Pivoting to the General Election



Pivot noun  piv·ot \ˈpi-vət\

: a pin or shaft on which a mechanical part turns

: the action of turning around a point: the action of pivoting

: a person or thing that is central or important to someone or something else

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary


The primary process is winding down for the 2016 presidential election. Professional pundits (the people who get paid well to do what bloggers do for free) are scratching their heads about how Donald Trump just became the Republican candidate for president. Meanwhile the press corps is completely distancing themselves from responsibility of promoting the Trump campaign non-stop the past 10 months.  The media involvement is a discussion for another day. Now, is the time to discuss pivoting.

What is pivoting?

Pivoting is what candidates do to expand their message from one that is crafted specifically for the base of their political party in the language of speeches and messaging; which they then expanded to become palatable for the wider General Election audience. For example, in Donald Trump’s case his immigrant, Muslim, woman bashing sketch about building the Wall and making Mexico pay for it switches to being something more along the lines of, ah they aren’t so bad.

On the Republican side, Trump is pivoting to the General Election. The Democrats are still having a race to decide the candidate. Regardless of what you may see with the media who assume it is over. Hillary Clinton would like to believe that they are right. Hillary Clinton wants to pivot to the General Election, even though she has gone from a forgone conclusion to facing a real possibility that Bernie Sanders may be the final choice of the voters because of his authenticity. Authenticity means that there is no need to pivot because for better or worse, depending on your opinion, one thing we can agree on is that his message stays the same.

Don’t go changing.

The question I have today is why does a candidate have to pivot at all? The Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary says that to pivot in this context is when “A person or thing is central or important to someone or something else; and the action of turning around a point: the action of pivoting.” So it means to change a fundamental position to something else that is important to someone else.

Here is the problem I have with pivoting. It is true that this is a common strategy with candidates. The reason why it is common, is because candidates craft a message to please their audience, to persuade them to vote the way the candidate wants them to.  However, the candidate has a real agenda we all realize this. Many times the real agenda has nothing to do with what they tell voters during a campaign to secure votes. Most of us also realize that. These speeches that some call pandering, is considered a means to an end. When a candidate pivots, they change the message to become more likable to another more expansive audience. The problem is that voters of 2016 are no longer interested in appeasing talking points, they are looking for accountability and results. There for business as usual will be problematic for 2016 candidates up and down the ticket.

Who are they today?

The pivot is the core reason why many people do not trust politicians. I would invite political insiders to embrace the fact that the pivot is dead. Here is why. The Internet. The internet has collected all of the televised speeches. All of the speeches that attendees recorded with their cell phones. The public appearances and pretty much everything that a candidate has ever said. It is naïve at best and obtuse at worst to think that a candidate is going to be able to say one thing and then get away with saying something completely different later.

Take for example ex-candidate Ted Cruz’s “New York Values” moment.  It happened during one of the earlier Republican debates when Cruz proceeded to slam liberal New York values because we all know what that means in a crowd of uptight Evangelicals, right? His problem was when he arrived in New York and wanted to put all of that behind him like that never happened. The people of New York however, had a clearer recall of his statement, and Cruz learned that the lack of admiration was mutual, as he slunk away with 0% of the New York vote.

Be yourself.

Pivots do not work. What they do is make voters think that nothing a politician says is real. Most of the time voters are right, politicians are just saying what they think a voter wants to hear to vote for them. That is what makes it so unusual when one politician continues to say the same thing for over 40 years no matter how he thinks it will be received. He says the things he does, because he believes in it, and he believes it is the best path forward for America. It is difficult not to respect that rare brand of authenticity in today’s world; whether or not you agree with what he is saying. No pivots for Sanders, steady as she goes. I don’t respect a pivot. If a message is changing that much it is difficult to know what the truth may be.

Pivots build lack of trust, and why would anyone agree to give power to a person that they do not trust? I know this is totally out of left field but politicians need to just tell us what they want to do. Just tell us the truth. Put their policy platforms and their voting records out there to be judged and see what happens. I know insane right. But the rest is just distraction that is how it goes now that there is an internet we will find the truth out, so quit wasting time and just tell us the truth. We have busy lives here! We have a record of everything that has been said.

Granted, it is not easy for politicians today; I do not envy them at all. However, they must be forthright, they must be honest. That is the only kind of person that we can trust to hold the full force of the power and prestige that comes with being the next president of the United States of America.

What does America value?

In our society money decides how resources are distributed. Those with the most money, have the most options. Sometimes I wonder is money the most efficient way to decide who gets what? In America specifically, status is determined by income. However, it can be argued that the most noble work is done by those paid the least, maybe even nothing–volunteers. At the same time there is a lot of money pooled with those who seem to be lacking a heart of service. They hoard money in off shore accounts. The work done by some of the highest income earners does not appear to be work that is life-giving. The work does not produce anything lasting. If that is the case, we are not doing our best to effectively manage resources to meet the needs of the people who our government represents. We have lost the sense of stewardship that human kind needs to live with peace of mind and in balance with the ecosystems that we occupy.

