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Vote for the candidates who will work on the right problems
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Vote for the candidates who will work on the right problems

Vote for the candidates who will work on the right problems
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Vote for the candidates who will work on the right problems

Real leadership.

In a mid-term election year like this one – when we have many candidates for many offices to focus on rather than a presidential race to consume our attention – it’s difficult to keep straight who is running and what they stand for. Even more so, it’s not always easy to know from a candidate’s statements whether he or she will really do the things that help improve the condition of the nation.

Overwhelmed voters understandably tend to look for certain things – party labels, stated positions on a one or two key issues – to choose their candidates. This guy sounds like a real conservative? I’ll vote for him. This woman agrees with my positions on the one or two issues I care about the most? I’ll vote for her.

It makes sense to let certain principles guide you rather than just voting for a recognizable name or flipping a coin, but voters still end up disappointed fairly often when the candidates they support don’t end up doing what voters hoped they would do.

I would suggest that’s because it’s one thing to stake out an ideological position. It’s another thing to do what truly strong leaders do, which is to identify the right problems and work effectively to solve them.

There are obviously a lot of things wrong with the way our nation is being governed – more problems than any one person, even a president, can plausibly hope to solve in a short amount of time. Effective leaders understand that the best approach is to identify the most important problems – the ones that you can make the most impact by solving.

What are the right problems? Many Democrats think the top problems to solve are “income inequality” and insufficient federal revenue. They want to solve these problems by raising taxes, raising the minimum wage and giving more power to labor unions.

I believe the right problems to solve are: ObamaCare, the tax code and out-of-control federal spending. The first two are killing wealth and job creation, costing people money and throwing their access to health care into uncertainty. The third is robbing needed capital from the private sector while placing a long-term debt burden on the nation that is already sapping our ability to growth the economy and will do so even more severely in the future.

If we throw out the tax code and create a new one that is simpler and less burdensome, we will unleash economic growth and wealth creation. If we replace ObamaCare with new measures that empower individuals in their economic relationships with their doctors, we will bring down costs and make it easier for people to get the care they need, while removing a barrier to business growth and job creation. And if we rein in federal spending, we will reduce debt and bring back limited government that decentralizes power that is today far too concentrated in Washington.

These are high-leverage solutions. They are certainly not the only problems we face, but by solving these, we force a reconstituting of government that leads to other solutions that will also be beneficial. A smaller government has less power to grab your guns or send the IRS after you. A simpler tax code saves you time and money. A market-oriented health care system takes away the power of government bureaucrats to decide whether you get the care you believe you need.

And if you want to look at it politically, a smaller government creates fewer clients for the welfare state that votes Democratic to maintain the benefits on which they have become dependent. Democrats know that if the majority of Americans depend on government for something crucial to their lives – and we are almost there now – they can build a permanent electoral majority. That is one of the reasons they are always trying to expand government.

People who emphasize the right problems – and just as importantly, can demonstrate something in their personal backgrounds to demonstrate the ability to help solve these problems – are the ones who deserve your vote. Anyone can talk about being a conservative or whatever, but it’s the people who identify the right problems and show they can help solve them who should stand out for you in a mid-term election year that offers many choices, but few real problem-solving leaders.

