Category Archives: Libertarianism

Gary’s Notes – The US Constitution

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Assuming you took the easy route at least once in school, you’ve probably used Cliff’s notes. The US Constitution is a fairly long document that uses a combination of typical language from the 1700s with a dose of legalese thrown into the mix as well. So to help out the average 21st century American, please allow me to sum up the Constitution for you in a way that modern day layman can easily understand. So here goes:


We left Europe because we don’t like your monarchies and such. We think government is generally the root of all evil, and we’re going to do everything in our power to limit it as much as possible.

Article 1

Section 1

A group of people we’ll call “Congress” are going to make the laws.

Section 2

Half of Congress will be the House of Representatives. They have to be at least 25 years old, been a citizen for 7 of them, and must live in the state they represent. They’ve got two years to get it right, or they’re out. They’ll represent no more than 30,000 people, and they’ll elect a speaker to oversee it all.

Section 3

The other half we’ll call the Senate. There will be two senators per state. They’ve got six years to do their best before they can be sent packing, but they’ll be divided into three groups and we’ll vote for a third of them every two years. Since they get longer terms, we might as well require they be 30 years old and have been here for nine years.

I know we haven’t gotten to it yet, but there will be a Vice President’s position talked about later, and this person will be the president of the Senate. For some odd reason, he won’t vote unless there’s a tie.

The Senate will handle throwing out any bums we uncover along the way.

Section 4

The Congress must meet at least once every year on the first Monday in December.

Section 5

The Congress will govern themselves, punish their own members if need be, keep a journal in case something important happens and we need to remember what it was. Unless we think it’s some top secret stuff that we don’t want anyone to know about of course, then we’ll keep that on the down-low.

Section 6

We’ll go ahead and pay these folks for their service.

Section 7

The HoR (House of Representatives) will take care of taxes. Once they write something, they’ll send it to the Senate. If it gets their OK, it goes to the president, who we also haven’t mentioned yet but we promise we will, and he can either sign it or tell them to get bent. If he tells them to get bent, 2/3 of them may agree to tell him to get bent instead and that they’re passing it whether he likes it or not.

(Notice we always say he/him when referring to the president? We assume a woman will never get the vote, and this is just a subliminal power of suggestion type thing to keep it that way.)

Section 8

Congress will be the United States’ accounting firm, currency printer, security guards, and any other things we think we need to address.

Section 9

We’re going to severely limit our powers, we won’t go back on our word, and there will never be any kings or queens up in here.

Section 10

Hey states, you don’t get to override this stuff—so don’t try it.

Article 2

Section 1

Remember that president we mentioned? Well now it’s official, we’ll have one. He’s got four years to do something awesome. If he does, you can let him do it for another four years. He has to be 35 years old, and he must be born here. Because this is a big country and Al Gore hasn’t invented the internet yet, we’ll do this convoluted system we’ll call the Electoral College. Al Gore will be mad that he didn’t invent the internet sooner, because this Electoral College will totally give him the shaft later.

This president will swear in front of everyone not to mess up. If he does, the Congress can, and will, impeach him.

Section 2

The President will be the head cheese for our military. He’ll appoint judges to the Supreme Court, appoint ambassadors, and fill other vacancies as required.

Section 3

Once a year, he’ll give a speech about how things are going. Presidents love giving speeches.

Section 4

He better not commit a crime or he’s out.

Article 3

Section 1 & 2

We’re going to have a Supreme Court made up of nine justices. They will decide whether any laws that states, cities, counties, etc. pass violate this document. Some of them will try to legislate from the bench, but we really frown upon that. They will not handle trials though. Those must be done in front of a jury. Once appointed, they are in until they choose to retire because we don’t want them making decisions based on what they think will get them reelected.

Section 3

If someone is suspected of treason, we need at least two people to have witnessed it or they’ll have to confess.

Article 4

Section 1

The states have to trust and respect each other.

Section 2

If someone commits a crime and flees the state, the state he flees to must send him back.

Section 3

We decide when a new state is admitted to the union, and you can’t have a state within a state. So don’t try it.

Section 4

If someone tries to invade a state, don’t worry, we’ve got it covered.

Article 5

This document is set in stone unless 2/3 of us agree that we screwed up or left something out. In which case, we’ll unset it in stone while we make the necessary changes. Then those changes will be set in stone unless 2/3…and so on.

Article 6

If we borrow money, trust us; we’ll pay it back.

The laws we pass are law of the land. Know your role, states!

We will swear that we’ll adhere to this stuff too since we’re going to make the president do it.

Article 7

There are nine states currently and they all agree to this.

Bill Of Rights

I know we said we want to severely limit the size of government, but let’s set some ground rules.

Amendment 1

Believe what you want, say what you want, and if the press wants to run with it, that’s fine. If you don’t like something, feel free to protest, just be cool about it and play nice.

