Monday, December 27, 2010

Weekly Opinion/Editorial

CUT THE STATE INCOME TAX RATE!

by Steve Fair

The Oklahoma state income tax rates will drop on January 1, 2012 from 5.5% to 5.25% unless the state legislature intervenes. The automatic triggering of the reduction is due to state revenue being up at least four (4) percent over last year.

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Some have questioned the timing of reducing the state income tax rate since Oklahoma state government is in a serious budget crunch. The tax cuts are expected to let Oklahoma taxpayers keep $61 million dollars in their pockets the first year, thereby depriving government of the same amount.

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The money the tax cuts would generate could be a help in plugging some budgetary holes according to David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a policy think tank. Blatt believes the tax cuts should be delayed. “These projections are showing that there is modest revenue growth as the economy recovers,” Blatt said. “We continue to remain well below pre-downturn levels and the recovery is being hampered by policy decisions made several years ago, both regarding tax cuts and spending obligations.”

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Scott Moody, an economist at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs said the timing for enacting the income tax rate “couldn't be more fortunate.” “The great thing about the way the trigger was designed is that you only get the tax rate reduction when revenue is growing fairly robustly,” he said. “So it's not like that (lost state) revenue will cause a decrease in government spending; it only reduces the increase.”

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The automatic income tax reductions got a shot in the arm last week when incoming Governor Mary Fallin, Speaker of the House designate Kris Steele, (R-Shawnee), and Speaker Pro-Tempore designate Brian Bingman, (R-Sapulpa) said they supported them. Fallin will be a member of the newly organized Board of Equalization.

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"Letting Oklahoma families and small businesses keep more of their hard-earned money is the right thing to do and a good way to get our economy moving in the right direction," Fallin said. "Cutting the income tax rate will make Oklahoma more competitive on a national stage and is a step in the right direction as we work to make our state a better place to do business."
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"Broad-based tax relief is the most efficient and fair way to spur economic growth because it helps all Oklahomans,"
said Steele.
"Cutting our income tax rate will make Oklahoma a more attractive place to do business and a positive, national role model on economic policy."
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"The tax cuts are designed to stimulate economic growth and create private sector jobs, both of which are a priority," stated Bingman. "It is important that we remain committed to tax relief and allow the additional dollars in the private sector to create wealth in Oklahoma."

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Almost every Oklahoman would be impacted by the reduction. Oklahoma’s income tax rate kicks in at a low level- $8,700 for single filers, $15,000 for married couples-so virtually everyone pays the state 5.5% of their income.

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Nine States- Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming have no state income tax. Seven of the nine states grew faster than the national average in the past decade. The other two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, had the fastest growth in their regions, the Midwest and New England. The fastest growing state in the country is Texas. Its population grew twenty one (21) percent in the past decade, from nearly 21 million to more than 25 million.

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Steve Beebe, a Duncan CPA, and a member of the board of OCPA, wrote in 2001: “There are two concepts about taxation I have found to be true (1) You can’t take a lot of tax money from someone that doesn’t have any money, and (2) You can’t try to squeeze too much from the wealthy, high-income earners, or businesses because they will move to a more tax-desirable state.”

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Three things about this issue: First, allowing Oklahomans to keep more of their income and reducing the size of state government in the process is a positive move in the right direction. Cutting government’s “allowance” forces them to make some hard decisions. Second, if Oklahoma ever expects to be competitive in attracting business and industry, we have to reduce the personal income tax rate. Third, Oklahoma government needs to be right sized and modernized. The best opportunity to do it is in a down budget year.

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Fallin has said, “The best way to address the budget shortfall is to get very serious about government modernization and making government smaller, smarter and more efficient. “It's very important we do everything we can to look at eliminating waste or duplication in state government and continue to right-size government to make it more efficient and effective.”

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Fallin and the incoming legislature leaders are saying the right things. Let’s hope they have the courage to follow up and make the tough decisions that will move the state forward.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
PROMISES…PROMISES!
by Steve Fair
Last week, Oklahoma State Senate President Pro Tempore designate Brian Bingman, (R-Sapulpa) appointed ten (10) Senators to work on Oklahoma’s under funded pension systems. The committee will be chaired by Senator Mike Mazzei, (R-Bixby) and the Vice Chair is Senator Don Barrington, (R-Lawton). Barrington has some ‘skin in the game’ because his firefighter pension is one of those the legislature is under funding.
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In a February 2010 report by the Pew Center on States, entitled, “The Trillion Dollar Gap,”(http://downloads.pewcenteronthestates.org/The_Trillion_Dollar_Gap_final.pdf) Oklahoma was one of eight states singled out as headed for disaster on the seven state-administered pension systems if they didn’t start adequately funding the plans.
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The seven plans cited in the Pew study as under funded were the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension Retirement System, Oklahoma Public Employees’ Retirement System, Uniform Retirement System for Judges and Justices, Police Pension and Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System, Wildlife Conservation Retirement Plan.
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The study had this to say about Oklahoma: “The seven state-administered pension systems had a combined funding level of 60.7 percent in fiscal year 2008, a total liability of $33.5 billion and an unfunded liability that was 219 percent of total payroll. During the 1980s and 1990s Oklahoma increased benefits, but did not boost contributions enough to offset those increased liabilities. By pushing the costs into the future, the state’s actuarially required contribution has risen to almost 21 percent of payroll, annually. In addition, the state has lagged in making the required contributions, so funding levels would likely have continued on a downward path even without investment losses.”
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How did Oklahoma get in this mess? It all started back in the late 1980s and early 90s, when the Democrat controlled state legislature increased future retirement benefits for state workers and teachers without including a funding mechanism. According to Tom Spencer, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System. “Frankly, I don't think the legislature was paying attention to the actuarial statistics when passing legislation. It is obvious that in some local plans and some state plans, the benefits have just gone way too high,” Spencer said. “'Every government needs to be able to afford the pensions they've promised. In Oklahoma, there's been a gigantic disconnect between what's been promised and what they're willing to pay."
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Spencer is right about the retirement plans for some state bureaucrats, college professors and others being too sweet, and while Republicans can accurately point fingers at the Democrats in control when the deal was made, they now have to find a way to make good on the deal.
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“We have promises to uphold to retired teachers and workers in Oklahoma and we also have a duty to ensure sound fiscal security for our states future. We can do both, but it will take a team effort and I am confident that these committee members will work together in a way that makes Oklahoma’s future more secure,” Bingman said in the press release concerning the establishment of the committee.
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Oklahoma is not the only state with pension funding issues. Economist Arnold Kling said the states unfunded pension issue was like, “Fifty Bernie Madoffs.” Government, at all levels, over committing and not using money where it is supposed to be used is not a new concept. Take for example Social Security:
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Six years ago, then Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan bluntly told Congress that Social Security cannot afford to pay baby boomers their promised retirement pensions, and the benefits should be reduced. He warned that the nation's debt is already high and the expected tsunami in Social Security payments when the boomers start retiring in 2008 could send interest rates soaring. "I am just basically saying that we are overcommitted at this stage," Greenspan said.
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U.S. Senator Tom Coburn says about Social Security: “As Congress discusses various Social Security reform proposals, it is critical for Oklahomans to understand the most risky option is to do nothing, thereby allowing the system to collapse. The unfortunate reality is that under the current system, Social Security is broke with millions of baby boomers now eligible to receive benefits. In fact, due to the onslaught of early retirements caused by the down economy, Social Security is expected to run deficits in 2010 and 2011, only to return to surpluses for a few short years before permanently running to deficits in 2015. The “trust fund” of Social Security, which many politicians claim will keep Social Security solvent, actually contains no real dollars and simply does not exist.”
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Two important lessons these ‘unfunded’ pension issues should teach us. First, government has no money that taxpayers don’t give them and government does terrible job managing money. Second, no one should bet their future (retirement, medical coverage) exclusively on a government operated program. Government is notorious for overcomiting and under delivering.
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The late actress Mae West was known for her double entendres. Perhaps she was talking about government when she said, “An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