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News

  • Long before his short stints in jail turned into years behind bars, Khalid Masood was known as Adrian Elms, with a reputation for drinking and an unpredictable temper. At least twice he was convicted of violent crimes, well before he stabbed a police officer to death Wednesday in London with a motion that one horrified witness described as 'playing a drum on your back with two knives.' But as he checked out of his hotel to head toward London for his deadly rampage, the manager said he was struck by his guest's friendly manner. Within hours, Masood drove his rented SUV across the crowded Westminster Bridge, leaving a trail of dead and wounded. Then he jumped out and attacked Constable Keith Palmer, an officer guarding Parliament, stabbing him to death before being shot to death by police. In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized. Masood, who at 52 is considerably older than most extremists who carry out bloodshed in the West, had an arrest record dating to 1983. The violence came later, first in 2000 when he slashed a man across the face in a pub parking lot in a racially charged argument after drinking four pints, according to a newspaper account. The victim, Piers Mott, was scarred for life, said his widow, Heather. Masood's last conviction was in 2003, also involving a knife attack. It's not clear when he took the name Masood, suggesting a conversion to Islam. Heather Mott said Masood appeared to come out of jail 'even worse.' She said she got chills when she learned the identity of the London attacker. 'What a pity they didn't realize he was a nutter,' she said. Police are combing through 'massive amounts of computer data' and have contacted 3,500 witnesses as they look for clues as to why the British-born man launched the deadly attack. 'Clearly that's a main line of our investigation is what led him to be radicalized: Was it through influences in our community, influences from overseas or through online propaganda? Our investigations and our arrests will help in that, but the public appeal will make a big difference if people come forward with more information,' said Britain's top counterterrorism officer, Mark Rowley. A security official who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation confirmed that Masood had spent time in Saudi Arabia but said investigators were still trying to determine how long he stayed and what he was doing. Prime Minister Theresa May said Masood was 'investigated in relation to concerns about violent extremism' years ago. But she called him 'a peripheral figure.' The Islamic State group described Masood as 'a soldier,' claiming responsibility for the attack. Rowley said police are investigating whether he 'acted totally alone inspired by terrorist propaganda, or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him.' People made arrests across the country as they investigate whether anyone else helped Masood prepare his attack. Six people were released without charge Friday night, leaving four in custody on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts. Detectives have searched 21 properties in London, Brighton, Wales, Manchester and the central English city of Birmingham in one of Britain's biggest counterterrorism operations in years. Wednesday's attack was the deadliest in Britain since suicide bombers killed 52 commuters on London's transit system on July 7, 2005. Once Masood's identity became known, police and the media began tracing his final hours. The manager of the Preston Park Hotel in the beachside city of Brighton where Masood stayed the night before the attack said he seemed unusually outgoing and mentioned details about his family, including having a sick father. 'He was normal, in fact friendly, because we spent possibly five or 10 minutes talking to him about his background and where he came from,' Sabeur Toumi told Sky News. He was 'laughing and joking, telling us stories about where he lived.' Police raided the room, searching for clues about Masood. Masood's mother lives in rural Wales, according to a website on which she sells handmade cushions and handbags. The listings on Folksy by Janet Ajao have been taken down, but in an archived version of the site, she describes living in 'rural west Wales with my husband, border collie and a few chickens.' Calls to the home in remote Trelech, Wales, went unanswered Friday. When Masood was in school, he took his stepfather's name, Ajao. He was athletic and popular in high school, known as someone who liked to party, according to Stuart Knight, a former classmate, who said the young man was one of only two black students in the school of 600. 'I am in shock — that is not sympathy for what he has done — he was a nice guy and I'm surprised he turned and did what he did,' Knight said. In one of the last places Masood lived, a home in Birmingham, neighbors recalled him as a quiet man whose wife was veiled and who wore traditional Muslim clothing. But the neighborhood is not among one of the city's many Muslim enclaves, suggesting he was not deeply embedded in its religious community. Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo prisoner born and raised in Birmingham, said the details emerging of the attacker's life raised questions about where was radicalized. 'He did not live in a Muslim neighborhood. In my mind, in my analysis, he was probably a drifter,' said Begg, adding that no one he knew in the community had met Masood. 