Monday, November 5, 2012

Election 2012: How Do I Get Informed?

I live in Missouri, so most of this information will be focused on my state. For my out of state friends though, some of the links might help you with Presidential and Congressional candidates. In this era, there really is no reason to arrive at your polling place uninformed on the candidates, judges, or ballot issues. So, do your research, get informed, and go vote on November 6th.

I have been finding many different websites for information. Some have better information on certain candidates, while some have better information on other candidates. I can't seem to find one site that is the best on all of the candidates, judges and issues. Although, the 97.1 FM Talk (Local STL Radio Station) site has great candidate lists for the Congressional offices in both the Senate and House, they only cover the two main party Presidential candidates. They also don't seem to have anything on judges or the propositions. No worries, though, I have found other websites which will provide you information for those.

A couple of weeks ago my pastor posted a short list of how to approach the process of informed voting. Shockingly, the first item on the list was something I had suggested on my Facebook wall only a few days prior. Stands to reason though, as that one thing is the only reasonable place to start. Here’s the list, with my additions:

Sample Ballot: When you are preparing to vote, it is best to start by finding your sample ballot, so you know on what issues and candidates you will be voting. Then you will not waste your time becoming overly informed on an issue or candidate who is not on your ballot. If you are registered to vote in Missouri, you can locate a "Sample Ballot" for your polling place at this website link. If you are not registered to vote in Missouri, I would suggest checking your state's Secretary of State website or conduct an internet search using your state's name followed by "sample ballot November 2012".

Study: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15 Learn about the candidates, judges and ballot initiatives. Study the person. Find out as much as you can about who they are. Look at their past performance. Find out where they stand on the issues, especially the Constitutional ones if they are a candidate for federal office. This is where the links I have provided below are important. Please use them and share them. Share this blog post.

Pray: Seek God on each candidate, judge and ballot initiative. We are to seek Him continuously in prayer, including on how we vote. Our faith should be center to our lives and guide our votes. God’s Word says in Roman 13:1 - “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Since the candidates WILL BE appointed by God, then it is best to seek Him with regard to the wisdom behind each vote we cast.
If you’re like me, then you may even stay up late on Tuesday night attempting to keep score as the results come in. If so, then you will find an Election Day Scorecard at this linkIf you have any questions regarding the links provided below or other election information, please don’t hesitate to ask me. And may the Best Men and Women Win!!!

Helpful Election Information Links:

League of Women Voters: Everyone can use this site, no matter which state you live in. You can build your ballot with their online voters' guide! Type in your address to see the races on your ballot. Candidates' positions can be compared side-by-side, and you may print out a "ballot" indicating your preferences as a reminder and take it with you to the polls on Election Day.

FM Talk 97.1's List of Candidates: President, All US House and Senate, All Missouri State offices and Illinois House and Senate office.

Missouri Secretary of State Candidate List: A comprehensive list of candidates on Missouri ballots, including Presidential Candidates, Congressional Candidates, State Office Candidates and Judges.

Missouri Judicial Elections: For all of you, like me, who never know what to do with the votes on judges - Now there is this website, which is very informative and well designed.

Missouri Secretary of State's State-wide Ballot Issues: A comprehensive list of state-wide only ballot issues, including State Constitutional Amendment 3, Proposition A, Proposition B, and Proposition E. This page includes the "Official Ballot Language" and the "Fair Ballot Language" (which tells you exactly what a "Yes" or "No" vote means) and links to the full text of each measure.

Overall of Missouri State Ballot information: Great Page, Lots of Information provided! Out of state friends can use the home page of this site to locate their state's ballot information.

ALL Missouri Ballot Measures: See the right hand side for a list of counties with measures on their ballot. Out of state friends can use the home page of this site to locate their state and find much of their ballot information.

Saint Louis County Ballot Issues: A list of St. Louis County specific ballot measures. For my friends who live in surrounding counties - You should be able to do a search on this same site for your county to find a list of the ballot measures for your county.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What Were You Expecting?

Seven weeks ago today, four Americans died at the hands of terrorists on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. For all we have witnessed and all we have learned with regard to Libya over the past seven weeks, I believe it is important to revisit where we started in all this and ask,

"What Were You Expecting?"

