Wednesday, April 30, 2014

One Botched Execution in Oklahoma Last Night Brings Up the Question: Why was Governor Fallin Adament on Executing Two Men Last Night Risking a Constitutional Crisis?

Oklahoma court lifts stay of executions, heading off confrontation with governor.  Republican governor Mary Fallin had tried to defy supreme court by making executive order to go ahead with lethal injections (LA Times)
After the botched execution of the first inmate last night -- there were to be two but a stay was given for the second one, I can truthfully say I oppose the death penalty except in rare instances like Terry McVeigh who bombed the Federal Building and then mocked the survivors.  Even then his co-conspirator Terry Nichols is serving a life sentence.  When I found out that there is a percentage of people on death row who were wrongly convicted, then it led me to believe that these executions have to stop.  This was inhumane anyway you view it and am tired of he got what was coming to him.  How does killing someone in the name of revenge for what they did make it right.  Especially from people who declare themselves to be these big Christians I have seen in the comment sections of websites on this.
This went viral around the world and is my hope that it ends the cruel punishment of executing (killing) people who did commit heinous crimes.  Why not let the people live with what they have done by keeping them in prison with no chance of parole?  
Some of us were telling people on Twitter that Governor Fallin had almost caused constitutional crisis with her determination to kill two prisoners in one night with a drug concoction that is still secret where it comes from.  The two convicts asked for a stay to find out more details on the drugs that Oklahoma and other states are keeping secret.
Something about Gov Fallin ordering an investigation into what happens rings very hollow and Christie like.  IMHO Fallin and independent investigation do not belong in the same sentence.  Found out from someone in MO they want to buy the drugs from OK and keep secret where it came from and how it is being used.  What's wrong with these people?  What happened last night in OK was inhuman IMHO.  Death Penalty needs to get the death penalty IMHO!  Noticed that the hard right so-called Christians were gleeful at what happened and that we were putting people to death.  Something about being Christian and lovers of the death penalty don't go together.

Here is the background from last week that went viral around the Country and the world making Oklahoma look like a backwoods State but then after what the Governor has been up to it is probably appropriate.  After last night, it is definitely appropriate.  She has become very dictatorial now vetoing bills to make the OK House do what she demands.  This is what almost led to a Constitutional crisis in Oklahoma because of Fallin and AG Pruitt thinking they are above the Constitution.  Best report of what happened came from the London Guardian -- my bold and red emphasis:
Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin steps into a legal tussle over executions  
Katie Fretland in Tulsa, Oklahoma  
Wednesday 23 April 2014 21.48 EDT
The Oklahoma supreme court has dissolved its stay of the executions of two men who challenged the state's secrecy about its source of lethal injection drugs. The court reversed the decision of a district court judge who said the law that keeps the source secret is unconstitutional. 
The turnaround heads off a potential constitutional crisis sparked by the state's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who had tried to override the stay by issuing an executive order to go ahead with the sentences. 
A day after the Oklahoma supreme court originally issued a stay of execution for the two convicted killers, the governor issued her own order on Tuesday that the state would carry out the sentences next week, but legal experts said she had no power to do so. 
The court's reversal on Wednesday came hours after a resolution by an Oklahoma House member to try to impeach some of its justices. 
In removing the stay, the court said the inmates had failed to demonstrate "actual injury" and that "the right of access to the courts does not include the right to discover a cause of action" to litigate.

Fallin had said the state supreme court acted “outside the constitutional authority” of its mandate in staying Clayton Lockett's execution. She granted a stay of seven days for Lockett, rescheduling his execution for 29 April, the same day condemned inmate Charles Warner is scheduled to be executed. But legal experts said the supreme court's stays had to be followed and the governor lacked the power to reset the date. 
"Governor Fallin is a politician and not a lawyer," said Randall Coyne, a constitutional law expert at the University of Oklahoma. "According to well-established precedent of the US supreme court, the courts – not executive officials – have the final word on what is constitutional. She of course has the right to disagree with judicial decisions but they remain the law. The governor is dangerously close to precipitating a constitutional crisis." 
The day before Lockett’s planned execution, the Oklahoma supreme court on Monday indefinitely delayed his and Warner's executions while they challenged the constitutionality of a law that keeps secret the source of the state’s execution drugs. The state's highest court stepped in after two weeks of legal tussles in which it and the court of criminal appeals both said they did not have the authority to grant a stay. 
On Tuesday the office of the attorney general, Scott Pruitt, asked the state supreme court to rehear the case, arguing the court had caused chaos for the bifurcated appeals system of the state. The supreme court denied that petition 6 to 3 on Tuesday, essentially rejecting Pruitt’s questioning of the court’s jurisdiction. 
Fallin then stepped in with an executive order, telling Pruitt’s office to file papers with the Oklahoma court of criminal appeals that would give her a blueprint as to how to implement the execution order.  
Eric M Freedman, a constitutional law expert at Hofstra University, said Fallin's order was "pure political posturing"
“The probability that the state will succeed in carrying out the executions in defiance of the stays entered by the Oklahoma supreme court hovers between zilch and zero," he said. 
Lockett and Warner challenged the constitutionality of an Oklahoma law that keeps the source of execution drugs secret. An Oklahoma county district court judge ruled in their favor in March, and judge Patricia Parrish said the statute violated their right to due process. Lawyers for Lockett and Warner say it would be "unthinkable" to carry out the executions while that challenge was unresolved. 
Oklahoma attorney Stephen Jones, a Republican who served as counsel to Republican governors, said Tuesday's developments were about politics and Fallin has made a power grab of the state judiciary. "It gives them something to campaign upon," Jones said. 
He said executing the men despite the court's stay would create a "nasty confrontation" that the governor and attorney general would legally lose. 
“She should have stayed out of it and let the courts work it out. She doesn’t really have a dog in the fight. Frankly I think it’s a sign of weakness on the part of the attorney general that he got the governor to do that. Scott Pruitt has not practiced much as a lawyer," Jones said. 
Brady R Henderson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said the governor could delay an execution but resetting the execution date was unlikely to hold up legally. "The Oklahoma constitution simply does not give her the power to do that," Henderson said. 
"It is important to remember that the entire matter comes from a relatively simple request from two condemned men to find out about the drugs that would be used to kill them," he said. 
"There are serious concerns about the conduct of the lethal injection process, and an Oklahoma law attempts to bar the inmates and everybody else from finding out important information about the process. In other words, it puts a veil of secrecy over one of the most grave functions of state government – killing its own citizens." 
Seth Day, an attorney for the two men, said the secrecy surrounding the executions "undermines our courts and democracy". 
"It is unacceptable that Oklahomans have no way of knowing that the scheduled upcoming executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner would be carried out in a constitutional and humane manner," Day said. "It's not even known whether the lethal injection drugs to be used were obtained legally, and nothing is known about their source, purity, or efficacy, among other questions."
As a citizen of Oklahoma, I do not understand why the drug sources and how the quanity was determined are kept secret because no one knows where they were obtained.  It is obvious after the botched execution that the secrecy should be ended if it takes the federal courts.  I am tired of this Governor's office and the Attorney General continually thinking they are above the law and playing politics in this state.  The AG continually suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act plus siding with a for profit business Hobby Lobby before the Supreme Court is over the top.  Pruitt is the worst type of Attorney General because he is a grandstander and now to learn from a Republican lawyer who has advised Republican Governors that Pruit has practiced very little law makes me question why he ran for Attorney General to begin with.  Wish I had NEVER supported or VOTED for him.  You can say the same about Fallin and Janet Barrisi the State School Superintendent.  My eyes are wide open now to the hard right Republican Party in Oklahoma and my answer to them is "JUST SAY NO!"

