2016 POTUS race is like cable or satellite TV: so many options, but nothing that’s interesting

Yeah, the ratings for the Republican presidential campaign debates are through the roof.  Yeah, there are lots of choices this time around–and that’s a good thing.  That being said, I’m getting frustrated that I can’t identify a candidate I’m excited about.  I had a favorable opinion of Bobby Jindal based on how much less corrupt Louisiana state government is than it was before he took office.  A record of reform is appealing to me.  Jindal, however, is one of four GOP candidates who have dropped out of the race.  Lindsey Graham dropped out very recently.  Further back, Rick Perry dropped out.  Scott Walker was the first to drop out (which made total sense to me).  On the Democrat side (not that anybody across the aisle interests me), Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee have dropped out.  That still leaves 13 Republicans and 3 Democrats in the running:

To get an idea of the lay of the land, I’ve listed the candidates top to bottom in each party to approximate recent polling data (not an exact science to be sure).  I’ve linked each name in that list to the corresponding official campaign webpage.  Go ahead and click on the links.  See if anybody excites you.

Let me list some of the grievances that cause me to cross candidates off my list of preferences:

  • Crony capitalism?  Support for bailouts?  Ties to the gambling industry?  Ties to businesses “too big to fail?”  Pay-to-play politics?  Manipulate markets through artificial means to predetermine winners and losers of your own choosing?  More beholden to campaign donors than to voters?  Sorry, not for me.  Oops!  I just shoveled a bunch of people off my list already!
  • Isolationism?  Reluctant to propel our nation to lead the world?  Fearful of increasing legal immigration?  Hey, wake up!  People are watching us all around the world.  I am mindful of that.  We cannot have leaders that bury their heads in the sand.
  • Dishonesty?  Trying to be enigmatic about policy positions?  Talking out of both sides of your mouth?  Unwilling to be held accountable?  Holding double-standards?  Dodging culpability through legal technicalities and obfuscation?  Lacking integrity?  (I’m looking at you, Hillary Clinton.  This is why you’d be the last person I’d vote for of either party.)
  • Lack of leadership?  No executive experience?  Unable to rally people to your cause?  Unable to form coalitions?  Unwilling to negotiate with those on the other side of the political aisle?  A lone voice in the wilderness that no one cares to listen to?  Ineffective administrator?  Constantly making excuses for poor performance?  The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing?  Take credit for the good but pass blame for the bad?  The buck doesn’t stop at your desk?  There are places in society for such people.  They can be bloggers, just like me.  And, just like me, they shouldn’t be POTUS.
  • In trouble with the law?  Domestic violence?  Sexual harassment?  Driving while intoxicated?  Use of recreational drugs?  Evaded taxes?  Commingled personal funds with business funds, campaign funds, NGO funds, or government funds?  Hired a domestic that was not eligible to work in the United States?  Steered contracts for bribes and kickbacks?  Hid information from FOIA requests that the public has a right to know about?  Does a life of privilege protect you from reaping legal consequences that would ordinarily befall someone in less-priveleged circumstances?  No one should be exempt from the law.
  • Utopianism?  Should free markets go the way of the dinosaur?  In the interests of economic egalitarianism in pursuit of a classless society through destratification, should our society and economy be centrally planned by a benevolent federal government comprised of the best thinkers within the ivory tower?  Do we need to be saved from ourselves?  Are we citizens irrationally prone to vote against our own best interests?  Should the interests of the betterment of society trump the ambitions of individuals?  Wouldn’t equality guarantee happiness for everyone?  Well, I don’t call myself Buckeye RINO because I am okay with being herded like cattle.
  • Constitution allergy?  Is the U.S. Constitution inconvenient?  Should speech, religion, the press, and peaceable assembly be regulated?  Should firearm ownership be confined to on-duty law enforcement and military personnel?  Is the whole population comprised of suspects, thus seeking warrants just bothersome red tape?  Do the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution intrude on the branches of government to the point that each branch needs work-arounds to circumvent the checks and balances?  Are the people too subversive to be sovereign?  Is it too hard to declare war before engaging in acts of war?  Is due process too much to expect when the government has an interest in seizing private property?  Shouldn’t the Senate have the same right of introducing an appropriations bill as does the House?  Should special interest groups be delegated the responsibility of writing the legislation that gets introduced in Congress?  If any act of Congress, on its face, is unenforceable, should the executive branch be given carte blanche to add whatever administrative code to it deemed necessary to make it enforceable?  Should the new loophole of regarding the U.S. Constitution as a “living document” render the Constitution malleable to the point at which it means whatever it is expedient to say it means at any given point in time?  Should any U.S. District Court judge be permitted to strike down the laws of any state, or institute new state laws, based upon the federal government’s interests and the federal government’s notions of political correctness?  Is holding on to power, whether for incumbents, the federal government as a whole, the two major political parties, businesses “too big to fail,” or government bureaucracies (like the IRS, the Federal Reserve Board, the Bureau of Land Management, the DEA, the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, ICE, the FEC, the EPA, etc.) so imperative that the sovereign people, the 50 states, and the U.S. Constitution must ultimately be subjugated?  I cannot abide politicians who act in this manner, and maybe that’s why GOP voters have been driven toward non-politicians early on in this election cycle.

I already eliminated all the presidential candidates based on these 7 bulletpoints.  Now what?  Choose the least of the evils?  In that case, I find myself being pushed toward Rand Paul, for the 7th bulletpoint trumps them all.  I don’t think of Rand Paul as a leader.  I have no data from which I can extrapolate what kind of administrator he would be.  Libertarians often outsource the work of government because the government is deemed too inefficient.  I am not libertarian.  I think many functions of government should be kept in-house.  Ideally, there’d be a chain of command within government that would hold bureaucracies accountable to the chief executive and responsive to the people, thus a political leader should reform government agencies and lead them to greater efficiency.  I don’t agree with many tenets of libertarianism, legalization of recreational drugs being just one example of what I oppose.  I worry that a libertarian running the government would be like steering a rudderless ship, for I think that libertarianism aspires to such an extreme of individualism that it interferes with a sense of community.  I think having a sense of community is the essence of good government that rules by the consent of the governed.  I think Rand Paul is isolationist.  In foreign policy, I fear a President Rand Paul would project weakness.  I fear that the U.S. would step aside as world leader, and that, in turn, would leave a vacuum that Russia or China or many other nations would like to fill.  I must admit that I believe in American exceptionalism.  I think we have the best nation on the planet, and I wish that other nations would emulate ours at least to the extent that their respective constitutions grant liberties to their respective populations that are equal to our own Bill of Rights.

