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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bringing In 2018

2017 wasn't really that bad, was it?  New POTUS, new fighting words between the U.S. and North Korea, the State of Oklahoma's budget disasters, the resignation of elected officials, and of course, the indictments of elected officials in Oklahoma.  Okay, perhaps it was a little on the hairy side, but I think if we're smart (and I know that we're not), we'll see the lessons learned from 2017.

First, I think that the GOP has learned that electing a reality TV guy as POTUS wasn't necessarily the smartest thing we could have done.  Granted, the alternative was a frightening specter of death, but damn.  We really should have known better.

Second, in Oklahoma we have come to the start realization that there are folks who run for office because it would be the best job they've ever had and a little bit of power and prestige goes a long way to polluting the mind.  Hell, in some cases, it seems to have rotted a few souls along the way and many lives will never be the same.

Third, one would hope we have learned our lesson regarding sexual harassment.  Touchy-grabby-feely is not a good thing in the workplace and some folks are paying the price for their indiscretions.  Finally.  And then there's the whole Roy Moore thing...God help us.

Photo from Tulsa World
2018 does look to be an exciting year, for me, anyways.  I'm kicking off the Gorilla Bytes Podcast where I'll be ranting regularly about politics, pop culture, music, and maybe even the plight of the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In other words, it's pretty much going to be whatever I'm feeling at the time and frankly, it will be unbridled and aggressive.  I'll definitely be talking about the upcoming elections and which candidates I like and which I believe are douchebags.  It'll be fun.

This is the year, I hope, that I can get on the transplant waiting list for my liver.  That would be nice.

Mid-term elections also give us a chance to thin the herd and perhaps rid ourselves of bureaucrats and life-long elected dingleberries.  One can hope.

No matter what, 2018 will be what we make it.  Success and happiness isn't dependent upon a lack of turmoil, but rather can be found in the midst of our actions to handle that turmoil.   Let's make it a good year.

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

It's Almost Podcast Time

Getting ready for a series for the Gorilla Bytes podcast, I started making notes and realized that I have enough material for all of 2018.  There's the state legislature, the never-ending Twitter madness of the POTUS, Governor Fallin's veto power, the gubernatorial race, the Lt. Governor race, and the insanity that has become the Veteran's Administration are all ripe for the picking.  I plan to do a lot of picking.

The state legislature, for example, have only had marginal media scrutiny and the story behind the story has been missed by most MSM outlets; and that includes some of the programming that is supposed to be local talk.  I've been gathering research data and what I've found so far shouldn't be too much of a surprise, but it all begins with campaign contributions and the power of lobbyists who hang out at the capitol like vultures.  It's all fair game as far as I am concerned and I'm getting ready to jump back into the fray with a vengeance.

Don't think, however, that politics will be the only thing I discuss.  I will be talking pop culture, the Oklahoma music scene, food, relationships, a little sports, and of course local and national events.  I will be sharing with you some of the details of my life as well; including what it's like to have to wait to be put on a liver transplant list, how to deal with chronic pain, and even my short bouts of depression as a result of all of the above.  I'll be candid, open, and probably a little more transparent than you could expect and since my hands won't be tied by stupid FCC regulations on free speech, you may even hear a little colorful language as well.

I promise you:
1.  I will pull no punches.
2.  I will go after asshats regardless of political party affiliation.
3.  I'll ask the hard questions.
4.  I will keep it lively and challenging.

There are a few logistical issues to deal with, but I should have those completed and put to bed by the end of next week.

Buckle your seatbelt, kids...it's going to be a wild ride.

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

And Then, It Got Weird

It's hard to say when it was that the legislature in Oklahoma lost its collective mind, but predicated on the news of the last few months, it's clear that they are in desperate need of Prozac at the very least.  Not one, but two special sessions will be the history for this legislature and a massive failure to do that for which they were elected proves them to be some of the most incompetent elected officials in the history of this great state.  

And then, it got weird.

