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:
http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/opinion/2016/01/28/editorial-trump-honesty-isnt-best-policy/79401256/

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.

https://www.carlyforpresident.com/

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.”

Posted by: SWL | February 2, 2016

Cruz Iowa Win Marred by Aides’ False Tweets

Senator Ted Cruz won the Iowa GOP Caucuses with 28% of the vote.  Donald Trump finished with 24%.  To me, one of two big surprises was Senator Marco Rubio earning 23% of the vote for third place.  (He and Trump earned the same number of delegates.)

The other surprise of the night was Senator Rand Paul’s fifth place finish in the Republican race.  The polls had shown him running seventh or lower.

The evening was marred by the actions of aides to Cruz.  Just before the caucuses began, they were Tweeting that Dr. Ben Carson was dropping out of the race for the GOP nomination, based on a CNN report that Carson wasn’t traveling to New Hampshire.  They also said caucus goers shouldn’t waste their vote on Carson if that was the case.

Carson had actually said that he would return home for a day and then travel on to New Hampshire.

CNN did not say Carson was dropping out.  No logical person would immediately interpret that report to mean Carson was quitting.  Why would any candidate drop out right before the vote?  Cruz aides obviously decided to twist the news to their advantage.

Apologies came a bit later, but any damage had already been done.  That’s typical political behavior:  spread rumors, wait for an effect, then issue a disclaimer or apology.

Today a Cruz supporter in Iowa said it was o.k. because the aides apologized.  She also added, “All’s fair in love and war.”  Sorry, but the ends do not justify the means.  Integrity matters in politics. Can a candidate – or those who advise him or her – be trusted to provide the truth to the American people?  The aides involved in this incident should be fired.

On the Democrats’ side, former Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders finished in a tie.  This morning, Clinton was eventually declared the winner by literally a few votes.  Martin O’Malley earned almost no votes and has suspended his campaign.

 

 

 

Posted by: SWL | February 1, 2016

Iowa GOP Debate Dealt with Real Issues

Last week’s FOX News Republican debate in Iowa was a thing a beauty!  We actually got to hear candidates discussing issues and their plans for solutions.

It is too bad many Donald Trump supporters are said to have watched his fundraising event instead.  If they had watched the debate, they might have actually heard facts that would change their minds on who to support.  (And shame on the networks that carried the Trump event live during the debate.  They were obviously more concerned about ratings than whether the electorate is informed.  And a fundraiser, even for charity, is really not a news event.)

There are plenty of places on the Web for you to get detailed information from the debate, so I’ll just mention a few points that caught my attention and/or redirected my thoughts.

  • Dr. Ben Carson mentioned that problem solving is one of his strengths, that he has put together many teams – often on short notice – to attempt to do something that had never been done before.  While he is new to politics, that experience is invaluable to solving the problems in the US government – many of which the country has not faced in its history.
  • TX Senator Ted Cruz has been criticized in Iowa for wanting to eliminate subsidies for ethanol fuels (derived from Iowa corn).  He was able to expand beyond the typical soundbite to explain that he favors eliminating government subsidies for all energy sources.  That’s great:  cut government spending and let the market determine winners and losers.  Cruz also said he wants to eliminate a ban on certain types of ethanol fuels; that would actually expand the market for ethanol, increasing profits to Iowa corn and ethanol businesses.
  • Cruz’s bad moment came when he kept pressing moderator Chris Wallace for a rebuttal because his name was mentioned in the question Wallace asked another candidate.  Wallace had to explain twice that a candidate gets rebuttal time if another candidate mentions them, not if the moderator does.
  • NJ Governor Chris Christie brought up a good point which stopped the bickering between Cruz and FL Senator Marco Rubio, and also defended both candidates in a way.  They had been accusing each other of flip-flopping in their views on immigration solutions.  Christie pointed out that it’s legal for someone to change their mind on policy issues.  That is something voters should remember; if a candidate never moderates any opinions regardless of the facts, they are not flexible enough to work with both parties to get the work of governing accomplished.

Although I feel KY Senator Rand Paul has no chance to earn the GOP nomination, it was good to hear his views on the issues.  He has not gotten a lot of air time previously, either because he had to spend his tiny amount of time defending against insults from Donald Trump or because he was in the “undercard” group for one debate.  Paul brought up good points on issues, especially US intelligence gathering, that made for interesting exchanges of ideas between candidates.

This was election campaigning and debate as it should be.  Trump has made the campaign a spectacle with little substance.  He has benefited personally from all the hoop-la, but the country is worse off.

 

Posted by: SWL | January 28, 2016

Glad Trump Won’t Go To Debate

Mr. Trump, please stay away from the debate tonight!

