This Tax Bill Sucks

Republicans took their first step last week toward reforming the tax code when the House passed its tax reform bill. Now it is up to the Senate GOP to pass its own version. Assuming the Senate can do so, the two tax reform bills will move to conference committee and (hopefully for the GOP) be reconciled into a final bill.

While both the House and Senate tax reform bills are steps in the right direction, the truth is that they suck. Both bills fail to enact the kind of simplicity, permanence, and economic growth we need from a tax reform.

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I Am Going to Die

There is really no way around it.

A little over two years ago, I was taking in a game at Dodger Stadium when my heart began to flutter and race. I had, at times, felt it skip a beat, but on that night it kept going and going. I alerted the ballpark staff and was quickly taken to the first aid station. Not long after that, I was whisked away to the hospital by ambulance. Thankfully, the doctors were able to stabilize my heart rhythm and I went home the next day. I have been more or less fine since that night, but it was a startling wake-up call.

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Monday Hot Takes

Is the AHCA back?

Just last week I was bemoaning the GOP’s failed effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. I was concerned that House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP leadership weren’t really committed to improving healthcare in this country. No, I cynically believed the failed healthcare bill was merely a way to make revenue-neutral tax reform easier.

I may have been a bit too cynical. I emphasize the word “may.”

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Does the GOP Really Care About Healthcare?

After the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) fiasco of the past month, put me down for a firm “no.” The GOP had seven years to come up with a viable Obamacare replacement plan. If the AHCA is the best they could do, that is pathetic. Especially because well-thought out conservative plans are out there.

The AHCA was so poorly designed, I have to think it was not a serious attempt to produce a viable—and superior—alternative to Obamacare. No, my cynical side sees the intentions behind the AHCA differently. I believe the AHCA was merely meant as a way for Paul Ryan and leadership to pass their tax reform plan.

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Maybe Republicans Need Some Safe Spaces

Politically correct (PC ) culture has gotten out of hand. At least that seems to be the consensus in our society, especially among those of us on the right (and South Park). So many students on college campuses need “safe spaces” and fear “microaggressions,” i.e., hearing speech that offends them.

Trump and his supporters have been especially antagonistic toward the PC warriors in our culture. But now I’m starting to wonder if Trump and many Republicans need some safe spaces of their own.

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Sure, Let’s Just Welcome the AI Apocalypse!

The Super Bowl was this past Sunday. Many viewers tuned in not just to watch the big game, but also to watch the commercials, which tend to be some of the most interesting and funny ads of the year.

Super Bowl LI (51 for those not fluent in Roman numerals) had its share of buzz-stirring commercials this year. Unlike previous years, though, many of this year’s commercials were noteworthy for all the wrong reasons. One commercial that (thankfully) wasn’t, was the ad for Google Home.

Google Home is Google’s answer to Amazon’s Echo: a “smart” speaker that incorporates an intelligent personal assistant. With the Home and Echo, you can have your artificially intelligent buddy play music, adjust the thermostat, or set the alarm. Sounds pretty great, right?

Well I say this: Have we learned nothing from movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Terminator, The Matrix, and countless other “beware artificial intelligence!” tales? Are we going to willingly let ourselves be enslaved?

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My Faith Journey

I have tried to write this story several times. Every time I start, I get distracted. Something comes up. I can never quite put it down on paper. Maybe that’s just life with two kids, living with in-laws and working at a fairly new job. Nevertheless, it is a story that needs to be told . . . eventually. I’ve told some people directly and I’m sure many others have heard it through the grapevine.

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Why Ghostbusters Was a Bust

The Hollywood Reporter revealed this week that Sony is looking at a $70 million loss for Ghostbusters, their reboot of the 1984 horror-comedy classic. The reboot has been steeped in controversy ever since it was announced. To many fans, the choice to go with an all-female cast came across as a gimmick with little to justify it. After the backlash to the movie’s first trailer, Sony and its media allies decided to turn Ghostbusters into a political event film, claiming that its all-female cast was empowering to women. Basically, those who did not support the movie were misogynists. 

