Monday, December 5, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
TRUMP PICKS INCLUDE OUTSIDERS!
by Steve Fair
President-elect Trump has announced several more appointment to his cabinet. He has 662 major appointments to make(251 are in the State Department-primarily Ambassadorships) and as of now only 12 have been filled. Here is a quick profile of Trump’s most recent nominees- most of which require Senate confirmation:
Wilber Ross, 79, has been nominated for Secretary of Commerce. Ross is a billionaire banker from New York. He and Trump have a long history and were in the casino business together. He has an MBA from Yale. Ross has been married 3 times- his second wife was the former Lt. Governor of New York- and has two daughters.
James Mattis, 66, is a retired Marine Corps general, who served as the commander of the U.S. Central Command for 2 ½ years. Mattis has been nominated for Secretary of Defense. During his time as Commander of Central Command, Mattis and the Obama administration clashed frequently because he was perceived to be too eager for military confrontation with Iran for their taste. He is considered to be an intellectual and is an avid reader. His personal library has over 7,000 volumes. Mattis is a life-long bachelor. Because he has not been separated from the service for seven years, his nomination will require a waiver of the National Security Act of 1947. If granted it would be the second time it was done. The first was for General George Marshall.
Betsy DeVos, 58, is a businesswoman and an education advocate from Michigan. She has been very active in GOP grassroots politics in the state. She served as Chair and National Committeewoman for the Michigan GOP. She is married to Dick DeVos, the son of the founder of Amway. They have 4 children. She graduated from Calvin College. DeVos’ brother founded Blackwater, the well-known private security firm. She is a proponent of school choice and has advocated the use of school vouchers.
Tom Price, 62, is Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary. Price, a physician, is a 5 term Congressman from Georgia. He is the Chair of the House Budget Committee. Prior to being elected to Congress, he served in the Georgia state senate. Price grew up in Michigan and went to college and medical school at the University of Michigan. He did his orthopedic internship at Emory in Atlanta, practiced for 20 years and then taught at Emory. He and his wife, a Georgia State Representative, have one son. Price is the original sponsor of the Empowering Patients First Act, which is the GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act. The bill, among other things, creates and expands tax credits for purchasing health insurance, allows for some interstate health insurance markets, and reforms medical malpractice lawsuits
Ben Carson, 65, has been nominated for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Carson, who also grew up in Michigan, graduated from Yale and received his M.D. from the University of Michigan. In 2013, Carson was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast and was very critical of President Obama’s policies, with the president sitting just 10 feet away. His commons sense solutions to complex problems soon gained him a very loyal following among conservative Republicans. Carson was a frequent surrogate for Trump on the campaign trail. Carson and his wife Candy have been married for 45 years and have three sons.
Elaine Chao, 63, is Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Transportation. Chao served as Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush and Assistant Secretary of Transportation under George H.W. Bush. She was the first Asian-American woman to be appointed to a presidential cabinet. Chao, who is Taiwanese, was born in China and came to the U.S. when she was 8 years old. Her dad runs a large shipping company. Chao has been married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for 16 years. She has an MBA from Harvard.
Steve Mnuchin, 54 has been designated Secretary of Treasury. He was the finance chair for the Trump campaign (charged with raising money to run the operation). He is a former partner at Goldman Sachs, as was his father, and a Yale graduate. He is a Hollywood producer, financing such films as the X-Men franchise and Avatar. He has been married twice and has three children. He currently lives with actress Louise Linton in California.So far it appears Trump is being very deliberate in making his selections for the top jobs. He appears to be surrounding himself with talented people who haven’t spent their life in politics. How refreshing!
