See all those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They're just gonna set there till they rot
'Cause there's nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There's a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don't come down here 'less you're looking to score
We can't make it here anymore—James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make It Here”
Thoughts along the armadillo highway . . .
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s obvious escape from the sinking fortunes of the Republican Party and his possible presidential run as an independent candidate created quite a splash in the media, but not one story challenge the basic premise of whether it is good for democracy that a multi-billionaire uses his own money to essentially buy political power. There was much celebratory speculation about how much Bloomberg might personally spend in a presidential bid—$1 billion was mentioned in one article—but no debate about whether it is good for the country that a person can purchase or try to purchase the American presidency. For the record, money has polluted the American political process and threatens the country’s democratic structures. Bloomberg symbolizes how even the American presidency is for sale these days.
Has anyone else noticed the editorial videos starring The Daily Oklahoman’s Ed Kelley begin with an advertisement urging people to go to Colorado. It makes perfect business sense. After watching the somber Kelley drone on about how no one deserves free parking in Bricktown or whatever, one does feel the pull of different climes.
Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com is writing the sharpest political and media commentary in the nation right now. Greenwald is meticulous and ruthless with facts, sources, and logic. His new book, A Tragic Legacy: How a Good Vs.Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, is out and making its way up the bestseller lists. It can be ordered here.
So who will step up to run against U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-ExxonMobilChevronTexaco) in the 2008 election? Inhofe is currently raising money for his campaign and stinking up Washington with his certifiable tirades that appeal to a narrowing base of ultra-conservative voters. It appears at this point he has the full support of the established Oklahoma power structure, from the right-wing The Daily Oklahoman to Chesapeake Energy. But that could change. Inhofe could become a major Republican liability in the months to come. Democrats need to get a viable candidate as soon as possible.
Richard Cohen, a Washington Post columnist, actually wrote this paragraph: “With the sentencing of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald has apparently finished his work, which was, not to put too fine a point on it, to make a mountain out of a molehill. At the urging of the liberal press (especially the New York Times), he was appointed to look into a run-of-the-mill leak and wound up prosecuting not the leaker -- Richard Armitage of the State Department -- but Libby, convicted in the end of lying. This is not an entirely trivial matter since government officials should not lie to grand juries, but neither should they be called to account for practicing the dark art of politics. As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off.” Note the “it is often best to keep the lights off.” As Glenn Greenwald points out, this one line perfectly summarizes the corporate media these days. Reporters and editors are busy turning off lights so Republican corruption and fascism can flourish. Cohen, who once supported the “case” for the Iraq war, is another example of a dreadfully wrong beltway pundit. Why is he still writing for this influential paper when others who were right about the war and who would always argue for more, not less, light on public officials are marginalized and dismissed?
Greensunshine.org, a site under construction, will help marginalized voices get online. Rooted in the personal experience of its creators, who speak out in a hostile environment and face harassment and threats on a regular basis, the site will serve as a bridge between the content side of activist Web sites and open source code technologies and applications. Can you help? Do you have ideas? Check out the site and contact us with your thoughts.
The basic democratic structures of the United States of America are in jeopardy, and the country teeters on the precipice of fascism. We are a country that now systematically tortures prisoners in a vague so-called “war on terrorism” and both major political parties support it. Only right-wing political speech is given prominent play in the corporate media these days, though the mainstream media still pretends it offers balanced views. We incarcerate more people than any other nation in the country. Some of our prisoners languish for years in dilapidated prisons for simple marijuana possession charges. They are more often than not the victims of jail rape and torture. Despite recent elections that demonstrated the citizens’ desire to stop the Iraq occupation, the president has escalated the country’s involvement in an act of world defiance that has changed the nature of the U.S. presidency forever. The opposition party, elected to a majority based on anti-occupation sentiment, refuses to stand up to President George Bush and the growing corporate-military complex. American elections have been corrupted by right-wing tactics to lower voting by minorities. Only fools trust the official results in some election races throughout the country. The president himself was initially elected in a corrupt election, the results of which showed his opponent had won. Bush has ordered the wiretapping of millions of innocent American and world citizens. Our justice system—the one that incarcerates the most people in the world—is operated by complete political expediency.
Time For A Bully Smackdown
"The truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it, ignorance my deride it, but in the end, there it is."—Winston Churchill
(We need to get busy if we’re going to defeat U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe in the 2008 election. Take a few seconds to sign the petition and urge state Senator Andrew Rice to run against him.)
One has to wonder if as a child in the 1940s U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe was not the meanest bully on the playground.
Did Jimmy make fun of other kids, pull pigtails, and steal milk money? Did he take homework from other students after beating them up and present it as his own? (This would certainly make sense given his current anti-intellectual crusade about global warming and other issues of our day.) Did he throw tantrums, call people names, stomp his feet, and try to get all the attention?
