Saturday, September 16, 2023

“We are a nation of laws, not of men.” ~John Adams

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     General Douglas MacArthur famously said, “Rules are made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.”  There are lots of rules in society.  They can be those as important as the laws/rules of how people are governed to rules in fashion and manners.   Organizations, political Parties, governments have rules. If everyone ignored the rules and refused to submit to any authority over them, the result would be anarchy/disorder/chaos.  Three observations:

     First, believers who ignore rules/laws to accomplish their objective reject the sovereignty of God.  They have no confidence the Creator of the Universe possesses the ability to move the heart of the king or change the mind of an elected official.  They believe the only hands, feet, or mouth God has is theirs. In their mind, Yahweh is powerless, unless they act.  The arrogance and pride they exhibit has to be laughable to an omniscient God.  They believe by working harder, jumping higher and running faster, they will change the world.  But these superhumans regularly violate the two great commandments(rules) given by Christ- love God and love your neighbor- in their quest to distinction.  These professors of Christ show little evidence of possession.  They treat those who don’t agree with them with disdain, contempt, and hatred. 

     Second, it can take equal courage and strength of character to follow the rules or break them.  Being a loyal conformist or a rebel can take the same mettle.  It is a misconception that not playing by the rules takes more resolution than not submitting.    Those who thumb their nose at the rules believe they are superior to those who submit.  They fail to see that submitting to authority requires character, humility and meekness- all attributes showing evidence of a regenerate heart.

     Third, there are rules lazy people hide behind.  MacArthur was right that often people lack the courage to challenge the status quo.  Bad rules are often met with apathy or blind compliance.  There are bad rules, but because of passivity they remain in effect.  It’s often because people believe it just isn’t worth the effort to fight.  It’s a lack of involvement, not a lack of courage.  If principled people stayed engaged and involved in their government, those bad rules/laws would fade away like smoke.

     All rules are not equal.  Wearing white after Labor Day is not as great an offense as committing murder.  Both are rules, but one is a subjective guideline- the other a cardinal principle.  But rules are in place for a reason.  They help us maintain a level of fairness, order and justice.  Rules should be based on truth and when they aren’t they create a value system that results in no settled certainty.  Pilate asked Jesus, ‘What is truth?”  Many rule breakers mistakenly today believe there is no truth.

     During the nation’s founding, John Adams said, “we are a nation of laws, not of men.”  Adams was referring to the Rule of Law principle, which was established in ancient Greece.  The principle holds all people are accountable to the same set of laws and equally enforced.  Adams was saying the exact opposite of MacArthur.  Rules/laws are made to be followed.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Why would Free Speech for People care who the GOP nominee is?

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     The 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1868.  It is one of the three amendments in the founding document known as the Reconstruction Amendments.  The 13th amendment abolished slavery, the 14th amendment has what is known as the ‘insurrection/disqualification clause’ and the 15th amendment granted voting rights to citizens no matter their race.  Of the three, the 14th was the most controversial and contested.  The states of the defeated Confederacy were forced to ratify the 14th before they could regain representation in Congress.

     The 14th has recently come under discussion in regard to section 3- the so-called insurrection/disqualification clause as it relates to former President Trump.  Section 3 reads: No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

     Last week, a DC group- Free Speech for People(FSP)- sued to block former President Trump to be included on the GOP primary ballot in Colorado.  They contend Trump violated the 14th amendment’s section 3 provision and therefore cannot hold elective office.  It is likely the first of several similar lawsuits.  The Trump campaign said the suit is stretching the law and has no legal basis.  Three observations:

     First, who is Free Speech for People?  Established in 2010 by John Bonifaz and Jeff Clements, after they lost a case before the Supreme Court (Citizens United vs. FEC), FSP advocates a new constitutional amendment that would clarify the Bill of Rights applies to people, not corporations.  FSP wants to cap the amount of money that can be spent in political campaigns(at least on the candidates they don’t support).  They advocate not allowing corporate contributions to campaigns.  Free Speech for People has also embraced a left-of-center agenda, and lobbied for President Donald Trump’s impeachment from the day he took office in 2017. 

  Why would a left-wing organization get involved in a Republican primary?  Why would FSP care who the GOP nominee is in 2024?  Why are they trying to keep Trump off the ballot?  Trump’s ability to energize his base and get his vote out presents the biggest challenge to Biden and the Democrats.  FSP is for neither free speech or the people.

