A tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen

From Robert Plant of LED Zeppelin, Roger Daltrey of The Who, Glenn Frey and Don Henley of the Eagles or Steven Tyler of Aerosmith the 70s and 80s had some of the best singers of all time. But any list of all time greats would be incomplete without Freddie Mercury of Queen. He was one of the greatest of all time.

Queen
Freddie Mercury

This video is a testament to Freddie Mercury’s voice. His range and power are simply amazing.
Follow this link to see for yourselves

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

JB

Our World has Gone Crazy. Another School Shooting with 17 Dead

Our world has gone crazy. I have no words to describe how I feel as I listen to the news of another school shooting. Seventeen people have lost their lives because a mad man decided to school up a school. Seventeen people won’t go home to their loved ones because of an unthinkable act that could only have been birthed in insanity.

Shooting
School Shooting

Why?
How was he able to carry out this heinous act?
How could one person walk into a school and kill so many people in such a short period of time?
How? By using an AR-15. By being able to legally walk into a gun store and purchase an assault rifle and buy as much ammo as he wanted.
By being able to purchase as many high capacity magazines as he wanted.
That’s how.
Why was he able to buy these things without so much as an after-thought by the sellers? Because our gun laws are so lax that these purchases are common place now. It didn’t take me long to figure this out, but what I found has left me troubled. See a British guys reaction to a gun store here.
After reading article after article on gun control I’m astonished at the amount of control the NRA has over Congress and our gun laws. Nothing happens concerning gun control without the approval of the NRA. It doesn’t matter what a representative’s constituency wants, if the NRA is opposed to the legislation it doesn’t pass. If the NRA approves of the legislation it passes.
In 2010 Democrats crafted legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizen’s United case granting unlimited spending by corporations in federal elections. Because of wording in the bill that the NRA opposed the bill was changed to exempt them. Even after the wording change the bill failed by one vote in the Senate because of Republican opposition, but it wouldn’t have even. gotten to a vote if the NRA had opposed it, it would have been dead in the water. Dead in the water. Let that sink in. Even though voters wanted the legislation it failed. Why? You, the constituency, the voter had no voice in the matter because money talks.
The NRA controls any gun control issue. Your opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to gun control. Hasn’t mattered since 2008 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment grants individuals the right to bear arms. The instant that happened the NRA and the Republican Party became a unified force against any gun control legislation.
Seventy five to eighty percent of the American electorate favor more stringent gun control, but because the NRA opposes almost all gun control reform nothing is going to change until they lose their lobbying power. Nothing.
The power of the NRA is in their ability to mobilize an unified faction of voters, either for or against, a candidate. The power of the NRA resides in their ability to contribute large sums of money to a representative’s campaign. The power of the NRA rests in their lobbying machine, in 2017 the NRA’s lobbing expenditures were over 5 Million dollars.
It’s time to take that power away. It’s time to let your legislators know that you won’t stand for this anymore. It’s time to make your vote count.
Listening to news reports of another school shooting has left me with tears running down my face. Seventeen people have been reported killed and many more injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This is the 7th school shooting this year and it’s only February.
Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 there have been 239 school shootings in this country. 239.
How is this possible? How could we allow this to happen. How could our memories be so short as to allow this to continue to repeatedly happen again and again and again?

“I’m kind of surprised it happened here, but I’m not really shocked,” senior Ryan Kadel told The Washington Post. “School shootings happen all the time, and then the news just forgets about them.”

