Sunday, July 26, 2020
Weekly Opinion Editorial
PIECES OF PAPER!
by Steve Fair
In the National Archives and Records Administration's 1999 Annual Report, National Archivist John W. Carlin wrote: "We (Americans) are different because our government and our way of life are not based on the divine right of kings, the hereditary privileges of elites, or the enforcement of deference to dictators. They are based on pieces of paper, the Charters of Freedom - the Declaration that asserted our independence, the Constitution that created our government, and the Bill of Rights that established our liberties." The American ‘way of life’ refers to the fact the self-governed citizens adhere to the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The concept is associated with the ‘American Dream,’ which implies citizens can get ahead by hard work. But the American ‘way of life’ faces troubling times for three reasons:
First, the commitment to those ‘pieces of paper’ eroded. Due to of years of apathy, unconcern, and indifference by baby boomers toward politics and government, their children have little appreciation for the extraordinary traits of the American form of government. Supreme Court rulings pay little attention to the founding document when making rulings. Unconstitutional laws are passed and enforced with little push back from citizens. It happened because baby boomers took little equity in their government. They didn’t pay attention and the result is what we are seeing in America today.
Second, marketing replaced policy in elective politics. Because of the aforementioned apathy and indifference of voters, modern candidates spend more time working up their ‘push card,’ than they do studying policy. Money rules politics because voters are lazy. A slick marketing campaign works with voters. Because it takes money to run those campaigns, candidates become beholden to a donor base. Because they are not held accountable by their everyday constituents, many elected officials become hirelings for special interest and those ‘pieces of paper’ become irrelevant.
Third, fairness replaced opportunity as the American Dream. When Senator Bernie Sanders, promising free stuff, packed stadiums with primarily young people, capitalism in America is in trouble. You can’t blame young people for being attracted to fairness. They have grown up in an America that has emphasized fairness and not opportunity. Government, in the name of fairness, ramped up regulations against industry, banking, and manufacturing, resulting in the shrinking of the middle class. Capitalism is on the decline in America, because of government intervention, not because of a lack of ambition of Americans. In their quest for fairness, elected officials have ignored the restrictions of those ‘pieces of paper,’ and destroyed the American Dream.
The founding documents were based on Biblical principles and President Gerald Ford recognized that when he said, “Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life.” The founders and writers of those ‘pieces of paper,’ believed in a sovereign Creator and recognized all rights come from His hand. That view is under attack today and that’s because a generation of baby boomers didn’t pay attention to their government. America needs a renewed commitment to those ‘pieces of paper.’
Sunday, July 19, 2020
Weekly Opinion Editorial
MASK OR NO MASK?
by Steve Fair
The city councils in many Oklahoma cities and towns, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa, have mandated citizens wear masks in public settings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The action has been controversial, with some taking to social media to condemn what they describe as ‘government overreach.’
The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) recommend people wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. They contend the masks can help prevent people with COVID-19 from spreading it. They write: Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control. Three observations:
First, mandating masks does affect individual liberty. But so does requiring individuals to wear a seatbelt, making them take their shoes off going through a TSA checkpoint, or having a speed limit on highways. Americans have submitted to those restrictions on their liberty with barely a whimper. The State of World Liberty Index was created to score countries in three categories: individual freedom, economic freedom and government size and taxation. The 2020 ranking does not have the United States in the top 10. Americans have been losing liberty at a steady rate since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. A case can be made that the Patriot Act actually punished Americans more than those who planned the attacks. Make no mistake, individual liberty is sacrificed when government authorities mandate anything, including masks.
Second, medical experts say masks help stop the spread of COVID-19. The vast majorities of medical people encourage people to social distance and wear masks. There are skeptics who believe the COVID-19 pandemic is overblown, political, and a conspiracy of the deep state. Clearly, some(on both sides of the aisle) are taking political advantage of the situation, but the COVID-19 virus is real. If wearing a mask helps our neighbor, what’s the harm in doing it? It just seems dying on the hill of not wearing a mask while ignoring an out of control national debt and a crumbling country is a bit ironic.
Third, people who wear masks are not weak, meek, or lack faith. Those who don’t wear masks aren’t stronger, have more faith or courage than their mask wearing brothers. Mask wearers are being cautious and it is their God-given and constitutional right to wear the mask. They shouldn’t be heckled or put down by the non-mask wearers. Conversely, those who choose not to wear a mask shouldn’t be heckled or put down by the mask wearers. That is the principle of personal liberty.
The debate on mask wearing borders on the insane. Name calling, insults and caricaturing of those who disagree is often unkind and unchristian. Insulting elected officials and questioning their political leanings is the order of the day. Wearing a mask or not wearing a mask may or may not stop the spread of COVID-19- only God knows, but wearing or not wearing a mask will not be the instrument that destroys America. Not recognizing others the right to disagree impedes liberty more and is far more destructive.
