The Best Policy Ideas of the 2016 Presidential Candidates

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By Gordon Anderson

GordonThe 2016 Presidential Election has raised a number of good policy ideas for the improvement of American society and government. Unfortunately, no single candidate endorses all of the best ideas, and, more unfortunately, every candidate who has good ideas seems to have more bad ones. Part of the reason is the development of a system that encourages candidates to be loyal to political parties and large campaign contributors rather than to middle-class citizens and the nation as a whole.

In my view, the best candidate would be one who supported all of these policies:

  • Bernie Sanders’ revival of the Glass-Stegall Act
  • Hillary Clinton’s call to overturn the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision
  • Rand Paul’s foreign policy that is against U.S.-imposed regime change
  • Donald Trump’s middle-class tax policy
  • Carly Fiorina’s reforms of government bureaucracy

None of these policies are promoted by the establishment, which is why there is increased criticism of existing party platforms and why “outsiders” are polling so well with voters. Even most candidates that seek party endorsement are promising to reform the system.

The explanations for the value of my list of the best policies I describe below are adapted from a longer post on my blog, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, which includes further critique and commentary on the candidates and their policies. I have not discussed all candidates, only selected the most constructive policies being promoted.

Preparation to vote knowledgeably is an important role of the citizen in a democracy, and I encourage everyone to read through all the policy positions on candidates’ websites before their vote. A responsible voter will compare the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate in all areas of governance, and not just find agreement with a candidate’s rhetoric on a single issue.

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“Steve Jobs”: A Film Really About Heroines

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By Mark P. Barry

Mark Barry Photo 2When Steve Jobs died in 2011, his authorized biography was rushed to press, quickly followed by the low-budget, independent film, “Jobs.” Fans of the Apple CEO had to wait until last October for the full Hollywood production, “Steve Jobs,” featuring an A-list cast and team, to reach the big screen.

Audiences were disappointed in the film because it bombed at the box office. Expectations surely were for a depiction of Jobs’ stellar technology and business achievements. But the truth is: this movie is more about its heroines than its hero.

For her performance in “Steve Jobs,” Kate Winslet won the 2016 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and is nominated for an Oscar this year as well. She plays Joanna Hoffman, long-time marketing chief at Apple and “right-hand woman” to its co-founder. Known as the one person who could stand up to the difficult and temperamental Jobs, in the film Hoffman calls herself his “work wife.” Winslet, as Joanna, is the moral center of the movie.

Very loosely based on the Walter Isaacson official biography – a book Apple and Jobs’ family were not happy with – “Steve Jobs” is written by Aaron Sorkin, who won the 2011 Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for “The Social Network” and this year’s Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for “Steve Jobs.”

“Steve Jobs” was lucky to get made. It was originally produced by Sony Pictures, but after North Korea hacked its computers in late 2014, divulging embarrassing executive emails, Universal Pictures acquired the film. A who’s who of actors and actresses were considered for parts. Oscar-winning director, Danny Boyle, chose Matthew Fassbender — despite looking nothing like Jobs — for the title role (he’s nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award).

Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell-Jobs, encouraged Isaacson to write his book, but her eventual dissatisfaction with it, as a less-than-flattering portrait of her husband, led her to reportedly block the film’s production. However, there may have been a more underlying reason.

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“Concussion”: David and Goliath

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by Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2I am not a football enthusiast. It’s because I simply do not understand the sport.

This may sound strange since I grew up in Indiana and Hoosiers love football and basketball — especially on the collegiate level. As a young girl, I enjoyed watching basketball because I understood the game. But football was another matter altogether.

As a member of my high school marching band, I had to play at all football home games. Imagine sitting there in the stands cheering our football team to victory yet not having a clue as to what was happening on the field. Tight ends, quarterbacks, safeties, wide receivers, centers, first and down; and what about those numbers that a player is shouting out before everyone goes head to head in the scrimmage. It was all Greek to me. Football just did not make sense to me.

And of course, my brother and father camped out in the living room on weekends rooting for (yelling, more like it) their favorite collegiate or professional football team. Needless to say, I had no clue who was winning or how they could win. My freshman year at Indiana University was much the same. All I learned about football that year was that the late John Pont, the head coach for IU’s team, was one of the top college coaches in America and that the varsity football players received special meals every day and drove around in brand new sports cars.

Though I still don’t understand football, I do know it has captured the attention and loyalty of millions of fans. I also understand there are billions of dollars tied up in the game and thousands of people earn their living from the sport, one way or another, and that football means millions of dollars in revenue for the cities that host a professional team. This does not begin to scratch the surface of the popularity and economics of the Super Bowl, where television advertisers pay millions to promote their product.

I also understand the furor caused by a quiet, unassuming forensic neuropathologist from Nigeria when he discovered what came to be called “chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” or CTE, after conducting autopsies on several former NFL players beginning in 2002.

