Dr. John Cox Considering Bid for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Dr. John Cox, D-Peggs, is assembling an exploratory team to evaluate a potential candidacy for State Superintendent.  “Numerous educators and friends of public education have approached me to become a candidate.  They are concerned with the current direction of public education and are convinced that with the proper leadership Oklahoma’s children will prosper academically” said Cox.
A career educator, Dr. Cox is beginning his twentieth year as a School Superintendent and his twenty-eighth year as an educator.  He also serves as an adjunct professor of education at Northeastern State University, teaching leadership and administration courses to aspiring principals and superintendents and educational research to master’s candidates.

Dr. Cox has an earned Doctorate (ED.S) in Educational Administration and an Educational Specialist (ED.S) from Oklahoma State University, and Masters Degree in Counseling and Bachelors Degree in Mathematics Education from Northeastern State University.  He serves as President of the Organization of Rural Elementary Schools (102 schools) and Vice-Chair of the Oklahoma Schools Assurance Group (488 schools).  He is a lifetime member of the OSU Alumni Association and the NSU Alumni Association and serves on the NSU Alumni Association board.  Dr. Cox also participates on the NSU College of Education Advisory Board and he is a Co-Chair on the Vision Committee sponsored by the Oklahoma State School Board Association (OSSBA) and the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA).  Dr. Cox served on the ACE Steering Committee as the State Superintendent’s appointee and has participated on the State Superintendent’s Advisory Group.

“I appreciate those who have encouraged me to run for this leadership position.  It is time to stand up for the great things we are doing in public education and continue to work hard for the betterment of our children. I look forward to having conversations with the people of Oklahoma about the future of public schools and quality public education”, said Cox.

For further information or questions, you may contact Dr. John Cox at dr.johncox@yahoo.com or 918.720.4019.

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Flashpoint Might be Flashy, But Misses Point

Wandering around the living room Sunday morning, waiting for the grass to dry so I mighconsider mowing (I didn’t) I saw the Channel Four promo for Flashpoint.

          I stopped, and wondered: Who is this Mike Turpen that has this cool gig of speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party? I mean, I had trudged up to OKC  for two sessions of the State Democratic Convention.  I hadn’t seen his smiling face anywhere on either premises.

          So, I looked him up and discovered that he had served as state attorney general in the 1980’s and had he served a term as party chair – back before our current chair Anna Langthorn had been born.

          Well, I thought, check with the party; see if I’m missing something.

          Nope. Mr. Turpen holds not even a precinct position within the party. In fact, my source says that his last active participation in party affairs was in 2008 when he was the legal rep for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

          So, with the youngest state chair in the country, who has a full complement of youthful lieutenants, Channel Four trots out the party-irrelevant Mr. Turpen as their anointed voice for Oklahoma Democrats.

          He, Interchangeable Ogle and the Republican reactionary seem to have a great time talking among themselves – just some good OLD boys limiting the discussion to their favored few. But it is a travesty of supposed debate when the left is being represented by a guy who has been left behind by his party.

          And, I’m not alone with my opinion. The state party regularly fields calls on Mondays from irate party regulars complaining about Mr. Turpen – as if the choice of their supposed  representative actually rested with the people supposedly being represented.


(Gary Edmondson is the 67-year-old Chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

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The Little Meeting that Keeps Getting Bigger

The Borger Post Office came to mind recently.

I spent two years in Borger, Texas, in the late nineties. It was a good time: lots of good work, some successes.

After spending 19 years among the East Texas pines, the expanded horizon required some adjustments. In Huntsville, with its hills and trees, you might see three or four blocks down a street at a time. The wide open spaces actually widen your vision.
Now, the Borger Post Office is a non-descript little federal building, no match for Duncan’s home to our dedicated postal workers. Still, according to many Borger historians, its dimensions are deceiving.

After the discovery of oil in the vicinity, Asa “Ace” Borger and a partner bought themselves a town site in the Texas Panhandle in 1926 – well within the memory of a lot folks 20 years ago, and the Borger boomtown soon had a population of about 45,000 people.

We’ll skim over the “Boogertown” era, with its crooked mayor and his henchman running the entire place as a red light district; the arrival of a trainload of Texas Rangers (not one riot, one Ranger here) co-led by Capt. Frank Hamer of Bonnie and Clyde fame; the Exodus of the Whores – all sent hitch-hiking out of town in their finery on the same day; the murder of a district attorney and finally martial law and state troops.
Pertinent to our story, is the Borger Post Office on Aug. 31, 1934, when the county treasurer, blaming ol’ Ace for not bailing him out of jail after he had been charged with embezzlement, gunned Borger down in the post office lobby.

I have it on good authority from the those who survived that era, including one guy who claimed to have been a youthful ice cream runner in the hot afternoons for the ladies of the night: If everyone who claimed to have been in that post office at the time of the shooting had actually been inside the post office, it had to be the biggest post office in the country.

