Op-Ed: Bye, Bye, Bill By Fletcher Hall

Bill O’Reilly is out of the building, So is Roger Ailes and Bill Shine. All Fox News’ executives. The primary reasons given for the exits are sexual harassment scandals; however, the reasons are more complex.
In addition to large settlement payments and buyouts of contracts, there are other reasons the network and their owner, 21st Century Fox, were forced to make these decisions. Primarily, it was just business.

The Fox Network simply could not afford the cash drain and potential loss of advertising revenue they are facing. In the 24-hour-news cycle, it is vital to secure and retain adequate income streams to cover costs and guarantee profits. Fox has long been profitable and maintained very favorable ratings among the various cable news channels.

The Fox News prime time offerings had a rather long run while continuing to yield high ratings. The new prime time lineup will have to prove that wise business decisions have been made in the corporate offices of Fox News.

Conservative leanings have been the forte of Fox. It is ironic that their preferred presidential candidate and their preferred congressional candidates (the Republican Party) control the executive and legislative offices of the national government. Should the ratings for Fox fall, will the President and congressional leaders be as inclined to grant exclusive interviews and use the bully pulpit for their views and philosophy?

This new reality now faces the Fox News Network and may have implications for advertising revenue and ratings. Both of these issues are corporate business decisions which will determine the future of the network.

It was difficult to determine if O’Reilly was a news broadcaster or a television showman. I suspect he was more of the latter, which was reflected by the high ratings of “The O’Reilly Factor” show. “The Sean Hannity Show” may well be in the same category. Regardless of their format, all of the Fox Network programs promote the conservative cause.

On the other hand, CNN exhibits the same programming tendency, promoting the liberal point of view. Watching both news channels is somewhat like watching a tennis match. Both can bore one to tears with the repetition of the same news item hour after hour during the 24-hour-news’ cycle. Thank goodness for weekends. Obviously, there are other outlets through which to find news programming, but many of these networks have lost both prestige and viewership.

Cable news and social news appear to dominate the national conversation. I am not sure whether this trend is healthy or destructive. In a republic, the dissemination of knowledge is essential. The question in 2017 is the truthfulness and value of how that knowledge is being disseminated. Too many newscasters appear to editorialize or provide innuendos that meet the outlook of that particular news channel.

As for the exit of Bill O’Reilly, the “king” of cable news, it was time for him to move on and explore new horizons. He can write more books, do more personal appearance shows, or perhaps consider the job of White House press secretary, should that job become available. Laugh all the way to the bank, Mr. O’Reilly, Mr. Ailes, and Mr. Shine. Parting is so financially remunerative.

O’Reilly was at Fox for almost 20 years and will be missed by many. Not so much by others. Some people can identify a blowhard when they see one. Now he can find other venues in which he can pontificate and bloviate.

The spin has stopped. Let’s hope there will be someone new and, perhaps, more humble to look out for us. Perhaps that will become the real mission of President Trump. Now that Bill is gone, there has to be someone to care. If Bill were still here, we could just ask him.

Hillary Lost by Fletcher Hall

Hillary Clinton lost the Nov. presidential election. She may have garnered 2.6 million popular votes more than Trump. However, she lost in the electoral college. That will not change. It is a fact. End of story. Like it or not, Donald Trump destroyed two politicly American dynastic families, the Bushes, and the Clintons. Quite a feat. One which will undoubtedly be included in a history book and debated in political classes for years to come.

Enough of the American voters, in enough states, voted to Elect Donald Trump, President of the United States. For many reasons, frustrated and anxious Americans wanted a change. Change very different from the change by President Barack Obama just eight years earlier. Sort of reminds me of the slogan of the 1920 Warren Harding campaign, “A Return to Normalcy.” The 1920’s was a volatile and diverse time. Not all positive and productive. The next four years may prove if history repeats itself, or new chapters will be written. It was fascinating to watch Wisconsin go for Trump. That state had voted Democratic in the last seven presidential elections. No poll before the election gauged the anxiety and angst in the nation, especially in states between the two coasts.

Maryland really is out in the cold, politically. Trump did not carry the state. Governor Hogan did not support Trump. The Maryland congressional delegation is predominately Democratic, with only Congressman who is a Republican. Is Andy Harris. The new Democrat Senator is from Montgomery County and has already been named to heady the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Then the first action of the new Baltimore City Council was to unanimously pass a resolution to belittle and chastise the new President-Elect. A real neophyte error for a municipal government in need of federal assistance.

The election is over. Hillary lost, and Obama will be leaving the White House. The efforts by advocates for the losing party has been offering excuse after excuse for the Clinton loss. The Russians were involved trying to influence the U.S. elections. Fake news sank the campaign. FBI Director Comey caused the Clinton campaign loss. The campaign did not appear in states they took for granted, such as Michigan. The facts are that the Hillary campaign simply failed. A coronation was not in the cards in 2016.
Americans came out and voted. Frustrated, disappointed, having waited for years, for improvement in their conditions to improve. Many middle-class voters spoke out and forced the change to happen. Changes which are taking place, as the reality of the election goes forward. A cabinet is being appointed.

Transition teams are meeting daily. Inaugural platforms and bleachers are being erected. There tangible examples of the transfer of power, in the United States, which occurs every four or eight years. January 20th, inauguration day is rapidly arriving. Washington D.C., and the rest of the nation is getting ready for the 45th President, Donald J. Trump.

Hillary, lost. The author, Richard Castle, wrote: “People change when you’re not looking”. To a large degree, that is what happened in the 2016 election. First, the Bernie Sanders phenonium threatened Hillary. Then, along came Donald Trump. Trump proved that people had changed. Especially middle-class folks in America. People had change while Hilly was rooted in the past. She produced numerous position papers, but failed to engage with many voters who cared less for vague platitudes but wanted conclusive promises, with specific outcomes. Donald Trump tapped into these desires. He now needs to deliver on those promises.

The Trump administration will certainly be different. Already implementing changes and planning more, government-wide. Trump faces enormous challenges. One of the initial challenges is the cyber-attack the Russians may have launched during this year’s presidential election. Also, the necessity to improve the US. Governments understanding and significance of this issue in national security and threats to the economy of the country.

While many still question the legitimacy of a Trump presidency. However, the inauguration of a Trump presidency will occur shortly.

Hillary won. It is time to move on.

Op-Ed: To Vote or Not to Vote by Fletcher Hall

To vote or not to vote will be on the minds of many Americans this November. The nominees of both major political parties are a bit shocking and not what has been the “normal” for decades. For someone who has voted in presidential elections for over 50 years, the decision to cast a vote this year will be both a quandary and a challenge. One candidate is very rich and one was “dead broke” when she and her husband left the White House. And now she is apparently involved in a “pay and play” scheme as Secretary of State. The last Secretary of State who was elected was James Buchannan. Not the greatest of presidents in the American pantheon of presidents.
Hillary Clinton has finagled her way through the morass of the Democratic Party. From Arkansas to the White House to the United States Senate, she has built a political machine and throng of liberal supporters. From purchasing a mansion in upstate New York—just to qualify for a Senate seat—to making a deal with her arch political rival, her sole objective has been get to the White House. No matter that she has been subsidized by the American public while engaging in several nefarious scandals that extend into her presidential campaign.
The most prominent scandals are the email saga and the Clinton Foundation’s international misdeeds. There one really has to pay to play. This is the background and record of the Democratic nominee whose coronation took place in Philadelphia.

Then there is the Republican Party nominee. Donald Trump is in no way the typical presidential candidate of a major political party.

Never a politician, Trump has tapped into the swath of angst and frustration found in the American electorate. The width and depth of this component may well decide the result of this election.
Trump is brash, bombastic, and highly opinioned. Perhaps more opinioned than informed. His views scare some Americans and inspire others. Generally, those who feel inspired, have in the past felt overlooked, let down, and not capable of finding a job in the 21st-century economy. And they totally abhor the federal government, the bureaucracy, and the gridlock we have all witnessed in our nation’s Capitol.

Many Americans of both parties feel that gridlock has harmed the United States for years now. Trump is seizing this emotion and hoping to make his way to the White House. Upon entering the political fray, Trump has been tough, and perhaps has evolved into an even tougher brawler who is always striving to win. He and his opponent are very much alike in this way.

Trump may not have the ground game and, at this point, Clinton has spent a projected $70 million on paid TV advertising for September and October. Trump may be the most controversial and intriguing candidate in modern American history. Clinton may be the most dishonest and conniving candidate for the highest position in the land. The election this year will be a real duel to the end.

Each day seems to produce new revelation that may prove damning to one of the candidates.

Voting for the best candidate for president this year may well be a leap of faith. Recent revelations have caused more dilemmas for Clinton. Clinton hopes these too shall pass. There will probably be no special prosecutors before the election. Americans will have to make their own decisions as to the lesser of two dubious candidates. As for me, I am confused and undecided.

Perhaps for the first time, the vast majority of American voters are waiting and watching. The three presidential debates may be a decisive factor in making our national collective decision.

To quote the late, great Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Op-Ed: The Perfect Storm of Current Affairs By Fletcher Hall

America is at a crossroads. Will the rule of law and the exercise of authority remain tenets of American democracy? Our system is being challenged and tested. The current divides in the United States are wider, perhaps than anytime in the history of this nation.

The tragedy in Dallas, the demonstrations in several cities, economic unrest, failed educational systems, race relations, fears about immigration, and external threats such as ISIS have spread both fear and hate throughout the land. Challenging and factual realities. Issues, unfortunately, not new to the U.S.

In 1968 the Kerner Report was released. This report was the result of a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders.

Reading the Kerner Report today, some 48 years after it was issued, vividly demonstrates the same root causes of lawlessness remain and the rebellion against authority has been acerbated. The assassination of five Dallas officers threatens the rule of law and may lead to a road of anarchy. The thin blue line is the primary division between democracy, freedom, and anarchy.

Perhaps the starkest finding emanating from the Kerner Report was, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” This fact is even more prevalent in America over four decades later.

In 1967, there were riots in Newark and Detroit primarily in July. In 2016 the unrest and violence appear more pervasive on a national basis. Baltimore has had and continued to have its spate of violence and homicide. The Kerner Report stated, “Violence cannot build a better society. Disruption and disorder nourish repression, not justice. They strike at the freedom of every citizen.”

The patterns of disorder in 1967 were very much like the patterns of disorder today. This fact is disturbing considering the money and efforts spent over some 40 years to address the root causes of the unrest then and now. The most deeply held grievances then were police practices, unemployment and underemployment, and inadequate housing. Also listed were the inadequacy of municipal services and discriminatory consumer and credit practices. The

Kerner Report noted that “Race prejudice has shaped our history decisively; it now threatens to affect our future.” The report continued, “A new mood has sprung up among Negroes, particularly among the young, in which self-esteem and enhanced racial pride has replaced apathy and submission to ‘the system.’”

Today, empowerment must be added to this list. The racial divide has certainly grown in the U.S. It is disturbing that foreign countries are now issuing travel warnings to citizens planning to visit the United States.

Domestic politics has been shaken by the unrest in this nation. Protests may well increase voter participation in the November national election. With the election just four months away, the nation will be listening and watching for the reactions of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There is a real need for leadership in this country, not just at election time, but immediately.

The current situation in this nation must be adequately and effectively addressed before more unrest continues to erupt on a daily basis. With the attacks on police authority, a vacuum has been created that could entice recruitment and action by terrorist groups awaiting additional opportunities to harm the United States, and its citizens, on our own soil. This issue surely needs attention from the two presidential candidates. Rather than name calling and negativism, the time has arrived to seriously address the racial divide and attacks on authority in addition to the many other foreign and domestic issues facing this country. We are, indeed, at a crisis point that has many components and dimensions.

If gridlock continues in Congress, the nation will continue in turmoil and stagnation. No longer is it acceptable to hear the same old rhetoric from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. Too much hot air and too many promises never fulfilled have brought this nation to the brink.

The national media and various forms of social media have been complicit in the worsening of racial tension and unrest. Twenty-four-hour news cycles and ill-prepared reporters only add to the polarization of the nation. Responsible journalism and accurate reporting are essential when informing the public.

Accurately reported facts are one thing, speculating and editorializing on in the media another.

This year our nation has changed forever. Demographic change, generational change, economic change, and many other fundamental changes in our society have emerged to create a perfect storm.

With this perfect storm coming in the later part of a presidential election year, these significant issues will challenge political candidates and voters alike.

America is still the leader of the free world, an economic power, and the oldest existing democracy. The time has arrived for the nation to prove these American attributes are alive and well.

Op-Ed: A Disparate Election by Fletcher Hall

Hillary Clinton in her victory speech said, “This is a historic moment.” She was only partially correct.

This is a historic election. Not only because there is a woman candidate for president. And the current president of the United States is meeting with a socialist to attempt to unify the varied components of the Democratic Party and cobble the Obama coalition together again. Then, there is Donald Trump. He has garnered more votes in the Republican primary than any Republican in the history of the GOP. And, he has never before run for public office. Plus, there is the personality force he exudes.

These factors raise many questions and doubts. Can the Obama coalition ever be assembled again in American politics? Can Trump persuade Democrats and Independents to side with his views and ideas? Is Hillary over the hill and been around too long to be a viable candidate? Will her record as a senator and Secretary of State be viewed positively or negatively by American voters? By November will national security or the economy be the dominant issue for the general election?

The general election campaign is just now beginning. The presidential race has dominated the news. However, there is also the battle to control the Senate and House of Representatives. The more problematic election is in the Senate unless there is a sea change in the House.

The presidential race and the election for Congress is really up for grabs due to the angst and anger found in the American electorate. Then there are the demographic changes that have taken place rapidly and significantly.

For instance, in California there will be a runoff election in October for an open U.S. Senate seat. There are two Hispanic women candidates, thus assuring that there will be a woman Hispanic Senator for the first time ever. There are several seats in the United States Senate that will be close and, perhaps, the person who wins will be from the opposite party of the incumbent.

The rancor in American politics is palpable. Ugly demonstrations and even worse occur in both party campaigns. Not necessarily foreign to American politics, the current wave of demonstrations challenges the concept of free speech. America has changed in many ways. Not all for the better, but change it has.

Looking at the landscape of politics in the United States, perhaps it is time for this nation to look at the political season in Great Britain. A shorter campaign and naming our political parties the Liberals and Conservatives, as they have seemed to evolve in that direction. Of concern is the rise of socialist concepts and the amount of young people embracing this idea.

The political issues, fueled by executive decisions emanating from the White House, have left political discourse debating the use of bathrooms and other rather strange matters. America has changed.
Then there are the really serious issues of the economy, the need for infrastructure, stagnant wages, and foreign policy challenges facing the nation on several fronts. Issues which are generally found in most presidential elections, but which take on even more serious import.

Regardless of who wins the presidency this year, the campaigns will most likely be nasty. Political discourse in this country has devolved to the point it may not even be informative, productive, or civil as the campaigns progress. The campaign each presidential nominee selects may have significant ramifications.

It will be interesting to watch what happens to voter turnout in November. Will all of the participants in the presidential primaries return to the polls in the general election? Will the supporters of Donald Trump flock to the polls? Will the Obama coalition hold together for Hillary Clinton? All are interesting questions—and there are many unanswered questions at this stage of the 2016 general election.

New challenges, at least one new face, and changing demographics. All factors that will make this election more disparate and, in many ways, really interesting to observe.

Op-Ed: Politics Turned Upside Down by Fletcher Hall

Perhaps more than any time in the history of the United States, politics appears to be turned upside down this year. I have considered myself a “traditional” Republican for over 50 years, as was my father and grandfathers before me. Now, I suddenly find myself registered as a Republican in a political party I barely recognize.

And I am not the only Republican pondering this dilemma. Even the Speaker of the House of Representatives and many other “leaders” of a more traditional Republican Party are attempting to understand the rapid rise of Donald Trump and his supporters within the GOP. Change is inevitable.

The change in the Republican Party has occurred in warp time. However, the beginnings of the takeover of the party, by mainly very right wing forces, first began when Senator John McCain selected former Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. Elements of her supporters and the growth of the Tea Party substantially changed the composition of the traditional Republican Party.

But, the fact is that many traditional Republicans voted for Donald Trump. It is somewhat fascinating that the Republican race for president has been resolved before the Democratic Party has definitively selected their presidential candidate. Should logic prevail, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face off against each other for the presidency of the United States. Not your traditional election for president. Clinton has been around for decades and Trump is basically a household name in America. Hillary has baggage, and Trump has bombast. Hillary has strong supporters, and so does Trump. Both have access to vast sums of money. Both have strong opinions about the role of government and America’s place in the world. These differences will be vividly demonstrated in a general election campaign that will be viscous and personal. Both candidates are known for their strong desire to win.

So far, Trump has gotten himself to be the presumptive Republican nominee with his own plan, his own style, and his own playbook. Going forward, his shift on these factors may determine how he is perceived as a candidate for president.

Both traditional politics and demographics have been changing over the past several electoral cycles. The Democratic Party has become an amalgam of minorities, union members, and progressives of several stripes. The Republican Party is no longer dominated by country club types, bankers, and the merchant class. Many voters this fall will need to have some more of the Clintons’ antics explained to them, almost as a history lesson. Trump, having been a reality television celebrity, may be more identifiable. Then, let’s face it: Reagan had been both a Democrat and an actor. No comparison intended here.

Trump has demolished 16 other more traditional Republicans. Clinton has shown a surprising weakness in many states on several occasions. She is still in a struggle with an avowed socialist, who is continuing to win primaries. The political world has indeed turned upside down.
Only a few months ago, the coronation of Hillary was making the nightly news and news anchors were casting wholescale doubt regarding the candidacy of Donald Trump. Bernie was not then, even conceived as a threat to the seemingly anointed, Hillary.

How the world turns.

The world remains a sinister and dangerous place. The U.S. economy is shaky at best. Segments of the nation’s population have insufficient jobs or no jobs. Traditional values are being seriously challenged, and politically correct language has contributed significantly to the continued dumbing down of America. A fact not anymore ignored by many American’s.

The candidates for president this year have gone where previous candidates have not dared. The end result of this great change remains to be determined.

But, make no mistake, the political world has turned upside down.

This basic fact highlights the changes in our nation and our society. Just as before the Revolutionary War, the song “The World Turned Upside Down” surely is applicable to the 2016 Presidential election. Where this all goes, and how this nation moves forward, will surely be worth watching, from any front row seat.

For all the words already expended in attempts to define and explain this election year, there will be thousands and thousands yet to come. Especially with the constant necessity to fill up the twenty-four hour news cycle.
As the political world has been turned upside down it is not easy to discern if the news cycle forms the campaign or the campaign forms the news cycle.

America has indeed entered a very new realm in its political life and future.

Op-Ed: Governor Hogan Does Well By Fletcher Hall

The success of Governor Hogan and his acceptability by the voters of Maryland has been somewhat amazing. Actually elected as an “accidental” governor, due to low Democratic voter turnout and a Democratic candidate who had to carry the baggage of a term-limited governor, played significant roles in the election of Larry Hogan as governor of Maryland.

His popularity within the electorate and the amount of Marylanders who believe the state is moving in the right direction is phenomenal. This fact has left the president of the State Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates, both Democrats, frustrated, especially State Senate President Mike Miller. He appears to be quite angry and most frustrated by having a popular Republican governor sitting on the second floor of the State House in Annapolis.  Even though the Democrats were, by the sheer weight of numbers in the 2015 legislature, able to override several bills vetoed by the governor, Governor Hogan remains undeterred in presenting his legislative agenda and achieving positive results which benefit the citizens of Maryland. This factor helps tremendously with the popularity rating of the governor.

Governor Hogan, in spite of personal health challenges and family tragedy, has continued to expound a positive message and reasonable set of initiatives in this session of the General Assembly. As the 2016 session of the legislature rapidly draws to a close, Governor Hogan continues to realize success and appeal to the majority of Maryland voters. His business approach to the legislative agenda and operating Maryland government have been a breath of new political fresh air in Annapolis.

The passage of the governor’s $42 million budget, relatively earlier than usual, indicates that the governor has a good rapport with the General Assembly. The new budget actually projects a $1.4 million surplus. And, this is only the second year of the Hogan administration. The governor is keeping campaign promises; this fact has been significantly recognized by the Maryland electorate.  A recent poll indicated Governor Hogan has an approximate 70 percent popularity rating and a majority of Maryland citizens believe the state is moving in the right direction. This is from a governor who had never held public office and has a career in the private sector.

The existing situation in Annapolis has been difficult for the Democratic leadership of the General Assembly to accept and understand. While many members of the legislature heard the voice of Maryland voters in the 2014 statewide election, their Democratic leaders have been left to snipe at the governor over mostly trivial issues. This leadership has used some delegations to initiate criticism of the governor. Yet, the various jurisdictions of the state, including Baltimore City, will benefit from the spending proposals of the governor and other programs funded by the state of Maryland. Given the fiscal realities in the state when the governor took office, such criticisms appear to have been premature and ill conceived. Using “Ready, Fire, Aim” strategies that can be divisive and non-constructive, within the state legislature and the Maryland public at large, have proven ineffective.

The leadership emanating from the   governor’s office in Annapolis has been quite refreshing and quite a different atmosphere from the tax and spend history of the previous administration. The voters of Maryland got it right two years ago in electing Hogan. We can only wonder when the leadership and some of the legislators in the state capital will see the light and be more cooperative and less partisan in their dealings with the Hogan administration.    




Op-Ed: A Tough Business By Fletcher Hall

Finley Peter Dunne, an American humorist and writer, originated the aphorism, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” Recent events in the 2016 presidential primaries are, once again, proving this adage.

Politics in America has never been for the faint of heart. It is not a spectator sport. It is rough and tumble. And this is a primary season like none other seen before.

At this point, both parties have an interesting cast of characters. The carnival barker, the angry arch conservative, “the boy in the bubble,” and the good doctor. And, they are all in the Republican Party. The Democrats currently have a rumpled Socialist senator and a former first lady, who has been around and in the public eye for over 30 years. What a cast of characters. One of this menagerie will become the next president of the United States.

Elections in America have, for centuries, been nasty affairs.

History is replete with dirty tricks, smears, rumors, and stolen elections. The recent close results in the Iowa Caucus was, on the Democrats’ side, essentially determined by a coin toss. Not the best way to determine the political will of the voters.

There is really no recourse in Iowa as the caucuses there are party affairs and not state primary elections. The small percentage by which Hillary Clinton claimed victory in Iowa is a laughable matter. The Ted Cruz dubious action toward Dr. Ben Carson was despicable and showed, for all his rhetoric, Cruz understands the use of “Washington ethics.” An insincere apology by Cruz to Carson on a television debate was quite obvious. But hardball was played and the damage was done. Politics is a rough business.

Politics is a tough business at any level of government in the United States. Currently in Maryland there are several tough political battles. The Maryland General Assembly is underway in Annapolis. Since the election of a Republican governor, a tough battle has ensued with the Democratic-controlled state legislature. This year the legislative proposals by the governor regarding his budget, taxes, education, and transportation will be areas of contention. The Democratic leadership is trying to ascertain the best way to be effective with a governor who is enjoying a high degree of popularity. The governor’s legislative proposals are challenges to which the legislature must react. Not an easy task for either the governor or the legislature. This session will see a serious effort to lower taxes for all Maryland citizens. With compromise appearing to be viable in Annapolis, it may be possible for tax cuts to become a reality this year.

Then there is the election to fill a seat in the United States Senate. The decision of Congressman Cummings of Baltimore City not to run for the United States Senate leaves the battle for this position in the Democratic primary as a race between two members of Congress from the Washington suburbs. Congresswoman Donna Edwards seeks to be the first African-American senator from Maryland and is being challenged by Congressman Chris Van Hollen. This is a tough battle between two liberals that has already seen charges and countercharges over campaign contributions. With this battle being between two candidates from the Washington suburbs, Baltimore City will play a key role in determining the winner of the Democratic primary. The Republican Party will have a viable primary, assuring a general election battle for this Senate seat. It has been many years since Maryland Republicans have been able to elect a United States Senator from Maryland. This will be an interesting race to watch.

Another election to watch is the race for mayor in Baltimore City. This election will be critical to the future of Maryland’s largest city. There are many challenges facing the new mayor in Baltimore City. There are a total of 18 candidates vying to be the new mayor. In reality, the winner of the Democratic primary will become the next mayor of Baltimore. This will be a tough battle with a previous mayor and previous mayoral candidate facing off against new, younger faces, as well as a Black Lives Matter activist. Crime and jobs will be the paramount issues in this election; however, housing, education, and transportation are all issues that must be addressed. This election, with its multitude of candidates, will be tough and a real fight for power in a city with a real need for new vision and leadership,

So from the White House to City Hall there will be tough elections occurring in the spring and fall of this year, elections crucial to the direction of the United States and the renewal of Maryland’s largest city. The key roll of the citizens is to become informed and to debate, decide, and vote in these significant elections.


Op-Ed: A Political Year by Fletcher Hall

The New Year will see the fact that a national election year will even more bring politics to the fore front. It appears one party will have an inauguration and the other, a brawl. In past national elections it has been the Democrats who have had the brawl and the Republicans, the selection of a more staid and selectively chosen candidate for president. Apparently, not in 2016.

In Maryland, it is most obvious that Governor Hogan is strongly supporting his friend and mentor, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for president. He has campaigned for Christie in New Hampshire. It appears that any Maryland delegation to the Republican nominating convention will be pro-Christie.
Due to the retirement of a long time Democrat, liberal Senator Barbara Mikulski, there will be a primary and general election to replace Mikulski. She has been the longest-serving woman Senator in the history of the United States Senate. As a member, and, subsequently, Chairman of the Senate powerful Appropriations Committee. Mikulski, in that role, has been to guide millions of federal dollars to Maryland. Coming from Baltimore City that has meant that the city has been the recipient of much of the federal largess Mikulski has had available to dispense over the years.

The reign of two Senators from Baltimore City will most likely end with the 2016 election. It appears that the new Senator elected from Maryland will hail from the Washington suburbs. This may change the dynamics and paradigm of Maryland politics, especially Maryland Democratic politics. This come at a time when Baltimore City will be seeking any assistance it can garner. The times, they are a-changing.
At present, the Democrat primary pits Congressman Chris Van Hollen from Montgomery County, against Congressman Donna Edwards, of Prince Georges County. Both are liberals. Van Hollen has been a prodigy of former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

So, there will be a significant political year, in 2016, in Maryland. An interesting one, as the election of Governor Larry Hogan, has signaled the ascendency of the Republican Party in Maryland. Hogan demonstrated that a low voter turnout in Baltimore City and substantial support in the balance of Maryland could elect a Republican statewide. Both Van Hollen and Edwards will need to be cognizant of this factor. Motivations for voter turn out are, at best, uncertain as the New Year begins. Fear of terrorism and the need for additional jobs appear to lead the list of issues at present. The number of military installations and sensitive federal government such as the National Security Agency makes locations in Maryland more susceptible to terrorism concerns.

Maryland, while a swing state, as the demographics demonstrate, may have a rather heavy Democratic voter registration. In the political year of 2016, unexpected leading candidates have appeared, issues have changed rapidly, and the changing demographics of the electorate of the nation will affect the outcome of many local, state and national elections.

America has seen several critical elections in the history of the nation. The 2016 election year will not only be a game-changer; but it may also change the history of the world, and the direction of the United States.


Op-Ed: Terrorism on Our Shores By Fletcher Hall

Terrorism has once again reared its terrible head on American soil. On 9/11, mass murder perpetrated by radical Islamic terrorists took the lives of nearly three thousand people in New York, and others in Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
These radical cowards struck again with the murder of 14 American citizens in California. The fact that these radical terrorists have successfully struck again in this country is extremely threatening and problematic, as well as scary and perplexing.

In view of an upcoming presidential election, the latest terror attack in this country is a game changer. The current administration has been hesitant to even call radical terrorism what it is – radical terrorism. The current administration has been hesitant to join the battle against ISIS raging in the Middle East and other countries around the globe. This is indeed a threat to western civilization.

I distinctly remember the first course I took at Washington College was “Western Civilization.” That was over 50 years ago. Incorporated in that course was evidence of the threats from Islamic nations against the West. However today, these threats are real and Americans have died here on our soil. It is quite possible that more Americans will die at the hands of these barbarians. This fight is a battle to protect democracy.

There is apparently no Winston Churchill on the scene today, to warn the free world of real threats as he did so effectively.

There is no American leader, especially for the past seven years. This is why the election of a new president is so vital. America must have a strong, forceful president. The enemy is at our doors and on our soil. We are indeed at war with Islamic terrorists. This demands a leader of the nation who understands American power and the ability to use this power, whether it is militarily or diplomatically.

Fear is now awash in the land and growing daily. Americans want a strong, serious and effective president who speaks clearly and does not manipulate or withhold the facts. Americans can be at their best when they are told the real facts by their leaders.
The president said nothing new in his Sunday night address to the nation with the exception of admitting that America has experienced another terrorist attack. Finally, he gets that basic fact. How he will deal with it is another matter. His address did not assuage the growing fear of citizens’ of this country. Consider that recently on Black Friday, 185,000 people applied for background checks in order to purchase firearms. Surely, all of these folks are not going duck hunting. In view of the long reach of ISIS, they seek to protect their lives and property.

ISIS still is intent on establishing a global caliphate (nation). They are heavily supplied and financed. They are brutal and remain with the mentality and commitment to kill westerners, especially Americans.

The radical Islamic terrorists are at our door and in more neighborhoods than our government wants to admit to. The continuing strategy repeated by the President, will not defeat ISIS.