Monday, December 26, 2016

Liberals Don't Tolerate Conservative Ideas!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     2016 is almost in the books and it has been an interesting year.  Most news organizations rank the presidential election and the ultimate election of Donald Trump as the #1 news story for the year.  Trump’s election has created unprecedented angst among many liberals.  When President Obama was elected in 2008, many conservatives mourned, but the grief being expressed by the left over the election of Trump has been unbelievable. 
     The liberal New York Times wrote in a recent editorial: “2016 will enter history as a pivot that revealed the depth of the fears, alienation and frustration of our times, abruptly upending many of our assumptions about the future.”  The doom and gloom the liberal left has expressed since November 8th has been unreal.  Liberals have exhibited little tolerance for conservatives.
      Many liberals preach tolerance, but fail to practice it.  The issue of intolerance for conservative ideas was recently addressed on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show.  Host, Joe Scarborough led a panel discussion on the lack of diversity of thought on most U.S. college campuses.    “You only have one out of ten professors that are Republicans or conservatives. You can’t understand the world if you don’t let it in behind your gates,” Scarborough said.   The panel was discussing an editorial in the New York Times written by Nicholas Kristof titled, “The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus.  Kristof, an admitted liberal, wrote about liberals: “We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.”  Kristof concludes that institutions of higher learning have become lazy by not presenting to students both sides of an issue.  They have failed to truly educate students on how the real world works and never present a conservative slant to any issue.  They have failed to develop critical thinking skills in modern students.  Most college campuses are nothing more than indoctrination centers, requiring students to simply regurgitate the liberal professor’s philosophy if they want to pass the course.     
     The fact is the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and that includes freedom to hold conservative or liberal values.  Conservatives have the same constitutionally protected right to express their opinion as a liberal.  Liberals have championed the right of what they consider the ‘oppressed,’ but then oppress those that differ with their viewpoint. 
     A great example of the intolerance of the so called tolerant was a CEO in New Mexico who wrote his business clients after the election of Donald Trump and told them that he wouldn’t do business with any who had voted for Donald Trump.  He wanted his clients to declare their Party affiliation and if any were Republican, he would cease doing business with them.  He said he had a ‘moral obligation’ to take a stand.  In his letter, he branded Trump a racist and fascist.  Liberals rushed to the CEO’s defense and applauded his moral conviction.  Ironically the same liberals said the baker who would not bake a cake for a gay wedding because of his religious conviction didn’t have the right to discriminate. Such blatant hypocrisy doesn’t escape even the clear thinking liberal.
     Most conservatives are confident enough in their worldview they welcome the open exchange of thought.  Many liberals agree.  While Senator Bernie Sanders is much too liberal for the vast majority of Americans, he is respected in the U.S. Senate for the way he expresses his argument and the respect he returns to those who disagree with him.   While asked what Republican in the Senate he considered to be his friend, Sanders citied Senator Jim Inhofe.  Two men could hardly be further apart on the issues, but they have learned to ‘agree to disagree’ in a spirit of respect.
     How does academia retool their system of education and encourage students develop critical thinking skills?  They could mandate the hiring of more conservatives or encourage the free exchange of ideas in the classroom.  Certainly that would a great first step, but until the leaders of higher education recognize and respect that people with conservative values are critical to providing a balanced education experience for students, it will be nothing more than lip service.
     Tolerance is defined as the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.  Hopefully in 2017, both liberals and conservatives will not just preach tolerance for another’s ideas and opinions, but practice it.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Oklahoma had a famous 'faithless' elector!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
By Steve Fair

     On Monday, seven Oklahomans met at the State Capitol and cast their vote for Donald Trump.  They had lunch with the Governor, signed their certification of vote, took a few photos and went on their way.  These seven loyal citizens faithfully performed the duty they made a pledge to do.  They were Oklahoma’s presidential electors.  In America, we don’t directly elect a president/vice president.  We do it through the Electoral College.  When you cast your vote on November 8th, you were not voting for Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson or Donald Trump.  You were voting for a slate of electors.  Each political Party selects Party loyalists as their electors.  They, in turn, are required by state law to vote for the person they swore to support- in this case, Donald Trump.  There is a penalty under Oklahoma law for violating the oath.  Those that violate that oath are called ‘faithless electors.’
     Oklahoma had a famous ‘faithless’ elector in 1960.  Henry D. Irwin, a West Point graduate and Phillip Petroleum engineer, who was married to Frank Phillips granddaughter, said he couldn’t stand Richard Nixon and would not cast his electoral vote for him.  Irwin tried to convince the other 218 Republican electors across the country to violate their oath and vote for Senator Harry F. Byrd, a conservative Democrat from Virginia.  Irwin didn’t get too far in his mission and ultimately wound up voting for Byrd and Senator Barry Goldwater for Vice President.    Irwin and Phillips ultimately got a divorce and he famously became the first man to draw alimony in New York State. 