What scares me about so many other candidates is that they want to sound so tough on the homeland security front that they are willing to part with key provisions of the Bill of Rights, whether it’s gun control, the tendency to attempt to muzzle the media in the face of criticism (or script, in advance, the messages delivered by the media), and a barely concealed animosity toward religion on the left; or treating all citizens as suspects on the right.  Have you heard the GOP candidates’ stances on encryption?  They are chilling.  I believe the freedom of speech includes choosing who is and who is not the audience of any given communication.  This blog is unencrypted because I hope for a wide audience for the views I state here.  But if I’m talking about a sensitive personal matter, I want to communicate in complete privacy only to a specific audience of my choosing.  Unfortunately, the national security hawks want every civilian communication to be a public one with plenty of ways to eavesdrop at their disposal.  I never liked the so-called Patriot Act for its infringement of 4th Amendment provisions regarding warrants, or should I say the granting of policing power with either no warrants or issuance of secret warrants, thus circumventing the constitutional checks and balances upon policing power.  The result is an arrangement that makes the government opaque to the people and the people transparent to the government.  I think the people of this nation need to put terrorist acts in perspective.  What is the ratio of terrorist-on-American crime with respect to American-on-American crime?  Remember the chorus on the right side of the aisle that responded to prominent white-on-black criminal cases with the knee-jerk reaction of “What about black-on-black crime?”  The casualties from terrorist-on-American crime are much fewer than non-terrorist-on-American crime.  I suggest we not throw away our constitutional rights over this.  Chris Christie said he puts national security first because, for hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center, he didn’t know what had become of his wife.  Along that same line of reasoning, if someone close to Chris Christie, heaven forbid, should be threatened by a firearm, would that make it okay, in his mind, to rescind the 2nd Amendment?  I think the 2nd Amendment is one way to ensure that terrorists will never take control of our nation.  Do you remember a time when military coups were ubiquitous across the Third World?  In those nations, the people lacked the arms that governments and military insurgents had.  What purpose do assault weapons serve in the hands of a free people?  Some of the answers to that question are that we maintain a civilian-controlled military, that we deter foreign invasion, and that we prevent the formation of a totalitarian state (or that we have the power to overthrow a totalitarian state, heaven forbid).  I offered Chris Christie’s position as an example of the candidates’ rhetoric on national security, but he really shouldn’t be singled out, for candidates at the bottom of the polls, like Jim Gilmore and Martin O’Malley, all the way to the top of the polls, like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, envision a security state that must take precedence over constitutional liberties.

For the time being, I suppose I am cornered into the Rand Paul camp, and I don’t like it.  I’m not a happy camper.  I’m hoping candidates whose leadership skills I admire will come to their senses and take the side of the US Constitution.  Barring that, watching this race unfold is like channel surfing and finding nothing intriguing on TV.

Fox News being selfish in only allowing 3 hours for first GOP debates scheduled for Aug. 6, 2015

Sound bites from the people that matter (the candidates for the GOP nomination for the 2016 presidential election) and hours of hashing and rehashing the sound bites from the people that don’t matter (media pundits): That is what we have to look forward to in the wake of the first GOP presidential candidate debates. This imbalance is the essence of my complaint.

The first GOP debates of the 2016 presidential campaign season will be held on Fox News on August 6,2015.  Seventeen candidates are eligible to participate in one of two debates that evening.  Originally, just one debate during two hours of primetime was scheduled to start at 9 PM Eastern Time.  That primetime debate would only have allowed for the top 10 candidates in the polls to be on stage.  Because of backlash, Fox News has announced an additional hour of debate for the remaining 7 candidates that starts at 5 pm Eastern Time, so all the major GOP candidates get some time on-camera.

But let’s put things into perspective.  Are these debates going to use all 180 minutes of those time slots on these debates?  Or will their be commercial breaks?  Or, at the least, station breaks?  Even if they air the debates nonstop without interruption, three hours does not seem to be much time considering that Fox News is on the air 24/7.  A candidate would be really lucky to total more than 10 minutes of speaking time during these debates.  How much can you really learn about a candidate’s platform in 10 minutes, especially if the moderator is steering conversation away from the message a candidate wants to emphasize?  With such a short timeframe to work with, a moderator has to be very selective about what issues to raise and responses to elicit.  Viewers will not get a chance to learn the depth and breadth of each candidacy.  Therefore, there will be too little information revealed to make apples to apples comparisons between candidates’ competing visions.

24-hour news networks can be boring to follow over the course of a day because so much information is repeated ad nauseum.  The debates will provide a welcome break from that.  Why not pre-empt all of the regularly scheduled programming that evening to give us a solid block of time to hear all the candidates more in-depth in a round robin that puts them all on stage at once?  After all, this is the debut.

A debut means that it is a special occasion that comes around only once every four years, so why the stinginess on time?  At any other time of the campaign season, people will have already dropped out–people who might have been worthy of further consideration, had they only been given a chance to have their say. One of the reasons that the freedom of the press is encoded into our U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights is so that we can access information about these very important political matters.  TV news outlets should exist for stuff such as this.

I say, start the cameras rolling at 4 pm and keep them rolling until midnight.  Yes, that’s a full eight-hour work shift during which the candidates need to remain engaged, but the work of the President of the United States is far more grueling than that, thus it should be no big deal.  Yeah, people need to eat and people need to use the bathroom during eight hours, so seat the candidates at long tables that will allow them to be served some dinner.  Since only one person can talk at a time anyway, there should be plenty of time for the other sixteen candidates to swallow a few bites and take a few swigs of their drinks as they listen in.  The candidates, of course, would need to be cued when they are on-deck so that they are free to speak without food in their mouths when it becomes their turn.  The candidates can grab restroom breaks during commercials.  While food is being served, the debate format can be Q & A between moderator and candidate, with each taking a turn.  After the food has been cleared away, the debate between candidates can begin in earnest, wherein candidates can challenge each other’s positions with much less input from the moderator.  At that point, the moderator would merely play traffic cop by identifying which speaker has the floor at any given point so that candidates do not talk over each other.

Who is going is going to watch an eight-hour debate in its entirety besides die-hard political junkies, you ask?  Never fear, for, in the weeks following, the pundits will all pile on to rehash what was said.  Therefore, if you only caught pieces of the debate, you are sure to see regurgitations of it.  The difference is, instead of the pundits playing upon the same sound bites over and over again, there will actually be enough substance from the candidates’ mouths that the pundits might actually say something insightful rather than knee-jerk.  There will be more context within which to analyze candidates’ statements.

When hours of punditry have to pick over mere seconds of sound bites, the political commentary tends to resemble tabloid TV reality shows.  We have enough of that on the tube already.  If the news networks made the changes I recommend, there would be more meat for the pundits to digest, and the commentary might actually become educational, and that would be refreshing.

Aren’t there way too many pundits?  Don’t they take up way too much broadcasting time?  More time should have been alloted to this debut event–specifically to the candidates.  The pundits are like the poor: They will always be with us.

By the way, here’s a recap of the 17 candidates, in no particular order, with links to their official websites (except for one, the latest entrant, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who doesn’t seem to have launched his website yet).

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore

Former New York Governor George Pataki

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

Former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum

U.S. Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul

U.S. Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina

Pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

How does Scott Walker win Ohio? He won’t.

