My Biggest Issue With Hillary Clinton

Hillary Wall StreetI don’t like Hillary Clinton. Some of her supporters seem to assume they know why. I can clear up the two more common misconceptions now. First, it is not because of her gender. I actually want to see a woman as President a great deal. Second, it’s is not because of the myriad of conspiracies laid out against her in the news. The ridiculous accusations and wild stories, often spun up by conservatives, only distract from much more mundane but still extremely important issues with her character. So here, on my blog, in this boring and seldom visited corner of cyberspace, I’m going to write down why I, personally, have not and most likely will not be “with her”.

First Impressions

I was a gamer. I was influenced heavily by the cultural movement behind the first wave of first-person multi-player videogames. Not many years before this wave hit, my family didn’t have the funds to buy my sister and I things like videogame systems. However, while I was in high school my father landed the job that would ultimately allow him to retire. The job also empowered him to bring home our first family computer and my doorway to another world: a 486dx33 that could be overclocked to 66mhz with the press of a button. Eventually I would drag this rig over to friends houses and lan parties, hobble together a network, and spend afternoons trash talking each other as we engaged in virtual battle. At first it was a way to relieve stress and frustration. In time it became a way to make friends and, eventually, led to starting my career in the gaming industry.

It was early in my gaming career that I first heard Hillary Clinton speak. At the time, she was First Lady. Stepping back to set the context, this was when an activist by the name of Jack Thompson was spinning up a pretty good public fervor over violent content in videogames. The videogame industry has a lot of problems, but Jack’s pitch was wrong. He was fabricating causality. If what he said were true, my friends and I should have been extremely violent. Ultimately, he was discredited and even disbarred as a lawyer. However, Hillary Clinton took the bait, hook, line, and sinker. She stood before the public and said that “playing violent videogames accounts for a 13% to 22% increase in violent behavior,” and “violent videogames increase violent behavior as much as lead exposure decreases childrens’ IQ scores.” None of which is remotely true.

To anyone who didn’t know better, her correlation seemed reasonable on the surface and she sounded well informed. However, the research at the time (and since) shows that playing even the most violent videogames typically leads to less violent behavior – the same thing those of us in the industry were seeing. Either she was intentionally misleading the public or she was ignorant. I suspect, due to her political handlers, she was the latter. And in the years to follow, I saw Clinton continue this same pattern of pushing emotional issues in an appealing way, but using misinformation in a way that sometimes led to harm. It seemed to me that she followed mass appeal, flip flopping on what we would expect to be consistent core issues such as gay marriage. She looked to be a puppet and I had no idea where the strings were being pulled. It wasn’t enough to dislike or hate her, exactly, but I couldn’t really respect her message nor trust her as an authentic source of information.

The Birth of Webcraft Studios

I have always been entrepreneurial. I started my first company, Tempest Digital Solutions, in collaboration with a couple of friends back in the late 90s. We did well. But we shut it all down after just a couple of years – mostly because we were too young and immature to handle our interpersonal problems effectively. This early experience starting a company heavily influenced my career path and desires. I was often attracted to startups and startup culture. For many years, I wanted to set off on another company-building adventure like Tempst, perhaps even on my own. In fact, it may be that there was never a time I didn’t want to do this. And, eventually I did.

I made plans, worked hard, and by 2007 was finally ready to launch my own business: Webcraft Studios. I had enough cash in the bank to make it about a year if I kept my budget extremely thin. I had a new social media marketing concept called “digital theatrics” that nobody was doing. I found a much needed first client who provided me with an opportunity to prove the concept along side the rest of their marketing campaign. I recruited contractors to help. Thus, to some small degree, I can legitimately say that I created jobs! Our client loved our work, saying it was performing better than any other social media marketing campaign at the publishing company. Everything was lining up for success. If the product I was promoting did well, I would have the portfolio piece I needed to expand this service model to others.

But then, one day, my client just stopped paying the bills – without explanation.

The story that follows would take a novel to explain. I’ll try to provide a brief summary. Our economy crashed due to the implosion of the housing bubble. My client was funded by a primary investor. That investor got scared, froze accounts, and liquidated everything. Thus, my client’s company was effectively sold upstream to Southpeak Interactive. I and dozens of other small businesses who weren’t getting paid for their work began to complain and then to take legal action against Southpeak. It was too little too late. By the time I was awarded a default judgement in my case, there were no Southpeak assets left to seize. The value of my company, my client’s company, and hundreds of other little guys like me was quickly absorbed, in a series of upstream buyouts, right through the corporate veil into oblivion. My life’s dream, one of the things in life I’ve worked the hardest for, was gone in a matter of months. I was left with a pile of debt and unpaid invoices. I went back to work as quickly as I could find a job. In time, I fully paid all of my own contractors. It hurt me. It’s almost a decade later and I have not yet fully recovered.