'I'd also be surprised if he had any connection with a mosque, because sadly they are places where you can no longer discuss politics or air grievances.' Since British authorities began cracking down on mosques, many people are instead being radicalized online, Berg added. Cultural and religious alienation can fuel such violence, he added. Begg helps run a group called Cage that has encountered extremists who spoke of their alienation before they committed attacks. While in prison, Begg said he saw others who succumbed to radicalism. He said groups like IS can exploit people's weaknesses and criminality. Late Friday, the British government honored a lawmaker who battled to save the life of the police officer slain in the Parliament attack, giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. May's office said Tobias Ellwood has been named to the Privy Council, a committee of senior lawmakers, judges and others that advises Queen Elizabeth II. The institution dates back a millennium. Security Minister Ben Wallace, who helped coordinate the government response to Wednesday's attack, was also named to the council. ___ Hinnant reported from London, where Associated Press writers Danica Kirka, Jill Lawless and Gregory Katz contributed.
  • A Cherokee County middle school teacher died Thursday morning after his pickup truck went off a 100-foot embankment on I-575, officials said. The driver of the F-150 was identified as Kevin White, 37, of Canton. He was a chorus teacher at Booth Middle School in Woodstock. The incident happened on the southbound side of the interstate at Little River Bridge near Ridgewalk Parkway in Woodstock. The truck was found upside down. “It’s a significant drop,” Cherokee County sheriff’s Lt. Jay Baker told Channel 2 Action News. “It appears they were traveling at a pretty high rate of speed (considering) the distance where the car went airborne.” Baker said the truck veered into the median and went through a construction zone before striking a gravel embankment that caused it to become airborne. The accident caused major delays during the morning commute. The Cherokee sheriff’s office and Woodstock police are investigating. In other news:
  • U.S. stocks flirted with sharp losses but managed a mixed finish after Republicans canceled a vote on their health care bill because it became clear the bill would fail. Hospital stocks soared in response, while companies that stand to benefit from other Trump proposals faltered. For the second day in a row, stocks started higher and wilted as it became clear the health care bill was in trouble. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged as much as 126 points in afternoon trading on reports of the bill's impending failure, although Wall Street cut its losses after the vote was canceled. Consumer-focused companies like Nike, Starbucks and clothing company PVH rose. The health care act became something of a proxy for the rest of the Trump agenda and it dominated the market for most of this week. It was the worst week for stocks since the week before the presidential election. Banks and small-company stocks, which made huge gains after Trump was elected, both suffered their biggest losses in more than a year. President Trump and other Republican leaders said they were moving on from health care, and Michael Scanlon, a portfolio manager for Manulife Asset Management, said investors will be glad if that happens. 'You're going to see a very quick pivot to corporate tax reform,' he said. A corporate tax cut could give stocks a large boost by increasing profits, and it might also raise tax revenue. After the close of trading, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans will proceed with tax reform proposals, but acknowledged the health care debacle will make that task more difficult. The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished down 1.98 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,343.98. The Dow lost 59.86 points, or 0.3 percent, to 20,596.72 as Goldman Sachs and Boeing sank. Technology companies inched higher and the Nasdaq composite rose 11.04 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,828.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 1.22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,354.64. Trading was relatively light as investors waited for answers about the state of President Donald Trump's business-friendly agenda. That may have contributed to the big fluctuations. Hospitals and insurers that do a lot of business with Medicaid celebrated the demise of the bill. HCA Holdings, the largest U.S. hospital company, climbed $2.87, or 3.5 percent, to $86.04 and Community Health Systems jumped 84 cents, or 9.7 percent, to $9.54. Among Medicaid-focused companies, Centene and Molina Healthcare each gained about 5 percent. The American Health Care Act would likely have left more Americans uninsured and would make big changes to Medicaid, a joint federal-state health program for low-income Americans. Those stocks fell when the bill was introduced because investors were concerned hospitals would have to take in more patients who lack insurance and that insurers would get less money from Medicaid. Insurance companies slumped. Cigna fell $3.36, or 2.3 percent, to $142.82 and Anthem shed $2.63, or 1.6 percent, to $126.77. With Trump and majority Republicans unable to pass the first big item on their agenda, there were some signs of concern that his proposals of tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and regulatory cuts will take longer. Those are aspects of Trump's proposed agenda Wall Street is excited about. Vulcan Materials, a construction materials maker, sank $2.65, or 2.3 percent, to $112.74. Steel maker Nucor declined $1.50, or 2.4 percent, to $59.76. Construction and machinery companies also stumbled. Engine maker Cummins shed $1.45, or 1 percent, to $150.77 and Boeing sank $1.44 to $175.82. Scanlon, of Manulife, said investors want Trump and Congress to come up with a real proposal that changes corporate taxes. 