(Okie Funk devotes itself to local and state issues, but we occasionally comment on national topics as well. So go grab your favorite holiday beverage, watch this short Okie Funk flash movie about the botched Iraq occupation and then check out the main blog for The Funk’s take on some recent national issues.)
No Amnesty Yet For Telecoms
Much has been made in the progressive community about the alleged collapse of Congressional Democrats who seemingly give Imperial President George Bush and his Republican courtiers everything they want. The reality is the Democrats simply do not have enough votes in the U.S. Senate to override Bush’s vetoes on Iraq occupation funding and other important matters. For this reason, Bush and company will control the government through 2008. Yes, there are some big disappointments among the Democrats, but the bottom line is the Republicans can still game the system.
But make no mistake about it. The Republicans should pay dearly in the 2008 elections for their obstinate and undying support for this nation’s worst president ever, a despicable liar who deserves nothing less than impeachment and historical disgrace. All polls show Republicans losing support in 2008. The GOP is merely having its last hurrah, basking in its hubris, and drinking its last leftover bottle of 2004 victory champagne before it slips back into a much deserved obscurity.
Against this backdrop then, it was significant the efforts by U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) to block a bill granting immunity to telecommunications companies for illegal spying on Americans were at least temporarily successful. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) pulled the bill from consideration for at least a month.
(Here is how the American justice system works now under Bush: If you are an ordinary person, you cannot expect any sort of leniency if you commit a crime. Make even one small mistake, and your life can be ruined. But rich corporations and their executives can break the law and fleece the treasury whenever they want as long as Bush and his cronies have approved it.)
The awful, morally-bankrupt bill granting immunity and protection to people we can only deem as criminals who illegally spied on their fellow citizens will likely be approved in the future. But Dodd’s courageous act to stop campaigning for president to protect the interests of the American people will not and should not be forgotten by the Democratic base.
The GOP’s Warped View Of Victory
The new spin from the GOP on Iraq—and it is always spin—is that oh boy things have turned around there.
But those nasty facts always intrude on the right-wing noise machine when it comes to Iraq. Take the recent news out of Basra. It appears some 40 Iraqi women have been killed there this year for violating the tenets of extremist Islam. The news is horrific in itself, but it also shows just what Iraq is becoming under the American occupation.
Yet this is what the GOP talking heads define as victory.
Or note the recent bombings in Baghdad when U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited there. Or what about the 12 U.S. soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq during the law two weeks or so? Or how about the recent Turkish bombings inside Iraq? Or what about how all those positive announcements about Iraqis returning to their country have now turned out to be just more lies from the Bush-sponsored regime in Iraq. Few Iraqis have returned. Those who came back did so because they had no money to live in Syria and now they find themselves in dire circumstances. Or what about all the money the Imperial Bush is throwing down the drain to keep this quagmire going? If you or your children lack decent health care, look no further than the Iraq debacle.
Again, this is what the GOP describes as victory and winning and success. And, really, who can believe any announcements about declining violence in Iraq from the U.S. military anyway?
We invaded Iraq based on lies, and we remain in Iraq because of lies.
Greenwald The Great
Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald continues to write the most astute media commentary in America today.
His recent blog on how the media treats the anti-establishment candidates for president, including John Edwards, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul is a must read for anyone who really wants to get behind the canned tripe presented by “mainstream” media outlets.
I put the word mainstream in quotes because I wonder if the word actually applies to today’s corporate media, which exists to make profits and more profits and cares nothing about regular mainstream people.
A new poll shows Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe remains vulnerable in his 2008 reelection bid.
The poll results, according to Peter Brodnitz of the Benenson Strategy Group, make this overall statement: “Oklahomans are as discontented with the direction of the nation as are voters in most of the rest of the country. Oklahomans also are looking for an alternative to the incumbent Senator, Jim Inhofe, who has yet to convince a majority of Oklahoma voters that he deserves re-election.” Brodnitz and his company conducted the poll for the Andrew Rice campaign.
Rice, 34, pictured right, a Democratic state Senator from Oklahoma City, is running against Inhofe for the U.S. Senate seat.
The poll shows that 58 percent of Oklahomans believe the country is off on the wrong track, and only 48 percent think Inhofe is doing “an excellent or good job.” The poll shows 45 percent think Inhofe is doing “a poor or fair job.”
Inhofe, 73, continues to beat an unnamed Democratic challenger by 46 to 38 percent, according to the poll. He beats Rice by a 49 to 35 percent margin in the poll. The poll does not take into account that 73 percent of Oklahoman voters say they are unfamiliar with Rice.
