Friday, September 23, 2011

Is This the Sanest Man Running for President?

by Lisa DePaulo November 2011
source:  GQ Magazine, online Edition via “Facebook

If you're seeking the presidency but no one notices, are you still seeking the presidency? Gary Johnson was governor of New Mexico for eight years, balanced the hell out of his budgets, and climbed Mount Everest with a broken leg. You'd think that would at least give him a shot at the GOP nomination. Nope. Lisa DePaulo hits the surreal non-campaign trail with the most compulsively honest Republican in the race—and returns with some disturbing truths about the Kabuki shit show we like to call modern presidential politics.

With Gary, and it's okay to call him Gary, it's not so much the things he says and does that are spectacularly unusual (or spectacularly misguided, depending on your point of view) for a presidential candidate. It's the things he doesn't say and do.
Like now. He's in a bike shop in Hooksett, New Hampshire. Elsewhere in this fine state, Mitt Romney has been back and forth, back and forth, being his robotic self. Shaking hands, slapping backs, lifting babies, smiling. Sarah came through on her bus tour. Even Ron Paul has been doing the hustle at donor house parties.

Gary? He's talking about bikes. Weight and tire pressure. He's telling the guys at the store that he needs to rent one for some race he's in. His two aides, Brinck and Matt—who constitute his entire paid New Hampshire staff—give him the look. The one that says: Maybe you should mention you're running for frickin president. But Gary's on to pedals now. He brought his own pedals with him from New Mexico. Would have taken the whole damn bike, but it would've cost too much to fly it here.

The bike-store guys slip him a form to fill out and ask him for his driver's license. Gary forks it over. They eyeball it. Not a glimmer of recognition. ("Nobody recognizes me," he later explains, nonchalantly. "Ever.") Now they need to put a charge on his credit card, in case he doesn't bring the bike back.

That does it.
"Uh, you don't have to worry about me jilting you on your bike here," he tells them. "I'll be screwed if I steal your bike. 'Cause, see..." Brinck and Matt lean in. Is it coming? You can do it, Gary! " 'Cause, see...for what it's worth, I'm, uh...if you want to make a note..." This is painful. "Uh, I'm running for president of the United States."

"Huh," says one of the bike guys. It's New Hampshire! What's another dude running for president? "I'll need you to read all the fine print and sign it here," the bike guy continues. And they still they need to charge his credit card.

"Of course," says Gary. He's very big on fairness.

The guys send Gary downstairs to have his seat adjusted. Five minutes later, they follow him down the steps.

"You climbed Mount Everest?" Turns out they've been doing a little Googling.

"I did." He's very Zen about this. "Cool. And you smoked pot?"

"I did," says Gary.

"I heard you used it from 2005 to 2008."

"You did," says Gary. It's more of a statement than a question. In fact, he wants to legalize marijuana, but not because he still smokes the stuff.

He's fiddling with the bike. But they want to know more about Mount Everest. And how he plans to fix the economy. And handle the deficit. "This is what I love about New Hampshire," says Gary, and happily outlines his main—and most radical—position: to slash the federal budget by 43 percent. That's the number it would take to erase the deficit right now. This can be done, he says. Ya think? And he'd do it by, among other things, eliminating the Department of Education (he says he'd give all those billions to the states, minus 43 percent, and let them decide what's best, because "this whole idea that Washington knows best? That's why we're bankrupt"); bringing our troops home, particularly from all peaceful countries (he thinks it's absurd that we have tens of thousands of troops in Europe); and "rebooting" the federal tax code with a "fair tax" that would abolish the entire IRS ("Imagine that!") and would tax consumption, not income, "because it's, well, fair."

Now the bike-store guys want to know whether he thinks he can beat Obama. "My contest is in the primary," he tells them.

"That sucks," says one of the guys.

"Yes, it does. But life's a journey."

He squeezes the tires. "Looks good." Then he lifts the bike and carries it up the steps. He is halfway out the door to the parking lot when suddenly he stops and turns around. "Listen," he says, "I only mentioned that president thing so you wouldn't think I'd steal your bike." Brinck and Matt simultaneously roll their eyes. He's apologizing for mentioning "that president thing"?!

"It's okay, man. You got our vote."

"I do?"  He seems genuinely surprised.

