Is the glass half full, or is the glass half empty?
How many times have we heard this question in our lives?
Each time I've heard it, that phrase was often used to determine whether someone was an optimist or a pessimist. After all, it was implied that a pessimist always saw that proverbial glass as half empty while an optimist thought the opposite.
When someone directs that question at me, I tend to reply from a different perspective just to throw them off guard. My response states that, regardless of how much is in that glass, there's always room to improve what's in there by adding something good to the mix.
That's how I've looked at the outcome of this presidential election. As soon as Donald Trump became the president elect, there were people who were immediately on the "glass half empty side" that were convinced that the country was going, in their words, straight to Hell.
Then there were others out there that were absolutely delighted that their optimism had paid off and Hillary Clinton had been defeated. In their minds, their glass was half full because the person they despised or simply didn't trust wasn't elected.
From my perspective, I saw the election of our new president and the other lawmakers on Capitol Hill as an opportunity for this country to have the room it needed to make some needed improvements and to
"fill the glass" so to speak with something new and perhaps better than what we've seen in recent years. Many of us out there, me included, have directly felt the impact the recession had on our lives, and it's clear that our elected representatives have a chance to set things right and to improve our lives, even if it's just a little bit.
However, it appears that about half of the people in this country doesn't want things to change. They seemed quite content with the direction the country has taken over the past eight years.
When they didn't get their way, their actions remind me of a child throwing a temper tantrum in the toy department of Wal-Mart because they didn't get a toy they wanted.
But in this case, their actions were a lot worse than a child yelling and screaming. We've had people staging riots, blocking roads and setting things on fire because their person didn't win.
I'm still trying to figure out the last time Republican supporters did the same thing when their candidate wasn't elected.
Thomas Jefferson was once quoted as saying, "that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing." Perhaps that's what we saw during the November election.
About half of the people in this country were sick and tired of what they saw happening in the White House and on Capitol Hill. They decided they needed to take action by staging their form of rebellion that took place at voting polls across the United States.
Whether or not you support President Donald Trump, the simple fact of the matter is that he's now in charge of running our country. No amount of whining or complaining is going to change that fact.
It remains to be seen what he will actually accomplish over the next 100 days, because he has some very lofty goals. The question remains when reality will force him to adjust those plans.
But for now, let's at least give the man a chance.
* * *
Having said all that, I needed to take a minute and vent my frustrations regarding the final actions our outgoing president made before leaving office. Last week, former President Barrack Obama decided to commute the sentence of Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of espionage.
The question on my mind is why did Obama do it? Manning's actions were inexcusable, regardless of the reasons given.
Here's something to consider: The one thing that was often overlooked in the media's handling of the story was that Manning was a military intelligence analyst. That meant this soldier was entrusted with the handling and protection of highly classified documents and other sensitive information.
What Manning did was no small breach of trust. She was convicted of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks.
As a former member of the U.S. armed forces, I know the seriousness of Manning's actions. She's lucky that she wasn't convicted of committing treason, which carries with a far more severe form of punishment.
Instead, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison, with Obama cutting that sentence down to just seven years.
Today, it still remains to be seen whether Manning's acts of espionage will have any lasting impact on national security, our nation's interests overseas or endanger the sources that provided the extremely sensitive information given to WikiLeaks. Make no mistake, what she did was both deliberate and malicious.
But here are two things that make absolutely no sense:
a) The Obama administration was all up in arms just a couple of weeks ago over allegations that Hillary Clinton lost the election because the Russian government hacked into government computers, stole sensitive information and had it splashed all over the media.
b) Chelsea Manning, a U.S. Army soldier who took an oath to defend this nation and to obey military rules and regulations, steals more than a half million pieces of sensitive and classified information, gives it to WikiLeaks then receives clemency from the same administration.
Was it an abuse of executive power to grant Manning a reduced prison sentence? Perhaps. However, let's not forget how many times in recent history that a president has pardoned other individuals accused or convicted of other types of serious wrongdoing.
Let's not forget Army Lt. William Calley Jr., who was convicted of murdering 22 unarmed civilians during the My Lai Massacre in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968. Calley, who received a life sentence following his court martial, ended up serving just 3 1/2 years under house arrest after former President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence.
Then there was former President Gerald Ford, who pardoned Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
While former presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan offered clemency for hundreds of other individuals, I need to mention the actions of former President Bill Clinton, who pardoned 450 people during his time in office -- a third of which happened during his last day in the White House.
Among those who received clemency from Clinton were two individuals that allegedly provided more than $100,000 to former First Lady Hillary Clinton. To this day, it appears that he did this as part of a quid pro quo "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" agreement.
I just hope this type of presidential authority gets reigned in some day. After all, too much power in the hands of one individual can sometimes be a very bad thing if used for the wrong purpose or for direct personal gain.
-- Brian S. Orban