One of the most absurd claims in the right-wing rhetoric that has oppressed Oklahoma and America over the last twenty-five years is the myth that big media is operated by a "liberal elite."
To those who claim the media is liberal, I say, borrowing from Al Franken on Air America Radio, "You, sir, are a liar!" (Franken uses this line humorously on his radio show.)
Okies should know this better than anyone else.
For decades, Okies have endured the most extreme right-wing conservative newspaper in the nation, The Daily Oklahoman, and The Tulsa World is only a little better. We get a skewed perspective from these publications, and, ultimately, they keep the state mired in ignorance, mediocrity, and just plain conservative boredom and ugliness. For years, The Daily Oklahoman's Edward L. Gaylord operated a dishonest publication that privileged the extremely wealthy over the middle-class and poor. The reign of class oppression continues under his daughter who took over after his death last year.
But what about The Washington Post or The New York Times? Okies have been told for years that these "evil" publications represent extreme liberalism. Well, both these publications supported President George Bush's Iraq war. In fact, some pundits believe New York Times reporter Judith Miller actually started the war with her inaccurate and dishonest reporting about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. So The New York Times actually starts President Bush's war, and then supports it on its editorial page, yet it is considered a liberal newspaper by the right-wing. Right. If you believe that, then I have some ocean-front property near Gotebo, I want to sell you.
But let's take a larger view. Both The Post and The Times are parts of huge, monopolistic corporations that have profit, not truth, as their bottom line. Neither of these publications will ever jeopardize their own existence. Through their inaction and silence and greed, they support the current, dangerous redistribution of wealth to a small, elite rich segment of our culture. Neither publication has given fair coverage to the millions of Americans, including some Okies, who see the new redistribution of wealth under President Bush as a first step toward a government operated by a small handful of rich people. i.e., a sort of American-style fascist feudalism. Even publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books are reserved and careful in their critiques of the conservative agenda. Perhaps their writers and editors are afraid in today's paranoid climate of secrecy, terror alerts, and conservative retribution.
Meanwhile, extreme right-wing media types, such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, Joe Scarborough, Robert Novak, William Safire, etc., (and I could go on and on) all decry the liberal media, even as liberal opinions are consistently shut out of the mainstream, corporate media. They are lying, and they know they are lying. What they do is manipulate and lie to people for money and power, which they get from the largest corporate media companies in America. Even a so-called "liberal" columnist like economist Paul Krugman supports a very conservative form of capitalism. It is all conservative media, all the time, in this country today. Do not be fooled.
I believe Okies know better than most in this country how a right-wing media company can distort the truth and, in the process, hurt and oppress ordinary people, and I believe this makes us better able to confront the lies of the extreme right-wing media machine.
So if it squeals like an extreme right-wing armadillo, then it is an extreme right-wing armadillo, no matter what Rush Limbaugh has to say.
"I don't care how little your country is, you got a right to run it like you want to. When the big nations quit meddling then the world will have peace."--Will Rogers.
Oklahoma's history is filled with independence and diversity. The state's rich history includes both Will Rogers and Woody Guthrie, two Oklahoma populists who consistently spoke out for ordinary people. At one point, the state was even a hotbed for socialist ideas. The state once symbolized hope, opportunity, and eternal optimism for regular people trying to make a living and raise a family.
So I prefer to view the last twenty-five years or so in our history as an aberration. It has been a time period in which the state's trusting and honest citizens were taken for rubes and dummies by a conservative juggernaut many wrongly still see as populist. This has caused a majority of Oklahomans to now vote against their financial and personal interests. As the Oklahoma Gaylords and their ilk became richer during this time frame, salaries declined in proportion to the national average, health and health insurance costs rose astronomically, and good jobs became scarce for Okies. Teachers, for example, have been leaving the state in droves.
This truthful view of our state history, of course, is marginalized by the state's corporate media, including The Daily Oklahoman, yet the facts are readily available through census figures and income rate studies. The state is losing population relative to the rest of the nation, and we make some of the lowest incomes in the country. We don't provide decent health care for many of our children, yet we jail people at the highest levels in the nation.
