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.

Yo, Ho, Ho And A Barrel Of Merry Planksmas

Image of Planksy, a pirate turkey

Arrgh! Well, shiver me gobbler, and pass me barrel of rum around the ship, lasses and lads. This is Planksy, the pirate turkey ye know and love, pictured to the right, filling in for DocHoc this randy dandy Christmas. Imagine me and a hundred brave pirate turkey brothers sailing into town on the mighty Bricktown canal during the high seas of lunch hour, and all to bring ye me holiday planks and dranks, yes indeed. Do you walk the planks off me fear mongering fowl ship or do you get your favorite holiday dranks, complete with pirate portion dollops of me rum, straight from me barrel, mateys, straight from me seasoned barrel of died and gone to heaven?

Planks: The lesbianphobe himself, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, for making Okies seem like fools for voting such a sniveling, lowdown rascal into office. Dr. No holds ye sick people hostage, makes ye children targets for Internet scoundrels and leaves ye oceans unmapped. This here demigod, methinks, wouldn’t do a favor in Hades hellfire for Oklahoma, me mateys. Dr. No is his own freak show, fellow pirates, a stunt, all press release, all gobble gobble gobble if ye catch me drift.

Dranks: Me fellow pirates and landlubbers in Oklahoma for shivering ye gobblers through the recent ice storm. Aye aye, it was a whopper, knocking ye lights off, making ye trees creak and groan and breakity break, and all of it because ye winters are getting warmer not colder. (Yes, ye winters are getting warmer, not colder, so save ye sidewalk salt and put some rum aside for them electrical blackouts.) But like ye pirates of yore, ye endured so ye could tell ye story to ye grandchildren, the story of back in this year, back in that, and aye aye, ye get me rum and also Planky’s prestigious Medal of Pirate badge, a signed picture of meself with pirate Wayne Coyne, and, arrgh, me recent CD, “The Greatest Hits of Planksy and His Arrghanauts.”

Image of campaign drive

Planks: The Republican U.S. Senator representing Exxon, not ye Oklahoma, none other than the rapscallion Mr. Jim Inhofe for asking ye and yers truly and every other ship’s rat from Hades and back to pay to power the pole to light the ball, this ain’t no blarmy, mateys, and it ain’t worth a galleon to a pinch of gold dust to make his smarmy pole rise. Aye, some say there’s a dab or two of the widestance Republican in him, a tad of the been-on-the-ship-too-long, if you catch me drift. So stay away from them lesbian-infested school potties, courtesy of Dr. No, in southeastern Oklahoma, Jimmy me lad, and just peddle yer schtick and try to raise yer pole in the country’s finest airports (and elsewhere) like every other rapscallion Republican politician in the known worlds these days.

Dranks: The progressive blogging and writing community in Oklahoma for keeping on keeping on despite all the snarly attacks from those local right-wing scoundrels, many of them anonymous scaredy cats without a lick of pirate sense or style. So here are some Planksy Picks: The Mahatma X Files, Mainstream Baptist, Peace Arena, Practical Progressive, Life and Deatherage, Oklahoma Independent Media Center, Blue Oklahoma, PhotoTune, and kittenstomper. Thanks to Robin Meyers and The Oklahoma Observer, too. Don’t fergit me fellow pirates over at the Democrats of Oklahoma Forum. Aye, and don’t fergit the dandy pirates at Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education. Did I miss yer? It must be me rum. Let Planksy know, lasses and lad, let the pirate turkey in on yer deal.

Planks: Aye, those durnburn religious extremists and their enablers in the corporate media for trying to turn Oklahoma into a landlubbing theocracy. Arrgh, can ye imagine schools that don’t teach science and religious prayers each morning at yer job if ye want to get yer galleons for a measly mug of rum? The war on Christmas, me pirate’s arse, me fellow pirates. Pirate turkeys worship how they wants, if they wants, and they don't want no government saying how everyone's got to be a Sally Kerny Christian or else get off the ship. I say we go full sail and stop these dastardly churchyburchy robots. Planksy leads the pirate charge. Thousands of sea dogs, sailing the winds, on the fly, supporting the ye ol’ separation of church and state, nay, the glorious U.S. Constitution. Aye, a sight to behold, indeed, folks, a beaut and hoot of a pirate deal.

Dranks: People of all persuasions, political and otherwise, for reading Okie Funk this past year. Season's greetings and a tofurkey in every pot. Arrgh!

State Legislators Face Stagnant Budget

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Tax Cuts Threaten Education

Can Oklahoma endure more tax cuts without cutting basic funding to education and state government? This seems to be the major question facing legislators next session.

The state budget situation is not dire, but revenue collections are down, and the budget should remain virtually stagnant over last year. State Finance Director Tony Hutchison says there will be $7.1 billion to spend in 2009, up only $32.1 million over 2008, according to a media report.

This means there will be little extra funding for education, state government and prisons. It also means those GOP legislators who promote the Grover Norquist “starve the beast” ideology or the so-called Taxpayers Bill of Rights have been winning the day here recently. These Republican efforts on the state level are aimed primarily at shrinking public funding for education, which takes up the bulk of the state budget.

Unfortunately, funding for education in Oklahoma has always been inadequate. It is sure to remain inadequate for even more years now. Recent tax cuts and a decline in revenues over the last couple of months will ensure the state remains a place that is known as one of the worst when it comes to its financial commitment to public schools and college and universities.

The damage to education and state government has been done in recent years, sanctioned by corporate media outlets such as The Daily Oklahoman. Yet the corporate media here will be the first to promote more needless testing and assessment in schools. Meanwhile, they help limit funding to schools and quality teachers flee to others states, which pay better and offer more overall funding. The cycle continues.

If revenues continue to decline—and some financial experts are predicting a recession for the American economy—education may even have to take funding cuts this coming year. Will right-wing legislators introduce new tax cut initiatives in 2008, hoping to gut educational funding even further to ensure Oklahoma children remain behind the curve? Probably.

A Newspaper’s Obsession

Speaking of The Daily Oklahoman, you have to give its editorial page credit for opposing state Rep. Randy Terrill’s House Bill 1804, which has given the state the strictest anti-immigration laws in the nation.

But recent newspaper editorials on the issue almost always attack comments made by the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic and Latino Affairs. Those comments, which compared Terrill’s efforts to Hitler’s reign of terror, do smack of a certain hyperbole, but any rational person can understand the emotion behind the rhetoric. Many Hispanic people are being forced to relocate out of Oklahoma right now, and those that stay are often afraid or anxious, whether they are here legally or not. It is a serious and historical issue when one specific ethnic group in a state, country or region is scapegoated and forced to relocate. No wonder there is emotion and rhetoric. No wonder there are comparisons to terrible racist historical events.

But The Daily Oklahoman, as usual, does not get it. Any type of rhetoric coming from the persecuted side of Terrill the Terrible’s crusade pales in comparison to the actual hardships and reality on the ground faced by Hispanic people in Oklahoma right now. Maybe the newspaper should try to temper Terrill, who plans a “Son of 1804.” But do not count on it.

Dodd Leads Federal Crime Fighting Efforts

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(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 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.

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