Author: FritzCast

Political Extremism: Kavanaugh Accusations

By Fritz Stephey | United States

When word filtered out in the news earlier this week that an anonymous letter was submitted to Senator Dianne Feinstein making allegations that a younger Brett Kavanaugh (when he was somewhere around age 17) had committed a rather vile act of sexual assault, I am honestly upset about my first thought on the matter.

I thought, “Well isn’t this convenient.”

I should have never thought that because that is a little more than belittling and demeaning to the accuser. Regardless of some of the extreme lengths we have seen during the Kavanaugh hearings, mostly from what I can tell were people wanting their 15-seconds of “Blue Wave 2018” fame, I should not be so pre-judgmental about a severe allegation.

It takes a lot to say that, in this day and age. People often do not come out and say “I was wrong.” We’ve seen that filter down from multiple politicians, pop culture icons, and even the average person who is convicted and sentenced to prison for a heinous crime.

Granted, I never tweeted that thought out, nor posted it on social media. I try to think twice about the initial response I have to one line of information before doing that anymore. My initial Twitter statement came after Christine Blasey Ford revealed herself to be the anonymous source:

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Voting Outside the Box

By FritzCast | United States

If you followed the primary elections of the past week (the day of August 07, namely), we saw a truly lackluster performance for a primary series that is leading up to what the news has hyped as a “pivotal” mid-term election for 2018. Some immediate key takeaways are how many “Trump Approved” candidates easily walked away with a win, almost every candidate that “Social Democrat” hopeful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed lost, but the real nail-biter was Ohio District 12 Special Election, where even at the moment of this writing, news agencies are reporting that it is too close to call.

Despite those reports, many flocked to Twitter with the hashtag #OH12 ready to lay the blame for the Democratic loss on Green Party voters (A total of 1,127 people according to NYTimes). Leading that charge was Actor Alyssa Milano, who tweeted out the following:

Now, we live in a crazy world where Alex Jones can get kicked to the curbside by various Social Media platforms, and granted private entities like them are allowed to develop their own rules and policies and enforce them as they see fit, but for some reason, nobody will call out Alyssa Milano for this complete fabrication. In this single tweet, she: Alleges Russian collusion; completely devalued the votes of 1,127 people; blames it all on inaction against voter protection.

For some godforsaken reason, independent voters come under scrutiny when a side loses an election. You will hear people screaming from the mountain tops that the third party voters royally screwed everything up, as if the votes were owned by the other candidate and them casting a protest vote proves how selfish they are.

Why is it that people are so quick to devalue a person’s vote? I thought, after all, that voting was one of the quintessential pillars of our society, yet people are so willing to condemn those outside the box.

The same theory was applicable to the 2016 Presidential Election, where I had to face more than a handful of “friends” willing to tell me I was selfish for casting my vote for Gary Johnson, thus somehow costing Hillary Clinton her guaranteed win. I was told my vote was no better than simply casting a vote for Trump, and the hilarious angle in all of that was the fact that my state of Delaware and its low number of 3 Electoral Votes went to Hillary Clinton.

Some may say that our voting system is a little flawed, but more and more I find that the collective philosophy is flawed. Whether you look at Ohio District 12 or the Presidential Election of 2016, the argument always comes to numbers and comes back to that lovely term we float around, Democracy.

Despite the fact that we are not a democracy, everyone so desperately wants to cry out about how our very democracy is under threat while ignoring the fatal fallacy of democracy: just because 51% say Yea doesn’t mean that what they are saying Yea to is moral, just, right, or fair.

You want to blame third party voters for the fact that we demand better of our system? You want to scream in our face that it is so selfish and petty of us?

Shame on you. Shame on you all. You don’t value us, our mind, our opinion or our vote and stop at nothing to try to legitimize our voice, all the while there are thousands more simply not voting at all, either because they do not care or are unwilling to participate because they feel dejected.

Let’s just play your numbers game for a minute, with the Ohio District 12 results (numbers according to Politico:

50.2% Troy Balderson GOP 101,574
49.3% Danny O’Connor DEM 99,820
0.6% Joe Manchik GP 1,127

Let’s assume all the Green Party voters magically belonged to the Democratic Party (it obviously makes sense! That’s why they voted for the Green party guy!). Do the basic math, add those votes to Danny O’Connor…you’ve still lost the election, because it only takes him to 100,947 votes. Even then, we fall back to my argument (which actually works in your favor here): the difference is 627 votes.

