for Democrats over the last five decades. Or you could read Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance. Vance presented the postmortem for liberal Democrats in advance of the election. Reflecting on the plight of the white middle- and working-class and how underappreciated its contributions to society are, he predicted what happened on November 8 far better than the polling data did.

Image result for poor appalachia white privilege

Race definitely played a role in Trump’s win, but not in the way that the liberal media or Van Jones think. The media feeds us a narrative 24/7 that we should think about race everywhere all the time. The problem is that when whites are forced to think about race, they are also forced to recognize their approaching minority status and act like a minority that also controls a plurality of the electorate. The result is almost exactly the opposite of what the purveyors of racial politics intended.

And they earned that rebuke. Maybe Democrats should take a pause and consider whether they really want to live in a culture that is divided along racial lines, because if they want to keep pushing that narrative, the country’s largest minority may just make resisting the elites a permanent part of their political aims.

Corrupt Elections   Leave a comment

Most people don’t know the name Charles Carroll of Carrolltown, but he was actually an important Founding Father. As a Maryland delegate to the Continental Congress, he became the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Charles Carroll was a Maryland delegate to the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Because he was a Catholic, Carroll was not allowed to participate in politics, practice law (though he studied for years) or vote, but he became known in important circles in a roundabout way by writing various anti-tax/tariff tracts (essentially, early protestations against “taxation without representation”) in the Maryland Gazette under the pseudonym “First Citizen.”
Image result for image of corrupt electionsWith the Revolution gearing up, in 1774, Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Chase approached Carroll to help gain the support of the Canadian government for their cause. The eventual mission was not success, but two years later Carroll was appointed to the Continental Congress, where he was an influential member of the Board of War, an early advocate for armed resistance, and the ultimate severing of governmental ties with England. He was nominated again in 1780 but decided not to accept the post.


At the time of the Boston Tea Party, Carroll sought to remind the Crown and Parliament that his fellow American colonists “are not yet corrupt enough to undervalue liberty.”

Ouch! It’s hard to read those words without wincing and thinking about modern politics and a certain presidential election.Charges of corruption are everywhere, but calls for liberty are nowhere to be heard.

Charles Carroll may well have been right about his own time. I wonder what he would think of our era. Could Charles Carroll say that we today are not corrupt enough to undervalue liberty?

The colonists were certainly concerned about London-initiated corruption. The Boston Tea Party was less about the tea tax than the sweet deal that the British East India Company had negotiated with Parliament to monopolize the colonial tea market. To break free from England was to break free from that sort of corruption. We’d call it crony capitalism today.

Five Dollars and a Pork Chop SandwichAre we Americans now so corrupt that we undervalue liberty today? Perhaps we’re just inured by it. A friend of mine spent lunch the other day telling me all the reasons she’s voting for Hillary Clinton. The word “liberty” wasn’t uttered once in that 45 minutes. I can’t imagine Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton even saying the word. One promises strength; the other offers goodies. Where is liberty in all of this?

As for corruption … oh, puh-leese! We’ve had administrations that created clouds of corruption in their wake, but we’ve never had two major party candidates so engulfed in visible clouds of shadiness in advance of their possible presidency. These are two incredibly flawed candidates who are flawed in ways that would have deeply troubled our flawed Founders.

Which one is more corrupt? It depends on the day which way I might answer. Can I “eeny-meeny-miney-mo” them? That’s not even a rabbit worth chasing.

Instead, ponder Charles Carroll’s words and pay particular attention to the last word of his statement … that little word “yet.” Consider our own complicity in all of this. You can’t blame the primary system entirely, but thanks to that system, we are much closer to being a democracy. Our founders envisioned and intended a republic. Our current system means we are more likely to get the sort of leaders that we deserve. They’re the people we think we want as opposed to the sort of leaders that we might need. And we want them because they offer us things we think we want. They in essence buy our votes. Liberty doesn’t sell because liberty is about us pulling ourselves up by hard work and voluntary cooperation with others. Liberty assuages coercing taxes out of our more well-off neighbors to feature our nests. Who would want to buy that?

So if Charles Carroll were to survey America today, there’s a good chance he would say that we are now too corrupt to value liberty. And certainly our voting patterns will show that. We don’t need anyone manipulating the voting machines. We do this to ourselves.

Posted November 5, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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Alaska Chooses Cruz   Leave a comment

At one point yesterday, every major news outlet in the United States and London was claiming Alaska would choose Trump for President, but Brad and I were committed to voting a certain way, so we showed up at the Fairbanks Presidential Preference Poll and voted sanely, rationally, with our gazes firmly fixed on our principles.

I’d like to say that Alaska voted wisely, because Cruz is much more sane than Trump and possibly electable in the general (which Trump is not), but the Fairbanks districts were the ones who swung the vote by slightly more than 3% to Cruz. The rest of the state appears to be confused about what a Republican looks like.

For the record, Barack Obama won both of his general elections by less than 2% of the vote, so the Cruz Alaska win margin is not insignificant. If we were Democrats, we’d be calling this a “wide” margin and hailing it as a mandate.

Ben Carson will actually get some delegates because he cleared the 10% mark that Alaska has set for apportioning delegates in Cincinnati. Kasich, another actual conservative, did not win enough to get delegates from Alaska. I feel good about the way I voted. I think a message has been sent to the Alaska GOP. Enough said on that.

