Make America Solvent, Sane, and Civil Again

In the book Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan’s Soul, there is a cartoon that describes the most under-appreciated person on the baseball field: The Umpire!  The cartoon shows a stadium attendant showing the umpire to his suite in the stadium and stating “nothing personal, but all the signs are written in Braille”.  Without this special soul, the game could simply not be played.  He may be the most second-guessed person on the planet, especially from the fans of the losing team, yet without him there are no winners or losers.

We need an umpire to lead our country, someone who can bring people of different political philosophies together in compromises that can work for a majority of the country.  In this essay, I make the case for why I believe Gary Johnson and William Weld are the best people to take up that position in leading the United States of America forward for the near future.  I realize that many folks reading this may be used to voting a particular way, either have always voted Republican or Democrat, and therefore may find it difficult to hear a suggestion about considering another direction.  I also realize that, due to the nominees being Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J Trump, and their respective unpopularity beyond their most loyal party supporters and “yes-men”, this may assist folks in being more open to considering voting for someone else.  Anyone reading this can decide if they want to be open minded about this or not.  That is beyond my control.  My goal here is to advocate for a team I strongly believe in that has creative ideas in dealing with some of the most pressing issues facing our nation.

Briefly, the series of events that led me to even consider another candidate were as such: From the beginning of the primary season there was no way at all I could support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

The bombastic and egotistical mannerisms of Mr. Trump, and lack of sane policy ideas turned me off from the very beginning.  His comments bashing war hero Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for becoming a prisoner of war, making extremely derogatory statements about hard working Hispanic immigrants, his inability to take challenging questions from the media and his often childish/juvenile responses early on in the primary season, among a not-too-short list of other infractions, kind of sealed it for me.

With Hillary Clinton, even before the most recent additions to the scandals list, there is this aura of extreme dishonesty and of getting special treatment when breaking the law.  There is a reason why she lost to Barack Obama eight years ago, and there is a reason why she lost 21 states to Bernie Sanders during the Democratic Party primaries.  The only reason she has a chance to win next week is due to her opponent being Donald Trump.

Her campaign even recently acknowledged that honesty is not a quality she is known for.  Jennifer Palmieri, communications director with the campaign was recently quoted as saying “Honest and trustworthy has become our most talked about metric because it’s not great.” She added something that should concern every voter “But we’ve never thought it’s the metric people make a decision on”.  That is concerning!  How does one vote for someone when one can’t trust what the person says on a regular basis?

It shouldn’t be news to anyone reading this article about all the scandals surrounding her, and seeming to get worse by the day.  From using a private server to send classified information and then trying to cover it up by deleting 30,000 emails, to how she was dishonest with the Benghazi terror attack probe where four Americans including the ambassador were murdered, to how she used the state department to gain foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, there is a significant credibility gap.  It isn’t the job of WikiLeaks to tell us all about these shenanigans, it is the job of the FBI and Justice Department to investigate them, and these powers seem not interested.  Is this the person we’re supposed to trust with our national security?  If she was reckless with a private server that got hacked, how in the world does she continue to have security clearance?  How can she be trusted with the nuclear codes?

She received hundreds of thousands of dollars from big banks, and categorized them as “speaking fees”.  I believe a more accurate description would be bribes, as it was well known she would be running for president again.  She received $675,000 for three speeches to Goldman Sachs.  When confronted about this during a debate with Bernie Sanders, she claimed “that’s what they offered”.  Really!  Not according to an article in the Huffington Post from 8-February-2016 (Hillary not truthful about Wall Street speaking fees) which claims her minimum speaking fee was $225,000.  She did give a “discount” for some video speeches.  A list from Business Insider on 20-May-2015 shows that in 2014 she received $300,000 or more from three companies.  Just imagine that conversation with your child: “what do you want to do when you grow up?  I want to get bribed by big companies for just showing and saying a few words, and be able to call it speaking fees”.  If legislation comes up that would affect any one of these companies, can someone who received such a handsome “fee” from them be trusted to make an impartial decision?  To veto or not?

She believes that most Americans voting for Donald Trump are “a basket of deplorables”.  She is unable to come to the realization that many folks may be voting for him, despite his vulgarity, due to the reality that she is the opponent.  One can choose to be willfully blind to all of this, but it is not intellectually honest to do so.

