Friday, August 30, 2019

Oklahoma Opioid Ruling Visited!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
Caveat Emptor
by Steve Fair 

     Last week, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman ruled drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped cause the opioid crisis in the Sooner state by using deceptive marketing tactics and downplaying the addictive nature of their painkillers.  The judge ruled that J&J had to pay the state $572 million.  Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter had sought $17.5 billion claiming the opioid crisis has claimed 6,000 Oklahomans lives.  “The defendants caused an opioid crisis that is evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome in Oklahoma,”  Balkman said. Balkman’s ruling was the first to hold a pharmaceutical company responsible for the opiod crisis. Johnson & Johnson has announced they will appeal the ruling.  Three observations:
     First, opioids were approved by the Food & Drug Administration(a government agency) for use as a painkiller after extensive study. The FDA first approved opioids for pain relief in the 1970s.  Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and several others. Government(FDA) shares significant blame for the opioid crisis in the country, but don’t expect anyone to admit it.
     Second, the opioid crisis is real.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (a government agency), 130 people in the U.S. die each day from overdosing on opioids.  They estimate the economic impact to the country at $78.5 billion annually.  They claim up to one third of those prescribed opioids abuse them.  The Institute says in 2017, there were 388 overdose deaths­­­ involving opioids in Oklahoma—a rate of 10.2. deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.   
     Third, opioids have made life bearable for those with chronic pain.  The vast majority of those who take opioids are not addicts.  There are people who legitimately need pain killers and the government crackdown on physician prescribing abilities have put doctors and those patients in a quandary.  This group is left out of the stakeholder conversation.
     The blitz to sue drug companies over the opioid crisis isn’t just about public health.  Much like the tobacco settlement cases of bygone years, money is the driver.  A big settlement is mistakenly seen as a windfall for government, but companies don’t pay settlements or taxes- people do.  Johnson & Johnson will not ‘absorb’ these big settlements.  They will simply pass them onto their customers in the form of a price increase.   It is claimed the drug companies made claims about their product that were untrue, but when does personal responsibility kick in?  Is it government’s responsibility to protect ourselves from ourselves?  When does the buyer assume the risk that a product may fail to meet expectations or have defects? Caveat emptor!

Monday, August 26, 2019


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     The first bill Governor Kevin Stitt signed after being sworn into office was the Constitutional Carry bill.  House Bill 2597 allows law-abiding citizens to carry a gun without a permit or training.  "The best defense from a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," Stitt said at the signing.  Oklahoma is the 16th state to pass Constitutional Carry. The new law is scheduled to go into effect on November 1st.
     State Rep. Jason Lowe, (D-OKC) is attempting to get the law repealed.  Lowe and his supporters are currently circulating 4,000 petitions across the state, hoping to get 60,000 signatures.  If they are successful, they would get the issue on the 2020 ballot as a State Question.  Their deadline to get the signatures is Thursday August 29th.  “I just couldn’t stand aside and not do anything. I had to take a stand at that point in time. People in the State of Oklahoma can decide whether this is a good law or not,” Lowe said.
Two thoughts regarding permit less carry-one positive/one negative:
     First, permit less carry(HB 2597) will have no effect on current background checks when purchasing a gun.  They will still be done.  The state will continue to do the checks as required by federal law.  The restrictions on felons will continue as well.  You still can’t carry on private property unless the owner gives permission.  You still can’t carry in a government building or school.  The major change is state government will no longer be charging a fee for a license to carry a weapon or exercise your second amendment rights.   
     Second, reciprocity could become an issue.  Oklahoma honors the laws of other states that allow concealed carry, open carry and Constitutional Carry, but not all states do.  Without a permit, Sooners could be in violation of the law in those states.  Those that travel in states (truckers) that don’t reciprocate with states without permits could find this to be inconvenient.
     Permit less bills align with the U.S. Constitution.  It gets state government out of the business of granting rights already guaranteed in the Constitution.  It reaffirms the right of honest, law abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families.  Liberals will never agree with individual gun ownership.  They believe only the government should have weapons, but the founders put the second amendment into the document to protect citizens from their government.  Gun owners should responsibly exercise that right, using good judgment and discernment.  Using a weapon to scare or intimidate people is a misuse of liberty.  Using a weapon to defends ones’ personal or property is legitimate.
     If approached to sign the petition to place the issue on the ballot, politely decline to autograph.  It is highly unlikely the group can get 60,000 people in conservative Oklahoma to endorse the petition, but you never know.

