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.

Oklahoma Teachers Deserve A Break

Image from Old American Century

Catch my latest post in The Lost Ogle.

It’s about a bill that seems designed to simply hassle teachers who are members of professional organizations, such as the Oklahoma Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. House Bill 1749, if signed into law, would prohibit the state from automatically deducting dues for these organizations from teachers’ paychecks.

Here’s a segment of the post:

Here are just a few of the ways teachers, who simply want a livable wage and decent working conditions, “go against the people of Oklahoma”:

They teach children here to read.
They teach children here how to write.
They teach children here how to do basic math.
They teach children here basic scientific methods.

I know the whole science thing rankles many of today’s Oklahoma lawmakers, especially when it comes to studying the reasons for all our earthquakes and climate change, and maybe that includes Newell and Dahm. I don’t know. We do need doctors in the state, especially in rural Oklahoma, and better medical outcomes.

The bill is at least tangentially related to the primarily conservative-backed movement to “reform” public schools, which includes a push for private-school vouchers and an emphasis on high-stakes testing, which damages the reputation and can throw into chaos schools with the most low-income students. Some proponents of this movement argue teachers’ unions are the main obstacle to children’s education.

Here's the link: Here’s another reason for teachers to leave Oklahoma.

Is Fallin ACA Op-Ed A Signal?

Image of Gov. Mary Fallin

“We hope that Congress would offer targeted, temporary relief for people to maintain their current coverage while we work together on free-market, consumer-friendly solutions for the future.”—Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin in a recent opinion article in the Tulsa World

Is Gov. Mary Fallin signaling to the U.S. Supreme Court that she and other Republican governors actually want it to uphold the tax-credit features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while saving political face with their voter bases?

It sure seems that way, and it’s incredibly hypocritical and crass politics at its most manipulative. In a recent opinion piece, Fallin argued if the court finds for the plaintiff in King versus Burwell, she wants “relief” for Oklahomans now covered under the ACA, which mean, in effect, she wants it to continue at least temporarily. The word “relief” is an important one for its symbolic connotations.

Look at the circumstances. Fallin is a second-term lame duck governor, who hasn’t really expressed an interest in running for office again. She’s also from one of the reddest states in the nation. Fallin can simply qualify her argument while giving cover to other Republican governors, who are still politically viable.

Are you listening, SCOTUS, are you listening?

The court has heard arguments over whether people should qualify for tax credits when they buy insurance under (ACA) in those states that didn’t establish health care exchanges. It’s a bizarre, right-wing quibble. The law states the tax credits will come from “an Exchange established by the State.” In context, it should be clear that by the State (note the caps), the law means the entire federal government, along with states, but conservatives ague the language means those credits should only go to people in “states” (note the lower case) that established exchanges.

Most states—34 of them in all, which includes Oklahoma—did not establish exchanges but millions of people who live in these states have bought health insurance through “the State” or the federal exchange and received tax credits through the Internal Revenue Service. That includes nearly 125,000 Oklahomans, according to recent media reports.

Fallin, of course, criticized the ACA in her commentary, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed lawsuits against it. But she’s clear on this point:

We hope that Congress would offer targeted, temporary relief for people to maintain their current coverage while we work together on free-market, consumer-friendly solutions for the future.

In other words, please continue the ACA until we find something better, but Republicans don’t have a viable plan upon which they can agree and never will. Everyone on the court knows that. The ACA already offers “free market and consumer-friendly solutions.” It’s certainly not the universal, single payer system this country so desperately needs.

It’s clear if Republicans are successful with the court in cutting the health insurance of some portion of more than 11 million people, they will face a political disaster. Locally, it might just make more of those 125,000 Oklahoman vote, and they would have a good reason to vote against Republicans for ruining their health care. At the same time, these Republicans have demonized the ACA so much, they risk looking like tremendous hypocrites if they just simply conceded that the ACA is working.

Some might think my interpretation of Fallin’s editorial on the larger, national political level is a stretch, but as much energy as she and Pruitt have used criticism of the ACA as a political cudgel and to win votes, she sure comes across as the ultimate hypocrite.

The Kern Obsession

Image of Sally Kern

One of Sally Kern’s latest legal attacks on the state’s LBGT community would ensure parents here of the right to force their children to undergo the barbaric practice of gay-conversion therapy.

If state Rep. Kern’s House Bill 1598 is signed into law, Oklahoma would have state-supported child abuse codified into its statutes, another embarrassment to the state and the result of a Republican-dominated government.

Kern, 68, a Republican who represents a district that includes areas in Oklahoma City and Bethany, has spent much of her lawmaking career—she has been voted into office since 2005 and will be term limited in 2016—obsessed with finding ways to deny equality to and denigrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community (LGBT) in the state. Her 2008 infamous comment arguing that homosexuality is “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam . . .” not only made her and the state open to widespread ridicule but also indicated the loopy depths of her narrowly focused agenda.

The country’s medical establishment has universally condemned gay conversion therapy, which is the process of trying to turn a gay person into a straight person. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, for example, oppose it. Many people in the medical, scientific and LGBT community agree such programs can be harmful to minor children and lead to suicide or longtime mental health issues.

Conversion therapy is based on two major fallacies: (1) That there’s something wrong with a person if they feel same-sex physical and romantic attraction, and (2) that it’s possible to simply “convert” a person into becoming heterosexual through methods like forced vomiting and electric shock to the genitals.

Conversion therapy is banned in California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Legislation to ban it is under consideration right now in Iowa and Colorado.

Kern’s bill, which was recently passed by a 5-3 vote in the House Committee on Children, Youth and Family Services, is also basically senseless because there is no ban on conversion therapy here. Her bill, which should obviously not advance in the legislature, is simply a mean-spirited political and religious attack that would actually change nothing here but would do even more massive damage to the state’s image.

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