Rise Up…

For those who prefer non-political posts, this one will serve as the intermission between Freedom: A Messy Thing Pt 1 and Pt 2.

“When you see the road ahead
That you’ve been down before
When you’re halfway to nowhere
And you can’t pay the toll

You’re hanging onto mercy
Withered on the vine
With your feet on the ground, your head in the clouds
And your heart on the line

Open up your eyes…

You’ve got to rise up, rise up
When this life has got you down
You’ve got to look up, look up
When you search and nothing’s found
My eyes have seen the glory of the love that’s here and now
It’s coming down
So rise up now.”

Matt Maher,  Rise Up

There was a time, not so long ago, that our family experienced a trial that was bathed in fire, seemingly without end.

There were more nights than I could count that saw me in my closet, with the door closed, on my knees, head down, tears streaming and all that I could muster was a feeble cry out to my Lord.

In a room not far from mine was my daughter, struggling with the weight of the evil that had visited her so many nights before. My child, whom I would freely give up my life for, was fighting for her life. Her nights were not filled with peaceful sleep, but nightmares I could not erase. The feeling of complete and utter helplessness engulfed everyday of our lives.

In those moments, on my knees, my God, my Savior held her and this family together. He never promised a life free from pain, but He promised to never leave us, and never leave us He did. When I was at the bottom and had nothing left to give, His strength was there and through His grace and love, I was able to face each day.

I was able to hold my daughter in those moments she had flashbacks and only she could see the images. I was able to wipe away the tears and love her, hug her. Because our Savior lives, we were able to come through the fire with a faith tested and stronger than before.

So for those who are struggling at this moment, know the One who created you, knows yours pain and will walk this life with you, and in those moments when you can’t take another step, He will carry you through.

And if you need someone to listen, to pray with, message me…

“Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

So rise up, rise up.

Freedom: a Messy Thing (Pt 1)

Freedom: The state of being free, exemption from the power and control of another; liberty; independence. (Webster Dictionary, 1875)

The U.S Constitution was ratified in 1789, two years after the summer of 1787 that produced the Constitution after nearly two months of debates in a sweltering room in Philadelphia. At the conclusion of the convention, it was left to the men of the time to debate the merits of the Constitution. The most comprehensive review of the Constitution and its purpose is found in the Federalist Papers penned by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, and published under the name Publius.

Within the 85 published papers, all items found within the U.S. Constitution are discussed at length.

Federalist No. 1, published October 27, 1787 begins with, “After a full experience in the insufficiency of the existing federal government, you are invited to deliberate upon a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world.

The last one, Federalist No. 85, published August 13 and 16, 1788 begins with, “According to the formal division of the subject of these papers, announced in my first number, there would appear still to remain for discussion two points: “the analogy of the proposed government to your own State constitution,” and “the additional security which its adoption will afford to republican government.

The U.S. Constitution begins with the Preamble written by Gouverneur Morris: “We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common Defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.

And there it is, the purpose of of the U.S. Constitution.

Many leaders of the day would not support ratifying the U.S. Constitution unless it included a Bill of Rights. There were 12 amendments proposed, with only ten being ratified on December 15, 1791.

Alexander Hamilton argued against including a Bill of Rights in Federalist No. 84. His argument was that a Bill of Rights was wholly unnecessary and would be dangerous. “They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?

He continued to make the point that declaring a Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution would allow men predisposed to usurping power a plausible pretense to claim such power, because if it is in the U.S. Constitution as a “right,” it is therefore plausible that the U.S. Federal government has the authority to regulate such rights, to the point of entirely removing them from the people.

He, along with the other participants in the writing of the Constitution, stated that the U.S. Constitution’s was to limit the power of government, not the power of the people; which is why the U.S. Constitution begins with “We, the People.

However, for other men such as Thomas Jefferson, there would be no support for its ratification unless a Bill of Rights was added during the First Congress. Jefferson wanted to ensure the government in no way could restrict or deny certain basic rights.

These early men were students of history and philos0phy and many of them believed in John Locke’s theory of natural rights that declared men are not borne to be subject to a king but are borne with certain inalienable rights that chief among them are life, liberty and property. In other words, men were borne with rights granted to them by their creator.  Locke, also a student of history and an observer of his time, knew that when government in any form has the power to grant rights, it has the power to remove rights, leaving the people subjects of the government, and not free to live their lives as they deem best.

