Admit it, you've never seen them both at the same place, have you?!!

Admit it, you’ve never seen them both at the same place, have you?!!

While I have trouble understanding the appeal of Donald Trump, I have less trouble when it comes to Ted Cruz, who has just established his bona fides as a top GOP presidential candidate by winning the Iowa Caucus. I see him as a really, really conservative that sees politics as a war between viewpoints and wants to apply tactics as such (compromise = losing, there are only wins and loses). If the country burns for a while as a result, well that’s just collateral damage for the “right side” winning. I can only imagine he is a dream candidate for the Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh’s and many of their listeners, who take that same view of politics.

That said, I think in any other year, one without a celebrity billionaire egomaniac which the press can’t quit obsessing about, Ted Cruz would be viewed as the extreme non-mainstream candidate. Here’s my rationale:

  • It seems like nobody who gets to know him actually likes him, not even people on his own side.  Bob Dole surely doesn’t.  People from George W. Bush’s presidential campaign didn’t.  John Boehner?  Nope.  People at Princeton where he went to school?  Not so much.  As President, it’s going to be hard to get around working with people, and while maybe it’s not a requirement, it may be easier if everyone doesn’t see you as an a-hole (then again, if you take the view that politics is war, then maybe you could see someone being YOUR a-hole as a plus).
  • His tactics are slimy. In Iowa, first his team sent out mail flyers to voters falsely stating that they were required to show up for the caucus, else it would negatively impact their imaginary voter participation grade. Then, his team took a CNN report that Ben Carson was flying back to Florida and used that to falsely tell Carson supporters that Ben had dropped out of the race so you better support Ted.  (Once again though, it you think politics is war, then this is just ‘ends justify the means’ kind of stuff.)
  • Ted Cruz and lies have a special relationship.  Check out Politifact for yourself, but by my count, out of all the Ted Cruz statements they have scored, roughly 70% have been scored as mostly false, false, or “pants on fire”.
  • Ted Cruz believes in conspiracy theories. Whether it’s Agenda 21 (including the abolishment of golf), communists at Harvard Law School, the supposed threat from Sharia Law, checking in to make sure the U.S. military wasn’t invading Texas, state nullification of federal law…..if there is a weird right-wing theory, Ted Cruz probably subscribes to it.
  • Ted Cruz is a big believer in using government shutdowns as a “negotiation” tactic.  I have no doubt that as President, he would continue to use this tactic, and it would potentially be a much more potent here.  After all, he’s only one out of hundred in the Senate, but as President, all continuing resolutions and debt ceiling bills would come to him.  I could imagine where we could get to a point that the continuity of government could become dependent on Congressional veto overrides.

Personally, I think anyone elected President, while certainly having a vision for the country, still has to act in the best interests of the country as a whole and every citizen, even those he/she disagrees with.  I don’t think it’s the place for a demagogue who views politics as a war to be won by any political means necessary.

Sources:

https://www.yahoo.com/politics/bob-dole-ted-cruz-cataclysmic-154736208.html

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/ted-cruz-jerk-hated

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/ted-cruz-unites-both-parties-in-belief-ted-cruz-a-jerk/

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/ted-cruzs-iowa-mailers-are-more-fraudulent-than-everyone-thinks

http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/02/05/ben-carson-campaign-releases-tape-of-ted-cruz-worker-spreading-rumors/?_r=0

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/ted-cruz/statements/?page=1

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/05/01/1946211/five-conspiracy-theories-2016-hopeful-ted-cruz-actually-believes/

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/ted-cruz-reached-out-the-pentagon-about-martial-law-conspiracy-theory

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/ted-cruz-texas-senate-conspiracy-theories

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/02/228376346/why-sen-cruz-looms-large-in-government-shutdown-drama

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-09-08/ted-cruz-to-star-in-government-shutdown-the-sequel

 

 

 

donald trump

My hair alone could run this country.

