Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Many Politicos are One Trick Ponies!

Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     2023 has been a challenging year, especially in politics.  In a Wall Street Journal article, Republican pollster White Ayres described 2023 as a terrible year for America’s political system.   “The dysfunction and misfires were long and on occasion embarrassing,” Ayres claims.

      From the GOP Speaker of the House train wreck to the Biden administration’s clumsy handling of the Gaza strip, 2023 has not been a banner year for competence, proficiency, and expertise.  Elected officials’ performance has affected how Americans view their government.  In a September 2023 poll, Pew Research found 65% of Americans are ‘exhausted’ when they think about politics.  Just 4% say the political system is working and only 16% trust the federal government.  Trust and respect for the American political system is at an all time low.  Three observations:

     First, money controls politics.  Wealthy donors dominate political campaigns at all levels of politics- from the White House to the outhouse.  The growth of super PACs and dark money PACs allow billionaires to pour unlimited amounts of money anonymously into races.  Attempts to remove the anonymity of donors is met with little success because those benefiting from the invisibility of dark money donors are the ones charged with changing it.  Some advocate campaign finance reform and public financing of campaigns.  But those proposals are un-American and limit individual freedom and liberty.

     The growth of money in politics allows special interest groups, trade associations, and rich people to ‘buy’ an elective office.  The windfall has led to an explosion in the number of political consultants who craft a message, knock off the rough edges and define a candidate.  Like consumer products companies market a product, the features, advantages, and benefits (FABs) of a candidate are highlighted.  Componence, proficiency, and ability are trumped for marketability.     

     Second, grey hairs have to lead.  The older generation must take the front.   A September Gallup poll showed Generation Z (ages 7-22) have little knowledge or respect for major U.S. institutions, like the government or the police.  Some of that is due to the decline in civics training in the public schools, but few KIDS get training at home.

     Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts wrote, “Each generation has an obligation to pass on to the next, not only a fully functioning government responsive to the needs of the people, but the tools to understand and improve it.”  Sadly, most baby boomers (ages 59-77) paid little attention to politics and their government for most of their life.  Some BBs have ‘awakened’ from their long slumber, and become politically engaged, but instead of recognizing real change is incremental, they demand immediate reform and are largely ignored by elected officials.  Their bellowing becomes like sounding brass and tinkling cymbal, changing nothing.

     Third, America is electing the wrong people.  For years, self-promoting, career politicians were blamed for America’s problems.  But the average length of service for U.S. House members is now just 9 years (4.5 terms) and U.S. Senate members 11 years (less than 2 terms).  Career politicians are not the problem.   It is elected officials representing a small constituency focused on a sole issue. The new breed of elected official- at state and federal level- lack a multifaceted, well-rounded background.  Many are a ‘one trick pony,’ skilled and knowledgeable in only one area.  They reject conciliation and negotiation as a means to govern.  They are willing to settle for nothing instead of something.  That is not representation of a broad constituency- that is aloofness and impassiveness.  The fruit of which is contention, conflict, and polarization.  

     What type of candidate does America need to elect?  Moses was advised by his father-in-law in Exodus 18:31 to seek out for leadership those with five attributes: (1) capable, (2) truthful, (3) not covetous, (4) fear God, (5) selfless.  Until America looks for those candidates, it will be more of the same dysfunction and misfires in 2024.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Christmas exposes the insignificance of politics!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     In 1963, Andy Williams first sung, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” on his TV variety show.  Written by Edward Pola and George Wyle, the tune has become a Christmas season classic. The song is a celebration and description of activities associated with Christmas, primarily focused on get-togethers between friends and family.   But is Christmas the most wonderful time of the year? 

