Category Archives: United States

Stay Current AND Classy, America

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WARNING: Angry old curmudgeon rant follows.

Today is March 2, 2011. President Obama was sworn in on January 20, 2009. He has held the office of President of the United States for approximately 770 days, give or take a week.

In the context of the Internet, 770 days ago is ancient history. I mean, if it’s 9pm and someone talks to me about something that happened this morning, I complain that they’re talking about old news.

Why do I say this? Because I believe it’s time to expect a little bit of context from our political discussion.

First of all, President George H. W. Bush has been out of office for over two years. To all of you still taking pot shots at him, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and anyone else in that administration: shut up. That administration is gone. If you’re still complaining about what they did, you need to grow up. They’re not going to be indicted for anything, and just because you didn’t agree with their decisions doesn’t mean that they lied about anything. Find something else to occupy your time.

And you Republicans, wipe the smug look off your faces. You are just as bad, if not worse, than Democrats. Those of you in the “birther” camps that believe that President Obama was born in Kenya: shut up. The state of Hawaii says he was born there. Just because they haven’t complied with your constant requests for a piece of paper called a birth certificate doesn’t mean there’s a huge conspiracy. The discussion is over. Even if he WAS born outside the United States, we’ll never achieve a smoking gun that proves it.

And now, just when I thought us Republicans couldn’t sink any lower, one of my state’s representatives is saying he’d support impeachment proceedings against President Obama because he won’t order the Attorney General to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

Really? On what grounds would you impeach him? As President, he vowed to defend the Constitution. Believe what you want about non-traditional ideas of marriage (i.e. “gay marriage”), a sane and rational person would have to acknowledge that not allowing gay marriage could be seen as interfering with “the pursuit of happiness” whether or not you agree.

Therefore, he has every right as President to not defend the DOMA. If you are saying he should be impeached: shut up.

So, what am I saying in this rant? If you’re going to hold political discussions, talk about something that did not happen over two years ago, and stop having a hissy fit over everything someone else does that doesn’t line up with your political beliefs.

In other words, stay current AND classy, America.

Ignite Phoenix #6 Links

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These are the links used for my presentation at Ignite Phoenix #6. All links on this post will open in a new window/tab.

Operation Homefront Arizona: http://www.operationhomefront.net/Arizona/default.aspx

Soldiers’ Angels: http://www.soldiersangels.org/

Arizona Coalition for Military Families: http://www.arizonacoalition.org/

Joint Services Support: http://www.jointservicessupport.org/

Twitter links: #militarymon, @KissMyGumbo, @bouhammer, @SoldiersAngels, @milblogging

Cup of Joe for a Joe: http://www.greenbeanscoffee.com/coj/index.php

Thank you for supporting our men and women in uniform. God bless you.

DO ANYBODY NO HOW TO THINK?

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The passing of the healthcare reform bill over the weekend seems to have re-ignited the polarization of American politics. From where I sit, people seem to be divided into two camps:

  • This is great! We all need healthcare…and now, no American will ever go without again!
  • Obama is a socialist, and we don’t need him telling us how to get our healthcare!

I have to confess that I do not know the first thing about the bill because I have not had the time to research. Bills have become way too long to read through hundreds of pages. If I accept someone else’s summarization of the bill, I usually have to accept their bias, too.

I am ready to start having honest conversations about politics and issues without the usual party lines about crap. I do not want to hear about President Obama’s birth certificate, Chicago politics connections, or anything with the words “socialism” or “Hitler.” The same can be said about right-wing hatred based on religious connections, George W. Bush, and contradictory stances.

I believe government works best when it takes a minimal role in our lives. I believe when we look to the government to regulate or provide us with services, the cost often outweighs the benefit. That being said, there are some services that need government direction like the military.

I am anxious to see the effect HCR has on individuals, businesses, and government. Governor Jan Brewer has already complained that HCR will cost the Arizona state government $1 billion per year but has not defined how.

Talk to me, folks. Tell me where real discussions on issues are taking place. Because I am sick and tired of business as usual in the world of politics.

Diversity is not a dirty word

One of the news items I picked up off Twitter today talks about Lorenzo Hoopes. According to the Pacific Justice Institute, Mr. Hoopes is a 96 year old man who “??has volunteered for decades with Paramount Theatre of the Arts” including 20 years as part of its Board of Directors. Directors must be approved by the Oakland, CA City Council before being seated.

