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.

Planksy's Halloween Costume Contest

Image of Plansky, pirate turkey

Aaaargh! That’s yer four “A” aargh, and I mean it I do. This is Plansky, the blarmey pirate turkey hisself, filling in for DocHoc this Halloween. Watch for me, a barrel of rum, and me mateys scouting for pirate treats in yer neighborhood. As you can see, I’m wearing me Sarah Palin costume, which brings me to yer gist. This, fer sure, wink, wink, is yer First Annual Planksy The Pirate Turkey Halloween Costume Contest, and the results are in, me lads and lasses.

Scariest. Arrgh, the rapscallion Jim Inhofe wins the scariest category for his costume of U.S. Senator. It’s a fright fer sure, what with his hoity toity suit, finger pointing and blarmey. For masquerading as a U.S. Senator, Inhofey wins this category all hands on deck, if you catch me drift.

Greenest. Me gobbler blows in the wind, fer sure, and the pipers play dancing jigs, and so it is that Boone Pickens gets the Most Green costume award for masquerading as Mr. Environmentalist hisself. Seems Booney’s going to save the world AND make a few billion more with natty gas converts. But will there be enough leftovers for ol’ OSU, and what with the Pokes doing so well this year? Argh, and that’s a one “A” argh, don’t yer know?

Meanest. Hand me a rum cup, shiver me feathers, Sally Kern wins the meanest category this here year for her costume of State Representative. “Matter fact” Sally wins yer landslide in this category for her hatin’ ways and fer trying to get rid of science in schools. If it ain’t religious mean, it ain’t Sally, me mateys. Her state rep costume reeks, wink, wink, of the ol’ snake-in-the-grass.

Safest. Well, not even a blarmey contest here, fer sure. State Rep. Jason Murphey wins for his costume as School Safety Captain fer trying to get guns in college classrooms. The way Murphey sees it the more guns the merrier because it’s the safest way to go. Arrgh, what’s next? Cannon balls?

Sexiest. Me mateys, I’m honored to accept this award for all pirate turkeys dressed up like Mrs. Palin everywhere.

So, aargh, fer sure, wink, wink, Happy Halloween, party like pirates, me lads and lasses, and don’t forget to vote.

Andrew Rice For U.S. Senate

Image of Andrew Rice

(“The Case Against Jim Inhofe,” published on Okie Funk and Blue Oklahoma, is a series of posts that comments on Inhofe’s political and business escapades. It shows how Inhofe has consistently hurt the state’s image. It focuses as well on Inhofe’s atrocious record on economic, health, energy, environmental, military and government spending issues. Here are the installments: Part I: “Rice Gains Ground on Inhofe," Part II: “Character Issue Follows Inhofe,” Part III: “When Inhofe Talks, People Cringe,” Part IV: “Iraq Distortions Cast Shadow Over Inhofe Campaign,” Part V: “Can Voters Trust GOP, Inhofe With Social Security, Health Care,” Part VI: “Jim Inhofe and the Wall Street Era.”

Our country remains mired in two military occupations. The government is running a record deficit to pay for tax cuts for rich people. A financial crisis threatens the retirement income of millions of Americans as taxpayers fund a massive bailout for rich investment bankers. A massive number of people are losing their homes.

The nation’s health care system is broken, causing immense personal suffering and financial hardship. The United States, once heralded for its civil liberties, is now known throughout the world as a nation that sanctions torture, the suspension of habeas corpus and the indiscriminate wiretapping of its citizens.

Under the current Washington political culture and system, which is fueled by the money of special interests, it is impossible to bring about change, to fix our problems and move forward. Consequently, the only way ordinary people can make a difference is to replace the old guard that created our pressing problems and hold “change” politicians accountable for their actions.

State Sen. Andrew Rice, 36, a Democrat who is running against Jim Inhofe for the United States Senate, is definitely a politician who represents change and the future. His basic philosophical attitude puts the interests of ordinary people above Wall Street investment bankers and big oil companies. This is what the nation and Oklahoma vitally needs right now. We need something different. We need to change things up.

Some in the Oklahoma corporate media—those right-wing shills for their rich bosses—say they support Inhofe because of his long experience in Washington. But that is exactly why Inhofe should be sent into retirement.

