I think there’s a real chance for some progressive gains this election season in Oklahoma for a variety of reasons, but it’s probably not going to happen if liberals spend money and energy supporting The Oklahoma Observer in its present form, or The Oklahoma Policy Institute in any form whatsoever.

One reason for the “chance,” and, yes, it’s just a slight chance, is that the national Republican Party is a real mess right now with the Trump and Cruz spectacles. Many conservatives are bewildered and confused. This confusion may trickle down to minor, local elections in which Democrats and liberals—in Oklahoma, folks, they aren’t the same thing—are speaking out boldly and sensibly about, say, funding for schools or trying to prevent elderly people from getting kicked out of nursing homes.

The other reason for the chance is that Oklahoma conservative leaders have absolutely broken this state with their careless, reckless fiscal policies. The economy is sinking here, the state is in a revenue failure, and we’re facing a $1.3 billion budget shortfall in a tiny overall discretionary budget of less than $7 or $6 billion or so. I know there are some not-so-smart people in the Oklahoma leadership pool, such as David Blatt, but it’s so so obvious the conservatives have damaged this state in a major way. Everyone gets it even if they relish it, like they do at the conservative Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and The Oklahoman. I bet Blatt loves it, too.

But progressives and Democrats—again, these words are really exclusive—face two major obstacles in bringing about change. One is The Oklahoma Observer, which needs to immediately modernize its corny hard-copy layout and web site and start really speaking truth to power. Editor Arnold Hamilton, a nice enough intelligent guy, has dropped the ball and made a mess out of Frosty Troy’s legacy. People have approached both of them about modernizing The Observer cornball approach in order to attract a younger audience, but they are reluctant. I’ll give Frosty the benefit of the doubt because he deserves it as the founder of the publication many, many years ago. I grant no such concession to Hamilton. What does the guy even do each day? He writes about three pieces a month, including the ancient, outdated Observerscope. Dart: To Arnold Hamilton for laziness. I write many more words than you, and I teach FULL-TIME and direct a graduate studies program in my academic department. I feel like you’re lazy and arrogant. Certainly, lazy, folks. I get it that “arrogant” is subjective. I get it that you might think I’m arrogant, too. The truth is arrogant. Miss Truth, she don’t play well with others.

So here’s Miss Truth having a nice feel-good shoutout: Four of us in the Oklahoma City community—two active local working journalists, a technology expert and a tremendous line editor, approached Frosty Troy in the early 2000s and offered our services for FREE to get The Observer online. See, we wanted to do something for our state and make this a better place. We were summarily dismissed as ridiculous and outlandish people. By cracky, we’ll see if this here Internet thing is going anywhere says the great Frosty Troy, who later anointed Arnold Hamilton to destroy his and his late wife’s legacies. We weren’t even given the time of day to make our case. Three of those people live in much better cities than Oklahoma City right now and are highly successful. I’m stuck here facing state budget cuts that affect me greatly trying to get Arnold Hamilton to write more and modernize his cornball publication. Yes, I would trade places with them, and, no, I don’t hold out much hope Hamilton will up his game. Who knows about Frosty? Maybe Hamilton is keeping him behind the pay wall. Has anyone checked recently?

So let me make it a public proposal: I will assemble a team of people to modernize The Observer. If this doesn’t fit Hamilton’s archaic business and old-fashioned model, which we would work around at his SAME or MORE level of pay or income, then fine. I will then urge everyone to stop supporting the cornball publication financially as much as I can. The publication is a joke, a compilation of cornball humor and three-week-old Internet articles, all for only $40 a year. Yeah, right. The problem is that The Observer wastes financial resources and has zero street credibility. Give that $40 a year to a real progressive site, and, no, I’m not talking about Okie Funk. This is my personal intellectual territory, my mind and body. Let’s start a real, modern site that might attract younger people and give us some momentum. I will help as much as I can, but there’s only so many progressive dollars here, and Hamilton is taking a lot of them and producing a really bad product. It’s shameful and immoral.

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Now Playing: The Silence Of The Oklahoma Republicans

Then there’s this rhetorical gem from conservative Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller about the state’s major fiscal crisis, “. . . we’ve seen this cycle before and know Oklahoma will recover – hopefully having learned lessons on how to better weather the storm the next time.”

This obvious downplaying of the ongoing economic devastation in Oklahoma—no big deal people, happens all the time—came in a news release that reports extremely grim statistics about March gross receipts. Miller says revenues in March were the lowest for its month in the last four years. Miller also reports, “Monthly collections from oil and natural gas production taxes have been lower than the same month of the prior year for 15 consecutive months.”

Yes, “we’ve seen this cycle before,” but only in extremely precarious times, such as the 1980s or, yes, even during The Great Depression in the 1930s. We’re in a period of revenue failure in state government, which faces a $1.3 billion budget shortfall next fiscal year beginning in July. The layoffs continue in the oil and gas industry and related fields. The state is now planning a full-out assault on state health care systems through Medicaid cuts, which I wrote about in my last post.

Make no mistake that Miller and his fellow Republicans, whether in a spoken or unspoken orchestrated effort, are trying to downplay the negative impact their conservative policies have had on the state. But they can only hide for so long, and they can’t hide it through the November elections, which is what they really want to do.

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Conservative politicians here have broken the Oklahoma public school system through intentional and careless massive funding cuts. Now it looks like their punitive actions will lead to a massive reduction of health care providers in the state’s rural areas and the possible shut down of nursing homes.

Welcome to the great reddest of red state of Oklahoma, soon to reach Third-World status in desperate need of federal intervention in all aspects of its government and finances. (Is this even hyperbole, anymore?) Conservatives got us here by pushing income tax cuts for the wealthy, passing tax breaks for big corporations and by cheerleading the “drill, baby, drill” mantra that has led to a worldwide fossil fuel cut now taking its toll on the Oklahoma economy in a sinister, soul-destroying manner. This has led to two revenue failures and a growing $1.3 billion budget shortfall for next fiscal year, which begins in July.

Here’s the most recent depressing news: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has announced it’s cutting the Medicaid reimbursement rate by 25 percent effective June 1 because of conservative budget cuts.

According to the authority’s news release on the issue, “The OHCA currently contracts with 46,129 providers. In addition to the 25 percent provider rate cut, the agency will also propose to eliminate payments for coinsurance and deductibles on crossover claims.”

Here’s another telling sentence in the release: “It is also possible that if the agency’s appropriation is reduced more, additional provider rate cuts will be required.” How low can we go? Well, apparently lower than this. Our conservative politicians don’t care about the elderly or school children. They believe smirkingly and arrogantly in magical theories embedded in widely outlandish conservative ideology and mythology.

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