     Before 1960, presidential electors in Oklahoma were chosen in the primary election and ran statewide like other candidates.  Henry Irwin was unopposed in the July 2016 elector election.  In that same election, Oklahoma voters approved, by a 56-44% margin, to amend the state constitution and allow political Parties to select their own slate of electors. 
     The processes in which presidential electors are selected vary by Party.  The Oklahoma Republican Party elects one elector at each of the five congressional district conventions every four years.  The remaining two electors are elected at the state GOP convention the same year.  Oklahoma has a total of seven electors- the total number of congressman, plus our two U.S. Senators.    All seven electors are often well-known grassroots activists who have spent years being involved in Republican Party politics.  They take their oath seriously and would never consider violating it.  They understand they are simply a representative of the people and no matter their personal opinion of the nominee will vote as they have pledged.   
     This year, four Washington state electors, all Democrats, who were pledged to Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine instead voted for Colin Powell and Faith Spotted Eagle.  Only one GOP elector, Texas elector   Suprun faces a fine if Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton decides to pursue charges.  Suprun, like Henry Irwin in 1960, just couldn’t bring himself to vote for the person he swore to vote for. In other words, Suprun’s word means nothing. 
     In the last couple of weeks, a group called Unite for America has been running television ads targeting the 307 Republican electors.  The group claims to be multi-partisan and the ads urged GOP electors to violate their oath, not vote for Trump and to ‘go down in the books as an American hero, who changed the course of history.’  They claim each elector has the ‘position, authority, and opportunity,’ to change their vote.  Martin Sheen, a militant Clinton supporter, is the first celebrity seen on the video.  The irony is this group claims to be for historic America values, which evidently includes lying and cheating to their way of thinking.  Presidential electors are not free agents, who can vote the way the want- they are legal representatives of the people and must vote the way they are bound.  To do otherwise is clearly a violation of ‘historic American values.’
     Only one state, New Mexico, makes it a felony to violate your oath and go rogue.  It is time for Oklahoma to consider increasing the penalty for faithless electors.  While Oklahoma’s 2016 electors were faithful to perform their duty as pledged, there are too many Supruns and Irwins who think they know better than millions of voters.  Increasing the penalty will not eliminate the possibility of an outlaw elector, but it might make them think long and hard about violating their oath if they faced jail time in addition to a hefty fine.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     Fake news has been in the news.  Speaking for the first time publically last week since her November 8th defeat Hillary Clinton said: “The spread of fake news, which has flooded social media over the past year is a trend that can have real world consequences. This is not about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk, lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs, contribute to their communities.  It is a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly."
     The former Secretary of State called for Congress to step up and pass legislation to stop ‘fake news.’  She also encouraged Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter to find ways to keep fake news from being propagated through social media.  
     First, what is ‘fake news?’  Did Clinton mean news that was not true or exaggerated?  Did she mean news that only presented one side while claiming to present equally both sides of an issue?    In the past, journalists have presented themselves as being ‘above the fray.’  They tried to be tough, but fair.  Those days are long gone.  Fox, CNN, ABC,CBS,NBC, MSNBC have multiple talking heads spouting their editorial/opinions disguised as news.  Some fully disclose they are expressing their opinion, but most do not.  The fact is no newsperson or journalist is without bias.  Every human being, including journalists, filter and process information through the prism of their life experiences, education, and values.  
     Second, Clinton has consistently used ‘fake news’ to further her political career.  Immediately after Clinton’s claim ‘fake news’ was a reason for her defeat, the conservative online ‘news’ outlet Breitbart posted a story with eight examples of Clinton making ‘fake news’ claims.  They include her claim the attack on Benghazi was because of a YouTube video, that when she landed in Bosnia in 1996 it was under sniper fire, that her grandmother was an immigrant, and that she never received or sent classified information on email server.  All of those claims were proven to be ‘fake,’ yet many so called ‘news’ organizations reported them as fact.  The Clintons have never been encumbered with the truth, so by exaggerating the truth, they must take some responsibility for the growth of ‘fake news.’ 
     Third, journalism has changed.  Fifty years ago, students of journalism were taught to equally present both sides of an argument.  They were told to keep their emotional attachment and opinions to themselves- as best they could- when reporting the news.  But that has changed.  Newspapers, broadcast media have little hard news because just presenting the facts and allowing the reader or viewer to make their own mind up is just too boring.  Modern journalism classes teach less about fairness and ethics and more about marketing your ideas.  Creative writing is the standard, not factual reporting.  Journalist fail to just report the story- they try to become part of the story.  They sensationalize and caricature facts to fit their values.  They ‘spin’ the story to fit their worldview.  To the unsuspecting reader, they believe they are getting a hard news story when in fact it is an opinion/editorial.  Journalism, as a profession, has only themselves to blame for the ‘fake news’ evolution.  There was a time the NY Times was the gold standard in reporting, but now they are nothing more than a public relations firm for liberal causes.  Conservatives flock to Fox News, Liberals to MSNBC and get fed what they want to hear, which is not just the facts, but spin- ‘fake news.’  The average American recognizes that and Donald Trump exposed the media.  In a recent poll, 77% of Americans- of all political persuasions-said they didn’t trust the media.  Sadly, there are few Jim Lehers left. 