There is the common pre-election cliché of choosing between the lesser of two evils.  With so many negatives surrounding both of these candidates, that was not an option for me in this election.  That would be like asking me as a kosher-observant Jew to choose between wild boar and lobster.  I’ve chosen neither.  Fortunately, with the suggestion of a close friend here in Israel, I began to look at the other folks on “the menu” for the voter in the United States of America and was particularly impressed with one team.

The first thing that interested me in supporting Gary Johnson and Bill Weld is that I see two people that I can trust.  This has to be the most important characteristic of someone running for the highest office in the land.  There are some issues that I don’t agree with regarding where they stand, but I know their positions and they are straightforward.  One cannot say the same for the other two “major party” candidates.

Anyone know what this number is offhand: 19,705,248,000,000?  It is the amount of debt the United States of America is in, as of 18 October 2016 at about 23:12 (11:12PM).  One can view this fast moving meter here: http://www.usdebtclock.org/.  We can choose to continue ignoring this, but it will not ignore us.  The debt needs to be dealt with NOW.  A debt of this size cannot be left to grow.  The Johnson-Weld team has been addressing this issue more than the other candidates and actually have creative plans to reconfigure government as a way to drastically reduce spending.  They plan to merge or eliminate several departments and address entitlement spending.

Gary Johnson served as governor of New Mexico for eight years and William Weld led Massachusetts for two terms.  Between these two there are 16 years of gubernatorial experience.  Having been governors, they know all about how to manage government, balance the state payroll, balance budgets, respond to natural disasters within their jurisdictions, and oversee the function of various departments in the same manner that president functions.  They were able to accomplish balanced budgets as governors, and they have the guts and the creative plans to do the same in Washington DC.

As a US tax accountant working in Tel Aviv, Israel, I absolutely appreciate the changes to the tax code that the Johnson-Weld team wants to initiate.  My self-employed clients will appreciate it even more!  In short, the current tax code basically punishes those that work for themselves, forcing them to basically pay double tax over what an employee will pay.  Vendors need to factor this in to what they charge for services.  One who isn’t incorporated, from the washing machine repairman to the wedding singer to the person tutoring a student needs to charge more to cover this otherwise it is not worth their time.  To avoid being self-employed, many small businesses will often times incorporate to get around this, creating additional form filings, fees, and bureaucracy that could all be avoided.

Accountants like me will likely still be needed after tax reform, yet there will be less of a frown-face from taxpayers when we can explain rules and regulations that are not draconian.  Collection and enforcement of tax revenue will be less of an issue if the tax code is fair and straightforward.  They plan to also lower income taxes and eventually institute something similar to VAT (Value Added Tax).  People who have lower incomes are generally not spending on the same level as those with higher incomes.  This means that lower income taxpayers will get to keep more of their salary income.  Just like in Israel, the planned VAT tax won’t apply to many basic essentials.

Back to the “Umpire” idea, why do I believe the Johnson-Weld team has the ability to unite the majority of Americans, who I believe view themselves as American before they are Democrats or Republicans?  Well, they both have actually done this in the past, as Republican governors of states that generally vote Democrat.  One does not get two terms in office under these circumstances unless you’ve succeeded in winning over large segments of the population who usually wouldn’t support you.  If either Clinton or Trump win, we continue to be an extremely polarized country.  A Johnson-Weld team may help “cool heads” for a few years.

Instead of continuing with what’s been happening for generations now, where one party takes over and does whatever they want, then the other party comes into power and reverses it, we can have people at the top who know how to reach compromise positions that can work for an overwhelming majority of the country.  Their policy agenda is the most inclusive.  They understand the need for immigration while understanding the need to screen people coming in, especially due to the threat posed by radical elements within Islam.  We’ve always been a country of immigrants and we shouldn’t stop.  The United States would be a very boring country without it.  He has the right balance with protecting religious freedom while respecting the needs of the LGBT community, using the State of Utah’s approach as an example that can work for the entire country.  He believes the government should not intervene with abortion, except with regard to late-term abortions (partial birth abortion) which most of society regards as murder.

What about foreign policy?  I know, you’re probably thinking that I conveniently planned to leave this out.  With this issue as well, the Johnson-Weld team has better ideas than both Clinton and Trump.  Folks, a policymaker may know where Aleppo is but be clueless as to what we should be doing there.  Gary Johnson is not an isolationist, but he will think long and hard before committing us to another conflict.  He has said that he will keep our commitments to foreign agreements.  One needs to ask, however, why do brave young men and women sign up for the US army?  Is it to get involved in fighting civil wars abroad, risking life and limb to attempt to fix another regions unrest?  The saying goes “you made your bed, you need to sleep in it”.  We for sure have interests beyond our own borders and need to keep an eye on the global picture.

