Monday, November 17, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
IT STARTED IN STEPHENS COUNTY!
by Steve Fair
On Tuesday, newly elected Oklahoma state legislators were sworn into office. The 2015 state legislature will be made up of 40 Republicans and 8 Democrats in the Senate and 72 Republicans and 29 Democrats in the House. That is amazing, especially if you consider that just 8 years ago the State Senate had 24 of each Party, and the House was 57, Rs and 44 Ds. On Monday night, Senator Anthony Sykes, (R-Moore) called to thank me for helping him get elected the first time. “You are the reason I was sworn in the first time,” Sykes said. That was a kind thing to say, but the truth is the reason was more involved than that.
Election night 2006, Republicans weren’t faring very well across Oklahoma or the country. Oklahoma’s incumbent Governor Brad Henry cruised to victory with over 60% of the vote, Jari Askins won a close race for Lt. Governor over former Speaker of the House Todd Hiett, and Lloyd Fields beat incumbent Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau by less than 3,000 votes statewide. When the dust had settled, Democrats had won eight of the nine statewide races in Oklahoma. Nationally the Democrats picked up 6 seats in the Senate and 31 seats in the U.S. House. Congressman Tom Cole called the 2006 midterms, ‘a Democrat tsunami.’
In 2006, only three seats were picked up in the Oklahoma legislature- one in the Senate and two in the State House. Two were in tiny Stephens County, Oklahoma where Republicans were less than 30% of the registered voters. Anthony Sykes beat an incumbent state Senator and Dennis Johnson won an open seat for state House. In Muskogee County, George Faught won an open seat. Outside of Stephens County, Republicans in Oklahoma had little to celebrate.
Oklahoma is considered the reddest of the red states, because Oklahoma is the only state in America where every county in the state has voted for the Republican nominee for President the last three elections- 2004, 2008, 2012. Every statewide elected official is a Republican. Republicans have overwhelming majorities in the state legislature. Republicans are winning at the local level and dominated the 2014 election cycle, statewide, legislatively, and locally.
Interestingly, the growth of the Republican Party in Oklahoma hasn’t been in the large population centers in the state. In Oklahoma County and Tulsa County, voter affiliation percentage for Republicans is about the same as it was in 2006. The growth of the Republican Party in Oklahoma has been the smaller rural counties. In 2006, Republicans were the dominate Party in just nineteen counties, in 2014, it is 27 counties. Several other rural counties are rapidly trending Republican. But where did it start?
It all started in 2006 in Stephens County when two very qualified candidates for state legislature ran for office against incredible odds and won. They won because they worked hard, engaged voters and had great campaign teams helping them. They won because their volunteers were more concerned with changing their government than just changing who represented them. It wasn’t about the personalities- it was about the cause. These dedicated Republicans knocked doors, put out signs, made calls and encouraged their friends and neighbors to vote and on November 7th, Sykes and Johnson were elected. Sykes election knotted up the state Senate 24-24 and for two years, Republicans and Democrats shared control of the State Senate. That would not have happened if some dedicated people in Stephens County, Oklahoma didn’t think it was important enough to invest their time, talent and energy to get Sykes elected.
Today, it’s trendy to be a Republican in Oklahoma. It’s cool, but in 2006, having an R behind your name was a challenge for a candidate. There was no prominent Republican at the top of the ticket. Congressman Ernest Istook, the Republican candidate for Governor, got less than 35% of the vote. He was a drag on the ticket. So why did Sykes and Johnson win? They won because they were more qualified than their opponent and the voters recognized that. They won because they wanted the job more than their opponent, and they won because they had a volunteer base their opponents couldn’t match.
