Thursday, February 2, 2023

An increase in humility and self-abnegation might result in God’s healing of America!

Weekly Opinion Editorial 

SELF PROMOTION

by Steve Fair

     The desire and drive to self-promote is synonymous with the heart of mankind.  Everyone is tempted to exalt and extol themselves, on either a large or small scale.  Trying to impress others by bragging on accomplishments, earned credentials, prestigious positions, and important responsibilities has become a growing phenomenon.  In modern day America, humility and meekness are considered undesirable character traits.  Bragging, swagger, self-confidence and bluster are coveted attributes.   Three observations:

     First, no one does self-promotion better than politicians.  That seems to be part of the job description..  “I am not sure I know the answer to that complex problem,” said no politico ever.  The self-described public servant has an answer for everything and they put their own ‘spin’ on it.

     How effective a politician can put ‘spin’ on issues and situations determines just how far they can go in the industry.   Spin isn’t about suppressing the truth, but more about leaving out truth from the narrative.  As the old saying goes; “No one knows what you know or what you don’t know.” Political operatives are paid big bucks to ‘spin’ stories to an unsuspecting public.  The goal is to ‘sell’ the message.  The key to stopping the ‘spin’ is a public that is skeptical and a little bit cynical. If citizens stayed consistently engaged and paid close attention to their government, the spin doctor’s tales would fall on deaf ears.  

     Second, self-promotion is self-serving.  Self-promotion is often nothing more than idle chatter and accomplishes nothing.  “Put your money where your mouth is,’ means action follow words.  Self-promotion can energize a crowd and might lead to action, but in most cases it does little more than glorify the self-promoter. Most braggarts are quick to point out their superiority over others.  They can run faster and jump higher than anyone else, but actually running a race requires capital they are unwilling to invest. 

     Third, self-promotion is not Christian.  Throughout scripture, believers are told to be meek, humble, self-effacing, discreet, and unassuming.  No place in the Bible commands believers to ‘toot your own horn,’ or to ‘pat yourself on the back.’  Yet, the vast majority of politicians, even those who profess to be believers, never miss a chance to brag and boast of what they have accomplished.  Solomon wrote that pride goes before a fall.   Jeremiah 9:23 says a smart man shouldn’t boast about his intelligence, a strong man about his strength and a rich man about his wealth.  True believers brag on Christ, and not themselves. 

     Self-promotion naturally flows out of all men, even when trying to suppress it. The growth of social media has contributed to the rise of self-promotion. However, the real issue is the gullibility of citizens that are easily persuaded to believe something that is not only half true or not true at all. But not all are fooled by self-promotion.  In a 2015 study by the Association of Psychological Science (APS), self-promoters were often perceived in a negative way by those they are trying to impress.  Instead of accomplishing the desired effect of impressing others, they actually damage their image with their target audience.   What braggers and self-promoters don’t recognize is while they are lifting themselves up, they often unintentionally put others down.  They come across as conceited and self-centered. 

     The old saying, ‘it ain’t bragging if you can do it,’ is dumb.  It doesn’t cease to be boasting just because you can do it.  An increase in humility and self-abnegation in America just might result in God’s healing of our land.


Sunday, January 29, 2023

Unity is job of individual Republicans, not the RNC Chair!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


UNITY NOT GROUP HUG!

by Steve Fair

 

     On Friday, the Republican National Committee (RNC) voted 111-51-4 to re-elect Ronna Romney McDaniel as Chairman.  With her election to a fourth term, McDaniel becomes the longest-serving RNC Chair since the Civil War.  She faced a formative challenge from Harmeet Dhillon, the National Committeewoman from California and Mike Lindell of My Pillow fame.  After her victory, a relieved McDaniel invited Dhillon and Lindell to the stage as a show of a sign of unity.  “With us united, and all of us working together, the Democrats are going to hear us in 2024,” McDaniel declared.

