(Here's the REAL John McCain.)
If the Republicans can lose a big election in Mississippi, then they can lose big here in Oklahoma as well.
The GOP lost a special House election in Mississippi on May 13. Democrat Travis Childers decisively thumped Republican Greg Davis in a Congressional district that was once considered a GOP stronghold. The district once voted for Imperial President George Bush by a 25 percent margin. Davis, using typical GOP/Rovian smear tactics, ran an anti-Obama campaign against his opponent. Guess what? It didn’t work. Childers won by eight percentage points.
Oklahoma’s own U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moore), who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to get Republicans elected, had this to say about the election:
“The political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general. I encourage all Republican candidates, whether incumbents or challengers, to take stock of their campaigns and position themselves for challenging campaigns this fall by building the financial resources and grassroots networks that offer them the opportunity and ability to communicate, energize and turn out voters this election."
This is the third special House election in a row the GOP has lost. Locally, it brings up the question of whether Democrats can win U.S. House and Senate seats now held by Republicans, and it specifically calls immediate attention to the race between U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Andrew Rice, pictured right, who represents a district in Oklahoma City.
Here are two minor differences between the Rice/Inhofe race and the Mississippi election: (1) Childers, the winning Democrat in Mississippi, is a tad more conservative than Rice and (2) Davis, the Republican, is a mayor from a suburban area close to Memphis and thus might have lost votes because of his perceived affiliation with Tennessee.
Here are the similarities: (1) Both elections are in historically conservative regions of the country, and the Mississippi election shows people are obviously fed up with the Republican agenda, (2) Inhofe, like Davis, will probably run ineffective attack ads against Rice—perhaps linking Rice to Obama if he becomes the Democratic presidential nominee—because he cannot run on his dismal anti-environment and Bush-loyalist record, (3) and Bush/Cheney efforts to re-elect the Senator, just as they did with Davis, will probably backfire, even in Oklahoma.
There is a long time to go before the November elections, Inhofe has raised more money than Rice, and, sure, the Mississippi election may not be the bellwether event the pundits say it is. But things look promising for Rice and other Democrats in Oklahoma right now.
(What exactly are the mixed vibes in Oklahoma City these days? Read DocHoc's commentary this week in the Oklahoma Gazette to find out.)
He is known as an obstructionist, a rascally contrarian, a political stuntman, “Dr. No,” the politician adored by the local corporate media and extreme GOP ideologues, but Oklahoma U.S. Senator Tom Coburn crosses a new line in depravity in his efforts to stop world AIDS relief.
Coburn is leading a group of seven U.S. Senators, all Republicans, who have signed a letter against the reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Under the arcane rules of the Senate, the letter halts action on reauthorization unless it receives 60 “yes” votes, which might yet be accomplished since the reauthorization enjoys wide bipartisan support in Congress.
The plan is designed to treat 3 million HIV-infected people throughout the world.
Coburn and the other Senators says the program costs too much, according to Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, and, of course, they “are concerned that AIDS funds might be used for things such as abortion referrals and needle distribution, though the legislation doesn't mention these possibilities.” The senators also want 55 percent of PEPFAR money’s devoted solely to treatment
But, incredibly, the reauthorization of the program does not even actually appropriate any money to the program.
The other Senators are Jim DeMint, Jeff Sessions, Saxby Chambliss, David Vitter, Jim Bunning, and Richard Burr. They have become known as the Coburn Seven because Coburn has taken the lead role in the obstructionism.
Coburn recently led an effort to stop a bill outlawing genetic discrimination, which later passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support, and he once apparently proudly claimed to have placed 87 holds on various Senate business in 2007.
Coburn, a physician, is lauded by GOP ideologues, such as pundit George Will, and editorial writers at The Oklahoman, but some of his antics bring up moral questions. His battle against world AIDS relief and the genetic anti-discrimination legislation puts Coburn’s moral compass in the public limelight. Here are some questions: Is it right for a physician to actively work to deny dying people a chance to live? Does this stance not show Coburn has problems with basic judgment? Why did he choose these particular issues to grandstand? Does Coburn’s ego get in the way of sound decision making?
Coburn’s stunts do nothing to help those state voters who elected him. It may be great on a short-term visceral level to some voters here, for example, that George Will has become a Coburn sycophant, but for every adoring pundit like Will there is another pundit or another organization that vehemently opposes the Senator and considers him a cruel egomaniac. The bad publicity outweighs the good. Coburn’s controversial stances continue to harm the state’s image.
(What exactly are these mixed vibes in Oklahoma City these days? Read DocHoc's commentary this week in the Oklahoma Gazette to find out.)
(Check out the sixteen reasons why Gov. Brad Henry should veto House Bill 2633 on Blue Oklahoma.)
Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry should veto House Bill 2633, which contains a religious intrusion act that could help turn the state’s public schools into dark, oppressive theocratic institutions that reject science, critical inquiry and open discussion.
The act, sponsored by the right-wing extremist and gay-basher state Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City), pictured right, will encourage students to express their religious views at schools. Under the act, which has been passed by the House and Senate, teachers will not be able to penalize students if they promote religious views in assignments, such as science papers. In essence, the act can be seen as an attack on the scientific method, the foundation of modern medicine.
Deceptively titled, “The Religious Viewpoints Anti-discrimination Act,” the legislation would allow students to openly and consistently express their religious views throughout the school on a daily basis. These views, under the act, will have to be given as much weight as any so-called secular expression, which is essentially the foundation of education. Some students will obviously feel pressured to join the new Christian organizations on campuses. Teachers could feel pressure to dumb down the curriculum for those students using their religion as an excuse not to complete a difficult assignment. Students will be afraid to express secular views in an intolerant religious environment. Students holding religious views outside of Christianity could feel harassed and intimidated.
These bogus “ant-discrimination” acts have been popping up in state legislatures throughout the country. Texas recently passed such an act. They are supported by the radical Christian right and those politicians who fear it, and the true aim is to bring fundamental Christianity into schools. Many people may see these bills as innocuous, but there are quite dangerous to our country’s educational system.
The local corporate media, of course, has not reported fairly on this measure, often excluding those educators who adamantly oppose the bill. The GOP’s state propaganda ministry, The Oklahoman editorial page, has been virtually silent on the measure even though it criticized Kern recently for her infamous rant against gay people.
Kern embarrasses the state on a colossal level, tarnishing the state’s image and hurting it economically, and then gets her way in turning our schools into intolerant, religious bastions. Where is the state leadership on this issue? Who will stand up for academic integrity and critical inquiry in our schools?
The bill is now waiting for Henry’s signature. The governor should veto this Dark-Ages bill, and we all should all be reminded The Oklahoman should never be taken seriously again about anything it says on its editorial page about improving education and educational opportunity in the state.