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The Responsibility of True Parents’ Successors

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By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pmTrue Parents’ successors have the honor and responsibility to own and build Cheon Il Guk. As I studied some of True Father’s words on the subject, including statements going back to the early 1980s, three points emerged: One, that we all are successors; two, the notion of a central successor; and, three, the central successor’s qualifications and responsibilities.

First, God calls us all to be successors. True Parents come to lift us up into a relationship of parent-child with them. God and True Parents, like all parents, want their children to surpass them. Through the Holy Marriage Blessing, all blessed couples have the position of True Parents’ direct children.[1] The True Parents’ physical children, the True Children, and the blessed couples in general, are like Jacob and Esau, twins in True Mother’s womb, whether physically or sacramentally, in the “realm of the fourth Adam.”[2]  Thus, both True Children and all blessed families are entitled, by fulfilling certain responsibilities, to stand as owners of Cheon Il Guk, successors of True Parents.

I discern four such responsibilities that apply to all successors. Successors are to honor True Parents and True Children, who embody the ideal of God’s substantial Word, for it is through the reality of their oneness as a True Family of three generations that Satan’s accusations are overcome and all humankind may enter God’s direct dominion. On that foundation, all successors are to receive the Blessing, bless others, and work together to restore nations.

The Central Successor’s Responsibilities

Given Unification teachings regarding lineage, and human nature itself, most members have high expectations that the founders’ children will model God’s ideal. Father Moon supported this through statements such as, “The sons and daughters of Jesus’ direct lineage would have become the Popes.”[3] And Unification teachings lead us to expect the appointment of a central successor, as a couple, from among the 14 children.

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The Divine Nexus of Music and Mathematics

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By David Eaton

david_eatonI have this fantasy.

I’d love to see a debate on a liberal arts college campus between members of the sociology department, those who bemoan the heritage of European culture at every turn, and members of the music faculty who revere the music of Bach, Chopin and Wagner.

It would be fascinating to witness the spectacle of the sociology contingent trying to convince the musicians that they have it all wrong regarding the music of their cherished composers.

But do musicians in the academy really have it all wrong regarding Western culture? Are those who argue there may be “immutable truths” that govern music — its creation and realization — completely obtuse to sociological or cultural prejudices as postmodernists would have us believe?

Though we might debate the cosmological and metaphysical aspects of music, a cursory examination of music (regardless of cultural sphere) reveals that the laws and principles that govern music production are rooted in mathematics and physics.

This understanding dates back to Pythagoras in Greece and the Sumerians of Mesopotamia. Nevertheless, we have come to a point in our postmodern culture where any allusion to “certainty,” “universals” or “immutable truths” is, more often than not, met with skepticism, even abject derision.

This mindset originated with Nietzsche, Marx, Stirner, Hegel, and others whose abnegation of religion and “absolutes” infected Western culture at the beginning of the 20th century.

That pernicious legacy persists today.

Paradoxically, those who disparage religion love the music that is the progeny of a decidedly religious culture. Nietzsche, a cultural revolutionary and an earlier admirer of Richard Wagner’s operas, said, “Life without music would be a mistake.”

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A Second Chance: Love with Forgiveness

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By Jacob David

Jacob DavidLast year there was no Black Friday in Chicago.  A policeman had fired 16 shots to kill a 17-year-old African American man a year ago, but the video surfaced only after 400 days. In November as well, three people were killed at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs. In Mali, two men held 170 people hostage and killed 20 of them; the siege ended when commandos stormed the hotel, freed the hostages, and killed the attackers.  And, in Paris, 130 died because of a terrorist attack.

We live our lives in a time such as this.  Planes are being shot down.  And we hear from the presidential candidates messages of doom and gloom.  The safety of the world, and particularly the United States, is in jeopardy.  In the political arena, especially from the presidential candidates, we hear no encouraging words. Building a wall around our country won’t cut it.  The increased police presence at New York’s Port Authority bus terminal and Times Square confirms we live in fear.  A republic of dreams is gradually turning to a republic of fear. 

People ask whether there is any hope at all. There are very many of us who are busy trying to forget the grim situation around us making ourselves busy traveling back 2,000 years to that manger in Bethlehem – singing Christmas carols, giving each other gifts, preparing delicious dinners, and decorating our homes and Christmas trees.

In the midst of hopelessness, we are here to understand what hope means.

Our Scripture readings do not point us to Bethlehem or a manger.   They point us to the future.  They are helping us to a time when love will prevail and love alone will give us hope in our hopeless situation. The Apostle Paul speaks of love abounding and he thinks it is urgent because Christ is coming.  The psychologist, Eric Fromm, would say that “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”  Then we can better sing the song “Love Makes the World Go ‘Round.”

The actor, Peter Ustinov, did a great job describing what true love is, hinting at the character of God’s love:  “Love is an endless act of forgiveness, a tender look, which becomes a habit.”  Real love, God’s love is endless forgiveness.

