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    Let’s Unite America

    When I was a kid I had a friend who always caused trouble for me.  I would tell my mother “It was her idea” as a way of absolving myself of blame and she would say, “If your friend jumped off a bridge would you do it too?”  From an early age, my parents tried to teach me to be accountable for my actions and not to follow someone else on a road that was only going to lead to problems.

    I’m reminded of that story in the fallout of the bomb scare last month.  Prominent figures like the Obamas, Clintons, CNN, Joe Biden, Robert De Niro and others were sent suspicious packages that contained pipe bombs.  Luckily authorities found that the bombs were poorly made with most incapable of exploding. But that does not diminish the threat.  Although no one has been harmed thus far, the incident undoubtedly raises questions about the sender’s ultimate intentions.  One thing everyone “seems” to agree on is that the sender deliberately targeted left-wing public figures, some political and some celebrity Trump critics. This has inspired the blame game and has become another way to potentially weaken the presidency and, by extension, our country.

    The truth of the matter is we shouldn’t be pointing fingers at which party is responsible for such terrible actions. We shouldn’t waste our time blaming the behavior of one specific, perhaps unbalanced person.

    I prefer to ask a very uncomfortable question for some: Could it be that we are collectively responsible?

    I’ve heard what sounds like “It was his idea” from various leaders in this country, which has given rise to everyone acting like nasty kids in a schoolyard.  If Trump’s tone is offensive, then the best way to counteract that is to speak in an opposite, equally offensive manner.  That’s the depth we’ve sunk to in politics and entertainment today.  And at this point, I’m not interested in blaming anyone for starting it.  It simply needs to stop.

    The bomber’s actions are not about politics.  And pointing fingers back and forth is not going to fix anything; it is only going to disappoint citizens even more.  The truth of the matter is that we will continue to disagree politically and that will never end, nor should it. But both parties need to set an example—not react to bad behavior with more bad behavior–and promote peaceful negotiation and consideration for others’ opinions.   Ronald Reagan had reasonable conversations with Tip O’Neil and Ted Kennedy.  Bill Clinton did the same with Newt Gingrich.  These were leaders with polar opposite views yet willing to be civil in their discourse.  One can disagree with their politics, but not their dignity.  Can our current political leaders return to civility?

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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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    MS-13: Yes, They Are Animals

    President Donald Trump recently made a statement about the gang MS-13, calling them “animals.” There was, of course, an uproar about it, with people crying foul claiming the President was calling all illegal immigrants “animals.” But that is not what he said.

    In the typical media frenzy against anything Trump, many in the press misrepresented his statement. Indeed, his comment about MS-13 was not about a particular ethnic population. It was about one of the most vicious gangs this country has ever seen who routinely engage in murder, kidnapping, child prostitution, human smuggling, drug trafficking, and racketing.

    MS-13 is a gang that originated in Los Angeles. While most members are of Central American origin, principally El Salvador, others are from any number of countries and comprised of almost a hundred thousand members it is a worldwide scourge. Thousands of those members are in the United States. Many are illegal immigrants; some are not. Many have been deported time and time again after committing terrible crimes.

    And kudos to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who added, “Frankly, I think that the term ‘animal’ doesn’t go far enough and I think that the President should continue to use his platform and everything he can do under the law to stop these types of horrible, horrible, disgusting people.”

    Let’s not sway from what the President is trying to do here – ridding this country of gang members, illegal immigrants, or otherwise. President Trump does not, and never has, suggested deporting immigrants who come here legally, pay taxes, and contribute to the community.

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    What Can We Do About Gun Control?

    In every instance of a mass shooting, the victims are innocent and are, all too often, children.  And every time a horrible tragedy like those we’ve seen occurs, one side of the political spectrum drums the beat for a ban on guns and limitations on Second Amendment rights while the other side shouts from the rafters that it’s not about guns, but a mental health problem.

    Those who would legislate a ban are convinced that such a solution will keep weapons out of the hands of people who will use guns to kill innocent citizens. They claim these murders are evidence that current laws requiring the registration and purchase of guns don’t work.  Yet statistics show that a greater number of shootings are the result of unregistered or illegal weapons than those that are registered.  And statistics further show that most murders are committed with hand guns.  If people want guns, they’ll get them with or without registration laws.  So merely outlawing guns is not the answer and an indefensible position.

    Likewise, ignoring the ready availability of AR-5s in the hands of teenagers, bump stocks, lax background check standards, poor reporting and coordinating among law enforcement authorities, and high capacity ammo clips is equally indefensible.

    Amid this polarizing debate we have now witnessed yet another mass murder in Florida with no meaningful action from Congress or the states.

