This is a blog of populist and liberal information and ideas, advancing the cause of truth and justice while fighting the ugly tyranny of right-wing oppression in Oklahoma and its surrounding environs.

Okie Response To Immigration Plan: Expect Violence, Anarchy, Lawsuits and Stuff

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Oklahoma’s conservative politicians wasted no time in producing some of the nations's most outlandish and bizarre criticism of President Barack Obama’s sensible new plan to stop the deportation of some immigrants living here illegally.

Topping the list of this particular Okie spectacle is outgoing Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who unfortunately had this to say about the president’s decision:

"The country's going to go nuts, because they're going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it's going to be a very serious situation. You're going to see — hopefully not — but you could see instances of anarchy. ... You could see violence."

That sounds to me more like “a call’’ to violence than a warning about violence. Note the language “going to go nuts” and “anarchy” and “could see violence." Let me state the obvious: Coburn’s comments are incendiary and irresponsible. If there IS any violence, Coburn should be held directly responsible for it, along with the corporate media journalists who have tried through the years to depict the senator as some sort of reasoned political sage.

I think Oklahomans know Coburn a little bit better than those Beltway journalists trolling for a story that fits a preconceived phony narrative. Coburn is a radical and an extremist. His comments are actually designed to incite violence and anarchy, even though they are supposedly couched as a warning. His comments are no different than what you might hear on a Rush Limbaugh show. Yet Coburn still gets depicted as a serious statesman.

Here’s a point Coburn won’t acknowledge. Even if Obama did nothing about the issue, this country would still be flooded with people who live here without appropriate documentation. That’s going to continue. Why would Americans suddenly go nuts and start rampaging in the streets over one policy shift when the illegal immigrants are already here in the first place? Is it because Coburn WANTS people to go nuts and get violent?

Basically, the controversial point of Obama’s plan is that it protects up to five million illegal immigrants from deportations. It also refocuses our anti-illegal immigration efforts on monitoring and deporting criminals who come to the United States. Here’s a basic outline of the plan. Some experts estimate there are more than 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

Coburn’s siren call to violence—violence against immigrants, perhaps, or maybe even the president himself?—was just one outlandish comment by an Oklahoma politician. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued a statement that he plans to “take action” against the president over his new directive. Of course, that means he’s threatening to sue, just as he has sued to end Obamacare so impoverished people can’t have access to medical care here in Oklahoma. Pruitt’s entire focus as the state’s attorney general has been to oppose Obama in any possible way he can. Here’s his statement on the Obama immigration plan:

It is anticipated tonight’s speech will again prove our President sees himself as above the law. Regardless of what the President thinks the law ought to be, our constitution dictates that Congress makes the law, it is the Presidents duty to faithfully execute those laws. If the President takes an executive action that violates his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the immigration laws passed by Congress, we will take action to hold him accountable.

Note the language “will AGAIN [emphasis mine] prove our President sees himself as us above the law” and “violate his constitutional duty.” It’s sheer nonsense. American presidents have taken executive action on immigration and other issues throughout the years. This is well documented and doesn’t even bear repeating. Obama is doing nothing out of the ordinary, except to maybe get something accomplished in the face of Republican recalcitrance.

Other negative comments from the prominent conservative politicians here in Oklahoma are so typical they should make us yawn. U.S. Rep. Tom Cole claims, “ . . . the president has chosen to pit lawmakers and the Americans they represent against each other.” What does that even mean? U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas asks, “ . . . where does this kind of stuff stop?” Stuff? Come on, let’s have a serious conversation about the immigration issue, not focus on arcane points about implementation and constitutional authority. It’s more than just “stuff.” U.S. Rep. James Lankford, who was just elected to fill Coburn’s Senate seat, claims Obama “does not want to do the hard work of negotiating an actual reform . . .” Let’s be clear: Obama has tried repeatedly to find compromise with stubborn Republicans on an array of issues in his presidential tenure.

The crux of the issue is that we have more than 11 million people living here illegally. Many of these people have menial jobs. They come here to escape poverty and have a better way of life. The vast majority of these people are law-abiding—I get it that they’re here “illegally” so don’t think you caught me in some paradox—and want education and safety for their children. It is logistically impossible to find and then round up all these people and send them back to their home countries.

