Top Stories

  • Advocate: Tax increase on energy drilling in Oklahoma is unneeded, misguided

    BY DAVE BOND | Published: Sun, Apr 6, 2014

    Serious efforts are underway at our state Capitol to raise taxes on job creators who drill for crude oil and natural gas within Oklahoma’s borders. Yes, in a state with Republican supermajority control, tax increases are in play. This is puzzling since, in Oklahoma, total state tax collections and total state government spending are already at all-time highs. The tax in question is Oklahoma’s gross production tax, also called a severance tax, assessed on those who drill for oil and natural gas. Oklahoma’s severance tax is 7 percent, based on how many barrels of oil or thousand cubic feet of natural gas are extracted. For horizontal and deep wells, the tax is 1 percent the first four years of production.

  • Michael Gerson: Our dysfunctional U.S. Senate

    Published: Sat, Apr 5, 2014

    WASHINGTON — God saves the Queen. He saves this Honorable Court. But who will save the United States Senate? The venerable institution that Democrats control and Republicans covet has lately been something of a circus. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev., prevents amendments and pursues an unhinged vendetta against the Koch brothers, private citizens engaged in lawful political activity. The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is under political siege from right and left in his own state. Conservative populists gain presidential buzz by blowing up or shutting down Senate processes. Since the U.S.

  • Cancer society official: What works in tobacco control

    BY J. LEONARD LICHTENFELD, M.D. | Published: Sat, Apr 5, 2014

    Tobacco is the only legal product in this country that, when used as intended, will kill half the people who use it. It costs the U.S. nearly half a million deaths a year and a staggering $300 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity. Those are big numbers and they are not just statistics: They are the people we love, the people we know and the people we work with. This is clearly a crisis. We must do all we can to stop the tobacco epidemic in this country. The good news is we know how to turn back the statistics.

  • Elgin mayor: Fix the Oklahoma Capitol, finish the cultural center

    BY LARRY THOMA | Published: Sat, Apr 5, 2014

    For the past 21 years, I’ve had the honor of serving as a mayor and city council member of a thriving community in southwestern Oklahoma. I’ve been fairly active in events surrounding the state Capitol during the legislative session. This year I’ve been disappointed in a couple of issues that are important to Oklahoma’s image. One is the Capitol itself, the first image many visitors see when they visit Oklahoma. For the last few years it’s been an absolute embarrassment for my grandchildren and their classmates to walk through barricades to the place where their representatives work and laws are made. For the governor to have to admit, in her State of the State address, that sewage is running down the walls is

  • Charles Krauthammer: John Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

    Published: Fri, Apr 4, 2014

    WASHINGTON — When has a secretary of state been involved in so many disastrous, self-initiated negotiations? First, John Kerry convenes — against all advice and holding no cards — Geneva negotiations to resolve the Syria conflict and supposedly remove Bashar al-Assad from power. The talks collapse in acrimony and confusion. Kerry’s response? A second Geneva conference that — surprise! — breaks up in acrimony and confusion. Then, even as Russian special forces are taking over Crimea, Kerry goes chasing after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — first to Paris, then Rome, then London — offering a diplomatic “offramp.” Lavrov shrugs him off. Russia annexes Crimea.

  • An innovative criminal justice reform bill in Oklahoma Legislature

    BY JASON STVERAK | Published: Fri, Apr 4, 2014

    Oklahoma has long prided itself as being tough on crime, but vigorous justice doesn’t have to come with the cost of a sprawling, ineffective bureaucracy. With a current record as the No. 1 state for female incarceration, the fourth for male incarceration, and a $520 million budget for the Department of Corrections, the state could be doing more to fight the causes of crime and spending less on locking up its citizens. An innovative criminal justice reform bill recently approved by the Oklahoma Senate could pave the way for solving the state’s incarceration rates, recidivism and spiraling costs. Senate Bill 1278, introduced by Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, would make Oklahoma an early adopter of a new financing scheme for criminal

  • Clarence Page: Colbert's irony and Twitter don't mix

    Published: Fri, Apr 4, 2014

    One of the unwritten but widely respected rules of satire is that somehow, somewhere, someone simply isn’t going to get the joke. And if they don’t get the joke, you get taken seriously about something you don’t really believe. That makes Stephen Colbert, who has turned a satirical version of himself into a Comedy Central superstar of fake news, one of the bravest people on television. It is therefore appropriate that he has found himself caught up in a real-time example of a new hazard of the digital age: Satire and Twitter go together like drunks and driving. “Who would have thought,” he lamented on Monday night, “that a means of communication limited to 140 characters would ever create

  • George F. Will: Jeb Bush's challenge

    Published: Thu, Apr 3, 2014

    WASHINGTON — The human kindling that makes up the flammable Republican base may soon burst into flames, again. Portions of that excitable cohort are looking — some with fawn-like eyes filled with hurt, others with sparks shooting from eyes narrowed like gun slits — askance at other Republicans urging Jeb Bush to seek the 2016 presidential nomination. A candidacy by Florida’s former governor would be desirable. But if Republicans want to avoid intra-party carnage, they should be very careful about doing what The Washington Post recently reported: “Many of the Republican Party’s most powerful insiders and financiers have begun a behind-the-scenes campaign to draft former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush into the 2016 presidential

  • University of Tulsa professor: Caution needed in push for natural gas exports

    BY REX J. ZEDALIS | Published: Wed, Apr 2, 2014

    The dust is settling from weeks of discussion about using exports of U.S. natural gas to respond to Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea. But apart from the oft-noted export infrastructure deficiencies, and the problem of the price premium for Europe over current Russian gas, four other factors deserve careful consideration before changing our restrictive policy on exports. First is the effect on U.S. consumers and the economy of increased prices resulting from any supply squeeze accompanying a draw-down associated with exports.

  • Washington Examiner: U.S. military spending on climate change should be stopped cold

    Published: Wed, Apr 2, 2014

    The United Nations’ International Committee on climate change issued a new report Monday that includes dire warnings of civil wars and international conflicts in countries where people are displaced by coastal flooding and resource shortages caused by extreme weather. As usual, the ICCC called for quick action to stem the emission of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases.” It’s the standard alarum of global-warming alarmists. Man-made global warming is still a theory, not established science or fact. From the facts we do know, carbon emissions (according to the EPA) have been rising almost steadily since 1900 (at least through 2008). But the evidence shows that global warming stopped in 1996.

  • Kathleen Parker: Lighten up on the first lady

    Published: Tue, Apr 1, 2014

    WASHINGTON — The past couple of weeks have marked a turning point in American ugliness as the mob has turned its full fury on first lady Michelle Obama. From criticism of her trip to China to a recent “tell-all” by former White House assistant press secretary Reid Cherlin writing for The New Republic about Mrs. Obama’s allegedly tyrannical behavior, the gloves have been removed. As described, she was a perfectionist — super-attentive to detail and laser-focused on advance planning. And this is bad because? Worse, according to a former (anonymous) staffer, there was no barometer for meeting Mrs. Obama’s high standards.

  • George F. Will: With opening day here, take a swing at these

    Published: Sun, Mar 30, 2014

    WASHINGTON — “Andre Dawson,” Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully once said, “has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. Aren’t we all?” Yes, so use some of your remaining time constructively by identifying the player or players who: (1) Won three batting titles by at least 44 points (two players). (2) Hit more than 50 home runs in a season in which he had fewer than 50 strikeouts. (3) Won a batting title hitting .361 but slumped to .243 the next season. (4) Was the oldest MVP. (5) Caught the most games. (6) Was the first catcher to hit 40 home runs. (7) Batted at least .300 and drove in at least 100 runs in each of his first 11 seasons. (8) Hit 50 home runs in one season and

  • State Rep. Jason Murphey: Simply calling for more education funding is easy way out

    BY STATE REP. JASON MURPHEY | Published: Sun, Mar 30, 2014

    Those who are coordinating Monday’s rally for education place an extraordinary emphasis on allocating more taxpayer dollars to common education entities. It would be much more appropriate for this group to first call for a more efficient use of the billions of dollars already paid by the taxpayers. Last year, legislators increased common education appropriations by $90 million. Just this one increase significantly exceeds the revenue provided each year to common education by the state lottery. Despite the size, this increase is a mere fraction of last fiscal year's $6.37 billion of common education financial transactions put through the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System (OCAS). This is up from the $6.04 billion put through OCAS in

  • State Rep. Scott Inman: Oklahoma rally a sign of caring about public education

    BY state rep., SCOTT INMAN | Published: Sun, Mar 30, 2014

    Don’t come. Stay home. You’re not wanted. You’re just a greedy monopoly. You might be surprised to learn that those comments were leveled at thousands of Oklahoma’s finest: your neighbors, church members, family and friends. Conservative think tanks and several Republican members of the Legislature with whom I work said those words — and worse — to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to what many view as a calling: educating the children of this state. And what exactly is it that teachers have done to deserve such vitriol? They had the audacity to believe they had a right to come to the state Capitol and advocate for the 678,000 children they’ve been teaching.