     The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of the free press.  Liberty of the press is critical in a free society.   Congress should keep their mitts off.  The answer to stopping ‘fake news’ is (1) journalism cleaning up their act and get back to reporting the facts and letting the public make up their mind, (2) full disclosure by all ‘reporters’ when they are expressing their opinion, (3) the public being more engaged in their culture and refusing to be gullible when fed ‘fake news.’    
    In the interest of full disclosure, this column is my opinion and is not presented as a ‘balanced’ news story, so it is in effect, ‘fake news.”

Monday, December 5, 2016

Some Patronage, but overall Trump's picks are refreshing!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     President-elect Trump has announced several more appointment to his cabinet.  He has 662 major appointments to make(251 are in the State Department-primarily Ambassadorships) and as of now only 12 have been filled.  Here is a quick profile of Trump’s most recent nominees- most of which require Senate confirmation:
     Wilber Ross, 79, has been nominated for Secretary of Commerce. Ross is a billionaire banker from New York.  He and Trump have a long history and were in the casino business together. He has an MBA from Yale.  Ross has been married 3 times- his second wife was the former Lt. Governor of New York- and has two daughters. 
     James Mattis, 66, is a retired Marine Corps general, who served as the commander of the U.S. Central Command for 2 ½ years.  Mattis has been nominated for Secretary of Defense.  During his time as Commander of Central Command, Mattis and the Obama administration clashed frequently because he was perceived to be too eager for military confrontation with Iran for their taste.  He is considered to be an intellectual and is an avid reader.  His personal library has over 7,000 volumes.  Mattis is a life-long bachelor.  Because he has not been separated from the service for seven years, his nomination will require a waiver of the National Security Act of 1947.  If granted it would be the second time it was done.  The first was for General George Marshall.
     Betsy DeVos, 58, is a businesswoman and an education advocate from Michigan.  She has been very active in GOP grassroots politics in the state.  She served as Chair and National Committeewoman for the Michigan GOP.  She is married to Dick DeVos, the son of the founder of Amway.  They have 4 children.  She graduated from Calvin College.  DeVos’ brother founded Blackwater, the well-known private security firm.  She is a proponent of school choice and has advocated the use of school vouchers.
     Tom Price, 62, is Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary.  Price, a physician, is a 5 term Congressman from Georgia. He is the Chair of the House Budget Committee. Prior to being elected to Congress, he served in the Georgia state senate.  Price grew up in Michigan and went to college and medical school at the University of Michigan.  He did his orthopedic internship at Emory in Atlanta, practiced for 20 years and then taught at Emory.  He and his wife, a Georgia State Representative, have one son.  Price is the original sponsor of the Empowering Patients First Act, which is the GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act.   The bill, among other things, creates and expands tax credits for purchasing health insurance, allows for some interstate health insurance markets, and reforms medical malpractice lawsuits   
     Ben Carson, 65, has been nominated for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  Carson, who also grew up in Michigan, graduated from Yale and received his M.D. from the University of Michigan.  In 2013, Carson was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast and was very critical of President Obama’s policies, with the president sitting just 10 feet away. His commons sense solutions to complex problems soon gained him a very loyal following among conservative Republicans. Carson was a frequent surrogate for Trump on the campaign trail. Carson and his wife Candy have been married for 45 years and have three sons.
      Elaine Chao, 63, is Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Transportation.  Chao served as Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush and Assistant Secretary of Transportation under George H.W. Bush.  She was the first Asian-American woman to be appointed to a presidential cabinet.  Chao, who is Taiwanese, was born in China and came to the U.S. when she was 8 years old.  Her dad runs a large shipping company.  Chao has been married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for 16 years.  She has an MBA from Harvard. 
     Steve Mnuchin, 54 has been designated Secretary of Treasury.  He was the finance chair for the Trump campaign (charged with raising money to run the operation).  He is a former partner at Goldman Sachs, as was his father, and a Yale graduate.  He is a Hollywood producer, financing such films as the X-Men franchise and Avatar.  He has been married twice and has three children.  He currently lives with actress Louise Linton in California.
     So far it appears Trump is being very deliberate in making his selections for the top jobs.  He appears to be surrounding himself with talented people who haven’t spent their life in politics.  How refreshing!