Tag: government

The Oklahoman’s pity party

July 24, 2009

An open letter to the OKC Council & mayor:

Dear Oklahoma City Council members and Mayor Mick Cornett:

“Pity the members of the Oklahoma City Council.” Thus began an editorial, stunning in its contempt for democracy, published today in The Oklahoman, which decreed that the location of the Crosstown is a done deal, and it’s a waste of time for the very important people running this city to bother themselves with the dissatisfaction of their constituents on the matter.

Since it is already all too easy to dismiss dissenting voices of the non-rich and non-connected that are shut out of any real input into decisionmaking around here, certainly council members can ignore without much discomfort or guilt those few tenacious souls who show up for their brief chance to make a last-ditch case at public meetings.

But the rabble does manage to find a few places to express its ire about the way things work around here. Ironically, the comment thread beneath the online version of today’s editorial became such a place.

I would strongly urge you city representatives to read every comment posted there — if, of course, you can bear to waste a few minutes of your time discovering what a large number of your constituents think. I hope that it is just the editorial board of the state’s largest paper that would entertain such an elitist attitude, and that someone like yourself, who does at least have to get elected occasionally, might not be so anxious to ridicule citizens who care deeply about their community.

Here’s the link.

The people of Central Oklahoma have again and again expressed their desire for decent and affordable mass transit, again and again, they have been ignored. I think it’s time that average people, and not just rich business owners, got what they wanted. A slight change to the Crosstown relocation would be a good place to start.

Serena Blaiz

Party realignment now finalized in DC

February 11, 2009

Democratic Party = party of governing, or occasional stabs at it during moments of crisis, with good and not so good members and policy positions.

Republican Party = party of obstruction to efforts at actual governance, with varying levels of skill and shamelessness. But all are, to borrow an observation from Garrison Keillor,  “above average” at it. Something about brain chemistry, I suspect.

The Senate’s passage Tuesday of the economic recovery package followed a now-familiar 30 year pattern. The Democratic President Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton before him in 1993, faced a monolithic wall of GOP opposition to his economic program. But Republicans Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George W. Bush 20 years later enjoyed substantial Democratic support for their dangerously irresponsible and regressive tax cuts that as predicted drained the federal treasury. Now as then, for Republicans the road to economic stimulus is a one-way street.

This is why two is not enough. To borrow from another good writer: “We can do better.”

17 days in and Obama administration throws in the towel on torture

February 6, 2009

So much for “change we can believe in.” Torturers will not be punished by the American government, and that means that those who ordered them to do so cannot be held accountable, unless the World Court does the job.

Today in his hearing for CIA director before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Leon Panetta, who supposedly was selected for the job because his hands were clean of evil Bush-era practices, sold his soul and eliminated the possibility of prosecuting those who tortured on Bush’s orders. Cernig at Crooks and Liars and Newshoggers explains why this action gives legal cover to Bush, Cheney and their top-level goons.

Worse, not prosecuting the torturers sets up a malicious feedback that fatally undermines prosecutions for ordering torture. If there’s no prosecution for commission of a crime, how can someone be prosecuted for ordering what is apparently admitted isn’t a crime? No defense lawyer is going to pass up such a gift argument and the Obama administration knows it. Not prosecuting those who tortured is a “get out of jail free card” not only for the torturers but for those who ordered torture and those who falsely said torture could ever be legal. It’s a travesty of justice and one that Chris Dodd has sadly admitted Democratic leaders have looked the other way on for purely political reasons.

But Panetta — and presumably his new boss Barack Obama — is willing to take their policies even further into Bush territory.

And with the news that Panetta wants to reserve the possibility of using “enhanced interrogation” techniques which go beyond the US military code – which in turn is simply a retelling of the Geneva Conventions and binding treaties on torture – along with the Obama administration’s complicity in shielding Bush officials from revelations of torture…well, my Newshoggers colleague Jay McDonough is correct. “We cannot, despite assurances otherwise, trust our government not to render and torture detainees.”

The chances of restoring the rule of law to this country anytime soon do not seem very likely. What a pathetic people we have become.

Oklahoma progressives, are you ready to lobby?