     Second, using the 14th to disqualify Trump would be politically ludicrous.  Trump is charged with 91criminal counts in four different jurisdictions, but none are inciting a riot or seditious conspiracy.  Most legal scholars believe Trump would have had to physically been at the Capitol for the 14th Section 3 to come into play.  If FSP is successful at keeping Trump off the GOP ballot, his supporters might do more than just post on social media.  Politically, using the 14th to prevent Trump from being on the ballot would be devastating for the country.

     Three, GOP voters should be given the choice with Trump on the ballot.  Currently, the former POTUS is polling at 52.7% with Republican voters, but the first primary/caucus isn’t until January 15th.    A lot can/will happen in five months.  Let GOP voters decide Trump’s fate

     In politics, it is common practice to attempt to ‘clear the primary,’ but it is usually Party leaders and large donors doing the screening.  They work behind the scenes to clear the field for their preferred candidate.  They justify their action by declaring an extended primary hurts the candidate in the general election.  Their action cuts out/ignores the voter.  Why would a liberal organization (FSP) go all in on keeping Trump off the GOP ballot?  The same reason- they want to cut out the voter!

Saturday, September 2, 2023

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission used to be more crooked than a barrel of snakes!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     In 2024, Oklahoma voters will elect a Corporation Commissioner.  It is the only statewide race on the ’24 ballot.  The current Commissioner is Bob Anthony.  He is term limited and has served 35 years in the same office.  Anthony, 75, was elected in 1989.  He is the longest serving statewide elected official in the United States (not counting US Senators).  When Anthony took office in 1989, the commission was more crooked than a barrel of snakes.  The other two commissioners- both Democrats- voted in 1989 for a plan by Southwestern Bell- now AT&T Oklahoma- to reinvest a tax windfall in operations instead of refunding the money back to customers.  Anthony was the lone no vote.  Anthony cooperated with an FBI investigation and ‘wore a wire,’ which means he knowingly recorded conversations he had with an AT&T lobbyist. 

     Anthony’s cooperation with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office led to a 1994 bribery case against fellow Corporation Commissioner Bob Hopkins.  Hopkins was convicted for taking $15,000 cash from a former Southwestern Bell Telephone lawyer for his vote in 1989.  The attorney/bagman, William Anderson was also convicted.  Both were sentenced to federal prison.

     For his cooperation in the investigation Anthony was awarded the Louis E. Peters Memorial Service Award in 1995 by FBI Director Louis Freeh. It is the highest civilian award given to a private citizen by the Bureau. Three observations: 

     First, Oklahoma taxpayers owe Bob Anthony a sincere debt of gratitude.  Commissioner Anthony is an honest and courageous man.  His sense of honor and integrity is to be commended.  He took his oath of office seriously and has been the rate payer’s watchdog in his time on the commission.  No one can doubt or question Bob Anthony’s honesty. 

     Second, Bob Anthony doesn’t work and play well with others.  He has been at odds with his fellow commissioners- both Republicans and Democrats- throughout his 30 plus years on the commission.  Most often it is because of their reluctance to revisit the 1989 SW Bell decision.  Anthony contends the vote should be revisited because Hopkins was bribed and therefore the vote is illegitimate.  Anthony claims AT&T has overcharged Oklahomans $16 billion the last 30 years. 

     Anthony’s most aggressive effort to revisit the ’89 vote was in 2016, after a group of private citizens sued the state, claiming bribed votes should not be binding.  Then AG Scott Pruitt ruled revisiting the decision was not in the best interest of AT&T ratepayers and the Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed with him. 

     Anthony’s disagreement with his fellow commissions isn’t just about the 1989 AT&T vote. Earlier this year, Anthony filed a 180-page dissent opposing his fellow commissioners-both Republicans- for granting rate increases for the state’s three largest utility providers, saying the increases were, “rotting from a putrid core of greed, public corruption and regulatory capture.”  The other two commissioners contend the rate hikes were justified and disagree with Anthony’s viewpoint. 

     Anthony’s stubbornness and persistence has created hard feelings with other commissioners during his tenure on the commission.  Because of it, he has had to survive a couple of close re-election campaigns with his fellow commissioners campaigning for his opponent. 

     Third, Bob Anthony will be hard to replace, but not impossible.  He is not the only honest person in Oklahoma.  But few have Bob’s tenacious, unshakeable resolve. 

