Category Archives: politics

Speed Cameras & AZ!

Today, we Arizonans have been released of the Speed Camera cops. The 2 year study is over today and will not continue as of right now. I’m, personally, not a fan of the cameras as it doesn’t have the ability to actually enforce the written law. This is what the ‘Basic Speed Rule’ in Arizona states:

Basic Speed Rule: A person shall not drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent speed under the conditions and actual and potential hazards then existing. §28-701(A) & (D)

My argument is that the last time I checked camera’s don’t have judgment on what is ‘reasonable and prudent’ speed for conditions. I’ve got some friends that disagree. I think it’s a brilliant little scheme to make up for an extreme financial deficit in the State, but, probably not the best way.

What do you think? Have you been caught by the camera’s here in AZ in the last couple years?

Immigration Reform and SB 1070

As an Arizonan I’ve been asked A LOT, recently, about my perspective on the new law (SB 1070) that will go into effect at the end of July 2010. If you haven’t read the bill, take a minute and actually READ it! It is a very loaded subject and one that merits discussion and diligent thought.

As a Christ follower, I try my best to align my political perspective with the Kingdom of God and not with political party.  Some of you will agree with me and some of you will totally disagree with me in my opinions and honestly that’s okay. Obviously, the issue is heavily loaded, but I think it’s important for us to discuss. I’m certainly not asserting to be an expert on the issue, these are just a few of my thoughts and observations that I’m, somewhat reluctantly, sharing out loud.

My first thought is that we need to use our brains and prayerfully think through what REAL and reasonable reform looks like in our country. As  we look at reform we need to remember, legal or illegal, that these immigrants are people. Whether you want them to leave today or not they are human beings with souls, dreams, desires and families. One of the hardest things for me to watch is the conversations where American citizens so quickly forget that these immigrants aren’t all criminal, tax sucking, lazy, alcoholic, drug trafficking, DUI offending, murdering, adulteress law breakers. If that’s your perspective on the issue, you clearly don’t know these people and you’ve allowed some source of media or political perspective to give you rhetoric rather than reality. I’m not saying there aren’t those people in that demographic, but it’s a far fetch to make the assumption that all of them fall in to those categories.

I recently heard the story of a Mexican woman here in the Southeast Valley. She’s the widowed mother of 5 Children who are all American citizens. She barely makes it but works odd jobs to ensure her children have their basic needs met. She’s here undocumented and doing all that she can to be here legally. The process has not been easy or reasonable to say the least and she’s been diligently trying to get legal status. She’s a hardworking woman who is trying to make a better way of life for her and her kids than the impoverished life she lived in Juarez, Mexico. She’s heavily involved in serving her community through the local church and is a huge part of a lot of people’s lives.

This woman recently came to one of her Pastors distraught over what she should do about the situation with SB 1070. She’s been in America almost 10+ years and this is where life is now. With this new law the choice is dicey. If she stays she gets to be the mom to her kids, contribute to society through her work, she can serve in her local church and keep trying to gain some long term legal status. Her end goal is to become a citizen of the USA as soon as humanly possible. The risk of her staying under SB 1070 is that it’s not just a deportation under the new law. It’s actually criminal and if she was arrested she’d most likely do some jail time to then be deported after serving her time. This then limits her chances of ever becoming a citizen or even gaining long term legal status to be here, because she would now be a criminal offender. She’s also mortified of what ‘jail’ is even like and fears for her well being in the jail system. She’s an upstanding mom trying to make a better way for her family, not a murderer.

Her choice is ‘going home’. Her Dilemma is that she’ll most likely end up leaving her 5 American children here in the States if she went back to Mexico. She would painfully choose this as she knows the life she’ll offer them in Mexico isn’t one that is in the best interest of their future. What does that mean for the kids and for society? Most likely the kids will end up in the Foster care system, will be split up and who knows the life they’ll live in light of that tough decision.

She also faces the struggle of really having little to no connection with people in the city where she’s from which is Juarez, Mexico. This is because she’s been in the States for so long now. She fears for her life because she’ll be ‘coming back’ to this city with a perception of being rich and American in a money hungry culture. Unfortunately, Juarez has one of the highest murder rates of any city in the WORLD right now and that is where she’s from in Mexico (in 2007 it had the highest murder rate in the world). She’s heard about the loss of close friends and family in her city due to ruthless bloodshed in the last few years. She’s just at her whits end trying to figure out what decision to make in light of SB 1070. Distraught, afraid and with the clock ticking her decision still weighs in the balance. Time will only tell.

