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    2020 Candidate Circus

    The election may seem far away but it looks like it will be another long, nasty, convoluted fight that is certain to confuse voters to the point of giving up by the time it comes to pressing “VOTE” in the booth.

    The Democrats are visibly scrambling to become a front-runner.  This creates a confusing state of issues as they each try to distinguish themselves from one another by taking aggressive positions knowing they will never be accepted by rank and file lawmakers.  Nonetheless, they need to raise their poll numbers to qualify for the stage at a debate.  That requires headlines.   Headlines do not happen to candidates with moderate views.

    The most notable exception may be Joe Biden.  He received a lot of buzz after his announcement.  Then for several weeks, women came forward and claimed they experienced “uncomfortable interactions” with Biden in the past.  This led to a rehash of the controversial treatment Anita Hill received from Biden and others at her appearances in 1991 before the Senate Judiciary Committee discussing claims of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas in his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.  After profuse apologies from Biden, the tempest seems to have calmed.  However, it is assuredly something that other candidates and the media will raise again.  They will exploit the vulnerability.   With Biden currently viewed as the front-runner, all the other candidates must knock him off that perch if they hope to win the nomination.  Do not expect civility in that endeavor.

    Then there is the returning progressive, Bernie Sanders.  Sandbagged by the Clinton campaign, he may be again from the Biden front.  We shall see.

    Other Dems in the running are puzzling.  Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bill de Blasio — none of them have a national following and de Blasio has a hard time generating an audience at his campaign stops.  The rest of the list hails from various states and cities with disparate backgrounds and notoriety.  So far, it looks like all have earned nicknames from President Trump as he goads them into losing focus.

    My question is, do people in this country really know who these candidates are?  I bet most know only one or two.  Even more do not care.  So with twenty-three democrats running (so far), how will they all fit on stage in a debate?  They cannot all fit.  That is why the solution appears to be two nights of debates.  The first night for the candidates who poll the highest.  The second night for the rest.  An A Team and a B Team.  Look for the B Team to be the more entertaining of the two debates.  The B Team has nothing to lose if they hope to get elevated to the A Team as the debates move forward.

    In truth, is this not simply more of what we saw in 2016 when the Democrats mocked the size of the Republican list of candidates?

    That is politics as usual.  Behavior that Democrats decry one day because the Republicans commit it suddenly becomes acceptable when they later engage in the same conduct.   When that happens, the Republicans, of course, condemn the Democrats.  It is a never-ending circle of lies and hypocrisy.

    Yet we wonder why Americans have no respect for Congress or Washington.  Our politicians have no one to blame except for themselves.

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    As Politicians Claim Victory, America Becomes the Victim

    After the longest government shutdown in history, Congress and the White House have three weeks to make a deal on immigration reform or the country faces the choice of another shutdown or a presidential proclamation that we have a national emergency that requires his unilateral action to build physical barriers on our southern border.  Three weeks to settle arguments that have failed resolution for over fifteen years.  Only a Las Vegas handicapper is capable of putting odds on any bet that the two sides will come to an agreement.  Even with odds, that is not a bet I am likely to make.

    We do have an emergency but it is not just about our southern border or immigration.  While that is certainly a crisis, the true emergency facing our nation is a failure of leadership on both sides of the aisle.  In response to President Trump’s offer this past weekend that could be a start to compromise, Nancy Pelosi immediately criticized it as “not enough” and continued her rhetoric that a wall is immortal.  Senator Chuck Schumer echoed similar sentiments.  On the right, pundits like Ann Coulter accused President Trump of caving and others said he “lost” the fight.  Everyone took sides, ignoring the issues for the sake of partisan politics.

    So once again, we watch the spectacle to which our politicians seem addicted.  A spectacle that is not about what might or might not be best for Americans, Dreamers, DACA and TPS recipients, and the border agents risking their lives as illegal immigrants continue to flood the country.   Instead, it remains a partisan fight over who wields power in Washington and who will win the White House in 2020.  Neither side appears ready to compromise as each continues to kowtow to the extreme wings of their respective bases.  As the leaders of the two parties continue their mindless bickering, no one can argue against the reality that people are suffering and dying – both Americans and illegal immigrants – throughout our country because of a failed immigration policy.

    Three weeks.  That is how long our Washington politicos have to prove to America that they can lead through reasonable debate and compromise, putting aside partisan politics at this critical time.  Whether that will happen depends on all of them and I will not blame the Democrats or the Republicans if they fail.  I will blame them both and urge anyone I know to vote every one of them out of office, from top to bottom, in 2020.

