Tag Archives: politics

Complacency: A Death Trap

Complacency. A business that grows complacent loses customers. A husband who grows complacent loses his wife. A nation that grows complacent will not survive.
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Amos 6:1 NIV

As I read about Israel’s history in the Old Testament I am often amazed at the parallels I see between ancient Israel and modern America. In this chapter of Amos, the prophet describes a people who are celebrating their self-reliance and wallowing in their wealth. They perceive no need for God as they lead their increasingly decadent lives at the expense of the poorest among them. Amos goes on to describe the dire circumstances that such an existence will yield.
 
We study history for a reason. We are to learn from it and seek to avoid the mistakes that those who have gone before us have made. Amos could be describing the United States of America in 2016. While it is not a pretty picture, it is not too late to wake up. My prayer each morning is that God would lead our nation and those who seek to lead it to a realization of its sin and bring us to a place of confession, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We must rise up from our place of complacent pride and seek the face of our loving God.
 
Soli Deo Gloria!

The Immigration Debate: My Take & My Support for Marco Rubio

You were born in Mexico. You know that your chances of giving your family a better life than you’ve had to this date are far superior in the United States. You also know that the US government is extremely lax in enforcing their immigration laws. Knowing those things, do you stay in Mexico and begin the long and arduous process of immigrating legally? Or do you take your chances and swim the Rio Grande in search of that better life for your family?

Before you answer, consider this scenario:

You’re driving down the freeway. The speed limit is 70 miles per hour. You know that state troopers will allow 5 to 7 mph over the limit before they stop you and possibly issue a ticket. So, do you drive the speed limit or, knowing you won’t be stopped, do you drive 75? Or do you own a radar detector so that you can exceed the speed limit by an even greater margin, comfortable that the likelihood of being stopped is significantly mitigated?

If you are consistent, you would either (1) go through the legal immigration process in the first scenario and drive the speed limit in the second, or (2) disregard the law by swimming the Rio Grande in the first scenario and by exceeding the speed limit in the second.

So what’s your point, you ask? I’m betting that many of those who support a position on illegal immigration that all who entered this country illegally must be deported because they “didn’t respect our laws” are some of the same people that fly by me on the Interstate on a regular basis. I would opine that the habitual speeders, especially those who use technology to evade detection “don’t respect our laws.” Would it be unfair to call the people belonging to the “deport all illegals (because they don’t respect our laws) while I continue to speed down the freeway” group hypocrites? I don’t think so.

We have an immigration problem in the United States. The root cause of the problem is not a disrespect of our laws by some who want to live here. The root cause of the problem is a lax and negligent federal government who, for decades, has turned the other cheek as people flowed into this country illegally. Just like the state trooper who sits on the shoulder as speeders fly by is inviting the traveling public to exceed the speed limit, so also is our government’s failure to enforce our immigration laws an invitation to come on in. Yes. Our illegal immigrants were invited to be here. Many of them have had children here (legally US citizens) and raised their families here. I believe that the vast majority of them truly are here to improve their lives, not to do us harm. And now, many of my fellow Americans want to yank the rug out from under them, separate families, and build a symbolic wall to keep them out once and for all. Shame on us.

Here is what I propose:

  1. The federal government must develop and implement a plan to enforce immigration laws currently on the books to stop the flow into the country. Until this is done, the problem will not be solved.
  2. Get rid of the wall idea. Enforce the laws. Invest the money that would go towards building the wall (no way will Mexico pay for it) in enforcing the laws.
  3. People who have entered the country illegally would have a reasonable amount of time during which they would have the opportunity to identify themselves and apply for legal residency.
  4. Of those in number three above, any with felony or greater criminal convictions would be immediately deported.
  5. Any person in the country illegally that is affiliated with any gang, even if they have no criminal convictions, would be immediately deported.
  6. At the expiration of the registration period, any person in the country illegally would be subject to immediate deportation.
  7. Amend the law to provide that children born in the US to parents who are not US citizens are not granted automatic citizenship; their status would match that of their parents.

Our government created this problem. We citizens stood by and let it happen. There is a humane and reasonable way to address this issue that could benefit millions of people while showing the world that the United States is still the world’s brightest beacon of opportunity. Let’s not be hypocrites. Let’s be kind, caring, understanding, and compassionate.

