Scott’s Political Beliefs in a Nutshell, Part 2

We are not racists.

But that never makes the news.

Blood, death, destruction, wacky, stupid, these are the things that make the news.

So if I say we are not racists, how do you explain comments that sound racist?

Perhaps it is conditioning.

We have been conditioned since before we were born, to accept somethings as normal and other things as not so normal.

A couple of things stand out in my memory that pertain to the subject of race.

My parents did not foster any racists stereotypes in me during my formative years, or afterward.

The only prejudice I recall from my Dad was in my early teen years and it wasn’t a race issue.

It was the young family who moved in next door.  He was a garbage man.  I mean his job was working on a garbage truck.  My Dad worked in a white collar profession and was concerned that the new neighbors would have lower standards and not keep up their property.  Not that our home was a showcase, but it was a nice older middle class neighborhood.

Years later my Dad told me this story, about how wrong he was to prejudge the family and how they became friends and excellent neighbors with each other over the years.  My parents have passed away and last year I saw the husband and wife who used to live next door and never told them about my Dad’s first prejudicial thoughts. There was no need to.

I know from my first experience buying a house a dozen years ago what it’s like to be the new neighbors who are looked at with a prejudicial eye.  Our neighbor Bernie heard saw that we were building a “shed” in our backyard and he warned us that if it didn’t fit the neighborhood rules, we’d have to remove it.  My wife responded that he was welcome to take a hammer and knock it down if it wasn’t up to snuff.  In the end, he was helping us assemble the roof and commented about the high quality of the structure.  We became good friends with Bernie.

But what about race?

In the predominately white neighborhood I grew up in, there was one black family and I went to school with the oldest daughter.  Among the kids, Chandra was accepted just like anyone else.   I saw a similar situation years later when I moved my family into a mixed neighborhood in Detroit and after living there awhile, my daughter made the observation that the boys next door were black.  Not that it mattered, it was just a matter of fact observation and statement that was made.  We became good friends with them and while we as adults were aware of some cultural differences, there was no racism on either side.

I believe in my original statement, We are not racists, as a country.  We may have some prejudices, but those can be overcome as we get to know the people and not just our stereotypical assumptions.

The racist label is sometimes used in broad terms because there are individuals who display racist behavior.  I’d be the first to challenge someone who uses race as a reason to not like someone.  This is where it has often gotten political over the past several years.

When Barrack Obama became a candidate for President of the United States, and then won and won a second term, some were hoping this was a signal that race was no longer a factor and that we the people of the United States had graduated from the earlier prejudices that were labeled as racist.  Unfortunately,  it appears that race became a bigger issue, at least in the news media.

Critics of the President’s policies were sometimes labeled racist.  Some of them were called racist because they said racist things that were totally out of line. Supporters of the President’s policies,  saw this and ran with it, calling and and all critics racists.

I have heard people use terrible language, unfair language, prejudicial language when being critical of  Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes.  Now that we have had President Obama in office, that terrible, unfair, prejudicial language has dipped down even further into racial slurs in some cases.

If you disagree with President Obama, please do not stoop to race as a reason to criticize. And if you agree with President Obama, please refrain from using race as the sole reason for your praise.

As a county, not once but twice, we have proven we will not discriminate against someone running for election based solely on their race.  Let’s be proud of that step forward and focus on policy instead.

Obama-Hope-Change-Forward

Liars, Thieves and Crooks

Okay, I’ve heard enough.

The level of corruption/incompetency/greed/denial/fingerpointing… etc/etc/etc has reached a new level, it seems in American politics.

The sad part is that it is not new.  There were political scandals since before we had a United States of America.

I’m 54.  Richard Nixon and Watergate happened when I was 12 years old.  Before that, I don’t have much of a living memory of dirty political crap except what I’ve read.

This was before the days of 24/7 news coverage so we had to wait for the evening news or daily newspaper for the details of anything.  Yes, we had some radio stations with hourly newscasts but they were 5 minutes long and mostly headlines.

What has my blood boiling at the moment is the scandal of the week, the Veterans Administration healthcare cover up.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, it appears that the VA has been fudging their numbers to look good. There was the list of vets getting health care that were being reported and in the system and then there was all the others.  The others are the vets who were put on a secret list and being ignored.

What really pisses me off is that our President supposedly first learned about this by watching the news recently?

Bullshit.

He spoke about the problem in 2007. He was briefed on this problem when he took office in 2009 after winning the 2008 election.

Yet the President turned a blind eye and lied that the problem was fixed under his watch.

It’s important to note that this problem did not begin with President Obama.  He inherited the problem.

The problem was real under President Bush. So this is not new.

We were promised Hope and Change and the most transparent administration with this President.  Instead it has become more hopeless for our vets and nothing has changed for the better, it’s just gotten worse.

