Archive for Soonerland

Small pox upon thee

The “Sooner Tea Party,” as accurate in its name as the Holy Roman Empire was in its, apparently has been circulating noxious stuff like this Yellow Peril poster:

Anti-vaccine poster attacking Senator Ervin Yen

Dr. Yen represents Senate District 40, which means he represents me. For some reason, I didn’t receive one of these noxious little crap-o-grams; I snatched this photo from journalist Madi Alexander. Steve Lackmeyer at the Oklahoman remembered:

The shitgibbon in question served no time and paid a small fine. The state lawmaker on the receiving end of his wrath was Cliff Branan, who at the time represented, um, Senate District 40. And anyway, the conviction was subsequently overturned on free-speech grounds, which is just as well: noxious speech needs protection every bit as much as the innocuous stuff. Maybe more. Either way, it doesn’t make the guy any less of a shitgibbon.

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Wind unwound?

The Big Breezy wasn’t all that breezy last year, reports Oklahoman Real Estate Editor Richard Mize:

At first glance, it’s hard to believe Oklahoma City didn’t make CoreLogic’s annual Windy City Index for 2016, neither by top wind speed nor number of wind events. That’s partly because tornadoes don’t count as wind events. So even the couple of little tornadoes that did hit last year wouldn’t have changed the rankings.

Now I want to yell at the weather forecasters with their tornado suits on: “You call that a wind event?

So who tops the index? Nashville, Tennessee:

The windiest city in the U.S. in 2016 was Nashville, according to a yearly analysis of weather data from CoreLogic, a research and consulting firm.

The city came in first among the nation’s largest 279 metro areas, CoreLogic said. The ranking takes into account both the number of strong wind events as well as the total force caused by any severe wind gusts of 60 mph or more.

Nashville had 21 wind-related events in 2016 and a maximum wind speed of 72 mph. It was followed by Reno, Jackson, Miss., Cincinnati and Columbia, S.C., as the USA’s windiest cities last year, according to CoreLogic.

If these places seem awfully close to one another, there’s a reason for that:

All of the USA’s highest wind speeds in 2016 were recorded during Hurricane Matthew’s rampage up the East Coast, with the highest being 101 mph, which was recorded at Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 6.

And if you’re asking why CoreLogic cares, Mize can tell you:

CoreLogic, a financial and property data firm based in Irvine, California — with its Weather Verification Services arm in Norman — collects and [analyzes] this data to provide to the insurance industry. One-fourth of all claims are for wind damage, CoreLogic says.

We may take heart in the fact that Chicago, the Windy City of legend, didn’t place either.

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One last laurel

Twenty-four times a year, The Oklahoma Observer would blast into one’s mailbox, with laurels when the situation permitted and darts when someone messed up. This was the way of Forrest J. “Frosty” Troy, who edited the Observer for decades — his wife Helen, whom he considered the brains of the operation, was the publisher — and who finally retired in 2006, once he found a kindred spirit (Arnold Hamilton) to take it over.

Reliably liberal in the last-century sense, Frosty was occasionally predictable, but every now and then he’d throw the readers (typically about 7,000 circulation) a curve, and it would almost always turn out that he was way ahead of that curve.

The one person I had hoped would have something to say on Frosty’s death at 83 was one-time Oklahoman editorial writer and current City Sentinel wheel Patrick McGuigan, and Pat did not let me down:

After he stopped coming to the Capitol, members of the House and Senate staff would stop by the press room to ask if I knew how he was doing. I told them what I knew through friends. Frosty moved into a home for those afflicted with memory loss. For awhile, he and the legendary Paul English — each of them scourges of politicians in both parties — were roommates. That seemed appropriate, somehow.

Like my parents of blessed memory, Frosty made the prayer list in the weekly bulletin at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He was still on the list distributed last Sunday.

Some people hated Frosty. Once upon a time, I guess I did.

But I came to love him. Those are the right words. The guy who had denounced many of my writings and policy preferences — and the reporter who gave you-know-what to every governor in my lifetime — emerged, in the actual knowing, as a man much like myself.

He was in love with Oklahoma and in love with words. He possessed a healthy combination of optimism and pessimism.

Which latter, I think, comes from living here long enough. And just for the record, when I put together a brief sendoff for Midwest City founder and Oklahoma Journal publisher W. P. Bill Atkinson, it was Frosty Troy who helped me with the details, some of which I’m reasonably certain no one else would know, or would admit to.

(Paul English, long-time Capitol reporter for the Oklahoman, died last spring.)

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More mud pie, sir?