In the end, the likes of Jefferson and his peers ruled the day because the promise was made that a Bill of Rights would be added to the U.S. Constitution through the amendment process. It is important to stress here that the Bill of Rights restricts the government, not the people. These amendments are:

I. Freedom of press, religion, assembly and speech.

II. The right of the people to keep and bare arms.

III. The right of the people to not have troops quartered in their homes.

IV. The right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures of property (privacy).

V. The right to due process.

VI. The right to a speedy and fair trial.

VII. The right to a trial by jury.

VIII. The right against excessive bail or fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.

IX. The rights listed in the Constitution shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.

X. The right of the states and people, respectively, to retain all powers not delegated to the United Stated by the Constitution.

Key words that need to be highlighted is that each amendment states that the noted “right” in each cannot be denied by the U.S. government. Amendment X clearly states that all power not delegated to the U.S. government are retained by the states and people.

The structure of power begins at the bottom, with the people. Think of a pyramid. The biggest part of a pyramid is the bottom, and that is where all the power is to rest. The people then decide which power to delegate to the states. This would be the middle part of the pyramid. The top of pyramid and the smallest part is the U.S. government and it contains the powers delegated to it by the states.

The way it is now is more like an inverted pyramid with the biggest part at the top, or the U.S. government. The states and the people have, unfortunately, ceded much of their power to the U.S. government and as such, have very little. And the saddest part is many Americans would willingly give up their rights as to not offend or to have a bit of temporary safety.

Now that the foundation has been laid, please continue to Part II.

A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost, is lost forever.” John Adams, July 7, 1775


Voices Stilled…

Within a week of each other, the world lost two distinctly different musicians, but musicians whose songs defined many people’s lives, from early childhood to teenage angst to adulthood.

I was borne in 1969 and remember my parents playing eight tracks of various artists in the 70s. However, I came of age in the 80s and I remember the first time I saw David Bowie dancing in the streets with Mick Jagger on MTV; Blue Jean was a favorite that required full volume. I listened to Don Henley’s Boys of Summer and Glenn Frey’s You Belong to the City. I would later learn that Glenn Frey and Don Henley were the Eagles and Take it to the Limit and Take it Easy would become standard listening fare during my many runs. There was nothing like sweat streaming down my body, every muscle aching and my mind screaming for me to stop… then Take it to the Limit would play and that last two miles suddenly became easy. It was and still is one of my favorite songs.

Where David Bowie was transformative, not with just his music but his persona, Glenn Frey was all American rock.

Yet at the end, all their fame, riches and talent could stem the inevitable: death.

Their voices are now stilled and while their music will live on through future generations who will live the story of their lives to the classics such as Changes and Under Pressure featuring Queen, or drive down long stretches of road with Hotel California filling the car with “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave,” their song is over.

As I drove my son to his workout this morning, I told him a little bit about these two men and the musical legacy they left behind. I explained that for all their riches, they couldn’t take it with them. The awards, gold records, nice cars, planes, magnificent homes: they were all left behind. And now they will give an account before their Creator, as we all will.
Whether they believed in Christ is irrelevant because now they know if what they believed was true or false. And this saddens me, because I do not know if their voices are permanently stilled or will fill the heavenly choir.

At the conclusion of my conversation with my son, I repeated a saying I heard some time ago: “It doesn’t matter what day you were borne or what day you died; what matters is what you did with all the days in between.”

I told him that I believed in him and his dreams but in the end, it is what’s in his heart that matters. As we pulled into the school parking lot, I told him to live a Godly life; to live in such a way that other people look at him and say to themselves, “I want what he has.” To honor the Lord in all he says and does and to never forget the real reason we are given our talents… so we don’t end our lives thinking of Wasted Time.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” Hebrew 9:27-28

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.” – 2 Samuel 14:14

Character or Color?

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”- Martin Luther King Jr. 1963

Many Americans today will celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for the day that “… this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

One year after his speech, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed but not without a fight. Many Americans today would be surprised to learned that it wasn’t Republicans fighting to filibuster the Act but rather Senate Democrats.

There was a 75-day filibuster led by prominent Senate Democrats such as Senator Robert Boyd of Virginia who spoke for more than 14 consecutive hours. It was a Republican Senator from Illinois, Senator Everett Dirksen, who worked tirelessly to obtain the two-thirds votes necessary to end the filibuster.

Yet, 51 years and a black president later, Republicans are cast as bigots who hate the president merely because he is black. In other words, not for content of character but for color of skin.

In 2008, I watched the presidential campaign from afar as I was living abroad at the time. I was intrigued when then Senator Barack Obama became a serious challenger to the presumptive front runner Hillary Clinton. I was intrigued that this man, who many did not know, was winning against an entitled “It’s my turn” candidate and at first glance I liked him.

He was young, had a beautiful family, spoke well, attended elite schools, seemed well-versed in the Constitution and seemed to support the Constitution. I especially liked that as a U.S. Senator he challenged President Bush’s request to raise the debt limit as being irresponsible.

