Monday, July 27, 2015
Weekly Opinion Editorial
INDEPENDENTS SHOULD NOT
VOTE IN PRIMARIES!
by Steve Fair
As of January 15th, there were 261,429 voters registered Independent in Oklahoma. Independents represent 13% of the registered voters in the state. Overall, Republicans and Democrats have virtually the same percentage of registered voters in the Sooner state (44%) with ‘R’s having a slight advantage in party affiliation for the first time in state history. Voters registering Independent is growing in Oklahoma. In 1996, only 4.7% of the voters in Oklahoma were registered Independent.
The two major parties in Oklahoma have historically held ‘closed’ primaries, so voters registered Independent were not allowed to vote in Party primaries, but on Saturday, the Oklahoma Democrat Party state committee voted to allow Independent voters to vote in their primary elections.
Republicans should not follow suit and here is why:
First, Democrat Party leadership in Oklahoma are trying to stop the bleeding. Voter registration trends in the state the past decade have favored Republicans. The liberal stance of the national Democrat Party has severely damaged the Democrat brand in Oklahoma. In order to remain relevant in Oklahoma politics, the Democrat Party leadership advocated opening up their primaries. They see their only hope for relevance to be pandering to Independents, hoping they stick with the ‘D’ brand in the general election and help them win some elections at the statewide and legislative level. It is interesting to note the Independents were not invited to participate in drafting the Democrat platform or rules. This move was simply a clever tactic to increase Democrat voter turnout in the general election.
Second, ‘open’ primaries are simply illogical. Why would a principled Democrat candidate who believes the tenets of the Party platform want someone who is not registered ‘D’ vote in their primary? Most Independents in Oklahoma are center/right in their political thought. That now means Democrats running for office in Oklahoma will have to contact 30% more potential voters in their primaries. That changes the dynamics in Democrat primaries and opens up the very real possibility that conservative Independents will vote for the weakest Democrat candidate to help the Republican in the general election.
Open primaries are like allowing the members of the Methodist church to vote on who the Baptist will call as their pastor. It is simply illogical. Most political leaders( in both major parties) understand the foolishness of allowing those who are not on your team play for your team. James Frye, a progressive Democrat activist, writing on Alan Colmes website said: “The arguments for open primaries tend to go for the “it allows more voters to participate” line. That’s fine for November when everybody can vote for anybody. Primaries are (or should be) an internal function of the political parties. “
Third, Party affiliation means something- it is the first vote a person casts. The Oklahoma Republican Party has a platform and a statement of principles. Those who vote in our parties’ primary to choose the nominee for the party should be willing to register as a member of our party.
Some in the GOP may mistakenly believe the move by the Democrats will put the Republicans at a competitive disadvantage at the ballot box, but that is not true. A majority of Independents in Oklahoma will not vote for any ‘D’ in the general election. Most Independents are former Republicans who are upset by the lack of performance and follow-up on campaign promises by elected Republicans, but they are overwhelmingly conservative. You couple that with the fact that Independents as a voting block don’t show up at the polls with the frequency their Democrat or Republican counterparts do. Allowing them to vote in the Democrat primary will motivate some ‘I’s, but the vast majority will simply ignore the primary. The challenge for Democrat candidates will be trying to find out which Independents will show up and if they are ‘playing’ with their vote or a real supporter.The Democrat leadership’s ultimate goal is to increase their turnout in the general election. Democrat leaders believe the enticement of voting in the primary will keep Independents in the ‘D’ column through the general election. Republicans should be reaching out to Independents, encouraging them to read the two Party platforms and register in the Party that more closely aligns with their values.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Weekly Opinion Editorial
SWEEP THE STATE CONSTITUTION
DOWN THE PLAINS!
by Steve Fair
By now most Oklahomans know the State Supreme Court ruled the state had to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds. Immediately several legislators said the ruling was wrong and proposed impeaching the Justices who voted for the removal. Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he would appeal the decision and Governor Mary Fallin said the monument will stay put through the appeal process. Here are three points about this ruling:
First, if the Justices are strictly interpreting the state constitution (a first for them), then the ruling was probably correct. Doesn’t mean it was right, but correct. You see Oklahoma’s constitution has what is known as a ‘Blaine amendment.’ It is named after former U.S. Speaker of the House and U.S. Senator James Blaine from Maine who proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the 1870s that was supported by his fellow Republican President Grant. The real objective of Blaine’s amendment was to make sure that religious schools didn’t get any public funding. It failed to pass the Senate, but groups supporting the concept were successful in getting it included in thirty-eight state constitutions State Representative Kevin Calvey, (R-OKC) has indicated he will run a Joint Resolution in the upcoming legislative session that if passed would send a proposal to repeal the Blaine amendment to a vote of the people. Calvey noted that the US Supreme Court approved a Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds, and that the U.S. Supreme Court building itself has a depiction of the Ten Commandments. The Decalogue has not only religious, but secular significance, so it is very possible that Pruitt wins the appeal.
Second, Oklahoma needs judicial reform. While the Supreme Court Justices may have ruled on the Ten Commandments issue in a strict legal sense, they failed to do that on issues like tort reform and workers comp reform. The inconsistency and political activism of the Oklahoma Supreme Court is revealed in their unpredictable, illogical rulings. They seem to only rule ‘by the book’ when it advances their personal political agenda, which is more liberal than the average Oklahoman. So how do we get rid of them? Currently Supreme Court Justices candidates in Oklahoma submit their names to the Judicial Nominating Commission. The Commission is a fifteen member board, six appointed by the Governor, six by the law profession, one appointed by the Speaker of the House and one by the President Pro Tempore and one at large member selected by the commission themselves. Half the commission must be non-lawyers. The commission submits their recommendation of three candidates to the Governor, who makes the appointment without further approval needed. Justices serve six year terms and face voters on a ‘retention’ ballot. Since Oklahoma went to the retention system, no judge has been removed, even though a couple have come close. It is probably because every Justice has done such a stellar job in the past fifty years that none needed to be sent home. The legislator should consider judicial term limits and requiring more information on a judge’s rulings be given to the public before they are on the retention ballot. It is easier to find Jimmy Hoffa’s body than to get information on an Oklahoma Justice.
Third, the Supreme Court ruling revealed one of many flaws in the Oklahoma Constitution. The US Constitution has 8,700 words- the Oklahoma state constitution is 50,000 words- twice the average length of a state constitution. Our founding document has been amended over 150 times, six times more than the federal constitution. One of the provisions in the state constitution is the people of Oklahoma vote every twenty years as to whether a state constitutional convention is convened. The last time Oklahomans voted on that issue- in 1970- convening a state constitutional convention was defeated 3 to 1. No vote was taken 1990 or 2010 as required by law. It is well past time to fix our state constitution. State Representative Gary Banz, (R-Midwest City) and State Senator Kyle Loveless, (R-Moore) are planning to run a bill in the upcoming session to put the issue back in front of the people. Loveless says, “As the Legislature deals with detailed and complicated issues each year, the level of detail in our constitution is cumbersome — beyond what anyone would want, right down to the flashpoint of kerosene. A constitution is supposed to set the boundaries, principles and skeleton upon which the government sits.”
I would urge support for both Calvey’s Joint Resolution to amend the constitution and Loveless and Banz’s proposal to convene a state constitutional convention. It’s time to send the old constitution sweeping down the plains.
Monday, July 13, 2015
Weekly Opinion Editorial
THE PURPOSE OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
by Steve Fair
It has been a tough couple of weeks for political conservatives. First, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act tax credits were applicable to those who signed up through the federal exchanges, even though the bill as written had not allowed for that. The second was the ruling on same-sex marriage, where the high court ruled that every state had to recognize every other state’s marriage laws.
The third blow to conservatives was the ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court on the Ten Commandments monument displayed on state property near the Capitol. In a 7-2 ruling, the state Supreme court ruled the monument must be removed because it violates Article II, section 5 of the state constitution. Governor Mary Fallin said the monument will stay and Attorney General Scott Pruitt says he will appeal the ruling. They both believe the Ten Commandments are the recognized historic basis of American law as evidenced by the fact Moses and the Ten Commandments are displayed in the SCOTUS courtroom. A number of Republican state legislators said they will run a Joint Resolution that will allow Oklahomans to vote on repealing the offending section of the constitution. Some conservatives have said this was an indication of how secular our government has become and is a result of the deterioration of our society. Three observations on the three rulings:
First, the ruling on ObamaCare was wrong because the court didn’t interrupt the actual law, but instead ruled on the reported ‘intent’ of the law. That is a dangerous precedent- the court didn’t rule on what was definitive- they ruled on what they believe the ‘intent’ was of those who wrote the law. Intent is key in contract law, but the overriding rule of thumb is if a provision is not expressly in the contract, it doesn’t exist. This ruling was not sound and most objective lawyers(liberals and conservatives) admit that. The ACA decision was political and is another example of an activist judiciary.
Second, the ruling on same-sex marriage was also flawed constitutionally. In his 29 page dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts said the ruling was unconstitutional. In the minority opinion, Roberts and Justice Scali asked the question; how is it possible that great legal minds like Daniel Webster didn’t see how the 14th amendment was applicable to marriage in the past 150 years? Government just needs to get out of the marriage business- period.
Third, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling was based on their belief the Ten Commandments are exclusively religious. The Decalogue is certainly religious, but it has been the recognized basis for human law for centuries. The Mosaic Law has both historic and secular value. Those who object to the public display of the Ten Commandments cite a variety of reasons, but the main one is they are ‘offended by the demands of the law.’ Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, says, “The God who gave us the Ten Commandments fully expects to be God. That's bad news for the idea of a "free, independent, sovereign individual who exists for his own sake."
The vast majority of those scrambling to defend the display of the Decalogue at the Capitol have no idea the true purpose of the Ten Commandments. It is not a guideline for humanity to live by, as Jesus proved in the Sermon on the Mount. In that famous sermon, the Lord took the most well known commandments and showed that ‘sin is in the heart before it is in the hand.’ He said man violated the commandments in their thoughts and intents. In his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul called the Mosaic law a ‘schoolmaster’ to drive man to Christ. Any honest man knows he can’t ‘keep’ the Ten Commandments because he has a fallen sin nature. His only hope is the mercy of God. The law condemns man- Christ liberates him. Woe on a society or country that forgets where the true gauge of right and wrong came from and this court ruling flies in the face our nation’s history.
President John Quincy Adams said, “The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal, as well as a moral and religious code… laws essential to the existence of men in society and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.”
Displaying the commandments is a noble gesture by society, but displaying them and understanding them are two completely different things. May God open unregenerate hearts in America so they understand the real purpose of the Decalogue.
Monday, July 6, 2015
Weekly Opinion Editorial
ESCHATOLOGY DRIVES ISIS!
by Steve Fair
Eschatology is the study of ‘end times,’or the final events of human history. It is normally associated with theology. In Christianity, eschatology is debated from three general viewpoints, but in Islam there is primarily one major view- Qiyâmah- which means "Day of the Resurrection". Belief in Qiyâmah is a fundamental tenet of faith in Islam.
Islam teaches three major figures will appear in the final days of human history; (1) The Mahdi, which means ‘guided one,’ a descendent of Muhammed who will appear, will rule the world and kill all the enemies of Islam, (2) Isa, which is the Arabic name for Jesus, but not the same Jesus in the Christian Bible. This Jesus didn’t die for sinful man and rise from the grave. According to Islam, he was a prophet like Elijah, caught up in a chariot of fire, and therefore didn’t experience death. This Jesus is sent to help the Mahdi establish Islamic rule and Sharia law throughout the world, (3) Al-Dajjal or the False Messiah will attempt to convert Muslims to a false religion apart from Islam. So what does this have to do with politics? Everything if you are Muslim.
ISIS, which is an acronym for the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria" operates in both Iraq and Syria. Like many jihadist groups, its goal is to establish an Islamic state that is true to the teachings of Mohammed. Led by Abu Kakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS is said to be more organized and more powerful than Al-Qaeda. They have taken over several major cities in Iraq, killing Christians and Muslims in the process. Their goal is to establish an Islamic state in Iraq. But ISIS’s goal is more involved than just Iraq. Graeme Wood, an editor at Atlantic magazine writes, “ISIS is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse.” Wood’s article- available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/- points out that ISIS is driven by prophetic methodology that uses violence to caliphate the necessary environment for the coming of the Mahdi. He points out that ISIS’s capture of the small town of Dabiq was heralded as a great victory, not because the town is strategically important, but because it is the place prophesied in the Quran as where the final battle of all time will be fought.
So what is the Obama administration’s strategy on dealing with ISIS? During his concluding remarks at the G7 summit in Germany in June, President Obama said, "We don't yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis." After being criticized for not having a strategy, the President two weeks later, he said he would begin airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria. "I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are," he said. "That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIS in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."Bear in mind, ISIS is more than just an army or a radical religious organization- it is an organization with a cause! For radical Islam, it is the fight to end all fights- the last battle of humanity. In Woods’ article, he says, “One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under ISIS rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be.” But overpowering ISIS will not end the cause. U.S. Senator James Lankford, speaking on CNN said, "They're(ISIS) reaching out on social media — telling people, 'It's a holiday. We ought to kill people. Here are ideas on how to do it. Here are places to go.' They're not looking to send people. They're looking to inspire people living in our midst. They're looking for the same radical jihadi-type mindset and tell them, 'Join us in the worldwide fight and engage.' This is not just about territory- it’s about a cause. Federal elected officials need to be study up on their eschatology and understand the enemy.