Amendment 2

We like guns. It’s only fair if you want one, you can have one too.

Amendment 3

A soldier can’t squat on your land unless we’re at war, then he might do so if the law allows it.

Amendment 4

We promise not to invade your privacy unless the courts determine it appears you may have done something wrong.

Amendment 5

If we think you did something really repugnant, we’ll put together a grand jury for that.

If we try you for something, and you beat the rap, we can’t try you again for it.

We can’t take your life, liberty, or property unless you do something wrong. If we commandeer your property, you’ll be paid fair market value for it.

Amendment 6

If we lock you up for a crime, you have the right to be tried pretty quickly so you don’t rot in purgatory. Twelve people we pick totally at random will decide if you did it or not (if you prefer). We’ll make sure you know what it is we think you did, and you are guaranteed to have someone who actually knows something about law helping you.

Amendment 7

If you have a legal issue that’s worth less than $20, don’t bother us. We have more important things to do.

Amendment 8

If you do get arrested and/or convicted, we promise to be fair about it.

Amendment 9

Assume that you have the right to do whatever the heck you want unless we say otherwise as opposed to the notion that you don’t have the right unless we say it’s OK. It’s a “Free country” thing.

Amendment 10

If we don’t write laws about something on our end, the states can if they deem necessary. It just can’t conflict with something in this document.

The Rest of the Amendments

Amendment 11

We the federal government won’t interfere with the state governments unless they violate this document—then we’re going to have words.

Amendment 12

Remember that Electoral College thing we talked about earlier? This is how it works. We’ll pick a handful of people from each state and see who they like. Then based off that, each state will pick their president of choice. Based on our best guess of how many people are in a particular state, a number of votes will be issued for that candidate per state. It’s kind of convoluted, we know, and once the internet comes, it’ll seem pretty silly.  But we like tradition, and we may keep it around anyway.

Amendment 13

Section 1

Hey slave owners. Cut it out. You can’t do that here anymore. Only we can do that, and only if someone committed a crime first.

Section 2

Don’t test us on this or we’ll do something as yet unnamed, but you probably won’t like it.

Amendment 14

Section 1

If you’re born here, you’re a citizen. No one can take that away from you.

Section 2

In the HoR, you get a rationally proportionate number of reps per persons that live in your district. Sorry Indians, but you don’t count.

Section 3

If you do anything that shows you’re an enemy of the state at any time, consider yourself persona non grata around here.

Section 4

If we say we need money to protect us, just give it to us.

Section 5

Congress will write some laws about all of this as necessary.

Amendment 15

Section 1

Anyone can vote, even former slaves.

Section 2

Listen south, we know you have a problem with this, and we don’t care. It’s the law of the land now. Don’t test us! You’ve been warned.

Amendment 16

Sorry, but we’ve got things to do. We’re going to need a few bucks from you whether you like it or not. We’ll base it off your income.

Amendment 17

There were some issues with the whole senatorial thing. We needed to clean them up a bit.

Amendment 18

Section 1

The party has hereby been canceled—drop the booze.

Section 2

If we catch you partying, you will be prosecuted

Amendment 19

Women—sorry, we completely forgot about you. You can vote now too.

Amendment 20

Section 1

We apparently forgot to be specific about the dates. Presidents, your term ends on January 20th at noon. The rest of us congressmen end our term on January 3rd at noon.

Section 2

The Congress has to meet at least once a year to earn their pay. They’ll do it on January 3rd starting at noon unless they have a golf tee time or something, then they can agree to a different day.

Section 3

If the president dies before he takes office or we find he wasn’t legally qualified to be president in the first place, the veep is in.

Section 4

If some people die in office, don’t worry. We’ll figure it out.

Section 5

For no particular reason, we want to specify that 1 and 2 take effect on October 15th

Section 6

If 75% of the states don’t agree with this, forget all of it.

Amendment 21

Section 1

Sorry about all that nonsense earlier in Amendment 18. Party back on!

Section 2

Let’s be clear, you can party, but you can’t transport the party across state lines.

Section 3

If the states don’t agree again, sorry, but party is back off.

Amendment 22

Section 1

OK, that president thing seems like it might be a little too powerful for our tastes. So once he’s done two terms, he’s out.

Section 2

…that is unless ¾ of the states don’t agree

Amendment 23

We’ve got new digs. We’re going to call it a district. It’s not really a state or even part of a state, just a district. We know it makes little sense, but don’t worry about it.

Amendment 24

If you don’t pay your taxes, you can still vote. We’re not going to let all the rich people run over the poor. So broke or not, you can vote free of charge.

Amendment 25

Section 1

If the president dies or resigns, his BFF will take his place.