    Shame on all of them.

    My advice to the President, Congress and States: In order to keep guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals and psychopaths, the two sides must compromise – and that includes the NRA – and find ways to sensibly regulate what weapons can legally get into the hands of those who should never be allowed to own them, share intelligence, increase security, address the mental health issues, and encourage more social media interaction and surveillance.  And as far as I’m concerned, everything needs to be on the table.

    Find where you can agree, and at least enact laws on those issues.  Where you can’t agree, find compromise.

    Advance towards a solution rather than continue entrenching yourselves in partisan positions, while innocent children die.

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    Violence Begets Violence: Condemning the Acts in Charlottesville

    In the past, I have iterated on my blog about the right to peaceful assembly, and how violent assembly is an act that is contemptible and condemned in our Constitution.  After the events that took place in Charlottesville—and since then, in other cities around the country—I would like to once again bring this conversation forward.

    From the Bill of Rights, First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States:

    “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.”

    What happened in Charlottesville, including the death of an innocent woman through an extremely violent act, was abominable. Americans must understand that it is their God-given right to a peaceful protest. Once that peace is thrown out the window, they must be severely reprimanded for any violent actions that occur on their behalf, especially if those violent actions include the death of another human’s life.

    You have the right to your voice—use it! And know that when you act violently, your government, local law enforcement, media, friends and family will respect neither you nor your views.  You forfeit that privilege.

    You may not believe that the pen and your voice are mightier than the sword, but history repeatedly shows  they are—and always will be. It worked in 1787 when we ratified a new government. And it works today, when law enforcement and government officials abide by, consult, and argue the meaning of the Constitution.

    Whatever the color of your skin, your gender, your political beliefs, your ideals—respect  what was given to you when you were born in this great country, honored you when you became a citizen, or simply helped you because you hoped to find a better life here, by not sinking low with violence and crime.

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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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    How can we stop future acts of terrorism?

    The past few months, the world has seen horrible acts of terrorism committed on innocent civilians, particularly the cowardly actions of terrorists at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. But how can we stop more things like this from happening? How do we fight terrorists who use backpack bombs, pressure cookers, and automobiles to cause such destruction and chaos?

    I know I don’t have to tell any of you how big of a problem we now have in some part due to a poor administration we suffered under for the past eight years. Worse, we are now facing terrorist attacks from within unlike ever before. Our conventional methods of protecting our nation—and the methods other countries use to protect theirs—are increasingly proving inadequate. They have failed.

    People are on edge, and likely to take it out on innocent Muslims if we don’t do something decisive. As the French journalist Octave Mirbeau said, “The greatest danger of a terrorist’s bomb is in the explosion of stupidity that it provokes.”

    We must spend time, energy, and dedication to investigate and stop the terrorist cells that are in our own country. We must also educate ourselves as to how and why our own citizens—and those that come here—are willing to go to Syria to fight for ISIS and other radical terror groups. America also needs a strong, diplomatic leadership who can guide us in the right direction in the fight against terrorism. Eight years of President Obama’s policies has not left us in a better position than we were before he took office. And President Trumps efforts seem to get thwarted by partisan politicians with no alternative plans. That is not the leadership this country needs.

    How we respond to future acts of terrorism is a test of our global reputation. And if nothing is done soon, we will all suffer. Absent action, there is no favorable outcome. And have no doubt in your mind, it is simply a matter of time before our innocent citizens suffer as the Britons did in Manchester unless we wake up to the reality facing us.

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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 First Amendment and Violence

    Violence silences the very people who need to be heard.

    Since the inauguration, America has seen an influx of violence from protestors. We have seen events like what happened in California, where the violence at a university caused a temporary shutdown of the streets. In nationwide riots, protestors have damaged or destroyed both public and private property.

    The actions of the violent have drowned out the voices of those who want to exercise their right under the First Amendment.

    This is not about whether we like or dislike what someone might say. It’s about a core right in our Constitution to let people speak their minds freely, regardless of how offensive we might find a person’s views. Violent protestors only serve to suppress a person’s right to exercise free speech.

    Those who were peacefully protesting also had their rights stifled. The violent protestors made the nationwide news and caused the police to shut down the streets, ruining the ability for the peaceful protestors to continue or for their issues to be discussed in a reasonable forum.

    The Constitution shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or the right of the people peaceably to assemble. Nowhere in the Constitution is the right to violent assembly. I condemn any side of the aisle that resorts to violence or suppresses free speech in any way, whether it’s a march or a display of art in the Capital; I will always abide by the undeniable fact that the First Amendment is your Constitutional right.