The Time Is Here; The Place Is Now

sheri3LAWTON – Warning against comfortable complacency, Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson challenged those at the Comanche County Democratic Party banquet Oct. 13 “to become a beacon of change” and to “continue to do the work” as they work to correct the ills they see in the world.

The founder of Black Lives of Matter of Oklahoma, Dickerson cautioned those who would prefer to be “comfortable” that many people “don’t have the luxury of being comfortable. We don’t want you to be sorry,” she said, “We do want you to be different.”
Dickerson said that people who care about the country are faced with foes who are “selfish, cruel, cowards,” referring to President Trump as a man with “small hands and a narrow mind,” and sizing up many of the opposition as not having “a lick of sense – and not trying to find it.”
“This is a struggle for the soul of this country,” Dickerson said, “its moral center.”
She encouraged those in the crowd to start their crusade right where they are now. Quoting her uncle, Benjamin Hooks – a former executive director of the NAACP – Dickerson said, “You don’t have to leave Oklahoma to find the work.”
Acknowledging the rising tide of racism in American society, she said that the forces for positive change had worked too long, too hard and sacrificed too much to stop now when confronted with new challenges.
Pointing out that Trump seemed unaware that Puerto Ricans “are us and deserve our support,” Dickerson said, too, that it was past time for calling out the fools and coward for what they are. “The will show himself without our help.”
She encouraged one-on-one, face-to-face dialog with others to show them that they “are worth my time” and prodded those in the crowd to “reveal your scars” accumulated in the struggle for justice.
Turning her attention to state politics, Dickerson said the Legislature had “worked harder” to pass a Blue Lives Matter bill than it had on securing the health and welfare of the young and old people of Oklahoma.
She assured the assemblage that “that building on 23rd and Lincoln belonged to everyone and not just the special interests.
The “marginalized” people in society, Dickerson said, are “tired of your apologies” since “they don’t help us to survive or encourage us to go forward.”
Instrumental in implementing positive change, she added, is getting people to the polls for voting.
“The revolution is not free,” Dickerson said. “The movement comes at a cost.”
She encouraged the crowd to “continue to be uncomfortable” and to make sure the complacent are uncomfortable as well. “Continue to do the work.”

(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)

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Yes, Connie Johnson Candidate for Governor Expresses Support for SQ788.

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That Was the Week That Wasn’t

Last week has to be judged a success for Oklahoma Republican legislators. They managed a full week in the big city without one of them getting busted for lewd behavior though Mr. Law and Order, Rep. Scott Biggs of Chickasha, was outed for late filings of campaign contributions.

As predicted by everyone capable of reading the state constitution, the regular session’s cigarette tax could not be disguised as a “fee” when it came before the State Supreme Court. Thus, our steadily declining state budget was hit with a $215 million deficit, which became a $500 million budget hole since it now includes lost matching federal funds, according to Barbara Hoberock of the Tulsa World.

People knew the “fee as tax” subterfuge was not going to work. After the Supreme Court threw it out, people knew that a special session was going to be necessary. After Gov. Mary Fallin called the special session, legislative leaders had another ten days or so to prepare.

So, GOPers arrived in Oklahoma City last week with no plan except to blame the 28 Democrats in the House for the inaction of the 73 Republicans.

The governor herself arose from her lethargy with a budget plan. In keeping with the GOP’s record of transparent government, it was “presented Wednesday behind closed doors,” Hoberock reports.

The key to this plan is still that $1.50 per pack tax on cigarettes.

Another idea that emerged last week was to impose a $1 fee per head of cattle sold. Not selling any cattle myself, that didn’t sound like so much. But folks in the cattle business objected mightily.

How much more onerous is it, then, to add $1.50 to every pack of cigarette sold in the state?

Not a smoker, this tax wouldn’t affect me, either. But, I do wonder why we don’t have compensatory “holier-than-thou taxes” to even up the revenue generated by “sin taxes.”

We’re in this sorry state of affairs because the governor and her GOP pals who control the Legislature have done nothing for the past seven years except provide tax breaks and obscene profits for their true constituents – the oil and gas industry and the wealthiest people in the state.

They cut the Gross Production Tax from a reasonable 7 percent to a miniscule 2 percent. They provided income tax breaks for the highest income tax brackets.

Fallin’s plan, Hoberock reports, calls for a five percent GPT on new wells only. Thus, all of the wells sitting at two percent GPT will keep underpaying us for the depletion of our resources.         Not so, the much smaller wind energy industry. It will lose the sales-tax exemption it was promised as an incentive – the success of which is evident to anyone visiting the northwest corner of the state.

