Sunday, March 27, 2022

"The words of a president matter. They can incite!"

Weekly Opinion Editorial 

by Steve Fair


     “The words of a president matter.  They can move markets.  They can send brave men and women to war.  They can bring peace,” then presidential candidate Joe Biden said at a presidential election debate in 2020.   

     Regarding the January 6th Capitol incident, Biden said about President Trump: “The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.” Biden tried to paint President Trump as an undisciplined, unpredictable loose cannon.

     Trump did go off script and say things his aides and advisors cringed at, but none of his unscripted moments were nearly as potentially damaging to America as Biden’s remarks at the end of a 27-minute speech on Saturday.  Speaking about Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Biden said, ”For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”  The Kremlin immediately reacted.  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state news agencies, “That’s not for Biden to decide. The president of Russia is elected by Russians.” 

     Biden’s handlers immediately went to work trying to explain what he said wasn’t what he meant. “The president’s point was Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.  He wasn’t discussing Putin’s power in Russia or suggesting a regime change,” the White House official interpreter of presidential speeches said. But that was what the president said, so which is it?  Perhaps President Biden should consider having an interpreter translate at his press conferences to save time.   Three observations:

     First, President Biden gave Putin a huge gift.  Putin has contended the West is trying to interfere in Russian policy and wants to overthrow the Kremlin and destroy Russia.  Putin, no doubt, will use Biden’s gaffe/blunder as propaganda to reinforce the idea the western world hates Russia’s way of life. 

     Second, Biden’s statement is not consistent with stated U.S. policy. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said regime change is not part of the strategy the United States, NATO and their allies have discussed in regard to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.  Biden’s statement contradicts that public policy, which has foreign policy experts and allied leaders scratching their heads.

     Third, Biden’s statement could change Putin’s war strategy.  If Putin believes Biden secretly wants him out of power, then he might use every means at his disposal to stop that from happening. Putin has some significant means.  He has his finger on 6,000 nuclear warheads.  By comparison, the United States has 4,000 nukes.  If Putin believes Biden is trying to take him out of power, he might do some desperate things.  Desperate men do desperate things.

     American author Nathaniel Hawthorne said, Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them!"  Joe Biden has shown he does not know how to combine them.  He’s right- the words of a president do carry a lot of weight.  They move markets- they send men and women to war- they bring peace.  That’s why the president shouldn’t impromptu suggest the overthrow of a foreign government’s leader, especially one with 6,000 nukes.  To quote Joe Biden- those words can incite.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The attack on human dignity is when culture believes it's acceptable to kill children in the womb!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     Last week, the Oklahoma state Senate approved several pro-life bills.  Senate Bill #1503(SB#1503) is a Texas style six-week abortion ban that would take effect immediately after it is signed by the governor. Senate Bill #1555(SB#1555) modifies the state’s trigger ban allowing pre-Roe v. Wade statutes to take effective if and when the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.  SB#1552(SB#1552) would allow the State Department of Health to enter into contracts with private organizations for providing alternatives to abortion.  Oklahoma is the second state- after Idaho- to vote a six-week abortion ban modeled after Texas. 

     There were also two Joint Resolutions passed by the Senate.  Joint Resolutions, if passed by both chambers, send the resolution to a vote of the people.  SJR#37 would place a constitutional amendment in the state constitution eliminating a right to any abortion in Oklahoma.  SJR#17 would place a constitutional amendment in the state constitution conferring full personhood- and the rights that come with it- from conception.  All the bills now move to the state House for consideration. 

     The American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) chapter says these bills would ‘decimate abortion access in the region.’   According to the ACLU, Oklahoma has been a ‘lifeline’(interesting description) for Texans seeking abortion after Texas passed their six-week abortion ban.  The ACLU claims half of all Texans who went out of state for an abortion in the last six months came to the Sooner state.  