Section 2

If his BFF dies or whatever, then the president can pick a new BFF to be vice president

Section 3

If we kick the president out, his BFF takes over.

Section 4

If any other reason comes about that we can’t seem to think of right now the results in the president not being president anymore, the vice president takes over.

Amendment 26

You only have to be 18 to vote no matter what state you live in.

Amendment 27

If we vote for a pay raise, it won’t take effect until after the election.


There you have it folks. The US Constitution simplified by Gary for modern times. I know I had some fun with this, but I made every attempt to actually be factual as well as humorous. I love our constitution, and encourage everyone to read it, understand it, and demand your representatives abide by it. We the people have the power with our votes to make a difference.

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The Constitution…or maybe not

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

How many times have you heard people cite this passage, or at least the “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” bit, as part of our constitution? If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard it often. However, also if you are like me, you know this is NOT part of our constitution. It’s actually from the Declaration of Independence. But for this discussion let’s disregard that distinction, because, although they are not one in the same, they are both doctrines outlining our framers’ intentions.

Even if you are not an American historian I think we can logically assume that the founding fathers were not at the local pub watching the Washington Redskins while sauced on mead when they suddenly decided to write some rebellious nonsense on a napkin in twenty minutes which now hangs in the National Archives. I think it’s fair to assume they spent time pouring over every single word carefully.

Many proponents of greater government intervention tend to ignore this.  In doing so, they miss a very important distinction—the word “pursuit”. Notice how it only comes before the word happiness and it’s actually there in the first place? This was not an accident.

Had they meant for you to only be able to pursue life and liberty, it likely would have been written, “The pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness”. Conversely if they felt like you had a right to be happy, they would have omitted the word altogether.

Proponents of a government-managed economy argue that the role of government is to ensure that all its citizens should be happy in some governmentally-induced Utopia. Yet in the history of mankind, such a Utopia has never really existed. When tried, they’ve usually failed miserably, collapsing under the weight of a tax and spend mentality. Socialism-supporters seem to believe that we have the capability, and the “filthy” rich have the money to do just this. Even if they were right, it was clearly not what our forefathers intended based on that little word “pursuit”.

America was founded on the understanding that without risk, there can be no real reward. Many of us try and fail, some do so to a perilous end.  This is unfortunate, but even so, safety nets are not in the American DNA. Let other nations go broke pursing that pipe dream; we should stick to the formula that has served us so well thus far.

The First Amendment

How many times have you heard the term “Separation of church and state” as a Constitutional argument? My guess is thousands. Again, these words are not in our constitution. What people do all too often is further their agenda by modifying the 1st Amendment which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

I’ve confessed before that I am a science and skepticism advocate and have no active belief in any religion, so one would suspect that I want to further the atheist cause, but I don’t. America is largely Christian, and attempting to diminish that because one is an Atheist is no more proper than Christians trying to force me to become part of their faith.

A recent example was the 9/11 cross; a remnant from the original towers destroyed on that tragic day. It was two I-Beams left standing that formed a cross after all the wreckage began to clear. Many Christians considered it a sign, and the cross was taken to a local church during the clean-up process at ground zero. Now that the new structure is being built, the church has returned the cross to the government-owned memorial site. Atheists are citing separation of church and state issues and crying foul.

So my question to them is this—looking at the amendment it says, “Make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. Where is the law being passed in regards to them displaying a remnant from 9/11 that looks like a cross? I find this behavior embarrassing to responsible non-believers such as myself who know the Constitution’s intent and limitations.

On the flip side, as a Libertarian, many laws which by their very nature are promoting religious beliefs such as most everything your local vice squad would enforce are based on Christian philosophy and therefore are indeed unconstitutional. One needs only be denied the ability to buy liquor on Sunday to understand why we get upset. There is no reason for such a law except with Christian influence, yet they affect all of us. The church has its laws, the Ten Commandments, which all Christians are to adhere to. For the rest of us, they mean nothing, and our forefathers didn’t intend for us to be encumbered by them

A Libertarian, like many Republicans, will be for the smallest governmental-intervention possible, and we believe our forefathers intended as much with every fiber of their being. It’s why Ron Paul and Gary Johnson run as Republicans. But unlike many in the Republican Party, we take the Constitution and the Declaration a little more seriously. While we don’t necessarily condone and/or endorse the use of the myriad of vices, we feel that by passing such laws, Congress is preventing free expression and denying a pursuit of happiness to those of us who are non-believers.

I’m not necessarily asking for Christian Conservatives to side with me on this, they shouldn’t based on their beliefs. But a little understanding and respect for the opinions of us non-believers and Libertarians would sure be appreciated, and you have my solemn promise that I won’t try to take nativity scenes off display at Christmas, remove “In God We Trust” from the dollar bill, or any other nonsense that doesn’t violate the verbiage of the Constitution. If the majority want these things that do not infringe on my rights, they’re welcome to them with my blessing.

