Amazon

It's All About Love

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States decided that gay marriage is legal across the 50 states of the Union.

This was without a doubt a sweeping change both legally and culturally. Personally, I have been an advocate of allowing gay marriage, but something about the ruling seemed, hollow. With many states allowing gay marriage already, would reciprocity have taken place sooner or later and therefore not needed the Supreme Court to step in. I have been extremely critical of my fellow Republicans who come out against gay marriage in a homophobic way. There is room to be anti- gay marriage but not anti gay.

Now the tables have turned. Everyone's pictures on Facebook are rainbow. Even the White House was lit up in celebration. Left to the side were the religious individuals who have a sincere and biblical belief that it is wrong. While some who are in favor of gay marriage recognized this, many mocked and wagged fingers at Christians, who they saw as backwards and bigoted. How sad.

People have been set in recent years to divide and conquer. Debate has been squashed and dissenting opinions are disregarded. I say to the left and right, it is not the Supreme Court decision that will be the downfall of our society or the great equalizer. Destruction of open debate and disagreement, that is destroying our country.

Health Care Blues

The Supreme Court of the United States decided yesterday that instead of making Congress fix its stupid health care law, to let it go. I will put aside some of the stupidity of the logic, but, let's deal with the law. Now 6 years later, it still has not been fully implemented. The employer mandate has yet to implemented and the President is still ferociously carving and exempting people from the law. But this law still is a colossal beast of a law that didn't fix anything.

Most of the people who now have health care could have been accomplished simply by expanding Medicaid. The complete and unnecessary expansion was so, unnecessary. We are now stuck with a monstrous bill that not only congress is able to fix, but even the Supreme Court recognized the pitfalls of letting it fail. The POTUS has essentially created the bill that is "too big to fail"

Take the Confederate Flag Down

I grew up in the Michigan. Growing up I learned the virtues of the this country and learned have an awe of President Abraham Lincoln. As an idealist I fight for the values that he instilled in the Republican Party and the Country. Traveling down south to Savannah, Georgia to visit my brother in-law is a really educational experience. There and many other places, the names of the streets are remnants of the Confederacy. There is a large Confederate war memorial in the big square. In the same breath many places are named after Lincoln. It was him, who saved the city from Sherman's march.

Wait, a Confederate soldier memorial? This is something so bizarre, the last time I checked, they lost. Lincoln himself was a big proponent of allowing people who fought for the confederacy to slip back into society as one under one flag. The war was over slavery, but also over ONE flag. That flag is the Stars and Stripes.

Just like we try and have immigrants integrate, we must finally put the Civil War behind us. No more, war of northern aggression. The Civil War is over and we must integrate. The flags should be put away and the prejudices must be shelved. We should also continue to integrate and allow blacks to fulfill the American dream that Lincoln led and so many people died for. I hope that the events and the accomplishments of taking the flag down across the southern United States is a symbol, that no matter how long it takes, we will always live up to the ideals of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

No Politics, Just Prayer

Yesterday we watched in horror the aftermath of the South Carolina Church shooting. A young racist asshole walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a bible study and murdered 9 black learners. Their crime was being black in the eyes of he shooter.

One of the more touching moments was watching the South Carolina governor hold back tears at the carnage. You see, I think the most important aspect about yesterday was that both black and white people were outraged, shocked, saddened and sickened. As a religious Jew I looked at the biographies of the martyrs and thought about how many orphans were left behind. The shooter in many ways brought Americans together in prayer.

And while I am tempted to share political thoughts. The only thing that should be expressed at this time are words of encouragement and love for the victims and their family. I pray that the carnage that happened inside that Church is not reflected on the true nature of the American soul. I pray that all citizens of this great nation unite to uplift a broken community. I pray that we show any person who wished to divide us along color barriers that they are wrong.

I hope that anyone who reads this considers doing something positive in memory of those who were murdered while studying bible. Even if you are not religious consider learning for a few minutes.