Do the same thing with the 2016 Presidential results, if you want:

Candidate / Party Popular / Votes

  Donald J. Trump, Republican – 62,980,160

Hillary R. Clinton, Democratic – 65,845,063

Gary Johnson, Libertarian – 4,488,931

Jill Stein, Green – 1, 457,050

Evan McMullin, Independent – 728,830

How do you even begin to guess where McMullin’s, Johnson’s and Stein’s votes would fall, and split them evenly among Trump and Clinton and you’ve still got what I see as rather measly numbers.

This very thing is what turned me into a Libertarian individual. I don’t want the Government, myself nor the mob dictating aspects of the lives of everyone else on this fallacy. Thomas Jefferson warned us against it:

Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%

America, its time to do away with this toxic line of thinking…we as people can trample a person’s rights as easily as the king did, as easily as a dictator does, we just somehow find comfort in our moral justification that because we had one more person agree with our side, we’re the winners and they are the losers. Now is the time to reiterate our true principles of liberty, independence, and individualism before they are sacrificed.


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The Free Market: Everybody Wants It, Everybody Hates It

By FritzCast | United States

Over the course of the past two weeks (and if we want to get technical, even longer than that), two major subjects have taken the national spotlight, both of which are heavily involved in the marketplace.

One was a Supreme Court Decision in a case of one man and his bakery refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple for their wedding; the other was regarding the end of Net Neutrality regulations of the President Obama era.

It was odd, to me, that both subjects take on such heated, passionate debate. Many were upset over the Supreme Court’s narrow 7-2 decision in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop; some will even argue that the court essentially voted that it is ok to discriminate against the LGBTQIA community, but there are ways I humbly disagree with such a sentiment.

First, and foremost, it should be noted that this case, in particular, went to the Supreme Court in a battle against not the same-sex couple, but the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips felt as though that Commission was inappropriately hostile toward him, his first amendment freedom of expression and his freedom of religious practice; including statements from a representative of the commission who stated that freedom of religion was often used as a basis for discrimination and also directly stated “it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use” (See this good Op-Ed considering Justice Kennedy on the matter).

Regardless of the statements and the situation as a whole, I always wondered what was wrong with the free market approach to the problem. In this case, let me present my argument:

I do not believe Jack Phillips or Masterpiece Cakeshop discriminated against a same-sex couple solely on the basis of them being a same-sex couple; on the contrary, as I argued in my latest FritzCast Podcast episode “Survey Says,” that the same-sex couple could probably frequent the cake shop on a regular basis buying deserts all the time, like delicious blueberry muffins, for example. Masterpiece Cakeshop only refused the service when the same-sex couple requested a cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony (meaning that if a straight person had wanted to come in and solicit Masterpiece Cakeshop to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony, they too would have been declined).

That being said, that does not mean I agree with Mr. Phillips reasoning, nor would I be willing to support his business with my dollars. I merely mean to say I would not, at Government Gunpoint more or less, make him bake a cake for a ceremony that he did not wish to participate in. I imagine the same-sex couple, even if they had frequented Mr. Phillips shop and bought delicious desserts every day, probably would wish to no longer support him either (there is, however, a distinct possibility that same-sex couple may just love the blueberry muffins so much, they keep going for them). Mr. Phillips then faces the market force, and if you want a highlight of that, just Google Masterpiece Cakeshop…their overall rating has plummeted from consumer response, some of which are strictly reviews from people who have never even been to the shop and experienced the product. And that is fine.

I would probably feel differently, for example, if Mr. Phillips refused to serve any LGBTQIA people solely on the basis that they are LGBTQIA people, however the same concept applies: A private establishment can make a set of rules it states it will follow, and the market force, in turn, can respond to whether or not they support that establishment. I once heard Austin Petersen, former Libertarian Presidential Candidate and current Missouri Senate Candidate, say in the Libertarian Debate “let the bigots out themselves. Who wants to buy a cake from someone who hates them?”

Now, for Net Neutrality, first we must look at the fact that the subject itself is not a simplistic topic. Net Neutrality, though first initially spoken of and declared in 2005, is heavily an Obama-Era regulation of the internet (our most prized commodity), which generally seemed to argue that there needs to be some amount of Government Regulation to ensure the Internet remains open, and that all data be treated the same so that a service provider (such as Comcast, or Verizon) couldn’t block, filter, or “throttle” internet speeds and services.