Monday, November 28, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
Our System of Government Worked!
by Steve Fair
In a Washington Post op/ed Mehdi Hasan declared the American political system ‘broken.’(https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2016/11/25/the-american-political-system-is-broken/?utm_term=.2aa47fea2014) Hasan is a British journalist and author who works for Al Jazeera, a media network owned by the government of Qatar. Al Jazeera is perceived to have mainly Islamist perspectives in their reporting, promoting the Muslim Brotherhood and having an anti-Western slant. While Hasan’s opinion should be dismissed as irrelevant and nonsensical, much of what he addresses is the same rhetoric being pushed by Democrat leaders.
Hasan’s cites several reasons America’s system of government is broke- chief among them the ’archaic U.S. electoral college.’ He points out that Trump lost the popular vote to Clinton and that just isn’t fair. In the Brit’s mind, the person who wins the popular vote should be president. Would liberals be as outraged if the reverse was true? Certainly not and everyone knows that. Just like every sore loser in a competitive contest, the rules were unfair (even though you knew the rules going in), the refs were bias, the other team cheated etc.,etc.,etc. It’s never about your bad performance or the good performance of your opponent. If you didn't win, you had to be cheated!
Hasan also cites the amount of money in American’s political system as one of the reasons the system is broke. Welcome to a capitalist society, Mehdi. In America, if someone wants to spend their entire fortune pushing their ideology (George Soros, Charles Koch), they have the right to do so. It’s the job of the educated voter to discern where candidates are getting their funding. Follow the money! There is too much money in politics because not enough people are paying attention to politics. Big donors are buying races and politicians, but the answer isn’t taking away the right of the big donor to be engaged- the answer is to get the average citizen constantly engaged in the process.
Hasan says that America has less voter turnout than other developed countries. That is often true and the primary reason is that people don’t believe their vote makes a difference. They see inconsistency between what a candidate promises and what they actually do in office. If citizens would educate themselves on the issues and would ‘do politics’ more than every two years, it would dilute the influences of special interest in our government
Hasan says Republicans try to suppress the minority vote and gerrymander districts to their benefit. Republicans do support having voters provide a photo ID to vote in an election. That seems to be reasonable and logical. Only those that plan to cheat would oppose that. You can’t cash a check without ID, so why should you be allowed to cast a vote without ID? That is not suppressing the vote- that is simply insuring those who vote are who they say they are. As to gerrymandering, it has been around as long as government and the GOP don’t have a monopoly on it. I ran for Oklahoma State Senate in 2000 against a Democrat incumbent and lost. In 2001, when re-redistricting for State Senate districts took place, the Democrat leadership drew me out of the district. The incumbent, who was termed out and couldn’t run again, gleefully declared my political future was dead. I didn’t complain or call foul because I understood that elections have consequences and the Party in power gets to draw district lines. Is that unfair to the citizens? Perhaps, but that is all the more reason for citizens to stay engaged.
Is our system of government broken? Donald Trump’s victory over establishment candidates actually proves just the opposite. When an ‘outsider’ can run and win over career politicians who are better funded and more politically astute, it means our system of self-government is working, not broken. When unemployed and underemployed Americans turn out in record numbers to vote for a political outsider, it proves the people are sick of their dysfunctional, disconnected government.
What is broken is the hearts of the liberal socialists in America. They lost an election they believe they shouldn’t have, but instead of laying the blame where it belongs; at the feet of Hillary Clinton, they blame the system. The system, while not perfect, worked.
Monday, November 21, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
TRUMP’S APPOINTEES QUALIFIED!
by Steve Fair
President-elect Trump has started to fill key cabinet and White House positions. Thus far, he has designated Alabama US Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Lt. General Mike Flynn as National Security Advisor(which does not require Senate confirmation), and Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo as CIA Director. Those come on the heels of his appointing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus White House Chief of Staff, and Steve Bannon, his campaign manager, to be his chief strategist and senior counselor in the White House.