Following Detroit

In case you live outside of Southeast Michigan, let me catch you up to speed on what just happened in Wayne County and why you need to know. Wayne County is the home to the City of Detroit. As you may know, Detroit just exited from bankruptcy and is hopefully on its way back to financial stability. Unfortunately, for as bad financially Detroit was, the County is in even worse condition. It has a 45 million dollar structural deficit. It has a tremendous amount of corruption and slush funds. While the blame can easily be placed on horrendous Democratic leadership, more blame should be placed on businessmen who essentially stole from the county as well.

Today Wayne County finally declared a financial emergency. All the years of corruption finally took its toll. It took a new leader who was not afraid to reach out to Governor Rick Snyder and ask for the tools necessary.

The long history of theft in that county is sad but a lesson can learned. Cooperation for the greater good of the citizens. Executive Warren Evans is a black democrat and the Governor is a white Republican. And the only reason to mention that is to show that race actually does NOT matter. We are all citizens of the great state of Michigan and we want everyone to succeed. The last Executive was white who allegedly stole and created endless opportunities of corruption for whites to steal from the black citizens of Wayne County. That is a different story.

I commend Warren Evans and have been impressed and hope he is able to do what is necessary to pull Wayne County out of financial despair and lead it to prosperity.

Why we need to slow down on Race

Since Ferguson attention has been focused both on Race and the militarization of local police. The media presentation of the numerous incidents that followed, Staten Island, Baltimore, McKinney etc.....  Seemed to follow a scenario of white officer using force against persons of color which in turn created condemnation against the police and in several of the incidents rioting and looting of the area ensued.  Again as portrayed in media saw a rush to judgment for or against the Police along racial lines. Unfortunately what gets lost is common ground. No one wants rogue officers to literally get away with murder or for innocent people, police and others to be wrongly accused or reputation irreparably maligned.

By fitting each event in to similar scenario effectively precludes the operation of justice.  "Hands Up Don't Shoot" survives but the grand jury or the US Department of Justice finding no basis to charge the officer involved is lost. The State's Attorney in Baltimore rushing to charge the officers without serious investigation  may result in acquittals all around. Which in turn will gloss over the looting and destruction that followed the event.

Part of the anger against the police is the use of surplus military materials like weapons, tactical clothing and vehicles. Use of these items by local police against  protesters only serves to heat up a situation to the boiling point. Providing these items to local law enforcement it is argued only encourages their use. In fairness it may not be appropriate to outfit every local or county police department as a para-military organization.  However, in America's largest cities and those jurisdictions on the border having military grade materials and weapons are necessary to protect the public. Places like New York or LA or on the border the reality is the public is exposed to military level threats and therefore a military style response capacity is necessary. It is doubtful such needs exist in every community.

A further issue is the seeming complicity between media desperate for content to fill a 24 hour news cycle and self appointed leaders who descend on a location seeing an opportunity to assert their relevance by working to incite or otherwise exploit situation. Spokespersons hold news conferences  and make pronouncements devoid from and unaffected by the truth. The immediate choosing of sides causes otherwise well meaning people to make up their mind to attack or defend at the expense of justice. Any meaningful discussion about race is silenced and replaced with suspicion and stereotypes. Demands for equality to mitigate White Privilege and income inequality or the casting of all persons of color as being in sympathy with rioters and looters  destroying their own neighborhood.  Driven by stake holders in government, media and the public the divide only becomes deeper and understanding, healing and resolution remain all the more remote.

When in doubt, run for office

And that is how it all started. I had been involved in the Republican Party for a few years. I helped on the Jews for George campaign. I went to meetings, I was helping but there was more, I wanted to be someone, something. I felt the best way to be involved was to try and join the board of the party and see what I could do. I am the ultimate optimist. The easiest way to join the board locally was to run for office. This guaranteed you a spot. And with that I set off on the quest to run for public office. I ended up with a primary opponent. An older gentleman with a strong Detroit last name. I knocked on thousands of doors. I worked my ass off. In the end, I lost.

