Sunday, July 25, 2021

Best Qualifed or Cronyism?

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     On Friday, Governor Kevin Stitt appointed Tulsa attorney John O’Connor, 66, to be the Sooner state’s Attorney General (AG).  O’Connor will complete the unexpired term of Mike Hunter, who resigned in May.  O’Connor and Stitt have a history, having known each other for over twenty years.  Stitt says he considers O’Connor a ‘mentor.’  The appointment follows the pattern by the governor of surrounding himself with people who he has a history with. 

     O’Connor was nominated two years ago by President Donald Trump to serve as a federal district judge.  The American Bar Association’s (ABA) 15-member judicial review board voted unanimously that O’Connor was “not qualified,’ to serve as a federal judge.  O’Connor withdrew his name from consideration before the U.S. Senate took up the nomination.  The ABA has a history of opposing conservative judges, cited O’Connor’s lack of actual courtroom experience as one of the reasons they opposed his appointment to the federal bench.  Three observations:

     First, was O’Connor the best qualified candidate for the AG position?  According to the governor, he interviewed twelve (12) people for the position.  Sources claim many of those interviewed had more courtroom and law enforcement experience than O’Connor.  It appears the governor’s pattern of appointing friends and acquaintances to key advisory positions continues.  No one person has a history with and knows the most qualitied person for every position in government.  By appointing someone he has known two decades, Stitt makes it appears this appointment is a case of ‘not what you know, but who you know.’  The appointment is the sovereign decision of the governor, as laid out in the state constitution, but it is questionable the most qualified candidate got the job.

     Second, the ABA assessment of O’Connor being ‘not qualified’ means nothing.  The organization trashes conservatives and have totally lost their objectivity. They attempted to block dozens of Trump appointments to the bench, not because they weren’t qualified, but because they disagreed with the appointee’s ideology.  Their observation of the lack of courtroom experience is of concern.  The AG is Oklahoma’s attorney and the state’s top law enforcement officer.  A corporate lawyer may not have to background to understand what the state’s District Attorneys and other law enforcers challenges are. 

     Third, Oklahoma voters will ultimately determine if Stitt made the right choice.  The AG position is up for election in 2022.  O’Connor announced at his first news conference he plans to run for the Republican nomination next year.  He has already drawn a primary opponent, Tulsa attorney Gentner Drummond.  Drummond lost the GOP primary by less than 300 votes to Hunter in 2018.    Others are sure to join the AG race.  Voters should watch closely what O’Connor does in the next sixteen months and vote accordingly. 

     The Oklahoma Attorney General manages a staff of 100 lawyers, and a total staff of 174 people, with an annual budget of $25 million dollars.  An argument could be made the Oklahoma AG is more powerful than Oklahoma’s weak governorship.  It’s a big job.   With the McGirt decision and the pending Dobbs pro-life suit before the SCOTUS, which could throw abortion back to the states, Oklahoma’s AG position becomes even more important.  Stitt stated in a press release that he appointed O’Connor because he was not just competent in the law but he also has high moral character.  Time and the voters will determine if Stitt made the right decision.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health to be heard by SCOTUS!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has announced they will hear Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health in the Fall of 2021.  The case involves a 15-week abortion ban law passed by Mississippi in 2018.  The Oklahoma legislature passed a similar law this year and it was signed into law by Governor Stitt.  There are 1,200 abortion restriction laws across the U.S.      

     The state of Mississippi lost their case in the fifth circuit appeals court and appealed to the high court.   This will be the first major SCOTUS abortion case since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court.  Three observations:

     First, if this case is decided for the state of Mississippi, it could potentially unravel Roe vs. Wade.  In 1992, the SCOTUS upheld Roe vs. Wade in a lawsuit involving Planned Parenthood.  In that ruling, the court said restrictions on abortion could not pose an undue burden on someone seeking an abortion. The expectation is the interpretation of what constitutes an ‘undue burden’ will be the central issue in the case.