     Thankfully, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is not the den of corruption it once was.  When January 2025 comes around and Bob Anthony leaves the Corporation Commission, Oklahoma rate payers will have lost a dependable, reliable guard dog on the commission.  His replacement has big shoes to fill.  He has been a good steward of Oklahoma taxpayer/ratepayer’s money.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

“Us vs. Them,’ mentality reigns in tribal America!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     In 1988, a Frenchman named Michel Maffesoli wrote, “The Time of the Tribes: The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society.”  Meffesoli predicted modern culture would decline to the point that society would look back on ‘the good old days,’ and form ‘tribes.’  These groups would engage in group think, reject ideas that weren’t consistent with the tribe’s dogma.  Maffesoli asserted tolerance for other tribe’s opinions would decline.  He predicted looking back at the principles from the distant past would guide tribes- individual thinking would be discouraged- an “Us vs. Them,’ mentality would reign.  Welcome to tribal America!  Three observations:

     First, tribes have no respect for a differing opinion.  That is true in the two major political Parties, in families, churches, civic organizations, or in social situations.  The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but many believe that it only applies to them and not to those who don’t hold their same views.  The First Amendment is used to justified attacking, insulting, or shouting down those who disagree with them.  Civility and respect for a counterview is seen as weakness.  That has occurred because of the decline of individualism. 

     Data from the General Social Survey (GSS), which has been run for a half century, show Americans in the past were more likely to meet people different than themselves.  That interaction created the opportunity for dialogue and promoted compromise (a dirty word in today’s culture).  GSS found the number of people who identify as conservative or liberal has changed little over the past 50 years.  But conservatives have migrated to the GOP and liberals to the Democrats.  The tribal mentality doesn’t allow for a liberal R or a conservative D. 

      Second, the general public is weary of the polarization in politics.  Fewer and fewer citizens engage in political activism.  They cite the nastiness, unkindness and foulness of those who disagree with them in their own Party.  According to Pew Research, 62% of Republicans view Democrats unfavorably and 54% of Democrats feel the same way about Republicans.  That is three times more than 30 years ago.   

     Political scientist Lilliana Mason makes the point that most modern-day voters pull the lever for a Party, not a candidate.  Elections have become about numbers- about growing the tribe, and not about solving problems.    

     Third, groupthink and tribalism discourage creativity, individualism and personal responsibility.  Standing alone on conviction or principle in modern tribes is not tolerated nor respected.   Tribes require complete solidarity.  Members who don’t conform face shunning and possible expulsion. The intolerance of the tolerant reins!

     The founders of the United States were willing to work together for a common good.  The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were a diverse group from varied backgrounds.  They negotiated, compromised and hammered out founding documents that have served the nation well for nearly 250 years.  In 1776, there was only one tribe- all pulling on the same end of the rope at the same time. 

     Ed Goeas wrote in his book, A Question of Respect, the political pollster wrote: “We Americans have an urgent decision facing us.  We must decide whether to build upon a foundation of mutual respect or live in a fractured society, where division rules the day.”  Until Americans actually respect other citizens right to have a different opinion (and be wrong), the country will stagnant.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Trump-less debate is an opportunity for the other candidates!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     The 2024 Republican presidential primary starts this week.  The first Republican primary debate will be aired by Fox News and held on Wednesday August 23rd, at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It will be moderated by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum from Fox.     

     At least seven GOP candidates are expected to be on stage.  As of this writing, the participants will be DeSantis, Ramaswany, Haley, Scott, Burgin, Pence and Christie.  Former President Trump has announced he will not be there and will instead hold an exclusive interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.  He refused to sign a ‘loyalty’ oath (pledging support for the nominee) the RNC required for participation.  Former Vice President Mike Pence says he thinks Trump may show up at the last minute, but that is unlikely.    Three observations:

     First, Trump is not a good debater.  In the 2016 GOP primary debates, he was entertaining, insulting and loud toward his fellow Republicans.  He was scarce on substance and long on denigration during each forum. His positioning of himself as an ‘outsider’ was appealing and resonated with voters, who were sick and tired of politics as unusual and that strategy worked. 

     In 2020, Trump’s ‘debating’ with Biden hurt his campaign and many pundits believe was one of the primary reasons he lost.  Instead of letting Biden talk during the ’20 debates, he repeatedly interrupted him.  Instead of Americans seeing Biden as a weak communicator, they saw him as a bullied browbeat man who wasn’t given the chance to say much.  Trump failed to give Biden enough rope to hang himself- a missed opportunity. 

     Trump lacks the discipline to seriously debate.  In the 2016 GOP primary Houston debate, former Gov. John Kasich was presenting his well thought out and substantive plan to balance the federal budget.  The other debate participants responded to the plan-Trump choose to made fun of how Kasich was dressed.  While that may have worked in ’16, it probably won’t in ’24.     

      Second, minds are rarely changed by a debate.  That is why Trump’s team isn’t worried about him skipping the debate.  They know his supporters will support him regardless of his debate performance.  Debates rarely move the needle.  Parties conduct them because they raise a lot of money on debates.    

