Monday, July 31, 2017
Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
The White House Chief of Staff (COS) is traditionally the highest ranking person in the White House. Their duties include staffing the West Wing, structuring the staff, controlling the flow of people into the Oval Office and in general protecting the interests of the president. They traditionally help the president negotiate with Congress. Most often the COS is the president’s closest advisor. On Friday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus was replaced by President Trump with Secretary of Homeland Security General John Kelly. The average tenure of a COS is just eighteen months. Preibus, the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, served as Trump’s COS for six months. Four observations:
First, Reince Preibus is an honorable man. He did an outstanding job leading the RNC and ran a fair primary system that Trump won, in spite of his complaining the system was rigged. Preibus raised the money and led the RNC to build campaign infrastructure- called 24/7/365- in swing states that helped Trump prevail in the general election. Preibus’ importance to Trump’s victory in November can’t be overstated. For that reason alone, he didn’t deserve the personal insults and attacks that Anthony Scaramucci leveled against him last week. To his credit Reince never publically criticized the president or got in the mud with Scaramucci.
Second, Preibus was given the COS job to help Trump get his agenda through Congress. That is where he failed. Because Reince is close friends with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the president expected him to capitalize on that relationship and others he has with members of Congress and help move Trump’s agenda through Congress. That didn’t happen, for a variety of reasons, and none of them Reince Preibus’ fault. He had the relationships and is well respected on the Hill, but the fundamental problem is the inability of the GOP caucus to stick together and the ability of the Democrats to stick together. That is what has created this crazy do-nothing dynamic. It is critical the president find someone to replace Preibus that will ‘hawk his message’ on the Hill and that person isn’t Kelly.
Third, Trump is not looking for a traditional Chief of Staff. Many advisors have his ear, including two family members. Trump’s COS has the unenviable task of trying to maintain conventional order in an unconventional environment. This president doesn’t sit down with key advisors and ask for counsel before he tweets. He fires the gun and then aims, expecting his staff to provide proof texts for his tweets.
Fourth, Trump prefers authoritative leaders and John Kelly fits that bill. He is 67 and a retired 40 year Marine 4 star general. His first request of the president was to ask for him to fire Anthony Scaramucci, who had the Communications Director’s job for eleven days. It appears Kelly has Trump’s ear- something that Preibus had lost.
With the turnover in the White House the last couple of weeks, it reminds you on an episode of Trump on The Apprentice, where he concluded every show with, "You're Fired!"
Monday, July 24, 2017
Weekly Opinion Editorial
WELCOME TO THE NEW REALITY!
by Steve Fair
With the departure of Sean Spicer as White House Press Secretary and Communications Director and the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci, a hard charging former Wall Street executive, it appears President Trump is planning to go even more unconventional in delivering his message to the public. On Saturday, the president tweeted no less than ten times on a variety of subjects. Trump has been vocal of his criticism of the mainstream media, but it appears the new plan is to bypass them altogether. Four observations:
First, the purpose for daily press briefings at the White House is to put their ‘spin’ on what they are doing. Trump is not the first president to use the briefings to defend, deflect and solicit support for his agenda. Every president in modern times used the press briefing as a propaganda tool. Those who say Trump is the first are either ignorant or dishonest. The daily briefing is not required of an administration and Trump may elect to discontinue it.
Second, the press created this credibility situation. It is highly unlikely that Trump would have been effective in cutting out the media if the media had been doing their job. Instead of being journalists, they have been editorialists. The media ‘spins’ every story and that goes for both conservatives and liberals. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the rest have become so predictable in how they cover Trump, it’s laughable.
Third, just because Trump is cutting out the middleman, it doesn’t mean the ‘spin’ will stop. The president is always going to present his view as fact. When he tweets out a message, he is ‘spinning’ the facts his way. So long as people understand that. Far too many conservatives treat Trump’s tweets like divine revelation. Blind loyalty to any man- conservative or liberal- is a mistake. As Reagan said, trust, but verify.
Fourth, millennials get their news and information from sources other than mainstream media. Social media, such as texting, tweeting, and Facebook are millennials’ go to source for news. Trump- and Scaramucci- understand that. Scaramucci said, “I have in my pocket a radio studio, a television, and a movie studio.” He’s right. Traditional media is a thing of the past. Anyone with a smart phone can record and report.
The founding fathers understood the importance of a free press. That is why they included it in the first amendment. A free press, by presenting the facts, can be an effective tool to hold government officials accountable to the people. They can help educate and can publicize issues that need attention. The founders understood that. Unfortunately, the modern press has evolved into nothing more than propaganda actors who ‘spin’ the news to fit their worldview. It’s unlikely we will see a return to true professional journalism again. Welcome to the new information age reality where tweeting and spinning are the norm.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Weekly Opinion Editorial
CORRUPTION IN POLITICS?
by Steve Fair
What makes America’s political process corrupt? It is not restricted to just one Party. Both major political Parties have elected officials that lie, cheat and steal to remain in power. Both Parties have been plagued with sex, embezzlement, and bribery scandals. You can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV and not see a report about political scandal. Is America’s political process corrupt? How did it get that way and how do we rectify it?
First, politicians are just like everyone else. They are born with an inherent sin nature and are subject to the same temptations as any other person. To expect an elected official to behave at a higher moral level than the general public just because they are in a position of leadership is foolhardy. Until God does a work of regeneration in any man, they will be a slave to pride and covetousness, the root causes of corruption.
