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.

Do We Have Legal Tattoo Studios Or Not?

Government Regulation May Shut Down Shops

Did the state legislature and governor really legalize tattoo studios last year?

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News reports show draconian financial regulations placed on operating tattoo studios could close up to 85 shops, according to Jessica Harrell, president of the Association of Body Art. She estimates there are now 100 studios in the state, according to the reports.

At issue is a state requirement that studios obtain a $100,000 surety bond by March 1. Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that requires tattoo studios put up such an expensive bond, which would be used to pay for fines. Many studios simply cannot afford that cost. These are small businesses with an average of two to three employees.

State Rep. Al Lindley (D-Oklahoma City) has introduced a bill that would fix the problem, but it’s tied up in the House Public Health Committee The committee chairperson, Doug Cox (R-Grove), said he will not allow Lindley’s bill to be heard this session.

Oklahoma was the last state in the nation to legalize tattoo studios. When the legislature voted to legalize tattooing and when the governor signed the bill into law last year they did so with the understanding among the state’s citizens that Oklahoma would actually have tattoo studios, or did we all miss something here?

If the law is not changed, many Oklahoma tattoo artists will go underground again.

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the growing tattoo industry here. This is major government intrusion into business, and the courts should intervene if Lindley’s bill can’t get a floor vote. Local republicans talk about how the free market flourishes without government red tape but apparently this is only if the particular businesses fit their narrow-minded ideas about reality.

The Oklahoman’s Occupation

It’s simply amazing how many editorials The Oklahoman has devoted to supporting the continuing, gruesome Iraq occupation.

A cursory glance shows the newspaper has published one to three editorials related to the issue each week for many weeks now. (It’s easy to lose count. In the last five days, for example, the newspaper has published three editorials about Iraq and another one that refers to it in its initial paragraph.) Some of this is driven by the news cycle, of course, but how many times and ways can you say you support whatever decision—no matter how dreadful, no matter what the results—that the commander-in-chief makes regarding the occupation before it becomes a form of ritualistic, fascist worship.

That’s exactly where The Oklahoman and the extreme right-wing branch of the Republican Party stands right now. Obviously, the conflict has not gone well. Thousands upon thousands of innocent people have died in the occupation, the Iraqis no longer want us in their country, and Bush has mortgaged away our children’s future by spending at least $370 billion on the conflict. But rather than changing course, the right-extremists go for broke with an escalation, which is supported by their propaganda machine. What does The Oklahoman have to lose? Credibility? There’s not a thinking person on the left or right that doesn’t see the newspaper’s editorial pages as a systematic, Goebbels-like brainwashing effort to keep the state’s citizens ignorant of the world around them.

As a monopoly newspaper, The Oklahoman should offer a variety of views about the Iraq occupation and all political issues. Of course, this will never happen as long as the Gaylord family owns the newspaper. Perhaps, all one can do at this point is to stop purchasing the newspaper or buying products from its advertisers. People should also continue using new independent media sources, which are increasing in number and quality.

Okie From Maskoke Proposes Lekwe Legislation

(Maskoke is the Creek word for Muskogee and lekwe means rotten, according to the Creek Language Archive.)

A bill that would make English the state’s official language is institutionalized racism and a targeted slap in the face to Oklahoma’s Hispanic and Native American communities.

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The bill, introduced by state Rep. George Faught, a Republican from Muskogee, would require that all state business be enacted in English. This would include drivers’ license tests and, apparently, social and health services and documents as well. It would primarily create hassles and suffering for the state’s growing Hispanic community, though all non-English speaking people would find life more difficult in Oklahoma if the bill passes

Symbolically, the English-only effort absolutely ignores the state’s rich history, which includes the contributions of Native American tribes, many of which were forced from their land and sent here by the federal government before statehood. These tribes have their own unique, centuries-old languages and customs that would be shamefully dishonored by this bill. Consequently, some tribes have come out against the bill.

The bill is part of the GOP’s continuing political strategy to anger people about The Other. It aims to cast suspicions and distrust on anyone who is not white and does not speak English. As the country and the state becomes more diverse, the Oklahoma and national GOP must set up a false enemy, or The Other, to blame for their corporate-worshipping policies that keep wages stagnant and health costs high for the middle class.

Along with creating basic human hardship, the bill would also be costly for two other reasons:

(1) It will show the country and the world that a majority of Oklahomans are intolerant of people from other cultures with different languages. This could cost the state in economic development. Potential businesses will see us as a place of hicks and racists. This is a particularly horrid bill to pass during our centennial when we want to draw attention to our accomplishments, not the deep-seated bigotry in our history.