     Dhillon told reporters immediately after exiting the stage the GOP is not united.  “Nobody’s going to unite around the Party the way it is, which is seemingly ignoring the grassroots,” Dhillon said.  Lindell, who had predicted he would win the race but got only four votes, had no comment on his poor showing. Even in a show of solidarity, the GOP was ungracious.  Three observations:

     First, the GOP is historically a Party of disunity.  The modern Republican Party seems to always have tension and unrest.  Whether its pro-life Republicans being dismissed by pro-choice Rs or fiscal conservatives being trivialized by other GOPers, turbulence and strife are more the rule than the exception in the Party of Lincoln.  Agreeing to disagree is not practiced.  Demonizing fellow Republicans is the sport of choice.  From precinct level to the RNC, debating and attacking those who only agree 80% of the time has been the main reason Republicans haven’t dominated politics for decades.

     Second, Democrats can disagree and still unite.  A classic example is the recent Speaker of the House race.  Speaker Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA) was elected on the 15th ballot.  Every single Democrat House member voted every single time for minority leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, (D-NY).  They epitomized steadfastness/unity.  They are willing to focus on the majors in governing, unlike some Republicans, who are willing to lose in order to make a point.  The Dems have come a long way since Will Rogers declared he was a not a member of an organized political Party- he was a Democrat[S1] . 

     Third, America loses, when Republicans govern with a disagreeable penchant.  Holding out for nothing when you could settle for something is irrational, yet time and time elected Republicans can’t seem to come together.  When the Grand Ole Party is in power, being contentious keeps the country from moving forward.  

     Most registered Republicans have no idea the job responsibilities/duties of the RNC Chairman.  Unifying the Party is not a specific function of the job.  The rules of the Party are clear; the Chair’s job is to conduct a fair and impartial presidential primary every four years(and raise tons of money).  Therein lies the problem.  Ronna McDaniel was hand-picked to lead the RNC by former President Trump.  Will McDaniel run a fair primary with objectivity? Will she be neutral and give every candidate equality or will she attempt to ‘tilt the table’ to help Trump?  The 168 members of the Republican National Committee’s job now becomes to hold McDaniel accountable to adhere to RNC Rule 11(no endorsing in primaries).  

     Regarding ‘Unity of the Party,’ that job is on individual Republicans, not the RNC Chair.  The Republican Party claims to be ‘bottom up/grassroots’ driven.  True unity happens when a fair primary is conducted, a nominee chosen(at whatever level) and grassroots Republican voters coalesce around the nominee and help get them elected.  Unity is not some group hug on a national stage.

    

Friday, January 20, 2023

Legislators waste tax dollars grandstanding!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial



MAN, BEAST, PROPERTY NOT SAFE!

    The Oklahoma legislature ended filing of bills for this session on Thursday.  The 48 member Senate filed a total of 1,116 bills and 18 Senate Joint Resolutions.  That is an average of 23.25 bills per senator. 

     The 101 member Oklahoma House of Representatives filed 1,901 bills( up 419 from last year) and 44 House Joint Resolutions.  That is an average of 19 bills per representative.  All told, state lawmakers will be considering over 3,000 bills this year.  In 2022, 416 bills became law. 

     Legislative rules allow for appropriation bills to be filed throughout the session and rest assured, there will be several.  The rules also allow for the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to initiate legislation at any time.

    The Oklahoma Constitution sets the date for the legislature to meet.  This year, it will convene on Monday February 6th and  adjourn by May 26th.  If taxpayers want to research  legislation, they can go to www.okhouse.gov or www.oksenate.gov

     One bill certain to be controversial is a school choice proposal by Sen. Julie Daniels, (R--Bartlesville and Sen. Shane Jett, (R-Shawnee) that would allow parents the option of tapping a portion of their children’s education dollars to pay for a variety of education services, including tuition.  That bill number is SB#822. 

