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Reap what you sow

You just gotta love that Mike Brake (Commentary, “Wherefore art thou, Democrats?,” June 20, Oklahoma Gazette). Beneath all that wonderful PR gibberish is the real message, “Somebody stop us!” Brake is afraid that without the adult guidance of Dems, the GOP is really likely to do something incredibly stupid. You know, like propose laws prohibiting the use of human fetuses in food or maybe de-funding Bert and Ernie.

Sorry, Mike, you guys bought it, and if you break it, you own it. Besides, how can Dems compromise with the GOP when it won’t compromise with itself?

—Carl Owen Moore

Why speak up now?

The crocodile tears shed by Mike Brake, a Republican operative, were convincing, if not for the inaccuracies and falsehoods.

Let’s focus on the inaccuracies in Brake’s commentary about “a nonfunctioning minority” in the state Legislature. While he does not think Democrats exist any longer, they are the ones who continually bailed out the Republicans when the two sides of that party — tea party Republicans versus chamber of commerce Republicans — could not come to terms on bills. When either group of Republicans tried to dictate their legislative will over the other, they had to turn to the minority Democratic caucus for help moving bills along. In other words: bipartisan government at work for the benefit of Oklahomans!

Second, it is noteworthy that not once does this Republican apologist mention that a majority of Republican incumbents were challenged by tea party Republicans in their primaries, indicating a serious split within his own party. Brake then castigates the Democratic Party for not fielding a candidate in every race, however, his selective memory seems to have forgotten that Democrats have won the last three special elections in Oklahoma.

Third, Brake is mistaken when he mentions politically motivated lawsuits. Strangely, he does not mention the same kind of lawsuit filed against Republican Sen. Clark Jolley by a fellow Republican over insults hurled during a hotly contested race. It is not unusual for lawsuits to result from heated political races, especially when filed by the disgruntled loser.

A fourth error made by Brake is his assertion about an out-of-context interview. I merely paraphrased the conclusions of national talk show host Sean Hannity and Bill Clinton, both of whom have argued that if Timothy McVeigh were alive today, he would most likely be a member of the tea party. It was Republican Hannity who proclaimed in April 2010 that the tea party was nothing but a bunch of “Timothy McVeigh wannabes.”

I am mystified as to why Brake feels the need to speak out now, given his close association with the Republican administrations of Govs. Frank Keating and Mary Fallin. There have been plenty of misstatements by both. Keating called teachers “slugs,” plus had missteps with Jack Dreyfus, who allegedly gave Keating $250,000 in “gifts” and wanted to use the drug Dilantin to sedate Oklahoma prisoners.

Current Republican Labor Commissioner Mark Costello called state employees “feral hogs.” Why no comment from Brake? When it was revealed that tuition costs were going up again, after University of Oklahoma President David Boren announced the increases were caused by a lack of state funding, silence from Brake. Boren went on to say the state funding at OU has sunk to only 17 percent.

The lack of state funding and the accompanying tuition increases will make it even harder for students of middle-class, working Oklahomans to attend college and receive the education needed to find a job that pays a living wage.

What are Brake’s feelings about the Republican administration’s intent to eliminate the various committees and commissions that serve as a voice for many of our minority groups? Aren’t these minority groups under attack if their ability to be heard is being taken away?

In one final insulting mistake, Brake brazenly says “we are folk who can disagree without venom,” then two paragraphs later spews his own venom, saying the minority in Oklahoma politics “has been co-opted by mouth-foaming leftists and a motley scattering of Little Dixie cigar-chompers who dwindle in number and influence each year.”

Mr. Brake, if you truly are concerned about the welfare of Oklahoma citizens, why didn’t you speak up during the aforementioned problems? Your statements sound like rhetoric of a tired political hack.

—Wallace Collins Norman

Collins is chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

Not so right about the right

In response to Mike Brake, I have a different explanation of why there are so few Democrats running in this state.

They got beat down by a combination of neo-populist appeal combined with huge insertions of unaccounted-for corporate cash in key elections. All you have to do is follow what has happened in the three years since the Citizens United decision to see that. Republican incumbents stifle voter turnout among populations that are friendlier to Democratic policies while encouraging the massive funneling of unregulated campaign cash from so-called super PACs to candidacies deemed to be “right-thinking.”

Brake speaks of the Democrats being taken over by wild-eyed radicals and haters. I’ve had the pleasure of reading plenty of colorful commentary on the Republican forums as well, Mr. Brake. A brief sampling: “Obama is a dirty, treasonous lying SOS (sic)”; “NO FREE HEALTHCARE! Let them die if they don’t have coverage!” These are “genial folk who can disagree without venom”?

Brake speaks of the Democrats running out of ideas. Well, let’s play this broken record: Cut taxes, outlaw abortion, substitute religious dogma for scientific inquiry, cut taxes, stifle opposition turnout through so-called voter fraud laws, destroy collective bargaining, gut regulations meant to protect consumers and the public from corporate malfeasance, cut taxes, close services to the elderly, needy and poor, cut taxes, coddle the wealthy and powerful, crush the helpless and disenfranchised, cut taxes.

I’ve heard all those old ideas for well over 30 years. Don’t patronize me, Mr. Brake.

You’re only as good as the money backing you and your cronies in power.

But money is a fickle mistress, sir.

—Glen Garcia Edmond