Sun-DevilZane Gonzales, kicker for my alma mater Arizona State, broke the NCAA career field goal record Saturday night in Sun Devil Stadium. Early in the game against the UCLA Bruins, Gonzales tied the record. It seemed likely he would set the new record, as the first half of the game was all about field goals on both sides.

The second half saw more TDs, but Gonzales got his chance and booted a nice 46 yarder cleanly through the uprights.

Gonzales had broken the PAC-12 record the previous week at USC. But I’m sure this was extra sweet being on his home field and with his team winning 23-20 over the Bruins.

Posted by: SWL | September 21, 2016

Clinton Campaign Spent $50 Million in August

Hillary Clinton’s campaign spent $50 million in August. Most of us just gloss over that number because it is so foreign to us. But think about it . . . a five followed by seven zeros . . .

Most retirement experts recommend that a person have a million dollars invested for retirement. In one month Clinton blew through savings that would sustain 50 people for 20-30 years. (And many seniors will not have anywhere near that amount saved.)

Clinton speaks often about caring for children. If elected president, she would have to fight with Congress to get any legislation passed raising spending on children’s programs. She probably could have done more good just donating $50 million to a children’s charity, or the state foster care system in her adopted state of New York.

The money spent in presidential and congressional races is a shameful waste. (That does not mean I would favor government funding campaigns and banning private donations. That would be a waste of citizens’ hard-earned tax dollars. And, like most government programs, would surely be full of waste and fraud.) We need to make the campaign season shorter by law to start, and limit all lobbyist donations while a candidate is in office. Campaign financing reform would be more complicated; some suggestions in the past have trampled on individual citizens’ ability to contribute – a form of free speech. But something needs to be done to funnel these funds to areas our society needs more.

Posted by: SWL | August 29, 2016

Kaepernick Has Right to Sit During US Anthem

I’ve been a fan of Colin Kaepernick since he quarterbacked the team at the University of Nevada in nearby Reno. I do not agree with his decision to sit during the “Star-Spangled Banner” but I support his right to do so. It’s also likely that I won’t wear my Forty-Niners/Kaepernick jersey this season, but more from fear of backlash from fans that are angry with him, than any protest of my own against him.

Kaep has legitimate concerns about our country, but I think he is wrong to say that the problems permeate the entire nation. There are many locations where people of different races get along well. There will always be trouble in spots – not just with racism, but with wealth inequality (which is not limited to a racial divide), religion and social issues. Kaepernick said he’s waiting for things to get better; he may be sitting his entire life.

I also question whether he really understands everything he speaks about. He was adopted by white parents, living in their world. He could afford the college education that propelled him into a million-dollar sports job.

I’ve heard some criticism that he hasn’t spoken before about social issues, so this is a stunt. Phooey! For everyone that works for justice, there has to be a first step. Maybe this is Kaep’s. Another criticism is that he doesn’t do volunteer work in the inner city. But Kaep has worked for a number of years with children with heart problems at Camp Taylor in California. He doesn’t have to march with Black Lives Matter to be a caring, giving guy.

I think people ought to lighten up. I have not heard this much uproar when NFL players have been accused of murder or domestic abuse. I am a patriot, an anthem singer, a Pledge of Allegiance reciter. But I am far more concerned about human lives, keeping kids safe, helping those in poverty, etc. People are always more important than symbols.

Posted by: SWL | August 29, 2016

Trump Exploits Any Tragedy

Today, Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, announced she is leaving her husband, former NY politician Anthony Weiner. Apparently Weiner has been caught – again! – sexting with some young woman. Can we just have some sympathy for a woman whose life has to be exposed publicly and leave her in peace? It’s difficult enough to go through a divorce when you are relatively anonymous.

But presidential candidate Donald Trump had to compound Abedin’s misery by Tweeting about the situation. What I found most disturbing was that Trump said there was grave risk that Weiner had access to classified US information. Trump linked that to Clinton’s judgement, but it really is an insult to Abedin. Many people in government service have access to state secrets, but do not blab them to a spouse or lover. If there is no hint of proof that Abedin did this, Trump should keep silent. The man has no tact!

Posted by: SWL | July 11, 2016

Kellogg’s Makes Sugary Cereal Even Sweeter

The Kellogg’s company claims many of their treats and cereals are healthy choices: Special K cereals and snacks, and Nutri-grain bars’ 8 grams of whole grain, for example. When they add chocolate to Special K and the bars have 12-15 grams of sugar per bar, I might dispute their claim. But let’s ignore that for now.

