Category Archives: Politics

Oklahoma Headlines – 2012: Year in Review, JANUARY

( PHOTO: Galen Scott, his wife Jennifer and six-month old Benjamin embrace as Scott returns from deployment in January, 2012. Photo by Scott Sisney, Daily Oklahoman.)father arriving home

My, my, how time does fly!  So the Red Dirt Chronicles is going to help remind you about what flew by in our Oklahoma headlines during 2012.

For the next several days, we’ll be releasing a quick snapshot of headlines we’ve reviewed from either the Daily Oklahoman or Tulsa World, and summarizing them here for you.

First up? January.  Here we go…

  • OSU beat Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl with a last minute play to end the game at 41-38.  Celebrations ensued.
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder began raising energy across Oklahoma with buzz about “what if” when talking about a NBA Championship.
  • OKDHS troubles and changes included closure on a lengthy lawsuit submitted by Fairfax based Criminal Justice Lawyer – Scott C. Nolan law firm, and the decision by Director Hendrick to retire as Director of the agency.
  • The first death row execution of 2012 happened here in the state of Oklahoma when inmate Gary Welch was put to death for fatally stabbing Robert Hardcastle in a 1994 drug dispute.  Welch was kept from committing suicide three weeks prior to his execution.
  • Boeing added one thousand jobs to the state.
  • The I-40 crosstown lanes opened, and crews began tearing down the old bridge sections.
  • Judge Tammy Bass was convicted of fraud against the state foster care system.
  • Special note: On January 31st of 2011, 18 year old Sarah McKinly, mother of a three month old baby, shot Justin Martin as he intruded into her mobile home.
  • The jury was selected for the Garth Brooks’ trial vs. Integris at Rogers County Court House.
  • Obama blocks the national pipeline project, then senators began to rally for a bill to bypass Obama’s blocking action.
  • Oklahoma City Councilman “Skip” Kelly arrested on a DUI charge for the 2nd time.
  • And…
  • Joe Paterno died at 85 years of age, following a horrific Penn State scandal wherein multiple levels of negligence were revealed related to protecting children on campus from being sexually abused by assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.

Check us out tomorrow if you’d like to review the Oklahoma headlines for February, 2012!

Canning Peppers and Watching the Debate

Mick and I worked together on cleaning the peppers, prepping them for canning, and garnering all the jars and lids we could muster. It was going to be a big job tonight.

Obama and Romney said frequently during the debate tonight that, “We’re on the same page.” They also agreed that foreign policy is a complex task, garnering all the professionals and delegates they can muster. They looked like they had prepped for what was quite a big job tonight.

My peppers are beautiful. A grand mixture of red and green, crammed with salt, vinegar water and garlic cloves into glistening jars with shiny rings. They’re now rattling and rattling in the pressure cooker.

Obama and Romney look nice in their suits, their ties a grand mixture of red and blue. Their faces are covered with makeup and their shirts are starched. They’re now rattling and rattling in quite a pressure cooker.

In fifteen minutes, I’ll pull the first five of my eleven jars from the pressure cooker. I’ll be waiting for that glorious “ping” when I know the jars are sealed and ready to be packed away. I’m already looking forward to the first trip to the pantry when I can open a jar for some meal that needs a spicy, vinegary topping…a feast most of the men (and some women) in my family really enjoy.

In twenty minutes, the final debate of three presidential and one vice-presidential contests will be completed. The pundits will put their seal of approval, disapproval or neutrality on the event with a ping or a zinger. I’m already looking forward to the day when the debates are behind us, the election is over, and I can begin to think about our country in a way that I’m used to doing…with a new administration, trying to problem solve and implement policy the best they know how. Some of that policy might be a feast; most of it will probably be famine as we trim our budget and hack away the deficit. Some of it might be a very bitter pill to swallow. But my family will be with me, we’ll get through it, and I hope the whole nation will be better very soon for whatever it is that we need to take…or give.

Your Personal DNA Mask: Are You Ready for the Big Reveal?

The level of “masking” in the information age is multi-dimensional. 