When the UN sanctioned action started there in March 2011, the United States Military named our action, Operation Odyssey Dawn. I believe words have meaning and at the time, I broke down the true definition of those two words. 

Odyssey: a long series of wandering action filled with notable hardships

Dawn: a beginning

Thus the True Definition of Operation Odyssey Dawn:

"The beginning of a long series of wandering action filled with notable hardships!"

Eighteen months later, I would say this Operation has lived up to its namesake. 
Words do have meaning and power. Hardships tend to be a little more inconvenient than "bumps in the road". Just because someone calls an operation to an end doesn't mean the hardship has culminated. As was the accusation in Iraq, in Libya a dictator was removed with little thought as to who or what would fill the void left behind. Eighteen months later, that void has consumed more than we could have ever expected from the start. We experienced another 9/11 and unexpectedly it occurred again on a Tuesday. Tuesday, 11 September 2012.

Given what WE now know THEY knew,
why weren't THEY expecting this?

Seven weeks later, based on unfortunately isolated media reports, this is what we now know:

We KNEW it was a terrorist attack the whole time. We had a drone sending a live feed back to the White House Situation Room, Dept of State and probably the CIA. We have the emails from the Consulate stating they were being attacked. We have the CIA Annex requesting 3 times and being denied 3 times for support. We had an airplane overhead, a C-130 Specter Gunship, which can fire precisely on a human target. This is another Mogadishu, another Iran Embassy Hostage Crisis. This is WORSE, MUCH WORSE than Watergate ever hoped to be and yet we have a vast media ocean that is being complicit in a cover-up of a massive scale.

I was too young to understand Watergate as it happened. I was ten years old when the Iran Embassy Hostage Crisis occurred. I don't want to see my country dragged back through the events of 1979 again. I remember seeing my country held hostage for more than a year and it was painful. I feel like we are being held hostage again. Again, it is painful. For that, I am angry and I am righteously indignant. Now that I am older, I can see a recourse. A recourse that only We, the People can put in motion. We must call our Senators and Congressional Representative. You can find your's at this link.

When you call your Senators and Representative I believe it is important to tie your request back to the U. S. Constitution, state what you have seen reported and request them to ask Congressional leaders to start an immediate investigation into the events in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012
. I do not think it helps our cause to personally assign blame as it is their job to investigate and find the person(s) responsible. Here is a suggested statement for when you call:

"I am calling today with regard to the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which led to the deaths of four Americans, including a United States Ambassador. Seven weeks after that incomprehensible event, I have now seen media reports stating the military was given orders to “Stand Down” and not take action to save the life of our Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

It is my honest opinion that not counter-attacking terrorists who are actively engaged in an attack against our consulate and Ambassador, when we have the means to do so, can only be seen as giving our Enemies Aid and Comfort. Under the United States Constitution, Article III, Section 3, giving our Enemies Aid and Comfort is clearly defined as Treason. I am calling today to ask Sen./Rep. __________ to start immediately calling on Congressional leadership to investigate what happened in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 and find who is responsible for the treasonous act of telling our military to “Stand Down” on that day. Thank you."

Please do this! Honor the memory of the four Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice that day. Do not let this be swept away by a media who is failing to report the truth.

Fallen, Never Forgotten:

J. Christopher StevensU.S. Ambassador to Libya
Sean SmithU.S. Foreign Service Officer
Glen Doherty, Former Navy Seal
Tyrone S. Woods, Former Navy Seal

"When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them."

Psalm 91:15

Monday, October 29, 2012

Agree or Disagree: Why Should You Watch "2016"?

My hope in writing this and sharing it is to point out that the movie is not a biased anti-Obama film. On the contrary, it is a very informative documentary that stands to open the eyes of people who align themselves with both the left & the right side of the political aisle.

This past weekend I watched "2016: Obama's America" for the third time. I admit overall, I enjoy the movie. I find the details, history and facts interesting. Much of what is presented I already knew, but there were many things I learned, especially regarding President Obama's life with his step-father, Lolo Soetoro. I found it fascinating to watch it both before this year's 9/11 and after - as there is a particular spot where he discusses President Obama's dealings with the Arab Spring in 2011.