When Trump announced his picks, he was immediately criticized by the right and left. The left leaning New York Times called his picks, “embarrassing” and Republicans on the right said the picks are too ‘establishment.’ Just who are these people and are they qualified for the position? Here is a quick bio on each of the appointments thus far:
First, Senator Jeff Sessions, Attorney General-designate: He is an Eagle Scout, a former U.S. Attorney and Alabama Attorney General. Sessions, 69, was elected to the United States Senate in 1996, where he is considered to be most of the most conservative members in the chamber. Sessions is a fierce advocate for securing America’s borders and opposes illegal immigration. He has three children and six grandchildren and lives in Mobile, Alabama.
Second, Lt. General Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor: He is a Rhode Island native and a registered Democrat. He retired from the Army in 2014, after 33 years of service. At the time Flynn was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He says he was forced out because he wouldn’t stop criticizing the Obama administration’s laissez-faire policy toward Islamic terrorism. Flynn, 57, wrote a book saying he believes the United States is more at threat now from Islamic terrorism than prior to the 9/11 attacks. He has been widely criticized for making a speech in Russia where Vladimir Putin was in attendance and Flynn was seated at his table. He has expressed conflicting positions on abortion. He is married to his high school sweetheart.
Third, Congressman Mike Pompeo, CIA Director- designate: Pompeo, 52, graduated first in his class from West Point and then went to Harvard and got his law degree. He was editor of the Law Review at Harvard. He served in the military five years. He started and sold an aerospace company and was President of Sentry International, an oilfield equipment company, prior to being elected to Congress. Pompeo is considered to be one of the most conservative members of the House. He is pro-life, strong on the second amendment and opposes the Affordable Care Act. He and his wife have one child.
Fourth, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff: Priebus, 44, has served as Chair of the RNC since January 2011. He went to the University of Wisconsin for his undergraduate and the University of Miami for his law degree. Priebus served as the Chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party and General Counsel for the Republican National Committee prior to being elected Chair of the RNC. He is strongly pro-life. He and his wife, Sally, have two children. Priebus is Greek Orthodox.
Fifth, Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist: Bannon served as CEO of the Trump campaign. He got his undergrad from Virginia Tech, his MBA from Harvard, and a Masters in National Security from Georgetown. Bannon, 63, served in the Navy for seven years, and then went into investment banking, where he was quite successful. He negotiated a piece of the Seinfield series as part of his commission- not bad. He also was a producer in Hollywood. Bannon, who is divorced, has been married three times and has three children.
Trump’s appointees are more than qualified. They have the education and experience to do the job assigned. Critics of the appointments should understand one simple fact; Trump won the election and elections have consequences. Just as the country moved to the left when Obama was elected in 2008, it will likely lurch a little to the right under Trump. Trump’s first hurdle in governing will be getting his appointments confirmed. Will the Senate GOP caucus hold and approve? We shall see.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
TRUMP ELECTED IN UPSET!
by Steve Fair
Donald Trump is President-elect. Winning five states that Romney lost in 2012, Trump finished with 307 electoral votes (270 are needed to win) to Hillary Clinton’s 228. It appears that Clinton may win the popular vote, but that is not definite until all the votes are counted (that takes a couple of weeks). If that happens, this will be the second time in modern history and the fifth time in American history where the president won the majority of the electoral vote, but lost the popular vote. It happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. In the last three, the Republican candidate won the presidency with less popular vote than the Democrat, but a majority of the electoral vote. Immediately Democrats and some misguided Republicans called for the abolishment of the Electoral College. Expect the issue to come up again in the Oklahoma legislature by some clueless lawmaker who slept through civics class and doesn’t understand the genius of the Electoral College. Let’s turn to how Trump won.
First, he tapped into the disgust and anger the American people have with the political class. He won five states that Republicans haven’t won in 20 plus years. He understood what James Carville famously said in 1992; “it’s the economy stupid.” Trump was elected by people who have been affected by the expansion of regulations on business and industry. They are either unemployed or under-employed. Manufacturing has fled the upper Midwest, with Detroit losing nearly one third of their population in just the last decade. Normally, the union vote overwhelmingly goes to the Democrat, but not this year. Trump’s promise to bring manufacturing back to America resonated with the blue collar union members and Hillary was viewed as continuing Obama’s policies, which have decimated Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio jobs. Clinton should have listened to the Ragin Cajun(Carville).