I support Marco Rubio for president. His immigration views align more closely with my own than any other Republican candidate in the race. Rubio is the compassionate conservative America needs right now. He is pro life. He is a constitutionalist. He is fiscally conservative. I believe that he is best positioned and most desirous of working towards healing the divide that the current Administration has nurtured over the past 7 years.

GOP Inaugural Debate: My Winners & Losers

For the first time in a long time, I woke up this morning feeling bullish on America. Last night’s inaugural GOP debate of the 2016 election season has given me great hope. Seventeen Republicans have thrown their hat into the ring as they vie for their party’s nomination for President of these United States. I remain undecided as to which candidate will garner my support in the rapidly approaching primary season. Here is my short list of winners and losers from last night:

Winners

Carly Fiorina – Pundits from both the left and the right almost universally agree that Carly carried the night. Relegated to the lower level “Happy Hour” debate, Carly offered clear and concise answers to each question she was asked. Her approach to her campaign is refreshing. She is a Washington outsider who has done her homework. Our country is ready for a female president, and Carly just might be the ideal candidate to take on Hillary Clinton. Carly’s award for the evening: Grand Champion.

Jeb Bush – Based on news reports and blogs I’ve read, Bush is the darling of Fox News and the Republican National Committee (RNC). For me, that is not a positive point. However, Jeb was articulate last night. I thought he explained his position on education, particularly common core, quite well. His plan to combat illegal immigration includes a plan to establish a means of gaining legal residency for those currently here illegally – a position with which I agree wholeheartedly. His record as governor of Florida qualifies him for the job he seeks. His biggest hurdle is his last name. Jeb’s award for the evening: Most Improved.

Marco Rubio – Ever since Marco Rubio was elected to the US Senate, I have hoped he would run for president one day. Rubio was the most likeable of the candidates last night. His grasp on foreign policy impressed me. Like Bush, he supports a pathway to citizenship for certain illegals currently in the country. Rubio’s award for the evening: Mr. Congeniality

Scott Walker – Walker is my favorite US governor. I admire the turnaround he led in his state of Wisconsin. I admire his tenacity in standing firmly on his principles against the government unions and for standing his ground as state Democrats sought his recall from office. Walker offers solid leadership with proven results. Walker’s award for the evening: Most Likely to Succeed

Ted Cruz – Senator Cruz is widely known as an expert debater. He is a bona fide Constitutional expert. I am convinced that he would respect our Constitution and govern accordingly as president. While I disagree with him on immigration reform, I believe he would be a strong and principled leader. Cruz’s award for the evening: Most Scholarly

Ben Carson – Soft spoken and quite demure, Dr. Carson is the consummate gentleman. Carson had the best line of the evening in my opinion. In his closing remarks he mentioned a few of his achievements as a neurosurgeon including, “I was the first to remove half a brain; but if you were to visit Washington these days you’d probably think somebody beat me to it.” I think I got that right. While I view Ted Cruz as most scholarly from a Constitutional standpoint, I view Dr. Carson as most wise. That said, he appeared a bit unsure in a few cases and appears to have more homework to do. Carson’s award for the evening: Most Intellectual

Losers

Donald Trump – Pundits stated ahead of the debate that Trump has hit on an anger simmering in the country today, and I agree with them. However, I have never believed him to be truly interested in the job. While his success in business and entertainment cannot be disputed, Trump lacks the self-control and worldly knowledge to serve as president. The bully pulpit will only take one so far. I believe that his showing last night was the beginning of his implosion as a bona fide candidate. Trump’s award for the evening: Class Clown

Rand Paul – Once on my short list of candidates to possibly support, Rand looked completely befuddled last night. He was neither articulate nor persuasive in explaining his position on foreign policy. I am a huge fan of his plan to eliminate income tax in favor of a consumption tax (I’ve advocated that for years) and he appeared to score a few points there. Overall, however, he did not appear comfortable nor confident. Paul’s award for the evening: Most Disappointing

It felt good to wake up this morning feeling bullish on America. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I love my country, always have, always will. But the shenanigans of the current Administration have caused me great consternation for our country’s future. Under Barack Obama, our nation is more divided than I can recall in my lifetime. Our reputation around the world is weakened, much like it was during the Carter years. Our borders are porous, our national debt continues to spiral into the stratosphere, our moral foundation is rapidly deteriorating, and our federal government continues to garner more power for itself at the expense of our liberty while neglecting to meaningfully address the issues that threaten the very existence of this great nation. When Obama first announced his candidacy for president, I said that he was unqualified and naïve of the ways of the world. He has proven me right.