Legislators have been in the news for everything from child sex trafficking to campaign finance blunders.  There were cases that were settled out of court for sexual harassment and then there was the Governor's staffer busted for taking "up skirt" photographs.  What in the hell has happened to these people?  It would be easy to say that all of the construction down there caused some type of bizarre chemical reaction in their brains, but that's just not the case.  The truth of the matter is that there is a power struggle and tussling for future campaigns for higher office.

My suggestion is that you take note right now and if they are term-limited, let them go and do not vote for them for higher office or a different office.  If they are not term-limited, find a decent candidate whose life's goal isn't to be called "Senator" or "Representative."  Find someone the founding fathers called a "citizen legislator."

Don't you think that the people of Oklahoma deserve just a little bit better than what we're dealing with now?  Are we paying some type of cosmic retribution for electing a church camp counselor to the U.S. Senate?  The questions are endless...

Starting after the first of the year, I'll be back broadcasting via podcast and thanks to my son, Matthew Black, and my friend, Kaye Beach, I've decided it's time for the Gorilla to rattle more cages and hold some feet to the fire.  And yes, it will be weird, strange, fun, and will address a whole hell of a lot more than the clown act that is the Oklahoma Legislature.

You'll be hearing from me again real soon.

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Democrats Make Gains Nationally and In Oklahoma

There was a time when the GOP referred to the Democratic Party as the "Tax and Spend Party."  To the average voter, it looks like the GOP was jealous of such branding and have taken it on for themselves.  This is evident by the increase of taxes including; fuel tax, gross production tax, tax on tobacco, and finally (of course) increased taxes on booze.  As this happens, we see this mass exodus of Republican "lawmakers" taking better paying jobs with the Feds and other government teats.  

This is the same party that once said that welfare was a bad thing, but corporate welfare is okay and being a perpetual burden on the taxpayers as long as you're elected and not terribly poor.  

Back in the days of WKY, I remember talking frequently about the reality that for most elected officials, it is the best job they will ever have and that holds true today.  The concept of being a "citizen legislature" has given way to the disturbing influx of Political Science majors who are beginning to show their lack of "real world" experience.  

But I digress.

Virginia, New Jersey, and even already liberal Washington State have seen a growth spurt in the number of Democratic elected officials and no one should really be surprised.  As Cal Thomas once said, "If Republicans are going to act like Democrats, you might as well vote for Democrats because at least then you know what you're getting."  There is a great deal of truth to that, you know.  

Many will blame President Trump for the increase of elected Democrats, but in Oklahoma, the increase in taxes and the amount of fraud that is being uncovered by State Auditor Gary Jones leaves no one to blame but the Republican leadership.  There was even questions about departments that were/are run by Lt. Governor Todd Lamb in terms of financial mismanagement.  But yet, there are more and more career Republican politicians who are looking for more opportunities to suckle from the taxpayer teat by either running for higher office or finding a taxpayer-funded bureaucratic job.

And we used to think lobbyists were bad.

Sure, there has been a lot of propaganda spewed about from both sides of the aisle regarding just how horrendous our budget situation is/was/will continue to be, but in the aggregate, our elected officials aren't losing any services.  They are still getting their medical coverage, their retirement funds, their salaries (highest paid part-time legislators in the country, by the way), and in some cases, the opportunity to pocket some taxpayer funds until they are caught.

Neither party is perfect and the way they are acting does nothing but underscore the reality that third party candidates are becoming increasingly appealing to the disenfranchised voters as it is.  But, there is still hope, my fellow Oklahomians.  We simply have to be diligent and call a pig a pig.  Ask hard questions of our elected officials and of those who desire to be elected officials and if they give us some bovine feces answer, call them out on social media and within your sphere of influence.  We can change the direction of Oklahoma government.  We just have to care enough to do so.

