Following The Law

If we were only all law abiding people, then the concept of lawmaking would eliminate all undesired behavior.

That opening sentence could apply to numerous issues but what prompted me to write today was the separation of kids from their parents at our border with Mexico.

Apparently,  under the Trump administration, adults who are entering the United States illegally by crossing over from Mexico without following the legal procedures are being arrested and any minor children are being sent somewhere else, (other than where the parents are sent).

This is because the parents are breaking the law by entering the country illegally.  While the kids are also entering illegally, they are not adults and are not charged as adults for doing the same thing.

This is the what happens if you break the law in our country.  Depending on the severity of the crime, you risk being locked up waiting for the next step in the judicial system.

If you drive drunk and are pulled over, you can get arrested and spend the night in jail.  If your kids are with you in the car, the police do not lock them up too.  That is not the way the laws are written in this country.  Your kids will need to be picked up by a responsible adult or they will go into the system that is there to take care of them since you have been placed in jail for breaking the law.

This is what is going on at the Mexican/U.S. border.  Enforcement of this law that has been on the books for a long time.  It is not a new law that the Trump administration  is now enforcing.  It’s just that they are now enforcing it.

Previous administrations did other things.  They decided to not enforce these laws or to have more leniency.

Donald Trump campaigned on being a law and order President and he is fulfilling that promise in this manner.  Critics are right, it seems heartless to separate families like this.

But let me ask you, should kids who are riding with their drunk parents when mom or dad get arrested be put in the same jail cell as their parents?  Of course not, you say.

Why now? Why are we enforcing this law of arresting people who enter our country illegally?  The real question is why were we not enforcing this law before?

I see this as Tough Love in action.  As a parent, I had to do some things that broke my heart because my kids were stubbornly refusing to obey.  As an adult, I kicked one of my grown kids out of my house when they continued to break rules and lie about it.

That wasn’t the final event that helped that kid of mine change their life around, but they knew that Dad wasn’t going to be played anymore.   And as a result, I have great loving relationships with all my kids, based on mutual respect.

Before we started enforcing this law and arresting adults who came here illegally, we attempted to be kind by setting up temporary shelters for them and their kids.  It didn’t stop them from breaking the law, it actually created an incentive for them to risk their lives to cross into the United States.

There is a solution.  Don’t come to the United States illegally.  Do it legally.  It’s not easy. But people do it legally and don’t have to hide in the shadows fearing the consequences of being here illegally.

If Mexico is willing to have people travel from other Central American countries, thru Mexico to seek refuge in the U.S. , then they can set up refuge camps on the Mexican side of the border where people can live until they can enter legally.  Why is this not one of the solutions being offered?

Just like the drunk person getting behind the wheel is held responsible for their actions, so are the adults who are choosing to illegally gain entry into the United States.

I happen to have family who right now are living in a foreign country.  They took the steps to gain entry lawfully and they are only allowed to stay for a certain time period under the program they are under.  If they overstay or violate the rules that they agreed to follow, they can be arrested.  Kids could be separated from the parents.  I would have to get a passport and incur a bunch of expenses to bring the innocent grandkids home.

But they are not going to overstay their visa and all will be fine (Lord willing, as we say).

Yes, I have a heart for the innocents, but this time I side with the Tough Love approach the Trump Administration is using by enforcing current law.

Laws can be changed, but that is the role of Congress, not the President.

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What If It’s All True?

Swamplife. That’s the image of our Federal Government these days.  It’s not new, but Donald J. Trump rose from being an outsider to the President on the promise of draining “the swamp”.

In my adult lifetime, since the Reagan era, the legislative branch of our Federal Government approval rating has been less than 50% with the exception of 2001 which was most likely due to our coming together as a country after 9/11/2001.  

Was this the swamp that Trump was referring to?  Maybe.  But according to the right wing political people, it’s deeper than the elected officials.  Deeper as in a Deep State of un-elected bureaucrats, government employees and their associates inside and outside of government.

That is what is coming to a head today as the President calls for an investigation into the FBI to see if they planted a spy in his campaign.

I have been overwhelmed at times listening to the reporting of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh on the radio and also the likes of Rachel Maddow and others on MSNBC and CNN.

My media habits are a pretty balanced consumption of all of the above. During the day, if I am in my car, Rush is on from noon to 3pm and Sean is on from 6pm to 9pm.  I may hear a total of an hour per day of conservative talk during the week.  My wife is a big Rachel fan and often at 9pm, MSNBC is on before we Z-out.

As a critical thinker, I lean conservative.  But I also can see the benefit of certain liberal ideas, like Social Security and Medicare.   My wife who is nearly a decade older than me is a died in the wool liberal but honestly not a very critical thinker when it comes to all of this.  Emotion rules and the facts be damned with her.