Indeed, I am excited about the 2016 General Election and what it could mean for our nation. Several of the GOP candidates are beginning to emerge as superior to each of the three candidates likely making up the Democratic field: a liar, a socialist, and a buffoon. I come away from last night’s debate with a resolve to support whomever the GOP nominee turns out to be. I’m relieved, as I now know we can do better.

Independence Day 2015

Much of historical significance has happened in our country over the past couple of weeks. As I peruse my Facebook and Twitter feeds and watch America’s news networks, a very disturbing picture begins to emerge; a picture of a nation on the brink of collapse.

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Matthew 12:25

Social media presents an amazing opportunity to reconnect and renew old friendships. It is also a forum in which we can participate in our national conversation with people from all over the country. Unfortunately, we are squandering that opportunity. All too often, we throw barbs at one another, not seeking understanding or even fruitful discussion, but only seeking to advance our position over those with whom we disagree. It gets so bad, that I sometimes log off of social media for a day or two just to get relief from the insults flying back and forth.

I used to be a fan of Fox News until I got sick and tired of watching panels of so-called experts, presumably gathered together to discuss a topic of interest from their different points of view, reduce themselves to yelling over each other to be heard with the host not allowing those expressing opinions in dissent with his own to complete their thoughts. Other so-called “news” channels are guilty of the same useless banter. It is not at all helpful; instead, it serves to increase the divide that is growing ever larger by the day.

Our nation appears to have lost the ability, maybe even the desire, to have open and honest discussions with one another. I believe that, if this continues, this will be the demise of our great nation. We Americans must stand up, rise above the fray, demand quality reporting by our media, and resist the temptation to cast stones at one another.

The First Amendment to the Constitution preserves our right to speak freely, among other things. What does that mean? I’m no Constitutional lawyer (I’m not a lawyer at all, actually) but based on my understanding of American history and my understanding of the intentions of our founders, I believe there is intent here that we Americans have the freedom to speak our minds. Obviously, given the fact that we are all humans and none of us possess perfect knowledge or wisdom, we are going to disagree from time to time. Can we not, out of respect for our fellow citizens, allow such disagreements to take place without shunning the person with whom we disagree? Do any of us really want to live in a society in which we can lose our jobs for sharing an opinion with which some disagree? Can we not disagree with one another, even on important topics of national interest, without attacking each other personally in an attempt to reduce those on the other side of the issue to the ranks of the stupid and uninformed?

Today we celebrate Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, a nation was founded on the principle that people’s rights are inherently theirs by virtue of their Creator, not granted by government. We were founded on the principle that we are not subjects of our government; rather, our government serves at the will of the people. I’ll bet there were some heated discussions as the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were developed. Whatever disputes arose were negotiated and worked out, and the American people won. Friends, let us not effectively shred those documents with trite and fruitless banter. Let us not allow those who seek to divide us (they’re out there, and they seek power only for themselves) to succeed. Let us unite as Americans, understanding that each of us has worth in the eyes of God, knowing that at times we will have to agree to disagree, but also understanding that a nation divided against itself will not survive.

I love my country, I feel blessed to be an American, and I know you do, too. Let’s start now to rise above the fray and come together to save this great nation.

Happy Independence Day and God bless America.

On My Mind: A Car, A Meeting, and A Conversation

Here is what’s on my mind this evening. I hope it adds some value to your day, but even if it doesn’t I’m happy to get this off my chest.

A Car: Ode to a Prius

Taking delivery of my 2015 Toyota Prius V, Texas Toyota of Grapevine. 6.19.2015

Taking delivery of my 2015 Toyota Prius V, Texas Toyota of Grapevine. 6.19.2015

If you had told me three weeks ago that I would trade my nice, luxurious 2007 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer SUV for a Toyota Prius I would have told you that you don’t know me very well. I purchased my Expedition in December, 2013 and was instantly taken by it’s massive size, comfortable ride, and luxurious appointments. Even the meager average 15.4 miles per gallon fuel consumption did not mitigate my affection for that vehicle. It also didn’t hurt that the Expedition won me instant credibility among the Fort Worth elite as I parked it in the Justin lot at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo alongside the vehicles of other rodeo volunteers.