I hear that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gives really good stump speeches in his quest to win the U.S. Presidency in 2016.  In a very crowded GOP field where a candidate only has to have more than 10% support to be considered one of the serious contenders (really? when 2016 is still 5 months away?), Walker appears to be well positioned for the first GOP caucus contest early next year in Iowa.  So, what if he wins Iowa?  What if he wins nominating contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada?  A lot of competitors will have quit after striking out in the first four contests, true.  But will those potential wins provide the bump he needs to win the White House?  I don’t think so.  Though Ohio’s electoral votes seem to decrease with every census, I still do not see how a Republican candidate wins the White House without winning Ohio.  I don’t see how Scott Walker can win Ohio in a general election unless the Democrat nominee makes a mammoth (and I mean huge, huge, huge) blunder.

It is conceivable, however unlikely, that Walker could win a GOP primary in Ohio, especially if the GOP field is still crowded.  But the field won’t be crowded.  With so many candidates at this stage of the race, the double-digit support Walker currently has makes him seem like a Goliath (OK, maybe not compared to Donald Trump or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but I think you know what I mean).  In my memory, I can never recall a GOP primary ballot in Ohio that listed more than five presidential candidates.  Going from double-digit numbers of candidates down to 5 candidates would mean that Scott Walker would have to climb to at least 20% of the vote to win, and 20% would only win if the other candidates were also deadlocked with 20% of the vote yet each tallying one less vote than Scott Walker’s.  If there were just 2 candidates Ohio’s GOP primary ballot and one of them were Scott Walker, I seriously doubt he could cross the 50% threshold to win.  His best chance to win Ohio’s delegates is for all the other candidates to drop out (and sometimes that happens by the time Ohio votes).

Walker was making national news as governor of Wisconsin at the same time that John Kasich was making national news as governor of Ohio.  True, Kasich made national news as a key member of the Congress that balanced the federal budget in the 1990’s, but, for many voters, that is not recent memory.  Governors Walker and Kasich were in the national spotlight for the same thing: passing legislation to drastically alter the collective bargaining rights of the public-sector labor unions.

To me, showing real leadership in executive office means toughly negotiating a fair contract.  Leadership is needed not only at the state level to get labor contracts that strike the right balance, but also at the local levels of government, too.  Voters don’t always elect good leaders, and that’s on them if they didn’t do their homework prior to voting.  So, if labor contracts exist that are not in the public’s best interest, then the public needs to recruit good leaders and vote them into office.  After the victors take office, they need to remember that taxpayers expect that our government executives negotiate contracts that the public can support.

What Walker and Kasich tried to do was compensate for an overall lack of leadership, at state and local levels, regarding labor contract negotiations.  They tried to use the legislation to overturn negotiated contracts.  This step, in and of itself, is not only wrong (because it breaks promises), but it weakens the executive branch’s negotiating clout down the road.  Negotiating in good faith strengthens one’s clout.  Wiping out contracts with legislation shows that one did not negotiate in good faith.  Now, what does one do to engender trust when negotiating with the unions if the unions think that you’re just going to turn around and lobby the legislature to undercut what you just agreed to?  Walker is insulated from his mistake, for now, because voters in Wisconsin sided with him. Now, he needs to find votes in other states, and, speaking of states, Ohio is not an insignificant one.

I think that the labor unions in Wisconsin mistakenly thought that marketplace principles don’t apply to them, for they must have assumed that they could do a crappy job and get away with it. When I think about how things turned out, I think Walker’s victories must have had more to do with taxpayer discontent with public employee performance than with anything else. The moral to the story for Wisconsin’s public employees is this:  Serve the public well.  Had that been the case, Wisconsin’s public employees might have succeeded like the public-sector labor unions in Ohio did.  Ohio turned out to support its public employees at the ballot box.

In 2011, Ohio voters supported the referendum that killed Senate Bill 5, carrying 83 of Ohio’s 88 counties. In Kasich’s bid for re-election in 2014, he had to assure Ohioans that he had learned his lesson and would not go back down that same path to do an end run around labor contracts via legislation.  Lucky for Kasich, he was opposed by Ed Fitzgerald, an ineffective and disgraceful politician from Cuyahoga County, in the 2014 gubernatorial race.  Media observers outside Ohio should not read too much into Kasich’s 2014 win because they need to take into account just how pitifully weak a candidate Fitzgerald was.  Therefore, Kasich’s ability to win Ohio as a presidential candidate is not a foregone conclusion.

Let’s make something clear:  In turning back SB 5 in all but 5 counties (Delaware, Warren, Holmes, Shelby, and Mercer), it would appear that a number of Ohio Republicans thought that the bad-faith legislative end-run around promises made to public employees was a bad move.  Democrats, alone, didn’t kill that bill.  In a contested GOP primary, assuming Walker is still in the mix, he can only pick up the votes of those who favored the bill, which, as I pointed out, may not provide a winning margin if the number of candidates is dwindling.  I don’t know what Walker’s fundraising acumen is, but I suppose he could find well-heeled donors in Delaware and Warren counties to give the illusion that he has some kind of political support in Ohio, but money doesn’t necessarily add up to votes.  Though there are other planks in Walker’s platform besides union-busting, many of those same planks exist in the platforms of his competitors.  In other words, he is different from the other candidates in that he engaged in union-busting and got away with it.  Except, he really won’t get away with it, because the path to the White House leads through Ohio.  Kasich, for his part, is apologetic (but he still might not carry Ohio).  Walker remains unapologetic.  And this brings us to the general election of 2016 (okay, I said the 2016 general election might not even happen if all hell breaks loose).

Do we need to remind everyone that Ohio is a swing state?  The Democrats GOTV efforts in Ohio during presidential election years have been full-throttle, to say the least.  The Democrats know that no matter how large the magnitude of resources is that’s poured into Ohio, it pays off if they deny the GOP of Ohio’s electors.  So though Ohio looks red in between presidential election years, the Democrats painted Ohio blue in 2008 and 2012.  History shows us that Republicans do not win the White House without Ohio’s electors.  If Scott Walker were the GOP nominee, how does he carry Ohio?  The death of SB 5 would suggest that Walker will definitely not max out the Republican vote.  What does he offer for Democrats that may cause them to think about crossing over?  Nothing.

Walker slashed the unions claiming that it would save the taxpayers some money.  Maybe it just re-allocated where money is spent, for Walker plans to help the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team get a new arena with the help of taxpayer money–from new taxes.  That’s called corporate welfare.  That doesn’t even sell well with the Tea Party.  Meanwhile, as a saving grace, Kasich works wonders with budgets without more taxation.  Conclusion: Walker’s union-busting is a bust in Ohio.  White House access denied.

Kasich, for his part, has a chance, but the Democrat nominee will not be Ed Fitzgerald in November 2016.  I think he knows that.