It’s important to remember how and a movement started. The Republican domination in Oklahoma didn’t start in the state’s urban areas. It didn’t start in the nineteen counties that were already predominately Republican. The Republican revolution in Oklahoma started in tiny Stephens County, Oklahoma when a handful of people believed they could make a difference in their little corner of the state by electing two very principled, ethical candidates and that movement spread statewide. Those Stephens County Republicans do more than just have an annual Fish Fry that draws a thousand people or a Chili Cook-off that attracts an equal amount. They change their government. Take a bow Stephens County Republicans- you changed and are changing Oklahoma for the better.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
D’s WANT DO-OVER!
by Steve Fair
The 2014 elections are over and Republicans, local, statewide, and nationally, did well. It wasn’t a clean sweep, as I had predicted, but it was close. It is clear the election was about the Obama administrations failed policies and the American people are ready to give the GOP a chance to lead. The key will be for the Republican leadership in the House and Senate to do what they campaigned on- repeal Obama Care, secure the border and balance the budget. All too often campaign promises are forgotten when the election ends. If that happens this time, after the American people giving the Rs a chance to lead, GOP lawmakers will guarantee themselves a permanent minority status. They have to step up and take on the hard issues.
In Oklahoma, Republicans did exceptionally well. The R’s picked up four(4) state Senate seats and maintained their 72-29 margin in the state House. All four statewide offices up for election went Republican. The five Congressional races and two Senate races went overwhelmingly Republican. Republicans won local races throughout the state, so overall it was a very good night. But it seems the Democrats want a do-over in one race.
Earl Emmitt Everett, an 81 year old retired schoolteacher, was the Democrat nominee for the Second Congressional District in Oklahoma. Everett, a Korean War vet, died on Sunday November 2nd after a car wreck in Fort Gibson on Friday October 31st. Everett’s opponent, incumbent Congressman Mark Wayne Mullin, said, "My family and our entire team extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Earl Everett. We pray for God's grace and comfort for them during this time and in the coming weeks.” Everett had won the Democrat nomination in the district on his second try. He had little or no contact with the State Democrat Party. In an interview with the A.P., Everett had said, . “I don’t have anything against the party, but they’re a little bit out of pocket for me.”
After the November 4th election was over, one that Mullins won with over 70% of the vote, the State Democrat Party announced they were asking Attorney General Scott Pruitt for an opinion on whether they had a right to ask for a special election to be called. According to media accounts, the Democrat’s Executive Committee meet on Saturday November 8th to consider three people as their nominee if the A.G. agrees they are entitled to a do-over election.
Current Oklahoma state law says that in the event of a candidate’s death before an election, the governor is to set a special election. Evidently, the leaders of the deceased’s political Party are allowed to name a replacement nominee and ask for a special election. But it remains unclear if that ‘special’ election has to be called before a scheduled election is held (which was done in this case). The cost estimates to hold a special election for the 2nd district are $350-375,000 of tax dollars.
Why would state law allow the will of 150,000 voters in the Second District on November 4th be cast aside? That doesn’t make any sense. Voters in the Second District overwhelmingly voted to re-elect Congressman Mullin. While it’s highly unlikely he would be defeated in a special election, why would the 100k plus people who voted for Mullins last Tuesday be disenfranchised? If the law is this vague, then it needs to be changed. If the Ds are just using a loophole to get a do-over election, they should be ashamed. Another election would cost taxpayers a lot of money that could be used in areas like education, pension funding, etc.
Why would Democrats want a do-over? They were humiliated at the polls statewide and in the Second Congressional District on November 4th. It is highly unlikely whoever they nominate will beat Mullin, or even come close. Demanding the taxpayers pay for a $350K election just because it can be done is foolhardy, irresponsible and graphically illustrates how out of touch the Democrats are with the people.
The Democrat Party leadership should take the high road and withdraw their request for an Attorney .General’s opinion and let the results of the November 4th election stand.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
YELLING ON THE SIDELINES!
By Steve Fair
The Oklahoma State Election Board has released the latest figures on voter affiliation in the state. As of November 1st, there are just 2,897 more registered Democrats in Oklahoma than Republicans. Since January 1st, Democrats have lost 1,459 voters statewide while Republicans have gained 26,924. The number of voters registering Independent increased 18,175 since the first of the year. Currently 12.7% of the voters in Oklahoma are registered Independent, up from 12.1% January 1st.
In Stephens County, Republicans continue to gain on the Democrats. Since January 1st, Republicans gained 428 voters, Democrats lost 275 and Independents picked up 223 voters. Of the 25,069 registered voters in the county, 12,053 are registered Democrats, 10,403 are Republican and 2,613 are Independent. The gap between the Ds and the Rs in the county is now just 1,650. Less than twenty years ago, that was 14,000.
