Opioid Addiction Threatens More than Health, it Threatens Safety

Opioid abuse in many areas of the nation has risen to epidemic proportions. The issue sprang to the forefront of the national consciousness during the past presidential election cycle when both candidates Trump and Clinton vowed to tackle the matter head-on.

But the issue hasn’t just been met with strong campaign rhetoric. The recently passed, bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act — a $6.3 billion piece of legislation designed to address myriad public health issues — included $500 million a year toward the treatment of opioid abuse and to help addicts obtain better treatment.

Article originally appeared at The Hill. Read the entire article HERE.

NFL's Kaepernick Insults Americans, Law Enforcement Officers Everywhere

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick ignited a social media firestorm Saturday after he refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem before Friday night’s pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers.

In a post-game press conference, Kaepernick explained his reasoning for the overt act of disrespect toward both the American flag and the United States.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick appeared to be echoing both a broader condemnation of race relations in the United States as well as a veiled commentary on his apparent belief that the American law enforcement community is engaging in systemic, racially motivated murder.

Kaepernick’s comments weren’t just an insult to the over one million Americans -- many thousands of whom were African-American -- who have given their lives in defense of the United States from wars as far back as the American Revolution to the more recent conflicts in the Middle East.

Kaepernick also turned his back on the thousands of police officers -- again, a tremendous number of whom were African-American - who have died defending their communities and upholding the rule of law at home.  

Just this year alone, the number of police officers shot and killed on duty has climbed to 37, a whopping 61 percent higher than at the same point in 2015.  

The San Francisco 49ers released a statement concerning Kaepernick’s protest, reading in part, “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens.”

The 49ers added, “In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

No one should question whether or not Kaepernick had a right to sit, stand, or protest the National Anthem, no matter his motivation. We are blessed to live in a country where an act perceived by most as an ugly display of disrespect is protected by the very system of government prompting the protest.

But to what end? Was Kaepernick merely using his status as a public figure to advance a rudimentary talking point about race relations and law enforcement in America? Or was he genuinely interested in trying to be part of a more substantive conversation on a variety of deep social issues?

Many celebrities -- and yes, even a back-up quarterback on one of the worst teams in the NFL qualifies as a celebrity nowadays -- use their status within pop culture to advance their beliefs and opinions, often without acknowledging differing perspectives.  

This is nothing new.

But if Colin Kaepernick were truly interested in being a part of the solution -- a meaningful interlocutor offering not just hyperbole but considered rhetoric -- he may have thought to open this dialogue with a sense of mutual understanding and respect and not by boldly thumbing his nose at both the American flag as well as the men and women of all races who have given their lives defending an American ideal -- imperfect in practice, yet exceptional nonetheless -- and one far greater than themselves.

Article originally appeared at FOXNews.com

Dems feature 'Mothers of the Movement' in Philly but who speaks for fallen officers?

On Tuesday, the Democratic National Convention dedicated it's programming to the theme Mothers of the Movement. The evening was meant to highlight the visceral impact of violence and police brutality in society. 

During a ten-minute prime time block, convention delegates and viewers at home heard speeches and watched videos featuring the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and others.

What the speakers had in common was that they had each lost a loved one to violence — most often in the examples cited following a violent encounter with police. 

"So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten," said Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland. 

Bland died in-custody in July, 2015 at the Waller County Jail in Texas. Her death was ultimately ruled a suicide. 

While no one can question the pain of losing a loved one to violence, no matter the circumstances, the broader conversation on policing in society, violence, and social dysfunction must acknowledge the weight of the pain and sacrifice felt by members of the law enforcement community and their loved ones as well. 

Where is the balance when almost no mention is given to the families of the brave men and women who have died in the line of duty while protecting our communities from the very violence being condemned? Violence that, to date, has resulted in almost 70 police officers lost so far this year. 

Where was the platform for the mothers, wives, and children of the 8 police officers assassinated in Dallas and Baton Rouge? 

Who spoke on their behalf?

Or what about the platform offered to brave women like Maureen Faulkner, whose husband Daniel, a Philadelphia police officer, was gunned down in cold blood by Mumia Abu-Jamal on December 9, 1981?

Mrs. Faulkner has spent the past 35 years reliving the tragic loss of her husband while misguided activists rally behind the man who ended his life — an unrepentant cop killer. 

Where was her platform?

And what about the hundreds of Americans who each year experience the anguish associated with losing a beloved member of the law enforcement community to violence — heroes whose only blame was that that they stood up and answered the call to protect and serve. 

Where was their voice?

It is important to acknowledge the difficulties facing our society today — violence has become untenable in many of our nation's largest cities and police and community relations have reached a generational nadir. 

