Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

Oklahoma Democrats Need 2010 Governor Win

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Image of Tom ColeImage of Mary Fallin

U.S. Reps. Mary Fallin and Tom Cole said they are contemplating running for governor in 2010.

The Republicans, pictured right, join Democrats Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma Attorney General, and Jari Askins, Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor, in publicly announcing they may run for the position. Current Gov. Grad Henry finishes his second and last term in 2010.

All four potential candidates have solid name recognition throughout the state and could run competitive races depending on the particular political circumstances in 2010.

If Republicans capture the governor’s seat and maintain their majorities in the Oklahoma House and Senate, the state will obviously become even more conservative in its politics.   This could isolate the state even more from the national political scene and further damage its image.  This, in turn, could hurt economic development.

The Republican fiscal ideology of the last eight years–many would say the last three decades–has been soundly repudiated and rejected, but this won’t stop conservatives here from clinging to failed ideas.

The best chance for Democrats to maintain some political balance in the state could be winning the governor’s race in 2010 rather than individual legislative races.  This doesn’t mean Democrats should concede any given race, of course, but it does mean they absolutely must win the governor’s position to check the GOP’s radical agenda.

The economy may well be the major issue in 2010, but the state’s biased, corporate media, including The Oklahoman, which serves as a propaganda ministry for the GOP, will spin events and facts to favor conservative candidates.  Watch the media here, for example, try to rewrite the disastrous Bush presidency as the months go on and as President Barack Obama attempts to revive the economy and restore the country’s world stature.

The larger questions loom: How can Democrats stop the continuing conservative juggernaut in Oklahoma? Is it even possible given the state’s low college education levels, its right-wing religious folks and ultra-conservative corporate media?  If it’s not possible, then what are the best strategies for Democrats to make a difference in their Oklahoma communities? How does the state’s continuing brain drain affect the political situation?

Here is a poll about a possible Fallin/Cole match in the Republican primary. (You can find a poll about the potential Democratic candidates here.) Feel free to leave a comment.

(Update: State Sen. Randy Brodgon, also a Republican, has said he may run for governor as well.)

(This was initially posted on Okie Funk.–Kurt Hochenauer)

Where does Oklahoma want to be politically for the next few years?

Cross-posted from my blog, Peace Arena.

On Nov. 4, Oklahomans have a serious question to ask themselves before voting: Do they want to be stuck with two Senators and all but one of their Representatives in the minority party for the foreseeable future, or do they want to be seriously involved in governing this country, solving our collective problems and moving into the future?

Because, unless something unexpected happens before, or something illegal happens on Election Day, the Democratic Party is going to control both houses of Congress — probably by a considerable margin — as well as the White House, come January 20, 2009.

Members of the minority party, meanwhile, simply will be keeping their seats warm, having have no real power.

If Andrew Rice, the Democrat who is challenging Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, is elected, he will be part of that national majority, and able to represent Oklahoma’s interests in Washington during the next six years, which I happen to think he will do very well. But even if you disagree with him on many issues, at least you will be able to contact a member of the ruling party to influence legislation. The other option is to send Inhofe back, where he will continue to suffer the precipitous decline of his status and influence to shape anything other than the cushion of his chair. In the latter outcome, Oklahoma will have no serious voice in the world-changing debate and decisions that are looming before us — in security, the environment, energy, the economy, et. al.

It’s really that simple.

I hope Oklahomans will think about whether they want to have any participation or power in making the changes that are coming. This election could be their one chance for that to happen.

The Oklahoma deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election is Oct. 10. Check here for how to register, or to confirm your registration.

T. Boone Pickens flees from Q&A at Dem. Conv. about his "energy plan"

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Plutonium Page has posted to Daily Kos a diary which helps to expose some important background information about T. Boone Pickens and his “plan” that supposedly will liberate us from foreign oil.

T. Boone Pickens’ Fancy Sales Pitch

Devilstower and I just went to a talk here at the DNC featuring T. Boone Pickens. Everyone was under the impression that the event would involve an actual discussion (as in, a Q & A session, like nearly all of the other Big Tent special topic sessions). We had a really energetic live blog thread going, where all of you were submitting questions.

Sorry, guys. Apparently, the whole thing was just a sales pitch.  T. Boone hightailed it out of there before anyone could even raise their hand.

I’ll post some excerpts below, but really, go to the original, where you can also read the comments, which are just as illuminating.

