Monday, July 24, 2017

THE SPIN NEVER STOPS- EVER!

Weekly Opinion Editorial


WELCOME TO THE NEW REALITY!
by Steve Fair

     With the departure of Sean Spicer as White House Press Secretary and Communications Director and the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci, a hard charging former Wall Street executive, it appears President Trump is planning to go even more unconventional in delivering his message to the public.  On Saturday, the president tweeted no less than ten times on a variety of subjects.  Trump has been vocal of his criticism of the mainstream media, but it appears the new plan is to bypass them altogether.  Four observations:  
     First, the purpose for daily press briefings at the White House is to put their ‘spin’ on what they are doing.  Trump is not the first president to use the briefings to defend, deflect and solicit support for his agenda.  Every president in modern times used the press briefing as a propaganda tool.  Those who say Trump is the first are either ignorant or dishonest.  The daily briefing is not required of an administration and Trump may elect to discontinue it.
     Second, the press created this credibility situation.  It is highly unlikely that Trump would have been effective in cutting out the media if the media had been doing their job.  Instead of being journalists, they have been editorialists.  The media ‘spins’ every story and that goes for both conservatives and liberals.  Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the rest have become so predictable in how they cover Trump, it’s laughable.    
     Third, just because Trump is cutting out the middleman, it doesn’t mean the ‘spin’ will stop.  The president is always going to present his view as fact.  When he tweets out a message, he is ‘spinning’ the facts his way.  So long as people understand that.  Far too many conservatives treat Trump’s tweets like divine revelation.  Blind loyalty to any man- conservative or liberal- is a mistake.  As Reagan said, trust, but verify.
      Fourth, millennials get their news and information from sources other than mainstream media.  Social media, such as texting, tweeting, and Facebook are millennials’ go to source for news.  Trump- and Scaramucci- understand that.  Scaramucci said, “I have in my pocket a radio studio, a television, and a movie studio.”  He’s right.  Traditional media is a thing of the past.  Anyone with a smart phone can record and report.
     The founding fathers understood the importance of a free press.  That is why they included it in the first amendment.  A free press, by presenting the facts, can be an effective tool to hold government officials accountable to the people.  They can help educate and can publicize issues that need attention.  The founders understood that.  Unfortunately, the modern press has evolved into nothing more than propaganda actors who ‘spin’ the news to fit their worldview.  It’s unlikely we will see a return to true professional journalism again.  Welcome to the new information age reality where tweeting and spinning are the norm.


Monday, July 17, 2017

NO ONE IS INDISPENSABLE!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

CORRUPTION IN POLITICS?
by Steve Fair

     What makes America’s political process corrupt?  It is not restricted to just one Party.  Both major political Parties have elected officials that lie, cheat and steal to remain in power. Both Parties have been plagued with sex, embezzlement, and bribery scandals.  You can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV and not see a report about political scandal.  Is America’s political process corrupt?  How did it get that way and how do we rectify it?
     First, politicians are just like everyone else.  They are born with an inherent sin nature and are subject to the same temptations as any other person.  To expect an elected official to behave at a higher moral level than the general public just because they are in a position of leadership is foolhardy.  Until God does a work of regeneration in any man, they will be a slave to pride and covetousness, the root causes of corruption. 
     Second, no one is irreplaceable.  Too many politicians think of themselves as indispensable.    There are too many ‘career’ politicians.  Our federal political system rewards seniority.  Recently an Oklahoma congressman announced his decision to break a pledge to serve just six years in Congress because in his words (I’m paraphrasing) he was just too valuable to the country to come back home.  Think of the pride and arrogance of that statement? It should immediately disqualify the person from public service.  The late French president Charles DeGaulle said, ‘the cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.”    When an elected official (or anyone else) takes themselves so serious that they begin to believe they can’t be replaced, quickly step back away from them.  You don’t want to be close when the lightening from heaven strikes. 
     Third, many elected officials are simply ‘in over their head.’  That means they are either not qualified to do the job or simply can’t cope with the rigors of the job.  When unqualified people are elected to office, it provides a seedbed for corruption.  How do unqualified people get elected?  Politics has evolved from public service to a multi-billion dollar industry composed of consultants and fundraisers, using well executed marketing plans to get candidates elected who are beholden to those who funded their campaigns.  The goal then becomes staying in office, not serving the public.  The elected official’s staff strokes their ego and tells them how important and vital they are to the country.  They begin to believe it and act accordingly.
     Until God chooses to move on the heart of unregenerate man and draw them to Christ, we can expect to have corrupt politicians (and citizens).  What might make the difference would be for those who are involved in the political process to start living out the gospel in their lives, instead of contradicting it.  The hope of America is not the cleaning up of the political process- it is the gospel of Christ.      