James Williamson guest blog: Imminent Rebellion: The Perfect Storm

Editor’s note: James Williamson is one of my younger brothers and is an Ohio native currently residing in Nevada.  He has written a number of guest blog posts for Buckeye RINO previously.  The topic he keeps revisiting is the tension between state governments and the federal government, and the phrase “Imminent Rebellion” is included in title of each blog post in the series, for he predicts that one day, several states may part ways with the federal government, which he believes might even lead to another civil war.  The other posts in the Imminent Rebellion Series are linked here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

In this post, James tackles the topic of Jade Helm.  I have presented a competing viewpoint on Jade Helm here on my Buckeye RINO blog titled, “The Meaning of Jade Helm 15 for the Future of the United States of America.“–DJW

Imminent Rebellion: The Perfect Storm

When I first started writing about the split between the Feds and the states it was not a common topic of discussion, nor did another civil war seem imminent to many besides me. Now with the many conspiracy theories surrounding Jade Helm 15 it seems to be a little more vogue. For those that don’t know, Jade Helm 15 is a series of military exercises that are to be held over the next two months in several states, with many of the exercises being conducted in populated areas. This has caused quite a stir in the states where the exercises are being conducted, most notably Texas. Even Chuck Norris felt the need to speak about it and called it “more than a military exercise”.

One of the reasons there are so many conspiracy theories is because the government is not saying what the purpose of the exercises are beyond training in urban environments . . . and they are prohibiting direct coverage by the press. That, of course, is just nectar for the bees (or wasps as the case may be…) and no one should be surprised that the bees are swarming. While there are many theories about the operation the most popular are that the federal government is either 1) preparing to fight ISIS insurgents (some saying on foreign, others on domestic soil) or 2) they are getting ready to declare martial law that would be triggered by riots or some other national crisis. I suppose that you could take a third road and say it’s both. If ISIS took hold here in the US, martial law might have to be declared to effectively counterattack especially if some of the ISIS fighters happen to be US citizens.

For more on the nationwide race riot conspiracy theory, you can read about an alleged race database that is being compiled by “Big Brother” here:  “Obama collecting personal data for a secret race database.”

If Jade Helm 15 is preparation for a foreign campaign, as the few public comments on it from the military indicate, then we have little to be concerned about, right? Well, it does’t fit the rhetoric. The administration has been consistently talking about reducing the number of troops in the Middle East, not increasing them. The administration has also stated that they don’t want to be involved on the ground in Syria. This could be just for Iraq to keep the hard fought gains there, but that doesn’t fit the rhetoric either. We are supposed to have a smaller footprint there, not a bigger one. There is not popular support for any more military invervention in the middle-east anyway so what would the exercise be for if not there? The Ukraine? That makes even less sense. Whose side would we even be on? Aren’t Obama and Putin striking a more conciliatory tone toward each other and calling for “cooperation”? There are reports that the administration is trying to get help from Russia in Syria again. It wouldn’t be prudent to help the Ukrainians put down the pro-Russian movement there if we are trying to get something from Russia. Then again, this administration has never made a lot of sense regarding foreign policy unless you are a cynic. Any other possibilities? China? Not likely. North Korea? Not worth our time. Iran? In the words of Jack Sparrow, “Why fight when you can negotiate?” The ink is not even dry on the agreement with Iran. Intervention on foreign soil just doesn’t make sense (unless you want to start making comparisons to the German/Soviet nonaggression pact…) so we come back to the domestic soil theory.

If Jade Helm 15 is indeed designed for a domestic operation then there is even more cause for concern. Regardless of the trigger, having live military operations on US soil means there is trouble in our own back yard. Many are saying that it’s not just coincidence that Texas, Utah, and the southern tip of California are listed as “hostile” territory for the drills and that they will be targeted first.  Maybe this is all just crazy talk, but why, after more than a decade of urban warfare in Iraq, do we suddenly need urban warfare training in populated areas within the United States? We didn’t need them when we invaded Baghdad. Why now? One thing is for certain: Uncle Sam is not giving answers, so we are left to ponder and let our imaginations run wild. That doesn’t seem like an effective way to run a public relations campaign.

If martial law were declared while President Obama is still in office it would put the liberal Democrats in a tough spot ideologically as they generally are the group that derides Abraham Lincoln for essentially imposing martial law by suspending habeus corpus after the start of the Civil War. On the other hand President Obama is a Lincoln admirer. He started his presidency by riding the train along the same route that Lincoln did on his way to Washington DC. Maybe President Obama wants to follow in Lincoln’s footsteps in more ways than one?

The Meaning of Jade Helm 15 for the Future of the United States of America

Editor’s note:  My brother, James Williamson, wrote a guest blog article also about Jade Helm, titled, “Imminent Rebellion: The Perfect Storm,” in which he theorizes that the federal government may be conspiring to quash rebellious states and/or rioters by declaring martial law . . . or worse. Feel free to compare my post with his and post comments with your thoughts.–DJW

What is Operation Jade Helm 15?

Operation Jade Helm 15 is a joint military exercise currently underway in the southwestern United States of America that is due to wrap up on September 15, 2015. In addition to coordination between branches of the US Armed Forces, these exercises will also entail working hand-in-glove with other federal agencies not usually known for pairing with the military during combat missions—oh! . . . and I should clarify for you that these military exercises are, in fact, combat drills. Without that clarification, you might think that these are emergency preparedness drills for either civil defense or disaster relief, because several of the odd partners in these exercises are agencies within the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

In this simulation, some of the southwestern states will be designated as allied territory, i.e. staging grounds for combat missions. Other states will be designated as hostile territory, within which targets are designated for the missions launched from allied territory. Two states are considered neutral territory with one seemingly sympathetic toward the allies and the other seemingly sympathetic toward the enemy, but not otherwise actively engaged in the skirmishes between the two sides. In this scenario, California has been partitioned with the two counties that neighbor the Mexican border designated as hostile territory while the rest of California is in allied territory. The other hostile territories are Texas and Utah while the other allied territories are Nevada and Colorado. New Mexico is seen as sympathetic toward the enemy and Arizona is seen as sympathetic toward the allies.

Jade Helm 15 has become a popular topic among conspiracy theorists.

A number of skeptical individual citizens, as well as those in social circles (Tea Party?) and self-styled civilian militias who are distrustful of the federal government, are concerned that Operation Jade Helm 15 is a preparation for carrying out future military operations directed at muting government critics. They point to combat missions planned for Jade Helm wherein small special ops teams, prior to any battlefield engagement, are to quietly swoop in to capture or kill the leaders of the opposition. The FBI and the DEA, both of which are federal policing agencies that operate mostly within the United States rather than abroad, will be the ones detecting and tracking the opposition leaders in advance of the arrival of the special ops teams that will take those targets out.

Put more bluntly, the states designated as allied or hostile territory for the purposes of Operation Jade Helm 15 are not stand-ins for foreign nations, if the rumors of FBI and DEA cooperation with the military are true. The states are cast in the role of actual states of the United States. Thus, another conspiracy theory is that this is more than just eliminating self-styled civilian militias and anti-government propagandists. Instead, many of the conspiracy theorists interpret these special ops missions as preparation for the initial stages of another civil war.

