Tag Archives: Donald Trump

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.


The 2016 Election

Surely, you must have seen this coming. You didn’t think I’d let this year’s presidential election pass by without offering at least a few words on the subject…did you? It probably would’ve been better, for our peace of mind and our health in general, if we all would’ve just paid less attention to the campaigns that have seemingly been going on forever. I once had a boss who would periodically say, “If you ignore a problem long enough…it just might go away.” Maybe not the soundest advice, but every so often his words rang true.

Unfortunately, there’s been way too much, and at times extremely biased and senseless, media coverage concerning the 2016 presidential race to just ignore. We’ve been undeservedly subjected to whining, bickering, mocking, false claims, half truths, and out and out lies for the past year and a half. Finally, the end is in sight. To clarify, only the days of our answering machines filling up with unsolicited political endorsements, our mailboxes overflowing with umpteen unwanted slick mailers recommending even slicker politicians, and our days of being bombarded with those nasty television commercials are almost over. However, the arguing, finger pointing, and political rhetoric will never end. It’s simply unavoidable with America’s two-party system firmly in place.

It’s still so surreal, and quite baffling, knowing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the two remaining candidates we’re left with. I’m well aware there will be other choices for president on the ballot, but they have absolutely no chance (zero, zip, nada) of winning a 4-year stay at the White House. It’s been reported numerous times that Trump and Clinton hold the highest unfavorable ratings ever as nominees of their respective parties. The 2016 presidential election is apparently about electing who we despise the least. I’m not here to offer an endorsement, or attempt to change anyone’s mind (not that it would do any good), but I would like to offer a few observations concerning this year’s election.

I haven’t met anyone who is totally on board with either Trump or Clinton. I know those people must exist because I’ve seen them on television, but I’ve discovered firsthand that most supporters tend to be more anti-Trump or anti-Clinton rather than pro-Trump or pro-Clinton. I also recognize I fit into one of those anti categories. I’ve been sporting a “Nobody For President” t-shirt (thank you Kohl’s) during the last few months, and I have received numerous compliments from passersby. An evening at the Arizona State Fair alone produced no fewer than 30 fairgoers concurring with my 100% cotton statement. It was quite refreshing seeing Blacks, Whites, Latinos, both men and women, and the young and old alike in agreement with one another on something. My t-shirt, albeit not the most positive of messages, has been a reminder that we’re all in this together.

I was all set to use this space to assure everyone the 2016 presidential election is not rigged, but then I looked up the meaning of the adjective Donald Trump has been using on a regular basis, and I must admit he is not wrong. Prior to expanding my knowledge through Wikipedia, I thought The Donald was only suggesting that even if he won the election he would still somehow lose due to some sort of corruption behind the scenes. If that’s truly what Trump thinks then I would have to strongly disagree. However, the word rigged does mean manipulated, distorted, and misrepresented. I think many in the media have been guilty of all those things; hence, a rigged election. Sometimes there have been isolated incidents of voter fraud during an election cycle, but I don’t think that’s germane to what’s been going on these past couple of months.

I do believe this year’s presidential election has been skewed (I like that word better) for a long time now. The resistance to a Trump presidency began on August 6th, 2015, during the first Republican debate, with Megyn Kelly’s initial question for Trump. Actually, it really wasn’t much of a question – it was more of an attack and an assortment of accusations. (I think we all know by now how The Donald responds whenever he’s attacked.) The pushback to Trump occupying the Oval Office has been relentless ever since. I cannot think of any other time in America’s history when droves of respected members from one political party defected to support the opposing party’s candidate.

In addition, for the first time in its 34-year existence, USA Today decided to “endorse” a presidential candidate – NOT Trump! The “pile on” continues. I suppose the overwhelming resistance to a Trump presidency makes perfect sense because The Donald is not your typical Republican. In fact, some might even suggest the American businessman is a RINO (Republican In Name Only). That might explain why the ultra-conservative Mitt Romney initiated the Never Trump movement. There’s no denying Trump has endured a skewed election like no other (some deserved, but some not).