Science and Skepticism – Don’t allow democrats to claim it as their own

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

I consider myself to be agnostic/atheist.  I am not a devout atheist who has an active believe that there is no God nor am I a true agnostic who maintains that it is impossible to know if there is a God.  I am in the middle—I readily admit that I personally do not know if there is a God.

I must also confess that other than my public K-12 education, I’ve received no formal training in science. I am however, a science geek, and I’d like to point out a basic tenet of science and skepticism that I’ve learned:

A person should not assume something to be true until they have evidence to support it. We humans, especially politicians, have this incessant need to purport to know everything. When we don’t understand something, we often opt for a reason of convenience instead of just saying those three beautiful words: “I don’t know” or the three even more lovely words, “I wonder why…”

Politicians on both sides have been conditioned to act as though they know it all because ignorance appears weak, but this is wrong! Lack of curiosity is weak.  Ignorance just means there is more to be learned!

Curiosity is one of mankind’s most amazing qualities. It’s the reason why we know how to cure a vast array of illnesses that befuddled us no less than a hundred years ago. Have you ever seen a bear solve a problem it couldn’t have solved a century ago? I didn’t think so.

To give you a practical example of why this is important, look no further than the American criminal court system where you are “Innocent until proven guilty”.

Imagine if John and Jane are at a party. Jane says to her friends, “John is a murderer”.

John will of course exclaim, “I’ve never murdered anyone!”

“Prove it” replies Jane.

Think about that. How would John PROVE he has never murdered anyone? The fact is that he can’t. Proving a negative is often impossible. So the burden of proof should always ride on the person making the claim.

This leads me to skepticism, a word that is often mischaracterized. I consider myself part of the skeptical movement thanks to people like Dr. Michael Shermer. Don’t worry—it’s  not a club, cult, or anything else. It’s more of a mindset. The common misconception is that skeptics don’t believe in anything.  The truth is that skeptics resist believing anything without supporting evidence. They gather as much data as possible, then make a decision if they believe they have enough evidence to do so.

What does all this have to do with politics you might ask?

The Democratic Party asserts that they are the party of science and skepticism while painting Republicans out as cavemen even though many conservatives, like me, embrace this philosophy as well. Because I’m a small government conservative, I get very annoyed when pseudo-intellectuals (people who assume they are smart with no evidence to support that claim) assume that  I must be anti-science and therefore not very intelligent because I’m conservative.

Many of you are reading this and saying, “Yeah, I’ve had people assume that about me once or twice”. Right?

But conservatism and science have NOTHING to do with each other. Being a conservative should mean that you are for little government intervention in your personal and professional lives and that strict adherence to the constitution of the United States is important to you.

Many Republicans wrongly believe that, by acknowledging science, they are admitting to being aligned with atheists, man-made climate change proponents, etc. Don’t sell yourselves short!

The fact is, we as conservatives must embrace accepted scientific evidence.  Things like eyeless/pigmentless fish that exist in caves, the human appendix, and countless other examples are proof of some form of evolution whether you believe in a creator or not. To deny evolution exists in some form means to deny much of which we learned in basic high school biology. Conservatives cannot afford to be seen as the “Flat Earth Society”.

Before you think I’m about to tell someone they should not be a creationist, stop! I always feel it is appropriate for me to tell you what I believe, but it is NOT acceptable for me to dictate to you what you should believe.

Here’s where science AND skepticism come in. It is possible that a creator put evolution in motion isn’t it? So it is possible to have a belief yet be open to new information. That open-mindedness is the definition of being an intellectual.
As for climate change: You have Al Gore doing his best Harold Camping impression. Convincing everyone the world is going to end soon rarely helps your career. But, if climate change is man-made (There’s evidence to support both sides), then it’s worth addressing with an open mind.

Democrats claim skepticism, yet they’re in lock step regarding this issue. Objectivity left them years ago. This is where conservatives should capitalize, but instead, Republicans are also in lock step, just in the opposite direction. Conservatives could hit a home run by acknowledging the data, acknowledging the claims are possible, but pointing out that it’s still a theory and not universally accepted fact.

Conservative should make a statement like this:

“I believe the data is real and worthy of concern. However, there’s still research to be done. Until that research is proven beyond any doubt and other contributing factors that we can’t change have been ruled out, I have no interest in breaking the backs of American businesses and bankrupting our country to combat it. Had we done so not that long ago when scientists believed there was an impending ice age, millions would have been wasted for no good reason. So I’m not about to do that to America now.”

My simple statement acknowledges the scientific data, yet responsibly demonstrates skepticism in a way that any reasonable party should welcome. I believe conservatives that do this will display a superior attitude and intellect than most, attract those who are also skeptical about such issues (most Americans are), and will bring the Republican party out of the “dark-ages” pigeonhole that Democrats have worked so hard to put us in.