On the surface, the intentions seem vital and noble, and arguably they are. We all love the internet, most all of us even have mobile devices that remain linked to the World Wide Web. Is access really that equal though? Geographically speaking, some of us are stuck with a sole provider, one-speed options, while others may have multiple companies they could solicit. Back when I lived in my Apartment circa 2012, I had Verizon FiOS, a nice bundled package with really fast upload/download speed on a fiber optic network.

The neighborhood where I bought my house? Verizon isn’t there. No, there is only one internet provider outside of satellite service from DISH, and that is Comcast. Even the higher data plan that I have purchased doesn’t really scratch at what I used to have with Verizon, and the price definitely is skewed, paying a lot more for less than I had with Verizon.

By free market standards, as there is no legitimate other option, the only thing I can do (and often do), is solicit Verizon and those in my neighborhood to make the endeavor worthwhile for Verizon to speed up their process, set up the hardware in my neighborhood and buy services from them.

We can take it a step further, however. Let us say Verizon was in my neighborhood, and they could directly compete with Comcast. Maybe Verizon packages a “streamers internet deal” for people who stream video games, use Netflix and Hulu, and that was some bundle thrown together for $30/mo. So they broke down some of the internet services…maybe that is all I want? Maybe they have an “all-inclusive” package that encompasses every last bit of internet access. Is it THAT horrible an idea?

I’m not suggesting it is the best idea, but I am suggesting that the free market and competition can often bring desired results, and the consumer in both of these cases yield a lot more power than the masses seem willing to admit. In the 21st century, it isn’t the consumer that buckles to “big business,” it’s big business that has to justify to the consumer why its the best product or best provider.

That is the free market: it’s a lot less of a gamble than you think it is.


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Personal Responsibility and The Quest for Blame

By Fritz | United States

As the year 2018 continues ahead into the Summer Season, we have yet again in America come across what has become a rather typical news story: multiple teenagers dead in a shooting carried out by a lone gunman in a high school. Not even an hour after such news breaks, before there are even details that have been disclosed, the politicization of the event is underway.

That is true on both sides of the spectrum: Immediately there are those offering condolences, thoughts, and prayers. They are almost always quickly scrutinized and belittled by a segment of individuals who are angry (rightfully so, it is quite sickening to read or watch a breaking news story in which children are dying), but they are more than angry, a quick search of whatever hashtag is being branded on the incident will show you some pretty vile responses to someone expressing their sorrow.

Then there is the wave of gun control now statuses, where you typically will read lines such as “all assault weapons need to be banned,” “we need common sense gun control,” and now even more so, the bolder “ban all guns.” The latter is becoming more and more prevalent, as the most recent shooting which claimed the lives of 10 people, most of whom were young teenage students, was not carried out with the usual AR-15 Rifle, rather this time it was a .38 revolver and a shotgun, two guns that a few weeks ago any gun control advocate would have probably argued are completely fine because they aren’t “assault weapons.”

After a few days, what then happens is what I call the “quest for blame.” It is a natural occurrence because we all typically agree that no decent, sane human being carries out such acts of unspeakable violence. In the latest case, a number of issues have been brought up for discussion, including alleged bullying of the culprit, ease of access to guns for the culprit (they .38 and shotgun in question were legally purchased and owned by his father) and even Ollie North, the next NRA President, suggesting a combination of overexposure to violence and prescribed medication as a factor.

This is exactly what it becomes: Who or what caused this to happen? And the answer, unfortunately, is not a simple one. Some people try to pin it on a culture of violence: Television is more violent, movies are more violent, video games are not only violent but nearly at the peak of realism. Yet despite these facts, almost every major study conducted on video game violence shows no data to suggest that consumers become more violent due to the content of the games themselves.

Glenn Beck and numerous voices at The Blaze are arguing that still, culturally there is an overall lack of respecting the sanctity of human life. Beck argues that it boils down to the very issues such as abortion, where everything has been stripped down to the simple mechanics of a woman having the absolute right to control anything to do with her body, including whether or not she completes a pregnancy or terminates it. (Note: I am not arguing for or against the issue here, merely presenting someone’s opinion.)

My argument is that it well may be a blending of multiple things. Take myself as an example: At the time of High School, I had already experienced losing a parent, my father, when I was merely 4 years old; when I was 9 my 12-year-old sister was diagnosed with cancer and months later passed away; I was shy, introverted, not outgoing, quiet, kept to myself, played video games and struggled with my religious beliefs. Technically, you could profile me with that information.

