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    Strong Unions & Government Balance

    It is well known that unions are more often than not aligned with the Democratic Party. While I am a Republican, I’m hardly one that tows the party line for the sake of party unity. My positions are dictated by what I think is right and reasonable. They are dictated by what I think is important for America, not what a small group of party organizers in Washington’s back rooms think is important.

    That is why I believe in the need for strong unions. They negotiate fair wages, improve benefits, and ensure good working conditions for their members. But, unions can create problems by demanding unrealistically high wages that produce rising, non-competitive costs for goods and services.

    This is why I also believe in the need for a free market. Without a doubt, those who have lost sight of what is a fair wage or good working conditions in a competitive world should not populate either side the union and management sides of the bargaining table if we are to come to workable solutions.

    One does not need to side solely with the union or with management to intelligently govern. I believe it is the government’s role to ensure balance and compromise, not to burden the process with a bureaucracy loaded with political cronies.

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    Americans are Angry, But Let’s Focus on Real Problems

    Americans are angry. Indeed, it seems everyone in the world is angry. Why? Probably because so many politicians speak in anger, echoing the myriad of complaints, both real and imagined, from their constituents. To what purpose?

    Without question we face real problems to be angry about—war, terrorism, crime, poverty, unaffordable health care, sexual harassment, and job equality for women. Yet far too many people refuse to listen viewpoints that oppose their perspective and instead spread irrational anger on Facebook and Twitter without tolerance or logic. Both sides spout vitriolic tirades that serve no worthwhile purpose. And the media goes out of its way to spread the anger.

    It’s become a tragic comedy. People who try to come together on real problems or discuss them in an intelligent fashion are drowned out by uninformed and ignorant. Worse, social media is swamped with silly complaints about long lines at cash registers, young people dressing like slobs, old people driving too slowly, customer service provided by someone on a phone with a foreign accent, or how there’s nothing to watch on television.

    It just doesn’t stop. And understand this: those lines at the cash register are long because of the choices you have. Young people dress the way they do simply to express themselves. They’ll grow up just fine—the same way that you did. Older people drive slowly because that’s the best they can do, and they don’t want to be a burden on someone else. With literally hundreds of channels across television, there really is something to watch if you take the time to look. And the customer service you get from overseas almost always works and keeps the cost of what you buy lower.

    So we continue to complain about little things and annoyances that in the grand scheme of life mean nothing. Let’s resolve to start counting our blessings and focus on real problems, not petty peeves. If you want to be angry, there are plenty of serious matters to fill your day. Wake up.

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    DACA: Challenging Legislation & Why It Should Pass

    In September 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order to phase out DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) over the next six months. DACA provided protection from the deportation of children brought into this country illegally by their parents – it has been stated that about 800,000 youth will be affected by the Executive Order. The end of those six months is near, with the termination of DACA on March 5th, 2018 if legislation does not pass.

    Congress must act now to pass a law to replace DACA before it expires. But DACA was not included in the spending bill that led to our government’s shut down and many are protesting for a plan for these affected families.

    No one can possibly want to deport a single kid who has DACA documentation—not even President Trump. But President Trump had a Hobson’s Choice.

    President Obama attempted to expand DACA but in response governors from 25 states sued. In February 2015, the federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction enjoining implementation of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) and blocking the expansion of DACA. Eventually, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision in a 4-4 vote (before the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed).

    The states told the Administration that if by September 2017 it failed to rescind the DACA order, the complaint would be amended to challenge both the DACA and DAPA. Many constitutional experts agree that if that were to happen, DACA would most likely fall. Under that threat, President Trump bought six months for Congress to act before the states add DACA to their suit and kids are potentially deported. If President Trump had not acted, a Texas judge would have decided the fate of hundreds of thousands of children.

    In my blog post “DACA: Demystifying the Blame Game” I go more into the topic. Read here for insight into the subject.

