(Oklahoma should do much more to take care of the health insurance needs of its teachers, professors and their dependents in an effort to attract and retain quality educators. In addition, the state’s teacher retirement system needs more funding immediately. Read DocHoc’s commentary this week in The Oklahoma Gazette.)
The GOP’s talking points about the November elections go something like this: If you elect a Democrat majority to both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, then those big, bad ultra-liberals will be empowered and, my gosh, what will happen to America then?
But here is the truthful way to frame it: Those politicians who opposed the Iraq war and then spoke out against the president’s incompetent strategy in the war were right, and we should want to be govern by people who are right, not by those people who were terribly wrong about Iraq and continue to lead this country into a foreign policy abyss.
(Personal note: On this blog and in other published writing I have consistently opposed the Iraq war. I started publicly opposing the war before it even began. I and others have predicted each and every fiasco—no WMD, not enough troops for security, the mistake in abolishing the Iraqi military, the Shiites’ alliance with Iran, the onslaught of sectarian violence—correctly 100 percent of the time. Yet for this I’m still constantly attacked and even threatened here. I’m not alone in this position, of course, but when did being right become something so radical? As a professor, I actually think it’s my duty to strive to be right. I’m reminded of George Orwell’s statement, “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”)
It’s true that U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from San Francisco, will most certainly become House Speaker if Democrats get a majority. But she is hardly a political extremist in the mold of former Speaker Tom Delay, the corrupt Republican bug killer from Texas who ruled with an iron, ideological fist. It’s not even close. Pelosi wants a strong military. Pelosi wants to fight the terrorists in stronger, more intelligent ways. Pelosi wants a growing economy. Pelosi has five children (count ‘em, FIVE) and goes to church. Wow, what a ultra-liberal. Her husband is even—now get this, folks—a real estate developer. What a liberal occupation. Sounds like a whole nest of communists and socialists to me.
The right-wing noise machine always makes a big deal about the fact Pelosi is from San Francisco as if that great American city is flawed in some way. Hey, you know what it costs to buy a place in Frisco? More than you probably have. You know why it costs that much? Because everyone wants to live there. You know why everyone wants to live there? Because it’s one of the greatest cities in the world. Heck, the vast majority of people in Oklahoma can’t even afford to take a trip there, much less live there. But the Rush Limbaughs, the Bill O’Reillys, the Sean Hannitys, they can afford it, right?
And, yes, Frisco’s progressive and liberal ambience has a lot to do with the gargantuan property values.
Of course, here in Oklahoma, you get this type of GOP-sponsored, trickle-down drivel on the editorial page in The Daily Oklahoman about the Golden State: “Out in California, truly the land of the freak and the home of the bravado . . .” (“Campus Corn: GOP club thrives in unlikely place,” October 25, 2006). What ridiculous, ignorant stereotyping. But then intelligence has never been an appreciated trait among the newspaper’s editorial writers. Okay, listen Okies, you’re “freaks” if you want to own a house near the beach, live in 72-degree weather year around, make a lot of money at your job, and have decent health insurance. Why, that’s just plain “freaky,” ain’t it? Pass the bottle.
But you know what? Here in Oklahoma, where the liberal voice is still intentionally and methodically silenced by most of the state’s media outlets and landmark institutions and where some of us still dream endlessly about having a real dialogue of diverse political views, we’re getting ready to elect us a heap of Democrats come November. It could be the start of turning the tide against the conservative juggernaut here. I hope so.
So Ernest Istook, you can make up all the lies about Gov. Brad Henry’s record you want and The Daily Oklahoman can give you all the cover and legitimacy it can. But it doesn’t wash. Even a lot of people here, one of the most conservative states in the country, have stopped believing the GOP propaganda.
Istook Hearts TABOR
Oklahoma still faces the dual threat of Ernest Istook as governor and TABOR, the so-called Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights amendment that would devastate the state’s educational systems.
As part of his gubernatorial campaign, Istook has announced he supports a state TABOR-like amendment even if the current proposal does not make it on the ballot.
An Oklahoma Supreme Court referee ruled recently that an initiative petition that would put a TABOR proposal on the ballot in November is invalid because thousands of the signatures were collected by out-of-state people. The law requires Oklahoma residents to collect signatures for initiative petitions. The full Supreme Court is now considering the referee’s decision.
If enacted, TABOR would limit the growth of state government to population growth and inflation. Colorado voters recently rescinded their state’s TABOR law because it devastated the state’s overall quality of life. Funding for higher education, in particular, was slashed and college tuition skyrocketed.
Even if the court rules that the initiative petition is not valid, TABOR supporters, such as Istook, will continue to fight to reduce taxes for rich people. Meanwhile, Istook and politicians like him, if they continue to get elected, will cut needed education programs and keep our state from prospering.
