Human Trafficking

While legal slavery in America ended with the Civil War, human trafficking still exists today.  It’s as much a travesty now as it was then.

Estimates range from 12 million to as many as over 40 million people who are enslaved around the world, with about 60,000 (as of 2013) slaves here in the US.  (opinion column)

Regardless of the number, there are too many.  America should be a land of freedom, and of opportunity.

So where do these slaves exist?  The sex industry has more than its share of victims.  Young women & girls, lured by promises of jobs in America, are brought in and forced to work in massage parlors or strip clubs.  Other victims have family members or ‘friends’ who start them on this dark path. (and here)

Many are also in food service, whether restaurants, bars or picking crops in the fields.  Men & women have paid thousands to traffickers, coyotes from Mexico, ‘snakeheads’ from China and other lowlifes who then threaten the families of their victims back home, or threaten to turn them over to authorities.  They work long hours, and pay most of their income for food, housing and other ‘fees’.  Their freedom is years down the road, if it ever comes.

An organization called Polaris Project has listed 25 different types of slavery today, ranging from pornography & prostitution to domestic work (housekeeping), traveling sales crews, restaurant, agriculture and health & beauty services to name just a few.

I hope this is an area we can work across the aisle on.  Slavery is an ancient institution, and it’s time that it ends.  We need to shut down human trafficking organizations.  We need to make sure that anyone doing business with the US government, and our state/local governments aren’t enslaving people, and we need to make sure all businesses are employing people voluntarily, not under coercion.



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The ‘Identity’ Movement

We’re told that, despite the fact that someone might be white & male, they can really be a black female.

Someone ‘identifies’ as something they’re not, and the rest of society is expected to treat them as what they identify as, not what they really are.

So how far do we take this?

Do we really treat the young woman who claims she’s a cat like a feline? Get her spayed (maybe not a bad idea)? Let her use the litter box? Take her to the vet for rabies, FIV and distemper shots?

What about the 52 year old man claiming to be a six year old girl?  Should we let him in the locker room with little girls & put him back in first grade?

What about someone who claims to be Napoleon or the Pope?

Do we indulge these delusions, or do we get people the help they need accepting who they are, whether it’s black or white, man or woman, someone who’s famous or not?

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What can you do for America?

President Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address, said ‘…Ask not what  your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.’  Wise words.

Today, nearly every Democrat, and far too many Republicans, expect the government to do more & more for them.

On the left, it’s all about free health care, education, feminine hygiene products, and protected status for the preferred group of the day, among other things.

On the right, it’s often expanding government help to businesses.  The US Chamber of (Crony Capitalism) Commerce.

Let’s get rid of all these hand outs, to the greatest extent possible.  Yes, there are people who can’t, or shouldn’t, work.

Our senior citizens have paid their dues.  If they can’t provide for themselves, let’s help them out.  If the have the means to provide for themselves, why not reduce (not eliminate) their benefits?

Children need to be kids.  Their ‘job’ is to learn when their in school, and to develop through play.

But let’s not encourage dependence.  Families who can’t afford kids maybe should spring for birth control so they don’t have kids, or at least don’t have more kids.  People who are unwilling to provide for themselves shouldn’t be rewarded.

What can we do for our country?  Volunteer at a food bank.  If you have the skill, teach someone to read, or help them learn a trade.  If you have the means, help someone go back to school.  Clean up your street or a local park

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Pet Food

I’m an animal lover.  We’ve rescued cats & kittens, and even a dog, off the streets over the years, and made them part of our ‘family’.  We’re feeding three feral cats here at home, and there’s another colony near work that I help feed.  We work with our local Humane Society as fosters, and we help with ‘Trap/Neuter/Release’.  So we have hearts for our furry friends.

But when we went to a local pet warehouse and saw bags of cat food costing more than $20 for 10 pounds (or less), it bothered me.

No, I don’t think it should be illegal to spend that much for pet food.

