Tag Archives: conservative

2016 election

Let The Games Begin (Did They Ever End?)

One would have to be living far off the grid not to know the 2016 election for President is less than a year and a half away. Along with it numerous house and senate seats and thousands of local offices will be on the ballot. Term limited President Barack Obama will not be running; by time it’s is over he may end up feeling like a winner again for not having to put himself through the campaign meat grinder. I feel blessed to be living under the world’s oldest working Constitution, but the 2016 election makes me wish all this freedom & democracy would be more meaningful and less in-your-face.

To say election season has begun is either naive or disingenuous. It may have peaks and valleys of activity, but there is no beginning because there never was an end. The cycle of gamesmanship and spin-doctoring resets to zero the day after the last election. It starts faintly in the form of small on line banner ads asking me to participate in a political “survey,” as if anyone believes these surveys are real. Other ads are conveniently promoting political causes I am in favor of myself. They aren’t reading my mind, I just need to clear my computer’s cache and cookies more often.

The closer it gets to 2016 Election Day, the harder it will be to avoid the gathering campaign storm. Quiet banner ads will turn into television commercials six or eight times per hour. “Vote for me!” and “Don’t vote for them!” junk mail will arrive daily. Yard signs and bumper stickers will pop up. Social media will be clogged with memes and links posted by people who honestly believe their cause or candidate will prevail if only it gets enough “likes” and “shares.”

The 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens’ United v. Federal Election Commission ruled that “corporations are people” for the purpose of free speech. Corporations and special interest groups that were previously limited on how much they can spend promoting their views may now blow as much money as they want praising their candidate, or trashing on their candidate’s opponent. This court case was and still is very controversial. Democrats dislike it the most, a position I do not understand because the the ruling applies equally to both sides. Liberal and conservative groups have each complained about Citizens’ United while at the same time taking full advantage of the unlimited big spending it allows. The real victims are the ordinary voters who must endure the flood of propaganda.

My problem with the election process is not the process itself, but that the amount of money needed to get elected dilutes the meaning of individual votes. The other day I heard a political analyst on a radio show state that, while everyone has the unfettered right to cast a vote and have it included in the total, the meaning of the vote is not validated because once a candidate wins they are most favorable to whoever wrote the biggest checks. It’s a profound statement that I had not thought of before and the most powerful argument against the Citizens’ United case ruling. There is a big difference between votes being numerically counted and votes having real influence over the person it was cast for.

It’s not very encouraging to hear that the vote I am being nagged to death for won’t have any pull once the 2016 election is over. I understand how the concept of free speech can and probably should include groups having the right to spend their collective money as they please. I’ve donated to assorted causes myself; my dollar is not more important than anyone else’s. Still, it’s not less important either, and I have a problem with other people’s (or corporations’) free speech stepping on mine solely because their check had more zeroes on it. The resolution to the big money in politics problem, if it even is a problem, would not need to involve regulating donations  if elected leaders lived up to the oath of their office and served those who do the actual voting.

We Walk Quietly Among You.

By: Chris Warren

A relative at the same family gathering that inspired my May 9 article was quite surprised when I mentioned in passing that I own numerous guns and legally carry a loaded & functioning firearm with me pretty much at all times. They were a little taken aback that low key, never-calls-attention-to-himself cousin Chris was in fact a heavily armed gun nut. “Yes, it’s true,” I explained with the deliberate intention of making it sound as normal as tying one’s shoes. “I pack heat.”

The rest of the story is that my affinity for firearms is not particularly atypical. There are millions of law-abiding Americans just like me who, for many reasons, go about their ordinary lives carrying a gun along with their keys and cellphones. In gun lingo it is referred to as conceal carry because in most areas the law requires that the weapon not be readily visible. There is an entire niche market of guns, holsters, belts, cases, and even professional training specifically designed for conceal carry.

As I run errands to the store, the bank, car wash, all the usual everyday activities, no one around me other than friends and family know I am carrying. For sure, there are people who would be very upset to know they are standing in line next to a guy with a gun. They are entitled to their opinions. I’m not interested in trying to change their mind. But at the same time, they will not change mine. My Second Amendment freedom and personal security is more important than a stranger’s sensibilities. To put it more abruptly, I don’t care about their feelings.guns-2

I understand why influencing public opinion and lobbying to preserve America’s firearms heritage is necessary; responding to every individual attack like-for-like is not. Sometimes the best response is none at all. We have a Constitution and several court cases that say private citizens have a right to bear arms. Why continue arguing when you’ve already won? I’ve only rarely been personally confronted by someone who feels I owe them an explanation as to why I carry, but when the moment comes I have a simple answer all ready to go: It’s none of their business. My non-answer answer is never satisfactory to them, but that’s the most they’ll get out of me. I wasn’t bluffing when I said that I don’t care about their feelings.