What would you do if put in her situation?!

In some ways I think Gov. Brewers stealth operation to go out in the middle of nowhere to sign a bill that came out of nowhere is a wake up call to our country. I’m not sure it’s the wake up call everyone was hoping for, but, certainly, for some of you it couldn’t have been more timely. The subject of our borders and immigration needs to be addressed and needs reform.

It’s been interesting to talk to people who are being directly effected by the enforcement of this law. We’re talking about people who have been in the states undocumented for decades now. Many of these people like this woman I mentioned have children who are American citizens and have little to no connection with the place where they came from in Mexico. If you’re saying to them ‘go home’ because they’re illegal, I would contend that you’re not really thinking about what you’re saying and the ramifications of what that does to a family unit. If ‘the law’ had been consistently enforced on the Federal, State and Local level this conversation would be very different. Unfortunately, the law has not been effectively enforced in our nation for a long time and so we find ourselves with an issue that needs addressing with that understanding in mind. We have to consider these stories as we reform our process and we also have to consider the stories that aren’t as ideal as the one I told. The story of the illegal that was DUI who killed that innocent American family has to be considered too. There needs to be reasonable reform in this issue and it I believe it needs to include equitable amnesty in the reform.

There are sooo many stemming reasons that make me think SB 1070 isn’t the answer for reform. In my opinion, I believe Gov. Brewer found an amazing way to get another term as the Arizona Governor and to wake the Federal Government to a pressing issue called Immigration Reform.  What I don’t think is a good idea is a Federal lawsuit on Arizona or this bill coming into law at the end of this month. Neither are good answers to reasonable change in our great country.

I hope we can talk about reasonable Immigration Reform? My opinion is that ‘Cold Gavel-ing’ and enforcing a new law like SB 1070 at the end of the month can’t be the best answer we have when we haven’t enforced Immigration Laws or our borders properly in decades. We need to own, at all level of Government, what we haven’t done well in regards to this law. The process for people to get a work visa, obtain citizenship and to actually be here legally, while better than most countries, still needs a 21st Century face-lift. Our Federal, State and Local Governments needs to address this unreliable process and figure out a way to streamline people through the process with efficiency. For some the answer will be YES for obtaining legal status and for others, based on the criteria, the answer will be NO. There has to be lines drawn for who can and can’t be here legally, but, every person should have the right to go through that process in a timely manner with efficiency. We’ve got to lay down the right to politics and start taking up the rights of people once again. Political rhetoric on either side doesn’t get stuff done and I pray that we would find some unified grounds on reform within our great country. It has to be done.

I recently was talking with a friend about The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 from Reagan’s day. I think he really got the idea of what equitable amnesty meant while also beginning to really address legitimate and reasonable reform. I haven’t studied all of the reasons why Immigration has continued to be a lack luster issue in our Government, but, I do know that it’s been over decades of bi-partisan leadership in which it’s slipped through the cracks.

Check out the basics of what this Act provided:

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Pub.L. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359, enacted November 6, 1986, also Simpson-Mazzoli Act, is an Act of Congress which reformed United States immigration law.

In brief the act:[1]

  • required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status, and granted amnesty to certain illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously
  • made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants (immigrants who do not possess lawful work authorization)
  • granted a path towards legalization to certain agricultural seasonal workers and immigrants who had been continuously and illegally present in the United States since January 1, 1982

Do you think this kind of an Act should be put back on the table with updated dates and a better plan to secure the borders? What do you think about the situation? Sound off and be kind to one another when you do it! Opinions are fine, just don’t be hating on each other as you fire off your opinions. Respect makes you credible in conversations like this one. Remember we’re talking about human beings and not animals. Ready, Set, Go….

Rock the Vote!

washington-dc-white-house-s

Well…

first off, who did you vote for today!? did you vote? if you didn’t here’s my pole:

I had an incredibly awesome experience as an American voter in these last couple days. Last night, I had the chance to sit down on go over all of the candidates, all of the props and all of the issues. It has been a simply fantastic time, personally, to regain a love for this country and it’s possibilities. It’s been awesome to discuss with friends, families, pastors, right, left, moderates and more on what it means to be American.

