Don't blame voters for low turnout
Suppose nobody votes this year. On Nov. 4 the doors to the polling places are thrown open, and there isn't anyone in line. No absentee ballots are filed. No one litigates, charging either fraud or discrimination, because there weren't any voters.
It won't happen. But if it did, pundits and activists would surely blame public apathy for such a catastrophe. I'd name a different culprit: the major parties, their candidates and their acolytes in the news media.
An open letter to motorists in Oklahoma
To the Editor:
The Oklahoma Legislature has once again given its blessing to texting and driving. By not passing one of the many bills filed this year that would have made the practice illegal, the Legislature is in effect saying, “Want to text and drive in Oklahoma? No problem.”
Although lawmakers have two more months left in the current session, texting ban bills have been given their last rites.
Consequences from federal investigations deem to be as slippery as octopi
As I watched former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell testify before the House intelligence committee this week, I couldn’t help but reflect on the impressive escape strategies of the elusive octopus.
Before I make the connection, I’ll say a word in Morrell’s defense. If anyone doubted his willingness to act as a “team player,” those doubts should be forever allayed. In an environment where talented intellectuals willing to “take one” for the team are rewarded with promotions, increasing influence, retirement with full benefits and lucrative post-government positions, Morrell executed his mission very capably. He’s in impressive company. During the past few years, we’ve seen a host of culpable federal employees glide in and out of congressional investigations emerging totally unscathed. This might lead us to suspect that somewhere there’s a training class for federal employees called “The Octopus Vulgaris Advanced School of Escape Techniques.”
Red tape rising: 5 years of regulatory expansion
In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama vowed to wield his executive powers when faced with congressional resistance to his legislative agenda: “America does not stand still — and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation ... that’s what I am going to do.”
This provocative declaration was startling in its bluntness, but it was hardly a new development. For the last five years, the president has aggressively exploited regulation to get his way. In fact, the Obama administration is very likely the most regulatory in history, issuing 157 new major rules at a cost to Americans approaching $73 billion annually.
But even this substantial figure is seriously understated. A dismaying number of regulations undergo no cost-benefit analysis. And bureaucrats also have a penchant for downplaying the costs of their initiatives.
How the fast-food corporations pickpocket their workers
Last month, McDonald’s was hit with multiple class-action lawsuits alleging that the company routinely violated minimum wage, overtime and other workplace laws through a variety of illegal schemes that had one goal in common: drive down labor costs by stealing from workers.
On Tuesday we learned that law-breaking in the fast-food industry is not limited to McDonald’s. A national poll surveying workers at nearly two dozen fast-food chains finds that nearly nine in 10 of these workers had wages stolen by their employer.
Communism failing; Cuba benefits from Oklahoma wheat
In recent decades, Paul Theroux has written a series of books detailing his travels by train throughout the world. In the “Old Patagonia Express” he detailed his trip from his home in Boston to the end of the South American continent at Tierra Del Fuego. That expedition took him through Perry and he wrote of his favorable impressions of that community.
But Theroux, who is now in his 70s and suffers from gout, indicated in his most recent work, “The Last Train to Zona Verde,” that his travels may be coming to an end. It is possible that Theroux’s successor as a train-based travel writer will be Peter Millar, an Englishman who has written two books based on his experiences riding the rails.
Cheaters want to regulate regular citizens
Throughout the years, Oklahoma legislators have created a massive tyranny of confusing and conflicting laws which benefit those who can afford to hire smart attorneys to navigate through the maze of conflicting statutes, but punishes the average citizen who has no such luxury.
Several lawmakers, including myself, have accepted the challenge of whittling away at this labyrinth of regulation. We started by taking on the repeal of some of the most ridiculous laws first in an attempt to eliminate as many laws as quickly as possible. Perhaps the day will come when the state’s entire legal code can be simplified and modernized.
Is the legalization of marijuana inevitable?
First, 20 states and the District of Columbia passed laws legalizing marijuana for medical use. Then in 2012, voters in Washington state and Colorado approved measures legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana for non-medical use, with state oversight. Now at least a half-dozen states from Alaska to Maine are considering following suit.
Marijuana still remains a federally controlled substance, but Attorney General Eric Holder in January said the U.S. Justice Department soon would issue regulations to let state-sanctioned marijuana businesses have access to banking and credit.
Can full legalization be far behind? Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, try to wrap their heads around the question.
Education rally presents bad optics
Various school-employee labor unions and other members of the public-education community will converge on the state Capitol Monday for an “education funding rally.”
This is a bad idea.
Americans’ mental acuity now up for debate
How’s this for a provocative title: “Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans.” This is a book by Simon Head, published last February and reviewed by Robert Skidelsky in the latest issue of New York Review of Books. I haven’t read the book yet, but the title alone is a surefire conversation prompt. For starters, let’s all agree we’re surrounded by smart machines that have computational, analytical, storage and retrieval capabilities we couldn’t imagine 10 years ago. Not that long ago, researchers and correspondents were tethered to their volumes. Libraries were a routine and necessary destination and telephone or telegraph lines were indispensable tools for communicating information long distance.
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