A few things you need to know up front about Gary Johnson. There is nothing he will not answer, nothing he will not share. For six straight days, we spent virtually every waking hour together, which might have had something to do with the fact that there wasn't another reporter within ten miles of the guy. Or that when you're polling in the low digits and your campaign fund is less than Mitt Romney's breakfast tab and your entourage is Brinck and Matt, you tend to be more forthcoming. But in fact, Johnson is fundamentally incapable of bullshitting, which is one of the many, many things that make him so unusual for a presidential candidate. (When a reporter asks him, after he gushes about how great New Hampshire voters are, if he says the same thing in Michigan, he replies, "No, Michigan's the worst.") He finds presidential politicking of the sort we've grown accustomed to—slick, scripted, focus-grouped, how-does-the-hair-look—to be "absolutely phony."

Another thing you need to know: He was never supposed to be the fringe candidate, and his campaign is no lark. Before he officially declared, he visited thirty-eight states—on his own nickel—to get a sense of whether he'd be a viable candidate. He was the first GOP candidate to announce, in early April, and for about twenty seconds seemed like a contender. The wildly popular (still) two-term Republican governor from a state that is two-to-one Democrat. A guy who's confident that he knows how to manage the purse strings and balance a budget because he did it—eight years in a row—in New Mexico. His fiscal conservatism is unmatched by anyone in the race. And his socially liberal cred—the only pro-gay and pro-choice Republican candidate—is unmatched even by some Democrats. (Of course, while this could be an asset in the general election, it's a bitch of a liability in the GOP primary.) Even the backstory had a self-made charm: Born fifty-eight years ago in Minot, North Dakota, the son of a tire salesman turned teacher and a mom who worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Johnson started a one-man handyman operation when he was 21, grew it into a construction company with a thousand employees, and sold it in 1999 for about $5 million. Oh, and he named it Big J (for Big Johnson). "It didn't have the same connotation at the time," he swears.

But still. Do not confuse his Zen-like quality for a lack of cojones. The guy has brass ones. He's a five-time Ironman triathlete. He paraglides and hot-gas balloons. (Not hot air, hot gas.) He biked across the Alps. And from the right angle, he looks like Harrison Ford. So what on earth is so radioactive about Gary Johnson? And how did he become “Nowhere Man” in a field as chaotic and uninspired as this one?

The desk clerk at the Econo-Lodge in Lincoln, New Hampshire, wants to know how to spell Johnson. Gary is beyond cordial. He spells it out. Doesn't even mention that he is Gary Johnson, presidential candidate. Just politely forks over two credit cards—one that belongs to the campaign (to pay for Matt and Brinck's accommodations) and one that is his own (since he is paying for as much as possible with his own money).  "Sorry, sir," says the clerk. The campaign credit card has been declined.  "Aw, shit," says Gary. And tells him to put everything on his own Visa. Then the clerk gives him a coupon for a free Econo-Lodge breakfast in the morning. "Well, that's very nice of you. I appreciate that."

The man is frugal beyond belief. "But I am not cheap." As his fiancée, Kate Prusack, a real-estate agent in Santa Fe, points out, "Yes, he shops at Costco, but he drives a Porsche." He built his own house in Taos but paid premium to put a hot tub in. And he tips well, a telltale difference between men who are careful with money and cheap bastards. He likes to think he spends his own money (he says he's worth about $6 million) the way he'd spend the country's money: Pay only for quality and don't waste a cent. Like, for instance, stop pissing away money on border patrols and erecting fences and walls across the Mexican border, and let immigrants earn work visas "and actually contribute to our economy." And while he's on the topic of wasteful spending, he says there'll be no pleasure trips to the Vineyard on Air Force One.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I read an article in Time Magazine (9/26/2011) by Rana Foroohar, “The Truth About the Poverty Crisis”, that almost hit the nail on the head about the current state of poverty in this Country. Contrary to the editors’ beliefs, this is not an article that their “elite” readers are going stop and read. The subject material is of no value to them. This article is relevant and of remarkably high value to the rest of us. It seems like the “rest of us” are headed in the subject matter’s direction, or we are already there. To wit, in my neighborhood, if your household income is not $60,000.00, you are considered to be in the ranks of the working poor. If your household income is at the $40,000.00 level, you are already at the poverty level.
Ms. Foroohar still relies on the “en’vogue” numbers that Washingtonians love to banter about. Numbers such as unemployment being 9.1%, $22,000.00 being the National poverty level of income, 15% of American families living at, or below, that level, and a mere 6.5 million jobs lost to this “recession”. Her argument is right on; her numbers are misleading, to say the least.

