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.

Ignorant Fallacies

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The Oklahoman published such an asinine editorial about the energy industry Monday that it deserves as much rebuttal as reasonable people can muster.

The editorial, titled “Still plenty of ignorance about the U.S. energy industry,” is a glaring example of a weak argument that completely ignores or distorts competing claims while omitting obvious and crucial facts. It’s the usual fare offered up by The Oklahoman, but this an extreme example.

The editorial’s sophomoric premise, supported by extremely weak evidence, is that people remain ignorant about where fossil fuels, such as natural gas, actually come from and how they are produced and they just don’t understand how important hydraulic facturing drilling or fracking is to energy independence. Consequently, we must endure the editorial’s tortuous logic, such as this:

Attitudes about energy continue to be a concern and, unfortunately, ignorance is still in evidence. We’re far removed from the time when some folks thought gasoline came out of the ground from a well below the filling station — somehow being refined along the way.

But are we really that far from such ignorance? Perhaps not.

Did anyone at anytime actually believe that “gasoline came out of the ground from a well below the filling station . . .”? Who? When? Is that just a given? How many people? Even if this is true the time period in which it occurred is important. Did it occur at the beginning of the automobile age when cars and horse buggies shared the road?

And, come on, even if we grant that general anecdote is really true we aren’t “that far from such ignorance” just because a survey shows some people don’t know the term hydraulic fracturing or that some people are opposed to fracking. The general “ignorance” anecdote—even if it's true on some level—and the survey information don’t equate. It’s a textbook example of a false comparison.

But that’s just the typical silly stuff upon which The Oklahoman constructs its opinion page on a daily basis. It’s the editorial’s omissions that really flaw the argument. The editorial points out that fracking has paved the way for U.S. energy independence and hints how this is good for the geopolitical scene. But it never mentions the environmental impact of fracking.

To be fair, the editorial does conclude, “For some of them [meaning the ignorant people], the only march that matters is a demonstration to stop fracking.” Yet it doesn’t outline why there is a “demonstration to stop fracking.” In essence, then, the editorial implicitly and disingenuously makes the argument that people who care about the environment are ignorant people along the lines of people who once thought “gasoline came out of the ground from a well below the filling station . . .”. It’s ridiculous.

First, many, if not most, people who are concerned the fracking process is contaminating our water supplies and causing earthquakes are fully aware of the continued importance of fossil fuels in our daily lives. That, however, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to develop renewable and cleaner energy, or that energy companies shouldn’t face stringent environmental regulations when they frack. This is without even considering the impact of manmade carbon emissions on global warming.

Here’s the basic truthful story The Oklahoman distorts: The fracking drilling technique has created a boom in natural gas production in this country. Some people throughout the country where fracking occurs have taken note of its detrimental environmental impact and have protested in varying degrees.

A town hall this summer in Edmond about the state’s earthquake emergency, which scientists argue is related to disposal wells used in the fracking process attracted “several hundred people.” These are the people The Oklahoman thinks are ignorant. And I guess they are ignorant if they support the biased, uncaring newspaper, now owned by a Colorado billionaire, Philip Anschutz, who made his money in the energy business.

But I prefer to see these people deemed ignoramuses by The Oklahoman as intelligent, concerned citizens waking up to what’s happening around them when it comes to fracking and its link to our earthquake emergency and, hopefully, realizing the state’s largest newspaper editorial page could care less about their safety or property.

Fracking Concerns

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Gov. Mary Fallin has finally formed a council to help study Oklahoma’s earthquake emergency, but there are even more environmental problems emerging from the state’s ongoing mini-oil and gas boom.

On Thursday, Fallin announced the formation of the Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity, which will try to link together lawmakers, researchers and oil and gas industry staff to further study the state’s recent earthquake swarm. Scientists claim the dramatic surge in earthquakes here has been caused by wastewater disposal wells used in the hydraulic fracturing or fracking process.

The oil and gas industry, generally speaking, has worked to cast doubt on the scientific claims, arguing the earthquakes are a natural phenomenon. Oklahoma this year leads California in the number of earthquakes 3.0 magnitude or higher, which was reported earlier this summer.

Is the formation of the council just a token gesture in an election year? Maybe so, but at least it’s recognition of people’s concerns about their safety and property. The energy industry here is important to the economy, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t face government scrutiny and regulations, especially during a boom period.

Meanwhile, yet another fish kill in the Salt Fork River in north central Oklahoma may well be caused by oil and gas drilling activities, according to a recent news report by the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA). The water has tested high for salinity and the “river also had an unusual smell and metallic taste,” according to the OETA report, which quoted a Department of Wildlife Conservation official claiming he believed oil and gas activity near the river might be the cause of the problem.

