oklahoma senate

Didn’t George Washington say, ‘He who controls Afghanistan will carry New Jersey?’

Gore Vidal (1925 - 2012), born Eugene Louis Vidal, was an American writer (novels, essays, screenplays, stage plays) and a public intellectual known for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished style of writing.  He was born to a political family; his maternal grandfather was twice the U.S. Senator for Oklahoma (1907–21 and 1931–37).  As a politician, Gore Vidal was a Democratic Party man who twice sought elected office; first to the House of Representatives (New York State, 1960), then to the Senate (California, 1982).

As a novelist, Gore Vidal explored the nature of corruption in public and private life. He also wrote books which greatly offended public sensibilities but today are considered ahead of their time: one novel had a dispassionately presented gay male relationship, another explored the mutability of gender-role and sexual-orientation as being social constructs created by social conventions. Vidal considered himself a bisexual person, and lived with his partner Howard Austen for 53 years.

We See You

Quotes from people who once spoke out against a Muslim ban:

Mike Pence (Vice President):
Then: “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.” - Mike Pence, December 8 2015
Now: Stood by Trump as he signed the executive order. He nodded along as Trump said, “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States. We don’t want ‘em here.”

Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House):
Then: “I do not think a Muslim ban is our country’s interest. I do not think it’s reflective of our principles not only as a party, but as a country.” - Paul Ryan, June 14 2016
Now: “President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country.“ - Paul Ryan, January 27, 2017

Reince Preibus (Chief of Staff):
Then: "We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values.” - Reince Preibus (in response to Trump’s call for a Muslim ban), December 8 2015
Now: No comment.

General James Mattis (Secretary of Defense)
Then: “Now, I’ve fought a lot of times. I have never fought in an all-American formation. Where I’ve fought, we’ve had Muslim background troops inside of my formation. So this kind of thing is causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through this international system.” - James Mattis (in response to being asked about Trump’s proposed Muslim ban), July 12 2016
Now: Stood by Trump as he signed the executive order. He “took the order and grinned while Pence started clapping.”

Marco Rubio (Senator from Florida):
Then: “I disagree with Donald Trump’s latest proposal. His habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.” - Marco Rubio (in response to Trump’s call for a Muslim ban), December 7 2015
Now: No comment.

Tim Scott (Senator from South Carolina):
Then: “A lot of hyperbolic language is used during campaign season. We need to focus on serious solutions to address the real dangers presented by ISIS.” - Tim Scott (in response to Trump’s call for a Muslim ban), December 7 2015
Now: No comment.

Jim Inhofe (Senator from Oklahoma)
Then: “If he had changed instead of saying Muslim and said radical Islam, then I would agree with him. But I don’t agree.” - Jim Inhofe (in response to Trump’s call for a Muslim ban), December 8 2015
Now: No comment.

Michael McCaul (US Representative for Texas’s 10th Congressional District)
Then: “We were founded upon freedom of religion, this country is protected by the Constitution, so I would argue that there are questions regarding the constitution — which is our first obligation.” - Michael McCaul (in response to Trump’s call for a Muslim ban), December 8 2015
Now: “Today, President Trump signed an order to help prevent jihadists from infiltrating the United States. With the stroke of a pen, he is doing more to shut down terrorist pathways into this country than the last administration did in eight years.” - Michael McCaul, January 27, 2017

For the sake of fairness, Republicans (currently in power) who have spoken out: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (ish, he warned him against it, but said the courts would decide if the ban went too far), Representatives Charlie Dent, Justin Amash, Barabara Comstock, Brian Fitzpatrick, Mike Coffman, Susan Collins, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Elise Stefanik, and Senators Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Lindsey Graham, James Lankford, John Barasso, and John McCain.

To the rest of you, we see you.

Senator Andrew Rice's final pieces of advice

To the Republicans at the Capitol: Being entirely dismissive of the minority party’s views is just as toxic to good government as it was when the ruling Democrats did it. Little good comes from single-party rule — regardless of which party is in charge. Don’t become what you used to abhor.

To Republican voters in OKC: Many of you are much more moderate than you realize. This shouldn’t scare you. Oklahoma City’s dynamic growth over the past 20 years has come from a mixture of both conservative and progressive initiatives between city government and the private sector. The day soon may present itself that a centrist Democrat or independent candidate is more in line with your policy positions than a conservative Republican candidate. 

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To straight allies of Oklahoma’s LGBT community: The far right in Oklahoma cannot hold back the inevitable evolution taking place in regard to LGBT equal rights across America, even in this deeply red state. But your gay and lesbian sibling, colleague or friend needs you to step up publicly more often and affirm that he or she plays an important role in the mainstream culture and commerce of this city and state.

To Oklahoma Democrats: Despite what many in the local media say about the reasons for the demise of the Democratic Party here, we local Democrats bear little of the blame. What could we have done to stop right-wing talk radio and cable news, political activism from evangelical pulpits, and the political money from Oklahoma’s business community that all have effectively made the Democratic brand unacceptable to the state’s swing voters? I suggest holding your ground in the political middle, while elected Republicans try to outrace each other to the far right.

To public-education reformers: I trust you realize there is no easy fix. But I maintain much of the most important and difficult work to do is outside of the classroom, not inside of it. Kids from low-income families bring to the classroom a host of domestic, emotional and economic problems that can overwhelm even the most dedicated and experienced teacher. Check out Educare in south OKC, and learn how that facility creates stability for the entire family of the student.

To future candidates for the Legislature: Campaigning door-to door is a must. It does not ensure victory, but it’s very hard to win if you don’t do it. It will inoculate you well from your opponent’s attacks, and will build a unique trust between you and your future constituents. Plus, it will provide meaningful memories on those days at N.E. 23rd Street and Lincoln Boulevard when you ask yourself, “Why in the world did I do this to myself and my family?” 

To my constituents: Thank you for entrusting me with the privilege and responsibility of being your senator for six years. I tried to match your fierce, independent-minded spirit in my day-today work. It was an honor to serve you.

And lastly: Go, Thunder!

Andrew Rice is a member of the Oklahoma Senate, representing District 46. He is resigning his seat Jan. 15 to move with his family to another state.

Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, National Journal’s 2009 Top Conservative in the Senate—the man who, in February, tossed a snowball on the floor of the chamber to assert that global warming is a hoax—calls Sanders one of his best friends in the Senate. “Bernie Sanders is unique,” Inhofe says, “in that most of the Democrats I know in the Senate vote liberal and press-release conservative. Not Bernie. He’s a proud, in-the-heart, sincere liberal. I’ve never heard him once say something that didn’t come from his heart. That’s not true with all the people running for president, Democrats and Republican. I hold him in high regard.”

Sanders and Inhofe met in the early ’90s, when they were both representatives, and Sanders was proposing an amendment hiking taxes on the oil and gas industry. Inhofe rushed to the floor, debated him, and won the vote. Afterward, Sanders thanked him for offering a thoughtful, fact-based exchange.

Despite 25 years of friendship, Inhofe doesn’t know much about Sanders personally. “With everyone else in the Senate, they’ll discuss the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game,” Inhofe says. “But not Bernie. I don’t think he has any other interests. I really don’t. I’ve never heard him talk about anything besides something legislative he’s all wrapped up in. It’s very unusual.”

Inhofe pauses. “I, to this day, don’t even know if he has grandkids. Or even a wife.” The two have never gone to dinner or lunch. “I don’t know what we’d talk about,” Inhofe says, before remembering that, of course, Sanders would talk about wealth inequality. “You can’t have a whole dinner talking about that.”

—  “Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Want Your Vote,” Bloomberg Businessweek