     According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), December is the most dangerous month for drug and alcohol-related deaths.  In a Healthline study from 2015, 60% of adults polled said they experienced some degree of stress during the holiday season.  Those include financial stress, conflict-laden family gatherings, loneliness and unrealistic expectations.  Others are grieving from the loss of a loved one- an empty place at the table.  According to a British study, feeling low around Christmas is common among the unemployed, divorced, and widowed. For those, Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year?  Three observations:

     First, Christmas is widely celebrated in the U.S.  According to a Gallup poll, 93% of Americans observe the holiday in some way.  A Pew Research poll found 71% of Americans do not celebrate the ‘religious’ aspects of Christmas.  That number is double what it was just twenty years ago.  Only 51% of Americans polled planned to attend a church service in conjunction with Christmas.

     The commercialization/exploitation of Christmas has changed the holiday from religious to secular.  Instead of recognizing the ‘reason for the season,’ and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas has become a time for festive parties, and lavish gift giving.   The average American family spends over two weeks salary on Christmas gifts.  According to a UCLA health study, between Thanksgiving and News Years, Americans drink nearly twice the alcohol they normally drink.  

     Second, Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Believers who do not celebrate the holiday point to pagan origins and that Christ did not command His followers to celebrate the day of His birth.  But He didn’t forbid it.  Shouldn’t those who claim Christ celebrate His birth?  Tim Keller said, “There has never been a gift offered that makes you swallow your pride to the depths that the gift of Jesus Christ requires us to do.  Christmas means we are so lost, so unable to save ourselves that nothing less than the death of the Son of God Himself could save us.” That is the reason for the season.  That is the true meaning of Christmas.  During a time when a confused/chaotic world is so aware of Christ, shouldn’t believers use that opportunity to point out He is not a babe in a manger, but the Savior of the world? 

     Third, Christmas exposes the insignificance of politics.  The Christmas story shows the incredible lengths God went to in order to save His people. It magnifies a holy, sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent Creator who gave His only son to redeem sinful man.  In the grand scheme of things, elections, political Parties, elected officials, rallies, and legislation is temporal at best. Christmas should be a time every man engages in soul-searching introspection, seeking to get their priorities in line with their Creator.  It should not be a time of self-aggrandizement, but a humbling one.  It should not be a season of debate/argumentation, but one of contemplation. 

     The prophet Isaiah (9:6) foretold the birth of Christ.  In that well-known verse, he wrote ‘the government will rest on His shoulders.”  There will come a time when Christ will reign over a literal, earthly, geopolitical kingdom of all the kingdoms and governments of the world.   Unlike convoluted, chaotic human governments, the Messiah’s kingdom is uncomplicated because He is the Eternal Father, Creator, and Sustainer.  There is no bloated bureaucracy, no spin masters, conflict or talking heads in Christ’s administration.  When Christ returns to execute the final political solution, there will truly be world peace.  That will be the most wonderful time!   

Sunday, December 17, 2023


 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


On Saturday, Houthis, an Iran-backed group, launched attacks on U.S. naval and commercial ships in the Red Sea.  The naval destroyer USS Carney shot down 14 attack drones launched by Houthi.  The goal of Houthi’s attacks were to disrupt the commercial shipping lanes. It worked because Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, halted all shipping through the area.  The Pentagon has moved significant naval presence off the coast of Yemen to support a potential U.S. response to the attacks. 

     The Houthi movement emerged in Yemen in the 1990s as an opposition group made up primarily of Shia Muslims.  Due to their intimidation type tactics, the Houthi movement is considered to be the Yemeni mafia.  The Houthis goal is to govern all of Yemen and support movements against the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia.  After the Israel-Hamas war broke out, Houthis started firing missiles at Israeli cities from their position in northern Yemen.  Houthis has stated they will continue to attack Israel until it is destroyed.  Three observations:

     First, in 2021, President Biden de-listed Houthis from a sanctions list against terrorist groups.  President Trump, as he was leaving office, placed Houthis on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.  Biden’s removal upset Saudi Arabia and with reason.  Houthis has launched more than 1,000 attacks on Saudi in recent years.  The group gets their funding and training from Iran.  Houthis should have never been removed from the FTO list, but Biden wanted to send a message and play hardball with Saudi in the early days of his administration.  He thought he could negotiate with the Iranians- a foolish belief.  Back in March, the Iranians agreed to stop funding Houthis in their attacks on Saudi, but they never lived up to the agreement.  Houthis should be immediately put back on the FTO/sanctions list.  The removal has been part of the reason they got the funding they needed to launch the attacks.  Forty bipartisan U.S. House members sent a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken calling for Houthis to be re-classified as an FTO and legislation has been put forward calling for sanctions against Yemen. 