RICK GREEN RETURNING TO DUNCAN!

After missing last year because he was a candidate for Texas Supreme Court, Rick Green will return to Duncan on January 7th and 8th. Green narrowly lost the top court race in the Lone Star state in the primary run-off after finishing first in the primary.
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Green, a constitutional attorney and former Texas State Representative is also a speaker for Wallbuilders, an organization that takes their name from the book of Nehemiah in the bible. The founder of Wallbuilders, David Barton, is a frequent guest on the Glenn Beck program. For more information on Wallbuilders, go to http://wallbuilders.com/
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This year’s trip will be Rick’s sixth to Stephens County. Green normally brings his family and in fact his oldest son, Trey, got his presentation start in Duncan several years back. “Two years ago, all of my kids were on stage reciting the pre-amble to the Constitution together for the first time,” Green said. “Duncan and Stephens County hold a special place in the Green family memories.”
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“Our goal is to educate citizens on the faith and conviction of our founding fathers,” Green said. The event is sponsored by the Stephens County Republican Party, but this is not a Party rally or fundraiser. “This is an educational event and not partisan,” Steve Fair, Chairman, said. “We want every concerned citizen to attend, no matter their Party affiliation. I believe every American Christian should see this presentation,” Fair said
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This year’s event will be somewhat different from those in the past because it will focus on the U.S. Constitution. “There has been a lot of discussion, particularly within the Tea Party movement that America as a nation has strayed from the Constitution and the intent of the founding fathers who authored it. I have put together a program entitled, ‘A Citizens Guide to the Constitution’ and that is what we will be presenting this year,” Green said.
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The event on Friday the 7th is free, but a six hour Seminar on Saturday the 8th costs $40. Both events will be at the Stephens County Fairgrounds, which is located at 1618 S. 13th Street in Duncan. “The Saturday event runs from 9am until 3pm and includes a text that costs $20. We will have lunch available on site so attendees don’t have to leave the facility,” Fair said.
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“This is a unique opportunity for concerned citizens to educate themselves on our country’s founding document for a very nominal fee. Rick Green is a high energy, interesting speaker and I hope folks take advantage of this unique opportunity,”
Fair concluded.
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Rick will also be speaking in Cleveland County(Norman/Moore area) on Thursday night January 6th- for more information on that event, contact Bobby Cleveland at bobcleveland@coxinet.net.

For information on the event in Stephens County, please contact Steve Fair at 405.990.7449 or by email at okgop@aol.com.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Weekly Opinion Editorial

MORAL AND ECONOMIC ARE RELATED!
by Steve Fair

Governor elect Mary Fallin, and Speaker of the House designate Kris Steele, (R-Shawnee) spoke to about 300 at an Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Forum last week in Oklahoma City.

“We have a historic opportunity to put Oklahoma on the map,” Fallin told the business leaders. “Getting Oklahoma’s economy back on track, I think that is the most critical issue of the day. I will be focusing on jobs and the economy and creating the very best business atmosphere.”

“A strong, vibrant, healthy economy with plenty of job opportunities actually helps to strengthen our families,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “We need to take advantage of the national attention we are receiving right now and move the ball forward when it comes to job opportunities for Oklahomans.”

Former GOP State Representative and current State Chamber President Fred Morgan said, “In spite of challenging fiscal conditions, we have made great strides in recent years to create and maintain a pro-growth business climate in Oklahoma, and we cannot let the momentum fade. We are poised to attract jobs and wealth to our state like never before. Our limited regulation, reduced taxes, low cost of living, high quality of life and abundance of natural resources and space has put us on the map, but it is more important than ever that we seek opportunities to grow our economy and create jobs.”

Morgan and some other state business leaders in the state are urging the legislature to focus on getting jobs to the state and de-emphasize social issues like abortion, traditional marriage, the second amendment, and immigration. Morgan says those issues negatively impacts existing Oklahoma business and recruiting business to the state. “Where it negatively impacts business, we will speak up,” said Morgan. “We'll try to educate legislators on how something that while well intended might have some negative consequences to the business climate.”

In an interview published in the Thanksgiving Day edition of The Oklahoman, Steele’s comments made it appear he had brought into Morgan’s strategy of de-emphasising social issues. “The things that I heard time and again were jobs, jobs, jobs,” Steele said. “We want to make sure that Oklahomans ... have adequate and good and healthy, productive job opportunities.” Steele’s comments set off a firestorm with several conservative member of the GOP caucus.

Representative Randy Terrill, (R-Moore), who authored House Bill 1804, Oklahoma's anti-immigration law asked Steele “to clearly, publicly and unequivocally repudiate the comments attributed to him in The Oklahoman and affirm that illegal immigration, Second Amendment rights, and pro-family social legislation will not only be a priority, but will be a central focus of the next Legislature's agenda.”