     Third, the Trump-less debate is an opportunity for the other candidates.  They are all dark horses.  Trump has a seemingly insurmountable lead, but the first primary is six months away.  Some of the candidates are virtually unknown and this is their chance to introduce themselves to America.  Each of those on stage want to be the viable alternative should Trump falter.  

     Thoughtful GOP primary voters should be listening for well-thought solutions for America’s fiscal issues.  They should not be as impressed by a well-delivered zinger, one liner or quip as they are with componence in budgeting.  America’s monetary house must be put in order or the country will fail.  Until voters recognize that, then the debates are little more than a spectacle.

     Pundits are predicting Tucker’s interview with the former POTUS will have twice as many viewers as the debate.  Even though he isn’t attending, Donald Trump will be mentioned many times during the debate.  Some of the candidates will tell the audience how much they are like Trump.  Others will tell you how much different they are.  The elephant NOT in the room on Wednesday will be addressed.        

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Hunter Biden is a lot more than a black sheep!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     On Friday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden’s financial dealings.  This comes on the heels of what appeared to be a resolution of charges just weeks ago.  Biden,53, has faced questions about tax evasion and a gun charge since 2018.  Hunter is the youngest son of President Joe Biden.  He is a Yale law school graduate. 

     Hunter served on the board of BHR Partners, a Bank of China private investment fund.  BHR helped finance the purchase of Tenke Fungureme Mine in the Congo, a cobalt operation.  Cobalt is the raw material used in electric vehicles and has been a point of contention between the U.S. and China in recent years.  BHR’s attempt to ‘corner the market’ for China on cobalt is an issue Biden hasn’t been held accountable for.  Three observations:

     First, President Biden knew who Garland was going to appoint.  In spite of mainstream media calling the special counsel appointment a ‘surprise,’ odds are the POTUS was consulted before the move.  The appointment of David Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware, as special counsel looks suspect.  Weiss, a Trump appointee, has been investigating Hunter Biden since 2018 on potential violation of tax and gun laws.  Weiss has been criticized for his patsy handling of Hunter.  Hunter was prepared to plead out the charges two months ago, but a Trump appointed judge threw a monkey wrench into that.  Some believe Garland is wagging the dog by appointing Weiss special counsel. 

     Second, the investigation does have risk for President Biden.  If an investigation balloons beyond the tax and gun charges Hunter faces, it could implicate the POTUS.  If it ever makes it to trial, the identity of ‘the Big Guy,’ referenced on Hunter’s laptop could be revealed.   The investigation could cast a shadow on Biden’s 2024 re-election campaign.  Some believe Garland appointed Weiss special counsel to help keep Biden from getting the nomination.  Not likely.

     Third, 2024 could be the year of the indictees.  President Trump has been indicted twice and faces a third indictment in Georgia.  Biden could be indicted if Weiss links Hunter’s misbehaviors to him. Does indictment or even conviction disqualify someone from being POTUS? 

     Richard Hasen, a University of California law professor, says a convicted felon could assume the office of POTUS.  “The Constitution has very few requirements to serve as president, such as being at least 35 years of age.  It does not bar anyone indicted, convicted, or even serving jail time, from running for president and winning the presidency,” Hasen said. 

     Democrats claim the only voters who care about Hunter’s crooked dealings are those who wouldn’t vote for Joe Biden anyway.  Matt Bennett, a Democrat Party operative says: “There are plenty of things that keep Democrats up at night when it comes to 2024, and this(Hunter Biden) is not one of them.  Billy Carter is not the reason Ronald Reagan won 49 states in 1980.” Sarah Longwell, a Republican consultant agrees saying that ‘every family has someone like this, a black sheep.” 

     Hunter Biden is a lot more than a black sheep and his dealings go beyond trying to sell a bad beer like Billy Carter did.   IRS whistleblowers told Congress there was ‘political meddling,’ into Hunter’s tax issues- probably by Weiss.  Hunter’s business dealings are more than shady. The newly appointed ‘special counsel’ should prove he isn’t a lackey stooge and can conduct a thorough investigation into both Hunter and Joe Biden’s financial dealings with foreign governments.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Time will reveal who faces doom from indictments!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     This week, former President Donald Trump was charged in federal court with four counts of conspiring to subvert American democracy in association with the January 6th attacks on the U.S. Capitol.  Jack Smith, the special prosecutor investigating January 6th, is relying on three criminal statutes; (1) conspiring to defraud the government, (2) conspiring to disenfranchise voters, and (3) conspiring to obstruct a congressional proceeding to prove Trump was trying to supplant democracy.