What’s surprising to me is how much Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders seem to have in common, yet supposedly the majority of Sanders’ supporters are now in the Clinton camp (although some reluctantly) at the former presidential candidate’s urging. Both Trump and Sanders are “outsiders.” Senator Sanders has somehow managed to represent the state of Vermont as an Independent (instead of as part of the establishment), and Donald Trump is certainly no politician. The “odd couple” frequently speak out against corporate lobbyists and special interest groups. Both Trump and Sanders tend to take a non-interventionist approach regarding foreign policy which happens to differ from Hillary Clinton’s stance. Yes, Trump blathered about “bombing the s**t out of ISIS,” but Clinton has hinted at declaring war against Syria. Those are two entirely different things.

Trump and Sanders were against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from the beginning. The pair consistently link the TPP to NAFTA and insist the proposed agreement would only further the outsourcing of American jobs and hurt our economy. Hillary praised the TPP while acting as Secretary of State in President Obama’s administration, but she has since come out against the trade agreement as well. However, some political insiders, including Eleanor Clift: a liberal panelist from sadly the now defunct The McLaughlin Group, believe Clinton may secretly still be in favor of the TPP. I guess only time will tell.

Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have recently voiced their opposition to the possible merger of AT&T and Time Warner. I’m not too familiar with the specifics of the planned merger, but once again the real estate mogul and the Larry David look-alike appear to be of the same mind on this particular issue. Meanwhile, Clinton has taken a position of neutrality by only saying the AT&T-Time Warner merger “raises questions and concerns and they should be looked into.” It’s a little difficult, at least for me, to understand why any Sanders supporter would completely loathe Trump when some of the odd couple’s reasoning and proposed policies are identical. Likewise, I don’t know how any Trump supporter can dislike everything about Sanders. There are definitely some conflicting views between Trump and Sanders, but it sure would be nice if occasionally someone from one political party would publicly acknowledge when he is in agreement with someone from another party. I reckon that’s just asking too much in this day and age.

I assume lots of people will go to the polls this year with an angry us versus them mentality, and that’s disappointing, but at least they’ll be exercising their right to vote. I think if we’d all take a closer look then we’d see that the majority of candidates are more alike than we are usually willing to admit, and by acknowledging that maybe we’d have less vitriol in this country during election cycles. Some people will vote their party while others will vote their conscience. Some will go to the polls very concerned about possible Supreme Court Justice nominations while others will be more interested in a candidate’s proposed policies. I do think not voting though, when a person favors one candidate over another (even if it’s ever so slightly), in actuality aids in the success of the less liked candidate.

This past Sunday, my pastor said he needed to say a few words about the upcoming election. I must confess I cringed at first because I’ve witnessed pastors overstepping from the pulpit before, but then I quickly remembered – this is Pastor Brad. Our leader began by telling the congregation that Copper Hills is an apolitical church. He then acknowledged his flock included both Democrats and Republicans who are equally passionate about their candidates. Pastor Brad then said we should vote. He and his family moved here from Canada several years ago, eventually becoming American citizens, so he cherishes his right to vote and believes the rest of us should as well.

Pastor Brad also stressed the importance of praying for our elected officials at all levels of government whether we agree with their agendas or not. The Bible tells us to do so. The Apostle Paul doesn’t halfheartedly suggest Christians pray for their leaders – he practically commands it (1st Timothy 2: 1-3). Pastor Brad finished relaying what was laid upon his heart by assuring his congregation that regardless of how the November 8th election turns out, “God’s got this.” Those three words are always a comfort to me. Before, during, and after the 2016 presidential election…God’s got this!

I’m Exhausted

I was sitting in church yesterday when I first learned of the tragedy that had occurred in Florida only a few hours earlier. My pastor began the service by partially apprising his congregation of the sobering facts of what had happened. He told us 50 people were dead and another 53 were injured due to a senseless, one-man attack in Orlando. Pastor Brad did not talk about motives, offer any theories or opinions, or even mention that the shooting took place at a gay nightclub. (Unfortunately, I think there are some “Christians” who aren’t too concerned with what transpired over the weekend since assumingly those who perished were homosexuals. Those are not the type of “Christians” I identify with.)