Second, Trump made the election about two things: Clinton’s lack of trust and Obama’s failed policies. Clinton had a major creditability gap and even her supporters admit she had trust issues with voters. Trump promised during the campaign he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the email scandal and Benghazi. Most likely, he will have to follow through, but I seriously doubt Hillary will serve time. Trump also did a masterful job of pointing out the failure of Obama’s policies. The timing of the announcement of 40% plus price increases in premiums didn’t hurt too much either. Obama’s war on coal and other fossil fuel has cost Americans money and jobs. His foreign policy (or lack thereof) have cost American lives.
Third, he got his vote out. By relying on the Republican National Committee’s ground troops, Trump was able to concentrate his campaign’s efforts on big rallies and inspiring people to get involved in the political process that had never darkened the door of a voting booth. That was why the pollsters got it wrong; they were not talking to the previously unengaged voter. Trump’s supporters were people who were on the voter rolls, but seldom if ever voted. Obama tapped into that same mentality in 2008. Trump’s campaign had energy, a necessary component in most successful campaigns. Conversely, Clinton didn’t inspire her supporters and it is apparent some stayed home and didn’t vote at all.
Fourth, Trump sold his message that he is the outsider. That is an undisputed fact- Trump is not a politico. The last time American elected a non-political type to the presidency was in 1952- 64 years ago- when Five Star General Dwight D. Eisenhower won in a landslide over Illinois U.S. Senator Adlai Stevenson. Unlike Trump, Eisenhower was known to Americans because of his leadership in the military. Trump was known as a reality television star, but he convinced Americans to try something different than the political class to lead the country.
Is America a center right country? A center left? The political junkies, on both sides, will ‘spin’ the election results to support their pre-determined conclusion, but the fact is that America is a polarized, divided country. Trump won’t unite the country and if he rolls back some of Obama’s giveaway policies, there will be weeping and wailing, especially from those who are on the government dole. America is far from being great again, but perhaps there is hope if Trump keeps his campaign promises.
Monday, November 7, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
And the Winner is…..
by Steve Fair
Due to printing deadlines, this column is being written before the general election results are known. As you read this, more than likely, America chose a new president and thousands more elected officials yesterday, but be not dismayed- God has this.
Like every election cycle, when it is over, the political analysis begins. Political consultants and Party leaders start pouring over voter data analyzing trends, turnout, demographics, and dozens of other factors. That information will be used to affect future campaign strategy. Political operatives enjoy the post mortem as much as a campaign. Some observations about the 2016 election cycle:
Neither of the two candidates for POTUS- Clinton or Trump- were without flaws. None of us are. Every human is born with an inherent sin nature- we got it from Adam. Any righteousness we have has to come from Christ after we are regenerated. In the case of Clinton and Trump, neither appears to manifest the ‘fruit of the spirit’ that Paul says believers produce after regeneration so in spite of what some well meaning Christian politicos want to believe, the next four years will likely not produce a spiritual revival in America spurred by the moral example in the White House. The best Christians can hope for is a president who will allow the pure gospel to be preached without restriction in our country. If that happens, God will take care of the rest.
Whoever won yesterday inherited a total mess- record unemployment, skyrocketing healthcare costs, mounting national debt, and disunity. In spite of what they said on the campaign trail, neither Trump nor Clinton can fix it without the cooperation and help of Congress and the American people. Our system of government is one of checks and balances. The executive branch can propose legislation, but Congress deposes it. Time will tell if the new POTUS will be part of the solution or the problem.