     In the indictment, Smith describes six of the former POTUS’ associates as ‘co-conspirators,’ but they are not named nor charged.  It remains unclear if they will eventually face indictment if they do not cooperate. 

     The former POTUS appeared before a federal judge in Washington DC on Thursday and pled not guilty to all charges.  An August 28th preliminary hearing is scheduled.  This was the third time in four months Trump has faced indictments.  The federal charges are the most serious with Smith’s star witness expected to be former Vice President Mike Pence.  Pence says Trump asked him to break the law and not certify election results submitted by certain states.  Pence contends the U.S. Constitution precluded that action.  Three observations:

     First, many losers of presidential elections have disputed the results.  In American history, at the presidential level, serious allegations by top officials the election was "stolen" were made in 1800, 1824, 1876, 1912, 1960, 2000, and 2020.  Trump isn’t the first to claim he was cheated.  Vice President Aaron Burr killed Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a famous duel because of Hamilton’s part in the outcome of the disputed 1800 election.  The award-winning musical Hamilton tells the story. 

     Trump’s opponents, the special prosecutor and the media claim Trump’s unwillingness to accept defeat is unprecedented, but that is not true.  What is true is none who claimed they were cheated have convinced a majority of the American public to buy into their conspiracy.    

     Second, Trump was indicted, not the American people.  The former POTUS zealously uses[S1]  the indictments for fundraising and campaign promotion.  He contends solicitors are after the American people when they charge him.  He professes he is merely a surrogate and being unfairly treated.  When the Clintons and Hunter Biden skirt serious charges and Trump is charged it is a valid point, but it’s a stretch to paint Trump as being a scapegoat.   Trump is being charged for his own actions.  A jury will determine whether those actions rise to the level of criminal.

     Third, the trials give Trump a unique opportunity.  The former POTUS can publicly present his case in regard to the 2020 election.  The defense is expected to cite Trump’s right to free speech as justification for his actions.  Former AG Bob Barr says free speech doesn’t give Americans the right to engage in a fraudulent conspiracy.  But all true conspiracies were initially dismissed as fraudulent, so there’s that.  The challenge Trump’s team faces is proving to the jury their claims of a stolen election are fact. 

     In the musical, “Hamilton,” Aaron Burr sings about Alexander, “Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?/Soon that attitude may be your doom.”  Burrs point?  Pride goes before a fall.  Time will reveal who faces doom from these indictments.

Sunday, July 30, 2023


 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott authorized the installation of a 1,000-foot line of bright orange, wrecking ball-sized buoys in the middle of the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass.  Their placement was to keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States from Mexico.  The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to force the removal the buoys, calling the floating impediments ‘illegal construction.’

     On July 7th, Abbott issued an executive order(EO) authorizing the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to apprehend illegal immigrants who cross the border between ports of entry and return them to the border.  Abbott’s action was in response to the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions, which has resulted in a flood of illegals coming across the border.        Speaking before Texas Republican Party activists on Friday, Governor Abbott said, “I will do whatever I have to do to defend our state from the invasion of the Mexican drug cartels and others who have tried to come into our country illegally, and I will protect our sovereignty.”   Three observations:

     First, Texas is impacted by illegal immigration more than any other state.  Texas and Mexico share 1,254 miles of common border and are joined by 28 international bridges and border crossings. This number includes two dams, one hand-drawn ferry, and 25 other crossings that allow commercial, vehicular and pedestrian traffic.  It is estimated 7,000 illegally cross that border daily.  Abbott’s actions have cut that number in half since May, but three Texas cities- DFW, Houston, and Austin- have large percentage of illegals living there.

     Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton estimates illegal immigration costs Texas taxpayers $855 million annually, most of it for uninsured health care.  “Texans are hardworking and generous people, but the cost of illegal immigration is an unconscionable burden on the taxpayers of our great state.  Texas will always welcome those who legally immigrate, but we cannot continue forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for individuals who skirt the law and skip the line,” Paxton said. 

     Second, Congress needs to deal with immigration.  It has been 37 years since Congress passed significant immigration reform that was signed into law.  In 1986, Congress passed and President Reagan signed a bill granting amnesty for over 3 million immigrants.  

     In May, the GOP controlled U.S. House passed H.R. 2, a bill that would restart construction of the southern border wall, restrict asylum, and require employers to ensure all hires were legally allowed to work in the United States.  The bill passed along Party lines, with all Democrats and two Republicans voting no.  The bill has little chance to get a vote in the Senate.   