The truth is this whole brouhaha has been blown out of proportion. Here are my observations:

First, Steele hasn’t done anything wrong- yet. He simply applied the basic principle of public speaking- know your audience- when he addressed the State Chamber. Steele and Fallin both have long records of social conservatism and pro-business views. There is no indication they are planning to abandon those positions.

Second, fostering an attractive business climate in Oklahoma should be at the top of the list for the newly elected Governor and legislative leaders. Oklahoma ranks near in the bottom in virtually every major economical indicator. We have a low per capita income coupled with a high tax burden for business. The GOP campaigned on ‘right sizing’ government and creating a business climate that will help existing businesses and attract new businesses. The best thing state government can do is lower the cost to operate a business in Oklahoma and then get out of the way.

Third, ignoring immigration, the right to bear arms, the threat of Sharia law to our court systems, pro-life issues, and traditional marriage in order to attract business is not the right approach to creating jobs. Practicing situational ethics to gain economically will have dire consequences. Creating jobs is important, but to ignore the Creator of heaven and earth in legislation is to guarantee economic ruin. The aforementioned issues “define” Oklahoma and our ‘lifestyle.’ Taking a stand on those issues is one reason businesses are moving to Oklahoma.

Finally, economics and moral issues are not enemies. Henry Hazlitt, an American economist and Wall Street Journal writer, said “Economics and ethics are, in fact, intimately related. Both are concerned with human action, human conduct, human decision, human choice… There is hardly an ethical problem, in fact, without its economic aspect. Our daily ethical decisions are in the main economic decisions, and nearly all our daily economic decisions have, in turn, an ethical aspect.”

Austrian economist, Hans Sennholz said, “In God’s world, causes and consequences are connected logically. To offend against an economic principle, or to disobey an ethical commandment is to suffer the inexorable consequences of our action… His eternal laws and principles invariably exact a price for all offenses.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


'NO LABELS' is a front for Bloomberg!


In a well written op/ed in USA Today, Jonah Goldberg discloses the real motive of NO LABELS. No Labels is the political group taunted by The Oklahoman as the 'gold standard' of non-partisanship in a recent editorial. The paper called conservatives in the Oklahoma legislature 'jingos,' whose convictions and values embarrassed the state and hurt business recruitment. As I mentioned in my post, 'Steele & Jingos,' No Labels is headed up by a former Texas GOP ad man, Mark McKinnon. According to Goldberg, the groups goal is to provide a platform for Michael Boomberg to run for President. Goldberg's column deserves wide distribution in Oklahoma, particularly since The Oklahoman was so adamant about promoting No Labels and their 'pure' motives. You can read Goldberg's op/ed in its entirety at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-12-07-column07_ST_N.htm

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
VOTE YES ON E-911!
by Steve Fair
E-911 is a telecommunications system that automatically associates a physical address with the calling party’s phone number and routes the call to the most appropriate first responders. For example, if you have a car wreck or become incapacitated and call 911 from your cell phone, the E-911 operator can determine your location’s transmission point and dispatch help. When E-911 works perfectly, dispatchers can find the location of a cell phone with pinpoint accuracy.
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Back in 2005, Stephens County voters rejected E-911 as being too expensive. On Tuesday December 14th, Stephens County voters will get another chance to vote on E-911 again. This time, there are two proposals on the ballot. The first would raise the current 911 fee on landline telephones from the current rate of five (5) percent to as much as fifteen (15) percent. In most cases the fee assessed on landlines would be around $1.50 per month. The second proposal on the ballot would add $.50 per month to every cell phone. The cell phone fee would go to purchasing equipment to help first responders find a cell phone caller’s exact location.
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More and more people are giving up landlines and using a cell phone exclusively, which presents a problem for law enforcement in locating them when they make a 911 call. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one out of five( about 65 million) households have abandoned their land line phones for cell phones. And those ‘smart cell phones’ are smarter than you think- they can tell law enforcement/emergency responders your location.
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Over two thirds of the cell phones in use today have the capability of providing your exact location to law enforcement. The reason is because in 2007, the FCC mandated cell phones have the capability of providing Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) the location of the phone within 300 meters 95% of the time.
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According to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, "We all know that people are relying on cell phones for more and more of their calls, including calls to 911. The advances in wireless technology allow people to call for help more quickly and from more remote places than ever before. We need to make sure that our location accuracy requirements keep pace with those changes."
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James Barbour, the president of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), a non-profit group dedicated to emergency communications issues praises the FCC’s mandate to cell phone manufacturers. "We live in a world of rapidly changing communications in which consumers increasingly rely on their wireless device," Barbour said. "However, when a caller is unable to describe their location during an emergency, the ability of a 9-1-1 call taker to provide help is often only as good as the location information provided with the call.”
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But not everyone thinks E-911 is a good thing. Some believe it is an invasion of our privacy. James Dempsey from the Center for Democracy and Technology says, "Your cell phone has become an ankle bracelet. Therefore we are urging the standard for government access be increased to a full probable cause standard. Law enforcement agencies have to have suspicion to believe that the person they are targeting is engaged in criminal activity."
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Currently, Dempsey says, to get a court order allowing the surveillance of cell phone use, law enforcement only has to prove that the information sought - not the individual - is relevant to an ongoing investigation. Dempsey believes E-911 has violated our individual right to privacy.
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Stephens County is the largest county in Oklahoma without Enhanced 911 service. It’s time that was corrected. Here are the reasons E-911 should be approved this time around:
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First, E-911 would some of the cheapest insurance you will ever buy. It will cost a mere .50 per cell phone per month. The fee for E-911 service for landline phones will be $1.50 per month/per phone, so the cost is minimal. That’s a small investment for peace of mind for your family’s safety. As Representative Dennis Johnson, (R-Duncan) said, “If I had a car wreck and were in a ditch, I would want law enforcement and first responders to be able to find me.”
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Second, E-911 has been mandated by the Oklahoma State legislature. Every county in the state must have it in place by 2012 or the state will implement it for them. Stephens County doesn’t need state government bureaucrats telling us how to run our business, so county commissioners and county elected officials should have this on the front burner and get it accomplished before the state comes in.
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Third, while I understand the ‘privacy’ argument, there is little or no evidence that law enforcement has misused E-911 to ‘monitor’ citizen activity.
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A great deal has changed since the 2005 vote, including an increasing need for first responders to find and locate people who call 911 by cell phone. Technology advances and changing consumer habits have made E-911 a definite need in the county. I urge you to vote Yes on December 14th for Enhanced-911 service for Stephens County.

