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...