Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff

I'd like to write a post about the fiscal cliff,  but it makes me furious. So this post won't be as long, or as in depth as I'd like it to be. Both sides are so horribly wrong. I don't mean, 'they don't understand basic economics' wrong, because economics is a complex subject that involves ignoring what you think is common sense and looking at underlying causes, motivations, and effects. I don't expect that from politicians.

What I do expect is some knowledge of basic accounting and of basic life lessons that every human on the planet learns growing up. Obama's plan is to raise the debt limit. His plan is to take out a new credit card to pay for the old ones, and to keep doing that until we die and stick the our children with the debt. Very few of the people who support him in this plan would be willing to do such a thing. It is irresponsible.

Democrats, the government has promised, and is delivering, more in entitlements than we can afford. In 2011, Social Security and social insurances brought in around $800 billion and paid out over $1.5 trillion. Simply raising the debt limit doesn't make that sustainable. It just passes the debt on to future generations. Raising taxes will help temporarily, but as soon as you start promising, and delivering even more we'll have to repeat the cycle.  And we know that you politicians WILL promise and try to deliver more. You've already proven that you lack the integrity to admit that you've over promised. We don't have an income problem, we have a spending problem. It's time for you to admit that you have over promised, bring spending levels back to sustainable amounts, and work not only across the aisle, but with people outside of politics far smarter than yourselves, to enact reforms that will minimize the damage.

Republicans, I can only guess that the reason you booted Justin Amash from the budget committee is that he supports hefty defense cuts. Defense has been your big sticking point. In 2002, the Defense Department requested $329 billion. The budget for 2012 was $695 billion. That is more than the rest of top ten spending countries combined.  When you need that much to defend yourself, it's time to admit that you are doing something wrong. We heard Romney say time and time again that we need to increase military spending, and be more confrontational so that we don't appear weak. But in the real world, confrontational people are not considered strong. They may be feared, but they are not respected. And they get into far more fights than is necessary. It's the kind hearted captain of the football team that steps in between the bully and his victim and stares him down without a fight that is loved and respected. It is not the bully who hits everyone he disagrees with. You are the latter, and somehow you've convinced the American populace that you are the former. And by lucking out and getting a Democratic president who is just as warmongering as you are, you've essentially silenced the anti-war crowd. It's a shame that enough Americans put party over principle to have allowed that to happen. It's time you put your own ego behind you, quit putting the lives of American soldiers and thousands of innocent people around the world on the line to feed that ego, and once again allow America to become an example. To become the gentle giant, and not the schoolyard bully. Our children and grandchildren should not be stuck with the bill because you want to puff your chest out and pretend you are tough guys. Living in constant fear of everyone around you doesn't make you tough, it makes you a coward. The greatest threats to this country's security, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Cold War, were solved not by fighting, but by being the bigger man. So the next time you say we have to be the "big" man, think of what it means to be the bigger man.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Questions for Romney and Obama's foreign policy debate

I've been too busy to post lately, and still haven't finished my series on socialism, communism, and fascism, but since the the debate tonight is on foreign policy, and it is going to interrupt my watching of Hawaii 5.0 tonight, I'd like to pose some questions that I would like to see asked of the candidates. Questions that, if answered, would show how this "debate" is much more of a joint press conference. So here they are:

We often hear that our goals in interventionist wars is to spread democracy. We often hear politicians and pundits alike rail against what they consider to be rigged elections in other countries. How then, do you reconcile the fact that the Democratic and Republican parties joined together to take control of the presidential debates from the League of Women Voters for the express purpose of excluding third party voices from being heard?

What effect do you think the blatant hypocrisy pointed out above has on how other countries view us? What effect has it had on our once proud standing as the model of democracy? Why do we now extol the virtues of democracy, not by example, but by force? When has, 'do as I say, not as I do', ever been a successful model for affecting change?

I certainly can't hold either of you responsible for the actions of past presidents. But I would ask if either of you have read a history book since graduating high school. Let's take a look at our past foreign policy, and see how it relates to the policy of today.

In 1955, the CIA and British intelligence overthrew a democratically elected ruler of Iran because he wanted to nationalize their oil industry and we put our own puppet in charge of the country. In 1967, we sold that puppet a 5-megawatt nuclear reactor.

In 1979, our puppet was overthrown by an Iranian revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini took control of the country. Since that time, the claim has been made that Iran was "3-5 years away from building a nuclear warhead", with a large help from the reactor we sold them.