At first, I didn’t understand the crash. But, I had a vested interested in understanding it. The story became clearer and clearer through the years and now we all know exactly what happened to cause it. Thousands of people knew it was coming, yet we had no warning. Corporations prepared for and benefited greatly from the crash; I was just one of many many victims in the process. The Occupy movement rose up as a direct result. As an American, I thought my government would be there to protect me from this kind of thing. Those responsible should have been held accountable. But, instead, my country voted to reward the big bankers who did this.

And Now, Hillary

Here we are in 2016. Today is the second day of the Democratic National Convention. Since last summer, I have been advocating for the Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Along with many other issues I care about, he wants to break up the big banks and hold people accountable for wrecking the economy. And he wants campaign finance reform, another component of the problem. He is the candidate who best represents the Occupy movement and their mission. But Bernie did not win the nomination. Hillary Clinton did. Recently leaked emails show how the Democratic party demonstrated significant bias in promoting Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. The same Hillary Clinton that earns millions of dollars just for showing up and giving talks to the very same bankers that should be held accountable for wrecking the global economy, no less. In light of every poll showing that Bernie Sanders would be more likely to win against the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, the establishment went out of their way to pave a path for Hillary Clinton.

My money was stolen. My company and the dreams I built with it were destroyed. I was one of thousands who experienced this. I voted for Obama believing he would help right these wrongs. He saved the economy from imploding, but he didn’t punish those responsible, break up the banks, or restore protections that will keep this from happening again. Bernie seemed to be inspired to finish the job. I have no reason to suspect, much less believe, that Hillary is in a position to right this wrong, even if she actually wanted to.

There are many important issues at play in this election cycle. There’s a lot of time between now and the national vote. I will be supporting those Democrats who are being labelled Berniecrats for their support of Bernie and his policies. I’ll certainly participate in reforming congress and carrying on with the political revolution.

But if you’re asking me to vote for Hillary, you need to consider where I’m coming from or you’re just wasting your time. Honestly, you’re probably just wasting your time. I am glad I will most likely get to see the first female US President. However, I fear that we will come to regret choosing Hillary to be that role model. Right now, I can’t see any other future, and that’s not a future I can vote for. I hope time will prove me wrong. Perhaps I can lay to rest my own unaddressed issues in light of some other, more important national good. However – putting aside my own emotional suffering and personal desire for justice – I fear we are headed into economic unrest, violent international conflicts, and a great loss of liberties. I fear this not because of Hillary Clinton, but because those puppet strings seem to lead behind that corporate veil, where my money went.

 

 

 

Bernie Endorsed Hillary

546495100-bernie-sanders-introduces-presumptive-democratic.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlargeBernie told us when he entered the race as a Democrat much of what he was and wasn’t going to do. He said that he would not run against the Democratic party. He also said that he would endorse Hillary if she won. I trust Bernie because he has consistently been faithful to his word. Had he not made these agreements, the DNC never would have given him room on the stage and he never would have been able to connect with so many people. He has been, and still is, doing all he can to impact positive change. And, technically, it’s still possible (tho unlikely) that the nomination could somehow swing in his favor at the convention.

But Bernie won’t be running as an Independent against Hillary this year. If he did, he would be breaking his word – the thing that has so many of us supporting him in the first place, right? What he is doing is more powerful than running outside of the system; he is directly influencing the Democratic platform and agenda. Maybe not enough for some of us, but it’s still amazingly awesome.

Bernie has a way of always showing up on the right side of history. That’s because he’s been fighting hard for a long time. So long as the Democratic party continues to honor their agreements with Sanders, he should honor his agreements to them. Knowing what bits I do of his history, that seems like exactly what he would do right now. And he did offer his endorsement of Hillar. I can only respect him for it, even if I am terribly disappointed overall.

Bernie Sanders as a Feminist Role Model for Men

24salkbqxsilumvqsp4rzs4xgq8yqz6gjtgzn9def4817hm1o11q61w7ke2678od.jpg Clearly, Feminism is impacting this year’s election cycle. I appreciate and share a popular desire to see strong female role models in our culture. There are few roles that would be as powerful as a female President. However, I have struggled to support Clinton. For me, Sander, her challenger for the Democratic nomination, is clearly the better candidate due to his authenticity, consistent record, and better representation of the people’s concerns. Meanwhile, I felt a sense of loss because I too want a strong female role model for our youth.

My Masters studies a couple of years ago focused on the global development sector. We often studied a wide variety of programs designed to transform the lives of women around the world. In one such working group, as we were discussing empowering women, I asked what role we were leaving for men and what guidance we were giving them to adjust? There was a moment of awkward surprise as everyone acknowledged that nobody had really considered that part of the paradigm at all. It is my personal belief that this is also the case here at home. I believe modern American men, amidst a sea of change, are left in a vacuum of positive role models. In a culture that has drastically changed over the last many decades as a result of the Feminist movement, there exists a void of masculine role models for the current paradigm much less role models for the future paradigms we’d like to reach.

