Oklahoma Republicans continue to freak me out on a daily basis. On one hand, they were the loudest supporters of the draconian state House Bill 1804, which cracks down on illegal immigrants in the state. It may well be the strictest anti-illegal immigration law in the country. Yet their Most Glorious Imperial President George Bush favors a broad amnesty program for undocumented workers. The GOP here also continues to push some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation. Yet one of the Republican frontrunners for president in the 2008 election, Rudy Giuliani, is definitely and absolutely pro-choice.
But recent GOP, neoconservative ideology has always been based on political expediency rather than consistent values and morality. The basic strategy is to manipulate people with cultural wedge issues in low-education states such as Oklahoma. Frankly, as long as Baptist ministers here continue to teach that Jesus, contrary to the Biblical story, was a petty, vindictive warmonger and hater of gay people, there is little that can be done. This, of course, is the legacy of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, the freaky fanatic whose recent death was celebrated and mourned across the country. One headline even proclaimed “Ding, Dong, Falwell’s Dead.”
A Tale of Two Commissioners
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma County, another typical Republican, Brent Rinehart, continues to face political corruption charges. I bet County Commissioner Rinehart took notice that a campaign donor, Bob Larkin, just recently pleaded guilty in the case and is fully expected to rat him out to prosecutors. Rinehart and his former campaign manager, Tim Pope, are accused of soliciting excessive campaign donations. Of course, Rinehart claims the charges are politically motivated.
Rinehart needs to do everyone a favor and resign his position. If he is later cleared of the charges, he can have the last word and sue Attorney General Drew Edmondson or whatever, but for now he should step down.
Speaking of Oklahoma County Commissioners, the state’s progressive world was jubilant over the news that Gov. Brad Henry appointed Jim Roth to the Corporation Commission to fill the vacancy created by Denise Bode’s recent resignation. Roth, District 1 commissioner, is an outstanding choice for the position. He has brought integrity and common sense to Oklahoma County government.
Even the archconservative newspaper, The Daily Oklahoman, gave a shoutout to Henry on his decision. Roth, a Democrat and an openly gay man, will bring credibility and people power to the commission.
Proud Pro-Immigration Prattling
Henry continues to prove himself a wise, prudent leader of the state. His appointment of Roth and his vetoes of the initial budget submitted to him, the anti-abortion bill that discriminates against impoverished women, and a corporate lawsuit immunity measure, show Henry stands up for fairness, progress, and ordinary Oklahomans.
The governor did sign the illegal immigration bill, but let’s face it, the bill was veto proof and the majority prevailed. As much as some political activists railed against the bill (and it was way too late and too little from my point of view), they didn’t do much to consistently and appropriately explain to Oklahomans the illogical arguments made by the GOP. Now they’re complaining. I have been arguing on this blog and in the Oklahoma Gazette for the last two years that the local GOP arguments are extremely weak on this issue. (This is a federal issue; illegal immigrants contribute to the economy; local priests need to speak up, etc.) But I received not one positive comment or letter of support or encouragement. I did receive hate mail, angry letters to the editor at the Gazette, and threatening phone calls, though. Two callers even threatened to get me fired from my job for supporting the plight of undocumented workers. So these local pro-immigration activists like to throw around the word “racist” quite a bit, especially on the Democrats of Oklahoma Community Forum, but here’s the deal: They’re not going to be there for you if you speak out in favor of their position. You might ask: Why speak out for ungrateful people who won’t even post their hateful comments under real names? It’s problematic, true, and a typical Okie spectacle. It’s a perfect example of why thinking people move from this place in droves.
I will continue to speak out for undocumented workers here, of course, but I have real doubts the pro-immigration lobby in this state can accomplish anything positive at all. I also think this lobby group threatens to divide the state’s progressives with anger and sanctimonious posturing. Some people in this group have made supporters who are on their side and willing to speak out on this issue extremely angry, and they continue to do so. What do they expect to gain with this strategy? Maybe they're GOP-sponsored moles, people who have sold out, or maybe they're just stupid.
Inhofe Supporters Deserve High Gasoline Prices
Okie Funk decrees that anyone who has voted for U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe is not allowed to complain about the state’s high gasoline prices, which are way over $3 a gallon right now. Inhofe is a shill for big oil companies because he gets lots of campaign money from them. He, and a handful of other Republican politicians who are merely tools of big oil, are absolutely personally responsible for $3.25 gasoline in this state.
