69+ Years Pondering and Pontificating

What do you get after all these years have passed by, and you start looking back ? For me, lots of great memories, an amazing wife, a quad of great kids, a baker's dozen of grandkids, and several tons of experience. Of course, it also brings some entrenched opinions, thoughtful ideas, and perhaps some insight that will help others on their journey through life. Hopefully the posts on these pages will be useful and interesting.

An Independent Observes The GOP Debate …. Huh ?

FlagAs a registered independent, I don’t cast a primary vote in the presidential contest.  I’m still interested in who is running because one of them will likely be our next president.  Viewing this campaign, however, sure makes me wonder exactly what we are looking for when choosing our next Executive.  I know what I want, but I sure appear to be out of the mainstream of thought in the election decision.

First, I’m really opposed to labels.  All these names, mostly with negative connotations, just turn me off.  What is a conservative, or liberal ?  Do we really know what a socialist is today ?  How about left and right ?  It seems to be all about boxes, and I always thought individuals were far too complex to be placed in the confines of some labeled container.  So candidates who are always lashing out at labels just don’t impress me as quality leaders.

I’m also struggling with meritless assumptions.  We seem to have a pastime in this country of making assertions with no regards to the facts, and then repeating them as if they would magically become true.  No amount of repetition makes a false statement true, and yet candidates persist.  Maybe it’s because these are lines the “fans” want to believe, and the followers will simply accept them as fact, even when they are not.  I just don’t understand that system, but it is our reality.   No matter how often some “facts” are debunked, the candidates keep throwing them out there, playing to the emotional side of the voters, than dealing with reality.  Of course, our president has only reality to handle 24/7.

From this perspective, I tuned into the recent debate hosted by CNBC.  I actually hoped to hear some real discussions about the economy, our staggering, yet growing debt, and perhaps ideas on how to get Americans employed.  I was definitely disappointed, but unlike the candidates and GOP leadership, it was not by the questions posed by the moderators.  Frankly, some of those were beautiful targets for any candidate to actually discuss their ideas about how we can resolve the economic problems we face.  Instead, they dodged them to attack the media, or simply say “I’ve got a better plan than …” without divulging the details of that plan.  We kept hearing about mistakes of the past, the bad guys, one upmanship, and their non-specific plans, but comprehensive strategies were never evident.

Perhaps my disappointment comes because  I don’t see anyone with a clear vision for their role in the White House that will unify this country.  They all say the words the polls tell them people want to hear, but what is their clear action plan ?  I realize they have very limited time on that stage, but a true leader will grab those moments and make their vision, and experience, clear.  They won’t waste one moment on other candidates, or the past, or playing the blame game.

So what do I want to hear from our next President ?  Here are a few of my bullet points:

  • Over 50% of our financial resources are in the hands of just a few people.  It is not money being invested in our economy.  It’s the accumulation based on greed, and it contributes nothing to the financial health of our nation.  I want to hear someone address how they would approach getting the money put back to work to enhance our economy for the benefit of all people.
  • We have far too many people with skills that can be used in this country, and yet their jobs have been sent off shore.  How will our next President work with companies to encourage them to bring these jobs back home.  How do we change the mindset of corporations ?
  • We have a debt we simply won’t be able to pay back, and this arose because we borrowed funds rather than ran a “pay as we go” society.  We keep hearing about cutting the tiny programs that we emotionally may oppose, but who will give a solid plan to cut the meat to a point where we immediately balance the budget.  What are the plans for finding, and eliminating waste in government spending?   Who has the courage to address the waste in defense spending ?
  • Who has a plan to actually pull together the White House and Congress in fruitful, non-partisan discussions that will actually focus on the needs of our country rather than the special interests?
  • Animosity is a rampant resource in our country, but it doesn’t reflect on the true values held by the majority of our citizens.  Who can change the tone of our dialogs where we quite playing the adversarial roles and unite for a common purpose ?  Who can lead setting the model of mutal respect and civility ?
  • We have massive national infrastructure needs.  Will anyone address those ?
  • We have immigration problems because we allowed people to come into our country and work at jobs no one else would do, at low wages, and without benefits.  What is the actual solution proposed to respectfully retain workers we want to employ
  • We can debate global warming all day long but when it comes to the local effects of pollution there is absolutely no debate.  Who has the courage to be firm with corporations that pollute and throw out the “economic consequences” arguments?  Who has the courage to stand up for our kids and grandkids, and give them clean, safe, communities ?

I’ve got a lot more issues, but you probably get the idea.  Of course, if I pose these questions to the candidates, they would all say they have a plan, and they could get the job done.  Therefore, I need to actually see examples of where they have used their skills in the past, and accomplished change that benefits the community, state, or nation, as a direct result of their involvement.  I especially want to see how they worked with the difficult people, the opposition, the highly ego-involved, and the powerful, to bring about unity and improvements to our society.

