Last Night’s GOP Debate

I watched last night’s GOP debate, which focused on National Security issues. Obviously, this is an issue near and dear to most citizen’s hearts as we watch the news and read about the horrific, demonic acts of ISIS and other evil people– like those who killed innocent folks at a Christmas party in San Bernardino.

More and more, I see the reason people support Donald Trump, despite the ridiculous ideas he floats– and swears with certainty he will bring to fruition if elected president. The fact of the matter is that he will not be able to deport 11 million people and execute [possibly] innocent family members of terrorists. He won’t be allowed to shut down all or parts of the Internet. Nor should he be. He may be able to build a big wall along the border (China, anyone?) to keep illegals out and cut down on the drug flow. Most people realize this– and I suspect he does, as well. So what’s the appeal? He acts angry. People relate to that anger. He offers action, outlandish though much of it may be. He is the “anti-politician politician.” Most hard-working Americans are angry when they see a big portion of their paychecks go to supporting idle people and also to foolish projects that profit us nothing. Most hard-working Americans are angry when they have to worry about sending their children to public schools when people like our president don’t seem to have any real plan to deal with the growing terror threat. After all, what’s to worry about from his perspective? His children are schooled elsewhere with adequate security.

I get it. I am tired of the “Harry Reids” and the “Nancy Pelosis,” who are career politicians that pander to their base and serve only their own interests at the expense of the American people. I am tired of the “Hillary Clintons” of our country who pretend to care about the downtrodden– while lining their own pockets from speeches and special interest deals and covering their own behinds on matters like Benghazi and classified email. It is certainly no wonder that Real Estate moguls, Surgeons and former CEOs do so well in polling when compared to many career politicians. We don’t need another Bush, any more than we need another Clinton, either!

Marco Rubio has some growing up to do, in my estimation. He has not shown sound financial judgment in his personal affairs, which concerns me when I think about him running our country as the chief executive. As far as Chris Christie goes, the jury is still out. He has a mixed record in New Jersey.

While I agree that almost anyone of the candidates would be better than Clinton in the Whitehouse, I do have my favorites. Right now, growing in my estimation of what a good president should be like, is Ted Cruz. He is smart, shares many values in common with me and other Christians, and has some plans to deal with ISIS that make sense to me. He also seems to be in charge of his emotions, not vice versa– as Donald Trump seems to exhibit.

It is time for more of the candidates to drop out. Jeb Bush needs to give it up, as well as the ‘second tier’ candidates. Will the Republican party ever be unified? The Democrats don’t seem to turn on each other with anywhere near the ferocity and regularity of the Republicans.

More will be revealed. Your thoughts?

State Of The Union

So we watched most of the State of the Union address a couple of nights ago and followed along on Twitter as it progressed. It was pretty much as I expected: more of the same high-sounding political rhetoric and pie-in-the-sky promises that I have become used to hearing from Washington. Look, this isn’t a Republican or Democrat thing with me. My disappointment is in both sides of the political aisle– as I see no room or desire for true compromise from either of the two major parties.

I noted right away that the president starting with an opening volley of veto threats. That’s a great way to foster an atmosphere of cooperation with a new congress, isn’t it? I had high hopes that, once Senator Reid was removed from his position in the Senate, that we would see more bills brought to the floor, discussed and acted on– but am starting to wonder if we aren’t in for another two years of more of the same?