I lost? How in the heck did I lose?

I regained my composure and carried on. People liked my tenacity and my optimism. Something that I hope I never lose. And with that I tried again. This time I got a few of my friends to run. This time my primary opponent turned out to be super easy to beat. There was no opponent. I was ready for the general. I went into the heart of Democratic territory. I knocked on thousands of doors, sent out a mailing. I was rocking. In the end, I lost.

I had no clue how strong the local Democratic party was locally.

Even so, I had my spot on the board, I was determined to make a difference. I joined the board and immediately got to work. We elected a new chairman who was going to help recruit more candidates. Quickly, it became apparent that he was not interested in such things.

The next election cycle I took a step back and have long since learned the best way to get something done is not to wait for your party to do something. If you want to get something accomplish, go and find the willing participants and do it. If local elections intrigues you, the easiest way to get on the board is to run for office. I think everyone in their lifetime should try.

Healthcare's epic battle: If the GOP wins they still lose.

Healthcare does not have the exciting back and forth discussion over federal and state control for nearly twenty years after Reagan’s term. What we witness according to Michael Sparer is, “Over the last 75 years, the nation’s economic and social welfare agenda has grown exponentially, almost always however with a mix of federal and state dollars, and a combination of federal, state, and local administration.”  (Michael Sparer) Though there was an increasing amount of federal control in healthcare throughout each presidency since Roosevelt, at the turn of the century and end of the Clinton administration that failed implementing universal care, there were 44 million Americans, 16 % of the nation, with no health insurance at all.(pbs.org) Healthcare remained stagnant for nearly a decade until President Barack Obama who campaigned on more access and better quality to healthcare who delivered on his promise.

In 2009, Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care across party lines besides the five republicans in the senate who voted in favor. It became a divisive piece of legislation that fueled talk shows and spirited debates across the country. The ACA‘s path led to the Supreme Court in the landmark case, NFIB v. Selibus. The court ruled in a 5-4 decision the legislation was constitutional. It denied Congress the right to issue an individual mandate under the Commerce Clause, but did  uphold it as a tax.(CSG) The court found the law was constitutional  due to The Power  to Regulate Interstate Commerce , The Power to Tax and  Spend  for  the General Welfare, The Power  to enact Necessary  and  Proper  Enforcement Legislation  found in Article I, Section 8 in the US Constitution.(CAC) 

After the NFIB v. Selibus ruling many thought the case was over. This was until this past month; the Supreme Court shocked the political world and agreed to listen to a case lawmakers say would cripple the ACA. The case under review is King v. Burwell that argues whether the federal government can offer health insurance subsidies to individuals in the states that opted to not create insurance exchanges. Currently, anyone who is eligible for subsidies can receive them on the state or federal plan. The Roberts court which in some cases is unpredictable could rule and interpret the law as patients who are eligible for the subsidies only receive them if they reside in a state exchange state. If in fact this happens, this would undercut a fundamental purpose of the law that helps people who are in states that denied implementing a state exchange. If the ACA is struck down it would be on purely interpretation of the writing, not the constitutionality of the law. It would also add greater pressure on states without a state exchange to enact reforms to help their citizens who will not have insurance again an estimated 11.3 million. Eighty-seven percent of people who signed up on federal-run exchange received subsidies. If states then cannot pass new reforms, this would likely push more states without choice in the ACA federal control.

