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    Another Terrorist Car Crash in Britain: When Will It Stop?

    Last month, a man deliberately drove his car into the sidewalk into innocent pedestrians walking in front of the U.K. Parliament.  It is not the first terrorist attack to take place near Parliament—in early 2017 a terrorist struck pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed a police officer before he was killed.  Nor is it the first time terrorists have used vehicles to kill innocent people.  It happened in New York and Nice.  And sooner or later it will be repeated in another city.

    President Donald Trump tweeted after news of the last travesty: “Another terrorist attack in London…These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!”

    While we all wish that President Trump would reduce his predilection to tweet, it is difficult to disagree with him on this statement.  Innocent civilians have been injured and killed at the hands of terrorists time and time again.  Families have lost loved ones.  In my blog post on MS-13, I agreed with President Trump that the gang members are animals—and I agree with him that all terrorists are animals.  Period.  People are fearful, on edge, and likely to take their fear out on innocent Muslims.   All this plays right into the terrorists’ hands.  Yet what we hear from the world’s political leaders is more political rhetoric than solutions.

    I cannot repeat or stress enough that the United States must spend time, energy, and dedication to investigate and stop the terrorist cells that are in our own country.  And we must take aggressive measurements to keep more from entering our country.  If that means a wall, a list of banned countries, or more enhanced immigrant processing, so be it.  We must also educate ourselves as to why—and how—our own citizens are willing to kill fellow countrymen or go overseas to fight for radical terrorist groups.  But we cannot sit by idly debating the issues while we put our citizen in increasing danger.

    We must never give in to the demands of terrorists or allow them control America’s destiny.  Yet our inaction on immigration controls is doing exactly that.  We must stop protecting the guilty at the sake of the innocent.  My question to our politicians is simple:  How many more murders will we witness before you do something to stem the terror?

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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.

    Sources:

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    Ivanka Trump Disbands Fashion Line in Favor of Public Service

    According to Reuters, “U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump on Tuesday said she was shutting her fashion line to focus on her role as an informal White House adviser, where she is working on advancing working women.”

    Should First Daughter Ivanka Trump be making a complete career move into public service?

    Although the Trump family has received much criticism for their mix of business with politics, this is not the first time that a child of a president pursued, considered, or had a political career.

    Chelsea Clinton, head of the Clinton Foundation, has consistently juggled rumors of her own interest in politics. George W. Bush and Jeb Bush both had successful political careers in the aftermath of father George H. Bush’s presidency.  John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, was a U.S. Ambassador to Japan for four years. Since President Obama’s daughters spent a large chunk of their childhood in the White House, perhaps they may end up with a political career as well.  In fact, family succession in American politics go all the way back to John Adams, our second president and his son, John Quincy Adams, our sixth president.

    So let’s dispense with the rhetoric that Ms. Trump’s decision is unusual.  It is not.  Rather, it is a logical and natural extension of her experience in the world of politics.

    Children look up to their parents. If the fact that Ivanka Trump’s father is President of the United States encouraged her to pursue a career in public service, then I think that is a move we should applaud.

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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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    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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    For Memorial Day: The VA Mission Act is a Step Forward for Our Veterans

    It is vital that Americans—and our government—support our troops and veterans with more than a few remembrance days in May and November. Thanking them for their service is necessary in terms of showing our appreciation, but more must be done to help them.

    The VA Maintaining Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act—otherwise known as the VA Mission Act—was passed through the House committee and Veterans Fairs in a show of bipartisanship (it was passed 20-2). This bill would establish the Veterans Community Care Program, to provide care to veterans who are enrolled in the VA healthcare system or are entitled to VA care. The bill would also require Veterans Affairs to develop an education program to inform veterans about their healthcare options. Overall the bill plans to reform the VA’s healthcare infrastructure.

    Overall, the bill plans to reform the VA’s healthcare infrastructure. Military Times writes that it plans “to increase veterans’ access to private-sector doctors, expand caregiver stipends to more former military families and increase medical marijuana research for veterans’ care.”

    Late last year, USA Today ran an article that VA hospitals are ranked on the bottom of the list, for example the Phoenix VA, “where veterans died waiting for care.”

    Let’s make sure this bill is moved forward so that our veterans can receive the tools necessary to get the healthcare they deserve.

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    Should the US Meet with North Korea?

    The return of three detained Americans from North Korea was indeed an opportunity to celebrate. As the countdown begins for a meeting with the U.S. President and Kim Jong Un, this gesture seems like a nod in our favor. But, we need to take care not to get ahead of ourselves.

    The infamous Trojan Horse was a gift filled with soldiers who, once the gate was down, stormed the city. Are the detainees a modern-day version of the same? Or should we look upon the symbolic walk between the South and North Korean borders by the leaders of these countries as the end to the Korean War? Will North Korea cease trying to create and stockpile nuclear weapons?

    These are difficult questions and most government officials must be thinking the same things. In addition, we know that the North Korean people are starving and rumors of crimes against humanity are circling about. Given its history, the United States will have a hard time making a deal with a country that is letting its population suffer in the name of global dominance. As simple as the news media portray this “historic” meeting between two nations, people with experience in government at high levels know there are many layers to the discussion.

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    Cyber Security Puts the U.S. at Risk

    America is the beacon of freedom throughout the world. We should not shrink from our role to protect it whenever it is challenged or our national security is at risk. And we are at risk.

    In March 2018, the city of Atlanta was under attack by ransomware. Under Armor also admitted in a statement in March 2018 that millions of emails subscribed to their “My Fitness Pal” app were at risk. Last December the U.S. blamed North Korea for the WannaCry cyber attack that infiltrated hospitals and banks across the globe. Russia was able to hack our energy grid. Equifax had a major security breach that compromised millions of their consumers.

    Not only are we physically at risk by North Korea, Iran, and Russia but we are at risk by our own technology that these countries can utilize against us—technology they often steal from us.  We all constantly check our phones, log on from just about anywhere to access sensitive and confidential data for our jobs, and with abandon, buy goods and services from online retail outlets using our credit cards…the list goes on.  We’re making ourselves easy targets.

    As the beacon of freedom, we should not be afraid to use our credit cards to pay for our groceries in fear that a cyber-hacker will obtain our information. We should not have to worry about paying our car registrations because ransomware took over our city. We should not be worried about our energy grid. But to insure that freedom, the United States must focus its attention on cyber security efforts with more than just words.

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