Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Sad Day for the Boy Scouts...

This morning, the LDS Church announced that they will no longer utilize the Boy Scouts as their youth program:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865679711/Mormons-drop-Scout-programs-for-older-teens.html

And before the flames begin - know that I have been a Boy Scout for over 3/4 of my life. I am an Eagle Scout, and the son of an Eagle Scout and the brother of another Eagle Scout. Many of those that I consider my closest friends are Eagle Scouts as well - we literally grew up together and still are friends to this day, some 20+ years after most of us earned the award.

Among us, there are VERY differing perspectives on the "3G's" in the Scouting program - God, Girls and Gays.

“God” is fairly straightforward - the Scouting program embraces *ALL* religions, but not the absence of a belief in a high power (Atheism). The BSA has been sued MANY times throughout the years for the requirement of those in the organization holding a belief in a higher power.

“Girls” is the constant barrage of those that want females as part of the BOY Scouts.  Again, countless lawsuits, and accommodations have been made to include female leaders and youth participants within the organization (the Girl Scouts, BTW, do not allow boys, unless they identify as a female. SHM).

“Gays” refers to the efforts of the LBGT community to participate as leaders, and then as youth members in the BSA.  In June 2000, the Boy Scouts won a landmark Supreme Court case (Boy Scouts of America v. Dale) which affirmed the organization’s right of freedom of association.  In recent years, the Boy Scouts have caved to those demands and pressures, first by allowing homosexual leaders, and most recently allowing homosexual and transgendered youth participants.

For the record, let me share the following on the 3G’s:

I believe that the organization has a responsibility to promote a belief in a higher power.  Part of the Scout Oath is a duty “to God and my country.” If you do not believe in God (in His many various forms), then the Boy Scouts is not likely the organization for you.

I believe that it is OK – and actually a good thing – for young men to gain values and experiences without the distraction of girls.  I am not saying that girls are “bad”, but I also know that the social dynamics of a situation change when you comingle genders. Boys will have more than enough chances to interact with females outside of the Scouting program. And females can also gain from participating in girls only organizations without the unnecessary social conventions associated with working with boys. If you want to camp and hike with girls, then the Boy Scouts is not likely the organization for you.

I believe that there are organizations that can be exclusive.  Not every single organization should be open to every single person.  There are many that believe in complete and total openness, and any level of exclusivity is discriminatory.  I am not saying gay people are “bad”, but there are many that believe that those values represented by some in the LGBT community are not aligned with those traditional parts of the Scouting program.  As represented above, most of the chartered partners (those that sponsor Scouting units) are religious organizations. And some of those organizations (including the LDS church) do not embrace the LBGT causes, especially when they are influencing their youth participants. I am sure the Mormons will be demonized for their antiquated and backwards views on gays.  Same for the Roman Catholics and any number of other religious institutions. But they believe what I believe – that while not necessarily evil, their views and beliefs do not mesh with the (former) traditional values of the Scouting program. If you want to promote and embrace values that run contrary to the core values of the Scouting program and their chartered partners, then the Boy Scouts is not likely the organization for you.

Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts disagrees with me, and that is why the Board of Directors at the National level have made drastic accommodations over the past 20 years to become more inclusive. Many of the afore mentioned Eagle Scouts that I consider my friends agree with this stance.  But I also know many that do not.  My friend Jason Carter (and Eagle Scout) left the Boy Scouts to become a leader in the Trail’s Life organization after the Boy Scouts abandoned his values.  I know of several others that were supporters of the Boy Scouts that can no longer support them (in spirit or through financial means) because of the value changes.

So yes – I am disappointed.  This is another sad day for an organization that I love.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The FBI Director is "Terminated"!

“I do not have confidence in him (Comey) any longer." 
- Chuck Schumer

"Maybe he (Comey) is not right for the job" 
- Nancy Pelosi

And - certainly not to be left out:

"That was so bad what happened originally, and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution. It took a lot of guts." 
- Donald Trump

Point being - regardless where you come down on this decision, politicians on both sides of the spectrum are playing politics. Those that expect them to be doing something different are fooling themselves. And it doesn't mean you have to like it - I, for one, do not. But was I shocked or surprised?

