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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

More In Common

Social media is often wonderfully entertaining.  The political machines chugging along with their little cult members parroting every pathetically rehearsed line from the candidate's mouths as though it's Gospel, and then there are the folks from the "like if you love Jesus" crowd who are explaining to the world how they love God more than y'all.  Social media has become a pulpit of sorts for everyone from every walk of life and religious affection to share their thoughts and ideas - and the cacophony of voices are only getting louder.

When folks have something intelligent to say, that's just fine.  When it's propaganda for propaganda's sake, it sucks. 

At the very heart of the whole of the ideological spectrum, or from a religious or "moral" standpoint, there are common elements that both sides of the aisle share, but we're often too busy running our damned mouths to even notice.  You see, it's easy to be pissed off and stay pissed off because of "righteous indignation," and it gathers a crowd who end up screaming for someone's blood, but at the foundation, we have more in common with one another than we have reasons to riot.  Here are a few examples of what I am getting at:

Police Brutality:  On the hardcore left, the goal is to see people not have to live in fear of authority and not have that authority inflict harm on its citizens.  On the right, they want pretty much the same thing - they're called Libertarians and Tea Partiers.  What is missed in this equation is that most people who are bitching the loudest on both sides haven't the intestinal fortitude to do what law enforcement is forced to face each day.  It doesn't excuse by any means errant officers who break the law, as a matter of fact, they should be punished quite firmly when they do break the law.  On the other hand, maybe people should stop breaking the law and start acting like human beings with common sense.  The stress on law enforcement would be lessened if we could do that and we'd have a nicer place for all of us to live.

African American President:  This generation has made history by electing a man whose skin color would have gotten him killed in parts of the country not 60 years ago.   Both sides of the aisle want to see our country safe, prosperous, caring, strong, and effective.  The hardcore left loves the President just because of his skin color, and there are those on the hardcore right who hate him for the same reason.  But at the bottom line, you'll find that we all want the President to succeed because for him to succeed means that the whole of the country succeeds.  I'm not a fan of many of his policies but it his policies I abhor, not the color of his skin.

Love:  Everyone wants to love and be loved.  Unless you're a complete sociopath, the human experience includes connection with others and a desire to feel secure in a way that only love can bring.  I don't give a hoot what your political affiliation may be, when you're loved, you're a better person.  When you love others, you become a beacon of light rather than a giver of darkness.

Football:  At a football game, there are supporters of one side and supporters of the other.  No one cares what political party you belong to because what matters is the game and the team.  Period.

Comedy:  We all love to laugh and that excludes no one.  Humor is a uniquely human attribute and it doesn't matter if you're a Lutheran, a Methodist, a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Baptist, or an agnostic - we all love to laugh and there isn't anything wrong with that. 

No Hungry Children:  Not a single person I know would advocate that any child should go hungry.  Not a one.  Conservatives and liberals alike see the problem as real, but often, nothing gets done.  

You see?  We have great things in common and if we only had the courage to cherish those things rather than fight about issues of little impact, the world as we know it today would change.  Granted, there will always be the criminal element lurking about, but as a general rule, peace with one another is better than conflict. 

Social media is a great place for positivity and a celebration of commonalities to start.  One person can share a positive note with friends and the result is someone's day is made more bright.  One person can surprise a friend with a sweet message and provide comfort for someone suffering from depression.  Sharing information about progress, about volunteerism, about planting a garden are all very positive and fun things to see on social media rather than the argumentative tripe we see spewing forth today.  Don't you get tired of the duplicity on both sides?  Wouldn't it be nice to see everyone within our sphere of influence just get along and not try to eat each others' flesh with vitriol?

Hell, I'm as guilty as any, if not more so because I was a talk show host. 

Of course, this is just my opinion and if you disagree with me, you're probably one of those long-haired, Birkenstock-wearing, dope smoking, hippie.  Or you're a conservative, fascist, racist, homophobic, idiot.  Either way, you know I'm right.


Monday, June 08, 2015

The Dirty Profession

If you have a few functioning brain cells left after Rocklahoma, take a moment and ask yourself what you believe the dirtiest, filthiest profession in Oklahoma may be?  Is it to be a stripper?  How about a prostitute?  Well, if you are a member of the Oklahoma Legislature, you'd probably answer that teachers, yes teachers, are the bottom feeders in the Oklahoma workforce.