Let’s start with the unemployment rate. This number is accurately defined by doubling it, and breaking it down by race and location. Indeed, it is hovering around 18%, overall, and when you consider that Black Youth have an unemployment rate close to 40%, you can then understand that we are not in a “recession”, but rather, a “depression”. Of course, you will never get a pollster, or politician, to admit to numbers like this. They all have good paying jobs, with benefits, and really don’t care too much what the real numbers are.

Take a quick look at this $22,000.00 number that our government claims to be the poverty level. $22,000.00 per annum equals $10.58 per hour in wages. Ask yourself if, and where, you could possibly live on that amount. The minimum wage is $8.25 per hour, and that grosses you a whopping $17,160.00 per year. Perhaps you could live on that amount if you lived with your parents, still. I doubt seriously if a family anywhere in the U.S. could live at that level. If you are in the category of the unemployed, you may be receiving government assistance at a rate of $400.00 per week. This works out to be $10.00 per hour, and grosses you $20,800.00 per year. You would have to at least triple these base numbers to have even a fighting chance of surviving. The one thing that is a guaranteed constant in these figures is that all of these monies go directly back into the economy; there is no personal saving of money at these levels.

That covers items one through three. Now let’s look at the fourth, and final, item in this article; job loss. I’m afraid our memories are short on this issue. Does anyone remember “NAFTA”, the North American Free Trade Agreement? Remember all those “nattering nabobs of negativism” saying they heard a giant sucking sound from the South? It turns out that they were right. Our government swore up and down that we were not going to loose jobs because of this “treaty”. To set the record straight, that’s exactly when this Country started hemorrhaging jobs. Moreover, it wasn’t just to the South; it was going global at that very point. The 6.5 million, or more, jobs lost recently is a drop in the bucket compared to what we’ve lost over the last thirty years. Over that period, we are talking 10’s of millions in the job loss category.      

In conclusion, I feel it is safe to say that, “Yes, Dorothy, we are in an economic depression.”  The systematic pace of job loss ensures the obliteration of our middle class, as we no longer manufacture much of what we consume. As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, those of us who comprised that middle class will sink into poverty, and a two-class society will be upon us. Our captains of industry will be doing happy dances all the way to the bank, and they will truly own the government. It would have been political suicide for any elected official to speak the truth about any of this over the past thirty years. They are simply not going to bite the hand that feeds them. Do you remember the phrase, “no taxation, without representation”? The second American Revolution may be the result.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Capitalism can be good!

I keep running across this gentleman in e-mails and on Facebook & Twitter. For those of you who are dead set against four more years of a Democrat in the White House, this guy may just be someone the majority of the GOP can wrap their heads around. Of course, don’t agree with a lot of what he has to say, but I can understand his positions on issues of the day. He may be GOP’s great white hope for 1012, and he is on the GOP Presidential running list.

The Objective Standard
a quarterly journal on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of reason, egoism, and laissez-faire capitalism
Monday, September 19, 2011
Gary Johnson on Republican Capitulation and His Presidential Bid
Posted by TOS Admin at 10:50 am

Here is a Q&A from Gary Johnson that was not included in his exclusive interview with TOS (which will be released tomorrow). Enjoy!

David Baucom: Although Republicans allegedly stand for lower taxes and greater freedom, for over half a century they’ve defined and conducted themselves in relation to Democrats—who have grown progressively socialistic. Republicans were once against an income tax, but then accepted it, and we got higher and higher rates. They were against Social Security, but then accepted and expanded that. They were against Medicare, but then embraced it. And they were against welfare, but accepted most of that. How much of a role has this Republican slide played in causing the current fiscal crisis? How much are they to blame?

Gary Johnson: I really believe both parties are to blame. I just go back to a few short years ago when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency, and passed a prescription health care benefit—which at that time was the largest entitlement program ever passed—and ran up record deficits. So I see Republicans as part of the cause. I have not seen them as the solution here.

Basically, I am a Republican because I’ve always felt that Republicans do a better job when it comes to the checkbook, but, of late, I just see it as status-quo on both sides. What America needs is a radical departure from business-as-usual, and that’s what my candidacy for president is all about.