Statistician Nate Silver had been my rock when it came to the chances of Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination.  No matter what the rest of the press was saying, there would be good ol’ Nate saying Trump won’t win.  But with the primaries starting tomorrow and with the collapse of Trump in the polls that I think many of us expected not occurring, well even Nate has backtracked now and is saying Trump has a legitimate chance of pulling this off.  Further, his models now has Trump as the favorite to win Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

So Donald Trump is not a reality television side-show entertainment candidate.  He is an actual real candidate.  As voters start going to the polls, I hope they do their homework on Donald Trump.  For your consideration:

  • Trump says he is a successful business man because he’s made billions.  There are important things to remember though.  First, he inherited around $40 million from his dad in 1974.  So it’s not like he went from rags to riches.  Further, while he is now worth around $3 billion today (not bad right), some say that had he just invested his money in index funds and reinvested any dividends, he would be worth much more.  And Warren Buffet, who was worth about as much as Trump in 1974, now is worth $67 billion.  Doesn’t necessarily prove Trump is a bad business man.  But perhaps he’s not exactly good either, or at least not as good as he purports.
  • Trumps says he is good with money.  But he has filed for bankruptcy four times.  Hey, that’s allowed.  Still, I don’t think anyone has ever responded to the question ‘how are things financially?’ with ‘great, I just filed for bankruptcy!’
  • Trump is self-financing is campaign.  Except not exactly.  Go to his campaign website and you will clearly see a “donate” button.  He’s taken in millions from donations.  And in as such as he has contributed himself, it’s mostly be in the form of loans in which he can pay himself back for at any time using the raised campaign money.  There’s also a Super PAC backing him (“Make America Great Again”).
  • Trump is a man of principles.  And if you don’t like those principles, just wait, they will probably change.  He’s for legalizing drugs, he’s against legalizing drugs, he’s pro-choice, he’s pro-life, the rich should pay a wealth tax, wait no they need a tax cut, he’s for universal  healthcare, oh wait nevermind, Hillary would be a great President, no she would be a disaster, Ted Cruz is a great friend and also a very nasty person……

Clearly some see something in Trump.  I think it may be that what I may see as narcissism, others see as confidence.  Maybe what I may see as boastful and braggadocious, others see as leadership.  What I may see as offensive and racist, others see as courage to call it like he sees it.

Anyway, in case you couldn’t guess, I’m not a Trump supporter and find him a particularly weak candidate.  I think he has lived in a bubble all his life and doesn’t have a lot of real world knowledge.  I think in his arrogance, he has decided that being President would be easy (for a guy like him).  I think his extremely low tolerance to criticism is a major and potentially dangerous character flaw.  Finally, I think he would say or do anything, but only in what is in the best (perceived) interest of Trump (which he would probably think would be in the best interest of everyone anyway).

But I invite everyone to at least do their own homework in regards to Trump  (of course a good idea regardless of who you are voting for).  In my opinion, There’s more to being President than being outspoken.

Sources:

 

 

nick-saban

Grrr….I could build a national champion out of toothpicks and duct tape……and a 37,000 square foot weight room…..yeah, that would be nice.

The University of Alabama Crimson Tide this week won its 16th college football National Championship this week, its 4th National Championship in the last seven years.  It has been quite a run, and I think it’s safe to throw the word “dynasty” out there  in regards to the state of university’s football program.  And there is no signs of the program slowing down.

How did this university achieve building the premiere football program in the country?  Well, first, they spared no expense in hiring and retaining the best personnel they could find.  Head coach Nick Saban was lured in with a $5 million per year salary, which has now grown to around $7 million per year.  He’s even been provided a home he doesn’t have to pay taxes on.  Another $5 million plus goes to assistant coaches.  And almost another $3 million goes to support staff (Alabama’s strength and conditioning coach alone makes over $500,000 annually).

But that’s not all, the university also strives to have the best facilities in the country to help attract the best football players coming out of high school.  Players center comes complete with nutrition areas, cooking classes, lounges with huge flat screen TV’s, game systems, arcade, etc.  They also have a 37,000 square feet weight room (if you click the link, the awesomeness of the weight room will be helpfully demonstrated by the conditioning coach going all Hulk Hogan….whatcha gonna do when Alabama’s weight room runs wild on you!!!).  There may will be one million dumbbells!

That’s not to mention indoor practice facilities, free police services from the city of Tuscaloosa, and the list and list goes on and on.  The point of all this is that no expense is spared, with the cost of “football operations” being over $50 million a year.

Still, you can’t argue with the results.  It shows that when you make something a priority and give it enough resources, great things can be accomplished. Nobody would ever dream of telling Nick Saban ‘no, you are just going to have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and make do with what you have’ in response to a request for his “needs”.  Yet, it seems like this attitude is not applied elsewhere.  It is a common answer among many that “money/spending never solves anything” and that people just need to be “self-sufficient”.