During the 80s, because we didn't like Ayatollah Khomeini, we supplied Saddam Hussein with weapons and training in support of Iraq's war with Iran. He went on to use those weapons and training for genocide, forcing us into Desert Storm.

Also during the 80s, by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's own admission, we funded the groups that would become Al Qaeda in their fight against the Soviet Union. The war with Afghanistan was, in part, responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union. We are now fighting those same people in a conflict very similar to the one that economically crippled the Soviets. It has lasted longer than WWI and WWII combined.

In 2003, the American public was convinced that we needed to go to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein, whom we once funded, had weapons of mass destruction. No weapons of mass destruction were found. Now, we are set to repeat the same mistake with Iran, who has been "3-5 years away from building a nuclear warhead" for over a quarter of century, aided by a reactor we sold them.

Since 1953, the CIA has warned us of what they coined 'blowback', unintended consequences of foreign interventions. Despite many examples, some of which are listed above, we have a history of denying blowback as a cause of any of our struggles with foreign countries. Do you acknowledge that blowback exists, and if so, how would you avoid it going forward?

How do you reconcile the fact that our interventionism has backfired on us every single time, with the current interventions across the Middle East?

What role do you think our past interference with Iran having the leadership that its people want has on our current relationship with them?

How do you reconcile the fact that we are fighting Al Qaeda (after indirectly helping to create them) in Afghanistan, but funding them, regardless of how indirectly, in Syria?

And this one is for Romney only. Both you, and at least two of your staff, have made present tense references to the Soviet Union. If you are so incredibly stupid as to not know that the Soviet Union has been gone for decades, how are you qualified to take control of our foreign policy?

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Obama phone and due diligence

I've been too busy lately to update the blog, and I really wanted to finish my series on the misuse of the words socialism, communism, and fascism that I started two posts ago, but I just have to comment on this video that has been going around.

I've spoken at length about polarization before, most thoroughly in my posts Ideology as opinion and The politician and the open mic. It is, however, a topic that keeps rearing its ugly head. This video is a perfect example of what is wrong with both sides of the polarized political spectrum. Those on the right are posting this video feverishly all over the internet to bash Obama. Clearly, some on the left see this issue as a reason to vote for Obama. Now, I'm the one that said that ideology is opinion, so why am I pointing this out as a bad thing? Why am I so annoyed by it that I take a break from my busy schedule to rant about it here?

Because the Obama phone is a myth. The program in question is the FCC's Lifeline Assistance Program. It has its roots in a law passed in 1934 to help ensure that all Americans had access to affordable landline service. The issue was less about providing subsidies for the service, and more about making sure that the lines reached everyone. It was expanded under Clinton in 1996 with the creation of the Universal Service Fund and the Universal Service Administrative Company. During this time, subsidies for landline phones were created. In 2008, under Bush, the program began to cover cell phones.

So what is happening is that people are blaming Obama based on a lie and people are supporting Obama based on a lie. This is a problem because if our support, or lack of support for a candidate comes simply from bias and hearsay, then our opinion of that candidate isn't an actual reflection of that candidate. Electing someone, or failing to elect them, based on things that they did not do prevents us from getting leaders in office that will do the things that we want or that won't do the things that we don't want.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, you can't trust major media or random internet posts to always present the whole story, or even not to tell outright lies. But fortunately, we do have the internet to track down actual facts. We have a greater means than any generation before us to perform due diligence on the candidates in an election and the politicians in office. But you can't simply find the first website that confirms your suspicions and believe it. The internet is full of more half-truths and full lies than conventional media will ever be. I've provided a list of actual events that led to the creation of this program. That is what you want to look for when doing your due diligence, when checking to make sure that the reason you dislike a candidate, or the reason you like a candidate is based in reality and not fiction. If you find a website that claims something about somebody, but provides no specifics to back it up, keep searching. If they do present specifics, verify those specifics with another source, preferably and official one. You don't owe it to the candidate to find out the truth, you owe it to yourself. The candidate is representing you.

We've seen the same issue with the recent barrage of attack ads by both sides concerning Medicare. Both Romney and Obama were telling falsehoods about the other guy's stance on Medicare. Even after they both were revealed to be "stretching the truth," the ads continued. Politicians and TV's talking heads think you are stupid enough to believe whatever they say. Prove them wrong.

