• Scalise dust-up: Good reason to oppose racists in government

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 9, 2015

    U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., reportedly once spoke before a racist group in 2002. But it appears Scalise was not aware of the group’s objectives and never shared their views. Several black officials have defended Scalise. In the end, this controversy appears a tempest in a tea pot. But it was appropriate for these charges to be thoroughly investigated. No one wants a dyed-in-the-wool racist holding any position of government authority, let alone serving as House majority whip, the high-ranking position Scalise holds within the U.S. House hierarchy.

  • GOP members' 'revolt' against Boehner is shortsighted

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 8, 2015

    NOW that Republicans control both chambers of Congress, conservatives have reason to hope for modest policy gains. But the “object now, think later” approach of some Republicans threatens to thwart even minor advances, as evidenced by the effort to deny U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, a third term as speaker of the House. A handful of Republicans, declaring Boehner insufficiently conservative, sought to oust him by withholding their support during the speaker election in the House. Boehner ultimately prevailed. Only 25 Republicans participating did not vote for him; 216 supported Boehner. Admittedly, protest votes against sitting speakers aren’t new, although such efforts are mostly for show. In 1997, nine Republicans

  • Oklahoma lawmaker's 'hoodie' bill appears redundant

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Wed, Jan 7, 2015

    State Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton, has kicked a hornet’s nest with a bill to ban, among other things, wearing hoodies to conceal one’s identity. Resulting national publicity has mostly been negative. Senate Bill 13 would make it illegal for individuals to “intentionally conceal” their identity in a public place “by means of a robe, mask or other disguise.” Barrington said the legislation is intended to increase public safety by deterring criminals from concealing their faces. The legislation has its fans, such as Shelly Cruze, who runs a liquor store that was once robbed. Cruze told a television news reporter that the robber’s “hood was up and it was drawn.

  • Stable oil prices would help with Oklahoma budget forecast

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jan 7, 2015

    LAST July 1, the day state government’s fiscal year 2015 began, who would have thought that the economic forecast for fiscal 2016 would be so uncertain? Such are the vicissitudes of economic forecasting in an era of plunging oil prices. Spillover effects of a 50 percent drop in crude prices include hits to the worth of Oklahoma’s publicly traded energy firms. “Our state lives and dies by the price of oil, but particularly our local stocks,” a Tulsa asset manager told The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies last week. To mock the highly mockable Yogi Berra, is this 1982 deja vu all over again? Not quite. For starters, the Oil Patch learned something from the 1980s oil bust. And the state of Oklahoma learned that it must

  • Change in Oklahoma mental health records law can't get here soon enough

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jan 7, 2015

    The gains that Oklahoma must make in providing mental health services include doing a better job of ensuring that those who shouldn’t have weapons don’t get them. Currently the state lags well behind most other states. The Oklahoman’s Jennifer Palmer reported this week that the state had provided only 25 mental health records to the FBI to use in its National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). As of Nov. 30, there were 3.7 million such records in the system. Oklahoma is one of nine states that have submitted fewer than 100 records. Oklahoma law makes many of the records off limits.

  • Filmdom has taken this bad road before

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jan 6, 2015

    The movie was about the assassination of a world leader. Naturally it was controversial. Naturally the chain multiplex theaters were uncomfortable showing it. Naturally that made it all the more appealing to those who don’t like being told that some movie themes simply cross a line that shouldn’t be crossed. And, naturally, the subject — the man being taken out by assassins — wouldn’t want to see himself getting killed. The movie title is “Death of a President,” not “The Interview.” The release date was 2006, not 2014. The ostensible assassination target didn’t try to suppress its release. The target’s name was U.S. President George W. Bush, not North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

  • Government played little role in U.S. third-quarter growth

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jan 6, 2015

    THE U.S. economy’s third-quarter growth hit 5 percent, the best rate in 11 years. The question now is whether government action played any role. For conservatives, the improved economic outlook vindicates those who’ve tried to rein in federal spending. Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, makes a solid case for the economic benefits of restrained federal spending. Moore notes that the federal outlay, expressed as a share of gross domestic product, has declined significantly. In 2009, federal spending equaled 24.4 percent of GDP. By 2014, it represented just 21 percent. A recent estimate suggests it fell below 20 percent in the final quarter of 2014.

