This is a blog of populist and liberal information and ideas, advancing the cause of truth and justice while fighting the ugly tyranny of right-wing oppression in Oklahoma and its surrounding environs.

Waiting For Gustav

Image of John McCain and George Bush hugging

The national Republican Party, now under the leadership of a 72-year-old serial liar, has become a surreal, bizarre spectacle that defines the country’s broken political system.

Do we laugh? Do we throw our hands up in despair and give up? Is it really possible that some 60 million people—even if in a losing effort—will actually vote for Republican presidential nominee John McCain? What motivates these voters? Ideology? Party loyalty?

The Republican Party “brand” now reads like a Joseph Heller novel. The current GOP plot reveals its anti-logic, a cobweb of irrationality, contradictions and lies.

The corporate media serves as more than a stenography service for McCain and his new beauty pageant queen. It tries to normalize this carnival freak show. It argues that not only is the three-headed, talking snake real but it also represents what is normal and even natural.

For example, McCain’s choice of vice president is the epitome of gender tokenism and crass political calculation even as it utterly undermines months and months of supposed serious political argument. McCain, who simply cannot run on the Republican Party’s accomplishments, has based his entire campaign on the supposed inexperience of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. But then, in a breathtaking example of contradiction and illogic, he chose as his vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 44, the 1984 winner of the Miss Wasilla (Alaska) beauty contest. She later served as mayor of the city, population 6716.

To be fair, there is more to Palin than just physical beauty. She is, for example, under investigation for using her gubernatorial powers to try to hurt the career of her sister’s ex-husband, who happens to be an Alaska State Trooper. Meanwhile, news flash, we hear the news today that Palin’s 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. Palin apparently proudly believes in abstinence-only sex education in schools.

Thomas Schaller, writing in Salon.com puts it this way: "What's galling is this: When the subject is a pregnancy to an unwed, minority teenage mother growing up in some (presumably Democratic) urban area, that pregnancy becomes fodder for lectures from conservatives about bad parenting, the perils of welfare spending and so on. But when the subject is a pregnancy to an unwed, white teenager from some small town in a Republican state, that pregnancy is...a celebration of the wonders of God's magnificence--and choosing life!
Image of Wasilla City Hall

What will happen in the next episode of the Palin soap opera?

What we do know and what is most important is Palin, who has only served as governor for two years, obviously lacks the world experience and intellectual curiosity she would need to lead the country since she has rarely traveled outside the country. What we do know is her positions on cultural wedge issues reflect the radical rightwing in this country. What we do know is McCain would be the oldest president ever inaugurated in this country, and he has a history of cancer. The untested and radical Palin, with enough family baggage to fill an airport luggage carousel, would be his immediate successor.

As the Palin drama unfolds, Hurricane Gustav reminds us of how the federal government under Republican control now despises the very people its claims to serve. “We Are NOT In This Together, America,” could easily be the Republican National Convention’s slogan. It might not even cost the GOP a vote given the normalization and embrace of anti-logic among conservative voters and the un-American corporate media.

It is a national disgrace with worldwide reverberations that the Republican Party has to supposedly tone down its annual convention because of Gustav, which hits New Orleans as I write this. President Bush, the most unpopular president in recorded American history, has canceled his convention speech on Monday and McCain has said, well, it just is not right to party down when thousands of Americans are displaced and major destruction looms.

Of course, we all know this is a lie, this sudden GOP concern for ordinary people faced with a natural disaster. The GOP faithful are calculating how to use the Gustav’s wrath to their political advantage, nothing more, nothing less. Will it be good or bad for the GOP convention if the levees break? This is the hollow, political calculation that defines the Republican Party and their enablers in the corporate media these days. One thing the GOP will not do this week is discuss the impact of global warming on the growing intensity of recent hurricanes.

So this is the biggest storyline of the political season so far: A major political party in the United States has to cancel portions of its convention because of a weather event that might remind voters of how its bogus Laissez-faire ideology has failed and will continue to fail regular Americans.

Still, recent polls show McCain and Obama in a dead heat.

What can be more surreal than that?

A Better Country, A Better Oklahoma

Image of Barack Obama

Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president Thursday in a historic moment for the country. As the nation’s first African American presidential candidate for a major political party, Obama breaks and creates new ground in the long struggle for equal rights.

No matter what happens in the general election, Obama’s accomplishment Thursday night as he accepted the nomination will live on forever, and it gives all of us—no matter what the color of our skin—a reason to hope that we, too, can accomplish what seems to be impossible.

