Saturday, October 15, 2016

Who to vote for? Third Party?

It was a while ago, but a couple people asked me about my opinion of voting third party, so I thought I'd lay out what I think is the way to decide who you vote for. Of course, this is my opinion, I claim no 'eternal truth' to this one.

I have thought about this one a lot, particularly this election cycle. As I hear the claims that you 'have' to vote for one person or another, or it's your fault that someone wins, etc.. This is what I came up with. When a major election like this happens, I think the first hurdle is being qualified. Experience, previous positions or jobs held, education, intelligence, resume so to speak, etc.. I think someone can be a wonderful person and be uneducated, or have worked a blue collar type job, or any number of other things that the world or society may deem less successful. I don't believe those things speak to someone's inherent value, but I do think they speak to whether or not someone is qualified for certain jobs or positions. So, first step, is the candidate qualified. Now, at this level, it is rare that someone actually runs and is not qualified for the job, but it is possible. Ralph Nader, for instance, is someone I consider completely unqualified for the job. Once you pass the hurdle of being qualified, I think the next step is looking at any number of things that may override those qualifications. Demeanor, history, morality, ethics, etc.. This one does not require perfection. I believe we should try to find good men and women to vote for, but at the same time, we cannot demand perfection. There are things that people can do, in my opinion, that override their qualifications, for lack of a better term, I'll call that being overall qualified. To state the obvious, this variable is going to be different for different people. The hope is that people will base these off of facts as much as possible, and not just rumor.

If you have more than one candidate that after this calculus is 'overall qualified' then I think the candidates positions and their adherence to what you want to happen is a completely correct way to decide who to vote for. Personally, I don't think it is reasonable to vote for someone who agrees with your political stances, if they do not meet the standard of being overall qualified. Nor do I believe that it is reasonable to vote for someone who is not overall qualified even if the other guy is even less qualified (or to put it another way, if the opponent is more reprehensible). I don't think this only applies to the two main parties. To be clear, I kind of hate the two party system, and blame it for most of our current political problems. This blame, while directed at the two parties, really lies with us, because it is us who buys in to the system so much that we refuse to change it.

So, as to the question of voting for a third party candidate the final answer is this. I think it is right to vote for any candidate that is overall qualified. Whether they are one of the two major parties or not, I think it is a right choice for anyone to vote for anyone who is overall qualified. I may disagree with someone's decision on who is overall qualified, but like almost all things political the vast majority of those decisions are purely opinion based.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why I'm voting for Hillary.

This post has been being formed for a long time. Some of you will disagree with it, some of you will shake your head and ignore it, and some won’t care. All of those responses are fine, but if any of you want to get into specifics, I am more than happy to discuss or defend any of it.

First, let me just say, after many, many months of assuming that I would not be casting a vote for President of the United States, I have now decided that I will be voting for Hilary Clinton. If that surprises you, believe me it surprises me as well. To get it out of the way, I don’t particularly care for Hilary. Given 20 names of people who were qualified to be the President, she would most likely be at or near the bottom of any such list. The last few months have made me very much step back and examine my opposition to Hilary becoming the next president, and those reasons have been refined in the fiery rhetoric of all those who desperately hate her and proclaim the fear and despair and doom that would befall this country should she win. As I parsed through the various arguments, I was able to more clearly define my own, and discover if my objections were enough to warrant a no vote on election day.

I will go through some of the main arguments against Hilary Clinton becoming the next president, and how important I think they are, and how I stand on each. Again, feel free to stick around, or leave, this is mostly for me to put this ideas and reasons down.

Honesty-

I, like most people I believe, want my elected officials to be honest. I do not believe it to be a naive hope of an idealist. I do think it is something that we should, with every effort, force onto our elected officials. I do not find Hilary to be particularly honest. That having been said, as I listen to the enormous amount of vitriol directed her way pertaining to her honesty, I don’t find it particularly honest itself. Opponents of hers have set up a false narrative, followed by a differing standard only to be applied to her. I have found myself many times arguing in defense of a person who I never planned on voting for, merely because the narrative on the attack was clearly disingenuous or outright untrue. Hilary isn’t someone, who if I met her in real life, I would come away thinking her honest. That having been said, neither are 95% of the people I have voted for in my entire life. Like it or not, politicians are not the most forthright people. They twist, bend, and manipulate the truth. Is she worse than most? I don’t particularly think so, because I haven’t seen evidence to show that she is. Does this mean I think she is honest, or that I’m going to vote for her because I find her to be honest, no.