'Something needs to be done with a permanent solution, not just one of these holiday things,' he said, because 'the goal is to be a stimulus for domestic investment.' Bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.41 percent from 2.42 percent. U.S. crude oil futures rose 27 cents to $47.97 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 24 cents to $50.80 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline gained 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.50 a gallon. Natural gas added 3 cents to $3.08 per 1,000 cubic feet. The dollar inched down to 110.80 yen from 111.07 yen. The euro edged up to $1.0808 from $1.0786. Gold rose $1.30 to $1,248.50 an ounce. Silver jumped 16 cents to $17.75 an ounce. Copper lost 1 cent to $2.63 a pound. In Germany, the DAX added 0.2 percent and the French CAC 40 dropped 0.2 percent and Britain's FTSE 100 index dipped 0.1 percent. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.9 percent following recent losses. The Kospi of South Korea shed 0.2 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng reversed earlier losses to finish 0.1 percent higher. ___ AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay
  • A judge has dismissed a large part of the case against the man accused of holding six women against their will inside a Sandy Springs mansion.Kenndric Roberts appeared before a judge Thursday and heard the extensive case against him.Channel 2's Mike Petchenik was inside the courtroom and live-tweeted the hearing as a detective went on the stand to detail the investigation.We'll have more on the new details released in the case on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4Roberts was facing 14 felony charges, including six counts of human trafficking and six counts of false imprisonment, and weapons charges.Charges that remain are:1. False Imprisonment 2. False Imprisonment 3. Weapons charge Prosecutors said Roberts held six women against their will at a mansion and forced them to dance at the Pink Pony strip club.They said he took their money, by one account, $78,000, for just two months of work. RELATED STORIES: Woman held captive was forced to dance at strip clubs, mother says Man accused of holding women captive faces 14 felony charges Man accused of holding 6 women captive in Sandy Springs mansion Investigators also said he also threatened harm to the women if they left him.'He took her phone, we found her passport in his bedroom,' said detective Justin Clutter. 'Basically she was in fear because she saw firearms. He ended up sending her to Dominican Republic to get a breast augmentation and a butt lift. And he started making threats.'Roberts attorney called him a 'poor man's Hugh Hefner,' who had legit contracts with these women to pay them for the work they were doing for him.He argued Roberts lavished them with expensive gifts as part of their payment and that they were free to leave as they wanted. Minute by minute coverage of the case: Judge also sets a bond for Kenndric Roberts. D.A. arguing victims weren't notified about potential bond.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Breaking: Judge dismissed all but three charges against Kenndric Roberts. pic.twitter.com/v0Op6UrYqS-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Defense attorney argues women weren't held against their will, wanted to partake in the lavish lifestyle Kenndric Roberts was providing.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Prosecutor: Roberts threatened to cut the breast implants out of a victim if she tried to leave him.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Attorney: 'My client is a poor man's Hugh Hefner.'-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Attorney points out Kenndric Roberts has no previous arrest record, despite allegations of gang affiliations.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Attorney: 'They were living pretty high off the hog, weren't they?' Det: 'That's debatable.'-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Attorney says Roberts paid for health insurance for the woman, provided them vehicles, expensive jewelry.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Attorney says women had housing, personal chef, tanning contracts and beauty salon stipends while working for Roberts.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Defense attorney argues all the girls had contracts with a 'termination clause' in it.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 I obtained this handwritten note Roberts' attorney says he wrote showing items he says he gave one woman who worked for him. pic.twitter.com/uFQUsoiWLw-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Det. testifies Roberts forced the women to dance at the Pink Pony in Brookhaven, then took all their tips.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Det: Kenndric Roberts put vehicles in the name of one victim who had good credit.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Det.says one human trafficking victim wrote an e-mail to the Attorney General's office laying out allegations of abuse at the home.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Det. says Roberts wouldn't allow the women to keep any money on them at all.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Detective says Roberts stole $78k from women he forced to work at strip clubs.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Detective testifies Roberts sent victim to Dominican republic to have breast work and butt lift.-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 A #SandySprings special investigator is testifying in human trafficking case. pic.twitter.com/Z4GGAli63x-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017 Kenndric Roberts is in court for his prelim hearing on human trafficking charges. pic.twitter.com/w0eXros87D-- Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) March 23, 2017