Articles by " jmendola"
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.

13 Apr
2011
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DON’T BE A DO NOTHING CONGRESS

An April 12th article in the New York Times asks a “trick” question: “[i]f Congress takes no action in the coming years, what will happen to the budget deficit?” As loyal promoters of the left wing agenda, the Times article concludes by pronouncing that all Congress has to do is NOTHING (i.e. let the Bush era tax cuts expire) and, hocus pocus, the deficit problem will magically vanish.
My friends, this is typical liberal misguided thinking. According to the Left, just blame and punish the thousands of small businesses and wealthy Americans across the country that work hard and pay taxes and all of America’s problems will be solved.
To the contrary, if we seek to restore fiscal sanity and discipline to the American financial system, the last thing we want is a Congress that abrogates its responsibility to make tough and meaningful choices.
We need a Congress that is willing to propose genuinely new and innovative solutions to our stagnant and enduring financial problems. How about a proposal to remake Social Security and Medicare? How about a proposal to pare down the ever ballooning entitlement programs? Why are we continuing to give so much to other countries in foreign aid? How about a proposal to limit the amount of free money we disburse to foreign nations, some of which decidedly do not reciprocate our friendship and generosity?
Why must we always ask some Americans to pay more in taxes rather than asking some Americans (and foreigners) to accept less largesse from the federal government?
Our current president has shown no leadership on this (or any other) issue. Let’s hope that our Republican led House of Representatives will show more vision and courage.

22 Mar
2011
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Sorry to Interrupt Your Reign

Executing a war in Afghanistan? Check. Initiating air strikes in Libya? Done. Winding up a military presence in Iraq? Got It. Dealing with unemployment, resurgent inflation, a weak housing market and all sorts of other domestic economic woes? Sure, why not! Taking a family trip to Latin America when you have all these pressing issues pending? But of course!
Was I the only American who cringed last Saturday afternoon when President Obama was unavailable to announce and explain to the nation the initiation of air strikes against Libya? Was I the only American who recalled the somber and inspiring words of President Reagan and the two President Bushes when they sat behind their Oval Office desks and announced to the nation each time America took military action in the Middle East during the course of their presidencies?
I particularly recall being so inspired by the first President Bush as he addressed the nation in the run up to the first Gulf War. He showed resolve and strength and, when you listened to his words, you knew that he carried the weight of his decisions very seriously and that he was ordering military action reluctantly, after very careful consideration and only as a last resort. He was not rushing off on vacation and did not feel the need to have his overseas itinerary tied to the school vacations of his family. In fact, if I recall correctly, he and Mrs. Bush celebrated the Thanksgiving before the first Gulf War by making a surprise visit to our troops in Saudi Arabia. I still remember the great photo of President & Mrs. Bush surrounded by our men and woman in uniform. I also recall one Christmas morning when President George W. Bush made a surprise visit to our soldiers in Iraq. What proud moments they were for me as an American.
Those were no doubt grueling trips. No time for fine china and fancy toasts. No opportunity to showcase your two young daughters or to have foreign leaders give you the “royal treatment.” But they were trips that were both necessary and inspiring not only to the troops but also to the nation as a whole.
To the contrary, I find nothing at all inspiring about watching a president introduce his wife and two daughters to world leaders as he travels around the world while our nation’s sons and daughters are ordered into harm’s way. Quite frankly, Mr. Obama should be ashamed of himself! I know I’m ashamed of him.

24 Feb
2011
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DO WE STILL STAND FOR THINGS?

Not long ago, liberals scoffed at the notion promoted by former Secretary of State Condi Rice and the last administration that the Middle East was ripe for democracy and that, if given the chance, the local population would embrace freedom, however difficult the transition might be.
“Oh no!” our liberal friends retorted. The Middle East, according to the Democrats, was too “politically entrenched” and had too long a history of authoritarianism to allow democracy to “take root.” Therefore, they concluded, our efforts in Iraq will come to naught and the entire region is destined to be forever ruled by despots.
Today we see an Iraq, though certainly not perfect, moving tenuously toward democracy. No question that the road there has been difficult and the American sacrifice enormous, but there is no denying that progress toward creating a civil society based upon democratic principles is being made.
I contend that it is this very progress at establishing democracy in Iraq which has encouraged and fostered the recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere. Yes, you read that right, I believe that the former administration’s commitment to establishing a democracy in Iraq is, in part, responsible for the great wave of protests and demands for democracy currently sweeping through the region.
And yet, despite this success (not unlike our success at defeating communism in 1989), where is America today? What is she doing to encourage this historic and inspiring march toward freedom? Are we managing the process with the skill and adeptness that President George H.W. Bush and his team used in 1989? Sadly, the answer is a resounding “No.” Rather than encouraging the calls for freedom, Mr. Obama has decided that the cautious approach is best, lest we “incite the thugs” and “encourage the violence.” President Carter (oh, sorry, I meant President Obama) doesn’t want to rock the boat, much like a hostage negotiator doesn’t want to upset a hostage taker.
With all due respect to Mr. Obama, I contend that if the United States is to continue to be the world’s “beacon of freedom,” we must never be afraid to speak out in support of democracy. Relationships and despots may come and go, but if America is to mean anything beyond just making money, worrying about how much gas costs and playing it safe, then we must be prepared to speak out and act in support of democracy no matter how risky or unpopular it might be (just ask George W. Bush). Only then, my friends, can we look in the mirror and really call ourselves Americans.