While personal banking was historically done in person, masks of account numbers and usernames have replaced much of the monetary transactional processes. 

Redditors are known for vehemently guarding the masks behind which their users are cloaked while simultaneously defending the right of free speech. They agree to trust the process of letting their members work out moral and ethical questions as well as decide what is truly funny or agree when an egregious wrong needs to be corrected.

Surveys are now done through links and promises of confidentiality rather than delivered to mailboxes with requests to use return envelopes. News reporting has now (mostly) perfected the computer voice change software so that interviews done with shadow profiles and deep voices lend a mask to what otherwise the interviewee just couldn’t bear to reveal.

And now?  In what seems like the blink of an eye, scientists at the Human Genome Project have gone from embarking upon their massive task to completing the identification of approximately 30K genes and potentially “3 billion chemical base pairs” that make up human DNA.

This process has raised a plethora of new “mask-type” questions: How do we approach fairness in the use of information? What are the psychological and/or stigmatizations of any gene-based revelations? What about laws, patents, commerce, reproductive rights, validity, reliability, mistakes?…The list of questions is seemingly as long as the double helix models embedded in every science classroom across the country.

But what are the answers?  And, what is the answer for YOU?

In just a short period of time, you’ve now been given the opportunity to find out just where the propensity of your historical and/ancestral DNA was derived.  In other words, you can now find out from where you’ve come.  By lifting this mask, thousands of people have now revealed the answers to some of their deepest questions…only to find more.  Or, to find out answers that others wish had remained hidden.

But soon, the “thousand dollar personalized DNA testing” package may become another reality for you. You may now be able to find out where you are going.

Do you want to know what traits you carry and how your genetic makeup is either vulnerable to various diseases or reveals strengths of which you had not have been aware?  Do you want to see your information on an app where you can search through result after result and look up corresponding information? 

Do you want one of your most personalized masks to be removed?  Are you willing to fork over one thousand dollars to pull it off?  What if it were free?  What if it were collected and stored into a national database?  What if you find out something you would really rather never, ever know?

I would imagine that when humans remove a mask…any mask…that decision is preceeded with some degree of anxiety.  Even if that anxiety is only based in thoughts such as, “I wonder if my hair is now messed up or my mascara smeared?” But there is a national, perhaps even world-wide, anxiety about what the removal of our personal DNA mask means.  And it may be time for you to think your opinions through…before someone removes that mask without your permission.

So, are you prepared for the “big reveal?”


Photo used by permission from ChaTo’s Flickr Account

In The Know with Oklahoma Policy Institute: 5/18/2012

Number of the Week


Oklahoma’s rank nationally for the percentage of its residents who report engaging in no leisure-time physical activity at all, 31 percent of adults in 2010

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Quote of the Week

Gov. Mary Fallin, one of the most adamant supporters of this bill, insists on her official website that, as governor, she will create ‘a system where good teachers and good schools are rewarded.’ My school is not just good, Gov. Fallin, it is excellent. Please start treating it as such.

Norman High School junior Emily Frech, writing in The Norman Transcript on putting tax cuts before restoring funding for education

Chart of the Week

OK Policy Note

In all of the major income tax proposals this year (including the plan announced yesterday by Senate Republicans), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has been targeted for elimination. That’s strange, because lawmakers have made no clear argument for why we should lose this credit. They’ve spoken about the need to end handouts to “corporate special-interests,”  but the EITC goes to low-income working families.  It’s also strange because the EITC has a long history of support from conservative leaders.  So why are Oklahoma lawmakers proposing to end it? {click here to continue reading this post}

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We Have a Gender Problem In Oklahoma

We have a gender problem in Oklahoma.  And when I write “gender,” I also mean sex.  Sex in that there are some male/female balance issues.  But gender, in terms of societal and identified population self-defined roles.

Okay, the majority of these problems exist no only here but across the United States. The lack of answers, however, don’t effect me as much as they do locally.  So, I figure…start here, and work outward.  It’s always easier to change yourself than it is to change someone who lives 2,000 miles away.