Here's a recent report by OETA on the issue.

Let’s be clear that these issues are not about necessarily attacking the oil and gas industry, but it should be clear to everyone at this point that extracting fossil fuels from the earth is a dirty business with a high potential for doing damage to the environment and personal property. These issues also put our safety and our very lives at risk through earthquakes and water contamination.

I’ve long argued that state leaders, including Fallin, should act with more urgency when it comes to these issues. The new council is a start, but a broader approach to examining the environmental impact of oil and gas drilling processes, especially fracking, is something that needs to happen right now in Oklahoma.

Did I Mention He Is 18

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Let me try to make a nuanced argument about the ongoing Joe Mixon spectacle in Norman.

If you live in the Oklahoma City area, you might not know much about what’s going on in Ukraine right now or what President Barack Obama’s reaction is to ISIS, and you might not know how much money the state will be giving to other richer states in Medicaid money because of foolish right-wing ideology. The figure, in case you’re interested, is $4.5 billion through 2022.

What you WILL know about, at least on some level, is that an 18-year-old football player for the Oklahoma Sooners has been charged with the misdemeanor crime of "acts resulting in gross injury” for hitting a 20-year-old woman in the face at a restaurant in Norman on July 25.

Believe me, this isn’t a defense of Joe Mixon, the player accused in the crime.

This is a defense of basic priorities in our culture.

I find it disconcerting and just downright sad that “about 40 members of the media,” according to NewsOK.com, showed up to watch a surveillance video of the incident. That number again is 40. Let me be clear that I believe the Norman Police Department should have released the video to the general public, but it’s tragic that its limited premier attracted so much media attention. It tells the ugly truth about misplaced interests. Did you know this is an election year? What’s the name of the Democrat candidate running for governor? What Democrat is running against U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe? How much has state education funding been cut in Oklahoma since 2008?

Mixon hasn’t played a down of football for the University of Oklahoma. He’s only 18. He might be a highly recruited player, but he’s in college, not the pros, and he hasn’t even played yet. It’s also a given that football attracts macho participants who are coached to smash through the line with brute force or sack a quarterback or deliver a bruising tackle to a wide receiver. Football these days is about consistent concussions leading to brain damage among players and suspensions for drug use and criminal charges. It’s a violent sport that attracts violent people. In 20 or 30 years, football, unless there are major rule changes, might not even exist as a major spectator event. There, I said it.

Football player hit woman. Sky blue. Grass green. Sun hot. Ice cold. Feel itch. Scratch.

My point, then, about the Mixon case is so what? The corporate media in this state can’t even cover the state legislature with any depth or give a truthful and consistent accounting of our earthquake emergency, but some 18-year-old kid accused of a misdemeanor crime can elicit breathless coverage and endless speculation over whether he’ll ever play football in Oklahoma. He’s not even from Oklahoma. Why should anyone even care? Did I mention he’s 18?

So “about 40 members” of the media—these are presumably grown men and women getting paid—showed up to watch the Mixon video. Was it a smash hit? Did they have refreshments? Popcorn? Nachos? How much media energy has been expended on this story? How many words have been written and how many video clips have been produced about some 18-year-old wannabe football player? How much talk radio has been devoted to the spectacle? (I wouldn’t know, but I presume it has been quite a bit.) Do you know how many Oklahoma college students have loan debt simply because they want an education? Have you read Thomas Piketty’s book about income inequality yet?

The wannabe is still big man on campus, according to NewsOK.com, which points outs:

Despite his suspension, Mixon has remained in close contact with the football program. He attended a practice open to OU students and afterward was seen walking with a member of the football department. Tuesday, Mixon was at OU’s practice for at least some of the session.

I wonder what the young woman involved in the altercation thinks about Mixon’s status with the football program? Why did OU President David Boren and Sooners coach Bob Stoops obviously side with Mixon in this case and not the woman he hit as apparently shown by the video watched by about 40 presumably adult media types?

Oh, never mind about that, media types. How many yards do you think Mixon will gain if he ever plays for the Sooners? Will he be as good as a running back as Adrian Peterson? Can he be the key to a national championship? Will he be, as coach Stoops likes to tell News9’s Dean Blevins, et. al., a “special” player? That’s what matters. Did I mention he hasn’t played a down for the Sooners yet?

Mixon’s so adorbs! Does he tweet? What’s his favorite television show? What’s his favorite food? Is he a dog person or a cat person? What music does he like? So, again, how many yards will he gain? What does it feel like to be so young but so famous? Did I mention he’s 18? Ridic.

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