Life is about more than profits.

The first problem with having money decide who is able to access resources, is that there are many worthwhile endeavors that are not profitable. Adding the profit aspect to health care, education, and prisons creates a business model that breaks the systems they claim to serve. The fact that they are not profitable does not mean that they are not worthwhile endeavors. It simply means that society does not want to pay for them. Many of the social services are not “fun” ways to spend money. Yet, they are vital to the general well-being of the communities that we live in. There are many things worth doing for the greater good that does not make a profit.

Bringing back the balance.

How can things be brought back to balance?

Some say charity is how to solve society’s imbalances. Yet, I am not sure that charity as we know it is the answer. The first reason why that is true is because the work that needs to be done is not always the work that people want to pay for. Some of the work that is needed by society is not considered “sexy” by funders. The process to access grants is lengthy, complex, and limited. The process is cumbersome and does not always address what is needed but instead focuses on what the charity is willing to give.

There needs to be a review of the way America does business. Stockholders versus workers. Which should be the priority? When stockholders do not see the vision of the company and are looking for a one-way street to profits not seeing the long-term vision of community and the way that the organization lives in the community it can be problematic. What then should be done to keep the fiduciary promises to stockholders while still being able to invest back into the company and community.

Our society appears to be economically driven, however the economic cycle is not free-flowing and the stagnant lack of a strong economic flow worsened by the lack of disposable income, makes solving problems on a one-on-one or community level, virtually impossible. The way we think about resources and problem-solving must change and become more egalitarian so that our society begins to reflect the best of all of us manifesting real solutions. Instead of what has been happening which is the worst of all of us manifesting our fears. I still have faith that humanity is capable of amazing things. However, to get there the focus must be on working together. That gives value to all Americans and I believe that is truly what American values is all about.MiamiHeraldValues

“Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Why that doesn’t matter in the 2012 Election.

One would be hard-pressed to find an American that did not have a difficult time the last four years. America has suffered the worst economic collapse since the 1930’s. Understandably, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the Republicans want to hold President Obama accountable for the last four years. They are driving the point home by using an old line. It was October 28, 1980, when Ronald Regan recycled Franklin Roosevelt’s question “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Normally, a politician can get some traction with this question. Particularly if the past four years weren’t good ones. However, this time it is not relevant and this is why. Nothing is the same now as it was four years ago, and if trends continue we may hardly recognize what comes next in the years leading to 2016.

Economic problems are structural not cyclical.

It would be one thing if the current economic problems were a cyclical bump in the road. That is not the case, what America is experiencing is growing pains from a structural change driven by automation and constantly updating technology. This is a blessing for cost control and efficiency, yet from the employment side it is a curse. What are the employment options for folks who have a lower skill level, now that there is so much competition for coveted positions left in this shrinking job pool? In addition, though it is a good thing to think in ways that create a more environmentally sustainable future, this also causes economic growing pains. For generations, families have built their lives around the coalmines or the oil fields. The choice to move away from fossil fuels is a correct one, however leaders and policy makers need to consider those who are left behind by this fundamental change in how we look at Energy Policy and how that interacts with Labor Policy. These are but a few of the many complex challenges the US Economy faces. Not only domestic pressures, perhaps even more powerful, are the tremendous changes taking place outside of US borders and therefore outside of the President’s direct influence.

The world is not the same.

The world has gone through mind-blowing changes over the past four years. The tumultuous birth of Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa by way of the Arab Spring is one example. This opens up a completely new set of complex and delicate issues to maneuver going forward. Things will not go back to the way they were before. The old answers are irrelevant. In addition, the economic situation with the European Union and its members who are reshaping the relationships they have with one another. This has little in common with the way it was even fifteen years before. The past four years were incredibly tumultuous, creating many unknowns that will need answers.  Can the European Union be successful without sharing political power in order to set consistent  Economic policy? Will the European Union survive the recent economic crisis? The solutions the EU come up with will  impact the United States although the President will have limited, if any control over what happens. Again, this is a minute glimpse of the many issues happening all over the globe. The next President will need to be capable of deftly maneuvering through the historically critical window for as long as it is open during the next four years. This could set the tone in US foreign relations for the next century.

There is no turning back.

The greatest concern about the direction the Conservatives in the Republican Party are taking is that it seems to be going backward. Hearing many Conservatives speak, one wonders if they are in some sort of time machine stuck in 1950’s perhaps in some episode of Mad Men? The warrants that the party operates on seem to be from a bygone era that is no longer true. It is just not like that anymore. The minorities are becoming the majority. Poverty is due to many complex variables not just because people aren’t trying hard enough. Things like pensions, a living wage, and the ability to own a home, which give stability to the middle-class that is the backbone of the American culture and economy. Women’s issues are not just issues for women. Equal pay, affordable early childhood education, food security, and the ability for a woman to decide when and how many children she feels capable to care for are all issues that influence the society as a whole. Thinking in the past in ways that women are not the breadwinners for their homes and other such lost in the ‘50s delusions driving policy is not relevant in 2012 and beyond. The looming possibility of multiple Supreme Court appointments happening in this term add higher stakes to the polices of the candidates. It’s  important to pay attention to those who influence each man, especially those who don’t want to fight once more the vicious fight for women’s personal rights.