But speaking for myself, I’d much rather spend half that much to feed our cats, and use the difference to buy some chickens for a family in Africa, a fishing net for someone in Asia.  To help dig a well in a poor village.  To buy more food for the feral kitties, or to help pay for a Neuter/Spay surgery.

Of course good pet owners want the best for their cat, dog, bird, or whatever animal they have.  But we shouldn’t ever forget all the cats & dogs living on the streets, hungry, alone, neglected, and cold.

Please, help homeless animals.  Get your next pet from a shelter.  And get them Neutered or Spayed.


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Why I’m a Conservative

Liberals ask why middle class or poor people vote ‘against their (own) best interests’ by supporting Conservatives.

I’ve been a Conservative my whole political life.  The first political newsletter I read was ‘Human Events‘.  I was a 3rd generation subscriber, until the print edition ended, and I still regularly visit their website.  I’m hardly rich.  I work at a call center, making about $14/hour as an insurance agent.  Even my last job only paid around $20/hour.

So why do I back Conservative candidates?

I believe in, and support, the Constitution, including the 2nd, 9th & 10th Amendments.  Far too many politicians on both sides of the aisle ignore the 9th & 10th, and there are those on the left who think the right to keep & bear arms needs to be eliminated.

I believe in personal responsibility, to the greatest extent possible.  There will always be people who are unable to provide for themselves, and it’s the right thing- the Christian thing- to help them.  But we shouldn’t set out to make as many people as possible depend on government.

I believe in protecting our borders.   American is certainly a nation of immigrants.  Men & women coming from around the world to build a better life for themselves & their family.  But we’re also a nation of laws.  Too many politicians, Democratic & Republican, want to grant a ‘path to citizenship’ for their own reasons.  Republicans are more likely to do this at the urging of groups like the Chamber of Commerce, seeking lower wage employees.  The left is more likely to back amnesty over ‘white guilt’ and to gain voters.  Republicans forget that American citizens need jobs, while Democrats forget the law, and that we’re a sovereign nation.

I’m a believer in American sovereignty.  I don’t want our government to adopt laws & policies just because the French, German, Korean, Saudi or Nigerian government does.

I believe in individual rights.  Government, since it represents ‘the people’ must never discriminate.  Everyone must be treated equally under the law.  At the same time, respect for individual rights means that those individuals & businesses that choose to discriminate should be allowed to, no matter how wrong or how stupid it is.  If I’m free to avoid a business owned by someone because of who they are, they should also be free to avoid taking money from me because of who I am.

I believe that everyone, whether they’re making $15,000 a year or $15,000,000 a year, should be able to keep as much of their money as possible.  We need to fund government to do what’s needed, but we shouldn’t punish success.  I’d back a flat tax rate of 18-20% with generous personal exemptions of either $7,500 or $10,000 per person on all income, whether it’s through labor or investments.  And businesses should face lower taxes too.

I support fewer regulations.  Big business can more easily absorb the cost of new rules & regulations than small businesses can, and these costs hinder new entries into the market.  I don’t support no regulations, just fewer, more sensible ones.

I want to see the best schools possible, and I believe that comes from competition among different schools, not through a government run educational system.  While a level of ‘socialism’ is needed here to pay for education, the actual running of schools needs to be done privately.  Parents can use government funds to send their kids to schools that they believe will provide the education they feel is best, with broad & limited government interference.  And what government involvement is needed should be at the level closest to those affected- the state & local, rather than national, level.

Government has its functions.  We need government to provide things like roads, police & fire protection, national defense & to negotiate treaties with other countries.  States can & should be able to decide on regulations that they believe will protect their citizens.  If one state wants higher level of product safety than another, fine!  And a business can either tailor their product to meet those regulations, or not sell in that state.

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2016 Presidential Election

Unless there’s a huge surprise at the Democratic convention, or some other major event happening, our choices for President this fall, at least in the major parties, will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

For a variety of reasons, there’s no way I’ll even vote for Hillary.  And to those on the left, none of them have anything to do with her gender.  I’d be willing to support, or at least consider, a woman like Susanna Martinez or Nikki Haley.

