Monday, February 26, 2018
Weekly Opinion Editorial
ADDRESS MENTAL HEALTH
by Steve Fair
On Valentine’s Day around 2pm, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, entered Stoneman- Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cruz shot the place up with an AR15, killing 17 (14 students and 3 staff), and wounding 14. About an hour later, Cruz, who was a former student at the school, was caught 2 miles from the school. He had blended in with escaping students and then walked to a nearby Wal-Mart. When he left on foot, a Coral Ridge policeman spotted him and he was arrested without incident. Immediately, the anti- second amendment crowd began their cry for more regulations on guns.
Some twenty students who survived the Parkland shooting, aided by Democrat lawmakers, created an organization called, “Never Again.” Using social media and aided by mainstream media, the Never Again group has lobbied Congress and the Florida state legislature to pass stricter gun control laws. They have also condemned members of Congress who have received political contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Last Wednesday President Trump met with students, parents and others affected by the Parkland shooting and other school shootings for a ‘listening session.’ During the meeting, the POTUS vowed to cover ‘every aspect of school safety.’ Trump also pledged to be "very strong on background checks" and put a "very strong emphasis" on mental health. He also floated the idea of arming some of the teachers in schools. Some of the students and parents who lived through the Florida shooting or lost a child fought back tears or raised their voices as they urged the president to find a solution.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), a longtime gun control advocate, says Congress should enact ‘universal background checks,’ for gun purchases. Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the NRA, said, “Opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain.” He said those who want to disarm law abiding Americans are promoting a ‘socialist agenda.’ Three thoughts:
First, the second amendment wasn’t put in the constitution exclusively to give Americans the right to self-defend against other citizens. It was included by the founders to insure the citizenry could defend themselves from a tyrannical government. The second amendment is hunting- it is about self-defense. As rocker Ted Nugget says, “I don’t need the constitution to know that I have a God-given right to defend myself and my family.” What gun control advocates don’t realize is when they take away the criminals rights, they take away their own.
Second, the Parkland shooting investigation has uncovered a lot of ‘gaps’ in the system. Deputies who refused to go into the building and engage the shooter, tips to the FBI that were not followed up on, and the local Sheriff’s office ignoring Cruz’s threats prove that at the very least mistakes were made. Instead of disarming the public, perhaps those ‘gaps’ should be addressed first.
Third, once again the fundamental issue of mental health of the shooter is not being addressed. Cruz has a history of behavioral problems and mental issues. Instead of focusing on the weapon, Congress should be addressing the severe shortage of mental health in America.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Weekly Opinion Editorial
OKLAHOMA’S BUDGET WOES CONTINUE!
by Steve Fair
Oklahoma’s budget woes continue and in the last week, a number of events occurred. On Monday February 12th, the Oklahoma House voted on the Step Up Oklahoma proposal. A $581 million dollar package of proposed tax hikes, if passed, it would have been the biggest tax increase in Oklahoma history. Passage required a 75% margin of victory, but Step Up fell 13 votes short and was defeated 63-35. 53 of the 72 Republicans in the State House voted for the bill and 10 of the 28 Democrats.
Before the vote, The Oklahoman reported that Sooner Poll had found 69% of likely voters supported the Step Up plan, which includes a $5,000 annual pay raise for teachers. Step Up Oklahoma commissioned the poll. Bear in mind those polled were read the following statement before being polled: Keep in mind that our state budget is still $100 million short and teachers have not been given an increase in pay since 2008 and the state is losing teachers to other states because teacher pay is the lowest in the region. This type of polling is known as ‘push polling,’ and results in skewed responses. Honest polling would likely not result in approval for the largest tax increase in Oklahoma history.
After the vote a Republican lawmaker called fellow legislators that voted against the increases, ‘the swamp,’ and called for them to draw primary opponents. There was a time when Republicans fought against tax hikes, stood for limited government and refrained from attacking fellow Republicans, but that day has ended. Name calling of fellow legislators- no matter what political Party- is inappropriate, unprofessional, and counterproductive. The offending legislator should publicly apologize.
On Friday, the 28 House Democrats held a press conference announcing as a caucus they support State Auditor Gary Jones’ plan to increase gross production tax to 5%, add 75 cents tax to cigarettes and increase tax on gas by 3 cents and on diesel by 6 cents. Jones, who is running for the GOP nomination for governor, was able to do something Republican legislative leaders and the governor haven’t been able to do- get the Democrats to support a plan that may give them past the 75% threshold required by SQ #640. It remains to be seen if Jones’ proposal makes it to the House floor. Also on Friday, ten Republican House members and former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn issued a press release saying they support performance audits on every state agency. They claim state government has a great deal of ‘bloat and mission creep.’ They also contend the recent increase in the price of oil has resulted in a stronger than expected revenue stream into state government and the proposed tax increases are unnecessary at this time.Two points: First, a state can’t tax itself to prosperity. Fostering a business friendly environment that promotes growth for existing businesses and relocation for new ones will lead to prosperity and take state government with it. Second, if these tax increases are supported by 2/3 of Oklahomans, then send them to a vote of the people. A simple majority is all that is required to raise taxes via state question
Monday, February 12, 2018
Weekly Opinion Editorial
AMERICA FIRST vs. NATION BUILDING
by Steve Fair
General Michael Hayden is a retired four-star Air Force general who served as Director of the National Security Agency and head of the CIA under Presidents Bush and Obama. Hayden spoke yesterday at the opening session of the National Grocers Association convention in Las Vegas. His 45 minute speech had three points: (a) This is not the most dangerous times that Americans have lived in (Cuban missile crisis, WWII), (2)America faces some immediate foreign threats, and (3) These are chaotic, confusing times in America foreign policy.