The point is Jim Inhofe, 73, is a mean, sour bully and probably has always been one. How else can you account for this man’s irrational anger with people who simply believe in the scientific method and want to have a dialogue about the environment? How else can account for his narrow-minded, angry views about contemporary lifestyles and sexual orientation? How else can you account for his sarcastic, backpedaling lies about the Iraq war?
Inhofe The Bully has made Oklahoma a laughingstock in the nation and world. His absurd behavior—and it is getting to the point in which one has to question his mental faculties or at the very least his overall judgment--was featured again as a joke on national television. John Stewart of The Daily Show ran a clip recently in which Inhofe criticized an expert at The Weather Channel for his views on global warming. Inhofe, of course, thinks global warming is a vast, left-wing conspiracy. (Watch the clip here.)
It was hilarious, of course, and there might even have been a day some years ago when Inhofe’s remarks could have been dismissed as the colorful yahooism of a good ol’ boy from Oklahoma. But climate change deserves real discussion and debate in the world. As the former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Inhofe prevented this country from engaging in an intelligent discussion about the issue for several years. He politicized the issue. He did so as a payoff to energy companies. (Inhofe receives some of the largest campaign contributions from energy companies in the United States Congress, according to sources.) He did so because he is a bully, and bullies never play well with others.
Okie Funk calls for a bully smackdown on Inhofe. Can you imagine the damage to the state’s image if Inhofe is elected to another six-year term? The chamber of commerce types can chirp all they want about economic development and lower taxes for corporations, but do you realize how much Inhofe’s bizarre behavior has cost us already? Inhofe is the albatross around Oklahoma’s neck.
I call on State Sen. Andrew Rice to lead this smackdown by running against Inhofe in the 2008 election. Please sign the petition urging Andrew to run.
Why Does The Corporate Media Ignore It?
The Washington Post today is running a story that shows how nearly 90 White House employees, including Senior Advisor Karl Rove, used political email accounts for official government business.
This email accounts were hosted by the Republican National Committee and apparently violate rules that require the employees use official communication channels to conduct business.
The real gist of story and the larger meaning is the White House is running a secret government that does not allow any immediate or historical public scrutiny. The implications of this practice are enormous. If this practice is allowed to legally stand, government at all levels in this country will be allowed to conduct business outside public purview.
How members of the corporate media or any reasonable person can see this as anything but another step towards secret government, which we might even call fascist, is simply beyond me. I realize The Post did the story, and that is great, but will they press it? Will other corporate media outlets see the danger of this non-partisan issue that threatens democracy? If a Democrat is elected president in 2008, will she or he follow the lead of Bush? Why should only Republicans escape the rule of law?
Bush’s devastating impact on the presidency and on democracy in this country cannot be understated.
("Pa-rum-pa-pum-dumb!" Read DocHoc's commentary this week in the Oklahoma Gazette on the tenth-year anniversary of an Oklahoma County judge's absurd decision to ban the Academy Award-winning film, The Tin Drum.)
Oklahoma is tied with Mississippi for last place in the nation when it comes to overall health system performance, according to a new report.
The Commonwealth Fund, which describes itself as a private, nonpartisan devoted to health and social issues, issued its first-ever report on the nation’s overall health care performance. It ranked each state. Hawaii was first. Oklahoma and Mississippi tied for last place.
Oklahoma “won” last place for its high numbers of uninsured residents, its lack of access to health care, and its large number of citizens who lead unhealthy lifestyles.
The report shows Oklahoma is above the national average in infant mortality and breast cancer deaths.
The report demythologizes the common state slogan that “Oklahoma is a great place to raise a family.” Yeah, right, maybe if you think going without health insurance and lacking access to quality health care are family values. In Oklahoma, even upper middle class citizens have to fight for average-at-best health care, and even then it is sometimes simply not available.
The problem here is the state’s major structural problem in terms of its leadership over the last twenty-five years or so. A handful of corporate executives, The Hillbilly Aristocracy, dictate the growth and direction of the state. As the corportization of the state increases each year, more and more people are left without financial stability or access to decent health care.
The corporate bigwigs then put on blinders to human suffering. Ed Kelley, the somber, hectoring editor of The Daily Oklahoman, for example, recently editorialized the report could harm the state’s economic development because corporations might not want to locate to such an unhealthy place. Kelley did not mention a word about how the report actually describes human suffering on a catastrophic level in our state. He describes the state’s residents as the “populace,” yet these are real people in flesh and blood, our neighbors, our family members.
Too many babies are dying, people cannot afford to purchase medications that might extend their lives, women die more frequently here of breast cancer than elsewhere, and the meth-labs cooks are getting rich on all the ensuing despair, but Kelley is concerned about what this all means for companies such as Chesapeake Energy or Sonic. This concern for The Corporation—and it is not just Kelley, of course—over the individual is precisely the structural problem the state faces in trying to improve its overall health care ranking.
Can we not, at least on this issue, focus on what is right and healthy for people rather than corporate profits and economic development? At the very least, we can urge people to move from here to get better health care for their children. It would be the most humane thing to do.