The reason I bring up Social Security and Medicare is that my wife took early retirement payments of her Social Security benefits and when she became eligible for Medicare, I discovered she has better coverage than I do for health insurance.  Our out of pocket costs didn’t change much when I took her off my plan, but the Medicare options she has is much better than my health insurance when it comes to out of pocket costs (deductibles and co-pays).

The last couple of paragraphs were about me personally just so you could see my bias.

As a critical thinker and a former media personality and show-biz type, I understand and can easily recognize the hype and B.S. slinging that both the right and the left use in the media to appeal to their bases.  It’s real simple and here’s how it works:

Take a snippet of truth and blow it out of proportion and see how long you can make it an issue and talking point.  Blast those who question what you are saying with the #FakeNews label and see if you can keep it alive longer than the 24 hour news cycle.

Label everything as #BreakingNews until the public becomes numb or dumb and then keep doing this over and over and over again to keep your ratings up.

But back to my original question:

What If It’s All True?

Or what if there is swampland everywhere?

What if there is a deep state of actors that were doing there best to get Hillary Clinton elected as our 45th POTUS and when that didn’t happen, then they did plan B and that was to destroy any legitimacy (on all levels) of a Trump presidency?  That there really was an organized buddy system that connected the Clintons to a whole bunch of bad actions with their foundation and world leaders and “deep state actors” from other countries?   I listened to the audio version of Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump by Jerome R. Corsi a couple months ago and found it both tangible and confusing.  Confusing because you need a white board to connect all the dots of the people and their relationships with each other and like I mentioned, I was listening to the book, not reading and taking notes.

The idea behind the book and evidence mentioned include the mainstream news media as being not just compliant but active participants in a cover-up of wrong doings on the left.

On the opposite side, we have people like Rachel Maddow and her friends at MSNBC along with the New York Times and Washington Post who seem to be obsessed with dot connecting and second guessing to bring down the president.  A running joke on the Rachal Maddow show is that they will prepare all day for her hour long show, then in the hour before and sometimes during her TV show at 9pm, all that prep is pushed aside to make room for a new scoop.

Donald Trump himself has provided enough material every week for the left leaning reporters with his tweets as he attempts to circumvent the traditional media channels.

And I am afraid that President Trump has brought his own swamp creatures to Washington.  The Donald Trump businessman character has been operating in the same way he always has except his business tactics run against the way Washington operates.  Sometimes it works.  Actually more has been done than he’s given credit for and his unconventional methods (by Washington standards) are actually normal for a New York businessman with international dealings.

So is Rachel Maddow or Rush Limbaugh correct?  Where are the dirty dogs?  What if there is dirt on the left AND on the right?

The dirt on the left would be political and most likely tied to the Clintons and Obama.  The dirt on the right would be tied to business deals and the bevy of people that Trump brought on board who had dirty hands but were politically ignorant?

I think that Trump has been a disrupter and part of that is due to his lack of political experience and doing things in his usual Trump Businessman fashion which while not pretty seems to have worked for him in the business world.

I sincerely hope that the whole truth on both sides comes out and we can be better for it.

 

The Fix

After another school shooting, and watching the comments from all sides, I hope and pray that we can stop being political and aim for a fix.

Here’s a few things we know…

The death rate in the United States due to guns is alarming.  Highest in the civilized world. And while it is the mass shootings that gather attention, they are but a fraction of the deaths due to guns in our country.

Suicide is number one on the list.   That’s where mental health issues need to be considered.

You don’t kill yourself with a semi-automatic weapon.  But the solution to this problem is multifaceted.

This opinion piece in the New York Times declares that , “…liberal opposition to guns has often been ineffective, and sometimes counterproductive.”

It offers multiple ideas that if implemented can reduce deaths.

The political left is blaming the N. R. A. and the politicians that accept contributions from them.  That could be part of the problem.  Just like the political right blames Planned Parenthood and their lobbying efforts for millions of abortions.

But there has to be a non-political answer to all of this. No right thinking person on either side wants people to die because of a gun.

Our 2nd amendment simply states: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Some declare that this prohibits any and all laws regulating guns and weapons, yet we have plenty that have been endorsed by the courts over the years.

I believe, we need to look at the polices of the other civilized countries on our planet and see what they are doing that is keeping them safer than us.

If it means getting rid of all semi-automatic weapons, then so be it.  I have not seen an instance where someone armed with such a weapon was able to successfully protect his home, family or property in such a way that a weapon with smaller fire power wouldn’t have accomplished the same result.

