Et Tu, @TedCruz?

Last night, it was former Republican presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz’ turn to take the stage at the Republican National Convention and give his speech. While that speech was nearly as much of a barn-burner as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Monday-night speech, it may ultimately have resulted in something negative against the Senator in what it did not do.

Sen. Cruz did not end up fully endorsing Donald Trump as the GOP candidate.

In this case, however, it wasn’t so much the fact that Sen. Cruz didn’t endorse Donald Trump that could have negative repercussions here; instead, and as with most situations like this, it has to do with why he did not endorse.

Today, the political section of the AJC ran a great story generally covering the drama that occurred last night on the convention floor. Lots of machinations were going on behind the scenes (including how the Trump campaign handled Sen. Cruz’ speech delivery while having had a copy of it well beforehand — this is Donald Trump’s convention, after all), but what really got my attention was the following:

[Donald Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul] Manafort also expounded on the issue of the pledge GOP candidates signed onto last year during a debate in this same arena:

“He was the only speech in the convention that was poorly received by the body in the hall. That was Senator Cruz’ decision. Mr. Trump invited him because he wanted him to have the opportunity to speak.

“As to their obligations, they all signed pledges. Everybody knew about the pledges. They knew what that meant, what obligation that put on them. Senator Cruz, a strict constitutionalist, chose not to accept the strict terms of the pledge that he signed. As far as the contract was concerned, he was the one in violation, not anybody else.”

Back in September, 2015, CNN reported that all candidates at that time signed a pledge to support whomever the eventual GOP candidate would be (the news outlet included an embedded video of Mr. Trump’s presser at the time).

In spite of this, here was Sen. Cruz’ response (also reported by Fox News):

…Cruz, amid some contentious exchanges with delegates, suggested endorsing Trump would have been the easy option.

But he said, “Whether you want me to or not, I’m not going to lie to you, and what I said last night is what I believe.”

And he made clear that part of the reason was personal, referencing campaign swipes at his family in explaining why he broke a primary campaign pledge to back the eventual nominee.

“I’ll tell you the day that pledge was abrogated was the day this became personal — I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” he said.

One delegate said, “Get over it. This is politics.”

Cruz responded, “No, it is not. It’s about right and wrong.”

In fact, instead of outright endorsing the duly-nominated candidate as he promised, Sen. Cruz — in his “vote your conscience” admonition — quite ironically gave former Secretary of State and presumed Democrat nominee for president Hillary Clinton her own campaign fodder:

So, on the one hand, Sen. Ted Cruz goes on the record with signing a pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee, continues to promulgate the idea that he’s a defender of the American Constitution, but on the other, once things get tough, he backs down from what he says he’s going to do.

Why do I think he did what he did in his non-endorsement? I think he’s among those who believe that Hillary Clinton will be winning in a landslide in November, and Sen. Cruz thinks that he’ll be simply waiting in the proverbial wings (come 2020) to pick up the pieces of the party, where everyone that he sees as behind a flawed candidate will then flock to him to be the next GOP nominee.

Unfortunately for the Senator, the presidential primary statistics simply don’t match up with this alleged theory. In fact, the increase in numbers of GOP primary voters versus the decrease for the Democrats is so lopsided as to be hilariously different (overall, I believe the GOP was up over 60% versus the Democrats being down something like %30). Further, this doesn’t take into account the fact that Donald Trump garnered more primary votes than any other GOP candidate in the history of the Republican Party.

I’m simply not seeing the factual case to be made for an alleged Hillary Clinton landslide.

Regardless even of this point, I take serious issue with a man who backs out of a signed pledge simply due to the fact (as he himself put it) that rhetorical attacks were levied against him during the primary campaign. Given this rationale, the Senator has stepped beyond a principled disagreement with Donald Trump or even the Republican Party; if that were the issue, I’d be completely for his stance.

But he went further.

A presidential primary campaign is absolutely going to be full of all sorts of rhetorical jabs, innuendo, insinuations, and outright half-baked claims — levied both by the complainer as well as others (and they were).

What are you going to do in a presidential general election campaign when the other side ratchets up the rhetoric by at least five times what you’re used to?

What else would you be backing away from at that point?

Don’t claim to keep commitments to the voters but yet refuse to keep a commitment you made back when you had a chance to be the nominee. That’s just a tad hypocritical. If you’re backing from your word in the “small things,” you’ll do the same in the “big things.”

Ergo, what makes you, Sen. Ted Cruz, any different from those you claim to despise, who go against their word and don’t represent constituencies — much less conservatism — properly?

Et tu, Ted Cruz?

