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How Bad Will It Get Here Thanks To State’s Conservative Politicians?

Education systems are getting slashed once again with new 4 percent cuts, and a bill is advancing in the legislature that would remove 111,000 people from the state’s Medicaid program, but it’s not conservative enough for The Oklahoman editorial board.

In its Oklahoma ScissorTales series Saturday, the editorial board gives presidential Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders a backhanded complimented for at least speaking up forcefully as an “avowed socialist” in “seeking new recruits” after his victory here in the primary Tuesday. The mini-editorial makes the silly point that conservatives shouldn’t be afraid to speak up either. Here’s the gist:

If Sanders — an avowed socialist — isn't afraid of spreading his message and seeking new recruits, then why do so many Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature appear frightened at the thought of arguing for conservative policies that attract broad support in a very conservative state? Instead of withdrawing into their shells, more Republicans should adopt Sanders' boldness and confidence to advance a conservative message.

That should make any reasonable person roll their eyes and wince if not cry. The state is drowning in a cesspool of conservative ideology right now, and The Oklahoman has the audacity to argue Republicans are “withdrawing in their shells.” It has to be mockery, right? Haven’t all the recent tax cuts for the wealthy here and the tax breaks for corporations been a perfect implementation of the GOP-inspired starve-the-beast ideology? That’s when you starve the government of needed funds, and then hand over all control of all aspects of American life from education to health care to correctional systems to the corporations and the pseudo-aristocracy here.

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Was OKC Renaissance Funded In Part By A Crook’s Money?

With the massive adoration and tributes pouring in on local corporate and social media outlets to honor the late Aubrey McClendon and his contributions to the so-called Oklahoma City renaissance, I don’t think it’s too early to ask some basic, realistic questions.

Was the great Oklahoma City renaissance, an exaggerated term for at least some of us who live here and an absolutely absurd term for the city’s impoverished people without decent medical access, funded at least partially by a crook’s money?

Are those organizations which gladly accepted money from McClendon, who was indicted Tuesday on rigging prices on oil and gas leases, willing to give that money back to make restitution to the people the local wildcatter baron is alleged to have ripped off along with, according to a recent news report, his former partner Tom Ward, if the allegations are true? Here is a partial list of organizations, according to various reports, that took McClendon’s money: The Lyric Theatre, Ballet Oklahoma, Oklahoma Museum of Art, Arts Council of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Heritage Foundation and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. What about the over-hyped Boathouse District with which McClendon was heavily involved? Then there’s the Boys and Girls Club of OKC, one of McClendon’s donees I appreciate the most. Despite these contributions, McClendon still had plenty of money left over to live a life with his family few of us can even comprehend.

Will those organizations at least stop their McClendon tributes and face the possibility the money they received was heavily tainted by corruption?

Will those prominent people who served on Chesapeake’s Board of Directors, which included Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis, during McClendon’s tenure and during the time period of the allegations return all their compensation to those people allegedly ripped off by McClendon or at least turn the money over to charities that help the poor if related legal claims are later proven?

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Feds Indict McClendon

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(This was posted before I was aware of news reports about McClendon's death in a car accident this morning. My condolences go out to McClendon's family.)

While Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders was all over the news Tuesday for his victory in the primary here in Oklahoma and deservedly so, the U.S. Justice Department made the stunning announcement that it had indicted local oil and gas wildcatter Aubrey McClendon for rigging lease prices from early 2007 to late 2012.

I’ll let my progressive friends parse through the meaning of Sanders' victory here, but McClendon’s indictment represents something important about the oil and gas industry here and the overall Oklahoma economy, which continues to sink. Sanders’ victory here may or may not have greater meaning in terms of the state’s political climate. I’m unsure his victory means much on the national level.

For those of you old enough to live through the 1980s here as an adult, the McClendon indictment should trigger memories of the energy-related corruption that brought about the collapse of Penn Square Bank, which is still emblematic of those dark economic times in Oklahoma when the boom, as it always does, went bust.

The cases are different, but the question is pertinent: Will McClendon’s case become the same type of historical marker of the folly, hubris and greed that seems to be as much of a part of the oil and gas industry here as all the oil pumpers dotting Oklahoma’s landscape?

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