I like some of the ideas floated by the president. I am certainly not an anti-president type– like so many of my conservative friends are. He is very liberal, and as such I expect the liberal mindset to prevail in his policies. The American people elected him twice and got what he represented himself to be when campaigning– so don’t blame him if you don’t like what he does. He is true to his nature. Nonetheless, many folks despise him, no matter what he does. I’m not in that camp. Although not talked about during the speech, I think the contentious health care legislation was something necessary to get anything started, in terms of reform. Obviously, there is going to be a strong lobby against it by powerful companies (namely insurance) who want to keep making huge profits with a minimum of legislation to contend with.  It’s not going away, and I certainly agree it needs some fixing. In terms of his “free” community college proposal, I do believe that the extremely high cost of education has prevented many brilliant people from realizing their potential. I have no problem with people having access to community colleges for further education after high school. I would, however, like to see a clear and sensible plan to pay for this. In terms of foreign policy, I also have no problem with ending this decades-old feud we have had with Cuba. Establishing relations with them does not mean endorsing their style of government, Friendly relations should be established for the sake of the people: them and us. There are other ideas the president floats that I also admire and there are places he is very weak. The way he addresses (or doesn’t) the threat of terrorism concerns me.

A great many things can be encouraged without the need for legislation. Legislation feeds the animal we call bureaucracy, full of corruption and often pork that we cannot afford nor should we tolerate any longer. It would be nice to see more encouragement and less legislation.

The CNN app on my phone opened yesterday with an article titled “Is it finally morning in Obama’s America?” I wonder. I wish I could say ‘yes’ with some measure of certainty. But perhaps the light you see coming through your window is not the morning light, but a searchlight– looking to find and uncover the America that was?

I don’t want to end on a negative note, but rather one which is cautiously optimistic. I hope and pray for his success as our leader and also for a spirit of civility and compromise– so desperately needed within the walls of congress. I hope the reader can join me in this hope and offer help in realizing that achievable goal.

The Dilemma @ The Border

You would have to be hiding under a rock these past few weeks to not be aware of the dire situation on our southern border with children streaming in from South and Central America. On the ride to work this morning I happened to catch a portion of Laura Ingraham’s radio show in which one of the topics of discussion was President Obama’s meeting with other heads of state, one of which made the blatant claim that we share in this responsibility for these children.

I must confess I was immediately annoyed by such a thing and am sick and tired of America being made the scapegoat for the shortcomings of other governments– often mired in corruption and responsible for their own mess.  But the thought immediately entered my head that [perhaps] such heads of states and their respective governments have no intention of aiding these children whatsoever.  Therein lies the dilemma.  Galatians 6:2 says the following about our responsibility for other human beings: Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

So what’s the answer here?  I think it is more complicated than it might appear on the surface.  One thing is for sure, securing the border would stop the flow.  However, perhaps it is important to consider that there is a humanitarian crisis (regardless of whose fault it is) that we can do something about.  Your thoughts?  I welcome a discussion on this one.

A Matter Of Perspective

So often we like to label things and fit them into neat little categories. This is a common occurrence in politics, where we normally typecast people as left, right, centrist, moderate–the list goes on and on.

George McGovern, in Congress

For many years, I classified myself as a liberal Democrat. An ardent supporter of people like George McGovern and admirer of F.D.R. and his tactics, I could never imagine being anything but. However, I’ve aged and times have changed. I find myself more centrist in some of my views, liberal on social issues (similar to libertarian-ism) and may even be accused of outright “conservatism” on others. Don’t get me wrong, on some issues I still agree with Democrats. In fact, not long ago I read George McGovern’s last book titled What It Means To Be A DEMOCRAT and found it to be a really good read that produced a lot for me to identify with. At one point, I tried to embrace the Libertarian party, but have come to realize that human nature prevents the idea of libertarian-ism from actually flourishing (that’s a subject for another post). So where does that leave me? Well, it leaves ‘me’ as me. I have even toyed with the idea of joining the Republican party–more on the libertarian fringe than anything.

No two people are going to think exactly alike on every issue. But I see the need to compromise on a broad variety of topics. To compromise, people must first be willing to open an honest dialog. If you want an example of political fragmentation, take a look at the Republican party. A few years ago I would have said that about the Democratic party. Expand that focus outside of one particular party to the entirety of Congress [and both “sides of the aisle”] and you will see how ineffective a body can be rendered by a failure to compromise, due to extreme fragmentation.

English: Logo of the Democratic Party of the U...