Newspaper clipping about Ryan DirteaterIn the Oklahoman’s seemingly interminable notes of everything conceivably connected to last night’s OKC Thunder/Memphis Grizzlies game, I found this little squib without the least bit of snark, which tells me that this is no laughing matter:

Seldom does a day pass when bull rider Ryan Dirteater isn’t asked if that’s his real last name.

“They think it’s fake,” he said. “It’s ironic that I’m a bull rider. You don’t want to eat dirt. But it is my real last name. I grew up with it.”

Dirteater might be a cool last name for a cowboy, but it was ripe for getting picked on when the Oklahoma native was a boy.

“I’ve heard it since I was a kid growing up, especially in high school,” said Dirteater, [27]. “Some of them made fun of my name back then, and now most of them want my autograph.”

The best revenge, as the phrase goes. To which I say: “See what the gentleman is drinking.”

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You can’t beat the spread

“The most perverse weather this side of Baffin Bay,” I said about two decades ago.

An example from earlier today:

Where I live, specifically: 6.

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On Scott Pruitt

Some folks seem alarmed that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has actually spent a fair amount of time fighting the EPA, and the Usual Suspects are quite aware of that:

Grunwald writes for Politico, so undoubtedly he’s suffering some amount of butthurt these days, but there’s nothing extreme or even really remarkable about his observation: it’s been replicated in some form or other all across the Left.

On the other hand, there have been times when I wondered if the Agency hadn’t given up on actual environmental protection in favor of politicized environmental protection, in which all decisions are made to support The Narrative at the expense of everything else:

A major water infrastructure bill introduced Monday by the Republican leadership would put states back in charge of enforcing one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly coal rules, while making sure the agency pays for the damage it caused states during last year’s toxic waste water spill in Colorado.

The new Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation bill includes pending water resources and water waste bills, as well as significant tribal and natural resources legislation, and other important measures to improve the nation’s infrastructure, according to a fact sheet.

“Fact sheets” are, well, not always factual, though dissembling was and is a bipartisan activity of the worst kind. Then again, EPA hasn’t exactly rushed to take care of that toxic waste, have they? If Pruitt’s mission is to strangle EPA in its crib, as Betsy DeVos is supposed to be dismantling the Department of Education — well, think how much we’ll save in the long run if the states resume control of functions that Washington was never Constitutionally authorized to perform.

Of course, some states are in better shape than others. I’m thinking back to January:

Attorney General Scott Pruitt sent a letter Monday to Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders, asking that about $6 million in state appropriations for his office be withheld in the next budget in view of financial problems affecting the state.

A hole of about $900 million is expected in the next state budget as revenues have fallen because of a downturn in the oil industry.

And hey, you can’t have things like agency heads asking for budget cuts. It’s un-American, for certain spendthrift values of “American.”

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Not a clean getaway

Florida has its own Fark tag. We don’t. But it looks like we’re working on it:

A Connerville man got caught taking a bath in someone else’s home [Thursday] evening, after running from police while in handcuffs.

Shortly after 5 p.m., 35-year-old Justin Pollock was pulled over for speeding on State Highway 99 in Connerville.

An Oklahoma highway patrolman found marijuana, put him in handcuffs, and put him in the front of the trooper’s car. But while the trooper was searching Pollock’s van, Pollock maneuvered the cuffs to the front and got out, before running to his van and driving off.

He abandoned his car in some trees of a close by parking lot, and was found in a home around 6.

Charges, of course, were filed:

He has been charged with felony drug possession, felony evading arrest, escape and burglary.

At least he didn’t stink at the time.

(With thanks to Fillyjonk.)

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Leave it blank

An Oklahoman editorial from yesterday:

Trump’s victory in Oklahoma was among the most lopsided in all 50 states. Yet he achieved that domination while attracting fewer Oklahoma voters than [George W.] Bush or McCain. Perhaps Trump did draw new voters out of the woodwork in Oklahoma. But if so, it seems he may have also prompted some traditional GOP voters to sit this election out.

The #NeverTrump hashtag bunch perhaps saw that it had no place to go; independent Evan McMullin wasn’t on the ballot and couldn’t be put there. (We have no provision for write-ins.)

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A bit of the ultra-violets

I’ve long characterized my neck of the woods as neither fully red nor blue, but somewhere in between. This year’s precinct numbers suggest it’s getting slightly bluer:

President: Hillary Clinton (D) 687, Donald Trump (R) 519, Gary Johnson (L) 137.

Senate: James Lankford (R) 624, Mike Workman (D) 559, Robert Murphy (L) 69; independents 102.

Congress: Al McAffrey (D) 658, Steve Russell (R) 586, Zachary Knight (L) 97.