Friday, December 3, 2010

WHY IS THE OKLAHOMAN PICKING THIS FIGHT?

Mike McCarville has an excellent analysis op/ed on The Oklahoman's repeated attacks on conservatives. EVERY concerned Oklahoman should read it. Assess it at: http://wwwtmrcom.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WATTS EDITORIAL
Former Congressman J.C. Watts Jr. has an op/ed on Ripon Forum entitled, "What do we do now?" You can read it at:http://www.riponsociety.org/forum410g.htm
“Hi, I'm Average Voter. Does anyone want to represent me?”
by Steve Fair
The Oklahoman had another op/ed this morning attacking conservatives. This time they took a swipe at newly elected Insurance Commissioner John Doak and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones for being what they described as 'partisans.' They fail to mention that Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland, Doak's opponent, was an OBAMA delegate to the Democrat National Convention. You can't get more 'partisan' than that.
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Jones' opponent, State Auditor Steve Burrage, maxed out in contributions to John Edwards for President and contributed heavily to Democrats. That's pretty 'partisan.' The op/ed praises some organization called 'No Labels' http://nolabels.org/ that advocates governing from the center. You can read the entire editorial at http://newsok.com/no-labels-movement-an-effort-to-restore-center-in-u.s.-politics/article/3519447
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The head of No Labels is Mark McKinnon, a GOP political ad consultant from Texas who is also a country songwriter. McKinnon is nothing less than a political 'hired gun,' who has little or no convictions. He quit the McCain campaign because he thought the election of OBAMA would be good for the country. Now that's not PARTISAN? McKinnon is just trying to create a business environment for his ad consulting business with Democrats because he knows he has burned a bridge with Republicans.
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The Oklahoman's op/ed writer's ultimate conclusion is the 'average' voter in Oklahoma will not be represented by all these GOP PARTISANS that were elected to statewide office and the legislature on November 2nd.
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What is a Partisan? A Partisan is defined as 'someone who is devoted to or biased in support of a party, group, or cause.' Partisans are people of conviction who are devoted to a cause. When did having strong character and firm convictions become a political liability?
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As I have stated repeatedly on this blog(See WHY FAIR &BIASED to your right), EVERYONE IS BIASED-EVERYONE IS PARTISAN. The person who doesn't recognize that fact is woefully ignorant or intelligently dishonest. Our views, values, and opinions are all filtered through the prism of our life experiences, education, culture, and theological views. The key is to know what is right and more importantly to know the ONE who knows what is right.
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Back to the editorial- just who is this average voter The Oklahoman is talking about? Here are seven(7) characteristics of the AVERAGE Oklahoma voter who voted so PARTISAN on November 2nd and what those voters expect from their newly elected Oklahoma government:
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First, they are decidedly against government intrusion in their lives. They want a government that is small and efficient. They recognize that taxes and regulation on business gets passed down to the consumer and that fosters a hostile environment for business.
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Second, they want government to be transparent. They want an honest government. They are sick of backroom deals, corruption and cover ups in both Parties.
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Third, they want government to provide a safe environment to raise a family. That means funding law enforcement and keeping lawbreakers behind bars.
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Fourth, they want a government that provides infrastructure (roads, bridges) so they can travel safe and so business can transport goods to market.
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Fifth, they want a government that will uphold the tenets of the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions equally for all people. That means taking a stand on the 2nd amendment, illegal immigration and other issues that create an 'environment and culture of integrity.'
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Sixth, they want elected officials to be risk takers and think outside the box. They don't want some 'center of the road/go along to get along' joker whose only concern is reelection. That's why Tom Coburn is so popular in Oklahoma- he's a Partisan and he is a risk taker.
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Seventh, they want a government that listens to everyone, not to just a few select 'big donors,' or elitist whose only goal is to control the agenda of government to benefit their financial interests. They are sick of elected officials who come to their town and talk ONLY to their donor base to the exclusion of the average citizen.
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You will note I did not mention the average voter wants the government to help them get a job. Most of them recognize the government does a terrible job 'recruiting' industry. If government will just get out of the way and let the free market system work, business will do just fine in our state.
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On another note, what the AVERAGE OKLAHOMA NEWSPAPER READER should expect from their paper is honest reporting without a 'sour grapes' op/ed everyday because their hand picked candidates didn't win an election.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Senate Protects Earmarking in Spite of Debt Crisis
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today after the Senate rejected an earmark ban by a vote of 39 to 56. The earmark moratorium, sponsored by Senators Coburn, McCaskill, McCain, and Udall, would have applied to all bills in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013.
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“Today’s vote shows that many in Congress still do not get it when it comes to understanding the severity of our economic challenges. Pork-barrel spending distracts Congress from doing the hard work of tackling our debt and deficit crisis. Still, the American people should be encouraged that more Senators are willing to listen. Five years ago, the Senate voted to protect the Bridge to Nowhere by a vote of 82 to 15. Today, 39 Senators vote to end earmarking altogether. I’ll continue to offer this amendment until Congress ends this egregious practice once and for all,” Dr. Coburn said.
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“In Congress, earmarking is not our prerogative; it is our pleasure. Our nation flourished for 200 years without an earmark favor factory run by career politicians and lobbyists. For instance, earmarks in the highway bill went from 10 in 1982 to more than 7,000 in 2005. This year, members of Congress have requested more than 37,000 earmarks. Our national survival is at stake because politicians have discovered constitutional powers in all kinds of areas that were never envisioned by our founders. If our founders wanted Congress to indulge in pork-barrel spending they would have included that in the enumerated powers. They clearly did not,” Dr. Coburn said.
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“Some claim that debating a practice that accounts for a small percentage of the budget distracts Congress from the important work of balancing the budget. That argument might have merit if Congress was doing the hard work of balancing the budget, which it has not been doing for decades. We have a $14 trillion debt and are on brink of becoming Greece or Ireland in part because earmarks are the gateway drug that has facilitated Congress’ addiction to spending. As earmarks exploded so did the size of the federal budget, which has doubled in the past decade,” Dr. Coburn said.