Of course, that's just my opinion and I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Goobernatorial Gander

Yes, I know; it's been a while since I've written anything but I've not been feeling at the top of my game but here I am now.  What inspired me to open up the old blog-a-licious is the banter that has been tossed about by our candidates for Governor.  There are quite a few of them (12), but I will focus this column primarily on a handful of them that I think are noteworthy at this time.  

Let's roll up our sleeves and get nasty.

Dan Fisher:  Former legislator who has apparently been smitten with the idea of becoming Oklahoma's next, and first, abortion abolitionist Governor.  He probably learned how to cost taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees over unconstitutional legislation while serving in the legislature, which explains why that is pretty much his platform right now.  He has signs that say "audit everything" and that's kind of cute because there is a legitimate auditor in the race for Governor.  Fisher is a pastor and there are those who would argue that perhaps he has forgotten about the whole warnings to the Pharisees in Matthew 23 by running for office (again), but he is on a mission and like Jake and Elroy, he won't be stopped.  More than likely, he'll end up with around 5% - 8-% of the vote during the primary.  He's fun to watch though, that's for sure.  

Gary Jones:  If memory serves me, Gary was one of the first to announce his candidacy and on paper, he's probably the most qualified candidate to handle the difficult task of reining in the legislature and get the budget fixed.  Sadly, that is often not enough in the great state of Oklahoma to get you elected to a statewide or Congressional office.  Jones is our State Auditor and he has ruffled more than just a few feathers with some of his talk about streamlining the state government.  He himself has accomplished it within the office of the Auditor, but not many other agencies have done so willingly and without duress.  I've known Gary Jones for a number of years and he has always been an honest, upright man who doesn't shoot from the hip or shoot off his mouth for the sake of political blathering.  He is exceptionally qualified for the job, but it's going to be the toughest race he will ever face since Lt. Governor Todd Lamb is running.  

Todd Lamb:  There can be no doubt whatsoever that Todd Lamb is, by far, one of the most polished politicians in the state of Oklahoma.  His service as Lt. Governor has afforded him the opportunity to travel around the state in a largely ceremonial role, but everywhere he goes, Lamb leaves a very positive impression.  I meet him at an NRA banquet once and found him to be both genuine and knowledgable about state and local issues and he is a very dedicated family man (not to say that other candidates aren't).  He's intelligent and he surprised everyone when he cut across the grain and made comments that were in disagreement with Governor Fallin's budget positions.  Rumor has it that it angered much of the "Chamber crowd" and that there may be some question as to whether or not he can muster up a broad-based, centrist support system while pissing them off.  Todd will more than likely lead the race in fundraising and I predict, as of today, he is the candidate to beat.  

Mick Cornett:  To say that I was shocked to hear that Mick was running for Governor would be putting it mildly.  Mick boasts of the success he's had in the private sector with his business, but yet he likes being in the middle of the political fray.  Mick has run for Congress in the past and he looked a little like a deer caught in the headlights, but more than likely, he has a different consulting group handling his race and getting him polished on state issues.  His argument will be that he has brought the NBA to Oklahoma City and the success of the MAPS projects.  But, how will those things play in Honobia Creek?  Durant?  Tulsa?  Arnett?  Ada?  Rural Oklahoma is a significantly different animal than urban Oklahoma and his city charm may not play as well.  He is a long shot, but to count Mick Cornett out of the race at this point would be rather goofy.  He is a determined man who is dogged in achieving his goals.  We shall see.  [Note:  He doesn't have a website for his campaign, but there is his Facebook page.]

Just a few of my thoughts and there will be more to come very soon.


Ron "Gorilla" Black

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Gubernatorial Gibberish & More

Some very familiar names have announced their desire to be top dog in the state of Oklahoma and there are very few surprises, if any at all.  Here are a few of my observations...

Gary Richardson, a Tulsa attorney and arch enemy of the Turnpike Authority, has decided that he's going to run as a Republican this time and his tactics thus far have been far different.  He has been posting on social media a multitude of religious affections that will apparently appeal to the religious right in the state and that is a voting block important for the GOP that is as necessary as oxygen.  

