Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

Conservatives are Killing America

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The conservative response to poverty is to blame poor people for being poor while denying them the means to escape their poverty. Conservatives blame the poor for not getting a job, but fail to realize how their attitude towards spending for the public good insures that the poor will always be with us and that we all will be the poorer for it.

In Oklahoma, one of the most conservative states in the nation, this can clearly be seen in our refusal to improve our public transportation system. In a word, it is horrible. In Oklahoma City buses run highly limited routes with very restrictive hours. How then is a poor person to have reliable, flexible transportation in order to commute to and from work? The poor typically must purchase older model, used cars from “We Carry the Note” dealers at usurious interest rates. These cars come equipped with built-in maintenance problems making them prone to breakdowns that require expensive repairs. Without good transportation, finding and keeping a job is even more of a struggle for those already at society’s margins.

Transportation is only one of a myriad number of problems the poor face in finding and keeping work. Added to the problem of basic transportation are expensive and inadequate early child care, an early childhood education system under-funded and under attack from conservatives, a paucity of after school programs, and a health insurance “system” that forces the working poor to face illness without medical attention resulting in sick or absent workers.

However, when it is proposed that we as a society do something to address these needs such as build the sort of modern public transportation system found in most of the industrialized world, conservatives go into a hissy fit about “class warfare”, “wealth redistribution”, “tax and spend” ignoring the fact that by helping the poor work, we help America work. Often they divert attention from real solutions to the problem of poverty by blaming immigrants, unions, public education, minorities, socialism or whatever is this season’s scapegoat for our social ills. They do so to save their self-centered attitude towards life.

Jesus warned his followers those who try to save their lives will lose them. Conservatives in particular, need to heed his warning. Saving ourselves, looking out only for ourselves and expecting poor Americans to do to the same is the surest way for us to die as a nation.

I Hope the Republicans Succeed

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The Republican Party has taken over nearly all branches of state government in Oklahoma largely because they were able to nationalize the issues in the state races and make this round of local elections a referendum on Pres. Obama and the national Democratic Party.

When Sen. Obama was elected to the White House in 2008, Rush Limbaugh and others on the fringe right loudly voiced their desire to see the president “fail” because they feared that his policies, which they saw as contrary to their ideology, would succeed and be made permanent. They were cynically willing to see ordinary Americans suffer in order to serve a political end.

I am liberal and proud to be so. However, I am not so much of an ideologue that I would wish my fellow Oklahomans anything but the best out of their government, which they voted for in very large numbers. I want their suffering due to the present recession to end, and I am not particularly concerned about who gets the credit. If Republican policies produce a better life for all Oklahomans, then bring them on and make them the law of our land.

What I am concerned about is that this government, and this goes for any government, deal with all its citizen justly. That they do all they can to respect and enhance human dignity, deal rightly with those who are most vulnerable in our society like the very old and very young, and work to make our presence on this planet more sustainable.

I am skeptical of the Oklahoma’s Republican Party’s ability to do this since it seems to me that they long ago sold their soul to rich and powerful who have little interest in the those who have been marginalized in our culture other than to provide them with a docile labor and consumer population. Their concern is for the short-term bottom line rather than the type of environment that will be inherited 7 generations hence.

But I hope that I am wrong. I wish to see my home state prosper. I wish to know that our choices have created better lives for our children and their children’s children. Of course, I am going to be taking an active role in creating this success, and if this means that the Republicans claim justification for their victory, then so be it.  

My Wife and I Waited 4 Hours to Vote on Saturday.

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Cat, my wife, and I went to vote early today at the Oklahoma County Election Board.

We had heard that the average voting time on Friday, the first day of early voting in Oklahoma, was about 3 hours. So we were prepared for a long wait.

Still it was amazing and wonderful to see the line to the polling place stretch out some 6 or 7 blocks out from the Election Board and down the street in front of the site. We ended up waiting 4 hours to vote, but was well worth it.

Over 5000 people voted on Friday when the polls were open from 8-6. Today, they closed at 1pm, but I expect the total voting will approach yesterday’s total.

The crowd seemed to be overwhelmingly pro-Obama and Democratic Party. I did not see one person wearing campaign material for McCain or any Republican. I saw many wearing buttons and shirts supporting Obama and other Democrats, including moi.

I wore my “Super Obama” t-shirt that I got from

It caused a great reaction, as you might imagine. I had several people ask to take my picture. There was even a camera crew of students from the University of Oklahoma doing a documentary about the presidential race who saw the shirt and asked for an interview.

We had a great time, and it did not seem like it took 4 hours, till we got finished and realized that our legs were very sore from standing around on the parking lot surface for so long. Still it was a small price to pay to be able to take part in history!  

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Doin' the Lord's Work at the Phone Bank

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Dana Orwig for OK House, District 87

Last night, I did a couple of hours of phone banking for Dana Orwig, who is running for the Oklahoma state legislature. This was a part of the Oklahoma City-American of Federation of Teachers’ effort to elect public school friendly legislators. I belong to the OKC-AFT, Local 2309.

