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.

Okie Funk Wins Best Political Blog Again

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Okie Funk has been voted the state’s best political blog for the second straight year in the Okie Blog Awards contest.

The awards were established three years ago by Oklahoma bloggers. The contest is operated by Mike Hermes, author of the popular Okiedoke blog. State bloggers nominated and then voted on their favorite blogs in different categories in recent weeks.

The awards are highly coveted because they are peer reviewed. Bloggers are not allowed to vote for their own blog in the contest. “Kurt stands up and out with his political opinion,” the awards site announced. The awards were given in Tulsa Saturday. I did not attend the awards dinner, but I feel honored and surprised to win again. I thank everyone who voted for Okie Funk in the contest.

The runner-up Best Political Blog was the McCarville Report Online. Batesline won the award in 2005.

The Best Overall Blog went to Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. The runner-up was last year’s winner in the category, dustbury.com. Okie Funk was also nominated for Best Overall Blog.

Here is a list of all the winners. I encourage everyone to look through all the winning and runner-up blogs. Here is a list of all the nominated blogs.

The Oklahoma blogging community continues to thrive and enrich the state’s culture. The state’s bloggers present a diverse view of the state and world. Oklahoma bloggers have a broad range of political and lifestyle views and often challenge one another. But certainly most of us agree we are on the leading edge of a worldwide technological and media paradigm change.

Hermes, a forerunner in the blogging world, should be commended once again for operating the contest.

Inhofe Turns Against Oklahoma Children

Satirical image of Jim Inhofe

(It is time to send U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe into retirement. State Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City), who is running against Inhofe in 2008, worked diligently in a bi-partisan effort last legislative session to pass the "All Kids Act," which increases health care coverage for children.)

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, the infamous global warming denier, has turned his legendary right-wing wrath against Oklahoma children.

The 72-year-old Inhofe is actively working to stop an appropriate and much needed expansion of a popular children’s health insurance program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), even though he represents a state with high rates of uninsured children. Inhofe, echoing President George Bush, calls the expansion a new “entitlement” program for the middle class and even issued a press release about it.

The bill would add $35 billion over five years to the $5 bllion insurance program and would be funded by raising cigarette taxes. By contrast, the Iraq invasion and ensuing occupation, supported by Inhofe, have already cost close to $500 billion and are not funded by a dedicated revenue source. Bush recently asked for another $200 billion to fund the occupation. This would bring the occupation's basic costs to $700 billion.

Bush has vetoed the bill expanding the insurance program. Both the House and Senate passed the expansion bill by wide majorities. Many Republicans joined with Democrats on the issue. About 70,000 Oklahoma children are now covered under the program. Health officials say another 40,000 might be eligible for the program if Congress rejects the Bush veto. (If the votes remain the same, the Senate can override the veto but the House cannot.) There are over 140,000 uninsured children in the state.

Ivan Holmes, chairperson of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said this in response to Inhofe’s vote and press release, “As a U.S. Senator, Jim Inhofe enjoys some of the most generous health care benefits in America. But, when Oklahoma middle income working families can no longer afford health insurance for about 40,000 children, he tells them, 'tough luck.’"

U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, the only Democrat in Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation, recently reversed course on the bill, saying he would not support Bush’s veto. Holmes commended Boren for his decision.

"It is encouraging that we have one Congressional Representative in Oklahoma who cares about Children's health," Holmes said.

Inhofe continues to support Bush’s ideological stances despite recent poll numbers that show only 39 percent of Oklahomans approve of the president’s performance.

Image of Andrew Rice

It is simply ludicrous to politicize the expansion of this program. A vast majority of Oklahomans and Americans know our health care system needs reform. If Inhofe and Bush want to test our kids relentlessly under No Child Left Behind, then at the very least they should make sure they have halfway decent health care. What are Inhofe’s ideas about improving health care for all Oklahomans, even those with health insurance?

Fortunately, Inhofe is up for re-election in 2008. His opponent, State Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City) worked diligently in a bi-partisan effort last legislative session to get the "All Kids Act" passed, which increases health care coverage for children. Rice says he wants to improve the ailing health care system for all Oklahomans.

In a sign that Oklahomans want a new direction, Rice raised $312,000 in campaign funds the last eight weeks. His campaign grows in momentum. Click here to get involved with or donate to Rice’s quest to send Inhofe into retirement.

In another sign that Oklahomans want a new direction, John Edwards leads all presidential candidates here (yes, that includes the Republicans) in a recent poll.

Cargill Should Clear Air On Checks

Image of Lance Cargill

House Speaker Lance Cargill (R-Harrah) should explain why campaign checks were diverted from the Oklahoma Republican Party to the Oklahoma County Republican Party in 2004.

Cargill’s refusal so far to do so is the type of insider behavior that makes an increasing number of people believe our political system is beyond repair. Money rules; ordinary people have no voice. This is a non-partisan issue. State Democrats have had their share of money-related scandals in the past. But if Cargill insists on remaining silent and playing political games with the issue, the state GOP will suffer credibility problems.

According to media reports, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission is apparently investigating a state GOP fundraising effort in 2004. Twelve checks totaling more than $33,000 intended to go to the state GOP instead ended up at the Oklahoma County Republican Party. Some of those who wrote the checks say they have no problem with it. Others claim they wanted the state party to get the money.

In any event, former House Speaker Todd Hiett indicated Cargill was the person who solicited the money in 2004 for the Republicans. Cargill has remained silent, except to deny any wrongdoing to the media. Fine. But how and why did the checks get diverted to the county GOP? Who did it? Surely, he has some idea. If not, then why not? Cargill now has a history of not sharing pertinent information. He initially refused, for example, to divulge the names of the financial contributors who bankrolled his 100 Ideas scheme to frame the state’s future with Republican ideology.

On the surface, this may seem minor as scandals go in these heady days of massive political corruption, but Cargill owes it as House Speaker and a leading state Republican to clear up this mess forthrightly as soon as possible.

The larger issue here is that ordinary people without the financial resources to “pay to play” have no voice in the political process. And even if you do contribute a small sum, can you be sure the money will be used as intended? Even the nation’s worst newspaper, The Daily Oklahoman, which serves as the propaganda ministry for local Republicans, wants answers from Cargill.

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