In case you missed it this is what happened with the execution last night which was botched (understatement) -- Los Angeles Times had the best coverage using AP and Tulsa World sources:
Oklahoma Halts Double Execution After One is Botched
Matt Pearce, Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Paresh Dave
April 29, 2014, 10:30 p.m. 
A controversial double execution in Oklahoma was scrubbed Tuesday night after the first inmate to receive an experimental three-drug cocktail writhed and grimaced on the gurney, struggled to lift his head and died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes later, officials and witnesses said. 
Clayton Lockett's bizarre death came after a constitutional showdown in Oklahoma over state execution secrecy laws. It is likely to provoke strong criticism from death penalty critics at a time when similar policies for lethal injections have come under fire across the nation. 
The botched execution will have a huge effect, Deborah W. Denno, a professor at Fordham Law School and a death penalty expert, told the Los Angeles Times. "The entire world was watching this execution." 
According to reporters at the scene, Lockett, 38, received the first dose of the three-drug cocktail at 6:23 p.m. 
The drugs were midazolam, which causes unconsciousness; vecuronium bromide, which stops respiration; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. They are administered in that order. The state has said the procedure is meant to involve three doctors with hand-held syringes, injecting the drugs into IV lines in both the inmate's arms. 
At 6:33 p.m., 10 minutes after the execution began, a doctor said Lockett was unconscious. But three minutes later, Lockett began to nod and mumble and writhe, witnesses said. 
A spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, citing comments by the department’s director, Robert Patton, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Lockett did not die immediately after the lethal injection was administered. 
“The director did say that it appears that a vein [in Lockett's body] blew up or exploded, it collapsed, and the drugs were not getting into the system like they were supposed to,” spokesman Jerry Massie said. 
Massie said that after the new injection was administered, the condemned man “was obviously showing some movement.” 
“After several minutes, five minutes, he was not unconscious,” Massie said. “They made a decision to halt the execution, but at 7:06 he suffered a massive heart attack and expired.”
Massie said the inmate had a physician attending to him, a doctor who does not work for the department. Massie could not say whether that physician had ordered the inmate to be taken to a hospital. 
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin had strongly pushed for Tuesday night's double execution. She issued a statement acknowledging the botched death and ordered a two-week delay in the execution of Charles F. Warner, who was to die after Lockett on Tuesday night. 
Click Link to Read More at the LA Times
Latest from LA Times today on this atrocity,  I am using the Times as a source because they are not tainted by local Oklahoma politics.  Frankly having a member of the Oklahoma State Government do the investigation screams cover-up before they even start as the Fallin Administration has the transparency of a gnat:
Molly Hennessy-Fiske
April 30, 2014, 12:57 p.m.
Reporting from Oklahoma City— 
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin promised an independent review of the state’s execution protocols Wednesday after a bungled execution raised questions about the state's handling of capital punishment. 
The Republican governor emphasized, however, that she has faith that state officials were legally correct in proceeding with the execution over the objections of defense lawyers. 
“I believe the legal process worked,” Fallin said, “I believe the death penalty is an appropriate response and punishment for those who commit heinous crimes.” 
Witnesses have said that convicted murderer Clayton Lockett began writhing and mumbling after prison officials administered the lethal injection Tuesday and also was twitching on the gurney. Officials said Lockett subsequently died of a heart attack 
Fallin defied the state Supreme Court’s order for a delay. A legislator sought to impeach the justices. But the unusual double execution was eventually cleared to proceed. 
Oklahoma is one of several states that have grappled with shortages of lethal injection drugs. 
Drug companies, fearful of protests, have refused to supply some of the drugs. Some states have responded by switching drugs, then declining to release information about the new drugs and who had supplied them, citing concern for the welfare of suppliers. 
Oklahoma officials have defended the drugs they use. 
After Fallin spoke, Oklahoma state lawmakers outraged by the execution called a briefing at the Capitol with local NAACP and ACLU leaders. They planned to discuss a proposed joint resolution that would call for a year-long moratorium on executions. A defense attorney was also expected to address the possibility of bringing a lawsuit against the state concerning its lethal injection methods and the drugs used.
Click Link to Read More at the LA Times 
If you live in in Oklahoma and vote, you may want to think twice before casting any votes for Governor Fallin or Attorney General Pruitt.  Will have more on Fallin's latest in vetoing bills to make the Oklahoma House do her bidding this week.

My support and my vote is going to Rep Joe Dorman (D) who speaks for all Oklahomans not just the wealthy donors of the GOP.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NBA Commissioner Silver Delivers the Life Long Ban to Sterling from the NBC; Now Moves to Eject Clippers Owner

Silver said it did not matter that Sterling’s comments were recorded without his knowledge in a private setting. “Whether or not these remarks were shared in private,” Silver said, “they are now public and they represent his views.”
This reaction by the Clippers without Sterling was what the players, coaches, and fans of the Clippers needed after a very trying few days -- "WE ARE ONE"
The Los Angeles Clippers released a statement following the lifetime banning of owner Donald Sterling, expressing support and agreement of it. 
“We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins," the Clippers statement said. 
Along with that, the Clippers team website updated with a message that only said "We Are One."

Impressed with new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who got to the bottom of this investigation right away, came out with the fact that it was Donald Sterling's voice, and didn't buy into the Sterling defense that it was recorded without his knowledge.  He gained the respect of other owners, players, and fans of the NBA by taking quick action after the investigation was complete.
Now calling for removal of the Clippers owner has the Players Association in agreement that the new Commissioner is doing what is right.  
Donald Sterling sanctioned: Adam Silver moves to eject Clippers owner 
Ben BolchApril 29, 2014, 12:31 p.m. 
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued sweeping sanctions against Donald Sterling on Tuesday in response to controversial remarks about blacks purportedly made by Sterling. Silver said the Clippers owner was fined $2.5 million and was banned from any association with the team for life. Silver added that he would urge other owners to force a sale of the team. 
Silver said the lifetime ban would stand regardless of whether Sterling was ultimately forced to sell the team he's owned for 33 years. The commissioner said the NBA constitution allowed owners to eject Sterling if three-quarters of the owners voted in favor of such a move, and that he would commence the process of expulsion immediately.
“I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him,” said Silver, who appeared visibly agitated throughout his remarks. 
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted his support, saying he agreed "100%" with Silver's findings and the actions taken against Sterling. 
Under the terms of Silver’s punishment, the 80-year-old Sterling cannot attend any NBA games or practices and is not allowed to inhabit any Clippers facility or participate in any business or player personnel decision involving the team. Sterling is also barred from the NBA’s Board of Governors meetings and other league activities, Silver said. 
The commissioner said the $2.5-million fine was the maximum allowed under the league constitution and would be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Assn. will jointly select those organizations. 
Click Here for more details
Getting the NBA Player's Association on board with the action taken by NBA Commissioner Silver could go a long way in ending the long standing problems that former NBA Commissioner Stern had the with Player's Association.  It is a new Commissioner and a new day in the NBA.