What Is The News And How Do You Know? (a.k.a. Thinking For Yourself)

Today I ran across a repost from freelance investigative reporter Jon Rappoport entitled, “Mind control achieved through the ‘information flicker effect.’” While this linking isn’t meant as a full endorsement of Mr. Rappoport (I don’t know about him any more than what’s posted in his “About” page), and even though I think the phrase, “mind control” is a bit strong, I wanted to post on why I think he absolutely nails what the American media engages in for every major news story.

I’ll speak from experience.

For many years, I had been an avowed “info junkie,” sometimes incurring the relative wrath of my wife, in that I was watching news almost non-stop during those times that I had a chance to watch TV. While I spent a lot of time watching the Fox News Channel, I eventually drifted over to the Fox Business channel, because I began to get tired of the “surface treatment” that I thought the Fox News Channel was providing the news.

However, even as I made these kinds of changes — often shifting over to CNN or other news channels — something still didn’t sit quite right with me. It was as if stories weren’t being completely fleshed out, and where cursory searches on reputable web sites would still provide better, more fully researched data on the news than what the news channels were producing.

And, for me, there had always been psychologically what I term a bit of a “dull roar” from the constant input of what would be about 25 – 30% news and 70 – 75% “talking heads” — alleged (and some real) experts on what was actually news-worthy.

Then, I decided to turn the TV off — at least from 24/7 news. After about 48 hours, it was as if real silence returned, like I could think on my own without being told what to essentially think. It was like when I once tried a particular 7-day diet and it never occurred to me how much high-fructose corn syrup I was really putting in my diet (such a thing was a big deal for me at the time, a kind of understanding why I (and others) seemed to be so “hooked” to eating out or otherwise not eating healthy). The same thing had just happened from a media consumption standpoint.

It turns out I was unhooking myself from The Matrix (I’m using the venerable movie’s name in a tongue-and-cheek sort of way, but it gets the point across).

The real question, for me, was: how is the news getting folks “hooked” to the goods being sold? On the food side, it was relatively easy for me to see how I was being “hooked;” on the media side, not so much, though I did at least have the clue that there was very little actual facts being reported, and more of a story being told.

Mr. Rappoport’s posting filled in the gaps.

While he calls the methodology the “information flicker effect,” Mr. Rappoport does a great job of explaining that it’s actually the news anchor weaving a story through the repeated use of bringing up incomplete facts, one after the other, then “dropping” them (or brushing aside to be picked up at some point in the future), such that the story-teller (the anchor) ultimately has another agenda in mind (not so much simply stating facts). Such drop/adding occurs as a frequent enough clip that the audience never has time to seriously think through all of the open leads being produced as the story is “unfolding,” where the media show is more interested in an ultimate story to tell than stating facts (which is what news ought to be — the what, when, where, why, how and to what extent of a given subject or event).

Now, since it is true that you can never fool all of your audience all of the time, then when a media story is ultimately about, say, gun control, because such a topic is so charged (certainly in America), when this topic is brought up, enough of the audience does say, “enough,” and begins to engage in critical thinking once more.

That is why I believe Mr. Rappoport’s use of the phrase, “mind control,” is a bit strong. “Mind influencing” is probably a better turn-of-phrase, but I digress.

There were some excellent questions that Mr. Rappoport brought up, to wit:

Why is it that every major network anchor is reporting every major story from the same perspective?

Would it not be reasonable to expect that a legitimately-questioning journalist would be getting more facts on the table to at least present a different point of view?

Why is it that every major network also reports the same perspective on every major story?

Why is it that younger reporters just starting their career aren’t being used to proverbially “pound the pavement” themselves to gather facts? Why are only the authorities involved being trusted to relay facts to reporters who are then telling some story for which someone else (a producer or higher up the chain) has already provided a template?

The simplest (and perhaps complete) answer to the above is that those “in power” (and by “in power” I’m transcending political parties here) like to have a mechanism in place in order to persuade (I think “control” is too heavy a word) enough people that they ought to believe a certain way so as to promote such power. After all, what does anyone who has power want? To both garner more power and consolidate it the best they can.

To me, the good news is there’s a very simple antidote to the above — unplug! If you’re an “info junkie,” spend a couple of days shut off from whatever source you’re using to stay “up-to-date” on news stories and see if you gain a bit of intellectual peace (and perhaps sanity). If that works, then you’re being persuaded to not use your brain. Also, try watching news stories for the facts that are presented; once the “talking heads” are paraded in front of your face, that’s a clue to turn the news off.

You don’t need to be told by anyone what to think. Getting an education should be possessing a tool that helps you to logically deduce and infer facts and evidence from the world around you — not to simply memorize a list of things that someone else put together.

Having the ability to independently think on your own means being able to operate as a full-fledged citizen in society.

And our society definitely needs more such citizens.

