- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Tahlequah Daily Press. Sept. 8, 2017.

President Donald Trump has said repeatedly that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is unconstitutional, and has lambasted President Obama for the executive order creating the program. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeated his boss’s assertions, insisting that had the issue made it before the Supreme Court, the justices would have ruled accordingly.

If that’s true, why is Trump saying he’ll “revisit” the issue in six months if Congress doesn’t take action? Any action that was unconstitutional for Obama wouldn’t be acceptable just because Trump stepped into the Oval Office.

DACA is the program that allowed the children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S., under certain conditions. These children, now young adults, are expected to be pursuing their education or careers, and they have to apply and pay money to stay here. Some in the Trump administration have claimed DACA is allowing “criminals” to stay in the U.S., but that’s a gross mischaracterization: Those convicted of felonies, significant misdemeanors, or three or more misdemeanors of any kind, aren’t eligible.

DACA has actually created a place for undocumented young people - many of whom have never lived anywhere but the U.S. - and has set them on the precise path the Trump administration claims it wants for immigrants henceforth: making significant contributions to our society and bringing their talents to bear for the benefit of themselves and the country as a whole. These people are collectively referred to as “Dreamers,” because they’re trying to catch a tiny slice of the “American dream” so many of us take for granted.

The irony of Trump’s timing in announcing the imminent demise of DACA - and then, as usual, walking back his comments through a series of tweets - can’t be lost on any but the most out-of-touch individuals. Southeast Texas is struggling to muddle through the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey. Fires continue to plague the West Coast. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is rattling his saber again, and Trump is swinging back. Tax reform is desperately needed, the infrastructure continues to crumble, and even as you read this passage, the Category 5 Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the Florida peninsula. And yet we’re worried about the presence of 800,000 people hanging around in our country, trying desperately to improve their lives and earn a living wage?

Eliminating DACA isn’t making Trump any new friends in the business community, and certainly not in communities of faith. The U.S. Catholic bishops released a statement calling Trump’s action “reprehensible,” and it’s worth noting that Vice President Mike Pence is himself a practicing Catholic. About the only people that will be happy with Trump’s continued attacks upon undocumented immigrants and the threat to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico are the members of his base. And the numbers of that group aren’t large enough to get him re-elected.

It’s possible that Trump doesn’t really plan to eliminate DACA, but was trying to force Congress into action that would render the program “legal.” After all, Obama wouldn’t have issued the executive order if Congress hadn’t kept sitting on its collective hands on immigration reform. If that’s the case, he’s going about it the wrong way - by continuing to denigrate his predecessor openly, while making back-door move to keep in place Obama programs that may be useful, prudent, and humane.

Maybe it’s too much to ask, but Congress really does need to do something about the “dreamers,” rather than let Trump send them packing. The best way to deal with “governing by tweet” is to ignore it, and to work together for the betterment of the country.

___

The Oklahoman. Sept. 12, 2017.

While it’s understandable that some communities may rethink continuance of public memorials to Confederate figures in the aftermath of recent violence, some on the left are taking that cause to the point of self-parody.

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released a national map showing what it claims are public Confederate symbols. An accompanying message notes, “More than 1,500 Confederate symbols stand in communities like Charlottesville with the potential to unleash more turmoil and bloodshed. It’s time to take the monuments down.”

Yet many of these “monuments” are not monuments, and removing them would often either be physically impossible or a danger to society.

In Oklahoma, the SPLC identifies Jackson County as a Confederate monument or symbol. Not a statue in the county, but the county itself because the group says it was named for Gen. Stonewall Jackson (some sources say it was named for President Andrew Jackson). There’s no sign that the county’s name threatens to “unleash more turmoil and bloodshed.” Yet Jackson County is still highlighted on a map along with actual statues and memorials to Confederate soldiers.

In Oklahoma City, the SPLC identifies Lee Elementary as another Confederate monument/symbol. But locally, for a time there was debate regarding whether the school was named for Gen. Robert E. Lee or local civic leader Oscar G. Lee.

Across the nation, the SPLC’s map identifies at least one dam and three U.S. military bases as Confederate monuments that need to come “down.” We suspect those living downstream of the dam would see more real turmoil and destruction occur if it were removed than in the event of its continued existence.

At the University of Southern California, the school’s mascot is a white horse named Traveler. As it turns out, Robert E. Lee once had a horse with the same name (spelled with two L’s). In a recent speech, the co-director of the USC Black Student Assembly referenced the horse’s name and declared that “white supremacy hits close to home.” There’s no indication the shared horse name is anything but a coincidence.

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, one Chicago activist called on city officials to remove the name of President George Washington from a park. Washington of course has no Confederate ties. The fact that the nation’s first president was a slave owner was sufficient to lump him with Confederates.

The rush to demand removal of monuments that aren’t monuments, even when debate exists over Confederate ties, has many causes. The SPLC is well known for promoting questionable claims in its effort to rake in large contributions. (Notably, The Washington Free Beacon reports the SPLC has transferred millions to offshore entities in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda, according to public filings.)

In other cases, it seems some people are merely desperate to signal how virtuous they are.

Local jurisdictions should be free to remove monuments or rename buildings if local citizens want to do so. But there’s little reason to think that would stem the “outrage” from some activists. People who actively seek an excuse to be offended will generally find one.

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Tulsa World. Sept. 12, 2017.

It’s always nice to root for the underdog. In the case of Amazon looking for a home for a second headquarters, Tulsa qualifies as the underdog.

Amazon, the highly successful electronic commerce and cloud computing company, has begun its search for a city for a $5 billion, 50,000-employee second headquarters and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum dived into the pool. We’re glad he did, and all of the Tulsa area ought to support his effort.

It’s still a long shot. Amazon has some caveats. It wants to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people, be able to attract top technical talent, be within 45 minutes of an international airport, have direct access to mass transit and be able to expand the headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade.

That makes Tulsa’s quest more difficult. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area - Tulsa, Rogers, Wagoner and Osage counties - is 981,005. The Combined Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Creek, Okmulgee and Pawnee counties, brings the population to 1,151,172. Although it is called Tulsa International Airport, it has no direct flights overseas. The Tulsa area has limited access to mass transit.

The Tulsa area does, however, have the room for the complex to grow. And it has one more thing going for it. Oklahomans are hard, dedicated workers.

Tulsa faces tough competition. Albuquerque, Nashville, Minneapolis, Rhode Island, Kansas City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have designs on the new headquarters. It’s an uphill battle, but Bynum says he is ready for the test. “Tulsa’s history is that of a city that punches above its weight,” Bynum said. And win or lose, it puts Tulsa in the mix, and other companies notice that.

We’re in your corner, mayor. Punch away, and keep in mind that underdogs sometimes win.

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