As I write this today, I am the proud owner of a 2015 Toyota Prius V and, yes, Texas Toyota of Grapevine gladly accepted my Expedition in trade. I drive a lot in my job, and in just over a week’s time I put almost 700 miles on my new Prius, averaging just over 40 miles per gallon. My Prius is stylish – and that’s not just my opinion. Every colleague and prospect I have driven thus far has offered that feedback. The car is smooth, quiet, and equipped with cool gadgetry that I am still learning to operate. Based on my simple math, I have saved 29 gallons of gas – about $75. The gas savings alone will cover over half of my monthly payment and I am pumping significantly fewer toxins into the air. I’d say that’s a win all around.

A Meeting: The Value of Face-to-Face

"These dogs are barkin'!" ~ Del Griffith in Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

“These dogs are barkin’!” ~ Del Griffith in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. June, 2014

I have been blessed to enjoy a wonderful career in corporate risk management. Topics that many would find dull, such as safety protocols, claims management, and insurance terms & conditions are quite interesting to me. In Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Neal Page said something along these lines in his rant against Del Griffith’s boring stories, “I could sit in an insurance seminar for days and listen to them drone on and on with a big smile on my face. People would ask me, ‘how do you do it?’ and I’d tell them, ‘because I’ve been with Del Griffith.’” On that point I disagree with Neal Page; I thoroughly enjoy those seminars!

I enjoyed some great meetings today; meetings in which we discussed strategies for safety and claims management and how sound practices in those areas can enhance the work experience of employees and the customer experience of guests. During a break this afternoon I was struck by the fact that we humans were created to be relational; to interact with one another, to shake hands, smile, agree and even disagree. Technology has led us to a fast-paced business tempo in which we often communicate via email, online chat, or conference call. Even our social relationships are moving more online as we interact with friends and family via the plethora of social media outlets available at the click of a mouse. Those things have their place, but after a day like today, I’m reminded of just how important it is that we engage our world without the barriers of pretense or technology. Nothing replaces sitting down and talking.

A Conversation: Why Don’t We Talk Anymore?

Speaking of sitting down and talking, I was once a Facebook Ninja. At least, that’s the best term I can come up with to describe a person who pages through his news feed and pounces on others’ comments on topics upon which I disagree. Often, those posts would launch a rather ugly exchange that served no purpose but to tick one another off. I’ve made a conscious effort to change my ways over the past year or so, and while I am still tempted to drop a vitriolic comment every now and then, I’m happy with my progress to this point.

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast with dear friends, courtesy of the Dunn's.

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast with dear friends, courtesy of the Dunn’s.

We are living in very historic times, and we are quickly losing the ability to talk to one another about things of extremely great importance. The media no longer reports news; it spins statements and circumstances in an effort to drive ratings. In my opinion, the so-called news channels and the national and local network news outlets offer very little of substance or value to the American people. We the People are no better, for we readily consume the kool-aid offered up by our favorite TV spin doctors, regurgitate bits and pieces of it on social media, and commence to attacking one another for being stupid and uninformed. As all of this plays out, I fear we are squandering the greatest nation that ever existed.

I have good friends from all political persuasions. We sometimes trade barbs on social media, but I haven’t talked personally with many of them for years. I’ve often toyed with the idea of hosting a “Friend Summit”. It would be a weekend to gather friends from various walks of life and political ideals and discuss the issues of the day – everything from taxation to immigration to gay marriage – not necessarily to try and change each other’s minds but to arrive at least at an understanding of where our perspectives are coming from. But most importantly, my aim would be to reinforce for each of us that we are all children of our Creator, we all want to live a good life, and we all need each other. I’m still kicking this idea around in my head; I wonder if anybody would come.