The military has reached out to communities to refute conspiracy theorists.

These military exercises are mostly being conducted on private properties with permissions from property owners. Without some kind of advance public notice of these exercises, the military worried that civilians dwelling near these properties would become alarmed by the noises of helicopters and rifle fire, thereby unnecessarily swamping 911 operators with phone calls while drills were taking place. Communities near where these exercises are or will be taking place have been notified that these are only drills. No real emergencies are anticipated. In some communities, the military has held actual town hall meetings to offer reassurance that these exercises are merely tests of coordination between military branches and federal agencies to enhance military readiness for operations in other parts of the world.

Some conspiracy theorists have been in attendance at the community town hall meetings hosted by the military to confront the military officers with their suspicions of preparation for martial law and/or civil war. The military officers conducting the meetings repeatedly gave assurances that the federal government has not and is not planning for either the implementation of martial law or the onset of civil war.

The conspiracy theorists were not persuaded or placated by the assurances, and military officers privately conceded that nothing they could say would have changed the minds of the conspiracy theorists. The view of the military officers was that the conspiracy theorists would not put their minds at ease until September 16th arrived—the day after wrap-up—without the occurrence of any alarming incidents in the meantime.

In many cases, the conspiracy theorists in attendance were not local townsfolk. They traveled some distances to attend these town hall meetings. Overall, local townsfolk in the vicinity of the planned exercises were apt to believe the military officers, or at least give them the benefit of the doubt. Public support for our nation’s troops has characteristically been very strong since 9/11, and perhaps that is why the townsfolk responded to the military in a favorable way. Theories of conspiracy apparently failed to gain traction among locals.

I think Jade Helm is a trial balloon for a contingency, not confirmation of a full-fledged conspiracy.

Perhaps I am drawing a fine distinction, but I hope readers can discern my meaning. Let me first pose a hypothetical question: What if the federal government experienced a financial meltdown? I’m not talking about a Congressional debate that failed to yield enough votes for raising the debt ceiling and thus causing a government shutdown. No, I am talking about a much worse fiscal environment, as I blogged about four-and-a-half years ago, where the value of our money or the sources of our money just evaporate.

If there is a full-fledged conspiracy afoot in the federal government, it is a conspiracy to continue government “stimulus” spending and central bank (the Federal Reserve) quantitative easing that will surely bankrupt our government.

Crony capitalism and government intervention in the private sector is at the heart of the problem, just as it was during the Wall Street bailouts of 2008. Please do not misconstrue my disdain for crony capitalism as disdain for capitalism as a whole. I very much favor free-market capitalism. For more talking points about crony capitalism—what it is and what it brings about—beyond what I share here, perhaps you should follow the 2016 presidential campaign messages of Carly Fiorina, as she has been outspoken on the matter. Big businesses within a myriad of industries have lobbied successfully over the course of decades for federal laws that provide them with distinct marketplace advantages. Incumbent politicians of both major political parties crave campaign donations to retain power. The corporate PACs have been rewarding members of Congress for favorable laws by filling campaign coffers. The Wall Street bailouts of 2008 were not only motivated by a concern that a disastrous nationwide economic meltdown would occur, but also by a concern that politicians would be biting the hands that feed them had they not approved the bailouts. Bailouts only constitute a portion of “stimulus” spending designed to lengthen the careers of professional politicians via rewards to big business political benefactors. Growth of government, for example, leads to growth of private-sector government contractors, thus providing economic “stimulus.” As the government grows, so also does the power of the politicians that run it. The government has intruded on our private economy, and even our private lives, at an ever-accelerating rate. Considering government intrusion, it is no wonder that conspiracy theories abound. The conspiracy theory that I fully subscribe to is avarice. The government and the politicians that run it want money and power in the worst way.

The government’s greed for money and power is unsustainable. When the fiscal system collapses, when the government defaults on debt payments, when the government can only pay its employees with IOUs, when the government can no longer reimburse doctors for Medicare and Medicaid, when no more monthly Social Security benefits can be paid out, when no more unemployment checks can be issued, when no more Temporary Assistance to Needy Families can be provided, when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation can no longer protect your bank deposits if your bank fails, when there is no longer any ability to bail out well-connected political benefactors, when U.S. Treasury bonds can no longer be redeemed (and when no one with any common sense will buy them), I predict the government will shift into confiscatory mode. Do you think the day will never come that the government is starved for money? I think we’ve already passed the point of no return. That day is coming. I’m convinced of it.

As the federal government becomes insolvent, forget about debt ceiling debates, the government will repeal or ignore any such ceiling in a desperate attempt to retain some kind of purchasing power. Woe unto all who may have cheated on federal taxes, owe federal loans, or otherwise committed offenses wherein laws allow for asset seizure, for private assets will be seized—forcefully, if necessary. Expect that more laws will be passed that allow for more private property forfeiture to the government. Expect the federal government to try to commandeer the resources of the states. Expect tax exemptions to evaporate. Expect federal taxes to be levied on assets that were never taxed before in American history. Does it sound far-fetched to you? If so, have you been paying attention to Greece and some of the measures the government has resorted to there? Greece hasn’t resorted to all of these measures, because they still are milking the European Union for as much as they can get, but, if you’ve paid attention, Greece has already resorted to some of these measures. Have you noticed what the Greek government has done to the banks?

Okay, I will concede that the government has not yet conspired to resort to any such measures. The conspiracy for money and power still rings true to me. So, if you, dear readers, will at least humor me by assuming that the federal government conspires to accumulate more money and power, what might the fallout be if the government cannot sustain its efforts to do so? You don’t know? You can’t be sure? You have some vague ideas of what might happen, but no crystal ball to show you exactly how it all plays out? If you are not sure what might happen in such a scenario, I think you are in good company. I think the federal government, though it has some vague ideas, doesn’t know exactly how such a situation plays out, either. I think they are mulling over the multitude of possible ramifications and seeing what options they can put on the table to mitigate against any negative ramifications that may arise. In other words, they are beginning to examine contingencies.

This is the distinction I am drawing. In my mind, Jade Helm is not a government conspiracy. The government has not committed itself to implementing martial law. It has not pledged to engage in civil war. It has not fully formulated plans for either of these actions. These are not the unspoken intentions behind the conception of Operation Jade Helm 15. Instead, the federal government is just brainstorming—throwing things at the wall, so to speak, and seeing what sticks—in case all hell breaks loose. The government does not yet know if they would put martial law, let alone civil war, on the table if the people and/or states revolt. Maybe there will be no revolt. Maybe citizens will pull together, help each other out, and keep the peace, giving the federal government time to regroup and conceive of a new way forward. Jade Helm, to me, is an exploratory mission to see what may be feasible in planning for the contingencies that may arise in an uncertain future.

