I Do, But I Don't

I Do, But I Don't

Thursday, November 10, 2016

And Yet, Here We Stand

The land was laid bare and the bodies of the dead littered the streets; streets that were covered in blood.  In the distance, the screams and lamentations of women and children pierced the air and threatened to shatter eardrums.  The smell of death and destruction permeated the air and created a weight and denseness to every breath.  The fear and sadness surrounded every living thing that remained; it was as though any hope of life and joy had been sucked from the human existence and left in its wake was nothing but despair.  The skies were permanently darkened, buildings and institutions that had stood the test of time were decimated, and survivors were fearful to even consider a future. 

Okay, not really, but reading some of the post on social media after the election, one would think that the end of the world had come and stripped all Americans of their humanity and dignity.  Hillary Clinton lost in her bid to be the country's first female president, defeated by one of the most disliked men in all of politics, Donald Trump, and far too many people are taking it personally.  Trump was called every name in the book by the elitists on either side of the aisle and yet he triumphed and that really pisses people off.  Even today, there are people who have lost their damned minds and are protesting in the streets!  What in the hell is wrong with us?

This country will survive.  We survived Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton.  The country will survive Donald Trump and perhaps it will awaken the establishment douchebags to see their douchebaggery.  Maybe, just maybe, terrorists will take us a little more seriously now as well.

On a local level, there were some serious surprises.

SQ779:   While I believed that our teachers and children deserved better than this proposal, I really figured that it would pass.  After all, they had Toby Keith in the ads...but I digress.  It was believed that the initiative would pass, teachers would receive a pay raise and administrators would have s slush fund to play with, but no.  It didn't happen.  Teachers still need a pay raise and we need to do something better to fund education because the lottery wasn't the magic bullet, was it?  Hopefully, the legislature can do something honest to address the issue and make sure that the administrators keep their filthy paws off of the money that will be for the classrooms and for teachers.

SQ790:  I really thought that Oklahoma would pass this measure and not because it was the right thing to do, but because of our desire to mix God and government at every turn.  Perhaps Pastor Paul Blair's loss in the primary was a harbinger of things to come that Oklahomans understand that we need to be careful what we ask for, because we might just get it.  First, it would be spending money on the 10 Commandments (the ones we couldn't keep and so Christ had to die for us), then it would mean that Islam would get a monument, then Hinduism, and so on so forth.  Tax dollars spent on one religious institution would mean, by necessity, an entitlement from all religious expressions.  Kudos to the voters for shooting this one down.

Oklahoma County Sheriff:  Whetsel got another four years, defeating an aggressive and determined Republican Mike Christian.  Whetsel will now face the County Commissioners about financial wrongdoing.  This was a surprise.  Even though Whetsel was a recognized name, he spent money on television and frankly, that was a big plus for his campaign because Christian was pretty much nowhere to be found.  Maybe he spent too much on his consultants...but again, I digress.

Yet, amid all this madness, here we stand.  We still live in the greatest country on the planet to say or believe anything different is just silliness.

We can do this. 

Of course, these are just my opinions and I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.


Friday, November 04, 2016

Ballot Questions & Election Muck

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to one of the most bizarre times in American history and from an election standpoint, we are through the proverbial looking glass.  People are confused, frustrated, and more than likely voting from a posture of fear of a candidate rather than love of the opponent.  It's a horrific election cycle and we've seen scandal unlike any other time in our recent past.  From the County Clerk disaster to the Sheriff to the now embattled Superintendent of Public Instruction, voters are pissed off and they will be going to the polls with a vengeance this year.

I really wish I could say that I have the answers or that I have a good grasp on all of the elections and ballot questions, but I really don't.  I have opinions about them and I have been asked how I'm leaning, so, I'm sharing them with you.