Maybe he was afraid we’d ask questions like:

   

In 2004, you helped pay for the Swift Boat ads, along with fellow billionaire Harold Simmons, who’s funding the Ayres attack ads this cycle. If you’re willing to tolerate, and even encourage, that level of dishonesty in political discourse, why should we trust you on any subject?

   (From Devilstower)

I wanted to ask him:


   Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma is well known for saying that global warming is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” and is one of the most outspoken climate change science deniers around, as well as being joined at the hip with the oil companies.

   In your presentation today, you specifically said that you “believe global warming is real”.

   

However, you have heavily funded James Inhofe’s campaign.  How do you reconcile your support for Inhofe with your promotion of renewable energy programs?

From an energy expert acquaintance via email:

   

Can you please explain why people should take your plan seriously when, for example, you do not include any energy efficiency measures within it?

For a real and honest debate on the topic of energy policy, see the liveblogging thread.

On which Devilstower summed up the Pickens Plan with this update:

Update [2008-8-27 15:7:47 by Devilstower]: And T. Boone heads for the door without taking a single question. Which makes the whole presentation worth about as much as day old spit.

Update:

This comment on the Daily Kos thread explains the real motivation behind Pickens’ Plan — and it ain’t altruism, folks.

 Again, Here Is Picken’s Profit Play

I’m involved in this industry.  His play is rather transparent.  He is cornering the retail CNG (compressed natural Gas) and LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) fueling stations through his entity Clean Energy Fuels Corp.  He’s pretty much already accomplished this in Texas by purchasing all of the CNG/LNG stations there form the state utility company.  He is also working to do it in Oklahoma and California right now.  These three states plus Utah are the big prize because they have the fueling station infrastructure already in place.  

This is how he hopes to make it big.  It’s extremely simple.  The fueling stations are supplied by CNG that gets the fuel wholesale for about $.50/gallon.  In fact, if you go to a CNG station now in Oklahoma, you can get CNG for something just above that, or about $.85/gallon.  Boone wants to get into these stations and raise the price to the public to about $2.50/gallon and he wants to do this prior to the everybody converting to CNG – That way no public outcry b/c no one realizes that he has increased prices and public thinks they are getting great deal b/c CNG still a lot cheaper than gas.

Of course this only works if people convert to CNG.  That’s why Pickens is spending tens of millions of dollars(personally and through his subsidiary Clean Energy Finance) to promote and incentivize the conversions.  If all this works (the conversions happen and he corners the retail CNG market in just the 4 states mentioned above), Pickens would quickly become the wealthiest person in the world and would be profiting hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

That’s the deal.  

by JCPOK on Wed Aug 27, 2008 at 03:11:56 PM CDT

OK Dems call for Inhofe to return donations from indicted Stevens

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The Democratic Party of Oklahoma has called for Senator Jim Inhofe to return “tainted” money he received from Sen. Ted Stevens, who was indicted today corruption charges. The Oklahoma politician is running for re-election this year, and got $10,000 from Stevens political PAC for his campaign.

The campaign of Andrew Rice, Inhofe’s Democratic chanllenger, posted in a blog, “Today, the differences between Andrew Rice and his opponent, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, became even clearer.”

Senator Elizabeth Dole donated her money from Stevens to charity earlier today. A similar call has been made to Oregon Senator Gordon Smith.  

ODP Press Release: http://www.andrewforoklahoma.c…

Inhofe Should Return Money He Received From Indicted Senator

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 29, 2008) Oklahoma’s U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe should return $12,000 in campaign contributions that he has received from indicted fellow U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Ivan Holmes said today.

Sen. Stevens was charged today with seven counts of making false statements, according to a 28-page federal grand jury indictment, regarding payments of more than $250,000 in goods and services he allegedly received from an oil company.  The items include home improvements, autos and household items.

“This is a classic example of why Americans have lost faith in Washington,” Holmes said.  “Senator Stevens has been very generous to his good friend Jim Inhofe, whom we know is also close to big oil companies.   Now we know that the money may be tainted and I believe our Senator needs to come clean,” Holmes said.

The Northern Lights Political Action Committee was formed by Stevens to raise money and help his fellow Republican colleagues stay elected.   The Stevens PAC contributed the maximum of $10,000 to Inhofe’s 2008 re-election committee, according to Federal Election Commission reports.  He contributed another $2000 to Inhofe for his 2002 campaign.   (2/11/02 – $2000; 6/22/05-$1000; 6/14/07-$4000; 4/15/08-$5000)

“Even though Senator Stevens’ legal problems have been known for more than a year, Senator Inhofe still agreed to take his contributions,” Holmes said.  “If he wants Oklahomans to believe he is not part of the problem in Washington, Inhofe should return the contributions he received from his indicted friend,” Holmes added.

