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.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

TO WRITE OR NOT TO WRITE
by Dr. Forrest L. Keener


I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

(2 Co 5:9 - 11)

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It is not my purpose to expound the above verses, but to call attention to the words, “I wrote, ... but now I write.” The conjunction “but” clearly implies some kind of change in, or qualification of, Paul’s first instruction as compared to the next one. I expect there is no indication of error in the first writing, but rather that additional information he had gained, or a consideration of the possibility that his first instruction might be misinterpreted or misapplied, caused him to feel the need for further qualification of his original instruction. I suppose that some such modification is necessary for everyone who by writing puts themselves on record of what they have said, unless of course, they are quoting the very words of God, which cannot be improved. Nineteen years ago, a good man, and a good friend of mine, a good Bible student, and a fine godly preacher, gave me some personal advice. I think it was unsolicited, nevertheless, he said “Brother Keener, never write anything down, when you can communicate it audibly. There are too many men who will purposely misunderstand, and use your own words against you. He was not speaking of all writings, but communications such as letters, which concerned controversial issues, or issues which might well become controversial in the future. However, I have since then become convinced that the truth of this will, to some extent, apply to anything we write down.


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I have been thinking lately how we as preachers, and by no means we alone, will make more of an issue over what we consider to be the errors, even of our favorite writer’s words, than we will make of their truth. Consider how we do this concerning the writings of such men as Gill, Henry, Pink, and on I could go. I have noticed how good men will labor in the defense, or explanation of an issue, and their critics will totally depart from the intended issue to find fault with incidental details, that neither prove nor disprove the particular issue under discussion. I have been poorly and ignorantly writing for more than forty years, and find it to be very demanding, indeed, exhausting work. I have gotten some good compliments from many people, from time to time, and often received assurance that my work had helped someone to better understand some principle or doctrine. This is, of course, gratifying. But as thanks for my efforts, I have also been criticized, lied about and lied to. I have lost friends, and have been called names that the critics probably could not even define. This, of course, makes us wonder at times, why should we who write even go to the trouble?


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The answer is simple. Almost all of the education that any of us has received comes through the writings of someone else. From the first little books our parents and siblings read to us, to the hundreds of volumes we read and digest during our entire life’s education, everything that can be read must have been written. It is true that today we have, and are developing, many other forms of communicating data. Nevertheless, most of that is coming from data originally saved on the printed, therefore written, page. Consider the lifetimes of hours spent writing, and recopying our Holy Bible. Consider the untold value of recorded history. Consider the mathematical and geographical information that has been passed on to us, without which business as we know it could not exist. I could go no with other examples but the point is obvious.


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Let us pause frequently to thank the men and women of the past who have contributed to our lives, if only a little by each. They were historians, philosophers, theologians, researchers, architects, geographers, mathematicians, professors, novelists, musicians, etc. Some were like Gill and Surgeon, who each contributed hundreds of volumes, and others scribbled only a few lines, which finally became invaluable threads, connecting facts of history. None of our lives could be what they are, if those who have written had not written. So let us who can write, even if ever so poorly, leave behind us what we can. It may improve a life, or help preserve a soul saving truth. It is my prayer that my tiny contribution within this activity may improve and enhance a life, and above all, that it may guide some soul to faith in Jesus Christ.


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Dr. Forrest L. Keener is a Missionary/Evangelist out of Sherwood Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, OK. He can be reached by email at flkeener@cox.net.