     After meeting with a group of public school educators on Wednesday, Sen. Adam Pugh, (R-Edmond), the Chair of the Senate Education committee, released a four point public education agenda, detailing his support of public school teachers.  President Pro Tempore Sen. Greg Treat, (R-Edmond) praised Pugh’s agenda in a press release.  Often when leadership opposes a bill, it never gets to the floor for a vote. SB#822 faces an uphill battle. 

     Rep. Josh West refilled HB#1030, which would require a consumer’s consent for their personal data to be collected.  West’s bill passed the House last year, but did not get a vote in the Senate.   "Major technology companies track our every conversation, our spending records, our movements and so much more and then sell that information so it can be used to socially engineer us through marketing manipulation," West said. Three observations::

     First, lawmakers need to major on the majors.  Appropriations, revenue, taxation bills should be at the forefront.  Money bills should be paramount, but inevitably they are pushed to the back of the line and considered last.  Often the fiscal year budget is the last bill to pass in a legislative session. 

     Oklahoma tax payers deserve meaningful tax cuts in 2023.  State government is flush in money and lawmakers have generously handed out raises to state employees, teachers, and others.  It’s time to give the taxpayer back some of their money and it should be a significant/consequential amount, not some negligible token tossed to taxpayers like they were a beggar on the street.    

     Second, taxpayers/voters/citizens should pay attention.  Legislators seldom hear from constituents until a citizen is angry.  Careful, deliberate, continual monitoring of what is going on at the legislature will result in more accountability.  People often do what is ‘inspected’ more than what is ‘expected.’  The web sites mentioned above are a place to start.  When you communicate with your legislator, be clear, concise, and respectful.  Expressing your opinion in a constructive effectual manner can often result in their being better informed.  A good legislator will welcome the input because it will keep them in tune with what their district and state want and need.

     Third, there are too many bills.  House bills filed were up +22% vs last year, Senate bills up +18.8%.  Many of these bills are repetitious/redundant and unnecessary.  Lawmakers wrongly believe they must get bills passed into law in order to be effective.  The truth is legislators are sent to the Capitol to ‘represent’ their constituents/district and to ‘vet’ legislation.

 .  Filing bills on controversial issues to call attention to themselves is not a part of their job description.  These 3,000 bills have to be organized and considered, with there being only a 13% chance of one making it on the books.  A great deal of taxpayer funded time and money is being wasted for legislators to grandstand.

     Back in the 1930s, when the Oklahoma legislature was in Democrat control, the late Will Rogers said when they were in session, ‘neither man, beast or property’ was safe.  Sadly, not much has changed in the past century. Oklahoma taxpayers/voters/citizens better pay close attention to what is happening at 23rd and Lincoln(State Capitol) in 2023.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

New Oklahoma residents should not attempt to change the state to a ‘lite’ version of their previous zip code.

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

CONVERGE, NOT DIVERGE!

by Steve Fair

      A recent article in Forbes magazine addressed state to state migration.  According to Forbes, Americans are moving long-distances more than ever.  The increase has since the COVID-19 pandemic.  The ability to work remotely and the opportunity to pursue new avenues and opportunities have increased address changes from state to state by +5% in the past two years.  California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts are the five states Americans are fleeing.  Texas, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia are the top five U.S. states people are moving to.  Oklahoma ranks #13 among all states in state-to-state migration.

      Oklahoma population has increased each year the past twelve years.  The average growth has been about ½ percent per year.  It was recently announced Oklahoma’s population is now over four million for the first time in state history.  Oklahoma’s population growth has outpaced all bordering states with the exception of Texas.  There are two primary reasons people are moving to Oklahoma?

     First, the lower cost of living.   Oklahoma has the third-lowest cost of living in the United States, behind only Kansas and Mississippi.  Americans are fleeing states with a high cost of living, especially during inflationary times.  Migrants coming from California and New York to Oklahoma are paying 25% less for housing, 12% less for food and fuel.  While Oklahoma’s per capita income is lower than the regional average, the cost of living does make up for some of that deficiency.

