Category Archives: NATIONAL ISSUES

Neil Gorsuch Nomination A Supreme Issue

United States Supreme Court

The nomination of Neil Gorsuch to serve on the United States Supreme Court brings our nation to a fork in the road.  To the left, we have proponents of judicial activism, to the right we have constitutional originalists.  The road forward is currently under construction with unions of leadership keeping an eye on self-promotion and positioning for public opinion to enhance their personal goals.  The perils of politics are the real potholes in our path.

Our Constitution designates three branches of government.  The Legislative Branch has the responsibility to enact our laws, the Executive Branch is responsible to administers and enforce the laws.  The Judicial Branch is responsible to interpret the law as written.  The Executive and Legislative body are elected.  To provide a degree of checks and balances the Judicial Branch is nominated by the Executive Branch, and Appointed by the Legislative Branch.

This brings us back to our fork in the road where the originalists would favor a candidate that would attempt to interpret the words of the Constitution as they were understood at the time they were written.  Whereas the judicial activist would interpret the Constitution as a living document basing interpretation with consideration for personal or political considerations and climate of the day.

If the legislative branch is active and responsive to their constituents the laws that are written will not require judicial activism to interpret as they will directly reflect the will of the voters.  The originalist will only interpret the actual content of the legislative branch and concurrence would be common on Supreme Court.

Judicial activism is the result of those in the legislative branch failing to recognize their responsibility and abdicating their role to an appointed judiciary, often chosen with the intent to do what those elected have neither the courage or character to fight for or accomplish lest they jeopardize their own re-election. It only exists because of legislative cowardice by those lacking a profile of courage and character holding office.

The true change of direction our nation needs is found in those that support judicial activism from the Legislative Branch.  In Connecticut that means finding replacements for Senator Murphy and Blumenthal.  It means finding candidates willing to stand with courage to advocate for their constituents and not depending on a judicial activist to enact an agenda from the judicial bench.  Senators supporting Neil Gorsuch understand their role and responsibility something both Blumenthal and Murphy have yet to learn.

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Shakespeare, Trump and the IRS

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The internet, newspapers, and talk radio are awash with debate, comment and opinion concerning Donald Trump’s tax returns.  What is all the fuss about?  Why such concern?  Consider this, it may well be it has little to do with his return and more to do with politics and perception.

We all pay taxes and most people would like to pay less and many people would like to have some people pay more.  The tax topic has been a hot button issue in the Democratic primary but the reality of their policies doesn’t nearly match their rhetoric.  (More on that later)

Hillary calling out Donald Trump over taxes creates a diversion from the real issues of the Presidential campaign and frankly his tax return is of little substantive value in considering him as a candidate.  How many of people so upset over not yet seeing his tax return have the tax knowledge to understand how to prepare such a return?  I am absolutely certain Donald Trump does not sit down on April 14th and write up his own return or his form 1040.

The only real question should be did he pay taxes as required by law?  He says, he is currently being audited by the IRS, ok that seems realistic considering the complexity of the return a person of wealth may have.  There are thousands of pages in the tax code and legal opinions vary as to some regulations so an audit review does not seem unreasonable.

As voters our real question and concern should be did he legally file a return based on legal interpretation of the IRS code.  The answer will be judged by the IRS auditors and that could take a considerable amount of time.  Unless the law is broken a candidate’s tax return proves little more than the fact they or their tax preparer complied with the tax laws.

Frankly the amount of tax Donald Trump paid or did not pay should be more a problem for the Democratic Party than Donald Trump.  It is a matter of record, the Democrats had control of both the House and the Senate in addition to the White House during the first Obama term.   Therefore, if Trump followed the law and passes the audit he has followed the tax code the Democrats either endorsed or did not chose to change.  Hence there should be no question or concern with his return but there could well be many questions about the Democratic Party actions that set the rules for Trump to follow in preparation of his return.

Some folks are pointing out some other Presidents have disclosed their tax returns and Richard Nixon disclosed his during an audit.  It matters little if any candidate for any office discloses their tax returns it is not a requirement for office and for that matter it is not a normal requirement for any employment application.  That being said, it is common for any employer to ask for a college transcript and yet our current President had his college transcript sealed to hide the facts from public disclosure.  Many of those making a fuss over Trump’s taxes showed little concern for Obama’s transcript.

Hillary asking about Trump’s tax return brings to mind, Hamlet and the words of Queen Gertrude when she said, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”  Shakespeare was a wise and complex playwright and perhaps if he were alive today he would pen a play about this tax issue and call it Much Ado About Nothing Part II.