-Phil

My First Foray Into Ruby on Rails, Thanks To A Web Bootcamp

My first “prototype” Ruby on Rails site, Dev Match, is currently live.

What’s this all about? I’ll explain.

For the majority of my IT career, I have either been in a Linux/OpenVMS-based shop (in telecommunications) or I have been in a Microsoft-based shop (in hospitality). Now, at my current company, we are a Java/AWS/Git-based shop (in cybersecurity). This is also to say that, in the 21st century, many startups use open-source-based (and similar) technology stacks to save money and quickly get a concept to market.

Therefore, during my off hours, I’ve been wanting to explore other aspects of open-source programming. Enter certain web development bootcamps, one of which I got started late last year and was able to catch at a severely discounted rate. And now I’m halfway through!

The “Dev Match” site is the culmination of several weeks’ worth of online instruction introducing students to the basics of Ruby on Rails, git version control, the Bootstrap UI, Stripe e-commerce, PostgreSQL as the DB schema, and many other concepts (such as various “gems,” the name for the vast portfolio of add-ons for the Ruby framework). It is the first of a number of projects I am working on as I progress through the more advanced portion of the boot camp.

Why Ruby? Because of its impressive collection of sites and development community.

Why not something like continued pushes into WordPress (the software this blog is based upon)? Because a CMS (Content Management System) will only take you so far, and if you’re serious about realizing concepts, you have to get your hands into code at some point.

What do I expect to accomplish out of all of this? I have a handful of ideas that I’ll eventually be putting to code, and we’ll see how it all goes.

The moral of this story is this: if you’re interested in getting going with web development, the hardest thing to do is to keep at it. That “barrier to entry” is the only thing that keeps people back from accomplishing things.

Best,

-Phil

P.S.: Since my “Dev Match” site is currently hosted on a freebie dyno at Heroku, it may take several seconds to first come up; that is intentional.

When #NeverTrump Goes Pseudointellectual

James Madison once said the following:

It has been said that all Government is an evil. It would be more proper to say that the necessity of any Government is a misfortune. This necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect.

He also said:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.

In today’s world, the above observations can be boiled down to this: well-intentioned folks who believe that Donald Trump is so dangerous to the American republic that, if he were to be elected as President, he would be worse than any other such officeholder in history because, well, “insert favorite worry here.”

The challenges are what the “worry” is, what actual evidence there is for said “worry,” and exactly how one man could be so different from any other egotist who’s ever ran for the same office (and yes, all men who’ve been President have been egotists — it’s practically a requirement to be such to think that one could positively exercise that kind of power and authority over others).

When the evidence (at least as far as I’ve seen, and I’ve been actively searching for it) is anecdotal at best, we have a form of pseudointellectualism going on, defined thusly:

noun

1. a person exhibiting intellectual pretensions that have no basis in sound scholarship.

This is to say that a lot of fear is being misplaced on one American citizen — Donald Trump — with no basis in actual facts, merely circumstantial evidence, typically ascribed as this man being so confident in himself and selling himself and his abilities to such an extent that some cannot fathom even remotely positive outcomes.

In fact, this fear has become so palpable that radio talk show host Glenn Beck has been suspended for agreeing with comments by author and media contributor Brad Thor.

In a Washington Post piece, Mr. Thor is quoted as saying the following:

I am about to suggest something very bad,” Thor said. “… With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as president? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that if, if, he oversteps his mandate as president, his constitutional-granted authority, I should say, as president,” Thor said, according to CNN. “If he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? And I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.”

“I would agree with you on that,” Beck responded.

To get to the point, I’ve underlined those areas that are currently at issue, as least as far as SiriusXM is concerned.

However, before explaining why the above is so controversial, I’d like to bring your attention to the Soundcloud recording of the above with a portion of the interview that wasn’t quoted (link should start you at the 4:03 mark).

During the interview, as Mr. Thor compares Mr. Trump to a South American dictator, he states the following:

“…That is the type of guy he is. And I guarantee you, Glenn, that during his presidency, during his ‘reign,’ if you will, he is going to petition the American people to allow a temporary suspension of the constitution so that he can help America get back on its feet again. He is a danger to America and I gotta ask you a question; and this is serious and it could bring down incredible heat on me, and I’m about to suggest something very bad [begin quote from Post, above]…”

What Mr. Thor is claiming (based solely on the words that he’s used) is that Mr. Trump would be an American dictator, would ask for the People’s permission to suspend the constitution for a particular purpose, and by doing such an action, since Mr. Thor doesn’t believe that Congress would remove Mr. Trump from office, that an American patriot would have to do that (office removal), which by definition would be illegal.