Pastor Brad just said that every life lost mattered to God, and every victim was somebody’s loved one. He then led us in a heartfelt prayer for the victims, their families, and the city of Orlando. Later on, when Pastor Brad was about midway through his sermon, I noticed my mind had wandered. I also felt exhausted. Don’t get me wrong – my pastor is not boring whatsoever (he’s a wonderful teacher) – but I had been brooding over what was surely to come in the aftermath of Sunday’s disastrous event.

After arriving home I turned on the television, and as predicted the news coverage of the morning’s tragedy was fraught with moronic opinions, laying blame, and partisan politicizing. The first thing I was subjected to were written statements, read by a news reporter, from presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and Senator Bernie Sanders. Hillary, of course, just had to mention her desire for stricter gun control as part of her statement. I don’t disagree with that, but we already know her stance on that issue. We also know the Republicans will counter with their typical response insisting that if everyone in the nightclub would’ve been armed then this latest tragic event most-likely would not have happened or at least it wouldn’t have been so severe. Constant political rhetoric, without adding anything new, is exhausting to me.

The news correspondent then read a tweet from presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, which said, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” For some reason the reporter took offense to the word, “congrats,” appearing in the tweet, but I’m not sure why. The Donald was obviously responding to someone else’s tweet to him, and he did say he didn’t want congrats. In addition, the biased news correspondent failed to mention Trump’s initial tweet which read, “Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?” Those against Donald Trump have been grasping at anything and everything, ever since he participated in the first Republican debate on FOX News, in attempting to bring down the billionaire businessman.

The same Trump haters who claim The Donald has offended all people of Mexican descent, and who emphatically and continuously make their unflattering thoughts of him publically known, just so happen to be the exact haters who can’t (or refuse to) understand why Trump might be a bit worried about an American-Mexican judging him in a court of law. Trump haters surely cannot have it both ways. I’m not convinced Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the justice presiding over the Trump University lawsuits, won’t be able to properly do his job without prejudice towards Donald Trump, but the possibility does exist. Judge Curiel would have to be a shallow individual to allow Trump’s stance on illegal immigration to interfere with his rulings.

I would like to believe that every justice throughout the history of our judicial system judged every case before them fairly and unbiased, but I’m afraid that’s nothing but a chimera. We need not look any further than to our Supreme Court Justices, and the empty seat left open with the passing of Antonin Scalia, to realize not all judges are completely impartial in regards to the law. Why else would the Democrats want to fill Scalia’s seat now, but the Republicans are perfectly content waiting (some might even say stalling) until after November’s presidential election? Could it be there’s a difference in the way a liberal judge may view a case as opposed to the way a conservative justice may handle the identical case? In a perfect world one’s political affiliation would have absolutely nothing to do with the way one presides over a legal matter.

Now back to Trump for a moment. Defending Donald Trump has become somewhat of a hobby of mine. Not because I’m in love with the guy but because so many people, especially in the media, simply don’t acknowledge the truth. They don’t care for his brashness, and are appalled by his narcissistic attitude, so they scrutinize every move he makes and embellish whatever he says. I’m not a fan of Trump’s personality either, yet with an open mind I’m able to comprehend the gist of what he’s actually saying. Defending Donald Trump can be exhausting at times, but I think someone needs to hold Trump’s critics accountable when they’re wrong.

Although I think political posturing is mainly nonsense, especially during times of tragedy, I did surprisingly appreciate what former presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, had to say at a press conference yesterday afternoon. The Florida Senator began by acknowledging that what took place on Sunday could’ve happened anywhere in the world, but it must’ve been his state’s turn. He then had a message for terrorists and a message of unity for our country. Senator Rubio eloquently said, “They won’t terrorize Floridians, that we stand for and with all Americans, irrespective of sexual orientation, irrespective of their party ideology, irrespective of where they live.” Sounds quite “presidential” to me, for what it’s worth.

I imagine the investigation of Sunday’s horrific event is far from over. Many things will need to be discussed, and I assume a few improvements to our national security may need to be authorized, to make our country safer. There certainly are some legitimate questions that’ll need to be answered sooner or later. For example, how can someone who’s been interrogated by the FBI on three separate occasions (twice in 2013 and once in 2014) have clearance to legally purchase an assault weapon? However, now is the time for mourning and personal reflection…not partisan politics and taking advantage of the grave situation. We are a great nation, but we need to be better.

