Friday, December 28, 2018
Weekly Opinion Editorial
GOING BIG IS REALLY SMALL!
by Steve Fair
President Trump threatened- via Twitter- on Friday to close the southern border if Congress doesn’t fund a border wall. He also threatened to cut off aid to Central America if they don’t stop the forming of caravans in their countries. His incoming Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the POTUS is serious and would close the border if the Democrats don’t give him funding for the wall. This came after congressional Democrats ‘walked away from the table,’ according to Mulvaney. 'The Democrats have simply shutdown the discussions. They did not even counter us,” he said. Apparently Trump had backed off his $5 billion dollar request to a smaller number, but the Democrats believe by holding their position, Trump will cave to their removing the request from the overall budget. Three observations:
First, border security should not be a partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree that knowing who is entering the country is important and that keeping criminals out of the U.S. is good policy. Illegal immigration is what it is- illegal. The United States has a very defined method of entering the country. Those who choose to ignore it are breaking our laws- pure and simple. When Democrats claim people entering our country illegally have a right to do so, they ignore the rule of law and we cease to be a country.
Second, permanent immigration reform must be addressed. Many of those who come to America illegally do so because the current legal process is cumbersome and takes years to complete. Because of our Laissez-faire attitude toward illegal immigration, they simply break the law because the law is not enforced. Both Parties agree the process needs fixing, but they can’t come to a common sense solution because of partisanship. Without true immigration reform, the wall will be just a deterrent to illegal immigration- it will not stop it.
Third, this standoff is about the 2020 elections. Democrats believe they can take back the White House and both chambers in two years if they energize their base. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D, California, said, “young voters in the country are telling the Democrat Party to “go big.” ‘Going Big’ means to get angry at someone, to catch an attitude and get in someone’s face. Young progressive voters want the newly elected Ds to do something about guns, immigration and climate change. Meanwhile, President Trump needs to deliver on one of his chief campaign promises- to build a big beautiful wall on the southern border. If he doesn’t deliver, he will likely not be reelected. If the Democrats don’t deliver on their promises, they will likely suffer defeat at the ballot box. Both have to ‘go big,’ or disappoint their political base that is critical for electoral success in 2020.
‘Going Big,’ will get a lot of attention and media coverage and play well with a political base, but it will not solve the nation’s problems. Civil discourse, focusing on fixing the obvious problems, bipartisanship and finding common ground will. Not negotiating is not ‘going big’- it’s going home.
Monday, December 17, 2018
Weekly Opinion Editorial
RELATIVISM IS POPULAR!
by Steve Fair
Situational ethics takes into account the context of an act rather than judging the act based on absolute moral standards. It has been around since the Garden of Eden when the serpent told Eve that God didn’t really mean for her to not eat of the forbidden fruit.
Joseph Fletcher, a Harvard professor of theology, is credited with coining the phrase- situational ethics- when he wrote his 1966 book by the same title. Fletcher was an avowed humanist, a onetime ordained Episcopal priest and later in life an atheist. "We ought to love people and use things; the essence of immorality is to love things and use people," Fletcher said. A passionate advocate for abortion, infanticide, eugenics, cloning and euthanasia, Fletcher claimed situational ethics was based on ‘love thy neighbor,’ taught by Jesus. He said all decision-making should be based on circumstances of a situation and not upon a fixed truth or law. In Fletcher’s world, so long as love was the motive, then the end justified the means.
There are two fundamental categories of situational ethicists. There is the atheist, those who totally reject the Scriptures as having any bearing on morality, and the religious, those who actually believe the Bible endorses situational ethics.
Situational ethics is practiced by every human being in varying degrees. Everyone makes pragmatic choices or decisions of relative judgment in areas where truth is not completely clear to them at that time. The problem is when they abandon truth for expediency. When a person knows their actions are not right, but their circumstances or situation will be enhanced if they ignore the absolutes. When they willingly violate their own convictions and conscience to further a goal, they are practicing situational ethics. It is never right to do wrong.
In politics, both Parties are experts in the practice of situational ethics. Both are boringly predictable on their response to each other’s policies and personnel (Fox & MSNBC). They generically criticize the other side, just because they are the other side. Rarely is absolute truth considered, and love is never the motive. So called principled people, on both sides, check their ethics at the door and support immoral, unprincipled people for office because they will further a political agenda. Policy has become more important than principle.
A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a liberal polling group, asked the ‘leading’ question: “Do you think an elected official who commits an immoral act in their private life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life?” The poll found 61% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans believe an elected official can be two-faced and still be ethical. Pragmatism/relativism is on the rise.
The logical end of situational ethics is anarchy; people doing what is right in their own eyes. The Bible warns about that very thing. Abraham Lincoln once said, "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side." Sad to say, but not many want to be on God’s side these days because you might lose the election.
