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    Does Negative Political Ad Campaigning Really Work?

    As we approach Election Day, it’s no secret that political ad campaigns with personal attacks by one candidate against another are running continuously on every television channel.  Lawn signs say things like “Fire” so and so as a way of pushing people toward one side or the other.  Every political ad is nastier than the next, as candidates are desperate to bring down their opponents from any/every angle possible. All of this begs the question of how effective these methods truly are? Are voters responding to these types of ads? Do negative ads have the ability to dissuade someone from voting for a particular candidate?

    Studies have shown that these advertisements are effective in “influencing preferences and voter turnout”, but not “across the board”. I equate these advertisements to commercial product promotions. Viewers watch a commercial for a product, compare it to the competitor, and, unless already fond of a specific brand, will decide whether to buy it. Voters do the same thing when watching different ads for particular candidates. First, they compare the opponent, decide which candidate they deem more fit for the position, and, unless adamantly partisan, decide from there. Sometimes the advertisements work, other times voters are attached to their party’s candidate and are therefore immovable.

    In addition, it’s believed that the more well known a candidate is, the more successful he/she will be. People tend to vote for candidates whose stances are clear, and television is the best place to publicize those views in a vast, quick and efficient manner.  Although there is some benefit in calling attention to yourself in politics by denigrating and defaming someone else, I would rather be elected on a platform of effectiveness and positivity than because I found photos of my opposition with his pants down.  It is my belief that voters are too smart to fall for the lies and deceptions in so many political ads we see today.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a candidate say what they stood for rather than lie about what an opponent allegedly stands for?  And make no mistake about it.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle lie.  Perhaps they can’t help themselves.  But voters don’t need to be their dupes.  So vote and have the final say.

    Find my source here.

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    Voter Guides and the Upcoming Midterm Elections

    With midterm congressional elections taking place on the 6th, less than a week away, gathering accurate information on the candidates is paramount. While collecting truthful information is important, it is often hard to find. Proposed facts are filtered through the often-partisan lens of multimedia gatekeepers. For example, contrast Fox News to CNN as a means of getting straightforward current events and you’ll understand my point.

    From televised newscasting to shared articles on social media, there is a wealth of options to obtain voter content.  But as the lifeblood of American politics, the voters need to be choosy about where they get voting information. With such an important decision on the horizon, it is prudent to make your vote count. One good tool for disseminating fact-based information about political candidates to make the best choice is a voter guide.

    Voter guides lay out those running for an election by the issues on their respective platforms. There are two types of guides available to the voting public: Official voter guides and unofficial voter guides. “Official” signifies publication by a state office, where “unofficial” refers to partisan guides, or guides published by newspapers and nonprofit organizations (Ballotpedia). These guides might offer a voter questionnaire as a quick and easy survey of your political views used to select a candidate that best reflects those issues on their platform.

    These guides are a great way to get an overview of each election’s candidates. Though voter guides are presented as a non-partisan encyclopedia of politicians, there is still the chance of encountering erroneous content. Such political slants are more common in unofficial guides owned by third-party businesses. This means that a once independent voter guide website can be purchased by an external company with partisan affiliations without notifying its users. The best way to know who provides your election information is to research what ties each voter guide has.

    Midterm election voter turnout typically pales in comparison to that of the presidential election, and the previous midterms had the lowest voter turnout in recorded history (Pew Research Center). The presidential vote is an important one, but midterm elections offer hundreds of seats to the politicians who pass our bills into law and thus greatly affect our everyday lives. Be the difference this midterm election. Raise that statistic and do so by arming yourself with credible information about the candidates of your choosing.

    You can find more information on how to get the most accurate voting data here.

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    Evaluate the News and Your Leaders from 360 Degrees

    It comes as no surprise that the news of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault allegations have taken over newsstands and mainstream media nationwide. From a political perspective, it is very difficult to express any opinion on the matter without offending one side or the other.  Sexual harassment and sexual assault are serious crimes.  In a perfect world, we would never have to address either issue.  However, the world is far from perfect so here we are with today’s headlines.

    Let me be clear that what is happening on Capitol Hill is not about protecting women or holding someone responsible for his actions.