State Questions
Posted by News 9's Lacy Lowry
SQ776 (Death Penalty)  NO :  I'm voting no on this one for a number of reasons but let me give you two words - Joyce Gilchrist.  We do not have the death penalty down to a science and we in Oklahoma don't have the best record of lawful convictions either.  Executing one person who is innocent is one person too many.  Yeah, I'm pro-life across the board; no inconsistencies with me.

SQ777 (Right to Farm)  NO:  We already have the right to farm in this state and unfortunately, the number of foreign firms buying up ag land in the state is increasing (not to mention the number of Texans buying up land in Oklahoma) and the last thing we want to do is tie the hands of regulators to bust someone's ass for ripping up the land and polluting it.  But then again, the Corporation Commission hasn't really done much regarding the fracking earthquakes, have they?

SQ779 (Education Tax)  NO:  Sorry, kids but the slush funds for administrators and the fact that it is a permanent tax turn me off on this one big-time.  The teacher's unions have fought against administrative consolidation at their own peril and while teachers do deserve a pay raise, administrative slush funds aren't the way to make this happen.  We deserve better, our kids deserve better, and our teachers sure as hell do.  

SQ780  (Crime Bill)  YES:  Simple drug possession (not intent to distribute) would be reclassified as misdemeanors rather than felonies.  Law enforcement largely opposes this bill and I'm not really sure why.  I saw we leap into the 20th century and reduce the amount of money we give to private prisons and use effective means as in SQ781.

SQ781  (Funding Drug Courts, etc.)  YES:  Drug courts and rehabilitation programs do work and regardless of what you may think, prison overcrowding is a problem and it is a problem because we're locking up those who need treatment rather than hardcore jail time.  It's the humane and common sense approach to some social problems.  

SQ790  (Tax Dollars for Religion)  NOPE:  I don't care what Lt. Governor Todd Lamb and others have said about this bill allowing ball players to "pray" before a game, this has unintended consequences that could do exactly the opposite of what the dominionists desire.  If one religious expression is funded with tax dollars, all must be funded.  If this bill does pass, it is going to be overturned in the Supreme Court and will no doubt cost Oklahoma taxpayers millions and millions of dollars to defend.  As Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, but render unto God what is God's."  Jesus suggested implied that the Apostle's should pay taxes.  If the Church wants the government to fund them, they should pay taxes too.  Vote NO on this silliness.

SQ792  (Alcohol Sales Reform)  YES):  This would allow grocers to sell booze and for liquor stores to sell mixers and the like.  This is the most simple "yes" vote that we have had in a very long time.  It's time to launch ourselves into the 21st century and vote yes on this one.

Well, there are the State Questions and no doubt I have pissed some of you off; particularly the supporters of 790.  Sorry, but these are my opinions and my thoughts on this mess and if you open your mind and think for a change, you'll see that my choices make good common sense.  Sure, it's all confusing, but we have to start voting a little smarter, don't we?  We've seen what bad votes have gotten us in the past and now is the time for a renewed mind.

Those are my opinions and I could be wrong, but you would be wrong in saying that I'm wrong.

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What A World

It's been a little while, so I thought I'd better catch up and provide a little color commentary to the already jaded political and social landscape.  It's what you expect from me, so I choose not to disappoint.  Let's get after it, shall we?

POTUS:  What a train wreck.  How in the world we ended up with these two candidates is something that OU Political Science Professor Keith Gaddie will be writing about long into the future, but it befuddles the rest of us.  The Trump Train exists, in my opinion, as a rebellion move against the establishment of the GOP that has been virtually indistinguishable from the mainstream of the Democratic Party over the last decade.  Fortunately, we have three branches of government so two out of three will have to get us through the next four years.  I truly have no pony in this race at all and it looks like I may have to vote for the Libertarian just so I can preserve what is left of my tattered soul. 