There is information presented about the history of Hawaii, India, Indonesia and Kenya. Perhaps you already know about the information he presents regarding Hawaii's colonization and history of becoming a State. Maybe you don't. But, I would venture to guess you have limited knowledge of the history of India, Indonesia and Kenya. Now, these are not full blown historical accounts of the three countries, but it stands to benefit us as Americans to broaden our world view even if it is merely a surface introduction.

Dinesh sits down with President Obama's brother, George Obama. He interviews people who associated with Barack's father, Barack Sr., in Kenya and a lady in Hawaii who knew his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. He presents President Obama in his own words, using the audio version of his book, "Dreams from My Father", which show his thoughts regarding his father and attempt to reconcile what he lost through not having him present in his life. Dinesh even shares the time he debated Jesse Jackson and discussed racism in America.

The last twenty minutes, he presents three critical events he believes will happen by "2016" if Obama is reelected. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I won't list them here or discuss them in depth. One of the proposed occurrences though I find interesting in light of all the rioting and terrorism that happened this year surrounding 9/11. Overlaying a map of all those hot spots with the map he presents, and it shows we are well on our way, if not already there to having one of his three predictions come true.

Now, the three predictions are not mind-blowing, so to some extent, you could say anyone with "eyes to see" could see them happening. I think in some respects it is in the way the whole movie is presented. The chronology and history of events, the past being prologue to the future. The documentary is put together very well. Personally, the first time I saw the movie, I walked away with this summary in one sentence:

You cannot understand
American Exceptionalism
if you have never lived the
American Experience.

If you can rent it, watch it on PPV, or even order a copy from Amazon ($9.99, which I did), then I say do it. I wanted a personal copy because I see it as a tool for sharing a teachable moment with my children even years from now when they are better able to grasp the history we have lived for the past four years.

Please feel free to share this post with as many people as you can and encourage them to watch the film.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How Have I Made It This Far?

25 Years Ago Today: A quiet but enthusiastic young man of 17 raised his right hand to pledge the little he had in support and defense of the Constitution of the United States. It was an initial commitment of eight years which being half his life at the time felt like forever. He had no idea where it would take him or the adventure that awaited. Looking back, I can proudly say, "Through all the years, God has protected, sustained and blessed me with so much. I would not change a thing!"

For even young people tire and drop out, 
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind. - Isaiah 40:30-31 (MSG)


Sunday, February 12, 2012

If a Candidate Is Inevitable, Why Have a Primary?

If there was ever a doubt about how nerdy I am, then I am about to open my mouth and remove all. Apologies to Mark Twain.

I've heard from a few friends, "The GOP needs to coalesce around one candidate right now."

Of course the mainstream media will also try to sell you on that same notion. I do not remember that kind of reporting on the 2008 Democratic Primary though. I do not recall ever hearing the media or the Democratic Party talk about narrowing it down quickly to the one nominee. Do you remember the day it was estimated that Barack Obama had the delegate votes needed for a majority? June 3, 2008. Do you know what day Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign? June 7, 2008. Four days! It took her four days to accept the reality of her loss. Now, only four years later it seems we can't even wait four minutes for a candidate to state their position on a Constitutionally relevant topic.

I have heard, "The lengthy primary is hurting the Party's chances in the General Election."

In 2008, the Democratic Party never once stated, "We need to wrap this up now to avoid hurting our chances in the General Election." They did not say it in January, February, or March. JUNE, they settled on a nominee in June. You know what may have hurt the GOP in 2008? Wrapping it up too quickly. John McCain's two closest contenders were Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Mitt, who finished second, suspended his campaign on February 7, 2008. Mike, who finished third, suspended his campaign on March 4, 2008. Senator McCain had plenty of time to coalesce the party, but it never happened.

I have heard, "The continued debate will only serve to weaken the eventual candidate."

If the eventual candidate cannot withstand a little GOP introspection, then how will they ever stand up to the heat imposed by a Democratic cross-examination. In 2008, the continued debate did not affect the Democratic Party's eventual candidate. In fact, it probably served to make him a little stronger and gain a little more appeal. Remember, their candidate won the General Election and the last opponent they faced in the primary became their Secretary of State. Somebody coalesced!

I have even heard a few people go so far to say, "We do not have a very good field from which to make our selection."