In my opinion, the future will bring revolt and the U.S. government will act with hostility toward the people and the states.

The revolt I foresee will not be premeditated and the harsh actions of the government will not have arisen from conspiracy. It will unfold spontaneously. The federal government’s unsustainable avarice for money and power will be the underlying cause of the actions that follow. People desperate for basic essentials will riot and plunder. States will want to insulate themselves from the chaos to the degree that they will assert their autonomy and move toward secession.

The United States, to my knowledge, has not set up internment camps since they forced Americans of Japanese heritage to live in such camps during World War II. It was a mistake to set up the camps in the first place. The threat posed by those detained was minor to negligible. Their constitutional rights were suspended for the purpose of security, but in my mind, civil liberty trumps the small risks to security that a few individuals may pose. Jade Helm, from my understanding (but I hope I’m wrong), includes exercises in setting up and maintaining internment camps for government dissidents. I believe that if such exercises are conducted, that it may embolden the federal government to put internment camps on the table as an option should widespread popular revolt materialize.

The supposed joint exercises involving special ops, the FBI, and the DEA may encourage the government to put another option on the table to neutralize dissidents. I believe the DEA will be active, anyway, even without revolt, because the greedy government will act aggressively to seize property in connection with suspected drug crimes. We can only hope, in such desperate times, that the actions of the DEA will be directed only at legitimate drug criminals rather than impacting innocent civilians via dragnets too broad in scope. But, if things get out of hand and there is an uprising, particularly among self-styled militias, I can easily conceive of the FBI sniffing out the leading dissidents and special ops, in turn, snuffing them out.

Secession would first be attempted by states that have already passed measures in their legislatures asserting their sovereignty over their own territory. Many states have done so. Some of these states, like South Carolina, Utah, and Texas, have planned for contingencies that anticipate the possibility of the collapse of our national currency. South Carolina has reserved for itself the right to mint coins. Utah has reserved for its people the right of the people to mint their own coins. The Texas treasury’s investments include gold, held in a New York vault. The Texas legislature has garnered media attention for its call to relocate that gold to a yet-to-be-built vault on Texas’ own soil. Not only would these states be among the first to move toward secession, they would also be the first targets of federal military power, were the situation to escalate, in efforts to both block secession and commandeer states’ resources. Civil war may materialize. South Carolina—the last holdout in banishing the Confederate flag (not only a detestable symbol of slavery but a symbol of secession) and the first to engage in combat at the start of the Civil War, could conceivably be the starting point of a new civil war. This time, if such a scenario were to arise, instead of South Carolina’s troops assaulting a federal military installation, it will be the federal government that initiates an assault against South Carolina.

Seizing state assets in Texas and Utah before those states can secure them will serve as prime motivation for the federal government to strike preemptively in those states as well. I point to Operation Jade Helm 15 as evidence of the federal government’s conspiracy to obtain more wealth and power, for the whole states of Texas and Utah are designated as hostile territory in Jade Helm. You decide. Is this coincidence, or not? Is this a way to explore a contingency, or not?

As further evidence that designating Texas and Utah as hostile territory for the purposes of Jade Helm may not be coincidental, the neutrality of New Mexico and Arizona along with their supposed political leanings make little sense unless viewed through the eyes of federal avarice. After all, Arizona has had several high-profile squabbles with the federal government, so sympathizing with the federal government, as conceived of in Operation Jade Helm 15, doesn’t ring true. Meanwhile, the blue-leaning state of New Mexico has very different political leanings than Texas or Utah, so why would New Mexico, though sitting on the sidelines, be leaning away from the feds? In my travel through New Mexico, the bilingual nature of the state is evident. Spanish is spoken nearly everywhere, and a large proportion of New Mexico’s population speaks Spanish as its first language (which, in my mind, is not a bad thing). I am assuming that while the U.S. is reaching a point of meltdown, the nation of Mexico is still intact. I think New Mexico may seek to strengthen economic ties with Mexico as an economic stopgap measure, and though the New Mexico legislature may make no movement toward formal secession, the U.S. government may look upon New Mexico’s commerce with envy and have to make a decision whether to take action against New Mexico or look the other way. Meanwhile, Arizona has already burned its bridges with the Mexican government, so expanding commerce in that direction is not an option. Could the California counties bordering Mexico take even bolder action than New Mexico in engaging commercially with Mexico by going a step further and adopting a political stance defiant of the federal government? If the designations of hostile and friendly territory for the purposes of Jade Helm are totally innocent and random, so be it. But if the federal government has an appetite for plunder, doesn’t the map of Jade Helm finally make sense?

Putin is an opportunist, and Russia will swing into action if the U.S. is in disarray.

In the 2012 presidential campaign, the Obama campaign ridiculed Republican rival Mitt Romney for stating that Russia is the USA’s number one geopolitical foe. Now, even President Obama’s new appointee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff admits the ill will and great danger the US faces from Russia. We knew Romney was right before the POTUS and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did. That ridiculous Russian relationship reset button is reason enough for me to dismiss support for Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid out of hand.

Close observers of Putin say that he looks at adversarial situations through the lens of a judo martial artist.  (On that note, I really like this article by Matthew Hedrick at Fortune magazine.)  Martial arts are comprised of more than just rehearsed moves and strategies, for, at the highest level, they are accompanied by a mindset, a way of perceiving interactions between external entities, a way of perceiving self in society, a way of perceiving one’s place in the world, a way of perceiving one’s internal thoughts and emotions, and a way of perceiving the spiritual and supernatural. Putin has achieved a black belt in judo. His instinct is not to be the aggressor when his adversary is most wary and least vulnerable. His instinct is to throw his adversary to the ground when his opponent exposes a vulnerability. Often, the force of the throw is not just determined by how much muscle Putin puts into it, for it is also significantly determined by how much momentum carried the adversary in the direction of the throw. With the United States already moving in a military direction against its own states in a civil war, a direction that could potentially result in the demise of the federal government, Russia may make a grab at the opportunity and finish the job—throwing the United States government to the ground.

The Russian propagandists have been bragging to their own nation that they have refined the abilities of their nuclear arsenal through advanced technology while the U.S. has stood pat with weaponry based on the designs of yesteryears. The Russian public loves this propaganda, and recent public opinion polls show that Russians have a very dim view of America. The Russian government propagandists have gone so far as to say that it can win . . . WIN . . . a nuclear war with the United States. If Russia indeed possesses this capability, we should look upon that nation with dread, for the Russian people have the political will to see it through.

I think that while the casualties mount in the United States, Russia will choose a time and place to strike with nuclear weapons that will break the back of the federal government as we know it. For those of us old enough to remember the Reagan Administration, the U.S. military proposed the development of a neutron bomb. I believe the Russians possess such bombs. The bombs are intended to leave buildings and infrastructure largely intact while killing off all inhabitants within the blast area. The radioactive fallout decays more rapidly than the nukes in our arsenal so that, in a short number of years (maybe less), the blast area can be occupied by the victors. Instead of blasting the planet to oblivion and radioactively poisoning the planet’s remains forever, Russia’s nukes can allow for surgical strikes that take out the populations of much smaller targets with little worry about incurring many casualties from radioactive fallout drifting over the Russian homeland. They win and we lose.

