Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

Vote For Obama, Rice

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Here are some political endorsements:

President: Barack Obama. There is no question the country’s government needs great change to face its pressing problems.  It’s absurd anyone would think John McCain would deviate substantially from the policy positions of President George Bush. For this reason alone, Barack Obama is the clear choice.  Obama also has the potential to be one of the greatest American presidents ever by uniting the country during a difficult time. An Obama presidency would represent a historical change of seismic proportions.

U.S. Senator: Andrew Rice. It’s clear U.S. Sen.  Jim Inhofe has been in Washington too long.  What has he done all these years? Well, he has repeatedly embarrassed many people in the state with his outrageous and divisive comments about global warming and cultural wedge issues.  This is a year of change. State Sen. Andrew Rice represents change.  He is bright and articulate and will serve as a great Oklahoma ambassador in Washington.

Corporation Commissioner: Jim Roth, Charles Gray. Jim Roth proved his mettle as a Oklahoma County Commissioner.  Gov. Brad Henry then appointed Roth to the Corporation Commission, and he has served with composure and distinction.  He deserves your vote. In the other Corporation Commission race, Charles Gray deserves your vote.  Gray would bring a real people’s view to the commission.

U.S Representative: Dan Boren. It’s essential Oklahomans return Dan Boren to Washington.  As it stands now, he is the only Democrat in the state’s Congressional delegation. He adds balance to the delegation and helps the state’s image in the process. Boren is a centrist-to-conservative Democrat who has represented the state with distinction.  He deserves your vote.  I would urge voters in other Congressional districts to also vote Democratic this year.

District 84 State Representative: Ron Marlett. As I wrote earlier, “Ron Marlett is the clear choice for state representative in House District 84, a seat now held by Sally Kern, the right-wing ideologue who made national news when she publicly claimed homosexuality is a greater threat to the nation than terrorism.” Marlett’s election would tell the world that Oklahoma will not tolerate the hateful, extremist views of political leaders.

Andrew Rice For U.S. Senate

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(“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.

Muskogee Phoenix Endorses Rice

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(The Muskogee Phoenix, the state’s fouth-largest newspaper, has endorsed Andrew Rice for the United States Senate.  Rice, a state senator from Oklahoma City, is running against incumbent Jim Inhofe. You can read the endorsement below.)

Senate choice should lean to center

No one takes lightly endorsing a relative newcomer to politics over a long-time senator. Jim Inhofe has been in the U.S. Senate 14 years, and he has a great deal of support in Oklahoma. But Inhofe has not been without controversy.

He may be the ranking minority member on the Committee on Environment and Public Works, but he has not shown a great deal of respect for the environment. He arrogantly blamed the New Orleans flooding from Hurricane Katrina not on inadequate levees, the real cause, but “far-left” environmental “extremists.” He has adamantly called global warming a great hoax.

There is no doubt that Inhofe maintains a conservative attitude that reflects the position of his constituent base, but the extremist statements he has made throughout his career on many subjects hurts his credibility and the state’s image despite whatever positive contributions he has made while in Congress. And extremism, whether to the right or left, does not promote good government policies or government that benefits everyone.

That is why Andrew Rice is a better candidate in the U.S. Senate race.

Rice has a more even-handed and rational approach to the issues and problems we are experiencing. He has gained a experiential world view as a missionary, working with rural development projects in Asia, that would serve him well in the Senate.

Rice also has demonstrated in the state Senate a willingness to work with others rather than sticking to a rigid ideology. Oklahoma would lose the seniority Inhofe has gained if Rice were elected, and that would be a tough loss. But there is something to gain with Rice as well.

Obama Campaign Endorses Rice

Image of Andrew Rice

This is from the Barack Obama campaign:

You can change politics in this country at every level — up and down the ballot.

There’s a candidate in Oklahoma who’s working to bring the change this country needs, and that candidate is Andrew Rice. Get involved and help bring change now.

   Andrew Rice for Senate:

   Visit the website.

Don’t wait until Election Day to support Rice. Get involved today to make sure Oklahoma has a strong senator to take our country in a new direction.


Obama for America

Inhofe Faces Character Questions

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Image of logo The Case Against Jim Inhofe

(In the coming weeks, Okie Funk, along with Blue Oklahoma, will set the record straight when it comes to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe. This blog will be publishing an open-ended series titled “The Case Against Jim Inhofe.” The series will comment on Inhofe’s political and business escapades, from his earlier lies about when he graduated from college to the insurance company he ran into insolvency to his dirty campaign tactics. It will focus as well on Inhofe’s atrocious record on economic, health, energy, environmental, military and government spending issues. It will show how Inhofe has consistently hurt the state’s image.)

“I am a businessman.  And as a businessman I can tell you that I would not do business with Jim Inhofe because as his past behavior shows, you can’t trust him”-U.S. Senate candidate Tony Caldwell (“Opponent Criticizes Inhofe Financial Deals-Congressman Rebuts Caldwell,” The  Daily Oklahoman, August 19, 1994)

“When political sleaze starts bubbling up, you’ll almost always find Jim Inhofe nearby.  So it is no surprise that Inhofe was a key player in the scandal that dethroned Richard Roberts at Oral Roberts University.”-John M. Wylie, editor of the Oologah Lake Leader, “Political Scene,” November 29, 2007

Political and media pundits often focus on the issue of personal “character” when it comes to candidates running for office, so why has 73-year-old U.S.  Sen. Jim Inhofe been given a free pass during his political career?