And yes, I noticed the color of his skin, just as I noticed the color of his hair and his height – just as I notice anyone’s skin color, hair color, weight size, clothing, etc. To say I am color blind is sheer stupidity as it would be for anyone who says they are color blind.

However, to say I judge a person by the color of their skin is intellectually dishonest and lazy.

So it was with dismay when I learned the content of his character did not match his rhetoric, and as such I could not cast my vote for him.

That moment came when the issue of the Born Alive Act was raised. He was challenged as having voted against it in the Illinois Senate. When asked about his vote, he reported that it was not a stand-alone bill and as such, he wasn’t voting against the Born Alive part.

Me being who I am, researched the Illinois Senate records and read the transcripts from the bill’s debate. First, it was a stand-alone bill, meaning the bill contained no other subject but the one that would require a doctor to seek medical care for a baby who survives an abortion. Second, his comments on the bill essentially were that he did not want to inconvenience the doctors by requiring they seek medical care for any baby surviving an abortion.

This told me all I needed to know about his character. If a person would vote to allow a baby to die simply because a second prior to the baby’s first breath, the intent was to abort the baby, and because it would inconvenience the doctor, how would that person value my husband’s life? His words and vote spoke volumes and that was not a man I wanted as president or commander-in-chief. If a man could so callously think of life in terms of convenience, did I really want that kind of man making decisions that would affect my then active-duty husband and my family? The answer was a simple no.

There was also his comments about Republicans and how he would deal with them. During a June 13, 2008 presidential campaign fundraiser he said, “They’re going to try to scare people. They’re going to try to say that ‘that Obama is a scary guy,’… “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” he said.

Since being elected, his policies have reflected this mentality. Instead of upholding the Constitution, he has shredded any remaining boundaries between the Legislative Branch and Executive Branch through his use of executive actions and orders. He’s apologized to the world for what he perceives as American imperialism. He released five terrorists for a deserter. He has stated many times that those who have committed acts of terrorism will be hunted down, yet none have been. He touts the killing of Osama Bin Laden, but even then, he reluctantly gave the order after many requests to do so. His rules of engagement have reduced our military to nothing more than sitting ducks. I could continue… but I’m sure it’s clear that my decision to not support President Obama has nothing to do with the color of his skin, but his policies.

Yet even now, according to many, because I didn’t and still don’t support President Obama it is because he is black; however, that is not the case.

Last week (Jan. 12) on Outnumbered, Gerald Rivera said, “I think, and this is just strictly my constitutionally-protected opinion… I think that what is clear is that the nation was not ready for a black president.”

Oprah Winfrey said in a 2013 interview that, “There is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs, in some cases – and maybe even many cases – because he’s African-American.”

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist said in 2014, “Sadly I think another part of it was that he was a Democrat, but not just a Democrat, an African-American.”

Even the President said as much in an interview with The New Yorker published January 2014, “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President.”

These are but a few examples.

Many will use the example of Rep. Joe Wilson’s shout “You lie!” at President Obama when he spoke before Congress on health care reform to prove there is a dislike for the President because he is black.

Yet, the President did lie about health care reform when he sold it to the American people. After its implementation, many Americans discovered they could not keep their doctor as the President promised, and the options they had were severely curtailed and much more expensive.

The President also lied when he stated the Benghazi attack was the result of a Youtube video: a claim repeated by his then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

However, the art of lying predates his then candidacy and now his presidency. It was discovered that he lied in the book he wrote, “Dreams from My Father.” Then there is Acton & Dystel who served as Barack Obama’s literary agency. In a 1991 publication with brief biographies of it writers, Obama is described as having been borne in Kenya. This short biography surely would’ve been approved by Obama prior to publication, yet later President Obama claimed to have been borne in Hawaii. Where the President was borne is not the issue, it is the pattern of lying and manipulation for self-serving purposes that is the issue.

Lying goes to character, not skin color.

President Bill Clinton also lied; active duty at the time, I didn’t support his policies and he is as white as they come. Was I racist then?

For all those who will read this and make the claim that there are white people who voted against Barack Obama because he is black are no doubt correct; yet, are black Americans who voted for Barack Obama simply because he is black also racist? Were not both groups guilty of voting for a man solely based on skin color?

Absolutely, but many conveniently leave this aspect out of the conversation.

And I would propose that there were far more voters who voted for him both times because he is black than there were voters who voted against him because he is black.

Which brings me back to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech.

I was raised to judge a person by the content of his or her character. My parents believe each person should be judged on the merits of his or her actions and those actions will tell the kind of person he or she is – and skin color has nothing to do with character. That is how I was raised and how I have lived my life every day.