Poll respondents were also given a series of positive statements about Rice’s legislative agenda and background and then asked who they would vote for a second time. The voters picked Rice over Inhofe by 43 to 41 percent. According to Brodnitz, a highly respected pollster, “This indicates both that voters are potentially open to Rice and that when presented with a positive alternative to Inhofe, support for the Senator dropped significantly below 50 percent.”
The poll results, based on 900 interviews statewide, are similar to polls in 2006 election races when Democratic candidates upset Republican incumbents. Those incumbent politicians were unable to convince voters, just like Inhofe, that they were doing a good job.
Rice still remains the underdog for sure, and he faces an uphill battle against Inhofe, who has the support of the corporate media here. The Daily Oklahoman, for example, declines to show how much animosity Inhofe has created throughout the nation and world with his bizarre claims denying the existence of global warming.
But the Rice campaign does have momentum going into 2008. The young Senator continues to travel the state with his message of hope and progress. His fundraising efforts have been successful. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has featured him on its Web site.
As more Oklahomans become familiar with Rice, his polls numbers are sure to grow.
It has been a tough week here for sure.
Tragically, 23 deaths have been blamed on the ice storm that stunned Oklahoma this past week. At one point, more than 600,000 homes and businesses were without power, and thousands still remain in the dark.
Some Oklahomans shivered through the storm with blankets and candles while others headed to shelters. The damage to the local tree population here is incalculable. Once the thaw is complete, we will know more, but it appears the state has lost thousands of trees. Meanwhile, the state’s college students trudged through finals week under some of the worst weather conditions possible.
Overall, it appears the state’s emergency systems once again worked well during the storm, and no one can fault the utility companies in their immediate efforts to restore power. Crews came in from other states. These crews worked long hours in biting cold weather to get the job done.
But the ice storm raises at least three major issues for Oklahoma’s leaders, and the severity of this storm demands new initiatives and open-minded, intelligent thinking. Will there be discussion and action or will this recent storm quickly recede into Oklahoma weather lore?
Here are those issues:
(1) State leaders and utility companies need to come up with a comprehensive plan to bury as many electrical lines as possible in the state. They also need to develop a massive state tree trimming project to protect electrical lines during ice storms. Unfortunately, as it stands now, the costs of this storm will probably be passed onto Oklahoma consumers through higher utility rates, but there should be no rate increase without serious discussion of burying lines and trimming trees. Apologists for the utility companies, which have highly-paid lobbyists and the corporate media on their side, will argue that only so many electrical lines can be buried and that it is not the panacea some might think. They will also argue that trimming trees near electrical lines poses many problems related to aesthetics and property values for homeowners. But there is much that can and should be done.
(2) The state probably needs to launch new efforts or bolster its current programs to educate people here about the dire effects of ice storms and how people should prepare. Most ice storms are predictable, and people have time to get supplies to endure power outages. What exactly should people have on hand for ice storms? Obviously, there are existing lists of emergency items—flashlights, batteries, radios, etc.—but how do we get more people thinking about the possibility of living without power for a week or even more during winter months. What about people who have just recently moved here and simply have no idea about the severity of Oklahoma’s ice storms? How do we reach them? The point is to get people prepared.
(3) It is time to take a serious look at how global warming and climate change are influencing our weather patterns in Oklahoma and the nation. Scientists say climate change will likely increase stormy and severe weather. Erratic weather patterns will continue, they say. Certainly, no one can make the claim with complete certainty this recent ice storm was influenced by climate change, yet Oklahoma and other parts of the country have witnessed extreme, record-breaking weather in recent years, from droughts in the south to Hurricane Katrina. We need to look at the larger picture. Is there anything we can do at this point to reduce the effects of global warming? What does it mean for Oklahoma if these severe weather events become even more common in the future—it could happen, folks—because of climate change? How many ice storms a year can Oklahoma go through without a major impact on the economy? (Here is how we might begin the discussion.) Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe rejects modern science and does not believe in the existence of global warming. So the outlook for any meaningful discussion here about climate change and its influence on Oklahoma weather will have to come once Inhofe is out of office. But the questions persist.
I wrote recently about a report showing how Oklahomans have one of the highest rates of depression in the nation. I listed the state’s extreme weather as one reason, among many reasons, for the overall depression rate. It can be quite depressing to lose a beloved tree in your yard, though obviously there are worse problems one might face in a horrific ice storm. I do not mean to trivialize those problems. People died here last week because of the storm. What we know for sure is there will be a huge emotional aftermath to this storm. It should not be minimized or suppressed or dismissed.