"SHED FRED" IN THE NEWS!

Fred Harris, from Walters, OK, beat OU coach Bud Wilkinson in 1964 and served in the US Senate for 8 years. He was very liberal, was DNC Chairman, and ran for President in 1972. I had a 'SHED FRED' bumper sticker on my Super Beetle in college. Harris teaches Political Science in New Mexico. More on Fred at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_R._Harris. Below is an interesting article about him from The Hill. Steve

Former Sen. Fred Harris (D-Okla.) visited Capitol Hill in September according to The Hill to drop off some documents that link President John F. Kennedy to some of the most important figures in Senate history. The 79-year-old Harris handed Senate Historian Donald Ritchie two bulging file folders from a committee headed by then-Sen. Kennedy in 1957 that chose the first five of the eight senators whose portraits now hang in the Senate Reception Room. Harris, who was elected in 1964 to serve out the term of late Democrat Robert S. Kerr and won a full term in 1966 before retiring in 1972 to run for president, was given the files by then-Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), whom he sat next to in the Senate. The documents, which include many in JFK’s handwriting, chronicle the panel’s deliberations as it chose Henry Clay of Kentucky, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, Robert LaFollette Sr. of Wisconsin and Robert Taft Sr. of Ohio as the five “most distinguished” senators whose portraits would be displayed in the ornate room. Three other senators’ portraits have since been added — those of Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan and Robert Wagner of New York, in 2000, and of Oliver Ellsworth, a drafter of the Constitution and later Senator from Connecticut and U.S. Chief Justice, in 2002.


by Steve Fair

JINGO: ‘One who vociferously supports one's country.’

