As everyone in Oklahoma enjoys the cooler weather today and tomorrow this summer, it might be a good time to note that both May and June were the hottest months on records for the planet.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently reported this information, which has fueled speculation that 2014 may be the hottest year on record, according to a recent story in The Washington Post.
The record-breaking heat, which NOAA says has been caused by hotter ocean temperatures, is yet even more evidence that the planet is getting warmer and that the planet needs to take collective action to reduce manmade carbon emissions.
This should be noted in Oklahoma this rather unusual cool summer because it’s home to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, one of the planet’s most well known climate-science deniers. Inhofe calls global warming fears a “hoax” or a worldwide conspiracy generated by liberal scientists.
Inhofe just recently stopped a Senate resolution that basically argued climate change is, in fact, a reality. One of those Senators who supported the resolution, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, said Inhofe’s views were an “alternate reality.” According to ThinkProgress, Whitehouse went on to say this about Inhofe arguments: “To say that we have no warming is just not factual.” He also said, “. . . Republicans, they are losing their young voters on this . . .” (See the above video in which Whitehouse responds to Inhofe.)
Inhofe has received $368,500 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry since 2009. The burning of fossil fuels, such as gasoline, produces the carbon emissions that have been blamed for manmade global warming. Inhofe’s claim that climate science is a ruse has always been overshadowed by his close connection to the energy industry, which, of course, has a strong political lobby here.
For the most part, the corporate media here has failed to adequately connect Inhofe’s views on climate science with his financial ties to the oil and gas industry. That would be called unbiased journalism, which is rarely practiced here when it comes to the energy industry, especially at the state’s largest newspaper, The Oklahoman.
Inhofe’s views have a trickle-down effect here in Oklahoma and make the issue a political one when it’s really a planetary one. I’m sure some teachers in certain districts are afraid to deal with the issue with students in classrooms in fear of reprisal from conservative administrators. The legislature, for example, often tries to pass bills that claim climate science is “controversial.” Local weather forecasters on television stations in Oklahoma City have consistently failed to address the reality of climate change. The television advertising dollars from the energy industry that support the news stations seal the issue. It’s the ignorance that Inhofe has wrought in this place.
So here’s what Oklahomans need to know today: Just because it’s cool for a few days in the summer in our state doesn’t mean it’s not terribly hot in other parts of the world or that the oceans are not warming.
Inhofe, who is expected to coast to reelection against his Democratic opponent Matt Silverstein, can continue to serve in the Senate perhaps because a majority of voters here can’t accept the idea that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
The fluctuations in the Oklahoma weather don’t disprove global warming. Climate science is based on years of data and on a planetary basis. It’s also based on ocean temperatures and visible, recorded evidence, such as the melting of the arctic ice cap.
The fact that Gov. Mary Fallin’s approval rating has significantly dropped and that she now finds herself in a competitive race in her reelection bid may well be part of a national growing dissatisfaction with the Republican Party on a state level.
A recent post on PoliticusUSA shows how Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who has practically bankrupt our neighboring state through radical tax cuts, and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal are also in highly competitive reelection races with challengers.
A Daily Kos post published in April also cited even more Republican governors facing reelection problems.
Fallin was mentioned in the PoliticusUSA post because her approval rating has dropped over the last year by approximately 20 percent, according to SoonerPoll. A recent Rasmussen poll also showed Fallin had only a slim 45 to 40 percent lead in her race against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, pictured right with Fallin. Until now the prevailing wisdom has been that Fallin would coast to victory.
So are voters simply growing tired of Republican-dominated state governments with their litany of ideological initiatives, such as tax cuts for the wealthy and pension cuts for state workers? Has the backlash against President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats in red states across the country, which began in the 2010, simply run its course?
It does appear likely that at least some of discontent with Fallin and other Republican governors can be associated with a general frustration among the electorate with one-party governance at the state level. Now that Obama is finishing his second term, he no longer serves as a catalyst for anger generated primarily by right-wing media outlets, such as Fox News. In essence he’s old news while the disaster of complete GOP dominance in red states has left behind its ruins. Just look at the financial shape of Kansas, which under Republican dominance led by Brownback implemented steep tax cuts for its wealthiest citizens and slashed its budget in draconian ways. Kansas has become a national spectacle of failed GOP ideology and extremism.