The Borger Post Office comes to mind as new information keeps emerging about Donald Trump, Jr.’s June, 2016 meeting with our Russian enemies.
First, it was just a meeting between Junior and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer concerned about adoptions. Well, her translator, Anatoli Samochornov’s  was there, too.
But, no, Rob Goldstone, who set up the meeting by promising Junior that the Ruskies had  anti-Clinton info, was there as well.

Oops. Seems like Trump son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner – who omitted mentioning more than 100 contacts with foreign officials when applying for his security clearance — was at the meeting, too, along with Trump’s then-campaign chair Paul Manafort – who apparently owed Russian interests $17 million a couples years back, but owes them nothing now.

They came along after being forwarded Goldstone’s memo to Junior, which assured Junior that the Russian government was pulling for his papa.

Hold on a sec. Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhemetshin, who has boasted of his past as a Russian intelligence officer, was at the meeting. Akhemetshin provided Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher material intending to slander Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian whistleblower who found $230 million in governmental theft before being consigned to a prison where he died.

Feeling a bit crowded, yet?

Turns out Ike Kaveladze was also in attendance. I don’t much like this Ike. On his own, he has been accused of laundering more than $1.4 billion from Eastern Europe into the U.S.

He works for  Crocus Group, an American-based company owned by Azerbaijani-Russian oligarch and real estate developer Aras Agalarov.  Rob Goldstone, who set all this up, is a publicist for Agalarov’s pop-singer son, Emin. The senior Agalarov is a buddy of Russian no-goodnik Vladimir Putin.

But, wait, there’s more — though not another person despite President Trump’s attempt to put his 11-year-old son into the conversation. (Of course, naming a son “Barron” does tell us what this president thinks of republics.)

Turns out our adoption-concerned lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya  has served as a lawyer – I would guess successfully – for the Russian FSB security agency, the successor of Putin’s KGB.

I’m beginning to think that the little meeting, originally described as between Junior and the lawyer, could have been held in the Trump Tower Grand Ballroom. Bring on the balalaikas and the Polvetsian Dancers.

What harm can come from secret meeting with our enemies. Trump and his Trumpeteers would like to say, “Nothing.”

But, we do know that, within a week of President Trump’s originally-undisclosed meeting with Putin in Germany, the Administration announced it was dropping its support for anti-Assad forces in Syria, where the Russians have been propping up that brutal dictatorship for years.

(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)

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 Hobby Lobby’s Actions Refute Its Hype

Wholly Holy Hobby Lobby – taking its demand to impose its beliefs upon its employees all the way to the Supreme Court — paid for full-page ads in the Independence Day editions of the OKC and Lawton papers touting its desire for an American Theocracy, where the values of good folks like themselves could keep the rest of us in line.

Per usual of its type, the ad was a compendium of cherry-picked, out-of-context misinformation that misrepresents our Founding Fathers and our heritage.

The very next day the story broke that Oklahoma’s most vocal alleged Christians had agreed to pay a $3 million fine for smuggling 5,500 looted Iraqi antiquities into the country.

With the stolen material earmarked for a museum in D.C., the story made national news. Somehow, the OKC-based sponsors of a full-page ad in the OKC paper rated only Page 4 in Section C and didn’t make the Lawton paper until the next day.

From all appearances, the Lawton version was the Associated Press version of the story Paul Monies wrote for The Oklahoman.

The Lawton story, too, was also Buried Inside, which happens to be the title of the unpublished and never-performed play I wrote after my first black-balling from the news business. It deals with the difficulties small-town journalists face getting anything into print that might reflect poorly on local bigwigs.  Evidently, this is not just a small-town predicament.

The good-old-boy version of the thefts was heavy-laden with Hobby Lobby’s self-serving press release. It managed to get Hobby Lobby President Steve Green quoted as saying the company, “should have exercised more oversight,” and reminded us of what upstanding, Christian folks the Greens are.

“Our passion for the Bible continues, and we will do all that we can to support the efforts to conserve items that will help illuminate and enhance our understanding of this Great Book,” Green said.

Monies – who has one of the best names ever for a business writer – didn’t contact any local archaeologists about the looted treasures.  Either that or his efforts were lost in editing.

Other news organization were more enterprising.

Archaeologist Amr Al-Azm, of Shawnee State University, told CBS that Hobby Lobby escaped with a slap on the wrist:

“It was a civil case, which is quite shocking considering the amount of material that was basically looted….The fact is very clear that they knew what they were doing.”

And, if you’re talking about looting Iraqi antiquities, we know who the looters were.

“When you’re buying looted antiquities,” Al-Azm said, “particularly from a war zone like Iraq or Syria, you are most likely aiding, abetting or allowing funds to reach terrorist organizations like ISIS or al-Qaeda.”

This  led some unsympathetic tweeters to challenge Hobby Lobby to identify the truck bombs it had funded or maybe volunteer some reparations for the victims.

Bob Murowchick at Boston University, citing the warning Hobby Lobby had received from its own expert, expressed his doubts to ABC on the company’s claims that it didn’t know what it was doing.

