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.

Send In The Clown

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Beyond the oil and gas lobby and conservative media outlets, such as The Oklahoman, there hasn’t been a lot of support for the development that Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is in line to become the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

In fact, the rhetorical response mostly resembles a doomsday movie. Who or what will save us now? President Barack Obama’s veto pen? How much damage can Inhofe do?

Now comes news from an article in The New York Times that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Inhofe’s fellow state Republican, has worked closely with Devon Energy here to criticize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approach to regulating air pollution from natural gas wells.

Let’s deal with Inhofe first. Inhofe, of course, believes that global warming is a grand and elaborate hoax developed by leading climate scientists throughout the world and refutes the idea that manmade carbon emissions are taking the planet to the edge of a great crisis. He’s in line to become chair of the EPW Committee because Republicans will control the Senate starting next year, and he’s the committee’s ranking GOP member.

He’s written the absurd treatise, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Threatens Your Future and has shown up at a climate conference in order to harass its attendees and argue that Hollywood elites are behind the hoax. Inhofe has argued the issue on Biblical terms as well, quoting scripture that he contends shows clearly that only God could impact the climate on a large scale.

In short, Inhofe uses conservative babble and the old GOP tropes, but it’s definitely not rooted in science, which contends the earth is getting warmer, and it’s going to wreak havoc on the planet unless it can be reversed or at least slowed down.

Then there's Barbra Streisand. Yes, that Barbra Streisand.

A recent post by David Corn that appeared on Mother Jones and Huffington Post brings up an encounter the writer had with Inhofe at a 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen. When Corn pressed Inhofe on naming some of the Hollywood elites in cahoots with world scientists in this fictional grand worldwide scam, the Senator named none other than Barbra Streisand, the famous singer and actor.

After Corn’s piece was recently published, Streisand issued this statement:

This would be hilarious if it weren't so frightening. I thank Senator Inhofe for singling me out as a voice against the perils of climate change! But I'm just a small part of millions of voices, who are informed and alarmed, including 97% of all climate scientists! God help us! This man is going to head the Committee on the Environment in the United States Senate. It’s like giving a fox the keys to the chicken coop.

This, then, is the rhetorical “climate” surrounding the 80-year-old Inhofe as he prepares his strategy to fight for the interests of the fossil-fuel industry at the cost of the planet. It’s only going to get worse, and Oklahoma’s image, in particular, will suffer in the process.

Inhofe has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in his career, according to OpenSecrets.org. That type of money buys a lot of hot air.

In a somewhat related matter, The Times published a piece last weekend revealing that Attorney General Pruitt sent to the EPA the basic text of a letter written by Devon officials that argued the EPA is overestimating air pollution from natural gas wells.

The letter shows the cozy relationship Pruitt and some other state attorneys general have with the oil and gas industry, according to The Times, but the other issue here is that carbon emissions contribute to global warming. Pruitt and Inhofe obviously side with the oil and gas companies on doing little to nothing to decrease our carbon footprint.

Too Much Oil? Blame Us Tree Huggers

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The Oklahoman editorial board’s take on the oil and gas fracking boom gone bust here is as insanely laughable and ridiculous as it gets. It’s cray cray, people.

Here’s the key point in a recent editorial in the newspaper about dropping oil prices and its impact on the state economy: “. . . populists will join the anti-fossil fuel crowd in cheering the pain awaiting oil company employees and their investors.”

See, it’s all about those crazy “populists” excessively worried, as the editorial notes, about those “obscene profits” made by energy companies, which “has never been matched by reality.” The oil company executives, you know those people with courtside seats at The Thunder games, bless their hearts, have nothing to do with it. They match reality. Populists can’t even match their socks on a good day.

It’s as if the writers and editors at The Oklahoman have never experienced or read about or studied the oil boom and bust cycle that has defined this state, well, basically since its inception by the federal government as one of the last states in the nation. I know 1982, the year Penn Square Bank failed, signaling the symbolic end of a major oil boom, may seem like ancient history to a 20-year-old getting ready to take finals next week, but it isn’t to those of us who lived here as adults that year.

Then, as now, “populists” and those people the newspaper refers to as the “anti-fossil fuel crowd” have absolutely nothing to do with the steep drop in oil prices. It’s the oil and gas companies themselves that are completely and entirely to blame, and it’s related directly to greed and immoral, ruthless, awful business practices and non-planning.

Here’s a basic refresher on the oil boom and bust cycle: Oil companies go crazy when prices are up and over drill and over leverage themselves during boom times knowing full well the bust is as inevitable as death and taxes. They take the money and run. That’s the definition of Oklahoma. It has happened before, it’s happening now, and it will happen again. Yet we love us our unethical oil barons. We even name our hockey team after them.

Us hippy tree huggers have absolutely nothing to do with this unbelievably stupid system. The negative aspects of the human condition—greed, the desire for undeserved and corrupt power, lying, fraud, basic immorality—are the culprits. Laugh at us for hugging our trees and singing clichéd campfire songs, but don’t blame us for sin, sloth and gluttony, please, Oklahoman editor Kelly Dyer Fry, who is a member of the newspaper’s extremely prestigious editorial board and, in full disclosure, the mother of my two children.

It’s the OIL COMPANIES that caused the glut through over drilling using hydraulic fracturing or fracking techniques. It’s the OIL COMPANIES that are causing the earthquakes that shake it up for us on a daily basis while polluting our water supplies. It’s the OIL COMPANIES that don’t care one iota for this state, its people, its children and its future. Oil barrel prices have dropped from about $100 a barrel to nearly $60 a barrel in just a few months because of OIL COMPANIES, not sarcastic college English professors, who are NOT dancing around the campfire because many people here may well lose their jobs in the coming months.

