What Backlash? GOP Congressional Incumbents Roll To Victory

The most depressing news for progressives about Tuesday’s primary election results is that all the incumbents of Oklahoma’s archconservative Congressional delegation won their races in what media outlets described as “blowouts.”

The numbers support that description. U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine won with 80 percent, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin won with 63 percent, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas won with 77 percent, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole won with 71 percent and U.S. Rep. Steve Russell won with 80 percent. (I’ve rounded the numbers.)

What this means is that there’s probably little to no realignment or major dissatisfaction happening among the Republican electorate here, and hope for progressive victories, especially at the Congressional level, remain slim. This could also be a sign that Republicans will continue to rule Oklahoma with large majorities in the House and Senate at the state Capitol.

I wrote “could” because it seemed like a mixed night for the so-called “teacher caucus,” the group of candidates with educational experience who ran focused pro-education campaigns. Oklahoma Watch reported that there are “at least 40” such candidates and . . . “only 20 of those 40 candidates, almost all of whom were political newcomers, will continue this political season.” Note the use of the word “only” here. But as Oklahoma Watch also noted, some 23 candidates with educational experience didn’t face an opponent in the primary so there’s still a sizable number of candidates running under the common cause of improving funding for education.

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Earthquakes Shake Up Reality In Oklahoma

The earth is still shaking beneath us here on a regular basis in Oklahoma. We just don’t make a big deal of it anymore. It has become a new normal created by the oil and gas industry here.

It’s true the overall number of earthquakes has dropped from last year. The Energy In Depth site reported back in May that the number of earthquakes has dropped 52 percent from January to April of this year over last year, but let’s make no mistake about it. The earthquakes keep coming.

Energy In Depth reported in its analysis of Oklahoma Geological Survey data that there were still 172 earthquakes in January registering at a 2.8-magnitude or higher. That dropped to 82 in April. That’s a sizable drop, but it’s still 82 earthquakes, and that doesn’t even count the smaller temblors. I’m also unsure if the drop isn’t really tied to a lower rig count and production because of the worldwide oil glut. That’s a reasonable question that needs an answer.

Last weekend alone, there were reports of a 3.1-magnitude and a 3.7-magnitude earthquake in the state. I’ve felt several small quakes in the last week in central Oklahoma. There’s so many I still lose track. I felt one larger earthquake last week, or maybe ten days ago or so, that I found out “only” registered at a 2.6-magnitude. I anticipate and feel dread over every little shake or noise in my house and at my work. Sometimes, it’s just the air conditioning starting up or it becomes clear it’s a plane in the sky; sometimes, it’s ambiguous whether it was an earthquake or not. Sometimes, it’s obvious. That’s life here now.

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End The Death Penalty

I became an at-large board member for the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish The Death Penalty (OK-CADP) last night at its annual meeting to try to help end capital punishment not only in Oklahoma but also wherever it exists as a legally sanctioned punishment.

I’ve been opposed to the death penalty my entire conscious life. Yet one current issue that certainly motivated me even more to join OK-CADP was Oklahoma’s recent botched application of the death penalty and one very close call, which, taken together, became a barbaric debacle, a debacle so intense that it could ironically serve down the road as a major or part of a legal reasoning for the U.S. Supreme Court to end capital punishment by judicial decree.

I’m referring to the recent botched lethal-injection executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner and the last-minute stays of execution for Richard Glossip. One stay for Glossip came just moments before the state was going to kill him because they didn’t have the appropriate drugs to carry it out.

All of this made national news, of course, and embarrassed the state. It was all outlined in a scathing grand jury report. One media outlet called it an extended tragedy of errors” and another media outlet referred to in a headline as “ . . .Oklahoma’s Despicable Execution Program.” That’s an understatement.

I will write more on Oklahoma’s despicable actions later in this post, but, first, I want everyone to think about the Tower of London, a castle that was used as a prison from 1100 to 1952. It was there, of course, where Anne Boleyn and others were beheaded for crimes they did or didn’t commit and where people were regularly tortured. I went there just last week while attending an academic conference in London, and there is a spot in the main grounds marking the place where the beheadings took place.

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