Politicians and preachers

The Pew Research Group recently published a poll about Trust, Facts, and Democracy. (April 26, 2018) CNN published an editorial about the poll entitled, “1 poll number that should be a wake-up call for politicians“. The number they referred to was “3%”. This was the number of respondents who said they had a “Great Deal” of confidence in elected officials to act in the best interest of the public.

That question also revealed that 75% said they either had “not too much” or absolutely no confidence in their elected officials.

A few things…

CNN made the jump from “elected officials” to “politicians”. Those are not the same things. Granted, usually they are. But sometimes people get elected  specifically because they are *not* a politician. Politician has been a dirty word in America for a long time.

How long? I have no idea. You can do *that* research. I just know that Jimmy Carter was elected to the presidency in 1976 in large part because he was an “outsider”, which many people interpreted as “not a politician.” That was dumb, because he was very much a politician, having begun — as far as I can tell — as a school board member, then a member of the Georgia Senate, then governor of Georgia.  His father had even been a member of Georgia politics.

The point is, there has long been a feeling that we should “get rid of the politicians that run the country.”

Well. That led to Donald Trump. Love him, hate him, or ignore him (Is that even possible?) pretty much everyone agrees — Donald Trump is no politician.

But wait a minute. What *is* a politician? The dictionary says a politician is someone who is skilled and experienced in governing or in conducting the business of governing.

But is that what most people think of when they use that word? Mostly our politicians, those that run the business of government, are most skilled at being “politically correct.” That is, they don’t say things that are too far from the mindset of their constituency. They act and behave in ways of which most of society approves.

Is Donald Trump a politician? By definition, yes. He is running the business of the government. You can argue whether or not he’s running it well, but he is part of the business by virtue of office — even if he’s left the virtue out of it. The last part is why those who dislike him feel they way they do — he’s not politically correct. His lack of political correctness is a big reason why his supporters support him.

Anyway, back to the poll and the thing that caught CNN’s eye — the low trust in elected officials.

However, what caught my eye was this: although only 3% of people had a great deal of trust in elected officials, business leaders were only greatly trusted by 5% and the news media only gained 8%. Overall, no leadership group received a great deal of trust from over 40% of the people. The most trusted leaders? The military. Even military leaders received a great deal of trust from 39% of the people. (Another 41% gave them a “fair amount” of trust, which puts them in the solid trust of 80%.)

The scary part for me is that only 9% have a great deal of trust in one other group: religious leaders. That’s only 6% better than elected officials. And a full 50% say they have little or no trust in religious leaders. Contrast that against the 79% of people who solidly trust scientists.

It’s no wonder that people will believe the wild speculations of science, but tune out those who preach eternal truths from the Bible.

The DNC platform: a commentary. Summation.

Simply because I hate not to finish things, I’m counting this as my finish.

This began as an honest attempt to examine the Democratic Party Platform, to discover for myself the things with which I agreed, disagreed, and why. I fully expected to be surprised with how much I would agree, not because I am a Democrat, but because I’ve always believed the old line that “there is much more that unites us than divides us.”

Though I have not finished the commentary, I have read the entire document. I was wrong. There is much more that divides us than unites us. What both Democrats and Republicans and every other party usually agree on is they want the United States to be prosperous and fabulous. There is sharp disagreement on how to get there.

While I don’t agree with the Republican strategy of hiring Donald Trump, I don’t agree with the Democratic strategy of becoming a socialist nation, either. The Democratic solutions in many instances are dumb, and in some instances are morally repulsive.

But don’t take my word for it. (Please.) Read it for yourself.

The DNC platform: a commentary. Part 4b.

The Democratic Party Platform, was approved July, 2016. This is Part 4b of my page-by-page commentary, attempting to clarify the things with which I agree and the things with which I disagree. Each part covers one of the thirteen major sections of the DNC’s statement. However, after writing for several pages, I discovered that this section is especially long. So I have split this up into parts 4a and 4b. (Read Part 4a here.)

The process of writing these posts has been slow. On one hand, I wish this had been much quicker. I’m only 4/13 of the way in, and well over a year has passed since this platform was originally published.

On the other hand, the time between each post has given me opportunities to pause and reflect on what has been written and what will be written. Hopefully this will produce a more thoughtfully written whole. There is a tension between the commitment of thoughts to paper and the solidification of those thoughts to a point that you are unwilling for them to bend or change over time.  I continue to feel that tension.