Republicans have come a long way in Oklahoma. In 1996, voters registering Republican were just 34.2% statewide. That number is now 43.5%. In Stephens County, in 1996, just 21% of the voters were Republican. That number is now 41.5%. If trends continue, Oklahomans will align with the way they vote well before the 2016 election cycle. How did Oklahoma transition from being a strong Democrat state to Republican?
First, the Democrat Party abandoned their values. For years, the Democrat Party was one that advocated for traditional moral values and stood up for the ‘little man,’ but after Roe vs. Wade, they became liberal on social issues and alienated many of their conservative voters. In recent years, the liberal fringe of the Democrat Party has taken over the national Party. The national Democrat platform opposes the second amendment (the right to keep and bear arms), embraces abortion and same sex marriage. Those are important issues to conservative Oklahomans and when the Ds took that stance, it drove a bunch of them to the Republican Party. In recent years, the Oklahoma Democrat Party claims they are much more conservative on issues such as gun control and abortion than the national Party, but when you go to the State Democrat Party website and click on issues, it refers you to the liberal national Democrat Party platform.
Second, Republicans took a stand on traditional social issues. They opposed abortion on demand and supported traditional marriage. They re-affirmed their support of the second amendment. All of these positive moves attracted the conservative Democrat and they begin to change Party affiliation in droves.
The amazing statistic in Oklahoma is the number of Independents. Over 257,000 people are registered Independent in Oklahoma- 12.7% of the total number of registered voters. That number continues to grow. Voters registering Independent has increased by 18K since the first of the year. Why register to vote as an Independent in Oklahoma? The state has ‘closed’ primaries, which means only those who are registered in a Party can participate in that Parties’ primary elections and that is the way it should be. Republicans should select the Republican nominee. Democrats should select the Democrat nominee. Open primaries are like having the Presbyterians vote on who will pastor the Baptist church. It’s like letting the Rotarians decide what community project the Lions are going to do this year. The concept is asinine and doesn’t make any sense.
Some states have ‘open’ primaries and let voters decide which primary they want to vote in when they show up at the polling location. The ‘open’ primary system is one that encourages people to ‘play’ with their vote. A voter from another Party can vote for the weakest candidate in the opposing Party to insure a victory for their candidate in the general election. That happened in Michigan in 2012, when Democrats swarmed the polls to vote for Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney to hurt his changes to gain the GOP nomination. Bottom line, registering Independent in a state with an ‘open’ primary makes some sense, but not in Oklahoma.
Many of those registered Independent in Oklahoma are simply feed up with both Parties and want to send a message of discontent to both Parties, but the fact is they are cut out of the process. Conservative Independents should consider changing their Party affiliation to Republican where they can vote in the primary. Standing on the sidelines yelling at those playing is not participating in the process.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
PUT JOY IN EDUCATION!
by Steve Fair
In two weeks, it will be over! The 2014 campaign cycle will conclude on November 4th. This cycle’s ‘October surprise’ evidently was Ebola, and ISIS and the failure of the Obama administration to handle either with any degree of effectiveness. Political observers predict Republicans will take the U.S. Senate and add seats in the U.S. House. Oklahoma is one of only states where two U.S. Senate races are on the ballot (South Carolina is the other). Congressman James Lankford is running for the unexpired term of Tom Coburn and Senator Jim Inhofe is running for re-election. Both Republican nominees are expected to win easily.
In the statewide office races, Governor Mary Fallin, Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, and Labor Commissioner Mark Costello are running for re-election and are heavily favored to win. The only statewide race that is expected to be competitive is for State Superintendent for Public Instruction. It pits Joy Hofmeister and John Cox. Hofmeister won a three way Republican primary, knocking off incumbent Janet Barassi without a runoff, garnering 57% of the vote. Cox won the primary, but didn’t get enough votes to win outright. He beat Freda Deskin in the Democrat run-off on August 26th 63% to 37%.