Living in America can be incredibly tiresome if one watches TV or reads the newspaper. The daily doses of bickering, name-calling, half truths, biased reporting, and partisanship is almost too much for me to bear. It seems as though a great magnitude of people residing in the United States have a self-absorbed, warped sense of righteousness: an “I’m always right and you’re always wrong” mentality. The constant sparring of the media vs. Trump, the gun-rights supporters vs. the gun control advocates, the LGBT community vs. social conservatives, and the Democrats vs. the Republicans is more than enough to fill the ugliest of fight cards. Sadly, the majority of these people are not about to entertain the idea that there may be another side to the story. They also tend to think compromise is not for them. Shame! I’m gonna go take a nap. I’m exhausted.

Why All The Hubbub?

Why all the hubbub concerning Donald Trump’s seemingly successful bid to become the Republican Party’s nominee for the next president of the United States? Let me preface the following discussion by conveying I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I simply cast my ballot for whoever I think is the best person for the job. I seek out the candidates whose stances on the issues most resemble mine although I’ve yet to find anyone whose platform I have entirely agreed with (and I probably never will). I am certainly not a single issue voter because I find taking that approach to be very narrow-minded. A candidate’s race, religion, sexual preference, and even their demeanor has no bearing on whom I choose to support so long as we’re like-minded on most of the issues.

The presidential campaigns have been in full swing for several months now, but all of a sudden a Donald Trump presidency has been singled out, by the media and oddly enough by several influential Republican leaders, as being the worse thing that can happen to this country. Some argue that the Grand Old Party’s frontrunner is not “presidential” enough. I don’t even know what that means. We really don’t have to look too far back to discern the contrast of personalities amongst past presidents. Republicans currently denouncing The Donald with scare tactics and threatening to oust him at the upcoming Republican National Convention, if indeed he still leads with the majority of earned delegates, makes no sense to me and is downright shameful. By all means, question Trump on the issues, and dislike his brash personality if so inclined, but don’t turn your backs on the millions of voters in your own party who are unimpressed with the GOP’s status quo.

I’m aware Donald Trump has been loud, arrogant, and at times downright rude during his campaign, but he’s also proven to be straightforward and unwilling to pander to special interest groups. Trump has been accused by some Republicans as being more aligned with the Democrats. As an Independent, moderate, centrist, or whatever one wishes to call me, I immediately take notice when candidates are accused, by their own political party, of not being Republican enough or not being Democrat enough. To me, this implies those being ostracized would most-likely be willing to work with their nemesis across the aisle to get things done if they were elected. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with compromising for the good of the country. Unfortunately, that concept was set aside when the Tea Party entered the political scene in 2009.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. Donald Trump may or may not have tiny hands, and he may or may not be a racist. It’s all relative. The size of Trump’s hands is a senseless debate, and only God knows what’s truly in a man’s heart. Proposing to temporarily halt Muslims from coming to America, for security reasons, or wanting to stop the influx of illegal immigration does not make one a racial bigot. Then there’s all the hubbub over former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, endorsing (not funding) Trump’s campaign. I know if I was running for office I would not discourage anyone from casting their ballot for me. If a former Klansman wants to support me that’s fine; however, that surely doesn’t mean I agree with his views.

Labeling a person as racist has become all too prevalent in today’s society and in many cases is inaccurate. I would think if Donald Trump was really a racist, or a sexist for that matter, there’d be at least one person from his countless business dealings who would’ve come forward by now and said as much. I presume The Donald has cordially dealt with more than just White males during his extensive business career. I seriously doubt his public persona (as seen on our television screens) is even close to how he actually conducts himself during important negotiations behind closed doors. What you see is not always what you get.

Donald Trump is also being blamed for breaking up the Republican Party, but it was already significantly fractured. The GOP lost its identity – you guessed it – when the Tea Party invaded Washington. It may seem as though I’m a Trump supporter, but I’m not (not yet anyway…not until John Kasich formally bows out of the race). I’m not excited about a Trump presidency, but I’m sure it would not be as dire as some would have us believe. There are at least three other candidates currently vying for the Oval Office that I’m more leery of than The Donald. Regardless of who the next president of the United States is I know ultimately God is in control, so I’m not worried about all the hubbub concerning Donald Trump.