(2) It sends a message to our children that learning and studying languages other than English is not worth the time or effort. It creates a law that actually sanctions intellectual ignorance. If we don’t expose our children to other languages, we hold them back from participating in the world.

Greatest Vote In A Generation

(Update: The U.S. House of Representatives voted 246-182 Friday in favor of a resolution denouncing President George Bush's escalation of American troops in the continuing Iraq occupation.)

"We owe it to the men and women of our armed forces to pursue a policy that offers them the best possible chance of success—not a plan that repeats past mistakes.”—U.S. Rep. Dan Boren.

Democrats will reaffirm America’s basic constitutional structures Friday in the most important political vote in at least a generation.

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The U.S. House of Representatives has been debating a short resolution criticizing Bush’s escalation of the gruesome Iraq occupation the last few days. This is a much needed discussion created by the November elections in which voters spoke clearly they want an end to President George Bush’s botched debacle. A vote on the resolution is scheduled Friday. Some Republican House members are expected to join Democrats in passing the measure.

The only Oklahoma Congressional member on the right side of history in this greatest vote in a generation is U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, a Democrat who spoke eloquently in favor of the resolution during the debate.

Adopting the modus operandi of their unethical leader, many GOP members are consistently lying in their presentations, using straw-man and red-herring arguments and, of course, presenting contradictory points. How did some of these illogical, angry corporate toadies, liberty-haters, and Bushbots become empowered in our democracy when they obviously stand against democracy as a basic concept and philosophy?

Let’s dissect some of the GOP lies in the debate:

GOP Lie #1: The resolution helps terrorists. Nothing in the resolution mentions our fight against terrorists throughout the world, and the only reason outside terrorists are in Iraq is because of the incompetent war planning by the Bush administration. The Bushies have also sided with a Shiite government in Iraq that is sympathetic to anti-American interests in Iran. Consequently, given our current occupation strategy, an escalation of troops only supports terrorists in organizations such as Al-Qaeda.

GOP Lie #2: By standing against the resolution, the GOP supports committing enough troops to stabilize Iraq. In fact, not a single Republican has come forward with a valid plan to institute a draft in order to deplore the half million troops needed to get the job done. It’s the GOP which lacks plans, not the Democrats. Many Democrats favor a phased redeployment. They realize the country citizens will not allow the government to establish a draft for the occupation.

GOP Lie #3: The resolution does not support the troops. But a majority of troops and their families, according to a recent poll, do not support the president’s plans for Iraq. They want to come home. They know the occupation will not work. The resolution very much supports a majority view of what the troops think about Bush’s handling of his misguided occupation.

GOP Lie #4: The resolution emboldens our enemies throughout the world. No, what emboldens our enemies is American quasi-fascism and neoconservatism. In the past six years, the country transformed itself from a democracy of checks and balances into an imperial-presidency form of government established to benefit war profiteers, such as Halliburton. That's how the world thinks of us now. But democratic debate and free speech will always be our country’s most important asset.

GOP Lie #5: The resolution is really an attempt to micromanage the war. This one is laughable. The resolution is staggeringly significant in terms of symbolic value, a first step back to a constitutional democratic republic, but it’s a nonbinding measure, and it does nothing to cut off or limit funding for the occupation.

GOP Lie #6: The resolution is just a meaningless political game because it’s nonbinding. This is another laughable point and contradicts the GOP Lie #5. The resolution has created the first open debate about the Iraq occupation in five years. It’s intellectually dishonest to call that meaningless. A majority of Americans disagree with Bush’s handling of the Iraq occupation, and they desperately want this debate. And so what is it? Is it micromanaging or just political crap? The Republicans want it both ways, of course.

GOP Lie #7: It’s wrong to even debate the occupation in the House and Senate because Congress shouldn’t ever question military decisions made by the commander-in-chief. But then what is the role of Congress? Why even have one? Each GOP member who speaks against debating all components of the bloody occupation essentially speaks against the core principles of our democracy.

The Republicans don’t want a debate because they have been so dreadfully wrong about the Iraq occupation for five years now. Of course they don’t want to be held accountable for the needless deaths of thousands and thousands of American soldiers and innocent Iraqis or the $370 billion already spent on the occupation. What’s the political gain in truth for these people? Better to risk it all, and, by extension, all of us, and our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

America has not been so challenged by such reckless and blind presidential and Congressional leadership since the Vietnam War era. The November elections changed that. If America, using its democratic structures, can now correct its error—the Iraq occupation—it will be the greatest story of democratic affirmation and people power in a generation. That story is the best weapon against those who wish us harm, not bombs.

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