The assumption that the court of public opinion made was that Mr. Thor was referencing assassination as being that “illegal” office removal act that an “American patriot” would have to perform. Rationally speaking, the only other act that falls under this context would be a coup d’etat. Which would all be fascinating in that such a suggestion is to illegally remove a President for alleged and hypothetical illegal means of misconduct.

There are several questions I’d have to ask:

Where is this fear coming from?

Why haven’t these same fears from predominantly right-wing sources been levied against President Obama? If they have, what’s the difference between President Obama and Donald Trump?

Has Mr. Trump ever claimed anywhere that he is going to suspend the Constitution in order to make America “great” again?

What is it about a confident billionaire that strikes so much fear in the hearts of some media types?

While Mr. Thor and Mr. Beck have the right to their opinions, since Mr. Thor is a writer of thrillers, is this merely a move to drum up sales of his own wares?

I would suggest this was a publicity stunt, per my last question. Case in point: Glenn Beck immediately began backing away from all recorded comments regarding this issue. In other words, if Mr. Beck or Mr. Thor were really that concerned about the future of the country, and they really had some basis in fact for going forward with such a heavy hypothetical, they would not have backed off from that stance, no matter what pressure was brought to bear. By definition, in backing off, that makes them as “feckless” and “spineless” as they’ve claimed Congress would be.

This is a textbook study in the mindset of the #NeverTrump paradigm. The modus operandi is to take thoughts and concepts that have never been recorded by the presidential candidate to have said and base entire FUD (“Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt”) tactics against that candidate in hopes of pushing some other agenda. After all (as #NeverTump believers would claim), who would be against pursuing the conservative agenda?

The answer? Nobody is, actually, but if the GOP power-brokers in Washington, D.C. were all about pursuing the conservative agenda, then why is Mr. Trump so politically powerful at this point?

As I’ve stated before, the #NeverTrump folks are fighting the wrong battle. Conservatism isn’t on trial here; Washington, D.C. is. There is no evidence that Donald Trump, if elected, were to overturn the American constitution.

Which begs several questions:

If, as a #NeverTrump believer, Donald Trump is allegedly going to be so bad for the republic, why weren’t you this passionate and hot-headed during the “reign” of President Obama and demanding the same actions now and over the past seven-and-a-half years?

Were you afraid of a black man and didn’t want to be labeled a “racist” for going against him?

If that’s the case, who’s really the bigger fool in this drama?

-Phil

New Hosting Provider Is Live for TRSoL :)

Image courtesy: Wikimedia.org

The Right Side of Life has officially moved to DigitalOcean for its web hosting. This is part of an effort to not only get better and cheaper service for the blog, but also allows my own after-hours expansion into web development.

Based on some excellent HOWTOs, everything should have migrated successfully. Email/RSS subscriptions to Feedburner should not be impacted, and phil [at] therightsideoflife [dot] com should also continue without issue. If not, and you feel so inclined, you know how to reach me!

Thanks again for your readership, and I look forward to continuing to blog 🙂

Best,

-Phil

P.S.: Clicking on the DigitalOcean logo at the top of this post will open a separate tab in your web browser and will refer you to DigitalOcean in the event that you require web hosting services. You get a $10 credit when using the link to sign up for doing so 🙂

P.P.S.: Reposted due to some server issues.

Religious Freedom Cannot Be Brought About By Discrimination

Image courtesy AJC.com

EDIT: Since originally posting this story and concluding with the idea that you might be lead around by certain leaders for the purposes of money or influence, the AJC.com has a fantastic, short write-up of how this “hunch” was correct.

Here in the great State of Georgia, we have been getting almost non-stop local coverage over the issue of religious liberty. And while I believe that all Americans — regardless of their personal belief system — should have equal protection under the law, the knee-jerk reaction to what Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of HB 757 has produced (one of the two religious liberty bills floating around our General Assembly) needed some rational commenting.

However, what really got me going today was what the Rev. Franklin Graham said yesterday about this issue. I am really sorry that Rev. Graham is taking the stance that he is, because he clearly has not actually read HB 757, and neither has Sen. Ted Cruz, because it would absolutely not do anything that they’re going on about. The bill would have essentially provided for the following:

  • From Section 2 of the bill, any leader in a faith-based organization has the right to allow or disallow activities based on their beliefs and cannot have negative repercussions on account of their stance;
  • From Section 3, any business has to allow for reasonable accommodation for an employee to have a day of rest either on Saturday or Sunday;
  • From Section 4, a faith-based organization can’t be forced to rent, buy or sell products or services that go against their faith, and such refusal can’t be grounds for a lawsuit or other repercussions;
  • From Section 5, no faith-based organization is required to hire or retain talent who has a different belief system than that of the faith-based organization.