I’m tired of Donald Trump bullying his way to being the center of attention.  It will be great to have a debate about important issues, rather than side issues brought up because of crazy remarks made by Trump.

This latest thing with the debate was so childish on both sides.  But Trump started it.  He didn’t need to rehash the complaints he had concerning the very first Republican debate, when Megyn Kelly asked about Trump’s use of insults when referring to women.  It was a legitimate question, given Trump’s long record of calling women names.  Regardless, that was month’s ago (although to campaign watchers it might seem like years).

FOX News’ Twitter response was silly, but witty – just not appropriate for a business.  Making fun of Trump for asking his Twitter followers if he should attend the debate is not professional.

But Trump should not have been so quick to call them on that.  When fellow candidate, Senator Ted Cruz, suggested he and Trump have a one-on-one debate, Trump Tweeted, “Can we have it in Canada?”  (referring to Cruz’ place of birth to American citizens, and continuing Trump’s recurring effort to plant doubt about his closest competitor).  Was that any more grown-up or professional than the FOX News Tweet?

This shows why Trump would make a terrible president:  he insults and makes fun of anyone who doesn’t agree with him, but cannot take the least bit of the same coming back to him.  That kind of unstable temperament would be a huge disadvantage for the president of the world’s biggest economic and military power in dealing with the US Congress or the heads of other nations.

Posted by: SWL | November 11, 2015

Honor Our Veterans Today

I want to send out a big thank-you to all living veterans of the US military for your service to our country. The time you spent in the armed forces is time you will never get back. But that sacrifice has kept our country free from foreign invasion, a blessing few countries in the world have known.

I also want to thank families that have lived for years or decades without a loved one who died in the line of duty. And last, but not least, I thank – and pray for – families who are caring for a veteran injured while in the service. These people are sacrificing and serving every day. May God bless your families!

Sunday the San Francisco 49ers squeaked out a one point win over the Atlanta Falcons with Blaine Gabbert as starting QB. After almost every Niners’ play, FOX commentators talked about how Gabbert did better than QB Colin Kaepernick has done so far this season. As a Kaepernick fan, I’m biased, but sports commentators and writers are getting a bit too excited – it was only a one point win.

Kap has not been playing well this season. Since he’s not the type to speak badly of the team or coaches, it’s been difficult to say just what the problem is. But many northern Nevada sportscasters and writers, who know Kap better than the national media after following his University of Nevada-Reno career, are saying that they think Kaepernick is being made the scapegoat for all the team’s problems.

I have to question the judgement of those making roster choices. Besides benching Kaepernick, they traded Vernon Davis for 6th and 7th round draft picks. Practically giving away an asset like Davis seems like a stupid move. Maybe money was the issue, with Davis near the end of his contract. But if financial considerations drive roster decisions, the 49ers are doomed to have losing seasons.

I think the sports media needs to hold off a few more weeks before saying Kaepernick is washed up. Gabbert has not proven himself in one game.

In last night’s GOP debate, Carly Fiorina spoke twice about companies merging to have more clout with the government. This morning CNBC was reporting that drug manufacturers Pfizer and Allergan are in friendly merger talks. If this deal comes to pass, the combined company would be the world’s largest pharmaceutical company.

With the recent focus on drug costs, this move makes sense. With increased complaints about the consumer costs of medicines, the federal government will likely seek more control over drug manufacturers. The larger the drug company, the more power they could have to influence the legislative process in their favor. This is exactly what Fiorina meant when she talked about crony capitalism in government.

You can’t blame businesses for doing what is best for their bottom line. They are in business to make money for their owners/shareholders. But they wouldn’t need to look for protective strategies like mergers if the government did not continually look for ways to regulate (i.e. interfere with) business practices.

What was the Republican House of Representatives thinking???!!! They passed a spending bill that included approval of unlimited increases in the US debt ceiling until March 2017 (two months after the next president is inaugurated). Congress is the branch of US government tasked with approving federal spending – this bill removes the oversight power Congress has over the executive branch. The administration has been given a blank check.

Governing is a compromise between various needs, various political interests. But compromise means both (or multiple) factions receive something in return for giving up something. This deal gives the administration/Democrats basically everything they want (or will decide they want in the next year) while giving almost nothing in return.

The measure still needs Senate approval. The Republicans have a smaller majority in the Senate, so passage is virtually assured. Sen. Rand Paul says he will filibuster, i.e. spend lots of time talking against the bill, threatening to push the vote until the early hours of the morning. It’s good to see someone with the courage to stand (literally) for what they believe, even if there is little chance of winning anyone over to their point of view.

A filibuster also gives constituents time to make their opinions known. If you think unlimited debt increases are a danger to the country, please contact your Senator immediately!

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