Archive from March, 2012
30 Mar
2012
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Newt is Right

I have to admit that I have never been a big fan of former Speak Newt Gingrich.  While I do believe that it was his leadership and the Republican controlled Congress (as opposed to President Clinton) that lead to the terrific economic expansion of the 1990s and the near elimination of the national debt, I have always found the former Speaker’s style to be less than, shall we say, polished and diplomatic.

Having said that, I still have greatly enjoyed following his 2012 presidential campaign.  Speaker Gingrich is obviously a very intelligent individual and possesses great debating skills.  His rebukes of the national media were spot on.  And, finally, whether you like him or not or whether if you agree with him or not, he clearly has a lot of interesting things to say.

As someone who was a boy during the Apollo years, one of his proposals that I found most interesting involved building a permanent base on the moon.  If you recall, when he made that proposal, he was universally mocked.  His opponents and the media called it a “hair-brained scheme” with no chance or basis in reality given our current economic condition.

It’s hard to believe that this reaction came from the same America that tamed the West, won the Cold War and put a man on the moon.  Sure, times are tough but that does not mean we can’t still have big dreams and goals.  Speaker Gingrich proposed bringing private enterprise into the mix, thereby truly opening up space to commercialization and privatization.  We used to call proposals like that “visionary” and “challenges worthy of our efforts” not hair-brained schemes and dumb ideas.  Many of our greatest undertakings were accomplished during tough economic times, particularly when we opened up the challenge to the private sector.  Perhaps Speaker Gingrich does not have the eloquence that President Kennedy had in the 1960s when he challenged us to put a man on the moon (he certainly doesn’t have the support and adoration of the media that Kennedy had) but he has a vision and has called on Americans to think outside the box and rethink our ideas about the exploitation of space.  Our nation needs to encourage, not discourage, such forward thinkers.  It is time again that we realize that the biggest obstacle to our ability to achieve great things comes not from economic statistics but from the naysayers and doubters among us who prefer to maintain the status quo.  If he contributed anything to the debate in this cycle, Speaker Gingrich reminded us that if we are to achieve great things, then we need to dream and imagine a nation not bound by the mundane constraints that will always exist.  In short, Speaker Gingrich reminded us that, as Americans, we should always remember to think big.

Joseph Mendola, a native New Yorker and a graduate of Columbia Law School was the 2009 Republican candidate for NYC Comptroller.  He received nearly 200,000 votes, the most of any Republican running for office in NYC in 2009 except for Michael Bloomberg.  Joe is licensed to practice law in New York, New Jersey and Florida. He works in the securities industry and holds 10 different FINRA sponsored licenses.  A direct survivor of 9/11, Joe lives with his 2 young children in one of America’s greatest liberal bastions, New York City’s Greenwich Village.  He may be reached at jmendolanyc@aol.com.

29 Mar
2012
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man•date

[man-deyt] noun a command or authorization to act in a particular way on a public issue 

I guess that you would have to be living under a rock not to know that this week the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the constitutionality of the mandate provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or, as it is more commonly known, Obamacare).  The act requires (i.e. forces or mandates) people to buy health insurance or be subject to a monetary penalty.

When all the hyperbole and posturing is set aside, the essential question before the Court is: does the federal government have the power to force people to buy a particular product (in this case health insurance).  Let’s stop for a moment and consider that.  If the federal government has the power to force citizens to buy health insurance, what else do they have the power to force us to do?  If the Court holds that the mandate is constitutional, would there be anything left that the federal government does not have the power to force us to do?  It stands to reason that if they can force us to buy something, then they would also be able to force us not to buy something.  One can only imagine how those who oppose the Second Amendment could use that argument to further restrict our right to bear arms.

The irony here is that, when proposed, the mandate provision was seen as the “least intrusive” and “most conservative” way to achieve universal health care.  The theory was that the alternative, the government actually providing the insurance (i.e. the “public option”) would create a socialistic type government bureaucracy that would take us way beyond the welfare state.  Mandating or forcing people to buy health insurance was more acceptable, according to this logic, because what the government was essentially doing was “forcing” people to take responsibility for themselves.  And after all, this line of thought concludes, what could be more appealing to conservatives than people taking responsibility for themselves?

No question that the public option would have blown the already dangerously high federal deficit through the roof.  It would have destroyed any chance at achieving the fiscal discipline that we so desperately need.  But, come on!  We Republicans believe in and champion personal responsibility because it leads to optimal innovation and efficiency.  To the contrary, we believe that one does not take responsibility for himself if he is being forced to do so.  Americans do not need the government to tell us to be responsible.  Responsible Americans built this country without the need for mandates.  It’s time we again realize that responsibility comes from within and cannot be imposed by a government bureaucracy.  If we let this “most conservative” approach to universal health care stand, we will surrender the last bits of freedom and dignity we have left, i.e., the freedom and dignity to be responsible for ourselves and to determine our own destinies.