And Super Tuesday doesn’t settle the matter. It will be interesting to see how Kasich and Carson do in the Midwest, though I don’t think either of them is going to take the nomination. If Cruz and Rubio stop fighting each other, there is a chance Cruz could take the nomination. A Fox News analyst last night suggested that a Rubio-Cruz ticket could compete against Hillary in the general. Since Cruz has more delegates, that seems like a sketchy ticket with whiffs of John McCain and Mitt Romney about it — put a moderate (meaning “progressive”) Republican in the lead position with an actual conservative “consolation” vice presidential candidate playing second fiddle and hope conservatives will mistake the VP pick as a promise that their preferred candidate will get a chance to run in eight years. That way you keep the conservatives in the stable without actually giving them what they want.

I hope we’ve gotten smarter than that, conservatives, but I know too many people who claim to be conservatives who are voting for Trump, so I’m starting to think conservativism is a dead concept and my anarchist friends are right — the electorate is too manipulated to vote with their heads.

But Alaska did just give me some hope (at least some Alaskans are still looking at the issues) … though I still expect to vote Libertarian in November and to watch Hillary take the White House, maybe I won’t have to.

For the record, if Cruz is the nominee for President, I will vote GOP in the general. He’s not a perfect candidate and I did not vote for him in the primary, but he’s conservative enough that I could convince myself to do it. I don’t know if I would vote for Rubio-Cruz — I doubt it. And, I will not vote for Trump, ever, for anything, no matter who his Veep candidate is. When a Democrat runs as a Republican, conservatives should vote against him by casting a vote for a 3rd Party that is to the right of the GOP.

I have a conspiracy theory or two about that, but that’s for another post.

Posted March 2, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in politics, Uncategorized

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Not Voting for Frontrunners   3 comments

So it’s Super Tuesday today and I’m going to be a Republican for two hours so I can vote in the Alaska GOP Presidential Preference Poll.

I’m not voting for a front-runner. In fact, I’m torn between casting my vote for someone who is very far down in the polls or writing in someone who has dropped out of the race. My reasons for voting for either of these folks is simple. These candidates have better ideas than the front-runners, but they ran out of money or they just aren’t “sexy” enough for our times. A lot of people I know agree with me that these were the best candidates, but they aren’t winning … so …

I’m still going to vote for one of them because I believe that the only thing that keeps them from being winners and having the opportunity to apply real conservative principles to what ails our country is votes. If I vote for one of them and you vote for them and other people vote for them too … they win and the current front-runners become also-rans.

My revelation of this voting strategy freaks some people out. “B-b-but you’re wasting your vote. If we don’t vote for the Republican front-runner, Hillary will win and that would be very, very BAD.”

Yeah, maybe. I sort of said that as I cast my vote for John McCain, knowing that he is a progressive Republican who would not apply conservative principles to the job of president. These folks who are trying to get me to vote against my better judgment claim to be conservatives. They claim to be convinced that only conservative principles can rescue this country. But they aren’t voting for an actual conservative because the conservatives aren’t the front-runners in a right-progressive political party — according to media polls.

The only thing that makes front-runners front-runners instead of also-rans is votes. I’m doing my small part to help select a candidate who would actually be a good president. If the rest of you join me, there is hope.

If you don’t, well … $22 trillion in debt … I’m not absolutely convinced any president can pull us back from that edge, so maybe it’s better than the candidates I like aren’t going to win. They get to come back after the crash and suggest a better way and maybe people will finally be ready to hear it.

Are We Stupid, America?   9 comments

Super Tuesday ought to show us whether this country has truly gone off the rails. I’m holding my breath, hoping I’m wrong, but I increasingly can’t believe my own hopes.Either Hillary or Bernie will be the leader in the Democratic race. She’s and incompetent liar in the pocket of Wall Street who plays fast and loose with state secrets.

Image result for image of donald trumpEither Hillary or Bernie will be the leader in the Democratic race. She’s and incompetent liar in the pocket of Wall Street who plays fast and loose with state secrets. She may well be under indictment by the time of the general election. Oh my!

Bernie — aw, Bernie — sweet old deluded grandfather who has failed to learn from history that socialism doesn’t work because sooner or later those who pay the bills run out of money and rebel. If he were to win, we’d be $22 trillion in debt when he took office and he’s promised the electorate the moon. He can’t afford anything but moonlight and he hasn’t got the skills to balance the budget (although truth be told, maybe nobody does).

The Donald may well win Super Tuesday. Are we stupid America? Really, are we total lunatics or did IQs drop sharply during the Obama administration? Or maybe it’s just been a long, slow slide since Woodrow Wilson.

So here we are, standing on an event horizon and by Wednesday morning, we’ll know the answer to my Are we stupid? questions. But let’s say Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz comes out victorious. They’d have a fight against Hillary, but the contrast would be sharp against Bernie. And ….

$22 trillion in debt when they take office.The economy is stalled. Sure, it “grew” slightly last month. It’ll cycle back down next. The results of that sort of anchor on the economy were predicted during the Bush 2 administration. We were warned, we did not listen, and here we are. The next president has to deal with it. Declaring that it doesn’t matter and going full-steam ahead will not fix the problem. It’s highly possible that none of current frontrunners could fix this problem.

Maybe I’m wrong. My mom certainly thought America’s days were numbered during the Carter administration and we’ve hung on for 40 more years. But we’re in a whole lot more danger in 2016 than we were in 1980. Back then, the people were smart, full of common sense and they’d been through the Depression. Today …?

Are we stupid, America?



Posted February 27, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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