It is well documented that through the years, the Republican Inhofe ran a insurance company into receivership, was caught in lies about when he graduated from college, engaged in slimy campaign tactics, made a bigoted speech on the Senate floor and been mentioned as a possible witness in the ongoing legal mess at Oral Roberts University.

For the most part, Inhofe has avoided careful scrutiny because the biased, rightwing Oklahoma corporate media has supported him at the expense of basic rationality and the state’s interest.  Certainly, the media here has sporadically covered Inhofe’s business failure and his lies about his college degree, but it has often avoided the basic, overall character issue.  The bottom line is that both the corporate media here and Inhofe are complicit in corrupting a political system that desperately needs change.

Inhofe has been a part of the Oklahoma political scene since the 1960s. He has served as a state representative, state senator, Tulsa mayor, U.S. House Representative and U.S. Senator.  He has run for governor and lost. He is currently running for reelection against state Sen. Andrew Rice.

Along the way, Inhofe has been involved in a number of controversies.  Some of these controversies have a direct bearing on how we should define his character.  Here is a partial list:

Business Failure

Inhofe was operating the Quaker Life Insurance Company when it was placed into receivership in 1986.   Inhofe was running for Congress at the time.  The Oklahoma Insurance Commission had to take control of the business.  A spokesperson for Inhofe in 1986 blamed the economy in exaggerated hyperbole for the company’s insolvency, saying, “Oklahoma is undergoing a depression right  now . . . ” (Griff Palmer, “Candidate Reorganizes Business,” The Daily Oklahoman, August 7, 1986.)  Later, Inhofe was sued by his brother, Perry, in what appeared to be a major family business dispute involving loans.  Inhofe then sued his brother. There were also allegations that Quaker Life Insurance violated the law. At one point, the company’s stockholders sued Inhofe for mismanagement, though all the legal issues were eventually “resolved” in Inhofe’s favor, according to then editorial writer Patrick McGuigan writing for The Daily Oklahoman in 1994.   But, remember, McGuigan was once known as one of the most conservative editorial writers in the country.

Inhofe’s business troubles were a real mess.  But what is important to note is the receivership issue, which showed Inhofe’s flawed business acumen and his suspect judgment.  Essentially, Inhofe operated a company that went into insolvency, much like he has allowed the federal government to accrue a massive deficit during President’s George Bush’s reign.   This is a form of receivership, too, because taxpayers (rather than stockholders) have to foot the bill.

Tony Caldwell, a Republican who ran against Inhofe in his first U.S. Senate race in 1994 put it this way: “Certainly no banker with any judgment would lend him [Inhofe] money.  I don’t know anyone who would buy a used car from him. . . . ”

Degree Lies

So when did Jim Inhofe graduate from the University of Tulsa? According to John Greiner, writing in The Daily Oklahoman in 1994, “For 35 years, in political biographies, engagement announcements and alumni directories, Inhofe said he graduated from the University of Tulsa in 1959 with a degree in economics”  (“Degree Disparity Surprises Inhofe,” The Daily Oklahoman, September 17, 1994). But later it was discovered he did not graduate from the university until 1973 when he served as a state senator.  Why did Inhofe lie about his degree date on these documents? Was he embarrassed that he hadn’t graduated earlier as a more traditional student?

Dirty Politics

Inhofe is known as one of Oklahoma’s most negative campaigners.  In 1994, for example, as he ran for U.S. Senate, a pro-Inhofe heckler wearing a Pinocchio nose appeared at a debate.  The heckler was “a paid political thug,” according to Inhofe’s opponent, Dave McCurdy.  Later the heckler was discovered to be Rob Anders, a paid Inhofe campaign worker (Chris Casteel, “McCurdy Camp Not Laughing at Paid Inhofe Heckler,” The Daily Oklahoman, October 28, 1994). During the campaign, Inhofe ran ads depicting McCurdy growing a Pinocchio nose.  This is the typical political style that has defined Inhofe and much of the GOP in the last two decades.

Bigot Pride

On June 6, 2006,  standing on the Senate floor before a large photograph of his family, Inhofe said, “I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.”

Inhofe, of course, can oppose basic rights for gay people all he wants as part of GOP demonization politics, but this particular comment is truly bigoted, hateful and inane.  It is the word “proud” that sticks out there. Why would anyone be “proud” about their family members’ sexual orientations?   What type of person would make the effort to investigate the sexual preferences of their family?  Is it a form of twisted narcissism, which can be part of a character or personality disorder, to stand in front of a family photograph on the Senate floor and brag about the family members’ sexuality? Inhofe’s remarks were widely distributed just because of their basic nastiness and creepiness. The state’s image suffered yet again.

ORU Scandal

Inhofe was recently listed as a possible witness in a lawsuit against Oral Roberts University brought by a professor who claimed he was forced to use his students to help get Randi Miller elected as Tulsa mayor. (You can read about the issue here.) Newspaper reports show that Inhofe urged Miller to run for mayor and had a relationship with ORU staff.  One emerging issue is whether ORU violated its nonprofit status by forcing students to work on a specific politica
l campaign.  Did Inhofe know?

Richard Roberts, former ORU president, recently resigned after coming under fire for his lavish lifestyle and management of the university.

One Oklahoma editor, John M. Wylie of the Oologah Lake Leader, summed up Inhofe’s ORU connection this way, “When political sleaze starts bubbling up, you’ll almost always find Jim Inhofe nearby.  So it is no surprise that Inhofe was a key player in the scandal that dethroned Richard Roberts at Oral Roberts University.”

This is by no means an exhaustive list of issues related to Inhofe’s character.  The fact remains that controversy surrounds Inhofe consistently, whether it is his failed business, his lies about his college degree or his outrageous comments on the Senate floor.