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The Quilt

Sewing a quilt, more than just stitching, it delivers a message.

Sewing a quilt, more than just stitching, it delivers a message.

It was a rainy late September evening when the ladies gathered in the community room of the Congregational church, woman of different faiths and traditions.  A collection of mostly older woman, it appeared to be a gathering of grandmothers.  They had come together with the idea of making a community quilt to sell for charity.

Agnes, a woman of eighty, tried to run the meeting as best she could but everyone had an opinion and many were intransigent.  Coming together with a meeting of the minds on a single quilt was soon tossed aside and it was decided they would meet through the winter and each would work on their own quilt.  The idea soon morphed into a spring quilt show.  Mabel was the oldest and sat quietly off to the side.

Each week through the winter the group would gather share stories and hand sew another patch or two to their quilts.  Mabel watched, said little and only sewed on small patches each week.  As the other quilts grew in size the others realized Mabel was doing things a little different.

Mildred soon reached out to Mabel and asked if she needed helpMabel simply explained, “My hands are frail and I sew a little slower now, so each week I come to enjoy the company, and work only on parts for my quilt.  During the week I sew each of the pieces slowly together at home when I can think about the meaning of each new patch and how it fits, into the total picture, it would be hard for me to haul the quilt here each week.’

The cold New England winter nights were warmed by the chatter and laughter as the women stitched.  Olga was proud of the progress with her Scandinavian design, she had learned to quilt at her grandma’s table.  Anne was creating a tribute to her granddaughter and her love of flowers.   Holly thought her town historical theme would surely win grand prize.   Nobody paid much attention to the little squares of cloth Mabel slowly sewed, they were more consumed by their own quilts and the appearance of their neighbor’s quilt.

On the last Saturday of May just before Memorial Day the woman all arrived early at the community room, each to hang their quilt for the afternoon show.  There was a buzz in the air, as each lady hung her finished quilt, the judging would be at noon.  At 11:00 Rachael noticed Mabel’s spot was empty and word quickly passed as thoughts of concern spread from mouth to ears.

At 11:20 a tall young man with a big box opened the door.  There coming slowly up the steps was Mabel, “I hope I am not too late, I just could not carry my quilt”.  She showed her grandson where to put the quilt and asked if he could be the one to hang it.  “I want the next generation to understand, who we are” she said.

He opened the box and ever so gently with reflection of reverence he lifted the quilt sewn by his grandmother’s frail hands and hung it up for all to see.  The room fell silent, as the others gathered around, before them was more than a quilt, before them was a work of art, a treasure of perfection.  There was no doubt in anyone’s mind the Grand Champion Blue Ribbon quilt would be Mabel’s.

What hung before them looked like a tribute to America.  A quilt large enough for a king-sized bed, with an American Flag in the four corners, along the borders were the faces of people from different cultures, and ethnicity.  The patches were filled with outlines of each State and patches depicting professionals like firemen, teachers, doctors and barbers.  There were famous American’s like Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant and Ronald Reagan.

The women swelled with pride on being an American, a country so diverse and tolerant, a country more tolerant than the group had been when it first got together.  The display was not complete, for each entry had to be finished and had to have a title card.  It was nearly noon, Mabel’s card was not hung and one square in the middle was covered with a tissue.  Rose asked, “Why it was hung without being finished?”

Mabel smiled and said, “I wanted all of you to see my work without preconceptions, to think about it with an open mind, to understand what a big tent we have in this nation, that we are a sum of our parts, working together to accomplish great things for our great nation”. Voices rang out, we get it, you are so right, and some began to chant USA, USA.

Mabel raised her hands to quiet the crowd, she had only 30 seconds to finish her display.  As her grandson took out a card and pinned it to the top, Mildred tore away the tissue, and with that she yelled, “It is time to come together”.  The card read, “The Republican Party” and the center patch was the face of Donald J. Trump.

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Changing A Generation A Challenge For America

Labor force participation from WSJ

 

 

 

For those old enough to remember the 1950’s you remember the typical American family where, you walked to school, mom stayed home and dad lived with you and had a job. The economy was driven by pent up demand for consumer goods after a World War which brought sacrifice to every home.

 
A lot of men spent their late teens and early 20’s in the harsh conditions of war in Europe or facing vicious brutality in the South Pacific. Their dreams for the future were formulated not within the ivy halls of a university, but in foxholes, and craters of destruction. It was the school of hard knocks, filled with an overdose of reality, an atmosphere that causes a man to grow up fast.

