Category Archives: Uncategorized

Saying Goodbye

My wife left me yesterday. It wasn’t entirely unexpected either. In fact, we both knew it was coming since she’d been talking about it for some time, so I let her go without putting up a fight. I must admit I am somewhat surprised that neither of us seemed all that sad or concerned when saying goodbye. We’ve been married for almost 30 years, for crying out loud, so you’d think my wife’s departure would have been quite the ordeal, yet in actuality it was a far cry from an emotional farewell. I suppose the missus leaving me really wasn’t that big a deal since my lovely wife will be back home, from a business convention in Vegas, tomorrow.

Saying goodbye isn’t as cut and dried as one might think. Bidding a fond adieu is actually a tricky concept. When saying goodbye to someone, we are not assured of ever seeing that person again. That’s a sobering thought, but it’s certainly true. We assume we’ll meet again in this lifetime, but no one is promised tomorrow. I have an aunt who routinely goes out of her way to say “see you later” instead of goodbye. I think her preferred choice of words is a superstitious attempt at fooling Mother Nature. I believe she’s even alluded to that in the past. To each their own.

The airport can be such a sad place, with countless goodbyes being said. On the other hand, the airport can be the happiest place on earth (no offense Disneyland). It’s a place where one can witness numerous reunions with loved ones, relieved embraces of military personnel returning from deployment, and an abundance of authentic ear to ear smiles. So much happiness can be found within the confines of an airport. I reckon train stations and bus stops evoke similar feelings although I’ve never experienced either of those places firsthand.

George Bailey, Jimmy Stewart’s beloved character in It’s A Wonderful Life, boasted that the three most exciting sounds in the world are “anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles.” I don’t doubt that is true, for those who are desiring to set out on a new journey, but that’s surely not the case for any loved ones left behind. In the summer of 2007, I had the mindset akin to that of George Bailey when my wife, my son, and I uprooted from Iowa, to Arizona. I longed for a new adventure – an opportunity to chart a different course – a chance to explore the unknown. I did not give a lot of thought at that time as to what my mother and father, or anyone else for that matter, might’ve been going through because I was solely focused on what was ahead…not on what was being left behind.

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents used to say once in awhile, or maybe quite frequently depending on the amount of grief you gave them, “just wait ’til you have kids of your own”? It was almost as though the people raising you were actually taking some comfort in their hopes of getting sweet revenge one day. Our folks were surely angry, frustrated, or disappointed when such statements were made. Regardless, as it turns out, I’ve recently found their ancient warnings to be profoundly correct. The shoe indeed is on the other foot. I’ll soon be experiencing what my parents were forced to experience when saying goodbye to them 10 years ago.

I can now fully empathize with my folks because after spending the past decade in Arizona, my son has decided to move back to Iowa. He has grown extremely weary of the desert sun and is looking forward to the Midwest’s changing seasons, rainstorms, and even the snow. His mother and I are very fond of Arizona’s sunny days, the dry heat, wearing shorts yearlong, and NO SNOW. We’re used to having our only child living just twenty-two minutes away from us, but soon he’ll be 1,187 miles away. I’m truly excited for my son. I admire his independence, as well as his courage to try another path, but I’m not too happy about saying goodbye. That’ll be a tough one.

Advertisements

I Miss Dave

Once again, I’m guilty of overestimating the common sense of the citizens of this great country. I’m a bit perplexed by the public’s response to President Donald Trump’s firing of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), James Comey. I know by now I shouldn’t be surprised about anything regarding politics, or the American people, but I really want to be an optimist. If I remember correctly (and I do) not so long ago the majority of Democrats were calling for Comey’s head because he supposedly had cost Hillary Clinton the presidency. Trump and the Republicans weren’t too thrilled with Comey either after he eventually cleared Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing just two days prior to the 2016 presidential election. Now, apparently everyone is enamored with James Comey. Oh my, how things quickly change when trying to rewrite history.