There’s the argument that only the bad guys will have the bad-ass guns if we take them away from the law abiding citizens.

True, for awhile.  But as those guns are discovered and taken away (and destroyed) we will become safer over time.

Bear in mind that banning these powerful weapons will not reduce the suicide rate, since those gun deaths are not linked to these types of weapons.  But combined with other actions that are mentioned in this article, we can move forward.

You want to be bold and #MAGA Make America Great Again?  Then be bold and fight for the safety of those who need protection from such a terrible epidemic.

There is a fix.  Let’s get the people elected at all levels of government to get this done.

Now.

2018.

And every election after.

Until this is done with.

 

Broken, but Fixable

It was 17 years ago that while dating my wife, I started paying more attention to the political world.

Kathy is a staunch Democrat with a really big D.

My political leanings were Republican but not as strong as her leanings.

My parents voted mostly for Republicans as far as I know but not entirely.

They were used to thinking for themselves.

My Dad died in 1998 and didn’t have ready access to the internet.  Neither parents had cable TV.

They read the paper, watched the evening network news and talked with friends and neighbors face to face.  When I would drive into town, I knew that my Dad would be hanging out with his buddies at the donut shop on North Anthony around 11 in the morning.

That was before most of the coffee shops that we have now.  The donut shop is now a diner serving breakfast and lunch and across the street are two coffee shops including one that has been nicknamed my north office.

20 years ago, people talked to each other face to face or on the phone.  They took time to write letters that required postage and would take a day or two to arrive, not seconds like email.

I sometimes wonder what my folks would do in this world today if they were both alive and healthy.

The ability to watch a multitude of news programs, the advent of social media, these are items that have impacted our political world beyond most peoples imagination.

We are not going back to the days of a couple decades ago.

We live in the instant world.

For all the ability that the World Wide Web gives us to have access to truth and history and knowledge, few of us know stuff we should know.

An understanding of the powers of the three branches of our Federal government as laid out in the Constitution for example.  Instead I learned this month how to properly insert the SIM card in my phone.

History is one of my favorite subjects yet, I spend little time these days reading, watching or listening to the subjects I can find online, so I’m guilty too.

Broken but fixable was the title I wrote before I started this article and my original thought for that title has to do with both the government and the way we as citizens act.  It also applies to the news media world.

Let’s dig in:

The reason Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential election is due to the broken political system, the biased media world and the lack of understanding by our citizens of how things are supposed to work.

No, it wasn’t the Russians that rigged the system to a degree of suppressing votes, changing ballots or any of those kind of hi-jinks.

Both major political parties have been losing support for years.  Proof of this is the number of participants in the primaries that are held by each party to select a candidate. Less than half of the voting population takes part.  Often it’s as few as 10 to 15% of registered voters in an area.  That shows apathy or disgust or simply lack of understanding.

Last year a dead man won a local election. That was because he died after the ballots were prepared and despite his death being in the local news, voters voted for him out of ignorance.

The national news media talks about the Trump Agenda as if he is a king and it’s his job to change to laws of the land.  And people are buying this kind of stuff.

That’s not the way it works.  Congress writes the bills that become laws and the process is very clear if we as citizens would pay attention or read up on how the process should work.

The President’s job is only to sign off or veto.

We have also given too much power to the Executive Branch’s cabinet.  These bureaucrats don’t answer to anyone since they are not elected, but they write the rules that impact our daily lives.

So an understanding of the roles of who does what will help fix this system of ours if we hold the right people accountable.

There’s a whole lot that I could go into about campaign reform and term limits of our legislators but not today.

The main stream media has been hooked on Trump-mania for months and months and they simply  need to be more responsible.

When Donald Trump announced he was going to seek the Presidential nomination, all eyes and ears started focusing on Trump.  Live coverage of his campaign rallies were regular programming for CNN & MSNBC.  No other candidate from any party ever received the free coverage that Trump got.

I know why, they were looking for him to implode.  What ever the Donald would say today was more outrageous than anyone else and while they thought they would capture his blunders and bury him, it did the opposite.

Meanwhile the Democratic Party with their super delegate system gave the party insiders the power to make Hillary the winner over Bernie despite the overwhelming popularity of Senator Sanders over Mrs. Clinton on the campaign trail.

(Bernie would have beat Donald according to various polls and my own observational opinion.)

So I blame the left, be it the media for the way they covered the campaign, or the Democrats for putting a such a flawed candidate on the ticket, for the election of Donald Trump as our current POTUS.

How do we fix what’s broken?

Stop your fanatical coverage of Trump.  Ignore his tweets.  Wait for his actions.  Don’t jump on them and react.