With many strong supporters of the ACA, there are many that oppose the controversial law. One in particular is Congressman Steven Palazzo of Mississippi (MS-04). Congressman Palazzo has been one of the loudest opponents against the ACA since it came to the House floor in 2009. Palazzo said, “I've pledged to repeal Obamacare. I've even been endorsed by the Repeal Obamacare PAC. As a Member of Congress I will fight to repeal it, defund it and work to see it overturned in the courts. I will work to enact common sense policy that will not burden future generations with debt or tax small businesses today.”(OntheIssues) Palazzo and his Republican members voted to repeal the ACA as a whole or key measures fifty times in the past three years. (CNN)  Palazzo is a co-sponsor of twenty separate pieces of legislations that repeal the ACA. He also is a co-sponsor of the constitutional amendment the Right to Refuse Amendment that states: “Congress shall make no law that imposes a tax on a failure to purchase goods or services.”  On the Congressman’s website he says, “The significance of the Right to Refuse Amendment is that it would also permanently prevent Congress from passing legislation that forces Americans to choose between the purchase of goods and services or tax penalties” Congressman Palazzo has made the dismantling of the ACA a priority as long as he is a member of Congress. Palazzo is a firm believer in limited government. Throughout his political tenure Palazzo has held a consistent stance on the role of the federal government. Before he was elected to the House of Representatives, he authored a resolution reaffirming the 10th Amendment as a state representative, which properly defines a limited role for the federal government by reserving power for the states. (GOP)

Healthcare has evolved into the most politicized issue within recent memory. It has controlled the airwaves for television pundits, radio broadcasters, and journalists alike yelling for or against the ACA. So what is the best option for America? Should the federal government push to maintain the current system and allow states to have the option to join the exchange at their discretion or should they push for the Universal healthcare plan that was first proposed by President Truman? I believe the ACA should be upheld in its entirety because it is a step in the right direction. It is constitutional due to the fact a conservative Supreme Court upheld the law for the following reasons; The Constitution expressly grants Congress as well the authority to regulate interstate commerce, to tax and spend to “provide for the general Welfare of the United States,” and to enact legislation that is “necessary and proper” to carry out these express powers. Unlike Congressman Palazzo and his allies in Congress who are pushing for nullification and call for the ACA to be repealed because of the unconstitutionality never mention the fact that the Constitution is “the supreme Law of the Land,” which means that state nullification laws are trumped by federal law. Congress acted within its constitutional powers when it passed health care reform, and the misguided attempts by politicians to challenge the Act are more political theater than genuine constitutional argument.(CAC)

Personally, one option I support for the healthcare debate to unite would be to offer incentives to states that enter the federal exchange system. Incentives could be offering states extra federal grants for infrastructure, education, or other programs to increase quality for these states that would best suit them. Most importantly, the federal government should create a new governmental institution compiled of federal, state, and local officials that gather data on the implementation implications of the enacted reforms. This new entity could collect data on interstate variation, consider whether and when such variation is appropriate, and propose policies that are responsive to such findings. Since the inception of healthcare it has been administered by a complicated intergovernmental partnership, and has implemented in a nation in which health care systems vary significantly between and within states.  Acknowledging and responding to these variables is a critical component of a successful health reform agenda.(Michael Sparer) With these  type of consistencies, cooperative federalist and new federalist meshed identities could lead to a solution for healthcare which could succeed with a “state laboratory experiment” agenda intertwined to a three tier intergovernmental body for the proper solutions.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Recently it came up in conversation how public school teachers often have to spend money out of pocket. The out of pocket expenses are not for extras to give a classroom some style.  The particular teacher was buying  items like pencils, crayons and paper.

There are myriad issues connected with "fixing public schools " adequate funding of schools, raising  expectations of student achievement by parents and teachers, family stability etc. . . But if children do not have paper and pencils they cannot function.

The simple solution would be a EBT type card for school supplies. Or vouchers sponsored by vendors  distributed either through the schools or human services.

Why is this not being done?

Abortion: The Easy Topic to Avoid

This may come as a shock to some, but not all religions view abortion in the same strict manner as Christianity. But before we get into some of the very interesting theological divides, let's start with some basic facts.

-In nearly all 50 states, if you harm an animal, you are either facing a misdemeanor or many years in prison.