As far as my opinion on the program goes, as a libertarian of course I am against it. At least in its current form. Cell phones are cheap enough now that anyone can afford a basic plan with a basic phone. I'm not, however, against the original intent in 1934 to help build the infrastructure. I'm sure many libertarians would disagree with me on that. But I believe that access to things such as wireless telephony and broadband internet is something that a country is judged by. Imagine a country where there are neighborhoods without electricity, or even neighborhoods without landline phones. You will undoubtedly think of some poor, third world country. I believe that the U.S. has a vested interest in ensuring that our infrastructure matches that of the rest of the civilized world. But making sure that everyone has the option to purchase something, and giving them the funds to do it, are two completely different things. I have no problem with government building roads. That doesn't mean I want government buying people cars to drive on them with.

And to further clarify my position, I believe that the money to fund these infrastructure advancements should come solely from usage tax. The money for the Universal Service Fund comes directly out of phone bills, not income tax. If we fail to uphold that standard then we end up with something like Social Security and Medicare, which paid out about twice as much as the related taxes brought in. Which is especially bad because unlike phone service fees Social Security and Medicare aren't optional. Of course, as I stated above, the USF isn't a shining example because it isn't being used merely to provide infrastructure.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A communist fascist? Part two: Socialism

This post is part two of a three part discussion on the importance of understanding words when you use them in the course of a political discussion. Part one of the discussion, A communist fascist? Part one: Intro, contains the discussion overview. It is recommended that you read it first, as references are made in this post to points made within that one.

In this section, we'll define two words, and take a look at how they relate to the political landscape. Webster's provides us with two relevant definitions of the word 'socialism'. We'll take a look at both of them. They are:
1) Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
2) A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.
The second word, actually a phrase, that we are going to look at for this section is 'crony capitalism'. We'll use the definition given by Investopedia as it provides a meaningful discussion for us to examine. Crony capitalism is defined there as:
A description of capitalist society as being based on the close relationships between businessmen and the state. Instead of success being determined by a free market and the rule of law, the success of a business is dependent on the favoritism that is shown to it by the ruling government in the form of tax breaks, government grants and other incentives.
The ACA, (aka Obamacare, aka Romneycare) is the most often cited reason for calling Obama a socialist. But does the ACA fit that description? It certainly doesn't fit the first definition. The ACA requires that people purchase insurance from a private company. The government does not control the means of production for or administration of the insurance.  It does however, fit the description of 'crony capitalism'. Citizens are required, by law, to give money to a private entity. The very notion of forcing someone to give money to increase the wealth of someone else is the opposite of socialism. It is also the opposite of laissez-faire capitalism. The discussion on the Investopedia page linked above does a good job of explaining why both sides hate crony capitalism. Of course, both sides blame each other, as tends to happen in a polarized society.

But does the ACA fit into the second definition of 'socialism'? It's very hard to see how it could. First, the requirement that it be a transition to communism is not met. There are more misconceptions about what communism is than there are for socialism, and we'll discuss it in great detail in the next section. For now, let's just define it as an extreme form of socialism. We've already established that the ACA goes against the principles of socialism, and thus communism. (If you don't agree with that, please read the next section.) Second, since everyone is required to pay for their own insurance, or to pay a fine, it can hardly be called an unequal distribution of goods according to work done. So it doesn't seem to fit the second definition of 'socialism' either. It still fits nicely into the definition of 'crony capitalism' though.

In my opinion, crony capitalism is just as bad as socialism. Calling Obama a socialist for the ACA instead of a crony capitalist is no different than calling the murderer in the example from the previous post a rapist.  Nobody who knows what socialism means is going to take you seriously.  And people who might otherwise be sympathetic to the actual problem, are never going to hear the appropriate argument, at least not from you.

But what about welfare programs, such as food stamps? Do they make Obama a socialist? Well, first of all, if they do then every president in quite a few years has also been a socialist. Luckily for all of those past presidents, welfare spending doesn't fit the bill either. It's obvious why food stamps and other welfare programs do not fit the first definition. The government giving people money for food is not the same as the government making and distributing all of our food. The government is giving people money to give to private businesses.

