It’s an occupational hazard for all writers. Someone beats you to the punch with the perfect punchline. It happened to me twice recently.
First, Egberto Willies, writing for Daily Kos, assessed the current situation in Washington and arrived at “political malpractice.” I will be using that term and likely modifying into many other non-medical fields. I doubt if we could find a more appropriate characterization of Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled Legislature than rampant political malpractice. That point was hammered home last week when former Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson addressed the monthly meeting of Comanche County Democrats.
Edmondson deplored the current state of education in the state. School teachers need a series of raises to bring them back up to par with neighboring states. Furthermore, Edmondson said, the Republican-controlled Legislature, ignoring the continuing increases in operating costs, have not increased the Average Daily Attendance funding in seven years. Then, too, Oklahoma has had “more cuts in higher education than any state in the nation.”
Another example of this “seven years of neglect,” according to Edmondson is the recent announcement that the Department of Human Services will be attaching fees up to $10 on child support payments. Edmondson also pointed to funding cuts to DHS that reduced nutrition programs for seniors and resulted in enormous workloads for DHS case workers. While I was sitting there thinking about Republican “political malpractice,” Edmondson observed, “Every time I watch what the Legislature has done, I wish we could tax ‘Stupid.’”
A second instance of another writer hitting the bull’s-eye came in my Sierra Club newsletter, where Johnson Bridgewater commented on industry advertising touting “natural” gas.
“But the truth of the matter is that there is nothing ‘natural’ about it. It is actually FRACKED GAS, and it should be referred to as such….”fracked gas’ needs to become the standard term for this dirty fossil fuel.” He continues, “Unfortunately language is a powerful reality, and coining the term ‘natural gas’ has led millions of people to view this toxic substance as a ‘safe, friendly alternative’ to coal. However, fracked gas is just as harmful and polluting as other fossil fuels.”
After outlining the detrimental aspect of fracked gas, Bridgewater concludes: ”Fracking is polluting our state and fracking production has produced 8.7 trillion gallons of waste that have been injected under Oklahoma and caused more than 20,000 earthquakes.”
Furthermore, that liberal media mouthpiece up in the capital city headlined a story last week: “Oil association report points to hundreds of damaged wells,” revealing how the horizontal drilling allowed to the frackers has resulted in damage to 450 vertical wells in Kingfisher County alone, according to the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance.
Seems like our politically malpracticing Legislature increased the horizontal reach for the frackers earlier this year while they were doing nothing about the budget or the problems cited above. Echoing Bridgewater’s observation about the power of language, former Oklahoma State Senator and Democratic candidate for governor Connie Johnson has recently taken umbrage at the Feds for rebranding the social security check.
“The government is now referring to our Social Security checks as a ‘Federal Benefit Payment.’ This isn’t a benefit. It is our money paid out of our earned income! Not only did we all contribute to Social Security, but our employers did, too. It totaled 15 percent of our income before taxes.”
She further excoriates the misuse of Social Security funds, calling it “a bigger ponzi scheme than Bernie Madoff ever did….And, now, to add insult to injury, they’re calling it a ‘benefit,’ as if we never worked to earn every penny of it.”
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)