     The failure of the Biden administration to extend Title 42 has resulted in persistently high volume of illegals and illegal drugs crossing the border.  It is estimated 8,000 people are entering the U.S. illegally each day.  80% are caught immediately, but most are not deported.  The vast majority are released and given transportation- at U.S. taxpayer expense- to cities throughout the fruited plain.  Many find jobs, performing tasks Americans won’t do, but few seek legal status because of convoluted, cumbersome federal immigration policies.  Completing the legal process requires a commitment most are unwilling to make. 

     Third, the Democrats want blanket amnesty for illegals.  Amnesty helps them at the voting polls.  There are an estimated 11 million people in America who illegally entered the country- most of them from socialist countries.  Because they hold to a Marxist philosophy, they identify with the Ds more than the Rs.  For Democrats, it is about votes, not about national security or tax dollars.  That is why a bi-partisan bill to address immigration has little chance in Congress. 

     America is a land of immigrants.  Those legally seeking a better life in the land of opportunity should be welcomed, but national security and the cost to taxpayers can’t be dismissed.  Governor Abbott is doing what the federal government should do- stopping illegal immigration.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Trump has the most to lose by not signing the RNC loyalty pledge!

Weekly Opinion Editorial 

UNITY IN 2024!

by Steve Fair

     The first 2024 Republican presidential debate is a month away.  The debate will be held in Milwaukee, which is also the site of the GOP national convention next year.  Wisconsin is a battleground state and whoever the Republican nominee is will need the state’s ten (10) electoral votes to win the White House. 

      The Republican National Committee (RNC) establishes the guidelines for the presidential primary.  The RNC is composed of 168 members- 3 from each U.S. state and territory.  “The RNC is committed to putting on a fair, neutral, and transparent primary process and the qualifying criteria set forth will put our Party and eventual nominee in the best position to take back the White House come November 2024,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said.   

      The RNC set up debate participation criteria.  The first requirement is the candidate must pledge to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee to be on the debate stage.  Several GOP candidates, including Donald Trump and Chris Christie have said they would have to know who the nominee is before they would make that commitment.  Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson says the loyalty requirement should apply only if the candidate plans to run as a third-Party candidate.  The second requirement is a candidate must be polling at least 1% in two national polls.  The third requirement is a candidate must agree to not participate in non-RNC sanctioned debates.  Three observations:

     First, the nomination is Trump’s to lose.  The rules have changed since 2016 on how states conduct primaries and chose national delegates.  While Ronna may claim the RNC is neutral, close inspection reveals otherwise.  After his election, McDaniel was hand selected to run the RNC by former President Trump.  The RNC functioned as Trump’s political arm for his four-year term.  The RNC passed rules that allowed states to change how national delegates were selected and those changes benefit candidates who get a ‘plurality’ in a large field.  Currently, no GOP candidate comes anywhere near Trump’s base.  Combined, over 50% of GOP voters are supporting another candidate in the primary, but that majority is fractured out among eight other candidates.   

     Second, the winner of the debate doesn’t always win the election.  Few people are moved by how a candidate performs in a debate.  Modern presidential debates have become nothing more than reality TV, with little effort to rationally discuss issues.  It has become purely about optics and who can score the best zinger of the night.  Thoughtful dialogue by a candidate is labeled weak and indecisive by other candidates and the media.  In 2016, debate experts abandoned conventional scoring on who won the war of words in favor of who was the loudest.  Hopefully substance over tumultuous will prevail this year in the GOP debates. 

     Third, Party loyalty should be required of the candidates.  Asking the candidates to support the nominee is fair.  Each candidate is using the ‘Republican’ brand.  They are claiming to stand for what the Party platform stands for.  They should be asked to support those who pledge like convictions.

      Supporting the winner of a primary by the loser is a challenge at all levels.  Campaigns can get nasty.  Hurt feelings and bitterness are often the result of a primary.  General election campaigns are often lost because the combatants in the primary weren’t able to shake hands, put their pride/ego aside and unite against a common enemy.  Party loyalty/unity is not a weakness- it is an effort to get everyone pulling on the same end of the rope at the same time.

     Of all the GOP candidates, Donald Trump has the most to lose by not signing the loyalty pledge.  He will need every Republican vote and a bunch of Independents- to get back to the White House.  Trump can’t afford to alienate like minded people.  Currently, a majority of Republican voters are supporting candidates other than Trump in the primary.  Trying not offend their supporters might be a sound strategy if you are the lead dog.  Most of them would never vote for Biden, but they might just stay home and not vote.     

Sunday, July 16, 2023


Weekly Opinion Editorial 


by Steve Fair


     In 2020, Congress set aside approximately $3 billion dollars to a help stabilize education funding.  They created the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. Oklahoma received $39.9 million in GEER funds.  The federal grants, not surprisingly, came with complicated compliance requirements. 