Every legislative session without fail, some utterly useless pile of human waste authors legislation that causes a stir for teachers.  This last tango included House Bill 1749 (Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-epulsive, and Representative Tom Sewell, R-idiculous) made it illegal for teacher unions to have payroll deductions to pay for union dues of their membership.  Of course, it's one of those bills that make the red-meat-eating Super-Republicans salivate, but like many of the bills being hatched by the GOP legislature, it will be shot down as unconstitutional and, well, stupid.

According to the Tulsa World, Representative Newell had this to say:
“I’m not an attorney. As we were drafting the bill, I talked to our staff attorneys that help us,” Newell said. “This was a controversial bill so there were lots of attorneys who looked at it. I was not aware there were any questions about the wording of the bill.”
Oh, bloody hell, that's rich.  That pabulum ("I'm not an attorney") seems to be the catch-phrase when a legislator pulls some piece of legislation out of his ass to get some headlines and the aggregate result is that taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for the lawsuits to kill these types of unconstitutional laws.   Deacon Pruitt, however, would love to defend this bill and take it to the Supreme Court so we can show the world how godly Oklahoma can be.

But I digress.

Yes, the Legislature has staff attorneys at their disposal (Fred Morgan was one for the Senate), but apparently these folks must be college buddies or drinking pals or something because they are way off the mark in telling Sewell that this was a bill that would pass constitutional muster.

Your tax dollars hard at work, y'all.  But that's the "Oklahoma Standard," isn't it?

Teachers are instrumental in our society and an invaluable resource.  Hell, I believe that the Legislature gets paid more than the teachers at this point, but teachers sure put a burr in the saddle of the GOP sycophants.  I suppose on some level we have only ourselves to blame for this type of bovine feces.  We keep electing these window-licking clowns with IQs barely above room temperature and we expect something more? 

Do we laugh or cry?
Teachers are an easy target because it plays well in conservative media.  The evil teacher unions are trying to push the pro-Muslim, pro-gay, flag-burning, Communist agenda on our kids, right? Teachers are greedy, mean, ant-Christian devil-worshipers who would rather sacrifice our children on an altar than they would teach them.  Just ask Douche Limbaugh, Sean Vanity or even any of the pitiful excuses for talk radio hosts in Oklahoma and they will all sing the same melody.  There is literally no one holding these elected ass hats accountable and we're paying the price.  There was a time when the papers and radio hosts had the balls to go after so-called conservatives when it was deserved. 

I've spent time with teachers and I've spent time with legislators.  I'd rather break bread with a teacher than some self-righteous narcissist who would spend their days kissing their own asses if their necks would allow.

As Ronald Reagan once said to a friend of mine who served in the Reagan Administration, "Sometimes, we just have to do the right thing because it IS the right thing."  In this case, the right things to do are to  leave the teachers alone, pay them better, flush that merit-pay tripe down the toilet, and do our jobs as parents to teach our children that school is a place for an education, not a free-for-all panty raid of adolescent hormone surges.  When our children act up, discipline.  Teach our kids to respect authority and guess what happens?  The whole of academia will benefit.

Oh, and if you're wondering where the funding for teacher raises would come, take these measures:

Okay, she's kinda hot.  We still need to eliminate that post.
1.  Eliminate the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction and use the State Board of Education to do something other than pontificate.  Cutting that position will save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in salary and benefits.  Maintain administrative functions with existing staff and consolidate school district administrative functions - not consolidate schools.  There is no reason in hell that Oklahoma should have so many administrators and districts.  It's insane.

2.  Make our part-time legislature truly be part time.  They should convene every two years and be paid accordingly.  This is Oklahoma, people.  There isn't that much going on really, except for the Thunder and college football.

3.  Eliminate a percentage of ad valorem tax breaks given to oil and gas companies, and dedicate the revenue for teacher pay.  And don't start rending your garments and bathing in sack cloth and ashes.  If you think that they can't afford it, just go downtown and look at the Devon phallus that towers over the other buildings.  No.  They aren't making a statement or anything...

4.  Cut the Quality Jobs Program in half.  The screening process should be much more stringent anyway and anyone who argues that Oklahoma needs incentives for businesses to locate here probably works for the Chamber.  Cut the budget in half, give difference to teachers.

Of course, this is just my opinion and I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.

Let's go do some good with whatever time we have left.  It might not be very long.