Monday, October 29, 2018

Dial down the Rhetoric!

by Steve Fair
     Last week, the FBI arrested Cesar Sayoc, 56, for allegedly sending crude pipe bombs(none detonated) to prominent Democrats.  He left some DNA on the envelopes and bombs themselves and because he had a criminal record, his identity and location was quickly determined.  Sayoc was evidently a staunch ‘Trump’ supporter.  He had plastered stickers on his van supportive of the POTUS and his tweets were full of contempt for Trump’s critics.  Sayoc has been charged with five federal crimes.      

     Reaction to Sayoc’s arrest from Democrats included his being labeled the MAGA bomber or the Trump bomber.  The mayor of Boston personalized it and said the van looked like “the inside of Geoff Diehl’ head.”  Diehl is the GOP candidate for Senate running against Elizabeth Warren.  Now, that’s taking the high road.

     Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton immediately linked Sayoc to President Trump claiming his  ‘over the top’ statements and criticism of his critics on Twitter and at rallies encourages people like Sayoc to take their activism to the next level.    Never let a good crisis go to waste.

     Conservatives Ann Colter and Rush Limbaugh have floated the idea Sayoc is a set-up by the Democrats to hurt Trump and the Republicans in the mid-terms.  They claim the devices were hoax bombs that had no chance of exploding, but the FBI said that is not the case.   President Trump tweeted the ‘bomb stuff’ was slowing momentum for Republicans heading into the midterms, implying he may have agreed with Colter and Limbaugh. Three thoughts;

     First, we don’t settle political disputes in America using violence.  Neither the Republican or Democrat platforms advocate violence to settle disputes.  That  fact is often ignored- on both sides.  It is quite possible that hyperbole and caricaturing of political opponent’s positions  does contribute to acts like this, but it would next to impossible to connect the dots. 

     Second, craziness is non-partisan.  Just 15 months ago,  James Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter, shot up a Congressional baseball game, seriously injuring Congressman Steve Scalise .  In 2011, Jared Loughner, a paranoid schizophrenic, who appeared to have no political interest, shot Gabrielle Giffords at an event in Tucson.  

     Third, Sayoc is not a plant of the Democrats. He appears to be mentally ill.  His family has said as a young man he struggled with reality and has anger issues.  America has a mental health crisis and ignoring it by calling it partisan politics will not solve it.   
     How should political leaders and activists respond when these events happen?  They should be introspective and ask themselves if they may have contributed to what happened.  Perhaps both sides should dial it down a notch.  Just because someone punches you, you don’t have to  punch back.  Turn the other cheek.  Take the high road, even when those who claim they are taking the high road aren’t.  It goes against conventional wisdom in politics to leave justice in the hands of the Almighty, but it is the only way to insure our country survives. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Who is funding Pueblo Sin Fronteras?

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     Thousands of migrants are walking across Mexico toward the U.S. border because according to their organizers-Pueblo Sin Fronteras(PSF)- they are  ‘demanding human rights.’  On their website, PSF says their mission is “to build solidarity bridges among peoples and turndown border walls imposed by greed.”  The group provides humanitarian aid and legal advice to migrants and refugees and together they ‘demand their human rights.” A spokesperson for PSF said, "These people are frustrated and desperate."  Sounds like a lot of overtaxed Americans.  
      The group's volunteers claim they are helping migrants stay together to protect themselves from danger along the way, including from criminals and natural elements, but also to move past law enforcement officials.  Most of the migrants are from Honduras and they are not all poor people.  Some are college educated who claim they can’t find jobs in their own country and want to come to the United States.  They were initially turned away at the southern Mexico border, but have since been allowed to continue their jaunt.
     First, what’s greedy about the establishment of a border?  To imply that countries that have a more prosperous economy and a higher standard of living are greedy is foolhardy.  The United States government is the most generous and giving in the world- all funded by hardworking taxpayers.  No country or people show more willingness to share their wealth than America.  Greed is defined as: intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.   PSF and their migrant herd fit that definition more than Americans. 
     Second, the timing of this mass immigration is very suspect.  With less than three weeks until the midterm elections, it’s clear the migrants are being used to help Congressional Democrats in the upcoming elections.  The main stream news media has cooperated by keeping the trek in the headlines.  Rumors abound as to who is funding this hike, but rest assured, whoever it is, they are sympathetic to the Democrat position on open borders.   
     Third, this is not about human rights or helping hurting people.  This is about winning elections.  If this caravan does make it to the US/Mexico border and attempt to enter the country it will be more like an invasion- an act of war- than a seeking of asylum.  When you do the later, you follow an established protocol.  By setting up this ‘Mexican standoff,’ Democrat leaders hope voters will sympathize and go vote in the midterms.  Expect the Honduran ‘pilgrims’ to get to the southern US border the week before mid-terms and have a confrontation with border authorities.     
     While it is true that America is a nation of immigrants, the vast majority of those legally came to their new home. They followed the proper procedures and showed respect for the rule of law.  Any person who attempts to enter the country any other way should be turned away.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Elected Officials are far from sacrificing!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     Public service is when a person uses their talents and skills to service the general public.  Generally those who are in public service(elected official or government worker) are thought to sacrifice income and status vs. what they could earn in the private sector to serve the public, but is that accurate?  It would appear not.
     According to a recent study by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Governor Mary Fallin will collect a $176,000 annual pension when she leaves office in January.  That is $30,000 more than she made as governor.  Former Attorney General and Democrat candidate for Governor Drew Edmondson currently  makes $149,000 in pension- more than he made as AG.  He can continue to draw that amount in addition to his salary if he is elected governor.   Both will make substantially more in retirement than when they were in office.  Not too many private sector jobs that have that kind of pension. 
     Both Fallin and Edmondson benefit from a bill ran in 1988 by the Democrat controlled legislature. It  gave elected officials credit for their non-elected service, which dramatically increased their pension benefits.  Former State Auditor Clifton Scott became the poster boy for inflated pension benefits.  Scott was able to count 20 years of non-elected service like elected, and retire from an $83,000 salary to a $157,000 pension, even though he had not contributed near that much into the system.  Because of situations like that, the various state pension plans in Oklahoma were underfunded and in trouble financially.  Under the leadership of the Republican legislature and Rep. Randy McDaniel, candidate for State Treasurer in particular, reforms were made that have the funds getting back to solvency.  But more reforms are needed. 
     First, Oklahoma needs to close the defined benefit pensions to all new state employees and go to a defined contribution system. The private sector phased out the defined benefit systems years ago.  Few Fortune 500 companies have a defined benefit pension plan.  The days of working for a company for 40 years, getting the gold watch and a pension are over.  Companies have matching 401K plans that allow employees the flexibility and control over their own retirement funds.  It allows them to move from company to company and take their retirement with them.  Government, like it does in everything else, lags years behind the private sector in retirement plans. 
      The second reform that Oklahoma needs is to close the ‘double dipping’ loophole.  Currently an Oklahoma state employee can retire from one agency, start collecting pension benefits and then go to work for another agency after just a month and build a retirement at that agency.
     A workman is worthy of their hire and elected officials and state employees should have a good retirement system.  But retirement benefits for public employees and elected officials should not be infinitely better than those they are supposedly serving and when that is the case, they shouldn’t call themselves public servants.  They are the masters and taxpayers are the servants.   

Monday, October 8, 2018

Divided States of America may be in future!

Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     On Saturday Judge Brett Kavanaugh became Associate Justice Kavanaugh after the U.S. Senate confirmed him in a 50-48 vote.  Only one Democrat- Joe Manchin of West Virginia- voted yes.  Manchin is up for re-election in a state that President Trump won by 42 percentage points over Clinton in 2016, so not voting for confirmation would likely have sealed his political fate.  Two Republicans did not vote- Steve Daines, who was attending his daughter’s wedding in Montana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who voted present.  Murkowski had said she would vote no, but since the outcome was apparent, she voted present.  A Supreme Court Justice is sworn in immediately and as Kavanaugh was being sworn in by former Justice Anthony Kennedy, protesters pounded on the Supreme Court’s doors. 
     Liberals know what is at stake- it remains unclear if conservatives do.  With the seating of Kavanaugh, the SCOTUS is controlled by judges who subscribe to a ‘literalist’ interpretation of the Constitution for the first time in modern history. Not all are strict literalists, but they are a far cry from the ‘structuralist’ interpreters Hillary Clinton would have appointed.  If Trump doesn’t accomplish anything more than seating these two Supreme Court Justices(Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) in his presidency, he has sealed a conservative legacy not even Ronald Reagan could accomplish.      
     Senator Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), the minority leader of the Senate, held a news conference after the vote and said the only thing that will change America is ‘through the ballot box.’  Schumer is right, but that doesn’t appear to be the shared sentiment of many liberals.   Protests and harassment of conservative elected officials continue.  Some conservatives say the libs should accept defeat, but no person with true convictions should ever ‘accept defeat,’ but they should accept reality.  Politics is the art of the possible.  Many, on both sides of the aisle, expect the impossible and will not accept the possible.  They reject majority rule.  They would rather have nothing than something.  If you get involved in politics, you’re going win some and you’re going to lose some, but when you lose, you roll up your sleeves and work harder in the next election cycle.   It’s fine to oppose policy you don’t agree with.  It’s acceptable to ask elected officials to justify their vote.  It’s not o.k. to threaten them with bodily harm or harass them in public. 
     The divisiveness of the Kavanaugh hearings and vote have some saying the United State is more divided than at any point in our nation’s history, but that is not true.  Between 1861 and 1865, America fought a Civil War, where over 620,000 Americans died.   America is not on the brink of civil war, but it appears dissolution could be on the horizon.  At some point, the people paying the bills may elect to not be a part of a liberal America, where everything is free.  They may grant the liberals their wish and secede from the union.  That’s becoming more and more viable every day.