The point is the court’s decision, no matter what it is, will not mean the TABOR fight is over. The same goes for the fight against intelligent design or neocreationism. If Istook is elected, you can count on more religion-in-government initiatives. Now is the time to get busy to ensure Istook is defeated in November.
The Iraqi Civil War
Lost in all the recent news about Israel and Lebanon is the deteriorating situation in Iraq.
The country is now in a full-fledged civil war, though since the Bush administration will not officially use the words “civil war,” we will have to wait once again for the scared, baffled mainstream media to catch up to reality.
A steady stream of news reports shows hundreds of innocent Iraqis are dying virtually very week, and many are fleeing into sectarian camps or neighborhoods to escape the violence. Some experts are, again, talking about splitting the country into three sections.
If thousands of Americans were dying each month in sectarian violence would we call it a civil war? Of course, we would. But since the Bush administration and its supporters want to cover-up their extreme incompetence and lies, all we get is the same “freedom-is-on-the-march” rhetoric.
We need an exit strategy to get out of Iraq now. The war has resulted in the loss of thousands of American lives and cost billions of dollars. It has divided this country, though polls now show an overwhelming number of people now think going to war in Iraq was a mistake. An estimated 50,000 Iraqis have died. (Some groups argue more than 100,000 have died.)
President George Bush lied to this country about the need to go to war with Iraq (this is perjury and fraud), he has sanctioned the illegal torture of prisoners in American custody, and he has illegally wiretapped American citizens without a court order.
He should be impeached for any or all these reasons. If Democrats can take back the House and Senate in November, then democracy will prevail in this country. The president and his administration should be held accountable legally for damaging the country’s democratic structures.
Global Warming In Oklahoma?
Get used to the scorching heat here in Oklahoma, folks. Scientists are claiming the record heat is part of a global warming pattern that shows no signs of relenting.
What will happen when overall temperature averages skyrocket here? What will it mean for our environment and economy? What can we do to be prepared?
Sadly, the damage from carbon dioxide emissions probably cannot be reversed.
Long, Hot Summmer of Despair
The mounting number of known atrocities committed by American troops in the Iraq occupation is yet another reason we should end the occupation.
The military recently announced five soldiers and one former soldier have been charged in the rape and killing of a young Iraqi woman. Three members of the woman’s family were also apparently killed. The woman’s body was burnt in an apparent effort to destroy any evidence about the rape, according to news reports.
This investigation follows the investigation into the Haditha, Iraq incident. The military announced it was investigating the killing of about 24 Iraqis in that town by American soldiers in November 19, 2005.
The issue here is clear. There is absolutely no excuse for these war atrocities. None. Some argue all wars bring their own set of atrocities, but this is not a war to save our country. This is an occupation to ensure we have enough gasoline to fill up those single driver GMC Suburbans you see on the highway.
Is it wise to train our young soldiers to become killing machines and ruthless, barbaric animals? One argument has it that we need ruthless killers in our military for the country’s overall security. Another argument has it that modern warfare takes more intelligence than physical skills. This second argument make more sense, of course, but the killing-machine rubric is rooted deeply in military culture.
But this much is for sure: It is absolutely against our country’s interests to make trained killers assume the role of occupiers, and it is absolutely against the country’s interests to have a bravado American president speak the redneck language of “bring it on.” Such barroom posturing sends a clear message to America’s trained killers. It says you can rape and kill whoever you want whenever you want in the name of American "democracy." You will never promote democracy through murder and rape. You do not even have a democracy if the government sanction these acts at any level.
All we can do this long, hot summer of despair is watch from the sidelines as our military consistently disgraces our country in the world's eyes. Each atrocity—those we know about and those we do not know about and there will be more—fuels Iraq’s growing civil war.
All this can stop by simply bringing the troops home.
The Alliance For Oklahoma's Future released its statement on the closing arguments over the TABOR (aka, RIPBOR, the Rich Persons' Bill of Rights) initiative petition issue before an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee.
Here is a part of its statement:
"The legal counsel made parallels between the tactics employed by Oklahomans in Action [Tabor supporters] to perpetrate a fraud against the people of Oklahoma to those used by the perpetrators of the Watergate Scandal. Both have evidence of criminal conduct, political motivation, knowing violations of the law, stonewalling, cover-ups, and a belief that the ends justify the means. The closing arguments included an appeal to the State Supreme Court to protect the rights of Oklahomans by striking down SQ 726."
Let us hope the court does not allow the TABOR question on the November ballot. Outside money paid for this crazy initiative, which, if passed, would limit state government spending to a point that will harm the state for years and years to come.
Who will want live in a place without schools, fire departments and road repairs?