Our country has needed to do something about this issue for years, but the GOP because of xenophobia and racism has refused to act in a sensible manner. No one, especially Obama, is arguing these people should get blanket amnesty and complete forgiveness. The point is that these people, many of them from Mexico, should be able to come out of the shadows and participate fully in our taxation and regulatory systems. It makes the most sense.

On one hand, there actually are Republicans who do want the cheap labor illegal immigrants provide; on the other hand, the racists and xenophobic people who make up a sizeable segment of the Republican base crave retaliation, maybe even some of that “violence” and “anarchy” Coburn seems to be promoting these days. These two factions will never find common ground, and they both hate Obama with an irrational intensity that can only be contributed to the fact he’s an African American. How is any type of compromise remotely possible given these obvious facts?

Obama’s plan is a sensible start to solving a crucial issue in our country. It’s also sure, on a political level, to show immigrants and other people, and especially those of Hispanic descent in this country, that the Democratic Party embraces diversity and tolerance.

The Oklahoman Obama Obsession

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In less than a week, the editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper has published three asinine commentaries criticizing President Barack Obama while offering not a shred of rebuttal or an extensive differing viewpoint.

The three editorials by The Oklahoman, simply signed with the innocuous byline “The Oklahoman Editorial Board,” show not only how the monopoly newspaper is one of the most biased corporate publications in the world but also how sophomoric, reductionist and anachronistic its editorial page remains in the twenty-first century.

The newspaper is legitimately and obviously obsessed with its hatred of the first African American president in American history. Why? He’s a lame-duck president with two years remaining in office. Republicans now have majorities in the House and Senate. Surely, the newspaper should begin its Hillary-hate at this point, right? What’s the point of rousing the low-information villagers who actually subscribe to this awful newspaper and believe in its one-sided hateful views against Obama right now? With its documented past of hate and bias against minorities under the late publisher Edward L. Gaylord, it’s not difficult to see it as the lingering vestiges of racism. What else could it be?

On Nov. 14, the newspaper published an editorial, “The president’s misplaced priorities, outdated solutions,” that argues the president support for “net neutrality,” which essentially would prevent large, corporate Internet providers from ripping off people by charging them more, perhaps even doubling or tripling prices, is somehow a non-issue and shouldn’t be Obama’s concern. As the headline argues, it’s “misplaced.” The editorial goes on to argue that people just don’t care about it. While it might be true that not many people are paying attention to the issue right now, as the editorial argues, they sure would care about it when their Internet bill went up in price in a major way. What makes this an especially dumb editorial is that the issue has the potential in the future of hurting, the newspaper’s website, if Internet providers jacked up prices to view videos.

But, then, The Oklahoman has one business model: Use its monopoly to shut down competition and progressive political dissent until newspapers its size and caliber close down. Does anyone here really think its current owner, billionaire energy mogul Philip Anschutz, really cares about people here in Oklahoma or even if the newspaper even flourishes commercially? Isn’t this simply a hobby for the reclusive, right-wing member of the 1 percent.

On Nov. 17, the newspaper published an editorial, “Legacy-building phase underway for Obama presidency,” which produced this rhetorically bizarre gem:

Obama’s visit to China and the wearing of that weird Star Trek costume (or whatever it was) produced a pen-and-phone style agreement for the United States to cut carbon dioxide emissions. This is an exercise in legacy-building. Obama will spend much of his last two years in office beating the drum for global warming remediation.

Note the sarcasm over the Chinese-styled shirt that many leaders of the summit wore one time as a gesture of unity and graciousness for the host country. The newspaper’s criticism of this minor act is a blatant case of xenophobia and, yes, I will say it over and over, just downright racism. People do wear different styles of clothing in different parts of the world or have traditional clothing. How does one even begin to teach students about the world in this place when the state’s largest newspaper makes fun of the way people dress in other countries? Why doesn’t the newspaper just publish an editorial urging Oklahoma children to make fun of kids in other countries that don’t dress like them? It’s called ignorance and bullying.

The point of the editorial is that it's wrong for Obama to try to build the historical legacy of his presidency through making progress on global warming by reducing manmade carbon emissions. The Oklahoman editorial board is a longtime supporter of Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who calls global warming a hoax and a left-wing scientist conspiracy, so why not just leave it at that? We know The Oklahoman editorial board doesn’t privilege science. So what’s the point of the entire “legacy-building” thing and the xenophobia and racism unless that’s the real point? It’s all just about bashing Obama with racist undertones.