According to the indictments Stevens knowingly and intentionally sought to conceal and cover up his receipt of things of value by filing financial disclosure forms that contained false statements and omissions concerning Stevens’ receipt of these things of value.

“Oklahomans are tired of the cozy relationship between Senators and lobbyists in Washington and the Stevens case is “the last straw,” Holmes said.

David and Barack

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Image of David Boren

“Senator Obama is also a person of sound and good judgment. He had the good judgment more than five years ago to warn against our involvement in this tragic and costly war. He also understands the need to repair our partnerships with other nations and to more effectively use diplomacy to serve our national interests.”-David Boren

David Boren’s recent endorsement of Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama is an oasis of hope for the state when compared to Oklahoma’s growing national reputation as a right-wing, intolerant haven for gay bashers and immigrant haters.

His endorsement also could be read as a wake up call to academics in the state.  In a statement related to the endorsement, Boren, pictured right, president of the University of Oklahoma, said, “I am joining Senator Barack Obama’s advisory team on foreign policy and national security because I believe it is my duty as a citizen to do all I can to help our country at this critical moment. Our strength is declining.  Eighty-one percent of Americans believe we are heading in the wrong direction. We must act quickly to meet and overcome the challenges we face.”

In other words, the country’s political systems are broken.  Oklahoma academics, using Boren as an example, should get involved in this presidential election as citizens “at this critical moment” in history no matter whom they support and that includes the Republican presumptive nominee John McCain.  There needs to be real debate and dialogue among Americans about the country’s direction.  Now more than ever, academics are crucial in starting and maintaining this debate.  A real debate will not be fostered by mainstream media outlets, which are stuck in tabloid-like rhetorical frames, a lazy, laughable “gotcha” flag pin reporting that has very little meaning in today’s world.  The recent ABC “debate” hosted by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos represented a new low in meaningless, tabloid television.

Boren, a former U.S. Senator, told the Tulsa World, “I am not acting on behalf of the University of Oklahoma. This will in no way impact my work at the university.”  This is true. But Boren’s endorsement, along with his stature and position in Oklahoma higher education, tells other academics here and elsewhere that the current political situation in this country demands more direct participation in the process from professors and college administrators.  Perhaps, some state education leaders will even come to believe now they can abandon the neoconservative experiment, which continues to underfund education here at all levels.  

Boren will serve on Obama’s advisory team on foreign policy.  Boren was joined in his endorsement with Sam Nunn, a former U.S. Senator from Georgia, who will also serve on Obama’s foreign policy team.  Boren once served as leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Nunn was head of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Both Boren and Nunn are known as moderate to conservative Democrats.

Boren recently hosted a bipartisan summit at OU, which was attended by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who some in the media have speculated might run as an independent for president this year.  Boren’s and Nunn’s decision to support Obama indicates Bloomberg will probably not run.

I was highly critical of the bipartisan summit, arguing it was merely a cover for a Bloomberg presidential bid.  (One of my posts on the event was even featured in the Blog Report on Salon.com.)  I argued that Obama, in fact, seemed more independent-minded than Bloomberg, who is a former Democrat, then Republican, now turned independent.   In light of Boren’s endorsement, however, I find myself reconsidering the purpose of the summit.  Perhaps, jaded as much as anyone else with the current political milieu, I did not give enough credit to Boren’s stated intentions to help break the gridlock in Washington and the division that has dominated the country under President George Bush’s administration.

According to a statement released by the Obama campaign, Boren praised the presidential contender’s non-partisan approach.  Boren said, “Our most urgent task is to end the divisions in our country, to stop the political bickering, and to unite our talents and efforts. Americans of all persuasions are pleading with our political leaders to bring us together. I believe Senator Obama is sincerely committed to that effort. He has made a non-partisan approach to all issues a top priority.”

Oklahoma has taken a lot of hits lately when it comes to its national reputation.  First, state Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Moore) authored a bill that created the strictest laws in the nation targeting illegal-immigrants.  Many Hispanic people-those here legally and not-have left the state because of the new laws.  This has generated terrible publicity for the state. Then, state Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) was caught on tape delivering her now famous anti-gay rant that has made her and the state a scourge.  The state continues to have never-ending problems, as publicized study after study shows the nation, in providing decent health care to its citizens.

