@TedCruz and Presidential #Eligibility, Part 2

Courtesy KansasCity.com

As a follow up to a previous posting on this site, frankly, not much has changed regarding the question of whether or not Sen. Ted Cruz is fundamentally eligible for the presidency.

And no matter the pontification on the part of legal scholars, other presidential candidates, or talking heads, the bottom line is that nothing has changed since the State Department’s official documentation on presidential eligibility:

Ed. 7 FAM 1131.6-2 Eligibility for Presidency (TL:CON-68; 04-01-1998) a. It has never been determined definitively by a court whether a person who acquired U.S. citizenship by birth abroad to U.S. citizens is a natural born citizen within the meaning of Article II of the Constitution and, therefore, eligible for the Presidency. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86757.pdf

Even a very recent Congressional Research Service memo of January 11, 2016, confirms this fact:

Questions from time to time have arisen concerning whether one who is a U.S. citizen “at birth” because of the operation of federal law, is also a “natural born” citizen for purposes of the presidential eligibility clause. Such questions often concern persons born abroad to parents who are U.S. citizens, or persons born abroad when only one parent is a U.S. citizen who had resided in the United States.  Although such individuals born abroad may clearly be U.S. citizens “at birth” by statute, would such persons also be “natural born Citizens,” or is eligibility to the Presidency limited only to “native born” citizens?Additionally, questions have been recently raised by some as to whether one born “in” the United States of one or more alien parents—and who is thus clearly a U.S. citizen “at birth” by the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as by federal law and common law—was intended to be considered a “natural born” citizen for purposes of the presidential eligibility clause.
The Constitution does not define the term “natural born Citizen,” nor are the notes from the debates at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 instructive as to any specific collective intent of the framers concerning the meaning of the term. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has never needed to address this particular issue within the specific context of a challenge to the eligibility of a candidate under Article II, Section 1, clause 5, the only place in the entire Constitution that the phrase appears, although federal courts have discussed the concept extensively with respect to other issues of citizenship. Consequently, although there are numerous Supreme Court cases, as well as other federal and state case law, discussing the phrase and its meaning from which conclusions may be drawn, there has still been certain speculation on the scope of the language.

Therefore while Sen. Cruz can say that he is eligible, Mr. Trump is at least technically correct in saying that there is the possibility — however remote — that if a party with standing (possessing the correct credentials to bring a case to a court) were to proceed forward with an eligibility case and if that court were to be asked the right question and if that court were to rule a specifically-scoped definition for “natural born citizen” with respect to presidential eligibility, then Sen. Cruz could potentially have an issue.

And therein lies the rub. Since this blog followed the vast majority of judicial attempts to attain President Obama’s legal eligibility, a number of points were learned over the years.

Let’s start with a few (and likely not exhaustive) legal points:

  • A party bringing an issue to a court (typically the plaintiff) must have standing (discussed above)
  • That plaintiff must be able to prove subject matter jurisdiction (does the court in question have the jurisdiction to even hear the case?)
  • The question at hand must be ripe (is the timing to hear the case and have the remedy fulfilled reasonable?)
  • The remedy to resolve the issue at hand must be reasonable (what’s the outcome that the plaintiff desires? Can it be accomplished in a reasonable and timely manner?)
  • The plaintiff must be able to prove particular harm (how, specifically, is the plaintiff being harmed by the question at hand?)

If someone were to successfully overcome all of the above points, there would be other considerations that the judge(s) of a particular court(s) would have to consider:

  • Is this rightfully a political or a legal question? (At the end of the day, a judge could simply rule that the Legislative branch has the authority to make an eligibility determination and throw the question back to, say, the Electoral College or to the major political parties (see this posting from 2008)
  • Will the question being brought before a court actually answer the right question? (Is the question to define citizenship strictly for the purposes of presidential eligibility ?)
  • Would the Supreme Court grant a writ of certiorari? (Will the Supreme Court choose to hear the case? Likely only if multiple circuits have different outcomes and only if they believe there’s a uniform outcome to these differing views — or they could simply vacate the question the grounds of it being Legislative and not Judicial)

Additional points:

  • Will those who challenge Sen. Cruz’s eligibility face the same pejoratives as those who questions President Obama’s? Evidently, to some degree, yes. As recently as the latest GOP Presidential Debate, Sen. Cruz himself used the term, “birthers” (a carry-over pejorative label from those who questioned the President) to describe those who were questioning his eligibility
  • How likely is it that a case could be moved towards the Supreme Court? This would likely be as proportional as the degree to which Sen. Cruz is doing well in the primaries. In his case, a case could pick up some momentum because the GOP establishment has a vested interest in having the Senator declared as ineligible — which begs the presence of a “political question” that many judges are loath to take on

In the absence of a legal definition, it is therefore incumbent upon the American citizen to make their own judgement regarding Sen. Cruz’s presidential eligibility. As we approach the primaries, we’ll see how the political process plays out.