We of course need to pay attention to humanitarian situations that arise.  The world, however, can’t keep leaning on us to fix their problems alone.  They need to step up and take greater responsibility for their woes.  If it is necessary to get involved in a foreign conflict, there needs to be a clear-cut plan, why we are there and what we hope to accomplish.  The Johnson-Weld team is more likely to keep the USA out of foreign conflicts that haven’t made us safer or the world less dangerous.  A recent poll by The Military Times showed that certain categories of soldiers (officers, navy personnel, and air force personnel), the folks who put their lives on the line for the United States of America favor Gary Johnson over both Clinton and Trump.  To these brave men and women, more important than being able to win a geography bee is to have a commander in chief who is trustworthy, and who will put principle over politics when deciding on whether to get involved in conflicts abroad.

In addition, one needs to be willfully blind not to see the danger signs coming from the Democratic Party when it comes to Israel, and it really isn’t anything new.  Curt Schilling was right to point this out a few days ago in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, and the people being critical of him should be ashamed of themselves.  The Jewish community needs to think long and hard about whether the Democratic Party can still be called a political home to folks who care about the safety, security, and historical integrity of the State of Israel.

Why do so many in our community continue to support this party given that many within have become quite hostile to Israel?  George Soros is a major party donor as is Sidney Blumenthal, father of rabid anti-Israel advocate Max Blumenthal.  These two are perhaps the loudest Israel boycott advocates in the world.  Bernie Sanders had no qualms about grossly overstating by thousands the number of civilians killed in the 2014 Gaza conflict, and his adviser to the Jewish community had no reservations about calling us war criminals for fighting back against the Hamas terrorist organization.  There is no context or perspective about what we were fighting against, the Hamas terrorist entity which used the people of Gaza as human shields and attacked Israeli border towns through terror tunnels.  There is no mention of the efforts made by Israel to avoid civilian casualties.

Israeli flags were being burned at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, and Palestinian flags were flying inside the arena.  A Georgia Representative called Israelis who live in the West Bank “Termites”.  This party is responsible for promoting and passing the Iran deal.  Aside for some appreciated exceptions like Bob Menendez and Chuck Schumer, a majority of Democrats voted with the president on a deal that hasn’t made anyone safer and gave the Ayatollah’s $150 Billion.  Tim Kaine, the vice presidential nominee, is a big supporter of the J Street lobbying group that was a strong advocate of the deal.  To put that in perspective, the Iran deal was opposed by pretty much the entire political spectrum in Israel, from Isaac Herzog of the liberal Labor/Zionist Union party to Yair Lapid of the Centrist Yesh Atid party to Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud party.  It is not often that the three aforementioned leaders agree on an issue, and J Street found that issue, and themselves on the wrong side of it.  Mr. Kaine was one of those who boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress warning of the dangers of the deal.

To be fair, not everyone in the Democratic Party agrees with the anti-Israel crowd, and Hillary Clinton did make strong efforts to keep the party platform from supporting boycotts against Israel.  The momentum, however, and for decades now, has been very negative towards Israel and we could expect it to stay that way for the foreseeable future.  The Jewish community in England has been quite vocal in trying to get their Labor Party (the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the Democratic Party) to “clean house” from the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic folks within their ranks.  If liberal Jewish leaders in the United States are to be taken seriously, they need to be vocal and do the same.  We should not just keep voting like pre-programmed robots for a party that is increasingly showing great disdain for a State of Israel that is so dear to us.

There is a clear alternative in this election to the two major party candidates.  Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are the best team to lead us forward.  While I realize it is a long shot for us to win, there is a reason why “the game is played” and we vote.  I believe in miracles, and the American voter can be part of making that miracle happen.  I believe G-d is behind the events that brought us to this point, where having the two most unfavorably viewed major party candidates in a very long time may help people consider a new direction.  We can continue to make this a Red Team Republican versus Blue Team Democratic contest, or we can put a team in charge that is above that.  One can stick with the establishment or one can help our country go in a new direction, a way that seeks to unite society instead of dividing it.  A way that looks to solve problems and not simply kvetch (complain) about them.

Are you with us?
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Additional information about the Johnson-Weld team and ideas for the future of United States can be found at: https://www.johnsonweld.com/issues