    Sadly, today’s politics and leadership revolve around denigrating and destroying reputations in an effort to show that one side is a lesser alternative than the other is.   Neither Dr. Ford’s nor Judge Kavanaugh’s lives will ever be the same.  Not because of the allegations and defenses, but because Washington has politicized the entire process through a public circus.  No intelligent person can question the allegations by Dr. Ford and the denials by Judge Kavanaugh as sincere.  Nevertheless, if those in Washington are after the truth, they should have started with a private investigation during the confirmation process, not as a last minute revelation.   I see no reason to parade the two of them before the world on live television.

    I imagine from a voter perspective on both sides of the issue, the entire spectacle is disgusting—not only for the issues that are being discussed, but also because it makes the leaders in Washington appear petty and irresponsible to many.  Yet even saying that is controversial since each side of the argument is blindly convinced they are reasonable and the other side is misguided.  Compromise and bipartisan discussions are no longer possible in Washington.  Moreover, let us please not start blaming Republicans or Democrats or the White House or Congress as the cause of today’s partisan polarity.  They are all to blame.

    Sen. Flake says the country is torn apart and there is no longer a reason for Congress to reach across the aisle to find solutions.  He’s right.  Citizens are being provoked to anger, distracting all of us from other important issues—national security and foreign policy; the economy; infrastructure; education.

    Does anyone recall that last week was the U.N. General Assembly where all world leaders came together to discuss how we are all getting along on the planet?  The United States held its position on Iran, but the difference between how Trump talked about North Korea versus last year was a tremendous, positive shift.

    It is very important to understand that there are many things happening in government at any given time. It is our duty as citizens to pay attention, and not let the media and closed-minded politicians on both sides of the aisle spoon-feed us perspectives and opinions that are a product of “spin” that is primarily intended to stir up both sides of an issue for the sake of ratings and votes.

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    Respect Those Who Truly Sacrificed Everything

    Much is in the news about Nike’s signing of former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.  As anyone who is a political junkie or sports fan knows, Kaepernick was the first football player who chose to kneel instead of stand during the national anthem, doing so in protest over what he believed to be discrimination directly and indirectly sanctioned by U.S. and local governments.  A great debate ensued that Nike has rekindled by signing the ex-player to a lucrative contract to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Nike’s motto, Just Do It.   The new campaign’s tag line is, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

    The reaction has been mixed.  Some applauded Nike’s decision.  Hundreds of other posted videos burning Nike clothing and tweeting objections.

    While I prefer not to further engage in the merits of the debate, there is one thing I’d like to suggest.

    I invite Mr. Kaepernick and Nike to visit the American Cemetery and Memorial in Florence, Italy.  Interned in its 70 acres are 4,399 soldiers who died in WWII fighting in the hills and streets of Italy. The cemetery in Florence is one of 24 foreign cemeteries where American soldiers are buried.  In total, these sacred memorials are the final resting places for more than 130,000 soldiers who died defending our freedoms.  The memorials also honor the souls of more than 100,000 who remain missing in action. These men and women made the ultimate sacrifice so Mr. Kaepernick can remain free to protest about injustices he perceives.  To characterize what he’s done as “sacrificing everything” is an abomination.  For Nike to endorse such hypocrisy through an advertising campaign geared to making profits is an insult to the memories and true sacrifices of the nearly a quarter million soldiers laying under foreign soil.  And while some of the proceeds are being donated to Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights charity, I have not seen any reports that Nike is donating anything in the memory of the dead soldiers.

    So I say this to Mr. Kaepernick and Nike:  Shame on you.  Protest all you like but respect those who, unlike Mr. Kaepernick, truly sacrificed everything.  And all that is required to do so is the simple and time honored gesture of standing for our national anthem.  Is that too much to ask?

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    Why the US Needs to Focus on Infrastructure

    Last month, a bridge collapsed in Genoa, Italy, killing over 20 people and injuring dozens more after a violent and sudden storm went through the region. Although this terrible incident happened in Europe, it gives our federal and state governments more reason to examine on our own infrastructure.  And to do something about it rather than continue to stall progress through partisan politics.