Yet, there are many who would label me a racist because I have judged our President on the content of his character and have found his character lacking.

Now here is the moment that many people will bring up about how the President has been treated and that he’s been more harshly treated than any other president because he’s black. A short trip through time proves them wrong. I remember President George W. Bush being referred to as Hitler or Stalin more times than I can count; the number of derogatory names he was called and the caricatures of him as Hitler, Stalin or some other dictator abound.

Each president going back to the election of 1800 between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams has them being described in derogatory terms by the opposition. This isn’t new and President Obama surely isn’t experiencing anything all other presidents were sheltered from.

To describe people who oppose President Obama’s policies as racist shuts down the conversation, which is probably the point to such a claim.

What is a person to do? If the person claims he or she is not racist, that merely reinforces the label. It would be better for the person on the receiving end to ask the accuser to support the claim.

That is why I call this type of ad hominem attack intellectually dishonest and lazy.

I will leave you with my favorite part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech:

“I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

My favorite part of it is the part in bold because if that dream were to come to fruition, the rest would take care of itself and not only would all be judged on the content of their character but America would be restored.

One Nation, Under…

Because it seems the county that I reside is not the only one (*see link at bottom of post)… here is a response I prepared and read at a town hall meeting last month with the names and location deleted:

“Here we are today to discuss … decision to post signs in all … classrooms stating students are not required to state the Pledge of Allegiance. From my understanding this came about because a parent complained and stated the ACLU had been contacted. So, as with the case of prayer, … acquiesced under threat of lawsuit. A simple recitation of Florida law that states no student is compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance would have sufficed, but again, his reaction was one of capitulation. Just as the case with teachers praying at functions off school grounds, this one is steeped in ignorance of the law and our founding principles.

Due to time constraints, I will begin with the Declaration of Independence of 1776, with Thomas Jefferson’s words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…

The truths Jefferson spoke of were self-evident, needing no explanation and that rights are granted by our Creator and government is the protector of those rights. In a commentary written by Jefferson regarding the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence, he wrote,

…we cooked up a resolution… for appointing the 1st day of June… for a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to implore heaven to avert from us the evils of civil war, to inspire us with firmness in support of our rights…

After the drafting of the Constitution, of which George Washington was the presiding officer, it was written by John Adams that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

One of the first acts George Washington performed after being sworn in as the first President of the United States was to pray.

After the Bill of Rights was ratified and George Washington left office, he presented his Farewell Address to the nation which read in part,

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligations desert the paths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric.

Abraham Lincoln, 67 years later, addressed the nation on Nov. 19 1863, stating in part, “that this nation, under God…”

There was a time in this country when politician and layman alike acknowledged God; even for those who did not believe, there was an acknowledgment that this nation was built on the principles that liberty, freedom, and rights come from God, not government.

The argument that “In God We Trust” wasn’t used until the 1950s is a lie that has permeated the fabric of our educational institutions, courts and political institutions. The words “In God We Trust” are inscribed in the House and Senate Chambers; the Great Seal of the United States has inscribed the Latin phrase Annuit Coeptis, meaning “God has smiled on our undertaking”; coins from the 1880s and beyond have the words “In God We Trust” inscribed as well as paper currency from at least the early 1900s. Well before 1956.

The reminder is not that each person must adhere to a certain religion or  believe in God. The reminder is that our rights come from our Creator and government is to be the protector of those rights.

The wall of separation of church and state is a concocted idea from a 1947 Supreme Court Ruling in Everson v. Board of Education Ewing. While the Supreme Court upheld the board of education’s practice of reimbursing parents for money expended for bus transportation to take their children to school, even religious schools, the justices wrote in the majority opinion “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable.”

In 1962, the Supreme Court erased almost 200 years of precedent when it declared the recitation of prayer, even with a neutral deity, unconstitutional for violating the separation of church and state.

The phrase itself originates from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Association, a group of Baptists, who were concerned the government would legislate their religion. Jefferson wrote the First Amendment guaranteed them their right and government could not infringe on that, writing there is a separation of church and state. The restriction was placed on government drafting laws infringing upon a person’s ability to practice their religion, or no religion, even in the public sphere. It was not a restriction on the people and it did not mean that we should refuse to acknowledge that we are “One nation under God” and it is “Providence,” “Almighty,” “Our Creator,” “Higher Being,” “God” who endows us with our rights – not the government.

My words here are not to advocate for a state-religion, but to remind those who are listening that we are one nation under God. No one is required to recite those words, but for our …, who is the leader of our education system in … to have such a lack of knowledge and to continually acquiesce to the demands of those who are offended by our very history is deplorable.

Feel free to argue and stand against our history, but at least know our history.