I’m not one to finger-point and accuse the Republicans of being a party of angry old racist white men as some like to portray them. No, quite the contrary, the Republican party has historically been the party of civil rights. I would remind the reader that many Democrats of the old south opposed freeing slaves and, later in our country’s history, giving people of color any civil rights. Some modern Democrats seem to have ‘erased’ that fact from the party’s history–they certainly often neglect to mention it. Today’s Democratic party is more about civil rights and racial equality–and I am happy for that evolution. However, is that because the party has changed or because our society is finally growing up and beyond that sort of insane thinking? I would hope that humanity has somewhat improved.

So, for now, I’ll wrap this post up and touch base on some of the things I mentioned (such as my feelings on the future of the Libertarian party) at a later time in some posts. As always, I invite dialog–as long as it’s civil and, therefore, possibly constructive. Maybe the next time I post, I’ll be hoisting the G.O.P. flag. Maybe. Maybe not.

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Rush Limbaugh

While I will concede that people like Rush Limbaugh are a necessary irritant to maintain checks and balances in a society, some days listening to his dribble are harder than others. Today was such a day. I caught part of what he said earlier while having lunch and took umbrage with certain remarks he made about such things as Twitter. Some of the things he says absolutely amaze me -as they are clearly given birth from a place of [what I deem] ignorance, yet people will buy into it. Here’s one assertion of his (partially in my words): Twitter has become a cesspool of liberal ideology. He has departed from his usual rant to take on things like Twitter, probably because he probably rarely [if ever] uses it and doesn’t understand it. I’m sure there are a great many liberals who use it daily, especially since younger people tend much more often to be liberal. I am also sure that a great many mature conservatives and libertarians (yes, there are many distinctions between the two) use it. I know that because I ‘follow’ many of them – especially the libertarians.

One thing he said that I can find agreement with is that most journalists today don’t much care about what the reader (customer who buys their paper or supports their particular media outlet in some fashion) wants and concentrates more on getting their point of view across than selling a product, whether you like it or not. Complaints made by consumers of their media often fall on deaf ears. This was discussed as the topic of Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com fame buying the Washington Post came up. Limbaugh is hopeful that Bezos might actually turn it around and make it successful again, because he is so focused on customer service at his chief concern, Amazon. Perhaps, on that point, he is correct. I hope so. I would hate to see an iconic newspaper like the Washington Post disappear. Personally, I like reading the paper, but confess I do so almost exclusively in a digital format on my tablet these days.

What I hope to see a return of are the days when it was hard to tell where an anchor’s political leanings were. I can remember not knowing [or caring, for that matter] how an anchor felt about a topic. Give me the facts, please, and let me draw my own conclusions. It’s one thing if you are watching a show that is clearly all opinion and ‘analysis’ and doesn’t pretend to be an objective reporting of the news. It’s quite another to fall for the trickery of pundits for both the left and right, pretending to deliver the news and only the news. Bah humbug.

See you on Twitter…

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Healthcare

Ever since I can remember, people have been torn on the issue of healthcare. Bill and Hillary Clinton fought to bring national healthcare into reality, only to suffer a crushing defeat. Years before that, even the likes of Harry Truman thought something ought to be done, but failed to achieve anything. So here we are, 2013, still without any national healthcare system, but now stuck with some huge pile of regulatory paperwork known affectionately by some as “Obamacare.” No matter what one’s opinion of the ‘Affordable Care Act’ [nicknamed Obamacare] is, the fact that it still relies on employer/employee individual contributions is undeniable — and problematic.

Supposedly, the creation of health care ‘exchanges’ should bring the cost down dramatically as they open up the possibility of more competition. I recently read an article in the New York Times indicating that Governor Cuomo of New York has proclaimed that healthcare costs in his state will drop dramatically (in some cases over 50%) for those seeking individual insurance. Sounds great. Yes indeed.

