Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The ("Red") State We're In

While I see the two-party corporate system's stranglehold on the USA as being at the root of many ills, things are as they are (for now). I've had it in mind for a while that something being overlooked, probably deliberately for dramatic effect, is that even though the populations of Oklahoma, Texas and other mid-American states labelled "the red states" are known as being conservative and Republican, in all those states there is a proportion, admittedly minor, but not that minor, who aren't registered Republican, but either Democrat or Independent. These minorities aren't anywhere near as dramatic as, say 90%/ 10% or even 80%/ 20%. From what I can discover the imbalance is more along, very roughly, 60%/40% lines. This being so, why on earth don't we hear more opposing views coming from these states? Why aren't the Republicans confronted more? Why was Oklahoma's current Governor, who makes Maggie Thatcher look positively benign by comparison (and I should know), allowed to get away with refusing the government's Medicaid contribution for her state? It has to be because the Democratic side of the duopoly here either is apathetic - don't care enough, or are too lily livered to speak up. Good grief!

As I live in Oklahoma I'll concentrate on the problems here, similar factors probably affect other "red states".

Wikipedia states that: As of January 15, 2013, there are 962,072 registered Democratic voters in Oklahoma. But, but, but Wikipedia also tells me:

The Oklahoma Democratic Party describes itself as neither liberal or conservative, but "squarely in the center of the political spectrum." The party mission statement goes on to say:
Unlike the far left, we know that less government is sometimes a better government, and that government cannot solve every difficulty faced by our society. But, unlike the far right, we understand there is a role for government to play in finding solutions to our country's problems.

The Oklahoma Democratic Party is made up of conservative, centrist and liberal members. Less than a third of registered Democratic voters in Oklahoma supported President Barack Obama in 2012, due to the larger proliferation of conservative and centrist members of the party.

Compared to other Democratic factions, Centrist members of the Oklahoma Democratic Party support the use of military force and the use of deadly force in self-defense. They are more willing to reduce government welfare. Many Oklahoma Democrats are socially conservative and support the United States pro-life movement. The Oklahoma Democratic Party tends to support moderate to conservative positions on gun control and open carry.

Oh, I see! Democrats here are really Republicans at heart. "A rose by any other name" etc. Well, that accounts for a lot! Obama lost all 77 counties in Oklahoma in the 2008 election, and many of them in 2012. Even in the most urban area of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City-based Oklahoma County, Obama took 42 percent of the vote - 42% isn't too far from half (50%), so not insignificant.

From a 2012 string of commentary under a Washington Post article I've gleaned from commenters who either live in, have lived in, or have close family ties to Oklahoma, that though there are a good number of registered Democrats in Oklahoma still, "many of them haven't voted for a Democratic president since Johnson. They just don't bother to change their party." (LoraJay)

......every newspaper panders to the Repub party! Obama stickers have been clawed off my Jeep with fingernails in WalMart parking lots! Plus, with the vivisection of our educational system by the overwhelming Repub government, it's easier to keep 'em stupid and down on the farm! Most of all, and I was born and raised here, it's blatant RACISM! (geraldhwestby)

.....I've gained a pretty solid background with/knowledge of this State. So it pains me to see the low level of base mentality it/its population have subsided to; as reflected in both this blind, mindless expression of hatred, combined with such easy manipulation by the hate mongers in this nation. It's truly pitiful.
I offer yet another, & far more over-riding, rationale: And this is born out in the (Washington Post's) article's reference to their disdain for the Obama Administration's tentative/delaying actions on the highly debatable merits of the proposed Keystone Pipeline project.

For, in point of fact, the will & spirit of OK - along with the lightweight Rick Perry's TX & supported to some degree by LA gov'ts - has simply been "bought out - lock, stock & barrel" by the Petroleum Industry!

This basis is further manifested in the blind refusal of virtually ALL of their elected officials - who's political campaigns are pretty much conducted on Petrol Co Credit Cards - to even consider, let alone accept, ANY element or measure of the possibility that the World Climate Change/Global Warning scientists & alert activists could be correct. These totally secular - & reactionary - positions are held by elected officials as tightly, firmly, adamantly as is the Biblical tenets of their largely fundamentalist Evangelical religious beliefs.

Thereby Logic; "Seeing is Believing"; Rational Discussion - ALL are totally useless & lost on this group: Because IF they were to deviate & admit to even a SCINTILLA of truth, to ANY aspect of climate dangers this nation/the world are now confronting, they would surely be seen as essentially UNDERMINING THE HARD LINE & POSITIONS OF THEIR SPONSORS!