This whole sordid mess began in July of 2015, when the FBI opened a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email use during her tenure as our nation’s Secretary of State. The matter had seemingly been put to rest, but Director Comey resurrected the mild scandal on October 28th, 2016, by way of a letter to Congress. He informed them that the FBI was reviewing additional emails for possible violations committed by Clinton. Many Hillary supporters blamed Comey’s ill-timed announcement for Clinton’s loss to Trump in last year’s election. However, I’d argue that Comey’s final letter to Congress on November 6th, 2016, actually did more damage to the Trump campaign than his previous letter did to the Clinton camp. Declaring Clinton’s innocence of any criminal wrongdoing (less than 48 hours before ballots were to be cast) surely worked in Hillary’s favor in regards to garnering any of the remaining undecided voters.

Regardless, if there was one thing both sides of the political arena could agree on, a short six months ago, it was their bipartisan dislike of James Comey. His unconventional actions were controversial, confusing, reckless, and quite possibly grounds for dismissal. Yet, after President Trump’s recent firing of the FBI Director, many (from both sides of the aisle) who once despised Comey are now suddenly very supportive of him and irate at Trump for letting him go. What’s there to say? Trump haters are gonna hate.

I presume that’s also the reason for all the hubbub out there concerning President Trump and Russia. Yes, I know there’s those pesky reports about the Trump administration’s possible ties to Russia. Yes, the timing of James Comey’s dismissal could be construed as a tad suspect: he indeed was in the process of ramping up his investigation into Trump’s possible past association with Russia. Comey’s recent firing shouldn’t be too worrisome for Trump haters since Arizona Senator, John McCain, immediately called for another investigation into the Russia situation. (I wonder who’s paying for all of these investigations.)

Look, I couldn’t care less if the President, or those in his administration, had previous business dealings with Russia. Haven’t the majority of those vociferously opposed to Trump been preaching to the public that globalism is a great thing? What probably frustrates me the most about this country is that we are so quick to come to a conclusion before receiving all of the information. In essence, we come to the conclusions WE WANT…based on our emotions rather than the truth. If it is ever proven that President Trump is (or has been) in cahoots with Russia then I will be the first in line demanding his resignation and lobbying for treason charges to be brought against him. Believe me.

There is one thing we know for certain at this time concerning Trump’s possible ties to Russia. Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, has found President Trump guilty. There’s no mistaking where David Letterman’s predecessor stands on this issue. This is not fake news. In fact, last week Colbert went on an extended tirade about the President, and then he proudly confirmed what he had previously said the very next evening. Some on the right have demanded an apology from the liberal host, but Colbert continues to stand by what he said. After calling Trump a “pricktator,” among other things, Stephen Colbert then told President Trump, “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c**k holster.” Letterman’s replacement sure has turned The Late Show from what was once a respectable, highly entertaining talk show into a biased, anger filled political program.

Many on the left think Colbert’s joke was hilarious, and they are pointing to the First Amendment in defense of his right to say what he said. I can’t argue with the latter. However, I would like to ask those who’ve sided with Colbert, and think the joke is funny, this one simple question. What if during President Obama’s presidency someone had said Obama was a “c**k holster” for Bashar al-Assad? Funny? Former President Obama did indeed draw that infamous red line in which Assad fearlessly crossed without any repercussions whatsoever. So, would that joke about Obama have been hilarious? Of course not. Just because we are allowed to publicly say something so crude and tasteless certainly does not mean that we should especially when it comes to disrespecting those elected to the Oval Office. The older I get, the less impressed I am with our country’s freedom of speech. Boy, I sure could use a dose of Letterman right about now.


It Really Isn’t A Bad Word

I was only a teenager for a good portion of the 1980s, and I wasn’t much interested in politics back then, but I find myself longing for those days when compromise wasn’t considered such a bad word amongst politicians. Republican President, Ronald Reagan, and Democrat Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, worked together for the good of the country. Although the men differed immensely on policy, Reagan and O’Neill were adamantly opposed to a polarized atmosphere and very committed to the advancement of the United States. The leaders of the competing parties embraced a style of government that first and foremost had its citizens’ best interests at heart. That brand of government demands at least some compromise which is sorely missing in today’s political spectrum.

The art of compromise has been drastically waning in modern times, most notably with the inception of the Tea Party, but now the negotiation process is all but dead due to the recent actions of the Republican controlled Congress. Last Friday (4/7/17) Neil Gorsuch was confirmed as the newest Supreme Court Justice, but only after Congressional Republicans were able to manipulate rules in the Senate to their advantage. The change reduces the longstanding 60-vote threshold down to a simple majority in the 100-member Senate. This dangerous change, known as the “nuclear option” because it “blows up” the traditional rules and bipartisanship that were once coveted in the Senate, means there is no longer an incentive to include the other political party in our federal government’s decision making process. How ironic considering this is the first time in our nation’s history that an elected President does not boast a political or military background, but instead he prides himself on being a top-notch negotiator.

I completely understand the Republicans’ way of thinking, and attitude, behind their shady maneuver to bypass the Democrats altogether (at least in the foreseeable future) concerning their agenda. The Democrats mirrored those sentiments not so long ago (2013) when Harry Reid successfully led the charge to change the rules, so his party could appoint lower-court judges and Cabinet members without any Republican support. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Payback is a b***h.

I said I understand the Republicans’ thought process, but I certainly do not agree with their vengeful act. The change in Senate rules takes compromise off the table and basically allows whichever party controls Congress to pass anything and everything without the checks and balances proffered and cherished by our Founding Fathers. That being said, I am the furthest thing from a constitutionalist. I think the U.S. Constitution is so frequently misinterpreted (e.g. the Second Amendment) and fairly difficult to decipher with the inclusion of the numerous Amendments added throughout the years. I truly believe it’s impossible to know for sure how our Founding Fathers would view and respond to the issues of today. However, I am positive of their desire to always hold our elected officials accountable to their constituents via checks and balances; hence, the reason for our 3 branches of government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

All of this nonsense, over something as elementary as filling a vacated seat in the Supreme Court, simply because no one from either party was willing to compromise. A seat that had been left open since Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death over 14 months ago. Let me be perfectly clear here. I think former President Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nominee, Merrick Garland, should have been confirmed before our 44th President left the Oval Office. I think – oh boy, here we go – based on the Constitution – Obama had every right, as well as legal authority, to nominate Merrick Garland and to have the Senate hold confirmation hearings on Garland’s behalf. However, the Republicans disrespectfully refused to even consider the highly qualified man in hopes of winning the White House in November (an unlikely scenario at the time). Their bold gamble paid off…but at what expense? The Republicans won, for the time being, but the nation lost when the “nuclear option” was implemented.

Both parties had opportunities to compromise in regards to filling Justice Scalia’s seat, but both sides are more concerned about the D or the R that comes after their names than what’s best for the people. Senator John McCain from Arizona (I’m embarrassed to say) insisted, prior to the Senate rule change, that anyone who thought the revision would be beneficial was a “stupid idiot” and a “numskull,” yet McCain ultimately aligned with his party and lent his support for the ill-conceived change. Why can’t somebody in our federal government – anybody – just do the right thing? To be fair, three Senate Democrats: Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), and Joe Manchin (West Virginia) did put pettiness and partisanship aside by giving President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, their endorsements.

I certainly thought both Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch would’ve had a much easier time receiving bipartisan support and Senate confirmation since they tend to be more moderate than extreme (like Scalia was). By the way, the late Justice Scalia was UNANIMOUSLY confirmed in 1986, and he was politically as far to the right as possible. This just goes to show how divided today’s Congress really is and how unwilling they are to compromise. I would have been fine with Garland, and I’m fine with Gorsuch. If pressed, I’d admit to having desired a more socially conservative judge, rather than a liberal one, to replace Scalia. However, the U.S. Supreme Court should be entirely about the law and not about political party affiliation.

After Donald Trump took office, I was actually hoping the President would utilize his unpredictability by nominating Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, as his choice for the Supreme Court. I recognize that course of action would have been unconventional, to say the least, but I was rooting for a miracle nonetheless. I doubt if the vast majority of the population even considered such a thing, especially those supposedly representing us in Washington, D.C., but I think a generous move like that would have gone a long way in revealing Trump’s (hidden) bipartisan nature, and it would have gone a long way in immediately uniting Congress and possibly the country. Compromise is crucial – for a successful marriage – for an effective business negotiation – and for the U.S. Government…if it genuinely cares about its people. It really isn’t a bad word.


Who Was That Guy?

Who was that guy speaking to Congress and to the American public on Tuesday night? He clearly resembled President Donald Trump, but he appeared to be much different than what we are used to seeing. During his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Trump seemed to be calm, caring, and dare I say…presidential. The normally brash businessman came across as a unifier and even showed glimpses of humility during his hour-long speech. I like that guy.

Early on in his speech President Trump said, “While we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.” And toward the end of his address he said, “We are one people with one destiny. We all bleed the same blood. We all salute the same great American flag. And we all are made by the same God.” Those were some very assuring words from our President (yes, our President). Could this be the so-called “pivot” that at least half of this country has been waiting for since after he won his party’s nomination – after his victory in November – after his inauguration? Probably not.

Trump is who he is, and many of his supporters are fond of his candidness and political incorrectness. The problem is, more often than not, the former reality star does not know when to quit or when to stay silent. For example, just one day prior to his heartfelt speech to Congress, President Trump accused former President Obama of being the mastermind behind the recent protests against the current administration as well as the leaks coming from the White House. During Monday’s interview with Fox News, when asked whether he thought Obama himself was arranging protests, Trump replied, “I think that President Obama is behind it because his people are certainly behind it.”

I believe whenever an allegation is made against someone then the burden of proof is solely on the accuser. (Like our justice system.) Therefore, some evidence must be given to lend credibility to one’s claims or else it’s only senseless chatter. Trump’s accusations against Obama, at this point, fits the bill. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the former President’s behalf, and I highly doubt our nation’s first Black President is secretly organizing anything against the current Trump administration. Say what you will about Obama’s policies, but former President Barack Obama is a classy guy.

What wasn’t so classy were the actions of some during President Trump’s first address to Congress. Apparently, some lines had already been drawn before Trump even uttered one word. A handful or so of lady Democrats reportedly dressed in white attire to show their disapproval of Trump’s assumed stance on women’s issues. A couple of the women then repeatedly gave the President a thumbs down, in melodramatic fashion, while he spoke about repealing and replacing Obamacare. It probably didn’t really matter what Trump was talking about because haters are gonna hate.

I always find it a bit humorous, although in a bleak sort of way, observing Congress when the President is speaking. Watching one side of the auditorium stand and applause while the other side sits in disgust is fascinating. Politicians often talk about their concern of a divided nation, especially during this past election, and many of them even offer advice (usually to the other party) as to the best way of unifying the country, yet Congress openly shows their divided state, for the entire world to see, simply by the way they’re seated during the President’s address. This behavior is certainly nothing new, and it goes both ways, but I think our country would best be served if politicians were forced to amalgamate instead of adhering to the status quo. Have any of them ever heard of leading by example?

I agree with many of the things President Trump had to say on Tuesday evening including his take on illegal immigration. I think he asked a legitimate and thought-provoking question of the elected officials seated before him concerning illegal immigration that I too would like to have answered. The President said, “To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this one question: What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?” Unfortunately, I think those who need to do the most soul-searching on this issue are the ones who are making a career out of being anti-Trump and have ignorantly lumped illegal immigrants in with legal immigrants.

The two main reasons I consistently hear in defense of not deporting illegals are because it breaks up families, and we need them in our labor force for a healthy economy. The first argument is a valid point because it does break up families. However, it is certainly not the government’s fault. The lawbreaker need only look in the mirror to see who’s to blame for his or her family’s sad situation. I think the solution to the second argument is so simple to solve, but I have not heard one elected official mention anything like it amidst all of the bickering and partisanship in Congress. My common sense approach would be to replace each deported illegal immigrant with a law-abiding person from the waiting list that we’ve heard so much about. If 500 illegals are sent back to where they came from then 500 people that have been doing it the right way, patiently waiting their turn, would be rewarded by being allowed to make the United States their home.