How do we change this?
What are some common sense measures we could demand?
First and foremost. It’s time to bring back the Assault Weapons Ban(AWB). The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB)—officially, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act
It’s time to ban certain ammunition magazines it defined as “large capacity”.
There. I said it. I will probably be attacked for saying it. Verbally abused by those on the right. Perhaps even by my friends. But it’s time to bring the Assault Weapons Ban back.
It’s time to ban “bump” stocks as well, a device designed to allow semi-automatic weapons to act like fully automatic ones.
It’s time for some sort of mental fitness test. At the very least if a person is on certain medications they should be restricted from owning guns. If a person is having psychological problems they shouldn’t have access to guns.
While we’re at it lets close the loopholes in the background check laws by requiring checks on all gun sales. Why isn’t this the law already?
It’s time for us to stand up to the NRA and demand Congress to make sensible gun control law changes.
It’s time to reinstate the assault weapon ban.
Here are the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting:
Alyssa Alhadeff 14
Martin Duque Anguilano 14
Scott Beigel 35
Nicholas Dworet 17
Aaron Feis 37
Jamie Guttenberg 14
Christopher Hixon 49
Luke Hoyer 15
Cara Loughran 14
Gina Montalto 14
Joaquin Oliver 17
Alaina Petty14
Meadow Pollack 18
Helena Ramsey 17
Alexander Schachter 14
Carmen Schentrup 16
Peter Wang 15
Remember them. Honor them by making sure sensible gun control laws are created. Honor them by petitioning your legislators for reinstatement of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.
JB

Processing DACA as Conservative and a Christian

DACA. Four letters that seems to rile the masses on both sides of the issue. Passion overflows from supporters of DACA legislation providing a path to citizenship for dreamers and anger flows from those against any form or path to citizenship for them.

DACA
Note: Congress and the White House have reached a deal to negotiate DACA, border security, changes to family based migration(chain migration) and an end to the visa lottery system. For more click here
So, how do we get to a real and fair solution to this issue. An issue that affects real live humans. People who are being used as political hostages by Congress. Their fates are being battered back and forth across the aisle while they wait in limbo.
How? By viewing these people as….People. People who contribute to our economy. People who live out their lives just as we do. Click here for more.

But first. To get a good understanding of this issue lets first define DACA.
DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” In 2012 President Obama created DACA through an executive order as part of a spinoff of the Dream Act that was drafted in 2001, but never passed. DACA beneficiaries are referred to as Dreamers.
Following is directly from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services page on DACA. Here is a link to the page: https://www.uscis.gov/archive/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca#guidelines
Guidelines
You may request DACA if you:
1 Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
2 Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
3 Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
4 Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
5 Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
6 Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
7 Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

As you can see there are many requirements; high school graduate or equivalent certification, NO FELONIES, continuously resided in the US, etc.
There are age requirements. When enacted the person had to under 26 years of age as of June 15, 2007. Under 26 years old AND having been brought here before their sixteenth (16th) birthday. Many were infants when brought here and know no other country or culture. Many don’t know any other language other than English.
Now that we have a definition and an understanding of what DACA is we can go on to some of the issues surrounding DACA.
Trump removed the privacy protections put in place by the Obama administration for DACA recipients in January of 2017 enabling ICE to see their information.
In June of 2017 10 Republican state officials threatened to file a federal lawsuit over DACA’s constitutionality if Trump didn’t end it.
In September of 2017 Trump desires not to renew DACA effectively ending it as it currently exists. Trump’s decision finally puts this where it has always belonged, in the hands of Congress.
This should have never been White House legislation. Congress and their lack of effective leadership has been failing to do their job for the last 20 years and only getting worse in the last 10 years to the point of being criminal, but that is a discussion for another time.
There are now only two options now, either congress passes a law by March 5th, 2018 or they don’t.
If no new legislation is passed then the stipulations outlined by AG Sessions will become law.
Those who have already applied to DACA will have their applications processed. As for those currently covered, two things could happen. If their DACA documentation is set to expire before March 5, 2018 (the deadline for Congress to pass an immigration reform bill), they can apply for one last renewal until October 5th, 2017. If their DACA documentation expires on or after March 6th, 2018, they’ll become illegal aliens once again. At the time of writing this that would be in about three weeks.
Three weeks until their lives would be thrown into turmoil. Three weeks until the only life many of them have known would end.
These are real live flesh and blood people we are talking about. We’re not just dealing with numbers on a page or facts and figures or…gasp…those kind of people. These are real live human beings that live, work, start businesses, join the military and help defend our nation, go to school, and do all the other normal everyday things that the rest of America does. These are people. Just people.
And that’s what we have gotten wrong. Most of these people have grown up in the USA. This is the only country they know and care about.
But the crazy thing about this issue is the fact that the majority of citizens support legislation protecting the Dreamers from deportation. A majority of both democrats and republicans. Even two thirds of self identifying Trump supporters think Dreamers should stay.
This is a non-partisan issue. So why can’t we come up with a solution? Why does Congress have to wait until the last minute to settle their differences? These are people’s life’s they are messing with and they should be ashamed of themselves.
But they’re not.
Providing a path to citizenship is the right answer and the moral thing to do for the Dreamers. By March 5, 2018 they shouldn’t be dreamers anymore.
Leviticus 19:33-34 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
This verse is cited often when talking about foreigners, but the one I cite is from the New Testament.
Matthew 22:34-40 34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Love your neighbor as yourself. How much simpler can it get?
Just my humble opinion.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.
JB