Monday, August 19, 2019


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     A ‘red flag law’ is a law that permits police or family members to petition the state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who they perceive to present a danger to others or themselves.  The laws are called ‘Extreme Risk Protection Orders,’   ‘Risk Protection Orders,’ “Gun Violence Restraining Orders,’ depending on the state.  There are seventeen states and DC that have some form of ‘red flag laws,’ up from just five two years ago.   Red Flag Law’s constitutionality has been challenged and it has been ruled they did not violate the right to keep and bear arms.(Redington v. State of Indiana), but it is certain it will make its way to the Supreme Court.
     At the federal level, Senators Lindsey Graham, (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal, (D-Conn) have introduced a bill that would offer state’s money if they implemented a ‘red flag law.’  Six Republicans have indicated they would support some form of a Red Flag Law, so it is likely it will get past the Senate and the Democrat controlled House.  Would President Trump sign or veto it?  If he doesn’t sign it, is there enough support to override a veto?  Probably not.  Immediately after the El Paso and Dayton shootings, the president appeared to support red flag laws, but it appears he is not as enthusiastic.  Senator Jim Inhofe, (R-OK) has said the issue should not be dealt with at the federal level, but by individual states.  Governor Stitt has said he doesn’t favor ‘Red Flag’ laws.  Three thoughts:
     First, gun violence will not be curbed by passing more legislation.  There are already thousands of laws(local, state, federal) on the books regarding guns, many that are not enforced.  Criminals don’t obey laws, so the only person restricted when more laws are implemented is law abiding citizens. 
     Second, ‘red flag laws’ are not about mental illness.  Only one of the seventeen states’ laws mention mental health.  Red Flags rely on the prognostication premonition ability of what a person may do before they do it.  It’s real life PreCrime(Minority Report movie).  It might make good entertainment, but no one is psychic and can predict the future.  A fundamental question is who holds the ‘red flag’ and what is their criteria for raising it?   
    Third, liberty can be messy.  The second amendment makes it difficult for the neutralizers on the left.  The second wasn’t put into the US Constitution for duck hunting, but to protect individual liberty.  When lawmakers restrict liberty for the criminal, they restrict liberty for everyone and the only person who complies is the honest citizen.  After 9/11, the people inconvenienced at the airport by the Patriot Act, walking around in their sock feet, were the compliant.          
    Americans should want instruments of defense in their possession, not in the hands of government.   Knee jerk legislation in response to tragic events are never a good idea. No one wants to see another mass shooting, but slicing off our liberty to prevent one is not the right solution. Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Epstein may have taken secrets to his grave- willingly or maybe not?

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     On Saturday Jeffrey Epstein, 66, was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell(a federal facility) of an apparent suicide.  Epstein was a well-connected billionaire who counted Presidents Clinton and Trump as his friends.  He was also friends with England’s Prince Andrew.  Epstein was being held on charges of having sex with underage girls and holding women in sexual slavery.  His death comes just one month after his arrest and the day after the release of court documents pertaining to the charges.  Epstein had attempted suicide just two weeks ago and as a result put on suicide watch, but removed from the watch just two days ago.   He denied trying to commit suicide, and told friends someone tried to kill him.  Immediately after Epstein’s death, conspiracies began to appear on social media.  Here are a just a few:    

     Some believe Bill and Hillary Clinton are behind Epstein’s death.  Their theory is the Clintons have the most to lose if Epstein turned on them.  It has been documented former president Clinton flew on Epstein’s private jet twenty six times, sometimes to Epstein’s private island, Little St. James, that was dubbed by locals as Pedophile Island.  Clinton has denied he knew Epstein was engaging in pedophilic behavior.