Voters will decide.

The “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” question may have worked before. However, we are not in the same world that we were in four years ago. We are not in the 1950’s. America needs to choose the candidate who acknowledges these changes and is able to navigate them. It is difficult for me to be confident in the Romney campaign because the Romney/Ryan Republicans are so intent on living in the past when directing us into the future is so important.  I have much more confidence from seeing Barack Obama’s performance thus far,  that he is the best choice to lead us through the next four years successfully. My confidence about the President’s future success would certainly increase if the Republicans lose big in the local and Congressional races.

My Body, My Business

There is a lot of talk going on in political debate about contraception and  a woman and her partner’s control over reproductive planning. The responsibility and the power comes from the woman’s decision. Why? Because it is the woman that carries the baby.  The woman that goes through the birthing process. The woman which, in a high percentage of situations, is the primary care giver and therefore is the one who makes the most change to her life in order to care for her children, especially during their first five years of life. The first five years are vital developmentally.

I don’t think this debate is about religious freedom. I think the church leaders would like to think so. But if it were about religion we would have policy to eradicate poverty which is mentioned in the Bible 2,000 times. So it’s not about religion. What it is about is the high cost of insurance for women of childbearing age to which I say “Too damn bad.” I say that because the same group of folks who bash “socialist” health care want to leave women hanging by not assisting with her health care needs. Companies which basically own people. They tell them when to wake up, when to eat, when to sleep, when to go to the bathroom, when to take a vacation. So they own them. Even slave owners of the past realized that they have to provide slaves with basic health care. Didn’t these folks get the memo?  With all the money dolled out on studies for employee retention and satisfaction and none of those brainiacs can figure out that people need to have their family needs met to be productive employees? The company should get its consulting money back and apply it to the needs of its employees. And why wouldn’t they want their female employees on birth control? If they are on birth control, they are at work. The whole thing is ridiculous!

Freedom, something so essential to the core of being American. The choices about who I have sex with, when I have sex, what style of sex I choose to have, and when I choose to have a pregnancy result from that sex having is MY business. I shouldn’t have to call up my elected official and ask permission. That is the essence of personal freedom. Now keeping in mind I am talking about sex with two consenting adults. Other than that, it is up to the adults what they do with their bodies. The political right wants to run archaic bills through state houses and Congress without political consequences.  To that I say, “Too damn bad.” They need to be penalized politically for taking our country backwards. That strategy (if that’s what they are calling it) is not going to win the GOP the Independent vote in November.  Independents, like reasonable Republicans and Democrats, are watching the actions not the crazy propaganda coming out of the GOP talking-heads’ mouths. The Republicans could easily lay off the social issues and focus on the economy. Pull together some jobs. Do THEIR jobs for goodness sake. The longer they entertain this penchant for the bad old days is as long as they will be locked out of public office come November.

ALEC Friend or Foe to American democracy?

Across America, states are experiencing drastic budget reductions.  The need to decrease payroll costs limits the number of staff members available to assist lawmakers with the diverse complexity involved in the enormous task of writing state legislation.  Legislatures mitigate this circumstance by soliciting outside resources for research support. Various interest groups grew from this specialized need for information gathering, they became expert sources pertaining to the needs identified about a particular issue or industry. Typically, these organizations are non-profits and claim nonpartisanship to appeal to the greatest amount of donors and clients.  Groups who remain nonpartisan preserve its reputation as credible information source without a pre-determined political agenda. Even so, the nature of an individual interest group’s work is such that it may show a certain political slant that endears them to certain lawmakers. Naturally, a lawmaker chooses to align with groups representing his or her political ideology. The function of an interest organization is to supply background information about their topic, possibly by attending meetings, and providing talking points that a legislator can utilize to speak to the press if needed.  The support of credible interest groups bolsters support from the public for the legislation, when the system works as intended it allows the system of democracy to run efficiently.

It is customary for interest groups to send their own press releases out to media outlets in support of the lawmaker and the bill they are working on together.  When the public sees the same information, coming from multiple sources it lends further validation of that point of view.  There are two ways to go about this process. One is a fact-based release, it provides an opportunity to learn about an issue and it’s solution.  The other is to release selective fact telling to the media; it calls the integrity of the information, and those who released it into question. This misleads and confuses citizens because the information is coming from multiple “expert” sources. This technique builds a storyline into the public consciousness with the use of propaganda and tampers with democracy. Whichever technique is used the reward is the same. It is the opportunity to have hands-on time with the bill in order to construct a “model” bill.  A model bill is a perfect bill from the interest group’s point of view.  Yet, if legislators are manipulating the information and interest groups act as an assist to pass what would otherwise be an unpopular bill, this too is tampering with the democratic process.

