Two Oklahoma Senate bills introduced this legislative session, if passed and signed into law, could weaken the ability of schools to clearly teach basic scientific concepts.

Senate Bill 393, introduced by state Sen. Josh Brecheen, a Republican from Coalgate, would require public school administrators to help teachers “present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies” and would allow teachers to “critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.”

This is common coded language by religious extremists and activists to allow creationism or religious precepts about the origin of life to counter the theory of evolution in public classrooms and force teachers to present unclear information about climate change. The language might seem innocuous but its vagueness is the danger.

There is no scientific controversy about the validity of the theory of evolution or climate change. There is controversy among religious extremists over the theory of evolution and a controversial propaganda campaign by the fossil fuel industry to deny the impact of manmade global warming, but it has nothing to do with real science or what students should be taught.

A vast majority of credible scientists believe and have shown proof through the scientific method that planetary life evolved and carbon emissions have accelerated global warming not he planet. Again, there is no scientific controversy despite the media attention given to the views of right-wing religious figures and politicians, such as Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe.

The bill contains a disclaimer that it isn’t about promoting “religious or non-religious” doctrine” but it could very well be instrumental in forcing teachers to discuss untruthful information promoted by religious zealots under the pseudo-science called intelligent design and oil and gas companies, which are concerned with their profits.

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Not Even Close To Normal

I realize I’m repeating myself in some ways in this post, but I think it’s worth it in the long-term if we remind ourselves that progressives need to speak within a unifying narrative.

These are not normal times in our country. The authoritarian President Donald Trump expresses clear signs of untreated mental illness, including narcissism, and he is a pathological liar. As Hillary Clinton correctly pointed out a while back, “ . . . he is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander-in-chief.”

Can and should progressives unite to define their protest against Trump and his Republican supporters under the broader framework in the above paragraph? Right now various factions opposed to Trump continue to fragment the message with pleas for money or signatures on petitions for their own special causes or concerns. The progressive response to the new president and his actions has been almost as myriad and erratic as Trump’s tweets. The daily grind of the news cycle makes progressives lose focus as we righteously but maybe not so strategically jump from one outrage to the next.

I believe we’re very much losing the information war. What’s making it through the clutter are the senseless tweets of a person, who is mentally ill. Do you hear about what Trump tweeted today? The world awaits in breathless anticipation to that refrain. I believe Trump has us where he wants us right now. He has a captive audience.

Meanwhile, there are important developments surrounding the Trump administration that truly matter that get lost or forgotten in the daily clutter. We still don’t know enough about the investigation into how the government of Russia most likely influenced our presidential election to get Trump elected in the first place. Note this recent post in Mother Jones, which was followed by this report in The Washington Post.

No one has the one right answer to Trump. What I know is that I’ve been writing liberal political commentary for a long time, and I’m on a lot of email lists. I’ve been bombarded by progressive organizations and progressive media outlets asking me for money or to sign petitions. But how much money should we donate and how many petitions opposing each of Trump’s nominees and appointments do we need to sign until we suddenly figure out that each one is going to be confirmed despite our efforts?

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Nothing Bold About It

The Oklahoman calls it a “bold plan,” but Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State address, which offered up a mixture of proposed tax cuts and hikes, left out any real solution to the state’s bleak financial situation or how any of her proposals might make it through our right-wing legislature.

The proposed tax cuts—no more sales taxes on groceries and ending the corporation tax—which by current calculations would leave the state with a budget shortfall of even more than the estimated $868 million depending when they take effect. She also wants to raise the cigarette tax and the fuel tax, the latter hike dedicated to road and bridge work, but she needs to get those hikes through a recalcitrant Republican-dominated legislature and an angry Democratic minority, who probably won’t and shouldn’t play her game.

All tax hikes take a three-fourths majority for approval, which even The Oklahoman concedes will need Democratic Party support because the party they politically support, the Republican Party, has broken Oklahoma through unwise tax cuts and breaks in recent years that have primarily benefited the wealthy.

Somehow, out of this fiscal mess, teachers will get raises, according to Fallin’s so-called bold plan.

In her prepared remarks, Fallin said, “Let’s act on a permanent pay raise for our public school teachers. It is what the public and families want. The pay raise may need to be phased in and it may be targeted, but it must be done.”

Yet voters overwhelming voted down a proposal to give teacher raises in the Nov. 8 election. Also, the key words in the above statement are “phased in” and “targeted,” both qualified by the word “may.”

Where does the money even come from to raise teacher salaries and what about state workers outside of education? Well, Fallin also argued for expanding the sales tax base:

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