The Bernie and Hillary bid for the Democratic nomination created an environment to see a huge discussion around this this play out, and it has been interesting. While some go so far as to call Bernie a sexist for running against Hillary and refusing to drop out until all of the votes are counted, far more people praise him for being a better Feminist than Hillary. Generally, I think the majority of people seem to deeply respect Sanders. In fact, I have heard a lot of concern from people who are deeply torn between who they considered to be a better candidate and their strong desire to see a woman as President.

For those of us who do view Bernie as exceptional, more specifically, for those Feminists who are torn between what a great role model Bernie is versus the powerful message of a female President – I have a question that has recently started haunting me. When you consider all of our countries gender issues, when you reflect on what you believe are the roots to our problems, what kind of role model do you feel would do more good for our country? A role model for women, a female President with a remarkably high disapproval rating? Or, and this is a radical notion, a feminist role model for men, a male President who exhibits authentic characteristics of love, respect, and support for women? In today’s world, who is more in need of positive role models for a future paradigm or equality, men or women? And, finally, did we become so focused on the ideal of a female role model that we’ve completely missed the opportunity to provide men with an revolutionary role model?

The Rise of the Independents

US Party IdentificationMy single biggest personal rebellion has been in being a political independent. Ross Perot’s Presidential run in 1992 inspired much of my generation to question the existing two party political system. At that time, I was too young to vote for Perot. I ended up making a t-shirt and wearing it to school. He earned 19% of the popular vote.

After the 1992 election cycle, the percentage of Americans identifying as Independent rose steadily for half a decade and then fell back down as the Republican party rose in 2004. However, since 2004, both parties have continued to tank while Independents are on the rise, now at historic levels.

At this very moment, the day after Super Tuesday, Pundits and talking heads are on the news explaining what voters like me are thinking – how we are going to react. I don’t think they get it at all. However, I’m not going to try to explain or sell you the Independent point of view. What I do want to bring attention to is the momentum behind the indie movement in politics happening right now.

Today, I’m supporting and expecting to vote for the Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders decided to run for President via the Democratic party. He does not identify as a Democrat. As a party outsider running on their ticket, he is drawing an enormous amount of support from Democrats. So much so, he may win their nomination – holy crap! On the flip side, he is still bringing over Republicans as well. From my father, a devout conservative: “If it’s Clinton and Trump, I’m voting Trump. If it’s Bernie and Trump, I’m voting Bernie.” This is not an uncommon sentiment. Bernie has support for reasons that have nothing to do with party affiliation. Those who are very focused on party politics are just not seeing what’s happening outside of their context.

My significant other and I recently moved out of our apartment and started a community house. Looking for housemates, we posted a Craigslist ad that included a mention of being Bernie supporters. We were overwhelmed with Bernie-centric responses. Many wrote that they knew they wanted to live with us based on that one point alone. While it would be easy to trivialize that experience as an inconsequential story, it had a profound impact on my perception. I now see that the energy of Independent political thinking is driving the momentum of the Bernie Sanders campaign – and it’s beautiful.

Bernie is building a culture of participation and immediacy. The people – especially Independents –  love it. He is building a “machine” made of people. He is enabling those people to have a voice and know they can use it. The “machine” behind the political revolution really is us. It is growing in size and running in the background of this campaign, quietly shifting the tides. Will Bernie win? I’m not entirely confident that he will be the Democratic candidate – perhaps. However, I think that Bernie will probably be our next President.

Bernie may not get enough delegates to supplant Hillary. What will happen next? It is a fallacy to believe that Bernie is a dedicated Democrat. I expect him to choose to stay in the race. He would then have the lion’s share of support from the 40%+ of Americans who identify as Independent, including myself. He would pull over a huge portion of the Democratic base, which is already below 30% of the nation anyway. He will also attract many of those fleeing Republicans who comprise even less of the nation than the Democrats. Those numbers add up to a win for Bernie.

The only message more powerful than electing Bernie Sanders as President will be doing so without the support of a major party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is Government

I was born into a world where my native country seemed to have a troublesome but adequate government. I was given an idea of what a government was through public education. I was never really given reason to be curious about the idea of government. I tend to blame it on the way our education system works, tho I’m not sure I could articulate that explanation even if that were the focus of this post. Rather, I’d like to leap forward to today where I ponder systems of mass collaboration on a daily basis.

I feel that the vast majority view government as an oppressive machine which the people are always at war with. To me, it looks like the people (all of us) are just at war with each other. I’m not sure which is more to blame for the state of things, the government or the people. See, the thing is, we all would benefit to realize that the government is our responsibility as well as our opportunity.