On Cybersecurity and What’s Being Done About It

Image Courtesy CNN.com

From a security analyst point of view, today became a great day for a write-up on the current national discussion of cybersecurity — and, more importantly, what is actually being done about it.

This morning, LegalInsurrection.com posted quite the prescient article entitled, “What If Spying On Social Media Sites Could Save Lives?” In it, one of Dr. Jacobson’s contributors, Jonathan Levin, posits that while the initial introduction of DARPA’s Total Information Awareness program could not have had worse optics, a discussion should begin again over whether or not the intentions behind the program couldn’t be legitimately (read: legally, politically, etc.) recycled into something that balances the needs of security with privacy.

Add to this piece a webinar that InformationWeek’s DarkReading site hosted this afternoon highlighting the state of cybersecurity from 2015. Check out some of these concepts that the presenters shared:

  • Attendance at BlackHat — the world’s largest security gathering — went from 9,000 in 2014 to over 11,000 earlier this year
  • One of the biggest take-aways from the conference was a car hack demo that eventually led to manufacturer recalls
  • IoT (Internet of Things) is greatly misunderstood and incredibly encompasses everything from toys to smart phones to light bulbs to logic controllers in factories and refineries
  • Same mistakes repeatedly made in terms of maintaining default passwords, keeping comm ports open, etc.
  • Biggest issue with encryption may not be simply privacy, but better ways to trust end-point profiles (e.g.: you are who you say you are)

On the webinar, everyone agreed that this year was the year that IT security made it big — it’s now political and it’s being felt at a personal level.

Why do I care enough to post about the topic? My new employer is right in the middle of this discussion — ThreatConnect. And while it might appear that I have a number of shameless plugs in this posting (which I do), don’t recoil too much, because there are some fascinating things happening in this space, and ThreatConnect has played a major part in many of these issues.

Here are some examples of how a TIP (Threat Intelligence Platform) was able to resolve recent breaches:

OK, great — we know the scope of the issue (people are at the very least losing their personal data in the lightest of instances), and we know that presidential candidates are talking about it, but what does all this mean to the common, everyday citizen?

As mentioned, there is always a tension that exists between individuals enjoying liberty and its polar opposite, security. On the one hand, candidates such as Donald Trump suggest that certain Internet-based sites should be taken down (he says this in CEO fashion, but I think this is the gist). On the other, now-former candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham strongly suggested that devices should have encryption “back doors” that allow for what he might determine as legitimate spying by state actors; interestingly, Tim Cook was quick to resist.

Here’s the thing. Platforms like ThreatConnect have already proven many times over that we as a nation (or as organizations and individuals) can already track down who’s doing what and where using existing, open technologies on the Internet; where and when some assets need to be shut down is a subsequent law enforcement question.

In reality, that is the job of the security analyst — the unsung hero who hangs out in both public- and private-sector organizations pouring through reams of data in hopes to connect the proverbial dots. A TIP expedites her job by semi-automating much of the legwork of some of these streams, freeing her up to do the actual analyst work of connecting computing IoCs (Indicators of Compromise) with real-world persons, places and things.

As threat assessment tech, methods and procedures evolve and mature, it will provide a smoother path to finding the bad actors in the world. If you read the linked resources in this posting, I think you’ll better appreciate that dealing with risks is a constantly evolving and attainable process. But it is a process where the journey is the destination.

This shouldn’t be an either/or discussion into which a politically tinged topic can devolve. However, cybersecurity platforms do exist and greatly increase the speed of resolution in finding out what the threats are and, sometimes, who the real adversary is.

I hope this helps shed some light in this fledgling but quickly maturing space.

Does Presidential Candidate Personal Net Worth Determine Lack of Lobbying Access?

