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.

Rice Candidacy Attracts National Attention

(Mayday. Mayday. Let’s end U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe’s reign of idiocracy in Oklahoma. Take a few seconds to sign this petition urging state Senator Andrew Rice to run against Inhofe in 2008.)

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State Senator Andrew Rice’s potential run against U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe is getting national attention.

Rachel Kapochunas, a writer for Congressional Quarterly, says Rice is attracting a lot of attention in Oklahoma as a viable candidate against Inhofe. Her article was also published in The New York Times.

According to the article, Rice is still unsure whether he will run. If a “formidable” Oklahoma Democratic candidate runs against Inhofe, he might decline to get involved in the race, Kapochunas writes.

Rice tells Kapochunas “that he was prompted to get involved in politics after his brother David was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center.” The article outlines Rice’s progressive background and mentions his documentary film work about AIDS in India. Rice also talks about how the campaign might affect his physician wife, Apple, and his two young children.

The article says Lisa Pryor, chairwoman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, considers Rice an “up-and-coming big name” in Oklahoma politics. She considers Rice “halfway” there in terms of a campaign against Inhofe, according to the article, but she also mentions Attorney General Drew Edmondson and state Senator Kenneth Corn as possible candidates to take Inhofe down.

The question remains: Who has the guts, energy, and intelligence to defeat Inhofe? I think Rice can do it. (Sign here.) Oklahoma Democrats need to have a serious conversation about defeating Inhofe as soon as possible.

Are GOP Framing Devices Kaput?

When Reform Isn’t Reform

Big businesses and their toadies in the GOP have done an excellent job duping some people by framing issues with simple words like “reform” and “relief” and “freedom.”

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Tax reform or relief, of course, is the ur-example for this type of rhetorical framing, even though the vast majority of recent tax cuts on the national and state level have primarily benefited the wealthiest people in our culture. That is a windfall, indeed, for the rich, but it hardly qualifies as reform or relief for regular middle-class people. In fact, it is anti-reform for the vast majority of Americans who pay taxes.

Unfortunately, progressives have often used the GOP terminology of reform to protest against it, thus solidifying the rhetoric. No one wants to be against reform or relief or freedom so often progressives go into arguments already defeated by the GOP frames.

Recently, however, a state corporate immunity measure, Senate Bill 507, was appropriately vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry, and, at least part of the reason, is those who opposed it refused to call it reform because the bill was never about reform. The measure was simply an effort to take away individual rights so big companies and rich doctors could make more money in Oklahoma on the backs of middle-class people. The bill appears to be dead for this session.

The Daily Oklahoman used the word “reform” in its editorials about the issue, but it never made a convincing case about the issue. In fact, overall the reform terminology rings hollow these days. (What has so-called Republican reform or relief or freedom brought us? Years of war, stagnant wages and higher health costs.) Meanwhile, others who opposed the bill, primarily spokespeople of organizations committed to individual legal rights, refused to play the GOP rhetorical game, and this may have made a real difference.

This is not to deny the specific legislative political situation about the bill was not the most important factor about its demise, and it did require a veto.

But if progressives are to make inroads here, they can’t allow the GOP to frame issues with meaningless, simplistic language that gives it the edge at the beginning of all political debates. GOP reform and relief movements are about stripping away the basic rights of regular people. GOP freedom movements are about enslaving people to a financial system that privileges the wealthy. Now is the time to declare the GOP rhetorical game is over.

Newspaper’s Editorials Ignore Facts

The Daily Oklahoman continues to omit and distort crucial information when it editorializes about the ongoing Iraq military occupation.

The newspaper’s editorial writers refuse to discuss the American and civilian Iraqi death toll at any length. The writers also simply make up information about what American soldiers may or may not think about Democrats’ efforts to bring the troops home even when valid statistical information proves otherwise.

The most recent editorial (“Celebrating defeat: Democrats reach their goal,” April 30, 2007) argues the troops will “ponder a Congress that pats them on the back while declaring their mission lost — even as a critical surge deployment is barely 50 percent complete.”

But surveys show the troops increasingly see the Iraq debacle as a no-win situation and want to come home. Perhaps, the newspaper’s writers see our country’s soldiers as ignorant Bushbots who can’t understand how bad the Imperial Presidency has handled the Iraq occupation, but the evidence shows otherwise.

Here’s the deal: The Oklahoman supports more death and more violence in Iraq for reasons it can’t or won’t articulate. The Democrats, recognizing the dire situation, want to get the troops home as soon as possible. Public opinion is on the Democrats’ side. The November elections showed clearly that people want out of Iraq.

The Iraqis don’t want us in their country. A majority of American people don’t want us there. What are we doing there?

One really has to wonder why The Oklahoman continues to push away readers from its newspaper. Newspaper readership is declining nationwide, and here’s the newspaper not offering any type of real debate on one of the most significant issues in a generation for its insightful readers. What a classic business blunder, perhaps along the lines of IBM’s personal computer decisions in the 1980s, but then it’s just following the lead of corporate newspapers throughout the country.