Her actions when First Lady in replacing the White House Travel Office are troubling.  ‘Cattlegate‘, Hillary’s extraordinary success in trading cattle futures, something she had no experience in, is another area of concern.  The Clinton Foundation was placed on Charity Navigator’s ‘Watch List’ last year.  While Charity Navigator didn’t directly rate them, they did warn about potential problems with the Foundation.  Charity Navigator removed them from this list at the end of the year.  The Foundation’s track record in donations has been somewhat spotty.  In 2013, only about 10% of their money went to charities.  Other ties between the Foundation and businesses & foreign governments raise questions.  And of course there are the problems with her use of a private server to conduct government business.  According to CNN, a State Department Inspector General report says she didn’t follow rules regarding e-mail.  More on her use of email here and here.

While I’m not 100% pro-life, I also believe there need to be restrictions on abortion.  Limit the practice to 18-20 weeks, then only if the life of the mother or child is at risk after that.  I’d certainly make an exception for cases of rape.  While the child is no less innocent, the victim of a rape shouldn’t have to continue to be reminded of what happened to her through the 9 months of a pregnancy.  While Hillary’s certainly ‘better’ on the issue than Sanders is, she’s too much in favor of the practice.

She’s also a strong advocate for gun control.  Like many on the left, Hillary would, at least in part, use the ‘No Fly’ list as a basis for who can purchase a gun.  Unfortunately, there’s no due process for this list, and it’s apparently very difficult to get off the list once placed on there, even if done in error.  Surprisingly I agree, to a degree, with this column from Slate  on the issue.

While not as bad as Sanders on government spending, Hillary’s proposing nearly $1 trillion in new spending, to be paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy. (also here).  Typically, these calls for higher taxes on the rich ignore the fact that the rich already pay the lion’s share of federal taxes.

Hillary, like Obama, doesn’t appear to believe that businesses create jobs.

And I don’t trust her on foreign policy.  From a ridiculous ‘reset’ button given to Putin while Secretary of State to agreeing with Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran to millions of contributions to the Clinton Foundation from Middle Eastern countries, (and here) some of whom got weapons deals from the US State Department, she’s far too much in the pocket of those who aren’t our allies.

I reviewed Donald Trump last fall.  He wasn’t my first choice for the office, and some of his actions since then haven’t given me much reason to be a huge Trump backer.  He is, however, the Republican nominee and despite his many flaws, he’s a better choice than Hillary is, in my opinion.

While I’m concerned over his comments today that he’d consider banning people on the ‘No Fly’ or ‘Terrorist Watch’ lists from buying guns, I wonder if he’s fully aware that there is no due process for being placed on these lists.  What’s to stop an administration, any administration, from putting its opponents on such a list out of spite?  And what’s to stop an administration from taking other rights away from its opponents?  Furthermore, why aren’t those on the lists either banned from coming in, deported or, in the case of citizens, jailed if they are indeed a threat to the security of the country?  Will Trump change his mind after meeting with the NRA?  Time will tell.

I agree we need to improve the process for vetting those coming to America, regardless of where they’re coming from.  Trump’s limiting his moratorium to Muslims, but that doesn’t go far enough.  We need to take a closer look at all immigrants to at least make an effort to ensure they haven’t been radicalized.   Obama’s current goal of allowing 10,000 Syrian refugees in this year (about 40/day based on 5 days a week), doesn’t seem to give much time to interview them, especially since this is only the Syrian refugees, and doesn’t include the 75,000 other immigrants Obama wants to allow in.  That brings the daily number to just under 326 people who need to be checked out.    The administration claims there’s a rigorous screening process, but given the problems that have developed in Europe over the massive influx of immigrants, I have my doubts over its effectiveness.  Even liberal enclave Michigan is pushing back against this.  Of course, there are people who’ve been in this process for some time, and the increase won’t happen over night, any more than someone who requests asylum tomorrow will be here next week.

