151 Band

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Special Thanks To Three Statewide Elected Officials

Governor Fallin has faced more than just a little controversy since her election, as has Insurance Commissioner John Doak and now, Janet Barresi.  With all of the craziness therein, there are three statewide elected officials who haven't yet faced any trouble from the media or their constituents at this point and I thought it necessary to offer up our appreciation.

Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy:  Dana Murphy took on the establishment a few years back and defeated Governor Henry's appointment, Jim Roth.  She was under-funded, attacked viciously and yet she still came out on top.  Her superior strategy not only brought her the victory, but she didn't face any real opposition in her bid for re-election.  Thus far, Murphy has been able to stay out of the media spotlight though with crude oil prices being what they are and energy costs soaring, we should expect to hear more from her in the near future.

Auditor/Inspector Gary Jones:  Gary Jones won his tough race by putting together a grass roots operation that will be the model for future statewide races.  Prior to his election to statewide office, Jones had successfully uncovered more corruption in state government than the last two Auditors combined.  Today, Jones is quietly doing that which he promised and the only political hire he made was that of Whitney Jordan Harbour who worked for the GOP and is now his legislative director.  Jones will probably stay out of the limelight until he uncovers more corruption.  Which is exactly why we elected him.

Labor Commissioner Mark Costello:  So, far, so good.  With the madness and mayhem in Wisconsin, we can expect Costello to chime in at some point but for now, he's flying under the radar.

Dana, Gary and Mark...thank you and we appreciate the fact that you're doing the jobs we elected you to do.  Now, please, no scandals. 

Crude Tops $119/Barrel

Crude oil surpassed the $110/barrel mark this week and touched the $119 point and it is not by accident.  Turmoil in the Middle East has created a tsunami of trading fury on the NYMEX and largely, the American public have overlooked it and we do so at our peril.

The Obama administration and its push against domestic energy production has contributed to the unsteady nature of commodities trading, including the ridiculous ban on offshore exploration.  This is a critical time for the United States and if we believe our economic mess couldn't get worse, you're wrong.  Imagine gasoline at $7/gallon this fall.  Imagine what that does to delivery of merchandise and the cost of everything from groceries to shaving cream.  If this administration doesn't act quickly, we're going to be in a world of hurt.

It isn't an accident that I watched an intriguing documentary last evening on the fall of Enron.  "Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room," is a telling documentary of the global energy giant, Enron, and the massive economic destruction their shell game cost this country.  The participation of banks and accounting firms in what will go down as the worst business scandal in our nation's history shows the frailty of the markets.  Today, we have the housing market boom and bust and the worthless paper many home loans were written on recently. 

I find it horribly ironic that 20,000 people lost their jobs while Ken Lay and his boys walked away with millions of dollars.  And the same banks who participated in the boondoggle for the rich are now foreclosing on average Americans who are struggling.  Hypocrisy, thy name is Wall Street.

We better pay attention, people, and put some pressure on our elected officials in Washington to do something about it quickly.  Of course, our elected officials are still pretty busy patting one another on the back about their victory in November...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spring Thinking

Enough politics for the day, it's time to turn our twisted little minds elsewhere and consider the possibilities of the future - this spring, in particular.  For some, it will be the time to clean house, to get ready for the summer, while for others in the great state of Oklahoma, the fishing and hunting seasons begin.  So, let's take a look at what's out there...

Spring Turkey:  Spring turkey season starts up April 6th through May 6th for gun, with a special youth hunt the weekend of April 2nd and 3rd.  Turkey hunting is a lot of fun and is probably one of the more entertaining and exciting hunting trips available in Oklahoma.  And it is something that the whole family can enjoy because of the interactivity with the game.  Calling in the tom turkeys, watching them strut...it's all part of the adventure.  Check out the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's website.

Camping:  If you're like me, there's never a bad time to go camping.  I have done it in the winter during hunting seasons, during the spring, summer and fall.  It's affordable, fun and gets you out away from the blacktop for a little while.  There are countless parks and lakes in Oklahoma to do some camping and they are easy to find on the Internet as well.  There is the Army Corps of Engineer's page as well as the Oklahoma Parks Department pages to review potential locations. 

Fishing:  Crappie season is almost at hand and if you can take the cold winds while out on the boat, crappie fishing is not only fun, but the fish itself is mighty tasty. Oklahoma is well-known for its catfish, bass angling and then there's the legendary spoonbill fishing up at Grand Lake - there are so many species of fish in Oklahoma that it's tough to keep up.  Trout fishing has become increasingly popular and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has done a spectacular job of making sure there are plenty of fish and fishing habitat.

Horses:  It's that time again - time for horse racing at Remington Park.  While the casino isn't my bag, watching the horses race is exhilarating.  Not exactly a family-friendly location, but the horses are beautiful and the racing excitement unsurpassed. 

Baseball:  The Redhawks kick off their 2011 season April 7th, with their home games beginning April 15.  Redhawks baseball is clearly one of the most family-friendly entertainment venues in all of Oklahoma.  Next to perhaps the Zoo, Redhawks baseball is the most affordable and positive environments for the little ones where spring entertainment is concerned.  The Redhawks have tickets that are affordable and there really isn't a bad seat in the house.  Contrasted with the facility formerly known as the Ford Center, the Redhawks' ballpark is easily navigable and the seats are comfy.

