Oklahoma Standard Goes To Washington

I published a post last week about Oklahoma becoming the microcosm of what the country might become under a president-elect Trump presidency, mentioning Gov. Mary Fallin’s appointment to a transition team and the billionaire’s meeting with Oklahoma Attorney Scott Pruitt.

The post was not meant then or now as some type of tongue-in-cheek, snarky criticism of Trump, which I’m almost sure was read, if read at all, by people on the coasts with some eye rolling and an it’s-never-going-to-happen-here attitude. That denial will surely change in the coming months, but will the mainstream media on the coasts make the right decisions in response?

One thing that will change it significantly is Trump’s selection of Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt despises the EPA and its regulations, isn’t concerned about climate change and has been active politically with wealthy big-time oil and gas company executives, who will now benefit financially under his leadership. Pruitt has a long, anti-environmental track record of suing to keep EPA regulations at a minimum in Oklahoma.

(Here are my comments on a Miami, Florida-based media outlet, which seems to understand the Pruitt selection is deeply problematic and dangerous. You can also find my comments in the embedded Tweet after the first paragraph in this post.)

It gets worse. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, perhaps the most well-known denier of manmade global warming in the world, is now chair, again, of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which deals with environmental issues, such as clean water and air pollution.

Let’s also don’t forget that Fallin, who has sat idly by as Oklahoma’s schools have been devastated by funding cuts during her tenure as governor, is on Trump’s transition team and presumably has his ear on a variety of issues, perhaps even taxes and rolling back reproductive rights. It has been rumored as well that Trump might select Fallin to lead the Department of Interior, which would be another blow to the environment.

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Forum Ideas Ignore Coming Education Funding Apocalypse

The idea getting discussed among local economists to allow school districts to use local millage money without restrictions to help fund better teacher salaries and raises in primarily urban areas of the state ignores the hard reality that Oklahoma leads the nation in cuts to education funding since 2008.

It also goes against this basic principle outlined in Section 13, Article 1 of the Oklahoma Constitution, “The Legislature shall establish and maintain a system of free public schools wherein all the children of the State may be educated.” Note the words “free” and “all” in that sentence. I believe in that sentence with every fiber of my body, and I hope you do, too.

The Oklahoma City Chamber, according to media reports, recently held a economic forum about educational funding in light of the election failure of State Question 779, which would have raised the state sales tax by one cent and given “all” Oklahoma children who attend “free” public schools the benefit of getting taught by teachers who would have received $5,000 annual raises.

As we all know, Oklahoma is mired near the bottom in the nation in teacher pay and per pupil spending, and educators are fleeing the state for better pay and better overall treatment to geographical spaces that actually value education. Since 2008, Oklahoma has cut per pupil spending by more than a whopping 26 percent. Meanwhile, the Republican-dominated Oklahoma Legislature decided in its really wise, deliberative ways to cut state funding for higher education by nearly 16 percent this fiscal year.

All these cuts can be related to recent income tax cuts given to the state’s wealthiest citizens and tax breaks for oil and gas companies, which have caused an earthquake crisis here through the wastewater disposal process used in hydraulic fracturing.They rob our schools and damage our houses, and then depict themselves as heroes and champions of state economic development with the support from the local media.

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Normalizing Lies

Lost in the post-election blues was Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s comment about president-elect Donald Trump’s victory.

Let’s parse through some of it. Here are the first two sentences:

Congratulations to President-elect Donald J. Trump who the American people voted to serve this great nation as our 45th president. A Republican-led Congress is ready to work with Trump and move our nation forward with a platform that promotes economic opportunity for all, values life at every stage, and is committed to bringing about peace and stability by strengthening our own national security.

First, the American people didn’t vote for Trump to “serve this great nation.” The last count I saw had Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton ahead by 2.3 million votes and her lead was expected to grow to 2.5 million votes. Trump won the electoral college, sure, and those are the rules, but the American people voted for Clinton. Second, generally speaking, Republicans do NOT support economic opportunity “for all.” They support tax cuts for the wealthy and the dismantling of Medicare and Social Security. Third, “life at every stage” is code for a potential Trump U.S. Supreme Court appointee that could ensure abortion becomes illegal in the country or at least in many red states, including Oklahoma.

Fourth, and finally, Trump has already created havoc in the geopolitical world even before officially becoming president. He has already bewildered the government of China, and this will surely continue. How can anyone believe Trump will bring about “peace and stability” on any issue, especially international affairs?

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