Monday, December 10, 2018
Weekly Opinion Editorial
GOSSIP IS DESTRUCTIVE!
by Steve Fair
A rumor is an unconfirmed, widely spread story or statement. Rumors may or may not contain elements of truth, but their veracity is anyone’s guess—rumors carry no factual certainty. Rumors are also known as gossip, which is nothing short of the devil’s Ponzi scheme for sowing disunity. In politics, spreading rumors is a stock in trade. Politician operatives delight in using a ‘whisper’ campaign to discredit a client’s opponent. Like Willie Nelson they tell people they hear things when silence is all they hear. Will Rogers said, “The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them.” Everyone loves a good rumor, especially if it presents them as being part of an exclusive group. It’s just part of our fallen nature, but the fact is deliberately spreading rumors- either true or unsubstantiated- is unethical and unchristian.
Gossip in politics is a huge problem. It is often marketed under the euphemism like, “sharing our concern,” or “people have a right to know,” when the blabbermouth spreading the scuttlebutt really doesn’t care and people really don’t need to know.
In a recent local campaign, a rumor was spread regarding a candidate’s health under the guises of “concern for them.” The fact is the busybody was trying to plant doubt in voter’s minds about the ability of the opponent to carry out the duties of the office, which was completely false. Shameful, unethical and unchristian behavior. Two thoughts on rumors and gossip:
First, the first step to shutting down gossip is to not listen to it. Instead of being passive, confront those who carry it. Demand the talebearer to name their sources. In a court of law, unsubstantiated testimony is not allowed, but in politics a rumor is considered true until the subject of the rumor has proven otherwise. Choose to not participate in destructive behavior. When a flibbertigibbet begins to defame someone, simply tell them you don’t want to hear it. Don’t be passive. If they have no audience, the effectiveness of their innuendo dwindles.
Second, the subject of the political rumor/gossip should confront the circulator. Conventional political wisdom is to not do that, but that is the biblical pattern found in Matthew 18. The busybody should know they have offended and if they have any integrity, they will seek to resolve it. Resolution is often not possible, but the wronged shouldn’t allow slander and lies to be spread without confronting the scandalmonger.
Gossip- in all aspects of life- is nasty. It is never good and should be despised by all who call themselves a believer. Instead of being passive and tolerating something that is widespread we should be vigilant to remove something that is destructive and vile. We should work to shut down gossip. Socrates said, “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”
Monday, December 3, 2018
Weekly Opinion Editorial
CHINA IS NOT OUR FRIEND!
by Steve Fair
President Trump met with Chinese President Xi at the G20 meeting in Argentina last week. They agreed to put their trade war on hold for 90 days. Additional tariffs on goods were scheduled to increase on January 1st. Those increases appear to be still under negotiation.
Trump had increased the tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 to 25%. That had impacted $250 billion of goods imported from China. In retaliation, China did the same thing on $110 billion of U.S. exports. Many economists feared the trade war would stall the world economy and urged the two leaders to work out a solution.
The president tweeted on Monday: “My meeting in Argentina with President Xi of China was an extraordinary one. Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward! Very good things will happen. We are dealing from great strength, but China likewise has much to gain if and when a deal is completed. Level the field!”
Immediately liberals jumped on the POTUS for using the phase, ‘leap forward,’ because China had a program from 1958-1962 called the Great Leap Forward. The campaign was led by Chairman Mao Zedong and aimed to move the country from an agriculture economy to industrialization. It was widely considered to have caused the Chinese Famine. It’s a stretch to believe Trump was endorsing a famine, but liberals seize every opportunity to criticize.
The White House released the following statement on the agreement: "President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10 percent rate, and not raise it to 25 percent at this time," the statement read. Over the next 90 days, American and Chinese officials will continue to negotiate lingering disagreements on technology transfer, intellectual property and agriculture. Both parties agree that they will endeavor to have this transaction completed within the next 90 days. If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent.”
President Trump made trade negotiations one of his key campaign themes. He promised to insure America did better at negotiating trade agreements than in the past. By delaying the full implementation of the increased tariffs, did the president ‘blink’ as some critics claim? Two observations:
First, America needs to level the economic playing field. For decades, our trade agreements have benefited other countries and cost American taxpayers billions. From paying for infrastructure to providing start-up capital in developing countries to selling agriculture products at lower prices, America’s negotiators gave away more than the farm every time they sat at the table.
Second, Trump must be cautious when dealing with the communists. Their values are not our values. Their worldview is not ours. China and Russia are not our friends. They don’t like each other much, but they like America less. A U.S. President must always remember that- whether negotiating a trade or arms agreement.In 2007, the US economy was four times the size of China- in 2011, only twice the size. At their continue growth rate, China’s economy will overtake America in 2029. Americans better hope President Trump is as good of negotiator as he claims.