Scandal-

There is another narrative out there about Hilary Clinton, and it has to do with her being embroiled in scandal. I’ll talk about three in particular. First, Benghazi. This one elicits the most vivid and emotional reactions, and rightly so, because it involves the deaths of Americans. If as Secretary of State, she were responsible for the deaths of Americans through horrible decision making, or incompetence, or a lack of caring, these would be serious blows to someone’s qualifications to be president. Fortunately, we have had multiple, in depth, copious, witch hunt level investigations dig into all the possible evidence surrounding Benghazi. If a republican house led investigation has to admit in its final report that she was not responsible, then I think no one can claim with any sort of foundation in fact or evidence that she is. Second, email server. This one has been hashed and rehashed and rehashed. It falls back under a differing standard, and a false narrative. First, many other government officials have done the same thing. Does it make it right? No, but I don’t see people excoriating those individuals or the FBI for not prosecuting them. I think her using a private server was stupid. I believe her when she says she did it out of expediency, I don’t think that is a good enough reason. Likewise, I don’t see this as something that raises to the level of a disqualifying act. I cannot ascribe to the level of conspiracy theory that suggests that the FBI’s findings are driven by fear and corruption. For me, I am willing to accept their findings as good, and if they believe the actions warrant no charges, then I consider the case resolved. Third, the clinton foundation. Do I believe there may have been influence peddling dealing with people who donated to the Clinton foundation. Absolutely. I further believe that the way in which our political donation system is currently set up, every single elected official at the federal level deals in influence peddling. It seems disingenuous to set up a different standard for Hilary.

Supreme Court-

This one is the most troubling, but not in the way you may think. While I firmly believe that Hilary will in all likelihood nominate people to the Supreme Court that I will disagree with politically, and perhaps even legally, I am neither worried nor fearful about the Supreme Court going forward. Let me explain why. First, the gridlock that plagues our Senate today would preclude almost all but the most bland moderate candidates from being nominated. We will see no more Scalias or Ginsburgs on the bench. The make up of the court might swing, as it is meant to, based on the makeup of the country. If the country were overwhelmingly conservative, the President would be such, and the court would likewise be. What I have full faith that she will do is nominate people who are intelligent. Even if I disagree with them, I believe she will nominate scholars of the law, and students of the Constitution. People who have studied out their positions, and can explain and defend them. This is what the Supreme Court needs. To the fears that are so often used as the last line, the final I have no choice, I must vote for Trump though I dislike him, because of the Supreme Court, I would say a few words. So called ‘liberal’ justices are not salivating to take away your guns. They are not wringing their hands waiting for the day they can make illegal your worship. The last time the court swung left we got Miranda, we got brown vs. the board, we got Griswold, we got Loving vs. Virginia. Many decried the end of civilization with those rulings, and yet almost across the board we look back on those as vital movements towards a more free and fair society.

Finally, when it comes to all of the things people decry and proclaim Hilary to be, her opponent is. Donald Trump is leagues more dishonest. He sets new bars for lack of integrity with almost every speech he gives. He is steeped in almost every kind of scandal there is, and is either proud or defensive about them all. He is not a moral man, he is not a family man, he is not an ethical man. He is a racist, he is a sexist, he is cruel, insulting, and derogatory. And, here’s the thing conservatives should really understand, he is not conservative either. He has stated he will order war crimes. He has proclaimed he will use the office of President to punish his business enemies. He has been clear in his stance that he will support and put into place policies which have already been dubbed unconstitutional.

The final thing, the last issue, which when I sat and though hard about it finally was the deciding factor for voting for Hilary Clinton comes down to who will join her in the White House. I believe if you look at those who Trump has surrounded himself with during his campaign, you can see who he would use as the foundation for his presidential team. He will not look for the best and brightest. Those who have spent a career becoming experts in policy and administrative law, those who will work to maintain the integrity of the agencies they are working for. He will put in yes men and rabble rousers. Breitbart executives and white supremacists. For all the disagreements I will have policy wise with a Clinton whitehouse, I know that professionals will work for and with her. Trump doesn’t want professionals, because he knows better than everyone else.

I can no longer pretend that this is a fight between two equally abhorrent choices (though I never really believed it was). It is a fight between a person I wouldn’t have chosen, and I wish we had someone better, and a person who will be disastrous, truly. An individual who is flawed, but qualified, and a person who shouldn’t be in charge of anything, ever.