Here is the deal: Gas prices would not be this high if Inhofe hadn’t pushed the oil company agenda when the Republicans recently dominated the federal government. He could care less how much money it costs you to get to work or school. People should laugh in the face of anyone who claims the oil companies or Inhofe can’t help how much gasoline costs. All the energy companies are reporting record profits.
As former chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe could have been promoting a sensible energy policy to keep gas prices down, but he chose to embarrass the state with wild, unsupported comments about how global warming is a “hoax.”
OEA Lawsuit Kaput?
Here is a fact I challenge anyone to dispute: Oklahoma has never funded its schools appropriately. Never. The Daily Oklahoman can say all it wants about how we need to increase college education rates, but it will never happen without a real financial commitment to education here.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court, in a terrible, anti-education decision, recently threw out an Oklahoma Education Association lawsuit demanding adequate funding for schools. It upheld an earlier court ruling dismissing the suit. The lawsuit, no matter what its eventual outcome, should have been heard because it had real, tangible merit. It could have been a starting point for a real discussion about education funding here. You won’t get that here, though.
This is an important issue for the state, but the justices decided it would be best to shut up teachers and other educators in the state. And we’re going to improve our educational systems here by not allowing educators access to our court system on this significant issue?
Every kid going to school here will suffer because of this decision.
The following quotes are from recent posts.
“But there is a larger issue at play. Do Oklahomans want to trade away their children’s futures for one man’s political career? Inhofe is a dangerous kook with corporate power, especially oil power, behind him. He argues on his campaign Web site that he is a man willing to stand up against the tide, but we all know he is the most public corporate sycophant and Bushbot in Oklahoma right now. Listen. Inhofe is unintentionally ironic. Whatever he says, it’s just the opposite.” Head Lunatic, May 4, 2007.
“Inhofe must think Oklahomans are too stupid to get online and find the facts or read a credible newspaper about the issue. The state’s press has done an absolutely miserable job challenging Inhofe’s bizarre statements. What the corporate press does here can hardly qualify as “journalism” anymore. The press here is one big public relations firm supporting war, corporate greed, and political corruption. Why is Inhofe getting a free ride? His recent bizarre statements should be a major issue in the press here.” The War Lies of Jim Inhofe, April 29, 2007.
“But what about the big insurance companies that are raking in the dough from doctors? How come they get a pass from The Oklahoman? And where are the specific examples and statistics supporting the claim about doctors moving elsewhere? And why can’t we separate medical liability and corporate liability? They are not the same. Medical science and research should always be encouraged in our culture. Financial and legal obstacles that truly prevent the advancement of medicine should be removed. Obviously, big companies don’t want to separate the issue because of the sanctity of the patient/doctor relationship. It weakens their case. But, perhaps, we can find creative ways to reduce liability insurance costs for doctors as we maintain individual rights if we take big corporations out of the equation.” No Surprise: The Oklahoman Supports Corporate Immunity Measure, April 23, 2007.
“The basic philosophy behind Oklahoma Senate Bill 507, a GOP bill designed to take away your legal rights, is this: Corporations should be exempt from responsibility for the safety of their products, and Oklahoma citizens should be denied access to the legal system as much as possible.” Henry Should Veto Corporate Immunity Act, April 20, 2007.
“The abortion issue in Oklahoma makes for a tough political decision because of the one-issue, mindless intrusion of the religious right into the political landscape. It’s tempting to throw in the towel and let the religious fanatics have their day because it’s impossible and exhausting trying to argue with closed-minded people. But the religious right will not stop here with this particular bill. They want control of our government, and they will not relent.” Web Site Urges Henry To Veto Anti-Abortion Bill, April 16, 2007.
“But the larger view about the abortion issue in Oklahoma is this: Those women with the financial resources can always leave the state and obtain a discreet, safe abortion. For impoverished women, especially those with health problems, this could be problematic. This law could force some Oklahoma women to seek out back-alley abortions.
“Our state government is openly attacking poor women. What else is new, right? If you’re rich, you can fly to California to get an abortion. If you’re poor, you probably don’t even have the money to travel to nearby states.” Impoverished Women Targeted By Anti-Abortion Bill, April 4, 2007.
“As Iraq spins into further chaos, the newspaper’s editorials about it have become louder, sarcastic, and even nonsensical. [The Daily Oklahoman] runs an enormous number of editorials about the occupation. These editorials always support the Bush administration. They never address opposing viewpoints or fully acknowledge the American death toll or the staggering costs. They merely parrot the Bush administration’s lies. Of course, those who are opposed to the occupation are never given a full voice in the newspaper’s columns. Obsessed With The Big Lie, March 12, 2007.