This is not an attack on President Obama because he is a Democrat, black, or any other excuse that the left leaning news media wants to portray like they often do.

It is just another sad day and demonstration of another inept scandalous affair that is more than another broken promise, it has cost lives while being swept under the rug.

Sorry Mister President, I don’t believe a word you or your people say anymore.

We don’t want political posturing, we want to have Hope for the future because of the Changes you promised years ago.

 

Scott’s Political Beliefs in a Nutshell, Part 1

Yes, I understand the implications contained in the title to this piece. “Nutshell”  It’s a common metaphor, but when connecting it to politics, it’s dangerous.  Just so you know, I know.

Here we are in the last half of May 2014 and there are so many misconceptions about what people believe, who they are, and all the labels appear to divide more than unite.  So let’s dive in with my beliefs.

 

Our Federal Government has overstepped their constitutional boundaries in multiple areas. This is not new and it is not tied to one political party. We can go back to the beginnings of the Social Security era and we will see how the Federal Government began extracting money from one group (the workers) to give to another group (the retired).  It has grown and expanded and is now too big to fail.  This redistribution of money at the Federal level of government has spread to multiple programs ranging from health care, (I’m talking about  Medicare and Medicaid, but we can also include the provisions of the Affordable Health Care program too), to multiple subsidies and relief programs for the poor.

Scott, you sound like a mean-hearted, selfish, son-of-a-gun.

Stop a second.  Read what I wrote in bold.  I am not against helping those who need help.  I am against the power that our Federal Government has granted itself that oversteps their role.  In an ideal world, each state government would be taking care of these needs, not the Federal government.  And each of our 50 states has the authority in their own state constitution to decide how to take care of those needs.  Perhaps it’s done on a more local level.

Where I live, besides Federal and State levels of government, we also have multiple local levels. I live in the city of Fort Wayne which has authority and responsibility for its citizens and certain services.  But not everyone in Indiana lives in a city or town.  However, the entire state is dividing into counties, which includes everyone.  Counties are often subdivided into townships.  Townships offer services to the residents who live within their borders.  Take a look at the duties that the Township Trustees have where I live by clicking here.  What stands out to me is this section:

Poor Relief
Overseeing the poor and distributing poor relief is a primary duty in many townships. The trustee is charged to care for the poor by the most economical means available and at the same time is charged to be sure that the necessary needs of an individual or family are met. The applicant must show that they are unable to provide those needs through personal effort and that they have exhausted all other means.

Many trustees creatively cooperate with other agencies and churches in their areas, keeping costs controlled and delivering services needed. The advantage the Trustee’s systems has over other forms of welfare is the freedom to discern whether or not an individual has and is willing to put forth that personal effort to help themselves. (Title 12 of IN Code)

Now that sounds a lot like neighbor helping neighbor. There is accountability involved.  There is a redistribution of stuff, but it is a combination of stuff that has been voluntarily  donated and some government assistance.

A couple of paragraphs ago I mentioned that this was in an ideal world.  Because we have been trained to rely on our Federal Government for generations for things that 100 years ago did not.  We cannot and should not simply tell those receiving Social Security Retirement benefits that they are cut off.  Social Security is too important to the economic survival for too many to tell those who have been faithfully paid into the system that they are no longer going to get their monthly payment.

I don’t know what the solution is to stop this dependency on Federal Government programs without creating economic chaos and revolt.  I do know that we can stop it from spreading, by saying no to more and more government programs that are in the hands or oversight of our Federal Government.

We need to educate others and ourselves about the true role of our various levels of government.  See, the argument needs to be refocused from  the more government/less government  stance, to which government Federal/State/Local has the power/authority/responsibility for the various aspects of our lives.

We blame the President and Congress for too much because we want them to fix our problems.  Or stop being the problem.

That’s the easy/lazy/ineffective and dare I say stupid way out. At the national level, their decisions are too politically inspired.  Meaning they will say and do stuff that they believe will help them stay in office and get reelected. As citizens we need to know who is really in charge and can make changes that affect our daily lives.

Indiana just had our 2014 primary elections this month.  Primary Elections are for the political parties.  You declare which party ballot you want, and they load your voting machine with the registered candidates of that party.  You get to vote in your party election to select who will be representing the party in the various political offices in the November election.

12% of registered voters participated this month.  I was one.  There were several names of local people running for office that I never heard of.  And considering I try and pay attention, I wonder about those people who voted who had no clue who anyone was on the ballot.

Want to change the direction this country is going?  Start local.  Find out who will be on the ballot and decide before you vote who you will vote for.  Base it on your beliefs and those of the candidates.

Also demand less from the Federal Government and more from your State and Local officials. Next time I’ll share more, but in the mean time, your comments are welcome.

Defy the Labels

Been awhile since I took the time to add anything to this blog.