2016 has been the most polarizing campaign cycle in modern history. Insults and personal attacks happen in every cycle, but the incredible number hurled this year boggles the mind. Donald Trump deserves his share of credit for that, but while the Donald was always on the attack, he was also the most attacked candidate in modern history. The Democrats, the media and even his own Party joined arms against the political outsider, attacking his message and his delivery. To his credit, instead of backing down, he doubled down. Because of that, Trump likely has changed political campaign strategy forever. When something works, others emulate it. Trump’s true ‘straight talk’ approach to politics has appeal to the average Joe. In coming elections, expect candidates, at all levels, to begin to be embolden and candid with voters. That is a positive development in politics. Americans are tired of politicians who tip toe around tough questions and issues and try to tell voters what they want to hear. Trump’s style, while at times offensive and crude, has a candor and boldness that is refreshing.
This was also a campaign with ‘precedents.’ Never has the FBI announced two weeks before the general election they were investigating a presidential candidate. Most would have said that a candidate under federal investigation wouldn’t have chance to win, but the FBI pulled yet another surprise- another unprecedented action. On Sunday, FBI Director Comey sent a letter to Congress ‘clearing’ Secretary Clinton of wrong doing in the email scandal. Never in its history has the FBI so quickly ‘cleared’ a target in an investigation. Normal FBI investigation is methodical, slow, through, and is never rushed. The agency is routinely criticized for their lack of speed in investigations. Both of these actions by the FBI were unprecedented.
The fact is no matter who won the election yesterday, they are not the true winner. If you believe the bible, it is clear who controls this old world- a holy, sovereign God. Nothing happens that He doesn’t have a hand in. Daniel wrote that He sets up and brings down kings(and presidents). That can be frustrating for politicos. They like to think they control their own destiny and arrogantly point to their hard work and superior campaigning skills when they win. While its obvious that God uses human instrumentality to accomplish His will, rest assured He is going to come out on top.
Monday, October 31, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
On Friday October 28th, just ten days before the general election, Director of the FBI, James Comey sent a letter to the Chairmen and ranking members of the nine Congressional committees stating the Bureau was re-opening the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails. The letter read: “In previous congressional testimony, l referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton's personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony. In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation. Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.”
The unrelated case referenced was one that involves former NY Democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner. He is accused of sending lewd texts to a 15 year old underage girl. His wife is Hillary’s top aide and evidently they both used the same unsecured computer for email. Is this an October surprise? Will it persuade voters that Clinton is not fit to be president? Three observations:
First, Comey would not have sent the letter if what the FBI found was minor. It has to be something the investigators believe is subject to prosecution. They wouldn’t have re-opened if it wasn’t. Just three months ago, Comey said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Clinton, but testified before Congress that she had made major mistakes and used poor judgment. Rumors were the ‘career FBI leadership’ was livid that Clinton wasn’t charged. Most likely those bureaucrats put extreme pressure on the director to re-open when this new evidence was found. It has also been alleged the Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, nixed an investigation into the Clinton Foundation’s donors and their access to the State Department. Our system of government allows for the president to appoint the AG and the FBI Director, but the agencies are to operate under the premise that no one is above the law and are not to be influenced by public opinion or politics, only by statute. That appears to not have been the case with Clinton and someone should pay the price. This corruption rises to the highest level of our government and Congress should investigate and punish those who ignored the rule of law.
Second, Comey’s action is unprecedented. There has never been a presidential candidate in the final days of a campaign placed under federal investigation. Clinton released the following statement: “I’m confident whatever they are will not change the conclusion reached in July. Therefore it’s imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay.” Clinton knows that is not going to happen. No federal investigation is conducted in the media. The FBI will methodically conduct their investigation, which will take months, and then release their report. Her statement is a smokescreen.