     Second, politics.  Many of the new residents in the state trekked here because of politics.  Some came because they love the lax medical marijuana laws and the accessibility to casino gambling.  Others came because Oklahoma’s governor and legislature didn’t shut down the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Still others came to Oklahoma because the state is more politically conservative than the state they were living in. The Oklahoma legislature has passed some of the most pro-life legislation in the United States and gun rights are celebrated in the Sooner state. 

     New blood brings new opportunities.  Oklahoma currently has five U.S. House districts.  If population growth continues, it could add an additional seat after the 2030 census. Additional population means more manpower/labor force available in the state.  That in turn attracts employers and helps existing businesses grow.  

     Newcomers can also present challenges.  They bring with them their values, principles, morals, ethics, and politics to their new location.  They often work to convert those in their new locale to their world view instead of accepting/embracing what/who/where they are.  New settlers introduce new ideas, customs, and values to their new state.  Instead of converging or moving toward union or uniformity, they diverge and divide the state.

     Most of those moving to Oklahoma for political reasons are moving from Democratic controlled states.  In their previous state, they were considered conservative, but in truly conservative Oklahoma, their views are moderate at best.   

     Oklahomans should welcome migrants from other states with open arms.  Legendary college football coach, Frosty Westering said it best; “You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” But Oklahomans should not embrace their politics and values.  If newcomers came to Oklahoma because their previous state was too liberal, they should accept Oklahoma is the most conservative state in the U.S. and not attempt to change it to a ‘lite’ version of their previous zip code.   

Sunday, January 8, 2023

NEW SPEAKER BEGINS JOB OF HERDING GOP CATS!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

KNOW WHEN TO WIN!

By Steve Fair

      The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the body.  The office was established in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution.  The Speaker is the political and parliamentary leader of the House, as well as the presiding officer.  The Speaker serves as the de facto leader of the House majority Party and the head of the administration for the House.  The Constitution does not require the Speaker to be a member of the body, however all thus far have been. 

     There are 435 members of the U.S. House.  A Speaker must normally receive 218 votes to be elected (a simple majority).  Most Speakers are elected on the first ballot.  There have been 14 instances in U.S. history where the Speaker’s race required multiple ballots- the last time in 1923, when Rep. Frederick Gillett, (R-MA) was elected on the ninth ballot.   

     The 2023 race for Speaker took a similar turn.  Rep. Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA), the House minority leader the past four years failed to reach the 218 votes on fourteen ballots.  This after former President Trump publicly urged Republican members to unite behind McCarthy.   Trump’s endorsement of McCarthy did not get him one vote on the next ballot. Ultimately, McCarthy was elected on the fifteen ballot, with  six Republicans voting present and McCarthy getting 216 votes, a majority of those voting.

     Twenty Republican members of the House, including newly elected Rep. Josh Brecheen, (R-OK), refused to coalesce/unify behind 200 other Republicans to elect McCarthy.  These hold-out members constitute the ‘Freedom’ caucus.  It appeared McCarthy wasn’t going to be elected without their support.  The 20 member Freedom caucus demanded the threshold needed to call a vote of confidence in the Speaker be lowered to just one member (McCarthy agreed to do that).  The Freedom caucus called for lower taxes, a reduction of the national debt, and a lowering of the federal budget deficit.  They also have demanded seats on powerful committees.  McCarthy agreed to virtually all of their demands, but in doing so  angered some of the more moderate members of the Republican caucus.    Three observations:

     First, a legislative body requires teamwork.  No individual member of a 435 member body can get much accomplished.  They have to work with others to accomplish anything.  Collaboration, negotiation, and cooperation are necessary skills to get legislation passed.  Failure to work with other members of the body will limit effectiveness of a member.  Too many uncooperative team members kill a team’s goals and objectives.   Effective governing requires willingness to give and take.  Being obstructive is not constructive. Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

     Second, some people will take nothing instead of something.  Some people are not wired to negotiate.  They consider any concession an unnecessary compromise.  They are intolerant of an alternate viewpoint.  Bargaining is for the feeble.  They would rather lose than compromise their convictions.  They are willing to accept a liberal over a moderate to prove their point. 