Hardly.

Pretty hard for me to agree with President Trump on this one. Sure - it is his prerogative to fire the FBI Director (though it is almost never done), but the timing sucks. You can either believe that he is trying to derail the Russian collusion investigation or that he has spectacularly poor timing. Either way, it again speaks to the political naivety or inexperience of the President.

The one comment that I had heard, and it almost made marginal sense: After James Clapper's testimony the other day saying that Trump was not a subject of the investigation, maybe the President thought that those comments would provide justification and coverage enough to dismiss Comey.

For the record: President Trump would have done well to terminate pretty much any / every political appointee Obama made as soon as feasible after inauguration. The fact that we are 100+ days past that point, and he is still dealing with Obama legacy appointments also speaks to the lack of good advice and inexperience of the Trump administration.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Senate Filibuster of SCOTUS Nominees...

Over the coming days, you will certainly here about the "historic" "unjust" "revolutionary" "destructive" actions of Senate Republicans to follow the precedent of Harry Reid and Senate Democrats and eliminate the filibuster, this time extending it to President Trump's SCOTUS nominee.

A few points I wanted to share:

- I will be the first to say I am not wild about the evisceration of the Senate rules for partisanship. That is foolish and short sighted - it was when Reid did it, and it is the same when McConnell is going to do it.

- That said, I do not believe that President Trump could have nominated ANY conservative jurist that would have received the 60 votes necessary for cloture.  I think the Democrats are still fuming (and somewhat rightly so) that they did not get to put President Obama's nomination on the Court, so any nominee for that open seat was likely going to be met with objection (apart from one personally chosen my Sen. Schumer, which he graciously volunteered to do).

- I think that the Senate should have confirmed Merrick Garland – I said it then and I will say it now. He certainly deserved a hearing and a vote.  Unfortunately, Sen. McConnell plays a wicked hand of poker, as his political gamble could have very easily backfired for conservatives, dramatically shifting the balance of the Court for the foreseeable future (presumably, a Clinton administration would have withdrawn the Garland nomination and installed someone much more ideologically left-of-center than Garland). But, as many have said since, elections have consequences. The Republicans won, and the outrageous gamble paid off.

- I am not so naive to think that SCOTUS seats are not political or partisan - they have been since the very first nominees to the Court. But I also believe that a qualified jurist nominee should be confirmed, unless there is something so egregious that prevents the nomination. Judge Gorsuch is certainly qualified, and at least as qualified as Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. And as partisan as those nominations were (both are as left leaning as Gorsuch is to the right), neither were filibustered and both were confirmed.

- And as much as I generally disagree with the stances and politics of Sen. Michael Bennett from the great State of Colorado, I am pleased that he has decided not to join his fellow Democrats in the filibuster against a nominee from his home state. I didn’t think he had it in him, but I am proud (and pleasantly surprised) that he did.  Ironically, there are commercials running on TV that claim the exact opposite, so they need to get their facts straight.

- Lastly, I would call on those Senators planning on using the filibuster for this nominee to reconsider. It is YOU that are setting a precedent that will be impossible to walk back and change. I know that these words will not reach anyone, but I would be remiss if I did not say it.

Also, to demonstrate that I actually get news from somewhere besides Breitbart and Fox News, I wanted to share this article from The Atlantic that discusses the actual impact changing the Senate rules will have.

Buckle up – it should be an interesting few days…

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Political Spectrum of the SCOTUS

First, you should all be proud of me. Instead of inflaming the situation with President Trump and all of the protests and marches and protests and anger and protests and memes and protests, I have pretty much kept out of the conversation and let my more left leaning friends emote. I know they are not done, and I am not trying to say that their voices do not matter. But responding to emotional concerns and fears with pragmatism rarely seems to work.

So they are not done, and neither is President Trump. So I guess the mudslinging will continue on both sides for a bit (like at least 3 more years).

Apart from his executive orders and proclamations, the President is sure to enrage those on the left tomorrow with his selection for the open Supreme Court justice.

