My Thoughts by Rick Stephens

No Joy in Arlington?

Posted in Baseball by Rick on the September 27th, 2013

Most who know me know that I am a faithful Rangers Fan.  I watch every game that I can, and go to games often to support the team. Out of the 162 games the Rangers played this year, I guess I watched 150 or more of them.  So to say I am disappointed in Ron Washington’s comment the other day is an understatement.

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In an interview with Hardball Talk, Wash said, “I don’t see a lot of joy in Arlington.”  What?  Are you kidding me Ron?!   On August 23rd, the Rangers had a 3 ½ game Division lead over the Oakland A’s.  Since that time the Rangers have lost 18 games and won only 9.  During that time, the Rangers handed their best pitcher, Yu Darvish, 2 losses because they could not score a single run.  This made Darvish the first pitcher in the MLB to have a season high of 4, 0-1 losses in a single year.  The Rangers have not only lost the 2nd division title in as many years because of a September melt down, they have no control now over even getting a wild card spot.  We need for Cleveland and/or Tampa to lose before we have a chance.   And let’s not even go back to the stunning loss to St. Louis that took our first chance for a World Series Title away from us.

On Tuesday, when I was at the game, there were over 43,000 fans still supporting the Rangers in the stands.  This is the second year in Ranger history that attendance has exceed the 3 million mark, and even though the  odds are seriously against the Rangers at this point I would venture to say that we still love our team.  If we have no joy in Arlington, then who is to blame for that?  It certainly is not the fans.  In contrast, Tampa is almost a sure thing for the Wild card spot, and their attendance was less than 20,000 on Tuesday.  What do you expect from us Ron?

I can tell you what we expect?  Respect, that we are still on your side.

To Your Success,

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Common Ground

Posted in Personal Opinion by Rick on the September 25th, 2013

Most of my friends know that I am a conservative. And to my liberal friends, this sometimes confuses them as to what I really stand for. If you listen to the media, I don’t care about the homeless, poor, or the elderly, because I want to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, health care reform, and a host of other entitlements that support this demographic.Common Ground - What I believe as a conservativeAccording to
the media, I want to strap my gun on my hip for the entire world to see looking for an opportunity to shoot someone. I want to close down government, cut taxes for the rich, prevent immigrants from receiving citizenship, cut the pay for our teachers and other educators, and pad the ballot box by making people show an ID card before they vote. I am a right wing Whack-O because I oppose homosexuality and freedom of choice for women. But if we could just step out of the fray of partisanship for a moment, I’d like to tell you what I as a conservative really believe.

I actually do care about the homeless, the poor, and the elderly. I support, and encourage, freely giving to food banks and other charitable organizations that help the poor and needy. I support a child living in Honduras who may not have food, water, or the opportunity to have a good education if it were not for my donations. I give generously to my church which in turn supports Nursing homes for the elderly, food drives for the hungry, missionaries that devote their lives to helping others in sometimes very dangerous places. But the media will tell you that none of that matters if I support shutting down Social Security or Medicare. But I don’t support those things. What I support is removing the waste and fraud from the system and improving the support structure that will insure that the benefits of these programs can continue without disrupting those who need it the most. I might differ with some liberals as to how to best make that happen, but it is grossly misleading to say that I don’t care.

It is true that I support smaller government. I just believe that the bigger government gets the more waste that occurs and the more difficult it is to get anything accomplished that can benefit those who need it the most. If you are a liberal, do you really think that there is no waste or fraud going on within our government? If you think we have none of that then I think you are being unrealistic. But if you do think there is some fraud and waste, don’t you agree that our needy would actually benefit from identifying and removing it where possible? Again, we simply disagree on how it should be done, not that it needs to be done. Is that called common ground?