 
When the war was over America had a generation of men that had learned the value of team work, they were full of motivation and dreams. Working hard was not an issue, they had already faced a depression and war, and they knew what it was like to do without. Now was their time and America was their place.

 
Neighborhoods were carved out of farms to satisfy the dreams and demands for home ownership. The camaraderie of military life extended to the neighborhoods where you knew your neighbors, they were a real part of your life. There was a strong moral fabric underlying life in America, people took responsibility for themselves and their neighbors it was the natural thing to do.

 
Today we talk about climate change as if change is something new, academic study will tell us the climate has been in constant change for billions of years. The climate is never static, like the tides and the waves of the sea it forever moves. The more important change we need to discuss is the change in our social fabric, our moral foundation as a nation, by comparison climate change is merely a diversion and distraction.

 
Times change, I get it, and nothing stays the same but the questions I must ask are these, as a society are we changing in the right direction? Are we walking a path of convenience and comfort on the road to complacency and collapse? Have we passed on to the next generation the lessons of life, the moral character and an understanding of their personal responsibility to their family, to their community and yes to their nation?

 
Surely life is different for the youth of today, times have changed. Life has changed and we must change, but because we live in a land of liberty we can choose the change we want, we can dream and walk our own path. The path of life is an individual path of challenge and choice, it is our responsibility to provide a compass for guidance, and to teach the next generation how to choose their path.

 
Increasingly many young people are choosing not to face the challenges, not to take responsibility, not to become part of the fabric that is America. The days of volunteerism and community contribution are fading, and yet the needs continues as we go forward we are coming to a crossroad.

 
Even the basic foundation of self-responsibility is showing signs of crumbling. The labor-force participation rate (the share of people who either have a job or are actively looking for a job) has been dropping for some time. The most alarming trend however is found within the demographics of what should be the most productive workers, those between the ages of 25-54.

 
Make no mistake that trend will have a negative impact on government’s ability to cover the cost of Social Security but that is not the worst of it. No, the larger impact is the social change of not working, not gaining and understanding the values of working, not only financially but the greater values derived from the work experience in an emotional, physical and mental sense.

 

 

The tides of time and weather change, and we have little choice but to adapt to that change. The changes we can control are the changes we make along the path of life and the benefits of experience we pass to the next generation. Changing the direction of Labor-force participation should be a national priority.

 
Taking action and taking the high road will not always easy. Changing the direction of a generation is a challenge but facing the challenges head on has rewards, just ask those from the “greatest generation”. They grew up during a depression, found sacrifice in war and built a nation from experience found in the ashes of destruction, they worked to toward goals founded in hopes and dreams. They did it with hard work and labor-force participation, we need to change in that direction once again.

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A Case of Human Bondage or Fair Share

U. S. Supreme Court 2016

U. S. Supreme Court 2016

Rebecca Friedrichs is having her day in court, not just any court but the highest court of the land, the United States Supreme Court. The basic issue of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association revolves around the fact that teachers in California are required to pay union dues even though they may not belong or agree with the goals or policies of the union.

 
Many union supporters will say it is only fair for Rebecca to pay since she also gets to receive the benefits for which the union negotiates. Union hardcore members say those that do not contribute are “free riders” since they receive the benefits of collective bargaining without having to pay for that service.

 
Rebecca and her co-plaintiffs believe they should not be obligated to support an organization they do not choose to join. The plaintiffs justify their position by pointing out, a person should not be obligated to yield the fruits of their labor to any person or organization with which they fundamentally disagree or choose not to support. Hardcore union opposition would say the current requirement to pay dues as a non-member is nothing short of legalized extortion.

 
We often talk about our “rights” as citizens. Some of our rights are clearly defined within our founding documents, such as the right to a jury trial, and some are rights that have been established in interpretative decisions or later legislative ways such as the right to an abortion. The basic question before the court in this case is to determine if a citizen has a “right to work” unfettered by an obligation to yield financial earnings to others for the privilege of working on a particular job.

 
Society has changed since the founding of this nation, we no longer accept slavery as morally acceptable, we have seen the abuse of sharecroppers, or workers virtually tied to a company stores and we loathe such situations. We prosecute those that would seek profits from human bondage and sexual exploitation of others. We prosecute because both the bondage and the acts are morally abhorrent within our society. Human bondage in any form is abhorrent.

