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Reasons for activism

GovernorBillSigning 1bLife is very much like a box; you can keep taking from it but there comes a time when you have to start putting things back into it or else be faced with an empty box or, to extend the analogy, a possibly less-fulfilled life.
That is where activism and advocacy come into play. Advocacy is a means of putting something back into that box of life by doing something that benefits the many and not just the individual, contrary to the Ayn Rand teachings.
My road to becoming an activist came rather late in life. During my rather lengthy federal career I focused on the many challenging issues I was involved in. These included such issues as addressing the security threat created by moving cargo under bond across the nation, especially in the post 9/11 environment, during my time at U.S. Customs.
It included implementing programs designed to more fully unify the more than 22 disparate entities comprising the newly-created umbrella known as the Department of Homeland Security while serving in that department. It included, while at FEMA post Katrina, estimating the needs and identifying the capabilities and resources at the local, state and federal levels prior to the advent of the next great disaster to, thereby, ensure a more effective response and recovery to avoid what is currently happening in Puerto Rico.
It wasn't until I left federal service that I became much more interested in public policy and community service leading to my becoming much more active in raising my voice to influence that public policy. This, to me, is the very definition of the word activism.

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A look back at history through clear glasses

17972 miscellaneous nuclear explosion explosionI am a child of the 1950's and 1960's and have also witnessed the challenges of the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's and where we are now in the 21st century. I experienced the Cold War first-hand and remember quite vividly practicing shelter drills in P.S. 213 by taking cover under my desk in case we were attacked with an atomic bomb. Even at that age I questioned the effectiveness of that particular strategy.
As a student in J.H.S. 166, I remember the anxiety of the nation during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the leadership provided by our young president in addressing the threat to our nation. I remember quite vividly, while in Brooklyn College, the feeling of panic when the student deferment was pulled during the height of the Vietnam War as well as the relief I felt when my lottery number was 272.

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A closer look at the first two amendments to the Constitution

Bill of RightsSome recent events have made it an opportune time to take another look at the first two amendments to the Constitution.
Let's begin with the First Amendment. The First Amendment to the Constitution covers a great deal in very few words. Specifically it 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."
If there is one word that is the most significant among the 44 words that comprise the amendment it is the word "Congress." The amendment is intended to prevent "Congress," and by Congress meaning the government, from enacting laws that would violate an individual's right to practice his or her religion or exercise his or her right to free speech, a free press, assembling peaceably, or petitioning the government.

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Turning rhetoric into action with results

FB IMG 1506084285680There are several reasons to point to as to why Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald J. Trump.
The challenges we face as a nation, however, transcend the election of the most unfit and unqualified candidate ever to run for the office. Certainly it wasn't because of Donald Trump that Democrats lost the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010 or the majority in the Senate in 2014.
The dwindling of influence by the Democratic Party has evolved over years if not decades as is further evidenced by the fact that approximately two-thirds of the state houses and governorships are held by Republicans.
Certainly the gerrymandering of districts has contributed to this imbalance. The 2010 Supreme Court ruling commonly referred to as “Citizens United” which opened the door to big money influence in elections severely contributed to this imbalance of influence among the two major political parties.
So, you ask, what is the remedy? The aftermath of the election of 2016 unleashed pundit after pundit, advising that the Democratic Party must work from the “bottom up.”

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Sentinel Hosts Live Stream Debate Among Democrat Candidates for County Executive on Oct. 16

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE -  The Montgomery County Sentinel will be hosting a live stream debate among the Democrat candidates for County Executive on Monday, Oct. 16, in the Council Hearing Room (third floor) in the County Council Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. 

Brian J. Karem, the executive editor for The Sentinel Newspapers, will moderate the event which is scheduled from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

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Who is the worst President in our history?

Trump Mocking Disabled ReporterMy vote for absolutely worst president in our country's history, to the surprise of no one who routinely reads this column, is none other than Donald J. Trump.
In a mere six months, this individual has been able to become the single greatest embarrassment this country has ever experienced. His inability to craft a coherent sentence with words beyond a third grade level is the least of our concerns.
Of greater concern, much greater concern, is the fact that the single-minded purpose of Trump is to simply undo all that was set in place by his immediate predecessor and, in so doing, undermine so many of the principles and ideals on which this nation was built.

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The Fed isn’t the enemy folks

constitution quill penPrivatization of the federal workforce was a goal of Ronald Reagan during his administration. He convened the Grace Commission to look into how best to do just that. Now, more than thirty years later, the number of contract employees compared to career federal employees approaches a five to one ratio.
Clearly, there are some benefits to contracting out some very skill-specific functions, but the value of a properly staffed and experienced federal workforce should not be taken lightly. Nor should a dedicated federal workforce that is sworn to uphold the Constitution and not the profit motive of the company winning a federal contract be something that is taken for granted.
Placing the burden of the federal deficit on the shoulders of the federal workforce is doing exactly that and is certainly not cost effective.

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Hindsight and the 2020 election

PhoropterThe 2020 presidential election seems like a far off event even though it cannot come soon enough. In politics, as we all know, it is never too late to speculate, especially when it comes to the Democratic candidate. Who should it be?
To answer that question we must first speculate who the Republican opponent will be. Yes, it is likely that it would be the current president, but, unlike most previous elections, incumbency is certainly no guarantee.

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Raskin shines the light on government darkness

 

Jamie Raskin Paul Schwartz 0370I recently had the opportunity to listen to Congressman Jamie Raskin address the Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County and provide some insight into the current political climate.
If you are one of the many Democrats who wake up each morning wondering how a Trump presidency could have happened, how a man so unfit for office could be living in the White House, whether there is any reason for hope, then hearing Raskin's presentation would have provided you with some level of comfort, maybe even inspiration.
Congressman Raskin made it clear that we are living in troubling times with the administration of one Donald J. Trump. However, the congressman also made it clear that it is the Constitution that gives us hope that our democratic ideals will ultimately win out and protect American values.

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Pee-wee Herman and today's political scene

pee wee herman

 

“I know you are, but what am I?” are the famous words of man-child Pee-wee Herman when caught in a heated argument. Should there really be any surprise that this is the same reaction of the other famous man-child, Donald J. Trump, when he reacts to those who question his fitness for the presidency or the actions he takes as president?

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