    Much of our federal, state, and local taxes go to repairing roads and building new ones, maintaining bridges, highways, streets, and managing tunnels like the Lincoln Tunnel, which in 2013 saw over 50,000 cars traveling through its system per day.

    According to a 2015 article from The Hill, the United States federal government spent $96 billion on infrastructure. On August 13, 2018 USA Today released an article citing states with the worst infrastructure.  Rhode Island is among the worst, with 24.6% of its roads in poor condition and with 23.3% of its bridges deficient.  Almost a quarter of their bridges and roads are crumbling!  Hawaii comes at number one with the worst infrastructure. An incredible 93.2% of their dams at a high hazard risk.

    Federal and state budgets include almost a hundred billion dollars for infrastructure.  Yet our roads are full of potholes, our dams are at risk, and our bridges are crumbling. What will it take for Rhode Island and Hawaii, as well as virtually every other state, to wake up?  Will our politicians wait for people to die before they act?

    Federal and state governments need to stop the political rhetoric and bleeding our tax dollars.  They need to get to work on making sure Americans and their families can travel safely.  Otherwise it won’t be long until we see something catastrophic happen, and our elected officials will have no one to blame but themselves for the inevitable disasters if nothing is done.

    The lack of progress is reprehensible.   Whatever your politics may be, fixing our crumbling infrastructure should be devoid of political debate.   It is a matter of life or death.


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    What Should We Do About Putin and Russia?

    As the world stood by, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukrainian rule. Sanctions failed. Worse, Europe refused to stand firm by our side. So we cannot blame failure solely on the Obama administration—it was the world’s failure.

    We cannot trust Putin.  But everyone knows that.  That’s old news.  He is squarely in control of Russia and one of the longest-sitting heads of state in the free world.  Most other key leaders in Europe are, by comparison, new kids on the block.  And unlike the U.S., Europe not only doesn’t trust him, they’re afraid of him.

    There are many issues separating us from Russia—Crimea, the Middle East, Russia’s aid to ISIS, human rights, gas rationing to Europe, arms control, and meddling in our elections, being just a few. This is complicated by a growing alliance between Russia and China where the two have obvious objectives to harness as much of the world’s energy supply as possible. While that doesn’t pose a direct threat to the U.S., it is a serious problem for Europe because of its dependence on Russian gas supplies and Middle Eastern oil.  Hence their fear.

    So what should we do about Putin and Russia?  With partisan politics poisoning Washington, we can conclude that Congress has no clue.   And with the Justice Department more interested in indicting people who will never see a trial since they’ll never come here nor be extradited, Mr. Mueller and his crew have no idea what to do about the bigger picture.  Meanwhile, President Trump seems to waffle with inconsistencies between his words and his actions only adding to the confusion.  But at least he’s pushing sanctions. Meanwhile, our lack of a united front addressing Russia only plays into Putin’s hands.  Who is the fool in that game?  When will Washington stop the insanity among its partisan politicians and get back to leading this country?

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    A Reminder Regarding Freedom of the Press

    Kaitlan Collins, a CNN White House reporter, was recently informed that she was no longer welcome to participate in the “next event” which took place in the White House Rose Garden.  President Trump was unhappy by her questioning in an earlier press conference.

    Conservatives and the President may not like CNN and Ms. Collins any more than liberals dislike Fox News and its reporters.   But that is no foundation to deny press access to news conferences in or out of the Rose Garden.

    In a rare and refreshing example of solidarity, FOX News President and Executive Editor Jay Wallace said: “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press.”  Fox News anchor Bret Baier added,“[Collins’] questions were also Fox’s questions, and NBC’s questions, and ABC’s questions. And that’s partly why there’s been an unusual show of solidarity for this.”

    This shouldn’t be hard for the Administration to understand.  The principle has been part of our core beliefs for more than 250 years.  It’s the First Amendment to our Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    While I imagine President Trump would like to distance himself from the Congress referred to in the clause, as our President, the rights guaranteed the press under the First Amendment should not be abrogated because of temper tantrums.  Let Ms. Collins back in.