     Second, the Biden administration has told Israel they would handle Houthis.  But clearly there is a reluctance to strike back at Houthis.  Biden appears more concerned about his shaky agreement with Yemen and Iran than dealing with terrorists.  U.S. military leaders have warned retaliation against Houthi remains an option, but until Biden recognizes that negotiating with terrorists is foolhardy, Houthis will continue to lob missiles and launch attack drones.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has allegedly told President Biden they will hit Houthis since the US appears unwilling to do so. 

     Third, economics will ultimately drive action.  The Red Sea is a major global trade artery.  If Houthis is successful at slowing/stopping the flow of ships, supply and demand will kick in.  Oil, grain and consumer goods pricing will move up.   2024 is an election year and Biden can ill afford to have more inflation or ‘supply chain’ issues when he is on the ballot.

     Since President Biden took office, prices have increased +17.4% and wages have increased +13%.  Only President Carter had a higher inflation rate- +26.2%- at this point in his presidency.  Because money is the driver, expect Biden to reverse his boneheaded decision to remove Houthis from the FTO list to keep the shipping lanes open  and prices down.

     The Houthis slogan is, “Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews and victory to Islam.”  That, in itself, should have been reason enough to keep them on the FTO list.       

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Who is the BIG GUY?

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


    On Thursday, a 56-page federal indictment was handed down charging Hunter Biden, President Biden’s youngest son, with nine counts of tax evasion.  The indictment details Biden’s debauchery and dishonesty in trying to avoid paying taxes.  According to Special Counsel David Weiss, Biden charged off personal expenses, including a membership to a sex club, as business expense.  If convicted, Biden faces up to 17 years in prison.   

    The indictment comes after two IRS agents derailed a ‘sweetheart’ deal Biden had worked out with federal prosecutors.  The two whistleblowers claim IRS and FBI agents were discouraged/blocked from investigating then Vice President Biden’s involvement with his son’s shady business dealings.

     The U.S. House Rules Committee is scheduled to discuss an impeachment resolution on Tuesday.  Rep. Tom Cole, (R-OK), Chair of the Rules Committee, said: “We know from the whistle-blowers, the investigation of the president’s son was interfered with.  There is enough there to continue to look and certainly to empower investigators with every tool they need to get to the truth.”

     House Republicans are pushing for a floor vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden’s involvement/knowledge of his son’s activities.  Hunter Biden has been subpoenaed by the House to testify behind closed doors on Wednesday December 13th and  Republican House leadership has vowed to charge Hunter Biden with contempt of Congress if he refuses to show up.  Three observations:

     First, the indictments of Hunter do not mention President Joe Biden.  Hunter Biden was charged with tax evasion, not the president.   Republicans have the duty to investigate if and how Joe Biden was involved in Hunter’s dealings.  If the POTUS was unaware of his loose cannon son’s degeneracy, he should welcome the investigation.

     Second, who is the ‘big guy?’  On Hunter’s laptop, an email was found to his business associates stating 10% of the money from a foreign government transaction went to ‘the big guy.’   One of the email recipients- Tony Bobulinski- says Joe Biden was ‘the big guy.’   If that can be proven, that is huge!  At that time, Joe Biden was Vice President and was legally prevented from doing business with a foreign government.  The American people have a right to know if Biden was using his office to benefit financially. 

     Third, impeachment is a political process, not a legal one.  Even if the House votes to impeach President Biden, the Democratic controlled Senate is not likely to vote to remove President Biden from office.  Removal requires a 2/3 majority vote in the Senate. 