     Last week, Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector (SAI) Cindy Byrd released the results of a federally mandated audit of the GEER funds Oklahoma received.  Byrd found two programs set up by the state had not complied with the federal requirements.  Bridge the Gap, a program that helped low-income families with education related costs, was misused by 20% of the 5,000 families that received the funds according to the SAI.  Byrd said the total misspent in Bridge the Gap was $1.8 million. 

     Two thirds of those getting money from Stay in School, a program that helped low-income families with tuition costs, was said to be questionable.  Byrd estimated $6.5 million of tax dollars were misused in the Stay in School program. 

     “Every federal grant comes with very strict requirements which the State of Oklahoma agrees to follow,” State Auditor Cindy Byrd said.  “Any person in change of managing federal grants needs a certain level of proficiency because the compliance regulations are very complicated.”  The full audit report is now posted on the Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector’s official website: Three observations:

     First, who was supposed to be ensuring federal compliance?  According to the federal Department of Education (DOE) website, the governor in each state must designate a State Agency or administer the GEER funds through their office.   Governor Stitt chose the latter.  Two years ago, the governor hired a consulting firm to monitor the GEER funds.  Taxpayers paid the firm $325,000.  Byrd’s conclusion from the audit was the consultant had not done their job.  She said the Sooner state ‘dropped the ball on compliance and oversight,’ on the GEER funds.    

     The blame for the non-compliance belongs at the feet of the governor.   In a press release, Oklahoma Speaker of the House Charles McCall said as much.  The Speaker didn’t name the governor in the presser, but the inference is there.  Attorney General Drummond weighed in on the audit, saying the people empowered to administer the GEER money did not have the qualifications or knowledge to do the job.    

     Second, Oklahoma statutes require competitive bids.  The SAI found the digital wallet vendor was given an $18 million dollar contract without going through the competitive bid process.  Circumventing or avoiding the exercise to request proposals from multiple parties might be quicker and more efficient, but it is not legal.  This administration was earlier criticized for bypassing the bid process in the awarding of foodservice/restaurant contracts at state lodges.  Government is not like a private business.  The laws/rules can slow down the process, but they are in place to protect the taxpayer and avoid misuse of funds.

   Third, the taxpayer is always the guarantor.  If the federal government demands repayment for non-compliance, John Q Public will pay the bill, not elected officials or the incompetent amateurs they hired.  In this particular case, it’s a double whammy.  Taxpayers sent tax dollars to Washington for Washington to send back to Oklahoma to be misused.  Taxpayers then have to pay back the misused money to Washington.   Confused? 

     GEER funding wasn’t sought by Oklahoma.  The federal government insisted they were going to help the state, whether it was wanted or not.  The federal money was grudgingly accepted, but once accepted, recognizing the strings attached was crucial.  The lack of attention to detail could cost Oklahoma taxpayers. 

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Hooper ruling makes tribal members- "just a little bit better!'

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     Last week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal district ruling on whether the City of Tulsa has jurisdiction over Native Americans.  Justin Hooper got a speeding ticket five years ago in Tulsa.  He pled guilty and paid his fine.  Two years later, Hooper, who is a member of the Choctaw tribe, filed for postconviction relief citing the McGirt decision.  The Tulsa municipal court threw out the case, as did the federal district court.  Hooper appealed to the appellate 10th circuit court and they agreed the Indian reservations of the five civilized tribes remains intact and the members of the tribes are under no obligation to submit or obey municipal or state law. 

     Alicia Stroble is a member of the Creek nation.  In 2022, Stroble sued the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) contending that she did not have to pay state income taxes because she wasn’t subject the laws of the state of Oklahoma.  An OTC administrative judge agreed with her, but the OTC board members reversed the ruling.  The case is now in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, a body more unstable and unpredictable than water.  Who knows how they will rule. 

     When the McGirt decision was rendered by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), the disestablishment of the reservations was cited as the primary issue.  McGirt was thought to apply only to criminal law, but the 10th Circuit decision in the Hooper case indicates the reestablishing of the reservations has more than criminal law implications.  Two observations:

     First, tribal members in Oklahoma should be subject the same laws as non-tribal members.  Since statehood, that has been the case.  McGirt changed that.  Now the Hooper ruling says non-tribal members in the eastern half of the state have to drive the speed limit, but tribal members can ignore it. That’s unfair and crazy!  If Stroble is successful, she will not pay taxes, but non-tribal members will have to.  That is asinine!  There can’t be two sets of rules in the state.  That will divide and ultimately destroy the state. 

