Republican officials stop attempt to name any of Route 66 after Trump

❝ A Republican lawmaker has abandoned his effort to rename a stretch of old Route 66 in northeastern Oklahoma after President Donald Trump…

State Sen. Nathan Dahm…may find another spot to rename Donald Trump Highway, but it won’t be associated with the Mother Road…

❝ Republican Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, who oversees Oklahoma’s marketing and branding, swiftly rejected the idea of naming sections of Route 66 after Trump or any other political figure.

“I don’t care if you want to call it Mother Teresa Highway or Donald Trump Highway; there is only one thing to call it, and that’s Historic Route 66,” Pinnell said…

Pasting the Fake President’s name on anything other than the back of his prison uniform is a waste of advertising space.

OxyContin makers avoid televised courtroom trial — Settle out of court for $270 million.


Click to enlargeJustin Lane/EPA

❝ Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and its owners, the Sackler family, agreed to pay $270 million to avoid going to a state court trial over the company’s role in the opioid addiction epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans over the past two decades.

❝ The payment, negotiated to settle a case brought by the state of Oklahoma, was far larger than two previous settlements Purdue Pharma had reached with other states. It could jolt other settlement talks with the company, including those in a consolidated collection of 1600 cases overseen by a federal judge in Cleveland.

❝ “Purdue appears to have concluded that it was less risky to settle the Oklahoma case than have the allegations publicly aired against it during a televised trial and face exposure to what could have been an astronomical jury verdict,” said Abbe R. Gluck, a professor at Yale Law School who directs the Solomon Center for Health Policy and Law.

Lock ’em up and throw away the key!

When you elect a thug he brings along more thugs – and pimps – to government


Joe Craft behind Pruitt’s right shoulder – enjoying the results of his payola

❝ It was one of the biggest games of the University of Kentucky basketball season, and Scott Pruitt had scored two of the best seats in the arena: a few feet from the action, in a section reserved for season-ticket holders who had donated at least $1 million to the university…

But there was more to the game last December than a superfan experience for Mr. Pruitt and his son, who joined him. They sat in seats belonging to Joseph W. Craft III, a billionaire coal executive who has engaged in an aggressive campaign to reverse the Obama administration’s environmental crackdown on the coal industry. Mr. Craft and his wife donated more than $2 million to support President Trump’s candidacy and inauguration.

A major contributor to Mr. Pruitt’s campaigns in Oklahoma when Mr. Pruitt served in state government, Mr. Craft saw Mr. Pruitt at least seven times during his first 14 months at the E.P.A., agency records and emails show, and they were scheduled to appear together on at least two other occasions. That is more than Mr. Pruitt has met with representatives of any environmental group.

RTFA for more of this corrupt pay-for-play relationship. Not a surprise – though how much more has been hidden will be up honest folk in government to uncover. Presuming there are any remaining after Trump’s spell in the White House.

Earthquake trends in Oklahoma related to wastewater injection


Click to enlarge

❝ According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the number of earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains has increased dramatically since 2009. More earthquakes in these areas have coincided with the increase in oil and natural gas production from shale formations. Seismic events caused by human activity — also known as induced seismicity — are most often caused by the underground injection of wastewater produced during the oil and natural gas extraction process…

Before 2009, Oklahoma might have experienced one to two low-magnitude earthquakes per year. Since 2014, Oklahoma has experienced one to two low-magnitude earthquakes per day, with a few instances of higher magnitude (between magnitude 5 and 6) earthquakes that caused some damage.

In addition to the increased use of wastewater injection related to oil and natural gas production in the region, the geologic conditions in central Oklahoma are conducive to triggering seismic activity. The rock underlying the formations where disposal water is being injected in the region has existing faults that are susceptible to the changing stresses caused by fluid injection. Without these geologic conditions, induced seismicity would be much less common. For example, induced seismicity in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana is relatively rare.

❝ The USGS in 2017 issued an updated seismic hazard forecast for the central and eastern United States. This forecast attempts to estimate the chance of damage caused by earthquakes in the region of interest. The 2017 forecasted seismic rates are still significantly elevated compared with pre-2009 levels but lower than their peak in 2015.

The USGS report indicates that the recent decline may be related to decreased wastewater injection, because production in the region has decreased since the 2014 drop in oil prices. Actions by authorities in various states to regulate wastewater injection practices and restrict injection into the most sensitive areas may also be helping to reduce both the number and intensity of small earthquakes.

Give ’em a chance, folks. My experience with fossil fuel producers in Gulf States and the Permian Basin tell me nothing trumps profits. Not damage to the environment. Not light-to-medium damage to homes and businesses. It will take heavy-duty death and destruction to press these greedy bastards to find healthier ways to fill their pockets.