I will be voting for Hilary.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Smart Phone

My old phone died a week or so ago, and so, against my will I moved into the realm of the smart phone. I will admit I am enjoying it. And I do feel like I'm living in the future when I can just talk to my phone, and it writes out a text. That having been said, it doesn't always get my text correct. Up until now I just go back and fix any problems, but I'm thinking that is the wrong way. This phone is smart, maybe it knows what I need to say better than I do. I think I will just let it decide what it is I'm trying to convey in the text, and send it out. Why second guess a phone that costs this much?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Oh the fallability.

So, I haven't been to my blog in quite some time. I put a new post out tonight, and was reading through some old posts for nostalgia purposes and came upon this one.

I have never been so completely, horribly, painfully wrong in an assumption as I was here. I sincerely hope that no one saw this movie on my recommendation, or that my excitement created excitement for them that led them to ever see this movie. I hope that nothing I have ever done or said ever encouraged, supported, or in any way paved the way for someone to watch this movie.

If so, I cannot apologize enough.

Searching for truth in all the wrong places.

I've had a lot of thoughts cascading through my mind lately, too long for a facebook status, or even a jumping off spot for a discussion in my debate society, so its back to the blog. Long time no see. I've been thinking a lot about where people go to get their information, and thus form their opinions. There are a couple of different types of information that I'm specifically referring to. The first is scientific information. Mostly this revolves around health and medicine.

For some reason there has sprung up in the last decade or so (at least that's the time frame that I have noticed), an entire subculture of people who inexplicably distrust any and all information that comes from established science in the fields of health and medicine. Now, I can understand a dose of healthy skepticism. Doctors are not infallible, and it has pretty much always been a part of our culture and the culture of medicine to seek a second opinion when one receives a particularly negative diagnosis. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. However, the new trend is to turn to anything and anyone who is not connected to healthcare, scientific research, or scholarly efforts in the fields of medicine, physiology, anatomy, chemistry, etc., for answers to doubts. Some of this, perhaps, is due to the fact that our medical breakthroughs have become so astounding that people expect that medicine should be able to fix everything without fail or foible. So that when an outlier happens, when a side effect occurs, when a mistake or a aberration happens people assume it is because of a systemic fault or a insidious conspiracy. There are two main areas that I see this happen. The first I find to be so nefarious as to be infuriating, the other while definitely misleading, is more frustrating than anger inducing.

The first is the realm of vaccines. I won't belabor the debate, frankly I shouldn't sully the title of debate because it isn't truly a debate. Suffice it to say, all science, all studies, all medical research points to the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. That isn't disputable. It isn't debatable. We can each have our own opinions, but we can't have our own facts. Anecdotes are not facts.

The one that only rises to the level of frustration is more in the realm of general health. In almost any of the many different types of health discussions from weight, to diabetes, to blood pressure, to cholesterol, there are a myriad of idea of how best to do it. People have their own 'home remedies'. Things their grandparents did, and their grandparents before them. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. Because of plasticity, and differences in how people react to the environment around them, there are as many ways to aid your health as their are people on the earth. And, I don't believe that the only things that can help you be healthier come out of a bottle manufactured by Pfizer either. Nature is a miraculous thing, and, I believe, God created many things for Man that can be incredibly useful and beneficial. That all having been said. Just because someone said it on the internet, or because it is being sold by someone you know and like does not mean that any of the claims made about it are true. We live an an amazing age where there is a plethora of information available at our fingertips. But it seems that many times people don't want to know, or even sadder, refuse to believe verifiable claims about something and instead barrel forward head first in to what they hope is true. I have yet to see anything that has become the new 'healthiest food', or 'miracle food', or 'essential' nutrient that is borne out by science. Noni Juice doesn't cure everything that ails you, nothing does. Would it surprise people to know that the owner and head of one of the biggest most successful and popular 'essential oil' pyramid scams (lets call it what it is), was convicted of practicing medicine without a license in another state? An act that led to the death of his child? This is the guy who is hocking what is basically oil pressed out of some of the most common plants in the world for upwards of 100$ for a couple ounces. He puts the salesman on Pete's Dragon to shame, that guy only charged a dollar.

