Oklahoma ScissorTales: Economic numbers help explain Trump's popularity
Released on the day President Trump delivered his State of the Union speech, a fact sheet from the White House highlights the many improvements to the U.S. and Oklahoma economies during Trump’s term.
Nationally, 7 million jobs have been created since Trump’s election. There are a record 160 million Americans employed today; the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low.
In Oklahoma, the White House says, 41,000 jobs have been created since the 2016 election, wages have increased 3% for manufacturing workers and the homeownership rate in the state is up 3 percentage points.
New business applications are up 18% since November 2016, unemployment claims are down 20% and real per capita income is up 9%.
Trump remains popular in deep-red Oklahoma despite his legal entanglements, his often-damaging use of Twitter and his character shortcomings. This document helps explain why.
Renewed effort to overturn new gun law
Opponents of the permitless carry law approved by the Legislature last year have filed an initiative petition to overturn it. The law allows most Oklahomans 21 and older to carry guns without a license. “We are not trying to take away people’s guns,” state Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, said this week. Instead, “What we are trying to do is require a permit and training.” That’s an argument that may resonate if this effort makes it to a vote of the people. What will not resonate is to cite, as proponents have, the recent shootings at Penn Square Mall as examples of why change is needed. That suggests the Penn Square shooters had guns because the new law allowed for it, or perhaps that the gunmen would have gone through training and obtained a permit as mandated before the law took effect — assumptions that are extremely unlikely.
Moore High School dealing with a senseless event
Max Leroy Townsend, 57, has a long list of drug- and alcohol-related offenses dating to 1991. They include misdemeanor and felony DUI convictions (two other DUI charges were dismissed) and a felony drug possession conviction. A child abuse, drug possession and stolen property case sent Townsend to prison in 2006. He was accused that year of stalking a woman before going to prison on a three-year sentence. Police in Moore say Townsend may have been intoxicated while at the wheel Monday, when his pickup struck a group of Moore High School runners who were jogging on a sidewalk. Two students were killed and two critically injured. Reports that the driver had lost his son in a car wreck a day earlier may have engendered some sympathy initially. But clearly it belongs solely with the young victims of this awful event.
Familiar death penalty story from Tennessee
Three executions are scheduled in Tennessee this year, but they may not happen for a reason familiar to Oklahoma officials — too few supplies. The Tennessean newspaper reported recently on legal filings by attorneys representing death row inmates. The filings say emails from the corrections department show officials discussing finding different drugs for lethal injections. A change to the protocol would likely trigger court fights that would delay the scheduled executions. Under Tennessee law, the electric chair is the only option after lethal injection. Concerns about Oklahoma’s protocol and ongoing difficulty obtaining the necessary drugs led lawmakers to approve nitrogen gas as the new method of execution. When the next one may occur is anyone's guess; the last execution here was five years ago.
Warren takes pandering to a new level
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren apparently finished third in Monday’s Iowa caucuses and, based on recent polling, isn’t expected to fare much better next week in the New Hampshire primary. The trend line is not promising for Warren, who a few months ago was riding high and leading the pack of Democrats seeking the nomination for president. But she’s been scrambling since the release of her “Medicare for all” plan, which was panned by analysts on the right and the left. A few days before the Iowa caucuses, Warren said that as president, her nominee for Secretary of Education would first have to gain the approval of a 9-year-old transgender youth Warren met while campaigning. Warren’s campaign motto is “I’ve got a plan for that.” But this isn’t planning, it’s world-class pandering, and it’s not helping her.