After 20 years, one would think re-appointment is guaranteed. According to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, not so fast. Mr. Hoopes contributed $26,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign in California, seeking to define marriage as one man and one woman. This contribution has caused public outcry against Mr. Hoopes’ re-appointment, with one activist claiming that “the gay community in Oakland is being run over by a bus.”

Thinking that I was missing something, I researched a little further, and found an article on change.org under the Gay Rights heading. The author references a Facebook group called “The Paramount: No Place for Homophobia,” stating that Mr. Hoopes is allowed to hold his beliefs…but should not be “rewarded” with a seat on the Board of Directors.

This issue refuses to go away. From my small corner of the world, it seems like compromise is not going to happen any time soon. Therefore, I would like to state my opinion…and hope I am not the target of hate mail.

As a Christian, I believe marriage is one man and one woman. Period. No ifs ands or buts.

However, I live in America, a democratic republic. Depending on what source is used, about 10% of our population is part of the LGBT community. This group is entitled to their freedoms, regardless of what my beliefs are…as long as their rights do not infringe on mine.

Should two gay men, cohabitating  and loving each other, enjoy the same rights as a traditional married couple? I have to say yes. However, I do not believe that is a marriage. Call it a civil union, call it a homosexual union, call it whatever you want…but I will not call it a marriage. You can call it a marriage if you want to…but I won’t. And if you call it a marriage, I’m not going to get myself worked up over it. It’s my definition. Possibly not yours.

But according to the change.org article, I am now a homophobe. Really? Just what is a homophobe, anyway? According to Princeton’s dictionary, a homophobe “hates or fears homosexual people.”

I do not hate or fear anyone in the LGBT community. Jesus commanded Christians to love our neighbor. He didn’t qualify it by saying only love straight people, or only love other Christians…he basically says we need to love everybody.

A frequent argument I have heard against alternate definitions for marriage is that homosexual couples calling themselves married will desecrate the institution of marriage. If you feel this way, I feel sorry for you. If anyone has desecrated marriage, it’s Christians. The divorce rate in our community is as high or higher than non-Christians. Therefore, I do not possess this fear…or any other fear from the LGBT community.

For what it is worth, I am not a proponent of Prop. 8 or similar propositions. I voted “no” when Arizona voters had a similar measure on our ballot. The main reason for my opposition is because I feel government has bigger fish to fry. Fix the budget…and then we’ll have time to kick around other stuff.

Mr. Hoopes has provided countless hours in support of the Paramount Theatre of the Arts. If he is re-appointed to the Board, it will be for his past service, not his contributions to Prop. 8. If supporters of gay rights call the appointment “a reward,” they are sadly mistaken.

In the corporate world, I was taught the value of diversity. I do not have to agree with everything my co-workers believe, and the workplace is better for having a non-homogeneous staff. If I don’t agree with you, calling me a homophobe is not going to solve anything. Let’s find some middle ground so we can live in peace, if not harmony.

Category: United States

Reproductive Rights

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I thought I would do another post that has almost nothing to do with the rest of my blog…but I think it still needs to be said.

Tessa Savicki recently delivered her ninth child at Baystate Medical Center, and requested the insertion of an IUD. From some of the articles I have read, this is fairly common. However, when she woke up from anesthesia, she discovered her tubes were tied (tubal ligation). Anyone living in the United States knows what happens next: mommy hires lawyer and sues hospital for gross negligence.

The article accompanying the thread on FARK states Savicki is receiving threats and criticism for her lawsuit. Some of the comments applaud the doctors for permanently sterilizing her without her authorization.

The reason for the harassment of Savicki is because her family uses public assistance, aka welfare.

In America, we value our freedom above all. We want reproductive freedom, freedom of speech, religion, et cetera; however, we are told from an early age that freedom comes hand in hand with responsibility. We have a responsibility to treasure our freedoms…to not take them for granted…to not abuse the freedom we enjoy.

Laws are restrictions on our freedom. Certain laws we regard as necessary because we trade off part of our freedom for protection. For instance, we may not like speed limits, but it protects us (somewhat) from the idiots who want to do 120 mph in a school zone and hitting children.