Welfare spending might seem to fit into the second part of the second definition of socialism, it can be called an unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done. But, it in order for it to meet the second definition, it must also be proven that Obama is trying to move us towards a communist society. We've already seen how the ACA moves us away from a communist society (and unfortunately, away from a free market society as well). Obama's appointing of numerous Wall Street cronies who were a part of the banking crisis to cabinet positions also seems to move us toward crony capitalism and away from communism because the people in charge have a vested interest in making sure that certain industries succeed. One of the big ways that crony capitalism emerges in when the people who are writing the regulations are the people who we are supposed to be regulating. It's like letting criminals write the criminal code. It is horrible for society, it's something that should be talked about, it's something that should be stopped. It is not, however, communism. It's the opposite. It's private enterprise backed up with government interference. Since Obama cannot be simultaneously moving us toward communism and away from it, and we know that he is moving us toward crony capitalism, which is in direct opposition to communism, then it stands to reason that any increase in welfare spending doesn't fit into the first half of the second definition of socialism.

One more thing that I want to point out in this section is the meaning of the word 'socialized'. We hear this word used a lot to describe various entitlement programs. The way we use it here in the U.S. is mostly as a synonym for "government subsidized." In a truly socialist society, the word would mean that a business (and as such, it's means of production and administration) is owned either by the government, or by the workers themselves.  So please be aware of context when you use the term, as it has two different meanings.

Also, although I have given examples of how Obama's policies have allowed businesses to benefit, and shown how this fits the definition of crony capitalism instead of socialism, some my not believe that these are bad things. They may have perfectly valid reasons for thinking so. Simply replacing the word 'socialist' with the word 'crony capitalist' in your rants against Obama is not enough. You need to understand why you dislike crony capitalism. By itself, like socialism, it is just a word. Although often used as a pejorative, both of these words contribute nothing to a discussion if you are unable to articulate why you are against them. It is also important to note that many on the right are guilty of crony capitalism as well, which is why so many of them choose to use the inaccurate word 'socialism' to bash Obama instead. It helps your case in a discussion if you learn to judge politicians by their policies and not their political alignment alone.

I'll post a link to part three here when it is finished.

A communist fascist? Part one: Intro

When discussing any issue, or forming an opinion on said issue, a person should want to be as informed as possible. Anything less and you are betraying your own self-awareness and denying yourself any meaningful self-realization. You are relegating yourself to the role of not a grown man or woman, but rather someone else's tool, their puppet. More importantly, if you are ignorant enough of the topic at hand than nothing you say will carry any weight in the discussion, regardless of how open minded the other participants may be. Imagine trying to discuss algebra with someone who insists that 2+2=5. You aren't going to take that person's solutions to your problem very seriously are you? Only by being taken seriously can you sway the opinions of those who initially disagree with you.

Still, we see a tremendous amount of, very vocal, people in the political discourse who do not seem to understand the words that they are using. The three biggest misused words today are 'communism', 'socialism', and 'fascism'. If I point out that Obama hasn't done anything that would be considered socialist, I am often accused of believing "liberal media lies", or of being a 'libtard', or even simply of defending Obama. Well, first of all, I'm not basing my statement on media lies of any sort. I'm basing it on things like history books and dictionaries. Second, I'm not a liberal. Third, it's insane to say that disputing falsehoods about someone is 'defending' them in any real sense of the word.

To illustrate that last point, and further drive home why one should understand the words that they use before repeating them, let's imagine a (slightly disturbing) situation. Let's pretend that you witness someone murder your best friend. You are the only witness. If you call the police and tell them that this person just raped your friend, what is going to happen? The police are going to arrive, ask you if the person murdered your friend, you are going to say no, and inadvertently become the guy's alibi against the crime he actually did commit. There is going to be no evidence of rape, since that isn't the crime that was committed. The best case scenario for justice is that the cops still figured out what happened and the murderer is arrested. Of course, if they do, then you are going to jail as an accomplice because you told them that the murderer didn't do it. Moreover, if you run around saying this guy raped your friend, and he can point to medical records that show your friend wasn't raped, then he looks like the victim. In the eyes of the public, you've turned the murderer into the victim and yourself into the bad guy.

Saying that Obama isn't a socialist isn't defending him any more than saying that the murder in the above scenario isn't a rapist. Words have meanings. So let's take a look at those three words, define them, and give a few additional examples of how not knowing what these words means can weaken one's argument. This is going to be a relatively long discussion, so I'm going to break it down into sections. If you want to use these words, and be taken seriously in a political discussion, it is important that you understand what they mean. So I recommend that you read all of them as time allows.