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally on Friday in Mobile, AL (courtesy NYTimes.com)

PersonalCapital.com recently put together* an infographic concerning the personal net worth of the major political candidates as well as historical perspective on net worth of historical candidates. I thought this information was particularly poignant in light of my comments on why businessman Donald Trump is doing so well in current polling for the 2016 presidential election (as a brief aside, they report Mr. Trump’s net worth at just over $4 billion; BusinessInsider reports — based on FEC disclosure — the figure to be closer to $10 billion; the point is he’s quite wealthy).

While I don’t necessarily endorse the above-mentioned site, I wanted to use the opportunity to discuss another important topic: the real impact that exceptionally rich candidates play in political races.

Donald Trump rarely has a campaign stop or press conference in which he doesn’t talk about the concept that since he’s worth billions, he doesn’t need anyone’s money — and certainly not lobbyist or donor money (he’s quick to emphasize) — so that he therefore does not owe anyone (but himself) favors once he is potentially firmly ensconced at the White House.

At the same time, American politics has been dramatically impacted by the growth of such libertarian-conservative movements as the Tea Party, one significant point of which is to bring nearly daily awareness to average citizens of the goings-on of not just the District of Columbia, but virtually all political races at all levels of society.

If we bring both of these topics together, I think we approach a question that is rather stark to consider:

If a presidential candidate (we’ll stick with the top job for the purposes of this conversation) does not have a sizable net worth such that they have to have outside monies to make a run, does that mean that they have to make decisions — should they reach the presidency — based on what a particular donor demands of them at some point in the future? What if that candidate says “no” in the instance that such a theoretical demand goes against the best interest of the country (this is the point that Mr. Trump makes)?

ABC News reported that the Mobile, AL police department reported that Friday night’s “rally” had 30,000 individuals in attendance — the largest such gathering to date for the 2016 contest. Assuming that national and State polling continue on as they have, and assuming that this town of 100,000 can produce such a large gathering, and we extrapolate that throughout the rest of the country, then obviously something is resonating with Donald Trump.

Does this mean, then, that other equally viable candidates who possess a mere fraction of the net worth of Mr. Trump must listen to what their donors say (assuming such donations are not of individual sources of, say, less than $500), no matter what?

Or, could this be yet another new concept in politics: an exceptionally high net worth individual makes it to the White House and can literally do whatever he wants (such as what he believes is best for the country) because he owes nobody any favors?

Maybe Donald Trump will become the first candidate since the era of billion-dollar campaigns that makes it to the top office and shows what it means to be beholden only to the will of the country — assuming that he maintains this mindset.

*I’d like to thank a representative from PersonalCapital.com for having reached out to me over comments I made regarding what seems to keep Donald Trump  high in the polls at this stage in the presidential race.

The @FoxNews #GOPDebate — Questions You Should Ask

Courtesy: Zap2it

Lots of news has been made over last Thursday’s Fox News “Prime Time” 9pm debate. However, as a citizen observer, I’d like to cut through the hyperbole that’s been rampant over the past many days and instead ask a number of questions:

  • Did you think that Fox News was any better or worse than any other network regarding news and candidate views?
  • Does a moderator have the responsibility to give equal time to every candidate, assuming that there is no pre-defined rule governing such a time limit?
  • Doesn’t Fox News have their own agenda that may or may not coincide with either the Republican National Committee and/or its viewers?
  • Were the questions that the moderators asked any more or less tougher than what any other network moderators would ask?
  • Do you think the GOP candidates should be asked any question for the purposes of seeing how the particular candidate will respond under pressure, no matter the efficacy of the question?
  • If Fox News and Megyn Kelly (just to briefly address one issue brought up during the debate) are as concerned as they appear to be over a candidate’s alleged negativity discussing women’s looks, then why are virtually all of Fox News’ female anchors essentially dressed as and exhibit strikingly similar body types that could be found at a Miss America pageant?
  • What kinds of questions do you think that Democrats would ask of a Republican?
  • Is it better to get a presidential candidate as fully vetted as possible and as quickly as possible versus at the time they’re about to be nominated?
  • Is America voting for a pastor or a President?
  • Is it OK to you to vote for a presidential candidate who may not be 100% in lock-step with your social views but could be an excellent leader anyway?

In case there is any doubt, my intentions of asking these questions is to impress upon my readers that we are considering the credentials of numerous candidates for the purpose of bestowing the highest federal office in the land upon them.