Lt. Governor Todd Lamb is the odds-on favorite for the post because of his connections to Frank Keating and the "Chamber Establishment."  He took a bold stand by separating himself from the desires of Governor Fallin to raise taxes to heal the budget wounds, and his staunch 2nd Amendment position in Oklahoma will help him a lot.  He already has a massive war chest of over $1million and money will continue to pour in.  

State Auditor Gary Jones has also announced his intentions to run and to be frank, he's probably one of the best candidates out there to fix the problems we're facing as a state.  He's a fiscal hawk and is not afraid to rock the boat where fraud and waste are concerned.  It was Jones, after all, that revealed the waste with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office.  The test will be whether or not Jones can secure some of the right wing votes as well as the establishment GOP that Lamb has secured.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett has been rumored to be eyeing the Governor's Mansion, but it is still yet to be determined whether or not he can steal the Chamber money from Lamb.  Cornett brought the NBA to Oklahoma City (at least that is what the electorate believes) and he's extremely popular in Oklahoma County.  Could he get Tulsa County support?  Maybe.  Is he the guy to secure rural Oklahoma votes?  No way.

On the Democratic side, Scott Inman is going to run.  No.  Just no.  He doesn't stand a chance.  

Former State Senator Connie Johnson is running as well, but again, no.  She is way too far to the left to win statewide in Oklahoma, but someone has been telling her she can win.  That person deserves to be taken out to the woodshed because she is going to take money and votes from Inman who has a better chance than Johnson; as slim as that may be.

Some of the other madness I've been following:

Oklahoma City Mayoral race/non-race is kind of fun at this stage too.  County Commissioner Brian Maughan has announced and State Senator David Holt has also announced his desire to be the Mayor of Oklahoma City.  Why either would want to take the pay cut is beyond me.

Radio Shake Up continues.  KTOK let Jason Doyle go recently and it follows the trend that iHeart Media is trimming the sails so they can afford the syndicated programs for other stations such as KJ103 and the Ryan Seacrest show.  Jason was the afternoon guy and I had the pleasure of sitting in with him for a show.  He will be missed.  He has been replaced by the station program director, Lee Matthews.  Again.  Further up the dial, KOKC 1520am is plugging along with their mix of local and syndicated programming, seeing their program director Tod Tucker at the helm for some air time.  The market is ripe for radical change in talk radio and whomever jumps on the opportunity will profit.  

There will be more Gorilla Rants to come...

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Something Silly This Way Comes

Do you remember when the Oklahoma legislature actually looked at a bill that would allow fighting chickens to fight if they wore little boxing gloves?  Do you remember that?  I was the afternoon drive guy on the station formerly known as Supertalk 930 WKY when it happened and at first, I thought it was a joke.  Surely, the people of Oklahoma would never elect some idiot who is so desperate to keep cockfighting in the state that they would propose such lunacy?

They did, and he did propose that silliness.

Time has gone by and a lot has happened over the years.  We have lost voices such as Mark Shannon and most recently, the legendary Mike McCarville; both of whom would have been all over the fact that our state budget is messed up and the only solution really presented thus far has been to increase taxes and fees statewide.  While there is still a much more faint voice or two on the talk radio airwaves in Oklahoma, they are hardly strong enough to create real change and stop the flood of silliness.  Hell, some of the voices helped get the idiots we're dealing with in the legislature get elected in the first place.

For many who are elected to work under the apparently brain-damaging methane gas-filled dome, something terrible takes over and what the taxpayers are left with are a bunch of dopplegangers who are up for auction to the highest bidder.  Common sense and the "rule of law" is thrown out the window and sacrificed at the altar of self-righteous indulgence and egomaniacal emotional disorders. It's like there are a bunch of zealots who are trying to prove who is the most "righteous" and who is the most "caring."  Forget about authoring legislation that will generate legitimate revenue, but rather the focus is on social ills and "feel good" policies that are little more than political masturbation.