Generally, we allow freedom of about anything…as long as your freedom does not infringe on someone else’s rights. Today, there is no law that restricts women from having more children if they are accepting welfare. However, if a woman on welfare has additional children, it produces an additional burden on taxpayers.

Many laws are written as a knee-jerk response to people not doing the right thing. DWI laws were made as a result of impaired drivers injuring or killing others. Securities laws were created to prevent traders in powerful positions from taking unfair advantage of others’ investments. To prevent laws from being created to restrict our reproductive rights, we need to show that we are capable of doing the right thing.

Welfare is available for those families having a hard time with basic living expenses. But Americans are growing increasingly intolerant of people who take advantage of the system funded by taxpayers.

To protect our freedoms, we need to do the right thing. Consistently. Otherwise, we run the risk of having our freedoms taken away…whether it is driving, reproducing, or any other freedom we too often take for granted.

Category: United States

Let’s Make a Deal

While doing some research for a school project, I came across an article in the Washington Post reporting on a proposal by President Obama, offering to pick up retiree health costs if American automakers would increase fuel economy on their vehicles by 3%.

Really? 3%? I understand that one of your principles is to protect the environment, but is a 3% boost in fuel economy worth paying healthcare costs to thousands and thousands of retirees? I try not to be too critical of you, Mr. President, but if this is the deal you offer at the start of negotiations, your negotiation skills may need some fine-tuning.

Oh, and one other thing. I was a little less than truthful. Because President Obama made this offer in 2005. When he was still a Senator. Less than one year after becoming a United States Senator.

If you look at my blog, I haven’t talked too much about politics lately. Mostly because I see my fellow conservative Republicans acting the same way that Democrats did when W was in office. However, on occasion, I see something like this and it drives me nuts. How does a United States Senator with less than one year experience start making offers like this on behalf of the United States Government?

I do not know if any one individual, even the President, possesses the authority to make offers like this on behalf of the Federal government. But even if he does have that much authority, he better be able to negotiate for a little something more than a 1/10th of a gallon increase in fuel efficiency in exchange for taxpayers assuming the cost for millions of dollars in healthcare expenses.

Category: United States

No More Private Student Loans

Since I am a student right now, this hits home for me.

According to WREX in Rockford, Congress has voted to end the Federal guarantees to private student loans. In its place will be loans made directly by the feds. The average student won’t know or care; they will still be able to obtain loans…but the loan won’t be from Wells Fargo, Chase, or anyone else but the government.

It also appears that the FAFSA will discard questions about assets and some income types, possibly shortening the form. To my knowledge, the President has not signed this into law yet. But with voting closely following party lines in Congress, it would be hard to imagine President Obama will cross party lines to veto the bill.

Category: United States

A New Era

First of all, my apologies for not posting in so long. Things have been crazy busy…more about that later.

However, today is a historic day, for several reasons. First of all, the United States is going to change Presidents. As I reminded some in a previous post, this will happen in a peaceful manner. No one will be shot, threatened, or harmed in this transition.

And yes, we all know by now that this will be the first African-American President elected in the United States. For this, I am glad; even though our country has made tremendous strides in race relations, I know that pockets of racism still exist. Obama’s election is a great triumph for a nation that often defied the law to practice open discrimination as little as 40 years ago.

I thought I would put some of my thoughts, scatterbrained as they are, to a post on how I feel about this day.

First of all, if you have not read any previous posts, or met me, or followed me on Twitter, I did not vote for Obama. Not because of skin color, but because I feel that his foreign policies are dangerous for our safety. I also believe some of his domestic fiscal policies will serve to extend the recession, not end it.

However, this is a democracy, and my fellow Americans have spoken. Knowing that Romans 13:1-3 talks about being obedient to authorities placed above us, I will be obedient. I will also claim him as my president. Via The Born Again Redneck, here’s Dennis Miller echoing my sentiments, especially starting about 5 minutes in:

However, I guess I have a few misgivings about this moment. Most of them have to do with Americans that voted for Obama because of reasons not based on logic – “he’s black”, “he’s not George Bush”, “he’s not Republican”, etc. For instance, one co-worker that said he voted for Obama: “I don’t know why I voted for him…guess because I can’t stand Bush!”