So here’s some free business advice to corporate newspapers: If you want to improve newspaper readership, you must target people who actually read. That means you must offer more than GOP talking points and Bush decrees as support for a gruesome military occupation now in its fifth year.

The War Lies of Jim Inhofe

Oklahomans Deserve The Truth

(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.)

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"Our intelligence system has said that we know that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction -- I believe including nuclear. There's not one person on this panel who would tell you unequivocally that he doesn't have the missile means now, or is nearly getting the missile means to deliver a weapon of mass destruction. And I for one am not willing to wait for that to happen."--Jim Inhofe on Meet The Press, 2002)

U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe's recent bizarre comments on the Iraq occupation completely contradict what he said during the time period leading up to the invasion.

In a recent Tulsa World article (“Vice President Visits Tulsa: Cheney, Inhofe blasts Democrats’ plan for Iraq,” April 27, 2007), Inhofe claims the reasons for the gruesome Iraq occupation initially had nothing to do with finding weapons of mass destruction. Inhofe actually blames the press for the so-called “mischaracterization.”

(Check out this great blog: Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races.)

This is not simply political spin. This is a calculated lie by an angry warmonger.

Here’s what Inhofe said, according to the article: "The whole idea of weapons of mass destruction was never the issue, yet they [reporters] keep trying to bring this up.” That's right. His argument is that weapons of mass destruction were never "the issue" for the country's invasion of Iraq.

But this is what Inhofe himself said on Meet The Press in 2002: "Our intelligence system has said that we know that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction -- I believe including nuclear. There's not one person on this panel who would tell you unequivocally that he doesn't have the missile means now, or is nearly getting the missile means to deliver a weapon of mass destruction. And I for one am not willing to wait for that to happen."

Here’s what President George Bush said on March 3, 2003: ““Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament.”

Here’s what the president said on March 22, 2003: ““Our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.”

Here’s what the president said on April 14, 2003: “Our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.”

(The above Bush quotes were taken from the Think Progress blog.)

We can’t forget as well then Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations before the war in which he claimed the evidence was clear Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The whole idea behind Powell’s speech was to convince a skeptical world that Hussein had such weapons and could possibly use them. Powell said he now regrets making the speech.

Here’s what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said about the Iraq invasion in 2003: "Let us be very clear about why we went to war against Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein's regime posed a threat to the security of the United States and the world. This was a regime that had pursued, had used, and possessed weapons of mass destruction."

Inhofe must think Oklahomans are too stupid to get online and find the facts or read a credible newspaper about the issue. The state’s press has done an absolutely miserable job challenging Inhofe’s bizarre statements. What the corporate press does here can hardly qualify as “journalism” anymore. The press here is one big public relations firm supporting war, corporate greed, and political corruption. Why is Inhofe getting a free ride? His recent bizarre statements should be a major issue in the press here.

Is there not a reporter at one of the big, corporate newspapers in the state who has the guts to challenge Inhofe’s bizarre statements? Will the editors not print the truth? This reporter would be backed by thousands of Oklahomans and millions upon millions of Americans and world citizens who are sick of Jim Inhofe and his lies about the war and global warming. What are you waiting for?

The issue also shows how the Imperial Presidency and its supporters like Inhofe cannot be trusted to tell the truth about Iraq. The right-wing war machine disavows historical accuracy, and it manipulates the masses with cultural wedge issues.

When you can’t trust your United States Senator to tell a simple truth about an issue as important as a military invasion and subsequent occupation and when your local media will not hold important politicians accountable for obvious lies, then our democracy is threatened. People throughout the country are realizing this and are now working outside the corporate media system to bring about real change.

Meanwhile, Democrats need to put together a campaign starting now to defeat Inhofe in 2008.

I’m asking state Senator Andrew Rice to take on this task, and media reports say he’s considering it. What other Democrats are going to step forward and challenge Inhofe’s lies? Let’s get busy.

Henry Vetoes Corporate Measure

Gov. Brad Henry has made the prudent and appropriate decision to veto a corporate immunity bill that would have taken rights away from individuals to sue for damages.

Henry vetoed Senate Bill 507 on Saturday after trying to reach a compromise with legislators on the bill. The bill just barely passed out of the senate so it’s unlikely its corporate toadies in the Republican Party will try to override the veto. You can read about the issue here.

"Governor Henry showed tremendous courage today," according to Emilee Truelove, executive director of the Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association. "SB 507 was like David fighting Goliath. It pitted insurance companies, millionaire CEO's and out-of-state lobbyists against our grandmothers, children, firefighters, our state's chief law enforcement officer and innocent victims of drunk driving. Fortunately, Governor Henry rose above the politics and chose to protect the rights of all Oklahoman's, not just a privileged few. This is further proof that Governor Henry's principles are not for sale."

In a statement, Henry said he was still interested in putting together some type of bill dealing with lawsuits that would protect individual rights and improve the system.

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