Second, no one is irreplaceable. Too many politicians think of themselves as indispensable. There are too many ‘career’ politicians. Our federal political system rewards seniority. Recently an Oklahoma congressman announced his decision to break a pledge to serve just six years in Congress because in his words (I’m paraphrasing) he was just too valuable to the country to come back home. Think of the pride and arrogance of that statement? It should immediately disqualify the person from public service. The late French president Charles DeGaulle said, ‘the cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.” When an elected official (or anyone else) takes themselves so serious that they begin to believe they can’t be replaced, quickly step back away from them. You don’t want to be close when the lightening from heaven strikes.
Third, many elected officials are simply ‘in over their head.’ That means they are either not qualified to do the job or simply can’t cope with the rigors of the job. When unqualified people are elected to office, it provides a seedbed for corruption. How do unqualified people get elected? Politics has evolved from public service to a multi-billion dollar industry composed of consultants and fundraisers, using well executed marketing plans to get candidates elected who are beholden to those who funded their campaigns. The goal then becomes staying in office, not serving the public. The elected official’s staff strokes their ego and tells them how important and vital they are to the country. They begin to believe it and act accordingly.
Until God chooses to move on the heart of unregenerate man and draw them to Christ, we can expect to have corrupt politicians (and citizens). What might make the difference would be for those who are involved in the political process to start living out the gospel in their lives, instead of contradicting it. The hope of America is not the cleaning up of the political process- it is the gospel of Christ.
Monday, July 10, 2017
Activists need to stop acting like rock star groupies around elected officials and start holding them accountable!
Weekly Opinion Editorial
ARE WE PAST THE POINT OF NO RETURN?
by Steve Fair
A much debated subject today is what is the proper role of government? Some believe that government should provide for its citizens basic needs from the cradle to the grave. Others believe the government should do nothing more than secure the borders, maintain a strong military, and punish those that do evil. The vast majority of Americans fall somewhere in the middle. Four points:
First, America is a self-governed nation. That means the citizens are in charge. They determine who represents them. They determine how much of their hard earned money is given to the government. If America has bad government or if taxes are too high, the governed have no further to look than the mirror. They have no one to blame but themselves. Few citizens pay attention to what is going on. It is estimated that less than 1% of the American people consistently pay attention to their government.
Second, government can’t give you anything. Government produces nothing- it consumes. In a self governed system, government can only give back to the governed what they have taken from it- minus a large handling fee. Government doesn’t fund any social programs- taxpayers fund programs. Government only administers the program and usually with more red tape than necessary.
Third, there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch.’ Free does not exist in any economical system. Somebody is paying the bill. When the ‘government’ provides health care coverage for a citizen, other citizens are paying the bill. The money to provide it didn’t magically appear like manna from heaven. Often, the governed agree to the tax and are willing to be taxed to help their fellow citizens, but more often than not, they aren’t consulted. The frightening thing about the last election is when Bernie Sanders can draw 25,000 millenniums to a stadium promising ‘free stuff.’ That is our future America- a generation who believes there is such a thing as free stuff.
Fourth, the founders established a government with limitations. The federal government was to be limited in its scope and power. They put most of the power at the state level. While that fact is largely ignored and ridiculed today, it remains a fact. The federal government spends more than it takes in and has no chance of economical survival without major adjustments.
So are we past the point of no return? Will those who want ‘free stuff’ and more government programs rule the day? Maybe, but until then, it goes back to the governed taking equity in their government. When citizens start showing up, the politicos will change. When citizens start holding their elected officials accountable and GOP activists stop acting like groupies at a rock concert when they see an elected official, perhaps we will see true change.
Saturday, July 1, 2017
Weekly Opinion Editorial
MEDIA ARE VERBAL BULLIES!
by Steve Fair
We live in a world full of bullies. There are physical bullies and verbal bullies. Psychologists believe bullies of all types have low self-esteem and that is why they try to intentionally hurt others. For many bullies, it’s a power trip to use aggressive behavior against someone else. There are two ways to react to a bully- either passive or aggressive.
The passive way is very effective. Simply ignore the bully. Recognize they are nothing more than a paper tiger and its them that has the problem, not you. By not reacting to them or their attacks, the power they derive from bullying is taken away. When the victim of bullying reacts to a bully, it legitimizes the bully. It puts the bully in a power position. Most bullies want their victim to react. They want to spar with them. When a victim ignores the bully, often the bully will just move to another victim.
The second way to deal with a bully is by aggression. When attacked by a bully, counter attack aggressively and overwhelm the bully. This isn’t just reacting, its attacking. It is a scorched earth aggression. The bully has no idea what hit them. Most bullies will immediately cry victim and attempt to justify their bad behavior that started this unwinnable war in the first place.
Most people deal with bullies by being passive. Others like President Trump deal with them by being aggressive. In the media, there are a multitude of verbal bullies. They have attacked past presidents and administration with lies and exaggerations, and for the most part were simply ignored by their victims. That is until Donald Trump was elected. This guy doesn’t just hit back with equal force, but in his own words- he hits back ten times harder. When someone attacks him or lies about him, he tweets out an attack that leaves them lying in the dust. Two things to remember about Donald Trump:
First, Trump don’t start fights, but he finishes them. If someone in the media decides to tackle Trump, they better be prepared to go the full 15 rounds. This guy will come out swinging when he is attacked. Second, Donald Trump is decisive and aggressive and will not give anyone a pass. A majority of Americans like that.
For the past eight years, America had a stalled federal government. President Obama and Congress couldn’t agree on a budget. We had a failed foreign policy, unemployment was at record levels and the list goes on and on, but the mainstream media sang President Obama’s praises every chance they got. Then along comes Trump- brash, aggressive and unconventional. The media can’t say one thing nice about him. They don’t understand why he tweets out cruel things about them after they publically attack him.
I’m not saying that Trump is right to tweet out personal attacks on reporters. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but don’t lose sight of who starts this verbal sparring. The media are not victims- they are verbal bullies.