Thus, in effect, OK (& this entire multi-state population) has been conditioned - in much the same way as "brain washing" was used by the North Koreans on my colleagues taken prisoner in the Korean Conflict - by these very special & "deep pocketed" interests: From Top to Bottom, in their educational, social, religious, commercial & even health institutions, the hard-held & counter-intuitive views of their long-seniority elected officials prevails over everything else.

Their towns thereby wind up with "Stepford Wives"-like citizens: Total "conformists", & not able to think (let alone ask/say) outside these very narrow "conformity" boxes. They've NO TRUE Reps, as those they constantly re-elect are only Puppets, thereby having NO real voice in gov't, beyond what their "Puppet Masters" want! (seamusboy)

Part of another comment from seamusboy-

.........Only waking up; & realizing that you & all Oklahomans are being used & manipulated for the good of people who regard you no more highly than yesterdays garbage. You are totally expendable; and they will expend as little as possible to educate & protect your health, safety & life; simply so that they can profit more, & live like royalty. OIL is their true God; and you folks aren't even considered their livestock: Cattle, Sheep, Pigs & Goats get better care, feeding & attention than do most of you! So they program you to hate & be against everything that counters their will &/or costs them another nickel of their vast wealth accumulations. ...................

Oh my! How to depress myself in one easy lesson! From my own knowledge, which is fairly scant even after almost ten years living here, I can find nothing in the above commentary with which to argue strongly. The racist accusations might apply in some areas of this state more than others. I haven't seen evidence of it in our south-western sector. We've had an African American town mayor for almost as long as I've been here - that has to say something. It's oil, money, greed, a steady diet of brainwash via bought-out media that's at the core of our state's redness nowadays, I've no argument on that whatsoever.

How could this situation ever be changed? Possibly by the awakening of the Okie masses by some major tragedy stemming from fracking/injection wells and consequent earthquakes; or severe water/food shortages and/or some kind of epidemic resulting from increasingly rapid climate change.

I've tried to see a positive side, but really and truly, for Oklahoma itself and its younger inhabitants, there isn't one. For myself, I'll probably have shuffled off the planet before the worst happens - and though that is not something to which I look forward, it's the most positive thing I can come up with.


mike said...

Politics has always been a game of scoundrels, thieves, bought-outs, and unfounded accusations. Read-up on the history of our American presidential campaigns (Abraham Lincoln's is full of interesting pathology). So, there's nothing new in this revelation.

I disagree with MOST assessments of the media playing politics...some media (exempt FOX, for example!) do their job efficiently enough that you and I do have an awareness of issues and our interest in those issues can be researched further on the internet. Media now-a-days is embracing of many sources not in existence a decade or two ago. Most people receive their news from the sources most in alignment with their personal views and concerns.

There isn't a tremendous difference between the Dems and Repubs, nor is there much of a difference between voters registered as either. Most voters tally their personal self-interests against which party offers them the best deal. Hmmm...if I'm against abortion, financially poor, and I'm devoutly fundamentalist in my religious views, but I like Obamacare, hate fracking, hate guns, and I have no issues with Benghazi, and think that banks should fail...which party am I and who should I vote for??? I hate to acknowledge that I have several friends that voted Repub simply because the Repubs were lowering taxes...duh.

There was a recent editorial in our local paper regarding the efficiency of denigrating and minimizing science by the conservative and religious right to the point that evolution and global warming are conspiracy theories for most Americans now. Americans are DEvolving in intelligence. This, at a time when information is at our fingertips as never before. I have a difficult time placing blame on the deceivers, when it's so easy for each individual to determine validity of statements and actions.

Also, it's difficult to accept something like global warming when it means a complete change in lifestyle. We want all of our goodies...we've worked hard for our goodies...let someone else forfeit their goodies if they are so inclined. It's a bit like the financial-1%...we hate them, but don't realize that we, the 99%, are in the upper percentage of world income...we don't care about poverty in other countries and giving THEM our share...just keep those cheap cell phones and consumer goods flowing into the USA.

I know that you feel differently, Twilight, but I think most people are too LAZY to do much more than moan. Everyone receives their "news" via Facebook and Twitter...usually like-minded associates and relatives. I received so much propaganda this last presidential election that was complete fabrication. I researched the topics and provided references to establish the real truth, then replied to "ALL"...surprising how many people stopped sending me that crap...they didn't want the truth.