I guess my question is if somebody as unquestionably great as Nick Saban needs all of these resources to solve the “problem” of college football National Championships, why wouldn’t other problems need similar prioritization and resources to be solved?

 

 

“No Matter Who You Are….

Posted: December 13, 2015 in Miscellaneous
Tags: ,

different…or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God….”  President Obama said this during his prime time speech regarding ISIS.  A church I attend semi-regularly goes further, “No matter…no matter what your standing is in the community, or where you live, no matter your age, no matter your gender or race, no matter who you are, where you come from or where you’re going, no matter what you believe or doubt, no matter who you love, God loves you, and you are welcome here.”

With the horrible acts and hateful rhetoric as of late, I think it is time we try to put things back into perspective.  While we have all kinds of different experiences and circumstances, the bottom line is we are all people.  Men, women, and children.  And it’s in all of our best interests to keep in mind that we all play on “team humankind” at the end of the day.

I think sometimes we forget when we throw labels around, like “refugees” or “Muslim” or “gays” or “liberals” or “conservatives” or even sometimes still “blacks” or the “poor”, we are talking about actual people.  Now if we focus on just our differences and decide some groups don’t “belong”, we need to keep some stats in mind.  Religiously, 20% of 6.9 billion people worldwide claim no religion, and of the 80% remaining, about 30% are Christian, 23% are Muslim, 15% are Hindu, with the other 32% or so belonging to all sorts of other religions (ignoring that within “Christian”, “Muslim”, etc. there are all sorts of subgroups).  Race?  Around 25% East Asian, 21% South Asian, 16% “white”, 15% “black”, 8% “Middle Eastern”, 9% Southeast Asian, and 8% Central/South American.  The number of homosexuals, while unknown, likely number in the hundreds of millions worldwide.  The male/female breakdown is close to 50/50.  Over 3 billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 per day.  At least in this country, 38% self identify as conservative, 34% as moderate, and 24% as liberal.

All of this is to say, no matter how you divvy up a world of 6.9 billion people, if we focus on our differences, and allow our biases, our prejudices, our fears, and our hatred be our guide, we will always be divided and there will be no winners.  We all lose.

However, people have key similarities.  We all smile when we are joyful.  We all enjoy music.  We all have fears.  We all are playful.  We all have the same basic necessities for survival:  food, water, shelter, warmth, security.  We all have the same desire to be treated with dignity and respect.  We all have feelings.  We all have family.  To paraphrase the Dalia Lama, we all just want happiness and on that fundamental level, we are the same.

Christmas is just around the corner and a phrase you will see and hear a lot this time of year is “Peace on Earth and good will toward men.”  As we all continue to deal with issues and policies and all the messiness of the world, I think we would do well to keep this phrase in mind and that on a fundamental level, we are the same, as we consider the words we speak and the actions we suggest and/or take.

 

 

 

Toxic Environment For Discourse

Posted: December 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

Wrote this back in 2010, but I think it is as applicable as ever today. I would add that I think I can add politicians as a group contributing to the toxic environment with their rhetoric. And along with political ideologies, I think I would add religious differences as causing bad friction. Finally, social media is just terrible for political discussion (if you could even call what happens there “discussion”).

World's (Not So) Funniest Blog

First, it is important to note that news media, particularly television news media, is pretty much in the business of entertainment.  The idealistic purpose for news media would be to provide information.  But really they just want eyeballs on their station or their newspaper or magazine.  So there is a natural tendency for media to focus on the sensational.  So that means that what sometimes may appear to be going on the world through the lens of the media may not be that realistic view of what really is going on in the world.

That said, while it is probably not as bad as it seems, there is not an insignificant amount of bad mojo out there when it comes to discussing today’s issues.  Things are getting too emotional.  Opinions are being shaped by hyperbole.  A lot of people have an us-against-them mentality, and the assumption is that people with…

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This is a repost of the blog article I wrote a couple of years ago regarding the awesomeness of Thanksgiving. Also, here’s a list of some of the stores that will NOT be open on Thanksgiving Day: Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, BJ’s, Burlington Coat Factory, Costco, Crate & Barrel, Dillards, DSW Shoes, Gamestop, Home Depot, Home Goods, Jo Ann Fabrics, Lowe’s, Marshall’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, P.C. Rochard & Son, Pier One, Publix, Radio Shack, Staples, Sur La Table, and TJ Maxx. Special props to REI, which will be closed not only Thanksgiving Day but also on “Black Friday”.