Part 4b begins on page 18. 

Investing in Rural America

“Democrats will increase funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers…encourage programs…expand local food markets and regional food systems…promote clean energy leadership.”

Going back to their theme of The State as Savior, the DNC promises to save the local farmer by pouring more money into programs, while burdening the same farmers with costly regulations. Perhaps the farmers will plant unicorn orchards.

“The Democratic Party supports stronger agricultural worker protections including regulation of work hours, elimination of child labor, ensuring adequate housing for migrant workers, and sanitary facilities in the field.”

While the intentions to protect migrant workers are laudable, I wonder if one unintended consequence would be to make it illegal for the children of farmers to be able to help on the farm. And what about the farmer? Would there be a regulation of hours he/she can work?

Ending Poverty and Investing in Communities Left Behind

“We reaffirm our commitment to eliminate poverty.”

That would be good. However, their commitment isn’t as strong as their commitment to continuing the policies exacerbating poverty in the first place. Left unsaid in this statement is the reaffirmation of the DNC’s commitment to eliminate wealth as well.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program should be expanded…The Child Tax Credit (CTC) should be expanded…”

I’m pretty much always in favor of tax cuts and tax credits. (But what gets cut to offset this?)

[page 19]

Building Strong Cities and Metro Areas

“We will dramatically increase federal infrastructure funding for our cities—making significant new investments in roads and bridges, public transit, drinking and wastewater systems, broadband, schools, and more.”

Three words that always deserve skepticism when put together — “dramatically”, “increase”, “funding”.

I have no problem with most of the list of targets mentioned. Roads, bridges, public transit, drinking and wastewater systems…all are items that I believe should be high on the government’s to-do list. Unfortunately, these items often to take a backseat to other, less-necessary and less-deserving items. (See the next section for examples.)

But every dramatic increase in funding must be met by either a corresponding dramatic increase in income or a corresponding dramatic decrease in spending somewhere else.

In addition, the target list mentions schools (something with which the State has shown increasing incompetence) and the ever-dangerous “more”.

“Democrats also will revitalize communities being dragged down by physical decay by building on programs like the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Hardest Hit Fund.”

This is another example of the State getting into areas which should be left to private companies. Why is the State determined to be a real estate broker? This is the State’s Fixer Upper plan. We’ll buy ’em, then sell ’em back to poor people.

Once again, it’s not the intent I have a problem with. “Revitalizing communities” is a good thing. But it’s really not the State’s place to do this.

Just looking at some of the data from the State’s own website, you can see the inefficiencies at work. So much of the money that is put into these programs is spent to cover “administrative costs.” That’s the cost of putting it into the hands of the State. That same money is kept out of the hands of small businesses and entrepreneurs who all have more incentive to keep costs low and sell for fair prices.

This is also an example of one of the biggest dangers of State-run assistance programs. These programs were both established by President Obama in 2010 as a response to the housing crash in the late 2000’s. These were to be, supposedly, temporary programs to assist those in desperate need. But, of course, temporary means temporary just until we can make it permanent. Having addressed the “hardest hit”, Democrats want to continue to build on the foundation of free-money they began.

It’s not free. It’s coming out of my pocket, and yours, too.

“We will support entrepreneurship and small business growth in cities…”

The promise is that this will happen through State-sponsored training and tax credits (good) and State lending (not so good).

Promoting Arts and Culture

“Democrats are proud of our support for arts funding and education.”

I agree that arts and culture are important. However, it is not the State’s place to fund it. The private sector is more than capable of supporting whatever art or culture it demands. In fact, if the State is to fund the arts, there is no reason not to fund religion. (Now that I think about it, I’d be very much in favor of a separation of arts and state.)

Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations

“We have a profound moral and legal responsibility to the Indian tribes…”

Do we?

It’s problematic, isn’t it? On the one hand, we want to grant dignity and respect the heritage and rights of those that originally owned this land. Dignity and respect for all people should be basic for every human.

On the other hand, why do Indian tribes deserve special treatment? The land might have belonged to them in the past, but it doesn’t now.

What’s the right thing to do? If the land belongs to the Indians, it seems like the right thing is evident. Give it all back. We should all leave and go back to England or Europe or wherever we came from.

That’s obviously not going to happen. So we try to placate our wounded consciences by “honoring” Indians and Indian nations and giving them “reservations” and land to call their own.