From a religious perspective, a number of those points sound great, don’t they? But remember that such laws tend to have unintended consequences that would occur. For example, what happens if all of your employees were to decide that they weren’t going to work on a Saturday or a Sunday, and if you threatened them in some way, they could come back and sue you — but wait: they couldn’t sue you, because the same law says that you cannot be sued on account of religious stances. Ooo. First bug.

What about wholesale discrimination? According to this law, if you were a church leader (or any other type of lay person), you could legitimately refuse anyone who is gay, divorced, a glutton, an adulterer (or any other favorite sin) from darkening your church’s doorsteps and such potential parishioners could do nothing about it (because you’re protected from being sued). Further, if your non-church organization decides to do the same thing (by virtue of rejecting to sell products or services), you’d be free and clear to discriminate.

Well, you’d be free and clear to discriminate at the State level. However, there is still federal law that states that, in the marketplace, you can’t discriminate based on protected areas. Ooo. Second bug.

As a third illustration, what about the situation where you’re an employer and you discover that your employee is a Jehovah’s Witness, or maybe a Mormon (both of which are considered cults with respect to orthodox Christianity), perhaps even a Roman Catholic (because you think all real Christians must be Protestant, or maybe it’s vice versa)? Or, maybe the employee is pro-choice, and you’re not? Perhaps the employee has gay friends, and you vehemently disagree with that lifestyle? According to this legislation, you as the employer could fire that employee solely based on their beliefs and/or belief system. Ooo. Third bug.

For those who are detail-oriented, you might be saying, “but wait — doesn’t the law specifically describe a faith-based organization? This doesn’t count towards a ‘regular’ business, does it?” To which I would then say the following:

  • Section 2 only refers to the individual, not a business situation, and is therefore open to interpretation;
  • Section 3 specifically refers to businesses, not faith-based organizations;
  • Sections 4 and 5 do specifically refer to faith-based organizations.

As such, we can already see that this proposed law is, at best, not complete in its application of discrimination, something that federal law takes great pains to alleviate (i.e.: you must equally cover law across everyone in your jurisdiction). And make no mistake, this is lawful discrimination.

You might not like hearing that, but the reality is — and as Gov. Deal specifically stated in his veto promise — the First Amendment to the American Constitution already guarantees the right of free speech. In my opinion, trying to add to or take away from this fundamental right only confuses the issue. Unless your right is being infringed by someone impugning someone else’s ability to exercise the same right, there is no wrong here.

As a corollary, however, the First Amendment does not guarantee the right to be heard. Whether you’re a left-winger or a right-winger, it’s already a truism (sadly, except for the concept of health insurance, which is currently a federal mandate upon all American citizens) that you cannot be forced by any third-party entity to buy, sell or otherwise engage in something you simply choose not to engage in, specifically when it comes to any private entity. This carries with it the onus on the individual to proverbially change the channel and go somewhere else if the current situation is not in that individual’s best interests.

Let me tell you why this is therefore such a big deal, and why some don’t believe the First Amendment essentially has anything to do with this (if you listen to their banter).

It’s because they (whomever they are) have an agenda. They want you to stop thinking for yourself, stop doing your own homework, and simply trust what they have to say. This way, they can persuade you to think like they do, and ultimately give them money and support. This is brutal commentary, but it’s the truth.

What’s my agenda? It’s to first vent, and then to present what I see as the facts of a percolating situation in the court of public opinion. I’m simply tired of folks being led by the nose towards irrational ends by leaders in the community who really do know better (and if they don’t, they’re being disingenuous with you) because the facts simply contradict what their griping and whining is actually stating.

At the end of the day, you are not going to lose your ability to go to church if this bill doesn’t get passed. You are not going to lose your right to free speech, nor your ability to formally confront someone (sue them) about your rights being infringed. Why not? Because of the First Amendment!

Instead, perhaps we all ought to be asking the following questions of our alleged leaders:

How will my rights under the First Amendment be curtailed if Georgia’s so-called religious freedom bill does not pass?

How will someone be able to stop me from going to church or from me being able to opine on a blog if such a bill does not pass?

How will I not be able to sue someone else if they make certain claims against me if this bill does not pass?

-Phil

How the #GOPConvention Rules and Delegates Would Work

Image Courtesy Phil Skinner, ajc.com

If you’re a political junkie like me and have been a little bit more concerned than usual about how things might go at the RNC National Convention this summer, fear not, based on what the man pictured above had to say to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution over the past few days.

His name is Randy Evans, and his bio reads thusly:

Randy Evans is the chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association, a member of the Republican National Committee, as well as a member of the RNC’s rules and debate committees. He has served as outside counsel for two U.S. House speakers, Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert, and was a top advisor to Gingrich during his 2012 presidential run.

Evans has also presided over debate at every Georgia Republican Convention that most of us can remember. In other words, his interpretation of rules and bylaws matter.