World's (Not So) Funniest Blog

santaturkey

When I started to think about what I was going to write this weekend, I thought for sure this post would be titled “War On Thanksgiving”.  I thought it was a oh so clever twist on the so-called War On Christmas and the observation that it’s really Thanksgiving that is drawing the societal short straw.  Unfortunately, a Google search reveals that this is not clever at all and that many, many people have noticed the consumerism of Christmas encroaching on the Thanksgiving holiday (K-Mart opening on 6 a.m., that’s right, a.m. as in morning, on Thanksgiving must have given it away!).

So instead of whining about Wal-Mart and Best Buy and people who for some reason think elbowing their way through crowds for “bargains” on electronics is good sport, I thought I would write a positive post about what makes Thanksgiving so great (right there with Christmas in my opinion):

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2016 Presidential Candidate Action Figures - Collect them all!

2016 Presidential Candidate Action Figures – Collect them all!

The U.S. presidential campaign is in full swing (for some reason….over a year before the actual election….but that’s for another time).  Let’s check in and see what pearls of wisdom each of the candidates have for us:

CURRENT FRONT-RUNNERS:

Donald Trump*:  “He’s not a war hero.  He’s a war hero because he was captured.  I like people who weren’t captured.”  Yeah, those losers!   But check out Trump’s record, NEVER BEEN CAPTURED!  Because he’s a winner!!!! (and never been to war, but more importantly, a winner!!!)

Hillary Clinton:  “I mean, look, I’m a real person with all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that.”  Politifact rated that comment as “mostly true”.

Ben Carson:  What Ben Carson says you should do: “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me.  I would say: ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him!  He may shoot me but he can’t get us all.'”.  Then he laughed, because mass killings are hilarious!  If only the world wasn’t filled with cowards, mass shootings wouldn’t happen. Also, shooters will totally allow you to organize, plot, and launch a counterattack before killing you as that’s only sporting.  But what would Ben Carson actually do?:  “I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye’s organization.  Guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs. And I just said, ‘I believe that you want the guy behind the counter,'”  Um, that’s so…..brave?

Carly Fiorina:  “Finally my degree in medieval history and philosophy has come in handy, because what ISIS wants to do is drive us back to the Middle Ages, literally.”  Is she planning on responding to ISIS with the Spanish Inquisition?  Because nobody would expect that!

MIDDLE OF THE PACKERS:

Bernie Sanders:  “A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes about being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”  Yes, he really said this…or rather really wrote this.  In fairness, he wrote this back in 1972, and now calls it dumb satire.  But he still wasn’t exactly a kid (he was 31), probably at a point in his life where he should know that’s not really want anyone ever fantasizes about.

Marco Rubio: “Whether the earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that.  It’s one of the great mysteries.”  Um, yeah, we probably should have somebody look into that.

Jeb Bush:  “Look stuff happens, there’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not always the right thing to do.”  In response to the Oregon college campus massacre, Jeb showed off the “compassionate conservatism” his brother was known for by not using the word “shit”.

Ted Cruz:  “That’s exactly the intent is to destroy the private insurance business, to cause people to lose their private health insurance and be forced, essentially, to move to single-payer, government-provided health insurance, which was Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama’s plan from day one.”  Requiring everyone to buy private health insurance or face a fine must mean Obama just didn’t think his devious evil plan through.

ARE THESE FOLKS REALLY STILL RUNNING?:

John Kasich: “So if I were, not president, but if I were king in American, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges, where they sit together and worry about ‘Woe is us.'”  Ah, teacher lounges, the scourge of the American educational system.

Rand Paul:  “I’m a physician in your community and you say you have a right to health care. You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be.”  So I’m not a doctor, but I’m still pretty sure that’s NOT how single-payer systems work.

Chris Christie: “The climate’s been changing forever.  Does human activity contribute to it?  Of course it does. We all contribute to it one way or the other.  By breathing we contribute to it.”  We only have one choice, we must all hold our breath.  Governor Christie, you first!

Mike Huckabee:  “My gosh, I’m beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States.”  Yes, while North Korea does not have freedom of speech, freedom to leave the country, freedom of movement, freedom of press, or even freedom of religion, there is sure as heck no gay marriage there.  And I can’t think of anything more free than that!

Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chaffey, and the rest:  Are we sure they aren’t on Gilligan’s Island?

Welp, one of these folks is going to be President of these here United States.