Nowhere is image more important than in the political arena. Succeeding in politics relies on mastering photo ops, coming up with memorable soundbites and appearing genuine, likable and charismatic. Obama is by far the best in those “skills” that I’ve ever seen. He is handsome, eloquent, well-spoken and appears likable.

Logical arguments and critical thinking doesn’t often come into play in politics since the attention span of the voter has forced media outlets to summarize a politician’s views in as little space/airtime as possible.

As a result of this framework, the successful politician needs to be conscious of these limitations and sell his ideas to generate the political capital (breathing room, if you will) to take on more ambitious tasks. In order to sell a major change, one has to have earned the “capital”, little bit by little bit.

Increasing value to constituents is a two step process
1) Perform a deed which increases real or implied value.
2) Communicate said value.

Today’s first day of a new presidency was a sharp contrast from the “salesmanship” we’ve seen in the past.

After Bush won a squeaker over Kerry in 2004, he held a press conference where he uttered the following:

You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. – George W. Bush

The link is here. It is a cached version. It appears as thought the White House was trying to bury it.

As you can see, Bush failed miserably on both counts. He didn’t do anything remotely like #1 and even if he had, he failed spectacularly on #2.

By contrast, look at Obama’s first day. Three (potentially inconsequential) changes which speak volumes about winning back trust.

  1. Freezing pay for those over 100k in his administration.
  2. Ban on gifts by lobbyists to those serving in his administration
  3. Make it easier to for public to get documents and information from the government

He also threw in this juicy soundbite “We are here as public servants, and public service is a privilege, it’s not about advancing yourself or your corporate clients.”

These changes aren’t groundbreaking and they don’t fundamentally change any real problems, however, it is obvious that he is well-versed in salesmanship and winning trust from his constituents.

Rather than railing on Obama and Bush for hailing from faulty ideologies as I would have done in my younger days, I now try to learn what I can from both of them and move along. There is no sense getting upset about national politics since most people are already wed to their opinion and you have little, if anything to gain by engaging someone who isn’t openly interested in having a debate.

These lessons from Obama and Bush show us a contrast in exercising power. One flaunted it and impressed no one, while the other seems to be using it judiciously.

Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of — for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. – Socrates

To read more about economics and politics, click here.

I have started this site in order to further my discovery and understanding of the truth as well as share my limited wisdom with others.

Many sites on the Internet are heavily skewed towards defending an existing ideology, however, I am interested in engaging others in a mutual search for truth rather than defending any ideologies.

While I have previously fallen in love with certain ideologies (libertarianism, free markets), I often find there to be different points of view which have valid points which I had not considered. While libertarian/free-market viewpoints still seem to me to be the most logical and valid, I find that reading debates or refutations of those viewpoints often provide food for thought.

Most of my growth and learning has come from reading and reflecting upon what I disagree with. In future posts, I plan on sharing some statist versus libertarian conundrums which I have thought about.

Thanks for reading.

To read more about choosing action, click here.

I often think about raising children and how “I” would do it.

At this stage in my life, I consider myself open-minded and mature enough to form my own reasoned life choices and accept responsibility for them.

While I was thinking of drumming this maturity theme into my future child’s head, it occurred to me that my parents did only some of that, but I still turned out the way I am.

Essentially, if I want my child to turn out exactly like me, should I raise them the exact way my parents raised me?!

Too funny.

I am thankful that this decision on how to raise kids is not weighing on me since I have no plans to start a family anytime soon. In the interim, I find it helpful to volunteer with children (to feel good and improve my communication skills) and remember that instilling a sense of self-ownership is, in my opinion, one of the best things a parent can do.

I’d like to think that a little more self-ownership/discipline from my parents would have helped me mature faster, however, as an adult, I realize they did the best job they could and I’m thankful they got the important stuff right (loving me and openly showing affection).

Thanks again for reading.

To read more about fatherhood, click here.

My birthdays haven’t been very special since I graduated college.  My last special birthday (with friends) was when I turned 21. Since then, I have spent nearly all birthdays alone and not really done much of anything.  I don’t really seem to mind since many of my closest friends are those that I speak to on the phone or connect with via e-mail.  Going out drinking in a loud bar is not my idea of a great evening.

Yesterday was my girlfriend’s birthday.  While I remembered to get her gifts and spend time with her, I didn’t realize how much her birthday meant to her.

I often find myself still operating in bachelor mode, where such things are no big deal.  However, when she told me that my birthday was a big deal to her since it is a day celebrating “the birth of me”, I laughed and realized I was pretty lucky to have someone think about it like that.

My girlfriend also helped me recognize the joy of Christmas.  Even though I am not Christian and do not celebrate the holiday with religious activities, to her it symbolizes love for family and appreciation for all that we have.

Her joy about birthdays and Christmas are great examples of her good spirit, and, rather than resisting her enthusiasm, I find it far more enjoyable to end my bah-humbug attitude about birthdays and join her in celebration.

Life is too short to not enjoy each possible day, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

To read more about relationships, click here.

Many of my my life’s best lessons have been taught by others who directly challenged my beliefs. Here are some of my more memorable interactions:

  1. Being challenged on my views on religion – I never questioned my faith, but there were a lot of incongruencies I harbored underneath the surface. After speaking with an atheist friend for 10 minutes, I realized I was simply afraid to openly declare that I was a “non-believer”. Rather than be honest and honor those agnostic beliefs, I was going through the religious motions.

  2. Being challenged on my views on abortion – I never considered the human aspect of abortion until I sat down with a self-proclaimed “far right winger”. Even though I didn’t agree with his views, his frankness and real-life examples caught me so off-guard I was literally speechless.

  3. Being challenged on my views on homosexuality – I realized an online columnist who I thought was very masculine was actually gay and I was somewhat surprised. His response was perfect… “Yeah so?” When he put it like that, I (officially) realized it really wasn’t a big deal for someone to be gay.

  4. Being challenged on my libertarian stances – A lady responded negatively to an op-ed piece I wrote for my college newspaper. After debating with her, she didn’t back down. By standing up for her beliefs, she forced me to double-check and re-examine my views.

Had it not been for these random people refusing to roll over and capitulate, I would be far less mature and open-minded than I am today. Interacting with people I disagreed with forced me to examine my “pristine” beliefs and get a more accurate picture of reality.

The lesson I have learned is that learning only comes from challenging oneself. This is what great teachers and great friends do; they force us to stretch and consider what we had previously dismissed.

I plan on writing more about this topic in the future as it relates to education. In my personal observations, giving up money and power to governments to educate children reduces the responsibility and consciousness of the parents whose children are being educated.

Thank you for reading.

To see a great video on “excuses”, click here.

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