  • Oklahoma House speaker Jeff Hickman has two big items on his radar

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Mon, Jan 5, 2015

    In Oklahoma’s weak-governor political system, the position of speaker of the House of Representatives is probably the most powerful at the Capitol. Therefore, it’s important that the person in that job sets an agenda designed to produce tangible, productive results for the state. The current speaker, Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, is suggesting he will. In a guest column included in state Treasurer Ken Miller’s most recent monthly economic report, Hickman said one of his goals for the 2015 session is better management of state finances. How? By reviewing tax credits and the many ways incoming revenue is taken “off the top” of the state budget and directed elsewhere. Hickman noted that the state offers about $1.7

  • OKC urban renewal proposal is proper

    The Oklahoman editorial | Published: Mon, Jan 5, 2015

    “THAT is not OK.” With the passion of a preacher, Ward 7 Oklahoma City Councilman John Pettis appealed to the better angels of fellow council members, urging creation of a new urban renewal zone. The rub on urban renewal programs for years is that they’ve devastated minority communities in city after city. Yet here was the council’s sole black member with an impassioned appeal for urban renewal. And here were the council’s most liberal members, led by Ward 2’s Ed Shadid, opposing the idea. Pettis’ argument won the day. Shadid limped out of Tuesday’s debate as one of two no votes, versus the seven that approved Northeast Renaissance Urban Renewal District.

  • Reality undermines arguments to expand Medicaid

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 4, 2015

    EXPANSION of Medicaid under Obamacare is touted by proponents as a pain-free way to increase insurance coverage while “growing” the economy through an infusion of federal dollars. But real-world implementation continues to indicate that Oklahoma could pay a high price for expansion and that expansion’s alleged benefits are overstated. The appeal of Medicaid expansion is that the federal government would pay all expansion costs during the first few years, and then purportedly pay 90 percent of expenses thereafter. But the state portion of the tab isn’t insignificant.

  • Free speech OK for some, not others on college campuses

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 4, 2015

    NOTED constitutional attorney Alan Dershowitz calls himself a liberal Democrat, but he has no time for some of the behavior coming from his ideological brethren on college campuses. Writing last week on the conservative website Newsmax, Dershowitz noted how students at Brandeis University were coming to the defense of a fellow student whose incendiary, offensive public tweets about police and the United States had been posted on a website by another Brandeis student. On the day two New York City police officers were assassinated, Khadijah Lynch tweeted that she had no sympathy. “IMAO, all I just really don’t have sympathy for the cops who were shot. I hate this racist (expletive deleted) country,” she wrote.

  • ScissorTales: Nervousness, hysteria contributed to OKC drilling decision

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jan 3, 2015

    A recent decision not to drill for oil near Lake Hef-ner put a different spin on the usual “not in my back yard” protest. Instead, cries of “not near my drinking water” carried the day. Oklahoma City-based Pedestal Oil Co. Inc. had hoped to drill a handful of wells on the south end of Lake Hefner, one of the city’s chief water supplies. When Pedestal first proposed the idea a few years ago, the city met with a group of nearby residents and recreational users. This time around, hundreds of people turned out to speak against the idea. The difference? One might be that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has been unfairly demonized in many areas of the country. Many of those at the Dec.

  • Report highlights Oklahoma's teacher challenges

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 2, 2015

    OFFICIALS have warned that Oklahoma faces a teacher shortage since many schools struggle to fill all positions with qualified individuals. Now a report from the National Council on Teacher Quality highlights another problem: Many Oklahoma teachers are entering the profession insufficiently prepared. In its 2014 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, the council “casts a critical eye” on whether state requirements for teacher preparation and licensure ensure educators are ready to teach to college- and career-readiness standards. The council gave Oklahoma a C. The report finds Oklahoma’s system is especially weak at producing qualified special education teachers, math teachers in elementary schools, and middle school teachers.

  • Gas prices stimulate sales of bigger vehicles

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 2, 2015

    A money thing happened on the way to selling more cars that get good gas mileage and to making more electricity with clean and green nuclear energy. What happened is a North American energy boom that’s flooded the continent with oil and gas supplies and factored into a dramatic decline in crude prices and gasoline prices. The latter is responsible for the latest consumer resistance to buying more fuel-efficient automobiles. With gas this cheap, why not get that monster pickup? The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. consumers are again favoring SUVs and trucks, which made up 52 percent of vehicles sold in October, compared with 44 percent in the comparable month of 2008.

  • Change in Colorado pot law impacts behavior

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 2, 2015

    According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of Colorado residents using marijuana has increased significantly. We know: surprise, surprise. Still, as we’ve noted in other contexts, most citizens are law-abiding, which means they typically obey laws even when they don’t agree with them. This is proving true in Colorado. Marijuana decriminalization has led many people to use the drug who previously abstained. It’s hard to see how this is a positive development. According to the survey, about one in eight Colorado residents over the age of 12 reported using marijuana in the previous month. That was a higher percentage than all but one state. In 2011 and 2012, the survey found 10.

  • Some of our wishes for 2015

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 1, 2015

    HARD to believe, but another year has come and gone. In this time of new beginnings and optimism, The Oklahoman’s editorial board will eschew the new year’s resolution thing and instead offer a list of the wishes we have for 2015. If some of them sound familiar, it’s because they echo expressions of hope made in previous editorials — including the one that ran on this page a year ago today. We’re reminded that even in an age of lightning-fast communications and instant messaging, some debates take years to settle and some issues languish until a critical point is reached. Still, in the spirit of fresh starts, open minds and welcoming hearts, we present our annual list of things we’d like to see happen this

  • Words did not directly lead to police officers' killings

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Dec 31, 2014

    CONSERVATIVES have for years defended their rhetoric against sticks-and-stones hurling by liberals claiming that a right-winger’s words not only hurt but can kill. Now that liberals are in the same cross hairs, perhaps it’s time to restate the obvious: Words don’t kill people. People kill people. After consoling the families of victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, President Bill Clinton hinted in an interview that Timothy McVeigh’s deadly attack was somehow linked to conservative talk radio. When U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, R-Ariz., was gunned down in suburban Tucson in 2011, tea party “hate speech” was linked to a crime that nearly killed Giffords and took the lives of six others.

  • The first lady's disappointing story revision

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Dec 30, 2014

    MICHELLE Obama’s tale of a shopping trip she made in September 2011 is still generating some head scratching. In 2012 on national television, she was laughing about going almost unnoticed during the trip to Target. Months later, with some time to think about it, the first lady has told People magazine that she was perhaps the target of some mild bigotry. Her first version of the story, told to late-night host David Letterman, was probably the most accurate. To recap, most believe she made the trip to show the world that the Obamas were just average folks. After all, there was an election around the corner in 2012. She didn’t enter the Target with all the trappings of first lady. Photographs of the trip show her dressed

  • U.S. Rep. Mullin's approach about business in Washington is a good one

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Dec 30, 2014

    AFTER he was first elected to Congress in 2012, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin found one of his biggest challenges was to accept that progress in government occurs far more slowly than in the private sector. “It took me until February of my first year in to learn how to breathe, take a deep breath and start realizing this is a long fight,” Mullin, R-Westville, told The Oklahoman’s editorial board. “This isn’t a short-term fight. This is a long fight.” Mullin said modest gains achieved incrementally lead to major victories in time. That’s a point worth stressing: For Republicans to truly change the course of the federal government, lawmakers and their constituents must accept that incremental improvement represents a

  • Look for tax-cutting wave to continue across the country

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Dec 29, 2014

    EIGHTEEN states cut taxes in 2013. Fourteen states, including Oklahoma, did so this year. Thus, 32 states have done in the past two years what the federal government seems incapable of doing — restructuring a tax system. Tax-cutting is clearly a bipartisan priority at the state level. This isn’t a red state phenomenon. Can you guess which state won the 2014 Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform award from the Tax Foundation? It was New York, long considered a bastion of high taxes. The Empire State enacted substantial corporate tax reform to help offset its business-unfriendly image. Jared Meyer of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research says New York’s corporate tax rate will be at its lowest level