Oklahoma County Sheriff:  This has turned into a barn-burner of a race, hasn't it?  The State Auditor released findings that basically showed that incumbent Democrat Sheriff John Whetsel has not been so adept at handling financial issues.  Of course, most of us with any functioning brain cells whatsoever have seen the disaster that is the Oklahoma County Jail; but at least we don't have to deal with Joyce Gilchrist any longer.  But I digress...  Representative Mike Christian is the GOP hopeful for the race and I've known Mike for a long time; we used to hunt and consume adult beverages together "back in the day."  I think I may even have some film from my old TV show with Mike on a hunt with us.  He has survived the turmoil of the Randy Terrill/Debbe Leftwich disaster that sent Terrill to jail.  Now, he is gunning for the Sheriff's badge.  This will be a close nail-biter of a race to watch and it's anyone's guess as to who will win this one.  

Oklahoma County Clerk:  David Hooten surprised everyone and found himself in a runoff with Carolyn Caudill and then he defeated her in the runoff.  Embattled former Speaker of the House, Lance Cargill, helped run the campaign and it is a pretty significant one to win.  There is a lot of taxpayer dollars involved in that office and a whole lot more than one would suspect.  Garnering the endorsements of two previous governor's, David Hooten will be facing the perennial Libertarian candidate, Chris Powell.  Hooten will run away with this race and soundly defeat Powell.  What will be interesting to watch, however, will be who Hooten brings into the County Clerk's office to work with him.  Who will be his Chief Deputy?  That pick will set the stage for either reform, or more of the same.  

As far as the Congressional races go, expect the incumbents to win easily.  The Oklahoma Congressional Delegation will remain in the grasp of the GOP as will House and Senate seats in the Oklahoma Legislature.

What a world in which we live.  God help us.

Of course, these are just my opinions and I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

And Another Thing...

Sometimes, I really hate politics.  The underhanded nature of things, the back room deals, the secret support of questionable candidates, the cover-ups, and the big-mouthed blathering of pundits (myself included) make the process a messy, disgusting aspect of American life but I can't seem to back away from it.  Maybe it is just a part of who I am, or maybe it's my innate desire to stir things up that keep me interested and as someone who likes history, it's fun to watch it repeat itself.  While a free electorate is what our forefathers intended, it's kind of become something altogether different, hasn't it?  It's just a big pile of rhetorical goo and we have to choose between candidates whom we think will do the least amount of damage rather than the most good for the country.

On a local level, we have a battle for County Sheriff that looks pretty interesting, but more than likely, it will turn out to be a tempest in a teapot.  The incumbent Sheriff, John Whetsel, is looking to win re-election with ease primarily because his opponent hasn't defined himself or worked to change the impressions of days past.  Mike Christian is a State Rep who was embroiled in the controversy that saw former Representative Randy Terrill spend time behind bars.  Christian was rumored to have testified against Terrill to save his own hiney, and that's what the vast majority of the public can remember about him.  He doesn't have any substantial legislation that changed lives in Oklahoma, he hasn't cured cancer, and he has failed to get his message out.  Mike is a good guy, but his consultants haven't done him any favors. 
Another race is that of the County Clerk.  Carolyn Caudill was defeated in the Republican primary by David Hooten; a man best known for his musical abilities and meat sauces available in many area grocery stores.  He will face Libertarian Chris Powell who hasn't really put forth too much effort in the campaign.  Hooten will win this one in a walk and then he and his consultant Lance Cargill (yes, that Lance) will find themselves in strange territory in Oklahoma County government.  But then again, the voters could surprise us all and vote for Powell.  Probably not, but maybe.
On a personal note, if y'all are available, stop by Bourbon Street Saturday night and listen to the reorganized Signal 8 Band.  We kick off the party at 9pm and play until the bartender throws us out or tells us to shut up.  Katie, Cal, Merv, and myself invite you to take a break from politics, a break from the madness that is every day life and slip away to music mayhem with us.  We'll be playing some of your favorite classic rock tunes as well as a couple originals that Katie wrote herself.  In other words, you will have a blast and we hope to see you there.  

See you soon!

Ron "Gorilla" Black