     Governor Kevin Stitt said regarding the Stroble suit: “I will always fight for fairness, and it is just preposterous to believe that in this scenario a single mom of a different race would have to pay taxes, but I as governor(Stitt is Cherokee), wouldn’t because of my native heritage.  The reality is we all drive on the same roads, send our kids to the same schools- we should all play by the same set of rules regardless of race.”

     Tribal leadership appears to want to divide Oklahoma.  For over 100 years, the tribes and the state co-existed and cooperated, but now it appears tribal want preferential treatment for their citizens.  The Hooper opinion by the 10th circuit sent the message tribal members are like Post cereal- just a little bit better than other Oklahomans.

      Second, the Hooper decision was based on race.  Ironically, the Hooper decision came the same week the SCOTUS struck down Affirmative Action and ruled college entrance could not be based on race.  Sara Hill, the Attorney General for the Cherokee nation, said, “A lot of people make the mistake this (the Hooper decision) was about race when its really about being a citizen of a government and who has authority over you.”  But Hill is wrong.  The determination of tribal citizenship is based on race, so how is the ruling not related to race? 

          George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm, tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer.  The animals vow to create a society where all the animals are equal and free.  But under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon, the pigs ultimately create a state as bad as it was under the farmer.  In the final chapter of the book, Napoleon tells the animals that all of them are equal, but some are ‘more equal’ than the others.  Welcome to Animal Farm!   

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Putin is the 'devil' you know!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     A failed coup in Russia is dominating the news.  Led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman, who founded a paramilitary organization called the Wagner Group, the rebellion failed, but his soldiers were not defeated.  They simply stood down and stopped marching toward Moscow to ‘avoid bloodshed’.  For his part in the uprising, Prigozhin was exiled to Belarus by the Kremlin.  He has yet to turn up there and speculation is he has never left Russia.  Prigozhin is a long-time ally of Vladimir Putin(his caterer), but recently has been critical of Russia military leaders, accusing them of incompetence after several of his Wagner mercenaries were killed in the war against Ukraine.  Three observations:

     First, be careful what you wish for.  While Putin is far from reasonable, he is the devil you know.  Who comes to power after Putin could be- and probably will be- far more radical.  Many believe, including some in Russia, the Wagner Group has been used by Russia for ‘plausible deniability’ to obscure the true casualties and costs of Russian foreign wars.  Millions of rubles have made their way into Prigozhin’s pockets with Putin’s blessing, but just who is Wagner?

      The Wagner Group has 50,000 soldiers, many of which are former convicts.  Think Dirty Dozen times 4,000!  Think Blackstone, but with no ethics/values.  The group derives their name from Richard Wagner, a German said to be Hitler’s favorite composer.  Many in the group espouse Neo-Nazi ideology and foreign analysist believe Wagner is more dangerous and radical than the Kremlin.  Wagner used Russia military bases, is transported by Russian military aircraft and uses Russian health care services, so they clearly had the support of Russian leadership.  Wagner is very popular with the Russian public.  The group is patriotic to the motherland and Prigozhin is treated like a rock star by the Russian public.  The danger is the distinct possibility a radical, who wouldn’t hesitate to hit the nuke button, comes to power in Russia. 

     Second, isolation/insulation is hard to accomplish in today’s world.  Technology has made the world smaller.  The Internet has made it possible for people across the world to interact with each other in real time.  The web has given people access to news (fake and real), information, and resources they didn’t have access to before.  Russia has attempted to keep their citizens isolated and shielded, but 86% have access to the web.  In America, it is 93%- China 75%.  Prigozhin, who posts numerous times a day on social media, used technology in his coup attempt.  Access to information makes despotism difficult.  Russia and China citizens have observed how other governments work and gotten a taste of liberty.  It’s next to impossible to put the genie back in the bottle.   

     Third, expect Russia to be a major topic in the 2024 election.  If Putin is overthrown, President Biden will take credit- and so will former President Trump.  If Prigozhin comes to power and Russia becomes a radical state, inculpation by both will transpire.  If Ukraine wins the war, both will take credit for the victory.  No matter what takes place, the American public has not heard the end of Russia. 

     Relations between America and Russia has not been good for over a century.  Some say it is because the U.S. won the Cold War.  A 2018 poll found that 85% of Russians had a negative opinion of America.  Bois Kagarlitsky, a Russian intellectual, says this bitterness by Russians is ironic.  “We want to be like America.  We are angry that America is allowed to invade minor nations and we are not,” Kararlitsky says.   The key issue is motive.  The United States’ stated purpose for war is to defend or to liberate- Russia invaded Ukraine to conquer.  Therein lies the contrast.