I flatly refuse to justify myself to anyone who thinks the best way to solve the “gun problem” is to harass lawful people who are not causing the problem, and I encourage all 2A supporters, whether they own guns or not, to join me in giving liberals the silent treatment they so rightly deserve, up to and including never admitting on any survey that you own firearms.  Engaging these clowns is the same as conceding that they might have a valid point.

The reason gun owners are so recalcitrant to compromise is because they understand that no matter how reasonable anti-gun activists sound when benignly speaking of “respecting the Second Amendment,” the ultimate goal of the gun control movement is a total ban on all firearms. I let the National Rifle Association and similar organizations I am happy to associate with do most of the talking for me. There are thousands of illegally armed violent criminals running around causing death and mayhem; it’s completely lost on me why anti-gun activists think taking my weapons away from me is going to alleviate that. They are lying when they say all they want are “common sense gun laws,” and “to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.” They want to take all firearms away, including mine.

My cousin was right. I am consciously understated and avoid calling attention to myself. I just want to be left alone; it’s a big part of my personality. One of the side benefits of conceal carry is something I call “the gun nuts’ revenge”: Millions of peaceful, non-violent, responsible armed citizens walk quietly and unnoticed in the stores, malls, parks, everywhere, feeling somewhat amused that the anti-gun liberal flakes have no idea just how close to them we really are.

guns

2016 election

Social Impact Bonds Conservatives And Liberals. Sort Of.

By Chris Warren.

There is a theory in American politics that any idea that both sides hate –or both sides love– is probably worth implementing. Agreement is almost extinct; liberals and conservatives alike are on watch for things to fight about. How surprising that social impact bonds may be one of the extremely rare moments when everyone holds hands and sings.

Stay with me here. This is not going to be some way-out there analysis that makes even the policy wonks’ eyes glaze over. In its basic form, social impact bonds (SIB) are something the average taxpayer can understand and should give serious attention to. They are a relatively new way of paying for public programs where all the risk is assumed by private investors. How it works is private investors front the money for a public social service initiative, which is usually managed by a private non-profit group. The project must meet quantifiable goals. If it does, the government pays off the investors, with a modest amount of interest (that’s their profit). If the project fails to meet goals, the taxpayers are released from the debt and the investors are on the hook for the entire loss.

SIBs were started in the United Kingdom just a few years ago and are quickly getting attention elsewhere. To be sure, there are holes in the plan and I have complete faith in my government’s ability to screw up a good idea. But the theoretical appeal is hard to overlook. Where the method has been tried, the results were promising in both program outcomes and cost control. The biggest advantage is that the system only pays when it is successful. The hands-on task of running the programs are delegated to private parties who, unlike the government, do not get guaranteed funding no matter how sloppy and ineffective they are. They must produce measurable results or lose investor support.

Most social programs should not exist as publicly funded entities in the first place, but if their existence is a foregone conclusion, then the least we can do is make sure we actually get something for our money. It’s surprising that liberals have been embracing SIBs because the structure of the plan reduces government to the simple role of bill payer. It would necessarily cut down the number of pubic employees and those who remain would have to produce results, a concept very few public sector workers are familiar with.

Social impact bonds offer both liberal and conservative factions something to be happy about. Liberals will see their many of their coveted social programs maintained and funded. Conservatives will get the fiscal responsibility and private sector efficacy that is so important to them. The big wild card is if the government can pull this off without mucking it up in favoritism and graft and gaming the rules. Having a great plan isn’t helpful if no one sticks to it.

In a time when nobody agrees with anybody outside of their respective political cult, social impact bonds is one small bridge between the huge divide. Public programs seldom achieve their end goals and SIBs might be the only end run around the unbreakable cycle of traditional inefficient tax funded programs and the unaccountable, overindulged public employees who run them. It’s too soon to say if social impact bonds are the solution to many yet-unsolved problems, but given the government’s vast history of failure, letting private sector money and methods give it a shot is a low risk step in the right direction.

earth day

Earth Day 2015 -SPECIAL EDITION.

By Chris Warren.

Happy Earth Day 2015!

