Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quid Pro Quo???

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     Uranium is a very heavy metal that is naturally radioactive.  It is found in low concentrations( a few parts per million) in soil, rock, and surface and groundwater.  Uranium in its pure form is a silver-colored metal nearly twice as dense as lead.  Uranium was discovered in 1789 by Martin Klaproth, a German chemist.  Kaproth named the new element after the planet Uranus.   Thirty percent of the world’s uranium is in Australia; the United States has only four percent, Russia nine percent. 
     For many years, uranium was used primarily as a colorant in ceramic glazes, producing colors that ranged from orange-red to lemon yellow. It was also used for tinting in early photography. Its radioactive properties were not recognized until 1896, and its potential for use as an energy source was not realized until the middle of the 20th century. Today, its primary use is as fuel in nuclear power reactors to generate electricity. One ton of natural uranium can produce more than 40 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. This is equivalent to burning 16,000 tons of coal or 80,000 barrels of oil. There are currently 104 operating U.S. nuclear power plants using uranium as a fuel source that produce over 20 percent of U.S. electricity. Worldwide, there are 441 nuclear power plants that supply about 16 percent of the world's electricity. Uranium has numerous industrial uses in the health care and other industries.  It also has military applications. The major application of uranium in the military sector is in high-density penetrator ammunition.  Tank armor is hardened with depleted uranium plates. Highly enriched uranium can be used to construct an atomic bomb.
     In 2003, the price of uranium was $10.75 per pound.. By mid 2006, the price had risen to approximately $45.00 per pound. The price peaked in 2007 when the price approached $100.00 per pound.  The price today is around $39.00 per pound, but it has been up as of late(+11% in the last week) because Japan announced they were going to start using uranium to power their power plants.
     In January 2013, the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, took over a Canadian company, Uranium One.  The company has uranium mining operations throughout the world, including in the United States.  The takeover gave the Russians 20% of the uranium being mined in the U.S.  Uranium is considered a strategic asset in the U.S, with implications for national security, so the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, headed by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Shortly before the deal was completed, former President Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock. And after the deal was completed, money began to flow into the Clinton Foundation from several people who benefited from the sale.
     Uranium One’s chairman, Canadian Frank Giustra, used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation and in total has donated $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with President Obama when she was being considered for Secretary of State to publicly identify all donors to the Clinton Foundation.
     Even liberals are asking questions about these foreign donations.  The New York Times did an exclusive story last week questioning the Clinton’s judgment in accepting donations from foreign governments.  CBS is doing an investigative report.  These are not the right wing news outlets.  As they say, Hillary has some ‘plaining to do.’ 
     Clinton Foundation spokesperson Molly Pally, admitted the Foundation had ‘mistakenly combined’ government grants with other donations.   "Yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don't happen in the future," Pally said.   
     Some liberals will try to make this just about the Clintons getting money and that Republicans are simply making a mountain out of a molehill.  Money is certainly part of the issue.  The Clintons are all about padding their own nest, whether it is charging outrageous speaking fees or getting insider trading information, but this goes far beyond money.  This is about national security.  This goes way beyond politics.  Putin has made no secret of his desire for Russian to control the world’s uranium supply and you can bet he will not use it just for cleaner cheaper energy.  Was there quid pro quo("something for something" in Latin)?  America needs to know, particularly since Mrs. Clinton wants to be our next president.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Clinton short on Accomplishments!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     On Sunday, Hillary Clinton announced she is a candidate for the Democrat Party’s nomination for President.  It came as no surprise, since she has been hiring campaign staff and mapping strategy for quite some time.  “I’m running for president,” she said with a smile near the end of two minute video.  “Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion,” Mrs. Clinton said. “So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote — because it’s your time. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”  Clinton is the presumptive nominee of the Democrat party and leads VP Joe Biden in early polls 65% to 12% among primary voters.  For those in the Republican Party who think that Clinton can’t win the presidency, consider the following: 53% of the voters in the 2012 election were women.  Women turn out and vote.  In the last eight presidential general elections, women have a higher turnout percentage than men.  Hillary is touting her gender this time around, unlike when she ran against Obama in 2008.  Women tend to vote more readily for women.  Clinton has a built-in definitive advantage simply because of her gender.  She also has the ability to raise massive amounts of money.  It’s reported she plans to have a 2.5 billion dollar campaign budget.  But while Hillary can win, she does have significant negatives.
     First, a recent CNN polls showed the public don’t view her as “honest and trustworthy,” after it was revealed that she has used a personal email address and home-based server to conduct U.S. State Department business.  Hillary’s excuse that she used one email account so that she could carry just one phone for ‘convenience,’ is inconsistent with what she said just two weeks ago.  She is quoted as saying she now ‘carries two phones.’  Hillary also claims she didn’t send any classified information over her personal account during the years she was SOS, but that can’t be verified because she will not allow an independent examiner look at the server that stores her email because it also has Bill Clinton’s on it.  Reportedly, Bill Clinton doesn’t use email at all, so that story is inconsistent.