Kids, I’ll get along with anyone as long as they know WHY they believe what they believe…even if they don’t agree with me. But people that just mindlessly follow the crowd really irritate me, especially when it comes to electing the leader of the free world.

But today, we’re putting all of that aside, along with the other stuff. In a few hours, Barack Obama will be my president. God, please grant President Obama wisdom to lead us to prosperity and peace, in the mighty name of Jesus.

God bless America…and may God bless President Obama.

Category: United States

Protect Marriage

Here in the wild, wild west, Arizonans and Californians passed “marriage” propositions seeking to amend constitutions by adding language making homosexual marriage illegal. Well, maybe that’s not 100% accurate, since it was already illegal in Arizona…

In my morning reading from my Friend Feed, I found a blog post saying that we should protect marriage, but we’re going about it wrong. I’m not sure if the author is serious, because I don’t know him. But he states that in order to protect marriage, we should make divorce illegal.

I really am torn on this one. I have two perspectives on this proposal. First of all, I have been through two divorces. The first one just got too tough to stick it out…but the second one I left because she was cheating. The author of the blog post states that we should “restore the sanctity of marriage, the way the bible(sic) intended”. One circumstance for divorce that Jesus validated is adultery…the difficulty would be how to prove that in a court of law. I had signs that something wasn’t right, but for me the final proof came when I was home sick from work, laying on the couch, when in walks my wife with another guy into my house.

But would that have been enough evidence? What about the pictures and videos of this guy that I found on my computer after she moved out? What would be needed to prove that she was running around? These questions would need to be answered prior to passing any legislation banning divorce, or at the least making it harder. I believe that if Jesus gives Christians the opportunity to divorce because of adultery, our laws should not restrict that freedom.

Secondly, we already have a modern-day example of the effectiveness of a ban on divorce. Until 1997, divorce was constitutionally forbidden by Ireland, a country with an overwhelming percentage of practicing Catholics. When divorce was finally made legal by referendum, a government pamphlet estimated there were 75,000 people in irretrievably-broken marriages (3rd question under Q&A).

Popular opinion finally allowed proper legislation to pass, allowing divorce in Ireland. Not to say that divorce is easily obtained…requirements state that a couple has to live apart for at least four out of five years before filing. Even with these harsh requirements, so many people are filing for divorce that the courts are still overwhelmed with cases 10 years after legalization.

I could not imagine what that would have been like, if I had to wait that long before filing for divorce. Part of the fun of being married to my ex-wife was that she did a lot of things to make it financially difficult. I won’t go into details, but I will say that being married to her drained me of tens of thousands of dollars that I used to have in a retirement fund. Being financially responsible for her for 4 years more than I was would have driven me to the looney bin.

I normally try to compose a solution, instead of just complaining. But banning divorce sounds like a bad idea to me. What are your thoughts?

Category: United States

President-Elect Barack Obama

I know that I never explicitly stated who my choice for president was during the last election…but I know that y’all are smart enough to figure out that I was not an Obama supporter. So to say I was disappointed last night would be an accurate statement.

However, I was also proud. I consider myself to be a Christian first, and then an American. While our government is far from perfect, I believe it is the best on earth. What happened yesterday is a democratic republic that participated in an election. An election in which well over 99.99% of the population were able to vote without harassment, intimidation, or duress. The people spoke, and their choice was Barack Obama.

His opponent, Senator John McCain, accepted defeat gracefully, offering his sincere congratulations and future support to Obama. He also urged his followers to support the next president.

The incumbent, President George W Bush, also offered his congratulations, and full cooperation in the transfer of power to his successor, a person whose ideologies differ vastly from his own.

Barring unforeseen events, this change of administration will happen without threats, violence, or military action. The transition of leadership will happen as peaceful as the 43 previous transitions.

When I think about how citizens are able to change government time after time over the last 232 years without bloodshed, I am almost moved to tears. Words fail to express how proud I am to belong to one of the greatest civilizations to ever exist.

I will be watching your administration to follow how your changes will affect the way each American lives day to day. I already know that I will probably disagree many times. But I will also respect and honor you as my president, Senator Obama.

If you are reading this, I ask you to join me in congratulating Senator Obama for his successful campaign. I also ask that you pray for God to grant him wisdom to lead our nation through a very difficult time. Congratulations, President-Elect Barack Obama.

Category: United States