Far more irresponsible (insane?) is their new Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows. Yes, they took an already sweetened cereal and added an item that is almost completely sugar or corn syrup. What are they thinking???!!!

There is an epidemic of obesity among children in the US, something that has occurred in the past 10-20 years. Of course, it’s fueled as much by kid’s choices to sit in front of a computer, tablet a or phone playing games or chatting with friends as by food choices. But foods have also become sweeter in recent decades. A serving of JIF peanut butter has 3 grams of sugar – so does a serving of Campbell’s cream of broccoli soup. The more I learn about healthy eating, the more I believe that sugars are more of a problem than fats.

Hidden sugars are bad. Busy parents that think they are purchasing decent food for their families contribute to health problems without knowing it.

But Kellogg’s new Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows is not much better. Recently they’ve advertised about lowering sugar content 20-30% in some cereals, they market their so-called healthier products extensively and provide recipes made with their cereals or crackers and healthy items such as fruit. They also own MorningStar Farms vegetarian foods. So why do something as bad for consumers as adding an additional 2 grams of sugar/serving to a cereal that already has 10 grams? The marshmallows do not change the flavor profile; marshmallows taste about the same as the sugar already coating the flakes. Absolutely irresponsible!

Personally I like plain corn flakes (Kellogg’s has only 3 grams sugar/serving), crisp rice cereal and shredded wheat (0 grams sugar – unfrosted). Unfortunately kids (even my grandson who generally loves healthy foods) want a little sweetness in their cereal. But there are plenty of healthier cereal options with 6-8 grams of sugar per serving.

If you want to comment to Kellogg’s about this cereal go to their website’s contact page.

Posted by: SWL | July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

I just finished watching the local 20 minute fireworks show from my front porch. Similar fireworks displays are popping all over the US this Independence Day.

There are food and games at our park during the day, and many families stay until the fireworks are over. My spouse and I used to take our daughters when they were young and go with our grandson when he visits in the summer. But with a great view from our front yard, we often just relax and enjoy the fireworks without the crowds.

There are so many options for enjoying the celebration of our nation’s freedom.

I hope that as families have fun this July 4th, they also remember (and teach the children) the sacrifices many made to gain that freedom. For the Founding Fathers (and mothers) the fight to escape taxation without representation (and many other problems) was not fun. Everything we enjoy in the present age is available because of their efforts.

I thank God for those patriots and for those who have fought over the decades to keep our freedoms. May God continue to bless the United States!

I was saddened by today’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down Texas state provisions requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other surgical centers and their doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals in case of emergencies. It was a win for abortionists like Kermit Gosnell, whose clinic was closed down because of unsanitary conditions (to put it nicely), but who made millions of dollars over the many years without inspections. Abortion is an invasive procedure, requiring sanitary conditions and instruments. Any reputable doctor should not mind surgical center standards.

Except for politics (millions in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood to sympathetic politicians), I do not understand why abortions are treated differently from other medical procedures. Do doctors and politicians have contempt for desperate women seeking to get rid of a problem pregnancy? Do they think these mothers (yes, if they are pregnant, they are a mother) are not worthy of the same clean, well-staffed facilities as someone getting a tummy-tuck or dental work?

If there is a right to have an abortion, it should include the right to have it be safe. Those with financial interests in abortion have used the “rights” argument to obstruct common sense regulations whose implementation might take a bit of their profits. They are exploiting the vulnerability of women with unplanned pregnancies. This is not a conservative or liberal issue; it is an issue of keeping women healthy – and sometimes alive. Just ask the relatives of the women who died after visiting Gosnell’s clinic.

The US Department of Justice has decided to make individuals in the criminal justice system feel better by not using the words “felon” or “convict”. The DOJ finds these terms, used for decades, to be “disparaging”. Replacement language will include “person who committed a crime” and “individual who was incarcerated”. (Read the full story here.)

DOJ needs to consider history and English before making these crazy pronouncements. “Convict” comes from “person convicted of a crime”, “felon” from “person convicted of a felony crime”. So DOJ’s new “person who committed a crime” will just get shortened back to “criminal” which I doubt fits their new sensitive perspective.

The rational for this change is to make prisoners feel they can make positive changes in their lives. I appreciate the idea of trying to get those who break the law successfully integrated back into a law-abiding lifestyle after they serve their sentences. While labels do have an effect on people, there are many other more powerful forces working against those leaving prison or jail. The new labels likely will not make a former prisoner feel better about themselves, and certainly will not make businesses cease to worry about possible complications of hiring an “individual who was incarcerated”.