 

Big Government Liberal vs Limited Government Conservative

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

A quick explanation of the title: In order to put a stop to semantical nonsense, I specify Big Government Liberal (BGL) and Limited Government Conservative (LGC) so there is no doubt to whom I refer. Some Liberals have indeed championed limited government, and some conservatives have adopted causes that grow Uncle Sam’s estate.

Here are a few viewpoints about these two paradigms that I’d like to share that are rarely discussed:

BGL’s are lazy.

To represent my point, let’s start with Warren Buffett’s new mantra that he should be taxed more. We have a man who is clearly a genius that lives modestly compared to his net worth. A recent interview showed he drove an older used car and lives in a fairly small home relative to his income. He asks to be taxed more because he presumably hopes the government will use those extra tax dollars for good causes.  Meanwhile, he is oblivious to the historical data that demonstrates the contrary.

I think it’s commendable when people give to charity; Bill Gates is a great example. But my apologies Mr. Buffett, government is NOT a charity. There are endless stories of government waste, fraud, and abuse.  Unless he’s never watched a news program or read a newspaper, he certainly knows this! Why would someone knowingly give money to an organization with a reputation for waste and expect that money to be used properly for good? It’s like going on holiday and giving your alcoholic roommate the keys to your liquor cabinet for safe keeping.

The reason I say this is lazy is because Warren is a brilliant man. Can he not think of a job creating or problem solving idea on his own that he could invest his money in that will be far more effective than giving it to the government? Instead, he’s essentially offering to donate to a fiscal toilet bowl that has proven highly proficient at flushing money down the drain.

So I would politely ask Mr. Buffett to stop being lazy and either invest his money in a worthwhile endeavor of his own creation or give it to a reputable charity, but PLEASE stop trying to give it to Uncle Sam. Coming up with a business idea that he could start for $100 million would create a lot of jobs and, if run properly, would be self-sustaining. He wouldn’t have to pump money into it continuously like a charity. He could just start it, run it, and watch it grow, create jobs, and better our economy…AND if it makes a profit, he could donate those profits to charity if he doesn’t want them. But such an idea would require effort on his part. Instead, he just wants to write a check to the Fed and hope it works.

He should look to Bill and Linda Gates who employ a mountain of people and have a charitable foundation that they oversee to make sure it does what it is supposed to do. As a result, they do significantly more for the world than Warren Buffett ever will even though both have a respectable charitable mindset because, while Warren wants to take the lazy way out and give his wealth to the government, Bill Gates rolled up his sleeves, got to work, and solved many more problems all on his own.

BGL’s fight nature, LGC’s adhere to it.

We all should know that self preservation is not a learned behavior; it is instilled in every living creature in the animal kingdom and is evolutionarily beneficial to us all. Accidentally put your hand on a hot stove, and without conscious thought, you’ll remove it immediately. It’s because your brain will always force your body to do whatever it thinks it needs to do to prevent injury or death; it is nearly impossible to resist that instinct.

If you have ever flown on a commercial airline, you’ll remember the speech given every flight about the oxygen masks and how one should secure their own mask prior to attempting to help others such as your spouse or children. Even if you are altruistic and want to help others before you help yourself, the fact is that except for organ donors, you can’t help someone else if you’re dead. The best way to put yourself in position to help others is to make sure you are healthy FIRST.

LGC’s inherently understand these concepts. For instance, they know when they send their child off to school, not to give them a debit card from their bank account. They give him one that is linked to a separate account that they put a fixed sum into every month. Why? Because little Johnny is likely to spend $100 a night at the local club on wine, women, and song based on collegiate history. While the parents may trust their little angel, it’s still not a bad idea to avoid giving them the opportunity to drain the family bank account lest they all go down in financial ruin.

BGL’s however feel better about themselves if they get the government to bilk the wealthy out of their fortune because they are oblivious to the harm it does to these folks. They seem to think the wealthy are immune to going broke, and that no matter what they take from them, somehow they’ll never be poor. Of course we know many rich people in history have gone broke—usually  as a result of misspent fortune. Many former professional athletes and musicians can surely attest. Contrary to BGL beliefs, wealthy people are not infinitely rich. There’s only so much money to be taken from these people. More often than not, this incessant desire to rob them of their fortune is born out of envy, not altruism.

So while BGL’s assume the LGC’s are just being greedy, it’s really just natural self preservation at work. There’s nothing wrong with that! The thing that infuriates me the most is that BGL’s are routinely just generous with other people’s money, Warren Buffett excluded. Look no further than Michael Moore, a self-professed socialist that believes rich people who live extravagantly should be stripped almost completely of their fortune, yet he resides in an approximately $2 million estate AND has a posh apartment in NYC. I’ll bet he rarely invites a homeless person to stay at either one.

