Friday, October 26, 2012

Third Party?!

Let me first (again) apologize for my long silence, I've mentioned before that I'm deployed and while I most often find myself with plenty of time on my hands I seldom spend it the way I was prior to being deployed.  Prime example, as part of our morale area in our unit we have a couple couches around a card table and I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time sitting around that table playing spades and smoking.  I don't regularly smoke but (only) while deployed I often smoke as I'm sitting around playing cards with my coworkers.  Secondly, let me apologize for a change in topics, especially into a realm I'm not very well versed in, politics.

So, many of my facebook friends, at least many of the vocal political ones, are supporters of the Libertarian party, specifically Ron Paul.  Now, I know he ran originally as a Republican and didn't get the nomination (I'm told because of that fact he won't appear on many states' ballots this November).  But, I've been raised a republican and I've always (more or less) agreed with Republican candidates and voted for Republicans in elections.  In fact, when I wasn't sure of what candidate to vote for in a certain election, I would invariably vote for whichever Republican candidate was on the ballot. However, I've been more and more leaning towards the Libertarian party. I recently read this blog that basically echoes the way I feel about many of the issues.

In that blog the only thing that I sort of disagree with isthis, "My views are not dictated by ONE ISSUE or POLICY, but by the over all character of a candidates CAREER." Specifically the part about one issue/policy kind of bothers me. I believe all life is sacred, and that life beginsin the womb particularly at conception. So, I'm not going to vote (if I know the person's policy) for someone that will legalize or loosen the current legislation on abortion. Other than that, I'm not much of a one-issue-voter.

I've been reading the Libertarian party's platform points and I gotta say I haven't seen much I disagree with.  I think the reason I've never really looked into the LP before is when I was in high school someone described the LP as anarchists, that believed the government should be completely overthrown.  I've since seen that is not true and after thinking about it for a while I think I might vote for a third party for the first time ever.

On voting however, I'm actually not going to be able to vote in this election.  I'm deployed and I don't think I got in my absentee ballot paperwork in before the cutoff.  One thing I am actually looking forward to over the next couple years of being stationed overseas is, absentee voting.  One of my issues in the past has been that I'm not ever really sure who's going to be on the ballot until I actually walk into the booth.  Now, as an absentee voter, I'll get my ballot in the mail and be able to search online for each politician's views on a variety of policies and voting history (if he or she has been in office previously).

DISCLAIMER:  I am NEVER speaking on behalf of the US Air Force or DoD in any of my political opinion posts.  These are just the inane ramblings of a private person in no way associated with the official position of the Air Force or DoD (my employer).

Guest Post: Charles Philip Smith

My friend Steven Specht posted an article on that I'd like to share here. I'm working on a post about third-party politics (I know not one of my usual topics), but I'd like to share this first.

Two Sides of the Same Worn Out Coin
Our system of election is broken.

How many times have Americans been so disgusted with both major candidates that they vote for what they believe is “the lesser of two evils” or not vote at all, yet they will refuse to vote for a third party?

I truly believe that if they looked into the policies of third party candidates, (there are 10 on the 2012 Florida ballot) they would find at least one that they believed in more than the standard two.

Here is the part that doesn’t make sense to me. Americans will complain on end about how either the Democrats or Republicans are ruining their country; often they will not even agree with their own party. Yet, I have heard all my life how voting for a third party candidate is equivalent to throwing your vote away or even how “it will takes votes from candidate X when we really need to beat candidate Y’.

I am not trying to push a candidate or party. (At this time I believe I know who I will vote for. It is not one of the two major candidates, but this is a personal choice and not the purpose of why I am writing this.) It is my hope that sometime in the future we will start voting as a nation for the person and not the party. My belief is that this begins with third parties and being well informed on the issues important to us.