The Oklahoman’s editorial this morning (http://newsok.com/how-house-leader-get-his-wish-for-focus-on-substance/article/3519085?custom_click=headlines_widget) attacking ‘the right fringe’ of the House GOP caucus borders on blasphemy. It also reveals they are out of touch with their readership and clueless on what will move Oklahoma forward.
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The editorial attacks so called ‘jingo’ bills as legislation that is unnecessary and irrelevant. Most of these so called ‘jingo’ bills are the ones that define who we are and what we stand for. Jingo activists have been the driving force of why Oklahoma has a Republican majority in the legislature and Republicans in all the statewide elected offices. Jingos are why Oklahoma has the most conservative congressional delegation in Washington. Jingos are capitalists who provide jobs for hard working Oklahomans. They buy papers out of the racks (that only work half the time), and purchase advertising. Jingos are principled, ethical people who want to leave the state in better shape than they found it.
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The Oklahoman seems intent on pushing a policy of ‘governing from the center.’ In recent op/eds, they have encouraged incoming Speaker of the House Kris Steele, (R-Shawnee) and incoming GOP statewide elected officials to be pragmatic and to not get bogged down with ‘jingo’ issues and to concentrate on economic development in Oklahoma.
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What they fail to understand is that economic and moral issues are linked. Henry Hazlitt, an American economist and Wall Street Journal writer, said “Economics and ethics are, in fact, intimately related. Both are concerned with human action, human conduct, human decision, human choice… There is hardly an ethical problem, in fact, without its economic aspect. Our daily ethical decisions are in the main economic decisions, and nearly all our daily economic decisions have, in turn, an ethical aspect.”
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In 'The Inseparable Link between Morality and Economics' (http://jpatton.bellevue.edu/biblical_economics/morality-economics.html) published in 1992 by the Bellevue University Economics Department, author, Dr. Judd Patton wrote: “Economic principles reveal cause and effect relationships and simultaneously “tell” mankind what he ought to do or advocate because they are in harmony with moral precepts, The Ten Commandments. Our conclusion is that morality and economics are components in one indivisible body of science.”
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In his well known book entitled, The Truth About the Great Depression, Dr. Hans Sennholz said: “In God’s world, causes and consequences are connected logically. To offend against an economic principle, or to disobey an ethical commandment is to suffer the inexorable consequences of our action… His eternal laws and principles invariably exact a price for all offenses.”
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The right ‘jingo’ bills will foster a climate of moral and economic development. Ignoring the Creator of heaven and earth in legislation will guarantee moral and economic failure.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekly Opinion Editorial
OKLAHOMA GOVERNMENT & LAYOFFS!
by Steve Fair
Governor elect Mary Fallin said in a interview last week that Oklahomans voted for smaller more efficient government when they swept Republicans into statewide offices. Fallin said in The Oklahoman, “The people of Oklahoma have spoken very clearly in the election that they do want change, that they expect solutions to problems, that they want government to be efficient and effective, that they don't want taxpayer money wasted. But they want results. They want us to give our children and our communities the very best possible future.”
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Fallin went on to say, “I'll spend a lot of time on the budget and budgetary issues, looking at state programs — which ones are functioning, which ones are not functioning, which ones are relevant, which ones are not relevant to today,” she said. “You have to inspect what you expect out of state government.”
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On November 2nd Oklahomans did vote for smaller government, but whether they will get it remains to be seen. Last legislative session, the Republicans missed a golden opportunity to begin the ‘right sizing’ government initiative. Instead they elected to go with ‘across the board’ cuts at all state agencies because it was easier and less time consuming. The across the board cuts did not take into account the mission/importance/relevance of each agency. Instead of implementing ‘zero based’ budgeting and requiring every state agency to justify every dollar they requested, the lawmakers took the path of least resistance.
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What Oklahoma government really needs is a good old fashioned layoff. In the private sector when business is bad and revenue is down, people lose their job. That rarely happens in government. In fact, job security is one of the key selling points government uses to recruit new employees. As Ronald Reagan said, “the closest thing to eternal life on this earth is a government agency.” But that may be changing.
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According to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, local and state government is the largest employer in the U.S., providing a combined 19.5 million jobs, including 2.2 million in California alone. Over the past two years that number has been cut by more than 400,000. That includes 100,000 in California, just in this past year. According to Zandi, state and local governments across the country are still cutting jobs at a pace of 25,000 to 30,000 per month. But we are not seeing those types of cuts in Oklahoma. Take for example, the largest state agency in Oklahoma.
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The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has over eight thousand employees and has an annual budget of over 1.7 billion dollars. They have offices in all seventy seven counties. Former State Senator Howard Hedrick(an R) now Director of DHS, has a goal of maintaining his staffing numbers over the next five years, not reducing them.
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If you do not believe there is significant waste in an agency the size of DHS, you are incredibly na├»ve, According to DHS; thirty six (36) percent of the 8,000 employees (2,880) at DHS will be eligible for retirement by 2014, which presents the agency a unique opportunity to ‘retool.’
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In a 52 page strategic plan entitled, “Everyday Heroes,” Hedrick says, “OKDHS’ priorities are to protect the most vulnerable of society and to identify and address social conditions that lead to the abuse and neglect of these individuals. Work has proven a somewhat successful strategy for many of these challenges.” The entire five year strategic plan can be accessed online at: http://www.okdhs.org/NR/rdonlyres/60C99DEC-6447-43D2-8856-53BE0F79B056/0/S080183_OklahomaDepartmentOfHuicPlanFY20072014_oprs_090120081.pdf
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Vulnerable means, “One who is open to attack or damage.” The most vulnerable of society in Oklahoma is the taxpayer! Their income is under attack and their standard of living is being damaged by a bloated wasteful government. Oklahoma government is long overdue for a ‘right sizing,’ but will the elected officials have the courage to do it?
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Three things need to be done to ‘right size’ Oklahoma government: : (1) Implement ‘zero based budgeting’ for all state agencies, (2) Prioritize ‘essential’ government services and fund accordingly, and (3) Consolidate agencies and eliminate duplication of personnel and services. Executing these will take more time and effort than past legislatures have put into the budget process, but the result will be a more efficient and effective government- exactly what was promised during the campaigns.
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Edmund Burke said, “Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.” Unfortunately an elected official’s hypocrisy can cost the taxpayer plenty.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekly Opinion Editorial
DIGITAL TEXTBOOKS COULD SAVE STATE MONEY!
by Steve Fair
State Representative Don Armes, (R-Faxon) is looking into using electronic devices in Oklahoma classrooms instead of standard textbooks. Armes, a former high school teacher, says it will save schools money and it is the future.
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"Our children have already taken that giant leap into technology so this would not be an adjustment for them. Now we just need to see if it’s financially feasible,” said Armes. “We have over 659,000 students in Oklahoma and if we could even save $10 per student on changing a book over to an electronic technology format, that would save over $6 million for Oklahoma schools.”
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“This study was not to force any schools into doing something they don’t want to do, but to be a catalyst tool to get people thinking about shifting from hard-back text books to some form of electronic format,” said Armes. “There has to be some cost savings involved and any money we can save for the schools is worth it.”
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Digital textbooks are quickly gaining acceptance in higher education because online texts cost students substantially less than paper textbooks. But while cheaper, most college students still prefer the text they can touch. The National Association of College Stores crunched some numbers about college students and textbooks vs. ebooks and found that seventy four (74) percent of college students still prefer using a print textbook in the classroom. They also found that fifty six (56) percent of college students had downloaded an on-line text.
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The state that has been on the cutting edge of the digital textbook drive is California. In May 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger launched his ‘Digital Textbook Initiative.’ With so many of his states schools struggling financially, Schwarzenegger directed his Secretary of Education to find a way to provide free digital resources to the schools.
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William Habermehl, superintendent of the 500,000- student Orange County, California schools said in an August 2009 New York Times story, “In five years, I think the majority of students will be using digital textbooks. They can be better than traditional textbooks. We’re still in a brick-and-mortar, 30-students-to 1 teacher paradigm, but we need to get out of that framework to having 200-300 kids taking courses online, at night, 24/7, whenever they want.”
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Habermehl went on to say, “I don’t believe that charters and vouchers are the threat to schools in Orange County. What is a threat is the digital world- that someone’s going to put together brilliant $200 courses in French or a geometry class taught by the best teachers in the world.”
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In Fairfax, Virginia, they are trying on-line textbooks for a year to see how they will work out. The schools system has the initial cost of providing an electronic reader like an I-pad, Nook or Kindle for the students, but they save money long term because the on-line versions of the textbooks are 25% of the cost of conventional texts and are easily updated.
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Crescent, Oklahoma is a small town of about 1,200 in Logan County. According to Steve Shiever, superintendent at Crescent High School, all the students in grades six through 12 have gone completely online with no paper textbooks. Instead, students use laptops with downloaded material. The teachers post all curriculum, lessons and worksheets online for students to access, and pupils then submit their finished work online. Everything is on a secured server that is password protected and the parents have 24/7 access to their child’s grades and attendance records.