Then there is voter apathy, which you've addressed in other posts. I exercise my right to vote. I would shudder if the freedom to vote were restricted or eliminated, but it would be a way to get the non-voters offended and furious, and DEMAND their right to vote. We'd probably see a big voter turn-out right after voting was allowed again.

Our recent years have seen egregious governmental offenses. Yet, there is outrage followed by sullen acceptance of the offenses. We seem to deserve what we don't want. I believe in cycles, which is well-founded astrologically, and we are in a strange conservative trough full of inconvenient truths that the majority of Americans don't like, but don't care enough to pursue or simply don't believe. I suspect it's all part and parcel of the weird astrology of our times and it, too, will pass, but I'm not sure what will be left in it's path of destruction.

mike (again) said...

“Americans and other Westerners who want their families to enjoy the blessings of life in a free society should understand that the life we've led since 1945 in the Western world is very rare in human history. Our children are unlikely to enjoy anything so placid, and may well spend their adult years in an ugly and savage world unless we decide that who and what we are is worth defending.” Mark Steyn, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It

Twilight said...

mike ~ Well, yes, politics has always attracted rogues - in some eras more than others. We're more aware these days due to communication via the net.

I disagree with you on media. They tell us what their masters wish us to know, and only within certain "frames".

I call it as I see it, mike, as still something of an outsider.

TV and newspapers rely on advertisements for their survival, their publishers would not allow them to upset advertisers - often these are the corporations who help keep them afloat. It's understandable but certainly not admirable, and though the same thing must go on in all countries to some extent, I do see more of it here than I recall back in the UK.

We can glean clearer pictures from the net - sometimes, in some circumstances. Even the net is infected now, by paid "shills" paid for presenting an opposing and slanted or inaccurate view, say on a site like Common Dreams, and Huffington Post, Salon etc. on topics such as climate change for instance.

In the end we make up our own minds.

The main thrust I had intended to make in this post was that the "red" states though they do have a majority of Republicans are not so heavily weighted in that direction as one might expect - so why don't Democrats have more fight in them?
In the past as well as right now?
Maybe people are too worn out, having to work two or more jobs to keep the family fed etc. I have sympathy for that - but what about the semi-elite Democrats? They like to spout on TV given the chance, and on websites like Common Dreams, but what do they do then? Just go and write another article for syndication! Some of these people should at least attempt to sow the seeds of a new movement leaning well towards the left. If that were done maybe some of the worn out Democrats in red states would get a "second-wind" and begin speaking out.

I dunno, mike. I despair at times, really, I do.

I do agree with your last paragraph.
and the quote in mike (again).

anyjazz said...

It's a bit beside the point but I should point out that political parties not in power, often harbor and cultivate the “centrist" or “middle of the road" image. The "out" party feels the need to appear that they are not so far from the "in" party at least on some issues. This position is thought to attract those voters who would ordinarily vote with their herd but are a bit disillusioned because of some particle of their party platform or personnel.

A case in current politics is Governor Rick Perry. I am sure there are those republican voters who are smart enough to figure out that Perry is a dunce. They might continue to vote republican no matter what if the Democrats seemed too far away to align with. If the Dems appear to be “not so different” on some issues, those wavering republicans might switch sides to get away from those who would support candidates like Perry. As well they should.

Of course all this is assuming that elections can’t be bought, gerrymandered, manipulated or legislated by a politically sided supreme court and that individual votes really do matter.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~ I think your point does rely, as you've said later in your comment, on certain other considerations. In a Pollyanna world a party middle-of-the-road stance, used as a come-on for disaffected voters of the other party would be an understandable, if somewhat deceiving ploy.

Our world isn't Pollyanna's though. Our world is owned and run lock stock and barrel by oligarchs, plutocrats, corporations - call 'em what you will, not put in place by we the voters, but in a roundabout way by themselves. They own both parties, attempt to give them shades of subtle difference to keep the peasants fooled.

I started my post acknowledging that much, but if this corporate-owned two-party system upheld and aided by SCOTUS, by the way, IS the only game in town, ordinary people should be dealing with it in a much cleverer and better way. Nobody is even trying, far as I can see. There are a few people with clout, a platform talent and abilities who could at the very least begin to seed a left-wing movement without ties to corporations and big money. Not happening. Why?

♥ Sonny ♥ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
♥ Sonny ♥ said...

my comments always seem so simple minded, compared to Ya'lls. giggle

I can say this because I have lived in the heart of NC for 31 years..

The illiterate //uneducated::seriously religious bible thumpers// closed minded and backwoods bozo's ALWAYS vote against themselves- Always.