     Second, the pro-abortion advocates are worried.  Their argument is restrictions on abortions before the baby is able to live outside the womb are unconstitutional.  Their biggest fear is the SCOTUS uphold the 15 week abortion ban and then rules the abortion issue is up to each individual state.  They want the court to side with the appeals court and strike down the Mississippi law and also reaffirm the Planned Parenthood ruling.  That scenario is not likely considering the current makeup of the court. 

     Third, Democrats want to expand abortion and have the American taxpayer pay for it.  Last week, the 45 year old Hyde Amendment, which prohibited tax dollars to be used for abortions, was removed from the federal budget by the House Appropriations Committee.  The vote was 32-27 along Party lines.  Congressman Tom Cole, (R-Moore) is a member of the committee.  Cole said this: “This bill goes even further than just forcing American taxpayers to foot the bill for abortion on demand. This bill also deletes conscience protection language added 16 years ago by then-Congressman Dave Weldon. That language protects American doctors, nurses and other health care professionals from participating in or providing an abortion if they have a moral objection. This is an essential right of every American and its removal is a danger to us all.” If the Hyde amendment is not restored to the federal budget, then American taxpayers will be footing the bills for abortions.  The 2022 budget bill now goes to the full House for a vote. 

     Democrats are using the abortion issue to ‘fire up their base’ for the mid-term elections.  They know elections have consequences and the only way to keep abortion on the books is to get more pro-abortion candidates elected.  If the SCOTUS rules for the unborn in the Dobbs case, then expect Democrats to redouble their efforts.

     The first right granted to Americans is the right to life- followed by liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  That right should extend to life in the womb, but for 48 years, that has not been the case.  With the addition of three conservative Justices to the SCOTUS, many unborn Americans may have a shot at liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Sunday, July 11, 2021


 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     President Grover Cleveland was the first Democrat president elected after the Civil War.  He served two non-consecutive terms- the only president to do so in American history.  Cleveland was elected in 1884 as the 22nd president.  He was defeated in 1888 by Republican Benjamin Harrison, after losing his home state of New York.   in 1888, they met again, with Cleveland winning what historians say was the ‘cleanest, quietest and most creditable in the memory of the post-civil war.’  President Harrison’s wife was dying of tuberculosis and he did not personally campaign at all.  His wife died two weeks before the election and by that time both candidates had stopped campaigning. 

     Four other times in our nation’s history, former presidents have sought to win back the White House.  In 1840, Martin Van Buren lost his bid for reelection and then ran again for the Democratic nomination in 1844 and 1848, losing both times.  In 1850, Millard Fillmore became president when Zachary Taylor died in office.  He didn’t get the Whig party nomination in 1852, but did in 1856 and got just eight electoral votes.  Ulysses S. Grant wanted to run for a third term in 1876, but was persuaded to not run by Republican Party leaders.  Grant sought the GOP nomination in 1880, but was defeated by James Garfield.  Teddy Roosevelt became president in 1901, when William McKinley was assassinated.  He won in 1904 and then declined to run in 1908, instead endorsing William Howard Taft.  He became upset with Taft and challenged him for the GOP nomination in 1912.  After losing to Taft, Teddy ran as an Independent under the Bull Moose Party banner.  Teddy spilt the vote and Taft finished third and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won.

     Although nothing in the original U.S. Constitution limited presidents to two terms, George Washington declined to seek a third term and suggested two terms of four years were enough for any president.  That became the unwritten rule for presidents until 1940, when Franklin Roosevelt won his third term and then won a fourth term in 1944.  He died just months into his fourth term.  In 1947, Congress passed the 22nd amendment, which limits the POTUS to two terms.  It was ratified by the states on February 27, 1951. 

     Former President Donald Trump appears to be a 2024 presidential candidate.  His speech at the CPAC convention in Dallas was vintage Trump.  It resulted in Trump winning the ‘straw poll’ for 2024 potential GOP candidates by a wide margin.  Three observations:

     First, Trump is a known commodity.  That means he has a strong base of support, but he also faces strong opposition in his own Party.  One of the keys to winning a general election is to get those who supported another candidate in the primary to support you in the general election.  Trump polarizing personality could make that challenging.  Most anti-Trumpers in the GOP wouldn’t vote for a Democrat, but they can stay home. 