Again - not saying that the Democrats do not have a justified beef with the Republican Senate leadership. The fact that they did not approve Garland for the Scalia seat was unprecedented.  But that is old news, and we will hear President Trump's choice for the vacancy tomorrow.

So I thought I would share a cool infographic found on the 538 blog about the political leanings of the current court, and the leanings of the front runners for the open seat.  You can find the original Nate Silver article here.


Not in complete agreement about Silver's political ranking here, but it is in the ballpark. Plus, it offers an interesting view of how President Trump's pick will change (or keep) the balance of the Court.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Reflection - A Call To Action...

Looking through my blog archive, I thought I would share what I wrote exactly 8 years ago about the outcomes of THAT election. In the past days, I have been called a sexist, a misogynist, white privileged, and there was the indirect implication that I am a racist.

I get that people are raw from the outcome of the election. I get that they think the world is going to end. I get that they believe that Trump is a personal attack on everything they believe. 

I really do get it. 

This is how I felt when we elected a socialist TWICE from the Chicago south-side. This is how I felt when the Democrats unilaterally passed Obamacare. This is how I felt when he declared that we are no longer a great nation or a super power.

So yes - I really do get it...

No doubt that the last seven days have been difficult for you: a failed election, Democrat gains in the House and Senate, the virtual cartwheels of the left leaning media celebrating the election of their hand selected candidate and his perceived elevation to god like status, the joyous news articles about the first 100 days of Camelot 2 (the sequel), the disappointment among the cast at Saturday Night Live who now have nobody to make fun of, and the media coverage of Sarah Palin forced to return her campaign wardrobe. Recounts in Minnesota, the landscape littered with failed ballot initiatives and the announcement of trials for our enemies locked away in the soon to be closed Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

The fact is: you should be angry. You should be upset. You should be confused and distraught and fearful.

And the fear comes, in part, when you see those that we would probably classify as our enemies, dancing in the street. Not because Obama or the Democrats are going to usher a new era of peace and prosperity for the world, but because they now know that America will be far less likely to take direct action against them while they move unabated across the globe. Osama bin Laden endorsed Obama, not because he expects peace with our country but because he believes it will be easier to destroy the Great Satan with the Democrats in control.

The Republican Party took a punch in the gut, and you probably hand the wind knocked out of you.

And worse: the change is coming. The change you fought against. The change that will march forward unchallenged through the House and through the Senate and through the media. The change that represents the greatest threat to conservative values in the past thirty years. Greater than Carter. Even greater than the Clintons. The people have spoken, and the change is coming. Like a tidal wave.

Is moving to Canada the answer? Hardly. Though it certainly will be easier to go back and forth between our northern and southern neighbors. Congressional liberals will blow bazooka-sized holes in an already struggling immigration policy, inviting them to join their party of “inclusion”, as the various labor unions wait with open arms to add them to their rosters. This will be easy, as they will be able to unionize businesses through the card check method, discarding the secret ballot for a more “democratic” process. And these newly energized and cash laden unions will be sponsoring election day "vote-as-many-times-as-you-can" bus tours for their left leaning members now that we will have same day voter registration in all 50 states. Your vote will now have to directly compete with the voting dead of Cook County political machine, or the ACORN registered Dallas Cowboys offensive line (they only get to vote 47 times, so no big deal there).

We currently live in a constitutional republic with some democratic leanings, but that is changing as well. Those democratic leanings are inching their way to become the standard, a standard of mob rule with little concern of the checks and balances that our Founders created to save us from ourselves. Our liberties are more at risk as we move towards democracy. The progression has been slow to this point, but high speed communications have changed the average person’s view of democratic processes, and most believe republican processes are slow and ineffective. That darn Electoral College has stood in the way for far too long, and our more liberal friends are not going to allow something like one of the foundations of our republic type of government and most brilliant compromises of the Constitutional Convention stand in the way of the new Democrat, “you don’t need to see my identification” super voter base.