    “Since the grave error of Roe v. Wade, states like Oklahoma have worked diligently to enact measures to protect the lives of the unborn.  These bills passed by the Senate will further that work and will help sustain a culture in our state that values and protects life at all stages.  I hope federal legal precedents allowing abortion are overturned, restoring Oklahoma’s ability to prohibit abortion once again,” Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, (R-OKC)

     “Oklahomans deserve access to abortion, without obstacles, stigma, or harassment, but local politicians are emboldened after witnessing the ongoing attacks across the country to time-sensitive, compassionate health care. Make no mistake, our state is at a crisis point in the fight to protect abortion. Forcing people to continue a pregnancy by taking away their ability to get an abortion is dangerous and a violation of their rights. It is an attack on human dignity. At every point in a pregnancy, a person’s health, not politics, should drive their medical decisions," Tamya Cox-TourĂ©, executive director, ACLU of Oklahoma, said in regard the pro-life bills.  Two observations:

     First, abortion is a violation of the unborn baby’s right to live.  The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  You can’t have liberty and the pursuit of happiness without life.  No one has the right to take an innocent life.  The true attack on human dignity and decency is when a culture has reached the level that killing life in the womb is celebrated as a basic right. 

     Second, there is no way to deny abortion is a form of killing.  Science confirms what the Bible says- life begins at conception.  An embryo is not merely a cell with potential, but  a distinct human organism.  It fulfills the four criteria needed to establish biological life: metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.  Pro-abortion advocates claim the organism is ‘not a person.’  That is a completely unscientific argument based on their own moral or political philosophy.  Medicine confirms the existence of a child before birth as a distinct human being.  Fetal surgery has become a medical specialty and includes the separate provision of anesthesia to the baby. 

     Oklahoma is at a crisis point on the issue of abortion.  Either the Sooner state becomes a safe haven for the unborn or it continues allowing children in the womb to be killed.  Contact your state Representative and ask them to support the pro-life legislation listed above.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

What's Good For the Goose is Good for the Gander!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

      House Joint Resolution #1047(HJR#1047) is authored by Rep. Robert Manger, (R-OKC) and Rep. Tammy Townley, (R-Ardmore) in the House and Sen. Adam Pugh, (R-Edmond) in the Senate.  HJR#1047 would send to a vote of the people a proposal freezing the value of a homestead for individual head of households who are sixty-five (65) years of age or older to not exceed the fair cash value placed upon the property during the first year in which the individual head of household turns sixty-five years of age or older.  It would remove the current maximum income requirement for a senior valuation freeze and make all seniors over 65 eligible.  HJR #1047 unanimously passed the House Rules committee last month.

     Critics of the bill, which include the County Assessors Association of Oklahoma, believe HJR #1047 would give an unnecessary tax break to wealthy seniors.  Proponents of the bill believe it would help many seniors on a fixed income who need the financial help.  Three observations:

     First, HJR #1047 is revenue neutral.  That means it wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything.  HJR#1047 doesn’t ‘eliminate’ property tax for those over 65.  It simply freezes the value of the homestead.  Seniors would still pay taxes on their homes, including increases in the millage rate in their school district.  Most senior’s homes are already assessed at fair market value, so the only loss of tax revenue would be on the future increases. 

     Second, the current senior valuation freezing criteria is flawed.  The freeze is based on gross household income, which means a rancher counts the income from selling livestock, but not the expenses to raise the livestock.  The current system counts all income except veterans’ disability or a gift.  It includes income from food stamps, disability, and non-taxable income.  The maximum allowable income to be eligible for the freeze varies from county to county and increases each year.  Filing for the freeze ends March 15th.  If you have questions on your eligibility, contact your county assessor’s office before 3/15.

     Third, most seniors need the financial help.  Some wealthy Oklahoma seniors don’t need the freeze, but the vast majority of seniors in the Sooner state aren’t wealthy.  They are on a fixed income and struggle to pay their bills.    

     The Oklahoma Board of Equalization certified $10.49 billion with $9.1 billion available for the 2022 legislature to appropriate ($1.3 billion is carryover from last year).  Ten years ago (2012), the Oklahoma state budget was $6.8 billion.  In one decade, the state budget has increased by +25%. 