Boren’s endorsement of Obama, covered by media outlets across the country, shows the world Oklahoma is home to some reasoned and rational people who understand, like a majority of Americans, the country now faces a crisis at home and abroad and a major change in the country’s direction is necessary.  

Grist Interviews Andrew Rice

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State Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma), who is running for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Jim Inhofe this year, was recently interviewed by Grist, a prominent online magazine dedicated to environmental issues.

Here is the interview.

In the interview, Rice, pictured right, discussed his campaign against Inhofe, who once called global warming a hoax and fights against any federal legislation addressing climate change. Rice also discussed how fighting climate change could benefit the Oklahoma economy.

Rice said, “This is a win-win for Oklahoma, particularly around wind energy. We’re really in a position to be able to provide clean, renewable energy [to nearby states].

“I’ve got two bills [in the state Senate], one that’s going to be converting our state vehicles to alternative fuels, and another that’s going to be doing an energy-efficiency study of our schools and state buildings, trying to find ways to save money. I have rural Republican state Senate colleagues who were very supportive of these ethanol, biofuel, wind-energy initiatives we have; it’s not a partisan issue for them, because they have constituents in their communities poised to benefit from developing these programs.”

Rice’s positions on climate change are reasonable and responsible and stand in marked contrast to Inhofe’s over-the-top, anti-environment rhetoric, which has embarrassed the state.

Click here to get involved with Rice’s campaign.

Inhofe, Newspaper Deny Ice Storm Reality

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The prevailing political partnership between U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and The Daily Oklahoman will lead to even more severe ice storms like the one Oklahoma experienced last week.

This is because the state’s largest newspaper continues to support Inhofe and his wild claims denying the impact of climate change on the state and nation. (Click on the image to the right.  An Inhofe interview comes on in about two minutes.)  Meanwhile, a state climatologist, Derek Arndt, said last week’s ice storm was part of a pattern produced by warmer winters in Oklahoma. In past decades, the ice might have turned to snow-far less dangerous and destructive than ice-before falling to the ground.

Last week’s storm was blamed for the deaths of 23 people here.  More than 600,000 people were without power at one point.  About 125,000 people still remain without power.  The storm killed or damaged thousands of trees in the state.

Inhofe and the newspaper’s editorial board do not get it, and the state will obviously suffer through frequent, horrific ice storms in the future because of it.

As everyone in the world knows, Inhofe has called global warming a hoax, and he continues to deny that climate change is caused at least partially by carbon emissions.  Reputable scientists throughout the world argue otherwise. The evidence is overwhelming. Inhofe, with the newspaper’s tacit approval, will not even engage in an intelligent conversation about it.  It seems perfectly fitting he represents a state that is probably experiencing more destructive storms caused by global warming than anywhere else in the nation right now.

The Oklahoman actually published an editorial today (“Nobel cause: Gore’s triumphs heat warming debate,” December 17, 2007) that argues global warming and the causes for it are abstract arguments, not reality.  Here is a paragraph that represents the mentality of the newspaper and Inhofe on the issue:

“So is Gore right, or does he wield the biggest megaphone? Are humans causing global warming, or does that notion have exaggerated acceptance because so many environmentalists, activists and government bureaucracies are pushing it – with philosophically aligned, awards-giving groups like the Nobel committee and Hollywood following them?”

What makes this editorial especially appalling is that it comes at a time when thousands of Oklahomans are still without electricity after suffering through a storm experts say was ultimately caused by warmer winters.  The ignorance here is almost suffocating.  Instead of looking into the issue of warmer winters in Oklahoma, the state’s largest newspaper and Inhofe sink further into the right-wing abyss of paranoia and conspiracy theories.

What if Inhofe and the newspaper would have promoted an active response to global warming starting ten, twenty years ago?  Would this recent ice storm have even occurred? These are good questions to ask.

The Oklahoman is a huge monopoly still operated by the Gaylord family.  Its publisher, Christy Gaylord Everest, is the daughter of the late Edward L. Gaylord, who turned the newspaper into a propaganda ministry for extremists in the Republican Party during the 1980s.  There is very little you can do to fight this monopoly, which is mostly despised throughout the state.

But you can fight to unseat Inhofe.  State Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma) is running against Inhofe in the 2008 election.  Rice will consider the evidence for global warming and determine, along with experts in the field, the best course of action for the state and nation. He will take a serious and intelligent look at how the state’s warmer winters are causing more of these terrible and deadly ice storms.  Is there anything we can do?