The AJC went into quite a bit of detail over five questions they asked him about the upcoming convention — it’s worth a full read here.

The newspaper also spoke about the happenings from today’s delegate conventions. Of note, here’s a synopsis of how Mr. Evans sees things:

Evans also addressed four changes to convention rules that are likely to be considered at an April meeting of the RNC:

— One would unbind all delegates. That’s unlikely to pass.

— Currently, a candidate must win a majority of delegates in eight states to have his name placed in nomination at the Cleveland convention. Proposals have been made to change that to five, or even three. This would benefit Gov. John Kasich, who has won only his home state of Ohio so far.

“I have consistently said if you play seven innings of a ball game, you need to finish the last two innings with the same rules you started with,” Evans said.

— A third rule change proposal would permit candidates to pledge delegates. This would allow two to combine forces and broker the main outcomes of the convention – both the nomination of a presidential candidate and selection of his running mate. Evans indicated he’s likely to oppose that, too, because it would reduce the clout of individual delegates.

On his existing trajectory, Evans said, billionaire Donald Trump is likely to enter Cleveland 75 or 100 short of the 1,237 needed for outright nomination.

And then these two thoughts, especially regarding former Gov. Romney:

“It’s ‘way more likely than not that we end up with a presumptive nominee. It’s not that I know some inside secret. It’s that I know how the process that I designed actually works,” Evans said.

“It’s why I chuckled when I heard Governor Romney talk about strategic voting. Cause I told him it might be helpful if he first knew how it worked before he started recommending how people could strategically vote.”

Both links are worth a full read.

As always, it’s not quite as crazy as talking heads make it out to be.

-Phil

Political Conventions and Citizen Activism — How It’s Done (Because I’ve Done It!)

Image courtesy Politico.com

Beginning soon at a local precinct near you, delegates will be selected who will eventually ascend to represent their State at the national RNC convention.

How do I know this? Two ways — I just yesterday received an email describing the process for my particular area in Georgia, where the delegate selection process begins this weekend, and the fact that I’ve been a delegate up to the State convention level in Georgia back in the 1990s.

Today, NBC News posted a great article (relatively dispassionate) regarding the upcoming GOP convention and how some party insiders have been speaking about the words, “contested” and “brokered” as bandied about in the press recently.

Before deep-diving into what this is all about, let’s get something out of the way first. Remember this “controversial” point made by a party insider, that the party picks the nominee, not voters? Aside from the relative hysteria that could be whipped up absent proper context, allow me to explain this point.

When you go to the polls (or participate in a caucus), you are actually voting for delegates to represent your vote. In reality, what the major political parties do is nearly identical to the concept of the Electoral College. You as a voter are not directly voting for any given candidate; you’re merely voting for how your State’s allotment of delegates will represent your State with respect to a given candidate (typically allotted per party rules; I’m not sure how States, per se, play into this, but that’s irrelevant for this discussion).

In other words, your vote as a primary or caucus voter expands the pool of delegates available for your chosen candidate.

Once everything is tallied for your State, there are then deadlines for the next most important part of political activism — party participation. And the best way to participate as an activist is to get involved through the precinct/county, district, State convention and, if you’re really into it (and get enough support), the national convention level.

Being a delegate is a painfully simple process. All that’s required to begin is for you to show up on time with some identification as well as your voter registration card. Seriously, that’s it. While it helps to understand party rules, typically the only time that becomes an issue is if someone at some point in the process tries to fight you on the rules (and that doesn’t typically happen unless you’re potentially threatening someone else’s ability to be nominated for the next process step).

As far as the actual steps, this depends on your particular State (go to this page on TheGreenPapers.com and scroll down to pick your State to see actual meeting dates/times). However, to use my own 2016 steps as an example, things would go like the following bulleted list. Be aware that you’d need to know times and locations for each meeting, else you could disqualify yourself simply by not showing up on time:

  • If you live in a small county, you’d first have a “precinct mass meeting” (which really isn’t as big as it sounds because of the lack of population), which you’d have to nominate yourself or ask to be nominated to go to the county convention. Then, you’d have to be nominated (by self or someone) to be a delegate or alternate delegate to go to the district convention. After that, you might be able to go to the State convention, and then there’s the national convention in Cleveland, OH for the GOP
  • If you live in a large county, you’ll probably first have a county convention, then potentially proceed to the district convention, which can then lead to the State convention, and then to the national convention

As you can see, the process is relatively straightforward to become involved in the party process. For me, when I was involved years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much interest in this process, so I had almost no competition for being a delegate all the way to the State convention. Of course, this year is significantly different, so if you became involved, you might have more competition at a lower level in the process to be able to proceed.

