Quick Observations – Rampant Ignorance

  • There is a war against intellect, and stupidity is winning.
  • We live in an era where Public Service Announcements are given on how to spot fake news because, for far too many, it’s not obvious that the information is untrue.
  • People buy and share images of Santa Claus and snowmen as members of the nativity, yet cannot understand the irony, and their ignorance, when they declare that there is a “War On Christmas”.
  • We live in a nation where the individual who wins the most votes for president does not win the election.
    • In the last quarter century, 6 out of the last 7 elections, the Democrat has won the most votes, yet won only 4 of those elections.
  • A man walks into a pizzeria with an assault weapon, looking to break up a supposed child sex operation, ran by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, that was being conducted in the torture dungeon of the restaurant’s basement.
    • Of course none of this was remotely true, but that didn’t stop the man from traveling hundreds of miles and firing his weapon inside the restaurant, which, on the most basic factual element, didn’t even have a basement.
    • This conspiracy was even peddled by Michael G. Flynn, former member of Trump’s transition team and son of Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser, Michael T. Flynn.  The elder Flynn has also openly touted multiple fabricated stories.

I don’t claim to be perfect or that I have all the answers.  However, I do my homework and I’ll admit when I’m wrong.  I make no apologies for trying to seek out the truth and I most certainly do not apologize for doing all that I can to point my moral compass towards the direction that makes no distinction between bigots and those who enable them.

Research has shown that many who believe in falsehoods are much more likely to continue believing in those falsehoods with more conviction when presented with evidence that they are incorrect.  No one wants to be proven wrong, but at some point we have to address factual inaccuracies.  The world is not flat.  Facts don’t care if we like them or not, they are still facts.  The same goes for those who want to give a pass to people who claim not to be racists or bigots, yet enable the bigots and xenophobes with at best, indifference, or at worst, their most precious democratic right, their vote.  I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.  The bottom line is that we have reached a point to where there is an all out assault on reason.  Now is not the time for complacency or an acceptance of ignorance just to pacify the enablers of misinformation and bigotry.  Now is the time for action by all those who believe that the truth should prevail and that facts are not a mere inconvenience, but the foundation of a functioning human society.

It’s time for honesty…even if the truth hurts

The most popular phrase uttered in the last ten days has been, “Well, not ALL Trump voters are racist” or some variation of this sentiment.  The conventional wisdom, even from those who supported him, seems to be that while he did have a contingency of followers who have racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, or misogynistic views, the vast majority of his voters don’t believe in such horrible things.  The problem with this viewpoint is simple: personal prejudices and enabling those who promote prejudice should not be treated differently.

Donald Trump ran a campaign fueled by hate, lies, fear, and all of those horrible elements mentioned above.  There are mountains of data that support this claim and it is absolutely true.  If you can not, at the very least, concede this point you should stop reading now and go renew your membership to the ‘flat earth society’ because this point is not even debatable.  Now, the question exists, how can a candidate using a modified Goebbels playbook get elected President Of The United States in the year 2016?  He/She can’t.  While the number of openly proud racists, bigots, misogynists, etc. is way too large, there aren’t enough of those votes in America anymore to win a Presidential Election.  So how did Trump do it?  He did it by creating a coalition of enablers.

en·a·ble – verb

  1. to make able; give power, means, competence, or ability to; authorize
  2. to make possible or easy
  3. to make ready; equip

(emphasis added)

This is crucial because it is time for us to stop splitting hairs and making exceptions for those who are bigots and those who enable bigots.  In a democracy, there is nothing more sacred than a person’s right to vote.  When you vote, or even if you choose not to, you are exercising the most important action a citizen of this great nation can take.  There were millions of qualifiable candidates available to you when you cast your ballot.  You could have voted for one of the two major party candidates, a “third party” candidate, written in your choice of candidate, or even chosen to not vote for the presidency at all like our 43rd president and his wife did.  If you voted for Donald Trump, when there were literally millions of other options, you have to accept the responsibility of your actions.  You knew who this man was, who he represented, all of the horrible statements and actions he had committed, and the prejudicial ideas he would pursue as President.  In spite of all of this, with all of the other options available, you chose to vote for him.  With your precious vote, you “made able; gave power, means”, “equipped”, and “made possible” his path to an Electoral College victory, and the presidency of the United States of America.  You are culpable because you have enabled him.  Without your vote, he would not have become president.  Trump voters, you had your chance to run away from his “other” supporters, but you chose not to.  So stop running, and embrace what you have enabled…you are one of them now!