Kevin Johnson responds on behalf of the NBPA regarding Los Angeles Clippers 
owner Donald Sterling 's comments and ban for life from the NBA.
(Photo: Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY Sports)
 Sacramento mayor and former NBA great Kevin Johnson, who worked with the Players Assn. on the matter, tempered Mason’s demand.
“As soon as [NBA owners] can do it,” Johnson said of a timetable to end Sterling’s ownership. 
Mason said players had been prepared to boycott playoff games if Silver didn’t issue a severe punishment. 
The news conference appeared to mark a turning point in the often-contentious relationship between the NBA and union. Johnson described Silver as the “players’ commissioner" and praised his swift action against what Johnson called a “rotten apple” and “cancer.” 
Ron Klempner, acting director of the players' union, said Tuesday was a “transcendent” moment for the league and that he believed the ownership vote would be resolved as quickly as possible.
Here are some comments from some former Laker greats and a current Laker Steve Nash:
Magic Johnson said on Twitter that Silver "showed great leadership" in banning Sterling for life. Shaquille O'Neal weighed on Twitter in with "Way to go, Commissioner Silver! The NBA stands for everybody!" 
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, said he was "just really thrilled" with Silver's punishment of Sterling, which also included a $2.5 million fine. 
"He handled it the right way," Abdul-Jabbar said at a Tuesday news conference in Los Angeles immediately after Silver announced his decision. "It's going to be a new day here in this city." 
Lakers point guard Steve Nash, the NBA's elder statesman at 40 years old, thanked Silver for a "quick, unequivocal and decisive" move in banning Sterling.
Racism has no place in sports, in every day life, in politics, or anything else.  Maybe some GOP should get a hint that the American people are fed up with racist statements and are not going to keep putting up with the nasty comments including the ones against President Obama.  

It is time for the American people after enduring the racism we are seeing today, to remember the immortal words of Rev Martin Luther King Jr:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
First major test for the new NBA Commissioner and he passed with flying colors.

Good Luck Clippers on your next game!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Donald Sterling, Owner of LA Clippers, No Longer a Closet Racist but out in the Open

“The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive racist statements that were published. I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves.  When people — when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. And that’s what happened here.” (Pres Obama said at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Sunday)

Now ready to return to my blog -- was going to do Oklahoma politics today but I have to add my two cents on the racist comments of Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA Clippers.  His racist comments keep piling up as more audio is released.  Never been my favorite owner as I never felt until he drafted Blake Griffin from the University of Oklahoma that he was not serious about winning anything.  He just hired Doc Rivers to coach this year.  Now the team and Doc find out just how racist of owner they work for today.  Don't think the NBA has any choice but to act against Sterling and come down hard. If I was in charge of the NBA, he would be forced to sell the franchise as there is no room for a racist owner in the NBA or any other sport.

My recommendation is that my favorite basketball player of all time, Magic Johnson, put a group together to buy the Clippers.  I see Michael Jordan sitting on the sideline of the Charlotte Bobcats and think how great it would be to see Magic on the sidelines of the Clippers to go along with Larry Bird of the Indiana Pacers.  Another Johnson/Bird/Jordan rivalry would be awesome for the NBA.

To be fair to the Sterling family I am going to include his wife's comments as she is as furious as anyone with the scumbag.  Note his wife of 50 years is suing his mistress calling her a gold digger (no kidding).  Her family is being maligned because of her 80 year old husband is racist who said what he believes.
Donald Sterling's wife joined the chorus of hostile voices condemning her husband's "racist comments" and "despicable" views.  
The disgraced owner’s wife, Shelly, released a statement Monday distancing herself and ripped into her"estranged" husband. 
"Our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband. My children and I do not share these despicable views or prejudices. We will not let one man's small mindedness poison the spirit of the fans and accomplishments of the team in the city we love. We are doing everything in our power to stand by and support our Clippers team." 
The remarks came a day after Shelly Sterling sat in the same court side seat she and her husband sat in Friday night, right across from the Clippers’ bench. This time, Mrs. Sterling was alone and dressed in black.
It is mind boggling for an owner to be such a racist scumbag in the NBA but somehow it doesn't shock me out of him.  What is surprising is that he was very vocal on the phone with his mistress on his contempt for blacks.  Clippers are losing sponsors over his insulting racist comments and could bankrupt the team.  Better for the NBA to step in now and force him out before the franchise tanks in total and coaches/players start leaving:
"CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers' owner completely unacceptable," the company said in a statement through public relations manager Catherine Gryp on Monday. " 
These views directly conflict with CarMax's culture of respect for all individuals. While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for nine years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship." 
Virgin America said in a statement that it was cutting ties with the team "while we ncontinue to support the fans and the players." 
State Farm, Kia Motors America and Red Bull have condemned the alleged remarks, and said they will suspend their sponsorship and advertising obligations, closely monitor the situation and assess their options.

After a team meeting where the Clippers players and coaches met it was decided quickly to play the game BUT in protest they took off their warm up jackets and threw them in the center of the Court.

After throwing their outside Clipper jackets at center court, they warmed up for 20 minutes in their shirts turned inside out.

This protest was a way for the team to show their disgust with the owner after a team meeting.
Coach Doc Rivers led the 45-minute meeting and several players, including Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, spoke and voiced their anger after hearing the nearly 10-minute audio tape, which was released by TMZ on Friday night. The possibility of boycotting Game 4 of their first-round series against the Warriors was raised but quickly dismissed. 
"I thought we needed to talk about it because everyone else is and so we needed to talk about it and all things came up," Rivers said. "We've heard all the stuff, the boycotts and all the stuff and all those things are things you could do but we choose to play and we're going to play tomorrow. ... It was brought up because I'm sure 20,000 people have suggested it but honestly I'm completely against that and they were, too. 
"Why should we let someones comments stop us from what we're trying to do? We're trying to do something here and we don't want that getting in the way of what we're trying to do." 
Rivers spoke on the matter on behalf of his players. Paul and Griffin addressed reporters but refused to answer questions about Sterling or the audio tape. Paul did release a statement on the situation through the NBPA.
Conservatives just could not let this go and called Sterling a Democrat because in the early 90's he donated to former NBA star Senator Bill Bradley and Gray Davis in CA as some of his few donations.  Of course this led the conservatives bloggers to go nuts calling him a Democrat and not checking any farther but once again they were wrong in the final analysis:

Mother Jones reports:

Not that Sterling's broader political views or party affiliation have much to do with the controversy over his insanely racist comments, but here's a news flash for those conservatives eager to bring up the topic: He's a Republican.
On Sunday, Michael Hiltzik, a Los Angeles Times columnist, tweeted that local voter records show Sterling to be a registered Republican "since 1998." We followed up on that, and a search of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's website for Sterling's name, date of birth, and address confirmed that he's registered as a Republican:

Bottom line is that Donald Sterling is without a doubt a racist and deserves to lose ownership of the NBA Clippers.  Nothing less will be good enough.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Be Back on Monday, April 28

Very busy week - finally nice weather and a lot to do outside plus some other matters.  Will be back next week with my response to Oklahoma passing another tax cut for the well to do  for the future which cannot even be scored.  GOP is bought and paid for in OK by ALEC, AFP = Koch Bros with some of the stupid statements they used to pass this which will hurt services in the future.  More on this on Monday as it plays out over the next few days.

