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Paul's View

Redistributing the wealth the old-fashioned Donald Trump way…

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D).  PHOTO BY PAUL K. SCHWARTZRep. Jamie Raskin (D).     PHOTO BY PAUL K. SCHWARTZWhenever a Democratic administration attempts to raise the tax rate on the ultra-wealthy among us in an attempt to get them to pay their fair share of the tax burden you will inevitably hear the cries of “redistribution of wealth,” followed by the ultimate buzz word, “socialism.”
Well, the recently-enacted Republican federal tax plan does exactly that, it redistributes wealth. HOWEVER, it does so in a new and innovative way by shifting financial resources from the highly-taxed, so-called “blue” states such as Maryland, New York, Connecticut, California, and New Jersey to the so-called “red” states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama to name just a few.
An individual in Mississippi who ordinarily takes the standard deduction on his federal return will see that deduction rise from the first $12,000 to the first $24,000. Big windfall.
In Maryland, an individual who ordinarily itemizes (because in such a highly-taxed state, state and local taxes are a major item to deduct), those middle class deductions, according to the federal tax plan, are either no longer allowed or significantly capped. Disaster!

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Let the record speak for itself

MadalenoState Senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Madaleno.          PHOTO BY PAUL K. SCHWARTZAs we approach Election Day 2018 next November as well as the primary in June it is important to understand all that is at stake in that more than likely transitional game-changing election. Certainly the Congressional elections across the country will be critical if there is any hope of undoing the damage to this country resulting from the Trump presidency.
Also critical to Maryland is who we place in the Governor's office to lead us in addressing many of the federal-level decisions that had direct impact on our state as well as implementing a long-term vision for our state.
I had the opportunity to sit down with State Senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Madaleno to discuss the challenges faced by Maryland and why he is confident that he is in the best position to lead us forward. I was more than pleased with what I heard.

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Is there a doctor in the house?

NFL ProtestsAdmittedly I am not a doctor. I never attended medical school. I never even played a doctor on television. I did stay too many times to count at a Holiday Inn Express, but somehow I still don't consider myself a doctor.
However, I do receive numerous emails every single day. Several hundred for that matter and I am not even Secretary of State. How Hillary Clinton kept up with all of her emails is beyond me. I recently received an email regarding ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Maybe the sender got confused with the concept of the deficit in light of the recently passed Republican tax plan.
Anyway, I decided to take a look at the information out of curiosity and discovered something quite alarming. The president of the United States may very well be struggling with ADHD. As a matter of fact, this president may be afflicted with a great many more afflictions than just ADHD.

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Setting the record straight for 2017

20170712 152519After an entire year of Trump in the Oval Office, it might just be the right time to set some of the record straight as we enter his second year in office. Let's begin with the oft-heard phrase “see something, say something” as an essential element of the war on terrorism. In his very own words during the presidential campaign: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
In essence, Trump is identifying an entire religious group as a threat to the security of the United States. The reality, of course, is that most, if not almost all, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are conducted by homegrown terrorists who either entered the country legally or were actually born in the U.S. but became “radicalized” years after entering the United States. This reality necessitates the need to have those familiar with the activities of terrorists prior to the attack say something when they see something.
Problem: Is ostracizing an entire religious community conducive to encouraging the members of that religious community to “say something when they see something?” Certainly not conducive; more likely counterproductive, but that is the Trump way!

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A view of a National Shield Law for the press