On Nov. 19, the newspaper published an editorial, “Opposition to Obamacare not likely to subside,” which argues, against growing evidence, that the Affordable Care Act is an “albatross for Democrats.” Note the newspaper’s use of the word “Obamacare,” which Republicans have made part of the American lexicon. Here’s the key paragraph for the point I’m making:

So long as Obama is president, Jacobs is correct to predict no fundamental Obamacare changes will become law. And GOP infighting could stymie even modest amendments. That won’t mean Obamacare is increasingly popular. The law has been an electoral albatross for Democrats since its passage. There’s little reason to think this dynamic will change any time soon.

Yes, folks, isn’t it terrible Obama won’t deny health care to the millions upon millions of people who now have insurance and regular medical care? The editorial is preposterous. Its only point is to denigrate the president in any way whatsoever without allowing an appropriate, sustained rebuttal. Obama, Obama, Obama. Bad, bad, bad. WE GET IT ALREADY.

Here’s how the newspaper describes its editorial board:

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord Everest, member at large; J.E. McReynolds, Opinion editor; Owen Canfield III. chief editorial writer; and Ray Carter, editorial writer.

Let’s be clear: The Oklahoman editorial page is shameful and craven. Its continued obsession with Obama is truly borderline psychotic and can obviously been seen as racist. Those who perpetuate it by creating or approving its nonsensical content do a grave disservice to the residents in this state and to the quality of life here. In addition, the newspaper’s decision to NOT allow consistent dissenting views to its one-sided arguments is a classic reason why we need better journalistic standards in this country.

Hamm On Keystone Pipeline: “Not Relevant”

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What are the Republicans and The Oklahoman editorial board going to do now that local oil baron Harold Hamm has called the northern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline “not relevant”?

The GOP and the right-wing newspaper have lambasted President Barack Obama for delaying action to approve he construction of the pipeline, which would essentially move Canadian-produced oil to the Gulf coast. They made it a campaign issue in the recent election, and a recent Oklahoman editorial argued Obama “has blocked Keystone at every turn, in a nod to environmentalists.” The editorial’s headline even proclaimed, “Keystone project should be near top of GOP to-do list.”

But Hamm, pictured right, the founder and chief executive officer of the energy company Continental Resources in Oklahoma City, recently had this to say to Politico about the pipeline: “It’s not relevant at all in my opinion. And here we are making it relevant now? Forget it.” That was only a few days after The Oklahoman published its editorial.

Hamm has bonafide GOP credentials. He served as an energy advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in his failed 2012 campaign. So why is he trying to interfere with the conservative mojo right after an election with major gains by Republicans on the national level?

Partially, it’s just plain logic. The pipeline just isn’t as necessary for American interests as the GOP has let on. But it’s mainly about business. There’s a world oil glut, and prices are dropping. Hamm said, “If we have an … oil oversupply looking at us, do we need more Canadian oil here? Probably not.”

While it’s true the construction of the pipeline would create jobs, as The Oklahoman has argued, those job would only be temporary, and the potential for environmental damage would remain high during and after the pipeline’s construction.

In essence, the pipeline is yet another GOP issue like Obamacare that is only used as a cudgel to criticize Obama. (New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote about this conservative tactic today.) If the pipeline was built, and the oil glut deepened further, it could hurt the economy in Oklahoma as the fracking boom here goes bust. Somehow, The Oklahoman finds this acceptable, right? Well, probably not. It just wants to bash Obama for any reason whatsoever, even if it becomes “not relevant.”

The billionaire Hamm did tell Politico that the pipeline should have been built six years ago, but wouldn’t that have tempered the fracking boom in Oklahoma and Texas? Hamm’s position on the pipleine, of course, comes from his own company’s perspective and interests. Continental has been a big player in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota.

It will be interesting to note what impact Hamm’s statements will have on the GOP and its right-wing noise machine, which includes The Oklahoman editorial page. Will they persist with criticism of Obama over the issue and still support the “drill, baby, drill” philosophy, which has created an environmentally unsound fracking boom in several states and produced an oil glut? Have the Republicans, once again, lost one of their specious fear-mongering issues because common sense eventually prevailed under the Obama administration?

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