(It has been a mixed year for progressives in Oklahoma, but the fight continues. In this post, you will find excerpts from Okie Funk blogs published from January to June in 2007. The next blog will feature posts from the rest of the year. Here’s wishing you a great 2008.)
As predicted, the Oklahoma creationist movement is back this year in the state legislature.
Anti-evolution bills attacking the scientific method, the foundation of modern medicine, have a fair to decent chance of passing because the legislature is dominated by neoconservatives, whose bills are most often based on ideology or cultural wedge issues.
Want better health care and wages? Want to make sure your children have decent jobs here? Don’t ask a Republican. All you’re going to get from the Oklahoma GOP (and even some supposed Democrats) these days is pathetic, religious-driven legislation that makes the state one of the biggest laughingstocks in the nation. Yeah, right, it always helps to be known as a place of ignorance and intolerance when you’re trying to create economic development.
We can only hope this neoconservative strategy of activating the conservative, uneducated masses through cultural wedges has almost run its course here in Oklahoma. People are now waking up throughout the country. But will it happen here?
January 18, 2007
Oklahoma House Speaker Lance Cargill’s petty move to ban a Norman legislator from serving on an important committee that is vital to his district shows again how Republicans consistently put politics above people in the state.
Cargill (R-Harrah) has denied a request by state Rep. Wallace Collins (D-Norman) to serve on the mental health subcommittee. Collins’ House District 45 is home to Griffin Memorial Hospital, a mental health facility. Traditionally, legislators from the district serve on mental health committees, according to Collins, who has complained publicly about Cargill's action.
But this doesn’t matter to Cargill, of course. Collins beat Thad Balkman, a religious extremist who wants to force Oklahomans to live under his narrow-minded views, for the House seat last November.
So here’s the kicker: Cargill and Balkman, two slick buddies, are operating the mysterious 100 Ideas initiative, which will not reveal its funding because government is secret in Oklahoma these days. The initiative seems designed to further Cargill’s and Balkman’s political careers and bolster the GOP chances to further dominate the Lege in years to come.
So Cargill and the Oklahoma power structure reward the religious fanatic and election loser Balkman but won’t even let Collins serve on a significant committee for his district. Collins won the election. Balkman lost. Essentially, it means secret individuals or corporations operate the political landscape here, not voters in Norman or elsewhere. What else is new?
Here’s an idea for your secret He-Man Woman Haters Club and its 100 big shot ideers, Cargill: Give Democracy a chance. Put Collins on the committee.
February 13, 2007
The bill states, “The State of Oklahoma finds that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship and lawlessness in this state and that illegal immigration is encouraged by public agencies within this state that provide public benefits without verifying immigration status.”
Those are lies. Undocumented workers (the key word here is “workers”) contribute to economy here and the vast majority of them are decent, hard-working people. They are here only because they want better lives for themselves and families. Terrill, who represents the Moore area, says illegal immigration costs the state $200 million a year. But how much do they actually add to the local economy? In addition, no public agencies here are actively encouraging illegal immigration. That’s absurd. They are merely dealing with a major federal problem just like other states.
The Republicans have failed on a national level to do anything about the growing numbers of undocumented workers in this country so Terrill and his GOP comrades say they are taking things in their own hands.
March 1, 2007
The bill is one of many anti-abortion bills introduced in the legislature this session. Will Gov. Brad Henry sign the bill? He signed four anti-abortion bills last year, of course, but if he wants to veto this bill he will have the medical community on his side. The Oklahoma State Medical Association opposes the bill.
Oklahoma is fast becoming a state with some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation.
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.
April 4, 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.
May 5, 2007
Inhofe and Coburn are the tools of big corporations, which are damaging the environment and making our food supply unsafe. The state’s corporate media, especially Daily Oklahoman reporter Chris Casteel, who is a Washington bigwig “correspondent” (a big joke since he really writes editorials), allow the two politicians to consistently lie to Oklahomans without offering dissenting views. (Some media insiders say Casteel is under strict orders issued by Executive Editor Ed Kelley to give the gay-bashing Coburn and Inhofe positive coverage despite their lies, contradictions and rhetorical gaffes. The somber Kelley, for example, appeared recently in a personal video lauding bigot Coburn as a Senator. What type of metropolitan newspaper editor would take the personal time to kiss the tushy of one of the weirdest right-wing Senators in the history of the United States?)
June 2, 2007
State Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) is gearing up her crusade to dictate Oklahoma public school teachers turn their classrooms into narrow minded bastions of Christian extremism and fanaticism.
Kern, along with another legislator, state Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City), are introducing similar bills, both named the Religious Viewpoints Discrimination Act, according to a media report. The bills will be considered in this upcoming legislative session.
I have written about Reynolds’ bill before. Kern’s bill is apparently another back door way to try to stop the teaching of evolution and the scientific method in our state schools. Essentially, students would be allowed to argue—without any penalty—against established knowledge in all fields using fundamentalist religious arguments.
For example, students might use pseudo science, such as intelligent design, an offshoot of creationism, to undermine basic scientific facts in a classroom. Teachers could be forced to sit idly by as religious fanatics hector their fellow students about evolution and other topics that do not fit into the small intellectual framework of the Christian fundamentalists.