Or perhaps we don’t owe them anything. Were the Indian tribes the first ones here, or did they misplace some other people? Yes, where they were living was taken by others…but does that mean we owe them, even now, for what was lost hundreds of years ago? Is it up to us to keep their culture alive and protected? If so, why? Does the State also have the responsibility  to maintain the culture of my family for hundreds of years in the future?

It’s interesting to note that this is one of the longest sections, beginning on page 19, but continuing all the way to…

[page 21]

Fighting for the People of Puerto Rico

“[W]e are committed to addressing the extraordinary challenges faced by our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico…”

I don’t understand the whole concept of territories as it relates to the United States of America. I wrote that sentence, then I felt dumb for writing it, so I did some research — very little, in fact — which ended in me taking a 3+ month break from writing this post.

Puerto Rico. You’re such a trouble-maker.

Just kidding. Anyway, I don’t know much more about this issue now than I did before. So I asked my friend, Gary, who is of Puerto Rican descent, what he thought. He said…

“The Puerto Rican economy is in huge trouble. Unemployment is high and a lot of people are living on government aid. This is, unfortunately, a perfect example of the Democratic Party’s attempt to gain more votes by finding a population segment that they can bribe by offering free stuff. My family, all Puerto Rican’s, are hard working, educated people who feel that adults should earn their way, just as Scripture teaches us. Most of my family members are conservative Republicans…hmmm.”

Honoring the People of the Territories

“We also recognize and honor…”

This is very similar to the section on Puerto Rico. I’m curious why we should “fight” for Puerto Rico and “honor” the territories. Just choosing different words so it doesn’t sound redundant, or is there real meaning there?

Woot! Finally done with section four!



The DNC platform: a commentary. Part 4a.

The Democratic Party Platform, was approved July, 2016. This is Part 4a of my page-by-page commentary, attempting to clarify the things with which I agree and the things with which I disagree. (Read Part 3 here.) Each part covers one of the thirteen major sections of the DNC’s statement. However, after writing for several pages, I discovered that this section is especially long. So I have split this up into parts 4a and 4b.

If you’ve read my previous commentaries, you know that I am no expert in…well, pretty much anything. There are policies with which I am unfamiliar. There are nuances and specifics that go beyond what I know. There are many counter-arguments that possibly exist to every opinion I post.

That’s okay. I offer these commentaries as my simple opinion, designed to expose my thinking on these topics. Hopefully, they help you, the reader, to clarify what you think about these topics as well. That’s part of what good conversation does. It helps both parties clarify their thinking, even when they don’t agree.

On to Part 4a. It begins on page 13.


This section title brings us back to the platform’s theme, as stated in the Preamble.

Ending Systemic Racism

“Democrats will fight to end institutional and systemic racism in our society.”

Good. Though the Democrats were the leaders of racism in the 1950’s and ’60’s, they have turned it around since then. Racism is stupid.

Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

“The racial wealth and income gaps are the result of policies that discriminate against people of color and constrain their ability to earn income and build assets to the same extent as other Americans.”

This is probably partially true. To the extent that it is true, the policies should be changed. There should be no constraint on anyone based on their ethnicity.

Reforming our Criminal Justice System

“Something is profoundly wrong when almost a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though our country has less than five percent of the world’s population.”

IF “something is profoundly wrong”, then WHERE is it profoundly wrong? It might be wrong in the U.S., or it might be wrong in the rest of the world. Do we have more criminals or more law and order? Or both? Does the rest of the world care so little about crime, or not have the necessary law enforcement? This is more fun with numbers without actual numbers. It also skips over the first question: is inequity inherently unfair and wrong? Just because the United States has more people incarcerated, is that wrong? Just because the United States has a larger percentage of the world’s wealth, is that wrong? I don’t have those answers.

[page 14]

“We will reform mandatory minimum sentences and close private prisons and detention centers.”

Why? What’s the goal? If the goal is to reduce the number of people incarcerated, then this will be effective in the short-term. If the real goal is to deter and punish those committing criminal acts, this won’t do it.

“We will rebuild the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Yes. I also agree with the next few sentences on better police training, body cameras, and weapons limitations.

“We will end racial profiling that targets individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin…”

I agree with the strict wording here, as long as everyone understands that race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin must be part of the overall profiling. To exclude these factors is foolish and dangerous.