I will close with Thomas Jefferson’s words, “On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.””


Yes, We’re Going!

On Wednesday, the 13th, Donald Trump will be in Pensacola, Florida… and yes, I’m going. Not only am I going, but I am taking my 15-year-old son, much to his chagrin.

I will not vote for Donald Trump in the Florida Primary. I have listened to interviews and the debates and he’s an interesting man. There are many things I like about him. I like that he hasn’t allowed the media to control the narrative when it comes to him. I like that he calls out Hillary Clinton for the hypocrite she is. I like that he isn’t politically correct; he speaks plainly, even if it takes him a full circle to come back around to his point.

I don’t like that he has not yet talked about the boundaries of the Executive Branch as stipulated in Article II of the Constitution. I don’t like that he’s egocentric. I don’t like that he’s bombastic. Sometimes being grandiloquent works, but as President, do I really want that characteristic in the man who occupies the White House? Not so much.

But the important part of all this is that I think this is such a wonderful opportunity to hear an entire speech by him, without commentary, from the talking heads on “news” channels. I also want my son to hear what he has to say and take part in this Republic process.

When I printed the tickets, my son expressed his dismay in the most vocal manner.

“Why do I have to go? I don’t care about government? I won’t hear most of what he says. Why do I have to go? I don’t want to go!!”

I let him have his moments of vocal despair and then quietly began to speak.

“You are 15 now, will be 16 in March,” I began. “When you turn 18, whoever is elected now will be president and that means they will be the Commander in Chief. When you are 18, you have to sign up for the Selective Service. That means if there is ever a war and the U.S. military has run out of bodies, they begin the draft. That is when you are told you must serve. You must go to whatever foreign shore the President has decided needs “democracy.”

But more than that, government, from the federal to the state to local, affects every aspect of your life. The roads you drive on, the drivers license you hold, the taxes we pay for those roads… The schools and the taxes we pay for those… The sales tax you pay: when you have $10 and the shirt is $9.99, you know you don’t have enough because of that sales tax. The water you drink is clean because of laws that state it must be clean. All of it: you do “government” even if you don’t like government.

And the right to vote… (this is where I began to choke up) the right to vote, that was won by men you will never know. Men, who signed their names on a piece of paper that declared independence because there was no representation. Remember, the colonists were British subjects. When Britain needed money after a war, the King and Parliament looked across the great expanse called the Atlantic Ocean and decided to tax the colonists. The British government dissolved several of the colonial governments, imposed taxes and other rules. The colonist, fed up with no representation, committed an act of treason by declaring their independence. The men who penned their names knew what they were doing. Many of them lost their homes, their families and were imprisoned; they lost everything. They did that so we could have a Representative Republic. A government where we, the people, elect who will make those decisions on our behalf.

And other men… your great-uncle, buried in a foreign land after dying fighting because he cherished those rights. A man you will never know.

And for me as a woman… It took decades of perseverance and many of the women who started the Suffrage Movement were dead when the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, 96 years ago. Women not only had to fight for this basic right, they had to go up against a president who didn’t want them to have the right to vote. They were imprisoned for merely walking on a street, protesting.

So I take this process seriously and so too, should you. Because it’s important. It’s vital that we, as Americans, take part in this process. And Donald Trump is a candidate unlike any other. He’s bombastic. He’s caustic. He’s defying the establishment. He’s funding his own campaign. He’s holding a free event that allows people like you and me to go and hear him speak. You may only hear a small part of what he says, but it’s important to hear him. And then decide for yourself what you think. Because when you turn 18 you will be able to vote and it is important to listen, learn and decide who will best make decisions on your behalf.”

Sitting, looking at me, he was quiet for a moment. Finally he said, “Okay.” And that was that.

So yes, On Wednesday, we will be going…

The Story of my Life…

The story of my life began on this day 22 years ago.

Naturally, my life began 46 years ago, but that’s not quite the same thing as the story of my life, although the two are intrinsically intertwined.

On this day, on a beautiful sunny Guam day, blues skies, a friend holding my hand, the baby’s father at my side, a beautiful 7lb 8oz little girl breathed her first breath of life. The moment the doctor put her in my arms, a love filled my heart that has never left.

I was active duty Navy, and her place of birth was the Naval Hospital in Guam. I was young, scared and excited about what the future would hold for this young baby entrusted to my care.

It wasn’t planned, but as with most of life’s blessings, it was the best of gifts.

Nine months earlier, I’d learned I was pregnant. At the time, I was quite “liberated” thinking only of myself and living only for myself. It’s amazing what a pregnancy can do for perspective.