Further, we are also testing their soft skills for the purposes of understanding how a given candidate will respond/react in a given situation. This means that while observers like me have certain biases towards certain candidates, that doesn’t mean that minds have been made up at this point.

The one thing I will say about all the candidates — every one of them — is that, in spite of whatever their personal motivation(s) may be, I believe they’re all serious about running, that nobody is going to quit the race until a metric (such as actual support or money) runs out, and as such, they deserve as many questions about their past, character, future thoughts, and diversion tactics as possible.

Remember — if their candidacy cannot survive the heat of the court of public opinion, then they have no hope of surviving the intestinal fortitude it takes to be President.

For #GOP2016, Who Best Fits This Job Description?

I thank a reader for forwarding the link to the above video today. In it, PJTV host Bill Whittle — back on November 27, 2012, so this is just after the General Election — spends 15 minutes soberly and directly elucidating the meaning of what being a conservative is about.

Please set aside 15 minutes to watch — if you’re a conservative activist (or play one on a blog :) ), you will get a fantastic ear full.

And the last few minutes — where he makes a prediction for 2016 — is exceptionally on target… almost shockingly, given the events of the past month in the GOP candidate field.

Why @realDonaldTrump is Defying All Political Odds

Courtesy: Politico

As I continue to watch the GOP 2016 field of candidates line up in their poll positions for the first of two debates on Fox News next week, I can’t help but continue to be intrigued by Donald Trump.

But why the intrigue? There are surely other equally-qualified candidates (and some not so much, in my opinion, either by personality or by hard skills) that could more than adequately fill the role of POTUS.

From my spartan perch, there are two things that any candidate for the presidency absolutely requires in order to have a chance at being nominated for the high office:

  1. Excellent organizational, leadership and management skills
  2. Excellent one-on-one skills

If you think about it, running for President is a lot like the inverse of finding the ideal job. In this case, the individual who pursues the presidency must (ideally) prove that they can handle the mantle of the office (point 1) and that they can also deal with others (point 2).

For Donald Trump, point number one will be proven as the road to the White House unfolds. In theory, if the businessman can handle becoming a multi-billionaire by overseeing the creation of a large, multi-national business, then forming State apparatuses to get primary and caucus-goers to vote for him should be a challenge worth the effort.

Regarding point number two, Mr. Trump is entering a sphere in politics that almost no other candidate can reach — the ability to behold a potential voter for a moment in time simply by showing up and reaching out to them.

TheRightScoop.com has some interesting posts that absolutely confirm this point. First of all, candidate Trump is currently leading in Florida polls, topping both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in their own back yard. Granted, this is very early in the process, but with “preliminary” numbers like these, my point number two is clearly being carried out.

The second post I’d like to bring attention to has to do with a clip from MSNBC — a channel that is far from being right-wing and has gone intellectually apoplectic over survey responses to The Donald.

Take a look:

I would go so far as to suggest that the focus group in question in the above video is a small but exceptionally relevant representation of any group of American voters in the country.

There’s a brief analysis by MSNBC that voters’ first instincts are emotional, and that’s true; all you’d have to do to confirm this is research anyone who’s ever been in leadership, management, training or teaching and you’ll discover this fact. Three-quarters of what you communicate has nothing to do with what you actually say, but rather how you present yourself.

Of course, the politicos inside the DC beltway don’t get this — sure, Donald Trump is rich enough to not need consultants — but the bigger issue is why Mr. Trump is becoming a bit of “Teflon Don,” where “controversies” don’t seem to stick to him. Why is this? Because the controversies are made up (at least to this point in time) and Mr. Trump is willing to fight back with abandon.

Remember — Donald Trump is a business man, but all personal acquaintance indicators (from those who personally know the man) are that he’s full-hearted. Therefore, he’s as much used to the boardroom (think swimming with proverbial sharks and you have to know how to defend yourself) as he is to meeting the average guy or gal on the street (where it takes a softer touch to relate).

Add to this that he’s at least a reasonably intelligent guy (how many stupid billionaires do you know who had to work for their wealth?) who earned an excellent education who also happens to be one of the best deal-makers on the planet and you have someone who can rise above party machinery and confound the alleged party king-makers.

For anyone who might think I’m all-in for the businessman, I’ll have to admit that I’m approaching that point, but it’s still early in the process.

Which brings me to my final — but potent — point.

