Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:
The Oklahoman, Nov. 18, 2013
Oklahoma lawmakers should learn from U.S. Supreme Court’s rebuffs
Twice in two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Oklahoma laws related to abortion. Lawmakers should learn from these defeats, and others like it. They should focus on passing bills grounded not in ideology but practicality.
Last week the nation’s highest court chose not to review an Oklahoma law that would have required a doctor to use a vaginal probe or abdominal transducer to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion, and to tell the woman what the ultrasound showed. Anti-abortion advocates view this as not overly intrusive or overbearing; indeed one federal appeals court has upheld a similar law.
However, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the law presented an unconstitutional burden on women. In deciding not to review it, the high court essentially concurred. No surprise, given that the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently rejected efforts to restrict access to abortions. It was a long shot from the start that Oklahoma’s law would hold up to the appeals that were promised even before lawmakers approved it.
The same is true of another abortion-related law that was struck down first by the state Supreme Court and then by the U.S. Supreme Court. That law involved the use of medication to induce abortion. The state court said it would have the effect of banning all drug-induced abortions; the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to review the case.
The state has had to invest time and resources defending these laws. The same thing happened after voters in 2010 approved a constitutional amendment — placed on the ballot by lawmakers — that would have prohibited state courts from considering Islamic law when deciding cases. Oklahomans voted overwhelmingly in favor of the idea, but it was immediately blocked by a federal court judge in Oklahoma City and, ultimately, the results were decertified.
The same year, lawmakers put another controversial issue before voters — voter ID. But there were few if any concerns about constitutionality, as the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld similar laws.
These defeats on abortion won’t chasten some Oklahoma lawmakers, and indeed might embolden them. They would make better use of their time by pursuing legislation that isn’t automatically destined for the courts and doesn’t have costs associated with it. May we suggest a ban on text-messaging for all drivers?
Oklahoma law bars new teenage drivers from texting at the wheel. But for all other motorists, texting and driving is allowed. Oklahoma is one of 11 holdouts nationwide that haven’t outlawed texting at the wheel — an activity that makes the driver 23 times more likely to crash than non-texting drivers, according to the National Transportation Traffic Safety Administration.
Driving while distracted by a mobile device is something motorists of all ages are doing. A survey by State Farm, the insurance company, found that the percentage of drivers who said they went online while driving climbed from 13 percent in 2009 to 24 percent this year. Drivers 40 and older are contributing significantly to that increase, the survey found. “It’s not just a youthful problem,” State Farm’s head of technology research told USA Today.
A law banning texting and driving in Oklahoma wouldn’t wind up in a courtroom. And it might even save a life — a productive use of lawmakers’ time.
Enid News & Eagle, Nov. 18, 2013
World-famous footage seared into our collective consciousness
If you were alive on Nov. 22, 1963, you should remember when you learned of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Even if you weren’t around 50 years ago, the event is etched into your memory if you’ve seen Abraham Zapruder’s film.
The world-famous footage clocks in at just more than 26 seconds and contains 486 frames shot on Kodachrome II 8mm film.
There’s a scientific explanation for it. According to the American Psychological Association, these “flashbulb memories” are seared into our collective consciousness.
“What makes these events so memorable is the unusual intersection of the personal and the public, so that what becomes salient for you is actually learning about the event, in addition to the facts of it,” cognitive psychologist Dr. William Hirst, a memory researcher at the New School for Social Research, told the APA.
After the arrest and televised killing of suspect Lee Harvey Oswald by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby, more questions arose. Subsequent commissions and media have investigated the assassination well into the 21st century.
Today, polls show a majority of Americans still suspect a conspiracy behind JFK’s assassination. New York Times investigative reporter Philip Shenon told U.S. News the iconic event is “the ultimate homicide case” and “people love detective stories.”
JFK’s assassination marked an important milestone that changed the history of our nation. We won’t forget it.
Tulsa World, Nov. 18, 2013
Obama action doesn’t repair his false promise
President Obama wants to unring the bell.
He was dishonest in promoting the Affordable Care Act. He repeatedly promised Americans that if they liked their health-care coverage, they would be able to keep it. But millions are getting their insurance coverage canceled as a result of the federal health-care law.
Now he says he’s going to make it all good by allowing insurance companies to continue offering insurance that doesn’t meet the “Obamacare” mandates for a year, so long as they also tell consumers how the policies fall short of the mark.
Call that what it is: a lame attempt to shift focus from himself to the insurance companies.
The president’s new promise doesn’t repair the damage of his false one. He didn’t go around the country saying people who like their coverage could keep it for one year He said they could keep it. They can’t.
Further, anyone who looks closely at the situation recognizes at this point that there is no practical way to fix the damage. Insurance is a contract between a company and an individual. The government regulates, but it doesn’t control it. The federal government can’t make the insurance companies offer deals that they aren’t interested in extending because of the federal government’s policy decisions.
Insurance companies have made their decisions on the basis of the “Obamacare” environment and those rates and policies have been approved by state regulators. At this point, there’s no getting back to the beginning of that process.
If it could be done, the effect would be to drive up insurance costs for everyone else because low-risk insurance clients would be removed from the new “Obamacare” coverage pool.
In a Thursday press conference, the president was contrite and took responsibility for the failures of the health-care law that has taken his name, which is refreshing, if insufficient.
Short of getting in his time machine and going back 3 1/2 years to repair the flaws in the Affordable Care Act and then rewriting the tag line he repeatedly delivered, the president can’t fix this one.
The bell has rung, Mr. President. You can’t stop its sound waves from traveling through space and time.