At that time, I probably suffered from depression, but I dealt with the issues that life threw at me in my own way. My outlet was discovering music, and I fell in love with bands that people have never heard of and discovered Power Metal, which is my musical getaway from the world and helps me tackle my spiritual struggles.

During that time, I never sought to blame something or someone for life. It simply was. I never had a violent thought in my head, yet I played the first installments of Call of Duty and God of War. I went to the gun range with Scouts. Because of my religious beliefs and personality at the time, I was kind of an outcast and a weirdo. I dealt with my fair share of bullies, but never did I want to wish harm on people because that was the complete opposite of key things I was taught growing up.

As we all continue on, the struggle remains the same: Nobody wants to wake up and see a story of kids getting killed, but not everyone believes stricter gun laws will actually accomplish the goal of reducing violence. We then remained stalled, where we currently are, and that is not a good thing either.

You can never find a true solution, but we seemingly do not examine the entire picture in trying to find several solutions that could work for the better.


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From Fantasy to Reality: Social Ranking

By Fritz Stephey | United States

There are a list of pet-peeves I have when it comes to political discussion. Particularly, they are when people justify either giving the government more power because a majority agrees it should have more power, or when people argue that due to democracy, the majority should always rule.

As a matter of fact, that is what pushed me to my libertarian leanings.  Of course, all you really need is a short trip through a history book to see cases where what the majority thought was in fact, wrong.

Now, in our on-demand, media fueled world, there have been numerous television shows that have tackled our ever expanding obsession with social media. The most notable example would probably be an episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror, titled “Nosedive,” which highlights a social ranking system. In it, individuals rank each other on a 1 to 5 star scale. Then, your overall ranking effects almost every aspect of your life (do you need a security deposit on a car rental; can you skip ahead in medical lines; can you be approved for a loan; are you even allowed to be a passenger on a train or airplane?).

It may not seem all that scary at first, because in a way we do have things like that in place now, albeit on different scales. Try getting a loan when you take out too many or have a weak credit score because of your current debt load, for example.

Maybe an ever scarier episode was from Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville in an episode called “Majority Rule,” where everyone wears an “Upvote/Downvote” button on their chest. Based on your actions and interactions, which can be broadcast to the entire world, you could get downvoted so badly that you get sent to reconditioning, where essentially your brain gets fried and you become in a neutral state of “correctness.”

Of course, none of this could really happen in real life, right?

But did you know that as far back as 2014, China made preparations for rolling out a national ranking system? It is not a voluntary system, the rules and regulation are run in secrecy, and it is projected by 2020 they will have this system running full scale, however The Independent reports millions are already enrolled, and it’s mandatory.

I am sure that somewhere out there, there is a group of people who will say the old, tired argument: If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what have you to worry about?

My answer is always the same: You have everything to worry about.

For example, this system in China is set up by the Government, and overseen sometimes by city councils or even tech companies. Already there is a massive prying into your privacy. Almost no stone would be left unturned, as every aspect of your life is audited to adjust your score. Things that you may have even made honest mistakes about could be factored in. Where does the ranking stop?

Is this the kind of world people want to live in? One where every single little action is judged not by some omnipotent God with the greatest power of discernment, but rather impressionable, flawed human beings. What is really to become of the human experience if we all sacrifice it to the unrelenting mob? What about the core beliefs of America?

Here in America, we have a certain set of core beliefs that is constantly eroding. Our founders built it in the framework of our documents. If you had a good political discourse in your education, you probably had to memorize the preamble of the constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Note the line that I put in bold: secure the Blessings of Liberty. That is what our founders believed the purpose of Government was. And what is liberty? You can surely google it and it will give you a definition: “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views,” but I like to go one step deeper with Merriam-Webster: the power of choice.

How many more places in the world will look at China and think that some Nationalized ranking system is a good idea to try to control people and their behavior? How many of you believe coercive conformity is a great idea? The answer is always seemingly the same: when someone is on a particular side and their side is winning, they don’t think about the alternative. The pendulum is swinging their way. They are quick to forget that eventually the pendulum swings the other way, generally faster and farther than it did previously.

Not me. I am far too concerned with not wanting my fundamental right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness trampled, nor do I want to trample those rights for any other individual who has otherwise done nothing wrong.

The question remains, how many more people will stand and realize how very flawed a system such as China’s is, and staunchly defend the ideals and principles of liberty, which still have much of a fight left to be restored properly.


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