Like it or not, President Trump has softened his stance regarding illegal immigration. He has decided to keep a few aspects of former President Obama’s executive order including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. I would think Democrats should be thrilled with the President for taking a more centrist position on this issue. Trump is first and foremost a businessman, so it should be of no surprise to anyone that our 45th President tends to view his presidency as a four-year stint (at least) of negotiations. A good businessman (heck, even an average one) knows not to start a negotiation without allowing for a bit of wiggle room.

It appears the travel ban President Trump signed into law via executive order will now be negotiated as well although the courts will likely have the final say in the matter. I’ve been a proponent of Trump’s temporary travel ban, for the sake of our national security, since he proposed the idea during his campaign. There were definitely some flaws found with the President’s order soon after the ban was announced, but some kinks should be expected when implementing something new. Anti-Trump people skewed the President’s order as hateful and racist, but I viewed it as just another way of trying to keep America safe.

Immediately after the President enacted the ban, the media began referring to the Trump administration as “turbulent,” “a mess,” and a “train wreck.” Of course, Trump responded with a little nonsense of his own by insisting his presidency is “a fine tuned machine.” I think the actual truth lies somewhere in between. As hectic as those first couple of days were, I appreciate the fact the President held true to his campaign promise concerning timetables. He publicly berated Obama, while on the campaign trail, for giving advanced notice to our enemies around the world. Nobody can accuse President Trump of doing that in this instance.

I agree with many of the policies our new President has either enacted by way of executive order or has implied during his short time in the Oval Office. However, I respectfully disagree with his plan to increase defense spending by $54 billion. We absolutely should take care of our veterans, but I don’t see the need for making our military bigger, better, and stronger than ever before like the President desires. The United States already has the greatest armed forces in the world without having to waste money that could be used in a more constructive manner: like using those funds to jumpstart the proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan or having a financial cushion in place while Congress is attempting to modify Obamacare. I’m well aware that at times President Trump offers a mixed bag policy wise, but we should not take his every word literally because his background is indeed in business, not government, so he truly is a negotiator at heart. Regardless of Trump’s policies, I sure hope to see that guy more often.


Does God Ever Change?

Some time ago I was asked, in a roundabout way, if God ever changes. I’ve been contemplating that question, off and on, for a few months now because I certainly don’t want to pass along any misinformation or offer my opinion as factual. I take the task of interpreting the Bible very seriously. The easy and predictable answer to the question at hand, of course, is no. We need look no further than to Hebrews 13:8 for the answer: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” However, I’m not one to simply skim the surface of a particular subject, but instead I typically dive down deeper to see if anything else may be there.

The question is “Does God ever change?” – not to be confused with “Does God ever change His mind?” – which I think is a much harder question to answer. I think the answer to the latter though would also be no. I believe God can do anything and everything regardless of the old trick question commonly proposed by atheists: “Can God make a mountain so big he can’t move it?” Think about it. I believe in the power of prayer, but I also believe God is all-knowing; therefore, when a person is miraculously healed then how can it be that God actually changed His mind when He already knew what the outcome of the situation was going to be?

I’ve consistently been in the Word, for several years now, but I do not pretend to know everything about God or His perfect plan. In fact, nobody does: not me, not TV evangelists, and not even the Pope. Those who think they’ve got the mystery of God all figured out are erroneously attempting to put our Creator and Savior in a box. God cannot be reduced to just a neatly wrapped package.

It is my understanding that God does not change. Many churches though have transformed over the years. My church upbringing included Sunday School, youth programs, and hanging out with one cool youth pastor. As an adolescent, church services normally meant spending most of my time fidgeting in the pew and the rest of it belting out beloved hymns from an actual hymnal. Oh how I miss those old-time hymns and the majestic sounds of the church organ resonating from the stage.