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The Mission Butterfly of Early Christianity and the Nature of Unificationism

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By Rohan Stefan Nandkisore

EditorLooking at history, we see that the rise of democratic societies — some of which even base their constitutions on the ideology of Jesus Christ — has brought about freedom on a scale never before experienced. Yet, we also witness an erosion of those highly treasured values.

Countless people, mainly Christians, died to attain these values that we take for granted today; this includes underground missionaries of the Unification Church in the former Soviet Union and East European countries, whose sacrificial missions sometimes led to imprisonment and even death, and was referred to as “mission butterfly.”

We need to revitalize these virtues as expressed in Reverend Moon’s peace messages in order to not lose them. As a journalist, I discovered interesting aspects of early Christianity that offer valuable lessons from the past.

There is a basilica in Fulda, Germany, which contains the relics of Boniface, given the honorable title “Bishop of the Germans.” I was wondering for a long time how come a missionary from Wessex (England) Christianized the German lands in the 7th century? Geographically, Britain is much further from Rome and the Mediterranean than Germany.

The answer to this riddle dates back to the times of Emperor Augustus, 9 A.D., during the childhood of Jesus. Augustus mourning “Varus, Varus, give back my legions” is still remembered today. Arminius, a Cherusk, caused the annihilation of three Roman legions in the Teutoburger forest. Subsequently, the Romans withdrew from large areas of German lands and never returned. As a result, it did not become Christianized, but Britain did after it came under the control of the Roman Empire at least until the Hadrian fortress fell.

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Lessons of Illness and Death

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by William Selig

WS CU cropIn my capacity as chaplain in an inner-city hospital, I deal with end-of-life situations as frequently as two or three times a day. My faith as a Unificationist accepts death as normal and part of God’s plan. I know that if God is in our life, then He must also be in our death, and this gives me a sense of comfort and the strength to offer spiritual support to the patient, family and staff.

When I enter the room and see the patient lying on the bed, the family is generally gathered around or standing outside in the hallway or hurriedly on their way to the hospital. The air is thick with emotion. My heart never fails to be moved by the sincerity and tears. I am deeply touched by the weeping and what I call “quiet tears” where I know the family’s feelings are building up inside and ready to overflow.

I try to provide a compassionate presence even if the patient is unresponsive. I always assume their spirit self or inner being is awake and appreciative of companionship.

When a person knows that death is imminent, what happens next really depends on their values and beliefs. Faith and spirituality often become very important even if he or she hasn’t set foot in a house of worship for years. Many appreciate hearing sacred words and prayer. Most often people request Psalm 23. It is known to everyone and provides a comfortable assurance that Heavenly Parent is in the room.

Besides the patient, I offer spiritual support to the family and loved ones through companionship, prayers, and a listening heart. Essentially the chaplain is a reminder that life has a spiritual dimension. I try to help them deal with the situation and find some sense of spiritual peace.

I’m always been inspired by how God opens the hearts of the families. Although I am a total stranger, I am immediately welcomed into the center of an emotionally intimate situation, certainly not as an individual, but rather as what the chaplain represents. The family wants to feel the presence of God. They want the assurance that God is in charge and that he’s there, even when things aren’t going according to their own wishes or expected plan.

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The Sanctuary Church Schismatics

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By Michael Mickler

Mickler full-sizeThe Sanctuary Church (SC), with branches in the U.S. and overseas, is best understood as a schismatic movement. Followers of schismatic movements are known as schismatics. A schismatic is a person who creates or incites schism in an organization or who is a member of a splinter group.

SC, formally the “World Peace and Unification Sanctuary,” claims that the wider Unification movement has deviated from the teachings and practice of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and that its purpose is to preserve and propagate his teaching.

The SC schism was several years in the making.

In 2013, SC Pastor Hyung Jin Moon, then International President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU, a.k.a. the Unification Church), refused the request of his mother, Hak Ja Han Moon, to take up duties under her in Korea. Instead, he relocated to the “wilderness” of Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, where he began an independent ministry. He was supported by his elder brother, Kook Jin Moon, who relocated Kahr Arms, which he heads, to nearby Pike County. Together, they purchased a church facility in 2014 and began the SC ministry.

Initially, SC uplifted gifts of grace and the Holy Spirit. Later, a “wilderness” mentality took hold and sermons turned apocalyptic. Hyung Jin Moon castigated “predatory elites” and “postmodern” thinking, gave credence to “truther” claims about the Twin Tower attacks, and emphasized prophetic speculation about Shmita year cycles and Blood Moon Tetrads. Then, in a series of sermons, beginning January 18, 2015, he broke decisively with FFWPU.

His epiphany was that the “predatory system of control… in the world at large” also was occurring in FFWPU. Based on this understanding, he directed Unification Church members to resign from FFWPU organizations. In a subsequent “Declaration of Heaven,” he announced the removal of all current leaders of the Unification Movement, declaring they had “no authority.” He called on members to take over church boards and elect replacements.

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