A Positive message

With all of the negative rhetoric running rampant in this great country of ours, especially amongst the presidential hopefuls for 2016, I thought it would be refreshing to write something with a positive message. Therefore, I’m not about to mention the ludicrous protesting happening (again) in Ferguson, Missouri. It makes no sense to me why anyone would be against law enforcement protecting law-abiding citizens from people like Michael Brown. Instead, those protesting insist on honoring the deceased delinquent. What’s even worse is combining all White police officer shootings of Black men into one neat little package. Each incident is entirely separate from the others and deserves the respect of being thought of as such. Regardless, all lives matter, yet there are sometimes dire consequences awaiting those who choose to participate in robbery and resisting arrest.

In remaining positive, I also won’t divulge the fact that Donald Trump is constantly applauded as a “self-made” successful businessman, but in reality he came out of his mother’s womb a millionaire, and he has since owned four businesses that have gone bankrupt. Although there’s something to dislike about every candidate, vying for the presidency of the United States of America, I’ll attempt to solely focus on what I actually like about them. Of course, there’s at least one possible foreseeable problem with that; what I might choose to offer as a compliment may indeed be the exact thing someone else despises about the presidential hopeful. However, this blog is about me remaining positive. If a candidate isn’t even mentioned in this piece…I’m sure that speaks volumes as to what I must think of them.

Donald Trump says he’s in favor of repealing America’s birthright citizenship policy. I agree. I’ve been against rewarding newborns (of illegal immigrants) the automatic right to U.S. citizenship, simply because they were born here, for a very long time. I am also on the same page as Mr. Trump when it comes to his disdain for America’s incessant pursuit of political correctness. The Donald made headlines recently (what’s new?) after responding to a tasteless line of questioning, apparently in a politically incorrect manner, during the first Republican debate for 2016. The business mogul absolutely was singled out and attacked by Fox News commentator, Megyn Kelly, so I say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I’m not about to disagree with Trump’s unflattering comments about Rosie O’Donnell either. I’ve heard the former co-host of The View publically berate and belittle him, as well as many others, so I’m fairly unsympathetic when people tend to treat her in the same fashion.

Similarly, Kelly Osbourne was recently lambasted, while guest-hosting on The View, after she said what many perceived as being a politically incorrect statement. The irony is Ms. Osbourne was trying to put Donald Trump in his place, concerning his take on our nation’s illegal immigration problem, when she blurted, “If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?” I’m not a fan of Kelly Osbourne whatsoever, but I think her comment was totally correct. Every “day laborer” I’ve ever seen, at least in Arizona, has appeared to be of Hispanic descent. The majority of housekeepers in hotels, all across the United States, seem to be of the Latina persuasion as well.

It’s apparent to me many illegal immigrants are content working America’s less than glamorous occupations, at extremely low wages, just as long as they have the opportunity to continue living in this country. My point is I strongly doubt if Mr. Trump could find a White, legal citizen to clean his toilet unless he’s willing to pay a decent wage. People simply need to lighten up and cut Ms. Osbourne some slack. The other thing I appreciate about Donald Trump is due to his immense wealth he doesn’t have to pander to special interest groups to run a legitimate campaign. The Donald is his own special interest. Oops…I forgot…maybe that last comment wasn’t too positive.

Dr. Ben Carson has said he is not a fan of political correctness either. I admire his candidness, and I relish the fact he’s not a seasoned politician. Dr. Carson also boldly refutes the theory of evolution which is my sentiment exactly. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both have been defending Planned Parenthood recently in the wake of the “scandal” involving the family planning center. Videos have surfaced of Planned Parenthood personnel discussing, in a nonchalant manner, the harvesting of babies’ body parts. At a time when most of the other candidates are threatening to defund the agency’s clinics, across the entire nation, Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton are commending the organization’s existence. The released videos are definitely unfortunate, and maybe the government could reduce the institution’s annual funding a bit, but I think Planned Parenthood is a vital agency especially for the younger generation.