It’s not that I don’t care.

I do care.

I’ve been listening.

I’ve been observing.

I’ve been watching.

I’ve been reading.

I’ve been looking.

I’ve been wondering.

Why do we shove people into boxes and slap a label on them and their boxes?

I have yet to find among my so-called Democrat friends, one who believes that everyone should have an abortion, should be allowed to marry their gay lover and that the Affordable Care Act is perfect.

I have yet to find among my so-called Republican friends, one who believes that we need to remove all government regulation, repeal the civil rights laws from the 1960′s and give all the tax breaks to Wall Street.

Yet these are the stereotypes that are being pushed by the media.  I was comparing what the liberal media likes to talk about (how bad and evil Republicans are), and what the conservative media likes to talk about ((how bad and evil Democrats are) and it’s ridiculous.   Last week I was flipping back and forth between Fox News and MSNBC and watching them attack the other side.  Same stories, different slants.

I believe that you will find kooks on both side of the political spectrum.  Some want our current President elected to a 3rd term. Others want him to be removed from office now, if not yesterday.

Please be careful when you hear the words and labels from the media.   Do not assume that they define your friends/enemies on the other side.

Want to have a meaningful political discussion with friends and family?

I know it sounds scary, but it could open some doors and build some bridges.

Draw up a list of issues that are being talked about by our politicians.

Take those issues, one at a time and know what you currently believe and why.  Talk with others and have them do the same.  The goal is not to judge them and label them.

The goal is to understand why they believe what they believe in.

I bet you are going to find that those nasty labels and boxes don’t fit so perfectly on you or your friends.

Will New Gun Laws Work?

It’s one of those hot topics right now.

Each time there is a mass shooting, the subject of gun control heats up.

The Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th, 2012 was supposed to be the final straw.

Finally we would get the gun control laws passed and no longer would we have senseless shooting deaths in the United States.

Politicians spoke out for and against stricter gun laws and the promises were made that we would all be safer.

Now we are 5 months removed from that day in December and it appears that action will be coming soon on a Federal level.

It seems like no one is happy with the compromises that are being made to get a new law passed.

The anti-gun crowd says the new law doesn’t go far enough while the pro-gun crowd says it is the 1st step to taking away their guns.

I believe that there are two major problems with all of this.

1st off, I don’t believe our Federal Government has the constitutional authority to create laws, rules, or regulations at this level.  This is a State by State issue.  Many states have passed laws already.  Tough laws, laws that are appropriate for their individual states and citizens.

2nd, I don’t believe this will achieve what the gun control advocates are “promising”.

Saturday morning, I was watching the show “Up” on MSNBC and one of the guests in the panel discussion represented a group called “New Yorkers Against Gun Violence”.    That is an organization that by name, everyone except organized crime and gangs could support.  I mean, if there truly was an opposite, opposing group, they would go by the name of “New Yorkers For Gun Violence”, right?

The issue is how do we make our society safer and prevent gun violence.  But the discussion is being focused on creating new laws that restrict the use and sale of firearms and ammo.

Here’s a basic flaw to the premise that we need more laws.

Nearly every shooting of a human being is already illegal.  In other words, we already have laws against shooting and killing each other.  These laws are being broken by law breakers.  Some call these law breakers criminals.  Is there any law that will stop criminals from doing bad things?  No.

Punishment versus reward is a concept that needs to be considered.  I drive 60 miles a day. Half of those miles are on roads with a 55 mph speed limit.  I can go 60, maybe 65 without getting a ticket.  70 and I’ve definitely broken the law.  Earlier this month, I let my speed inch up to 70 and a kind sheriffs deputy just flashed his lights to remind me to slow down.  I heeded his warning and now use my cars cruise control to keep my speed at 65 or less.  The punishment for speeding is costly, so I choose to obey.  My reward is keeping my driving record clean and not having to fork over extra money for tickets and increased insurance premiums.

This punishment versus reward thinking didn’t apply to the Sandy Hook shooting, or several other mass shootings. The shooters died.  Sometimes by their own guns.  But while these mass shootings that get so much publicity are on  the minds of the public today, they probably represent a tiny percentage of gun violence in our country.

Finding accurate numbers is nearly impossible.  Here are a few sites that offer some data:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20130201-closer-look-at-gun-violence-statistics-can-offer-clarity-amid-the-emotion.ece

http://www.heedinggodscall.org/content/pfctoolkit-10

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/02/gun-violence-in-america-the-13-key-questions-with-13-concise-answers/272727/

That last source has a few quotes I want to share:

Several criminologists deny that mass shootings are increasing. Although these incidents dominate headlines and conversation, it’s important to remember that they account for only a small fraction of gun violence in the United States. For example, the spike of 72 deaths in 2012 includes only 0.8% of all firearm-related homicides in 2011 (the last year for which statistics are available.) Many gun deaths, especially in large cities, never make the news. This means that the most effective gun violence reduction strategies — in terms of lives saved — might not target mass shootings at all.