I sincerely hope no taxpayer money is spent reprinting DOJ documents to change these phrases.

I underestimated the American voters’ upset over seven years of Obama administration policies and their fascination with celebrities and put-downs. As Donald Trump continued to insult anyone who even hinted anything negative about him, I thought the public would tire of his arrogance and meanness.

Now Trump is the only Republican candidate who has not “suspended” (read quit) their campaign. What a disaster! Hillary Clinton (who might have more legal/political experience than the original 17 GOP candidates put together) will either chew up Trump or ignore him and stay on her message. The other Republican candidates got flustered when Trump attacked them – how does one respond well to mean, nasty name-calling with few facts? On the other hand, Clinton is pretty unflappable. If Trump uses similar tactics against her, she’ll likely make a few comments and move on, or ignore him altogether. Except that I find the prospect of either of them being the next US president totally depressing, the campaign might be interesting to watch.

I consider this situation so bad, that for the first time in my adult life, I may not vote. I suppose the usual assortment of independent candidates will be on the ballot. Normally I consider my vote wasted on someone like that, even if they have great ideas. But this November, if one of them matches up with what I believe, I may cast my vote to make a statement.

USA Today reported today that Microsoft is suing the federal government over spying on users data and documents. The government has made thousands of requests to search Microsoft users’ information – ordering Microsoft to keep searches a secret from the users. Microsoft believes this violates customers Fourth Amendment rights. If the government wanted to go through similar physical records at a person’s home or business, the person would know about the warrant.

While I am not a fan of the Microsoft monopoly (and I hate Windows 8), I applaud their efforts to guard the privacy of people using cell phones, the internet and the “cloud”. I am a supporter of law enforcement and want a safer world. But I am even more concerned about privacy.

It is becoming more and more difficult to maintain privacy, from unwanted phone solicitations to identity thieves. There are legitimate reasons why law-abiding citizens want to keep their lives private. For me, it is mostly about maintaining a relatively peaceful life. The lower your profile, the fewer surveys, pleas for money and scams come your way, the less junk mail you get. This applies to the physical world as well as the digital world.

People might jokingly or innocently use a word or phrase that intelligence agencies are watching for. That doesn’t make them a criminal or terrorist. Federal or local law enforcement should have to use their old-school investigative techniques to check out such a person before delving into the person’s personal – and maybe encrypted – data. And the person should always be informed if law enforcement is going to take that next step.

We are continually told this is a safety issue and law-abiding citizens should have nothing to hide. But that does not mean we need to allow government to see everything. The federal government has not been able to prevent hackers from breaking into government computer systems, from the Office of Personnel Management to the Pentagon. The feds have allowed the personal and financial safety of thousands of citizens to be put at risk. (They gave federal employees affected by the OPM hack free credit monitoring – whoopee! That only notifies you after there’s a problem.) I am also concerned about the mandated nationalized health records system. The federal government cannot be trusted to keep our personal information safe. Microsoft is doing a much better job of that. Maybe the feds should get Microsoft to help them with security instead of asking Microsoft to help spy on Americans.

Posted by: SWL | February 24, 2016

Too Bad Nevada Republicans Are Under Trump’s Spell

I am disappointed that my fellow Nevadans gave Donald Trump another win in the race for the Republican nomination for president. I understand that voters are fed up with the way the federal government has been functioning (or not) since Barack Obama became president. The economy has not improved much despite assurances from the White House, and many are hurting.

But Trump is not the answer. Exit polls at the caucuses last night showed around half of those calling themselves moderate or very conservative voted for Trump. But Trump is not all that conservative and won’t take up the causes that conservatives care about. Oh, he says things like “We’ll build a wall (on the border) and make Mexico pay for it.” But he has yet to lay out a proposal of how to do that.

Pro-life conservatives care about all the federal tax dollars wasted on Planned Parenthood. (There are about four times as many community health centers in the US than PP facilities. Community health offices provide many more services than PP, so funds given to PP would be more efficiently spent there.) Trump has been complimentary to PP.

Many rural Nevadans (usually conservative) would like to see the federal government give the 87% of the land they control here over to state control. Trump has said he favors keeping federal land under federal control.