Live how you want to be Remembered. Make Your “Dash” Memorable

How do you want to be remembered?

Remembered, planning, list
How do you want to be remembered?

Do you want to make a difference with your life? A real difference? Then start planning your funeral now.
Sounds morbid, but to make a difference in yours and others lives planning your funeral is the first step towards this. The idea behind this is, what do you want others saying about you at your funeral. Beyond the usual platitudes, he was such a good guy. She was always there for you. I loved his smile.
What do you want people saying about you? What do you want them to remember? By planning your funeral now you can determine what is said and remembered about you then. Make the “dash” of your life as memorable as you want.
What you are doing is planning your life, in advance, to reflect how you want to be remembered.
Do you want to be remembered as a generous, caring person? Be one now.
Do you want to be remembered as a leader? Become one now.
Do you want to be remembered as a grumpy old man? Stay what you are.
Plan your life based on how you want to be remembered. This is easier said than done.
If you want to be remembered as a generous, caring person it takes more then one donation to the homeless shelter. It takes a lifetime commitment to caring for others.
If you want to be remembered as a leader then you have to commit to becoming one. Leadership is based on a lifetime of learning not on a one time leadership seminar.
If you want to be remembered as a grumpy old man then you have to commit to being a miserable person. Having a bad day doesn’t cement the image of a grumpy old man into ones memory.
Planning ones life is a serious undertaking. It takes time, asking yourself serious questions, evaluating what is most important to you. What should I be doing differently? What should I start doing now? What should I stop doing immediately?
Benjamin Franklin had 13 rules that he lived by, what he called his 13 virtues.
1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrate.
While he didn’t always live up to his own expectations, having these rules helped him get back to where he expected himself to be. Those rules kept him centered and guided him as he lived and grew.
You may not want to take on thirteen rules to live by, but having a base set of rules is invaluable.
I developed my own set of six; Integrity, Loyalty, Gratitude, Giving, Significance and Living on Purpose. These guide me in my everyday decisions and help me live out my life.
They are not a replacement for a life plan, but they help me get to where I want to be and to be remembered how I want to be.
There are several books on the subject if you’re interested in improving and developing a life plan. Living Forward, Your Best Year Ever, Life Planning for You and Me: Five Years from Now:: The Life Planing Book You Write Yourself are just a few for you to explore.
I hope this helps you get to where you want to be and to be remembered how you want to be remembered.
“In truth, I myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. But, on the whole, tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it; as those who aim at perfect writing by imitating the engraved copies, tho’ they never reach the wished-for excellence of those copies, their hand is mended by the endeavor, and tolerable, while it continues fair and legible.” Benjamin Franklin
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.
JB

PS: There are affiliate links in this post and on this page, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you). Rest assured, I am very particular about what I recommend. At least this is what I’m told…

A short discussion on Immigration and its effects on America

Immigration is a touchy subject around the dinner table  or on the internet. Say one little thing and it can explode into something different all together.