The top executives of oil companies pay themselves exorbitant amounts of money during the boom times, but when the boom goes bust who gets hurt the most are the ordinary workers, like oil rig employees and geologists. They lose their jobs. It’s tragic, and not good for an energy state, such as Oklahoma. No, it’s downright terrible and sad. I have known, and I know, and I will know in the future people who lose their jobs because of this style of oil-company immoral greed the newspaper editorial board supports as some type of Biblical mandate handed down by that oil driller himself, the baby Jesus.

Again, the recent editorial has the audacity to actually claim, “. . . the populist view that energy firms make obscene profits has never been matched by reality.” Really? Harold Hamm, chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based oil company Continental Resources, has at one time reportedly been estimated to be worth around $17 billion. THAT IS OBSCENE. There, I said it. Again. THAT IS OBSCENE. Expect me to be tarred and feathered and sent off in one of Hamm’s 14 private jets and deposited like a baked, unplucked turkey on the streets of New York City where them liberals belong.

Get some tissues before you read the rest of this paragraph. Hamm is worth considerably less now that oil prices are plunging because of The Oil Glut. Bless his billionaire’s heart. Poor Harold. (His divorce settlement isn’t going to help him either.) But what’s a few less billion dollars to a non-obscene, money making oil executive? His socks match because his 387 personal servants make sure they match.

So this is what that GOP’s “drill, baby, drill” dogma gets you: An Oklahoma economy threatened by mythical American fossil-fuel independence. Thanks, Sarah Palin. Can I state the obvious? When you drill and drill and drill, you get oil and oil and oil. When you get oil and oil and oil, you get gasoline prices below $2 a gallon, which is extremely wonderful for the nation’s economy, but not so good for an energy state like Oklahoma. People lose jobs here during bust times. It’s tragic. Tax revenues plunge. Oklahoma’s education funding gets cut by the highest level in the nation. Wait, that happened before the bust.

Let’s pause and rephrase. The Oklahoma power structure—the Hamms, the Frys, the Fallins, [insert different names over the years here]—don’t give a damn about education and never will. The oil boom gone bust just gives them another excuse to castigate those stinking liberal tree huggers, see, that just don’t get it. It gives them another excuse to demean overworked teachers for trying to teach children on shoestring budgets.

Of course, Okie Funk called this bust a long time ago, but Kelly Ogle and Amanda Taylor, News 9 anchors, have great hair, and that’s what matters in the media here in Oklahoma, right? That, and the craven members of the state’s largest newspaper’s editorial board, who think logic is a dirty, four-letter word.

Norman Case Far From Over

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Although an arrest has been made in connection with a widely publicized Norman High School rape and bullying case, it doesn’t mean that the overall issue of harassment in our schools here and elsewhere has even begun to be resolved.

I won’t rehash the arrest details, which you can find here.

What I wonder the most is why it has taken so long for charges to be filed, and, more to the point, did it take the public outcry by the local organization #YesALLDaughters to make it happen? Rape is a crime. It shouldn’t take public protest to remind police and prosecutors of that fact.

We also know there have been allegations of other potential victims and that these victims have allegedly faced bullying at Norman High School when their claims went public. Note the word “allegations” and “allegedly.” This is how bullying works. The bullies are always the ones who get the benefit of the doubt, never the victims.

As someone who has faced years of bullying acts in the workplace, let me suggest a simple narrative: The bully after choosing his victims methodically and often aided by friends, commits his abusive acts. Once those victims stand up, the bully’s friends and the entrenched power structure—supervisors at schools or colleges, for example, or legal personnel—do everything in their power to protect the rights of the bully. The bully’s victims are systematically ignored and isolated. Thus, they are bullied again. Meanwhile, the bullying continues. The bully laughs behind the backs of his victims after they report him. He lurks, ready to pounce again, and he does over and over.

Here’s some of the language the bully’s victims face:

Why are you making such a big deal of this? He was just teasing.

He’s my friend, and I don’t believe you.

Sure, you can make a formal complaint. Let’s have a meeting in the next two weeks or so. You will need to fill out a long report, gather together your witnesses and be ready for intensive interrogation. Or, maybe, just maybe, we could just talk to the person and get him to stop. (Of course, the bully will never stop unless he faces real punishment.)

It’s hard to believe he would do something like that. Are you sure?

Maybe you’re just being too sensitive.

Why did you go to that party? Why did you dress like that? Why did you talk to him? Why did you believe him?

I believe you, but the [insert institutional rules here] just don’t allow us do anything about it.

I might also suggest two other points in relation to bullying: (1) More bullying cases are getting reported because there is more advocacy for victims these days. That’s a good thing. It’s a tremendous problem at schools and even universities, maybe even the worst problem these institutions face. Yet there is systemic apathy among leaders to address the issue. (2) Perhaps, in bygone eras, more bullies were stopped in informal ways. I’m thinking here, just for an obvious example, of the playground bully who finally gets what’s coming to him under the swing set. Consequently, he stops because he faced real punishment.

Getting back to the Norman controversy, I want to note that this case is far from over. There are other allegations that have not been resolved. I urge #YesALLDaughter not to take these charges as too much of a victory. The accused hasn’t gone to trial. The charges could get dropped any day now. The accuser will be relentlessly interrogated and perhaps even demeaned by opposing attorneys. I could go on and on.

Bullying is a major problem that manifests itself in nefarious but sometimes complicated ways. People who don’t want to do anything about it should NOT be allowed in positions of power at our schools and colleges.

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