Zoo:  Speaking of the Zoo, the schedule of events at the Oklahoma City Zoo continues to grow and truly, if you're looking for an all-day adventure with the family, the OKC Zoo is the place to go.  Generally speaking, most of the animals are out and about during the spring and the kids love seeing the critters doing their thing.  Well, parents do too...  Every season, the OKC Zoo has new attractions, new additions and more critters to eyeball and a season pass is worth every penny.

Little Sahara:  Look, summer is the time for Little Sahara, I know - but if you want to beat the rush to the dunes, spring is the time to do it.  Mostly locals during the spring and few out-of-staters coming in and tearing up the place.  Bust out the Polaris, the Arctic Cat or whatever your ATV of choice and head up to Little Sahara for a weekend your family won't soon forget.  But remember the helmet laws...

Ultimately, things are going to be a little tight this spring and summer.  The economy is still down and fuel prices are continuing to climb.  Today, gasoline in Oklahoma averaged just around $3/gallon and is slated to continue its upward climb.  Spending money in Oklahoma helps Oklahoma businesses.  Sure, it's sexy to go to the "Big D" and act the fool, but it's better for the economy of Oklahoma to be foolish right here in your back yard. 

Showdown At The OK-Education Corral

The Oklahoma Board of Education is strapping on their boots and saddling up, preparing for what will most assuredly be a contentious meeting tomorrow.  Superintendent of Public Instruction, Janet Barresi, let the good-old-boys have it with both barrels last time they met, leading to the state legislature putting together plans to disband the Board as we know know it right this minute.

It's truly a sad state of affairs when the Democrat-appointed Board of Education misses the point completely and their duplicitous wranglings over whom Barresi chooses to hire for her staff has caused most Oklahomans to turn their attention away from educating our kids to political banter. 

Earlier this week, one of the employees Barresi wanted to hire but was told she was "unqualified," has landed a job, ironically, at the Office of State Finance.  Which proves that the Board is more interested in political points with their left-leaning friends who are clearly pissed off that Barresi put the smack-down on their candidate during the election than they are in getting some real work done. 

Tomorrow looks to be interesting and in the interim, read this article from the Oklahoman

CHK On the Rise

The Oklahoman is reporting that Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy (CHK) posted some nice fourth-quarter profits.  It has also been learned that CHK has purchased even more land in the Nichols Hills part of town. 

From the Oklahoman article:
Buoyed by hedging gains of more than $570 million, Chesapeake Energy Corp. on Tuesday reported fourth quarter earnings of $180 million, or 28 cents a share.

For the year, Chesapeake earned more than $1.6 billion, or $2.51 a share, after losing nearly $5.9 billion, or $9.57 a share, in 2009.

The company's oil and natural gas hedging program brought in more than $2 billion in 2010.
As CHK goes, so goes Oklahoma City and it looks like things are looking up for the independent natural gas giant.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Other Side of Tort Reform

Tort reform, lawsuit reform, whatever you want to call it...has another side to it.  It has the human side.  The argument from my fellow conservatives is that we need more tort reform because of frivolous lawsuits and it is the liberal trial lawyers who create an environment where businesses are afraid to prosper.

But these are the same conservatives who believe the desires of the founding fathers to be canon - and they find it easy enough to ignore the fact that our founders wanted us to have access to the courts for the redress of wrongs.  It's that simple.

Tort reform in many ways is little more than insurance company profit-making.  That's all it is.  When tort reform is passed, rates do not go down - they never go down.  Just like property taxes...though your real value of your home may be stagnant, the Assessor makes sure you're assessed the maximum increase of 5% every damned year.  Insurance company PACs are huge donor to Republican campaigns and they have effectively bad-mouthed the trial bar to the point where we believe any and all trial lawyers to be bad people.

Even the conservative employee of the Heritage Foundation, Ernest Istook.

There is another side of tort reform, and it is tragically laid out in the following video.  You need to watch it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Local Tea Parties

Oklahoma House and Senate, Oklahoma statewide races including the Corporation Commission, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Labor Commissioner, Governor, Attorney General and to a lesser degree, State Auditor and Inspector all benefited from both the anger of voters and the publicity tea party movements garnered.  They won their races in 2010, resulting in a Republican sweep unlike anything in our recent history.

But somehow, the media is surprised that they have turned their focus to local races such as School Board and City Council.

In a very well-written story by John Estus, the revelation comes that two of the many Central Oklahoma tea party organizations are getting involved in local races.  And there is even some background about the splits within the tea parties.
The Sooner Tea Party formed in 2009 after several of its members split from the Oklahoma City Tea Party, which earlier that year held a boisterous rally at the Capitol attended by more than 5,000 people.
Since then, the Sooner Tea Party has held its own rallies and aligned itself with other conservative groups in central Oklahoma. It is a part of the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance, an ultraconservative umbrella organization also run by Gerhart.
The story does not address which candidates are being supported in local races nor those who are being opposed by the tea party organizations, no doubt intentionally.  The incumbents in the Oklahoma City Council races, for example, have carried water for the Chamber and the Oklahoman wouldn't want to enliven the base that supported the Republican base and potentially lose their water-bearers on the Oklahoma City horseshoe.

Neither does the story mention that Al Gerhart, creator of the Sooner Tea Party, is running against Representative Paul Wesselhoft for a State Senate seat.

The tea party movement, though admittedly fragmented in Central Oklahoma, is still a force to be reckoned with and will continue to be involved in local races - much to the chagrin of the establishment.