What does the State Superintendent of Public Instruction do? The State Constitution doesn’t define the duties of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The office’s powers and responsibilities come from the Oklahoma School Code and the powers granted to the office by the State Board of Education. The State Superintendent is responsible for the general administration, coordination, supervision, evaluation, and improvement of educational programs throughout the state. They also implement the policies of the State Board of Education. Every two years, they are required to publish a book containing the AG’s opinion on school law. Annually, they are to provide the state legislature and the Governor a ‘status report’ on the state of education in Oklahoma. Let’s take a look at the two candidates.
Joy Hofmeister is a former public school teacher and operates a Math & Reading tutoring business. She has four kids and has been very active in the Jenks school district. She was active in PTA, serves on the Jenks Schools Foundation board and was on the State Board of Education for two years. She is a TCU graduate and is working on a Masters at OU in School Policy and Law. Forty five Republican members of the state legislature endorsed her BEFORE the primary.
John Cox is the school superintendent in Peggs, a K-8 school district near Tahlequah. He has a degree from Northeastern University, and got his doctorate in education at OSU. His web site doesn’t say, but it appears Cox is married and has two children. In the past, he served on State Superintendent Sandy Garrett’s advisory board.
Cox is running as a conservative Democrat (if that actually exits). He says he opposes Common Core, but offers no alternative to the national standards. Cox favors increased funding in education and a starting wage of 35K for classroom teachers in Oklahoma.
Hofmeister opposes Common Core and advocates that Oklahoma establish our own standards. She says every student should be able to read before the third grade. She also would like to see classroom teacher’s pay increased, but she says education should be accountability to the taxpayer. She favors more transparency in education funding.
Evidently, Cox has not been complying with the State’s Opening Meetings Act. State statute (Title 25; Sections 301-314), requires public officials to hold open meetings which include advance notice of time, place and agenda of the meetings in a public venue. Those notices are required to be filed with the County Clerk’s office in advance of the meeting. Cox has not posted any notices on the Peggs School website for years.. That should concern voters. If Cox can’t post an online advanced agenda now, what makes us think he can do it when he is elected to a statewide office? He does appear to have the ability to update his campaign website regularly.
A second issue is Cox’s pay. Cox is paid an astronomical $141,678 annually as Superintendent of one of the smallest school districts in Oklahoma. Peggs has just 13 teachers and 248 students. The job Cox is running for pays $124,373 a year, which begs the question- why is he running for an office that pays less money? The obvious reason is the OEA and other liberal education groups in Oklahoma are attempting to re-capture the Oklahoma Department of Education. They understand the power and influence the position has over the public education of our children in Oklahoma.The choice in this race is clear. Hofmeister is more qualified, has a more detailed plan of how to lead the department and will work with the state legislature and the Governor to further public education in Oklahoma. On November 4th, put Joy in education.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
THE RULE OF LAW!
by Steve Fair
In the midst of gay weddings, the Ebola outbreak, ISIS, and the looming November general election, a new report on economic freedom was released last week. The study shows the United States ranked #12 among 152 countries in the world. Conducted by the Cato Institute and the Fraser Institute from Canada, the study has been published annually since 1996. As recently as 2000, the U.S. had been ranked #2 in the world but in recent years, the U.S. ranking has been steadily declining.
The index measures five factors: (1) Size of government; (2) Legal structure and security of property rights; (3) Access to sound money; (4) Freedom to trade internationally and; (5) Regulation of Credit, Labor and Business. According to the index, the ten freest economies in the world are: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mauritius, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia, Jordan, and Chile and Finland tied for 10th. Why is America’s ranking been sliding?
According to the researchers, there are several factors that have contributed to America’s slide, but the one overriding fundamental reason America is not doing well in the global economy: America’s legal structure and the deviation from rule of law. The reports says, "increased use of eminent domain to transfer property to powerful political interests, the ramifications of the wars on terrorism and drugs, and the violation of the property rights of bondholders in the auto-bailout case have weakened the tradition of strong adherence to the rule of law in United States." America now ranks #36 in the world in rule of law.
What does the rule of law have to do with economics you may ask. In the last twenty years the rule of law has become the foundation of ‘development economics.’ Thr ‘rule of law’ not only provides rules for a just society but it fosters an environment for economic growth. “No other single political ideal has ever achieved global endorsement,” says Brian Tamanaha, a legal scholar at St John's University, New York.