However, I have not seen any indication that Americans could now or ever do this in the climate we have created. There is such an undercurrent of division, especially in the media, that actively polarizes Americans into the two major political parties. The implication being that it is ‘us’ against ‘them’. Most people don’t realize that there are shades of grey to their beliefs and very few absolutes in this world. I could almost guarantee that most average Americans believe in elements of the major two parties, but not in everything that they stand for.

What I am proposing is that we as a nation do our research. If you do not have enthusiasm for a candidate, there is no reason you should not find someone you can believe in. We live in a free country but have been systematically convinced that there is no other options to us when it comes to one of the most fundamental tenets of what it is to be an American—the right to vote–the right to vote for someone we do believe in.

This requires effort on the individual. It is the only option we have to us to start balancing the rampant partisan corruption on both sides that seems to be determined to bring America to ruin for the sake of reelection and not the betterment of the citizens.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are voting for change when you vote for one of the two major parties. The only recourse you have is to change your vote to a third party. The only way to have honest politicians is for them to have enough competition for them to be fearful of not being elected on their own merits. Without this our country will never find balance and it will be stuck with either side of a worn out coin.
-Charles Philip Smith

Saturday, October 6, 2012

This is Not a Deployment Blog

I don't want to change the tone of my blog to a chronicle of my time deployed, however I did write a bit of a journal entry on the flight over here and I have some stuff to share from my first week here.

After my training near Sacramento, CA, I traveled to Baltimore to catch a flight to the middle east (it's called the "rotator").  My short time in Baltimore was fairly pleasant.  I went to the same irish pub I alway go to when I pass through Baltimore.  My previous experiences at that pub were quite interesting, this time however, I was alone and I just sat quietly drinking my one beer then went back to my hotel to sleep.  The next morning I went to the free hotel breakfast (which was pretty disappointing) then, since I didn't have to be at the airport till the afternoon I took a nap.  Around noon I went to the Baltimore Washington International airport and got in line.  The line for passengers on the rotator was at least 200 yards long!  It's a familiar sight for anyone who has deployed before because the flight is almost always packed full.  Fortunately, after checking in for the flight I ran into some friends (one of whom I have deployed with before), and we shared some beers and dinner before boarding.

Fortunately I got a decent seat on this flight, an aisle where there was only one seat beside me.  This plane is amazingly old and crappy.  The inflight entertainment is a VHS tape player!  I didn't think they even made those anymore.  There's no such thing as 'first class' on this plane; we're all packed in like sardines.  The inflight movie was "We Bought a Zoo" which was a good movie, though the sound system on the plane sucked and it was a tiny screen far from my seat.  They also played "John Carter of Mars."  I've heard that it's supposedly a movie version of the first installment of C.S. Lewis' space trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet.  Now, it has been a while since I read the book so I've forgotten some of the details but I definitely remember that it's quite different from this movie!  Oh well, poetic license I guess.  One of the passengers had some medical issues so we had to divert to Ireland.  I didn't see much of the place, we didn't even get off the plane, but what I did see definitely makes me want to go back some day.

Finally, we arrived at the deployment processing center.  Not really a bad place compared to sitting in a plane.  It's not much (a hundred or so bunk beds in a tent), but at least it's a place to lay down and sleep and NON-airplane food.  Also, regular access to wifi is nice, first real chance to call home.  Oh, and one can drink two beers a day there which is nice.  I didn't really care to drink and after only one day in this limbo I moved on to my deployment location.

I've been here a week and so far it's been quite a bit like my previous deployments.  It's nice to have indoor plumbing though.  Last year the place I stayed didn't.  The morale is pretty high in the unit here and one of my best friends from my previous deployments, Jon, is here; which has made for a decent time so far.  The best part about this trip though is the hope that it's only supposed to be three months as opposed to my previous trips which were all six months.  I'll take some pictures and attach them to my next few blogs, which I don't plan on chronicling my deployment, but I might mention it; depending on how it's going.

I have gained way too much weight!  Starting excersize/diet program now!