Have a terrific weekend!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day 2014 from Norman, OK

As I listened to some of the local hard right make fun of Earth Day on local radio, I am reminded how screwed up thinking that is.  Do they not want safe drinking water and air to breath?  Do they not like fresh vegetables and flowers?  Really stupid comments!  We live on this Earth and the better we can make it for all, the better off we will all be.  Doesn't take rocket science to figure that out.

Very fortunate to live in Norman, Oklahoma, which is a Tree City USA with a University of Oklahoma that has some of the most beautiful gardens I have seen on a college campus or almost anywhere.  The statues on campus are surrounded by plants and flowers which they change with the season.  When you sit on the benches are OU, you are surrounded by nature.  Walking around campus makes you feel really good as it is so beautiful.  Just living in Norman around all the trees and plantings makes me realize that we have Earth Day every day here.

Today I was out plant shopping to replace some of the roses I lost in this last really cold winter along with the normal flowers I plant.  My early garden is already planted and getting asparagus every day and shortly will be picking broccoli.  Onions and garlic are getting ready to eat along with strawberries which are setting on and snow peas.  Potato plants look great.  My summer garden will go in shortly.  I enlarged the raised bed garden when I built the garden wall to replace the railroad ties that were self destructing.  My fruit trees bloomed for the first time this year along with the blueberries and raspberries look great.  Love working outdoors in the spring.  Have plenty of flowers to plant, feed the birds the year around from four different feeders, about to get out the hummingbird feeders and make sure my bird baths stay filled.  Have all kinds of birds, squirrels, a few rabbits, some ducks and geese from the lake down the green belt.  Plenty of bees and wasps -- got stung four times last year.  With the green belt we are living in the city but it is like living with nature.

This spring and summer will be landscaping the lower part of the yard after planting the fruit trees, etc. Part of it is finished but a lot more to do.  Don't want to have to mow much of the lower area.  Love this time of year and perfect day for Earth Day with bright blue skies a light breeze and plenty of sun plus it is in the 70's -- perfect weather.

Enjoy some of the pictures from the OU Campus, the City of Norman, and my home on this Earth Day!

North Oval University of Oklahoma  
South Oval, University of Oklahoma
James Garner Statue in Downtown Norman
Prairie Grass statute at Roundabout on Norman's Eastside
Andrews Park, Norman
A few pictures from the flood in the green belt from the deck of my home last year -- as you can see my garden flourished and didn't have to water it once last spring.  Grass grew really fast and hard to keep it mowed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oklahoma Republicans Have Cut More Than $200 Million from Education since 2008

Oklahomans need an accounting of what the Republican legislature has done with over $200M they have taken from education since 2008.  Where did they spend the money?  We have a right to know where over $200M has gone since it did not go to education for our children.

Oklahoma Policy Institute email this morning delivered the latest from Oklahoma Governor Fallin and the Oklahoma Legislature when it comes to education.  We have lived in five other states before coming to Oklahoma due to a transfer because of the BRAC Closure of Kelly AFB depot.  Not one of those states has the pathetic record on education as Oklahoma since the Republicans took total control of State Government in 2010 and before that the legislature in 2008 although Texas is striving to catch up with a Governor who has now gone hard right along with a legislature that has lost all common sense.

We chose to live in Norman, OK, which has an outstanding public school system and the absolute best Superintendent of Schools Joe Siano that I have ever seen anyplace we have lived.  We have a rainy day fund and a community that supports our schools.  We pass operating levies and bond issues because our school board never overreaches unless you are a Republican who always vote against anything the schools need with their 'smaller government' mantra.

First time I had a Republican tell me that the Bible needed taught in the Norman schools along with a Christian prayer every day, I had all I could do to keep from blasting them.  Instead I said we will just have to agree to disagree and was told to get out of the GOP if I support our schools because Republicans don't support public schools.  That said it all!

Sit here day after day and read the attacks on education by the Governor, State School Superintendent, and members of the Legislature as they don't see the need to fully fund both education and infrastructure. They are proud of themselves of their cuts to education and no raises for teachers which was the first hint that the vast majority Oklahoma Republican office holders are bought and paid for by wealthy donors and ALEC who is fronting for the Koch Bros.  Social issues have become a priority of the Oklahoma Legislature along with more tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy instead of fully funding education.  Some legislators now want to take money from infrastructure like roads and bridges when we have some of the worst in the Country to give more to education.  

Oklahoma Policy Institute which is a non-partisan has done an excellent job on tracking Education in Oklahoma which shows what the Governor, State School Superintendent,  and Legislature are doing in their attempts to destroy public education including our universities.  The GOP reaction is that OK Policy is liberal because they disagree with Republicans on the way they are handling education and other issues when they are telling it like it is without spin.

Latest Email from
This year Governor Fallin and legislators are pushing more tax cuts in Oklahoma, even as the state faces a $188 million budget shortfall and support for public schools has been cut more than $200 million since 2008. State lawmakers have justified their actions by claiming that tax cuts will boost the economy and create jobs. A new fact sheet from Oklahoma Policy Institute makes that case that investing in education is a much better proven strategy for growth and job creation.
The fact sheet shows that:
  • With few exceptions, the states where workers earn the highest wages are those with the most college graduates. And despite Oklahoma's recent economic successes, both our median wage and educational attainment are well below the national average.
  • The wage premium for a college degree has increased significantly since the 1990s and 1980s. Those with more education earn higher pay and have fewer periods of unemployment.
  • Oklahoma has made the largest cuts to K-12 funding in the nation, and state funding for higher education is down 26.2 percent after inflation since 2008. Oklahoma is consistently ranked near the bottom for education funding and teacher pay.
  • Education cuts put Oklahoma’s economic future at risk. Over the longer term, the cuts make it less likely that Oklahoma can develop the highly skilled workforce needed to compete in today’s global economy.
You can find more of our research and materials about education issues at

Click Here to sign up to get their daily emails with what is happening in State Government that affects all of us.  It is the best site I have found in any state we have lived to keep you up to date.  
A local democrat had a bet with me that education was going to be what drove me away from the GOP years ago.  He was right as I have always been a big proponent of public schools giving our children a good education based on facts not some junk science the hard right wants to teach in this State.  The very idea they want to bring religion into the public schools and make teachers teach the Bible which was in the GOP State Convention Platform at the last one I attended in 2010 sent me over the edge.  By the summer of 2011, I completely had it with Republicans in Oklahoma as they fully adopted the ALEC and the Tea Party agenda which many of us know is the Koch Bros Agenda. Seems money talks with Republicans today who put donors over what is good for the residents of their states.  They have lost all empathy for those less fortunate.

Just don't understand any state that would not want their children educated.  Is it because they want to be able to control what they think?  You can do that better with an uneducated populace.  Whatever the reason, I am embarrassed to ever have been a Republican in Oklahoma not to mention an active Republican.  One of the people I met said he was a conservative in Texas and a liberal in Oklahoma. Now we would both be liberals in the GOP in Texas which has gone hard right since we both lived there.  The hard right I thought was only in Oklahoma has gone all over the Country with this anti-public education and pro-charter schools owned by hedge fund and GOP donors.  Not hard to figure out what they are up to and must be stopped in November 2014 by everyone who values education for our children getting out to vote to send the neanderthals to the unemployment line.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oklahoma Hard Right GOP Governor, Mustang Public Schools, and Oral Roberts University have Lost All Common Sense

You could say that most the elected Republicans in Oklahoma along with the State GOP have officially gone over the edge of the cliff and you would be right.  When your Governor gets the #1 ALEC award last spring, you know that things are about to get worse.  It has as Gov Fallin instead of providing benefits for same sex couples in the Oklahoma National Guard who wanted to sign up locally, she made sure that all members of the Guard who wanted to sign for spousal benefits had to travel to Federal installations to do the sign up which meant some had to travel hours.  Denying gay couples their rights hurt everyone.  She didn't seem to care either.

