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ScissorTales: Separatist movements in vogue

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: August 23, 2014

CALIFORNIANS may vote in two years on a proposal to split the Golden State into six parts, each with its own capital and congressional delegation. Even if the measure passed, Washington would have to approve it — which isn’t likely.

Periodic rumblings have been heard about splitting Texas into multiple states or parts of Oklahoma joining parts of Kansas and Texas in a separate state. Won’t happen. In Scotland, though, it is happening. A vote on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom is set for Sept. 18. Polling shows no clear favorite for an outcome.

Separatism movements are also alive and well in other parts of Europe, including Spain. There, a vote may take place later this year on separating Catalonia from the rest of the country. Catalonia is already a semi-autonomous region with its own capital, Barcelona. Spain’s prime minister, Mariana Rajoy, opposes the vote.

USA Today reported this week on other separation anxiety. Activists in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium are hot to trot out their own country by jettisoning the French-speaking part. Rumblings are also being heard in northern Italy about splitting off from the southern part of the boot.

There’s a name for this trend. It’s Balkanization, or breaking a larger region into several smaller ones. That’s what happened in 1993 when Czechoslovakia was spliced into two countries.

California has passed this way before. Geopolitically, it was once two regions under Spanish rule — Alta California (north) and Baja California (south). Alta California’s territory ended up comprising parts of present-day California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Gun cleanup on aisle six

The efforts of gun-control advocates are becoming increasingly lame. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America now wants Kroger supermarkets to expressly forbid customers from legally carrying a firearm in a store. The group’s pressure tactics consist mostly of social media postings and occasional protests. But Kroger already has a gun policy: Its stores operate in compliance with state and local gun laws. Basically, people allowed to legally carry a weapon are legally allowed to carry a weapon in Kroger. That seems to have worked well, because there’s been no rash of shootings, or even gun sightings, in Kroger stores. A company spokesman told The Wall Street Journal, “We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue and we trust them to be responsible in our stores.” It’s almost as if Kroger officials believe their core business is selling groceries, not placating online activists. Imagine that.

Compelled to run

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe might be headed for retirement today if the 2012 elections had gone differently. Inhofe, R-Tulsa, says he seriously considered not running for a fourth full term (this is his 20th year in the Senate), but decided differently when President Barack Obama won re-election and Democrats retained the Senate. He had expected, and predicted, the opposite to happen. In a meeting with The Oklahoman’s editorial board this week, Inhofe said he told his wife on election night that he needed to stay in Washington to keep a spotlight on three major issues — the shrinking U.S. military, increasingly burdensome regulations by such agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency, and the liberal push against fossil fuels. Inhofe, who turns 80 in November, waxed four opponents in the Republican primary. He faces a Democrat and three independents in November, and is expected to cruise then as well.

Steeped in delusion

Give Sooner Tea Party co-founder Al Gerhart credit: If nothing else, he’s a master of political spin. You’ll recall Gerhart was convicted of blackmail after he tried to intimidate a state senator. Gerhart wanted Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City, to allow a vote on a bill. He sent an email threatening the senator and his family. Branan turned the email over to police; a jury ultimately decided Gerhart’s actions crossed the line separating political speech from blackmail. Branan subsequently ran, unsuccessfully, for Oklahoma corporation commissioner. Now Gerhart claims credit for Branan’s loss because his group supposedly campaigned against Branan. “If someone hits us, we hit them back 10 times harder,” Gerhart said. Yet Branan narrowly lost the race against another solid opponent. Gerhart’s impact was negligible. Branan’s refusal to buckle to Gerhart’s threats surely didn’t cost him many votes. It likely increased support for his candidacy.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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