Not that it matters, as you will probably not have to hear about it. If Nancy Pelosi has her way, the "fairness doctrine" will wipe out the minute media opposition to liberal policies, putting conservative talk radio and any other conservative media outlet out of business, possibly including my blog (sorry folks!).

But all is not lost.

There is a twinkle of starlight on the blanket of darkness that has enveloped the conservative universe. We may have taken the punch in the gut, but we can recover.

While this election saw a general rout of elected officials with conservative ideals, the election was not a complete loss. There was pre-election speculation that the Democrats might pick up enough seats to hold a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, and this did not happen. Several conservative ballot initiatives passed in Colorado, proving that the voting public has not completely migrated to the left. Several states, including California, affirmed conservative values and confirmed the widely held belief that marriage is an institution that should be between a man and a woman. This, despite the millions of dollars spent by Hollywood and gay organizations that tried to use their influence (not only in monetary resources, but in star power and in the scripts of the very television shows that they honor year after year) to defeat the measure.

For certain, this election hurts really more than any other election in recent history, as we now have a left leaning unified government with a very left leaning President. We have discussed the kinds of policies this kind of government will enact, now that they have their chance to govern.

These kinds of polices scare me. But more than anything else, it motivates me. It motivates me to get involved. It motivates me to embrace my values. It motivates me to make certain that it doesn’t happen again.

We have two years of a unified Congress to deal with. That’s 730 days. We have four years of a leftist President. That's 1460 days.

The GOP will have to get serious now about the Congressional mid-terms and in about 1000 days for the next Presidential election. Now is the time to really start identifying what the platform is going to be, who we want as our next party leaders, and who we want to be the next President.

Very soon, we will know the impacts of a Democrat unified Congress. We will know the impacts of a rubber stamp executive. We will know the damage to the court system, to the small businesses that have been taxed out of existence, to our wallets and checking accounts. We will know first hand of the failures of Obama/Pelosi/Reid’s social policies, and we will have to develop plans to minimize the damage as quickly as possible.

Keep your chin up. Remember your values. Stay true to your beliefs. I sincerely believe that the country made a mistake a week ago, and we will have 4 years to learn from than mistake. Pay attention, and get involved at the local level. We lost this election, in part, because people in the 40 and under crowd voted for Obama. We need to even the playing field the next time around.

And remember that conservatism is not dead - we are just taking a breather to rebuild!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Guest Post - What Can I Do...

Philip Marshall, a friend and co-worker, shared his thoughts on the election outcomes yesterday. I am honored to share them with you here.

I’ve been trying to think what it’s like today to be a Muslim, disabled, Hispanic, woman or other person with a nationality, religious beliefs, origin or background to whom Donald Trump has been disingenuous. I can hardly imagine.

What I can imagine is making sure that I make eye contact, smile, acknowledge and engage every person who may undoubtedly feel uncomfortable in their own skin. I can and should do this anyway. I want them to feel, with every interaction, that they are welcome and just as much a part of my America as I am. They might be a surgeon, attorney, coffee barrister or someone I meet at an event, in a store or at work.

What I believe is that most people want to do good, want to contribute and want to make me feel connected to them in at least some small way. We’re all in this together and my belief is that it’s a very small world. Someone I hold a door for today may very well save my life down the road. Wouldn’t it be great if when they’re helping me that they remember that I was the nice guy who smiled, took a minute to connect and left them feeling a part of my world as opposed to feeling shunned by it.

Unless you’re of Native American descent, it’s likely that your parents, grandparents, or some distant relative journeyed here. Perhaps their reason for coming was that they were persecuted in a foreign land. They likely braved a long trip by ship or endured horrendous conditions on barely passable roads. And when they arrived, they may not have been treated well. It wasn’t easy. Don’t you think they’d be pleased to see you reach out to strangers, many of whom are petrified of this new land and its diverse people?

Now more than ever it’s time to embrace people who seem unlike ourselves rather than be predetermined to hate. This world can become a better place, not by building walls, but by tearing them down. As Isaac Newton said, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” So I’m going to smile, hold out my hand, look a stranger in the eye, and envision a world in which with each persons’ contributions, we all thrive. In the words of the great American poet Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I want them to feel like they’re home.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Do I Tell My Kids? A Suggestion...