Sunday, July 12, 2020
Weekly Opinion Editorial
RULING DIVIDES OKLAHOMA!
by Steve Fair
Last week, in McGirt vs. Oklahoma, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that as pertaining to the Major Crimes Act, much of the eastern part of Oklahoma remains Native American reservations of the Five Civilized Tribes. They ruled the reservations were never disestablished by Congress as part of the Oklahoma Enabling Act of 1906. The Enabling Act was the law passed by Congress paving the way for Oklahoma to join the union. The Enabling Act gave the tribes ‘suzerainty’ governing rights to handle internal matters for tribal members within the boundaries, but allowed the state to retain jurisdiction for law enforcement and prosecution. This new SCOTUS ruling means Native Americans who commit a major crime in the area formerly known as Indian Territory must now be tried by the federal courts, not the state courts when they commit a major crime. The plaintiff in the case, Jimcy McGirt, an enrolled member of the Seminole tribe, was originally convicted in Wagoner County in 1996 of first degree rape, lewd molestation and forcible sodomy. McGirt, 71, was sentenced to 1,000 years plus life without parole. He argued because the crimes took place on the former Creek reservation, the feds should have had jurisdiction, not the state.
In the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch, the newest appointee to the court, said the U.S. government had promised the Five Civilized Tribes land forever and that Congress did not disestablish the reservations with the Enabling Act. Gorsuch wrote: “Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.” In the dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Robert wrote: “None of this is warranted. What has gone unquestioned for a century remains true today: A huge portion of Oklahoma is not a Creek Indian reservation. Congress disestablished any reservation in a series of statutes leading up to Oklahoma statehood at the turn of the 19th century.” Three observations:
First, the implications of the ruling will dramatically impact the Oklahoma criminal justice system. Native Americans who have been convicted on major crimes in state court in the eastern half of the state will have to be reprosecuted in federal court. If the statute of limitation is run out, that could be a problem. If witnesses can’t be located or have died, that could be an issue. There will likely be criminals who get out of prison because of this ruling.
Second, while this ruling focused on criminal law, it opens up a can of worms in tax collection, water rights, land ownership and a myriad of other areas. If the reservations are in fact intact, then what can the state enforce? Can they legally collect state taxes from citizens of another sovereign nation if they can’t prosecute them for a crime? Expect future litigation to cite this landmark ruling to justify not submitting to state laws and rules.
Third, the tribes and state government better work together to protect all Oklahoma citizens. The tribes and the feds don’t have the law enforcement and criminal justice personnel to handle the amount of crime in half the state. Law enforcement is primarily done at the local level in the state. If local law enforcement believes they could be liable for arresting and prosecuting Native Americans in half the state, they could back off and crime will increase. The feds and the tribes better quickly figure out a plan to cooperate with local law enforcement to keep Oklahomans safe.
Prior to statehood, Oklahoma was two territories- Oklahoma territory (western half) and Indian Territory (eastern half). Since 1907, Oklahoma has been one state. If Congress didn’t dot every i and cross every t, when they passed the Enabling Act disestablishing the reservations, then they should fix it. This ruling divides Oklahoma and rolls us back to pre-statehood/territorial days.
Monday, July 6, 2020
Weekly Opinion Editorial
THE ULTIMATE INJUSTICE!
by Steve Fair
On June 9th, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his popular show: “No child is born evil and sin cannot be inherited.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi once said the same thing. Both are wrong. Man is born a sinner. He doesn’t become a sinner by sinning- he sins because he is a sinner. The depravity of man is a theological doctrine that is at the foundation of Christianity. Depravity is man’s natural condition apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform man. Clearly, man could perform more evil acts toward his fellow man than he does, but even that virtue of restraint is evil in the sight of God. Why is the view that man is depraved important? Three reasons:
First, it’s important from a spiritual viewpoint. If man has a spark of good, then he has no need of a Savior. If man can pull himself up by his bootstraps, then Jesus Christ died for nothing. Charles Spurgeon wrote: “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived. The venom of sin is in the very fountain of our being; it has poisoned our heart. It is in the very marrow of our bones and is as natural to us as anything that belongs to us.” The entire person—mind, affections, and will—is polluted and poisoned by original sin. Simply stated, sin is in the heart before it is in the hand.
Second, it’s important from a culture viewpoint. If man has a spark of good, then practicing Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory makes perfect sense. The strong survive- the weak die and man becomes stronger. Humility, meekness, patience, righteous- all virtues found in the Bible- become liabilities and man’s rights become supreme.
Third, it’s important from a political viewpoint. If an elected official or a body of legislators believe man is born with a spark of divinity, they logically will do all they can to fan that spark to become a flame. Providing a hand up to the downtrodden and lowly becomes their goal. Spending tax dollars on programs that rehabilitate evil doers becomes their ultimate mission. But until God regenerates man’s dead, depraved heart, any rehabilitation or rejuvenation will just be behavior modification.
The Bible clearly teaches man is born with sin. All who believe otherwise are wrong. Much of the anarchy and social unrest America is experiencing today is because the truth of man’s sinfulness and depravity has not been taught in America. It is not taught in homes or churches. Children are taught to stand up for themselves, be proud of who they are, bow to no one, and to right injustice. Pride is put on the throne, but the Bible says pride is a sin. Gentleness, humility, meekness, and patience, all Biblical traits, are viewed as weakness.The goal of many in our culture is to ‘undo the past,’ but few want to confront the past of Adam’s sin before a holy Creator. It impacted all of mankind. It was the ultimate injustice performed by all men, that can only be righted by one man