The thing that I’ve most appreciated are the dialogues I’ve been able to have on what it means to be Kingdom Agents in America. I’ve sensed that a fundamental responsibility I have as a Christ follower is to vote through a Kingdom lens and to be a Kingdom agent with how I struck the ballot today.

I’ve personally had HUNDREDS of dialogues on this stuff and some of my favorite ones with Promise, Chip and Amy Neal, my brother, my co-workers and those of you who read my blog. As Chip and I prayed this morning, after we voted, at the end of the day God is still God and His sovereign plan is still coming regardless of who’s gonna sleep in The White House for the next 4 years. What a hope we have in Jesus and we do have a responsibility to reflect Him well, if we claim to be following Him, as we go to the Polls today.

the-polls

The last thing is that I, honestly, for the first time in awhile, just felt so proud to be an American (can you hear the song just caressing your ears…hahahah?!). The above picture is of the line I stood in at 5:45am this morning with a bunch of excited Americans that were ready to vote. It was awesome! I love that we can actually be a voice for the Kingdom in how we vote. I love that I can discuss, agree and disagree openly and honestly. I love that we are FREE. How liberating. Be proud today and high five someone and just say ‘WOO-HOO, America’. hahaha. Is anyone else feeling me on this one?! It is such a blessing to live in this country!!??

Thanks to all of you that read this blog and interact on it and I hope to further be a source of great dialogue that challenges us to think deeply and respond carefully! it’s a lot of fun. I’d love to hear your experience through this process and how you felt today.

Initial Reaction…

Watch this and then simply post a comment, right after you watch it, what your intitial reaction is to this video:

Barack Obama and Donald Miller – Millers Reasons on Why He’s Voting for Barack Obama

This is a thought provoking interview with Donald Miller, especially, as we are, literally, days away from this election. It’s good to know why you’re casting the vote for your candidate and I think Donald Miller presents some great thoughts in this interview.

This interview was done through a blog that he founded called The Burnside Writers Blog. I’d love to hear your comments on what you read here. Do you think he brings some good things to the table in this interview? Does it make you look at the election any differently? What did you disagree with in this interview and WHY (back it up, don’t just disagree)?


READ AWAY and sound off-

Donald Miller is the best-selling author of Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, Through Painted Deserts and To Own a Dragon. He is currently writing his fifth book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which explores the principles of story-telling in our lives. A feature film is in the works based on Blue Like Jazz, and Don is also in collaboration with the filmmakers behind Nooma for a film series titled Transitus. Don also founded The Mentoring Project (formerly The Belmont Foundation), a non-profit organization which is recruiting ten-thousand mentors through one-thousand church-based mentoring programs.

Don is currently touring with the Obama campaign’s “Faith, Family and Values Tour”, conducting forums in battleground states. On Tuesday, Don spoke in Colorado Springs. We wanted to give him a chance to explain why he made the controversial decision to campaign for Barack Obama.

(Full disclosure: Donald Miller is also the founder of the Burnside Writers Collective, and currently serves as an advisor for us when time allows. He is an invaluable friend and supporter. That said, thoughtful critics, both independent and conservative, have raised some good points in objection to Don’s decision to campaign for Obama. The following questions were drafted by Burnside editors Jordan Green and John Pattison.)

Burnside: Can you lay out your biggest reasons for supporting Barack Obama?

Donald Miller:
First off, I know this is an odd thing for somebody in my position to do, to support a candidate for President. But I do feel this candidate is unique. Barack is the only candidate willing to talk about his faith in Jesus. Other candidates are reluctant, but Obama is not. He is the only one who has consistently talked about the cross, about redemption, and about repentance. Many white evangelicals have a misconception about Barack…they believe that because he is a Democrat, he cannot be a Christian. But times have changed, culture has changed, and political parties change. So one of the reasons I support Barack is because he is my Christian brother, and other Christians are rejecting him.

But that has little to do with his candidacy. In short, there are a few issues I agree with Barack on.