The ‘Rule of Law’ is so important that economists worked out the “300% dividend” concept: in the long run, a country's income per head rises by roughly 300% if it improves its governance or ‘rule of law’ by one standard deviation. One standard deviation is roughly the gap between India's and Chile's rule-of-law scores. As it happens, Chile is about 300% richer than India in purchasing-power terms. How a country is governed is directly related to how well they do economically.
One economic theory—associated with Amartya Sen of Harvard—says that if you expand people's “capabilities,” they will do things that help countries grow rich. An important thing to remember is when economists discuss rule of law, they are not talking about just democracy and morality, but property rights and the efficient administration of justice. Laws provide stability in a society. Laws do not necessarily have to be moral or promote human rights to provide an environment for economic prosperity.
In the past twenty years, the expansion of government- federal, state and local- into Americans lives has been growing. There are more regulations and restrictions than ever before on both individuals and business. Banking regulations make it difficult for ‘start-ups’ to get financing to start-up. Regulations on existing businesses make expansion not economically practical or feasible. Capital investment is a coward and it tends to migrate to the geographic and economic area where there is the least resistance. In recent years, emerging governments/markets throughout the world have done a better job of adhering to the rule of law than the U.S. They have respected personal property rights, decreased regulation and allowed their banking institutions to operate in a common sense, less regulatory environment. That has lead to their economic growth and our decline.Until the American people demand a smaller and more efficient government, and recognize that liberty and freedom isn’t just about gay marriage and smoking dope, we can expect to see America’s ranking in economic freedom vs. the rest of the world continue to decline.
Monday, October 6, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
CELEBRATE FREE SPEECH!
by Steve Fair
I love the fall campaign season. Walking a neighborhood for a conservative candidate and engaging voters on their doorstep is my idea of fun. Last Saturday, I was knocking doors for a candidate and I encountered four people who wouldn’t take the campaign material. Here is an account of each encounter;
The first person told me they were a Democrat, so they couldn’t vote for a Republican. I told them they could in fact vote for Republican in the November 4th election because it is a general election and registered Democrats and Independents can vote for Republicans and vise versa. Oklahoma does have ‘closed primaries’, but in general elections, Ds can vote for Rs and Rs can vote for Ds. There is no restriction on crossing Party lines in a general election. In fact, a large percentage of registered Democrats in Oklahoma vote Republican.
Another person told me in no uncertain terms he wouldn’t vote for a Republican- ever! This is what is known as a ‘Yellow Dog Democrat.’ That means they would vote for a ‘yellow dog’ before they would vote for a Republican. I’ve never understood why a ‘yellow’ dog was any less appealing than any other color dog, but nevertheless they must be the case. The ‘yellow dog Democrat’ is a dying breed in Oklahoma. Most Democrats in Oklahoma are conservative when it comes to social and gun rights issues and those Ds have been voting in mass for Republicans at the federal and state level for twenty plus years. Since 1964, Oklahoma has not voted for the Democrat nominee for President. In the last three presidential elections, Oklahoma is the only state in the U.S. where every county has voted for the Republican nominee.
A third guy told me, “He didn’t believe in Republicans.” I assume he meant that he didn’t believe in what Republicans stood for. Republicans stand for values like traditional marriage and the right to keep and bear arms. We also take a hard line stand against murdering unborn children and protecting them in the womb. We oppose excess taxation and the expansion of government. Unlike our Democrat counterparts, we want people to take responsibility for their own lives. Perhaps I misunderstood him and he truly didn’t believe Republican ‘existed’- that we are just a figment of an overactive imagination.
I also encountered a lady who screamed at me that she was ‘not interested.’ That could mean I interrupted her dinner or her television program, but it likely meant she didn’t pay any attention to politics and could care less. This is the most disturbing one of the four people I encountered. The other three are engaged in the process and are voting. They are at least paying some attention to their government, but the uninterested person is one who presents the greatest threat to our countries future. We must have people engaged in the process to maintain our system of government. America is a land of the self-governed. The people are the boss- not the elected officials. Whether you like politics or not, you live in a country where it is imperative you let your voice be heard. At the very least you should vote. When nearly 40% of those eligible to vote in Oklahoma are not registered to vote, the future looks bleak.