The reason the Red Dirt Chronicles was created was to highlight various aspects of Oklahoma culture, and to share the ideas and work of authors who are Oklahoman.  But we have problems in Oklahoma just like any state and one of the most notable to me, right now, right here, is our lack of female legislators.  And, our lack of male human service employees.

First, the legislative problem.  Although we now have a state that is well over the ten percent mark (and some would argue hovers around the 15% mark) in Hispanic populations, our legislative body not representative of this fact.  Other ethnicities (Black, Asian, American Indian, etc.) are equally under-represented.  However, our Oklahoma population is roughly half female, but we only have (according to an interactive map deployed in 2009) 13% female legislators.  So, if you calculate the disparity in percentages, women are quite possibly the most underrepresented demographic of all. Want to know more? Read this.

I’m not going to write an argument about what a greater percentage of women could add to our state management, lawmaking and problem-solving process.  I think you know the answer to that if you just sit down and give it some thought.  I’m just pointing this out because if one person who reads this considers having a discussion of how to get more women into our governing body, then the deployment of this post was successful.

But the lack of women legislators isn’t the only gender problem in Oklahoma.  There are many more and I will probably write about others in the future.  Today, however, I want to point out the lack of men in the human and social services careers.  I just completed an eight year career training Child and Family Services students for their professional lives.  I coordinated approximately 100 interns per year (800 total) who went into the field of non-profit work, social services work, family life education, etc.  Of my one-hundred students, I generally had between two and four men per year.  The rest – a full 95-96% were women.

These facts are undisputed and cannot be changed.

So, ladies: Please think about entering public service by running for House and Senate seats in the State Legislative body.  Men, please consider working “with the people” who need help to find ways to help themselves.  A better balance creates better environments, better solutions, and better perspectives.


In The Know with Oklahoma Policy Institute: 4/27/2012

Number of the Week


Oklahoma’s rank nationally for the share of female residents reporting that they have been raped, physically abused, or stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime; 697,000 women in 2010.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Quote of the Week

They have been continuing to decrease the percentage of the state’s overall budget for years and years while there has been a steady increase in student population and costs have increased.  What if your budget at home had stayed the same over the last five years?

Lynn Stockley, Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President, on several rounds of cuts to the common education budget

Chart of the Week

OK Policy Note

Who’s behind the assault on income tax?

Earlier this month, rival events on the income tax debate presented an illuminating contrast. OK Policy’s forum featured economists from Oklahoma public and private universities, as well as economic development experts from the state Department of Commerce and the OKC, Tulsa, and State Chambers of Commerce. These experts from across Oklahoma’s academic and business community shared the message that eliminating the income tax would not live up to the promises of tax cut boosters and could be a disaster for the state.  At the same time, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) brought speakers from outside of Oklahoma to push for tax cuts. {click here to continue reading this post}

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In The Know with Oklahoma Policy Institute: 4/13/2012

Number of the Week

9.9 percent

Percentage of income paid in state and local taxes by the bottom 20 percent of earners in Oklahoma, compared to 4.8 percent paid by the top 1 percent of earners.

Source: ITEP via Oklahoma Policy Institute

Quote of the Week

“This is not 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is 2012. We stand together.”
Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, senior minister at All Souls Unitarian Church, on the community’s response to five random shootings of African-Americans Friday night

Chart of the Week

OK Policy Note

The Graduation Gap: Many minority students attend, but don’t complete college

The share of Oklahomans with a college education has lagged behind the national average for decades and in the last twenty years we’ve fallen even further behind.  Partly to blame is our lackluster college completion record.  Oklahoma has one of the lowest college graduation rates in the nation, with less than half (44.1 percent) of our enrolled students completing a degree within six years.  College completion rates for students of color in the state are particularly low, despite the fact that in recent years enrollment in higher education across race/ethnicity has seen dramatic improvement.  With the exception of Hispanic students, enrollment in public and private colleges and universities across the state is reflective of Oklahoma’s demographics.  Click here to continue reading.