Think I am finally figuring out that she only cares about people if there is a disaster and she get on the national airwaves showing what a caring Governor she is but in everyday life not so much as everyone is beginning to see.  If you don't fit in the wealthy hole or are hard right, you might as well take a flying leap as she and the rest of OK GOP could care less IMO.

How she was ever elected head of the Governor's Association shows IMO Republicans pushed her because she will do what she is told which is what we are seeing in Oklahoma.  When she first ran for Congress, I worked for her opponent and have never regretted that for a minute because she was honest and have had my doubts about Fallin for a longtime going back to all the rumors.  I didn't think the Democrats did a good job of picking someone to oppose her in 2010, but this year Democrat Rep Joe Dorman is someone I can get behind 100%.  She is in for a shock in 2014 with Dorman IMHO after they got Randy Brogdan to pull out of the Governor's race to run for a Senate seat to clear the way for Fallin.  Still shocked at Fallin's comments over and over again that show someone out of touch with every day Oklahomans.  Her over the top anti-gay and ACA is just too much.

The very fact that she refused to take federal dollars to set up an exchange as they didn't want the Federal Government telling Oklahoma what to do makes her look like the biggest hypocrite as she now wants to tell local entities what they can and cannot do.  She has become a dictator in Oklahoma where only her ideas count.  Her good friend State School Superintendent Janet Barrisi is the same way. Those two women need sent to the unemployment line in November 2014.
Gov. Mary Fallin signs minimum wage hike ban in Oklahoma
Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014 4:40 pm | Updated: 5:39 pm, Mon Apr 14, 2014.Associated Press | 
OKLAHOMA CITY — Cities in Oklahoma are prohibited from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day requirements under a bill that has been signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. 
Fallin signed the bill Monday that supporters say would prevent a hodgepodge of minimum wages in different parts of the state that could potentially harm the business community. 
Opponents say those decisions should be left up to individual communities. They complain the bill specifically targets Oklahoma City, where an initiative is underway to a establish a citywide minimum wage higher than the current federal minimum wage.
Fallin signed three other bills Monday dealing with tax credits for banking institutions, public investments, and membership of the Alarm and Locksmith Industry Committee.
Hard right Representative Michelle Bachmann who is under investigation in Iowa by the Federal Government for her campaign plus may be one of the meaner GOP women when she speaks has been chosen to be the commencement speaker at Oral Roberts University.  Confirms what I thought of ORU which is not very much.  The Founder's son had to be removed for spending too much unauthorized money.  Don't have the same impression of St Gregory and Oklahoma Baptist in Shawnee or Oklahoma Christian in OKC as I do ORU which was founded by Oral Roberts who was a televangelist.  Always seemed to be about preying on the elderly for money.  Just call me a skeptic when I hear or see televangelist begging for dollars.  Those other three Christian universities mentioned are on the up and up and students can get a good education at any of them.

ORU grad Michelle Bachmann to give commencement address
From Staff Reports | Minnesota Congresswoman and former presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann will give the commencement address at Oral Roberts University next month. 
A long-time favorite of the Tea Party movement, Bachmann in 2006 became the first Republican woman elected to the House of Representatives from Minnesota. 
She is a graduate of the former O.W. Coburn School of Law at ORU and served in the Minnesota State Senate from 2000 through 2006. 
She was listed in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2011. 
Bachmann has announced she will not seek re-election this fall. 
More than 700 ORU students will graduate at the commencement service at 1 p.m. May 3 in the Mabee Center. 
Little background on OW Coburn School of Law which was closed, with its 190,000 volume law library, as well as 5 professors and 23 students, moving to CBN University (now Regent University) which was not accredited at the time.  What is with these these religious schools that believe they can teach whatever and have no regard for rules and regulations.  The very idea they want religious freedom but want to deny the rest of us what we believe which may be different is offensive is to me. 

Never forget going with my daughter who is a journalist when she had to do an interview at Oral Roberts and driving through the entrance and seeing those huge prayer hands and the prayer tower which looked like a spaceship.  Must admit it made me uncomfortable and was happy when she was finished and we could leave.  

Stayed in the car and watched very closely the students and it had a much different vibe then if you are on the OU campus in Norman.  Hard to put your finger on but at OU you always see kids joking around and smiling -- saw few smiles at ORU as they went from class to class.  It was strange.

Then you find out Bachmann went to Law School at ORU with such a small number of faculty and students.  That's just strange.  Were acceptance standards lower to be admitted then a long time accredited law school?  
In May 1981, the American Bar Association (ABA), which provides accreditation for US law schools, denied Coburn's initial application for provisional accreditation. Oral Roberts University's requirement that students must take an oath of religious faith was considered to be contrary to ABA's Standard 211, which states: 
A law school shall foster and maintain equality of opportunity in legal education, including employment of faculty and staff, without discrimination or segregation on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation, age or disability. 
The school sued the ABA, claiming that the denial was a violation of their First Amendment rights. A judge enjoined the ABA from denying provisional accreditation, ruling that the ABA's role in accreditation is equivalent to a "state action," and that Standard 211 denied a private institution's right to freedom of religion without any restrictions by the state. 
After a "spirited debate," the ABA's House of Delegates in August 1981 voted 147 to 127 to amend Standard 211 to add a clause including the phrase: 
Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent a law school from having a religious affiliation and purpose and adopting policies of admission and employment that directly relate to such affiliation and purpose so long as notice of such policies has been provided to applicants, students, faculty and employees. 
Coburn was then granted provisional accreditation 

If that was not enough in Oklahoma, Mustang PUBLIC Schools are going to be teaching a book in an elective history course from the head of Hobby Lobby Green.  My tax dollars are now going to support his agenda in a public school?  What is Mustang School Board thinking?  Somehow it doesn't shock me this would happen there based on my experiences when our football team played at Mustang.  You could say that Norman, OK, and Mustang, OK, are about as far apart philosophically as you can get in Oklahoma. Norman is progressive and Mustang very conservative.  Was recently told there are only two progressive cities in Oklahoma -- Norman and Muskogee which I found interesting.  Glad to call Norman home!   Hobby Lobby's owner, Green, seems to be everywhere pushing his version of the Bible at the rest of us.  I, for one, will NEVER shop Hobby Lobby or Mardel book store again.

Sometimes in Oklahoma all you can do is shake your head.  Been saying it was too politically hard right when we were transferred to Oklahoma and over time I can now tell people "I Told You So" because they are proving it more and more.  Democrats get a clue and fight hard to start taking back the state to common sense.