I know I was thankful for the family planning center, in the mid-eighties, when I was dating my girlfriend (aka lovely wife) and even after we got married. Fortunately, we were allowed to obtain birth control without parental consent. Who wants to hear their parents’ lectures (or worse yet – them saying no) when a young couple thinks they’re doing the right thing? After our wedding we were able to continue purchasing birth control from Planned Parenthood at an affordable rate. The clinic enabled my wife and I to responsibly start a family when we were certain we could afford raising a child without any financial assistance.

Hillary Clinton has a reputation of reaching across the aisle to get things done. The same can be said of Jeb Bush although probably not to the extent of some other compromising Republicans namely John Kasich and Chris Christie. I’m an avid supporter of bipartisanship, so I have high regard for anybody who’s willing to negotiate, with the other party, to do what’s best for the United States. Mr. Bush, believe it or not, has sometimes been criticized, by members of his own party, for being too liberal. I admire how the former Governor of Florida dismantled affirmative action in his state. I also fancy how he’s a proponent of “three-strike” laws. I believe if a lawbreaker hasn’t learned to abide by society’s rules after already being convicted of two felonies then the miscreant will most-likely never learn. Therefore, repeat offenders should be subjected to harsher sentencing, on their third strike, and kept isolated from law-abiding citizens.

Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee both seem to have a major problem with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Mr. Paul desires to, at the very least, minimize the government agency, and Mr. Huckabee insists the stressful annual event, of filing tax returns, could easily be simplified. Both candidates are in favor of dismantling the IRS and implementing a fairer tax system. Mike Huckabee envisions a new tax system where all tax returns could effortlessly be completed and returned on a standard postcard. That sounds phenomenal to a guy who spends an enormous amount of time each year sifting through numerous tax forms. Rand Paul wants to eliminate foreign aid, and his non-interventionist attitude relating to war definitely tugs at my heartstrings.

Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker are adamantly opposed to transgenders serving in the United States Armed Forces. I would assume our nation’s military is busy enough without having to be inconvenienced with figuring out how to make a confusing situation (both literally and figuratively) like that comfortable for all concerned. I wish the former “Don’t ask, don’t tell” U.S. policy, instituted by the Clinton Administration in 1994, was still in effect today. I have no problem with homosexuals serving, but I don’t think their sexual preference needs to be identified nor celebrated.

I found out, while researching the presidential hopefuls’ positions, that Mr. Walker returned $60,000. of his annual salary, each year for many years, when he was a Milwaukee county executive. It was a promise he made to his constituents when he first ran for the elected position. He did so because he had previously been an outspoken critic of the pay level for county jobs. I commend the Wisconsin Governor for keeping his selfless campaign promise. Governor Walker and the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, have their fondness for the old Patriot Act in common.

The Patriot Act was signed into law by George W. Bush in 2001; however, a key provision of the law that allowed for unlimited access to collected phone data (in essence spying), by the National Security Agency (NSA), was sadly buried in June of this year. The three of us would like to see Section 215 of the Patriot Act resurrected for the sake of America’s national security. To the contrary, Mr. Christie and I dislike famed hacker and traitor, Edward Snowden, for his cunning ways. Hacking into our government’s files and releasing private information is unacceptable under any circumstance. Another thing I like about Governor Christie is that he distinctively advocates for Social Security and Medicare “means testing.” That simply means if people do not need the money they’re receiving, from the entitlement programs, then they should stop accepting the benefits.

Martin O’Malley has a novel idea as well. The Democrat would like to see the Electoral College abolished. I too am in favor of our country’s president being determined by the popular vote instead. I’ve never understood why one person’s vote should be more important than another person’s vote, yet that’s the type of inequality the Electoral College election process promotes. Mr. O’Malley not only has a fine Irish name, but the former Governor of Maryland has stated he “proudly” holds an F rating from the National Rifle Association of America (NRA). I can’t help but fancy his sense of humor.

There you have it: a thorough synopsis of the things I like about many of the candidates who are hoping to occupy the Oval Office in early 2017. It wasn’t all that simple either. However, it’s refreshing to know there are others out there who actually think the same way as I do about certain things. I’m quite aware I offer a glimpse of where I stand, on an array of issues, when revealing all of the aforementioned candidates’ viewpoints I truly respect. I’m proud to be an Independent voter. I’m about the person – not their political affiliation. I’m James McCleary, and I approve this positive message.