Nowadays, in a dramatically changing world, it appears the majority of churches have gone contemporary to attract a different breed of truth seekers, and that’s okay. People of today tend to need colorful lights, special effects, loud music, and an informal dress code in order to explore Christianity. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a church adjusting its ways for the sake of attracting the lost. What’s not okay is when a church changes its Biblical principles and policies to comply with what the world deems acceptable.

Although God does not change, America’s acceptance of sin has significantly shifted over time. I was taught both at church and at home, during my formative years, living together before marriage was a sin. And homosexuality was practically unheard of, at least to this guy, when I was an adolescent. I was introduced to the subject of homosexuality while watching the late 70s to early 80s sitcom, Three’s Company, although John Ritter’s extremely entertaining portrayal of Jack Tripper wasn’t all that authentic since the Jack character was only pretending to be gay so he could live in the same apartment with two women, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow (ahhh…Chrissy Snow). The threesome’s living arrangement was strictly platonic, but their landlord would not believe such a scenario, and he was not about to allow unmarried people of the opposite sex live together under one roof because he knew it was morally wrong; hence, the reason for the trio’s charade.

Today, shacking up without a marriage license is no longer frowned upon in most circles. Unsurprisingly, due to the times we’re living in, numerous talk show hosts and countless so-called experts even encourage this sort of behavior. These Hollywood types suggest prematurely living together, a trial run if you will, as a way to see if marriage may be right for them…some time in the future. And homosexuality is now frequently celebrated in this country, and transgender people are regularly regarded as heroes and role models. Apparently, a majority of the United States no longer has a problem with abnormal sexuality, but I’m confident my God does not approve of any sin regardless of whether or not society decides to give its hearty endorsement. “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1st Corinthians 3:19).

I wonder why it is that our minds usually go straight to sexual immorality when pondering sin? I suppose it’s because “Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1st Corinthians 6:18). Sin is really just being apart from God. We are all guilty of this at times, but it becomes a serious problem when one chooses to remain apart from Him for a prolonged period of time. God certainly continues to love the sexually immoral just as He continues loving those who are envious, liars, murderers, and thieves. However, He surely is sorely disappointed since that’s not His best for any of His children.

Many things change – in one’s life – in one’s country – throughout the world – throughout history – but I believe God does not. I’m pretty sure our Maker is exactly the same in the year 2017 as He was when Adam and Eve strolled through the Garden of Eden. God will always be who He is. God will always do what He does. If He ever did change, His truths and therefore His promises would be worthless. Thankfully, the Bible contains several passages of Scripture that assures us He does not change.


Thus Far

I’d give President Donald Trump a letter grade of a B, thus far. Our 45th President of the United States is already honoring some of the promises he made during his campaign by way of executive orders. Of course, executive orders are the lazy man’s way of implementing change, and they’re only worth about as much as the paper they’re printed on once the president who signed them leaves office. Many presidents from both major political parties have gone solo numerous times during their presidencies, but I’m certainly not a fan of the common practice. It’s simply too easy to undo something the prior president enacted, with one fell swoop of a pen, which is precisely what President Trump has been doing to some of former President Barack Obama’s executive orders.

One such order is in regard to Trump’s differing stance than that of Obama’s concerning illegal immigration. The Donald (is it okay to still call him that?) is making good on his promise to “build the wall.” I’m actually no longer too concerned about building a wall because most of the damage has already been done. Droves of illegal immigrants have already established themselves in this country, during the last several years, and I believe the number of illegals crossing our nation’s Southern border these days is minimal. Many critics have scoffed at the President’s statement that Mexico will be paying for our border security. Obviously, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will not be handing President Trump a check for the project (Nieto has said as much), but I do think somehow, whether through tariffs or future negotiations, Mexico may very well be paying for the wall.