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In The Know with Oklahoma Policy Institute: 3/30/2012


This is a weekly round-up of clips from In The Know, our daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs.  Sign up here to receive In The Know by email.

Number of the Week


Number of farms in Oklahoma principally operated by Native Americans, 2nd most in the nation, 2007

Source: U.S. Census of Agriculture

Quote of the Week

“We’re threadbare right now. We just don’t have the extra money… And we can’t just pull some number out of the air and say it’s going to generate this much growth.”
Rep. David Dank, Chair of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, who said a significant cut to the income tax is doubtful this session.

Chart of the Week

OKPolicy Note

Stand back, we don’t know how big these things may get

In the final days of the 2010 session, when legislative leaders were faced with historic revenue shortfalls and were desperate for ways to balance the budget, a deal was struck with representatives of the energy industry on oil and gas drilling incentives. The industry agreed to defer payment of credits on horizontal and deep well drilling for twenty-four months, until July 2012, and then to pay out over the next three years the credits that accrued during this period. In return, the legislature adopted several changes to how drilling is taxed that were sought by the industry. [click here to continue reading]

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An All-In-One Post for the “All of the Above” Policy: Obama in Oklahoma

The morning sun peeked through the horizon and low-hanging clouds sent a mixed message for the weather outlook.  It was chilly and a gentle breeze blew as cars, trucks and vans headed from all directions to Cushing, Oklahoma, full of people with an agenda.  Some wanted to witness a presidential motorcade, others wanted to hold signs in support of his visit, and some wanted to hold signs in protest of his energy policies.  Regardless of the agenda, however, everyone who arrived at their various rally spots seemed to be in an upbeat and anticipatory mood.

Continue reading An All-In-One Post for the “All of the Above” Policy: Obama in Oklahoma

Ron Paul Rally 2012, OK State Capitol: Generation Y Photo and Written Essays

Photos by Rachel Apple, written essay by Drew Apple

I have admired Ron Paul since I was about 16 and first discovered what it truly meant to believe in individual freedom. He has always been a great example of integrity in his convictions.

I draw a large amount of inspiration from hearing him speak about the pervasiveness and universal appeal of liberty. However, the thought of a pseudo-personal interaction with this man that I admire had never really crossed my mind. Continue reading Ron Paul Rally 2012, OK State Capitol: Generation Y Photo and Written Essays

“What the Debates Say About America” and How I Respond as an American

Dallas Caldwell, one of our contributors at the Red Dirt Chronicles, is my former boss. I was attending grad school when he accepted a position as the new headmaster where I was teaching. I always appreciated his ability to tell a story, but years later gained an appreciation for his ability to write and share his thoughts.

That’s why, when he writes about literature or something philosophical, I generally check it out. And tonight, I’m glad I did.

Dallas was sharing information on his Facebook about a post written by Kevin DeYoung over the presidential debates.  The quote was the full text of point number six from DeYoung’s analysis over the “13,000 Republican debates” and the public’s reaction to them.

He writes about the communication factor, the “horse race style” coverage, what American’s value in their candidates…but then negate, why negative attacks are vilified but work, the sin and values we’re willing to tolerate, and…our inconsistencies:

6. The debates over the past months, and the election in general, exposes a number of inconsistencies about Americans.

  • We want to be rich and want politicians who will promise to make us richer. But we don’t like our politicians themselves to be wealthy.
  • We want candidates to give straight answers and not dodge hard questions. But when they give specific answers to hard questions their answers will be ridiculed as dull or will be held against them.
  • We want our leaders to be super confident, super competent, and super intelligent. But we hate elites.
  • We want the president to be one of us and above us and unlike us at the same time.
  • We want someone to be an effective executive in the labyrinth of legislative, judicial, bureaucratic, military, and diplomatic tasks that face the modern President. But we also want him to be a complete outsider with no experience in how any of that works.
  • We want politicians unsullied by the real life tradeoffs, lobbyists, and interest groups of politics. But what they are like in the rest of life doesn’t really concern us. They can compromise in everything but politics.