Restoring the GPT to seven percent for all wells would be an OK first step – if not raising it to ten percent for a few years to make up for the money we’ve lost.

The governor also calls for two new tax brackets. Currently, a person earning $16,000 annually pays taxes at the same rate as the person earning $16 million – five percent.

Under Fallin’s proposal, “Those earning $250,000 to $499,999 would be taxed at 5.25 percent while those earning $500,000 or more would be taxed at 5.5 percent,” Hoberock writes.

Gosh, I hope that leaves them enough left over for them to stimulate the economy.

Of course,  Reagonomics proved the fallacy of trickle-down economics 30 years ago. What we get is more akin to the splatter-all-around economics of the old cow above the flat rock.

Fallin has other revenue-raising proposals, one of the biggest would be a six cent tax increase per gallon of motor fuel. This would raise the gas tax from 17 to 23 cents per gallon –  including a one-cent “fee” on the current supposed 16-cent tax.

Among her other revenue builders are putting sales taxes on such “luxury” items as car washing, carpet cleaning, extermination services and lawn and gardening services. Hoberock does point out real luxuries such as short-term aircraft rental and fur storage, but note that some of these “luxuries” fall into the category of “Things that I used to do, I just can’t do today” – taxes aimed at the fixed-income elderly.

The Fallin plan calls for a $1,000 teacher pay raise the first year and a $2,000 raise the second year, a far cry from the $5,000 raise generally recognized as necessary for bringing the state pay scale in line with neighboring states.

But, take heart, dear educators. Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn, who is pushing a federal version of “feed the rich” economics thinks that an extra $1,000 will be enough to re-do your kitchen or “buy a new car.”

Wasn’t it Walters’ own Fred Harris who observed that we’d have plenty of money for governmental services if we could just get the rich off welfare?

Stephens County Democrats will meet Oct.10 at 7 p.m. in Room 108 of the Morris Building at Red River Vo-Tech on West Bois D’Arc.

 

(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)

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Comanche County Democrats October 2017 Schedule

The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.


September Volunteer of the Month—Debbie Bailey-Smith.


Oct 6. Cornbread and Beans Lunch, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. Held at our party headquarters at 610A SW Lee Blvd., Lawton. Hungry Democrats, please attend and eat in good company! If you are willing and able to share, bring a little something. If you have nothing to share, show up anyway because there will always be plenty! This meeting occurs the first Friday of each month and is free and open to the public.

Oct 13. We are honored to bring Rev. T. Sheri Amore Dickerson, Oklahoma Democratic Affirmative Action Leader, Indivisible Oklahoma leader, Executive Director of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma to the Annual Banquet for the Comanche County Democratic Party. October 13th, 2017. Building 700. Room 701. (Same room where you heard Drew Edmondson)
With a donation of 30 dollars to the Comanche County Democrats, you will receive a ticket to the banquet which will include a wonderful catered meal. Also, this year we will be raffling a 32in flat screen TV. Yes, you get a chance to win a TV. Along with this, a musical artist, Adam Canez, will be there and a silent auction will be set up.
If you have an item that you would like to donate to the silent auction, please, bring the item to the office at 610 SW Lee Blvd.

Oct 16. Beverly Tuberville, founder of Indivisible Oklahoma, will speak to the Comanche County Democratic Party concerning changes in the wind for them.
“Donald Trump’s nomination changed everything for Tuberville, leading her to question a number of longstanding beliefs: “I began researching every issue important to me, rather than trusting the Republican rhetoric. I began to realize that Republicans have done nothing to reduce abortions, while Democrats had done a great deal with free long-term birth control programs and sex education. I also began having a dialogue with those from other parties that hated abortion as much as I did. They just didn’t believe making it illegal was the answer.” – OKNEWS

Oct 17. Social Action-Justice Committee meets at 6pm at 1502 SW I Ave. The mission of Comanche County Democrats Social Justice Action Committee is to help grow and improve the CC Dems by creating educational opportunities and opportunities for members to share information and diverse perspectives.

We’ll meet at 6pm in the Unity Next Community Center at 1502 SW I Ave to refine our mission and set goals for the upcoming year.

Oct 30. Democrats Care, Monday, 2017, 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. This is a discussion group about issues that are hot topics among local Democrats. Phil Jones is the moderator. The group meets on the fourth Monday of each month at our party headquarters, 610 A SW Lee Blvd., Lawton, OK. This meeting is free and open to the public.

