Sunday, October 27, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
On Sunday, President Trump announced that Islamic State mastermind Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “died like a dog” in an overnight U.S. military operation. Immediately Trump’s political rivals said he gave out more information about the operation than he should have, and his tone provoked Baghdadi’s successors. Interesting enough, the POTUS did not inform Congress of the Special Force’s operation because he feared leaks. Three observations:
First, Trump is not a polished politician. It’s not likely he will ever become one. He pokes fun at career politicians and fires up crowds by promising to ‘drain the swamp’ of the baby kissers. He relishes not acting presidential. He uses the same adjectives to describe his political opponents as he does terrorists like Baghdadi. He’s unconventional, unorthodox, and unpredictable. He uses poor judgment when addressing a crowd and lets his undisciplined, unstructured style often get him in trouble, but his policy decisions are usually sound. As to his approach, he could learn something from Ecclesiastes 5:6
Second, not informing Congress is a dangerous precedent. President Trump said he notified only two GOP U.S. Senators because he feared a leak if he told some of the Democrats in leadership (Pelosi). It’s sad when our country has become so polarized that all sides can’t agree that taking down the most wanted person in the world is vital to the nation’s security. For this operation to be hid from the people’s elected representatives because of the fear of a leak to the press, which would jeopardize the operation putting American lives in danger, is beyond the pale. But that is where we are in the U.S. You can’t blame President Trump for not telling Congress because their track record proves they are untrustworthy, but it’s a sad day for America.
Third, the terrorists will not quit. In August 2019, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi nominated an Iraqi, Abdullah Qardash, as his successor to lead the Islamic State. Most experts believe Baghdadi wasn’t actively running the day to day operations of ISIL and Qardash was. Like a snake whose head can still bite after being severed from its body, these radicals are in the fight to the death. Ignoring them or negotiating with them will not work.
President Trump says his recent decision to withdraw troops from Syria was one of the reasons Baghdadi was flushed out. The New York Times says just the opposite-that the decision hurt the operation to get Baghdadi. The true reason America is safe is because of our superior military; men and women who lay their life on the line daily so we can remain a free country. President Trump recognized that on Sunday saying: “I want to thank the soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines involved in last night’s operation. You are the very best there is anywhere in the world, no matter where you go there is nobody even close,” The liberals and the media won’t give him credit, but his decisive leadership is the reason Baghdadi was taken out. It lacks in style points, but Trump’s chaotic leadership style works.
Monday, October 21, 2019
Monday, October 14, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
780 & 781 NEED TO BE
by Steve Fair
Oklahoma has a higher crime rate than the national average in 2018. In recently FBI data, the Sooner state had higher rates of crime in murder, rape, aggravated assault and property crime. The only category where Oklahoma was lower than the national average was armed robbery. Crime was up +1.9% over last year in Oklahoma and the violent crime rate was 466 incidents per 100,000 people. Nationally, violent crime declined -3.7%. According to Christopher Hill of the University of Oklahoma Sociology department the higher crime is a regional issue with states with higher poverty rates having higher crime rates.
Five metropolitan areas in Oklahoma were tracked in the report- Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, Enid, and eastern Oklahoma/Fort Smith, AK. Tulsa had the highest murder rate; Lawton the highest rates of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and burglary. Enid had the lowest crime rates among the four MSAs. Three observations:
First, unfortunately crime follows poverty. That doesn’t mean that poor people automatically turn to crime. Most poor people don’t commit crime just because they don’t have enough money, but some do. Drug use and mental illness, which is higher among lower income earners, are contributors to the higher crime rates as well. The study also found that crime victims in Oklahoma are also at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Poor people tend to prey on poor people. Oklahoma ranks in the bottom third of states in per capita income. We remain a poor state.
