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.

State Poverty Rate Soars

grapeswrath
Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one's paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget's stretched so thin
And there's more comin' home from the Mideast war
We can't make it here anymore—James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make It Here”

Where is all that Bush prosperity? The poverty rate in Oklahoma is soaring as the disparity between the incomes of the nation’s richest and middle-class citizens continues to widens

Oklahoma’s poverty rate in 2005-2006 stands at 15.5 percent up from 13.2 percent in 2004-2005 and 11.8 percent in 2003-2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. An average of 537,000 Oklahomans have lived in poverty the last two years. Oklahoma County has the highest rate in the state with a staggering 22.2 percent of its residents falling below the poverty line. The U.S. Census Bureau's poverty line is around $20,000 or lower for a family of four. Here are the poverty thresholds for 2006.

The Community Action Project (CAP) in Tulsa, an agency that fights poverty in the state, commented on the soaring numbers this way: “These numbers should sound the alarm that our economy, while continuing to show signs of overall strength, is leaving far too many Oklahomans behind. We hope that state policymakers will ask the tough questions about why families are failing to earn a decent living and will undertake an aggressive effort to bolster assistance and expand opportunities for low- and moderate-income families.”

In addition, 650,000 Oklahomans or 18.7 percent do not have health insurance.

“Being without health insurance leaves families one medical emergency away from falling into poverty,” according to David Blatt, director of public policy for CAP. “It is now especially urgent that the President and Congress find a way to reach agreement on expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to avoid even more children being left without access to health care.”

In another bit of staggering news, the census figures show Oklahoma’s median income at $38,276, which is $10,175 or 21 percent below the national average.

Nationally, the poverty rate declined a small amount, though more people are without health insurance, the figures show. Other studies show that the richest 1 percent of all Americans are now receiving their highest share of income since 1928, an ominous fact that threatens the country’s democratic structures.

Oklahoma has a long history of poverty, of course, and many structural problems, such as an uncaring, recalcitrant corporate power structure, have contributed to the dilemma. The state’s underfunded educational systems also contribute to poverty levels as well as local corporate media outlets, which adamantly refuse to report the reality of how poverty affects people.

It is difficult to dispute the George Bush years have been a disaster for lower-income and middle-class Oklahomans. Ironically, the state’s citizens voted for Bush and his reckless economic and war policies in overwhelming numbers in the last two elections. The big question is this: Would they do so today? The only way to change things here is by voting the neoconservatives and corporate toadies out of office and restoring sanity to our nation’s overall financial system.

Late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said it best: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. But we can't have both."

Peace Walk Scheduled For September 23

Image from oldamericancentury.org

”We have guided missiles and misguided men”—Martin Luther King

The anti-war movement in Oklahoma continues to bring a message of hope and peace to area residents.

It does so in one of the reddest of red states. The corporate media here and angry warmongers such as U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe continue to support Imperial President George Bush’s gruesome, Iraq occupation, even as leading Republicans, such as U.S. Sens. John Warner (Virgina) and Chuck Hagel (Nebraska) have moderated their views. But not everyone in Oklahoma is a Bushbot. Recent polling shows a majority of Oklahomans actually disapprove of the way Bush is handling the occupation.

The Iraq occupation is a disaster. It has taken the lives of thousands upon thousand of American soldiers and innocent Iraqi citizens. Some estimate the occupation will cost at least $2 trillion. The only people who have benefited from the occupation have been war profiteers, who put their own greed above the interests of their country.

The next “Spiritual Walk For Peace” will begin at 2 p.m., Sept. 23 at the Episcopal Center at NW 9th Street and Robinson. The walk goes around the Murrah National Memorial.

For more information, contact Nathaniel Batchelder at The Peace House.

Latest Republican Homophobe Caught In Police Sex Sting

U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) has pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge in Minnesota in connection with a police report that says he solicited a male undercover police officer to engage in “lewd conduct” in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom.

Craig is an ultra conservative who supports banning gay marriage because, according to a news article, it is "important for us to stand up now and protect traditional marriage, which is under attack by a few unelected judges and litigious activists."