Oklahoma school district OKs ‘Bible curriculum’ created by Hobby Lobby president (via Raw Story )
According to the Religious News Service, the “Museum of the Bible Curriculum” created by Hobby Lobby’s President Steve Green (pictured above) will be beta-tested in Oklahoma’s Mustang Public School district beginning in the Fall of 2014. Green…

Monday, April 14, 2014

Russian Aircraft Buzzes USS Cook in Black Sea 12 Times

"The Donald Cook is more than capable of defending itself against two Su-24s," Colonel Warren

That statement is probably the understatement of the year.  Does President Putin think this saber rattling is going to influence the US into giving in?  If he does, then he must be watching Fox News and listening to the Republicans in Congress who keep dissing President Obama over Ukraine and siding with the Russians time and time again which makes no sense.   What do the Koch Bros have to gain with the GOP siding in many cases with the Russians?  Becoming more obvious by the day that the Koch Bros are pulling the puppet strings of the GOP who are doing their bidding.
Then you have former AR Governor Mike Huckabee talking about North Korea is more free then US which is mind boggling.  Offered today to set up a PAC to help him move, willing to help pack him up, and even throw in some boxes from previous moves.  The man is a lunatic.  From the Daily Mail United Kingdom:
Fox News personality and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee stunned a New Hampshire crowd on Saturday by likening the federal government's treatment of airport passengers to the totalitarian regime of Kim Jong-un. 
'My gosh, I'm beginning to think that there's more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States,' he told a partisan crowd at the inaugural New Hampshire Freedom Summit. 
'When I go to the airport, I have to get into the surrender position, people put hands all over me, and I have to provide photo ID in a couple of different forms to prove that I'm not going to terrorize the airplane,' he deadpanned. 
In a speech filled with jokes, Huckabee seemed deadly serious.
Would  Huckabee rather have no security and let terrorists fly on our planes.  Guess he figures N. Korea has no security for their flights.  Is the man even sane to make the comparison?  Yet he is running for the Presidential nomination as a Republican.

When I received this email from American Forces News Service which covers the Pentagon, I wasn't really shocked.  Been waiting for something like this to happen.  Does Putin know how stupid Russia looks buzzing a guided missile destroyer of the US.  Bet the Russians are the butt of some jokes on the destroyer.  Has Putin totally lost it because it is hard to see what Russia can gain from this:
04/14/2014 01:03 PM CDT
By Jim Garamone 
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2014 - A Russian attack aircraft repeatedly flew near the USS Donald Cook in international waters in the Black Sea on April 12, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

Donald Cook is the first of four Arleigh Burke-class
 guided-missile destroyers to be stationed in Rota.
The USS Cook was patrolling in the western Black Sea when an unarmed Russian Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft repeatedly flew near the Navy ship, Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters.
"The aircraft did not respond to multiple queries and warnings from Donald Cook, and the event ended without incident after approximately 90 minutes," Warren said. "This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with international protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries."
Two Russian aircraft were present, but only one took part in the provocative actions, Warren said. The aircraft flew from near sea level to a couple of thousand feet, he added, but never overflew the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyer." 
The Russian plane made a total of 12 passes," he said. 
The wingman stayed at a considerably higher altitude, Warren said. 
Officials later said the aircraft approached within about 1,000 yards of the ship. The USS Cook was never in danger, Warren said. 
"The Donald Cook is more than capable of defending itself against two Su-24s," the colonel said. 
Warren said he does not think this is an example of a young pilot joyriding. "I would have difficulty believing that two Russian pilots, on their own, would chose to take such an action," he said. "We've seen the Russians conduct themselves unprofessionally and in violation of international norms in Ukraine for several months, and these continued acts of provocation and unprofessionalism do nothing to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, which we called on the Russians to do." 
The Cook arrived in the Black Sea on April 10. The ship is now making a port call in Constanta, Romania.
We have all this going on and our illustrious Congress is not in town -- time for another vacation when they just came back from a week off.  Yet Rep Moran (D-VA) thinks they are underpaid in comparison to CEO's. Think they are overpaid for time worked.   
Monday, Apr 28, 2014 2:00 p.m.: Convene and begin a period of morning business.
5:30 p.m.: Proceed to executive session to consider nominations.

Previous Meeting Friday, Apr 11, 2014 The Senate convened at 4:00 p.m. and adjourned at 4:14 p.m. No record votes were taken.
We have the Russians who invaded Crimea in the Ukraine, hold a phony referendum, take back Crimea, and Republicans are either siding with the Russians or calling the President weak in his policy. Here are some headlines:

GOP skewers Obama’s ‘weak’ response in Ukraine 

"feckless" Foreign Policy for Ukraine Crises by none other then Sen McCain who still has a lot to answer for over the years but now he is the expert.  Seems he has never gotten over his loss in 2008 to President Obama.
Agreeing to IMF reforms would have helped him. So now Republicans’ mission to weaken the president is spilling over into foreign policy, too.You know those people who carry on all the time about how the United States looks weak to the world, and how we have to do everything we possibly can to help poor Ukraine stand up to the evil Vladimir Putin? Well, guess what they just did? They just made the United States look weak to the world—and they actually just reduced (yes, reduced) the amount of global aid that can flow to Ukraine to help it stand up to the evil Vladimir Putin.
And so it happens that the people who caterwaul about America being weak in the world become the very people who make it weaker. What does the world think as it watches this? Maybe some think merely that Obama is weak. But I’d wager most don’t. I’d wager most Europeans and others reach the right and reasonable conclusion: That American partisan dysfunction, driven far more by Republicans than by Democrats, now weakens not just our ability to carry out domestic politics but our foreign-policy aims as well. 
The more the Republicans ran to the microphones and Sunday shows, you realized that they had the same narrative -- some went as far as to defend what Putin had done and side with Russia which they had been doing since last fall.
Therefore, when Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, many on the right rallied around the former KGB agent and asked that Obama follow Putin’s lead. In his column, Putin asked that the United States respect the United Nations and follow the advice of the Security Council (which Russia is a part of) and practice caution on any action related to Syria. Putin also stated that peaceful dialogue and diplomacy should be utilized first and foremost and that military action should only occur with a consensus of other nations. 
At that time, you had members of the right-wing in this country go ga-ga over Putin. Pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Erick Erickson and Sean Hannity were praising the Russian President for his stance. Other Republicans like Pat Buchanan and Ralph Peters claimed that Putin was providing the type of leadership that the US apparently lacked at that moment. Basically, if you tuned into Fox News or talk radio during that time, you got a whole lot of Putin hero-worshiping.
What we have is a Republican Party who would rather weaken President Obama then do the right thing not only domestically but in our foreign policy but yet want re-elected.  Time to tell the Republican candidates for the most part to take it and shove.  Let them find out what the unemployment line is like except they probably will become lobbyist and make more money.   What the Republican Party has done by selling out this Country to wealthy donors like the Kochs and Adelson should be  crime especially now that it has gone over into foreign policy.

Never could figure out the love affair that some conservatives had with Putin except he is white and Obama is black.  These people supported a former? KGB agent like he was a hero which shocked me at the time.  Frankly it still does and Huckabee is carrying on tradition bragging about North Korea and yet some of these people want to be President -- give me a break.

JUST NO TO Republicans running for Congress!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hard Right Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Wants Four More Years

Hasn't AG Scott Pruitt wasted enough of Oklahoma tax dollars on his boondoggles against the Federal Government?  His hatred for the Federal Government and misreading of states rights continue to have him file lawsuits against the Federal Government which lose.  That doesn't even account for laws he signs off on from the Legislature that fail the Oklahoma Constitution test.