I do not believe the GOP has a weak field, but if what others posit is true, then the candidate selection process should be long, slow and tedious. The party is attempting to narrow down a selection of the most qualified from many qualified candidates who will best represent them against their opposition. If the GOP field is truly weak, then the GOP should have even more cause to pause, not rush to judgment, or make a choice without fully investigating each candidate. The GOP should be proud they DO investigate candidates and leave no stone unturned.

Here is a picture (click to enlarge) of what has transpired in the GOP Primary thus far with a few relevant or irrelevant "nerdy" statistics below:

  • As of today, only 8 of 50 States have held their primary or caucus. That is only 16% of the 50 States. Of those eight, only one (Florida, 4) ranks in the top ten for population. Two of the states (Maine 41, New Hampshire, 42) are in the bottom ten for population.
  • As of today, only 225 delegates have been awarded with 2061 still available. 90% of the total delegates are still available.
  • Today, if the GOP were to select the front-runner as the inevitable nominee, Florida alone would account for 48% of the front-runners delegates and 59% of the total votes cast. Florida would single-handedly pick the GOP nominee.
  • Today, if the GOP were to select the front-runner as the inevitable nominee, they would be selecting their nominee on the basis of having only won 10% of the required delegates. This would be equivalent to naming the winner of the Super Bowl after only six minutes had expired off the game clock.
  • Each of the 4 remaining candidates still needs over 1,000 delegates to become the eventual nominee at the GOP Convention in August!
The primary season is exactly the time we need to allow the maximum number of Americans to voice their opinion through the primary ballot box. I believe we still have plenty of time. It is simply too early to crown a victor. After all, we haven't even reached Super Tuesday yet!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

God, What is The Plan?

Yesterday was my last day on duty at United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM). I would like to take this opportunity to give you an update as my tour ends. As an Army Reserve officer, I had the rare privilege of serving on Active Duty at one of the nine Unified Combatant Commands within the Department of Defense.  The Chain of Command is short as it flows up from the Combatant Commander to the Secretary of Defense to the President.

I thank God for the opportunity to serve at USTRANSCOM during this time. It has been a wonderful blessing. I also thank my wife, Mindy, and our two children for their continued support of my military career. Without them, I would not be able to do what I do, nor would I want to. They make me feel like I am living the life of a millionaire, rich beyond measure.

I also thank those for whom I directly worked for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the adventure. It really was something special. One thing I reflect on is the fact that at Scott Air Force Base, where over 30 years ago I used to visit my Air Force Master Sergeant dad, there now stands a building which I had a part in bringing to reality.

During my tour, I served with USTRANSCOM’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) team. I gained invaluable experience during my tour and appreciated every day wearing the uniform of the United States Army. Being part of USTRANSCOM and their BRAC Construction project was one of the highlights of my long military career. It was an absolutely great experience to work at one of the few Combatant Commands within our nation’s military structure. As a Reserve Soldier, I never dreamed I would have the privilege of serving on a tour at this level. Never so much as imagined anything quite like it. Looking back, I can see clearly how it was all God-arranged. (I plan on posting a follow-up soon with details.) With regards to my military career, I will continue to serve as an officer in the Army Reserve. My current assignment is with the Joint Transportation Reserve Unit (Army Element) within USTRANSCOM.

I will soon start in a civilian position with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). I will be working from the Jefferson Barracks Campus as a General Engineer to facilitate new construction and renovation projects. It turns out, I will have similar responsibilities there as I have had with USTRANSCOM. From where I sit today, I have a greater appreciation for the valley God led me through when this chapter of my life was just beginning. At times the climb led to questions. The most frequent one being:

"What is the plan you have for me in this temporary position?"

Now while I rest on a mountaintop, enjoying the view of where I have been for the past four years*, again I am reassured, "I can rest easy in the hands of God..."

Moses said to God, "Look, you tell me, 'Lead this people,' but you don't let me know whom you're going to send with me. You tell me, 'I know you by name and you are special to me.' If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don't forget, this is your people, your responsibility."
God said, "My presence will go with you. I'll see the journey to the end." - Exodus 33:12-14 (MSG)

I mention four years as it was the first year's arrangements which took me into a valley. On the other side of that valley was the beginning of my three year tour with USTRANSCOM and the climb which led to a mountaintop...