So, as somewhat libertarian on many issues, where do I stand on this one? Do I not think it’s important that everyone have health coverage? Do I not care about my fellow men and women in this society? Do I not see the plight of the uninsured? Do I not have concerns about my own health coverage once I retire or if I suddenly became unemployed? The answer to all the questions I have posed in this paragraph is a resounding ‘yes.’ However, do I think that government can solve these problems? That’s the $64,000.00 question, isn’t it?

How is it that we find ourselves in such a mess? Let’s start by taking a look at government regulations. Why can’t I buy insurance from companies in other states? Prohibited by law. Why? All part of the same country, so why is it I can’t do that? Who knows. Surely that would open up competition and lower costs! What takes so long to get desperately-needed medicines approved for use in our country? Answer: the FDA, part of government. Some would argue that the FDA’s caution is commendable, but is that what really makes the process take so long -or is it the slow pace of a system mired in bureaucratic red tape? How many people have died because they didn’t have access to life-saving medications simply because they live here and not some other country? The proof is in the pudding – if things are so wonderful here, why don’t we have the longest life expectancy of any country in the world? We are not even close.

Aside from an obvious need to deregulate the healthcare industry, which would open up competition and lower costs, why not allow every American a tax-free medical savings account that can be used to pay their medical-related expenses, be they prescriptions, doctor visits, or any necessary health-related treatment?

Perhaps if government eased up on all the excessive regulations that have been put in place over they years (probably with the best of intentions), aside from the obvious benefit of lowering healthcare costs dramatically, more charitable organizations would be able to open new hospitals that could treat people at a greatly reduced cost. I really believe that there is an inherent good in most people that would compel them to come forward and help —
if not threatened by liabilities and hindered by burdensome regulations.

Last thought: if we weren’t so burdened by taxes (much of which pays for expensive conferences, fantastic lifetime medical coverage for politicians, presidential vacations and foreign aid to people who despise us), perhaps medical bills wouldn’t be so difficult to pay.

Debt Ceiling

Here’s a novel thought: How about we first stop payments to politicians for their salaries, expenses and assorted benefits — instead of threatening Social Security recipients and military paychecks? After all, it’s only fair — equal pay for equal work. What do you , say, Congress? We’re all more than sick of big money for no accomplishments and the out-of-control deficit spending. That should save some serious green.

Hopefully, 2014 will see some serious housecleaning in D.C. Hopefully conservatives will start being conservative on money issues!

Fed Up!

When I went to do my bookkeeping earlier today(yesterday was payday), I noticed something missing: money. Not just a couple of bucks, either. Ah yes, the increased payroll tax! How could I forget! That wasn’t addressed in the recent fiscal cliff aversion package. Neither were any spending cuts.

Now I understand they’re fixing to give themselves a nice little raise. Let’s not forget the great health-care package that members of the do-it-yourself nothing congress get. Oh, I’m sorry. That’s not fair. They did vote to extend milk subsidies so the price doesn’t jump.

Of course, they will continue to

“milk” us with special interest pork, lavish functions and spending that will make even the GSA jealous!

Next up: Debt ceiling. Will the GOP-controlled house cave again? Don’t know about you, but I’m fed up.

Spending, Spending, Spending…

I’ve been hanging out on our bed, watching personalities on Fox News bemoan the outcome of yesterday’s fiscal cliff avoidance vote as I read “Back To Work” by Bill Clinton. How’s that for polar opposites? One side says government is the problem and the other puts forth that it is the answer. Somewhere in the middle is the truth.

I’m no republican, but we do spend way too much. Where were the cuts we were promised? We are on an unsustainable path.

Ok Joe…

So now Joe Biden’s on the case, working with Mitch to get the Senate in gear so they can actually get some sort of legislation done to avert the upcoming manufactured “fiscal cliff.” Should make for an interesting New Year’s Eve from a political perspective. Hope Reid actually does something and that the GOP finally figures out that it’s a spending and revenue problem. Good article about it at Business Insider. Time to sleep this overload of politics off.