To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Observercast

Weekly Wrap April 14-19

on

… I’m back!

I said it at the top of this week’s Observercast where we interviewed former Chickasha State Rep. David Perryman and the Great Bob Burke about SJR 34, that would have eliminated the Judicial Nominating Committee: there wasn’t much new going on this session.

Since 2020, Arnold and I have cranked out Observercast one after the other because there’s just so much to talk about … but this year, we had pretty much covered it all.

Until now! The basket of deplorables in Oklahoma politics started emptying itself out lately.

From a policy standpoint, the election year culture war rhetoric in the legislature has really ramped up in recent weeks, veering from the usual endless war on a person’s right to access the reproductive health care of their choice straight onto the time-tested anti-immigrant and “close the border with Mexico” nonsense. As Ron Burgundy would say, boy, that escalated.

Folks, I wrote my doctoral dissertation about the role of anti-immigrant discourse in Oklahoma after Randy Terrill’s legislation passed in 2007. And I can tell you, this discussion is about everything except border security. It’s one more tool in the white Christofascist toolbox that serves to whip up hateful nationalist fervor (in time for a presidential election attempting to re-elect the former criminal-in-chief) while reminding citizens of their place in American society—and, how to perform as proper white citizens.

What’s surprising is not the legislature’s decision to conjure new legislation mid-session that effectively outlaws anyone in our state who doesn’t have “permission,” adding to the rightwing choir of hatred against the immigrants in our midst. Of course, a body filled with people terming out and aspiring to higher office in the same government they pretend to despise but never hesitate to cash its paychecks would have to burnish their extremist bona fides in our state.

What is disappointing is Attorney General Gentner Drummond joining in the chorus.

Then, there’s the double homicide of two Kansas women in Texas County. If you work in social services in our state at all, you know Texas and LeFlore Counties are…unique. When news broke that the women were allegedly killed by a foursome of sovereign citizens (!!!!) that included the Texas County GOP Chair, suddenly state GOP Chair Nathan Dahm got a case of “don’t know ‘em.” Read more here about the four allegedly involved with the homicide…they actually seem like a bunch Dahm would be well-acquainted with.

Back to the attempt to shut down the Judicial Nominating Committee- that bill died on the House floor, even though Rep. Lepak, the bill’s author, captured the vote and will attempt to bring it up back to the floor. The JNC is an exemplary process for nominating judges in our state to maintain the checks and balances of power, particularly when two branches of government are held in a nuclear supermajority by one party.

It passed the Senate. In the House, Speaker McCall voted for this bill. As did Jon Echols and other high-ranking members of the House who are all coincidentally terming out this year. If leadership wanted it to succeed, it would have. Leadership knew the whip count when they put that bill on the floor. They knew it would die. But they voted for it, in an election year, anyway. Expect it to be a talking point in their next campaign for higher office.

And then, they sent a bill to the Senate that demonizes a whole sector of our state just because they’re immigrants. History tells us that bills like this target all immigrants with brown skin, regardless of their actual legal status in the U.S. These bills work with impunity. They work as an excuse for the state to go after the “other,” in the name of perpetuating the powers of the state. Nothing more, nothing less.

Finally, the legislature also sent a bill to the governor this week making it harder to place issues on the ballot. Already a tedious and fraught process, the only way the voice of the people have been heard in recent years has been through the initiative petition process. Now it’s weakened.

When we talk about the GOP in our state, let’s make sure we look at the whole picture. Texas County isn’t that far away from Oklahoma City.

I’m not the only one who is back … so is that basket of deplorables.

Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.