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The Crescent Superintendent said the students were given the laptops at no cost to them but are required to pay a $70 a year insurance fee.“This teaches them a lesson of ownership. If it was completely free, they probably would be more likely to not take care of it,” said Shiever. “Out of my annual school budget, currently only 3.1 percent goes to technology, which includes our technology director’s salary. That’s very little.”
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The real challenge will not be getting the students to accept on-line texts. It will be teachers and administrators who want to cling to their hard copy textbook- the fear of change. But as Churchill said, “there is nothing wrong with change if it is in the right direction.”
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Armes is barking up the right tree. Textbooks are expensive for state school districts and require updates about every three years. School districts could save millions over the long haul by embracing the concept. And for the liberals, it would save a lot of trees.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
EARMARKS:INHOFE & COBURN ON OPPOSITE SIDES!
by Steve Fair
In Congress a legislative ‘earmark’ is a provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects, or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees, usually to a local project. Earmarks can be either ‘hardmarks’ or softmarks.’ Hard earmarks are binding and have the effect of law, while soft earmarks do not have the effect of law, but generally have the same binding effect.
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Senator Jim DeMint, (R-SC) says he will force a showdown next week with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY), and other old guard Republicans over "earmarked" pet projects that DeMint says are a symbol of out–of–control deficit spending. The South Carolina Republican, buoyed by support from six GOP freshmen, is optimistic he'll win a change in internal GOP rules to effectively bar any Republican from seeking earmarks. "Americans want Congress to shut down the earmark favor factory, and next week I believe House and Senate Republicans will unite to stop pork barrel spending," DeMint said.
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McConnell, however, isn't enthusiastic about the idea of a ban now. And he finds himself caught in the middle of an unwelcome battle dividing his party and opening it to criticism from anti–pork tea party activists who helped Republicans take back the House and elect several anti–earmark senators. The issue of earmarks has Oklahoma’s two U.S. Senators on opposite sides. Senator Inhofe is for keeping earmarks as part of the budget process and Senator Coburn is for eliminating them.
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Inhofe claims eliminating earmarks will not save taxpayers money and that part of the responsibility of being a member of Congress is to ‘bring home the bacon.’ In an editorial that appeared in several publications, Senator Jim Inhofe wrote, “a ban on earmarks doesn’t save one dime. It does, however, do three things: (1) It trashes the Constitution and violates our oath of office; (2) It cedes Congress’s power to authorize and appropriate to the president, and (3) It gives cover to big spending. It is hard to imagine that our founders were misguided when they gave Congress, those closest to the will of the people, the power of the purse under Article 1 of the Constitution. “ Inhofe has also widely distributed his argument to keep earmarks to Tea Party activists across the country. The RNC has a video on their website of an interview with Senator Inhofe. It is worth watching. Access it at http://rncnyc2004.blogspot.com/2010/11/james-inhofe-about-earmarks-video.html
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Senator Tom Coburn, on the other hand, wrote an op-ed for National Review that said, “I would encourage my colleagues to consider four myths and four realities of the debate on earmarks. The four myths are, (1) Eliminating earmarks does not actually save any money, (2) Earmarks represent a very tiny portion of the federal budget and eliminating them would do little to reduce the deficit, (3) Earmarking is about whose discretion it is to make spending decisions. Do elected members of Congress decide how taxes are spent, or do unelected bureaucrats and Obama administration officials? (4) The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility and authority to earmark. “
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Coburn said the four realities of earmarks are (1) They are a major distraction, (2) The debate is over in the US House and with the American People concerning earmarks. It’s clear they want them eliminated from the budget process, (3) Earmarks are bad public policy, and (4) Earmarks are bad politics. You can read Coburn's entire article at http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/253028/earmark-myths-and-realities-sen-tom-coburn
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Both of Oklahoma’s US Senators are conservatives and are honorable men, but this issue must be weighed against the U.S Constitution, not tradition, personal preference or perceived efficiencies. Are earmarks constitutional as Senator Inhofe claims or are they a 'distraction' as Senator Coburn claims?
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Earmarking is not a new concept and it was something the founders faced. According to Americans for Prosperity, the idea of funneling federal funds to specific local projects (earmarks) started with Congressman John C. Calhoun. He proposed the Bonus Bill of 1817 to construct highways linking the East and South of the United States to its Western frontier (referred to as “internal improvements”). Calhoun wanted to use the earnings bonus from the Second Bank of the United States specifically for this program, arguing that the General Welfare and Post Roads clauses of the United States Constitution allowed for it.
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President James Madison vetoed Calhoun’s bill as unconstitutional. In his veto message Madison said, “Having considered the bill, I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling this bill with the Constitution of the United States. The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified in the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers. “
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If Madison, known as the father of the U.S. Constitution, believed earmarks were not granted to Members of Congress in the Constitution, then it doesn’t seem very likely earmarks are constitutional.
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Congress should ban earmarks. Earmarks are nothing more than ‘re-election’ tokens being spent at taxpayer expense to insure loyalty to an elected official. If a particular project is worthy of funding, let it go through the traditional appropriations process.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Representative David Dank, (R-OKC) wrote an excellent guest editorial in The Oklahoman on Monday. Fellow blogger Mike McCarville has posted it in its entirety. You can access it at
http://wwwtmrcom.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
HISTORICAL OR HYSTERICAL?
by Steve Fair
Last Tuesday evening, the Stephens County GOP held an election night watch party. Over three hundred people showed up to celebrate the midterms. Thanks to Leon and Delois Farris for hosting the event at the Western Property Management Community Room. Leon not only hosted the event, but cooked some tasty hamburgers and hot dogs for the crowd. An 8x8 screen with Fox News playing had most of the attendee’s attention, but as the night wore on, the predictions of a Republican sweep of the Oklahoma statewide races came true.
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Mary Fallin was elected as the state’s first women Governor. U.S. Senator Tom Coburn was re-elected to the Senate with a 45 point margin. Seven other ‘R’s were elected to statewide offices. The closest race among the statewide races was an eight (8) point spread. 2010 was definitely a Republican year. This is the first time in Oklahoma state history Republicans have held all statewide offices at the same time. And it wasn’t just in Oklahoma where Republicans were having a good night. The Republicans picked up sixty (60) seats and took back the U.S. House and came close to taking the U.S. Senate.
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While the GOP expected to pick up seats in the state legislature, Oklahoma Republicans picked up more than what was predicted. Republicans gained eight (8) seats in the State House and six (6) seats in the State Senate. There are now seventy (70) Republicans in the House and thirty one (31) Democrats. In the State Senate, there are thirty two (32) Rs and sixteen (16) Ds. Southeast Oklahoma aka Little Dixie elected three Republican state legislators for the first time in state history. It was just ten (10) years ago, those numbers were reversed. Some of the more conservative Ds should change parties. They will be more effective legislators as Rs. Are you listening R.C.Pruett?
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Voters approved term limits for statewide elected officials. They will now serve eight (8) years and move on. That’s a good thing. Term limits should be applicable to every elective office. Plans are under way to place a SQ on county officer term limits on the ballot in 2012. I love what President Harry Truman said about term limits. “Term limits would cure both senility and seniority– both terrible legislative diseases.”
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Two State Questions authored by Senator Anthony Sykes won approval. English is now the official language of Oklahoma and International and Sharia law can’t be used in court rulings in the state. Both passed overwhelmingly.
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Locally, Duncan resident and Republican candidate Jason Hicks was elected District Attorney. Introduced by State Senator Anthony Sykes, the crowd erupted into a long and sustained ovation for Hicks when he entered the room around 9pm. Standing with his wife, Marla, and his three children, Jason vowed to be a prosecutor that will be tough on crime and work closely with law enforcement in the district. Hicks thanked his family and the army of volunteers that had labored so faithfully for the past year. Jason drove to Chickasha to address a watch party in Grady County, one of the four counties he will represent as DA. Upon his return to Duncan, he thanked some of his key volunteers, Hicks said the campaign had been an experience he will never forget.
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In Stephens County, 14,675 citizens voted. There are 26,064 registered voters in Stephens County, so that means that 56.3% voted. That was about six (6) points more than the turnout statewide- not bad for a rural county.
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The first one hundred years of Oklahoma state history, the Democrats ruled. Republicans jokingly say, we want the next one hundred, but one Party rule can be a recipe for disaster. The founding fathers recognized there needed to be a balance of power.
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Founding father James Madison said, “No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty than that … the accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” William Pitt, the British Prime Minister from 1766 to 1778 said, “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.”
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Time will tell whether Republicans can handle the power. It remains to be seen whether Tuesday’s results were historical or hysterical. Republicans have proven they can win elections- now they have to prove they can lead.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jamison Faught (http://www.muskogeepolitico.com/) has an interesting post urging Speaker Steele to appoint Mike Reynolds as Chair of the powerful Appropriations and Budget committee. It will likely NOT happen, but Faught's argument is a sound one. I second the motion. Reynolds would 'shake things up,' and Oklahoma state agencies need some shaking up. This certainly would not be a 'middle of the road' appointment and would require Reynolds to exercise some personal restraint, but Oklahoma would be well served if Steele does take Jamison's recommendation.