LGC’s are the people of personal responsibility, BGL’s…not so much.

Many BGL social platforms seem to revolve around the notion that people who are downtrodden have been abused by the top 1%. This is simply not true. People with money are rich for four potential reasons.

A)     They came up with a great idea, worked hard, brought it to fruition, and are reaping the benefits.

B)      They won the lottery

C)      Were born into A or B

D)     They are engaged in criminal activity

While the legal system works hard to expose the nations pilferers, the fact is most wealthy individuals came about their fortunes quite legally. I’m all for liquidating every single asset from the criminal classes, but BGL’s act as though the A’s, B’s, C’s, and D’s are one in the same. The entrepreneurs of this great nation worked hard, invested a lot of time, money, and effort into what they did, and they’re responsible for their success. For BGL’s to think that somehow they have a right to force these folks to give up their wealth for things like Solyndra, Fannie/Freddie, GM and Chrysler, saving the whales, foreign aid for countries that don’t even like us, or any other avenue that the government gives tax dollars to defies all that is just. It’s their money. They should have the absolute right to spend it or give it away as they see fit.

While I am certainly aware that there are people who are unsuccessful, often through little or no fault of their own, the fact is that people who are poor are often a product of their own lack of personal responsibility, motivation, or personality. The wealthy had nothing to do with the poor’s condition. People talk so often about big corporations like Walmart destroying small businesses, but Walmart, like almost every other corporation, started out as a small business itself. Small businesses fail—not  because of the rich–but  because of poor business models, products, or leadership. We’ve all worked with someone who constantly shows up late for work if they show up at all. When they do show up, they have a bad attitude, they put in a mediocre effort, they complain about every aspect of the company, and when they don’t get the promotion they wanted, they act as if somehow it’s not their fault.

America is flush with success stories where someone with nothing achieved greatness. So I’m not buying the notion for one second that success is only available to the upper class because there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence to refute that argument. Herman Cain was right to tell people that if they are not successful, look in the mirror. More often than not, the biggest hurdle is staring back at them.

So the class warfare blame game is the ultimate display of a lack of personal responsibility, and it’s time honest hard working Americans said, “Enough!”  I’m responsible for my success, YOU are responsible for yours. May the best person win!

When, Where, and Why to debate a big government person

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

When I was younger I tended to choose my side then argue it passionately. Often I did so with little care or understanding of my opponents beliefs. I don’t think I was foolish enough to actually believe that I would change the mind of my opposition, but somehow I didn’t seem to grasp the futility of trying to change someone’s mind when it has already been made up.

As conservatives, we must first understand that it is nearly impossible to convince a big government proponent that the government should be the last line of defense, not the first. However, we must keep in mind that, when we are debating, other people may be watching. Many of whom, may be the “independents.”

Partisans will always vote their party and are rarely swayed, but a majority of Americans are either apolitical or independent. It’s those independents that decide elections. That point cannot be overstated and must be understood if you are to have a discussion with your opposition.

Often, these independents quietly listen to both sides make their respective points, then go to the polls and vote without either side being aware they were even paying attention to them. We’re often ignorant to the fact that those on the fence are the ONLY ones to be swayed by who presents the best argument.

So it is important for conservatives to debate big government liberals every chance we get, but with the knowledge of what we can reasonably achieve doing so. Mark Twain wisely said, “Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”   It is important that we keep this in mind. So let me introduce you to “Gary’s rules about arguing with a big government proponent”:

Rule #1: NEVER DEBATE A BIG GOVERNMENT PROPONENT WHEN THERE ARE NO INDEPENDENTS AROUND.

I love debating politics on Facebook or in person when others are around because I hope to sway a few independents. I have no intention of actually swaying the liberal themselves because I know that’s virtually impossible. Big Government vs small government is often a core belief, just like religion, and it is rare someone lets go of that. I can only hope to present a better argument than my opponent for those who are watching. However, arguing with a big government type by yourself is utterly pointless unless raising your blood pressure was recommended by your doctor. So don’t waste your time even trying.

Rule #2: ALWAYS LET THEM SAY EVERYTHING THEY WANT TO SAY.

Always let them say everything they are trying to say because, more often than not, they will shoot themselves in the foot. Let’s talk about Nancy Pelosi’s famous, “We have to pass the bill to see what’s in it” statement. Had I said to someone prior to that that Nancy Pelosi is not very bright, people might have thought I was just being mean or simply didn’t like her. The more she speaks and makes statements like that, the more she demonstrates it all on her own without me having to come off as mean-spirited. So by all means, if you get one that’s about to spew nonsensical ideas, let them do so without interruption. Independents are smart enough to know insanity when they hear it. So let them hear it without interruption.