Don't know who is running against him, but they have my vote.  I will never vote for another hard right person in my life who seem to do only one thing really well -- waste taxpayers dollars -- make that two things -- be as irritating as can be with some of the dumbest statements that placate the hard right so they will support their reelection.  If he truly believes all these lawsuits that have wasted our tax dollars are legit, then he needs to go back to Law School and take a course in Constitutional Law because he is way over his head.  
Oklahoma Attorney General looking for another term 
Posted on: 9:14 pm, April 9, 2014, by Dallas Franklin and KFOR-TV 
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Attorney General is looking for another term in office.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed for re-election today at the Oklahoma Capitol. 
He promises to continue his fight against federal overreach and to protect the rights and interests of Oklahomans. 
He released a stating saying:
“Oklahomans are concerned with what they see in Washington and the direction our country is headed. The president and his administration are undermining the rule of law through their actions to expand federal authority, and the situation is unlikely to improve soon,” Pruitt said. “Oklahomans elected me attorney general to fight to restore the proper balance between the state and federal governments. Whether it’s our challenge against the Affordable Care Act, our efforts to stand up to the EPA, or our lawsuit to unravel the unconstitutional Dodd-Frank law, I am fighting each day to protect Oklahomans and fight for the rule of law and the preservation of our constitutional system. The fight is not over; there is much work to do. The next four years will be critical, and it’s my hope the people of Oklahoma give me the chance to continue to fight for them and the restoration of the principles of our founding.”
According to reports, during his time in office, Pruitt established the first federalism unit to combat unwarranted regulation and overreach by the federal government.

He also reportedly filed the first lawsuit in the nation against the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Oklahomans need to wake up to what the Koch Bros ALEC Agenda is doing to Oklahoma before its economy is totally destroyed along with the public schools in favor of charter schools of hedge funds and GOP donors.  Vote out the GOP and return some sanity to Oklahoma!   For Profit Business is not a Church organization just because the owner is religious.  Shame the Attorney General cannot see the difference in what the Constitution is all about but then we have some SCOTUS who believe a business is a person so what can I say except the Koch Bros Conservatives have gone over the edge and time to vote them out of office.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Visits Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning

Sitting here reading this and thinking how the world has changed when you have an American Secretary of Defense touring a Chinese Aircraft Carrier while Russia is saber rattling in the Ukraine.  If you had told me that five years ago, I would have laughed and thought you were nuts.  Years ago when I worked for the Air Force one of the Lt Colonel's in our office was an Advance Agent for President Nixon who went to China and then later to Russia in advance of the President's visit to both countries. In those days, the military supplied a lot of advance agents.

Can still remember him talking about being spied on in Moscow when you corner of the ceiling.  We kidded him about being watched all the time in the room and how did it feel when he changed clothes -- said he kept looking up in the corners of the ceiling wanting to put a towel over the cameras.

Today's visit to the Chinese Aircraft Carrier, Liaoning, is such a step forward in our relations with China that it is hard to put into words.  Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel continues to impress and definitely was the right person for the position.

There is no way that I would have ever guessed that a US Secretary of Defense would be in China and tour their prized carrier.  This email from DoD says it all:

04/07/2014 03:54 PM CDT
Hagel Visits Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
QINGDAO, China, April 7, 2014 - On Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's first official visit to China, the Peoples' Liberation Army allowed him, in response to a request made in January, to become the first foreign visitor to tour the sleek refitted Russian aircraft carrier -- the PLA's first -- called Liaoning.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, is greeted by U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark W. Gillette, right, U.S. defense attaché to China, and Chinese military officers in Qingdao, China, April 7, 2014. Hagel visited the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning while in Qingdao, the first foreigner to do so. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo 
China is Hagel's third stop after multiday meetings in Hawaii and Japan on his fourth trip to the Asia-Pacific region since becoming defense secretary. After a day of meetings here tomorrow, Hagel will stop in Mongolia to meet with government and military leaders there before starting home April 10.
Liaoning is moored at Yuchi Naval Base in its home port of Qingdao in east China's Shandong province.
"The secretary was very pleased with his visit today aboard the carrier Liaoning," Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.
Hagel understood the significance of the PLA's granting of his request for the tour, Kirby added, and the secretary was impressed by the professionalism of the ship's officers and crew.
"He hopes today's visit is a harbinger of other opportunities to improve our military-to-military dialogue and transparency," the press secretary said.
A defense official traveling with the secretary described the ship's tour as lasting about two hours, beginning with a briefing about the ship, its capabilities and operating schedule conducted by the two-star strike carrier group commander and the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Zhang Zheng.
The briefers were good, and they invited and encouraged questions, the official said. Hagel and his guest, U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, and others on the tour all asked questions, the official added.
"The briefing lasted about 30 minutes, and then we saw medical facilities on the ship, some of the living quarters, the flight control station where they control flight operations, the pilot house, and the bridge, where they drive the ship," the defense official said.
The secretary and his group also took a walking tour of the flight deck and saw launch stations and helicopter recovery stations as well arresting cables, "and got a briefing on how what we call in the U.S. Navy the 'landing signals officers' guide the aircraft in for an arrested landing on the flight deck," the official explained.
He said the ship was extraordinarily clean, and the crew was sharp and informative.
"Every sailor at every station where Hagel [stopped] for the tour knew exactly what their job was, and how important their job was, and exactly how to explain it to the secretary," the official said.
Hagel had a lot of give-and-take discussions with the crew throughout the tour, and talked to them just as he talks to U.S. troops when he goes out to visit them, the defense official added.
"The tour ended with a stop in the officers' dining area, where Hagel had a chance to sit down with junior officers, have some refreshments and just talk to them," the official said. "We all did. I sat down at a table with two junior female officers, and everybody did the same thing."
The crew members were very impressive and very dedicated, he observed.
"It's a new capability they're trying to develop, and I think they all appreciate the importance of it to the PLA, but also the difficulty of it," the official said. "On more than one occasion, the officers who were with us said quite frankly they know they have a long way to go in naval aviation. It is a difficult military capability to develop and to perfect, ... and they expressed that they believe they can still learn much from us in terms of how to get better at it."
The ship has three launching stations for jet aircraft, four arresting wires, a complement of about 1,500 sailors, one sixth of whom are officers, and there were 90 women in the crew, both officers and enlisted service members, the defense official said.
Liaoning has been out on sea trials almost 20 times, and officials know they still have to do more, he added.
Compared with U.S. aircraft carriers, Laioning isn't as big or fast, and it doesn't carry as many aircraft or as many types of aircraft, the official said, but it's a real aircraft carrier, capable of launching and recovering jet combat aircraft.
"We asked them when they would have an operational naval air wing on the ship, and the captain said there's no timeline for that right now," the official said. "They aren't at the state where they're declaring that sort of operational readiness."
The defense official said the opportunity for Hagel and his group to tour the aircraft carrier today was a significant step in China's attempts to be transparent and open.
"I would say that as this trip to Beijing begins for the secretary, today was a good first step in terms of trying to develop more openness and transparency," the defense official said.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Today a Candidate has to Earn My Support and Vote -- Voting for the Candidate Not the Party!

From this day forward I am supporting candidates that I trust which leaves out about 98% of Republicans and all of their candidates for President.   I have a few local Republicans I will support because I know they are people of integrity, but that's it.

