2016 Okie Funk In Review I

Image of sign protesting earthquake crisis in Oklahoma

(I’m running excerpts from posts this week as part of my annual review. This is the first of four review posts. Click on the link below the excerpt to read the full post. Simply put, the year 2016, as defined in posts on this blog, now in its thirteenth year, wasn’t a good one for Oklahoma in any general sense. From the state’s continuing earthquake crisis to a state budget shortfall that led to a nearly 16 percent funding cut for higher education to the typical right-wing theatrics of a Republican-dominated legislature, 2016 has become, in my mind, perhaps one of the worst years in state history, culminating in the coming presidency of the authoritarian Donald Trump. These are not normal times here or throughout the country, and the uncertainty of what might happen in the coming year in Oklahoma has many people afraid and depressed. We need independent voices now more than ever. Thanks for reading the blog, and don’t give up the progressive fight in 2017.—Kurt Hochenauer)

I know for many people here this seems like a radical idea, but the only way to bring an end to all these earthquakes in Oklahoma is to ban oil and gas companies from using the fracking process to extract fossil fuels in our state.

Obviously, the negative economic impact of prohibiting hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” would be immense here, but it might finally kickstart the state government into truly diversifying the local economy while doing what it’s supposed to do, which is protecting the safety of citizens and their property.

The major 4.3- and 4.2-magnitude earthquakes that recently rocked Edmond just north of Oklahoma City have brought the issue to the forefront. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has tried to micromanage the problem, but we now know the fracking process most likely reactivated a new fault line running from Edmond to downtown Oklahoma City. The lesson here is that Oklahoma, in a basic geological sense, is just not suited for fracking.

Oklahoma Fracking Ban Would Stop Earthquakes, January 6, 2016

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Language Used To Describe Trump Remains Important

Anyone who has been following this blog on my Facebook page knows what The New York Times leading columnist Paul Krugman points out today.

“Authoritarians with an animus against ethnic minorities,” Krugman writes, “are on the march across the Western world.” That, of course, especially includes President-elect Donald Trump and his supporters, who have bombarded my public Facebook page with typical name calling and rants in recent days in what is either a coordinated attack or just the result of misdirected, random anger that has been normalized in our culture. Yet these are not normal times. The “animus” is happening in Poland, Hungary and was obviously a defining factor of the Brexit vote in England, which is now withdrawing from the European Union. It’s happening in Germany, France and Austria. It’s emerging in other Western countries as well.

Somewhere along the way to this frightening moment in history, the word “populism” started getting used to describe this right-wing, worldwide hate spiral, but, as Krugman notes, it hardly applies to Trump, who has given no indication he plans to appease the American masses with any financial benefits or rewards. That the right-wing Trumpians have been bamboozled is no big revelation, of course, and this will become apparent in the coming weeks, but even then it’s unlikely diehard Trump supporters will admit their folly because the psychological investment in hate and anger goes far beyond basic financial considerations or even day-to-day life and routines. It’s about itself. It’s a narcotic that when repeatedly taken turns into an addiction.

Trump has shown by his cabinet picks, for example, that he plans to reward a small oligarch in this country intent on dismantling our nation’s institutions, safety nets and democracy. He has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, for example, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt’s campaign ties to the oil and gas industry are well established. One of his campaign chairs, Harold Hamm, is the chief executive officer of Continental Resources, an Oklahoma City-based energy company, which helped to ignite the fracking boom. Trump has also chosen the anti-Obamacare U.S. Rep. Georgia Rep. Tom Price to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is the outgoing chief executive officer of ExxonMobil with ties to Russia.

More money for the titans of the fossil-fuel industry, no environmental “protection” at all and less medical access for millions of Americans. That hardly seems like a populist agenda in any normal sense of the word.

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Not Normal

So just like president-elect Donald Trump what Oklahoma Republicans do is lie and create confusion.

Here's the recent Okie Big Lie: Gov. Mary Fallin tells everyone that the state faces a nearly $600 million budget shortfall for next year and a few days later that number jumps to $900 million. Does any rational person really think that wasn't a calculated move to avoid messy questions like this one: So, governor, how do you plan to fund teacher raises you want to make a "priority" with a $900 million budget shortfall?

It's immoral and disgusting, and the local, corporate media has been not only complicit but also a major part of Oklahoma's Big Lie. That includes the chirpy unaware entertainment rag the Oklahoma Gazette, the so-called "alternative" publication in this right-wing extremist place.

Oh, sure, the corporate media here, like The Oklahoman, will get the name of the latest shooting victim right in a story in this gun-crazy place, but when it comes to any type of political story, well, it's going to be slanted to the extreme right, and I mean real extreme, as in not normal, not anything close to something that might be called mainstream.

So, as I predicted in a previous post, the shortfall was going to grow. Next prediction: The shortfall will grow beyond $900 million and education funding at all levels will be slashed again. I think the shortfall will actually be around $1.5 billion unless Trump starts a world war, which would send oil prices soaring. What we're experiencing in Oklahoma right now is how a state becomes, essentially, not viable in any normal sense, but these are not normal times in this country as we await president-elect Donald Trump's tyrannical presidency.

I really can't believe I'm at this point, but, again, these are not normal times, so here it is: I'm now urging all educators, unless you're near a secured retirement or have particular family restrictions and just can't do it, to leave Oklahoma as soon as possible. Fallin and the Republican-dominated state legislature and the overall national government, are going to deliberately make the lives of teachers and professors here miserable under a Trump presidency. They believe they have the mandate. It's going to get worse in terms of pay and bureaucratic hassles. Get out. NOW.

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