Monday, September 24, 2018

Education leaders should be thinking outside the BOX!

by Steve Fair

     On Saturday, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, (D-MA) came to OKC.  Warren, a 1966 graduate of NW Classen High School, came back to her high school alma mater to keynote the Oklahoma chapter of the American Federation of Teachers(AFT).  Addressing several hundred educators in the cafeteria, Warren said: “You’ve got to pay for teachers, you’ve got to pay for builders, you’ve got to pay for books. And, money is about values. Are we going to decide that’s it’s just going to be all about billionaires and tax breaks for big corporations? Or are we going to say that everybody pays a fair share?”  National AFT President Randi Weingarten commended the teachers for the walkout in April.  "Protest is important, but it is step one. What we want, what our kids deserve is a revolution," Weingarten said.  Three observations;
     First, Oklahoma government funds common education.  The money is just not getting to the classroom.  According to an Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs study, total revenues for Oklahoma public schools are at an all-time record high. Since 2006, school revenues have risen by more than $2.5 billion, or 41 percent, and now stand at over $8.8 billion- and it is before the latest round of revenue increases.  The problem is the money is not getting to the classroom where it makes a difference. If school administration in Oklahoma had grown as the same rate as student population over the past 20 plus years, and that money put into the classroom, Oklahoma teachers would be making $6,000 more annually. 
     Second, the average Oklahoman pays more than their ‘fair share’ of taxes.  Senator Warren suggests tapping billionaires to fund education, but there are not enough billionaires in the Sooner state to fund common education.  The numbers just will not work.  Hard working Oklahoma taxpayers, who can’t take off work and storm the Capitol demanding a pay raise, will pay the increased taxes. 
     Third, it is time for reform, not a revolution in education. Oklahoma kids deserve a change, but education leadership must commit to reducing administrative costs, pushing for merit based pay, and embracing technology before that reform happens.  Involvement in government/politics is a good thing, but it must be rooted in knowledge, not just zeal.
     Seventy four licensed teachers ran for the Oklahoma legislature this year, many on the Republican ticket.  Many of the educators who ran on the GOP ticket- and won- are clearly not fiscal conservatives.  Their stated goal is to increase funding for common education by raising taxes. 
     In the preamble of the Oklahoma Republican Party platform, it states that revenues collected at all levels of government should be used only for well defined, legitimate government functions, and should be carried out efficiently so that tax rates may be kept as low as possible.  The platform also calls for audits of common education and merit pay.  How many of the licensed teachers running on the GOP ticket have read the platform?

Monday, September 17, 2018

It's a Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill sequel!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     Brett Kavanaugh is President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.  He is currently a judge on the DC Court of Appeals.  During his confirmation hearings, the Democrats have tried delaying the proceedings, interrupting Kavanuagh when he was trying to answer questions, and shouting down Senator Grassley’s rulings, but nothing compares to the latest tactic. 
     With the Judiciary Committee ready to vote on his confirmation, a college professor named Christine Ford, sent a letter to Senator Diane Feinstein, (D-CA), accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault thirty years ago when he and she were in high school.  Initially, Ford’s letter was released anonymously, but after the creditability of that was questioned, Ford publically came forward saying, “civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”  An eyewitness to the supposed incident in question says it never happened, but Democrats are demanding that Kavanaugh answer her allegations.     Ford has said she will testify before the committee if called.
     This has little or nothing to do with sexual assault.  This is clearly an attempt by Democrats to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation from coming before the full Senate until after mid-terms.  This shameful display of grandstanding should be condemned by both sides of the aisle, but sadly, some so-called Republicans are more than willing to help the D’s, so long as it hurts President Trump.  GOP Senators Bob Corker, (R-TN) and Jeff Flake, (R-AZ), who are both not seeking re-election and both hate Trump, have said the vote should be delayed until Ford and Kavaugh both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee.  Senator Susan Collins, (R-ME) tweeted agreement and Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AL) said the committee should delay the vote until both testify.  With the GOP margin razor thin in the Senate, it is likely Grassley will be forced to let the Ds have their grandstand moment.  Much like the Clarence Thomas/ Anita Hill show 27 years ago, expect “R” rated testimony to be placed into the Congressional record this week.  Set your DVRs, so you don’t miss one salacious detail.
     Republicans need to recognize Democrats don’t play the game the way they do.  Both sides can and are partisan, but Democrats don’t accept the minority status in Congress like the GOP.  For example, the confirmation hearings for President Obama’s SCOTUS nominees- Kagan and Sotomayor- were much less dramatic and more civil than George W. Bush’s nominees- Roberts and Alito, because the Rs knew they didn’t have the votes.  Not so with Democrats- they fight to the bitter end. With a 24 hour news cycle, Congressional committee hearings have become reality TV at its worst.
    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the judiciary hearings have devolved into a ‘highly partisan show.”  “The way I was confirmed was right- this way is wrong,” the former liberal ACLU lawyer who was confirmed in 1993 by a bi-partisan vote of 97-3 said to applause at George Washington University of Law. 
     The Democrat strategy of bringing up unsubstantiated allegations from thirty years ago may backfire.  The American public is not stupid and they recognize grandstanding when they see it.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Blitz of Attacks on POTUS is not a coincidence- Deep State fights back!

Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     Last week, the New York Times published an anonymous op/ed supposedly written by a senior official in the White House.  The article was critical of President Trump, his temperament, style of leadership, and lack of knowledge on foreign policy.  The op/ed comes on the heels of Senator McCain’s funeral/political rally, which featured politicos in both Parties , trashing the president, which followed the release of Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear- Trump in the White House.  Woodward, of Watergate fame, is very critical of the POTUS in the new book.  Mainstream media is in a feeding frenzy and hoping to hurt Trump’s reputation to help Ds in the mid-term elections.  Four observations:
     First, the New York Times is a liberal rag with no journalistic integrity.  There was a time when the Times reported just the facts, but sadly they abandoned that strategy years ago and have evolved into nothing more than a sensationalist tabloid masquerading as a historical newspaper. 
     Second, anonymous pieces should never be taken seriously, especially hit pieces.  This op/ed could have been written by someone in the White House, but it may very well been written by someone at the Times.  The Times has never accepted Trump’s victory.  Take the Times op/ed with a grain of salt.
     Third, some of the criticism in the Times op/ed is petty.  The account of how Trump runs meetings in the Oval Office- with no organization and repeatedly changing his mind, if true, is more about his business background than his lack of knowledge.  In high level business meetings, decisions are often walked back several times before a consensus is reached.  That can be frustrating to those who like more formality in meetings-military and political types- but in the business world, it is how things get done.    
     Fourth, establishment politicians, in both Parties, want Trump gone.  His loud, sophomoric style is bombastic and unconventional.  He never takes the high road when attacked, but hits back twice as hard.  His constant tweeting incites his critics and his rhetoric is over the top.  But while it appears the POTUS is shooting from the hip, his accomplishments say otherwise.  In less than two years, he has passed historic tax cuts, had one SCOTUS justice confirmed, another about to be, repealed hundreds of restrictive government regulations, cracked down on sanctuary cities, moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and much more.  The only way to slow him down is to flip the U.S. House from Republican to Democrat control.  That is why the mid-terms are so important and why this blitz of assaults have come so close together.   
     The Times op/ed implies an influential group in the administration- a so-called ‘Deep State’ (permanent bureaucrats who just tolerate elected officials and ignore their directives)- are running(and saving) the country by ignoring Trump’s orders.  If that is the case, they should be rooted out and fired for insubordination.  The ‘Deep State’ hates Trump because he threatens their kingdom.  The establishment wants a POTUS they can control and that’s not what America elected. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

One Third of American Voters are Ignorant About Politics!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     In the June 26th primary 452,000 Rs and 395,000 Ds voted.  Last Tuesday, 302,000 Republicans and 132,000 Democrats voted in the runoff.  Republicans had seven statewide races on the ballot, Democrats just one, so obviously there was more interest in showing up.  Primaries are somewhat new for the OKGOP.  For years, just finding a candidate to run for office- at any level- was a challenge and Republican primaries were rare and primary runoffs were unheard of. 
    In Tuesday’s statewide runoff two and a half times more Republicans voted than Democrats, something that would have been thought impossible just twenty years ago.  But primaries create new challenges.  Will the losers in the GOP runoff races encourage their supporters to get behind the Party nominee?  There were some extremely negative campaign ads and mailers this cycle.  That often results in hard feelings, particularly if the ads were personal.  When a candidate pours their time, treasure and talent into a race for months only to lose by a slim margin, it often takes a while to let bygones be bygones and endorse their opponent. 
     The truth is, endorsements are very overrated.  That doesn’t mean they are meaningless, but a successful candidate shouldn’t rely on endorsements to get them across the finish line.  President Trump is a classic example.  He had few ‘insider’ endorsements from members of Congress for the GOP presidential nomination, but won in spite of that.  Winning candidates engage voters where they are and motivate them to vote on Election Day. 
    Organization endorsements do carry more weight than personal endorsements.  GOP candidate clamber to get the NRA endorsement or the Americans for Life nod, because those groups send faithful voters their picks in a race.  But be careful.  Just because someone says they have been endorsed by those groups or an elected official doesn’t always mean it is true.  Endorsements have a shelf life and candidates have been known to use an endorsement in multiple elections when it was only for one.  Just because a candidate was endorsed by the NRA in one election doesn’t mean they are backing them in their current race.
    There are just 65 days until the general election.  Oklahoma is a conservative state, so expect candidates in both Parties to taunt their conservative credentials and how they are the only hope Oklahoma has to survive.  Voters need to understand there are distinct differences between the Republican and Democrat Party platforms and thoroughly vet the candidates.    
     According to a study by George Mason University, only one third of American adults can name the three branches of government, and nearly half of Americans think cap and trade has to do with healthcare or financial regulation instead of the environment.  It does not matter much if any one voter is ignorant, but it does matter if a substantial percentage of the entire electorate is that way.