Pundits have argued that Fallin’s drop is due to her support of outgoing and controversial State Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi and her refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. I agree that Fallin’s support of Barresi, high-stakes testing and school privatization initiatives may have hurt her as well as her refusal to expand Medicaid under the generous terms set by the federal government. Fallin, of course, has recently tried to distance herself from Barresi, but she hasn’t bended yet on Medicaid. I also believe Fallin’s support for unnecessary tax cuts for the state’s oil and gas industry, along with inadequate funding for education, has created dissatisfied voters.
I also think Republicans with their supermajorities in the Oklahoma House and Senate have simply not delivered the panacea they promised. The state still has budget problems, a host of social problems, such as lack of medical access, and mind-boggling incarceration rates. Earthquakes, which scientists argue are caused by the oil and gas industry, now strike the state on a regular basis and state leaders, including Fallin, have been slow to react. Republicans promised efficient government, but that just hasn’t happened. They’re too busy passing meaningless, ideological bills or bills that don’t hold up to constitutional muster. Fallin, as the state’s top Republican, is probably facing a general dissatisfaction among Republican and Democratic voters over the state’s current direction.
In the end, if Dorman beats Fallin in the governor’s race, it will represent a major change in the political climate here.
I received a lot of supportive feedback about my last post in which I criticized Gov. Mary Fallin for trying to boost her reelection campaign by generating collective anger towards the refugee children now housed at Fort Sill in Lawton.
Fallin’s campaign has started a petition drive that aims to force President Barack Obama to move the Central American children—most of whom are fleeing violence in countries such as Honduras and Nicaragua—from the federal facility in Oklahoma. The petition drive is superfluous. Its only purpose is to create anger among conservative Oklahoma voters and activate them to support Fallin, who has been sinking in the polls recently.
The children are part of a widely reported exodus of Central American young people seeking asylum and refuge in the U.S. They have been labeled “migrant” or “illegal aliens” by the media and right-wing here, but the reality is they’re political refugees and victims of botched U.S. international and immigration policies.
The Oklahoma governor’s message is clear and simple: We don’t want these children in Oklahoma. As I wrote, this is a craven message and really tests the limits of Oklahoma voters. Do they really have that much hate inside themselves that they would allow children to suffer and even die and revel in it? Fallin’s campaign is banking on it. It’s also banking on the fact that voters won’t look more deeply into the issue and note a policy enacted under former President George Bush has prevented the federal government from acting more quickly to resolve the issue. Blame Bush, not Obama.
Here are some more extended arguments about the issue:
(1) Both the Catholic Church and, more importantly for Oklahoma, some Southern Baptist Church leaders have come out in support of giving aid to the children and treating them humanely, but the local right-wing religious folks have been fairly silent on the issue. Fallin’s campaign ploy really sets a new low in arousing “group hate” against a group of vulnerable children. It sets an unbelievable precedent in hatred and cravenness. The fact that Southern Baptist Church leaders here, in particular, aren’t fully criticizing Fallin’s lack of compassion shows how craven this religious denomination—rooted in racism—has become at the local level.
(2) To extend the argument further, I think about all the sanctimonious Oklahoma people who make mission trips to impoverished countries, preaching their gospel and undoubtedly furthering the anti-abortion cause among people. But now that these brown-skinned people are in their home state in the U.S., the home-grown “missionaries” turn their backs on them and become red in the face with anger and indignation. These people simply lack moral compunction. Their religious beliefs are twisted and sordid.
(3) What about American “exceptionalism,” the right-wing canard? So our country is so exceptional that we’re going to deport children back to countries in which they face death and misery and impoverishment?
(4) The cliché is that Oklahomans are so nice, but what type of craven people would support a politician who agitates essentially for the mistreatment of children? What type of people would get some type of visceral thrill by mistreating children? Let’s be clear: Many, many Oklahomans are not “nice” at all in any traditional sense. They burn inside with hatred and spite. It’s the state’s shame, and the dirty little secret you won’t find on any state tourist brochure.
(5) Let’s also be clear about this: Fallin’s campaign ploy is racist. If these children were white, would there even be a question about helping them? Fallin’s attempt to agitate the hateful mob is rooted in the darker side of the American story, the racist story, the one coated over with euphemisms in our elementary-school textbooks.
Conservative politicians, of course, have a long history of whipping up anger among voters in order to get votes while deflecting attention way from issues that matter, such as income inequality. So there’s nothing really new here, with the exception that these are young children who need our help. Fallin may well reverse her slide in the polls, but let it be noted at the very least that doing so at the expense of vulnerable children is an ugly way to do so.