(Here is the third of four posts featuring posts on Blue Oklahoma’s companion blog Okie Funk published in 2014. All the posts appeared on Blue Oklahoma as well. Click on the title to read the entire post. It was a dismal political year for progressives in Oklahoma, but there IS hope for a coming shift and realignment in 2016, at least on the national level. As always, thanks for following this blog. Best wishes to you this holiday season.)
The Oklahoman published a really goofy editorial this week about earthquakes and wastewater disposal wells used in the fracking process that bears noting and refuting.
For anyone else that follows the newspaper’s editorial page as closely as I do-and I only do it in an attempt to undermine the right-wing propaganda-you will immediately recognize the stylistics of this particular commentary, titled “Looking for fault as earthquake swarm continues in Oklahoma.”
It’s one of those tongue-in-cheek editorials, complete with what the writer must see as clever wordplay and with attempts at humor on an issue that some people are taking very serious. So we get “NIMBY, meet NUMBY,” not in my backyard but, instead, not UNDER my backyard. Get it? Disposal wells would be UNDER a backyard, right? A real knee slapper. How about this one then? The earthquakes are just maybe because “Atlas is just shrugging more than usual these days.” Hilarious.
But beyond the grating attempt at humor, the editorial does a grave disservice to Oklahomans for not supplying crucial details about studies linking the recent earthquake swarm here to injection wells used in the fracking process. Instead, it relies on generalizations and presumes the issue has produced a mob mentality that-it’s the NUMBYS’ fault-is off target.
The editorial’s thesis is the same argument made by most people in the oil and gas industry. The argument goes like this: There is no definitive proof linking injection wells to the earthquakes, and thus everyone should shut up here and let Atlas do what he’s going to do.
But can there ever be the definitive proof along the lines sought by The Oklahoman and the oil and gas industry, whatever that might be? I would argue that no scientific evidence, no matter how compelling and revealing, would force the oil and gas industry and their sycophants in the media to accept liability for the earthquakes.
(Here are the obvious solutions to the teenage pregnancy problem in Oklahoma: (1) Establish more comprehensive and required sexual education courses in public schools starting in early grades that continue through high school. (2) Offer students at an appropriate age free contraception, including Plan B and condoms. (3) Ensure women here retain the right to have an abortion. (4) Stop electing right-wing politicians who oppose these sensible ideas.)
It should come at no surprise that Oklahoma continues to have one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the nation.
But a story in The Oklahoman about the issue omits this crucial factor: It’s the right-wing religious folks here who oppose appropriate and extensive sexual education that goes beyond abstinence-only dogma. Until public schools can offer more required courses that directly and explicitly address sex and its ramifications, and even offer birth control to students at an appropriate age, Oklahoma will continue to struggle with this problem, which obviously costs taxpayers.
Let’s be real. Oklahomans elect numerous right-wing Christian politicians who profess themselves to be deeply religious. These politicians, using their religious beliefs, prevent the state from realistically addressing the state’s numerous social problems, such as the state’s high teenage pregnancy rate.
The Oklahoman, of course, endorses many of these right-wing politicians or supports their overall ideology on its editorial page.
A new report shows the overall quality of Oklahoma’s nursing homes is among the worst in the nation and, unfortunately, that’s an old story dating back at least three decades.
I know the timeline well because, as a former journalist, I wrote a series of articles in 1982 along with another reporter outlining the overall poor quality of the state’s nursing homes and the political forces that helped make it so.
I visited several nursing homes in 1982 as part of my research for the series and while I found there were some outstanding homes there were simply far too many with problems, including substandard care.
The new report, issued by Families For Better Care, ranks the quality of Oklahoma’s nursing homes as 49th in the nation, only behind Texas and Louisiana. A major part of the problem then and now is the lack of professional staffing. The report notes, for example, that “. . . more than 80 percent of nursing homes had middling to below average professional nursing levels.”
This is from the 1982 series about the specific staffing problem:
The reason for the shortage and high turnover stems from the nature of the job. It’s an unglamorous task. Nursing aides are responsible for bathing residents, cleaning up messes, helping residents use the bathroom or, in some cases, changing diapers. Aides also must help lift heavy bodies and empty portable toilets.