Click the link below to read part two:
A communist fascist? Part two: Socialism

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Federal and national are not synonyms

There's a strange, and relatively recent, trend in America where most people do not seem to understand exactly what a "federal" government is. We often hear people upset that a presidential candidate, or United States congressperson does or does not support a certain issue. Often, a candidate will say the issue should be left up to the individual states to decide, and people get angry with him for that. But let's take a look at the word "federal" and what it means, both in definition and in applicability to the United States.

Wikipedia defines federalism as "a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments." In order to better understand what that means let's also look at the definition of centralism, which is federalism's opposite. Webster's defines centralism as "the concentration of power and control in the central authority of an organization."

Under a federal system of governance, the member states are given a certain amount of sovereignty from the federal (in our case, national) government. This means that those states are free to make their own rules in accordance with the views and needs of their citizens, and the federal government cannot exercise powers over those states that have not been expressly granted to it.

So, how do we know what powers our federal government has, and which powers the state governments have? The answer is clearly defined in the United States Constitution. Article 1, Section 8 gives a listing of all of the powers that congress has. The tenth amendment in the Bill of Rights says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This means that anything not listed in the link above is not something that the federal government has the power to do.

I'm not saying whatever issue is important to you isn't important, or that it doesn't need to be addressed. But instead of asking someone without the authority to address the issue for you, or to change the entire structure of our country in order to give them that power, it makes far more sense to ask the person who does have that power. That person is your state governor. The governor of a state is an extraordinarily powerful man who, combined with the state legislature, probably does have the power to address your concerns.

By now, some of you are saying, "But John, my issue is an important issue and it should be addressed at the national level!" My question to you is, why? Why should a liberal state like California have influence over laws that affect a conservative state like North Carolina? Why should a conservative state have influence over laws that affect a liberal state? The United States is a huge country with a very large and diverse demographic of people. Each state has its own makeup of people, its own culture, its own needs. Those needs are best served within the state itself. Your issue probably isn't unique to the United States, but I can think of no one who would want one world government telling the whole world how it should live. I certainly don't want the Middle East or China having any influence on laws that effect me.

To put this into a greater perspective, let's take a look at the issue of prohibition. When alcohol was prohibited, the federal government knew that they had no power to tell the states how to regulate alcohol. So they drafted the 18th amendment, which then had to be approved by the states. By the time the prohibition of drugs came along, no such amendment or amendment process was made. We now have several states where companies are operating perfectly legal (under state law) medical marijuana dispensaries, who are getting raided under federal law. We have some states pushing for outright legalization and regulation of the drug like alcohol. They will also likely face opposition from the federal government, at least initially. The federal government is exercising the exact type of power over the states that the Constitution was drafted to prevent. Now some of you are saying, "But John! Marijuana is a blight on society and should be illegal!" Well, then, how would you feel if the federal government took away your state's right to make it illegal?

But maybe we need a further example, just to drive the point home. In almost all cases, the most horrendous crimes you can imagine, including murder and rape, are left up to the states. Federal laws exist, but are only applicable when the crime is committed within federal jurisdiction. So ask yourself this, is your issue more important to the human race than keeping murder and rape illegal? Probably not, but the federal government leaves those two things up to the states as well.

Every election there are people who have very strong opinions on who should be president. Many of these people pay little to no attention to who is running for congress, to whom the president has to answer. Fewer still pay attention to who is running for governor of their state or for their state legislature. Even less pay attention to who is running in their local mayor or county supervisor races, even though those are the politicians who arguably have more power over your day to day lives than any of the above. If you want to make the greatest impact in the political climate that affects you, then you have to understand how the government works. If you want to be involved in politics, then you really need to be involved at the appropriate level. You would not ask the president to change your counties zoning requirements, so why ask him to change the laws that have been delegated by our constitution to your state?

Sometimes, when I discuss this topic, fellow libertarians say that we should be opposed to government overreach in all forms of government and that the majority at any level should not be allowed to take away the liberties of the minority. And they are correct. But that is not the topic of this post.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The politician and the hidden mic

This blog keeps getting sidetracked from topics that I wanted to talk about when I created it, but I had to discuss this secret videotaping of Romney. It serves as a potent example of what us Libertarians are talking about when we discuss how similar the mainstream candidates in the two political parties are, and how they create a false dichotomy around the two parties.