    Trump has now offered Congress special treatment and a path to citizenship to more than 1.5 million undocumented immigrants, nearly twice as many as the Democrats purportedly wanted to protect. But now their leadership has rejected that offer as well. Shame on them. We are simply not a country that deports children who have done nothing wrong and who have contributed to our society and economy as much as anyone born here – indeed, many have been model citizens.

    If that means giving Trump funding for his wall, that’s a small price to pay for the freedom our country offers these innocent children. If it means ending the visa program and curtailing chain immigration, that’s well worth saving the future for these children. Congress needs to stop its rhetoric and get things done before time runs out: Legislation must be passed supporting DACA and DAPA.

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    DACA – Demystifying the Blame Game

    President Trump’s latest Executive Order rescinds (over the next six months) President Obama’s Executive Order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.  DACA provides protection from the deportation of children brought into this country illegally by their parents.    

    Congress now has six-months to pass legislation to replace DACA before it expires.  The arguments on both sides of the debate are strewn with emotion.  All of that, however, needs to be put aside.  We are simply not a country that deports children who have done nothing wrong and who have contributed to our society and economy as much as anyone born here.  Indeed, many have been more “model citizens” than all too many children who are citizens simply because they were lucky enough to be born within our borders.  Nor, as President Obama said, will deporting any of these children increase jobs or raise wages. 

    There are some facts, however, that media on both sides of the debate have largely ignored.  Those facts put President Trump’s decision into much needed perspective.

    A United States President cannot grant legal citizenship to anyone.  In the face of that reality, President Obama issued his DACA order effectuating a deferral of enforcement of existing laws.  In effect, he told prosecutors to prioritize deportation and focus on illegal aliens with criminal records.  And there were, and still are, more than enough illegal criminal aliens to keep authorities occupied for years.  But the point is that DACA is not a right because a President cannot grant such a right.  It was nothing more than an order from the President that prosecutors were to exercise their discretion and put deportation of DACA registrants on the back burner.

    What media also forgets is that President Obama issued DACA because Congress failed to resolve the issue after repeated tries.  So in frustration, President Obama issued two Executive Orders — DACA and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).  DAPA protected illegal aliens who parented children born in the United States.   In doing so, President Obama circumvented the failed legislative process. 

    In November 2014, President Obama attempted to expand DACA.  In response, Republican governors from twenty five states sued to enjoin implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA.  In February 2015, the federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction enjoining implementation of DAPA and blocking the expansion of DACA.  Eventually, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision in a 4-4 vote.  That vote was taken before President Trump’s nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed.

    President Obama’s original DACA order was not at risk in the case brought by the states under a procedural agreement.  Instead, the parties agreed to defer it for the time being and focus only on DAPA.  But the arguments cited in support of the demise of DAPA equally apply to DACA.  The basis for the DAPA injunction was the court’s finding that the states had a high likelihood of prevailing on their argument that Obama’s DAPA order was unconstitutional.  It’s the same legal argument used to enjoin the implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order allegedly targeting Muslim immigrants.  In both instances, the court said the President most probably exceeded his authority under the Constitution.  Near the end of President Obama’s term, the states also agreed to delay further proceedings until the Trump Administration had an opportunity to revisit President Obama’s order.

    Their deferral, however, did not come without a threat.  The states told the Administration that if by September 5, 2017, it failed to rescind the DACA order, the complaint (in the case that successfully enjoined DAPA) would be amended to challenge both the DACA and DAPA.  Many constitutional experts agree that if that were to happen, DACA would most likely fall.  And then we’d be left with nothing unless the judge in Texas decided to craft his own Solomon like solution.  If he chose to do nothing, chaos would ensue and God only knows what would happen.  So if President Trump had not acted, a Texas judge would have decided the fate of thousands of innocent children. 

    Thus, President Trump had a Hobson’s Choice – a choice where any decision is a bad one.  So under the states’ threat, Trump bought six months for Congress to act before the states add DACA to their suit and kids potentially get deported. 

    Others will now file suits, too.  But none of them are likely to reverse the Supreme Court decision affirming the demise of DAPA nor its precedent if applied to DACA.  So the writing is on the wall.