Energy/environment/ecology is a favorite topic on Twenty First Summer. While TFS finds the energy policy of both conservatives and liberals to be at best a mixed bag with something to love and hate from both sides, I do fully support the higher purpose of working towards a cleaner planet even if there is disagreement on how to get there.

Below is a compilation of my environment-themed articles going all the way back to the beginning. If you have time to read only one, please choose “Earth Day Has No Reason To Exist.” It is a personal favorite and one of my best articles. I have also noted a few runners-up.

No matter what your politics or beliefs are, remember that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Please make every day Earth Day by seeking changes  in your own daily life to help make our planet a cleaner, less toxic place to live.

Peace be with you!

Earth Day Should Not Have A Reason To Exist  –#1 RECOMMENDED.

Solar Energy Gives Us The Power To Feel Good.

The Linguistics Of Climate Change.  -RECOMMENDED

Getting The LED Out. 

The Climate Change Circus Comes To Town.  -RECOMMENDED

An Old Yankee Fades Away. 

When Energy Is Stolen, There Are No Victims. 

A Drought of Wisdom. 

Earth Day2

 

 

 

solar-panels-625x418

When Energy Is Stolen, There Are No Victims.

By: Chris Warren

For over a generation green energy has been the exclusive domain of the liberal left. The reasons why could run thousands of pages, but the oversimplified explanation is that clean energy is not economically viable and suitable only in niche applications. It is not cash flow positive nor does it have mainstream practicality, and therefore depends on government subsidies and complex protective legislation. Add that to the liberal foundational doctrine that feelings matter more than actually getting something done, and clean energy becomes a natural fit for them.

That was then and this is now. Renewable energy, particularly solar, is on the cusp of becoming technically and financially competitive with traditional fuels. The left hasn’t noticed –yet– that free market libertarian ideas are pushing it over the line (note: liberal and libertarian are not the same thing). How long this ignorant bliss will continue is uncertain, and I’m not sure it matters. What is certain is that just a year or two ago, the idea of two groups who so sorely disagree on everything else setting it all aside and joining forces to make solar energy go primetime would have been found only in a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch.

A nascent movement is gaining traction down in Florida where liberals and conservatives are in an unlikely collusion to pass legislation that would allow any private citizen to install solar panels on their home or business and sell the electricity for profit on the open market. In essence, they would become a miniature power company. As the law is right now, only state registered commercial utilities can sell juice. The new rules, if passed, would let anyone in on the action.

It is encouraging to see solar energy get the boost it so rightfully deserves, and let it be noted that all of this is unfolding without government subsidies, handouts, or special legislative favors. The plan does not officially break up the power company monopoly, but is it really a monopoly if anyone can do it? To be sure, Florida’s proposal is no magic answer. There are a lot of holes in the plan, and we are long away from completely powering our society with sunbeams and happy thoughts. Still, there is almost nothing negative about this initiative.

Conservatives should further their cause by spreading the Florida example elsewhere. Finding a reason not to do something is easy. It takes thought and effort to confront problems and find a path through them. Since the beginning of the clean energy movement, the right touted a long list of reasons why green energy would not work for mainstream use, and to be fair, for most of that time they had a valid point. Now there is a foot in the door that addresses many of these concerns. Here is the conservatives’ big chance to show everyone that free market solutions really do work.

Regardless of how the Florida experiment plays out (it has not even been passed into law yet), liberals are faced with no course to steer around the reality that decades of government largesse and mandates has failed to make solar a legitimate option. And I’m certain I’m not the only free market supporter who is taking some quiet pleasure seeing progressives forced into a position where, in order to achieve their long time goal of widespread renewable energy, they will have to admit that their other long time goal of solving the renewable energy “problem” with more government spending and regulation is a total failure.

The way I read this, two causes liberals covet (green energy and big government) have been turned against each other. Well played, tea party! Well played! Not only are conservatives stealing a worthwhile but horribly mismanaged liberal issue and making it work with capitalist policy, the liberals are cheerfully going along as if they were helping  load their own stuff into a burglar’s getaway car. In this case the thief is doing the victim, and everyone else, a huge favor.

Crashing The Liberal Elite Pity Party.

By: Chris Warren.

All government plans large or small are seldom the original work of the congressmen and senators who vote on them. An army of consultants and researchers are brought in and paid very well to help shape a concept into actual written policies and laws. The process can take years and the end result is usually at least hundreds of not thousands of pages long.