Exit polls showed that the majority of those calling themselves evangelical Christians voted for Trump. Apparently they are not voting with the tenets of their faith in mind because Trump does not act like a Christian, although he claims to be. Christians are supposed to be kind (Ephesians 4:32), not consider themselves above others (Romans 12:3), not use crude language (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4, Colossians 3:8) or lie (Ephesians 4:25, (Colossians 3:9). Trump insults anyone who disagrees with him, spends more time talking about how much he’s accomplished than any plans for the country, has used coarse language multiple times and told a number of lies. Only God can judge a person’s heart, but we should be wary when someone’s actions do not line up with what they claim to believe. (“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6: 45)

I could list more ways that Trump is not conservative, but you get the idea. I keep hoping that voters will take some time to actually examine Trump’s plans (or notice the lack of plans) and those of the other candidates. They would see that while his enthusiastic speeches satisfy their emotions, his presidency would not satisfy their ideas of how our government should operate.

Posted by: SWL | February 21, 2016

Trump’s Lies, Part 2

Today I read a second opinion piece about the untruths in Donald Trump’s campaign. I am glad to finally see the truth coming out, especially as Trump accuses other candidates of lying.

Trump’s false claims are nothing new – his collective misstatements were named the 2015 Lie of the Year by PolitiFact – so why has it taken the mainstream media so long to report on this? It is a shame they waited so long. More accurate reports on Trump’s claims while campaigning might cause some voters to reconsider their support.

I certainly do not want another president who exaggerates and lies to the American people. Of course, Trump is not the only candidate telling lies. But he seems to be the one who gets his lies publicized the least. And the fact that Trump has been hammering Ted Cruz for lying (in many cases for things said/done by his staff) while continuing to lie himself is hypocritical, as I wrote about in my last post. Hypocrisy is another trait not suitable for a US president. Trump supporters need to wake up to the fact that he is not fit to be president.

Donald Trump’s most recent attacks consist mainly of calling Ted Cruz a liar – without any facts to back up that claim.*

Trump apparently has a double standard, but check out this article, originally published in USA Today on January 27, 2016:

I am not a Cruz fan, but I am very tired of Trump spewing insults and accusations against other candidates without any proof – and not being called on it by the mainstream media.


* Trump mentions the Cruz campaign tweets in Iowa about Dr. Ben Carson, which hinted Carson was dropping out of the race. While those tweets were not true, the fault most likely lies with Cruz aides, not Cruz. They may have lied or are just incompetent. (See my post on that event here.) Trump has not cited any other specific lies he thinks Cruz told.

Posted by: SWL | February 6, 2016

ABC Wrong to Deny Fiorina Debate Spot

ABC News has denied candidate Carly Fiorina a spot in tonight’s GOP debate based on their “criteria”. I would say their criteria lack substance at best; at worst they are stupid and illogical.

The biggest argument in Fiorina’s favor is that she is the only Republican candidate who will not be on the debate stage. Why would ABC leave out just one candidate? It cannot be that difficult to add one more podium to the stage.  Eight candidates is certainly manageable after 10 or 11 back at the first debate.

ABC said this was no different than when NJ Governor Chris Christie’s poll numbers put him an undercard debate; he worked his way back up and Fiorina can too.  But that supposed justification does not work because Fiorina earned more votes in the Iowa Caucuses than Christie or Ohio Governor John Kasich, both of whom ABC will allow on stage tonight. Including Iowa votes as part of the criteria would have made sense, but I guess ABC doesn’t care about being reasonable.

Since no one will get to hear from Fiorina tonight, I’ve included a link to her official campaign website if you want to learn more about her stand on the issues.

Posted by: SWL | February 4, 2016

Sanders Campaign Needs to Educate Its Workers

Thanks to efforts from Nevada Senator Harry Reid to make our state more prominent nationally, Nevada’s caucuses were moved to an earlier spot on the calendar in 2008. Since the Iowa Caucuses last week, the number of telephone calls from campaigns has increased at my house.

Twice today I received calls from people identifying themselves with the Bernie Sanders campaign. I informed the first worker that I was registered non-partisan and she was surprised that one must be registered with one of the two main parties to take part in their caucus. That ignorance is hard to overlook, because that is how all caucuses work. (Non-partisans like myself, or other independents, must change their registration to participate in a caucus.)

The second caller asked if I would vote for Sander in the primary. I explained that he was calling Nevada and that we had a caucus, and went on to explain the non-partisan situation too.

Independent voters, who are not bound by party loyalty, are often more politically educated than party-line voters. If the Sanders campaign wants to win them over, they need to be sure those who man the phones are knowledgeable about the state they are calling. It’s not enough for them to tell voters, as the first caller told me, “He’s awesome.”

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