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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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    Confederate Statues: Should They Have Been Taken Down?

    In the past few weeks there has been much debate on statues of Confederate soldiers, most notably of General Robert E. Lee. Should these statues stay, or be taken down?

    History is important to learn and remember—and often, not to repeat. I understand the idea of celebrating and honoring those in our history who stood for our principles—and not to honor those who did not, even when they were good people with bad ideas.

    Robert E. Lee was a great general, and a companionate man. However, he chose to defend the confederacy and slavery. That alone puts him into an entirely different category than someone like Ulysses Grant, who was also once a great general who fought during the late years of the Civil War, and then later became the 18th President of the United States. He was also allegedly a drunk. But, whatever his imperfections may have been, Grant never supported slavery.

    But where do we draw the line of what statues or paintings can and cannot be taken down?  While it may be acceptable to take down statues of Confederate heroes—those who fought for slavery —my question is: Why would we stop there?

    Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren supported the Indian Removal Act of 1830, where the U.S. systematically evicted thousands of Native Americans from their lands, and relocated them elsewhere—denying them their homes and heritage. Many died in the so-called “Trail of Tears.” Jackson and Van Buren supported something that today is viewed by most as reprehensible. Should their statues be torn down? Should Jackson, who was a general in the U.S. Army and annexed Texas, be removed from the $20 bill?

    At the outset of WWII, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese Americans in the United States.  The forced relocation and incarceration in camps dislocated more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, more than 60% of whom were U.S. citizens.  Virtually none of them had done anything wrong.  History teaches us that what Roosevelt ordered was a gross violation of civil rights and a cruel indictment of innocent people without any due process.  He essentially trashed the Constitution. However, he guided the country through most of the Great Depression and World War II, and is considered by many as one of the greatest U.S. presidents.  But his behavior towards thousands of innocent people begs the question: should we tear down the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington?

    Regardless of where you fall in this debate, the next question is who should be empowered to make the judgment on what stays up, and what gets torn down?  I suggest that debate belongs in our local town halls and municipalities —they are the ones who will know that is the best for their communities. Instead of making it a federal or statewide issue, let us leave the decisions to the towns that built the statues for their residents.

    In the end, the problem with tearing down statues – Confederate or otherwise – is that it creates a collision between raw emotions and deep, philosophical issues worthy of intelligent debate. The two never mix well and more often than not present the proverbial Hobson’s Choice where the conclusions by both sides do more to feed the controversy and the divisive (and sometimes violent) discourse that follows.

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    Supporting the Tobacco and Liquor Industry

    I have been criticized over my support of the tobacco industry. Some would like you to think my support was nothing more than bowing to the demands of an industry that employs thousands of voters.

    In truth, such rhetoric is just another attempt to confuse the truth by implying improper motives on my part—so let me set everyone straight.

    Yes, I support the tobacco industry, yet I deplore smoking. And I support the liquor industry, yet I condemn drunk drivers. And I support all of our businesses small and large, even those feeding Americans too much salt, sugar, and fat.

    According to encyclopedia.com, the U.S. tobacco industry—growing, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and sales—has contributed to the wages of over 650,000 American workers. The liquor industry employs nearly 4.6 million jobs for U.S. workers.

    Supporting free enterprise, both big and small, to market products legally sold in our country, is something I applaud.

    And unless we are prepared to outlaw such products—which we know won’t work now any better than it did in Prohibition – and are prepared to lose about $15 billion in revenue from the federal excise tax on cigarettes and $25 billion to the states from the beverage alcohol industry, we should address the real issue: how do we educate Americans about healthy lifestyles and moderation without trampling the Constitution and the benefits we all derive from capitalism.



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    The Death Penalty and Abortion

    I do not support the death penalty despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans do (according to a Gallup poll, 80% of Republicans, 65% of independents, and 58% of Democrats support it).

    But if I cannot support the death penalty even for those guilty of the most heinous crimes, then I can no more condone, in good conscience, taking an innocent unborn child’s life. None of us has the divine ability to determine when life truly begins or when a free choice to end it is acceptable. At least a criminal has a trial. The unborn do not. Yet many who support the death penalty condemn abortion and relegate the taking of life, of the innocent and guilty, to a political debate.

    The distinctions are not as easy as one may think. While I am a Republican, my supporters know I am 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. Which is why, in the case of the death penalty, I stand strong in my belief, against party lines and the majority of our voters, that the death penalty is an archaic practice that must end. While I acknowledge that those on death row deserve our wrath and condemnation, killing them by a noose, needle, shock, or bullet isn’t going to reverse what they did or prevent someone else from committing heinous crimes. There is simply no proof of any deterrent effect.

    Because I do not think government has the right to take a life even with due process, my position against abortion is consistent. For many, it appears to be along party lines. But it is not. I support Planned Parenthood and its freedom to give advice to those troubled by the decisions they make. I support any organization – pro-abortion or anti-abortion – to advance their positions through education and counseling. It is not for me or any government bureaucracy to judge such organizations any more than we should judge a religion. And I also believe it is not the government’s role to tell a woman when she can have an abortion nor condemn her or her physician for doing so. As strongly as I believe abortion is wrong except in special circumstances, God, not government, should be the judge.

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    Abortion: Not the Government’s Place to Decide

    I have not been silent in my belief that abortion is wrong, but I have also been vocal about the fact that it is my personal belief due to my own experience. When I was in the early stages of my marriage—many years ago—I got pregnant. I was not sure whether or not I would keep the baby because I felt like I had just begun my career, although I knew that my husband wanted to keep it.

    After much back-and-forth, I finally made the decision to keep the baby—my daughter, Amanda, who is one of the smartest, hardest working women today in Washington—and the most loving daughter a mother could have. But it was when she was born that I realized how wrong it would have been to abort her. I would have never known the person she was going to become—and what a fantastic person she is. It was then that any belief I had in abortion being okay was completely erased.

    I believe that abortion is wrong, except for instances when a mother’s life is in danger or a pregnancy is a result of rape. But I also believe it is not the place of the government to dictate the choice of abortion for any woman. It is her decision alone to choose.  For me, when I faced that decision, I chose to reject my personal needs over a greater responsibility.  That was my choice.  And the government has no place in in criminalizing such a choice.

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    Abortion — Right and Wrong

    The right to choice is one of the most divisive debates in our history. There are no simple answers, and most of our personal views are the result of our own experiences and the teachings of our parents and religious leaders. I thought about abortion just before we had our second child, Amanda. I had a new job and was selfish, not wanting any interruptions in my career. I thank God I couldn’t bring myself to make what everyone told me was my choice. Then I realized I had already made my choice. I chose, rightly or wrongly for myself, to get pregnant in the first place. I already exercised my choice. Women who are the victims of crime or incest didn’t make a choice and have the right to choose abortion. Where the life of the mother is at stake, we must favor her and leave our prayers to care for the lost child. But I also believe it is not the place of government to dictate the choice of abortion for any woman. It is her decision alone to choose her personal needs over a greater responsibility. If she makes the wrong decision, it is God—not us—who should be the judge. Every day I look at my beautiful daughter or even think about her, it reinforces my conviction. Every day I thank God I made the right decision. I made the right choice. Abortion is wrong.