Big Brother Is A Big Sister In Oklahoma

At first I thought it was one of those things you hear about that only Snopes can properly dispose of.

I received a text from someone who wrote:

How about that Oklahoma governor. Signed that wacko bill. No minimum wage laws allowed in her state. No paid sick leave or vacation days.

That Okie governor, of course, is Mary Fallin, a Republican in the mold of, say, well, I can’t say. GOP Jesus broke the mold when he made Governor Fallin. In any case, I discovered that what she actually signed two days ago was a bill that bans cities in Oklahoma from passing a higher minimum wage requirement than the state’s current minimum (which is set at the federal level of $7.25), and that bans those cities from enacting sick and vacation leave requirements on behalf of workers. I also found out that other states have passed such laws (mostly states that have been dominated by domineering Republicans, like in Texas, for instance) and that other states are considering such laws.

Now, because we’ve been over it before, I won’t harp on the false ideas that are behind keeping the minimum wage as low as possible, from the notion that minimum wage jobs are mostly held by kids in high school or college who are working part-time jobs (the average age is actually 35; one-third are at least 40 years old; more than one-fourth have kids to support; more than half work full-time), to the notion that a relatively higher minimum wage hurts job growth (the most one can say is that it is a mixed bag). And I won’t even harp on the outrageous idea that a family-values FALLINparty like the Republican Party pretends—pretends—to be would ban cities from passing sick and vacation leave requirements that would benefit workers in their cities (thank about that the next time you eat a fast-food burger that may have been cooked by a sick worker who couldn’t afford to stay home that day). No, I won’t harp on that stuff. We’re all used to the idea by now that Republicans aren’t exactly the friends of the working class, even if they’ve cleverly managed to talk a lot of working class folks into putting them in power.

What I will harp on is the hypocrisy of what Republicans have done relative to the cities in their respective states. This latest power grab in Oklahoma came about because there is an effort underway in Oklahoma City to establish a higher minimum wage than that anachronistic $7.25 federal wage. And Governor Fallin and the corporatists in her state can’t have the locals doing their own thing, if doing their own thing conflicts with larger business interests. So much for that “local control” that Republicans are always throwing at us when they talk about how much they hate big gubmint. It’s funny that when things start happening among the natives that right-wingers don’t like, they are the first ones to move in with the foot of the state and crush any grass roots movement, or in the case of women trying to exercise their right to control their reproductive health, Republicans move in with a government-mandated vaginal probe, which is a manifestation of Big Brother that even George Orwell never imagined.


Coburn’s Proud To Be A Back Stabbing Okie From Muskogee

With friends like Oklahoma Senator and freakishly right-wing know-nothing Tom Coburn, Barack Obama doesn’t want for enemies. Both men have acknowledged their strange “friendship,” with Coburn saying on Wednesday in Muskogee, that bleak Oklahoma town that Merle Haggard made famous:

Barack Obama is personal friend of mine. He became my friend in the Senate but that does not mean I agree in any way with what he’s doing or how he’s doing it. And I quite frankly think he’s in a difficult position he’s put himself in, and if it continues, I think we’re going to have another constitutional crisis in our country in terms of the presidency,

That “constitutional crisis,” of course, is impeachment, which up until now only the weirdest members of the right wing have dared to suggest. I am at a loss to explain why Barack Obama would have such a friend as Tom Coburn, Perhaps despite now having two dogs, the President is lonely in Washington, I don’t know. But Coburn is the kind of friend we have all had who is not a friend in the sense that you could count on him to have your back. The only apparent reason that Tom Coburn cares anything about Barack Obama’s back is because it makes a nice place to stick a knife.

And to paraphrase the old joke, if Barack Obama had as many knives sticking out of his back as his friend Tom Coburn has put into it, he would look like a political porcupine.

In any case, here’s how BuzzFeed reported on Coburn’s meeting with his blood-red constituents:

“What you have to do is you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president, and that’s called impeachment,” Coburn said, responding to a question about holding President Obama accountable. “That’s not something you take lightly, and you have to use a historical precedent of what that means. I think there’s some intended violation of the law in this administration, but I also think there’s a ton of incompetence, of people who are making decisions.”

“Even if there is incompetence, the IRS forces me to abide by the law,” a constituent responded to Coburn.