“It’s like the scene in ‘Casablanca’: ‘I am shocked, shocked that there is gambling going on here,’” Murowchick said.

Ancient cuneiform tablets from the Cradle of Civilization were labeled “ceramic tiles” or “clay tiles (samples).” Three hundred such “samples” were valued at $1 each instead of the $84,000 that better represented their value.

The Oklahoma account revealed that, “A dealer based in the United Arab Emirates shipped packages containing the artifacts to three different corporate addresses in Oklahoma City.”

Various shipping manifests claimed that the stolen antiquities originated in Israel or Turkey.

The efforts made to disguise the contents of the smuggled goods and spread out delivery destination lends credence to the archaeologists’ dismay at the civil handling of the case.

“Our goal is, if we can cut down on the demand or make the punishment severe enough, we will have a chain reaction and people will be unwilling to loot,” Murowchick said.

Worse than burying the original, incomplete story deep within its pages, The Oklahoman came out a week later with an editorial that again ignored the evidence, the likely chain of provenance through terrorists and the outrage of professionals.

“Good intentions may have bad results,” they opined, and spun the fiction that their upright advertisers were conducting a salvage operation of sorts. They cited several unrelated cases while ignoring that their own examples showed it is the terrorists doing the looting and destruction; that the acquisition of 5,500 relics probably put dollars into the pockets of those trying to destroy us – crusading Christians especially.

The kicker on the editorial proclaimed, “Policy changes worth considering.”

I’m thinking more along the lines of, “Black marketers deserve their black eye.”
The lies on Holy Lobby’s shipping manifests reflect those on the full-page ads that seem to buy them such positive local coverage.

Writing in Wall of Separation  for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Rob Boston says, “the ad’s purpose is to imply that Christianity once had a prominent place in American law and government but was forced out by the mean old courts.

Identifying the source of the misinformation as David Barton, “the Religious Right’s favorite pseudo-historian,” Boston adds, “It would take a small book to dissect the entire ad.”
Boston chose not to write the small book, and I will cite only two of his examples. The opening  italics are his:
“The ad claims that the Supreme Court struck down ‘voluntary prayer in schools’ in 1962 without using any precedent. First off, there was nothing voluntary about those prayers. In many parts of the country, youngsters were compelled to take part. Moreover, Hobby Lobby’s assertion that the 1962 case, Engel v. Vitale, does not cite precedence is simply wrong, as anyone who takes the time to read it can see.

“The ad distorts James Madison’s views on separation of church and state. By wrenching a quote from context, the ad does a great disservice to James Madison, a primary author of the First Amendment and the Father of the Constitution. Ironically, the quote in question comes from Madison’s 1785 Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, one of the most powerful defenses of church-state separation ever written. No one who gives that document an honest read could walk away from it believing that Madison favored any form of church-state union.”

Quoting an Independence Day quote of his own, Boston remarks,  “the ‘Christian Nation’ thesis collapses because our Constitution nowhere says that the country is officially Christian. Instead, its First Amendment protects the exercise of all faiths and bars government from establishing any.”

Ironically, while searching for exact quotes from the experts, I ran across the book release information from Holy Hobby Lobby Founder and CEO David Green about the values that govern his business.

No need to read the book; his values are on display.

(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Last November, voters answered State Question 780. “They voted to move drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors for a lot of drug offenses,” said Representative Forrest Bennett, a Democrat. But then HB 1482, known as the “Keep Oklahoma Children Safe from Illegal Drugs Act of 2017” recently passed the house. Bennett voted against…

via Criminal justice reform: State representative says HB 1482 is an insult to voters — KFOR.com

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Oklahoma History and 45’s Immigrantion Solution

I’m a little astounded that so many Oklahomans have forgotten their own history as regards immigration.

During the Dust Bowl, hand bills began to appear, offering work in the fields and groves of California, at $25 a day, a relative fortune to a working man. Many of them sold their land at pennies on the dollar, packed up what they had and headed west.

What they had no way of knowing was that the wealthy land owners in the Central Valley had sent out bushels of these handbills throughout the Midwest and southwestern U. S. , and that when their quota of workers filled up, they called their friends in the state Capitol, and troopers waited at the state line to turn those workers away.

Think about it. A state in the Union turning away United States citizens under law. They had made that long journey for nothing, and had to face crossing the brutal desert again to make it back to a home that no longer existed. Highway 66 is littered with the bones of people who died in route.

Perhaps a closer knowledge of the past would elicit some compassion in their descendants, who are so cavalier about 45’s solution to the migrant issue.

They want you stupid for a reason. Wake up.

Phillip William Brock

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Steve Brannon “Shock Event”

What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries– is creating what is known as a “shock event.”

Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.
When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.

Last night’s Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.

Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.

My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one’s interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won’t like.

I don’t know what Bannon is up to– although I have some guesses– but because I know Bannon’s ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle– and my friends range pretty widely– who will benefit from whatever it is.

If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.

But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.

A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union.
If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings. This was Lincoln’s strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.
Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it.”

Heather Richardson, professor of History at Boston College:

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