 
Does the issue before the court touch our very core of belief in the rights of mankind? Let us consider a reading from the preamble to our Constitution:

 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 
If it is self-evident, that all mankind is equal and that the Creator has endowed them with the rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness hence, no government under our Constitution can transfer or assign those rights without consent from one citizen to another. In our society today as we enjoy the “liberty” of living in a country with great freedom, working is a means to pursue our happiness to a great degree.

 
Therefore, the “right to work” for every individual should be unencumbered. The time for any citizen to be bound by the chains of obligation to another for the “right to work” should have ceased with the Emancipation Proclamation. Human bondage is immoral in any form. Human bondage is not limited to chains, extortion, and fear but also extends to involuntarily being bound or subjected to some external power or control.

 
A union should not fear or oppose the recognition of the “right to work”. A good union will provide the services which satisfy the needs of workers and workers will still join and support the union for the value it delivers.

 
In criminal law every defendant is entitled to an attorney, it is a right, but not an obligation. We all benefit by virtue of case law on the work of others provided in past cases. We are not “free riders”. If you go to court in any matter you can act pro se, you need not pay dues to any law association or union and yet you have the history of cases available for use. Your “right to work” like your right to legal council is not a privilege for which you must pay it is an unalienable right endowed to you by your Creator.

 
May the Supreme Court recognize the endowment of the Creator and break the chains of bondage restraining the rights of mankind working in pursuit of happiness. May God, once again bless America and the American worker.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

President Barack Obama

President
Barack Obama

When it comes to evaluating gun violence and death in the United States, opinions begin to unify around the belief we have more than a civilized society should. While America may be more divided now by race and politics more than at any other time since World War II we remain unified in our rejection of violence within our society.

 
Our common refrain is peace on earth, goodwill to man, our approach to obtain such a vision is as diverse as it is elusive. Our desire as noble and honorable it may be can be misdirected and detrimental to our goal.

 
Recently President Obama addressed the nation to offer his view on gun violence and his thoughts as to how to address the issue. His personal frustration with Congress and the voice from the “people’s house” he vocalized his thinking and actions. Much of what he said, related to the issue of gun control in some form.

 
Too often solutions to problems are a smoke screen to further an agenda more than to solve the problem. Sometimes the solutions bring more difficulty than the original problem. Sometimes our desire to address a problem is so strong it overrides our judgement and fogs our thinking. This could be just one of those times.

 
The President wants the Department of Health and Human Services “to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.” On the surface this sounds like a reasonable wish, but be careful what you wish for. The object is to limit access to guns for people challenged by mental illness, not to discourage those same folks that need help from seeking treatment.

 
Many times minor problems be they mental or physical start with small issues that if treated early can prevent more serious issues at a later time. When we discourage early treatment for mental illness it is easy to draw the conclusion that we exacerbate the problem and increase the odds of a more serious consequence at a later date.

 
For example if we consider the treatment of depression as a reason to prohibit the possession of a firearm we greatly reduce the number of people allowed to have a firearm but we also provide an reverse incentive to seeking treatment for even a minor issue. The mere treatment for mental illness does not make a person a maniacal psychopath on the edge of violent eruption to harm themselves or others. It is precisely that type of thinking that has created a bias and reluctance for people to seek the help they may so rightly need.

 
Before you jump on the bandwagon to address gun violence by stigmatizing the treatment of mental illness, let us not throw out the baby with the bath water. Let us be careful what we wish for, let us not move forward with thinking fogged by politics or hidden agendas.

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Tax Breaks and Privileges For The Rich Compliments Of President Obama

It was bad enough when we had the cash for clunkers program and subsidized the purchase of new cars with taxpayer money.  Then we gave tax incentives for the rich and privileged to buy hybrid, and alternative fuel automobiles.

The special subsidize to benefit the wealthy on the backs of the common man working every day to make ends meet for his family is nothing new.  The rich and powerful have long enjoyed special privileges.  Just look at the perks afforded federal office holders, congress members exempt from laws they enact, special parking at airports, and over the top health and retirement benefits.

Now the Obama administration crossed the line of decency to provide the rich with another special privilege, preferential parking in National Parks.  The average working family is not driving alternative fuel vehicles or dishing out big dollars for hybrid automobiles.   No those are toys of the rich and privileged and President Obama wants to provide them with another perk, special reserved parking in National Parks and Seashores. 

Limited parking may turn away a working family from a day at the beach but special reserved parking will be available for the drivers in a privileged class.  It was detestable when taxpayers subsidized the purchase of such vehicles but adding another special privilege is abhorrent.

Cape Cod National Seashore Special Parking

Cape Cod National Seashore Special Parking

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