Second, the report should generate concern. In 2016, Oklahoma voters approved SQ 780 and SQ 781 that reclassified simple drug possession and some property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Proponents were trying to address Oklahoma’s non-violent incarceration rates. Decriminalizing or reclassifying was their solution. The measures went into effect on July 1, 2017. 780 and 781 has tied the hands of law enforcement and prosecutors and resulted in the opposite effect- higher crime. Oh, the peril of unintended consequences.
Third, the solution to reducing crime is multi-faceted. Getting people good jobs would help, but recruiting business to a state and asking establishing business to expand in a state with high crime rates is a challenge. Addressing mental illness and drug use by the legislature and the private sector is long overdue. Rolling back the unintended consequences of 780 and 781 would be a place to start, The impact of 780 and 781 on Oklahoma’s crime rate has had the exact opposite effect it was aimed to do. Instead of reducing crime, the declassifying of certain crimes has resulted in little deterrent for criminals. Felony charges were down -28% across the state in the first six months after implementation of 780 and 781. While that did result in less people in prison, the unintended consequences are more criminals on the street.
Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen steadily since the early 1990s and according to criminologists it is due to higher incarceration rates and improvements in the economy. Oklahoma has moved the opposite direction. There is little doubt the motives of those pushing 780 and 781 were pure, but the results have been polluted. ‘Do the crime, do the time,’ was an effective deterrent. Remove it and crime increases.
Monday, October 7, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
The impeachment train seems to be moving down the tracks and it does appear the U.S. House will move forward with impeachment of President Trump. This weekend, there were several new developments. On Friday, a deadline for turning over documents to the House by the State department passed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his office will “obviously do all the things we are required to do by law.” Also on Friday, Speaker Pelosi subpoenaed the White House for documents regarding the phone call Trump had with Ukraine President Zelensky. On Saturday, President Trump tweeted that Senator Mitt Romney, (R-Utah) should be ‘impeached’ after Romney criticized the president. Members of Congress are not impeached, but removed and it is done by the body in which they serve. Removal requires a 2/3 majority of the body. On Sunday, the lawyer for the ‘whistleblower’ who first came forward regarding the Trump/Zelensky phone call said he was also representing a second whistleblower. No details on what that whistleblower claims Trump did. Also on Sunday, a former Trump company employee said she thought he might resign rather than face impeachment. “He does a lot of things to save face. My gut instinct is he’ll leave office, he’ll resign or make some kind of a deal to avoid impeachment,” Barbara Res said. Res is a former VP of the Trump Organization and has been critical of the president since his election. Three thoughts:
First, impeachment that doesn’t result in removal from office is risky for the Democrats. It will obviously further polarize the country. It will energize Trump’s base. It runs the risk of damaging one of their frontrunner candidates (Biden) in a Senate trial. It puts the people’s business on hold for a year. When House Republicans impeached Bill Clinton in 1998, knowing there was no chance of his being removed from office, they failed to see the backlash from citizens who saw the process as a waste of time.
Second, Trump might resign rather than have impeachment on his resume. He takes great pride in his ‘brand’ and impeachment is a stain on his legacy. Only two presidents have been impeached- Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. That is not something presidents want to be remembered for. Res, a disgruntled former employee who worked for Trump a decade and does have some insight into his personality, could be right. At some point, ‘the juice may not be worth the squeeze,’ and he may let Vice President Pence finish his term.
Third, the most likely scenario is Trump will fight to the death. Backing down is not his style. Negotiation and compromise are part of what he does, but he prides himself on winning the haggling. He is a risk taker, seldom proceeds with caution, is spontaneous and decisive. He doesn’t second guess his judgment or decisions. He doesn’t tolerate fools. He doesn’t start fights, but he doesn’t back down when attacked. Folks like that don’t go ‘gentle into that good night.’Impeachment is all the media has covered the past two weeks. A trade agreement with Japan, Trump’s individual meetings with a dozen world leaders at the UN(unprecedented), and good economic news for the U.S. went unreported. A decade ago, the media attempted to hide their bias, but no more. They have become nothing more than echo chambers pushing their political values. Time will reveal how this will turn out, but the polarization of America continues.