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    Happy Independence Day!

    Almost 250 years ago, our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence to establish their voice, freedoms, and rights that they were denied by their monarchy. This week, we celebrate our country’s national holiday by reiterating the beautiful words Thomas Jefferson wrote those many years ago:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    Out of these words, the United States of America was born. As we celebrate, let us never forget the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Our country may only be 242 years old, but we have gone further than any country in history those aspirations of freedom. Even though this past year has seen many ups and downs, and partisan politics has been at its worse, Independence Day, and what our country stands for, is something that we should all celebrate together as one nation, under God. Why? Because we undeniably live in the greatest country on this earth.

    “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

    I wish you all a very happy holiday, with the hope that your hearts are filled with love for America and its sacred ideals!

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    “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?”

    We live in an age where it seems that everything a public figure does, says, and wears is immediately posted on the internet and on the news.  We all live with the reality that we must be very careful with what we do, say, and wear in public given the likelihood that there will be a camera or a phone recording us, only to be instantly exploited.

    As a public figure, I know too well what it is like to be dissected.  I served for seven years as a prosecutor; three terms as a Congresswoman; and a full term as Governor for the Commonwealth of Virginia before becoming the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

    I recall every morning reflecting on the message I want to send to the public, my colleagues, those who would vote for or support me, and those who I have to persuade.  But should what I wear matter?  If someone with an unflattering picture of me decides I look disheveled, have a tear in my stocking, or wear a suit jacket that is missing a button, should Americans not to take as a serious candidate?  Should they be persuaded by how I look, or by what I say?

    But I cannot ignore the reality of the social media world and must adjust to it by taking such irrelevant issue off the table.  So I always dress professionally and rarely in a relaxed fashion.  That way, the media has to focus on what I had to say, rather than distract their readers or viewers about whether my pencil skirt was too tight or an ugly shade of blue.  I know all too well that one mishap of my dress and it will be all over the news for the rest of the day, and my words wouldn’t matter.

    I think fashion stylist Rachel Zoe puts it best when she said: “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”

    When the First Lady of the United States wears a jacket that says “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” on a plane to visit children at our border, what is her style saying about her?

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    Why Not Win with the Truth?

    New Jersey has a controversial Senate election this November. The likely challenger for incumbent Robert Menendez is Republican Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive. The ads have started. Problem is, they’re devoid of substance and filled with personal attacks.

    In particular, Hugin’s most recent ad is filled with lies. No doubt we’ll eventually see the same from Menendez. Such is the case with political advertising today – lies, misrepresentations, and no substance on the issues. Even when an issue is addressed, it’s in vague terms with no specific plan on how those issues will be resolved. God forbid if a politician actually tells you what they’re going to do. You have a right to know that before you enter the voting booth. And you should not vote for any candidate who is not clear on the specific direction he or she thinks is best for you.

    Unfortunately, today’s politicians think we’re all either right or left, conservative or progressive, or hawks or doves. How about intelligent and reasonable and sick and tired of the partisan politics played in Washington and State capitals while we continue to see no meaningful progress on important issues?

    Hugin, for example, attacks Menendez with accusation, based upon a Senate ethics probe and an indictment against Menendez claiming he used the influence of his office to benefit of a longtime friend and political supporter. In exchange, Menendez allegedly received expensive gifts, lavish vacations and more than $750,000 in campaign contributions. All that is public record so it’s fair game. But Hugin’s ads either state or most definitely imply that Menendez was guilty. That’s a lie. He has never been convicted of any of the allegations. And while I’m certainly not supporter of Menendez, he deserves better and Hugin needs to be more responsible before he will earn my vote and, hopefully, yours.

    Sadly, it will take little time for Menendez to start personal attacks on Hugin. Truth is, Hugin has his seen his share of controversy too. I’ll refrain from listing them. But I have no doubt Menendez will. And he’ll probably be just as misleading as Hugin.

    So it will be politics as usual. Lies, misrepresentations, and no substance. As Hugin says of Menendez, “New Jersey deserves better.” Mr. Hugin needs to know that New Jersey’s voters need better than him, too.

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