I’m totally on board with Trump’s decision to come down hard on “sanctuary cities.” Miscreants should not be granted immunity just for finding a place where the overseers have no respect for their country’s statutes. Those government officials who refuse to uphold the laws of the land should be held accountable for their actions. The likes of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray should suffer any and all consequences for not complying with the President’s executive order. This includes slashing federal funding for their cities, and I would even suggest a little jail time for the mayors’ blatant disregard for authority.

Another executive order President Trump recently signed was to expedite the review process of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Sound familiar? Probably because it has been in the news off and on – like forever. The shovel-ready jobs were desperately needed during the early stages of the Great Recession, but former President Obama “needed” over 6 years to review the process before ultimately deciding to reject the planned fourth phase of the pipeline project. Those jobs aren’t needed near as much now as they were back then, but they’re jobs nonetheless.

I also agree with Trump’s executive order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He’s definitely not alone in his thinking on this issue. Even two of his political nemeses, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have been very vocal about opposing the trade agreement which includes eleven other countries. The TPP was supported by former President Barack Obama and by Hillary Clinton as well, but many on both sides of the aisle view the proposal as more beneficial to the other countries involved than to the United States. I understand that President Trump’s newest tagline is mostly political rhetoric, but I have no problem with “America First” whatsoever.

I might have given President Trump a higher mark if it weren’t for his continued, and unsubstantiated, accusations of voter fraud in this country. Just this week our 45th President boldly declared he probably would’ve won the presidential election’s popular vote (he won the electoral vote) if it weren’t for the numerous fraudulent ballots cast by illegal immigrants and even deceased people in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. I’m sure some illegal votes were cast, but Trump estimates the number to be somewhere between 3 and 5 million. Come on. Just another example of The Donald’s evident inability to think before he speaks. Many times I like his candidness, but at times it makes him look foolish. The President, like everyone else, should hold his tongue until all of the facts are in.

I’m also a bit leery of President Trump’s desire to fast track the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Republicans in Congress did not offer any alternative plans prior to the inception of Obamacare, and they did not even mention the word replace until the most recent election. I think to successfully repeal and replace the ACA will require sensibility and a delicate touch – not a willy-nilly, hurry-up approach just to appease those who want Obamacare instantly dismantled. The fact is there are millions of people who have purchased health insurance for the first time because of the ACA and whom are very appreciative for being able to do so.

It’s no secret that I’ve been a proponent of the Affordable Care act since day one. My lovely wife and I have benefited immensely by choosing health insurance through the ACA Marketplace; We finally have very good coverage at a very affordable rate. Until the implementation of Obamacare the missus and I had consistently paid good money, for decades mind you, for crappy health insurance. I think good, affordable health care should be a right of every American citizen.

However, we’ve also witnessed firsthand this year the apparent implosion of the government-run program. In the state of Arizona, the number of insurers participating in the ACA Marketplace dropped from a robust 12 companies last year to a measly 1 for 2017. By the way, having only one choice is really no choice at all. Something surely needs to be done about our current healthcare system, but I hope (and pray) our elected officials will compromise enough to get it right this time. President Trump’s future grade depends on it. There’s a long way to go in Trump’s presidency, but our 45th President of the United States is doing a commendable job…thus far.


The Problem With Statistics

Statistically speaking, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, just won the 2016 presidential election. She received the majority of the popular vote. Statistically speaking, and in reality, Donald Trump won last week’s election because in the United States we have this thing called the Electoral College, and the billionaire businessman garnered more than enough electoral votes to claim victory. Both Clinton and Trump “won” this year’s presidential election, and therein lies the problem with statistics. They don’t always tell the whole story. We all know only one person was truly victorious and will soon get to occupy the Oval Office as our new Commander in Chief.

I was kind of expecting Hillary to win the 2016 presidential election, but I certainly wasn’t shocked, or even that surprised, when The Donald came away with the victory. There’s been a lot of speculation as to why Clinton lost the election: Her base was much less enthusiastic than Obama’s was in 2008 and 2012; She was an establishment candidate in an election year primed for an “outsider” to win; And those darn e-mails. I think the Democratic nominee’s loss had more to do with the frequently mentioned, but rarely discussed, 10% of undecided voters. Again, it’s about the statistics. However, neither the pollsters, nor the so-called experts, seemed overly concerned with taking the time to consider what impact the number of estimated undecided voters might have on election day.