Silliness is the attitude of the day and until something changes in the media, we in Oklahoma are stuck with it.  Sure, there have been a few moments wherein folks like Kirby and Ralph Shortey are in the spotlight for their antics, but they are a rarity in the comedy of errors that has become our media delivery mechanisms.

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

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Joy of Imperfection

Life can be horribly frustrating.  It is even more frustrating when we set unrealistically high standards for ourselves and for those around us; fighting and scratching to be something we're not.  On the other hand, some of us tend to set the bar so low that merely existing throughout the day without killing anyone is considered to be reason for celebration.  Somewhere in the middle is where "normalcy" resides.

Or, so we have been told.

There are aspects of our lives where each and every one of us strive for what we perceive to be "perfection," and that can range from our hobbies, our work, our body image, or even relationships.  In my 52 years on this planet, I've learned that there is no one on this planet who is perfect and no one will ever achieve perfection in the sense of human potential (not talking about spiritual perfection).  There is no such thing as the perfect husband, the perfect wife, the perfect child, or so on.  They are mythical creatures that have been conjured up by unrealistic standards set by our outside influences.  Imagery of the perfect body, the perfect smile, the perfect family are all visages of bovine feces that we have integrated into our thinking and accepted as the standard by which we live.  

Does that make sense? 

We should be joyously imperfect; celebrating our imperfection from a posture of humility and grace.  Hell, I've been in and out of the hospital so many times over the last few months that I can't even remember most of the doctor's names or even why I was there.  My health alone reminds me that I am imperfect and magnificently so.  There have been days and nights when my pain level was so great that I literally wept and questioned myself about quality of life.    My past, both good and bad, also point to the reality that I am far from ideal and it's time that I simply accept that fact and try to live the best I can each day.  

I suppose the reason for this silly blog entry is to encourage the rest of the Imperfection Army out there that yes, we are in fact, perfectly imperfect and that's just fine.  If we allow ourselves to be honest and embrace our inability to be without blemish, it makes relating to one another so much easier and more healthy.  

Let's accept who we are and strive to be the best imperfect little creatures we can be.  Let's be imperfect together and celebrate our differences that are worth celebrating and from there, let's change the world one house at a time.  Let our imperfection be perfect in its reach to others and to all those within our sphere of influence.  To hell with it.  Let's just live and be happy where we are, how we are and being who we are.

Of course I could be completely bonkers, but that too is perfectly okay with me.

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Monday, February 06, 2017

State of the Gorilla State

The Honorable Governor Mary Fallin gave her rousing address to members of the legislature and through media coverage; to the rest of the citizens in the state of Oklahoma.  It should come as no surprise, however, that a lot of people in the state of Oklahoma are already aware of the problems we're facing and that includes what the media likes to call a "budget shortfall."  

The problem with the language being used by the media and by elected officials alike is that the budget in the state of Oklahoma is predicated on revenues.  They are not "short" or "long," they simply are what they are and the legislature is tasked with maintaining government services within those revenue projections.  Just like when citizens find themselves with less income, government has to make a few cuts here and there from previous budgets to make ends meet.

Governor Fallin suggested an increase on fuel taxes and taxes on tobacco, but an elimination of the tax on groceries (good) and an elimination of corporate income tax (bad - see below).  Governor Fallin is sounding more and more like former Governor Henry with each passing day.  Increased taxes…that's supposed to be a Democrat thing.

So, here is a few suggestions from your humble little Gorilla as to revenues and the so-called "state of the state."

The first thing we have to do, in my opinion, is to deal with the elected official infrastructure as it exists right now.  We have some of the highest paid part time legislators in the country and while our teacher pay is at the bottom of the barrel, legislators seem to be doing just fine, don't they?  One way to deal with this is to cut the legislative session in half and in so doing, pay legislators based on the average median income for their respective legislative districts and break that down for the time that they are in session.  For example, if the average median income for a legislative district is $35,000, we take that hourly rate and pay them hourly for the time they are in session.  That alone would save hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.  