-A fetus is a live (potential) being.

Now the theological and political. Abortion has always been a very hot topic. Please don't misunderstand me, abortion is an abhorrent thing and the wholesale practice of it is extremely gross. All life should be viewed as precious. I think this what moves me to call for the absolute destruction of ISIS in order for people in Iraq and the Middle East can live in peace. it bothers me tremendously that we are more bothered by the destruction of potential human life, but are very blasé about Radical Islam.

I also appreciate the fact that many Christians view abortion as murder.

However, there are religions that view it not as murder but as killing of a potential life. And while I would agree that wholesale abortion is a terrible blemish and has a detriment on society, that does not mean that we should outlaw the practice. The Jewish view differentiates between murder and killing. Murder is done on a living human. The killing of a fetus, no matter what stage is the killing of a potential human life. I know that may not sit well with many people and goes against what many believe. But, when a Republican candidate gets the Right to Life questionnaire and does not get the nomination based on Christianity's view of abortion it does not help the great Republican Party. We become narrowly focused.

I am not asking anyone to give up their beliefs or to stop fighting and educating how bad abortion is. What I am asking for is for people recognize that if I don't have the same strict views does not mean that I am pro abortion. I just want to not this be the focal issue. We lose many good candidates and easy elections because of this.


With that being said, if you are a sadist, go into abortion and avoid kicking dogs.

Civility in Civil Service

This week we saw the contrast between two civil servants of similar political perspective who are worlds apart when it comes to civility.

At the Livingston County Republican Dinner in Howell Michigan, Ted Cruz Senator from Texas and Presidential hopeful made a joke that he has made many times before.

He mocks Vice President Biden to get some cheap laughs, but given that the Vice President had just lost his beloved son Beau to cancer just days before the joke didn't go over so well. When questioned by a reporter afterwards he just walked away. While he did apologize later on Facebook (seemingly after his political team pointed out the problem) the fact that he thought it was a good idea in the first place is disturbing.
 
But let's go back a few weeks to one of the many speeches he gave before the latest Biden family tragedy. Was the joke a good one then? Does it make a substantive point? I understand the value of being entertaining in a political speech, but do we really need to do so at the expense of mocking others with seemingly no purpose? 
 
Let's contrast that with the video of another rookie Senator:

 

In this video Senator Cotton responds to a father with strong views about the War on Terror, with compassion. Senator Cotton doesn't back down from his views, but he also recognizes the grief behind the position of this hero father who has sacrificed so much for our country.
 
Senator Cruz's comments betray a contempt that he holds for a dedicated public servant who has sacrificed for this country, just because they have a different view of what is best for America. Senator Cotton respects that sacrifice with compassion, but maintains his disagreement in a compassionate way. 
 
It is impossible to be effective as a national leader when you lack compassion for those who disagree with you. It is essential to look for the best intentions of those on the other side since that understanding will help one be a more effective advocate for the right position.  
 
When we choose our leaders we need to look for people who are civil, it should be the first thing we look for even before we consider whether we agree with them. Our country based in the principles of discourse and democratic dialogue deserves leaders with compassion and understanding. We should do all we can to reject those who find honor in the mocking of others.

It's as simple as that

What has the political leadership done for the Deep South in the past five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Fifty years? The answer is simply nothing in terms of way of life. Children's future are bleaker than they were when I was in high school. Their emotionalism leadership has brainwashed generations of voters into the most bitter voters we've seen since the 1960's which is when this emotionalism leadership began. Slowly but surely many have found out that since these officials have stepped into office it was never about their family needs or what they needed in the state they call home. It's about the self-interest. The total disregard and lack of empathy that the leadership has succumb to in Washington.