Kern, whose husband is a pastor, and Reynolds say their bills are needed to ensure religious students are not discriminated against, but the real intent is to expand the right-wing Christian fundamentalist agenda in public schools here. These are dangerous bills that will lower the bar for Oklahoma students and prevent the basic dissemination of scientific knowledge. The insidious, disingenuous nature of these bills cannot be overstated.
According to an Associated Press story in The Daily Oklahoma, Kern, a former teacher, said, "There's a great deal of confusion out there. Any time a student says something about God or Jesus, they're immediately censored."
I challenge the veracity of this statement. School teachers, principals and superintendents in the state should challenge this statement as well. Students have never been nor will they ever be consistently “immediately censored” for talking about religion in Oklahoma classrooms. Teachers in Oklahoma do not attempt to stop their students from holding or expressing religious beliefs. This is a non issue.
Arrgh! Well, shiver me gobbler, and pass me barrel of rum around the ship, lasses and lads. This is Planksy, the pirate turkey ye know and love, pictured to the right, filling in for DocHoc this randy dandy Christmas. Imagine me and a hundred brave pirate turkey brothers sailing into town on the mighty Bricktown canal during the high seas of lunch hour, and all to bring ye me holiday planks and dranks, yes indeed. Do you walk the planks off me fear mongering fowl ship or do you get your favorite holiday dranks, complete with pirate portion dollops of me rum, straight from me barrel, mateys, straight from me seasoned barrel of died and gone to heaven?
Planks: The lesbianphobe himself, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, for making Okies seem like fools for voting such a sniveling, lowdown rascal into office. Dr. No holds ye sick people hostage, makes ye children targets for Internet scoundrels and leaves ye oceans unmapped. This here demigod, methinks, wouldn’t do a favor in Hades hellfire for Oklahoma, me mateys. Dr. No is his own freak show, fellow pirates, a stunt, all press release, all gobble gobble gobble if ye catch me drift.
Dranks: Me fellow pirates and landlubbers in Oklahoma for shivering ye gobblers through the recent ice storm. Aye aye, it was a whopper, knocking ye lights off, making ye trees creak and groan and breakity break, and all of it because ye winters are getting warmer not colder. (Yes, ye winters are getting warmer, not colder, so save ye sidewalk salt and put some rum aside for them electrical blackouts.) But like ye pirates of yore, ye endured so ye could tell ye story to ye grandchildren, the story of back in this year, back in that, and aye aye, ye get me rum and also Planky’s prestigious Medal of Pirate badge, a signed picture of meself with pirate Wayne Coyne, and, arrgh, me recent CD, “The Greatest Hits of Planksy and His Arrghanauts.”
Planks: The Republican U.S. Senator representing Exxon, not ye Oklahoma, none other than the rapscallion Mr. Jim Inhofe for asking ye and yers truly and every other ship’s rat from Hades and back to pay to power the pole to light the ball, this ain’t no blarmy, mateys, and it ain’t worth a galleon to a pinch of gold dust to make his smarmy pole rise. Aye, some say there’s a dab or two of the widestance Republican in him, a tad of the been-on-the-ship-too-long, if you catch me drift. So stay away from them lesbian-infested school potties, courtesy of Dr. No, in southeastern Oklahoma, Jimmy me lad, and just peddle yer schtick and try to raise yer pole in the country’s finest airports (and elsewhere) like every other rapscallion Republican politician in the known worlds these days.
Dranks: The progressive blogging and writing community in Oklahoma for keeping on keeping on despite all the snarly attacks from those local right-wing scoundrels, many of them anonymous scaredy cats without a lick of pirate sense or style. So here are some Planksy Picks: The Mahatma X Files, Mainstream Baptist, Peace Arena, Practical Progressive, Life and Deatherage, Oklahoma Independent Media Center, Blue Oklahoma, PhotoTune, and kittenstomper. Thanks to Robin Meyers and The Oklahoma Observer, too. Don’t fergit me fellow pirates over at the Democrats of Oklahoma Forum. Aye, and don’t fergit the dandy pirates at Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education. Did I miss yer? It must be me rum. Let Planksy know, lasses and lad, let the pirate turkey in on yer deal.
Planks: Aye, those durnburn religious extremists and their enablers in the corporate media for trying to turn Oklahoma into a landlubbing theocracy. Arrgh, can ye imagine schools that don’t teach science and religious prayers each morning at yer job if ye want to get yer galleons for a measly mug of rum? The war on Christmas, me pirate’s arse, me fellow pirates. Pirate turkeys worship how they wants, if they wants, and they don't want no government saying how everyone's got to be a Sally Kerny Christian or else get off the ship. I say we go full sail and stop these dastardly churchyburchy robots. Planksy leads the pirate charge. Thousands of sea dogs, sailing the winds, on the fly, supporting the ye ol’ separation of church and state, nay, the glorious U.S. Constitution. Aye, a sight to behold, indeed, folks, a beaut and hoot of a pirate deal.
Dranks: People of all persuasions, political and otherwise, for reading Okie Funk this past year. Season's greetings and a tofurkey in every pot. Arrgh!