A few days after I learned I was pregnant, I was on a flight to Saipan for a little rest and relaxation. The trip was planned well before I learned of my pregnancy and I had intended on sleeping late and relaxing on the white sands on the island.

Instead, I spent the days there driving around the island, which of course didn’t take too long. I visited historical remnants from World War II and a little bit of time on the beach… but mostly I spent time reflecting on the choice I was to make. Would I have this child? Would I give this child up for adoption? Would I not have this child?

On my last day there, I found myself in a small church on top of a hillside, overlooking the blue Pacific Ocean waters. There was no one there other than me. I walked into the still church; the streams of sunshine filtering through the stained glass windows created dancing colors of light everywhere. To say it had been a long time since I’d entered a church would be an understatement; likewise with praying.

I had subscribed to the belief that it was my life to live and I could do as I please – forget everyone else. I was doing okay, not existing in any meaningful way, just existing from one day to the next; one bar to the next; one mile to the next… and so it went.

But on that day… that quiet day on an island, in a church, far removed from everyone, it was just me and my feeble cry out to God. With tears streaming down my face, knees on the floor, I cried out to my God, and for all the times I turned my back on Him, there He was, quietly, yet so clearly telling me, “Have this baby.”

It took me back as I thought someone was in the church and spoke the words, but there wasn’t another soul around. Yet again, the words, as clear as a winter morning, “Have this baby.”

“Okay, Lord,” I replied, “But You have to be there for me because I can’t do this on my own.”

And so it was…

Nine months later on January 7, my daughter entered this world and my life has never been the same, and our God has never forsaken us.

This beautiful child, who is now 22, changed my life in so many ways. She made me want to be a better person. She made me want to be kinder, more loving, more generous, more humble… I wanted her to always know she is loved; that she is such a gift from the Lord and that she is cherished. Because of her, I found my way back to a Heavenly Father who so generously loves us.

To be sure, there have been trials she and we have come through, but everyday I have been so blessed and proud to call her my daughter. Her smile, her kindness, her fun nature; her gift of song is such a joy to hear when it fills the room. Her laughter and squeals of delight when something surprising happens is a wonder to behold.

From the baby to the child to the young woman she’s become, I have been there to witness it all and what a fantastic adventure it’s been. From car trips along the shoreline with her bonnet on and top down, to riding trains in Japan to Climbing Mt. Fuji to playing in the waves along the Gulf of Mexico to climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge to getting her drivers license to hearing her sing… and all the little moments along the way. Coffee on the beach… breakfast at dinner time at Waffle House… playing hide and seek… crying together at the end of “Notebook.” So many memories and each one I cherish.

The story of my life began with her because that is when I really started to live.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Shelby.

Thank you Lord for giving me her as my daughter.




The “Mall Gift” Who Wants to be President

Marco Rubio, the freshman Senator from Florida, now wants to be president. He touts his foreign policy experience, his experience in the Senate and his experience in the Florida House.

Let’s anatomize his experience.

In 2010, Marco Rubio was voted to represent Florida as one of the state’s two senators. Article I of the U.S. Constitution, which he took an oath to uphold, begins with Section 1: “All Legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

In order for a bill to become law, it has to pass both chambers of Congress. All appropriation bills must originate in the House of Representatives with the Senate approving all appropriation bills. This is the job of a Senator: to vote on bills, to include appropriation bills, that then go to the President for approval or veto. In order to represent Florida and the people of Florida, he has to be there to vote.

And his record… in 2015, he missed keys votes on legislation, even legislation he originally co-sponsored. Here’s a brief breakdown:

  • January 6: Co-sponsors S1 Bill to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline
  • January 29: Did not vote on the Bill to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline (that he co-sponsored)
  • May 12: Did not vote on HR1314 Bipartisan Budget Act 2015
  • June 2: Voted against* HR2048 Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring (USA Freedom) Act of 2015: this act prohibits the bulk collection of data and requires the FBI to show reasonable cause to a judge for approval to collect information on specific individuals. (*Yes he showed up to vote, but not on the principles he now espouses.)
  • September 30: Did not vote on HR719 Continuing Appropriations Act 2016
  • October 1: Did not vote on HR2029 Military Construction and Veteran Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act 2016
  • October 7: Did not vote on HR1735 National Defense Authorization Act for FY2016
  • October 22: Did not vote on S. Amendment 2564 Prohibits Liability Immunity for Corporations that Break User Agreements
  • October 26: Co-sponsors S.J. Res24 A Joint Resolution Providing for Congressional Disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title 5, Unites States Code, of a Rule Submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency Relating to “Carbon Pollution.”
  • October 26: Co-Sponsors S.J. Res23 A Joint Resolution Providing for Congressional Disapproval Under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of a Rule Submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency Relating to “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified and Reconstructed Stationary Source: Electric Utility Generating Units”
  • November 17: Does not vote on the two aforementioned Resolutions he co-sponsored.
  • October 27: Does not vote on S754 Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015
  • November 5: Does not vote on HR2685 Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2016

This is just in the last year, 2015. His statement to Iowa voters that he has a 90% attendance record is pure elephant dung as reflected by his voting record just in 2015. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good tale; after all, most voters don’t bother to check facts. They see a some-what good looking young man who speaks well and seems likable, so he must be telling the truth, right? Does this seem just a little bit familiar (think 2008)?