With the knowledge that state legislators are understaffed and looking to interact with industry experts, it is not difficult to see how state legislators would be enticed by the opportunity to meet with several high-power industry representatives who specialize in the issues of the day.  Influential State level Representatives and Senators gain access to a one-stop-shop meeting with experts about the types of legislation that could create jobs and improve their state’s economy. Hence, when a group like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) offers likeminded lawmakers a family getaway to a glamorous location like Scottsdale, Arizona to discuss legislative ideas, it is no wonder that they are eager to join in.  Conservative Republicans find ALEC appealing because they see ALEC’s product as tailor-made for their political interests.

The mission statement from the organization’s website alec.org, states that ALEC is “A nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.” ALEC files with the IRS as a 501 (c) 3 charity, a status called into question recently that may cause the organization to undergo severe penalties if misuse of this tax status is determined.  Both the tax status and mission statement omits the corporate side of the organization. It says nothing to imply corporate members spend up to $230,000 per year on membership fees and for the opportunity to sit on a task force with influential state lawmakers. During these meetings, corporate representatives collaborate by providing the elected taskforce officials, boilerplate bills written by lawyers hired by the corporation or lobbying group. (Newmyer) There are no citizens nor citizens groups from the effected states represented on these taskforces. Therefore, there is no process to get feedback from those affected by the law. That is not democracy.  During the following legislative session ALEC members introduce over 1,000, “model bills” nationally, and about 17% of the time, these bills pass. Corporate members view this percentage to be an impressive return on investment. Historically, discreet about their activities, the actions of ALEC members to stifle opposition challenges to ALEC sponsored bills is difficult to hide entirely.  The fact that this happens frequently is a detriment to the democratic process when limited, if any opposition is entertained to point out potential weakness in the bill’s language. This is particularly troublesome when such actions have unintended negative consequences on the communities they effect.  ALEC has a process to track the bills and check on its process. The organization leverages influence by implementing labeling process sending updates to members about what the organization deems “good bills” or “problematic bills.” This can result in legislative members, which are simultaneously ALEC members, taking action favorable to ALEC’s point of view.  In 2010, there were 2,000 state lawmakers nationally that were simultaneously active ALEC members.  (McIntire)

The American Legislative Exchange Council came under intense public scrutiny recently. Predominantly with its relationship to the “Stand Your Ground,” law.  This is a law created mainly by the National Rifle Association during an ALEC convention. ALEC legislative members including those from the state of Florida, and twenty other states adopted the bill into law. The subsequent result of this law was the death of teenager Trayvon Martin. An overzealous Neighborhood Watch participant, George Zimmerman, chose to pursue Martin. A struggle ensued at which time Zimmerman pulled a gun and fatally shot Martin in the chest. The case is currently at the pre-trial stage, yet there is a strong chance that Zimmerman will experience limited consequences for his actions because of the “Stand Your Ground” Law, which allows the use of lethal force on another individual, deemed self-defense if he feels there is a threat to his life—even if it is an unsubstantiated threat. (Krugman)  The ambiguity of this controversial law brought heated attention to ALEC and inspired campaigns to place pressure on ALEC’s corporate members to quit. It calls into question the manner in which laws such as these get do pass recommendation, with little or no debate by opposition. Perhaps if they had focused attention to correct that, which made the “Stand Your Ground,” Law such a poorly written piece of legislation. It would prevent this type of tragedy.

Furthermore, this is not the first time ALEC was associated with a hotly contested or controversial law. Closer to my home, Arizona’s SB1070 was created at an ALEC convention in cooperation with a private prison lobby.  (Sullivan) This bill was then shepherded through the Arizona Legislature by Russell K. Pearce.

Legislators are starting to feel the consequential sting associated with pursuing ALEC goals without the support of the people they represent. In the case of Russell Pearce, he later faced and lost a recall election due in large part because of his involvement with the SB1070 bill. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin finds himself facing recall, after he pushed through a Koch Industries bill obtained at an ALEC convention to dismantle collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin state employees. The negative impact of these bills act as a catalyst for such groups as ALEC Exposed, ALEC Watch and a project for Common Cause, a watchdog group whose mission it is to hold those in power accountable for their actions. Many of these groups have created campaigns to place pressure on ALEC participants. According to an article by New York Times writer Mike McIntire, Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist, Kraft Foods, Intuit, and Coca-Cola have recently left ALEC and there are more to follow, because of the backlash resulting from the negative attention brought on by this bill.