Monday, July 10, 2017

Activists need to stop acting like rock star groupies around elected officials and start holding them accountable!

Weekly Opinion Editorial



ARE WE PAST THE POINT OF NO RETURN?
by Steve Fair

     A much debated subject today is what is the proper role of government? Some believe that government should provide for its citizens basic needs from the cradle to the grave.    Others believe the government should do nothing more than secure the borders, maintain a strong military, and punish those that do evil.  The vast majority of Americans fall somewhere in the middle.  Four points:
     First, America is a self-governed nation.  That means the citizens are in charge.  They determine who represents them.  They determine how much of their hard earned money is given to the government.  If America has bad government or if taxes are too high, the governed have no further to look than the mirror.  They have no one to blame but themselves.  Few citizens pay attention to what is going on.  It is estimated that less than 1% of the American people consistently pay attention to their government.    
     Second, government can’t give you anything.  Government produces nothing- it consumes.  In a self governed system, government can only give back to the governed what they have taken from it- minus a large handling fee.  Government doesn’t fund any social programs- taxpayers fund programs.  Government only administers the program and usually with more red tape than necessary.
     Third, there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch.  Free does not exist in any economical system.  Somebody is paying the bill.  When the ‘government’ provides health care coverage for a citizen, other citizens are paying the bill.  The money to provide it didn’t magically appear like manna from heaven.  Often, the governed agree to the tax and are willing to be taxed to help their fellow citizens, but more often than not, they aren’t consulted.  The frightening thing about the last election is when Bernie Sanders can draw 25,000 millenniums to a stadium promising ‘free stuff.’  That is our future America- a generation who believes there is such a thing as free stuff.
     Fourth, the founders established a government with limitations.  The federal government was to be limited in its scope and power.  They put most of the power at the state level.  While that fact is largely ignored and ridiculed today, it remains a fact.  The federal government spends more than it takes in and has no chance of economical survival without major adjustments. 
      So are we past the point of no return?  Will those who want ‘free stuff’ and more government programs rule the day?  Maybe, but until then, it goes back to the governed taking equity in their government.  When citizens start showing up, the politicos will change.  When citizens start holding their elected officials accountable and GOP activists stop acting like groupies at a rock concert when they see an elected official, perhaps we will see true change. 


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Media are not victims- they are verbal bullies!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