Capitalism is fantastic. As a system, it uses competition to drive innovation. The most powerful analogy I’ve heard for Capitalism is puberty. Both will make you grow quickly. We’ve embraced a lot of Capitalism, and we’re now a superpower. Go US! However, puberty is a transitional phase. Perpetual rapid growth isn’t a viable long term plan in either case. Capitalism is not the only tool in America’s bag. We manage our system of Capitalism with this thing we call the government. Just about the only power we gave these United States upon her creation dealt with trade. My how things have grown.

Look at what this monster of a government provides for us. We are sovereign. That’s a big deal. Then there’s that public school system I mentioned. Collectively, we humans of America own massive infrastructure. Seriously guys, we own one of the most powerful military forces to ever have existed. We have people floating in a pressurized box way up skimming the surface of the atmosphere. This concept of collaboration is producing some cool results, like those recent high resolution images of Pluto.

When we look at government from a very meta point of view, it exposes an obvious necessity for some kind of system. For many reasons, we love to hate our system. Most of us alive today had almost nothing to do with it’s design. We barely understand it much less feel we’ve participated in it. And many of the major politicians in the upcoming election are saying the whole thing is being consumed by corporate interests. It can really feel grim.

Fear based decisions are rarely good decisions. In a moment of panic, our instincts can serve us well – or at least to motivate us. However, long term exposure to fear leads to a less empowered state of being. If we who are born into an existing system only experience reasons to feel oppressed by an existing system, it becomes considerably less likely that we will be able to influence that system. Thus, I think it valuable to reconsider how we present the idea of government to one another.

Government should be seen as our point of agreement. Government is how we collaborate. “Hey everyone, would you like to have emergency response services in case of major disaster? Yes? Ok, here’s how we get that done… Hooray! Thank you government.” The system can always be evolving, or for the code-monkeys among us, refactored. The the system isn’t going to change itself, we have to participate. And we have every reason to be excited that we CAN participate. Government is a great human endeavour. For our own government, for all of it’s faults, it can be improved. We have the opportunity to improve it each and every day by participating. It’s not just civic duty, it’s civic opportunity. Many of us feel that opportunity doesn’t exist, and that is merely one of the things needing improvement.

 

 

My First Raspberry Pi Robot

I’ve been doing a lot of things lately, and blogging is clearly not one of them. Most recently, I put together a Raspberry Pi robot. I used the Redbot kit from Sparkfun as well as their RaspiRobot controller board. I also found a cute quala head portable speaker to attach later. My mother asked for a video and this is the result. That weird music is just something I wrote back in highschool useing Fast Tracker II.

Welcome to 2012…

I feel like the insanity of 2012, so far, is best summed up with the following video:

Meanwhile, I realize that my activity on Facebook is keeping me from Blogging… More on that later, if I get around to it… (irony)

Electing The 99%, an open letter….

Dear 99%,

Hi. I’ve been paying attention to Occupy Wall Street. This evening, I had a chat with my girlfriend about the spontaneous eruption of democracy that is Occupy Wall Street. We had an idea I have to share with the rest of the 99% out there.

We create a new party where candidates agree to a much more specific job role during their political term. They would agree to:

  • Inform the public of their progress as real time as possible. For example: live stream all meetings, post materials related to all votes, post video updates multiple times a day, etc.
  • Vote on all issues using popular vote. Use some yet-to-be-built voting platform to collect votes from anyone who wishes to cast a vote. Something as reliable as Reddit or Digg is enough, and I have no doubt we could build something significantly better. I want to see something completely open source and distributed in nature.
That’s it… inform and act based on popular vote. It’s not bullet proof and it won’t stop corruption, but it would shift the balance of power to the people in a dramatic way. We just have to build the software and elect a few honest people who are good at communicating.
Hoping to hear back,
Koda

Detach from Wall Street

Here’s a thought to all those feeling in alignment with #OccupyWallStreet, but not currently actively involved: If something is keeping you from occupying Wall Street, consider detaching from Wall Street instead.

First, leave your bank for a local credit union. Credit unions are owned by their members and are not-for-profit organizations.

Second, spend locally. Buy local food. Consider trades people in your social network. Look for privately owned businesses or co-ops. Think about where you do business.

I’m sure there are a lot more ways of detaching from Wall Street… and I think detaching could make for a powerful change.

#occupywallstreet vs #thathighmoment

I just had another discussion about the amount of media attention (or lack there of) the Occupy Wall Street protest was seeing. There have been slews of reports that Twitter may be blocking the trending topic. I just did the most basic of tests. I searched over and over again for both #OccupyWallStreet as well as many of the current trending topics. Over and over again, it seemed clear to me that #OccupyWallStreet was experiencing far more posts than any of the trending topics… by a considerable margin. Check out the post times in the following image capture: