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    Everything You Need to Know About Mick Mulvaney

    Who is Mick Mulvaney?

    Born in Alexandria, Virginia, John Michael ‘Mick’ Mulvaney has a strong Southern background. He grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and later moved to Indian Land, South Carolina. Mulvaney attended Georgetown University where he studied international economics, commerce and finance, and then went on to law school at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focusing on antitrust law. In 2006, Mulvaney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, but when an unexpected vacancy in the South Caroline Senate arose in 2008, he decided to run as the GOP candidate. He achieved victory after running in one of the hardest legislative races of that election.

    In 2010 Mulvaney entered the race for U.S House of Representatives, and won, against John M. Pratt. He was re-elected for the following three terms. According to the Washington Post, Mulvaney was elected as a member of the Tea Party movement and was a co-founder of the House of Freedom Caucus.

    President Trump previously nominated Mulvaney in December 2016 to serve as director of the Office Management and Budget and Mulvaney was confirmed by the Senate in February of 2017. The White House also appointed him to be the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until the Senate confirmed Kathy Kraninger on December 11th (Springfield News Sun).  President Trump has now appointed him to be his next Chief of Staff.

    In a December 14th tweet, Trump enthusiastically welcomed Mulvaney to the team.

    “I look forward to working with [Mick] in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

    I hope you’re right, Mr. President.

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    Thoughts on Selecting a Chief of Staff

    Kelly is gone and Mulvaney will be “acting” in the role of chief of staff for President Trump.  With all the media angst regarding Kelly’s departure, and public reaction on social networks, I wonder if most of us know what this position is or does?

    In business and in government, any executive will tell you that selecting a chief of staff is no easy task. The job is both administrative management and political; therefore it’s essential to choose someone you know and trust who will help carry out your overall goals while maintaining a prioritized flow of communications in and out of your office.   In this case, the Oval Office. Take former President Bill Clinton, for example, who appointed childhood friend Mack McLarty to the position. While choosing him seemed like a good idea given his esteemed business background and strong friendship, advising people/procedures in the White House is a whole new ball game.  McLarty lasted just over a year and a half.

    It’s hard to pinpoint the exact criteria for the perfect COS candidate. The person in the position will need to adjust to his or her boss’s style and needs.  The choice mainly depends on the individual executive: Who would they work well with? Who can they trust? Who would best represent them?

    While it’s crucial to ponder these queries, let’s not forget relations between a chief of staff and the people they manage. A COS should be able to analyze their staffers’ work and report back to the boss with appropriate, fair, and adequate recommendations for optimal efficiency. The chief of staff needs to be an extension of the executive’s personal decision making so that all minor issues are filtered out or solved before reaching “the big boss.”

    It’s easy to comment from the bleachers on whether the President is hiring or firing the right people.  But what’s he’s doing is no different than what every President has done for decades.  The revolving door at the White House never stops turning.

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    Christmas Trees? Really?

    Yet again, Melania Trump has found herself in the headlines, this time over her choice of White House Christmas décor.

    The first lady proudly unveiled her “American Treasures” themed ornamentation in late November, soon becoming a source of mockery with her particular choice of all-red Christmas trees lining the East colonnade. According to a statement from the White House, the theme is meant to “honor the unique heritage of America” and “shine with the spirit of patriotism.”

    While she also included many traditional aspects of holiday adornment like evergreen trees that twinkle in gold and blue hues in the Vermeil Room and the gingerbread house replicating the National Mall displayed in the State Dining Room, the  Scrooge’s among the critics are fixated on those crimson red trees. People are referring to them as “Melania’s red Christmas trees of death,” and the “forest of red-blood trees.” They’re even comparing the topiary to the red-clad women of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the sea of blood from the movie “The Shining.”

    This backlash comes as no surprise considering last holiday season the First Lady of the United States was judged for decorating a White House hallway with planters of white tree branches that critics called “the most terrifying domestic space in America.” Whether it be the clothes she wears or the décor she chooses, Melania continues to be no stranger to the harsh and myopic lens of media.  But if media has not taken the attacks down to Christmas trees, have they gone too far?  Would any other FLOTUS get this much pushback for her choice of holiday décor? Not in my memory.

    Regardless, there is no denying how much work she put into making the White House look as beautiful as it does.  Instead of trying to find negatives in everything about Washington, let’s take a break and get in the holiday spirit and celebrate the blessings we all enjoy.  That is what Melania hopes we can all do and embrace her creativity as a welcome change.

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    Election Day Roundup

    A record-breaking number of women ran in the midterm elections this year, including an unprecedented number of women of color. Women like Rashiba Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Veronica Escobar, Slyvia Garcia, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland all made history by representing  a variety of different ethnicities now adding to some diversity to the House. In addition, New York’s Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez took home a momentous win while also becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. The 29-year-old Democrat will serve New York’s 14th district.

    Altogether, Democrats made a net gain of about 40 seats with a huge victory in the House of Representatives. As for the Senate, Republicans increased their majority by 2 seats. Democrats also gained 7 state governors, at least 350 state legislative seats, and about 7 state legislative chambers.

    Recounts were undertaken in Florida and Arizona as both Senate and gubernatorial races were too close to call. In the end, Republicans came out on top in Florida with former Congressman Ron De Santis winning the senate seat and Governor Rick Scott winning the race for governor . In Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took home senate victory, defeating her Republican opponent Martha McSally.

    Both Democrats and Republicans alike can agree that voter turnout was much higher this go-around than in previous elections.  According to NPR, it actually hit a 50-year high.  More than 48% of eligible voters cast a ballot, which is up from 41% in 2014. CBS News revealed an estimated 113 million people took part in the elections, even making history by exceeding 100 million+ votes. Regardless of who won or lost individual elections, the unprecedented voter turnout is the real victory in this election cycle.

    Did you vote?

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    The Passing of a Great American

    We all mourn the passing of George H.W. Bush, our 41st President.  He served this nation with dignity and honor.  A war hero and the youngest bomber pilot in WWII, he survived a crash, was rescued at sea by a submarine, and went on to be a Congressman, Ambassador to China, Director of the CIA, U.N. Ambassador, Vice President and, finally President of this great country.  It has been written that no one has ever had a better resume for the office than President Bush.

    The jobs he did while serving our nation were stellar. He cleaned up the CIA after it was discovered the agency was spying on Americans.  He fostered growth with China, lessening tensions.  He brought pride and dignity to the U.N. with his staunch support of American ideals.  As President, he led us to the end of the Cold War and the war in Iraq after it invaded Kuwait.  No one has done more for our country.

    He lost his reelection bid to Bill Clinton. Many believe Ross Perot’s third party candidacy cost Bush the election.  Others say it was his support of new taxes despite his promise not to raise them.  But he reversed his campaign promise only after reaching a compromise with the Democrat controlled Congress and doing what he knew was right.  He showed the kind of compromise we have not seen in decades.  Ronald Reagan knew how to compromise with Tip O’Neal and Ted Kennedy.  Bill Clinton knew how to compromise with Newt Gingrich.  The late President Bush equally embraced compromise even when it cost him votes.  In each of their presidencies, the country did better.  Where is that spirit of compromise today?

    If there are any politicians in Washington who are sincere in their praise of George H.W. Bush now that he has passed, let’s see if their words have any meaning by the actions they now take to, in Bush’s words, make this a kinder and gentler nation.  My fear is that our leaders on both sides of the aisles and in the White House are incapable of bridging their differences and following the lessons of Reagan, Clinton, and Bush.

    Rest in peace, President Bush.  We already miss you.

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    Let’s Unite America

    When I was a kid I had a friend who always caused trouble for me.  I would tell my mother “It was her idea” as a way of absolving myself of blame and she would say, “If your friend jumped off a bridge would you do it too?”  From an early age, my parents tried to teach me to be accountable for my actions and not to follow someone else on a road that was only going to lead to problems.

    I’m reminded of that story in the fallout of the bomb scare last month.  Prominent figures like the Obamas, Clintons, CNN, Joe Biden, Robert De Niro and others were sent suspicious packages that contained pipe bombs.  Luckily authorities found that the bombs were poorly made with most incapable of exploding. But that does not diminish the threat.  Although no one has been harmed thus far, the incident undoubtedly raises questions about the sender’s ultimate intentions.  One thing everyone “seems” to agree on is that the sender deliberately targeted left-wing public figures, some political and some celebrity Trump critics. This has inspired the blame game and has become another way to potentially weaken the presidency and, by extension, our country.

    The truth of the matter is we shouldn’t be pointing fingers at which party is responsible for such terrible actions. We shouldn’t waste our time blaming the behavior of one specific, perhaps unbalanced person.

    I prefer to ask a very uncomfortable question for some: Could it be that we are collectively responsible?

    I’ve heard what sounds like “It was his idea” from various leaders in this country, which has given rise to everyone acting like nasty kids in a schoolyard.  If Trump’s tone is offensive, then the best way to counteract that is to speak in an opposite, equally offensive manner.  That’s the depth we’ve sunk to in politics and entertainment today.  And at this point, I’m not interested in blaming anyone for starting it.  It simply needs to stop.

    The bomber’s actions are not about politics.  And pointing fingers back and forth is not going to fix anything; it is only going to disappoint citizens even more.  The truth of the matter is that we will continue to disagree politically and that will never end, nor should it. But both parties need to set an example—not react to bad behavior with more bad behavior–and promote peaceful negotiation and consideration for others’ opinions.   Ronald Reagan had reasonable conversations with Tip O’Neil and Ted Kennedy.  Bill Clinton did the same with Newt Gingrich.  These were leaders with polar opposite views yet willing to be civil in their discourse.  One can disagree with their politics, but not their dignity.  Can our current political leaders return to civility?

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    Does Negative Political Ad Campaigning Really Work?

    As we approach Election Day, it’s no secret that political ad campaigns with personal attacks by one candidate against another are running continuously on every television channel.  Lawn signs say things like “Fire” so and so as a way of pushing people toward one side or the other.  Every political ad is nastier than the next, as candidates are desperate to bring down their opponents from any/every angle possible. All of this begs the question of how effective these methods truly are? Are voters responding to these types of ads? Do negative ads have the ability to dissuade someone from voting for a particular candidate?

    Studies have shown that these advertisements are effective in “influencing preferences and voter turnout”, but not “across the board”. I equate these advertisements to commercial product promotions. Viewers watch a commercial for a product, compare it to the competitor, and, unless already fond of a specific brand, will decide whether to buy it. Voters do the same thing when watching different ads for particular candidates. First, they compare the opponent, decide which candidate they deem more fit for the position, and, unless adamantly partisan, decide from there. Sometimes the advertisements work, other times voters are attached to their party’s candidate and are therefore immovable.

    In addition, it’s believed that the more well known a candidate is, the more successful he/she will be. People tend to vote for candidates whose stances are clear, and television is the best place to publicize those views in a vast, quick and efficient manner.  Although there is some benefit in calling attention to yourself in politics by denigrating and defaming someone else, I would rather be elected on a platform of effectiveness and positivity than because I found photos of my opposition with his pants down.  It is my belief that voters are too smart to fall for the lies and deceptions in so many political ads we see today.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a candidate say what they stood for rather than lie about what an opponent allegedly stands for?  And make no mistake about it.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle lie.  Perhaps they can’t help themselves.  But voters don’t need to be their dupes.  So vote and have the final say.

    Find my source here.

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    Voter Guides and the Upcoming Midterm Elections

    With midterm congressional elections taking place on the 6th, less than a week away, gathering accurate information on the candidates is paramount. While collecting truthful information is important, it is often hard to find. Proposed facts are filtered through the often-partisan lens of multimedia gatekeepers. For example, contrast Fox News to CNN as a means of getting straightforward current events and you’ll understand my point.

    From televised newscasting to shared articles on social media, there is a wealth of options to obtain voter content.  But as the lifeblood of American politics, the voters need to be choosy about where they get voting information. With such an important decision on the horizon, it is prudent to make your vote count. One good tool for disseminating fact-based information about political candidates to make the best choice is a voter guide.

    Voter guides lay out those running for an election by the issues on their respective platforms. There are two types of guides available to the voting public: Official voter guides and unofficial voter guides. “Official” signifies publication by a state office, where “unofficial” refers to partisan guides, or guides published by newspapers and nonprofit organizations (Ballotpedia). These guides might offer a voter questionnaire as a quick and easy survey of your political views used to select a candidate that best reflects those issues on their platform.

    These guides are a great way to get an overview of each election’s candidates. Though voter guides are presented as a non-partisan encyclopedia of politicians, there is still the chance of encountering erroneous content. Such political slants are more common in unofficial guides owned by third-party businesses. This means that a once independent voter guide website can be purchased by an external company with partisan affiliations without notifying its users. The best way to know who provides your election information is to research what ties each voter guide has.

    Midterm election voter turnout typically pales in comparison to that of the presidential election, and the previous midterms had the lowest voter turnout in recorded history (Pew Research Center). The presidential vote is an important one, but midterm elections offer hundreds of seats to the politicians who pass our bills into law and thus greatly affect our everyday lives. Be the difference this midterm election. Raise that statistic and do so by arming yourself with credible information about the candidates of your choosing.

    You can find more information on how to get the most accurate voting data here.

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    Evaluate the News and Your Leaders from 360 Degrees

    It comes as no surprise that the news of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault allegations have taken over newsstands and mainstream media nationwide. From a political perspective, it is very difficult to express any opinion on the matter without offending one side or the other.  Sexual harassment and sexual assault are serious crimes.  In a perfect world, we would never have to address either issue.  However, the world is far from perfect so here we are with today’s headlines.

    Let me be clear that what is happening on Capitol Hill is not about protecting women or holding someone responsible for his actions.

    Sadly, today’s politics and leadership revolve around denigrating and destroying reputations in an effort to show that one side is a lesser alternative than the other is.   Neither Dr. Ford’s nor Judge Kavanaugh’s lives will ever be the same.  Not because of the allegations and defenses, but because Washington has politicized the entire process through a public circus.  No intelligent person can question the allegations by Dr. Ford and the denials by Judge Kavanaugh as sincere.  Nevertheless, if those in Washington are after the truth, they should have started with a private investigation during the confirmation process, not as a last minute revelation.   I see no reason to parade the two of them before the world on live television.

    I imagine from a voter perspective on both sides of the issue, the entire spectacle is disgusting—not only for the issues that are being discussed, but also because it makes the leaders in Washington appear petty and irresponsible to many.  Yet even saying that is controversial since each side of the argument is blindly convinced they are reasonable and the other side is misguided.  Compromise and bipartisan discussions are no longer possible in Washington.  Moreover, let us please not start blaming Republicans or Democrats or the White House or Congress as the cause of today’s partisan polarity.  They are all to blame.

    Sen. Flake says the country is torn apart and there is no longer a reason for Congress to reach across the aisle to find solutions.  He’s right.  Citizens are being provoked to anger, distracting all of us from other important issues—national security and foreign policy; the economy; infrastructure; education.

    Does anyone recall that last week was the U.N. General Assembly where all world leaders came together to discuss how we are all getting along on the planet?  The United States held its position on Iran, but the difference between how Trump talked about North Korea versus last year was a tremendous, positive shift.

    It is very important to understand that there are many things happening in government at any given time. It is our duty as citizens to pay attention, and not let the media and closed-minded politicians on both sides of the aisle spoon-feed us perspectives and opinions that are a product of “spin” that is primarily intended to stir up both sides of an issue for the sake of ratings and votes.

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    Respect Those Who Truly Sacrificed Everything

    Much is in the news about Nike’s signing of former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.  As anyone who is a political junkie or sports fan knows, Kaepernick was the first football player who chose to kneel instead of stand during the national anthem, doing so in protest over what he believed to be discrimination directly and indirectly sanctioned by U.S. and local governments.  A great debate ensued that Nike has rekindled by signing the ex-player to a lucrative contract to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Nike’s motto, Just Do It.   The new campaign’s tag line is, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

    The reaction has been mixed.  Some applauded Nike’s decision.  Hundreds of other posted videos burning Nike clothing and tweeting objections.

    While I prefer not to further engage in the merits of the debate, there is one thing I’d like to suggest.

    I invite Mr. Kaepernick and Nike to visit the American Cemetery and Memorial in Florence, Italy.  Interned in its 70 acres are 4,399 soldiers who died in WWII fighting in the hills and streets of Italy. The cemetery in Florence is one of 24 foreign cemeteries where American soldiers are buried.  In total, these sacred memorials are the final resting places for more than 130,000 soldiers who died defending our freedoms.  The memorials also honor the souls of more than 100,000 who remain missing in action. These men and women made the ultimate sacrifice so Mr. Kaepernick can remain free to protest about injustices he perceives.  To characterize what he’s done as “sacrificing everything” is an abomination.  For Nike to endorse such hypocrisy through an advertising campaign geared to making profits is an insult to the memories and true sacrifices of the nearly a quarter million soldiers laying under foreign soil.  And while some of the proceeds are being donated to Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights charity, I have not seen any reports that Nike is donating anything in the memory of the dead soldiers.

    So I say this to Mr. Kaepernick and Nike:  Shame on you.  Protest all you like but respect those who, unlike Mr. Kaepernick, truly sacrificed everything.  And all that is required to do so is the simple and time honored gesture of standing for our national anthem.  Is that too much to ask?

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