It’s no secret the 73-year-old Inhofe, a Republican, has sold out to special interests and is detested throughout the world for his extreme and sometimes outrageous views on cultural wedge issues and global warming. He is divisive. He still supports the failed neoconservative experiment. Afraid to discuss the issues or debate his opponent, Inhofe is the epitome of everything that is wrong with Washington. His particular experience is why he needs to be voted out of office and not given another six-year term.

If Oklahomans elect Rice to the Senate, it will send a powerful message to the world. It will say, “Oklahoma is open for business,” and “Oklahoma cares about the future.” His election would also add balance to our Congressional delegation, which is overwhelmingly Republican.

Vote for change this election. Vote for Andrew Rice.

The Campaign Against HOPE

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The right-wing propaganda machine here has started its campaign against the HOPE ballot initiative, which, if passed, would increase per student public school funding to the regional average.

As expected, the argument against HOPE is as old as them Oklahoma hills. It goes like this: Oklahoma is a poor state. No one makes good money here compared to national averages. The cost of living here is low. No sense doing anything different, especially if it involves any of them awful, union-loving teachers.

This is the crude but truthful crux of a Sunday op-ed piece in The Oklahoman. It was written by J. Scott Moody and Brandon Dutcher, who get paid by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, an ultra-conservative policy organization in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoman serves as the quasi-publishing arm of the OCPA.

Before I talk more about the article, here is some background: The HOPE (Helping Oklahoma Public Education) initiative recently conducted what appears to be a successful petition drive to place a schools funding measure on the ballot. The measure, if eventually passed by voters, would require the state to raise annual per student funding to the regional average. Currently, Oklahoma is dead last at $6,900 per student in the region, which also includes Colorado ($8,900), New Mexico ($8,600), Kansas ($8,400), Arkansas ($8,400), Missouri ($7,800) and Texas ($7,400). The regional average is $8,300.

The initiative doesn’t ask for tax increases. It merely requires the state to fund education at the regional average. It’s that simple.

Of course, the OCPA folks and The Oklahoman are against it because, well, it gives more money to education.

So Moody, a OCPA research fellow, and Dutcher, OCPA’s vice president for policy, wrote an article that talks about the effort solely in terms of teacher salaries, not in terms of overall school funding:

In the months ahead, you can bet you’ll be reminded that (for example) teacher pay in Oklahoma ranks near the bottom in 50-state rankings. What you’re not likely to get is some desperately needed context.

The context is that essentially all of us who work in Oklahoma make low salaries when compared to national averages. The article lists all the bad-paying jobs here, from pharmacist to accountant to janitor to nurse to food server. (It’s a depressing list for sure. Read it and weep.) But this is basically okay, Moody and Dutcher say, because Oklahoma has a lower cost of living compared to the national average. All this is, well, “Something to think about next time the discussion turns to underpaid teachers.”

But Moody and Dutcher focus only on teacher salaries when it comes to the HOPE initiative. This is deliberate and disingenuous. The initiative focuses on student funding, not teachers. They know that. Undoubtedly, Moody and Dutcher are using the right-wing tactic of demonization. It’s difficult to demonize children learning to read, but teachers here are always fair game. Gosh, those teachers might want to make more money. Who's next to want higher wages? The pharmacists? The nurses? Listen, the OCPA says, be happy with your low wages and underfunded schools. That's the way it is in Oklahoma. We're low income! "Me, too!" Hurray! (Oh yeah, except for the local rich people the OCPA represents.)

In addition, the cost-of-living argument has worn thin. It paralyzes and prevents effective action to improve the state’s quality of life. Certainly, housing prices are lower in Oklahoma than most of the country, but there are reasons for that. One major reason is underfunded schools, which often lack equipment and textbooks. Home prices, as most everyone knows, are often tied to the quality of a particular school district.

What Moody and Dutcher don’t address, then, are these questions: Is it right that Oklahoma, as they put it, remains “a relatively low-income state”? How do we raise the standard of living if we don’t invest in education? How can we break the cycle?

It seems like a no-brainer that the state needs to invest more in education at all levels. The HOPE initiative is a common sense step in the right direction.

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