This is why it’s just as important to be nominated as an alternate delegate as it is to be a full-fledged delegate. As the name implies, being an alternate delegate means that you could be called up to serve at the next level in the event that the nominated delegate is unable to attend. Also be aware that the higher up you go, the more that you’ll run into long-time party politicos who’ve built up more friendships within the apparatus, and this can make it more difficult for a relative newbie to be able to proceed. Therefore, to go to the national convention beyond the State convention, be aware that, at that level, you’ll be dealing with delegates from precincts all over your State who are similarly vying for the same chance.

This is important. After all, you want folks in your own party who are just as willing to hold the line with similar party plank thoughts as you are; this is the point of activism, after all.

Now that you know how the process works, perhaps the concept that “the party picks the nominee, not the people,” is better understood and is technically true. Let’s say that you’ve been active for long enough in your State’s party apparatus that you now have a chance at being an alt delegate or even a delegate to the national convention. This is obviously something you’ve spent a lot of time doing and that you’re not taking lightly. You, as a delegate, are the one who helps determine (along with all other delegates aggregated nationally) who the party’s nominee will be. While you’re technically a voter, you’re actually a part of the party, and you’re taking your State’s allotment of votes and are now representing your State at the convention.

With all of the above said, what does this have to do with “first ballot,” “second ballot” and the rest of the voting process for (in this case) the RNC? As a delegate, depending on your State’s or State party rules, you would be bound to vote the way that you’ve been initially allotted on the initial ballot (by the way, as a delegate, you would then be directly voting for an individual to be a nominee). If after all delegate votes are summed and the 50%+1 number is not reached, depending on rules, you’d then move to a second round. At that point, you as a delegate would not be required to vote per your State’s allotment, and that’s where the “contested” convention comes into play. As a delegate, you would then take the responsibility to vote as whatever the rules state.

Politically, as the NBC News article pointed out, the idea that a delegate would vote for someone other than whomever had gone through the primary process would be more than counter-intuitive. Outside of the convention, it would be seen as going against the will of the People. Also remember that delegates to the national convention have a much greater likelihood of showing up on the news, where reporters — much less candidates — would be asking you why you voted the way you did, especially if you were part of a “floor fight” to vote for someone other than those who ran in the primaries. I think you can see where that would go.

If no primary candidate reached the “magic” 50%+1 number of delegates on the first ballot, then what is more than likely to happen is that the delegates — those to whom the party bestowed the power to make the selection (and who one day could be you) — would end up voting for any number of candidates who “suspended” their campaigns. In fact, part of the point of a candidate “suspending” their campaign is so that they can keep a hold of any delegate allotment they current possess (again, depending on party rules) and so that they can arrive at the convention with the capability of being a player.

Now that you know a bit more about the political process and how any voter can get involved, you can see that, at the end of the day, political parties are loathe to go against how States have voted, and that those delegates are really the ones who directly vote for a nominee. And if those delegates go completely off the proverbial range (such as voting for someone who was not part of the primary process), they open themselves up to both political and court of public opinion scrutiny for why they did what they did.

Nevertheless, if for whatever reason the delegates could not vote on a 50%+1 candidate during the balloting process, the unlikely event of a “brokered convention” could try to come into play — whereby long-time party supporters could try to throw someone outside of the primary process into the mix. However, I’m not sure how that would work, as the delegates would still have to vote on such an individual. I don’t think that would go over very well!

Of course, what happens if, say, Mr. Trump gains the requisite number of delegates going into the convention? I would suggest that the #NeverTrump folks out there are going to have to do some serious soul-searching, and if the party folks actually thought about radically changing rules at the convention, realize that the delegates have a number of proverbial cards to play on their own — so this isn’t necessarily a GOPe-based situation where nothing can be done about the Establishment.

The bottom line: it’s all about the delegates 🙂

-Phil

In Response To Rush on Why Folks are Choosing @realDonaldTrump Over “Conservatism”

Image courtesy wikipedia

“The question is, with this many millions of people angry, upset, disaffected, feeling left out, whatever, at both parties in Washington, why wasn’t conservatism turned to by these people instead of Trump?” -Rush

All other things being equal, there seems to be no question that the population of Republican primary/caucus-goers should be backing either Sen. Ted Cruz or Dr. Ben Carson, given their respective, solid stances regarding the Constitution and their own perspectives on conservatism (in its most fundamental sense) instead of Donald Trump.

The population of Republican primary/caucus-goers — as is being amply demonstrated through today, Super Tuesday, in State-wide voting results — is heavily pursuing Donald Trump instead of a brazenly outspoken conservative because these individuals see Washington, DC as a broken system as their foremost concern.

