WHO is Jim Rogers?
The question isn't of the magnitude of the one posed in “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand: “Who is John Galt?” But it was a question on the minds of pundits outside Oklahoma.
How could an incumbent president avoid winning in two congressional districts in his own party's primary? How could Barack Obama not carry 15 counties in a contest in which only Democrats voted? How could this mysterious Jim Rogers and Randall Terry, a fiercely anti-abortion candidate, get enough support to actually earn delegates?
Yes, the turnout was low and Obama supporters had no particular reason to vote in Tuesday's primary. The president is assured of the nomination. Still, we'd expect an incumbent president to win every county. But this is the state in which not a single county supported Obama in the 2008 general election.
The Rogers surname always gets votes in Oklahoma elections. Terry is another matter. The Big Tent Party has little room for candidates who don't walk the abortion-rights walk. Like Ron Paul on the GOP side, Terry knows he has zero chance. But candidate status gives him a pass on pro-life advertising restrictions.
Obama's interest in Oklahoma, already low, just dropped lower. Democrats in the only congressional district represented by a Democrat rejected the president. This may rate an Atlas-sized shrug now but it shows that support for Obama isn't universal even among Democrats. Obama will definitely be nominated but a second term is hardly definite.
Weather couldn't be blamed. The dog didn't eat the ballot. So state Democratic Party officials had to find something else to finger for the fact that Barack Obama managed to lose 15 counties in Tuesday's presidential primary and came in third in some of those counties. The blame for an incumbent president's 57 percent finish statewide in a five-man race officially went to low turnout. By contrast, incumbent George H.W. Bush took 70 percent of the Republican vote in 1992, also in a five-man race, and won all the delegates up for grabs. Unless party officials can find a way around it, Obama will have to share Oklahoma's delegate count with Randall Terry and Jim Rogers. Urban Democrats, even in Oklahoma, still like Obama. But look for their rural counterparts to join Republicans and independents in supporting the GOP nominee in November. There's no excuse for the president's unpopularity here.
Heard the joke about the Chevy Volt? It was subjected to a battery of tests and all of them came out negative. The electric car, a darling of the fossil fuel-averse Obama administration, didn't quite go the way of Solyndra, another administration flight of fancy, but it has been put in neutral. General Motors suspended sales after a rash of bad news over battery fires and slumping demand. Not to worry: America's first plug-in vehicle is a hit in Europe, where it was recently named Car of the Year. “Battery-operated cars are electrifying environmentalists, progressives and award-givers,” noted the New York Daily News. “The only ones who aren't juiced about them, it seems, are autobuyers.” The Volt is so politically correct that you can legally drive one solo on California freeway lanes restricted to cars with multiple passengers. Thus you can beat the fossil fuelers to any fire sales disposing of Solyndra's assets.
Members of the Oklahoma City Council used part of Tuesday's meeting debating whether to change an ordinance aimed at ticket scalpers. The current ordinance prohibits sellers from bumping the price of a ticket by more than 50 cents over face value. On the table is a proposal that would increase that to $20 above face value, keep scalpers at least 500 feet from event venues, and recognize ticket exchange programs run by teams or venues. But why wade into this issue at all? If a person wants to pay more for a ticket than the ticket is worth, so what? The council ought to spend its time on more pressing matters.
Oklahoma has a major problem with prescription drug abuse. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that our state has the highest rate of nonmedical use for painkillers. Such findings give credence to efforts like those by state Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore, who wants to require physicians to check the prescription history of new patients. Ownbey's House Bill 2574, approved this week by the House, would make doctors check the state narcotics bureau's online prescription monitoring program before prescribing a controlled dangerous substance to a new patient. Doctors also would have to do a similar check each year on all their patients. Two legislators who are physicians took opposite stances on the bill. One said it would be a burden, the other supported the plan. If it puts a dent in the doctor shopping that is so common in Oklahoma now, it will be worthwhile.
Oklahoma City's renaissance is gaining national attention. Along with Indianapolis and Tampa, we're featured as a U.S. city “joining the big leagues” in the latest issue of World magazine. Economic and quality-of-life factors contribute to this designation. Our state capital boasts a high level of entrepreneurial activity combined with low unemployment and a low cost of living. And let's not forget our exciting young NBA team, the Thunder. The article, contributed by Brandon Dutcher of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, contrasts the city's previous perception with its growing energy. “Not long ago Oklahoma City was just another small city in flyover country, perhaps best known as the site of the deadliest pre-9/11 terrorist attack in U.S. history, the 1995 bombing of a federal building,” Dutcher wrote. Out-of-state scouts are taking notice of our potential. Oklahoma City, says Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson, “could represent the future of America.”
Philip K. Howard is taking his call for smarter, more responsible government to The Atlantic magazine. On the magazine's website, theatlantic.com, can be found “America the Fixable,” a link that features essays by Howard — author of “The Death of Common Sense” — and others that reveal just how nonsensical our government can be. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, R-Tenn., wrote about the government's mohair subsidy, which began shortly after World War II over concerns about the future availability of wool for military uniforms. “Today, more than half a century later — when military uniforms are largely composed of synthetic material — the program still benefits goat herders in Texas, now under the friendly jurisdiction of the Agriculture Committee,” Cooper said. It helps explain, he says, why “there are dozens, sometimes hundreds of overlapping and duplicative programs for favored constituencies, as opposed to one or two programs that really deliver.” This essay and others on the site are well worth the time.