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Getting it Said; Getting it Said Right

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 caseworkers.

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 bulls-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.)

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Founder of Oklahoma Indivisible Speaking to Comanche County Democrats

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Beverly Tuberville, founder of Indivisible Oklahoma, will speak to the Comanche County Democratic Party. Oct. 16, 2017.

“Donald Trump’s nomination changed everything for Tuberville, leading her to question a number of longstanding beliefs: “I began researching every issue important to me, rather than trusting the Republican rhetoric. I began to realize that Republicans have done nothing to reduce abortions, while Democrats had done a great deal with free long-term birth control programs and sex education. I also began having a dialogue with those from other parties that hated abortion as much as I did. They just didn’t believe making it illegal was the answer.” – OKNEWS

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Plaything of the Wind of Public Opinion

While searching for a lost reference, I struck pay dirt –a description of a least favorite politician offered by one of my unmet mentors.

“(He) was an amoral man. Deceit, simulations, telling lies marked the character of the man. He was bright, able and wholly unethical. The end, in his view, justified the means.

“No man is perfect, but deeply ingrained in our character has been the conviction that man has moral standards that are not subservient to expediency. (He) had a compulsion to put expediency first. The appetite of his ego was devastating. Nothing could stand in his way

My hero continued, “(He) lived not for his ‘friends,’ but for his enemies. Everyone who crossed his path, everyone who was a competitor, had to be destroyed. . . . The regime of the politics of destruction, which (he) headed, thrived on ‘enemies.’ If he did not have one, he was forced to create one.”

Since an outdated reference in the next part of the quotation might tip my hand, I’ll point out here that my hero is Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and the person he is describing is Richard Nixon.

So, there is nothing new under the sun.

In the second volume of his autobiography, The Court Years, Douglas continues with more descriptions of Nixon that seem sadly applicable today. Substitute “Russian” for “Soviet” and you’ll catch my drift. (I’ll continue to offer some paragraph breaks for reading convenience.)

“He was actually envious of Soviet ruthlessness and helped design the American counterpart. He was interested not in the clash of ideas, but in the clash of power.

“Telling lies was so customary a technique, so much a proverb of his life, that he was unaware when he did lie. His compulsion was to never admit an error or a weakness. If he ever does make such an admission, it is solely for tactical reasons. . . .

“Respect for ideological differences and for the sense of moral obligation that once made up our political ethic became obsolete as he fashioned the monolith of sheer power. He sponsored a new value system in which truth played no part of what he called ‘operable realities.’

“He became the embodiment of the blatant secularism which emerged through our business practices and our commercial advertising and which took the place of our old morality. He represented  no culture or belief except the necessity to win by destroying people.”

“Operable realities,” is it? How much does that sound like “alternative facts?”

As with many of us last year, Justice Douglas found himself lamenting:

“I had grossly underestimated the decline in American morality to the point that the White House could become a huge public relations forum, operating with Madison Avenue techniques.”

Yes, we’ve seen this kind of demagoguery before. It put the country through its worst domestic crisis since the Civil War.

But, the great Justice Douglas offers hope that also carries a warning.

He says that the three forces that stopped Nixon were “(1) a free press that dared shake its fist at its incipient censor; (2) a public opinion that rated moral values high and that began to puke at chicanery in high places: and (3) a stoutly independent judiciary.”

So, we can see why our president spends so much time attacking the press that points out his outrageous lies on a daily basis and the judiciary that won’t let him have his spoiled-brat way.

Protecting American values depends upon the press and the courts. There appears to be a shortage of Congressional representatives and public religionists who rate “moral values high.”

One reason for this acquiescence seems to be a monumental shift among white evangelical Christians regarding the moral stature of politicians.

In 2011, the Public Religion Research Institute asked, “if elected public officials could fulfill their public duties if immoral in their private lives.” At that time, 61 percent of the white evangelical Christians said, “No.”

Asked the same question in October of last year – with candidate Trump bragging about grabbing women by their genitals and inciting racism while promising a pro-birth Supreme Court justice – 70 percent of those same Christian soldiers said private morality would not be a factor in public life.

During his life as a public figure, Donald Trump – who also bragged about barging into the dressing room at his Miss Universe contest — has been documented on all sides of most political issues. And, when his inconsistencies have been pointed out, he screams at the messengers and ignores those pesky facts.

One school of thought thought that Mr. Trump’s outrageous misogyny, bigotry and bullying were merely campaign tactics to energize his base base.

They adopted this notion because they believed that no sane person could espouse such nonsense in the 21st century. The loyalty of his core supporters proves them wrong.

And, now, President Trump’s reliance on racist campaign rallies to bolster his ego demonstrates how dependent he is upon someone’s – anyone’s – adulation.

Mr. Trump projected an image of defiant independence throughout the campaign, but how independent is someone who must keep courting favor from supporters?

A poll of historians would probably consider Andrew Jackson a strong executive, certainly in the top ten as far as power — if not virtue.

So, I was surprised last summer while slogging through Alexis De Toqueville’s “Democracy in America” to find the exact opposite opinion expressed by an astute observer who was on the scene during Jackson’s presidency.

The Frenchman’s famous critique of our young republic notes:

“One hears it said that General Jackson was a man who had won battles, that he is an energetic man, prone by nature and habit to the use of force, covetous of power and a despot by inclination.”

Except for the part about military service, this description has a most familiar ring to it. (Of course, our commander-in-chief considers property development and stiffing creditors equivalent to risking one’s life for our country.)

Explaining Jackson’s anti-federal and de-centralization leanings, De Tocqueville concludes, “…General Jackson is the spokesman of provincial jealousies; it was decentralizing passions (if I may put it so) that brought him to sovereign power. He keeps his position and his popularity by daily flattery of those passions. General Jackson is the majority’s slave; he yields to its intentions, desires and half-revealed instincts, or rather he anticipates and forestalls them.”

Again, we are confronted with a very similar personality type. In fact, De Tocqueville even mentions Jackson’s penchant for pursuing and punishing his enemies.

And, while Mr. Trump vilifies Muslims and people of color, Jackson, a slaveholder, turned his evil intentions against Native Americans, including those who had contributed to his military successes and subsequent fame.

I’m guessing these similarities will suffice for Trump & Co. to keep Old Hickory’s visage on the $20 bill.

Between Donald Trump’s election and his inauguration in front of that itty-bitty little crowd, I observed the above similarities in deportment between him and Andrew Jackson, as described by De Tocqueville, and I wondered about the tone of Mr. Trump’s presidency – “whether we will see a free-wheeling, bold Trump presidency or one that is all hot air. We really don’t know what he stands for besides personal greed and self-aggrandizement.”

Events of the past few weeks tend to tip the scales toward the self-aggrandizing hot air category.

Unable to accomplish much in Washington, our president makes frequent campaign sorties into friendly territory to hear the applause from the 30 percent of Americans who support his racist, pro-rich agenda. (And most of these supporters are not rich.)

Running out to Arizona to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio before the legal process had been finalized gave him a chance to assure his racist base that racial profiling and discrimination are dear to his heart – “the daily flattery of those passions” – and he received their cheers as his reward.

(Our Rep. Tom Cole had “no problem” with the pardon when asked at his Lawton town hall meeting.)

But, then Mr. Trump crossed up his base and surprised Congressional Republicans by striking a deal with Democrats to fund hurricane relief and increase the debt ceiling.

(Our Sen. James Lankford offered hurricane victims his prayers – which were answered when responsible senators voted for the relief package. He didn’t.)

It was telling of that the president’s primary reaction to the deal was to revel in the good publicity that doing the right thing brought him.

This susceptibility to flattery and applause raised the possibility of flattering Mr. Trump toward other sensible actions.

Then, after putting 800,000 Dreamers at risk by voiding DACA – to the cheers of the racists – the president evidently found more common ground with Democrats to come up with an outline to preserve their residency in the only country they have ever known.

But, the approval from sensible people was drowned out by outraged cries of “Amnesty Don” from his racist base. So, wafting on the wind of public opinion, he denied any DACA deal.

At the same time, he again tried to divert attention from the murderous nazis, klansmen and free-lance white supremacists – some of whom, remember, are “fine people” –  who invaded Charlottesville under banners of the Third Reich.

This, while attacking a new “enemy,” ESPN sportscaster Jemelle Hill who looked at the long years of evidence right up to today and came to the logical conclusion that anyone with such a record was a “white supremacist.”

While De Tocqueville called Jackson “the majority’s slave,” it is apparent that Trump is beholden to that racist minority which he led into the mainstream – and which he threatens to unleash in primaries upon any Republicans who oppose him.

He uses these happy haters to keep others in line. Looks like they’re keeping him line as well.

 

(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)

 

 

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