 

 

Pep Talk For Democrats and Hillary Clinton Voters

Here’s a pep talk for my fellow Democrats and Hillary Clinton voters.  I know Tuesday’s election was brutal.  I’ve felt depressed, angry, despair, anxious, and helpless just in the last few days.  I have tried to find any silver linings that I could and I wanted to share them with my fellow Democrats, Hillary voters, and anyone scared about Trump being our next president.  While things could be better, when we take a step back and look at the big picture, we are not as defeated as we may seem.  In fact, we’ve done quite a bit of winning…even winning more votes than the Republican candidate.

Clarifying what the “Marginal Tax Rate” is, and is NOT

The other night at dinner I was sitting beside a man (talking very loudly) who said he could never vote for Bernie Sanders because Bernie wanted to raise taxes to 90%.  I believe his quote was on the lines of “…so I’m supposed to work each week and have Bernie take 90% of my paycheck?  No way!”.  That would be something to be mad about, fortunately though, this man had no idea what he was talking about.  It was, yet again, an error in understanding what a “Marginal Tax Rate” is with regards to income taxes.  Neither Bernie, the IRS, or the Easter Bunny were going to take 90% of this (loud) man’s paycheck.

Just to clarify, I’m not voting for Bernie Sanders in our state’s Democratic Primary.  I don’t technically have any “skin in the game” with hopes that this man will vote for Bernie.  I do however take issue with willful ignorance, and regardless of who the gentleman is voting for, I fully believe he should base his decision off of facts and not some anecdotal talking point he got from a misleading source.

In America we have a progressive tax system.  This basically means that as you earn more you will pay higher taxes on the “next dollar earned” in an increasingly staggered tax bracket.  The “next dollar earned” is where the term “marginal” comes into play.  It appears what confuses many Americans is that they know that they make “X” dollars, they look at an income tax chart, find where that falls, and assume ALL of their income is taxed at that rate.  This is simply not true.  Here is a visual that should be able to help explain:

progressive tax

What this means is that you, me, and your angry Uncle Joe, all pay 10% for the first $8,350 we make, 15% on the next amount up to $33,950, etc, etc…  This picture comes from a great article that does a much better job of explaining the Marginal Tax Rate than I can.  It should take you all of two minutes to read so I recommend highly checking it out.  It also dispels another myth you hear frequently, the “…I turned down that other job because it paid more, but my take-home pay would have been less because it bumped me into a higher tax bracket”.  Yes, like the above example, this is equated to three-headed unicorns crapping fairy dust.  It’s just not true because, it also, looses sight of the “marginal” component of our tax rate.

One last point, we have to remember that the greatest expansion of the middle-class in this country, in which we had the longest sustained period of overall economic growth, came during a time when our marginal tax rate was above 90%.  In today’s terms that means families making about $3.5 Million dollars or more (in income) would be impacted…and remember our lesson from above; they, you, and me, all pay the EXACT same tax on the first $8,350, and so on and so on…  Also, keep in mind, families making that kind of money are normally earning that amount in capital gains, not working income tax (meaning, they are making most of their money off of investments which is taxed at a much lower rate).  If you’d like to look for yourselves with regards to past marginal tax rates, here is a link to that information.

I hope this helps clear up some of the myths and misconceptions that are associated around income tax here in the United States.  I have always believed that the most powerful force in any election is an informed electorate.  Also, voting is the most fundamental piece to a democracy’s foundation.  While there are those out there who want to make it harder for citizens to vote, remember that we must all remain steadfast, and exercise our most fundamental task – Go VOTE!