Imagine what would happen if Donald Trump actually got out of the race at this point? Would you not feel even a smidgen of a sense of heartbreak that there’s nobody in the race willing to fight?

I think a lot of people would, and I think that’s part of The Donald’s brilliance in how he’s positioned himself in the race. The message: nobody is willing to fight as hard as Donald Trump for the issues that matter to all of us, especially when it comes to matters of national security.

I’m looking forward to the Fox News debates (plural “s” emphasis intentional) on Thursday, August 6. Politico recently reported that there will be an hour-long 5pm ET debate for all candidates, and then a 90-minute debate beginning at 8:50pm ET for the top polled candidates.

Pop popcorn beforehand and let’s see if Trump gets to the point of telling a candidate, “you’re fired!” :)

The Donald Could Narrow Down GOP Field; Immigration Comment Outrage Suspect

Courtesy: Business Insider

What a week the past week in politics has been, and the big issue was (and is) illegal immigration.

What’s fascinating to me is not just that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has been so outspoken on the issue, but that a few of the current candidate field have been vehemently against the Donald — to the point of grossly mischaracterizing what he actually said.

Furthermore, I was able to dig up exactly why this has become an issue (and it has everything to do with the Democrats, who I believe have made both a tactical and strategic error — I’ll explain shortly) at this point in the process.

First, I’ll begin with a statement from Mr. Trump himself that includes the alleged controversial comments, via BusinessInsider.com:

Statement from Donald J. Trump:

I don’t see how there is any room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the statement I made on June 16th during my Presidential announcement speech. Here is what I said, and yet this statement is deliberately distorted by the media:

“When Mexico (meaning the Mexican Government) sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you (pointing to the audience). They’re not sending you (pointing again). They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs.They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people! But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”

What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc. This was evident just this week when, as an example, a young woman in San Francisco was viciously killed by a 5 time deported Mexican with a long criminal record, who was forced back into the United States because they didn’t want him in Mexico. This is merely one of thousands of similar incidents throughout the United States. In other words, the worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States by the Mexican government. The largest suppliers of heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs are Mexican cartels that arrange to have Mexican immigrants trying to cross the borders and smuggle in the drugs. The Border Patrol knows this. Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border. The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world. On the other hand, many fabulous people come in from Mexico and our country is better for it. But these people are here legally, and are severely hurt by those coming in illegally. I am proud to say that I know many hard working Mexicans—many of them are working for and with me…and, just like our country, my organization is better for it.

The Mexican Government wants an open border as long as it’s a ONE WAY open border into the United States. Not only are they killing us at the border, but they are killing us on trade … and the country of Mexico is making billions of dollars in doing so.

I have great respect for Mexico and love their people and their peoples’ great spirit. The problem is, however, that their leaders are far smarter, more cunning, and better negotiators than ours. To the citizens of the United States, who I will represent far better than anyone else as President, the Mexican government is not our friend…and why should they be when the relationship is totally one sided in their favor on both illegal immigration and trade. I have pointed this out during my speeches and it is something Mexico doesn’t want me to say. In actuality, it was only after my significant rise in the polls that Univision, previously my friend, went ballistic. I believe that my examples of bad trade deals for the United States was of even more concern to the Mexican government than my talk of border security. …

Out of the gate, a former GOP candidate, Mitt Romney, thought that Trump made a “severe error” with the above verbiage (though, as TRS points out, we don’t know if this means Romney’s saying Trump’s correct or not, or rather invoking bad strategy):

Then, a current GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush was reportedly “personally offended” by the comments:

“I don’t think he represents the Republican Party, and his views are way out of the mainstream of what Republicans think,” Bush said Saturday afternoon in New Hampshire. “No one suggests that we shouldn’t control our borders – everybody has a belief that we should control our borders. But to make these extraordinarily ugly kind of comments is not reflective of the Republican Party. Trump is wrong on this.”

Trump responded accordingly:

I am very proud to be fighting for a strong and secure border. This is a very important issue, which all the other candidates would have ignored had I not started this important discussion. I will fix the border — no one else knows where to begin.

Today, Jeb Bush once again proves that he is out of touch with the American people. Just like the simple question asked of Jeb on Iraq, where it took him five days and multiple answers to get it right, he doesn’t understand anything about the border or border security. In fact, Jeb believes illegal immigrants who break our laws when they cross our border come “out of love.”