GOVERNING FROM THE CENTER

by Steve Fair

In an opinion/editorial in the November 4th edition of The Oklahoman entitled ‘Setting agenda next step for empowered GOP’, the paper urges Governor elect Mary Fallin and the rest of the GOP statewide slate elected on Tuesday to proceed with caution. They want the new statewide elected officials to stick to a ‘bipartisan, pragmatic script’ like the late Governor Henry Bellmon used to govern. There are a number of reasons why the paper is once again wrong.

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First and foremost, the paper is not giving the voters of Oklahoma credit for knowing what they did on Tuesday. Oklahoma voters loudly proclaimed they wanted a more conservative, responsible approach to governing. They want ‘radical’ change. They don’t want business as usual. If these statewide and legislative elected officials heed the paper’s admonition, abandon their campaign promises and govern from ‘the center’, they will face the wrath of the ballot box in two years.

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This ‘centrist’ governing The Oklahoman advocates the newly elected officials embrace has gotten Oklahoma to #47 in per capita income and #13 in tax burden nationally. It has resulted in political corruption, payoffs, kick-backs, ghost employees, election stealing, and who knows what else. Staying in the middle has resulted in Oklahoma having more state employees per capita than any state in the country. It has resulted in Oklahoma having more school districts per capita than any state in the union. It has gotten us crumbling infrastructure because we divert federal highway dollars for other uses. It has gotten us more gambling outlets and slot machines per capita than any place in the world. Oklahoma is unhealthy, poor, leads the nation in abused children, mental health issues and at the bottom in most economic categories.

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Oklahoma still has high workers comp rates vs. surrounding states because we still have lawyers in the system(one of only two states that doesn't use an adminstrative system to settle disputes). We still use abstractors to exchange real property(one of only two states). Every 'R' in the legislature knows those two examples hurt taxpayers, property owners, businesses and injured workers, but each session they 'nibble around the edges' with legislation that is 'middle of the road.' As the newly elected REPUBLICAN leaders of the legislature and the Governor begin to establish their 'agenda,' they should have these important issuese at the TOP of the list.

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Governing from the center doesn’t require any creativity, risk taking or innovation. It only requires someone who ‘goes along to get along.’ That’s not what Oklahoma voters want. They want radical change!

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A little known fact is that state government has GROWN since Republicans took control of the State House in 2004. That is disappointing. That means the GOP has taken-albeit a more conservative approach to governing- a ‘centrist’ position in budgeting. Last session, in a down economic time, the legislature failed to make some difficult decisions and made 'across the board' cuts at state agencies. Oklahomans are sick of MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. They want risk takers in office- people who think outside the box and will challenge the status quo. They don’t want the same government they had under Henry Bellmon. In Henry Bellmon's first term(1963-1967), Gene Stipe reigned as the King of Pork and state government doubled in size. Oklahomans want better government than when Bellmon was Governor in 1963!

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Second, John Doak and Gary Jones won their respective races on Tuesday by working hard and getting their message to the voters. The paper implies the voters didn’t really know they were ousting ‘two good Democratic incumbents, State Auditor Steve Burrage and Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland.’ According to the paper, the two innocent ‘D’s ‘were rolled over by the wave.’ Those stupid, ignorant voters! Give me a break! Holland just recently became a ‘conservative’ Democrat. In 2008, she was an Obama delegate to the Democrat National Convention. And Burrage was Gene Stipe’s banker and a partisan Democrat, donating the maximum to John Edward’s failed Presidential campaign.

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Doak and Jones were both outspent by their opponents (Jones by 9 to1) and their opponents were endorsed by The Oklahoman (in multiple editorials), but in spite of that, THEY STILL WON! To imply that over one half million Oklahoma voters were just marking R on those two races because they were mad at Obama or unaware of who was running is disrespectful, condescending and out of touch with the Oklahoma electorate. This accounts for why newspapers across the country are dying- they are out of touch with their readers and advertisers. They lack creditability! Large daily newspapers across the country are producing an inferior product and at some point, their customer base will abandon them for news sources that are in tune with reality. What happened to The Oklahoman? They used to be a conservative newspaper and their editorial page reflected the views of average Oklahomans, but in recent years, they have adopted a 'middle of the road'(progressive) mentality and are often on the wrong side of issues.

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Third, in the op/ed, The Oklahoman describes some of the more conservative members of the State House and Senate as ‘ideologues.’ They mean these duly elected officials are ‘impractical idealists, partisan advocates who blindly follow a particular ideology.’ The implication is they (The Oklahoman) are ‘enlighted, open minded, common sense, bi-partisans.’ The statement either shows their complete ignorance or their arrogance. The reality is that everyone bring into their decision making process their own biases and opinions. Our views are filtered through our life experiences, education, value system and temperament. The Oklahoman editorial staff is as much an IDEALOGUE as those they accuse. To not recognize their own ‘biased’ approach to news reporting/editorial writing is intelligentially dishonest.

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Finally, governing from the center means staying in the middle of the road. This 'middle of the road' mentality is what has produced the economic mess in Washington. No one wants to take a principled stand for limited government.
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The center is a dangerous place. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thacker said about being in the middle of the road, “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” Ambrose Bierce, an American writer from the late 19th century said, “We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.”