Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:
The Journal Record, Nov. 16, 2015
Thirsty for change
It took 52 years for Oklahomans to repeal self-imposed prohibition. The state got its start during the tide of temperance, but that slowly turned, first with the sale of beer to bolster state coffers during the Great Depression and finally a late-1950s, Mad Men-era repeal under Gov. J. Howard Edmondson. But liquor-by-the-drink remained a quarter century away.
Three decades hence, Oklahoma ranks in the middle of the alcohol restrictiveness pack, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Oklahoma is No. 27 on the list, which ranks Colorado and Maryland are the most alcohol friendly. The study measured restrictions on distribution, taxes, blue laws, keg registrations and so-called happy hour bans. The most restrictive states are Utah and Washington.
Oklahoma is again considering whether it's time to modernize its stance on alcohol sales with a push toward a ballot measure that would allow liquor stores to refrigerate beer and sell non-alcoholic products. Grocers would be able to sell full-strength beer.
Opposition to the statutory belt loosening has come from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
"For both adults and adolescents, increased access to alcohol, including alcohol of higher concentrations, negatively impacts our state's economic productivity, overall health, readiness for learning and public safety," Commissioner Terri White wrote in a statement to The Journal Record. She went on to suggest Oklahoma legislators should look to other states for effective prevention strategies to decrease negative consequences.
But a look at other states reveals no such consequences. According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 7.2 percent of Oklahomans age 12 and older are dependent on or abused alcohol within the past year, compared to 6.7 percent nationally. That's where one would expect the middle-of-the-pack state to be if legal restrictions tied directly to abuse. But it should follow that Colorado and Maryland have much higher rates, while Utah and Washington's are much lower. They're not. For the same period, Colorado was at 7.5 percent and Maryland was below the national average at 6.5 percent. Utah was lower, at 5.4 percent, but Washington was higher at 7.6 percent.
As much of the nation learned during Prohibition, restrictions on alcohol sales have little to do with alcohol consumption.
A SoonerPoll conducted by the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma showed that a majority of residents favor changing the liquor laws. So do we.
Tulsa World, Nov. 14, 2015
Loss of Keystone XL Pipeline is a victory for environmental extremists and a loss for the United States
President Barack Obama's decision to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline was disappointing to many in the energy business, especially those who might have benefited from the jobs the pipeline would have created. But its demise was not surprising.
The extreme elements of the environmental movement opposed the pipeline, and Obama and the national Democratic Party rely on green votes and money. The irony is that pipelines remain the safest way to transport oil over long distances and pose the least threat to the environment. Obama's decision doesn't block the oil from being transported. It just means it'll come in railroad tank cars with occasional disastrous results.
But this was not just a fight between environmentalists and Big Oil. It was also about access and energy independence.
In the end, politics won out. When Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party were elected in Canadian elections, the pipeline was doomed.
For seven years, TransCanada had threatened to build a pipeline through western Canada with crude headed for Asia. That pipeline would have bypassed U.S. refineries and costs U.S. jobs.
Trudeau and his Liberal Party will not allow the western pipeline to be built. TransCanada lost its leverage. After seven years, TransCanada announced it would not further pursue the pipeline.
Protecting the environment is important to Democrats and Republicans. But the hope and even guarantee by some that the U.S. will soon not need fossil fuels is a foolish figment. Oil does more than run our vehicles. It is vital in the production of many products that we use every day, from toothpaste to plastics.
Until, and if, alternative fuels become affordable and dependable, the country will need oil and the jobs it produces. That is just as true without the pipeline. The difference is that our supply — and therefore everything we do — remains critically tied to distant potentates who could care less about what's best for the American people.
The Oklahoman, Nov. 11, 2015
GOP needs better than Trump if it hopes to win White House
The bombast, as always with Donald Trump, was on full display during the fourth prime-time debate among Republican presidential candidates. So too was the boorishness and negativism and hubris that should give GOP voters pause.
This debate in Milwaukee, hosted by Fox Business Channel and The Wall Street Journal, focused primarily on economic issues — everything from tax policy to trade to immigration reform — and touched on other topics such as foreign policy. At nearly every turn, Trump was more bluster than anything else.
This was acutely evident in discussing trade, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership with 11 Pacific countries, which is being vetted now by Congress. Gerard Baker of The Wall Street Journal noted that most economists believe trade has helped growth, and that every postwar president — including the last three from the GOP — has supported trade expansion.
Trump dismissed the TPP as "a horrible deal" that will lead to "nothing but trouble. It's a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone." He added that "It's 5,600 pages long, so complex that nobody's read it."
No one has read it, Trump says, but he also says the deal is terrible. How does that add up?
Baker followed up by informing the candidate that 80 percent of U.S. trade with the 11 Pacific countries is tariff-free, and that the deal affects only the other 20 percent. He asked which particular parts of the deal Trump believed were poorly negotiated.
"Yes, well, the currency manipulation they don't discuss in the agreement, which is a disaster," Trump said. "If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States — China in particular, because they're so good. It's the No. 1 abuser of this country. ."
A moment later, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul offered up this zinger: "Hey Gerard, you know we might want to point out China is not part of this deal."
On immigration, Trump got an earful from some of the other candidates when he defended his plan to send all illegal immigrants back to Mexico and allow them to return legally someday. He repeated points he has made since entering the race — a wall will be built along the border, we're a nation of laws, etc.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich was especially passionate. "We all know you can't pick them up and ship them across, back across the border," Kasich said. "It's a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense."
Trump's response? "All I can say is, you're lucky in Ohio that you struck oil."
Kasich later explained that while hydraulic fracturing had helped boost the Ohio economy, the energy sector was a small piece of the 347,000 new jobs in that state during his time as governor. Trump: "I've built an unbelievable company worth billions and billions of dollars. I don't have to hear from this man, believe me."
Trump drew boos when, bothered by Carly Fiorina's back-and-forth with Paul at one point, he complained, "Why does she keep interrupting everybody? Terrible."
Is this presidential? Do Republicans want as their candidate someone who belittles opponents rather than debates them, and who offers only vague assurances that things will be better with him in the White House? Do they want as their candidate a man who seems to have so little good to say about this country?
"We are a country that is being beaten on every front economically, militarily." "We don't win anymore." ''We have a country that's going to hell." Trump said all these Tuesday night. The party needs better than that if it's serious about trying to win the White House in 2016.