Oklahoma lawmakers say men must approve all abortions

Oklahoma ranks second behind Louisiana for the sheer number of abortion restrictions passed since 1973. And they’re still at it:


Governor Mary Fallin brags her state is the most anti-abortion state in the nation

❝ HB 1441…is disturbing, devoid of any nuance and completely unconstitutional. Written by another of the chamber’s freshmen, Rep. Justin Humphrey, the legislation would require a woman seeking an abortion first to obtain written permission from her sexual partner. It would also require her to provide his name to her doctor and would forestall the procedure if the man wanted the opportunity to challenge paternity.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar provision in 1992.

❝ Just as quickly as they were disposed of the first time around, both pieces of legislation have re-emerged: On Thursday afternoon the measures were put back on the committee agenda — slated for hearing on Valentine’s Day.

…“I think it’s universally viewed that our state, Kansas, and a few others are really the worst out there” for reproductive rights, said Rev. Shannon Speidel, a minister in Enid, Oklahoma, and a current member of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice’s board.

❝ Speidel has worked on issues of reproductive justice in Arkansas and on the national stage as a member of the Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute, which is sponsored by the Center for American Progress. “Especially with the institute I hear a lot about this work all over the country, and every single state has their fights — even the most progressive ones. Ours is recognized as one of the most hostile states in the nation.”…

❝ Of all the bills filed this session, HB 1441 has been most troubling to coalition members, said Speidel. “This one, by far, was the one that bothered us the most,” she said. “There were a lot of feelings about it. In a state that doesn’t really spend a lot of time on domestic violence issues it really just showed ignorance regarding what relationships can be for some women.”

Humphrey explains his reasons this way:

“I understand that they feel like that is their body,” he said of women. “I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”

I haven’t anything civil to say about folks like this. Opinions which fail the smell test as thoroughly as any law advocating slavery or opposing universal suffrage have no place in American political discourse. The First Amendment protects stupid as well as ignorant; but, 19th Century minds waste the time and cost of running a legislature with crap like this.

Even if Congressional Republicans and their evil twin in the White House get to mess with the Supreme Court, I hope that civil reliance on the virtues of our Constitution give the state of Oklahoma nothing more than an outsize bill for their backwardness and patronizing beliefs.

In Oklahoma, thousands with mental illnesses get to go to jail, not medical treatment


Click to enlargeChris Landsberger/The Oklahoman

❝ A monthslong investigation by The Oklahoman, including the examination of hundreds of pages of jail inspection reports, found that jail staffs across Oklahoma are tasked with attempting to be mental health professionals, often with little or no training…

❝ Since statehood, Oklahoma has grappled with how to create a sustainable, comprehensive mental health system. The state has spent among the least in the nation on mental health care, all while filling jails and prisons with people who wouldn’t be there if they could afford and access basic health care for their brain disorders.

Imprisonment is not only the least effective form of “treatment” but also the costliest.

The cost of a year of state-funded mental health treatment: $2,000.

The cost of a year in prison for someone with serious mental illness: $23,000.

At last count, 60 percent of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ population — 17,000 people — have either symptoms or a history of mental illness…

Often, before these Oklahomans are sentenced to prison, they spend months, if not years, cycling in and out of county jails.

I won’t try to precis this excellent article down to the size of a blog post. The article reflects the first two of a four-part series on Oklahoma’s lousy excuse for mental health care. I think a mirror image approach to the state’s mediocre criminal justice system would show the same.

Hypocritical ideologues run the state. They care not for science, modern medicine, current concerns and remedies to substance abuse or mental illness. They run Puritan jails the way they run a Puritan legislature. RTFA. Make up your own mind.

So, um, how did you celebrate Oilfield Prayer Day?

❝ In an announcement we only wish were part of an SNL cold open, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin proclaimed Oct. 13 Oilfield Prayer Day. All you need to celebrate is rest, relaxation, and a solemn request to the heavens to make fracking great again.

❝ The official statewide initiative is the brainchild of Fallin and Reverend Tom Beddow, who runs the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Oil Path Chaplains ministry. “We’re asking churches all over Oklahoma to open their doors, put on a pot of coffee, and pray for the oil field,” Beddow told The Oklahoman. While originally calling upon only Christians, Fallin revised the proclamation Monday to beseech oil-enthusiasts of all faiths.

❝ Last month, Oklahoma saw a 5.8 magnitude earthquake — the state’s largest in recorded history — in an area regularly injected with wastewater from oil and gas companies. That type of wastewater disposal has been linked to earthquakes. With that in mind, Oilfield Prayer Day seems a distasteful addition to a week filled with real holidays such as Indigenous People’s Day and Yom Kippur.

Given the dedication to 14th Century ideology practiced by both state and citizens in Oklahoma, none of this surprises me. There is little of our Constitutional separation of church and state at offer in that benighted state.

Oklahoma finally orders wastewater wells shut down after earthquake


Click to enlargeDavid Bitton/AP

Steve Gibson, of Pawnee, takes photos of damage

❝ Oklahoma officials have ordered 37 wastewater disposal wells shut down after a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the state on Saturday, equal to the strongest in the state’s history.

Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency after the earthquake, which caused damage to buildings around north-central Oklahoma and could be felt as far away as Dallas and Chicago…

❝ The Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered the shutdown of wastewater wells in a radius of about 500 square miles around the epicenter of the earthquake. “We estimate that at any one time, there are about 3,200 active disposal wells,” commission spokesman Matt Skinner said.

❝ Five months ago, US officials warned Oklahoma that the wastewater wells used for natural gas drilling were linked to an increase in earthquakes in the state, parts of which are now as likely to suffer tremors as northern California. There are about 4,200 total wells across the state and about 700 in a 15,000-square-mile “area of interest” in the area that includes the epicenter of Saturday’s temblor, near Pawnee…

❝ An increase in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production, and since 2013, the commission has asked wastewater-well owners to reduce disposal volumes in parts of the state where the temblors have been most frequent.

Disaster is about the only way to get the attention of the latest flavor of conservative politicians. Now that seawater is often knee-deep in coastal cities, Republican mayors begin to “recognize” that climate science really does apply to the United States. The same is beginning to happen to Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats in states dependent upon fossil fuel barons for a significant chunk of their budget.

19th Century minds are occasionally dragged into reality. Especially when it hurts.

Oklahoma limits oil and gas wells to fight quakes

Facing a six-year barrage of increasingly large earthquakes, Oklahoma regulators are effectively ordering the state’s powerful oil-and-gas industry to substantially cut back the underground disposal of industry wastes that have caused the tremors across the state.

…The state Corporation Commission asked well operators in a Connecticut-size patch of central Oklahoma to reduce by 40 percent the amount of oil and gas wastes they are injecting deep into the earth. The directive covers 411 injection wells in a rough circle that includes Oklahoma City and points northeast…

The directives were phrased as requests, because the Corporation Commission’s legal authority to order cutbacks over such broad areas is unclear. The commission has come close to legal battles over the issue twice this year, and a third challenge would not be a surprise. The commission has pledged to take to court any operator that refuses to carry out the reductions…

The new orders come after three of the largest quakes in the state’s history, 4.7, 4.8 and 5.1-magnitude shocks that rocked a major oil field this year.

In 2010, when the tremors began, Oklahoma recorded three earthquakes at or above a magnitude of 3. Last year, it had 907. So far in 2016, it has had nearly 160.

Although critics contend that earthquakes have caused millions of dollars of damage, Oklahoma’s political leaders have long been reluctant to impose restrictions on an industry that dominates the state’s economy. Until last spring, Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, maintained that the cause of the tremors was unclear, and the state Legislature refused to consider legislation addressing the issue

Seismologists have long warned that the rise in the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma could presage a temblor that could cause extensive damage.

Corrupt politics still tend to be described in terms avoiding depicting the crooks and politicians involved as the source of corruption. Somehow, they create a milieu that mysteriously condemns a whole state to environmental disaster, an economic swamp wholly dependent on the profit system of a monoculture. Hogwash.

BTW, here’s another “feel sorry for the bastards who aren’t making millions this week” article from Bloomberg. We’re supposed to feel sorry for politicians who live in one of the posh communities now affected by the quakes. They bought those homes with their share of criminal profits. They condemned the state of Oklahoma to a monocultural economy — part of the swath of oil fiefdoms stretching from Louisiana to New Mexico.

They should be forced to take up pick and shovel and do the grunt work of sealing the wastewater wells. Do a little honest work for a change.

Republican “academic freedom” unchanged – backwards, bigoted and anti-science

The first state bills of the year that would interfere with science education have appeared in Oklahoma. There, both the House and Senate have seen bills that would prevent school officials and administrators from disciplining any teachers who introduce spurious information to science classes.

These bills have a long history, dating back to around the time when teaching intelligent design was determined to be an unconstitutional imposition of religion. A recent study showed that you could take the text of the bills and build an evolutionary tree that traces their modifications over the last decade. The latest two fit the patterns nicely.

The Senate version of the bill is by State Senator Josh Brecheen, a Republican. It is the fifth year in a row he’s introduced a science education bill after announcing he wanted “every publicly funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution…”

The one introduced in the Oklahoma House is more traditional. Billed as a “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act” (because freedom!), it spells out a whole host of areas of science its author doesn’t like…

The bill…ensures educators can just teach whatever they want as long as they think it’s science, and nobody can discipline them. Students, meanwhile, cannot be penalized if they “subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories.”

As usual, if your particular flavor of fundamentalist hooey favors a Flat Earth or the sun revolving around the Earth it’s OK. Want to teach the kiddies scumbag theories about natural subservience for women or ethnic minorities? No harm, no foul.