I also agree with the rest of the paragraph.

“Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to invest more in jobs and education…”

That would be nice. Unfortunately, there are too many people who don’t want to play by the rules, and unless the rules are enforced, jobs and education and the ability to invest in them aren’t available to people who do follow the rules. Jails are full of people who had opportunities for jobs and education and chose to break the law instead.

“We will remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by “banning the box,’…”

A spectacularly bad idea. As an employer, I want to know if a potential employee is a convicted felon. It’s something we can discuss. What I would like to see is this: if an employer knowingly hires a convicted felon, and that employee than commits a crime resulting in harm to life or property, then the employer should be protected from litigation, unless the employee was acting on behalf of the employer. (That protection might already exist. I haven’t researched this enough to know.) The employer should still have the right to know who they are hiring, and be able to refuse employment to anyone who represents potential harm to their business.

“The “war on drugs’ has led to the imprisonment of millions of Americans, disproportionately people of color, without reducing drug use.”

More fun with numbers without numbers. I don’t have the data here, so I won’t comment one way or the other.

“Because of conflicting federal and state laws concerning marijuana, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1′ federal controlled substances and to appropriately regulate it, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”

Interesting how in this one area, Democrats want federal law to yield to the wishes of state laws.

I am against the legalization of marijuana.

“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana…”

Keep this in mind on other social issues. Remarkably inconsistent, yet consistently wrong. It’s like they can’t think of a good reason to make marijuana legal, so they throw out the word “democracy” and that’s supposed to make it all-American. Baseball, apple pie, and and a bong. Dumb.

[page 14]

“We will abolish the death penalty, which has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment.”

This is a very difficult issue, possibly the most difficult. Is it cruel? Are there acts for which a person forfeits their right to life? Perhaps. I come down right in the middle on this one. Abolish it? Possibly. Keep it? Maybe. Forced to choose, I would probably do away with it, but I would do so only with great caution and empathy for the victims of those who otherwise receive it.

Fixing our Broken Immigration System

“The Democratic Party supports legal immigration, within reasonable limits…”

I do. Do you really, Democratic Party? Let’s see…

“More than 11 million people are living in the shadows, without proper documentation.”

“Without proper documentation.” They’re legally in the country, but don’t have the papers to prove it, or they’re illegally in the country?

I come to your house. I knock on your door. You answer, and I ask to come in. You say, sure, but there are some conditions. First, you place a time limit on how long I can stay. You tell me I must be a productive member of the household and I am assigned some chores. There are certain places I am not allowed to go in the house, and there are certain privileges I am not granted. Otherwise, I have access for a limited time.

This country is our house. Those from other countries are our guests. We should treat them kindly and be generous. If they want to become members of the family, there is a path to do so. However, there are restrictions and limits, and when those restrictions are ignored and the limits violated, the consequences are known. They are not pleasant for either side, but they are part of the bargain entered when the guests were first welcomed.

If the State is failing in their agreement and blocking the legal path for guests to remain, then they need to get their act together and not punish the innocent.

If the guests are attempting to get around the agreement by hiding in a closet or claiming that it would be unfair and too hard to remove all their things and family they have brought into the house, then they need to be removed.

That’s not my opinion, that is the law as it now stands. That is what it means to say legal immigration and illegal immigration.

“Democrats believe we need to urgently fix our broken immigration system—which tears families apart and keeps workers in the shadows—and create a path to citizenship for law-abiding families who are here, making a better life for their families and contributing to their communities and our country.”

Democrats want to change what it means to be legal or illegal. Meanwhile, they paint anyone who disagrees with them as un-American and against liberty and immigration as a whole.

I don’t know where I stand on this. I’m open to changing the current laws and making immigration more open. However, I resent the implication that upholding what was previously agreed to, and what is now the definition of “legal” is racist or cruel. The continued push to redefine the word “legal” so that anything we can get away with is “legal” is dangerous. Redefining words in order to make them mean what you want them to mean is the way of tyrants and evil people and liars, all the way back to Satan in the Garden of Eden.

[page 16]

Guaranteeing Civil Rights

“Democrats will always fight to end discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”

Discrimination is “the unjust treatment of someone”. Obviously, unjust treatment of anyone is wrong. It’s pretty much the definition of wrong. Justice equals what is right. Injustice equals what is wrong. But so far, in saying this, you haven’t really said anything. It’s like saying water is wet. Sure it is…what’s your point?