Not long ago economist Johnathan Gruber was just another healthcare policy nerd almost completely unknown outside of Washington DC. Guys like him very seldom become public celebrities. Gruber is the rare exception. Behind what he said when he thought no one was paying attention (and kicked him straight into the headlines) is a bigger idea that has nothing to do with his area of professional expertise.

Having been paid millions in consulting fees to help the federal government and numerous states implement the historic healthcare law that he was a point man on, one would think that Gruber above anyone would believe in his own creation and be proud to explain the benefits of the law on its own merits and how it’s going to help every American.

What actually happened needs little explanation because it was all carefully documented in a series of videos starring Gruber himself speaking at various conferences and meetings. The theme of the speeches is that Gruber admits the legislation was purposely rigged to confuse and mislead and hide the fact that most of us were going to get screwed by this law. In his own words, American voters are “stupid”. He piously goes on to declare that the deception was worth it for the greater good of getting the law passed.

And therein lies the lesson. Gruber has validated what so many Americans already know: Government, particularly the liberal Democrat kind, believe they are intellectually and morally superior and know what’s best for everyone. They toil for the ungrateful heathens. Their dishonesty is warranted because we of the ignorant masses are not complex enough to process or appreciate the gift of government oversight. There is no problem that cannot be solved with tax dollars and legislation. It is the very reason the Democratic Party exists.

Republicans have for their part largely avoided the big government label. The reasons why should not make them feel proud. Everything is relative in politics. Republicans are indeed a big government party; Democrats are a bigger government party. It’s a completely fair observation that Republicans have their own brand of overbearing “nanny state” attitudes stamped into their positions, it’s just that the Democrats have gone out of their way to make it a deliberate part of their platform. Or more cynically, the Republicans are better at hiding it.

It’s been floating around in the media that the current Congress (2013-2014 session) is the “least productive” in history based on the number of laws passed. Only a big government stooge would think passing laws just for the sake of saying you did something counts as “productivity.” I’m taking it in the other direction: The less they get done the better. As the 2014 midterm elections have proven, Americans are in no mood for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid blessing us with more of their great ideas. My definition of productivity is the liberal elite having the least possible number of opportunities to screw with my life.

In the midst of beating up the political parties, it’s worth noting that American voters are themselves complicit in the bullshit. Congress’ approval rating is lower than a sewer rat, yet somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% of incumbents managed to get reelected in the 2014 midterms, and many of them did it without even a serious challenge in the primaries last spring. Where is the incentive for congress to change? Why should they be expected to bust their ass to do a good job if there is no penalty for screwing off? At some point voters forfeit the right to whine about elected officials. I’m not sure where that point is, but I bet we’re real close to it.

Polls show that even though Americans disapprove of congress by enormous margins, they tend to like their individual representative. That may explain why they keep getting reelected. Congressional reps are like toddlers who are cute and adorable until they are placed in a group with other toddlers. Then they turn into wretched evil quarreling beasts. It’s sad that the analogy fits so well.

So we are trapped with two major political parties, one only marginally better than the other but both nonetheless think they can run our lives better than we can ourselves. Gruber’s loose-lipped remarks, disrespectful as they may be, are unusual only in that he had the arrogance to utter them in front of a camera and a microphone and think he fooled everyone. His confidence that he was righteous in doing so is standard progressivist behavior, although they usually pull it off with a little more finesse. According to liberal doctrine, Gruber’s offense was not his disdain for ordinary Americans, it was his exposing the calculated deceit.

Let Go Of Gays And Guns.

By: Chris Warren.

National mid term elections are less than ninety days away, and along with them thousands of local offices and issues will also be on the ballot. Polls claim most Americans are in the middle with only a small vocal minority on each fringe, but I’m not seeing it. The definition of an independent/moderate in American politics seems to be anyone who hates both sides equally. Does that count?

Each side is trying to come up with a scheme that picks off votes from the middle, assuming there actually are any. There might be some persuadable citizens on local issues, but for the national elections, there’s very few votes to harvest. To clarify for my readers outside the United States: Americans don’t vote for the best candidate. We identify the candidate we dislike the most and vote for whoever he or she is running against, even if under any other circumstances we would not hire that person to run a popcorn stand. Crazy Americans!

My disrespect for big government liberalism should not be interpreted as approval for what the Republicans are up to. The best thing I can say about Republicans is that they are not nearly as incompetent as Democrats, but that’s not a compliment; it’s more like congratulating the valedictorian from the worst school in the country.