Obama greatest gift to his country so far is that he allows us to dream again for a better future.

Obama’s speech was magnificent, and, more importantly, he showed the Democrats are going to fight this election by clearly outlining their positions and attacking the Republican Party’s nominee, John McCain, who is a serial liar and will continue the failed policies of George Bush, the most unpopular president in American history.

On Thursday, pointing to the horrid legacy of the Bush administration, Obama said pointedly, “We are a better country than this.”

We are. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, all of us are better than how the world now perceives us because of Bush’s torture policies, his lies about the Iraq invasion, his attack on American civil liberties, his disdain for science, and his embrace of oligarchy, an imperial presidency and political corruption.

Oklahoma, one of the reddest of red states, will most certainly vote for McCain, of course, fueled on by The Oklahoman and other corporate media outlets here. These media outlets will simply not give residents fair coverage of the election, and there will undoubtedly be much coded and implied racism. The Oklahoman, in particular, has a long racist legacy.

I know it is destined, but the vote here for McCain will be tragic and senseless and send a wrong message to the country and world. Obama offers the state—even its mega-wealthy citizens—an opportunity to recreate Oklahoma as a place of unlimited economic opportunity, to improve its struggling educational systems and to finally fix many of its chronic socioeconomic problems

Obama’s plural energy policy, one that still embraces existing sources, such as oil, will create an abundance of new economic opportunities for Oklahoma business. As the country moves to natural gas, wind, solar and biofuels, Oklahoma is positioned to benefit greatly through federal programs and policies encouraging independence from Middle Eastern oil. The potential for economic growth here in Oklahoma would be staggering under an Obama presidency. It might forever change Oklahoma’s “poor state” image.

Obama’s pledge to create a new “army of teachers” will also help Oklahoma. These new teachers—and Oklahoma could use them—will improve our schools by teaching with the latest and best technological equipment. New federal educational initiatives and grant programs, along with the sustained local commitment, could finally raise the level of Oklahoma education to national averages and above.

Obama’s commitment to provide decent health care for all Americans and to lift people from poverty would also greatly help Oklahoma. The state now has inadequate access to medical care, as evidenced by study after study. The state has long struggled with and even led the nation in hungry families. The cycle of family poverty continues here and has worsened under the Bush presidency and the local conservative juggernaut. Poverty affects everyone, not just the poor. It causes mental illness and leads to crime. It reduces property values and overall quality of life.

Oklahomans who will vote for Obama this November are voting for their own economic interest as they embrace the community around them with hope and with the promise of change. Those people who choose McCain, perhaps blinded by ideology, are voting to continue the failed policies and corrupt actions of the Bush administration

Many Oklahomans Remain Impoverished, Hungry

Image from oldamericancentury.org

Oklahoma’s poverty rate remains above the national average even though it decreased in 2007, according to The Oklahoma Policy Institute.

The state’s current poverty rate is 15.9 percent, which is 2.6 percent above the national average, according to OK Policy which cited U.S. Census figures in a recent statement about the issue. The 2007 rate decreased by 1.1 percent over 2006, but it still remains greater than the 13.8 percent rate in 2000.

In essence, many Oklahomans have been left behind over the last seven years, and the state has retained its “poor state” stigma.

"These numbers remind us that while the rising tide of energy prices has been lifting the Oklahoma economy, many families have not managed to make it onto the boat of prosperity,” said Matt Guillory, executive director of OK Policy. “Unfortunately, it is these low-income families that are facing the hardest times managing recent steep rises in the price of food, gas and utilities.”

The poverty level was defined at $20,650 for a family of four in 2007, according to the organization.

The poverty rate for children in Oklahoma was at a staggering 22.1 percent.

“We need to remember that poverty can do terrible things to kids,” said Anne Roberts, executive director of the Oklahoma Institute of Child Advocacy. “It can leave them hungry, poorly clothed and susceptible to a host of other stressors, such as poor health and safety. All the other risk factors that make children vulnerable are exacerbated by poverty.” Robert’s comments were included in the OK Policy press statement about the new census figures.

Child poverty can lead to family cycles of poverty that are difficult to change, and this hurts the state economically. A recent report showed Oklahoma has a high rate of hunger as well.

The high rates of poverty in Oklahoma and this country are tragic and shameful. As the mega-wealthy have seen their incomes rise astronomically during the long, gruesome years of the George Bush presidency, low-income and middle-class people have been left behind.

There are many ways to attack poverty here in Oklahoma and elsewhere, but nothing much can be done until the country once again elects a Democratic president.

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