In an October 25 CNN interview, he was asked about his voting record, or lack thereof, and his response was one of arrogance.

“A lot of these votes don’t mean anything because the president will veto it,” he answered.

Really, that’s his answer. The president will veto the bills; therefore, why show up?

During the December CNN debate, he attacked Ted Cruz for voting against the National Defense Re-authorization Act – a bill that funds the troops, according to Rubio – because it contained a provision that would allow the federal government to indefinitely detain any American without due process.

– Yet, wait for it… Rubio did not even bother showing up to vote this past year for the NDRA.

Rubio’s response was at the debate, “If you are an American citizen and you decide to join up with ISIS we are not going to read you your Miranda rights…” is another pile of elephant dung and a red herring because all that’s required is for the federal government to deem an American citizen a “terrorist” without proof and then to hold that American indefinitely without due process.

And he fancies himself a Constitutional Conservative – he must be reading Cuba’s Constitution because he surely isn’t reading the U.S. Constitution.

Back to the CNN interview, his justification for missing so many votes is that “Voting is not the only part of the Senate job. I mean, the most important thing a senator does is constituent service. We’re still involved in looking out for Florida’s issues.”

Again, for a man who touts the Constitution, it seems he is in need of a refresher course because as a U.S. Senator, his job is to represent Florida’s interests by showing up to vote on proposed legislation. However, he claims that he’s fully briefed and therefore, it’s all okay.

“I was just there this Tuesday. I got fully briefed and caught up on everything that’s happening in the world. I’m fully aware…. (I have a) staffer assigned to intelligence,” he said in the interview.

Only an elected official can one get away with not showing up to do his job or showing up once a week to get briefed and still have a job. But I digress.

Taking his position to its logical conclusion, if he thinks it’s wasteful to cast a vote because the president will veto it anyway, what will he do should Democrats regain control of the House and Senate and he’s president? Not show up for work because it would be a waste since Congress wouldn’t pass anything he supports?

Moving on to his touted foreign policy experience.

The Conservative Solutions PAC is running an ad that states, “FACT: Marco Rubio’s attended more classified national security briefings this year than any other candidate. TRUTH: (Marco Rubio’s a) recognized foreign policy expert who will keep America safe.”

In other words, because Rubio has attended intelligence briefings, meetings which require no action, he is a foreign policy expert. Ignoring the fact that the ad doesn’t say who considers Rubio a foreign expert – maybe his staffer assigned to intelligence –  just that he is considered a foreign expert Well, let’s consider the claim of his expertise because he’s attended briefings…

Making that claim – that Rubio is a foreign policy expert because he’s attended briefings – is like saying I’m an ace pilot because I attend flight briefings.

Again, all this seems just too familiar.

Now for his record in the Florida House.

He blocked bills that made it out of committees with strong bi-partisan support such as a bill that would have allowed the deportation of up to 5,000 illegal immigrants in prison after they served half their sentence. He also blocked enforcement proposals such as a bill requiring employers to check workers’ status; a bill mandating increased cooperation between local law enforcement and federal agencies; bills that would have penalized farmers and government contractors discovered hiring illegal immigrants; and proposals requiring local police to notify federal authorities after arresting illegal immigrants, and stricter regulations on public benefits for illegal immigrants.

But hey, he played football as a youngster and that taught him a good many things… as he said in an interview in his hometown last year.

His experience is more along the lines of dishing out elephant dung with the hope that voters will accept it by the shovels, and to date, he’s been right.

As voters, it is important to look beyond the fancy rhetoric that rolls off his slick tongue and look at the record upon which he stands, not the record (and principles) he claims to stand upon, because his record clearly indicates that the only principle he subscribes to is the one that gets him elected.

This nation elected another Senator eight years ago with a similar background, who also spoke well and appealed to people’s emotions – let’s not make the same mistake again. Or as the title of this musing states, we don’t need another “mall gift” occupying the White House: pretty on the outside, but empty on the inside.

