THAT sound you hear might be state Democratic Party officials scrambling to try to halt the ongoing slide toward second place among registered voters in Oklahoma. The state Election Board reported this week that as of mid-January, Oklahoma had 2,116,186 registered voters — an increase of about 6 percent from the 2,000,610 at the same time a year earlier.
But Democrats gained only 18,789 voters, a growth rate of about 2 percent. Their total now stands at 962,072. Conversely, the Republican Party added 69,406 voters, an 8 percent bump to 897,663. Independents showed the greatest rate of growth — 11 percent, from 229,070 to today's 256,450.
Just 20 years ago, the Democratic Party laid claim to nearly two-thirds of all registered voters in Oklahoma. Now only 45.5 percent of registered voters call themselves Democrats — a remarkable plunge in the span of just one generation. Meantime, the GOP has seen its percentage of registered voters increase from 33 percent in 1993 to 42.4 percent today. Independents make up 12 percent of Oklahoma's registered voters; 20 years ago, that figure stood at 3 percent.
The GOP controls both branches of the Legislature and the governor's office. Our congressional delegation is all-Republican. Every statewide office is held by a Republican. With Barack Obama in the White House, the move away from the Democratic Party in Oklahoma is sure to continue.
Here's how not to honor Martin Luther King Jr. or the National Day of Service associated with the annual King holiday: politicize it. This is exactly what local King day organizer Roosevelt Milton did. Barack Obama's re-election, Milton said, is good news that's overshadowed by voter ID laws that amount to “suppression of voting rights.” If the rights of minority votes were suppressed, how did America's first black president get elected not once but twice? Milton also complains about the choice of Oklahomans in November to outlaw some forms of reverse discrimination. Not mentioned are the real problems facing minorities today, including a breakdown of social structure and a disintegration of jobs in the Obama economy. King dreamed big dreams and looked forward. Some of his devotees are sleepwalking and stuck in the 1960s.
Targeting the superintendent
Late last month Donna Anderson, superintendent of Bennington Public Schools in Bryan County, said she plans to run for the job of state schools superintendent. Anderson, who has spent 19 years in the education field, said she will focus on “increased accountability, assessment reform and financial stability for Oklahoma's public schools.” Her announcement also makes it clear she's no fan of some of the changes Superintendent Janet Barresi has backed that have proved to be successful elsewhere. “The methods currently being promoted have no research-based success,” she said. “We do not need to model education after any other state. We need to be Oklahomans who do the hard work to find our path to success, not run frantically toward unproven methods because of a political agenda.” With nearly two years to go before the election, this race figures to get interesting.
The Obama White House has a petitions website allowing citizens to post demands, pledging an answer for those getting 25,000 or more signatures within 30 days. It's an empty gesture allowing the administration to pretend to care what citizens think while continuing to push policies that polling shows the public opposes (see Obamacare). Sensibly, the public has responded to this phony outreach with phony requests. A petition to build a Stars Wars-style Death Star easily cleared the 25,000-signer threshold. Paul Shawcross, an administration adviser on science and space, actually responded with a memo turning down the Death Star project. Shawcross is paid $162,702 annually. In the meantime, Obama has yet to provide a serious deficit-reduction plan. That sums up the Obama administration in a nutshell: Paying six-figure salaries to make joke responses to prank requests, but doing nothing to address the country's serious problems.
same as the first
With the retirement of Superintendent Kirby Lehman, Jenks schools could have charted a new course. Instead, they promoted Deputy Superintendent Stacey Butterfield, who called Lehman a mentor. This is telling because Lehman's recent tenure has been marked by frivolous lawsuits and a disturbing attitude toward less-fortunate children. He championed filing lawsuits targeting the parents of special-needs students (which the state Supreme Court tossed) and griped about funding charter schools serving poor minority children (whose parents can't afford Jenks homes). In 2005, Jenks joined a teachers union lawsuit demanding a billion-dollar increase in school appropriations (also laughed out of court). Sadly, other troubled Tulsa-area schools are following a similar path. Union promoted a deputy superintendent and Tulsa replaced “retiring” Superintendent Keith Ballard ... with Keith Ballard for another year. Rather than moving ahead, this suggests that these schools will continue advocating an agenda that hasn‘t benefitted students.
Moses never made it to the promised land. Matt Damon's movie “Promised Land” hasn't crossed the river into profitability. In fact, it's going further into the wilderness by the day. On its third weekend of release, this movie designed to raise awareness about hydraulic fracturing averaged only $774 per screen. By contrast, “Argo” averaged $2,021 per screen even though it's been out for 14 weeks. “Promised Land” has grossed less than $7 million to date, which is less than half of what it cost to make the movie. And that figure doesn't include extensive marketing costs. No doubt, Damon won't express regret for doing this regrettable movie and it won't cost him more than money. One of the Ten Commandments of Hollywood is to sometimes mix social awareness with all the big-budget movies whose characters ignore that “Thou Shalt Not Kill” thing.
Praise for a ‘mean' mom
A mother who caught her 16-year-old son driving while drunk is getting national attention and praise for finding a punishment that likely got the kid's attention: selling his car. In a Northern Wyoming News classified ad listing the car for $3,500 or best offer, the woman describes herself as “very angry” and the “meanest mother in Wyoming.” The move is drawing praise for several reasons. For one, underage drinking kills roughly 5,000 per year, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The number of drunk-driving deaths in 2011 totaled 9,878. But praise is due for a more fundamental reason: In a time when the protagonists of several reality TV shows are rich, spoiled brats, to see a parent truly laying down the law is a triumph for the whole culture. It seems others agree. When AOL Autos tried to contact the mother, they found her mailbox full.