I do not believe Russian troops will be deployed to occupy American territory (with maybe exceptions for Alaska and the very strategically placed Hawaii). I believe Russia may use proxies for that purpose. Much as we won’t put boots on the ground to beat ISIS, but instead use airstrikes to enable allies such as the Kurds to occupy liberated territory, I think Russia will do likewise with their long-range military strikes while enabling an occupying invasion from elsewhere in the Americas. I believe Canada will not be able to maintain its territorial integrity as the invaders will not respect Canada’s borders and the Russians, coveting the whole of the Arctic Ocean basin, will strike our ally to the north, as well. The Russians will then turn toward reaching military objectives in their own hemisphere without any worry of intervention emanating from the United States.

If Jade Helm convinces the federal government that resorting to civil war is an option to put on the table as a response to widespread revolt over the government’s strong arm tactics in the wake of a fiscal emergency, then woe to the United States as we know it, for Russia will strike a crippling blow and America will be overthrown.

I believe there will be a rebirth of the nation, but it will take perhaps a decade for it to happen.

The new occupants of this region of North America will have swept in seeking the riches and the abundant life that was characteristic of the United States in its heyday and will not find it. Feeble regional governments will dot the landscape. They will totter until they find the right formula for governance. At some point, one of those governments will adopt principles contained in the U.S. Constitution and enjoy some prosperity as a result. Peoples of other regions will discover that the prosperity of the United States of the past proceeded not from an abundance of natural resources, but from the checks and balances upon government that the Constitution affords a sovereign people. Other regions will then seek to participate in a republic governed by that Constitution and will seek to have their territory annexed to that republic. In time, even peoples in distant parts of the Americas will seek the advantages of governance according to the principles of the Constitution. After all the destruction and chaos, a new American power will arise and immigration from the Eastern Hemisphere will start to swell.

If these events unfold, I project the onset to be quite soon, but I’ve been wrong before.

As mentioned in a blog post written in December 2010, I projected an utter economic collapse far worse than the one experienced in the fall of 2008. I said at that time that I could not envision, with our government’s fiscal condition so out of order, that the smoke and mirrors supporting the illusion of a strong fiat currency could be maintained for more than four years into the future. I was wrong. I am glad to be wrong. I hope to continue to be wrong. I hope our national debt turns out to be a mirage. I hope crony capitalism yields to free markets. I hope Americans can find meaningful employment that allows them to support their families. I hope that American prosperity leads to diminished demand upon government resources for family survival. I hope that economic growth yields sufficient growth in the tax base that we can trim tax rates. I hope that the working population grows so much and makes so much money that the money paid into Social Security and Medicare will help provide for the nation’s retirees and disabled. But I cannot see a turning point in our future that allows us to merrily proceed toward that utopia.

The crumbling of Greece may very well cause the European Union to crumble. Japan has never really recovered from its economic crisis dating back to the mid 1990’s. China has overextended itself with massive infrastructure projects, a number of which are underutilized even after completion. The Middle East has discovered that oil is becoming a common commodity. Russia sees the economic writing on the wall and is working feverishly to insulate themselves from the coming crisis as best they can. At least Russia has a jump on attempts to stay on its feet in relation to the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. South America is likely to escape the full brunt of the coming crisis, though Venezuela is already deluged in its own crisis. Much of this I rehearsed in that 2010 blog post. I see no reason to retreat from this falling domino scenario. The United States will not be able to withstand the economic blows reverberating around the world.

From what I can piece together, first shoe falls this fall. It is summer, already. I believe Jade Helm will wrap up on September the 15th without incident. It will be in the weeks after that during which the foundation shakes. I think many of us will still be leading normal lives through the end of this year, but we will no longer be so naïve about what might transpire. Perhaps Social Security payments will be suspended sometime in 2016 and the federal government finally shows its desperation for all to see.

I think that we might not have a federal election in November 2016. I think that is how calamitous the turn of events may turn out to be and how soon things might become unraveled. We will still exist in the fall of 2016, I think, but be too dysfunctional to carry through with the election. Or perhaps the elections take place, but quickly deteriorate in the aftermath so that the transition to a new Congress and POTUS is rocky and highly disputed, with states perhaps not sending their full delegations to Congress in a show of real intent to assert their own sovereignty. I think the majority of the states will be embroiled in violence in 2017, with an invading force from elsewhere in the Americas already mustering. I think the Russians will strike by 2018, the invasion will ensue, and we will hit the nadir and stay there for two or three years. I think worldwide recognition of a renewed America does not occur until 2025. I think it may take until 2030 before the renewed America encompasses as much territory as it does now (though I think the borders are not likely to be located where they are now).

The rapid onset of these events, I believe, will cause the federal government to revert to the playbook scripted for Jade Helm. Following the Jade Helm script will not be directly due to a conspiracy, but will merely unfold that way because the federal government will have little time to formulate a better response to an uprising that the government will feel it cannot ignore.

Large campaigns (like Presidential ones) need skilled technical communicators

Editor’s note: What you’ll find in this post below this editor’s note are pages that do not exactly fit the mold of my previous postings on this blog, for they are dressed up a little.  While I have been in graduate school working toward a degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), I have come to the realization that I know little about the genres within the field of technical communication, yet I’ve noticed that the foreign demand to learn more about the tech comm realm in English is really high.  I have taken about three technical communication courses in an attempt to shore up my deficit, even though the courses were not required for my degree.  The text that appears below is my first attempt to write a “white paper,” a genre that may or may not be familiar to those in marketing.  Specifically, my classmates and I were told to write a paper about working with large amounts of text with fairly recently developed content management tools, namely XML, DITA, and single-sourcing.  The basic idea behind content management, beyond mere storage and retrieval, is that much communication in a workplace contains a lot of repeated text with some variations according to specific circumstances.  In other words, we are talking about form letters on steroids.  While technical communicators are employed as grantwriters, editors, and D-I-Y handbook authors, they are most closely associated with high-tech industry where they take the highly specialized jargon of engineers and translate it into plain English so that we can, hopefully, learn the ins and outs of using the most modern cutting edge gadgets at least as well as our pre-adolescent children do.  Their well-honed writing and editing skills document the work of engineers, for engineers have more specialized and important matters to attend to rather than get bogged down in writing.  Technical communicators not only document what the engineers do, but they strive to keep the whole company in the loop on what is coming through the pipleline, gathering feedback from all of them in the process, plus reaching out to users of the new technologies in progress, both internal and external, to focus the company on what users need.  They funnel this feedback back to the administrators and engineers so that improving product design becomes a continuous collaborative process.  In fact, technical communicators will often manage engineering projects, rather than business persons with MBAs or even the engineers themselves, because technical communicators are better equipped to facilitate collaboration between all stakeholders.  This, in a nutshell, is the world of information development.  As I approached this “white paper” assignment, I reflected on the nature of politics and the parallels between crafting new policies to meet citizens’ needs and inventing new products to meet user’s needs.  Small campaigns, of course, cannot afford to hire a team of technical communicators, but they do not need to as the task of communicating amongst staff, the media, and constituents is not so cumbersome.  However, by the time one runs for U.S. President, one must communicate with millions, so the need for collaboration, the need for a consistent message, the need for information development, and the need for handling textual content reuse–form letters on steroids–means that these big campaigns need technical communicators at the core of their communications.  Campaigns should assemble tech comm teams made from workers who have specialized skills that complement each other rather than a collection of generalists.  Already, 10 Republicans have formally announced their candidacies for U.S. President.  How can they possibly break through from single-digit voter support?  They are fooling themselves if they think they can successfully go from no name recognition all the way to gaining the lead and separating themselves from the rest of the pack without the help of skillful technical communicators.  Tech comm is about much more than developing a campaign website.  I recommend reading the works of JoAnn T. Hackos for further insight on information development and technical communication.  By updating the way a campaign communicates, a candidate can be more persuasive about fixing what’s broken in Washington, DC, when they assemble a juggernaut team that bowls over politics as usual.  Americans are innovators . . . at least in technology and industry.  We need political leaders that are also adept innovators.  The “white paper” is written as if to technical communicators working on a campaign, so the pronoun “you” in the text that follows means “you, the technical communicator working for a presidential campaign.”  Most of the “white paper” appears below the fold, so you’ll have to click the mouse again if you want to keep reading.–DJW