And to be certain, acknowledging and rooting out legitimate police misconduct, when the totality of facts and evidence support such a conclusion, is a laudable goal. 

But, so is recognizing that our nation's law enforcement community is doing a remarkable job under increasingly difficult and dangerous conditions — a recognition that our men and women in blue feel under attack and under-appreciated. 

To overemphasize the former while almost wholly ignoring the latter was a sad and unfortunate missed opportunity at Tuesday’s Democratic National Convention.  

Regrettably, it also failed to help move our public discourse away from a conversation predicated upon division and mistrust and toward one that inspires a sense of reconciliation and mutual understanding. 

A missed opportunity indeed. 

Article originally appeared at FoxNews.com

Lame-Duck Congress Must Focus on Missile Defense

As Republicans enjoyed remarkable gains on Election Day, capturing control of the Senate and tightening their grip on the House, a palpable shift in the prevailing power structure overcame Washington.

Although the Republican Party won’t actually take control of the Senate until January, a number of important issues will demand more immediate consideration.

Among the issues that continue to persist is the ongoing threat posed by the Islamic State and its acolytes. The threat from a lone-wolf attack has only increased as the Islamic State continues to urge its cyber-adherents to take on domestic law enforcement and military personnel.

And although the Obama administration has been quick to promote the movement toward a negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran, the threats posed by its government endure.

On Nov. 4, thousands marched in Tehran, chanting “Death to America” and condemning the U.S.-led sanctions against Iran. The rallies against the United States were in part a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Iranian takeover of the American embassy in Tehran in 1979.

Moreover, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stated, “Iran is ready to ink a comprehensive nuclear accord with the six major world powers if the Islamic Republic’s nuclear rights are recognized.”

Additionally, the bellicose and inscrutable leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, reminds us of the unpredictability of his isolated and nuclear-armed regime.

Recent reports suggest North Korea has begun operation of a new uranium-enrichment facility within the existing Yongbyon nuclear power plant. If true, the new facility would allow North Korea to produce significantly more weapons-grade uranium, enough in fact to produce four or five nuclear bombs.

This news comes in the wake of statements made by the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea that Pyongyang may have achieved the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads, a key step in the process of producing a nuclear weapon capable of being launched via an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“I believe they have the capability to miniaturize the device at this point, and they have the technology to potentially actually deliver what they say they have,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti of the U.S. Army stated.

In addressing these myriad threats, especially those posed by rogue nations and their unpredictable leaders, Congress and the Obama administration must remain committed to a robust missile defense apparatus capable of protecting American assets at home and abroad.

Missile defense continues to be the greatest deterrent and most effective countermeasure against the threat of ballistic missiles.

Assets such as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, which uses advanced radars and ground-based interceptors outfitted with an exoatmospheric kill vehicle, provide the capability to intercept long-range ballistic missiles in space. GMD, along with the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, remain at the vanguard of America’s anti-ballistic missile arsenal.

With the current continuing resolution set to expire on Dec.11, the now-lame-duck, Democratic-controlled Senate soon will have to address the nation’s budget.

Given the precarious state of global affairs, now is not the time to equivocate on fully supporting missile defense. Ensuring the American homeland and all allies and assets abroad remain secure requires a commitment to fully funding the necessary components that, when integrated, comprise the most efficient bulwark against a variety of threats.

Power may be shifting in Congress, but it is the responsibility of all members, irrespective of party affiliation, to address the ongoing security needs of the nation.

Article originally appeared at the Daily Signal

Statement Regarding the Withdrawn Nomination of Debo Adegbile to the Department of Justice

"As a member of the law enforcement community, I am pleased to hear that Debo Adegbile has withdrawn his nomination to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. His past support for, and defense of, unrepentant cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal rendered his nomination a veritable slap in the face to the three-quarters of a million Americans serving in the field of law enforcement. 
I'd like to applaud the members of the United States Senate who appropriately condemned Mr. Adegbile's nomination.
I must equally question the judgment of those who attempted to sustain Mr. Adegbile's nomination despite near universal opposition from the law enforcement community. 
Several members of the Senate who continued to support Mr. Adegbile now find themselves up for reelection. I challenge Senators Landrieu (D-LA), Hagan (D-NC), Begich (D-AK), Udall (D-CO), Shaheen (D-NH), and Warner (D-VA) to explain why any member of the law enforcement community, or those who embrace our nation's police officers, should support their continued presence in the United States Senate. 
Their previous support for Mr. Adegbile demonstrated a willingness to place politics over the public interest. While encouraged by Mr. Adegbile's withdrawal I continue to question the judgment of those who steadfastly supported his otherwise inappropriate nomination."
-Scott G. Erickson