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!