“The reading in the first stage, where they will receive their whole education, is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History by appraising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experiences of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views. Thomas Jefferson – Notes on the State of Virginia 1781-1785


Obama’s Tears fall Hollow

President Barack Obama took to the airwaves, with tears in his eyes, and declared his intent to make buying or owning a firearm more difficult. His words, and tears, are political theater, designed to elicit emotional support for an issue that he’s been pushing for quite some time: gun control.

“Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns. Thirty thousand. Suicides, domestic violence, gang shootouts, accidents. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters or buried their own children…

“No matter how many times people try to twist my words around, I taught constitutional law, I know a little bit about this. I get it, but I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment.

“We do not have to accept this carnage as the price of freedom,” Obama said.

He invoked children, first graders and every time he thinks of a child being killed… cue the tears.

Let’s break this down a bit.

First, I find his compassion for children just a bit disingenuous for a man who has staunchly supported abortion, up to the final trimester. Putting it into raw numbers, since he loves to tout them as justification for his actions: almost 58 million babies have lost their lives since Roe vs. Wade. Think about that: 58 million brothers, sisters, grandchildren have been killed while in utero, sucked out as if they were nothing more than garbage. And should a baby survive an abortion, President Obama would rather the baby die on a cold hard table or trash bin than have medical care provided, as exhibited by his vote against a Born Alive Act while an Illinois Senator.

I also find it disingenuous considering his town of Chicago is home to some of the most tragic violence in the nation, to include the killing of children, and yet he’s mentioned Chicago once… today… but he failed to mention that it’s not law-abiding citizens gunning down children, it is criminals who don’t give one iota about background checks or gun laws – of which Chicago is the proud city of extremely strict gun laws.

Second, the putrid hypocrisy oozing from this man is malodorous. Aside, from his only valuing life when it suits his purpose, this is the same man who time and time again has fallen over himself to ensure that we, Americans, don’t condemn Islam, touting ad naseum the idea that it’s a religion of “peace” and we shouldn’t make it more difficult for Muslims to enter the United States and we shouldn’t judge the whole because of the few. Yet, there he stands, condemning the whole because of the few when it applies to gun owners.

Third, gun violence has been on a downward trend for many years now, but let’s take his figure and apply the same standard to say, cars. The National Safety Council reported that in 2013, an estimated 35,200 people died in traffic accidents in the United States, and about 3.8 million people in car accidents required medical attention. The cause according to the report: mostly human error.

I’m certain that the people who buried their brothers, sisters, and children who died because of a car were no less hurt and heartbroken than those who buried their brothers, sisters and children who died because of a bullet.

The President’s Executive Order states doctors can now report certain mental illnesses of their patients to the federal government via the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS). In addition, information on Social Security beneficiaries who meet the arbitrary “criteria” of “mental impairment” to include an inability to manage their own benefits will be added to the NICS and they will be prohibited from buying and owning a gun.

The President, through Executive Order, will require all persons selling guns to be a registered gun seller. That, in essence, puts an end to all private sales.

Again, let’s apply these standards to cars.

If a person is mentally unstable enough, as defined by the federal government, to own a gun, why are they permitted to drive, especially considering there are more car deaths than gun deaths. Also, because there are more deaths due to car accidents than mass shootings, why not require all car sellers to be registered dealers, meaning, no more private car sales.

Then there’s the hypocrisy that this president wants to release terrorists from Guantanamo Bay who will then most assuredly access their guns to kill people, and possibly a few Americans.

Fourth, there’s his assertion that he taught Constitutional Law and therefore, he knows “a little about this… I also believe we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment.”

Well, let’s review the Second Amendment.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” PERIOD!

Each provision in his Executive Order is an infringement on that right. It doesn’t state that when the president determines too many people have died at the hands of guns, that restrictions (infringement) can be placed on American citizens. It states, “… shall not be infringed.”

And since he’s such a scholar of the Constitution, why has he circumvented Congress through this Executive Order. Why didn’t he make this impassioned argument to Congress, urging them to change the laws as required by Article I?

Remember, Article I states that Congress is to make law; Article II states that the President is to execute the law. It doesn’t state that the President gets to change laws, add to or take away, because he thinks more – or less – should be done. No, he is to execute the laws that the Legislative Branch has passed and he, or a previous president, has signed into law. That’s not what he did though, is it?

Finally, there’s his statement that “We do not have to accept this carnage as the price of freedom.”

Benjamin Franklin once said:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Which leads me to the conclusion that this President never lets the facts get in the way of a good tale… or to achieve his goal of increasing the power of the federal government, while decreasing the liberties of the American people.

As James Madison wrote in the Federalist Paper 58, “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”

Yet by way of President Obama, along with the complicity of Congress, an elective despotism is now what we have – and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, regardless of who succeeds him.