Trump’s complaint over Hispanic judge Gonzalo Curiel may or may not have merit.  The judge is a member of a group called “La Raza Lawyers Association“.  While the group claims to have no affiliation with the group, ‘National Council of La Raza’, the fact that they share a part of their name raises some potentially troubling questions.   A black or Hispanic would be just as justifiably concerned about a white judge belonging to a group called ‘Lawyers of the White Brotherhood’ or ‘Aryan Lawyers’ being unbiased towards them.  One of La Raza Lawyer’s founders, Mario Obledo, said that California would become a Hispanic state, and that whites should go back to Europe.

I don’t like his ties with the Clinton family either.  Still, Trump is our candidate, and like it or not, I’ll be voting for him, or at least voting against Hillary, come November.

Yes, there are 3rd party candidates like Gary Johnson.  But Johnson’s far too weak on immigration for me.  And immigration is too important an issue for me to compromise on.


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Republican Presidential Candidate: Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie joined the Republican race for President on June 30, 2015.  He’s been Governor since 2009, a rare Republican in overwhelmingly ‘blue’ New Jersey.

Christie won election, and a second term, by being the kind of politician the people of New Jersey want- someone who’s at the liberal end of the spectrum.

Christie’s had some success on Budget issues.  Christie’s said that small cuts to the federal budget aren’t a concern, and cut over a billion from the state budget upon taking office, declaring a fiscal state of emergency.  Unfortunately, the state’s bond rating has dropped to the 2nd lowest in the nation, he’s borrowed money from the Turnpike toll account to cover other spending, possibly resulting in a gas tax hike, and he spent over $80,000 in taxpayer funds to entertain guests at sporting events.

Education is probably Christie’s strong point.  He backs school choice, supports merit pay for teachers along with vouchers for private schools, and has expanded the number of charter schools.  Unfortunately, he’s also backed Common Core standards (possibly changing his mind here).

Gov. Christie backs NSA surveillance, supported the nomination of Sonya Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court, and nominated numerous liberals for the state Supreme Court.

He campaigned on reducing the power of the state Department of Environmental Protection, arguing it was ‘killing business’, supports nuclear energy in the US, and would work to lift the ban on crude oil exports.  Unfortunately, he also would ban new coal fired power plants, backs tax credits for wind energy, and supports the Obama administration’s climate rules.

While he has no Foreign Policy experience, largely due to his position as governor, I can back him in some of what he’s said.  He’s come out strongly in support of Israel, & strongly opposes the Iran nuclear deal.

When it comes to Free Markets, Christie’s very weak.  While he did propose a regulatory moratorium and a program of eliminating one regulation for each new one during the most recent GOP debate, his history isn’t as good.  He provided over $4 billion in corporate tax breaks, gave millions in incentives to a casino which ultimately failed, provided over $100 million in tax breaks to Subaru to move to Camden, and blocked Tesla Motors ‘direct sales’ model in the state.

Typically, Immigration is another weak area for the Governor.  On the plus side, he’s said we may need to re-examine the 14th Amendment & the ‘birthright citizenship‘ issue.  He’s also suggested we monitor & track immigrants much like FedEx tracks packages.   On the other hand, he’s called for ‘fairness’ in treatment of illegals, signed & supported a state ‘Dream’ Act, and appointed a US Senator who’s pro amnesty.

Christie’s track record on the 2nd Amendment is poor, too.  While he did veto measures proposed by the state legislature, he’s also claimed the state has a ‘handgun problem‘, and has backed gun control for many years.

And on the economy, I’d give Christie a mixed record.  He’s said that unions are a problem in the state, conditionally vetoed an increase in the state minimum wage, vetoed legislation which would ultimately have raised construction costs after Hurricane Sandy and supported some tax reforms.  On the other hand, he’s now considering supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10/hour,  backs ‘prevailing wage’ laws, and leads a state with high property & income taxes and a struggling economy.

Sorry Gov. Christie.  You don’t have my backing for 2016.

As always, I got my information from the Conservative Review website, and their associated links.

Next profile:  Marco Rubio

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