• Plenty of room to cut government spending

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 26, 2015

    THE phrase, “your tax dollars at work,” is usually not a compliment. U.S. Rep. Steve Russell's latest “Waste Watch” report demonstrates why. The report highlights examples of pointless government spending. It is telling that Russell, R-Oklahoma City, easily identifies $823 million in dubious spending while barely scratching the surface of federal government largesse. One example that appears quite egregious is a nearly $30,000 grant the National Endowment for the Humanities provided for a study to “understand and describe toxic rhetoric in online spaces, with an emphasis on large-scale multiplayer computer games.

  • Arthur Brooks: Conservative policy can also be good politics

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 25, 2015

    REPUBLICANS have struggled to win the presidency in recent election cycles, and some analysts suggest demographic trends may make that goal even more daunting in the future. To do better, Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, has a simple response: Advance conservative policies that help more people achieve greater prosperity. That sounds like a no-brainer, yet many conservative politicians have resisted. Brooks hopes to change that. He's offered a detailed defense of his idea in a new book, “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America,” which he discussed during a recent visit to Oklahoma.

  • Turning Oklahoma DHS around proving to be slow work

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Fri, Oct 23, 2015

    WE are making positive gains in turning this ship around …” Those are the words of Ed Lake, director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, in a letter emailed to The Oklahoman after the most recent report by experts charged with overseeing the agency's work to improve child welfare outcomes. Lake's metaphor is apt — the scope of the problem is massive. Rapid improvement was never likely. However the three experts, called co-neutrals, noted in their report Oct. 14 that 230 of the 16,640 children in state custody from April 2014 through March 2015 experienced maltreatment. The goal, agreed upon as part of the state's settlement of a federal lawsuit against DHS, is to keep 99.68 percent of foster children safe.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Not much interest in the 'Truth'

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Oct 24, 2015

    IN 2004, “60 Minutes II” aired a segment claiming President George W. Bush failed to fulfill his military obligations serving in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam era. That report was supposedly based on documents from the “personal file” of Bush's commanding officer. But those documents were almost immediately proven to be complete and obvious fakes created on a modern computer. News anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes quickly lost their jobs due to the scandal. Yet despite having perpetuated a bogus attack on a president that was proven to be fraudulent, Rather and Mapes continue to insist that they're somehow the victims in this story. That bit of spin is furthered in Mapes' account of the incident,

  • Logic lacking in fight over Oklahoma special-needs law

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 23, 2015

    OPPONENTS of a state scholarship program for children with special needs are determined to destroy it. If that requires jettisoning any pretense of logical coherence, then so be it. To cite just a few of many examples, opponents argue that scholarships to non-church affiliated schools are a violation of a state ban on aid to religion, but that state aid to explicitly religious entities outside K-12 education are not. They argue scholarships somehow drain school funds, when it's a mathematical fact that repeal of the law would reduce efficiency and provide less education benefit.

  • Lessons offered in demise of Affordable Care Act co-ops

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 23, 2015

    NO matter how many times big-government theories fail upon exposure to reality, many liberals insist the solution is to embrace even bigger government. The demise of Obamacare's insurance co-ops provides the latest example. Among other things, the Affordable Care Act authorized creation of “nonprofit” co-ops to sell insurance. Supposedly, these would operate free of greedy market influences to provide lower-cost, quality insurance than private insurers. Instead, many co-ops are now collapsing. They were created in 23 states; eight have already gone belly up.

  • Paul Ryan is right choice to become speaker

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Wed, Oct 21, 2015

    Paul Ryan is right choice to become speaker

  • As tax issues debated, don't forget the effect on the poor

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 22, 2015

    IN politics, people like the abstract idea of various government programs but not the concrete reality of paying for them. Consequently, much effort is spent portraying government taxes as impacting only the nebulous “rich.” That such claims are a smokescreen is becoming more apparent in Oklahoma. Recently, University of Oklahoma President David Boren called for increasing the state sales tax to boost funding for public schools and colleges. That plan involves all citizens directly feeling a tax hit. Another tax proposal floated at the Oklahoma Capitol would similarly make the up-front costs of government more obvious. Rep.

  • Filling Oklahoma's jobs gap requires shift in mindset

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Oct 21, 2015

    HOW do we fill the workforce gap that exists in Oklahoma, and may exist for the next many years? There is no easy answer, but plenty of suggestions have been provided following The Oklahoman's series of stories last week outlining the issue. Some in the education community insist that unless more is spent on education, we're just spinning our wheels. Other voices, from outside education, say educators need to look for new ways to teach our youth. Others say that innovative work already is being done to connect students with potential employers, but more is needed. Our takeaway: All parties — educators, lawmakers, the business community, moms and dads — need to begin thinking differently about education and the

  • Too often, environmental regs are driven by politics, not reality

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Oct 21, 2015

    IDEALLY, federal environmental regulations would be designed to reduce pollution where it truly exists. But in many cases, it's clear that environmental regulations are driven more by politics and public relations. This fact is highlighted, perhaps inadvertently, by MarketWatch and 24/7 Wall St.'s recent listing of the 10 most polluted cities in the United States. That ranking is based on “State of the Air,” a report released annually by the American Lung Association, which considers two types of pollution: ozone pollution and particle pollution. What's interesting is that many of the nation's worst-polluted cities are in California, a state often touted for its devotion to environmentalism.

  • Oil patch service providers also feel pinch of downturn

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Oct 20, 2015

    THEY also hunt for energy: Those who rent rigs, sell drilling mud, maintain wells and provide a host of other ancillary products and services. And those service providers also suffer the slings and arrows from critics when oil prices and profits are high. Yet they get nothing but stony silence from those critics when profits plunge. Schlumberger, considered by some analysts to be the best major company in the sector (from an investor's standpoint), just reported an earnings-per-share drop of 11 percent in the third quarter versus the comparable quarter of 2014. Service companies don't get much respect from the anti-fossil fuel crowd, but they're usually not demonized in the same way the big energy firms are.

  • Professor's bigotry display draws little notice on this college campus

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 19, 2015

    THOSE in academia like to portray college campuses as enclaves of tolerance and intellectual exploration. That attitude would be easier to take if fewer college officials openly embraced bigotry. Consider Anthea Butler, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Recently, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, the only serious black candidate in the presidential race from either party, was asked about display of the Confederate flag by private citizens. Among other things, Carson responded, “If it's a majority of people in that area who want it to fly, I certainly wouldn't take it down.” He specified that he was referring to displays on private property.

  • Trends not promising for Affordable Care Act

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 19, 2015

    IT'S long been a punch line, yet somehow President Barack Obama's promise that if citizens like their health plans, they can keep them under his health care law is still being disproved in new ways every day. Just ask Oklahomans who purchase insurance through this state's Obamacare exchange. Oklahoma Watch reports that Oklahoma's exchange will have fewer companies offering policies next year, and the policies offered will be more restrictive. And those policies are expected to be more expensive. Starting Jan. 1, this state's exchange will go from having five companies offering policies to two. CommunityCare of Oklahoma, which offers health maintenance organization plans, and GlobalHealth, another HMO insurer, are

  • Bill to consolidate Oklahoma law agencies worth considering next year

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 18, 2015

    EFFORTS to consolidate state agencies are usually prompted by financial concerns. Lawmakers in a pinch seek to save money any way they can. But even when financial savings from consolidating may be relatively small, doing so can still benefit citizens through greater efficiency. A proposal to consolidate Oklahoma's state law enforcement agencies may be warranted based on efficiency alone. Last week, House leaders announced that they will advance legislation to combine some functions of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. Lawmakers may face a budget shortfall of $600 million to $1.

  • Oklahoma DHS must find way to lower maltreatment rate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 18, 2015

    PERHAPS it's to be expected that the Department of Human Services is making only halting progress in improving care for foster children. After all, DHS is a giant agency with a giant workload, the latter the result of myriad societal issues that have long plagued Oklahoma. There are no easy fixes. Yet that doesn't make it any less disappointing to read what three experts have to say in parts of their latest report about DHS. These experts, who are monitoring the state's efforts to comply with a 2012 class-action lawsuit settlement, said children are being abused and neglected far too often while in state care, and that the agency isn't making sustained progress in key areas.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Reaganite conservatism still works

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Oct 17, 2015

    THE penchant of a small group of congressional Republicans to do seemingly everything in their power to derail conservatives continues unabated. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has done more to advance the cause of limited government and spending restraint in Washington than almost any other Republican figure on the national scene. Yet now that Ryan is being encouraged to run for House speaker, he's being attacked for being, in the words of a New York Times report, “too far left.” Those attacks are occurring in spite of the fact that many of Ryan's budget proposals are “anathema to most Democrats.” Ryan is being harshly criticized for, among other things, supporting free trade and immigration reform.

  • In stabbing case, Oklahoma appeals court faces big decision

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 16, 2015

    SOME members of the Legislature are quick to criticize Oklahoma courts when they issue rulings that rub them the wrong way. However a case headed for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals underscores how difficult judges' jobs can be at times. The appeals court will soon be asked to decide whether Michael Bever, a 16-year-old from Broken Arrow, should be tried as an adult in the killings of his parents and three of his siblings. Michael and his 18-year-old brother, Robert, are charged with first-degree murder in the July 22 deaths. Both have pleaded not guilty. This week, a Tulsa County judge denied a request by Michael Bever's attorney to have the teen certified as a youthful offender or a juvenile delinquent.

  • Populism, class envy play large role in Democrats' debate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 16, 2015

    IN the 1970s, Hillary Clinton was a Democratic staffer for the committee considering the impeachment of Richard M. Nixon. Republicans cried foul at the process, deeming it “political.” The same was said by Democrats when Clinton's husband was impeached. And the same is now said by Clinton herself regarding congressional oversight of her email accounts and other scandals involving the former first lady and secretary of state. Political? Of course. All three examples are overtly political because the Constitution set things up that way! Congress, not the courts, was given authority over alleged malfeasance in office. Somehow, though, it's only “political” when the other guy is aiming it at you.

  • Flawed arguments hurt effort for new 'Indigenous Peoples Day'

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 15, 2015

    THE push to denote the second Monday in October as “Indigenous Peoples Day” is succeeding in some U.S. cities, but it hasn't in Oklahoma City — at least not yet. Our sense is that may change in time, particularly if proponents were to amend their sales pitch. The Oklahoma City Council heard from 25 speakers during a 90-minute stretch of Tuesday's meeting, before voting 5-4 against a proposal to adopt Indigenous Peoples Day. Opposed were Mayor Mick Cornett, and council members Meg Salyer, Mark Stonecipher, Larry McAtee and James Greiner.

  • No reason for Obama administration to downgrade religious persecution

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 15, 2015

    IN government, even an organizational chart can signal an administration's priorities. Under Barack Obama, the organizational structure at the State Department sends a bizarre message to the world's worst regimes: It's bad to behead minority Christians, but not as bad as contributing to climate change. In 2014, Congress passed the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act, which established a special envoy to promote religious freedom of religious minorities in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The special envoy was to have the rank of ambassador. But instead of appointing a special envoy, President Obama recently appointed a special adviser.