All of that pales in comparison to the thought that has been foremost on my mind. When a member of the Church comes across something that makes them doubt, something that makes them question those things that they had never questioned before, where do they turn? I haven't personally ever come to such a crisis of faith, I don't believe that is because of anything I personally did, it just is. I know those who have. Some were deep and powerful questions. I have one dear friend who struggled mightily with a question, and I gained such admiration and respect for him as he sought to find answers. Let's be perfectly and unequivocally clear, there is no sin in questioning. But what one does with those doubts and questions will make all the difference in their life. There is an amazing talk about that very thing by Elder Holland here.

There has been much in the news lately about a fairly well known questioner. I read a bit about his 'journey' to where he now is, and was constantly amazed. Several of the issues that had brought him such questions, that had rocked the faith he had had since a young age were not secret, or hard to come by bits of information. They were not hidden, or ignored. So my first thought was, how did he not hear about these aspects of the Church and Church History until after his mission. One reason, and there may be others I cannot think of, is just a lack of learning his own faith. Its a good reason to have Family Home Evening, I can tell you that. Rarely have I been surprised by an aspect of the Church or its History, and to a great part I give credit to wonderful parents who never stopped teaching us, or having Family Home Evening, and encouraging us to learn on our own as well. But, it happens as it did to this man, sometimes people may find themselves confronted by some information, its truth yet to be verified, but its effect profound. A bit of something that shakes the faith that they have relied on for so long. What then, does one do? There are many options. You can ignore it, and go forward pretending you never heard or saw it. I find this to be less than ideal. You can go out and research, turning to any and all who are more than happy to point to flaws and mistakes. Who wheedle themselves into any perceived inconsistency and spread wide their cynicism in an attempt to break the tiny crack in faith into a chasm of uncertainty. Many are willing to preach the philosophies of men, and to a questioning mind they may ring true. To someone who has decided that any question means that you cannot trust that which you have trusted up until now, this may seem the only route to go outside and find out what the naysayers say. This I find to be an even worse option. Who would go to Dodge and ask them what they think of the latest Chevy? But, don't take that to mean that you must just follow blindly, I don't remember anywhere the Lord ever asked any of us to do that. To the intellectual there are many avenues of information from inside the Church. On the particular piece I saw bandied about, the idea that all modern science had indisputably proven the Book of Abraham to be fraudulent, it took me but a few moments and I had in front of me on the screen an in depth work by a noted scholar. I am not one who is interested personally in an attempt to either prove or disprove my faith by science, I don't think that is science's aim, or place. No more do I use my faith to disprove science.

There is a label, one that has been given twice. Once lovingly, and once derisively. It is sheep. From the cynic a sheep is a stupid animal, easily misled, willing to follow anything without knowledge or understanding. Never questioning the path. To the Good Shepherd a sheep is one who knows Him, and trusts Him. One who hears His voice and follows, because of that trust and love. The sheep knows that the Shepherd would do anything for the sheep, because He already has done everything. He asks that we follow with our head up and our eyes open. A Shepherd in the true sense, He leads, and while we may at times question, we can turn to Him for answers, and trust in the faith we already have. Though many have attempted to change its meaning, to make it derogatory or something that we should turn from or be shamed of, I hope that I can live up to that title, and look to such powerful messages of strength as Elder Holland's talk.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Blogging

I read a blog post that was linked to a facebook status that my sister Karen commented on yesterday. It talked about the narcissism and other negative aspects of why we post what we post on facebook, and basically ended with the idea that 99% of everyone doesn't give a crap about what you really think or feel, so quit posting your inane and annoying status updates. I will admit that I found some of the examples quite amusing, and could see parallels to some of the things I have posted, but didn't agree with what the blogger felt was the impetus for people to post those things.

Then this morning I pulled up my blog for the first time in a long time. It was a little depressing. I suppose I could say that I'm just busy, or that I don't post because I can't think of anything, but neither of those would be true statements. I don't know how many times I have heard something on the radio, or read something from a news website, or just had a random thought, and I said to myself that I should blog about that, as I had so many ideas running through my mind. So why don't I? Its a good question. As most of the things I don't do in my life, I'm sure laziness plays a significant factor. However, after having come and read through a couple posts here and seeing the voluminous responses all of my many followers have posted in discussion (sarcasm thick here), I realized that maybe that other blog poster was more correct than I would like to admit. Maybe I started this blog in the beginning as a sort of desire for affirmation of myself. It makes a lot of sense. Here are my thoughts, come, discuss them. Maybe that is narcissistic.

I'd like to change my way of looking at it. I'd like to say it will become a place for me to just put down my thoughts, but lets be honest, that would be a journal.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why do we do it?

I've been thinking recently of my time on Layton High's debate team. This was a team with a history of winning. I think by my Senior year we had won Region 9 straight years, and District 8 straight years. This had engendered some resentment from other schools coaches, and I was witness more than once to an angry coach doing their best to try to torture the scoring rules to 'dethrone' Layton from our apparent strangle hold on the trophies.

This kind of dominance wasn't permanent, such 'dynasties' never are. But at the end of 9 straight years of loss, it may have seemed so to others, perhaps especially students who only measure their time in the competition to three short years in school. I submit that while I have my own immodest reasons for thinking we were so dominant, it is in great part because of the coach of Layton High's team. We won because we were the best, but we were the best because we were required to be better.

In debate there are, I believe, more than one level of victory. There is of course confounding your opponent with arguments they are unable to either understand or adequately defend against until your dominance is obvious. There is yelling louder then the other guy. There is winning on a technicality or by twisting someone elses position until they have to defend something other than what they actually stand for. And of course, there is being right.

I can only speak to my experiences, which were in the realm of L.D. debate (short for Lincoln-Douglas). Purporting to be patterned after the great debates for which they were named, this was considered 'value' debate. A proposition was given, such as "It is better to have an oppressive government then no government at all.", and all participants were required to argue either side, depending on the draw. The goal was to provide for the judge what you believed was the ultimate societal value, in relation to the proposition, and how you could only achieve such a value through affirmation or rejection of said proposition. An example of such values one might use in the proposition given might be: 'Freedom', or 'Security', or 'Justice'. As you can see, this is anything but an exact science. One must use their own persuasive abilities to attempt to persuade the listener to their point of view. Again, victory was possible through many different avenues.

Those of us on the L.D. team didn't win every debate, but we won a lot more then we lost. And, I like to think, we did it because while we could achieve victory through all the aforementioned ways, usually we won because we tried to be right. One can always find an opponent who can yell louder than you, is more skilled at twisting your words, but its hard to lose (not impossible, but difficult), if your position is right.

Now, there is probably some hyperbole, or remembering things the way I want to remember them involved in that telling, but I recount it not for its accuracy, but as an example of my bigger point.

Why do we, as a people, fight more to win then to be right? Of course if we hold an opinion, we must at least believe it to be correct, otherwise we wouldn't hold it. But why is it that we feel we must ascribe to our opinions the status of eternal and universal truth. And, why when discussing that opinion do we have the tendency to be more worried about winning the argument, then finding the truth. Such that we seem to use all of the avenues of victory I listed above.

I'm guilty of it. I know it, so it may seem hypocritical that I decry it. That's okay, I'm not perfect. I have come to truly abhor the way in which people will twist and torture someone else's position in an attempt to cast their stance in a negative light. It becomes very easy to defeat someone's stance that way. At least outwardly. But we don't change minds. We don't convince someone they may be wrong (if they in fact are). Nor do we allow for the explanation of their belief such that we may see more truth than we previously had.

Years ago I heard a talk in LDS General Conference that really impacted me. I think it did so because I was very guilty of the shortcomings it talked about. But it has, ever since, made me try a lot harder when I am involved in the realm of politics or debating ideas. The talk was entitled, "Instruments of the Lord's Peace" you can find the text here.

A couple of the most significant quotes, for me.

Have we who have taken upon us the name of Christ slipped unknowingly into patterns of slander, evil speaking, and bitter stereotyping? Have personal or partisan or business or religious differences been translated into a kind of demonizing of those of different views? Do we pause to understand the seemingly different positions of others and seek, where possible, common ground?

. . . we need to raise the level of private and public discourse. We should avoid caricaturing the positions of others, constructing “straw men,” if you will, and casting unwarranted aspersions on their motivations and character.

It is far too easy sometimes to fall into a spirit of mockery and cynicism in dealing with those of contrary views. We demoralize or demean so as to bring others or their ideas in contempt.

And he is right. It is far, far too easy. I think people who know me, and have been involved in political discussions with me long enough have seen a change since then, at least, I hope they do. This is an area that I admit I fall short in, but one in which I feel we as a people have a real need to pay attention to, and give heed to the words given in this talk.

Anyway, that is my rant for the day, hopefully more of a musing then a rant. I'll close it off with a quote that I wish were displayed more, especially during the unfortunately increasing 'political season'.

Whenever your politics cause you to speak unkindly of your brethren, know this, that you are upon dangerous ground.
-President George Albert Smith