ALEC is a vessel for a process, though the actions of this group raise concern, the process the group represents is alarming. It casts a shadow of doubt on the democratic process of the United States. For when an exclusive group of individuals holds a large percentage of the country’s wealth and resources in addition to having such personal access to lawmakers the spirit of democracy suffers.  It is virtually impossible for middle-class voters to have an equal voice when speaking with their legislator experiencing these political conditions.  This ALEC point of view from Arizona lawmakers became apparent while attending a function for neighborhood leaders at the state capitol.  That day, several Russell Pearce constituents shared stories about the inattention paid and utter lack of respect to the voices of constituents with an opposing point of view. Pearce was not alone in the practice of shutting opposition out of the process of governance. Later, when SB1070 pummeled  its way through the legislative process it seemed no matter how many letters written, phone calls made, petitions signed or people protesting at the capitol, the legislators simply were not listening. Then when ALEC came to Scottsdale, Arizona in November of last year and Arizona citizens went to find out who was ALEC, this group writing laws for the state. The protestors were promptly pepper-sprayed and arrested for their trouble. (Cronkitenews)  If the legislators were crafting legislation at these conventions open meeting laws ought to apply.

Although non-profit organizations supply vital information to understaffed lawmakers are a benefit to American democracy, this no longer is the case when the organization involved represents specific interests with an agenda whose actions serve only a privileged few, instead of the greater good of America. The laws put in place concerning lobbying came to be because of the biting sting of the last Great Depression, created by robber barons and war profiteers. The laws serve a purpose of consumer protection in America. Laws meant to avoid corrupting the government and allowing full discussion pertaining to the laws of the land, which mean to show some common measure of equality for every American that wishes to be a productive member of American society. This promise, given by the founding fathers is threatened and monarchy like privilege becomes the order of the day when the middle-class families of America no longer have an equal voice with those who already control so much of American life.   It is because neighborhood representation is not at the table to discuss the issues that place ALEC’s work in question regarding democracy in America. This missing piece leads many to believe that it is not a positive force.

In conclusion, it is common for state level legislators to solicit outside help when construction legislative language for a bill. To this end, non-profit groups that specialize in information gathering for a particular expertise to assist in various ways play a role in responsible bill writing. The services these groups provide are a benefit to American democracy because they assist lawmakers in having the best information possible in order to make the best choices possible to write law.  Yet, ALEC crosses the line into pure illegal lobbying, by giving special interest members more legislative authority than the legislators have. (McIntire) While tracking the bills for the purpose of harassing lawmakers if they do not do what the non-profit advises and when that non-profit shuts residents that the law affects out of the process of governance it can hardly be looked upon with favor.  Thus, ALEC or any group that employs its process is not a benefit to democracy. We must ensure policies are in place to counter the loopholes that allow ALEC to exist. It is only then that governance for the people by the people can exist once more in America.



Works Cited

ALEC. American Legislative Exchange Council, 2012. Web. 25 April 2012.

Bravender, Robin. “ALEC Support Wanes: Kraft Abandons Conservative Group.” Politico.com. 5 April 2012. Web. 25 April 2012

Clinton, Bill. Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Print.

Cronkitenews. “Police pepper-spray Occupy Phoenix protestors at conservative gathering.” YouTube. YouTube. 2 December 2011. Web. 25 April 2012.

Frank, Ellen. The Raw Deal: How Myths and Misinformation About the Deficit, Inflation, and Wealth Impoverish America. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004. Print.

Hartman, Thom. Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights. United States: Rodale, 2002. Print.

Krugman, Paul. “Lobbyists, Guns, and Money.” New York Times. New York Times, 25 March 2012. Web. 25 April 2012.

McIntire, Mike. Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist.  New York Times. New York Times. 21 April 2012. Web. 25 April 2012.

Newmyer, Tory. “The Big Political Player You’ve Never Heard Of.” Fortune Editors. Fortune. 10 January 2011. Web. 25 April 2012.

Nichols, John. “ALEC Exposed.” The Nation. The Nation. 12 July 2011. Web. 25 April 2012.

Nicknicemadison. “Mark Pocan – Explains how ALEC is working to eliminate public education (AB110)” YouTube. YouTube, 13 March 2012. Web. 25 April 2012.

Sourcewatch.  The Center for Media and Democracy, 2012. Web. 25 April 2012.

Sullivan, Laura. “How Corporate Interests Got SB1070 Passed.” Laura Sullivan Show. Public Radio. NPR  9 November 2010. Web. 25 April 2012.

Why hacking should be protected under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution

Over the past five years the term hacktivist has become prevalent. A hacktivist is a person, usually a member of a group, that hacks a mainframe or generally causes cyber chaos for various companies or government institutions in order to make a point. It is effective. Bank of America has been hacked by groups before, and a well as a rather well-known private security firm was hacked by Anonymous. These are some of the latest examples but there are many worthy notations of this type of hackivism. Consider it a type of cyber militia. The right to bare arms and the right to be able to protect ones self and community by hacking entities that would do harm.

“[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens.” — The Federalist, No. 29

– Alexander Hamilton

So where the point gets sticky is about determining the harm and proving a threat. When dealing with guns, it gets a bit simplistic because the situation is purely physical. People facing each other with weapons makes it easy to see the threat. One could reasonably argue that with a cyber attack it is not a threat to life, but to livelihood, therefore being somewhat less justified to go to the extreme of hacking. However, in today’s multinational conglomerate world, is there another way to hold tyrannical leadership accountable? Is it not a threat if a person dies from a bullet wound or from starving to death is the result not the same?  What if they died because they didn’t have the access to acquire expensive medical treatment, or if they killed themselves because of lack of hope that they will ever be able to escape surmounting debt because of circumstances out of their control? Is it not the same in the end? And what more effective way to protect oneself than to be a hackivist?