     Second, the swing vote is the key.  Trump won in 2016 because he appealed to organized labor with his ‘America First’ theme.  In 2020, he didn’t do as well with that group.  They didn’t turn out in the numbers necessary to push him over the top.  Part of that was due to the slow down of the economy due to the pandemic, but many felt like the return of manufacturing to the U.S. Trump had promised was too slow. 

     Third, if Trump loses the nomination and then runs on a third-Party ticket,  the Democrat will be elected.  President Teddy Roosevelt is an excellent example.  Ross Perot ran as a third-Party candidate and got Bill Clinton elected by siphoning votes away from President George HW Bush. 

     It seems too soon to be talking about the 2024 presidential election, but expect Trump to clear the field on the GOP side if he decides to do something no president in modern history has done; seek a non-consecutive second term.


Sunday, July 4, 2021


 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     Does civic engagement or political involvement really make a difference?  Do elected officials (at any level) listen to the average citizen or do they heed only their close advisors and/or their donor base?  Is the U.S. political system driven purely by money?  What is the function of a political Party?  These are frequently asked questions.  Let’s briefly examine each.

     First, being involved in civic life does make a difference.  Engaging in politics can mean different things to different people.  It can run the spectrum from watching political news shows, studying political science, voting, becoming a candidate for office, volunteering on a political campaign, to having a career in consulting, strategy or public relations.  Political activists, no matter their Party affiliation, who have been engaged for years move the needle.  They have established a track record of staying engaged and elected officials usually don’t ignore them. 

     Second, elected officials listen to those who hold them accountable.  That starts with citizens showing up, whether it’s a town hall meeting, campaign event or a public appearance.  The world is run by those that show up. 

     Elected officials should be delighted, elated, and ecstatic to respectfully explain a vote or position on an issue to their constituency.  It is logical elected officials listen to those who help them get elected (donors/campaign advisors), but constituents who challenge elected official’s votes and positions are hard to ignore.  Without accountability from an informed constituency, elected officials can become intelligently lazy, unconcerned and complacent.

     Third, money is the mother’s milk of politics.  Political campaigns, at all levels, cost an incredible amount of money.  Few candidates can self-fund, so they by necessity solicit donations from individuals, industry associations, and advocacy groups to pay for their campaign.  Virtually every campaign contribution comes with ‘strings,’ whether the candidate recognizes it or not.  Those big donors expect the candidate, when elected, to listen to them- and they do or they don’t get a second check.  All donors are not corrupt and they have the right to lobby an elected official, same as other citizens.  Sadly, sometimes elected officials forget they represent an entire constituency/district, not just those who donated to their campaign or voted for them.   

     Fourth, a political Party provides infrastructure for candidates.   Elected officials sometimes say they don’t believe their Party does anything for them.  That is simply not true.  The Party provides a ‘brand,’ an ‘identity’ for a candidate.  If a candidate/elected official truly believes a Party doesn’t do anything for them, perhaps they should run as an Independent the next time they file for office.  Having the Party label helps a candidate- it gets them the base vote.   

     Sadly, political Parties are often maligned and attacked by those not involved in Party politics.  Long term political Party volunteers unselfishly give of their time, talent and treasure, not because of the glamorous, alluring nature of the job.  They stay involved because they care about the cause.  They should be respected and commended for their faithfulness, not attacked, criticized and belittled by those who just woke up from their apathic deep sleep, decided to get involved and blame all the problems with politics on those who have been involved longer than fifteen minutes.   

     Vigilance is the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible damage or difficulties.  The vigilant are alert and attentive for an extended period of time. John Philpot Curran said, “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”  Sadly, the scarcity of vigilance by everyday Americans to be involved in their own government has placed them in servitude to that government.