Stop.

Just. Stop.

Stop emoting and let your right brain take a breather for a moment.

Better? Now read on…

Yes, the election is a shocker. You were misled by ALL of the polls. No one (apart from the Simpsons 16 years ago) could have predicted this to happen. Yet it did.

No, the world is not going to come to an end, though it may feel that way for some of you. There were even reports of the Canadian immigration site crashing as the election results were coming in.

Every four year, we have a new election for the President of the United States. Sometimes, it goes your way. Sometimes it doesn’t. And yet – every time the country has survived. You may not like the person, or the system, or the results. But the country survived (and if you are the anarchist type that was hoping to overthrow the government or something, maybe you *SHOULD* consider Canada. Or Libya. Or Iran. Or North Korea – I hear they have a great golf tournament there).

I saw that #WhatDoITellMyKids is trending on Twitter at the moment, and I thought I would share some things that you can share with your kids about this election and the American political system, without delving too deeply into more political rants and discourse:
  • There will be a woman President someday. She will be a person with honor, integrity, character and values. She will love our country, and do everything in her power to make it better. Hillary Clinton may not have won this election cycle, but she has proven that major parties can nominate and compete with a woman on the top of the ticket. Trailblazers such as Clinton (and Condoleezza Rice and others) have craved a path through a male dominated world for our daughters to follow and excel.
  • The powers of the Presidency are limited. Simply, there are limits to what the President can do, and those limits are a good thing. Many think that they get in the way of positive action, but just as often, they prevent totalitarianism. Yes, the President will be able to select his Cabinet, and he will oversee the bureaucracy. But those positions will still be held by those that know how to make the government run, and many will be those that were hired by the former President.
  • Congress acts a check and balance. One of the more bizarre consequences of this election is that few (if any) of those elected or reelected to Congress achieved this by riding the President-elect’s coat tails. Trump may have a unified Congress for the first couple of years, but none of these congressional leaders are beholden to him. Quite the contrary – there is probably more animosity between a President and the congressional leaders of his party than at any time in history. Point being – don’t think that Trump has a rubber stamp for any of his programs or ideas. Far from it.
  • Trump the TV personality vs. Trump the businessman. I don’t know how else to explain this other than like this: I believe (as do MANY others) that the Donald Trump that we have seen on the campaign trail is Donald Trump the TV celebrity, and that Donald Trump the businessman is a VERY different person. I can’t speak to whether this is true, and maybe the businessman is not really any better than the celebrity. Time will tell. But if you think that this campaign felt like one long reality TV show, maybe it is because it was. And Trump played a part specifically designed and molded for him by the public and the media. He played it so well that he won. Sure, it isn’t the Emmy that he wanted so badly for his TV show, but the perks for winning this contest are not too bad…
  • Trump was elected for a reason. Certainly, it was not because he was a stalwart Republican. Certainly it was not because of his great hair. I have read by many that it wasn’t that Trump won, but that Hillary did everything she could to lose. That may be true as well. But there is a current of dis-satisfaction with the “business as usual” approach to government and politics. Trump tapped in to this wellspring and the current carried him to victory. Republicans and Democrats need to stop and take notice – despite their best efforts to stop the stream and run business as usual campaigns, the message that Trump promoted (in between insults and horrible statements) was still the one that was the most important to voters. The people tried 8 years of “Hope and Change” under Obama, and have very little to show for it. They wanted an outsider to have a crack at it – someone that was against the business as usual, Washington establishment types. And that is who they elected – bad hair and all.
The right brain side of you is probably violently reacting again at this point, coming up with all of the counterpoints to things listed above. At the end of it all, the kind of person you are will undoubtedly shape what you tell your kids, and the tone in which you tell them. You can focus on the negative – which there was ample from both candidates – or you can focus on the smooth transition and the desire to affect change in a positive way in the future.

So my simple message for your kids is this:

I am proud to be an American, 
and will continue to work to shape the future elections 
for the benefit of all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Day After...