  • Machinist: Reading law crucial to Oklahoma's economic future

    BY CHUCK MILLS | Published: Sat, Mar 29, 2014

    Literacy isn’t always thought of as an important part of economic growth, but it is essential. The ability to read is required in nearly every profession. Prospective workers who haven’t encountered new technology and the workflow of today’s jobs can be trained, but too many lack even the rudimentary skills needed to grasp that training. We’re in a crisis, and it’s not going to get any better without positive changes in education. One of the biggest challenges to growing a skilled workforce is Oklahoma’s high rate of illiteracy. Nearly 30 percent of the state’s eighth-graders are unable to read proficiently, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

  • Former Oklahoma top teacher: I support Common Core State Standards

    BY KRISTIN SHELBY | Published: Sat, Mar 29, 2014

    As the 2012 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and more importantly as a National Board Certified Teacher with 17 years of classroom experience, I support the Common Core State Standards. Why? I’ve taught reading sufficiency and math throughout my career and have a deep understanding of the limitations of our old standards. One of my favorite shifts that Common Core makes is to the focus on critical thinking and problem solving, and further developing these skills at each grade level. Blanket memorization is insufficient, as proven by our students’ low performance. As a past fourth-grade teacher, I am alarmed by the fact that Oklahoma fourth-graders rank 38th in reading and 40th in math against their peers around the country.

  • Jules Witcover: Obama rules out military solution on Ukraine

    adam zyglis/the buffalo news | Published: Sat, Mar 29, 2014

    WASHINGTON — During the Cold War, the Western allies kept relative peace by committing to intervene militarily against overt violations of the national borders set at the end of World War II. In the current crisis in Ukraine, President Obama’s straightforward acknowledgment that there is no “military solution” will no doubt come as an affront to hard-liners at home. The American president made that flat assertion Wednesday in his speech in Brussels. “Now is not the time for bluster,” he said. “The situation in Ukraine, like crises in many parts of the world, does not have easy answers nor a military solution. But at this moment, we must meet the challenge to our ideals — to our very international order — with

  • Charles Krauthammer: Obama vs. Putin: The mismatch

    Published: Fri, Mar 28, 2014

    “The United States does not view Europe as a battleground between East and West, nor do we see the situation in Ukraine as a zero-sum game. That’s the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War.” — Barack Obama, March 24 WASHINGTON — Should. Lovely sentiment. As lovely as what Obama said five years ago to the United Nations: “No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation.” That’s the kind of sentiment you expect from a Miss America contestant asked to name her fondest wish, not from the leader of the free world explaining his foreign policy. The East Europeans know they inhabit the battleground between the West and a Russia that wants to return them to its sphere of

  • Ruth Marcus: Slippery slopes before the Supreme Court

    Published: Fri, Mar 28, 2014

    WASHINGTON — In the context of talking about limits on free speech, it’s common to say that your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. That seems like a sensible way to think about the freedom of religion case just argued before the Supreme Court: whether employers can be required to pay for contraceptive methods that would violate their religious convictions. Most disputes about religious freedom are bilateral — with the government on one side and the individual claiming infringement of religious liberty on the other.

  • General contractor: For Oklahoma roads and bridges, create a fair funding solution for all

    BY BOBBY STEM | Published: Fri, Mar 28, 2014

    Oklahoma’s roads aren’t what they used to be. Neither are the cars using them. Recently the Oklahoma Academy said it wants to change the way Oklahoma taxes consumers of gasoline. It wants the tax to move over the next few years from a static price per gallon to adjust for inflation and the rising fuel economy of most vehicles. I appreciate the academy bringing this issue to the forefront. However, the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors has a different opinion of how new transportation projects should be funded. The state’s eight-year construction plan touches every county in Oklahoma. It uses the current funding mechanism to build and maintain roads and bridges.