Can you imagine what it was like when Oklahoma was actually viewed as a place where someone's dreams could come true? Can you imagine what it was like here when people packed up their trucks to come to Oklahoma, not leave Oklahoma? Can you imagine a time when educated and innovative people were trying to get to Oklahoma as soon as possible, not escape it at the first conceivable moment?
Oklahoma has now become a place in which a small, ruling elite, a new ruling class really, dictate how ordinary people will live virtually every aspect of their lives. By constantly marginalizing any dissent or alternative ideas through propaganda and local control of the media, the power structure remains firmly entrenched. In this regard, Oklahoma is a microcosm of George Bush's vision of America, a vision imbued with the attributes of fascism that emerged in the middle of the twentieth century in Europe. These attributes include secret government, the abolishment of due process for its citizens, misinformation campaigns, and the use of torture against a widening circle of "enemy combatants."
Okies fought against fascism in World War II. Will they recognize it again in their own state, in their own country, even if it is falsely called "patriotism"? I think so. Rooted in Oklahoma's history is an open distaste for political power mongers, sympathy for the underdog, and an admiration for straight talk and common sense. As Will Rogers once said, "This country is not where it is today on account of any one man. It is here on account of the real common sense of the Big Normal Majority."
What we need now is a new populist movement in Oklahoma, a movement that will sweep out the new dregs of disguised fascism and restore true democracy and equality to our state. Our first goal is to vote George Bush out of office and restore sanity to our national government. Our next goal will be to make Oklahoma a place of opportunity again by working to improve conditions for all its citizens, not just the extremely wealthy.
Who has the best chance against U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin in the state’s gubernatorial general election: Lt. Gov. Jari Askins or Attorney General Drew Edmondson?
It’s a question vexing and dividing many Democratic political observers, who mostly like and admire both candidates, but there’s wide agreement that this year’s governor’s race is about as crucial as it gets. Republicans are expected to retain majorities in the House and Senate, and only a Democratic governor can bring much needed balance to Oklahoma government.
So what if Fallin, who is leading in the polls, wins? What will happen to the state’s educational systems under the Republican agenda? What about the impoverished, the hungry? Will our prisons get more crowded? Will new tax cuts for the state’s wealthiest citizens force even more draconian cuts in state government? What about quality of life issues and the state’s national image in the land of state Reps. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) and Randy Terrill (R-Moore). Will the state lose even more progressive people?
Republicans here are running on anti-government hysteria and Tea Party rhetoric. Their strategy is to create unfounded fear in voters. Let’s face it, that’s what many Oklahomans are buying into these days. Which candidate, Edmondson or Askins, has the best chance of countering the right-wing extremism and winning votes in the November general election?
As a liberal, I want to vote for the most progressive candidate in any race, but in Oklahoma you sometimes don’t even get a choice. Both Askins and Edmondson cannot be described as liberal in any rational political sense, though the winner in the Democratic gubernatorial primary will undoubtedly be labeled by Fallin’s camp as a President Barack Obama-supporting socialist or something along that line. But we can try to limit the damage of the Republican agenda by supporting a Democrat for governor. That’s the reality here for liberals. Another option, of course, is to work outside the two-party system.
Askins and Edmondson are both accomplished people, who, if elected, would serve the state well as a centrist to sometimes centrist-right governor, much like Gov. Brad Henry. There’s little doubt about that among many Democratic leaders, but who can win against Fallin, a telegenic candidate with good funding, national endorsements and name recognition in the most anti-Obama state in the nation? That’s the main question as the primary approaches.
In Oklahoma, the conservative juggernaut, cheered on by The Oklahoman and other local corporate media outlets, continues unchecked. A Democratic win in the governor race this year would be a huge victory for those trying to find some political rationality here beyond Tea Party rants and hateful vitriol about the first African American president in the nation’s history.