I won’t say the people on the stage this week are missing the skills.  I will say that not one of them showed me evidence that they really can make a difference as our next president.  Of course, I’m not hearing it on the other side, either, so this is not some type of partisan eval.

Of course you disagree.  Feel free to share your views … though humor me with some real facts that you can draw from “primary sources.”

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It’s NOT About the 2nd Amendment


“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”

Today, 92 people die in the United States every day as a result of gun violence.  As a society, we simply accept this, disregarding the fact that every single life matters.  Those who believe we have an issue worth discussing are dismissed with “crazy people will find a means to kill”, or some other unproven logic.  We could be silent, but the number of deaths each day is rising, even as citizens rush to protect themselves with newly acquired guns and assault weapons.

The main argument used to defend the uncontrolled acquisition of firearms by anyone is the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution.  These people claim the article prevents all rational conversation on the topic, making it off limits.  Aside from politically corrected interpretations, what does this amendment actually dictate ?   First, it is about firearms.  Rather than being all encompassing, it is rather limiting.  Here are some of the key phrases:

  • A well regulated militia:  Regulation provides discipline, which provides for the care of these firearms.  Our military, and police forces, are well regulated
  • being necessary to the security of a free state:  The state is our country, which is free, and the purpose of this militia is to keep it free.  In context, this means to defend against the enemies of our country, here and abroad, who would threaten our national security ( and thus our member states ).
  • to keep and bear arms:  This was very specific to possession, but did not address use.
  • the right … shall not be infringed:  When the constitution was written, the word infringed,  derived from the medieval Latin infringere, meant to break or crush.  It did not mean that no regulations could be passed.

Taken as a single statement, the people were given the right, with strict regulation, to keep arms to protect the country and it’s existence as a free state.  Anything beyond that is not addressed in the Constitution or its amendments.   We have an established militia that meets the criterion, so any possession beyond that becomes a privilege. 

Discussing the abusive use of firearms, and the destruction that causes, in no way will harm the 2nd amendment.  It’s provisions are in place exactly as the authors intended.  People who want to have this discussion are not trying to disarm the military, eliminate the 2nd amendment, or even limit legitimate possession of guns by citizens.  They simply want to open discussion on the abuses prevalent in our society that needlessly take the lives of over 90 people each and every day.     Here are some basic principles upon which this discussion could focus.  Would the acceptance of these concepts, and enforcement of them, in any way actually harm our constitution ?

  • Mental illness is not aided with firearms:  We often hear that people who kill others are mentally ill.  That is one possibility, though anger and fear are another leading contributor.  If that is the case, then do we still need to allow those with mental illness to possess firearms ?   What if we confiscated their weapons and instead provided them with treatment ?  Even if only some success were met, and only some lives were saved, doesn’t every innocent life matter ?
  • Gangs should not have firearms:  It is time to support our police with authority to disarm gang members.  Sure, they can get more … for a while … but eventually the source runs dry and we make a dent in the problem.  Yes, gang members kill other gang members with their guns, but often they also kill those who contribute to their community / families,  grandmothers and little children.
  • We don’t need assault weapons in the public sector:  Fire an assault rifle and you learn quickly you have no control.  You simply spray an area with bullets.  We don’t need that on the streets of America,  These are not for hunting, and those who get them for protection are likely to kill a whole lot more than the assailant. 
  • People need training before owning a gun:  We often hear about “gun accidents” involving children, or guns going off while stored on a person, or in their bags ( purse, backpack, etc ).  People should be trained, and certified competent, before possessing a gun.  This does not need to be a government job.  I’m fine if the NRA wants to put together a true training / certification program.  No one should die because a careless person didn’t know how to handle, or store, a gun. 
  • People shouldn’t own a gun because of cultivated fear:  Our gun industry pushes the agenda we should buy a gun to protect ourselves.  A large number of gun owners have them for this reason, but when confronted, they simply could not carry through and use them.  Conversely, some have acquired so much fear that they kill innocent people, including some who may arrive at their doorstep to help out, or check on their welfare.
  • Angry people should not have guns:  Many of us simply don’t want to be around angry, or defiant, gun owners.  Their feelings are often the result of listening to negative talk radio, and TV shows, and their guns are a means of expression for their rage at how wrong things are in our society.  When anger boils over,  they may use those weapons to express their feelings, and once again, innocent people die. 

These are just some of the issues upon which I would focus discussions.   This is not some liberal agenda, and I in no way have any thoughts about dismantling the 2nd Amendment.   What I do encourage, however, is for all those who say “LIVES MATTER” to actually act on that premise and engage in a conversation to protect the innocent.  We can’t do that if we continue to arm ourselves rather than engage in constructive dialogs.  If you believe we have enough laws, then my response would be that we obviously have the wrong laws.  I don’t advocate more laws, just effective ones that will curb violence and protect our citizens.

Touchy subject ?  You bet, but I care enough about the kids, the grandparents, the hard working youth, and those who struggle with their own mental demons to say I don’t want to see their lives end by a projectile !  

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