January 26, 2009

Several upcoming events are designed to help citizens do their civic duty of participation during the 2009 session of the Oklahoma Legislature. These are some that focus on progressive issues (content copied from emails and online sources). If you can, please participate in one of these activities to hone your knowledge or skills, or make your advocacy for peace and justice on your own during this legislative session (Feb. 2 – May 29).

I hope to do a compendium of bills proposed in this session that concern progressives. Stay tuned.

ACLU of Oklahoma Legislative Workshop

The ACLU of Oklahoma will be hosting the 3rd annual Keith Smith Legislative Workshop on January 31, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event location is at the First Unitarian Church, 600 NW 13th St., Oklahoma City. The workshop will be free, with an optional lunch available for $5. Come learn how you, as a regular citizen, can approach your representatives.

For more information or to RSVP, please call (405) 524-8511 or email katyj @ acluok . org.

Oklahoma Conference of Churches Day at the Legislature

Tue Feb 10, 7:45am – 3:15pm – Oklahoma State Capitol

I’m trying to get more info on this, and I’ll update this if and when I do. The group’s web site does not include this event as of this writing. But I did hear that this year they are focusing on addressing poverty, thus the inclusion here.

State Capitol “Teach In” on Equal Rights for LGBT

On February 14th, 2009 there will be an “Equal Rights In Every State” Teach In from noon to 6 p.m. on the South steps of the State House in Oklahoma City. This event will focus on creating a better understanding of the struggle for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, with a goal of enlightening each other and non-LGBT members of society on the importance of providing civil protections and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.

In the State of Oklahoma, and 31 other states, it is currently legal to discriminate in housing and employment based on sexual orientation. While race, age, gender, and disability are all covered under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens of Oklahoma remain at risk. It wasn’t until 1964 that race was included under protection and as recent as 1991 that disability was added. It’s time to work for our inclusion.

Speakers from the Faith oriented community, Political community, Science community and Social Services community will speak about the importance of acceptance and the justice of inclusion in equality for all at the event on February 14, 2009.

Some of the speakers scheduled to attend:

Mary Lou Wallner, Teach Ministries
Featured in the movie “For the bible tells me so”

President Barack Obama recently invited us, the citizens of the United States, to bring about change in our communities in order to bring change to America. Those citizens in the LGBT community want change and deserve protection. Now is the time to make it happen. But, as we’ve seen in other states that have had ballots or laws that effect the LGBT community, we have to be READY when those laws and ballots come up to the voters on election day. We must first bring about a clear understanding to the citizens that vote. We need to teach every man, woman, and child in Oklahoma that we are their friends, neighbors, sisters, brothers, church members, caregivers, co-workers, doctors, and teachers. Most importantly, we have to teach them to accept that we are their equal.

We’re not going to get our rights without asking for them and we’re not going to get our rights without teaching….

Be a part of the pledge “…with liberty and justice for all.”

For further information, contact Peter Myers at 405-815-4059

I got the above from a email forward. If you have more info about who is sponsoring the event, please let me know.

Women’s Coalition Advocacy Day at the Capitol, February 18

Did you know Oklahoma has been ranked the 3rd worst state for women?? We rank #1 in Incarcerated Women, #1 in Child Abuse, #1 in the Divorce Rate, #7 in Teen Births, #42 in overall women’s health, #45 in women in professional jobs. The list goes on and on.

The newly formed, non-partisan Oklahoma Women’s Coalition is out to change these statistics. Please join us for Oklahoma Women: Advocate! on February 18 at the State Capitol as we make history for Oklahoma women and girls.

The day will begin with a press conference to officially launch the Coalition, followed by sessions where state leaders will provide updates on key issues and legislation affecting women and girls. We will also learn effective advocacy techniques to have our voices heard.

To download a registration form for Oklahoma Women: Advocate! just click HERE. Seating is limited, so send in your registration as soon as possible.

Whether or not you are able attend the Advocacy Day in February, I urge you to become a member of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition now. Together, we can create significant change for Oklahoma women and girls! To download the Membership Application Form, just click HERE.

Other resources:

I’ll add more here as I find them.