20171114 104122Some weeks back I decided to sit in on the House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions. Having attended previous Congressional hearings with the Attorney General as the key witness, I didn't expect much in terms of new or enlightening testimony regarding the Russian meddling in our election probe and I was certainly not disappointed or, rather, pleasantly surprised by his testimony or lack thereof.
His responses to questions dealing with Russia and the inconsistencies in his previous testimony before Congress consisted of either “I do not recall,” or “I am not at liberty to discuss.” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York put it best when he asked AG Sessions if he realized that in previous testimony he used the “I don't recall” response more than 30 times and today he used it more than 20 times to which AG Sessions responded that he “didn't recall.”
What compounded the frustration was that the hearing felt like two separate hearings conducted at the same time with only one witness; half of the inquisitors dealt with Russia while the other half conducted a hearing on Hillary Clinton. I'll let you figure out which side of the aisle focused on Russia and which side focused on Hillary.
As a somewhat regular attendee at the White House daily press briefings I am quite familiar with Sarah Huckabee Sanders' keen ability to never actually answer a question and, rather, always respond with a set of talking points regardless of the nature of the question being asked. It is an uncanny ability when you add to it the fact that it is always done with a straight face. Truly impressive if also truly frustrating. I have at times yelled out “answer the question” but without any success.
However, this Judiciary Committee hearing turned out not to be a complete waste of my time and not just because it turned out to be rather entertaining. It is because, as we found our way through the so many committee members and their questions which, the longer the proceeding went the more repetitive the questions became, we finally arrived at questions from our own Congressman Jamie Raskin.

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A storm of bullets

20171206 095558Have you ever been caught unexpectedly in a downpour without your umbrella? Of course you have. We all have.
Now imagine that you are attending an open air concert and the skies open up but instead of being drenched with rain you are caught in a hailstorm of bullets coming from above. That is what happened several weeks ago at a concert in Las Vegas to hundreds of concert goers resulting in the slaughter of 58 innocent music lovers and the wounding of another 500.
Add to this catastrophe the slaughter of some 26 innocent church goers in Sutherland Springs, Texas during Sunday morning services as the walls of their church were riddled with bullets and you have the beginning of a long-awaited dialogue in Congress to finally do something to stem the tide of unfettered gun violence in this country.
On December 6th the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing to discuss the merits of two gun safety bills.

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A New Face In The Crowd

Alec RossIn the aftermath of the national disaster known as the 2016 presidential election, cries among Democrats were heard throughout the nation for new faces with new ideas. I believe I found one such new face when I sat down with Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross to discuss his campaign, his vision for Maryland and how he plans to apply his experience to turn that vision into a reality for Maryland.
I began the questioning asking him how he distinguishes his experience from the experience of the other candidates, namely the administrative experience of County Executives Rushern Baker and Kevin Kamenetz, the state legislative resume of State Senator Rich Madaleno and the national exposure of former head of the NAACP Ben Jealous.

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Playing "Hardball" with Chris Matthews

20171025 1407530During a recent luncheon hosted by the Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County, the packed crowd of more than 175 attendees was provided the opportunity to play a little “hardball” with MSNBC's host of Hardball, Chris Matthews. Chris served as luncheon guest speaker but not to discuss the usual politics.
Rather, he was there to discuss his new book “Bobby Kennedy – A Raging Spirit.” I had the pleasure of attending and listen to Chris talk admiringly about an individual I, too, admire greatly.
Interestingly, so much of what he covered has relevance in today's politics.

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And it really should be equal justice for all

Accused of sexual misconductHollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, film director James Toback, comedian Louis C.K., Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore, longtime U.S. Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, veteran broadcast journalist and TV host Charlie Rose, Fox News egoist Bill O'Reilly, comedy icon Bill Cosby, and President Donald J. Trump.
These are names on the list of high-profile individuals who have been recently accused of sexual misconduct and the list seems to be growing with new revelations every single day. Sexual misconduct is not and should not ever be acceptable today or in any society or period of time.
However, just like any other inappropriate behavior there are gradations of severity and heinousness and all should not necessarily be painted with the same broad brush. The penalty should fit the crime.

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Welcome to the ‘Never mind Obama, it’s all about me’ Donald Trump presidency

Pres. Obama 12 31 12I can remember quite vividly the days during the 2016 presidential when Hillary Clinton was portrayed as a “third term of Obama.” Considering the current disaster in the White House, a third Obama term would be quite welcome and be a major step in returning some dignity to the American presidency.
When considering what was accomplished by President Obama during a time in which the Republicans held a majority in both houses of Congress as compared to a Trump administration which has the benefit of that same Republican majority in both houses, one can only be amazed at the magnitude of the difference.

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