As everybody knows, I never said that all Mexicans crossing the border are rapists. Jeb is mischaracterizing my statements only to inflame. As seen with the tragic and unnecessary death of Kathryn Steinle this past week in San Francisco at the hands of an illegal immigrant who was previously deported five times, our unsecured border is a national security threat.

Jeb will never be able to secure our border, negotiate good trade deals, strengthen our military or care for our veterans. The biggest difference between Jeb and me on the border is that I believe in securing our border by building a wall, which will protect our safety, economy and national security. This is a vital step in Making America Great Again!

Mr. Bush needs to understand that Mr. Trump is used to being bullied in that he knows how to work the proverbial sharks in a corporate boardroom. Further, the Donald knows how to debate and how to win debates. He basically mopped the floor with Jeb with the above statement.

Next, another candidate, Marco Rubio, took a swing:

Trump’s comments are not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive. Our next president needs to be someone who brings Americans together – not someone who continues to divide. Our broken immigration system is something that needs to be solved, and comments like this move us further from – not closer to – a solution. We need leaders who offer serious solutions to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system.

On the other side of the argument, candidate Ted Cruz “saluted” the Donald:

Trump responded to the above on Fox and Friends:

And then there was candidate Rick Perry who, beginning at the 2:00 mark, was similarly “personally offended” by the comments:

In final response, newly-minted presidential candidate Chris Christie at least had the temerity to simply agree to disagree with Mr. Trump:

To continue the original statement from the top of this posting, here’s the first point of why this was made such a big deal:

Interestingly, Univision has just announced they are attempting to go public despite very poor and even negative earnings, which is not a good situation for a successful IPO or high stock price—not to mention that I am currently suing them for breach of contract. Remember, Univision is the one who began this charade in the first place, and they are owned by one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest backers. After the speech was made, there were numerous compliments and indeed, many rave “reviews”—there was very little criticism. It wasn’t until a week after my announcement that people started to totally distort these very easy to understand words. If there was something stated incorrectly, it would have been brought up immediately and with great enthusiasm.

The issues I have addressed, and continue to address, are vital steps to Make America Great Again! Additionally, I would be the best jobs President that God ever created. Let’s get to work! [emphasis mine]

Therefore, first, we have politically connected media outlets attempting to make a proverbial mountain out of a molehill. This could maybe be expected, as the media often attempts to rhetorically torpedo many a candidate before they gain any sort of traction with the American people.

Unfortunately, secondly, two or three of the candidates took the rhetorical bait, claiming to be personally offended by these statements. Now, in the videos posted above, it’s quite clear that they are not reacting to the actual verbiage, but to a fantasy version of Mr. Trump’s statement, presuming to say that the Donald literally was speaking about all Mexicans being bad people, when in fact this is not what was originally said.

I posit that Jeb Bush and Rick Perry — maybe also Marco Rubio — can no longer be trusted as candidates because either (1) they did not actually fact check what Mr. Trump said (assuming what was not actually said was said); (2) their handlers misinformed them (either intentionally or not); and/or a combination of these. If a candidate cannot be trusted to handle the actual facts of what an opponent says about one issue, how can they be further trusted with additional facts?

In this instance, the only way to know whether this was all intentional or not is to flash the transcript in front of the candidate “personally offended” and then see their reaction when confronted with the actual facts.

Regarding the tactical and strategic errors of the Democrats, since this affair appears to be a plant by associates of the opposing party, the premise was that Donald Trump would play up his bombastic personality, overdo what was claimed to be said (but was not true) against him, and subsequently split the GOP voters.

Instead, what has happened is that Mr. Trump is not backing down and is, in fact, not giving up in the least with what he’s said, his polling so far is actually great, and a sampling of post comments on various news stories shows that he’s actually gaining traction with the American people.

Further, it isn’t the GOP voters that are being split over this issue; it’s the candidates themselves. Also, since the upcoming Fox News and CNN debates will determine actual candidates based on polling, if this type of news story continues, then Mr. Trump will definitely be involved, making other candidates’ lives even harder if they continue to stand against such misinformation.

I don’t yet have a proverbial dog in this hunt, but I can definitely say that Jeb Bush and Rick Perry are definitely out of the running for me, and maybe also Marco Rubio.

