January 20, 2017

(I learned late last night that Frosty Troy, the longtime editor of the Oklahoma Observer has died. Troy was a legend in Oklahoma journalism and a great advocate for liberal causes in this state. I will have a post celebrating his life soon. My condolences go out to his family and close friends.)

As he assumes power, it is correct and realistic to say that Donald Trump is an illegitimate president of the United States of America because of the failure of our country’s archaic presidential election system, if not for more reasons.

Note how I referred to the failure of our election system. There’s no clear proof, at least for now, that Trump worked directly with the Russians to hack the election or that there was ballot tampering. What we do know for sure is that his opponent Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by approximately 3 million votes. More people voted for Clinton than Trump, who, based on that fact alone, is an illegitimate president based on our flawed presidential election system.

This, of course, is not the ideal day to discuss the ongoing debate over the electoral college, created historically on racist premises to benefit slave owners, but that is a discussion that needs to be happening in classrooms and homes across the country right now. Trump received a lot of votes no doubt from racists, and it was a racist system that got him elected without actually winning the total vote count.

What we know is that Trump lost the popular vote by a wide margin. We know the Federal Bureau of Investigation meddled in the election at the last moment in support of Trump and that the Russian government hacked into and then revealed national Democratic Party emails that were basically innocuous but were reported by the so-called “liberal” media with breathless urgency and outrage as scandalous. The New York Times these days is boasting about its increase in subscriptions and its commitment to the truth, but its one-sided reporting on the non-story of Clinton’s emails was just as—maybe more so—damaging to her candidacy as the Russian government hack.

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Everybody Does Deserve Health Care

Let’s be clear that everyone deserves health care, even those people who voted for President-elect Donald Trump and for Republicans in the House and Senate.

We’re all in this together, whether we’re insured through our employer, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Medicare. All three have a symbiotic relationship with one another. Any adjustment to one of the three affects the other two. So when the Senate passed a bill recently that could lead to the repeal of ACA it created a lot of uncertainty about everyone’s health care in this country, except, of course, for the very rich.

Here’s what Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a right-wing extremist from a right-wing state, had to say about the vote:

Last night's vote paves a path for the Republican-led Senate to follow through on the promise we made to the American people; we are now set and ready to repeal Obamacare. For the last seven years Americans all across the country have been feeling the devastating effects of this law. And Oklahoma has been among the worst hit. Individuals have lost their health plans and many families have seen their hard-earned dollars come up short when it comes to affording their skyrocketing healthcare premiums and deductibles. Repealing Obamacare will give us the opportunity to make things right again and will allow us to work with the incoming administration to ensure our healthcare system actually works for this country.

Of course, none of Inhofe’s indictments of the ACA are true, and he doesn’t even mention all the millions of people who now have insurance and are happy about it.

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OKC Zoo Defensive Response Offers No Substance

I wrote last Wednesday about how an animal advocacy group has ranked the Oklahoma City Zoo as the worst for elephants, and the zoo’s response to the designation was, as expected, defensive and non-specific.

The organization, In Defense of Animals, gave the ranking to the OKC Zoo based primarily on their treatment of two elephants it obtained relatively recently from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. One of those elephants, 37-year-old Chai, died of a blood infection last year. The other elephant from Seattle, Bamboo, has been attacked and had a section of her tail bitten off. She has also gone on the attack.

Yet another OKC Zoo elephant, 4-year-old Malee, died in 2015 of the elephant herpes virus.

The ranking received widespread attention in the local media. The zoo’s response, which no doubt had to be approved by its director Dwight Lawson, did so in a way that deflected the issues raised by In Defense of Animals. Here is part of the statement:

In Defense of Animals uses deceitful tactics to manipulate the public in an effort to further their anti-zoo agenda. Their latest effort exploits sensitive images of one of the Oklahoma City Zoo's elephants during an emergency medical care procedure. The group accompanies the images with false information about the health and well-being of zoo elephants.

Note the use of the language “deceitful tactics” and “exploits” and “false information” without giving a a shred of evidence. None of the statement fully addresses the deaths of the two elephants or the fact that Bamboo has been attacked and has obviously had a difficult time fitting into what zoo officials insist on calling a “herd.” The elephants at the Oklahoma City don’t constitute a “herd” in any natural use or sense of that word. The zoo is simply avoiding the issues by deploying unsupported allegations by using charged rhetoric.

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