Phone banking is one of the least popular yet most effective forms of volunteer campaigning. What I was doing was calling fellow AFT members to identify them as pro-Dana, negative or undecided. This is one of the easiest forms of phone banking, made all the more easy because Dana has been a very hard working candidate. Many of those I contacted have met Dana personally and plan to vote for her. A couple have been active in her campaign.

Still, you contact the occasional “grump” who doesn’t want to talk, or lets you know that it is NOYDB who they are voting for. You wish these folks would give you credit for being an active citizen, but there is nothing you can do about them.

I’m not trying to brag on myself (okay, maybe just a little), but I do wonder why more of us don’t do something to show we are serious about this thing we call citizenship.

I don’t know how many Americans do volunteer work in campaigns. Someone, somewhere must know the percentage, but I guess that it must be less than 5% who do.

I’m of a religious frame of mind, so when I tell those I am working with that we are “Doing the Lord’s work.” And by that I mean that anything that we do in the cause of justice for all must be advancing us towards that day when we realize “justice for all” as being something more than words mumbled when we do the Pledge of Allegiance.

With all the campaigns going on, there is far more need than there are workers to do them. So, I’d encourage everyone to “Do the Lord’s Work” in whatever capacity suits you.

No matter what you do, you’ll feel like you’re a “Real American.”

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The Importance of Powell's Endorsement

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This is a major development.

First, it absolutely ends the “pals around with terrorist” slime that Palin has been slinging around.

Second, it vettes Obama in the one area McCain has had a slight advantage: foreign policy.

Third, it insures that Obama will be able to hold on to the headlines for the next 3 or 4 days. This is time that McCain desperately needs to shift the momentum of the race.

Finally, it trumps the Lieberman endorsement of McCain. Lieberman has no standing in the Democratic Party since he went Independent. I fully expect him to be dismissed from the Democratic caucus if the Democrats fall short of getting to the magic 60 in the election (or if they can get it without him). Powell, on the other hand, is still respected by many moderate Republicans and most Independents.

We could see the “Obamamentum” become a tsunami. At least, I hope so.

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Keating Tries to Slime Obama

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Frank Keating never should have been governor of Oklahoma for one term let alone two. He would have never won in 1994 if there had not been a strong third party candidate in the race who took away votes from traditionally Democratic southeastern Oklahoma. The Murrah Bombing kept him in office for another term. Once out of office, he has been floundering around to get back in. Bush turned him down as a possible Attorney General when it was revealed Keating had been given a $250,000 “scholarship” from a donor who wanted to promote a scheme to drug prisoners.

Later his wife and son were defeated in their Republican primaries when they ran for Congress and the Oklahoma legislature respectively.

Keating now is a flunkie for the McCain campaign. Recently, he reflected McCain desperate attempt to tear down Obama’s character with the following interview with Dennis Miller, comedian and conservative radio talk show host:

“He ought to admit, ‘You know, I’ve got to be honest with you. I was a guy of the street. I was way to the left. I used cocaine. I voted liberally, but I’m back at the center,'” Keating, a co-chair of McCain’s campaign, said Obama should tell voters. “I mean, I understand the big picture of America. But he hasn’t done that.”

“Man of the street”? Frank, don’t talk in codes to us. Go ahead and admit that you want to remind us that Barack is black.  

To Sarah Palin: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

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Sarah Palin’s main strategy was to stick to her set of “talking points” even when they had no relevance to the questions she was asked. It’s a common, if deplorable, tactic that allows the responder to stay off areas where she doesn’t have a clue.

It can get you into trouble, though, if your attempt to turn the discussion gets you caught in a lie, which is what happened when the topic turned to federal bankruptcy laws. Biden stated that he believed that homeowners facing foreclosures on their first homes should have the right to petition for relief from the principals they owe. He stated:

“[W]e should be allowing bankruptcy courts to be able to re-adjust not just the interest rate you’re paying on your mortgage to be able to stay in your home, but be able to adjust the principal that you owe, the principal that you owe,” said Biden. “That would keep people in their homes, actually help banks by keeping it from going under.

“But John McCain, as I understand it,” he continued, “I’m not sure of this, but I believe John McCain and the governor don’t support that. There are ways to help people now. And there — ways that we’re offering are not being supported by — by the Bush administration nor do I believe by John McCain and Governor Palin.”

PBS’ Gwen Ifill turned to Palin and asked, “Governor Palin, is that so?”

“That is not so,” said Palin, “but because that’s just a quick answer.”

The Alaska governor then quickly changed the subject to energy. (source: ABC News)

So, Governor Palin, in her haste to get away from a topic she was either unpreped to answer or just didn’t want to answer, made a false statement about her campaigns position. When ABC asked the McCain campaign if the governor was right, they had to that Palin “misstated” McCain’s position.

Occasionally, I would be caught in a position where I didn’t want to get blamed for something I did. I would say whatever parents would want to hear to get me ought of trouble. Later, when the truth came out, my mother’s term for my “misstatement” was “Lying.”  

The ABC Source;…