I believe the constitution is the highest law of the land. I believe that all other law must fall within the frame work of the constitution. I think we need to distinguish between a law that “is constitutional” and a constitutional law. I have heard many liberal pundits tell me that the Supreme Court has upheld that the Affordable Care Act is Constitutional, and that we need to just let it go. I agree that the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) has been deemed to fall within the framework of the constitution, but that does not put it on the same level as a constitutional law, such as the first or second amendments. Laws that are constitutional can be amended or even repealed by congress if they deem it necessary. But it takes a higher level of scrutiny with all of the states involved to amend or repeal a constitutional law.

And while we are discussing health care, I am not against improving our national health care system. It certainly needs help. But as a conservative, I don’t just want to toss mud against the wall and see what sticks. If the intended outcome of a law is not accomplishing the objective, perhaps it should be revisited and modified so that the intended consequences can be met. Most would agree that there are some provisions in the law that make sense, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, and no upper limits on catastrophic illnesses. But why can’t we recognize that interstate competition of health insurance companies would help reduce the ever escalating cost estimates of this program. Why can’t we recognize that lots of companies, especially some of those that provide work to the low, middle class, and young people, are causing full time workers to go to part time. Yes, a liberal would say it is because of those greedy, money hungry, businesses trying to squeeze every dime out of the consumer at the detriment of its employees. But this country was founded on capitalism. And capitalism is not a bad word. Corporations must make a profit to stay in business. And believe it or not, the average citizen in this country needs for that to happen. How many lives would be negatively affected if all of a sudden those businesses stopped making a profit? Do you have a 401k, an IRA, or even an annuity or life insurance policy? Do you think those values would continue to rise and help make your retirement comfortable if profits went away. Do you think companies would even offer retirement programs if there were no profits in the company? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong, there is greed and fraud going on within big business also, and I am all for weeding that out as well. But to say companies should not try to improve their bottom line to improve their stock value is not the answer. So when we pass laws we should be mindful of the way corporations and other small to medium businesses will respond. Rather than condemn them for trying to maintain profitability, let’s make the law compatible with the mindset of business owners.

I will also agree that a gun in the hands of criminals or irresponsible people is a bad thing. Most conservatives would agree with me. But if we are truly trying to curb this type of gun violence, then why are we just chasing red herrings here. Not one of the laws that I have seen passed during the previous 10 years does anything to curb this type of violence. They are in my opinion, simply designed to make those who are not comfortable with guns feel good. What we need to do is consider better and more comprehensive screening (Read background checks) for those wanting to purchase guns, address the mental health issues that drive most of these individuals to violence, and then enforce our existing gun laws with a more severe punishment when the law is violated. We will never see the day in this country where guns are outlawed completely, so instead of making everyone upset, let’s just address the real issue and actually have an impact on violent acts, with or without guns. And By the way, I do not wake up every morning asking, “I wonder if I will get a chance to shoot someone today”, and I’ll bet that 99+% of gun owners don’t either.

I’m not against immigration. This country was built on it. I am against using my country’s resources to suck up entitlements that illegal immigrants don’t deserve because they don’t want to go through the process that every other immigrate went through to gain citizenship. I want my country to give deserving CITIZENS of the US the entitlements they need to make it on their own. Shouldn’t we be focusing on our own needy instead of trying to find ways to save the whole world? We have a legal process that is offered to all who apply. Why should we not follow that process simply because 11 million people or so have violated our law? Unless. Of course, the motive is not humanitarian, but rather political.

When it comes to education, no one thinks we need better educated children more than I do. We have fallen disgracefully behind the rest of the world in our levels of education, especially in areas like science and math. But I do not believe that simply throwing money at the problem will fix it. I believe we could build the grandest schools, pay our educators the highest wages of any other profession, provide the best equipment and books, but unless the parents take a serious interest in the educational process of their kids it will all be for naught. In my opinion, the real problem with our educational system is the parents, not the school system. They do not pay attention to what their kids are doing in school, what they are being taught, or follow through with homework, in fact, they get upset when their children have any homework at all, which might keep them from going to their soccer game, or karate class. Parents have relegated their kids to school as a babysitter, not to be educated. You ask me why some school districts are better than others? It’s not the school system; it is the level of involvement that the parents have in the educational process. The less involvement the parents have, the less educated our kids become. It is that simple to me. We should be punishing parents for having children and then leaving them to the “System” to be educated. Fix the parents, we fix the schools.

