It might be easy for progressives here in the Oklahoma outback to believe a Trump presidency doesn’t matter much locally because the state is already dominated by GOP ideology and has its own set of contemporary Okie weirdness, from all the fracking-induced earthquakes to over-the-top bigoted politicians to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s denial of global warming.

But it can and will get worse for progressives here, and the answer, as blunt as this might sound, is to move, and I mean like MOVE like right now.

Here are three ways the Trump presidency will make Oklahoma a living hell for progressives:

(1) Oklahoma, as we all know, is heavily reliant on the federal government for disaster relief and other funding. With federal budget cuts looming under Trump and an empowered Republican Congress, and Trump’s promise for now of giveaways for billionaires to make major infrastructure improvements, Oklahoma might just end up “weathering” the next major tornado catastrophe or ice storm on its own. Meanwhile, other federal funding could be cut dramatically as well. The state already faces a major budget shortfall for next fiscal year. What will all this mean in terms of funding for state education and health programs? Probably, it means huge cuts. Don’t expect local GOP politicians to complain about this, though, because most stand to gain personally from a Trump presidency in terms of stature and employment opportunities in his administration.

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)


It WILL Get Worse: Right-Wing Assault Continues On Oklahoma Schools

There’s little doubt in my mind that public education here will face a continued assault by the right-wing and especially after the electoral-college election of Donald Trump, the Russian-backed candidate soon to be the leader of the so-called free, democratic world.

Recent public comments by Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin and commentary in The Oklahoman show absolutely no one in the Oklahoma Republican-dominated government will be held accountable for the fact the state has cut public education on the K-12 level the most of any state in the nation since 2008 and pays its teachers the lowest or next to the lowest salaries in the nation.

The facts are clear. Low teacher salaries have created a state exodus of teachers here, and the overall cuts to education have devastated the public education system, forcing some school districts to institute four-day-a-week schedules instead of increasing class sizes to unmanageable levels. Here’s another fact as well as almost an afterthought: Funding to higher education was cut nearly 16 percent this current budget year by a legislature with Republican super majorities. Those super majorities increased in the recent election.

Fallin, according to a recent media report (see above), argues schools should “step up” when it comes to reducing the days in a school week because, well, it’s bad for economic development in terms of our public appearance. In what has to be one of the most disingenuous comments of her tenure, Fallin seems to blame schools for what the right-wing has wrought here in its detest for public education.

The question is fairly basic. Do schools fire teachers and increase class sizes or do they reduce utility and day-to-day operating costs and ensure public school students have a decent experience when they DO get to attend school? Some school districts—not many—chose to go with a four-day-a-week schedule. It’s understandable, not ideal. It’s a tragedy at some level, but it’s the best decision.

Fallin, of course, claims she’s worried about economic development while advancing the usual right-wing agenda of tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy, which have been implemented here, putting children at risk. Now she seems to argue that schools should “step up”—her words—by firing more teachers and increasing class sizes so some mythical business executive will think Oklahoma has a “normal” public school system. This presumes leaders of businesses—big and small—are fairly stupid and don’t get it that Oklahoma funds its schools and colleges at incredibly low levels.

The Oklahoman, meanwhile, published a somewhat innocuous but snarky post-election commentary that argued it’s nothing unusual that educators have served in the legislature. This was in response to the so-called “teacher caucus” movement here, which tried to get more educators elected to office. That movement met with mixed, perhaps disappointing results. The fact that Republican super majorities were extended—even though some of the new legislators identified as teacher-friendly candidates—renders the whole point moot, anyway.

Yet The Oklahoman had to make this point:

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)


Notes From Frisco

I'm still in San Francisco. I'll be back in a couple of days and resume regular posting about local issues.

Above is an episode of Ajazeera's The Listening Post, which is based in London. I was asked to contribute a few remarks, and you can find my comments around the 9:30 mark. I do recommend you watch the entire segment and episode. It's an in-depth look at the U.S. media's relationship to president-elect Donald Trump. I don't know if I necessarily agree with the idea that "echo chambers" on the left and right have resulted in complete polarization in this country, as one contributor argued, but that's a minor quibble.

I continue to insist that it has been the rise of the right-wing media that has both shifted all U.S. mainstream media outlets to the right and made "truth" a commodity rather than a foundational reality we should all still embrace. Sure, there's room for argument on issues, but the right-wing media has pushed fact-based journalism into a precarious position, which led to Trump's election.

On a more positive note, a lot of people here seem upbeat and ready to fight Trump's agenda, however that emerges. I remain upbeat as well. Let's pull together.