     

     

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    Rhetoric Not Reason

    As we enter yet another day of a partial government shutdown, we continue to hear the rhetoric on both sides of the aisle without any semblance of reasonable debate or compromise.  This is not leadership by Democrats or Republicans.  As Americans, we cannot allow ourselves to be caught up in their partisan politics.  Instead, we need to pressure all of them to bring reason to the debate and embrace compromise as the way of ending their inexcusable behavior.  We have to tell our politicians in the White House, House of Representatives, and Senate to STOP.  Their idea that governance means appealing only to their base is ludicrous.  They represent all of us, not just those who chose to vote them into power.  We elected them to govern, not divide.  It is time for them to stop labelling the other party as the “owner” of this shutdown.  They all own it.  If these elected officials were a business, congregation, or family, such divisive behavior would not be tolerated.  Compromises would be made and we would all move forward.  The truth is that border security, whether you call it a wall, a fence or, as Nancy Pelosi described it, a beaded curtain, is critical to our national security.  Yet they all sit and debate semantics while irresponsible parents abandon innocent children and illegal aliens kill innocent people, including law enforcement officers trying to protect us.  While our borders should be open and our success as a nation be shared and made available to anyone who is oppressed or denied human rights, there must be rules and limitations.  We simply cannot absorb the world’s human rights problems regardless of how compassionate we may be.  The same politicians who once said they support a wall, now say they do not.  Their hypocrisy could not be more obvious.  Politicians on the other side of the aisle, caught up in wordsmithing are equally hypocritical.  It reminds me of the movie, Network:  “So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it and stick your head out, and yell: I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  Maybe someone in Washington will hear you.  Unfortunately, I doubt they will.

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    Thoughts on Selecting a Chief of Staff

    Kelly is gone and Mulvaney will be “acting” in the role of chief of staff for President Trump.  With all the media angst regarding Kelly’s departure, and public reaction on social networks, I wonder if most of us know what this position is or does?

    In business and in government, any executive will tell you that selecting a chief of staff is no easy task. The job is both administrative management and political; therefore it’s essential to choose someone you know and trust who will help carry out your overall goals while maintaining a prioritized flow of communications in and out of your office.   In this case, the Oval Office. Take former President Bill Clinton, for example, who appointed childhood friend Mack McLarty to the position. While choosing him seemed like a good idea given his esteemed business background and strong friendship, advising people/procedures in the White House is a whole new ball game.  McLarty lasted just over a year and a half.

    It’s hard to pinpoint the exact criteria for the perfect COS candidate. The person in the position will need to adjust to his or her boss’s style and needs.  The choice mainly depends on the individual executive: Who would they work well with? Who can they trust? Who would best represent them?

    While it’s crucial to ponder these queries, let’s not forget relations between a chief of staff and the people they manage. A COS should be able to analyze their staffers’ work and report back to the boss with appropriate, fair, and adequate recommendations for optimal efficiency. The chief of staff needs to be an extension of the executive’s personal decision making so that all minor issues are filtered out or solved before reaching “the big boss.”

    It’s easy to comment from the bleachers on whether the President is hiring or firing the right people.  But what’s he’s doing is no different than what every President has done for decades.  The revolving door at the White House never stops turning.

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    Election Day Roundup

    A record-breaking number of women ran in the midterm elections this year, including an unprecedented number of women of color. Women like Rashiba Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Veronica Escobar, Slyvia Garcia, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland all made history by representing  a variety of different ethnicities now adding to some diversity to the House. In addition, New York’s Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez took home a momentous win while also becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. The 29-year-old Democrat will serve New York’s 14th district.

    Altogether, Democrats made a net gain of about 40 seats with a huge victory in the House of Representatives. As for the Senate, Republicans increased their majority by 2 seats. Democrats also gained 7 state governors, at least 350 state legislative seats, and about 7 state legislative chambers.

    Recounts were undertaken in Florida and Arizona as both Senate and gubernatorial races were too close to call. In the end, Republicans came out on top in Florida with former Congressman Ron De Santis winning the senate seat and Governor Rick Scott winning the race for governor . In Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took home senate victory, defeating her Republican opponent Martha McSally.

    Both Democrats and Republicans alike can agree that voter turnout was much higher this go-around than in previous elections.  According to NPR, it actually hit a 50-year high.  More than 48% of eligible voters cast a ballot, which is up from 41% in 2014. CBS News revealed an estimated 113 million people took part in the elections, even making history by exceeding 100 million+ votes. Regardless of who won or lost individual elections, the unprecedented voter turnout is the real victory in this election cycle.

    Did you vote?

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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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    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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    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Half a Year Later

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law last December, and implementation began in 2018. The purpose of the act is to reduce the corporate tax rate, allow increased expensing of costs, and eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax.

    It’s been over six months since the Act was passed, and while it is too early to predict long-term benefits, it’s undeniable that taxpayers are already seeing some positive changes.

    Among them are the many workers who are seeing an increase in their paychecks.  Utility bills for electric, gas, and power are dropping.  More products are being made in America instead of overseas.  More jobs are available than in decades and the unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest in more than fifteen years.

    Over the next six months and into the 2019 tax season, we will see more of what’s to come with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. But I believe that by what we have seen so far, consumers benefit with more disposable income and businesses and corporations are investing more in capital improvements, are hiring more people and are providing higher wages.

    This economic growth is long overdue but can also get overheated.  The Federal Reserve is increasing interest rates to keep things from becoming too speculative.  President Trump’s new tariffs and the threat of a trade war that could even include our allies can also throw cold water on growth.

    It’s a very tricky balancing act.  Unfortunately, whether it’s balancing policies or budgets, progress is never made through partisan politics, the disease that has gripped our nation for the past ten years.   So ask your representatives in Washington when their bickering will end so prosperity can be preserved?

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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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