    No one can possibly want to deport a single kid who has DACA documentation.  Not even President Trump.  But President Obama exceeded his authority with DACA and DAPA just as much as President Trump exceeded his when he issued his immigration order targeting Muslims.  We can’t have it both ways. 

    So now Congress must act.  If it fails, President Trump says can reconsider and enter an order extending DACA.  In turn, the states will amend their complaint and DACA will likely fall. 

    It’s a mess with plenty of blame to pass around between two presidents who chose to ignore the Constitution and a Congress that can’t do its job.  And without Congressional action, the final decision may be left to a judge in Texas.

    So the message is simple: Congress, do your job and stop the rhetoric.  Pass legislation supporting DACA and DAPA.  America is fed up with your failed leadership.

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    Interrogation Methods: Should We Use Waterboarding Against Terrorists?

    “[T]he law — has long been clear: Waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances. To suggest otherwise — or even to give credence to such a suggestion — represents both an affront to the law and to the core values of our nation.”

    Letter to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, November 2, 2007 from Rear Admiral Donald J. Guter, United States Navy (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 2000–02, Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, United States Navy (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 1997–2000, Major General John L. Fugh, United States Army (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Army, 1991–93, and Brigadier General David M. Brahms, United States Marine Corps (Ret.) Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant, 1985–88

    Waterboarding, mock executions, introducing hypothermia, and other forms of torture are forms of interrogation that are not within the federal guidelines for interrogating witnesses. But are these interrogation methods ones that the United States should consider using for terrorist detainees?

    As much as conventional politics may demand I consider these measures, I believe that they are barbaric and counterproductive in the same way that I cannot support the death penalty. It is also abundantly clear that those in the military who oversee proper policy on detained prisoners agree that waterboarding is illegal.

    That’s enough for me to conclude that, until someone gives me concrete evidence that such techniques like waterboarding work, I will not consider approving them. And even if such evidence were presented to me, I’m not at all certain I’d agree to allow them unless experts like the Generals and Admirals who wrote to Sen. Leahy in 2007 agree.

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    America: Still the Beacon of Freedom?

    Throughout the world, America is seen as the beacon of freedom.

    We should not shrink from our role to protect that beacon whenever and wherever it is challenged, or our national security is at risk.

    After suffering eight years with a Democrat in the White House, our image and honor around the world doesn’t seem to be getting much better than when President Barack Obama took office and systematically dismantled our image over the eight years of his administration. This country cannot afford four more years of a failed foreign policy that pacifies and placates. We need strong leadership the world will respect—and who will protect the American people.  If President Trump can bring that to his administration, the beacon of freedom will continue to shine.  If not, there’s no telling what will be left of this great nation.

    Where “America First” fits in to all of this is uncertain.  Of course we need to address our domestic problems and the unfair global marketplace that is costing Americans jobs.  But we must also be cautious of isolationism.  Historians will remind us that isolationism was a major reason the world was unprepared for the World Wars of the last century.

    As President John F. Kennedy promised, “America is unwilling to witness or permit the undoing of human rights, and we will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, and oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

    America will never be true to those words if it shirks its global leadership by asking permission from others to keep the beacon of liberty brightly shining.

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    America: More Divided Than Ever; A Desperate Need for Bipartisanship

    America is becoming more divided by the day. We watch as President Trump signs an executive order that is then almost immediately blocked by the courts. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are constantly at each other’s throats. Liberals and conservatives tear each other apart on Twitter and Facebook because they can. No one is looking for solutions to problems but for reasons to viciously argue a point of view. Once again, it feels like nothing is getting done because everyone is too busy trying to hammer someone to the ground with their heated opinions.

    I am here to call for bipartisanship. It can and will work, but only if we try—really try, on both sides of the aisle. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were both flawed, and yet they found a way to work with their opposition, balance budgets, and keep our country safe. Reagan had to work with Tip O’Neill and Ted Kennedy, and Clinton had to work with Newt Gingrich—a cast of characters who could not have been more divisive at times and opposite in viewpoints.