First, let me say that I don't disagree with the general statement that Americans have an extreme sense of entitlement. I think you would be naive to think otherwise, but qualifying that statement would take a blog post in and of itself. I do disagree with the bulk of what Romney is saying. First, he's saying that the poor people are avoiding taxes. This is an interesting statement coming from a man with hidden accounts in Swiss and Cayman accounts. Stop being a hypocrite, Romney. Stop falling for it, Romney supporters. Second, he is complaining that people are only voting for Obama so they can get something for nothing. Well, Mitt, I have news for you, corporate welfare is no different that social welfare. In fact, we spend more money subsidizing the crony capitalists and propping up failed institutions that fund both your campaign and that of Obama than we do on welfare mothers struggling to feed their families. Stop being a hypocrite, Romney. Stop falling for it, Romney supporters.  You can't support the things that Romney does and make the statements that he did in that video. One form of out of control welfare spending is no different from the other in any real sense.

And finally, I vehemently disagree that we just ignore those people with a false sense of entitlement. For a presidential candidate to say that he doesn't care about 47% of the population is unforgivable. We don't give up on the poor who think they government should support them, we don't give up on the rich that think the government should support them. That continued polarization and the class separation that results is what is destroying this country right now. We don't give up on them, we find ways to bring about a cultural change that returns the American dream to rich and poor alike. A change that helps the poor realize that they have amazing opportunities in this country to make a better life for themselves, opportunities that many immigrants are thankful for because they don't exist in their native countries. A change that teaches the big corporations that they are responsible for dealing with their competitors and taking responsibility for their own failings, not the government.

But I can't make a post about presidential candidates and open mics without throwing a little of the blame Obama's way. I'm sure everyone remembers this exchange between Obama and Dmitri Medvedev. Obama is essentially saying, "Let me lie to the American people to get elected and then we'll talk." For what it is worth, I don't disagree with Obama wanting to talk to the Russians about the missile defense issue. If Russia set up missiles in Canada, Mexico, and Cuba, we'd be pretty upset too. In fact, we were. Does anyone remember the Cuban missile crisis? That was solved the way Obama wants to solve this one, diplomatically. What I object to is him implying that he is not going to be forthright with the American people over the issue.

And let's not forget this story of how Obama made a secret deal with the health insurance lobby to take the public option off of the table, while still telling the American public that he supported it. I'm not arguing in favor of the public option, I think there are better options, but that again, is a post for another time. But I am arguing that politicians should not lie to the American people in order to gain their support. They shouldn't lie about their intentions in order to create a false sense of polarization around the two parties. Americans should not support those politicians that do.

And I'm not going to say that libertarians (big L or little) are the only candidates with principles. I am a huge supporter of Jim Webb (D-VA) who committed what many would consider career suicide by saying that we need to re-evaluate and completely reform our criminal justice system. Americans on both sides of the political spectrum attacked him as being weak on crime even though he provided countless examples of systems that do a better job lowering crime and reforming criminals than our heavy handed approach does.

Americans often say of politicians like Jim Webb, or Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, "I agree with most of what he says, but such and such is just crazy." What those people need to understand is that candidates who say some things that the bulk of the population thinks is crazy, are the ones who are not pandering. Just because a candidate tells you everything you want to hear doesn't mean he believes a word of it. I'm not saying you blindly support a candidate because he says crazy things. I'm encouraging all Americans to look into the things these candidates say, research the facts for yourself. With the power of the internet at our disposal, we are not longer beholden to the often biased media for our information. Research the candidate's voting record. Stop judging them by the letter next to their name and start judging them by the actions they take. Stop judging them by whether you agree with what they say or not, and make the effort to determine if they are telling the truth.

Justin Amash(R-MI) and Adam Smith(D-WA) recently joined together to sponsor an amendment to remove the indefinite detention of American citizens clause from NDAA 2012. Americans need to start supporting candidates like Jim Webb and Gary Johnson, who tell us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear. They need to start supporting candidates like Justin Amash and Adam Smith who are willing to work against the trend of false polarization and partisanship and come together for the betterment of this country. Your loyalty does not belong to a particular candidate. Their loyalty belongs to you. Hold them accountable for that. If we do not do that, then we cannot complain that politicians are all a bunch of crooks and liars, because we are the ones reward that behavior.

For more on my opinion of the polarization in the country, read my second post, Ideology as opinion.