14 Feb
2011
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Wishy-Washy, by Joe Mendola

The current administration’s ongoing strategy on both the domestic economic front and in response to the dizzying events in the Middle East brings to mind that delightful book that I have enjoyed reading to my children. It’s called Mrs. Wishy-Washy and was written by Joy Cowley.

Let’s start with Mr. Obama’s budget. Talk about wishy washy!! The President’s newly issued budget, even according to the always “objective” New York Times, “pivots” between stimulus and deficit cuts, all while leaving in place an annual deficit in excess of $1 trillion dollars. (You can be sure that our Democrat friends will try to blame that deficit on President George W. Bush but the truth is that the deficits under the Bush years were never nearly that high and were the result of wars being waged to protect our nation from attack.) How can Mr. Obama speak of fiscal responsibility when he proposes a budget whose deficit will crush any nascent economic recovery that may be trying to blossom? How can we expect to get our economic house in order if the federal government continues to spend with such reckless abandon? Is it logical that the government must spend over one trillion dollars more than it collects? How could that be? The President appointed a serious deficit reduction commission which issued some very concrete and worthwhile proposals. Not one is included in the President’s budget. To me this proves that he and the Democrats are not really interested in fiscal responsibility. Essentially when it comes to deficit reduction the President and his party are most definitely wishy-washy.

As champions of individual freedoms and democracy, we Republican cheered at the recent event in Egypt. However, the extent to which we were inspired by the actions of the brave Egyptians, we were equally dismayed by the ineptness and lack of clarity emanating from the Obama Administration. As they did in 2009 in the face of the stolen Iranian elections and massive protests that followed, as the events in Egypt unfolded, the Administration seemed reluctant to embrace the call for freedom and to offer support to those seeking to rid themselves of the oppressiveness of authoritarian governments. Back in 2009, Obama said we could not overtly support the Iranian demonstrators because doing so would give the Iranian government an excuse to blame the protests on the US and shut down the protestors. So we said nothing and guess what happened? The Iranian government blamed us and shut down the protestors. In Egypt, the Administration’s message seemed to change not only by the day but also seemed to vary depending on the administrative official who was speaking. Imagine how Ronald Reagan or even, yes, George W. Bush, would have reacted. A single clear voice supporting democracy and freedom. Instead we have the hesitating, cautious approach or one which is, as my children might say, wishy-washy.

21 Jan
2011
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A Proposal for the Future of the GOP

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. Our cause is new so we must think and act anew.”
Abraham Lincoln

What a joy it was to watch the newly elected 112th Congress convene with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and a severely diminished Democratic majority in the Senate. Our celebration is no doubt tempered by the knowledge that the American electorate is fickle and that our success at the ballot box in 2010 in no way ensures our future electoral success. How, then, can we as a Party build on our 2010 success and work toward becoming Americas’ majority party for the 21st Century? To achieve this goal, I believe that we must invoke the legacy of our Party and remind ourselves why we are Republicans and the qualities embedded in our basic philosophy and approach to America that can best address the profound issues facing our nation today.

For me, the legacy of our Party is revealed by examining the lives and philosophies of my three heroes…Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

Abraham Lincoln provided Republicans with the moral underpinnings of our political philosophy. He once said that “Republicans are for both the man and the dollar but, in case of conflict, the man before the dollar.” We must rededicate ourselves to this proposition. We must re-embrace the notion that ours is a party that, as Lincoln told us, knows “mercy bears richer fruit than strict justice.” Lincoln showed us that all Americans are entitled to the basic freedoms and dignities of life, and that race, ethnicity and any other characteristic over which the individual has no control have no place in evaluating the worth of an individual but rather that, as Teddy Roosevelt counseled, a person’s “heart and soul…determine his standing.”