I recently wrote an article on Hunger and Health Care in America linked here 

Immigration
Immigration

Following is one of the conversations I had and it got me to thinking. It wasn’t so long ago that I probably would have responded in the same manner, but then I did some research on immigration.
WT: “The biggest contributers to this are illegal immigrants. The jobs they take and all of the benefits they take from our own needy people. They also cause a lot of unnecessary stress and problems for our country.”
JB’s: “Do you have any proof of this. What I found on immigration, both legal and illegal, was that it was not only needed, but necessary for our economy to grow.”
WT: “Come on. You aren’t seriously trying to say that millions more needy people don’t cause problems. Good grief there is no reasoning with some people.”
JB’s: “I didn’t say that wasn’t any problems. What I did do was ask if you have proof that immigration, legal or illegal, was causing the US problems with hunger or health care. And what did I get from you? Nothing. Show me. I’m not so set in my ways I can’t be convinced, but you have to present me with credible evidence.”
There is no doubt that immigration, both legal and illegal, put stresses on our economic system, but there are many pluses to consider.
Legal immigration brings many innovative minds to our country that creates jobs and drives economic growth. They are entrepreneurs that create companies, hire workers and invest in their new surroundings. They are engineers, scientists, doctors and more.
Many are drivers of some of the most technologically advanced companies in the world. And they are doing it here in America instead of somewhere else in the world. And that is good for us. A big plus.
No, not all immigrants are drivers of the economy and not all are legal immigrants. But they all contribute to the economy in ways most don’t consider.
As they enter into local economies they don’t just feed off of others. They get jobs, rent houses and apartments, buy groceries from local stores. Pay taxes on those purchases. They grow the local economies. But?
What about all the jobs illegal immigrants take away from American citizens? This leads me to the next question.
Do they really take jobs away from Americans? Maybe, in the short term they do, but in the long term the answer is no they don’t.
Immigrants tend to be in two categories. Highly intelligent legal immigrants that are drivers of the economy and lower skilled illegal immigrants who are contributors to the economy. Please remember, I’m talking about the largest percentages of them.
Illegal immigrants do many jobs that most Americans don’t want to do. Sorry if that offends you, but its a fact. It is also a fact that many jobs that immigrants do simply wouldn’t exist if they weren’t here.
◦ One of the arguments offered by supporters of expanded immigration, particularly in the context of low-skilled immigration to the United States, is that “immigrants do jobs that natives won’t do.” This argument, in the form stated, is incorrect, or at any rate, misleading. However, it does capture a conclusion many economists reach, which some have summarized as: “immigrants do jobs that wouldn’t exist if the immigrants weren’t there to do them.”

Immigrants do jobs natives won’t do


Basically what they’re saying is that those jobs would go away, seize to exist. As an example, labor intensive farm jobs would be replaced by machinery where it proved profitable to do so or the farms would simply stop growing crops that are labor intensive.
They don’t come here to just live off of welfare and feed off the system. When illegal immigrants come to America they integrate into our society and become healthy contributors to it. By living here they pay taxes just like we do.
Illegal immigrants that buy homes and other real estate properties are obliged to pay taxes and that benefits the local economy they live in.
It benefits the real estate agents including the brokers that get the commissions coming from the real estate transactions.
These immigrants also use our country’s banking services to finance these transactions. Therefore, they pay dividends and interests to banks.
They buy cars that the banks have to finance. They get auto insurance through local insurance agents. They buy parts for those cars at the local parts stores.
As the economy grows, it balances and absorbs them into it.
To be clear, I’m not advocating for illegal immigration, I’m just pointing out that there are benefits of it. Our immigration policies are so bad and in need of reform that many immigrants see no other way to get here than to do so illegally.
There are many other aspects that could be discussed. Need to be discussed, but will have to wait until another time.
Gallop News wrote an interesting and informative article on this subject debating not only the economic issues, but also the moral issues of illegal immigration. Here is the link to the article: http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/24448/Real-Impact-Illegal-Immigration.aspx
Before taking a side on an issue I would ask that you at least do a little research on the topic. Be able to defend your opinion.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.
JB