Senator Obama is going to move us past the impasse in our cultural war, something I think of as a cultural Vietnam. On the issue of abortion, he is the only candidate who has a plan to reduce the number of abortions. John McCain’s only plan is the same old trick: say that you are pro life and offer no plan at all other than to criminalize abortion. I simply think that plan hasn’t worked, and we have to face that fact and look for other ways to make progress.

I realize this is controversial, that there are many who would rather vote for a pro-life candidate and keep the abortion rate the same, on principle. And like them I believe in the sanctity of life, I simply think we need to begin making progress, and Barack is offering progress. He is also standing up to his own party on the issue and moving the party forward to elevate the issue of the sanctity of life within the Democratic Party. I also see this as progress. I do wish we could end abortion completely, but the Republicans have not spelled out a realistic plan to do so, and until they do, I won’t vote for a candidate who simply throws us a pro-life line and no plan. It seems insincere.

But let me add this: I do wish Obama were pro-life. His plan to reduce the rate of abortion is a great step for the party, but I also wish he would defend the unborn to a greater degree.

However, at this point, in this election, with these two candidates, I think progress will be made with Barack. Not enough progress, but some progress, especially within the Democratic party, who may soften their stand on the sanctity of life.

A personal connection with me regarding Obama involves the initiative he is taking with responsible fatherhood. He has already drawn up legislation to change the welfare state to stop rewarding families whose fathers leave, and is working to change the economic structure so fathers who stay with their families are given tax relief. This has been an age-old problem that was written about in George Gilder‘s book Sexual Suicide. (Gilder’s) book is a Conservative’s economic manifesto, but Barack sees a lot of value in Gilder’s ideas. But because Barack is a Democrat, Conservatives are unable to even consider his ideas.

BWC: A lot of folks view overturning Roe v. Wade as a pipe dream. But electing John McCain could very likely tip the scales of the Supreme Court toward the conservative side, and Roe v. Wade could be overturned. Do you think the impact of Barack Obama’s plans on abortion would outweigh an outright reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision?

Don: If McCain cared about the issue of abortion enough, he would move forward on the issue. He might draft a constitutional amendment that would make abortion specifically unconstitutional, the way George W. Bush talked of doing with gay marriage. George W. Bush could have done something like this when he had majority votes in both houses of Congress.

But I feel like they didn’t touch the issue because it would have cost them politically. I simply do not see McCain’s stand on abortion being as strong as conservatives think it is. He changed his mind on the issue only a few years ago, in fact. I think it’s a ploy to get votes. If McCain were strong on the issue, he would call it murder, saying abortion should be criminalized, and perhaps Cindy McCain would talk about the issue. Sara Palin would talk about how abortion should be criminalized.

Instead, they throw the pro-life line at us and go on doing nothing. It should make conservatives furious, but it doesn’t. It’s like the argument has become a game about racking up rhetorical points, rather than saving lives. I see this as hypocritcal, and I support Obama’s plan to make actual headway on this issue. The future may change this for me, but at this point, I see some hope on the horizon.

BWC: Is there something to be learned from the failures of the Religious Right? For 30 years, they’ve aligned themselves with the Republican party with very little to show…are you concerned your decision to campaign is just a pendulum swing to the Left?

Don: I don’t know that there is little to show. Religious leaders are very powerful, and Republicans cater to them and cannot win without the religious vote. That said, Republicans have pitched us two issues and reduced the Christian worldview to Gay Marriage and Abortion.

They had to do that because their economic policies are Biblically debatable. And occasionally there are battles won on the two fronts they’ve given the white church, but if you are asking if it was worth it to sell the church to the Republican Party, I would say no. Abortion is still legal, and many Democrats oppose gay marriage. So I don’t see the use in staying in this impasse any longer.

BWC: Some church leaders advocate an “Endorse no one, advise everyone” policy. Do you see yourself breaking from this mindset?

Don: I suppose so. I intend to vote for Obama, so I would consider that an endorsement. I feel free to talk about that. I don’t have a cynicism about elected leaders. I think they are human, that The Fall happened to them just like it happened to me. I recently went to Uganda with a diplomat who, because of his rank and power, could start the court system up in the north, and get kids out of prison who should have gotten off with time served. There is so much good that only diplomats can do.

I think it is very fashionable to remain independent right now, but I don’t see the use. I am willing to look uncool to help the first African-American become President, and to have a strong, Christian leader in the White House. Besides, if I were not willing to work alongside somebody, I doubt they’d be calling to ask for my advice. I see this as a historical race, and I want to be willing to take some heat as an early adapter. And there are many early adapters.