MEDIA ARE VERBAL BULLIES!
by Steve Fair
     We live in a world full of bullies.  There are physical bullies and verbal bullies.  Psychologists believe bullies of all types have low self-esteem and that is why they try to intentionally hurt others.  For many bullies, it’s a power trip to use aggressive behavior against someone else.  There are two ways to react to a bully- either passive or aggressive.
     The passive way is very effective.  Simply ignore the bully.  Recognize they are nothing more than a paper tiger and its them that has the problem, not you.  By not reacting to them or their attacks, the power they derive from bullying is taken away.  When the victim of bullying reacts to a bully, it legitimizes the bully.  It puts the bully in a power position.  Most bullies want their victim to react.  They want to spar with them.  When a victim ignores the bully, often the bully will just move to another victim.
     The second way to deal with a bully is by aggression.  When attacked by a bully, counter attack aggressively and overwhelm the bully.  This isn’t just reacting, its attacking.  It is a scorched earth aggression.  The bully has no idea what hit them.  Most bullies will immediately cry victim and attempt to justify their bad behavior that started this unwinnable war in the first place.   
     Most people deal with bullies by being passive.  Others like President Trump deal with them by being aggressive.  In the media, there are a multitude of verbal bullies.  They have attacked past presidents and administration with lies and exaggerations, and for the most part were simply ignored by their victims.  That is until Donald Trump was elected.  This guy doesn’t just hit back with equal force, but in his own words- he hits back ten times harder.  When someone attacks him or lies about him, he tweets out an attack that leaves them lying in the dust.  Two things to remember about Donald Trump:
     First, Trump don’t start fights, but he finishes them.   If someone in the media decides to tackle Trump, they better be prepared to go the full 15 rounds.  This guy will come out swinging when he is attacked.  Second, Donald Trump is decisive and aggressive and will not give anyone a pass.  A majority of Americans like that.
     For the past eight years, America had a stalled federal government.  President Obama and Congress couldn’t agree on a budget.  We had a failed foreign policy, unemployment was at record levels and the list goes on and on, but the mainstream media sang President Obama’s praises every chance they got.  Then along comes Trump- brash, aggressive and unconventional.  The media can’t say one thing nice about him.  They don’t understand why he tweets out cruel things about them after they publically attack him.
     I’m not saying that Trump is right to tweet out personal attacks on reporters.  Two wrongs don’t make a right, but don’t lose sight of who starts this verbal sparring.  The media are not victims- they are verbal bullies.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Time to re-evaluate the number of Institutions of Higher Learning!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

HIGHER ED NEEDS TO LEAD CHANGE!
by Steve Fair

     The Higher Education lobby in Oklahoma says Sooner tax payers are not funding higher education like the rest of the country.  University of Oklahoma President David Boren and University of Central Oklahoma President Don Betz both were quoted as saying that Oklahoma ranked ‘dead last’ in the U.S. in funding higher education.  Turns out that ain’t so.
     Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small said, “These claims are not supported by the facts.”  Small cited a study by Illinois State University on Higher Ed funding which shows Oklahoma ranks #31 among the 50 states.  The funding report, which has been published since 1960, is non-partisan.  Small asked Boren and Betz to retract their statements.   
     Oklahoma Higher Education has taken $112.2 million in cuts this year and next years budget has over $35 million more in cuts.  "These severe budget cuts have resulted in forced furloughs and the reduction of academic programs, personnel, student services and college degree completion initiatives," Oklahoma state Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson said. Still Oklahoma Higher Ed will get $866 million in taxpayer money next year or about 12.5% of the total budget.  To compensate for the loss in appropriated monies, the State Board of Regents will consider increasing tuition and fees by an average of 5%.  The regents estimated the increase will cost full-time college students in Oklahoma about $400 more per year. 
     According to the U.S. Department of Education, Oklahoma has the ninth worst college six year graduation rates in the country.  Nationally 44% of students who start college end up with a sheepskin.  In Oklahoma, that number is less than 30%.  Among the 4 year regional universities, Cameron University has the lowest graduation rate- around 20%. 
     First, Oklahoma Higher Education should be audited.  If it’s true they are underfunded, then the audit will show that.  If there is waste, it will show that.  Let the chips fall where they may.        
     Second, Higher Education should proactively initiate consolidation.  Oklahoma has eleven regional universities, twelve community colleges, plus OU and OSU.  Many of those institutions have satellite campuses.  That is a lot of brick and mortar.  Each one has a ton of faculty and staff making good salaries with benefits.  With the growth of ‘distance’ learning, is it prudent for Oklahoma taxpayers to fund all this infrastructure? 
     Third, when will education (common ed or higher ed) come to the table with a plan that doesn’t include more money?  It’s past time for education leaders in Oklahoma to come up with a 10 year plan for improving education in the Sooner state that doesn’t include building more buildings and giving themselves raises. 
     President Ronald Reagan said, “If you serve a child a rotten hamburger in America, federal, state, and local agencies will investigate you, summon you, close you down, whatever.  But if you provide a child with a rotten education, nothing happens, except that you’re liable to be given more money to do it with.  Well, we’ve discovered that money alone isn’t the answer.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

All people are created in the image of God!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
RESTORE CIVIL DEBATE!
by Steve Fair