ON THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN TRAIL WITH XML, DITA, CONTENT REUSE, AND SINGLE-SOURCING: TIME TO SHOW THE BOSS WHAT TECHNICAL COMMUNICATORS CAN DO

BY DANIEL JACK WILLIAMSON

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Information development can easily be extended beyond engineering firms as single-sourcing, XML, and DITA have heightened the capacity for content reuse of textual data by any organization that generates wide varieties of documents on a massive scale disseminated in both print and online formats. U.S. Presidential campaigns generate wide varieties of documents on a massive scale that are disseminated in both print and online formats. One feature of political communication is repetitive text, thus a technical communicator’s tools for content reuse are ideal for streamlined campaigns to reinforce the candidate’s brand through consistent and disciplined messaging. Though the early adoption phase of these tools is past (Dayton & Hopper, 2010), the tools are still far from universally used, and technical communicators need to not only familiarize themselves with these tools, but advocate for their use in planning the pivotal work of the technical communication team. Summaries of the workings of these tools are presented herein, and the relevance of technical communicators to the operations of very large political campaigns set forth.

TECHNICAL COMMUNICATORS ARE THE ANTIDOTE WASHINGTON NEEDS

You are viewed as much more relevant to answering the documentation and information development needs in Silicon Valley than you are to the same types of tasks in Washington, DC. This is unfortunate, for the average U.S. citizen views Washington as dysfunctional while the same citizen may be constantly amazed by what emerges from the technology pipeline. Remember the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act enrollment website? It is an example of what Washington botched that the Silicon Valley would have gotten right. Your skills are transferable. What you can do to revolutionize campaigns might go a long way toward convincing voters that the candidate you work for may be able to transcend Washington, for what you have to offer is not politics as usual. Read the rest of this entry »

James Williamson guest blog: Federal shutdown? Who cares?

Editor’s note: James Williamson is a former Ohio resident (currently residing in Nevada) who has written other guest blog pieces for Buckeye RINO. I am grateful for his contribution, especially as I am desperately trying to finish writing a thesis to obtain a masters degree. (Once I complete my degree, I hope to blog frequently.)

Guest bloggers at Buckeye RINO express their own opinions which may or may not represent my own opinions. That being said, I take issue with the following assertion that appears within this article: “Remember the Wisconsin fight over collective bargaining rights? Um, neither does anyone else.” I think Ohioans remember that fight, for they fought over public union collective bargaining rights, too, and the outcome of that fight in Ohio was markedly different than the outcome in Wisconsin.–DJW

Federal shutdown? Who cares?

With everything that has been going on for the last few months it’s hard to even pin down a topic to blog about. White house scandals, Anthony Weiner, Bob Filner, unrest in Egypt, our (non) involvement in Syria, the list goes on. With this smorgasbord of juicy discussion topics I am going to pick something that is not getting much press…. yet….

The government’s fiscal year ends September 30th which means there are a little more than 60 days for Congress to pass some sort of budget or continuing resolutions to fund the government starting October 1st. Already liberal pundits are salivating over the possibility because of what happened in 1995-1996. This idea that things turned out badly for the Republicans in 1995 so it will be turn out the same again is a fallacy of logic. While I’m not sure what the fallout would be if a shutdown does take place I can be certain of a few things:

1. Economic growth was much higher in 1995.
2. None of the sticking points of the budget (education, environment, Medicare, etc.) were as unpopular as Obamacare is.
3. John Boehner is not Newt Gingrich.
4. The senate was not controlled by Democrats in 1995.
5. Barack Obama is not Bill Clinton.
6. There is not a presidential election in 2014.
7. Unemployment was much lower in 1995.
8. Unemployment was much lower in 1995.
9. Unemployment was much lower in 1995…

Obviously, I think the unemployment rate will have an outsized impact on public reaction. I believe (based on personal observations) that there is much less sympathy (if there ever was any) for federal workers now than there was in 1995. Not only are private sector workers envious of the near impossibility of getting fired or laid off if you work for the federal government, the wages and benefits have now eclipsed that of the private sector. The Government will quickly discover that there is as much or more voter apathy toward their worker’s plight as there is toward the unions. Remember the Wisconsin fight over collective bargaining rights? Um, neither does anyone else.

Since the federal government does not provide services that affect everyday lives of average Americans immediately (like utility services, vehicle licensing, education) I doubt many people would be upset over the government shutting down for a few months. In fact, after the IRS scandal they may even cheer. Unfortunately this means that the people that would be the most upset by a shutdown would be government employees and federal contractors. So who will this constituency blame? The party that controls 1/2 of congress or the party that controls 1/2 of congress and the white house? Will that affect Senate and House elections in 2014?

Personally I think as long as the department of defense doesn’t shut down the majority of the public won’t miss much. They certainly won’t miss having the IRS pester them. They probably won’t miss the Department of Energy, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, TSA, GSA, or any other of the myriads of federal bureaucracies. Oh and the entitlement programs that liberal constituencies love so much? They don’t stop if there is a shutdown. They won’t get roused one way or another and this won’t be a major draw for them to go to the ballot box next November. Remember that last time the Democrats failed to gain control of the House of Representatives and lost two seats in the Senate. This time there is no presidential election in 2014 and in 2016 the incumbent is ineligible to run.

Government shutdown imminent? I say, “Bring it on!”