The next thing on the list is to cut the tax subsidies for energy companies and for the Oklahoma City Thunder as well.  Currently, the Thunder pay no income tax on salaries as part of an incentive authored by the legislature to lure them here so, it's time for the golden goose to start crapping out some golden eggs.  In addition, wind energy subsidies in the state of Oklahoma are ridiculous and should be eliminated immediately.  Oil and gas company tax incentives should be set aside as well.  Not sexy, I know, but it is common sense and something that is desperately needed in Oklahoma.  

Lastly, absolutely no taxes or fees should be increased until the first suggestions are implemented.  Fees and taxes could be raised in the event that the recipient government entity can provide an audited statement to justify the need for increased fees or taxes.  The State Auditor should be involved in this process to ensure that there is integrity and consistency throughout.

When you have legislators who are trying to undermine the will of the people by fighting against state questions that were voted on and approved by the people of Oklahoma, that should give an indication as to where the problem lies under the methane gas filled dome.  For a lot of these legislators, it is the best job that they will ever have and their thirst for power and hunger for acclaim drive them more than the desire to do what is right by the people of Oklahoma.  

This state needs a legislative enema.  

It's time, friends.  It's time to take a long, hard look at what has been happening and why it has been happening.  We keep electing the same group of people, handled by the same group of consultants with the same talking points and we wonder why there isn't a real shift in the tide.  This isn't an issue of Republican versus Democrat, Liberal versus Conservative; this is an issue of common sense versus lunacy.

The state of the state is as it always has been until we vote for people with a passion for this state and our communities rather than an ego boost and a step on the career ladder.

Of course, I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.  

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Catching Up, Throwing Down

For a "Christian nation," there sure are a whole lot of really angry people running around.  We are seeing that the folks who beg for tolerance are less tolerant than they desire others to be and we are seeing that folks who are supposed to be all about grace and mercy are really all about their perception of justice and retribution.  Perhaps this is just how things go after an election but I have a very distinct feeling that there is something special in the air (or maybe in the water) and there will be some major changes soon.  The storm clouds are forming on the horizon and a shift is about to take place…

I suppose I still find it tough to believe that Donald Trump is our POTUS.  I say this not for or against the man, but rather with curiosity as to how we got to this place in our history where we would have to choose between the two previous candidates.  President Trump has already stirred the pot in Washington and without a doubt, he'll continue to do so until it's a murky, muddy mess.  It's also amazing how many people absolutely hate the man and would rather turn violent and destroy property to show their disdain for him than they would to accept the fact that sometimes candidates we don't like much win races.  Reasoned dialog is out the window, the tolerant ones have become immeasurably intolerant.  And what really pisses people off is that Trump is actually keeping his promises that he made on the campaign trail.  


On a local level, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel has resigned after his November victory over Mike Christian.  Christian has vowed to run again during the special election and unless another candidate steps up, he will probably win in a walk.  Whetsel submitted his resignation letter and is ready to ride off into the sunset regardless of what kind of ghosts will follow him; the ghosts of fiscal mismanagement.  This makes everyone wonder just why it was that Whetsel again wasted taxpayer dollars by causing this upcoming special election.   It's just bloody weird.

In other weird and wacky news, a state senator is apparently filing legislation to shut down the will of the voters on a couple state questions in the last election cycle.  As I have said before and will again; we must never forget that for some elected officials, it is by far the best job they will ever have and their new-found power will corrupt their minds absolutely.  They begin to think that they know what's better for their constituents than do the constituents who elected them.  More Nanny State manure will certainly be coming our way, so wear your political waders.

In my humble opinion, everyone needs to just calm down for a little while and try real hard to find logic in action.  If we do, maybe there is still hope for us.

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

Ron "Gorilla" Black