My Response to Same-Sex Marriage and the Church

Courtesy: RelevantMagazine.com

One of the biggest Supreme Court decision in years came down yesterday as an Opinion in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges — that of same-sex marriage. Essentially, the legal community (and pretty much every other community) was awaiting what the nine Justices would decide over whether or not marriage would be redefined and, if so, to what extent would the redefinition impact the nation.

Personally, I knew this would be of such a big deal that I nearly instantly had to turn all news and talking heads (both sides) almost all the way down, especially as my smart phone began to scroll with news app alerts and selected Twitter updates.

In other words, everyone all over the political and religious spectrum was beginning to freak out. What’s worse, it appears that some folks began to think that this was it for America, in that we were gone as a nation (from what, to what, nobody really knows, and probably still won’t, for some time).

For me, this isn’t so much of a legal issue as it is a cultural issue, and something that I believe the Church as a general institution has not only failed in some big ways to help lead, but should be looking at this issue from a new perspective and not be a victim of the very culture it should have been leading.

As such, I’m going to be taking what RelevantMagazine.com posted today and expand upon it, because for Christians, this issue now becomes an issue of response/reaction, and I believe we can take the issue up without fear and be confident as ambassadors for Christ.

As a disclaimer, I admit to not approving of same-sex marriage. I believe that marriage is an eons-old institution originally established for the purposes of cementing one man and one woman together, for life, for the purposes of both procreation as well as the fundamental building-block of any society. As an extension, I believe that when there’s a breakdown in this definition of marriage, that ultimately society suffers, and that there are many studies that support the positive impact of a nuclear family upon children.

Secondly, while I am a lay leader of my local church, what I’m posting doesn’t necessarily reflect their particular views, though it should be known that my views align with that denominational stance.

There are two key aspects I’d like to address in this posting. First, this SCOTUS decision does not mean that an organization like the Church must perform same-sex marriages. Secondly, I’ll explain what I believe the Church should be doing in light of this decision and why it hasn’t been optimally performing.

Per the online magazine’s article:

In the majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, “four principles and traditions demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples.” Those are:

1. “The right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.”

2. “The right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.”

3. “[The right to marry] safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education.”

4. “Marriage is a keystone of our social order.”

According to the five-to-four majority, the 14th amendment guarantees the right to marry to same-sex couples as “part of the liberty promised” by the amendment.

RELEVANT spoke with Douglas Kmiec, professor of Constitutional Law and Caruso Family Chair in Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University’s School of Law and a former Ambassador of the United States, about what the decision means on a practical level for religious institutions.

“No church will be required to perform a same sex ceremony if that is believed to be contrary to their Christian or other religious perspective,” Kmiec says. …

But, Kmiec says, wedding ceremony officiating won’t be the “hard case.” Churches, of course, do other things. The most difficult cases, he predicts, will relate to outside and para-church ministries of churches.

For example, what happens when a faith-based school wants to hire employees who observe marriage like that school does, if that doesn’t include same sex couples? Can that school hire someone who is only married to a heterosexual person and exclude those in a same-sex marriage?

“I think the likely answer to that is going to be, ‘No,’” Kmiec says.

Churches and religious institutions and organizations receive particular tax-exempt status in the United States. Kmiec says that “no doubt,” these exemptions will come under fire, with efforts to “withdraw public subsidies, either direct or indirect, from institutions that don’t observe the principle of non-discrimination with regard to same-sex marriage.”

While the concept of religious freedom in America is admittedly very likely to be the next major battle for those who may be against the Church, the concept that a pastor or priest would be required to perform a same-sex marriage won’t likely be the biggest hill to proverbially die upon.

Instead, and as my second point, the issue is going to be how the Church responds to those who happen to either agree with same-sex marriage or are gay, per se.

On the one hand, I believe the Church should be open and inviting to all who wish to learn more about Christianity; that’s plain common sense, in my view — the Church isn’t here for those who already know Christ — she’s here for everyone else.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimate boundaries on belief. For example, early on in my lay ministry time at my church, I asked leadership about what happens regarding disagreements or even security issues. The response was that we invoke a lot of plain-clothes individuals involved in general security, and for those who disagree, we simply believe that they might be happier at another local congregation. In other words, it serves no positive purpose to get into a shouting match or otherwise cause consternation for anyone.

Now, I’ve been using “legitimate” very specifically on this point. I am quite aware that there are those — by they gay or not — who have a beef with the Church, and have no quandary with entering on site to a particular location for the sole purpose of causing a problem. Obviously, this can happen, and nobody can stop anyone from suing an organization; I could sue for the sky not being green, though I’m not sure how far I’d get with such a suit!