     Whenever there is a strong budget in Oklahoma, a plethora of state agencies line up to advocate for increases in funding.  State employees line up for raises.  But the average Oklahoma taxpayer rarely gets a break.  HJR#1047 would be a godsent to many seniors raising their grandchildren and struggling to pay property insurance and maintain their homes.  The truth is- it isn’t a tax cut at all.  HJR #1047 would just put county government on a fixed income like the seniors.  What’s good for the goose is good for gander.  Contact your state legislator and urge them to support passage of HJR#1047.      

Sunday, March 6, 2022


 Weekly Opinion Editoirla


by Steve Fair

     Oklahoma Senate Bill #1647, authored by President Pro Tempe of the Senate Greg Treat, (R-Edmond), would create the Oklahoma Empowerment Act.  If it is passed and signed into law, it would give parents more control over their child’s schooling dollars.  Parents would be allowed to take $3,517 per year (the amount the state spends a year on a public-school student), put it in a saving account held by the state and use the money toward a private school education if they so choose. 

     SB #1647 passed the Senate Education committee by a vote 8-7 two weeks ago.  Four Republican Senators joined the Democrats and voted no; Dewayne Pemberton, Muskogee, Tom Duggar, Stillwater, Brenda Stanley, Midwest City, and Blake Stephens Tahlequah.  Three of the four Senators are retired public school educators. 

     On Wednesday, SB #1647 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee 12-8.  Treat revised the bill to place a cap on income for eligibility, removed allowing the money to be used for homeschooling and added some audit provisions.  Five Republican Senators voted no: Duggar and Pemberton joined by Darrell Weaver, Moore, Roland Pederson, Burlington, and Darcy Jech, Kingfisher.  The bill now moves to the full Senate. 

     Governor Kevin Stitt supports SB #1647.  He made school choice a priority in his State of the State address.  Speaker of the House Charles McCall, (R-Atoka) opposes SB #1647 and has vowed to not hear the bill in the State House.   If McCall holds firm, SB #1647 is dead on arrival.  To apply some pressure, McCall’s constituents are getting mailers from school choice advocacy groups trying to convince him to hear the bill.  Critics of the bill include both Republicans and Democrats and it appears the dividing line on the R side is urban and rural legislators.  Three observations about SB #1647:

     First, the money is taxpayer money.  It doesn’t belong to the legislators.  It doesn’t belong to the public schools.  No legislator or elected official funds a program.  Taxpayers fund programs- legislators appropriate funds.  Senator J.J. Dossett, (D-Owasso) said about SB #1647: “It’s not a good idea to send public dollars off the grid.  Public dollars belong in public schools.”  Dossett, a former teacher and coach in Owasso, is wrong.  No public funded entity is automatically entitled to any taxpayer money.  Every appropriation involving taxpayer dollars should be performance based.

     Second, Oklahoma’s education system is in need of major reform.  The Sooner state has too many school districts.  The state spends too much money on buildings, buses, and administration.  For years, lawmakers have said they were working to get more money to the classroom, but they have failed to address the real issue:  the large number of secondary school districts in the state(535). 

     Third, McCall should allow SB#1647 to be heard in the House.  He can certainly oppose it’s passage, debate against it, point out it’s flaws (there are plenty), and use all his influence to defeat it, but the job of the Speaker is not to weed out legislation they personally oppose.

     McCall, as Speaker, is the political and parliamentary leader of the House, responsible for maintaining decorum and enforcing the rules.  He designates the number of committees and appoints committee leadership and membership on the committees.  His duty does not include expunging or snuffing out legislation that has wide spread support. His role is not that of a dictator, but a facilitator.

     SB #1647 would not radically reform education in rural Oklahoma.  There are currently not enough options for students in rural Oklahomans outside of public schools, but SB #1647 deserves a debate and then it should be voted down.