Just as an example--the very people who Demand children be born, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, are the very people who will not lift a finger, cast a vote nor offer a penny when those children suffer abuse, starvation, homelessness and humiliation..

You cant cure Stupid and Stupid can vote, thus the republican party
will live on.:(

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Your comments are no more simple-minded than mine, and are always very welcome. What you write always makes sense - not sure what I write always does, especially when there's smoke coming out of my ears! :-)

I had a look at Wiki's page for NC Democratic Party. The Dems in your state appear to have gone rapidly downhill since around 2010, before that there was at least some evidence of life in the party.

I'm with you on the attitudes of some rural inhabitants as described, especially regarding birth of children, then lack of care of same later on, then sending 'em off to kill foreign people in distant lands, probably getting killed themselves in the process. Tsk!!!

We can only hope that the stupid gene will weaken with time, as at least some of the younger generations begin to understand what's been going on, and start spreading the word.

mike (again) said...

A lengthy, but interesting essay...doesn't exactly address your post, but has much to offer:

"Democracy was the most successful political idea of the 20th century. Why has it run into trouble, and what can be done to revive it?"

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks - I managed to control my attention span long enough to read that - possibly aided by the large font. :-)


I couldn't find any name of the author. I did get a general feel of conservatism running through it. "Entitlements" blamed for debt more than once. As I understand entitlements, they are what people contribute towards throughout their working lives via taxes of some kind, and people are, therefore, entitled to fruits of same. If there's not enough in the kitty to pay the people, when the time comes, then taxes need raising, or there has been much funny business and borrowing from the kitty to fund other things going on.

Other than that, as I see it, retaining democracy is all in achieving balance. That's why capitalism and socialism alone never work properly - they need to be balanced, elements of both are required for proper, civilised and fair government. Men of real integrity are required to oversee this - and this is the big problem now (possibly always) - we don't have men/women of integrity running the show. Those in power in the USA now don't even know the meaning of the dang word. :-/

mike (again) said...

I thought the essay offered salient, though generalized, points applicable to your red vs blue discussion.

I didn't infer that entitlements were blamed for producing debts, but instead, were the shortcomings of politicians' and governments' inabilities to envision longer-term planning and consequences in lieu of short-term gains and constituency appeasements, ie blame the politicians, not the entitlements.

Entitlement programs in the USA are typically determined to be social security and social programs. It's vastly more involved with military veterans' retirement, health, educational, disability, and housing benefits...Native Americans' and Eskimos' land grant, educational, health, and housing benefits...foreign aide and payments made to foreign countries that house American installations, usually military or research, that are above and beyond "rent" payments...small business, name a few.

ACA (Obamacare) is a relatively new health insurance program for the uninsured and subsidizes premiums for the economically disadvantaged. The average citizen doesn't realize that the ACA enacts a century-old agreement between the Eskimos, Native Americans, and the federal government that provides health care on or outside of the reservations. For the past century, politicians have ignored the wording of the original agreements and have only provided on-the-reservation health care. With the passage of the ACA, I am now insured with no out-of-pocket expenses provided with the cheapest, low-level "Bronze" plan. This is an entitlement that our lawmakers have chosen to ignore for 100 years, but has finally taken effect, at a huge cost to the taxpayer...but the government has "saved" billions by ignoring this for all of these years.

The Veterans' Administration periodically comes under fire for providing shoddy healthcare services to veterans. It is currently being investigated concerning locations in AZ, CO, and TX, for providing substandard care that may have resulted in loss of life. Short-term budget cuts and oversight failures will cost taxpayers for up-coming litigation. Again, politicians making decisions without contemplating the bigger picture...the Republicans have been particularly delinquent by not approving funding. As Sonny succinctly commented regarding abortion, the politicians fund the wars, but not the consequences.

LB said...

mike ~ Your comment about not having any out-of-pocket expenses under an ACA Bronze plan has me confused . . . how could that be?

The Silver plan my husband and I are enrolled in (which is a step up from the Bronze and therefore costs more) has a *very* high deductible and fails to cover a multitude of services -which we would have to pay out-of-pocket for. We also have a *very* limited network of providers; we were surprised at how limited it is.

Comprehensive, accessible and affordable healthcare remains out of reach for us - more so now than ever before - which is why I continue to support HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare For All.

Twilight said...

mike (again)~
On entitlements - this was written - in 3 different places:

Governments had steadily extended entitlements over decades, allowing dangerous levels of debt to develop, and politicians came to believe that they had abolished boom-bust cycles and tamed risk.