“No, I agree,” Coburn said. “My little wiggle out of that when I get that written to me is I believe that needs to be evaluated and determined, but thank goodness it doesn’t have to happen in the Senate until they’ve brought charges in the House. Those are serious things, but we’re in a serious time. I don’t have the legal background to know if that rises to high crimes and misdemeanor, but I think they’re getting perilously close.”

This stupidity is blazing around the Internet, which means, of course, that it will soon infiltrate cable TV chat. I call it stupidity because

a) you can’t impeach a president because of “a ton of incompetence”; most everyone knows it has to be two tons of incompetence, measured by a special device that Barack Obama stole from Congress and now keeps hidden in a secret place, right next to his Kenyan birth certificate and his autographed copy of The Communist Manifesto; and,

b)  If a “ton of incompetence” actually brought a president “perilously close” to impeachment, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan would have been chased from office long before anyone ever heard of the megaton of incompetence that brought us, among other things, the Iran-Contra scandal or the Iraq War.

Thus it is, when you toss in the climate-change-is-a-hoax freak Jim Inhofe, the state of Oklahoma has two United States Senators who are, well, nuts, with one of them pretending to be Obama’s friend while hurling chivs at him while his back is turned.

Society? What Society?

I know he’s only a state representative from Oklahoma City, but what Mike Reynolds said is important.

What Reynolds said is important for a very simple reason. It neatly demonstrates just how ridiculously extreme some in the Republican Party have become, and while they’re not all as zealous as Mike Reynolds, some of them are and others are very, very close.

According to the Huffington Post, a particular student in Oklahoma, who earned a 4.39 GPA and a 32 on the ACT, didn’t qualify for a Pell grant and “only received a few scholarships, which won’t cover his tuition bill.” A Democratic lawmaker in Oklahoma, as Democratic lawmakers are wont to do, sought help from his colleagues, saying in an email exchange:

How do we guarantee that students like Austin, who is clearly very much a top student, get an education? These are the ones that will cure cancer, create the next big invention or possibly become a great leader. How do we help these students?

It’s OUR JOB to see this kid get an education. We want our best and brightest to receive an education that lets them reach their full potential. We are failing him.

To which Representative Reynolds responded:

It is not our job to see that anyone gets an education. It is not the responsibility of me, you, or any constituent in my district to pay for his or any other persons [sic] education. Their GPA, ACT, AS[V]AB, determination have nothing to do with who is responsible. Their potential to benefit society is irrelevant.

Now, before anyone is tempted to dismiss this Reynolds character (he is a character) and his outrageous philosophy as an outlier in the pattern of Republican ideological distribution, I urge you to look again at that last line:

Their potential to benefit society is irrelevant.

Benefiting society? Who cares? A smart kid from Oklahoma who can’t afford to go to college means nothing to this particular Republican. He admits that legislation that has the potential to benefit society is irrelevant to his job as a legislator.

But what makes any of us think that anyone’s or anything’s potential to benefit society is relevant to most Republicans in Washington, D.C. and around the country? Where is the evidence to support the claim that Republicans are interested in public policies that benefit society?

There isn’t much evidence, from the obstructionist legislative strategy to defeat President Obama—which included sabotaging the economic recovery—to the strategy of making it harder for people in this democracy to vote—many stood in line for hours, some giving up and going home—to attempting to thwart even the mildest of reforms of our gun laws—look at this:

gop senators and gun filibuster

Those mug shots above include some of the leading lights of the Republican Party, most notably the leader of Republicans in the United States Senate. These legislators not only oppose common-sense gun laws, they don’t even want the legislation to come to a vote. So don’t tell me that a ideologically nutty congressman from Oklahoma City is an outlier in the Republican Party.

And don’t tell me that a Republican legislator, who said that the “potential to benefit society is irrelevant” to him as a lawmaker, is an odd duck in the GOP.

No, no, no. Mike Reynolds from Oklahoma City is very much in the mainstream of the larger Republican Party, and nothing proves it more than the party’s aggressive opposition to gun law reforms, including the proposed ban on assault weapons and monstrous magazines, a federal gun trafficking law, and, the mildest reform of all, loophole-free criminal background checks on gun purchases. All of those proposals have the potential to benefit society.

But society be damned. The Republican Party, as demonstrated by its leadership, has a job to do for the NRA and its clients, the gun manufacturers.