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The Difficult Road Ahead

Even the mighty Roman Empire fell. The people became complacent. They enjoyed their comfort. They assumed they would stay on top forever. Many times have I heard comparisons between ancient Rome and 21st Century America. Many times have I pondered where our nation is in its life cycle. By all appearances, we are on the downward slope. 

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DiCaprio's Oscar and Life's Purpose

This past Sunday history occurred: Leonardo DiCaprio—Titanic heart throb of the late ‘90’s and critically acclaimed actor—won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Leo had previously been nominated four other times, but had yet to win. With The Revenant, he was practically begging the Academy to give him the Oscar. I mean, all the interviews he and his co-stars gave were about how hard it was for him to film the movie. The movie was filmed on location, in winter, and it was really cold, you know?

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Lent 2016

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday -- the day that many Christians get strange looks for walking around with smudges of dirt on their foreheads. Ash Wednesday also marks the beginning of the season of Lent. For most of my life I knew very little about Lent. Truthfully, I still don’t know much about it. Here’s what I do know:

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Worst. Primaries. Ever.

This has been the most disappointing primary season in my lifetime. Granted, that is a little hyperbolic—I’m only 30—but, come on! As 2014 was drawing to a close, I was sure the 2015-2016 GOP primary was going to be epic. Truthfully, it has been epic, just not in the way I expected—and in a way that is much less to my liking.

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Rand Paul’s Presidential Campaign: In Memoriam

Last week Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced he was ending his campaign for the GOP nomination. Paul’s exit from the race was unsurprising as his campaign never really gained traction. Truthfully, his prospects of winning the GOP nomination probably died long before he announced his candidacy because of the rise of Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Even though Paul’s campaign was DOA, I am thankful for the more libertarian voice he brought to the GOP primary.

Paul rose to prominence in the GOP for two reasons. First, he represented the libertarian wing of the GOP once led by his father, Ron Paul. Second, he was one of the staunchest defenders of federalism and for reducing the size of the federal government. Libertarianism (especially on foreign policy) and reducing the size and scope of the federal government were big priorities in the immediate wake of the Bush years. Many GOP voters had become unhappy with foreign endeavors like the Iraq War and the TARP bailouts. Paul perfectly suited what these GOP voters wanted.  

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Five Things We Learned Last Night

1. Trump’s support was not as strong as we believed. Sure, he came in second. And he’s still in a good position to take the nomination. But tonight we learned that it is going to be a close race. Cruz took the night with 28%, Trump followed with 24% and Rubio came in a close third at 23%. It is remarkable that Trump came so close to falling to third place. Marco Rubio now has a real chance to overtake Trump. If the nomination comes down to Cruz against Rubio, it will be a win-win for the GOP.

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Thoughts on Iowa

Tonight, the first real battle in the fight for the GOP presidential nomination will be waged in Iowa. Iowans will brave the cold to spend close to an hour participating in the official first-in-the-nation contest. For the first time we will see whether Donald Trump’s campaign is truly “real.”

I’ll be upfront: I am part of the “anti-Trump” camp. I don’t think the man is conservative and I certainly don’t believe he has the temperament or the character we want in a President and Commander-in-Chief. But, there is no doubt that he has turned the 2016 GOP presidential campaign on its head.

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Natural Born Citizens

A big controversy erupted last week surrounding Senator Ted Cruz’ eligibility to be President of the United States. The controversy began when Donald Trump—the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination—indicated that Cruz’ birth in Canada (to a U.S. citizen mother) casts doubt that he is a “natural born citizen” as the Constitution requires. Donald Trump’s attack on Ted Cruz’ eligibility is no doubt related to Cruz’ rise in the polls, especially in Iowa where Cruz has been leading.

Now, I don’t really want to rehash the argument over whether Cruz is eligible to be President. I happen to think he is. Yes, he was born in Canada and yes his father was not a U.S. citizen at that time. But, his mother was a U.S. citizen and according to U.S. law in 1970 he was a U.S. citizen at birth. Even if someone wants to claim that a law passed by Congress can never define what a “natural born citizen” is, I think this Harvard Law Review analysis persuasively argues that, yes, Cruz is a “natural born citizen.”

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