But here he is in a metropolitan airport of all places trying to have sex with another man. Craig denies he was soliciting the officer, but his excuses make no sense. Why would you plead guilty to a charge in connection with a “lewd conduct” police report if it was not true?

Craig, like U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe here in Oklahoma, is one of those Republican leaders who have “gone Washington.” They feel no accountability to the people they represent or to basic logic. They are hypocritical and have no value system. Their only allegiance is to themselves and the big corporations who fund their campaigns.

Do not forget Inhofe’s gay-bashing performance on the Senate floor in June, 2006. Inhofe said, “I'm very proud that in the entire recorded history of our family, there has never been...any kind of homosexual relationship.”

I wonder what Inhofe and his family think of Craig’s conviction.

Shed No Tears For Calvey

warhogs
(The image to the right is from PhotoTune. Want to know how Oklahoma City is really perceived outside the state? Check out this little ditty by Austin American-Statesman columnist John Kelso.)

U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-Virginia), a leading Republican leader in Washington, is asking Imperial President George Bush to bring some troops home from Iraq by Christmas as a symbolic gesture.

Maybe one of those troops could be the whiner and neoconservative ideologue Kevin Calvey, who continues to publish his inane drivel on the Web site of the state’s largest newspaper. Let us hope so. If Calvey gets to come home soon—and apparently he now wants to come home from the gruesome occupation he has supported from the beginning—then we would not have to deal with the fallout of all his political mush that has nothing to do about his service there.

Calvey, a former Republican state legislator now serving a tour in Iraq as a member of the Army National Guard, publishes the blog “Kevin Calvey in Iraq,” which appears on the Web site of the archconservative The Daily Oklahoman. The blog is one of those weird, surreal Okie spectacles almost impossible to explain to anyone outside the state.

After six weeks of not blogging at all and a 15-day vacation, Calvey’s posts suddenly starting appearing again this week. But there was this interesting little gem of information from him:

“I was far less excited about returning to Baghdad,” Calvey whines. “I am proud to serve my country, but being home for 15 days reminded me of what I am missing by being over here. I am glad to serve, but I will be even more glad to finish this tour.”

But why would he want to "finish this tour"? Is this not the Glorious War For Global Freedom Everywhere he has supported for years and years, and is it not sponsored by the Imperial President he so adores? It is exactly people like Calvey who should serve in Iraq, not those soldiers who have come to realize the incompetence and lies of Bush and his advisors. Calvey, if we consider his published arguments, should be pumped with adrenaline each and every moment he can serve in Bush’s Long War. New Rule: Warmongers must serve in the wars they sponsor without complaining.

In the era of The Big Lie, Calvey is yet another neoconservative ideologue that wants it all ways. He supports the occupation yet he wants to come home from it. He obviously supports the illogical philosophy and lies/cliches behind the occupation, but we are supposed to feel sorry for him because he only got a 15-day vacation, and now it is back to Iraq for him. If he were consistent in logic, Calvey would never leave Iraq until peace and electricity reigned throughout the country.

Of course, no reader knows what Calvey actually does in Iraq because he never writes about it in realistic terms. See, it is all Top Secret stuff. He writes about the weather, his exercise schedule, his struggle with weight gain, or political issues related to the occupation. He takes the most extreme conservative view, even as top leaders in his party, such as Warner and U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska), have moderated their positions given the violent reality of the long occupation.

It is the warmongering owners and editors at The Daily Oklahoman who should take the blame for Calvey’s weird missives about his jogging schedule and right-wing angst. Who cares if this weirdo ex-legislator wants to talk about his exercise schedule or the hot weather in Iraq, right? (You know what? I bet Calvey gets a lot more air conditioning time than the average Iraqi.) But for the state’s largest newspaper to publish his political commentary on the front page of its Internet site without allowing dissenting blogs or views is another example of why it is still considered the worst newspaper in America.

Okie Funk calls on Warner to stipulate specifically that Calvey must come home as soon as possible. He is no longer “excited” about everything. Poor Kevin. Bring him home early. Please. Maybe we can start a petition drive here to get him home. Let real soldiers, such as these seven brave men, clean up Bush’s mess and set the country on the right track again.

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