Many democracies now face a fight between past and future, between inherited entitlements and future investment.

The other comes from government’s habit of making promises that it cannot fulfil, either by creating entitlements it cannot pay for or by waging wars that it cannot win, such as that on drugs.

"Entitlements" is a word I've taken to apply in almost all cases to Social Security, and related programmes for relief of poverty.
I accept that I hadn't considered the items in the list you've given, but still maintain that taxes should be sufficient to cover any such "entitlements" - and they must not have been high enough for many years.
Conservative thinking keeps taxes down - you cannot have low taxes and high expectations for the people.
People cannot pay high taxes on piss-poor wages which is now what so many are expected to live on. who is getting the benefit? Guess?

Good wages and conditions paid for by higher taxes, a government manned by people of skill, and more importantly, integrity, properly elected by the people without financial input by corporations. That's what is needed, and pretty much a lost cause in the USA.

I'll leave matters related to ACA to you and LB to comment on. I'm happy that it has improved your own lot, mike, and the lot of many who had been excluded. I still don't think it's the right way to go though - benefits to insurance corporations are huge, dwarfing any minor benefits to the people - and no doubt set to become even more unbalanced in coming years, unless strictly regulated - which it likely will not be.

mike (again) said...

Twilight, as you state, taxation should be increased to support entitlement programs. However, taxation, itself, can be viewed as an entitlement program, particularly for the uber-rich individuals and large corporations...loop-holes abound for entities with tax shelters and off-shore profit protections. There would be no need for increasing taxes on middle and low personal incomes, if loop-holes and shelters were eliminated. Many of the 1% and corporations pay no fact, many receive refunds.

In my previous comment, I omitted agriculture and USDA subsidy payments to farmers (corporations) for growing and NOT growing various crops and animal products.

LB, crazy, eh?! As I explained in my previous comment, treaty and land grant obligations to the Eskimos and Native Americans have been historically ignored. Litigation over the past several decades has forced our government to honor some, but not all, of the original agreements.

You may have missed one of Twilight's posts from months ago, where I revealed myself as Native American heritage.

The "Indian Health Care Improvement Act" was amended March 23, 2010. It synchronizes with the ACA. Previous to the implementation of the ACA, I could only receive free health care from my tribal reservation located (next door to Twilight!) in Shawnee, OK. The IHCIA and ACA allow me to receive these benefits at any location I choose now.

The program is administered through standard health insurance providers. It makes no difference which plan level I select, as there are no deductibles or out of pocket expenses, so the cheapest, low-level Bronze is identical to the highest-level Platinum...why pay for Platinum when Bronze provides the same?!

I agree with you that a single payer system...extension of Medicare...would be best. And as Twilight stated, our current system only enriches the middle-men insurance companies at tax payer expense. The original ACA plan was aligned to a single-payer system, but the Republican accusation that this was inducing Socialism (gasp!) brought that to a halt.

Here's a negative presentation of the IHCIA and ACA for some Native Americans:

LB said...

mike ~ Thanks for elaborating. Now I see! And now I get what you were referencing when you talked about Native Americans, Eskimos and their agreement with the US government.

As amazing as it is, it seems only fair, not to mention long overdue, though like you I wish we *all* had access to affordable healthcare.

LB said...

mike ~ After checking out that link you provided (thanks), I see how the ACA may actually make it much harder for some Native Americans access affordable healthcare. Guess I'll have to rescind my previous comment about it being "fair".

Twilight ~ Sorry for going slightly off-topic. I've learned something new though, so thanks.:)

Twilight said...

mike ~ Agreed, that before hiking taxes on ordinary working people the corporations and very wealthy should be fairly taxed in proportion to the rest, with all loopholes closed.
We're dreaming in Pollyanna Land now though! ;-)

LB ~ Not to worry about off topic discussion - it's all grist for the mill. :-)

R J Adams said...

While there's no doubt Big Oil runs much of this country (and all of Oklahoma!), it's also true that the top ten oil producing states are not all Republican - which merely illustrates that the Democrats are equally in the pockets of Big Oil, and any other major corporation that will grease their palms with the odd forty gold pieces.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Oh yes, true enough.
Rebublicans and Democrats - six of one and half a dozen of the other!
Dems get by as "liberal" because they champion gay marriage and pro-choice issues, and are mealy-mouthed and lily livered. There's no left here, no true opposition. But as I wrote, this is the only game in town....until some of its Aces get ripped away. ;-)

You gotta know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run.
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table,
There'll be time enough for countin' When the dealin's done.