Third, Comney’s action should concern all Americans. No matter your party affiliation or political ideology, every voter should pay attention. Much has been made of the ‘fitness’ of the two candidates. One is a loud, brash, blowhard who has no filter and hurls insults like a late night comedian. The other is a career politician who has a string of scandals dating back decades and who has been so careless that she is now under her second federal investigation in a year. Trump has dubbed Clinton, “Crooked Hillary.”Is Comey’s announcement that Clinton is again under federal investigation a game changer? It would be the death sentence to a presidential campaign in a normal political year, but 2016 is not the normal year. Many voters- in both parties- will not care because they are blinded by party loyalty, but Director Comey’s action is unprecedented. Do we really want to elect a person under federal investigation? Seriously?
Monday, October 24, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
POLL THAT MATTERS IS NOVEMBER 8TH
by Steve Fair
Less than two weeks until the election. The major media is reporting that Clinton is ‘surging’ and Trump is ‘tanking’ based on polling. According to FiveThirtyEight, a polling operation that aggregates several polls, Clinton’s chances of beating Trump are 86.6%. They also forecast that Republicans will lose the Senate, but hold the House. While most believe Clinton is headed for victory, Trump is a candidate whose unconventional style presents a challenge for the conventional pollsters.
First, Trump brings new voters to the polls. Those ‘new voters’ are never polled, because they are not considered ‘likely’ voters. A conventional poll sampling includes those who have shown up to vote in the past and never includes new registered voters and infrequent voters. Trump appeals to the non-political and the causal voter. If those show up, all bets are off. The well-respected Gallup organization missed the 2012 election when they predicted Mitt Romney would beat Obama. In trying to explain how they got it wrong, they said they misidentified likely voters. Pew Research says the biggest challenge in polling is ‘forecasting who will vote.’ While polling, for the most part is very accurate, it is not an exact science.
Second, voter intensity is not something that polls can measure. Energy in politics wins elections. Clinton doesn’t energize her supporters, Trump does. Intensity moves people to the polls and in a close election, it pushes candidates to victory. Trump’s voters will vote- Hillary’s may not. Trump is drawing huge crowds to large rallies, but that is just one part of voter intensity- they still have to show up. It is amazing how many people are influenced by polling. It’s called the ‘bandwagon’ effect. People want to vote for the winner. Rush Limbaugh says the reason the media is hyping the poll numbers is to suppress the Trump vote. They are trying to downplay the voter intensity advantage Trump has over Clinton.
Third, pollsters are often hirelings. Polls are commissioned by organizations (often media) that are looking for a predetermined outcome and they are seldom disappointed. You will note that CNN and Fox seldom have the same numbers in polls- in fact they are usually the exact opposite. Pollsters often give their client what they want- documentation for stating an editorial position. That is not to say there aren’t good pollsters who use unbiased methods to gather data, but often pollsters are no better at predicting an election result than the weatherman.
Fourth, polls are not always right. In fairness, they get it right more than they get it wrong, but they had Obama losing to Romney and the Democrats holding the Senate in the midterms. They had Gore beating Bush by 2 points in 2000. Polls had Dewey beating Truman- remember the newspaper that prematurely printed the headline? The mother of all botched political polls was a 1936 Literary Digest straw poll survey that said GOP challenger Alf Landon would win in a landslide over the incumbent, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with 57 percent of the vote. Literary Digest had correctly predicted the previous 8 presidential elections. Interestingly enough, the only pollster who got it right was an upstart named George Gallup.Several years ago, I was being interviewed by a reporter after an election and they asked how our Republican candidates had won in a county with a majority of Democrat voters and I responded, “They got more votes than their opponent.” The reporter thought I was simply being sarcastic, but I went on to explain that getting the vote out is what wins elections. Nearly 50% of Republicans voted in that election, but only 38% of the Democrats. Voter intensity and getting the voter to the polls is a fundamental principle in politics. Clinton understands that concept- she is a seasoned politician who has done politics for years. Trump isn’t using conventional methods to get his vote out, but he motivates voters like no politician in recent memory. That will help his turnout numbers.