     Second, the killing of four Americans at the U.S. Embassy compound in Benghazi in 2012 while Clinton was Secretary of State is viewed very negatively by the general public.  Clinton’s lack of a timely response to a request by the American ambassador for more security resulted in Congressional hearings where she was viewed as condescending and arrogant.  That might play well with her base, but the general public saw her as heartless and dismissive to legitimate questions from members of Congress.
     Third, Clinton’s political shelf life is close to expiration.  If elected, Hillary would be 69 when inaugurated.  That would be the same age Ronald Reagan was when he was first elected, but Hillary isn’t Reagan.  She doesn’t have his charisma or communication skills.  Reagan was in great physical shape for a man his age- Hillary has experienced numerous health issues. Younger voters are not going to be energized by Hillary and increasingly milleniums(voters between 18-26) are becoming a critical demographic to winning an election.  Hillary isn’t ‘new’ and that is an important characteristic for a successful political candidate.  She has been on the political scene for 25 years and that is an eternity in politics.
     Fourth, Hillary is dull.  She is boring.  Of all her negatives, this may be the one that will hurt her the most.  Her body movements are calculated and she shows little spontaneity.  Her speech pattern is monotone.  That is why Barack Obama was able to beat her in the 2008 primary.  Being more engaging and fun is vital in today’s social media driven campaigns. 
Clinton has an impressive resume, but her list of actual accomplishments is short.  Conversely, her list of scandals is long. Republicans have multiple candidates more qualified and trustworthy to be POTUS.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Get the Average Guy Engaged!!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     The November 2014 midterm elections had the lowest voter turnout in seventy two (72) years.  Nationwide, only 36.4% of eligible voters bothered to go to the polls.  That was down from 40.9% in the 2010 midterms.  In Oklahoma 29.9% of the eligible voters cast their ballot in November 2014.  That was down from 38.8% in 2010.  Some legislators have proposed legislation that would expand voting opportunities in Oklahoma, by adding extra days to vote and voting electronically, but that’s not the answer to Oklahoma’s low voter turnout problem.  Allow me to comment briefly;
     First, the primary reason Oklahoma’s turnout was low in the general election is because the Oklahoma Republican Party dominated the 2014 elections.  Over 70% of Republicans on the ballot in November won!  That is staggering.  Democrats did not even field candidates for three statewide races- State Auditor, Attorney General, and Treasurer.  That was historic!  In the statewide races that were contested, Republicans won easily.  Many legislative and county officer races across the Sooner state were decided in the primary, thereby negatively affecting turnout in the general election.  Until the Oklahoma Democrat Party regroups and begin to field competitive candidates, they will give little reason for Oklahoma Democrats to vote.  No legislation, expansion of voting hours, or easing of registration will fix the basic issue; there were no competitive races.    
     Second, voter apathy is a record level.  Young and old people are just not participating in the political process for a variety of reasons.  They don’t see any real purpose in voting because there is never a significant change no matter who wins an election.  That lack of change reinforces their apathetic attitude and the cycle continues.  Conservatives campaign on conservative issues, but never follow-up after being elected.  Liberals do the same thing.  It’s the old ‘bait and switch’ trick.  We will never get young people engaged until they truly see that government impacts their lives.  They have to see elected officials are not leaders of society, but servants of society.  They must understand the government has no money other than what the taxpayer gives it.  Apathy is a hard cycle to break and no amount of prodding or education will work until the politics becomes personal.  Until a person becomes painfully aware that a decision by government has negatively impacted their life or pocketbook, they will likely just ignore government.  The reason the ‘average guy’ is never heard from by elected officials is because he is too busy working and raising his family.  He doesn’t have time to go to the Capitol to lobby his elected officials.  He doesn’t care who they are, could care less about getting his picture made with some politician or attending some high dollar fundraiser.  He just wants the government to leave him alone.  Those are the people who should be involved in politics- the average guys, not the political groupies, lobbyists, activists, and hacks who live and breath politics.  The average guys are the backbone of America.  If the average guys ever rise up in mass, watch out, because they are about results, not spin. 
     Third, an ‘unintended consequence’ of the low voter turnout in November will be a reduction in the number of signatures needed to get an initiative petition on the ballot.  Oklahoma’s state constitution says a state question can be placed on the ballot if signature totaling 15% of the total number who voted in the Governor’s race can be gathered.  The required number was reduced after November from 155,000 to 122,000.  That is still a high threshold, but its 21% less than it was.  It is time to consider an initiative petition calling for recall elections in Oklahoma.  Term limits for elected officials reveal a weakness in accountability to voters and a need for recall.  If a person knows they are not going to face voters ever again, they can pretty much do whatever they want.  Some termed out legislators have commented to that effect.  Lame ducks have no risk, because they are done facing voters.  If a termed out elected official thought they might face recall, it might keep them on the reservation throughout their term.  Recall is needed to maintain accountability.