Tag Archives: Trans-Pacific Partnership

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 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!