The Trump agenda is not his to fulfill.  It belongs to the Legislative branch.  Senators and Congressmen.  They need to be adults and do what those who elected them want them to do.

Educate yourself.  Listen to both sides of the arguments so you understand the why’s behind the passions.

And speak out against any media that attempts to twist facts to promote a biased agenda.

Be civil.

Don’t call names.

Pretend the old rules my parent followed 20 years ago before social media was around and email was mainstream.

Be a thinking and educated person.

Encourage others to do the same.

Yes it’s broken, but it’s fixable.

Step Away For Awhile?

As I tell others, my political views conflict with my political views.

In other words, if you look close enough I will contradict myself.

And  over the past 6 weeks I have been busy taking care of other things that needed my attention.

My consumption of political stuff has declined and I feel better.

Not that we want to be ignorant, but not much was going on that was worth paying attention to in the political news.

Congress took their summer break and yet the 24 hour cable news people needed something to talk about.

So they continued to speculate about stuff.  Not really giving us news, but filling us with opinions from people who want to reverse the results of our last national election.

So they jump on anything they can about the various investigations regarding Team Trump.

It’s okay to ignore the nightly shows, when something important happens, we’ll all find out.

In the meantime we’ve had hurricanes to distract us and ignite the politicals to talk about climate change.

Donald Trump continues to be unpredictable to those who are expecting him to follow the Republican Party line.

And the First Lady gets criticized for wearing heals as she walks to the Presidential helicopter on the way to visit flood victims.   That last line shows me that some are going to blindly hate no matter what.

Later this month some of my favorite network TV shows return for another fresh season so I may return to regular viewing then.  In the meantime I have been enjoying time with friends and family, getting ready to lead a Men’s Bible Study on the book of James, volunteering my time with the local Boy Scouts, and also serving on the board of an organization that delivers meals to the homebound.

Working full time to help businesses be successful with their advertising and marketing and helping people make the right connections is more important, at least for me, than the political chatter right now.

My Fellow Americans, It’s Time

I just wrote a piece about our President, Donald J. Trump.  It’s an open letter asking for him to Make America Great Again by resigning.

That is one step to end the current Washington political chaos and stalemate in our federal government.

But it’s time for the people to come together and set aside the labels and blind loyalties that have created a series of divisions.

I wish we could break up the current national Democrat and Republican Parties and start over.

See most Americans can find more in common than those parties are willing to admit.

A few issues to demonstrate:

Health Care.  It was an issue that was on the back burner for decades until Obamacare was passed in 2010.  The premise and promise was that if you liked your plan, you could keep your current health insurance plan and the same with your doctor.

That was the mantra that was repeated over and over and over again in the selling of the Affordable Care Act.  Turned out to be a lie.

Many of us liked the idea of making health care affordable.  There was a few years in my 30’s that I had no health insurance. I took a job with a decent wage that offered no benefits and I worked that job for two years.  Any medical expenses for our family we had to pay ourselves.  We were fortunate. Nothing big happened.

I also had 9 months in my 50’s that I had to buy private health insurance for myself and my wife and it was the same monthly cost as what I was paying out of pocket from my previous employer.  That was a surprise.

My original objections to the passage of the Affordable Care Act was that it was not under the Federal Government’s authority to create a nationwide health insurance plan that was mandatory.  You might remember that one of the selling points is that this was RomneyCare on a national level.  It was modeled after the statewide healthcare plan that was implemented under Mitt Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts.

And then my objection was that it didn’t go far enough.

I know that contradicts what I just said about state versus federal government authority, but so be it.  If we were going to have a nationwide healthcare plan, I wanted it modeled after the Social Security retirement model that was passed last century somehow.

Social Security is a safety net.  It is not the only way Americans are allowed to plan for income when they retire but it provides a bare bones, baseline income when you qualify due to age or other disability related circumstances.

My wife took early retirement with Social Security and continues to work on occasion.  I have a friend in his 70’s who has both his retirement income from Social Security and continues to work.

A basic universal policy for every citizen of the United States that would destroy the current health insurance model would be great.  No, it’s not free.  But replace my health insurance premiums with taxes to run this program and don’t fill it with loopholes and I’m fine with it.  A huge chunk of Americans would be too.

The current health insurance industry would reinvent themselves to provide policy’s that expand on the basics.  Just like the Financial Planning/Retirement industry offers plenty of ways to have income besides a monthly social security check.

Another issue is Tax Reform.  Like the debate over Health Care is polluted by special interests lobbying our elected officials, so is the taxation debate.