    And yet, essentially, it worked. Each President approached these challenges differently, as so many leaders do. But they got their jobs done.

    If America has a unified, bipartisanship approach to the issues, we can succeed. And I think we will be surprised and pleased with the progress that we will accomplish when we join forces, rather than allow partisan politicos to create a larger divide.

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    Be Thankful for Our Freedoms. Pray for Paris. Demand More from Your Leaders.

    As Thanksgiving nears and we witness the horrors of the Paris attacks, Americans are once again reminded to be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy. But we must also remember those freedoms are only protected by vigilant law enforcement, strong national defense, and an aware citizenry. We all mourn with our allies in France. We all agree that we cannot allow society to become victimized by Islamic extremist barbarians like those who murdered innocent people in France under a misguided belief that their God condones such atrocities. Say what you will about any religion, but none, including Islam and the Quran, justify such cowardly acts. If not stopped they will continue and expand into other countries, including America.

    The reaction of politicians has been all too predictable.

    President Obama, in remarks on Friday, said, “We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice, and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.” I guess we’ll continue to wait, as we always seem to do, to hear what the president has in mind and what strategy, if any, he will deploy. If it’s placing another 50 advisors into Syria, that is far too little, far too late. Hillary Clinton had little more to add. While her heartfelt sympathy for Parisians is sincere, former Secretary Clinton also failed to express any plan of attack.

    Using an odd analogy, Ben Carson commented that allowing Syrian refugees into the United States is akin to medical malpractice and opined that withdrawing from Iraq after the Gulf War created the vacuum that allowed ISIS to grow. Other candidates conveyed condolences for the losses endured by the French. But some went further, weighing in on Twitter. Ted Cruz tweeted, “We must make it clear that affiliation w/ ISIS & related terrorist groups brings w/ it the undying enmity of America.”

    Not surprisingly, Donald Trump was less diplomatic, tweeting, “President Obama said ISIL continues to shrink in an interview just hours before the horrible attack in Paris. He is just so bad! CHANGE.” and “We need much tougher, much smarter leadership – and we need it NOW!” Even Newt Gingrich chimed in with a tweet, “Imagine a theater with 10 or 15 citizens with concealed carry permits. We live in an age when evil men have to be killed by good people.”

    Not a single politician with a plan. And no doubt as the days pass, we’ll hear more rhetoric from presidential wannabes. The Democrats will criticize the Republicans and the Republicans will criticize President Obama. It will be more of what we’re all tired of hearing.

    Now is not the time for politics and rhetoric. It is a time for decisive leadership. We need to seriously consider an alliance with all other threatened nations, including Russia, to eradicate the ISIS cancer. If that means boots on the ground, so be it. We need to make it clear that we will not stand by while Middle East leaders fail to lend adequate support to the solution, including ending our financial aid if they continue on the sidelines. The leadership of the Muslim community must speak out more forcibly and encourage every Muslim worldwide to cooperate and identify those who mean us harm. We need to strike at the sources of ISIS finances and weapons, even if that means destroying oil wells ISIS controls. We and our allies need to seize, not just freeze, the assets of any financial institution that harbors terrorist funds. Arms dealers need to be held responsible. We know who they are and where they operate. Shut them down. And as regrettable as it may be, we need to think hard before we fight enemies that pose little threat to our heartland. Enemies like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As diabolical as Assad is and as antithetical he may be to our beliefs, his regime poses no credible threat to the United States.

    ISIS is the one enemy that every right-thinking person─including Americans, French, and Russians─agrees must be annihilated.

    President Obama is in Turkey at the G-20 after which he goes to Paris for a summit on climate change. While economic issues on the agenda in Turkey and climate change discussions in Paris are important, they pale in comparison to the ISIS threat. Let us pray that President Obama uses those meetings as an opportunity to build a true coalition and stop being the paper tiger ISIS seems to believe we and our allies are.

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