      Impeachment of a president used to be a rare event.  Only three presidents have been impeached in American history, but none removed from office:  Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Donald Trump twice, in 2019 and 2021.  It appears impeachment of a president will be commonplace in America’s future.

     Furthering an investigation into President Biden’s involvement with his son’s illegal activities and determining if that involvement rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors is Congress’s responsibility. 

     William Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice: “The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.”  In the Biden’s case, the opposite may be true. 

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Substance has been sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

      On November 1st, Governor Kevin Stitt issued an Executive Order(EO) that created the Campaign Finance and Election Threats Task Force (CFETTF).   The task force is charged with (1) identifying ways that Oklahoma is leading the nation in election security, (2) identify campaign finance loopholes that need to be addressed, and (3) recommend legislation to curtail any interference in Oklahoma politics by domestic or foreign entities.  “I’m proud to report that Oklahoma is a national leader in election integrity.  But we must not rest on our laurels.  Instead, we must ensure that our election and political processes are not tainted by other government investment and interference,” Stitt said.    

     The CFETTF will have nine members: (1) the Chair appointed by the governor, (2) the Secretary of the State Election Board, (3) the Secretary of State, (4) a county election board member from a large county, (5) a county election board member  from a small county,(6) Speaker of the House, (7) President Pro Tempore of the state Senate, (8-9) two at large members appointed by governor.  Two weeks ago Stitt announced he had appointed Anthony J. Ferate to chair the CFETTF.  Ferate served as the long-time general counsel to the Oklahoma Republican Party and a short stint as Chairman of the OKGOP.  Three observations:

     First, Oklahoma’s voting processes are not bad.  The state uses a uniform election system.  Oklahoma voters cast their ballot the same way in every county.  Each of the 77 counties follow the same voting procedures, use the same security protocols and use the same type of voting device.  It’s not that way in other states.  In most of the states where voting irregularities occur, continuity in processes is non-existent.  Decisions on what procedures and voting devices are used are made at the county level.  No so in the Sooner state.  

     Every county in Oklahoma uses an optical scan voting device that provides an auditable, verifiable paper ballot.  The devise cannot be connected to the internet.  State statutes requires ballots be secured by the local county sheriff and a strict chain of custody maintained through the certification of the election. 

     Second, auditing the current system is a good idea.  No voting system is perfect, because there is no perfect human.  Someone determined to lie and cheat to illegally vote is hard to stop.  That doesn’t mean Oklahoma election officials shouldn’t try.  Election integrity in the state can/should be improved. 

     In the 2020 general election, a family member of a Comanche County retired state legislator sent in an absentee ballot to the local county election board for the lawmaker after their death.  Clearly that was dishonest, unethical, and illegal.  It wasn’t an accident.  The family member was trying to cheat.  Thankfully, they were caught.  Cheating happens and improving processes and procedures should be a priority for the CFETTF.

      Third, the CFETTF should address dark money.   As long as special interests can fund dark money campaigns anonymously in Oklahoma, election integrity is at risk.  Dark money groups have accelerated in growth in recent state elections.  They spread lies, misinformation and buy elections candidates/elected officials with no accountability.  Cloaking freedom of speech with incognito political hit pieces is un American.  Voters have the right to know who is funding the dark money campaigns, just as the donors have a right to fund the campaigns.  Until light is shined into darkness, Oklahoma voters should ignore a dark money campaign message. 

     Stitt’s choice of Ferate to chair the CFETTF is a good one.  He understands the state’s voting systems and the dark money issue.  But he will have those who will oppose his leading the CFETTF because Ferate has been involved in politics longer than a year.  Those same naysayers will criticize him for parting his non-existent hair on the wrong side of his head. Karl Marx called it ‘critical criticism’- defined as ‘criticism for the sake of criticism.’    In modern politics, unfortunately substance/competence/experience has been sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism.