- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

A collection of recent editorials from Oklahoma newspapers:

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The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Aug. 11 - As the next execution in Oklahoma approaches, the governor’s office finds itself compelled to defend the process that resulted in the condemned man’s conviction. For that it can blame anti-death penalty groups, led in this case by actress Susan Sarandon.

Last week Gov. Mary Fallin’s chief spokesman, Alex Weintz, used 10 Twitter messages to explain why Richard Glossip wound up on death row and why his execution will go forward Sept. 16. He took to Twitter, he said, because the governor’s office had been getting many questions about the case.

Not coincidentally, Sarandon had recently given an interview to Sky News in which she said Glossip was “clearly innocent.” That prompted a letter-writing campaign by those who give tremendous credence to what Hollywood activists say about issues they hold dear.

Sarandon summed up Glossip’s case this way: “Bad representation; two trials that were ridiculous, no physical evidence.” Later in the interview she said, “The governor of Oklahoma is just a horrible person, and a woman, so it’s even more discouraging.” Disparaging someone you disagree with isn’t exactly an endearing or persuasive tactic.

Sarandon famously played Sister Helen Prejean in the 1995 movie “Dead Man Walking,” and Monday both women took to Twitter to argue on Glossip’s behalf. Sarandon and her ilk would be easier to tolerate if they simply stood on principle - opposing the death penalty in all cases, period, because of concerns about the government taking a person’s life or because of the substantial debate over the death penalty’s deterrent effect. Instead they try to pass themselves as experts in individual cases when they are not.

Glossip’s attorney and supporters of the inmate started this ball rolling last month when they said the case lacked physical evidence, was based on questionable testimony, the police investigation was inadequate, and Glossip’s previous attorneys didn’t have the funds to conduct their own thorough investigation.

“You would think the death penalty would be for a certain class of people, the worst of the worst where guilt is not an issue,” attorney Don Knight said. “This case is far from the worst of the worst.”

Glossip, 52, was sent to death row after being convicted of first-degree murder in the 1997 death of his boss, motel owner Barry Alan Van Treese, 54. The motel’s maintenance man, Justin Sneed, pleaded guilty to bludgeoning Van Trease at Glossip’s behest. Sneed testified against Glossip, who was the motel’s manager, and was sentenced to life without parole.

This has alarmed anti-death penalty advocates: the man who did the killing gets to live, but not Glossip. Yet the law in Oklahoma allows for the death penalty to be issued in such cases. Weintz noted that two juries have convicted Glossip and recommended the death sentence. He has lost appeals before courts in Oklahoma, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, and the U.S. Supreme Court. The state Pardon and Parole Board unanimously rejected his request for clemency. “To say Glossip has had his day in court is an understatement,” Weintz said. “He has been pursuing the same arguments publicly and in court for 20 years.”

He noted via Twitter that if Glossip’s attorneys had “any legitimately exculpatory evidence they could present that 2 state or federal court and stop the execution.”

“Bottom line: Glossip’s execution is going forward because he is a) guilty and b) has exhausted his legal options,” Weintz said.

Fallin has the authority to grant a 60-day stay of the execution. If that were to happen, it would be the result of legitimate concerns about Glossip’s guilt, not the formulaic and condescending opinions of some Hollywood elite.

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Tulsa World, Aug. 13 - U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gregory Frizzell granted a preliminary injunction Monday to block a series of new federal regulations governing oil fields in Osage County.

Retelling the detailed history of oil production (and federally facilitated theft) in Osage County and the unique way that mineral rights there are held by the Osage Nation rather than individuals is beyond the scope of one editorial.

Here are a few essential points:

- Once home to one of the largest pools of petroleum in the world, Osage County’s easy, high-profit oil is gone.

- For the most part, what’s left are low-volume stripper wells that operate on thin margins. Substantially raise the cost of operation, especially in the current market, and you risk seeing many wells shut in, which benefits neither the tribe nor the lease-holders.

- While oil production in 76 counties of Oklahoma are well regulated by the Corporation Commission, Osage County production is regulated by the feds.

The new regulations range from increasing bonding and maintenance requirements to increased royalty percentages and were opposed by an independent arm of the Osage Nation and oil producers operating in Osage County.

Frizzell ruled that the federal government hadn’t backed up its claim that the new regulations would not adversely impact small businesses and that it overstepped its authority in determining how much royalties should be paid by leaseholders.

Having Osage County oil production under a separate set of regulations is the result of an odd set of historic events. If those regulations are significantly more restrictive, the result will rob the tribe and the producers of what’s left of the potential mineral wealth.

The convincing evidence here is that the proposed rules would have greatly damaged oil production in Osage County to the benefit of very few.

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McAlester News-Capital, Aug. 9 - Sometimes in life you have to figure out what you don’t want before you figure out what you do.

Hopefully, this is a fitting analogy for the Republican Party’s experiment with Donald Trump. Until Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate, Trump led the Republican primary polls.

Then the debate happened.

One thing was abundantly clear to us at the News-Capital in watching the debate.

The fact is Donald Trump is not presidential.

To his credit, the man speaks what he believes; he’s honest and blunt, and many of the issues Trump speaks to need to be spoken to. At the top of the list is the deficit and immigration. His directness is refreshing and we respect Donald Trump for this.

But during the debate, Trump’s candor hurt him deeply. We saw how he really feels about certain issues and the way he approaches problems. He’s taken a lot of flack for not raising his hand in support of the Republican Party’s nominee regardless of whether he is the nominee or not, but far more concerning to us were Trump’s responses to a pair of other questions. The first was from Megyn Kelly about Trump’s prior, deeply insulting comments about women. Trump joked he only said those insulting comments about comedian Rosie O’Donnell, then went on a dismissive rant about how he doesn’t have time for political correctness.

This is very troubling. The president of the United States has to be an individual who respects, honors and cherishes all people. Treating people equally and with great dignity is not political correctness.

It’s called being a good person.

Trump’s answer to this question was less than presidential, to say the least, and the fact Trump didn’t apologize for those prior statements and attemptto make it right is both telling and concerning in regards to how he really views women.

Trump was also asked about bankruptcies filed by his various business organizations and the reality that investors in some of his properties have at times lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Trump, in a pretty funny moment, chastised the questioner for portraying the investors as innocent lambs and instead called them “killers.” Funny, but not presidential as you discuss people who lost big money participating in our free market system and their willingness to trust and believe in Trump’s business endeavors.

Especially alarming, however, were Trump’s remarks portraying himself as brilliant for fleeing the New Jersey gambling coastal town of Atlantic City before it cratered. Trump made big, big money in Atlantic City for many years, and anyone who knows about Atlantic City knows the city and its people are suffering immensely right now. Casinos have shut down. Thousands of jobs have been lost or are threatened.

The poverty rate is high.

These are human lives - and an American community - we are talking about, but Trump’s comments indicate Atlantic City, in his view, was a place to make millions and then flee while the going was good.

We want our presidents to be tough, strong and honest. We also, though, want them to be compassionate, understanding human beings who run for office to help their country, its communities and all its people. Trump’s comments showed he’s not a compassionate man who does his best to look out for all. For this reason he should never be president of the United States.

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