Hayden doesn’t appear to be a fan of President Trump, but repeatedly told the independent grocers that he was just ‘reporting the facts’ and letting them decide if America’s foreign policy strategy was the right one. His analysis of the threats: North Korea, Iran/Syria, and Russia were insightful. “We only have two choices in dealing with North Korea- either war or negotiation. Just before I came out on stage, I got a tweet saying Vice President Pence said the U.S. is willing to sit down with North Korea and talk. I think that’s good news,” Hayden said. In regards to Russia, he pointed out that Russia, a nuclear power, was not an economic one. “The GDP of Russia is less than the GDP of the state of California. Putin is trying to rally the Russian people to believe they are as powerful as they were when they were the USSR and that is simply not true,” the general said.
When asked by an audience member if he thought Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation would find Trump’s campaign taking a meeting with the Russians violated the law, Hayden said he thought Muller would find it to be ‘political malpractice,’(whatever that means) but not against the law.
Hayden did have an interesting observation regarding President Trump’s foreign policy. “The past 75 years, since WWII, America’s foreign policy has been about global inclusiveness. President Trump has changed that. With him, it’s America First. It is interesting that many of the people he has in his cabinet are globalists, but he is not. He has pulled out of trade agreements, the climate change agreement and has said he will pull out of the Iran agreement. While the Iran agreement is not as strong as it should be, it is better than no agreement at all,” Hayden said.
A tense moment in Hayden’s talk was when an audience member’s question, which had to be submitted on-line or via Twitter, asked him about his role in in intercepting calls between Americans and foreign telephones after 9/11- code name, Stellar Wind. Hayden contended the constitution allowed it because it didn’t rise to the level of ‘unreasonable,’ because of the threat to national security. He jokingly said former CIA director George Tenet thought Hayden would go to jail for violating the privacy of citizens, but said that Vice President Cheney told him he would bail him out.
Hayden was critical of the POTUS without being overt. While asked about Trump’s tweeting, Hayden said foreign government spies spend millions trying to know determine how a U.S. president thinks. “Our current POTUS gives them an ID every morning in 140 characters,” Hayden said. He said Trump’s brashness, while acceptable as a NYC real estate developer, isn’t appropriate as POTUS.Hayden is a globalist and clearly believes Trump is a threat to the globalist ideology. He may be right- give Trump eight years and he may unravel the post WWII/ nation building foreign policy that has been a disaster for America.
Sunday, February 4, 2018
Weekly Opinion Editorial
TRADITIONAL & CONVENTIONAL
by Steve Fair
Last Tuesday, President Trump delivered his second State of the Union speech. President Trump focused on jobs and the economy, infrastructure, immigration, trade and national security. Trump’s speech was more traditional and conventional- the best he has delivered since he was elected and here is why.
First, he refrained from personal insults and attacks in the speech. The POTUS has never missed an opportunity to hit at his critics. He doesn’t start the fight, but he never backs down. But at the SOTU he took the high road. No personal attacks- no heckling his critics-that’s refreshing.
Second, Trump has restored confidence among the U.S. business community. Predictability is important to business. Trump is very pro-business. He has removed many restrictive regulations that President Obama implemented that hurt businesses. That’s why Wall-Street is up +25% since Trump was elected. That impacts 401K and IRA plans for all Americans. Manufacturing is up in the U.S., African-American unemployment is at historic lows, and three million people have been given a bonus by their employers all because of predictability. The business community recognizes they have a POTUS that understands business unlike the previous administration and won’t regulate them to death,
Third, Trump has taken on the immigration issue. An issue that has been kicked down the road for the last thirty years, immigration is likely to be finally dealt with by Congress in the next year. But even before illegals are addressed, Trump has done something about immigration. Since he was elected, illegal crossings are down -25% at the US/Mexico border- their lowest level since 1971. Deportations are up +30% in the same period. During the campaign, Trump was adamant that he would build a wall to secure the border and has made it a cornerstone of his immigration policy. The White House has proposed a solution to dealing with the so-called ‘Dreamers’: a 10- to 12-year path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million recipients and similarly situated immigrants, in exchange for $25 billion for the wall.
Fourth, Trump has done a good job in foreign policy. President Obama foreign policy was erratic and passive. Countries like North Korea and Iran broke treaties with the U.S., knowing they would face no repercussions. Rivals like China and Russia beat us at the negotiating table. Trump, and his foreign policy team, have put America’s interests first and America is now more respected around the world.
Make no mistake, President Trump is not perfect, but no president has ever been perfect. Trump is loud, bold, and arrogant. He likes controversy and actually seems to thrive on it, but no president in American history has been more an outsider in Washington than Trump. He likes the ‘rogue’ roll and seems to delight when the insiders tell him ‘that can’t be done that way because we’ve never done it that way.’ While the SOTU speech was more traditional and conventional than what you would expect from Trump, make no mistake, his is neither of those