     Last Wednesday, James Hodgkinson opened fire at a baseball field in surburan DC where Congressional Republicans were practicing for a charity game.  He wounded House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), and three others.  Hodgkinson was shot and killed by Capitol police who were providing security for Scalise.  A list of Republican lawmakers was found on Hodgkinson.  Whether it was a ‘hit list’ or not, is unclear.  Hodgkinson was an avid supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders and a vocal critic on social media of President Trump and Republicans.
     Initially, both Democrats and Republicans condemned Hodgkinson’s actions.  Speaking on the Senate floor, Sanders said, "I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. President Trump called for unity and said, "We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because above all they love our country. We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans and that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace. We are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good."
     But Trump’s call for unity wasn’t heeded.  Within hours, liberals flooded Twitter with messages blaming Republican’s support of the second amendment as being the reason for the attack.  Sean Hannity blamed the ‘dehumanizing’ of Republicans by Democrats for the shooting.
     The fact is Hodgkinson was motivated by a heart of hate.  While most people are content to debate issues, a small minority want to bring about change in a more substantive manner.  Years ago in a small Texas town, a bar was being built in a neighborhood.  Two tea totaling widow women who lived next door were very concerned and vowed to pray and ask God to halt the bar’s construction.  One was very diligent in her prayers, the other not as faithful.  Two weeks before the beer joint’s scheduled opening, it caught fire and burned to the ground.  “I guess my prayers were answered,” the faithful widow said.  It’s wasn’t your prayers,” said the other.  “How can you be so sure?” asked the first.  Because I put feet and gasoline to my prayers,” said the other. 
     Some people simply go too far in a civilized society.  They move from debate to destruction, from meditation to mayhem seamlessly, believing the progression is the next logical step in political activism.  That should concern every American.  Civil debate is on life support in our country.  Both the political left and right can take equal credit for creating this toxic political environment.  We should all remember that no matter their political leanings, every person is made in the image of God.

Monday, June 12, 2017

LET'S WAIT FOR THE TAPES!!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
COMEY IS ABOUT COMEY!
by Steve Fair

     The main thing we learned in James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence committee is that James Comey is about James Comey.  When he admitted, under sworn testimony that he ‘leaked’ his notes on a private meeting with President Trump through a third party, he admitted he violated the Bureau policy and undermined his creditability.  The former FBI Director was asked why he didn’t confront the President when he was allegedly asked to back off investigating Michael Flynn, and he answered that ‘he wasn’t strong enough.’ 
     But Comey’s testimony about the previous administration should have raised eyebrows.  He testified former Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked him to back off investigating then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.  If proven to be true, that is a clear violation of the law and obstruction of justice. Why didn’t Comey leak that to the press?  His inconsistency is disturbing.
     Comey’s testimony confirmed that President Trump is not under an active FBI investigation, there still no evidence of collusion and that Trump didn’t hinder the investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election in any way.    
     Comey has been a hero, a goat, and now a hero again among Democrats.  In July, when the then FBI Director said Clinton’s use of a private email server didn’t rise to the level of indictment, Democrats applauded him.  When Comey reopened the investigation in October, two weeks before the general election, after more of Clinton’s emails were found on former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop, Democrats called him a turncoat and a goat.  Hillary partially blames Comey’s re-opening of the investigation for her loss to Trump.  Now that Comey is claiming Trump told him to back off on an investigation, Democrats have petitioned the Pope to declare Comey a saint. 
     President Trump says he has tapes of their private meeting and the Senate committee says they want to hear them.  Comey says he hopes the tapes exist because he claims they will vindicate him.  It remains to be seen if Trump produces the tapes and what is on them. 
     Comey has said his motive for leaking the memo was to protect the reputation of the rank and file FBI, but that doesn’t square with reality.  The FBI Employment Agreement clearly states that employees are prohibited from releasing any information acquired by virtue of their official employment to unauthorized individuals without prior official written authorization by the FBI.  The fact is Comey is about Comey.  He loves the limelight and attention and is more concerned with his reputation than the reputation of the Bureau.
     The Democrats, and some Republicans, are committed to opposing everything this President stands for.  They will not rest until Trump is nothing but a memory, but what they fail to understand is unlike Comey, Trump isn’t just about Trump.  It is about the movement he represents.