From now on a candidate has to earn my support and not automatically expect it because they belong to a political party -- I am voting for the candidate not the party.  It is never happening again where I support a candidate because of the political party they belong.  If a candidate wants my support and my vote, they have to earn it.  Two very good candidates in Oklahoma have already done just that:
Democrat Joe Dorman is running for Oklahoma Governor who is a voice for all the people not just wealthy donors.  He also doesn't think it is a dirty word to work across the aisle. He believes in funding education to give all our students a first class education. 
Democrat Matt Silverstein is running against Senator Inhofe for the Oklahoma Senate seat. Inhofe has been in office way too long -- he is not representing Oklahoma well today and should not be running for re-election IMHO.  Senator Inhofe is the king of pork barrel spending who has clashed with Senator Coburn for years who was against wasteful spending.
When I worked countless hours for elections of Republicans to Congress in the 2000s, I did so willingly but expected them to uphold their oath of office to work for the betterment of all of their constituents not just the wealthy.  How stupid and naive do you think a lot of of us feel today.  We bought into GOP rhetoric that our ideas meant something when the only thing that means anything to Republicans today is the big money people headed by the Koch Bros.

Thank you Senator Reid for pointing out the facts about the Kochs that many of us already knew but now the whole Country is finding out they want to buy our Country.
Republicans in Congress are wasting our tax dollars on their salaries for the few number of days worked as they have become obstructionist where compromise is a dirty word even when it benefits everyone.  They prefer to kiss the rings and do the bidding of GOP wealthy donors who call the shots.   Want proof?   Look no further then at Sen Moran from Kansas who read a Koch editorial on the floor of the Senate today.  Talk about a slap in the face to the American people -- the Koch duo who has spent millions to take over the Country now have a real bought and paid for Senator Moran, R-KS, to read their op-ed into the Congressional record on the floor of the Senate.  
That took nerve to read that editorial that appeared in the Rupert Murdoch Wall Street Journal.  This summed it up quite nicely:
Most senators, even the dumbest blowhards, choose to insert such BS into the Congressional Record without forcing their audience, small as it might be on any particular day, to actually listen. Moran's real audience, of course, wasn't whatever handful of Kansans or senators might have been tuned in. But is Moran's Thursday kowtow an omen that future salutes to hoi oligoi will be equally pathetic? Can't he and the rest of our purchased politicians not smear our noses in it?
Was driving through Kansas on my way to Denver when I saw my first sign for Moran running the first time for Senate -- thought his name was Moron as my brain didn't register the A -- several months later I was sent information on him when he won the primary and it was Moran.  Personally after his stint in the Senate as the lapdog of Koch's, I think my original thought was correct.  The man doesn't make a move without Charles Koch's okay.  Koch Industries is his largest contributor by far but then we have to remember that a business is also people too.  What a bunch of bunk.
Now the Ryan budget comes out and the House wants to cut the top income tax rate to 25% which grinds most Americans to no end -- why so they can give the GOP more campaign dollars?  
I totally oppose dark money -- no matter what SCOTUS says a business is not a person.  So nice to know even the five conservative members of SCOTUS appear to be bought and paid for especially two of them by the Koch's.  How anyone can think that Thomas and Scalia should be ruling on campaign finance reform when they attend Koch functions is beyond me.  What happened to integrity on the right.  There is none left when you no longer care about the poor, children, or unemployed preferring to reward your donors and the wealthy with huge tax cuts in exchange for unlimited resources to run for office that the Koch's and other wealthy donors love giving to GOP candidates.

Somewhere the GOP went wrong and unfortunately it looks to be the day Reagan/Bush took office after Reagan placated the religious right in order to win the primary and then brought them into his administration.  Lot of what we are seeing today goes back to that group of hard right who surrounded Reagan.  They full advantage of everything the Government had to offer them and set out to take the Country hard right which they are doing today or attempting to do today.  It is time Americans to speak out more, get involved in campaigns of honest people, and elect people to office who are not bought and paid for but want what is best for all Americans -- Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren come to mind.

GOP members of Congress didn't mind spending our tax dollars on anything proposed for eight years under Bush-Cheney running up a huge deficit, but now today they don't even want to take care of the less fortunate but they want to make sure Big Defense keeps rolling in the money.  Big farmers are rewarded while cutting SNAP benefits and some of those farmers are members of Congress.  Why are the American taxpayers subsidizing big farms?  Would bet the Koch's love getting their subsidies as they bought up farm land throughout the Country.

It has become so obvious with the statements out of GOP elected officials, candidates, and leaders that the Republican Party is the party of the wealthy who is bought lock, stock and barrel by the Koch's and other wealthy donors.  I am tired of slick mailings and dark money so we don't know who pays for something -- I am not alone. Sometimes you can push too far and lose a lot of votes from people who care about this Country from both parties.  All of the shenanigans of today's Republican Party and their donors have managed to leave many of us long time Republicans without a home.   They made sure that most states had closed primaries so if you became an Independent, you couldn't vote in a primary.

Tired of being told by the hard right women have no rights and have to do what their husband tells them.  No one needs to ever tell me after the last 30 years that as a woman I shouldn't have the right to vote and needs to submit to what white male husband says.  That is exactly what we are seeing out of the GOP today.  Or as one of the House colleagues from Maine, Lockman said:
 "If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?” Lockman said. “At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”
Took him 18 years to apologize and only now doing so in a half hearted way because he is seeking reelection but he never should have been elected:
He refused to pay his taxes, uses hate speech, and is a proud bigot.  He has a decades-long history of saying stupid and very offensive comments, which would have been useful if compiled before his recent election in 2012.  
He is a sitting member of Congress with a vote and refused to pay his taxes?  How low can the GOP go in backing candidates.  When are they going to say, if ever, don't vote for this candidate because he is bad for the Country.  Hope Maine sends him packing.  

How dumb does the GOP think we are?  No contraceptives because it is a form of abortion,  No abortion for any reason including life of the mother.  After the baby is born no WIC or SNAP program to help the poor support their baby.  Now no Planned Parenthood in some red states where poor could go to get their contraceptives so they wouldn't get pregnant.

There is something really wrong with a Party that by the words and actions of their elected officials and candidates believes women are inferior to men and should stay home, have children, raise a family, and if you are not going to pro-create then you shouldn't get married.

Unfortunately, I come from a State with a Governor, who in order to deny same sex National Guard spousal benefits, denied use of any state facility to sign up for the benefits to ALL National Guard so some had to travel five hours to sign up.  We had a bill submitted into the Oklahoma Legislature to do away with all marriage to keep gay marriage out of the state.  We have Hobby Lobby who believes as a profit corporation they deserve the same status as a church on contraceptives -- same company that is heavily invested in retirement accounts with pharmaceutical companies who make contraceptives.  But then they were already hypocrites when they buy the items for sale in their stores mostly from China, the #1 abortion country in the world.  That's okay because it is their bottom line which counts.

The hypocrisy on the hard right of the Republican Party knows no bounds -- they have fully taken over the Republican Party with the support of the Koch Bros who want to be free to pollute at will and run the Country from their fiefdoms in Kansas and New York City to make the Middle Class part of the poor to be their servants and told what to do and think.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't work for the election of one Republican member of Congress in the 2000's after what I have been witnessing out of the obstructionists party of today's Republicans where finding anyone with honesty is a difficult task.   Can only speak for myself but I wouldn't vote for a Republican for Congress if they were the last people standing.  It is over, I am through with the Republican Party and vast majority of their elected officials and candidates.

Oklahoma needs to move into the 21st century and that means leaving the Neanderthal Republicans behind.