We must reaffirm these concepts and apply them to the challenges facing contemporary America. As a young man, I consistently applauded the GOP’s embrace of a non-judgmental, limited government in the economic realm. But I have been consistently perplexed by how our Party can champion limited government in economics while at the same time assert that government should actively promote a specific agenda on so-called moral issues such as homosexuality. As the science becomes clearer and clearer that homosexuality is biologically predetermined as opposed to chose then, as a Party, we must broaden our prospective to understand that if God intentionally created homosexuals, then to condemn homosexuals is to condemn that which God created. And to condemn God’s creation is to sin against God. Further, as someone who has personally felt the terrible pain of family rejection and scorn as a result of being gay, I can assure every reader that neither I nor any other rational human being would ever choose such a path. The pain, isolation and despondency that I and so many others have faced could never be a fate that anyone would purposely choose for themselves.

If we are to be the Party of the future we must, as Lincoln urged, act “with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right….to care for him who shall have borne the battle…to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves and with all nations.” I understand that there are many aspects of the stereotypical gay lifestyle that make many people (including me, believe it or not) uncomfortable. That’s OK. However, if we are to continue to prosper as a Party we must accept the differences among us and conduct ourselves in public with respect and consideration for all. We must also understand that the behavior of consenting adults in the privacy of their homes is not for government to judge or impede. This is the true lesson of Lincoln and the logical extension of the concept of limited government so eloquently championed by the great Ronald Reagan.

At the same time, if we are to succeed as a Party, we must appreciate that Lincoln was correct when he said that “important principles may, and must, be inflexible.” Foremost among these principles must be the protection and preservation of life. In addition, we must champion personal responsibility. As a father of two young children, the notion of abortion is beyond comprehension for me. As a Party, we must work to instill in our nation a deep and unshakable commitment to life and to the notion that if a person is mature enough to engage in acts which lead to pregnancy, then he and/or she must act with a sense of personal responsibility to themselves and to the unborn child. Our lives and our bodies are the Almighty’s greatest gifts to us. When we do damage to either, whether it be through abortion or suicide, I believe that we commit the most heinous of sins directly against God. As a Party, we stand on unshakable moral footing when we consistently adopt this position. We must do everything in our power to reduce to zero the number of abortions in this country. Yet, we must also recognize that the Almighty has endowed each of us with free will and some among us will inevitably use that free will to sin against God by having an abortion or attempting suicide. In such instance, we are best served as a Party and as a people if we allow God to impose the punishment for these sins. Rather than pursue the earthly punishment of the sinner, we should strive to use every resource available to foster the notion that life is sacred and to take our cue from the Lord by offering our help to those who are struggling with such choices. As President Reagan told us, “we are never defeated unless we give up on God.”

Teddy Roosevelt enhanced America’s sense of destiny and instilled in us the notion that we are responsible not only for ourselves but also for future generations. “Our duty to the whole, including [to] the unborn generations…[must]…restrain an unprincipled present day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations.” Too many modern American are driven solely by greed, selfishness and a perpetual search for instant gratification. Our celebrity-obsessed culture rewards and celebrates excessive consumption and wastefulness. Our Party must aspire to refocus the nation away from “me” and again towards “we.”

TR also enlightened us that, as a Party, we must champion conservation. To that end, we must encourage the development of clean and renewable fuels. To do so will not only improve the prospects of future generations but could very well spur a new American economic boon. If America can pioneer the technological discovery of new and better energy sources, we will see improvements in our productivity and financial health that will benefit us in ways exponentially more substantive than occurred in the 1990’s when we led the world in information technology advancements.

Finally, our Party was so blessed to have Ronald Reagan as its leader. From President Reagan we learned that “government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.” President Reagan taught us to be consistently wary of government intrusion into our lives. I believe that our Party must now apply that lesson to every aspect of modern life, not just those grounded in the economy.

Following Reagan’s inspiration, we believe in limited government and low taxes. We believe that America must be strong in the face of foreign adversaries and that the future is bright with boundless possibilities so long as we remain true to our core principles of individual responsibility and limited government with low taxes. President Reagan said it best: “Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15.”

As a Party, we know in our hearts that, as Reagan taught us: “man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life.”

May our Party prosper and may we exemplify our country’s “last best hope” to create a just and moral nation where all are treated with fairness and dignity.