Most evangelicals polled will vote for Barack. It is only the very conservative, mostly white suburban churched who are leaning toward McCain. Today on the news I heard a pastor say you could not possibly be a Christian and vote for Barack Obama. I cringed when I heard it, because yesterday in Colorado I met with about thirty African-American pastors who love Jesus and know Jesus, who will be voting for Barack. I wondered what they might think when they hear something like that, an angry white man telling them they do not know Jesus, and that they are going to hell. When we pick up a bullhorn and speak from within our insular communities, without so much as talking to people who come from another perspective, we do a great deal of damage. I don’t want to be a part of that. But I don’t think my endorsement of Barack is quite like that. I am not saying to the church that they do not know Jesus unless they vote for Barack, or that they are going to go to hell or anything. I am simply saying I am voting for Barack, and explaining why.

BWC: Do you see a difference between voting for a candidate and campaigning for a candidate?

Don: I see a difference socially. We consider it patriotic to vote, but unfashionable to campaign. But that doesn’t matter to me right now. I want to be on the right side of history on this one. Ethically, I do not believe it is wrong to campaign. Biblically, I don’t think it’s wrong either. It just doesn’t look cool, that’s all.

Twenty years from now, when my children asked what I did during this historical campaign, I want to tell them that I went out and worked, made calls, went door to door, and was able to stump for Barack. There are many in my parents generation who regret not being able to say that they worked hard during the civil rights movement, and I don’t want to miss this opportunity.

BWC: You’ve mentioned the goal of ending the violent rhetoric of the “Culture War”. While the division of America has been perpetuated by both sides, a statement like “Stop The Culture War” seems more directed at conservatives, and could be viewed as rhetoric in and of itself. How, practically, do we bring about an end to that sort of language? Do you think the values on either side of the culture war are truly in conflict?

Don: I don’t intend that statement toward conservatives alone. I think both sides feel like the other side is the enemy. But I know both sides. And both sides have very good people working hard to do what they feel is right. I think we have to make it clear that because we support one candidate doesn’t mean we hate the other. I don’t hate John McCain. I like him, in fact. But when I do the math, Obama is my candidate.

I hate the negative advertisements just like everybody else. But those advertisements work on the ignorant, and it gets simple thinkers heated up. We just have to have the discipline to be civil. Many of my friends will vote for McCain, and members of my family too. But it doesn’t matter to me. Family comes first, and so do friends. When I’m on my deathbed, Barack Obama and John McCain won’t be there, but my friends and family will. So they come first, and they are more important. I just won’t let myself get too heated about this stuff. It’s not worth it.

BWC: Are Christians participating in the electoral process are being forced to choose “the lesser of two evils”? I don’t mean to say Barack Obama or John McCain are evil, but supporting either side seems to demand a compromise of our beliefs on some level. Maybe our anti-abortion stance supersedes our beliefs on war, and vice versa.

Don: I think this is basically true, but I’m not drawn to the negative tone of that popular phrase. I don’t think John McCain or Barack Obama are evil. I think they are both good men. But the fall happened, and so things here on earth are messy and no leader is going to be perfect until Christ comes back. Until then, we educate ourselves on the issues, do some careful math, and vote for a candidate that we think will govern the best.

Sound Off – Final Presidential Debate

Every once in a while i’ll do a post called SOUND OFF and it’s just an opportunity to sound off and let your voice be heard. The rules are just to share your thoughts, your gut, dialogue without killing people with words, but, disagree if you must!

My question is 2 fold:

1. Who do you think took the trophy home after tonights debate and why?

2. If tomorrow was the election who would get your vote and why?

ALSO – copy your response and see my blog at CONVERSANTLIFE.COM and paste it there for more dialogue on this one!

Presidential Debate ’08 – Mississippi University – Who Won?

I’ll make this blog entry simple and easy. I’d love to hear you sound off on the Mississippi University Presidential Debate with Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. Who do you think had the best delivery and why? Were you surprised, in a good or bad way, by anything said by the candidates? If you had to choose today, based on this debate (whether you vote within a party or not) who would have gotten your vote and why?

SOUND OFF!!