For me, it’s too late, I know nothing about hacking. I don’t have that kind of mind. I think this point is important to make.  I appreciate those who do. In a world where tyranny can be so well protected and insulated by law enforcement and government allies, it is nice to know there is a secret society much like the stories of the Knights of the Round Table that have the ability to reach out and touch the untouchables. I believe this was the intent of the Second Amendment, to offer citizens effective recourse in the face of tyranny.  The way a properly equipped musket would be the tool of protection when our nation was born,  a properly equipped laptop is now. The saying goes that an armed society is a polite society. I don’t know about all that, but there is something to be said for the respect that comes with a certain level of concern held by those in positions of power.  That the consent of the governed becomes more real when the governed is on a somewhat even playing field to those that may be tempted to indulge their tyrannical tendencies. Even more so because it in fact is  not a gun, no one physically dies and because as we would train a militia to protect against enemies both foreign and domestic there could be a civil cyber army to take on threats from other nations if needed.

It would not be a right to be taken lightly. The Second Amendment isn’t now. You can’t randomly shoot people on the street and claim Second Amendment rights. It is specific and I would argue a certain best practice model for the Second Amendment should be developed anyway. But in today’s world one cannot protect their family with firepower alone as the Second Amendment currently accommodates. And if such a time comes to need such protections, those who have the ability should have the right to hack in self-defense the way that early American’s were able to bare arms to do as much. That is why hacking should be protected under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

Response to Ed Show Request

On his November 3, 2011 show on MSNBC, Ed Shultz put out a challenge for someone with an Independent Moderate Centrist Point of View to weigh in on the issues of Education, Unions, and Taxing the Wealthy. Although I am no spokesperson, I thought I’d write down my point of view and others can choose to take the dialog further.


As I see it the substantive difference between the Independent Moderate and the staunch Liberal is primary that the Indy Mod point of view is fluid. Not insipid, though I can see where those to the far left or right may at first glance perceive it that way, the Independent Moderate view it is fluid with what reality places before us to decide. No issue exists in a vacuum.  Whereas the staunch liberal and conservative view is set in stone no matter what is going on around it. That is what makes them outdated because the world order is in constant flux and we must be in flux with it.



Education is the most powerful tool to combat poverty; a highly skilled workforce is a primary driver of the economic engine of the country. As such, I believe in a full reform of the Education system to comply with the needs of the 21st Century.

This includes:

1)      Starting school at three years old, especially in low-income neighborhoods.

2)      Including more foreign languages in the curriculum.

3)      Education as a national program with room to add local cultural ideals and local history.

  1. This offers the benefit of purchasing power of buying school supplies nationally.
  2. Consistent “branding” everyone truly gets the same curriculum.
  3. Have e-books for textbooks that can be updated easily and more cost effective.
  4. Every child when leaving high-school should have what is the equivalent of an Associates Degree in College now, including the basic liberal arts structure to build from.

4) I would not be opposed to some direct corporate involvement and sponsorship in education. After all we should be educating to the specific tasks needed by the future employers. Yet, we should be educating free-thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs in every school across America.

So it’s not about throwing money at a broken system. It’s about making the system more in line with the needs of employers and build on that knowledge for the America of  2021 and beyond not the same Educational practices of the America of 1821.


Unions make companies cumbersome, slow moving and inflexible in many ways. However, in today’s business culture they are essential to workers despite their shortcomings. I am a proponent of a global labor union. Although I am aware in many ways that could be a mess, it seems that the only way to negotiate with a multi-national conglomerate is to be multi-national as well. As the Occupy Movement is world wide it could possibly be the conception of a type of global labor movement. I am in strong support of the Occupy Movement.

Taxing the Wealthy

At this time, because of bad actors and lax policy there needs to be reform to bring things back into balance. As such, I would be more in favor of the Obama plan than the Ryan plan. Reviews of the systems of government is vital to make them more efficient, reduce unneeded redundancy and go line by line to see what is old and no longer serves the public and replace those programs with new innovative programs that are more in line with the needs of modern America. I don’t agree that the wealthiest should have to pay everyone’s tab so to speak, but there needs to be a balance. The economy is like an electrical circuit,  if the money isn’t flowing both ways the circuit doesn’t work.

It is imperative that the tax code become more concise ,  transparent, and frankly fair which is no easy task.


I hope this is helpful for Mr. Schultz to get a better idea about where the Independent Moderates stand on the issues.

For more from Sophia Tesch please visit http://www.indymodpov.com which discusses politics from and Independent Moderate Point of View.

we need to focus on education, not abortion

The US Congress has been focusing on abortion a lot lately. Abortion — the word alone causes an immediate and strong reaction, and it should,  it’s horrible when a woman finds herself in need of an abortion. The best plan is to not get into that situation in the first place, if at all possible and that’s why it’s important for the American agenda to focus on education,  not abortion.