“Our government is now a quasi-dictatorship ruled by Bush’s personality disorder and a coalition of rich Republicans and Democrats who could care less about what the people think and believe in this country. Congress has abdicated its authority to check the power of the executive branch of government. (Read the previous sentence again.) We are in a constitutional crisis that threatens our democracy. Will we have a system of democratic checks and balances or will we be governed forever in the future by warmongering, imperial presidencies?” Fraidy Crats? February 3, 2007.
On the same day The Daily Oklahoman editorial page argued Gov. Brad Henry should veto state Rep. Randy “The Terrible” Terrill’s draconian illegal immigration bill, it carried a story about how U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe wants similar strict actions on a federal level.
The newspaper has consistently supported Inhofe despite the senator’s outlandish and bizarre statements about global warming, the Iraq occupation, and individual rights, and now it seems to contradict itself. The Inhofe story, of course carried no refutation or opposing views of the senator’s claims and supposedly it’s “news” not an endorsement. But did The Oklahoman interview anyone in the state who would argue against the tyrant Inhofe? No. We’re not allowed to speak in the state’s largest newspaper. Inhofe, meanwhile, gets to use the newspaper as his free, personal public relations firm.
The illegal immigration issue is an obvious political ploy by Inhofe who faces a tough re-election in 2008 no matter what the conservative pundits are saying about all his money and connections to oil companies. What’s the difference between a state bill and a federal bill that does the same thing? Well, this is something the great minds of the newspaper will never address honestly. Of course, they might say the illegal immigration issue is a federal issue, a point with which I agree, but they also clearly want to protect business and corporations which employ undocumented workers.
This is classic, contemporary GOP strategy: Whip up the base into a frenzy over some empty cultural wedge issue, and then lie, distort, contradict, and never look back. The Oklahoman perfected its style and sold its editorial soul during the Reagan years, and it has been lying on its editorial pages and in its news columns ever since.
The tyrant Inhofe is not only a beneficiary of this political strategy but also the GOP’s most vivid example of what type of lunatic such a strategy can produce. He is the head lunatic of all these GOP lunatics who, in their ignorance and hubris, want to accelerate the destruction of the planet.
The Oklahoman is directly responsible for the power of right-wing extremists here and their misguided views on illegal immigration, climate change, and other divisive issues. It could have been articulating moderate and intelligent positions about the illegal immigration issue for years, for example, but it’s been too busy supporting freaky extremists who will do its bidding—tax cuts for rich people and big corporations—here in the state and on the federal level.
The owners of the newspaper and those who carry their torch simply have no credibility, short of capitulation, about any issue that has been manipulated by the Republicans in recent years. They could say, “Hey, we were wrong before. Now we’re going to allow real debate and discussion in the newspaper about all the political issues of our time.” But they won’t.
Nonetheless, Okie Funk once again calls on the newspaper to renounce its closed-door editorial policy and allow for diverse views on its editorial pages and in its news columns. Okie Funk also calls on the newspaper to withdraw its support for Inhofe, who has made the state a laughingstock during the Bush administration.
But there is a larger issue at play. Do Oklahomans want to trade away their children’s futures for one man’s political career? Inhofe is a dangerous kook with corporate power, especially oil power, behind him. He argues on his campaign Web site that he is a man willing to stand up against the tide, but we all know he is the most public corporate sycophant and Bushbot in Oklahoma right now. Listen. Inhofe is ironic. Whatever he says, it’s just the opposite.
Inhofe is a man who will never in his life stand up for regular people and the truth. He is bought and paid for by big oil. He is a great embarrassment to this state. Why doesn’t he just go and work for Exxon or Chesapeake or Devon? He could be a main spokesperson for any of these companies.
How much money, how many residents, will this state never see because of Inhofe’s ego and his bizarre comments about the “hoax” of global warming? Billions of dollars? Millions of people?
People want change here. They rejected the creep Ernest Istook in 2006. They will reject the creep Inhofe in 2008. Istook and Inhofe are creeps in a pod.
When The Oklahoman disavows Inhofe’s political shenanigans, then we’ll know things can change in this place. Until then, it’s all just boring, contradictory static by a monopoly newspaper.
(Here are the citations for The Oklahoman’s articles: “Border line: Henry should nix immigration bill,” May 3, 2007, “Inhofe offers immigration legislation,” May 3, 2007. The links above will go dead in a few days.)