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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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    What Should We Do About North Korea?

    The Korean War never officially ended, and North Korea has loomed large as a potential problem. For over fifty years, the older generations have favored diplomatic solutions to their disputes over war and aggression. With a new and less experienced leader, North Korea has taken center stage and airtime, overshadowing other pressing issues like Iran, Syria, and Isis. By testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and with an angry rhetoric that would reap death and destruction were it carried out, Kim Jong-un clearly needs a reality check.

    The “how” is not to be found in a war of words between leaders. As a global superpower, the United States has many more tools in its arsenal, and it’s time to be creative and use them. One of the most effective assets we have is our consumerism and the trade agreements we have with the few countries that do business with North Korea.

    The biggest player in the import/export business is China, and if the U.S. made a “trade” with China whereby China imposes sanctions on North Korea in exchange for concessions from us, North Korea would be in serious trouble. It relies on China for most of its imports. We could also cease our relationships with any of the other countries working with North Korea unless they stop supporting the rogue nation. With support from China we could also sanction the global banks and inhibit North Korea’s money supply, which they need to fund a nuclear program, among other things.

    It’s time to devise practical solutions that will force North Korea to change what it is doing. Without serious consequences, the country will not bend. Crippling their economy on all sides is the less damaging way to come to terms, and it is of utmost importance that we put our energies into this kind of effort, not war.

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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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    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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    Women’s Rights, Foreign Aid, and Meaningful Reform

    In some societies, women can be owned, bought, sold, traded, and collected as if they were commodities. Women are sold into slavery, stoned to death for merely expressing what they felt in their hearts, and raped without consequence to the attacker.

    This is happening every day in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. It is the real war on women, and it’s been going on for far too long. America has condemned such beliefs, and none of us—Democrats or Republicans—condone such behavior. In fact, we condemn it.

    Yet it continues.

    Our solution so far has been unsuccessful: throw money and governments and organizations. That has become America’s way to solve complicated problems. It has not, and will not, work. We need to take a deeper look and try to understand why we have such difficulty finding solutions. If that means considering some hard choices that include withdrawing support from regimes denying women their equal rights, then we need to make those choices.

    This violence must end. I will not support a government full of hypocrites. Our foreign aid support must be coupled with meaningful reform.

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    Women and Public Office: Why Aren’t There More?

    According to the latest U.S. Census, women make up more than fifty percent of our population. That has been a consistent statistic for years. And there is no reason to believe that there will be any change in the near future.

    Indeed, most believe the gap will increase. In 2004, women voters outnumbered men voters by more than 8.8 million. So why aren’t more women being elected to office?

    Women control more investments than do men. They have more shareholder votes. And yet, our country’s corporations continue to be dominated by men. I’m not suggesting we need an immediate reversal with the majority belonging to women. There is no reason to believe such a reversal would create a better environment for growth and freedom.

    But it is clear that we need to get closer to equality than we are now—a lot closer. That’s something I think every woman in government can agree upon, and every woman in America can support. We can do that with our votes at the polls and at shareholder meetings.

    And if we accomplish that, I think everyone—Democrats, Republicans, men, and women—can agree that our hopes to end the bigger war on civilized society will be within our reach.

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    Terrorism in the 21st Century

    For years, the world has been on pins and needles, wondering what the radical Islamic cells believed to be all over the world will do next—and when. Ever since the massive influx of Syrian refugees into countries in Europe and the U.S. in the past couple of years, identifying “would-be” terrorists—let alone monitoring those they suspected—are overwhelming the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

    We’re fighting a new kind of war. It’s a frightening collection of decentralized, radicalized suicide bombers who spend their days on Facebook and Twitter, hell-bent on killing us all for the glory of Allah.

    What do our citizens do in a time like this? Do we remain vigilant, but carry on a normal life? Is anything short of that effectively a victory for the terrorists? Do we arm ourselves for protection?

    Americans have more than enough guns—too many, in fact. People everywhere are scared, and they turn to guns when fear controls them.

    I’m not concerned about America’s ability to fight fire with fire, even at the most local level. What I am concerned with is trigger-happy citizens striking out at others simply because they are Muslim—history has seen lesser transgressions to start bloody wars.

    So what do we do? The government must find better ways to share intelligence to American citizens (and other governments should do the same for their own people). We must substantially increase security patrols, and encourage more social media interaction and surveillance as that is where these terrorist cells interact.   We must learn from the tragedies that have occurred in Europe and find ways to share intelligence with security forces throughout the world.  We must end any leaks of sensitive information or we risk losing valuable informants and members of our intelligence community.  We must be realistic on immigration and tighten controls but in a way that does not shut our doors to legitimate immigrants.  Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past like our treatment of Japanese nationals in WWII.

    This is a war, even if it has not been officially declared.  And as in all wars, conventional wisdom and experience has its place in setting policy.  But this war has elements – local terrorist cells and lone wolves –  we’ve never faced before and to win, we have to consider new defenses that strike a balance between our country’s security and the rights we guarantee to all under our Constitution.  That balance has never been more tested than today.

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    “The Enemies of the U.S.”: Let’s Call Them by Their Real Name—Terrorists

    The tepid foreign policy of appeasement has left this country more vulnerable and challenged than ever before from ISIS and other terrorist groups. Obama used the rhetoric of calling them “enemies of the United States,” but I am not afraid to call them what they are—terrorists—or the “fight” against them what it really is—a war on terrorism.

    We must raise our security levels to combat the increasing threats and support those who are fighting to protect our interests. We need to end the cowardly way that the past administration addressed terrorism and those dedicated to harming us.

    We are not waging a war against the Muslim people when we send air strikes and drones into terrorist strongholds in Asia, the Middle East, or Africa. We are not waging a war against Islam when, together with our allies, we arrest terrorists hiding in Europe and here at home. There is no more a war against Muslims and Islam than World War II was a war against Germans, Italians, or Japanese. World War II was a war against Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito and those who led terrorist nations and denied free people their right to choose how to live, and what God to worship. Just as so many innocent Germans, Italians, and Japanese had to suffer because of ideological tyrants, we are now left to see all too many Muslims the innocent victims of this war.

    While all this deeply saddens my heart, it cannot lessen our resolve to end the War on Terror with a victory over the tyranny preventing everyone—Muslims, Christians, Jews, and believers of every other religion—from enjoying the freedoms given to them by God.

    When I was in Congress, I was instrumental in fighting the war on terrorism, bringing pride back to America, and ensuring the safety of you and your families. If you vote for me in the 2020 election as your president, I will continue that success and ensure that the people of this nation will remain safe in the most wonderful country in the world.

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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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