In these instances, it would be fascinating (at least to me) to engage in a conversation with such a person. Why have they approached my organization? Is the issue one of same-sex marriage, or are there deeper anger/malice/regret issues going on? And why be so antagonistic, risking the concept of verbal assault upon parishioners (in the case of a Church)?

I believe it would be worthwhile to not back down, but instead I’d do my best to direct the energy towards a positive outcome, assuming that the other party is willing to go in that direction. What would not be appreciated is if the other party simply wants to disrespect me, themselves, and an organization with whom they chose to approach with their frustration, knowing it was their choice to approach me/the organization.

In other words, my believing brothers and sisters need to stop playing the victim in these circumstances. What prevents this from happening?

In theological terms, it’s referenced as the “two kingdoms doctrine” (the referenced Wikipedia link does a reasonable job explaining the concept).

Long story short, many within Protestantism have grown up and/or bought into the belief that there is a difference between the Church (or that which is spiritual) versus the world (or civil society) and that somehow God deals with these main spheres of influence separately.

I couldn’t disagree more with this theology, and I think it borrows more from a Gnostic worldview (e.g.: all spirit is good, all flesh is evil) and can get the Church into a lot of trouble.

So what’s the challenge here? Quite simply, the Church in America has done such a great job of not discussing “sex, religion and politics” (because church-goers are supposed to outwardly support God in the church building but be totally different the other six days of the week) that the Church has, over the past 75-some-odd years, lost any semblance of leadership in the culture.

And now we see what’s occurred.

Culture does not exist in a vacuum; something or someone, regardless of basis in truth, is going to take the lead. This is why I, personally, have had major soapboxes in terms of some people not liking what my specific church does regarding technology and cultural awareness. However, that is everyone’s loss.

If you’re a Christian and you want things to change in culture, it must start with you. You must engage in your personal sphere of influence, not by proselytizing, but by working your faith. That’s what it’s always meant to “stand firm” in your beliefs. 

The good news is that God changed the world with twelve apostles. The bad news is ships like same-sex marriage have already left the port. We must all deal with the ramifications of this Supreme Court decision in society, much like we should have been dealing with Roe v. Wade with respect to abortion.

Having said all of the above, and in conclusion of this posting, the one thing I do not tolerate is intolerance. One saying I’ve learned over the years is, “true tolerance is tolerating intolerance,” but with one notable and huge exception.

If my adversary (intellectually, spiritually or otherwise) insists upon treating one class of people different from another (e.g.: Christians versus atheists, versus Muslims, versus Jews, etc.) purely because they do not like that class of citizens, I will continue to fight vehemently for the right of my adversary to agree to disagree. I don’t have to like you, but you and I will end the day respecting each other.

And that, dear reader, is the bottom line. Same-sex marriage isn’t going to single-handedly destroy America, and the Church is not required to perform same-sex marriages. Yet if the Church wants to take a leadership position in culture once again, it’s going to have to gear up for the position and stop playing the victim.

Project Fi Turns Google into a Wireless Service Provider

It’s official: Google has launched Project Fi, making the company a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator).

The new service is currently by invitation-only and is currently working solely with the Motorola Nexus 6 tablet. Google has partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile for nationwide coverage.

Plan specifics:

Google is charging just $20/month for voice, SMS, Wi-Fi tethering, and international roaming in 120+ countries. Each GB of data (also comes with roaming) costs an extra $10/month; notably, any unused data is refunded. Users automatically connect to more than 1M Wi-Fi hotspots when they’re available, and rely on Sprint/T-Mobile’s 4G networks when they’re not.

AT&T — who today had their earnings call — is taking a wait-and-see approach to this wireless market entrant.

Following up on my own previous comments about this news (when it was in rumor form), I mentioned about the likelihood of Google being a game-changer in this space. Given what we now know, I’d recommend that they’ll continue to be a niche player in the space until such time as they open their service to other devices. Also, without knowing the search giant’s agreements with Sprint and T-Mobile, these larger wireless operators may already have plans in place to stave off any cannibalization that Google might bring in opening up their service to additional devices.

Disclosure: Long GOOGL, T

This posting was cross-posted from my companion site, TechTrendIncome.com.