Rule #3: MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY’RE SAYING.

This is important because you want to demonstrate you’re the intelligent one in the argument.

I’ll give you an unrelated example that always annoys me. Comedians often joke about those annoying mattress tags and the illegality of removing them. To most, it seems like big government nonsense. However, it is only illegal for the SELLER to remove the tag, not the buyer. This is because the tag outlines the chemical content of the mattress so that a buyer with allergies can know prior to purchase if they’re facing a potential health hazard sleeping on the mattress. Unscrupulous salespeople may have removed such tags because the information on them might cost them a sale. However, the buyer legally has a right to know that stuff before they spend their hard earned money. So if you make such a joke, people who understand why the tag is there will be aware of your ignorance regarding the subject, and to them you’ll look like a dolt.

So in order to dismantle someone’s argument, understanding it is crucial lest you risk looking like the ignorant one.

Rule #4: ACKNOWLEDGE THE GOOD INTENTIONS OF WHAT THEY’RE SAYING, AND THEN TELL THEM WHAT IS WRONG ABOUT THEIR ARGUMENT.

Communism is evil! We conservatives have felt that way since the beginning of time. However, independents that grew up reading the story of Robin Hood are not often as convinced.

Ronald Reagan once joked, “How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin”

He was making a humorous quip as he often did so well, but it demonstrates a valid point. Some independents are that way because they have little interest in learning about politics and the fundamentals between capitalism vs. communism. For many, it’s simply a boring subject. If you tell them robing from the rich and giving to the poor is evil, they’re not going to buy it.

So if I were to argue against socialism, it is important I acknowledge the morality of the notion that if we all pooled our resources and worked hard as a unit, no one would be left behind and no one would live in poverty. Once you acknowledge that, THEN you move on to the how it has historically played out in the real world.

The importance of empathy for your opponent cannot be understated. If you debate that way, independents will get the impression that you gave your opponent’s view serious consideration before deciding it was wrong based on the historical data. It shows objectivity, which is critical to being seen as the most genuine person in the room.

Rule #5: STICK TO HISTORICAL FACT, SCIENCE, LOGIC, AND REASONING. LEAVE THE EMOTIONS AND ATTACKS AT THE DOOR.

When one wants to be entertained, they watch a comedian. When they want to learn something, they ask a scientist. If you’re debating, you’re trying to educate. So leave the personal attacks to the other side. Big government types LOVE to call us small government folks evil, greedy, heartless, etc., and they often use much more colorful language to do so.

DON’T BITE! Stick to the facts and show that you’re above the name calling. While attacks can be entertaining, they’re rarely seen as the work of a genius. If all they do is call me names and tell me I’m an idiot, and all I do is recite historical facts, science, logic and reasoning to counter their argument, who do you think will win the debate in the minds of the viewers?

We all know the cliché that those who profess their innocence the loudest are that much more likely to be guilty. Even if you’ve never heard the cliché, you’ve probably experienced it by watching an episode of Judge Alex. So less passion and more logic in your argument will assure you’re deemed as “the smart one”. Don’t get drawn into a fight. Let your opponents act like schoolyard bullies while you recite facts, make intelligent points, and show objectivity and reason. You can’t help but sway a few independents to your side debating like that.

 

 

 

The Ten Commandments for GOP presidential candidates

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Have you ever been around someone who constantly attacks other people, complains as if their life depends on it, and deals in personal and/or ad hominem attacks?

What did you think of that person?

I’m guessing words like “Leader, Visionary, Brilliant…Presidential” didn’t come to mind.

Unfortunately, the angry person I describe above, characterized quite a few of the GOP presidential contenders in the last primary debates.  Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum dealt attacks as if they were part of their religion. Meanwhile, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and oddly enough Ron Paul, seemed to stay on point—largely ignoring their opponents.

President Reagan’s famous 11th commandment—Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican—was largely ignored. Reagan knew that such attacks not only make you look petty and unprofessional, but they also give your opponents ammunition to use against your own party later in the general election. Since he won 44 states the first election, and 49 the second, I’d say he’s a decent presidential role model to learn from.

Aside from that, running on the “At least I’m not him/her” platform doesn’t convince people you are exceptional, because it doesn’t showcase your ideas; it just demonstrates you don’t like your opponent.

Herman Cain
Herman Cain

It’s also important to understand that party loyalists don’t win elections; independents do. The majority of Americans can easily be swayed to the left or right depending on who has the most positive message—Obama proved that style wins over substance. A majority of Americans do not like his policies (when they’re told of them without knowing they’re Obama’s ideas), yet he resides in the White House because he has a positive character and demeanor that convinced independents he was the best candidate. These voters largely ignored the substance behind his rhetoric, and didn’t apply much critical thinking when he spoke, because they just liked him so much as a person.