I like the idea of a consumption tax instead of an income tax.  Pretty simple and fair. When you buy something there is a federal sales tax.  Rich people buy expensive stuff, middle class people buy according to their income and the poor buy what they can afford.   With a flat consumption tax, the loopholes are gone and everyone pays the same rate. Fair? Yes.

There is an argument that the poor will be hurt by this because the cost of the stuff they are already buying will go up with the additional national sales tax and they are at a poverty level right now that they are not paying income tax, so the net is they lose money.  That could happen.   But it also might free up companies to be able to pay higher wages to increase those poverty wages to a better standard of living.  I’d like to see and explore this further.

But right now, these couple of issues are stuck in partisan debates and sub-partisan debates.

The way the Republicans argue in the Senate about the alternative health care plans, some say the plans are too liberal, others say they are too conservative, and I get the feeling they are just as motivated by their own re-election than their principles…

We saw the same sub-partisan debates in the Democratic Party between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

We need non-partisan conversations instead.

As Americans, nearly everyone wants to pursue their version of an American Dream.

Freedom to be yourself, to be ambitious, to be free of stupid discrimination based on nearly anything.   An even playing field isn’t possible simply because of learned biases and culture, but with each successive generation, we can become less intolerant and better friends and neighbors can’t we?

Most of us are somewhere in the middle, not like the lunatic fringes that make the headlines.

Seek others who have different views than yours and talk, listen and learn why they are passionate.

We all become better and that’s where we can start.

 

 

Donald J. Trump, It’s Time

An open letter to our current President of the United States.

Donald J. Trump, it is time to cancel this game show where you occupy the White House.

Before I go any further, what is it that finally got me to speak out publicly and not just privately?

Anthony Scaramucci.

I am tempted to use similar (but not so graphic) swear words to describe my outrage of what he did this week.  But I won’t because I know better.

He doesn’t. He proved it by talking to a reporter and then blaming the reporter for his own words.

Communication Director? If this is the way he is going to represent the Executive Branch then he is the worst possible candidates.

I had a sliver of hope that Anthony could be the professional that could clean up the leaks coming from your branch of the government but he has turned out to be a bigger buffoon than you Mr. Trump when it comes to communication.

I did my best to look the other way when I would cringe at your tweets and off the cuff comments that you have made since that day in January when you took office and renewed your campaign promise to Make America Great Again.

I tried to look at all the dirt they dug up on you as simply part of your very non-p.c. past.  The bragging of an insecure millionaire talking with Billy Bush was from your past and once you were in the oval office, you would act the part and be humbled.

Nope.

The tweets kept coming.

Your staff seems to never be able to get the story straight about anything.

You, Mr. Trump are an Apprentice that has no mentor and from all appearances, you don’t want one.

In my fantasy world, you would meet privately with each of the living former Presidents and seek their wisdom.  They are the only ones on this planet that have had the responsibility that you now have and each of them were rookies when they were in office the first time too.

Jimmy Carter, the Bushes, and Barack Obama have wisdom that you need to learn. And you better include Bill Clinton too.

Imagine a humble man in the White House.  Even though it was long before my time, I picture Harry S Truman to have been humble.  The biographies I read of Harry when I was young portrayed him as a man of power who also was humble. I’m guessing that the 5 living Presidents also had various moments of humility as POTUS too.

But I am afraid that my just-described fantasy, will never occur.

And while I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt regarding Russia, even if you and your team were duped by those more experienced in political and covert operations, there are so many other blunders that are occurring and your reaction is to blame others.

I wish you would shut up publicly.

I wish you would stop lying or having “communication errors”. (They are really lies.)

I don’t wish anything bad or evil on you or your family, but again, I don’t wish it on anyone.

What’s next?

It’s time for you to retire.

Turn over the reigns to your Vice President.

Mike Pence was my state Governor before you picked him as your running mate and he was not my favorite but at the time he had values and principles.  Some of those were controversial and he made some enemies too but he actually had a fan base of support that wasn’t built on hype.

Right now, Mr. Trump you are in a no-win situation.  The Russian investigation has steamrolled the agenda that you promised and you personally have no self control.

Either your time in office will continue as is with perceived chaos every day as the media continues to push out the possible scandals until you become completely ineffective.

Or they do find dirt to go thru the impeachment process and due to the frustration by the American voters, Congress flips to the Democratic Party in the 2018 election and you are run out of town in disgrace.

Or you can say to hell with it.  Leave on your own.  Take the family and return to your choice of homes and try and salvage your Trump empire while attempting to stay out of jail.

Mr. Trump, if you really want to Make American Great Again, walk away and leave now.

The sooner the better so we can start to restore civility.

(I just wrote a follow-up that I encourage you to also read: https://scloho.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/my-fellow-americans-its-time/ )