[Photo: The Journal Record]

Democrat, My Ass

Among the misbegotten Democrats who voted with my own right-wing congressman, Ozark Billy Long, and other extremist Republicans in the House of Representatives to, without precedent, hold Attorney General Eric Holder in “contempt,” was none other than Dan Boren, who represents Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District, which is just west of Joplin.

Since Boren, who is a board member of the NRA (which “scored” the vote on Holder in order to intimidate pusillanimous politicians), has decided to retire from the House to take a job with the Chickasaw Nation (fittingly as its “president of corporate development”), this will likely be the last time I can salute him for the absolute phony Democrat he is.

If Boren were on fire, I wouldn’t pucker up and piss on him. He voted with Republicans almost all the time, and was a more reliable vote for John Boehner than some Republicans. Oh, I forgot. Boren voted with Tea Party Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act in January of 2011, after having voted against it at its birth.

It’s one thing to represent yourself as a “moderate” Democrat, which in Eastern Oklahoma—the poorest area in a godforsaken blood-red state— is about as much as a majority of those folks can tolerate. It’s another to represent yourself as a moderate Democrat when really you are a conservative, corporate Republican.

Oklahoma Is Not OK


Oklahoma, in case you don’t know, is a very strange place. Even many of the Democrats there have trouble remembering why they are Democrats.

Of course, one doesn’t expect much from a state that produced faith-healing evangelist Oral Roberts, who once conversed with a Giant Jesus:

I felt an overwhelming holy presence all around me. When I opened my eyes, there He stood…some 900 feet tall, looking at me; His eyes…Oh! His eyes! He stood a full 300 feet taller than the 600 foot tall City of Faith.

His eyes…Oh! His eyes!”  I would be stunned by his eyes, too, since by my reckoning they would have been more than 12 feet across! A Jesus with peepers that big can see everything you do, boys and girls.

In any case, The Associated Press this morning referenced a former vice chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, Ben Odom:

Odom said a vote count showing that more than 40 percent of Oklahoma Democrats disapprove of the president’s job performance is “a real disaster for the Obama campaign in Oklahoma.”

It’s hard to see how anything that goes on in Oklahoma politics could be a disaster for Democrats at this point, since the state has essentially become a right-wing reactionary asylum. Thus, I was not surprised at what happened on Tuesday night in the Democratic primary:

With all the state’s 1,961 precincts reporting unofficial results from Tuesday’s vote, Obama had 57 percent of the ballot. An anti-abortion activist, Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, had 18 percent and under party rules could lay claim to at least one delegate.

Randall Terry, a kooky anti-choice zealot who may or may not hear from the 900-foot Jesus, is a perfect fit for Oklahoma.  Here’s a sample of what he said last night, upon getting 18%—18%!—of the vote:

I beat a sitting president as a voice for the babies that are being killed by Obama’s policies,” Terry said in an interview from Tulsa, where he was watching election results.

Only in a warped mind like Terry’s can losing 57%-18% be characterized as, “I beat a sitting president.”  And only in a warped state like Oklahoma can Terry get that 18% by showing graphic commercials of dead fetuses and calling the President of the United States a baby killer.

Oklahoma Legislature Embraces Big Brother

Just two paragraphs from a Macleans story say most of what needs to be said about the Republican hypocrisy on the issue of big government. 

The story is about the latest attempt by the “Republican-dominated Oklahoma legislature” to place the government between women—parents, really—and their doctors:

New legislation in Oklahoma means a woman seeking an abortion will have to undergo an ultrasound at least one hour before having the procedure, and listen as a doctor describes the fetus’s heartbeat, organs and lungs—even in cases of rape and incest…

A second law protecting doctors who withhold information about fetal defects from being sued by parents was also passed last week. Two other abortion bills are still on the table that, if passed, could make Oklahoma home to the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S.

Even as conservatives protest Obama’s secret desire to curb our individual liberties and Tea Partiers all over the nation moan and groan about Big Brother’s long reach into our lives, the truth is that most conservatives love government when it obstructs the rights of women—even victims of rape—to obtain an abortion or when it prevents homosexuals from attaining 100% American citizenship or when it is killing terrorists in a far away land.

But when it comes to big oil, Wall Street, the insurance industry, and the rich, they suddenly don’t love government any more. They want government to get out of the way of corporate and monied interests and stick its nose in one of the most personal decisions anyone could ever make.

Phonies, all.

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