I was hoping this day would come. I know it is still early, but - like I said - I'm hopeful!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Some Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Elections...

There is so much noise in this election cycle - candidates, scandals, sex, emails. One could argue that is always that way, but in reality, the situation is far more polarized than I have ever remember experiencing.

I have thought a great deal about this election - who I should vote for, what will happen to the Republican Party, what will happen to the houses of Congress. And so I thought I would share some of these thoughts:

  • Donald Trump may be one of the worst people in all history. He embodies everything that we should stereo-typically hate in a person. He defines the ugly American. Even his body language is a performed, calculated and obscene exaggerated part of his overall performance.  Personally, I don't think we have actually seen the REAL Donald Trump - I think we are seeing the character created persona that was developed for his TV shows.  I don't really know (or do I really much care) about his acumen as a businessman, except that the Trump character is not like any businessman that I have ever met (and I know A LOT of them). We - as a voting public - have very little understanding of his political policy views, his values, or his vision, apart from some vague soundbites which are often contradicted in the very next breath. He is NOT a Republican from anything that I can see (which actually gives me a minuscule level of comfort) - The best way that I would describe him is as a preference poll populist: one that reads the polling data from the previous day to determine the message and direction of the day. The idea of his as the elected leader of my country is nauseating.
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton may be one of the worst candidates in all history. She embodies everything that we despise in a politician. She is pompous, dis-ingenuous, self serving and heartless. Personally, I have actually considered if she is some kind of strange robot / android type being controlled by the man behind the curtain. The fact that she is a woman has absolutely no bearing at all of any of the disdain that I hold for her (my issues with her have nothing to do with her gender). In fact, if I were a woman, I would be extremely disappointed that Clinton is the example that being used to represent women in general.  Her campaign and political career has been one continuous opportunistic moment after another - first wife Clinton in the AK governor's mansion, then in the White House as First Lady, then moving to NY to take a very safe Democrat Senate seat, then as the Secretary of State. We do know exactly where she stands - she stands for Hillary and whatever is in her best interest. Her social media message says as much.  As President, it will be the friends of the Clinton Family Foundation gang, pay to play, and anything that will serve the Clinton dynasty and legacy.  The best way that I would describe her is a self serving bureaucrat: one that uses her position and influence as a government employee for personal gain, regardless of the expense. The idea of her as the elected leader of my country is nauseating.
  • The third party candidates that are running have lost before they have started, primarily because we are a two party system. I am not advocating a parliamentary or coalition type system by any means - I an just sharing that the two party system generally works for our country, and would be working now, and will still work in the future.  Gary Johnson and Jill Stein may be better humans and politicians than Trump and Clinton - from the little that I know about them, I have to believe that they are. But they decided not to play within the confines of the already accepted two party system, and therefore are marginalized.  Frankly, Libertarian Gary Johnson - even with his complete lack of foreign affairs knowledge or experience - is still a better Republican than Trump is / will ever be.

I will likely write more later. I still have other things to share about this. But these thoughts have been in my mind lately.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Presidential Debates...

I originally posted this on Facebook, but thought it worthwhile to share here as well.

So far, 5 different people have asked what I thought of the debates last night. Truth be told, I didn't watch. And ask yourself if you were one of the 100,000,000 people that watched: what were you expecting? Why were you watching?

Are you one of those types that watches sports for the injuries / disasters? Do you watch reality TV for drama and the least common denominator and the vapid emotional draw?

From everything that I have seen and heard, there was exactly nothing said or done that wasn't already expected and predicted by pretty much everyone. I guess one of them could have collapsed on stage, but apart from that (and the Trump Sniffles and the Clinton Swaying), it was everything that I expected (and I assume that you expected) to see.

For the record: they are both terrible. Both lie as a rule. Both are as narcissistic as a person can be. Both represent the worst in humanity, and I am embarrassed for all of us that we will have one of them as the next President.

So watching the debates? I choose not to contribute to the erosion of our public discourse. I refuse to support either by watching their ads or speeches or debates. I refuse to lower myself, my political influence, and my personal self respect by acknowledging anything associated with either of them.