I realize I’m practically in last place, but if you look at my resume, it suggests that I’m the guy who would actually stick to my guns when it comes to the radical change that needs to take place. That radical change starts with not spending more money than you take in. I am promising to submit a balanced budget in the year 2013 and to veto any expenditures that exceed what I consider to be “balanced.”

You could argue that they’ll just override that veto, and they probably will. But I would have been elected President promising to submit that balanced budget, and I think that budget, those expenditures, will come a lot closer to being balanced with a president who’s not going to accept any expenses or expenditures that aren’t balanced, as opposed to a president who’s going to do this over a fifteen to twenty year period, because “that’s the only prudent way to go about this.” To me, that’s just the end. I think the day of reckoning is here—I really believe that—and that it has to be addressed, and that we can do it.

Now I’m back to my own resume: I found good government easy—I didn’t find it difficult. I found it easy to stick by your principles, and that, by sticking by your principles you can really make a difference. That’s why I’m in this.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Being of humble means and simple mind, I offer the following as a cry from We The People on how our tax dollars may best be spent.

Our elected officials would lead you to believe that this idea of a balanced budget at the Federal level is so extremely complicated that no member of the proletariat could ever understand any of the intricacies of a budget so large.

There are a handful of items that We The People can do without, for the time being.

1] Place all weapons development on hold for now. Pay any contractors for work done so far.

2] Troops in Iraq; bring them home. Hardware in Iraq; bring it home.

3] Troops in Afghanistan; bring the home. Hardware in Afghanistan; bring it all home.

4] Our military presence in Europe has been redundant for decades; bring it all home.

5] There are certainly other military assets around the world that we can also bring home.

6] All military treaties will be put on hold and reviewed for their necessity and worth, and summarily dismissed, if need be.

7] Herman Cain’s plan for the National tax level to 9% across the board with NO loopholes, deductions, or special interest breaks may not the number we arrive at, but, for sake of this argument, it’s a good place to start. Prohibit havens for our multi-national corporations that enable them to hide and wash their profits overseas.

8] There will be a re-establishment of a division between commercial Banks and savings Banks.

9] It is possible to return to the Gold Standard, if We The People so choose.

10] Any and all actions by the financial sector that got us into this mess will be deemed illegal.

11] A company wishing to sell its stock publically in the U.S. cannot have products, or services, that harm We The People.

12] Lock Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, the Veterans Administration so neither of the three branches of government can manipulate them, steal money from them, or borrow against them. There is no need to do away with Social Security, Medicare, or even a National Health Plan. If they fund and protect them correctly, they survive forever.

13] Freeze the pay of all three branches of the government, with the one exception being military pay.

13] All government employees can take advantage of the medical and retirement benefits that the rest of us do.

14] All trade agreements and treaties will be put on hold until they can be properly audited for their continued effect on our economy.

15] All government subsidies to corporate America will be ceased; unless a very compelling argument of National defense can be raised.

16] The Inspector General’s Office will be to be our National auditor. This office can be deemed autonomous and can be reorganized to tear apart every nook and cranny of our government to make it run efficiently and throw out the garbage. Its findings will be implemented.

17] All other departments and agencies not touched on, above, are to be immediately subject to a 20% cut in funding and staffing; yes, as in the terms of a “layoff”, not simply a “furlough”.

18] From monies saved in doing the above, anyone who demonstrates that he, or she, becomes unemployed as a result of these actions will qualify for a “livable” amount in Unemployment Insurance payments.

The Federal government can balance the budget tomorrow (okay, give them a few weeks). It would take pieces from the agenda of anyone with a rational mind whose ideas are directed towards achieving an almost instantaneous balancing of the National budget.

I can’t believe that a 10, 15, or 20 year plan is logical. We don’t need a balanced budget and debt reduction protracted slowly over years and years. Our economy, and the World’s economy, doesn’t have that sort of time. Why would anyone propose a plan that takes fifteen years to accomplish its goal when we need a plan that turns us around in 1-2 years? A plan that resulted in a budget surplus in the 1990’s can certainly be drawn upon as part of the plan to do the same, now. I must conclude that the only reason nobody is going in that direction is that nobody really cares. And, if that is the case, then We The People  are all in heap of poop.

P.S.:  Why can’t those folks in Washington simply come out and say what We The People have know for quite some time? “We are in a DEPRESSION!”