To the contrary, I had given the undecided voters plenty of thought leading up to the election, and I had an inkling a good portion of the 10% probably weren’t really undecided. I had a difficult time believing there were still so many people, a couple of weeks before the election, who did not know which candidate they were going to cast a ballot for…or against. I assumed a majority of the “undecided” were closet Trump fans whom most-likely feared the backlash that typically comes with revealing such a thing. Admittedly, I was a tad surprised Trump won the electoral vote, and Clinton secured the popular vote. I had a sense it was going to be the other way around.

By the way, I adamantly oppose electing our nation’s leader via the Electoral College. I felt this way long before the 2016 election, and my sentiments on the subject have not changed. I’m sure the Democrats aren’t too pleased with the system either after losing two out of the last five elections only because of the Electoral College. (Maybe the system is rigged after all.) The current presidential election process just doesn’t seem fair, but that is the system we honor at this time, so there’s no use in complaining. Now back to the topic at hand. Statistics are subjective at best. Many times stats are not only misleading, but they’re purposely distorted in an attempt to provoke us or to “prove” a reporter’s weak point.

For example, since Trump’s victory the media has routinely been using the phrase “a nation divided” when referring to the sparse protests around the country. I think the word divided falsely gives the impression that half of America’s population has taken to the streets. Of course, that is far from accurate. In reality, only a few thousand people, out of approximately 319 million people nationwide, are publically protesting the soon-to-be 45th President of the United States. The number of protesters is microscopic and is a far cry from “a nation divided.” Once again, our trusted media seems willing to attain a story at the expense of the truth.

I never used to be so cynical concerning the media, but I’ve been finding more and more evidence that (like many of our politicians) our mainstream media specializes in false claims, half truths, and out and out lies. Often times statistics are used to give credence to such blatant dishonesty, but the data doesn’t mean much when it’s obviously skewed. I’ve also discovered that many articles appear harmless on the surface, but after further exploration they are found to be steeped in bias and fail to give an entirely accurate depiction of the real story. I think the mother of all dishonest reporting is when a journalist uses both slanted statistics and deceptive headlines when trying to “prove” their feeble point.

For instance, last month I could not help but notice a story in The Arizona Republic (Oct. 6th, 2016). I was curious about the enlarged words and accompanying statistics, directly beneath the headline, more so than the headline itself. I might’ve skipped the article on corporal punishment in schools, but I was so dumbfounded by the sobering stats that were listed. I couldn’t believe I was reading “African-American children in a few southern school districts about 50% more likely than white students to be smacked or paddled by a school worker.” I was even more flabbergasted when reading that in some of those school districts “black children are more than 500%, or five times as likely, to be spanked or paddled.”

I thought how unfair. How can that possibly be? Maybe there is something to all the recent chatter regarding Black oppression. I don’t know how anyone could read those words and not conclude that that’s racial discrimination. But wait. About midway through the story, in much smaller print, the reporter includes a quote from the leader of the corporal punishment study, Elizabeth Gershoff. The researcher said, “The higher prevalence of corporal punishment for black students doesn’t necessarily imply discrimination within schools or classrooms. In many of these districts black students – and presumably black educators – are in the majority.”

So, in a few southern school districts Black teachers are spanking Black children, yet the eye-catching words and statistics of the article certainly implied something entirely different. The story was about corporal punishment in schools, but the writer seemed determined to make it about race. Now more than ever statistics are being used haphazardly, irresponsibly, and even dangerously. During the campaign season we were reminded that statistically there are predominantly more Blacks incarcerated in this country than Whites even though Whites greatly outnumber Blacks. So? Stats also show there are significantly more Blacks playing in the NBA than Whites. Again, so? Not everything has to be 50/50 in order to be fair. I no longer put much stock in statistics because they rarely tell the whole story.