Abuse and Use of Power

American politics seem to be getting nastier by the day, from both sides of the political spectrum. I am disappointed in the Grand Jury’s decision to indict Texas Governor Rick Perry, not to mention the fact that charges were brought in the first place. I am equally as disappointed in John Boehner’s talk of a lawsuit against the president. This sort of activity – seeking any means by which to take down political opponents – will bring this country down. It is a waste of taxpayer money as it distracts us from the important issues playing out day by day. Such activity is in no way good for the country – it is intended only to forward the personal agenda of the individual initiating the divisive action.

We voters must wake up and rise above the partisan kool-aid being served up by both political parties. We must demand true leadership from those we elect to serve in our state and federal governments. We must stop drawing conclusions based on social media soundbites and the so-called “experts” on the so-called cable news channels. We must expel from office those who abuse their power and demand real leadership from those whom we elect to serve us. They work for us – never forget that.

Friends, we have the power of the vote. We don’t have to agree on everything, but for the health of our great nation we must agree on this: we must agree to use our power of the vote wisely. We must dig deeper than Facebook, Fox, MSNBC, and the rest. We must reject the partisan kool-aid and insist on facts. We must demand that those elected to serve do so for the good of the nation, not to forward their own selfish personal agendas. On this, each of us, whether liberal or conservative, should be able to unite.

My Facebook Hiatus: Revelations and Resolutions

During my self-imposed Lenten hiatus from Facebook, I missed some things and I didn’t miss others. Here they are, with a few resolutions and some of my favorite pics thrown in for good measure.

Things I Missed

Simple. I missed my friends. I heard from a couple over the course of my hiatus that they missed me, too. Facebook is a blessing in my life. Through it I have reconnected with many friends from my past, and I enjoy seeing what is going on in their lives today. We share joys and sorrows. We share songs and jokes. We share our families. We share life’s highlights and its lowlights. We say “Happy Birthday”! We’ve planned high school and college reunions. We laugh, weep, and pray together. Isn’t that what friends are for? I’ve missed those interactions, and I’m glad to be back. I have a renewed appreciation for all of the wonderful people God has placed in my life.

Things I Didn’t Miss

Political Misinformation. You know what I’m talking about – the supposedly clever one-liners and memes intended to belittle or put political opponents in their place. Such misinformation contributes nothing to our national discourse; in fact, it only serves to contribute to the ongoing weakening of this great country we share. Facebook is full of political misinformation from all sides of the political spectrum – conservatives, liberals, libertarians, and independents are equally to blame. I’ve been guilty of slinging this crap myself from time to time. I didn’t miss this one bit. Resolved: I will continue to post on political topics. Any political posting from me will be fact-checked in support of a candidate or position; I will not sling crap or otherwise insult those with whom I disagree. If we all shared this resolution, Facebook and the good ‘ole USA will be a much nicer place to hang out.

Game Invitations. I don’t want to play Candy Crush. I don’t want to build a farm on Farmville. I don’t care how rad or cool you think the latest game is – I’m not interested. I get tired of game invitations littering my news feed. It’s a pain to go to “Settings” to block them. Play your games and enjoy them. Just please, please, please stop sending me invitations!

Lost Dogs. I’m a dog guy; we have two of them. It breaks my heart when people abuse animals. But I’m not in adoption mode. I don’t need to know how many hours Spot has in the shelter before they put him down or what dog is lost from which neighborhood. Those are depressing and I can do nothing about either. If your kids are lost, I’m interested. If your own personal pet is lost, I’m interested. I’ll help you look for them and pray for their safe return if you ask me to. But please don’t share every animal that needs a home; I can’t give them one. (I do like hearing about successful adoptions, though; that’s cool).

My Facebook Going Forward

With all that said, each of us with a wall on Facebook has a personal space in which to post whatever we like. Perusing a person’s Wall gives a bit of a window into what makes them tick, and that’s really neat. So take what I’ve offered here with a grain of salt and post away! As for me, I’m going to focus on the things that matter most to me: My faith, my family, and my country. I will strive to do so with the utmost respect for those who may wander in and take a look. I’m available to each of my friends (why do we refer to them as “Facebook friends”? I’m going to stop doing that, too. They’re my friends, plain and simple). I’m available to laugh with you, weep with you, celebrate with you, support you, and pray with you. After all, isn’t that what friends are for?

Photo Credit: flipflopspearlsandwine.com

Photo Credit: flipflopspearlsandwine.com

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