And:

In principle, it’s not necessary to keep guns away from everyone, just those who would misuse them. Background checks are promising because a high fraction of future killers already have a criminal record. In one study in Illinois, 71% of those convicted of homicide had a previous arrest, and 42% had a prior felony conviction.

Yet current federal gun regulation (see above) contains an enormous loophole: While businesses that deal in guns are required to keep records and run background checks, guns can be transferred between private citizens without any record. This makes straw purchases easy. In other words, these laws may generally make guns harder to come by, but those who really want them can still obtain them through private sales.

Also, although it’s generally illegal to sell guns across state lines, in practice this is very common. There’s abundant evidence that under the current system, guns flow easily between legal and illegal markets. Washington, D.C,. banned all handguns in 1976, and Chicago did the same in 1982. In neither case did the percentage of suicides using firearms — considered a very good proxy for general gun availability — fall significantly.

Also:

Here are some approaches that don’t seem to work, at least not by themselves, or in the ways they’ve been tried so far:

  • Stiffer prison sentences for gun crimes.
  • Gun buy-backs: In a country with one gun per person, getting a few thousand guns off the street in each city may not mean very much.
  • Safe storage laws and public safety campaigns.

We don’t really have good enough evidence to evaluate these strategies:

  • Background checks, such as the Brady Act requires.
  • Bans on specific weapons types, such as the expired 1994 assault weapons ban or the handgun bans in various cities.

These policies do actually seem to reduce gun violence, at least somewhat or in some cases:

  • More intensive probation strategies: increased contact with police, probation officers and social workers.
  • Changes in policing strategies, such increased patrols in hot spots.
  • Programs featuring cooperation between law enforcement, community leaders, and researchers, such as Project Safe Neighborhoods.

There is no obvious solution here, and there’s a huge amount we still don’t know. But it’s possible that combinations of these policies, or variations in a different context, might work better. For example, background checks would probably be more effective if they were also applied to private sales. Also, of course, this list does not include policies that have not yet been tried.

If you’ve read all 1000 plus words I’ve written, so far, congratulations.  You apparently care and want answers.  You want to make a difference.

I believe new gun laws alone will not work.  As mentioned above, we need more community involvement.  We need to provide alternatives to a gang or criminal lifestyle.  We need to take responsibility for each other.  Person to Person, at a grass roots level.  You don’t even need any organized effort or special funding to make this work.  You and I just need to open our eyes, our ears, our lives to others whom we can have a positive impact on, and begin, one person at a time.

Gay Marriage in America

Earlier this week I wrote about this subject on my other website.  I proposed that the arguments that were presented to the Supreme Court in the two separate cases they were presented actually has a solution that is both a compromise and one that can create a victory for both sides.

I encourage you to read it by going here.

One of the problems is that marriage is a states rights issue.

In other words, constitutionally, the Federal Government is not given power over marriage, it is done state by state by each state government.

Yet the Federal Government gives people like me, a heterosexual married guy special consideration because I am married to my wife.  These special considerations are not given to homosexual couples.

What special considerations?

One example is income tax.  My wife and I get to join our incomes and expenses and file jointly as a married couple.   Last week I asked our tax preparer to double check to see what the difference would be if we filed our taxes separately.

The difference was over $1000 more that we would owe if we were not allowed to file as a married couple.

I encourage you to read what I wrote for a more complete solution to this issue of  Gay Marriage.

Why This Blog?

Welcome to those of you who have recently discovered this blog and those of you who have subscribed.

This website is not my usual hang-out.  It is merely a place where I will share thoughts of a political nature.

When I started blogging 10 years ago on another blog platform, I purposely wanted to keep my political thoughts away from my other writings.

Politics can be very devise, it can create heated debate, and for some it can create wedges in otherwise good relationships.

My professional life had nothing to do with politics and I worked with folks who were very liberal and others who were very conservative.  I worked in the world of sales and media.  Mostly radio advertising along with media and marketing consulting.

But I also wanted to capture my thoughts “on paper” on occasion to help my family to understand, if they want, where I stand on the role of government in our lives and related items of a political nature.

Unless you Googled “ScLoHo” you would not find this website.  Actually for a few years, I even hid this from the search engines as I did not want my political thoughts to be used either in my favor or against me as a public figure working in the media world.

Now when you Google “ScLoHo” this site appears as one of the first page Search Engine Results.

If you dig in and read when I have presented over the past 6 years, you’ll find I am generally conservative but I often contradict myself too.

Politics are all around us, not just in our government.  I encourage every one of us to do some examining of the world we live in, and be prepared to have a solid answer on things you believe.