Joseph Mendola, a native New Yorker and a graduate of Columbia Law School was the 2009 Republican candidate for NYC Comptroller.  He received nearly 200,000 votes, the most of any Republican running for office in NYC in 2009 except for Michael Bloomberg.  Joe is licensed to practice law in New York, New Jersey and Florida. He works in the securities industry and holds 10 different FINRA sponsored licenses.  A direct survivor of 9/11, Joe lives with his 2 young children in one of America’s greatest liberal bastions, New York City’s Greenwich Village.  He may be reached at jmendolanyc@aol.com.

27 Mar
2012
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Attacking Each Other

Last week, Rick Santorum said that if Mitt Romney were to be the GOP nominee this fall, the nation “might as well” stick with Obama, implying that, at least in Santorum’s opinion, there is no difference between Romney and Obama.

Wow!  A GOP candidate for President says that we should vote for the Democrat incumbent over the GOP candidate if Romney is the nominee.

Now, I am no shrinking violet.  I am a veteran of a few campaigns as well as a native New Yorker.  I know that politics is a dirty game and things are said in the heat of the moment when candidacies are at stake.  Heck, I can even recall Ronald Reagan, who had a famous 11th commandment about not speaking ill of fellow Republicans, saying a few choice words about his opponents like Jerry Ford and George H.W. Bush.

However, in all my years following GOP politics I have never heard a Republican candidate say on national TV that we should vote for the Democrat over the Republican.  Ronald Reagan would be rightfully ashamed of Mr. Santorum.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not arguing that Gov. Romney is the perfect (or even preferred) standard bearer for us this fall.  But we are all Republicans and we shouldn’t be here if we don’t believe that Governor Romney or any other GOP candidate is preferable to Mr. Obama.

For the sake of ego, Santorum is exploiting the potential schism which has simmered within our party for some time.  He is encouraging the unraveling of the party by bating those in our party who spend their time calling fellow Republicans names like “RINOS” and identifying a strict code which one must swear to if he or she is going to be deemed a “true” Republican.  Santorum makes us forget that the fundamental reason why we are Republicans is because we believe in a free economy and a limited government which does not overly intrude into our lives.  All those who believe the same should be welcomed into our party in the same way that Ronald Reagan welcomed so many new Republican voters in 1980 and 1984 and stitched together a winning coalition which gave him a mandate to cut taxes and limit the size of government.  If alive today, I imagine that President Reagan would be appalled to hear fellow Republican calling each other RINOs.  I imagine that he would also be disgusted by the comments made by Rick Santorum.

Joseph Mendola, a native New Yorker and a graduate of Columbia Law School was the 2009 Republican candidate for NYC Comptroller.  He received nearly 200,000 votes, the most of any Republican running for office in NYC in 2009 except for Michael Bloomberg.  Joe is licensed to practice law in New York, New Jersey and Florida. He works in the securities industry and holds 10 different FINRA sponsored licenses.  A direct survivor of 9/11, Joe lives with his 2 young children in one of America’s greatest liberal bastions, New York City’s Greenwich Village.  He may be reached at jmendolanyc@aol.com.

27 Mar
2012
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All My Sons

Last week, President Obama commented on the death of Trayvon Martin.  Obama said that if he had a son, his son would look like Trayvon.

I found this comment to be extremely disappointing and totally inappropriate.

First, what does Obama’s comment mean?  Is it because Trayvon was black that he looks like Obama’s hypothetical son?  Suppose Obama was white and looked like the now son (once daughter) of Cher.  Would the President have said that if he had a son, his son would look like George Zimmerman?  (As an aside, doesn’t the most frequently shown photo of Mr. Zimmerman bear a striking resemblance to Chaz Bono?)  In either case, what does this mean? How is the physical resemblance of any individual an appropriate factor in this case?

Instead of pandering, what Obama should have said was that we should reserve judgment until we know all of the facts of the case and, as things stand now, we still need to learn what actually happened that night.  Obama should have reminded people that, in America, one is innocent until proven guilty and that Mr. Zimmerman has a right to remain silent in the face of the current ongoing media maelstrom.  He should have reminded us that Mr.  Zimmerman’s silence is not indicative of his guilt, but rather, may be a carefully planned legal strategy.  (As both an attorney and a law professor, Obama knows darn well that any lawyer worth his salt who may be advising Mr. Zimmerman would tell him to keep a low profile given the current situation.)

As the President of all the United States, Obama could stand to take a lesson from Joe Keller, the protagonist of the 1947 Arthur Miller play All My Sons.  After cheating on a government contact which resulted in the death of Americans, Joe Keller realizes that his greatest sin was not cheating the government but rather was failing to realize that all Americans are his (and, by implication, our) sons.  Unlike Joe Keller, Obama is wrong not to realize that George Zimmerman could just have easily been his son too.

Joseph Mendola, a native New Yorker and a graduate of Columbia Law School was the 2009 Republican candidate for NYC Comptroller.  He received nearly 200,000 votes, the most of any Republican running for office in NYC in 2009 except for Michael Bloomberg.  Joe is licensed to practice law in New York, New Jersey and Florida. He works in the securities industry and holds 10 different FINRA sponsored licenses.  A direct survivor of 9/11, Joe lives with his 2 young children in one of America’s greatest liberal bastions, New York City’s Greenwich Village.  He may be reached at jmendolanyc@aol.com.