Activist news report from Emma’s Revolution, progressive troubadours

December 4, 2008

While in Crawford, I was introduced to an amazing musical duo, Pat Humphries and Sandy O, otherwise known as Emma’s Revolution. Their music is totally amazing, a blend of folk, pop, roots rock. The best way I can think to describe them is a mix of Pete Seeger and Sweet Honey and the Rock.

They seem to make it to every meaningful activist event, to offer their political support and musical contribution, which can raise the level of emotion and commitment to untold levels. I could go on, but you can read about them and all the events and projects they’ve been affiliated with, and all the accolades they’ve received, at their web site.

Because of their travels, their newsletter is a compendium of all the latest progressive political insider news. The latest issue is no exception. They just got back from the annual School of the Americas Watch demo at Ft. Benning, GA and here’s some of what they shared about the 19th (and hopefully last) SOA protest and its founder, Father Roy Bourgeois:

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we and 20,000 other folks gathered again outside the gates of Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA for the vigil to shut down the School of the Americas. Or, as activists call it, “The School of the Assassins.”

The SOA is a torture-training school-right here on US soil and funded by our tax dollars-where Latin America soldiers are taught counterinsurgency tactics, psychological warfare and Abu-Ghraib-style torture techniques. The School of the Americas Watch, a grassroots organization dedicated to closing the SOA and changing oppressive US foreign policy, has been holding these vigils for the past 18 years, the first one, with only 10 people. We wrote our song, “One by One” for this demonstration, which features spoken testimony from torture survivors, family members whose loved ones were killed by SOA graduates, the sole survivor of a massacre, elected officials, actors, and activists from around the world, all interspersed with the most music, spoken word and visual arts we’ve ever seen at a demonstration. (Thanks to Al Viola for this photo of the musicians’ collective at the 2007 Vigil!)

Sign the Petition to President- Elect Obama to End Torture and Close the SOA, and come next November!

Now, for the Pope part.

The Friday of this year’s vigil was also the day that SOAW founder, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, was to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Not for standing up to the military or to the US government, for that matter, but for participating in a Mass to ordain a woman priest.

Fr. Roy delivered the homily at that ceremony in August, saying:

“Sexism is a sin. . . The hierarchy will say, ‘It is the tradition of the church not to ordain women.’ I grew up in a small town in Louisiana and often heard, ‘It is the tradition of the South to have segregated schools.’ It was also ‘the tradition’ in our Catholic church to have the Black members seated in the last five pews of the church. No matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination, in the end, it is always wrong and immoral.”

In October, the church hierarchy sent Fr. Roy a letter demanding he recant his position or be excommunicated. But, Fr. Roy didn’t back down. He wrote a letter in response and he and others have pointed out the disturbing fact that, while it took the Vatican twelve years to begin to respond to the sexual abuse of nearly 5,000 children by US priests (with none of the priests, nor the bishops who remained silent about the abuse, being excommunicated) it took only three months for the Vatican to respond to Fr. Roy’s support of women’s ordination with the threat of excommunication.

(Did you know you can email the Pope? ) and the petitions are having an effect. We think the slogan of the Women’s Ordination Conference’s petition in support of Fr. Roy says it best:

“Break the Silence. Shatter the Stained Glass Ceiling.”

Emma’s Revolution will be playing at the Innaugural Peace Ball in DC on Jan. 20. But don’t plan on attending it unless you are one of the lucky 1000 who got tickets before it sold out in one day!

Their new album is called Roots, Rock, Revolution and you can listen and buy on the site. I’m ordering it and listening to their earlier album One while I wait for it to arrive.

Please be sure to sign the petition asking Obama to close the SOA using the linked image below.

Oh, and I’ll try to find my photos of Pat and Sandy from Crawford to add to this post.

Petitition drive to have President Obama create Secretary of the Arts

November 29, 2008

Obama is being inundated with requests, but this one stood out to me: A petition drive, inspired by musician Quincy Jones, for the establishment of a Secretary of the Arts, a cabinet level position to encourage, preserve and maintain our significant artistic and cultural heritage. This is on a par with what most other industrialized countries put in place long ago.

The petition language is a little sparse (especially with such a passionate cause!) but more background and rationale can be found here and here.

h/t to Martha