Keeping in mind the mission of Twenty First Summer as the “thoughtful, positive, relevant” blog, I’m not going to spend the next several hundred words lighting up in a whiney screed about how the country is going to hell, even if it actually is (cough-Obama-cough). There is an old trope in American politics that says a policy neither side likes is probably the best. That is exactly the path I intend on taking here.

I’m not a political scientist. I’m not a lobbyist, consultant, or analyst. I’ve never held public office nor worked for a candidate, or even slapped a campaign sticker on my truck. I have come up with two plans, one for liberals and one for conservatives. Whichever group most effectively embraces their respective plan will win over voters who would normally not even consider supporting them, and more importantly, make them loyal backers for life:

Conservatives should abandon their opposition to gay marriage.
There are a lot of gays who like much of what conservatism offers, especially regarding economic and tax issues. As a demographic, they have higher incomes and pay more into the system than they receive from it. They’re getting pretty sick and tired of being the cash machine for the schools, lazy public employee unions, and every feel good handout program on the liberal wish list. Many states and municipalities have already established their own recognition of same-sex marriage, so in these places making it the law of the land would not be a culture shock. Only in a weird, ironic world of bizarro do so-called small government conservatives use the kludge of big government to deny others that which hurts no one.

As right wing hero Thomas Jefferson famously said, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” He was speaking in context of religion but the idea can and does apply to same sex marriage. Here is my challenge to conservatives: How does your gay neighbor getting married “injure” you and “pick your pocket or break your leg” in a way that traditional marriage does not?

Conservatives will often cite morality as a reason they are against gay marriage. The problem with this angle is that morality is about one’s own personal beliefs and not about pushing them on others. The Jeffersonian standard still applies. Parents who don’t want their kids exposed to the gay lifestyle can explain it the same way they would any other objectionable behavior. The world is a big huge place. Not everyone is like you.

If the Republicans change their platform to support gay marriage, or at least stop fighting against it, I am certain they will win more elections. There are a lot of gays who really, really want to vote Republican, but the same sex marriage issue is a deal breaker.

Liberals should give up on gun control.
There is something inherently flawed about a position that punishes honest citizens who didn’t do anything wrong while violent criminals go about their business. That is the absurd corner liberals have painted themselves into by joining the cult of gun control. Like a gambler who thinks if he rolls the dice just one more time Lady Luck will deliver a jackpot, Democrats can’t leave the table out of superstition that the next one will be a big win.

After twenty-plus years of beating this topic to death and a “grassroots movement” funded almost exclusively by a single neurotic billionaire sugar daddy, liberals today have less gun control than what they started with: Conceal carry is allowed in all fifty states and interest is growing, especially among women and minorities. Many firearms training classes have weeks-long wait lists. Even well known leftist cheerleaders have conceded that the gun rights movement has enjoyed a surplus of legislation.

Liberals will commonly cite polls that indicate Americans support gun control and use the data as a rationale for more restrictions. Here’s where their conclusion goes wrong: Because someone has an opinion on an issue it does not automatically follow that they care enough to vote or actively fight for the issue. I bet I could take a poll and “prove” that  95% of adult Americans are against letting five year olds eat cake and ice cream for breakfast everyday. But how many of those adults are willing to call or write their congressman and demand that there be a law about it, or make it a voting point? And so it goes with gun control.

For their part, gun rights activists absolutely will turn out in large numbers to call, write, protest, and vote. There have been high-profile elections to prove it, and the pro-gun people have shown over and over how serious they are about taking it far beyond responding to a poll question.

So, a reality check for liberals: What are you trying to prove with your recalcitrance? Your own data shows support for gun control is a mile wide but an inch deep and the issue is loser for you over the long haul. If you stop trying to marginalize law-abiding gun owners, a big pile of them will even vote for you!

Both Republican and Democrat heads may explode to find out that the Pink Pistols is a little-known but very headstrong group of gay, gun rights supporters who are just dying to throw their vote behind someone. And oh, by the way, they have a lot of friends and family too. The first political party to cast off their ridiculous devotion to a cause they can never, ever win will gain a huge, lasting advantage.

Those who are both pleased and pissed off with my propositions are the exact people I hope to reach. I am an unapologetic Libertarian, gun nut, and sympathetic to gays. It will be a great moment when I can step into a voting booth and not have to shun one belief in order to support the other, or better still, when gay marriage and gun rights are so commonly accepted that they don’t need to be campaign issues in the first place.