The Deep South has realized it's time for a change regardless of what letter is next to the name. They are tired of seeing their state stay in the same hole it's been in for decades all because of political brinksmanship. They now know that conservative ideas will not save them, nor liberal ideas are the perfect solution to the problem, but new and innovative ideas that will not only bring hope but results in the education, and healthcare system in their state(s); Two crucial issues that need to be addressed in their region.

It's not about who has the perfect solution it's about getting something done so our kids will have a brighter future, and you won't have to worry about not having enough money to pay your doctor bill or getting groceries this week. We need leadership who won't disregard the sick and unfortunate who cannot obtain basic healthcare in the name of politics. Their leadership is too worried about their elitist buddies in DC might think instead of doing what they vowed to do when elected, to help and serve the people of their districts and states to be our voice, not their own.

The people of this forgotten region deserves better, and if we expect it from our leaders shouldn't we expect it from theirs as well. We are the "United States" for a reason right? It's time we help elect leaders and not corporate sponsors. A strong new type of leadership who will listen to the people of South and fight for what they want in Washington. They want to change but in a region where the good ole boy system is alive and well as ever before we need to fight with them to help change the place they call home. It's as simple as that.

5 Ways Republicans Can Win Elections

Some people have pointed out and rightfully so that in many of my articles I spend a fair amount of time complaining without laying real solutions. In my last post I spoke about the ongoing war in the Oakland County Republican Party. In fact it was highlighted nationally by the grandstanding of Senator Rand Paul. Generally speaking my view is that the role of the government is to protect its citizens, follow the constitution and provide the greatest opportunity to all for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Sounds easy right? In order for any of this to work there has to be a restoration of trust in Government. Currently it stands at under 20%.

1. Republicans must restore faith and trust in government. Grandstanding and not passing basic budgets do more to not only hurt the party, but it hurts the country. Republicans must show that they care for the country above their political future. This is a long term issue that is first and foremost. Unless faith and trust is restored, nothing else will matter.

2. All politics is local. In each state there are two or three main counties that have a major impact on the outcome of State and National elections. Most of these are Urban Counties that the party ignores. In Michigan it in Oakland County, which is not an urban county, but the urban areas are largely ignored. The reason for the failure of Republicans there is a top down approach. Most people want to be listened to. A good start for the Republican party is to hold open forums with its delegates and listen. Don't argue, don't dismiss, bring people into the fold.

3. Show up to events. Broad outreach can only be done face to face. In order to show people you care, you actually have to care. There are plenty of events in Republican strongholds that candidates love to show up to. But there are many others that they avoid and frankly, people notice! One short but very powerful example. When I ran as a candidate locally, I went to a council meeting in Royal Oak Township. When I introduced myself as the Republican candidate, I was laughed at, out loud. I stood my ground and told them I was there just to listen. I received more votes from the township than George Bush that year. Target the 4th of July parades in heavily democratic districts, people will notice.

4. Understand the words that are coming out of your mouth. Many republicans avoid the media because they feel that their words are being distorted. Sometimes that is true. But many times, people say really stupid things. Republicans are held to a higher standard because, the party itself holds itself to a higher standard. Here is the easy part, don't say anything bigoted, racist, sexist or homophobic. That doesn't mean you can't have an opinion, please do, but present it from an honest and caring viewpoint.

Here is the harder one. Many rail against public transportation, busing and say how much money is wasted. While most agree they can be run more efficiently, the people who take public transportation are poor and need it to feed their families and pursue the American dream. By being so short sited, leaves people to realize that you really don't care about them at all. Republicans must want everyone to succeed.

5. Don't ignore the media. If you are uncomfortable going on camera and afraid of being blasted, create relationships with them. Have a meeting and buy them a beer, give them a scoop. If you scratch their back, they will help you. Avoiding the media altogether will only perpetuate them working against you.

I hope that this gives a clearer view to all candidates and party officials on an easy outline to win elections. Focusing on the restoring trust by listening is the easiest way to earn votes. It is probably why the first Republican, Abraham Lincoln called it a government by the people for the people.