My liberal friends want to condemn me for wanting citizens to show proof of eligibility to vote before voting. They say that requiring everyone to have an ID card is discriminatory to the poor. Now, come on, isn’t that a little hypocritical? Consider this; The Affordable Care Act is going to require all citizens to prove they have Insurance coverage. They will be doing this via an identification card. Isn’t that Interesting? It is OK to require a citizen to have an ID to prove Insurance Coverage, but discriminatory to require such an ID to exercise the right to vote. How about we do this? Let’s say that in order to vote you have to show your proof of insurance. Perhaps that could be called common ground.

Now here comes the part that will really rattle my liberal friends. I am a Bible-believing Christian. I believe that God has a plan for me and everyone else on this planet. I believe that he has established his will for mankind and in most cases has made it very clear as to what is right and what is wrong. I believe that homosexuality and gay marriage is a violation of God’s will. I also believe that those who endorse such acts are also violating God’s will. I have heard the liberal left say things like, “the Bible also endorses incest, multiple wives, sleeping with your brother’s wife, and they even bring up the high divorce rate among Christians as an argument against the Christian belief. With regard to all of that, let me just say, that those are discussions of theology that need to be studied in depth before making an outright condemnation of what Christians believe. Taking those topics and references in the Bible and not putting them into context with the rest of the Bible is a mistake and will cause people to reach errant conclusions as to what we believe. But in the arena of homosexuality, there is no room for doubt. As a Christian, the Bible is my source of faith; in the same way that a Muslim might claim that the Koran is his source of faith. I don’t care how you interpret your faith or belief, and if you are OK with homosexuality then that is fine with me, I won’t try to impose my belief system on you. But just don’t ask me to endorse your faith by violating mine. I feel the Bible is very clear on this subject. Homosexuality is not new. It has been around since the early days of mankind. In my Bible, God clearly defines it as a sin. So to ask me to support laws like Gay Marriage is asking me to violate my belief. I could identify many areas in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that clearly define homosexuality as a sin, but if you want just one clear passage here is one from Romans 1: 18-32. Verses 18-23 sets the stage for what is coming. Verses 24-32 cannot be any clearer. Verse 26-28 says, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a mind to do what ought not to be done.” And finally in verse 32, Paul addresses those who support the actions by saying, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Like I said earlier, if you want to have a softer position on this subject or if you practice this type of action, it will not bother me, well it will, but I won’t try to prevent you from doing what it is you think is right. But do not ask me to give you permission, I can’t.

I also believe that murder is clearly in violation of God’s will. And again, as a Christian I cannot support abortion. As a purest, I don’t believe any abortion is acceptable but clearly those where the fetus is viable is in my opinion murder. But I do believe in the woman’s right to choose. I believe she can choose to abstain from sexual activity unless she is prepared to have a child. Likewise of course, I believe that in men as well. In addition, I also believe that women have another choice, to rear their child in the best manner they know how or give the child up for adoption. But murder is not a choice, it is a crime. So again do not ask me to violate my beliefs because you do not feel the same. Now don’t try to distort the issue by bringing up the question, “What about Rape or incest?” Those are criminal acts and actually represent less than 1% of the number of women who find themselves pregnant. Let’s stay focused on the 99% of women and men who freely engage in sexual activity rather than those who are victims of a crime.

Finally, I know that my liberal friends and I differ on many topics. Some are moral and many are just political. Our government could reach common ground on most of these subjects and we could have a productive, educational, and meaningful society that disagrees but still tolerates the opinions of others and can seriously compromise on difficult issues. I believe that the reason we can’t is because our government is, once again, too big to work anything out. It is funny how we can create small committees and they can hammer out agreements but when it comes to the main floor it is stomped on. Government is too big. Let’s get the fat out of government, reduce the amount of wasteful spending, and put people back to work. We can do this, I know it. That is what I believe.

To Your Success,

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