My First Meme

After years of enjoying countless memes on social media, I decided that I wanted to take the plunge and make one of my own.  It was very easy to make and I used imgur as the tool (it’s web based and has an app).  So, for my first meme, I put a Mark spin on it…funny, political, with a nice hint of smart-ass truthfulness.  🙂  Hope you enjoy!

Honest Abe, Now Embarrassed - Imgur

America’s Newest Political Curse: Ben Carson, the Neurosurgeon Who Can’t Think – @alternet

Along with Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson is way ahead of the pack for the Republican presidential nomination.

Source: America’s Newest Political Curse: Ben Carson, the Neurosurgeon Who Can’t Think @alternet

Understanding Trump’s appeal is easy, he simply says what the crowds want to hear, provides no details, looks confident and had his own Reality TV show.  I get it.  Everyone knows he’s pandering to the base; his favorite book is not the Holy Bible, he’s not going to be able to make Mexico pay for a wall, yada yada.  He’s like a John Wayne figure, you knew Wayne was a badass, who would deck the guy talking smack, and have a clever line while doing it.  You didn’t watch John Wayne to here him diplomatically talk out a problem about cattle rustling.  Which is why John Wayne was fun to watch but good god, keep him away from Pennsylvania Avenue.

What perplexes me is Ben Carson.  Even if you take away the horribly bad, chauvinistic, bigoted, anti-semitic, rhetoric he’s been spewing for years now, there’s still a neurosurgeon under all that filth.  There’s still a man who had the skill to separate conjoined twins.  This guy isn’t a dummy, but I think he may be stupid.  I think he is a talented surgeon who could do things medically that most humans could not even dream of.  However, what he has taught us is that extreme knowledge in one subject doesn’t mean extreme logic in others.  Sure, he has opinions in other fields which are valid, even if I disagree with them, but come on, to state that The Devil made Darwin do it.  The article above talks about the possibility of departmentalization of the mind, and I believe this is a reasonable argument.  Think back to when we had master ship builders who could construct vessels that marveled, but also wanted to make sure you didn’t take the boat too far away or it would fall off…the earth.  It’s not inconceivable, and I’d argue, not completely uncommon, to have people who are truly gifted at an amazing set of tasks, have those perceptions artificially created and transferred over to all items of topic.  Bobby Fischer, Albert Einstein, you could make a list as long as you wanted and wholeheartedly say that none of them should be president.

Of course, some of his “brilliance” comes from the perception of his supporters.  Hold on…I’m not saying he’s not a smart man, as stated above, I believe he is extremely intelligent in his field, but I believe there is an additional traction that is gained by people who believe in him ferociously.  The article has this nugget which is great:

Participants in focus groups of Republican caucus and primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, conducted in recent days by Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, used these words to describe Carson: “deep,” “thoughtful,” “intelligent,” “smart,” “brilliant,” a “top mind.” I get this. According to a recent Public Policy Polling report, 46 percent of Carson supporters (and 61 percent of Trump supporters) think President Obama was not born in the U.S., and 61 percent of Carson supporters (and 66 percent of Trump supporters) think the president is a Muslim. Carson’s being called brilliant by that base ain’t baffling.

That is scary.  You may hate President Obama, The Democratic Party, donkeys, the name “Clinton”, etc. but you have to admit that the President was born in the U.S.  To think that almost half of your supporters can’t accept this simple fact…it’s unbelievable.  It’s also telling, and what it tells us is that large swaths of people, especially in the age of Fox News and other faux news outlets, can be so blinded by hate and ignorance that they loose sight and stop believing in the most basic of truths.

Here’s my final thought on Ben Carson: I’d rather have Ben Carson operate on my brain than be my president.  How many of our 44 presidents could you say that about?  FDR and Lincoln are considered to be two of our best presidents; one saved the Union and the other saved the World.  Of course, I wouldn’t want either of them near my head with a scalpel.  My point is this, Ben Carson is an intelligent man, but he has, either on purpose or unintentionally, kept that away from the rest of his mind.  He’s a scientist who doesn’t believe in the scientific method.  He’s a brain surgeon who would be best served by opening his own.