     Third, the tail wagged the dog in the Speaker race. The twenty members of the Freedom caucus constitute just 10% of the House GOP caucus, yet they were able to exercise proportionally more power than their numbers dictate.  All of their goals are worthy ones, but it remains to be seen if those goals will be accomplished, after their angering many in their own caucus.   

     Fortunately, Rep. McCarthy did not withdraw and a ‘moderate/centrist’ GOP candidate for Speaker get elected with ‘blue dog’ Democrat support.  That would have created a circus in the House.  Speaker McCarthy’s challenge is to ‘herd the cats’ and move the House forward.  With a single member having the ability to call for a confidence vote on the Speaker, his challenge of unifying the GOP will be formidable. 

     There is a fine line between negotiating and quibbling.  If negotiating gets personal (and it clearly did in the Speaker’s race), both parties lose.  Good negotiators are tough, but they know when to quit.  For a good negotiator, it’s not all or nothing.  They understand the art of the deal.  Six Republicans have shown they throw the long ball on every play and don’t subscribe to incrementally moving the ball down the field.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

No single Senator should wield the power to sovereignly decide what to fund!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

RE-ELECTION TOKENS ARE BACK!

by Steve Fair

     On December 22nd, the U.S. Senate voted to pass a $1.7 trillion-dollar 4,155-page omnibus package. It funds the federal government through September 2023 and provides the Ukraine with $45 billion in military and economic aid.  The omnibus also included reforms to the Electoral Count Act (ECA).  The original ECA was passed in 1887 after three disputed presidential elections.  It set forth a formal procedure for Congress in how Electoral votes were counted.  The 2022 revision diminishes the role of the Vice President in the counting process and makes their function ceremonial.  Many believe it will not pass constitutional muster. 

     The Senate passed the bill 68-29, with 18 Republicans joining all Democrats to vote yay.  Sen. Jim Inhofe, (R-OK) was one of the 18, citing the increase in defense spending as his main motivator.  Sen. James Lankford, (R-OK) voted no.

     The U.S. House voted on Friday 225-201, along Party lines to pass the omnibus.   All five Oklahoma U.S. House members voted against the omnibus.   Three observations:

     First, Sen. Inhofe, who is retiring this month after 28 years in the Senate, has never been a fiscal conservative.  Inhofe fought the elimination of Senate earmarks when the late U.S. Senator Tom Coburn championed voiding them in 2010.  Coburn clashed with Inhofe on earmarks and other fiscal issues the entire time they served together in the Senate.   Inhofe argued for earmarks to be reinstated last year.  The Senate recognized the general public opposed earmarks, so they cleverly rebranded them, ‘congressionally directed spending.’  A more appropriate label would be ‘reelection tokens.’ 

       During the 2010 debate on earmarks, Inhofe stated Congress is given, ‘the power of the purse,’ therefore making earmarks for individual members not just acceptable, but necessary. Opposing views contend the 535 members have the ‘power of the purse,’ collectively, not individually. 

      The omnibus, which became law on Friday, contained 3,100 earmarks totaling almost $7.8 billion dollars.  44% of the total earmarks came from Republicans.  Senator Inhofe did his part to ‘bring home the bacon.’  On Inhofe’s official Senate website, there is an extensive listing of Oklahoma projects included in the omnibus.  Most, if not all of the projects, are worthy of funding.  Worthiness is not the issue.  No single Senator (no matter their Party affiliation, worldview, values) should wield the power to sovereignly decide what to fund or not to fund.  

     Second, this was passed without anybody reading it.  The bill was given to the Senators on Tuesday, with a vote scheduled on Thursday.  To read it in that period of time would be like reading the entire Bible twice in two days.  Nobody read it all!  The chance of errors, unintended consequences, and just plain fraud is high.  That is no way to run a government.  Government requires publicly traded companies to provide accurate financial information to the public or face stiff penalties.  When errors or misstatements happen in legislation government proclaims, ‘my bad,’ and moves on.  Elected representative should be required to read the legislation they are voting on and leadership should be required to provide sufficient time for that to be done.