     Some believe President Trump are behind Epstein’s death.  There is a tape of Epstein and Trump discussing women at a party.  One of Epstein’s underage accusers claims she was recruited by him while working at Mar-a-Lago, a resort President Trump owns.  Claire McCaskill, a Democrat former senator from Missouri implied on Twitter that Trump was behind the death saying, “something stinks to high heaven.”  Trump has denied he was close friends with Epstein.

     Some believe the Russians are behind Epstein’s death.  Joe Scarborough, a former congressman, says Epstein had so much information that would have destroyed rich and powerful people that the Russians had him killed.  Others believe the so called ‘deep state’ were behind his death.  There are those who believe the Saudis are behind Epstein’s death to protect Jared Kushner.  Still others believe Epstein’s death was faked and he paid jailers to allow him to escape.

     Jeffrey Epstein clearly knew some dirt on several very powerful people and some may be relieved he is no longer alive, but it is unlikely any of the conspiracy theories are why Epstein is dead.  Neglect at the jail was clearly involved, but determining criminal intent may be impossible to prove.  A thorough investigation into how Epstein could have committed suicide should be conducted.  Questions should be asked why he was taken off suicide watch.  If someone was behind his death, they should pay the price. 
     The investigation into the unseemly activities of Epstein and his associates should not end with his death.  If Clinton, Trump, the Prince and others were involved in Epstein’s escapades, then the truth should be come out and they should face the consequences.  Expect this saga to continue- you haven’t heard the last of Jeffrey Epstein.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Playing the blame game will not address the root cause of mass shootings!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     This weekend there were two mass shootings- one in El Paso, Texas and one in Dayton, Ohio.  At least thirty people were killed and scores wounded.  The alleged El Paso shooter was captured within minutes of leaving the scene.  The shooter in Dayton was killed by police.  It appears the El Paso gunman is a white supremacist and the Dayton shooter is described as a ‘pretty dark kid,’ that kept a hit list in high school.   The immediate response from the Democrats was a call for more stringent gun control, while Republicans said more people should be armed to prevent future shootings. Three observations: 
     First, life has been devalued in America.  When 2,000 unborn children are aborted every day in the United States, is it no wonder troubled people have no respect for life?  Life is a gift of God and subject to His control.  Mankind is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) and shedding of innocent blood is absolutely forbidden (Proverbs 6:16-19).  When a person takes innocent human life, they violate God’s law and will pay a price before their Creator.  That goes for the mass murderer and those that kill babies in the womb.  America should start valuing all life, including the unborn.
     Second, disarming law abiding citizens will not stop mass shootings.  Criminals don’t obey the law.  That is why they are criminals.  Putting up a ‘Gun Free’ sign in a retail store does nothing but stop honest people from being able to defend themselves in the event of a mass shooting. 
     Third, guns are not the blame.  A gun is a tool.  It can be used for good or bad.  The blame must be placed on the condition of the hearts of the shooters.  Wickedness and hatred is in the heart before it’s in the hand.  Both gunmen exhibited behavior that raised red flags to friends and family.  Clearly they had mental health issues that should have been addressed.  The meagerness of funding to mental health by government contrasted to monies spent on social programs is more to blame than a gun.   
     The answer to stopping mass murders and abortion in America is not more political debate and activism.  It is not more or less gun regulations.  It’s not better mental health intervention or better parenting.   The real answer lays in praying God will work in the hearts of people.  It lays in the regeneration of the heart of individuals.  That can only come through the propagation of the Gospel: the simple truth that man is born with a depraved wicked heart and needs Christ.  Blaming the president, Congress, the other political Party when someone takes innocent life fails to address the fundamental issue- the heart of man.