I want unborn babies to be saved,  there is nothing better than a baby being born to a mother who is healthy, educated and able to financially and emotionally support her child. But, in order to do that, the focus of the American agenda needs to  provide a better support  to young women in ways that they may become independent, self-empowered people with great goals for becoming a vital part of her community. As such she will be more likely to postpone pregnancy to a time when she is able to take care of her children and to be healthy enough to carry to full-term.  This can be done in three ways, supporting the physical health of young women, support the self-esteem of high-risk young women, instilling within them financial literacy skills, and any support emotional or tutorial needed to finish high school and get a Bachelor’s Degree in a field where she may excel. By giving a young woman the ability to go to college and have something to work toward besides attracting a man at a young age, helps to prevent her from using sex as a method of self-esteem and security which may result in an unplanned pregnancy. This is the most effective way to protect the unborn in America.

I wish you had come to me with your birth control offer years ago so I wouldn’t have had 14 babies.

– Sharon, client #24 from projectprevention.org website. 

Another way to prevent unplanned pregnancy is to make birth control readily available to low-income couples. Statistics show that many unplanned pregnancies are a result of not having the proper birth control available or affordable to low-income couples. It’s important to address unplanned pregnancy as a cultural issue, the glorification of having unprotected sex as a status symbol needs to change, women need to perceive that their ability to bear children is a sacred right and to use their age old responsibility to be discerning about the man allowed to have the privilege of being with her. Our sisters in the animal kingdom know this, they don’t let just any random animal mate with them. They look for the one who will be there to provide and care for the babies once they are born. How did this simple rule of Nature get lost in our culture? Male animals work to be worthy of being a father the status is in being a stable provider of love and objects of necessity to his offspring and mate especially while the babies are nursing. To have this honor males in other species sometimes fight to the death for the chance to be with a female. Not to advocate violence, that’s not my point, my point is to be more discerning about one’s sex partner and not to devalue sex to the extent it has been degraded and devalued in the American culture.  The second part of  the equation is to make birth control readily available to those who could wisely plan their pregnancies, avoiding an unwanted pregnancy. The attack on Planned Parenthood has the distinct unintended possibility of creating more, not less, unplanned pregnancies. Once it gets to that point, once there is the horribly painful situation of an unplanned pregnancy at hand, history shows that people have taken matters into their own hands. It doesn’t have to be that way. The lower cost solution, both in human and taxpayer cost is to focus on a positive way to not let it get that far.

Lastly, there needs to be good pregnancy planning education and sexual health curriculum  in place in public schools. Although people would like to assume that all parents are present, prepared and willing to have “the talk” it simply isn’t the case for many children. They are left to fend for themselves,  given misinformation or no information at all,and many times because they are using bad information to make decisions, things don’t go as planned. Places like Planned Parenthood can offer medically trained professionals with the most up-to-date information to be a resource for “the talk” if needed . It is important that good information is given to young adults so they can make the best choices for themselves.

The best way to stop abortion is through abortion prevention, a good education, self-esteem and a hopeful future worth abstaining  or at least using birth control for, can be some of the best  measures for abortion prevention available. Give young women an attainable, and worthwhile goal to work toward so that their pregnancy can be a planned and joyous occasion as  it is meant to be, which is the best scenario for everyone involved.

we need leaders, not nannies

During my usual morning ritual of cyber surfing,  I saw a post from one of my friends about the Occupy Wall St. phenomenon. I commented on this thread, and so did a Harvard man, telling me I was a hypocrite if I supported the protest and had a 401K or an IRA. I assured the man– I was no hypocrite. He made a remark about America being a nanny state and the protest the equivalent of babies having bottles pulled from proverbial mouths of those who found themselves at the bottom 99% of the economic wealth scale in America. I found the hubris of this comment disturbing. As I moved from that exchange and continued surfing,  I saw a lady’s comment about being so happy to see a comment about Wall St. that wasn’t mentioning the Occupy Wall St. protest, “How are we supposed to take these kids seriously?” She writes over a link for the Zombie walk of  Occupy Wall St. where the marchers chanted “We are contagious!” She didn’t get it. I got it, the idea is contagious and it will spread and it did spread because now there are Occupy Wall St. events happening all over the country  during October, 2011 and maybe beyond.

Just because the elites don’t get it, doesn’t mean the statement has no value, just because they can’t wrap their minds around what it takes to raise a family of four on $1,000 a month doesn’t mean that reality doesn’t exist for a lot of people. Just because they don’t go hungry doesn’t mean that 1 in 4 children in America don’t go to bed at night wondering where their next meal is coming from.  As a matter of fact, I wonder how people who are supposedly so smart (so says their financial portfolio) appear so dumb. Why can’t they figure any of this out? People are tired of mega-bonuses at the top while those working on the front lines with the customers are kept in a constant state of economic uncertainty and stress about paying their basic bills. People can’t believe that after what I call the Wall Street Rape of 2008,  no justice was mitigated for crashing not only the domestic, but global economy, with the sub-prime mortgage scam and the shady derivative markets.