With that in mind, here are my Ten Commandments for the upcoming crop of presidential hopefuls.

1) Never speak ill of your opponent: Only talk about what you would do to fix the current situation. If you get attacked, defend yourself without attacking back. Don’t make a case as to why the other candidate is a worse candidate than you. Make your case for why YOU are the best candidate—period.

2) Always stay positive: Ever notice that even when Reagan cracked on Carter, it always came off as polite ribbing or a humorous quip? That wasn’t an accident. He won because he came off as a good man, not a hateful one. He was always amiable and affable. If you want people to vote for you, they first have to like you, and no one likes a hater.

3) Lose the fake smile: You’re not fooling anyone, so don’t fake any mannerisms; especially your smile. Anyone who has ever taken a picture knows the difference between a real and a forced one when they see it. So anything that doesn’t appear genuine comes off as a lie, including your smile. You’re politicians, not actors—just be yourself.

4) Sell your message to independents and conservatives alike: Preaching to the choir may get you the party nomination, but it will rarely get you the election. Assume that people aren’t on your side from the start, and tell them why they should join you. Reach out to non-traditional GOP voting blocks and try to find the common ground with them instead of ignoring them.

5) By all means be detailed in your plan, but simplify your message: You want everyone from economic geniuses to those with little to no experience in economics or politics to understand what you are saying. There was a perception that Newt Gingrich was the smartest man in the last debates, but to the politically uninformed, he just came off as someone who used a lot of big words they didn’t understand. This made him seem untrustworthy since it appeared he was just pulling the wool over their eyes. Find a way to give enough details to show the informed you aren’t just blowing smoke and you have a workable plan, but make it understandable to all.

Newt Gingrich

6) Try to find something good to say about your opponent before you criticize their policies: I specify policies, because if you criticize them personally or their character, you might as well just quit now and save your donors from supporting the next presidential runner-up.

Let me give an example: If you were debating against Obama, you might say something like: “Obama did show courage in sending troops into Pakistan to kill Bin Laden, and he absolutely deserves credit for that. But pulling the troops out of Iraq under an aggressive timeline puts our troops and the mission in danger”.

This shows objectivity. When you demonstrate you can give credit to your opponent when it is due, then it shows independents that your criticisms are honest, not just incessant bemoaning by a partisan who will never say a positive word about their political rivals.

Admit when you make a mistake: Herman Cain and Rick Perry admitted to previous mistakes in the debates.  This did great things for their likability. On the other hand, Mitt Romney continuing to support his health care plan as he condemned Obama’s looked completely disingenuous and hypocritical. Blindly defending everything you’ve done and never admitting fallibility shows that you are not honest. Everyone knows that people make mistakes. If you can’t admit to yours, any credibility you may have had goes out the window.

Show flexibility: People want to know that you’re willing to grow and change as president. If you’re inflexible, it says you’ll never get anything done. It’s an extension of not admitting mistakes. Herman Cain revamped his 9-9-9 plan to 9-0-9 for the impoverished in an effort to show his flexibility. Partisans think it shows weakness. Independents think it shows willingness to improve and work with others.

Scientists change their hypotheses all the time based on new information, because it’s the most effective method to attain the truth. There’s a lesson in that.

Crack a joke now and then: “I will not let my opponent’s youth and experience be an issue…” ~ Ronald Reagan. It was moments like that that made America love Reagan. If you’re a horrible joke teller, don’t force it, because it will come off horribly. But genuine light-hearted humor shows your human side. No one wants to elect a robot.

Don’t manufacture rage: Entirely too often, candidates will take an issue that no one really cares about and make a big deal about it.
Every chink in your opponent’s armor should not be seen as an opportunity to attack, it risks the “crying wolf” effect. Eventually your rage is just seen as incessant whining, and it makes you look petty and immature.

Save your rage for things that most Americans are honestly upset about and let the media pundits make a big deal out of the little things for your base. Behaving cool as a cucumber until a real crisis confronts you looks presidential.

For a great example of how to behave this way, look at former White House Press Secretary and Fox News analyst, Dana Perino. She’s certainly a Republican, but every time she’s on set, she’s fair in her analysis, so that when she does truly report on something we should all be furious about, you tend to take her more seriously than others who are in full-blown attack mode 100% of the time. She rarely takes the bait when given an opportunity to turn a molehill into a mountain.

Former White House Press Secretary and Fox News Analyst Dana Perino
Former White House Press Secretary and Fox News Analyst Dana Perino

I could go on, but those ten are a good start. I implore every conservative candidate to remember that you win more bees with honey. Respect the other position first, those on the fence between that position and yours will laud you for it. Once you’ve shown them some respect, THEN point out why you think your opinion is better. If you follow the Commandments, you’ll find that those on the fence will decide they’d rather be in your backyard than your opponent’s.