Don’t miss the fundamental issue at hand here. I don’t think that the typical primary/caucus-goer has an issue with conservatism or constitutionalism, per se; they have an issue with the process in DC at the moment. Furthermore, the main issue with conservatism as it’s now executed in DC is that not enough of a critical mass of elected officials are executing on the concept! (Many conservative circles call this group RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) or GOPe (Grand Old Party Establishment))

Therefore: for the typical Trump voter, they feel as if they need to rectify the terms of engagement first, and then deal with the product of conservatism afterwards.

Conservatism is a means of governing, but if the “right” people (typically defined as whomever is voted into office) are not engaged in executing conservative principles, then the electorate is going to move forward based on righting the ship first and then consider directionality (e.g.: conservatism) second.

This is why the “typical” conservative is not winning (at least at this point, prior to Super Tuesday results) in the primaries/caucuses.

Conservatism is not on trial here, and I really wish that some talking heads would be smart/wise enough to realize this. Instead, as mentioned previously, Jacksonian Americanism is moving to the forefront.

In fact, the festering perspective of a corrupted DC may take a bit more time to rectify than many now realize. It may take the spirit of Andrew Jackson to right the proverbial ship first before conservatism gets a chance to be laid down as the process of going forward.

-Phil

This is How to Vote in Your Primary or Caucus

Image courtesy news.yahoo.com

There have been gigabytes – perhaps nearing terabytes – of digital ink being spilt by those who get paid to do so to influence the average American citizen (certainly at least those activist enough to vote in primaries/caucuses) which way to vote.

In fact, a certain talking head has come right out and made his thoughts pretty absolute, no matter how things turn out by the conventions this year (more on this at the bottom of this posting).

My advice? They’re only partially right.

This is how I’d recommend any American citizen to vote.

If you’re in a caucus State, you get an additional chance to hear out a representative of the candidate regarding their stances and opinions on issues. If given the opportunity, think of the top three things that most concern you and ask them. Then listen to their responses and make a judgment.

For those like me who’ll be voting in their State’s primary, the process is significantly shorter – simply show up to vote and do it.

A primary is meant to gauge the relative percentages of all remaining candidates. It is therefore your opportunity to vote for the individual who best represents your views. Don’t be afraid to vote that way. This is primary season, not the General Election.

Furthermore, as a Christian, I believe there is supernatural accountability during the primary process – therefore, make it count!

Once completed, you’ll have done your duty and will await final results.

When the General Election comes around, I’ll repeat the same questions:

If your primary choice isn’t the eventual nominee, will the nominee be better or worse than (let’s say) Hillary Clinton? Why or why not? Specific evidence to back up your claim will beat out subjective emotionalism every time.

Is the eventual nominee better or worse than Barack Obama? Why or why not, again, with facts, not just what someone tells you to think?

If the eventual nominee does not 100% align with you on certain issues, why would that be a problem with you in voting for them (if this is true)? You do realize that there has never been, nor will ever be, a perfect candidate?

Perspective: the elected office holder of the presidency will always have five hundred and thirty-five other individuals through whom all legislation must go. In a good four-year term, discount fifty percent of campaign promises as passable legislation. Of the remaining fifty percent, discount that down to about an optimistic thirty-five percent and you get the idea of a best-case scenario of original campaign ideas actually making it to law in that same four-year time span.

Choosing a candidate is important. Finding the perfect one is, at best, practical foolishness. Primary voting is for idealism; General Election voting is for practicality.

Choose the eventual Democratic nominee if you think the country is doing great and you want more Socialism. Choose the eventual Republican nominee if you want to get back to what was working before Barack Obama assumed leadership. Going third party (assuming the Republicans don’t get hijacked on the way to the convention) assures current inertia holds.

As a final thought, there is a talking head who is apparently comparing voting to salvation, to wit: “How terrible it is that you are are willing to gain the world with Trump and lose your soul in the process.” While this could warrant an entire posting to properly address, I’ll put it simply — responding as a fellow American citizen with nothing more than a blog to post thoughts.

First of all, nothing within Christendom (in the widest sense of the word) equates the free gift of Christ’s salvation with voting in a presidential election. In fact, to put things equally bluntly, there’s evidence in the New Testament that those who attach other means of approaching the Gospel of salvation outside of Jesus’ blood, power and grace are adding to themselves curses instead of blessings.

Secondly, it is equally the responsibility of each individual to soberly approach the electoral process on their own terms and with their own minds as it is with hyperbolic reaction; the former is a rational approach — the latter is based on thinking with someone else’s mindset, which is rarely a good combination.

Once again, you are responsible for your own vote, and nobody else’s; I always tell folks that it’s none of their business for whom I actually vote. In that sense, as mentioned, I believe you’ll be accountable for that vote. At the same time, there is a definite difference between the primary process and the General Election.