As I worked down the bullet points a knot began to form in my stomach, then tighten, then wrench at my psyche – tugging as though it were in a man-of-war game for the core of how I consider information during a presidential campaign.

Yes, yes, yes. Check, check…cripes. Check again.

I finished the list, then did the only thing I knew to do.  I processed.  I processed this information that provided a moment of introspection by thinking it over a couple of times, sharing it with my husband and then? Sharing it with you.

Good luck with that.

Of Marriage, Commitment, Politics and Presidents

Newt, in the early days of his professorship at the University of Georgia. Was he strongly committed to his wife when this was taken? (Photo courtesy of Andrew Hazlett)

Early this morning I scanned an article covering details of the ABC interview with Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife, Marianne.  In the referenced video clip as well as accompanying quotes in a Washington Post article, the former Mrs. Gingrich reports among other things that:

  • Gingrich asked for an “open marriage” arrangement,
  • that he had been involved in a long-term affair with his legislative aid at that point,
  • and that soon after this conversation he moved forward with divorce proceedings even though she had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and the doctor had warned about stress-inducing situations for which I learned about the Synchronicity Hemp Oil tincture which is known to have multiple health benefits, including the potential for better sleep, Read more here.

I was in a bit of a hurry and wanted to scan a few other sources, but right before I signed off I quickly noticed a quote that weighed heavily on my mind.  Returning to review it again this evening, I now can only find one source for this quote which is interestingly the “Daily Mail” out of the United Kingdom.  Here’s the sentence:

Last year, she said in an interview: ‘He believes that what he says in public and how he lives don’t have to be connected.’

At first I wondered about the credibility of the quote because it appears it was pulled from the original article I saw this morning.  I looked through eight other sources who reprinted most all the information from the Washington Post article and none of them had this particular quote line, nor anything along the “actions vs ideas” issue.  I can’t know if the journalism entities decided to only focus on the new interview information, if there is a problem with the credibility of the quote, or if it was pulled for general editing purposes.  But that sentence, I felt, is the core of the big question about Gingrich…and, about ourselves.

Does he believe what he says in public and how he lives have to be connected?  And, do we? Continue reading Of Marriage, Commitment, Politics and Presidents

Silent Sunday Afternoon Edition: 2/13/11 ~ Valentines Day 1911

Obviously, the political cartoonist of the day thought England (personified as "John Bull") was jealous of the budding USA-Canadian relationship.
A "loving" relationship between both parties in the legislature was featured in this post as an "era of good feeling" at the State Capitol.

Continue reading Silent Sunday Afternoon Edition: 2/13/11 ~ Valentines Day 1911

The Middle IS a Position

This gummy bear is caught in the is our author.

by Joey Rodman

“Whose side are you on anyway?” My friend barked out over the phone. I paused for a second and tried to think of what to say but before I could she hung up. I desperately wanted to say I was on her side, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t on the opposing side either. I just, well, I guess I was on my side. My side is the one where this whole fight didn’t involve me so I wasn’t going to involve myself in it. This apparently was not an option.

I’ve never been much of an “us vs. them” thinker. People say there are two sides to every coin, but I think there are at least three. I remember reading Robert Frost’s poem about the two roads in the woods and how he chose the one less traveled. While I commend him for this I always wondered if he wasn’t still playing it safe. I mean he could have just wandered off where there wasn’t a path. Sure it’s not as safe or comfortable, but it can be done.

Unbeaten path treks come at a price, and in Oklahoma it’s a pretty hefty price. Orange or Crimson? Neither? Both? I’m happy if an Oklahoma team does well. This gets me labeled as a fair weather fan… which is SO not the case. I point to my undying affinity for the Chicago Cubs to prove that I am least of all unfaithful and mostly a glutton for punishment. I can look at which team has a better record, but these things are not very important to me (remember my Cubs fandom?). I look better in Crimson but I know a lot of really great OSU alums too. Should I pick a team based on how good it’s sweatshirt looks or by the company of it’s season ticket holders?

Continue reading The Middle IS a Position