A common characteristic all four individuals had was they were very rude and appeared to be angry because I had dared to knock their door to campaign. I was simply exercising my first amendment right of free speech. Any candidate or volunteer of a candidate- from any Party- who proactively takes the time to walk the street and campaign door to door should be applauded. That should be encouraged from both sides of the political spectrum. It’s what is missing from the process- interaction with the people.
In the next three weeks, candidates will be out and about asking for your vote. Instead of harassing or being rude to candidates from another Party or those who disagree with you politically, be civil and respective of the other person’s right to be a part of the process. Debate the issues and passionately stand up for your convictions, but don’t be rude if they disagree with your ideology. Celebrate that you live in a land where free speech is allowed and not attacked. Agree to disagree. If you are not interested, get interested- your future and the future of your children depend on it. The last day to register to vote for the November 4th election is Friday October 10th.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
IT’S YOUR GOVERNMENT!
by Steve Fair
In a recent study by the Pew Institute, they found that only 76.9% of Oklahomans eligible to vote are registered-one of the lowest rates in the U.S. In 2012, Pew found that one in eight active registrations across the country are invalid or inaccurate. If you don’t believe that, ask a candidate who is running for office. The frustration of the accuracy of voter lists is universal. Many people who register move and don’t update their registration.
A recent editorial in The Oklahoman challenged readers to be informed voters. They wrote, “Those who don’t vote don’t have a voice in politics. We hope more Oklahomans reject self-imposed irrelevancy and instead embrace active citizenship by becoming informed voters.” Good admonition, but let’s examine why people do not register to vote? Here are five primary reasons:
First, because they believe their vote doesn’t make a difference. In most people’s mind, one vote can’t make that much of a difference in an election. In most cases they are right, but in modern history, just one vote per precinct separated Kennedy and Nixon in the election of 1960. In the 2000 presidential election, the margin of victory by George W. Bush over Al Gore was less than one vote per precinct in Florida. In 1800, just one vote made Thomas Jefferson president instead of Aaron Burr. One vote made Hitler the leader of the Nazi Party. One vote admitted Texas, California and Oregon into the United States. One vote does matter.
Second, U.S. citizens have a responsibility to participate in their government. It’s not just your right to participate in your government- it’s your responsibility. We can’t have government by the people if the people don’t participate. When you consider that just 75% of those who can register to vote are registered and only 65% of those 75 ever show up, that means less than 50% of the citizens in Oklahoma are making decisions for the 100%. In municipal and school district elections, the percentage of participation drops to less than 15% of the total population. That is deployable! American citizens should take their responsibility seriously. FDR said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
Third, people opt out of politics because the candidates and the process are corrupt. Yep, it’s true- politics is corrupt, but so is business, civic clubs, churches and every other part of society. It is true elected officials are not perfect. They are just like all of us- born with a fallen nature. When someone says they can’t bring themselves to vote for the ‘lesser of two evils,’ they must remember that until Jesus Christ is on the ballot we are always voting for the lesser of two evils. The primary reason politics has become corrupt and there is so much money in the process is because of the apathy of the average citizen. Get informed and stay informed.
Fourth, they are too busy to vote. That may have been a valid excuse in years past when you could only cast your vote on Tuesday, but Oklahoma has early voting. You can vote in-person absentee at the local county courthouse the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the Tuesday election. You can also vote by absentee ballot. It’s easier than ever to let your voice be heard.
Fifth, they have no interest in politics. If you buy gasoline, turn on your lights, use your cell phone, drive on the streets, go to school, pay taxes, you should be interested in politics. The rate of with holdings from your paycheck and the amount of tax accessed to that gallon of gasoline is determined by people elected by the people. Elected officials make decisions that touch your life every day and to opt out because you don’t have an interest just gives those who do pay attention more power and influence in the political process. Pay attention- it’s your money.
It is just a month from the November 4th election. The last day to register to vote is Friday October 10th. You can go to the state election board website at http://www.ok.gov/elections/ or pick up a form at the library, post office or tag agency.
John Quincy Adams said, “always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”