     Third, America’s fiscal house is falling apart with Republicans helping it happen.  The national debt is $31.3 trillion and rising.  Elected officials- in both Parties- spend tax dollars like drunken sailors.  Government waste is never addressed.  Government continues to grow at an alarming rate.  Republicans campaign on stopping the cycle of repetitiveness, but once elected, they spend money America doesn’t have on programs America doesn’t need.  We need more Tom Coburns.

     Senator James Lankford, (R-OK) replaced Coburn when he resigned from the Senate.  Lankford has continued Coburn’s fiscal conservatism fight.  He voted against the omnibus, citing the record high deficit spending it included.

     Dr. Coburn once said, We need real leadership, Democrat, Republican and independent to stand up and say, we have to live within our means.”  That is a concept 18 Republican Senators failed to grasp this week.


Friday, December 23, 2022

Jan. 6th committee recommendations could have been written the day the committee was established!

Weekly Opinion Editorial 


PREDETERMINED FINDINGS

by Steve Fair

 

     After 18 months, the U.S. House select committee investigating the January 6th U.S. Capitol breech released an 845-page report based on over 1,000 interviews.  The nine-member committee had just two Republican members.  Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-WY) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, (R- Il) were the two GOP members.  Both Cheney and Kinzinger have been strong public critics of former President Trump.

     The committee alleges President Trump oversaw the effort to put forward an alternative slate of electors in seven states he lost.  Citing the 14th amendment (equal protection under the law), the committee recommends the former president be barred from holding any future government office- federal or otherwise.  They also recommend Congress pass laws with stronger criminal penalties for those who obstruct a peaceful transfer of power.  They also recommended Congress pass laws that give select committees be given subpoena power.    A number of individuals the committee subpoenaed did not appear including former President Trump.  Steve Bannon was convicted in federal court for refusing to provide testimony to the committee and was sentenced to four months in prison.  Three observations:

      First, the committee’s findings were predetermined.  The January 6th committee was not as concerned with investigating the breach of the Capitol as they were getting President Trump.  None of the members of the committee went into the process with an open mind.  Cheney and Kinzinger were handpicked by Speaker Pelosi because they are Trump critics and they were elected Republicans.  The Democrats needed a couple of token Republicans on the committee so they could call it ‘bipartisan.’  Rest assured; the conclusions were preestablished.  The goal is and remains to prevent Donald J. Trump from ever holding office again.

      Second, the January 6th breech of the Capitol should have been investigated by Congress.  The U.S. Capitol is the people’s house, but individual citizens don’t have a right to vandalize and destroy it.  Thus far, 964 people have been charged in the breech- over half have pled guilty.   Some were just ‘caught up in the moment,’ and acted on impulse.  Others wanted to overthrow the government.  Still others, just love conflict and like to tear up stuff.  Whatever the reason, those who bum rushed the Capitol on January 6th didn’t use good judgment and their actions didn’t further their cause for liberty.

     Third, the committee wants to reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887.  They want Congress to pass a law that prevents a Vice President from questioning a state’s electors.  They advocate for the VP’s role to be largely ceremonial.  The U.S. Constitution is clear; the VP presides over the process.  It is not ceremonial. 

     They recommend raising the number of votes needed in Congress to question a state’s election results.  This recommendation contradicts HR1, a proposal by Democrats to federalize elections.  But perhaps it doesn’t conflict with HR1?  The goal of the Democrats is to control the process by taking voters out of the equation.

     The committee’s recommendations ignore average Americans.  They want to manage/control the election system after the voters have spoken.  America is a Republic.  The power is held by the people and their elected representatives.  The January 6th committee wants an oligarchy, a system of government where a small group of elitist rules.  The creditability of their report is questionable at best.  Eighteen months and a ton of tax dollars wasted!  The recommendations could have been written the day the committee was established.