“That’s why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
― George Carlin

People are looking at the bleak prospects of their future, not only for themselves, but their children. Americans in their 40’s are looking at the very real possibility that they will be caring for their parents, themselves and their children, meanwhile not being able to plan for it,  because their 401K  is on some psychotic roller-coaster and the Congress couldn’t legislate itself out of a wet paper bag. It is all very disturbing and frustrating as the country gets held hostage over a financial cliff for seemingly mundane decisions. But the legislators themselves are in no risk, their healthcare and pension prospects are not in question, their salary not cut 60% as many of their constituents have experienced in the last two years.

Working American people are not looking for hand outs, we don’t need to be spoon fed by a nanny state. That is not the point, and it’s insulting to say, it is not about entitlement. What about the feeling of entitlement of the upper 1% to assume all the money is  theirs. You may create jobs, but our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers risk their lives at those jobs. You benefit from the security of the military, but who sends their children to the front line to die? You eat the food that the working class grew and put on your table, as the saying goes the wealthy would be eating money if someone didn’t grow and prepare the food for them. Not that one class is better than the other, everyone has a purpose that makes society work well,  but let’s put some things in perspective here.

If your company uses American labor, it behooves you to pay for world-class  education to have the best in an educated labor force.  You want that investment in employee training to have longevity, especially now that labor needs to work to a more mature age, make sure they have good health insurance so that individuals can work longer and be more productive.  You need military support, make sure they have the best resources, and are taken care of when they return home, thank them for the fact that you and your family didn’t have to be in harm’s way. Allow workers  access to nutritious food and kids great parks to play in and become strong citizens, body, mind and spirit. Allow people the ability to squeeze some living out of this life before they pass on, it makes for better workers.  These aren’t great mysteries. This isn’t asking too much. These are the types of ideas that Occupy Wall St. is about.

We’re Americans. Together we prosper, we all have to work together. It used to be understood that wealth and privilege came with a level of responsibility, of community and stewardship, that we all worked together to make capitalism work. But this bastardization is no longer capitalism, it’s corporatism and it’s killing Americans, it’s killing America, and that ‘s what Occupy Wall St. folks are standing up against. They want to restore the possibility of the American Dream, the American ideal. I support them 100%. This type of guts demands respect. This brand of courage makes me even more proud to be an American.

we need to focus on main street, not wall street

A rising tide lifts all boats. This is a phrase originally used by JFK in the 1960’s and it still rings true today. Through the years the phrase has been distorted by conservatives to justify trickle-down economics. You make things “almost free” (as the salesman on a Mexican beach may say of his wares) for the top 5% of wealth holders in America and they will be so touched by the generosity of the nation as to be inspired to make that money rain down on the nation in the form of jobs and abundant prosperity for all. –Amen.

Well things have been trickling down for the last twenty years but it hasn’t been prosperity. It seems to be a mechanical problem. I propose the trickle up theory of economics. It seems after reflection that America would have been better off giving a check of $500,000 to every American rather than giving it to the banks. The banks who by the way still sit on lending money. True many institutions given TARP money have paid it back. However, the lending to stimulate the economy didn’t happen.

What happened was record profits and bonuses. Well good for them. However, it still doesn’t solve the problem. So here’s the thing I am thinking about Wall St. vs. Main St. Wall St. can invest anywhere and they have. They create derivatives and hedge funds to protect their portfolios. Again fantastic for them. They know how to make money and they have the resources to do it. I feel no need to punish them for being good at what they do.

At the same time Main St. who isn’t going anywhere is being fiscally starved of capital. If America were a business Main St. would be our regular customers. They aren’t going anywhere else, they couldn’t if they wanted to at this point. They spend their money locally and it circulates locally, nationally and internationally to manufacturers and customer service centers abroad. Where Wall St. is the spleen and marrow creating and storing the blood of the economy, money. Where government is the veins, arteries and capillaries guiding the flow. Main St. is the heart, keeping things pumping and when the heart isn’t pumping the whole system dies.

“Rising tide lifts all boats”. ~John F. Kennedy

What good is having things to sell if there is no confident consumer to purchase it? The cycle of the economy needs to be complete to work. Main St. doesn’t have the resources that Wall St. has and the people of Wall St. used to understand the important part it played for the nation. I think Wall St .has lost it’s way. When did it become so “Me” and so not “We” where did the patriotism go? And if it is gone forever then the whole dynamic must shift to reflect that. To see Wall St. in an expatriate status.

Main St. isn’t going anywhere. It is the nation. When Main St. does well, everyone does well. It is time that public policy more accurately reflect this reality. The nation has tried the “voodoo economics” of the trickle down theory for a few decades now and it is a failed experiment. I say we put more money in middle-class pockets and they will distribute the money in a very capitalistic way. Rising tide lifts all boats. Grow the tax-base and the rest of these problems will take care of themselves.