The difficulty is in the definition of “unjust”. Are limits unjust? Are restrictions unjust?

Let’s take an extreme example of what is unjust. Taking someone’s life. Killing someone because…well, just because…that would be unjust. It would not be right. It would be wrong.

Killing someone just because they are European. Killing someone just because they are blond. Killing someone just because they are Mormon. Killing someone just because they are heterosexual. Killing someone just because they think they’re a tree.

In that extreme example, it is easy to see that killing someone “just because” is unjust.

But there are plenty of other “just becauses” that aren’t as easy to call unjust. One that has been a hot-button issue for awhile is marriage. We’ll talk about that one soon.

For now, I’ll just say that I agree with some of this statement on discrimination, but not nearly all of it. Keep reading to find out why.

“We need to promote civility and speak out against bigotry and other forms of intolerance that have entered our political discourse.”

 Yes. Civility begins when you recognize that a difference of opinion is not bigotry, that thinking differently is not intolerance, that disagreement is not to be feared or demonized.

“It is unacceptable to target, defame, or exclude anyone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”

This sentence is much too broad to be defensible. Unacceptable to target? There should be programs to help those with disabilities. Those programs must be targeted towards them. There should be programs for children. Those programs must be targeted towards them. It is desirable to target, depending on what you’re targeting.

Unacceptable to defame? Yeah. It’s illegal, so it should also be unacceptable.

Unacceptable to exclude? Much like targeting, exclusion is desirable in some instances. Now that I am older, I would like to be excluded from military service. Children should be excluded from marriage.

“While freedom of expression is a fundamental constitutional principle, we must condemn hate speech that creates a fertile climate for violence.”

Unfortunately, there is no freedom of expression that can exclude “hate speech”.

“We condemn Donald Trump’s…”

They could have stopped right there. We get it.

[Page 17]

Guaranteeing Women’s Rights

“We are committed to ensuring full equality for women.”

I agree with this sentence and the two which follow.

“After 240 years, we will finally enshrine the rights of women in the Constitution by passing the Equal Rights Amendment.”

This is a misleading non-sequitur. In case, like me, you’ve never actually read the proposed amendment, here is the full text…

“Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”

Supposedly, this will “enshrine the rights of women.” The problem is that it doesn’t mention women.  It only mentions sex. Back in 1923, when the amendment was first proposed, sex only meant men and women.

Unfortunately, the LGBT agenda has messed this up, and now this amendment would provide for privileges to those that have chosen to forfeit them.

In addition, there are questions of alimony, child support, women in combat, and other issues where the ability to protect women simply because they are women could possibly be taken away.

 I support rights for women. I’m just not sure this amendment will do what the supporters promise, and I am afraid it might allow for things that would actually subjugate and harm women.

The bottom line for me on this: My daughters deserve every advantage their brother receives. They should not be paid less than male counterparts.

Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights

Every human being should be treated with dignity. Every human being is a creation of God, made in His image, for His purposes, with an eternal destiny. The right to be treated humanely belongs to everyone.

However, those who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender have chosen to throw away rights and privileges they would otherwise enjoy. One of these privileges is marriage. Marriage does not belong solely to the State, therefore it cannot be given away by the State.

Gender is not determined by preference or “self-identification”. Neither is the ability to produce sperm or ovulate. It is amazing that so many people who profess to live scientifically ignore the most basic scientific fact.

I continue to pray for friends who have been misled and confused by a culture that promotes what is abhorrent to God. In so doing, they refuse the opportunity to realize the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment a human being can know. Only in right relationship with our Creator, who created us in His image, male and female, can we come to full realization of our true value.

Guaranteeing Rights for People with Disabilities

“No one should face discrimination based on disability status.”

True. In what has become a painful pattern, those without true disabilities have claimed these rights as their own, because of dishonesty and other bad motives. Nevertheless, the truly disabled should be helped.

Respecting Faith and Service

“Democrats know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith in many forms and the countless acts of justice, mercy, and tolerance it inspires. We believe in lifting up and valuing the good work of people of faith and religious organizations and finding ways to support that work where possible.”

That is all they have to say about faith and religion. I believe this shows the importance they place on faith and religion in daily life, that is, virtually none at all.

This section continues, and I will continue my commentary on it in the next post.