HD87: Collin Walke (D) 715, Bruce Lee Smith (R) 506, Elle Collins (L) 117.

Only one state question garnered 1000 Yes votes: 780, the simplification of drug penalties.

Previous red/blue balances: 2012; 2010.

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And the earth tries to swallow once more

Five point three.

If that magnitude holds up, it will be the fourth largest earthquake in state history.

That in itself is sort of newsy, but this is worse. Adam Wilmoth reports energy stuff for the Oklahoman:

I mean, we’re talking pipelines in every direction except straight up.

The sensation was weird: I heard what I thought was wind over the back fence, and the rumble moved forward, clearing the house in about 35 seconds. No damage here that I can tell, but then I’m pretty far away.

Update, 8:40 pm: Downgraded to 5.0. Now #5 on the all-time list.

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Is we edumacated good?

A letter to the Oklahoman starts off reasonably and then shoots itself in the foot at the end:

Remember House Bill 1017? Wagering on horse racing? Liquor by the drink? Lottery? All these things were supposed to provide more money for the schools. In addition, 78 percent of our property tax goes to the schools. Irresponsible spending needs to be reined in. Those in power continue to resist school consolidation. Anyone who lives on a budget could tell them that if superintendents were reduced to one per county (with an assistant in the larger counties), there would be money to pay teachers a raise without having to tax the people again. I ask, respectfully and without malice, why classroom teachers are so quiet on the subject when the solutions seem so obvious?

Perhaps they figure that consolidating a dozen school districts into one will cost more than just administrative jobs.

Then the argument goes off the rails:

Here in Krebs-McAlester, we are taxed at 10 percent. The raise would put us at 11 percent. For every $100 we have to spend for groceries, it will cost us an additional $11. There are many who are finding it difficult already. There must be another path to helping the classroom teachers without causing more hardship to low-income people.

Sales tax in Krebs is indeed 10 percent: 4.5 state, 4.0 city, 1.5 Pittsburg County. The tax on $100 worth of groceries is therefore $10. Increasing the tax rate to 11 percent will mean that the tax on $100 worth of groceries will be, um, $11. This is an additional dollar, not “an additional $11.”

If this is the prevailing arithmetic out there, no wonder many are finding it difficult.

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We were warned

Two Sundays ago, there was an email from the Oklahoman apologizing for late delivery: “You may be aware that as of Monday our production and manufacturing of the newspaper is now being completed in Tulsa.”

Inevitably, this additional hour or so of processing time — I assume the content is delivered to Tulsa electronically, but the actual papers have to come back down the Turner Turnpike — leads to this sort of thing:

Editor's note from the Oklahoman 10-22-16

So this might have been predictable:

And likewise this, the following morning:

But hey, they saved some money, so it’s all good.

Oh, OU beat Texas Tech, 66-59, which sounds for all the world like a basketball score.

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Propositions put forth

In addition to the stuff I expected in the absentee-ballot package, I found a yellow sheet: bonds. School bonds. Oklahoma City Public Schools wants to borrow some serious cash:

  • $106,340,000: “acquiring or improving school sites, constructing, repairing, remodeling and equipping school buildings, and acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment.”
  • $54,460,000: “acquiring or improving school sites, constructing, repairing, remodeling and equipping school buildings, and acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment.” My guess is that this one is the fallback position: “if we can’t have a hundred million, can we at least have fifty?”
  • $19,200,000: “acquiring transportation equipment.”

For what it’s worth, OKCPS is growing rather speedily of late: long the second-largest district in the state, they passed first-place Tulsa several years ago. And the district has been frank about its problems:

“In addition to our current $30-million dollar budget shortfall, we have dire basic needs throughout the district,” said OKCPS Superintendent Aurora Lora. “Our air conditioning deficiencies in schools have been well documented the past few weeks; an aging bus fleet continues to be a major financial burden, and most of our students don’t have modern classroom technology.”

In typical Oklahoma practice, these bonds will fill in a space vacated by bonds from many years ago, now retired; this enables the claim that no actual tax increase is involved. Last year, OKCPS received about 52 percent of the tax on the palatial estate at Surlywood.

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The A word

That word is “affordable,” and as usual, it doesn’t mean what everyone was taught it meant:

Health insurance premiums will likely increase by an average of 76 percent for Oklahomans who buy individual coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace. The increases for individual market plans range from 58 percent to 96 percent.

“These jaw-dropping increases make it clear that Oklahoma’s exchange is on life support,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “Health insurers are losing massive amounts of money. If they don’t raise rates they’ll go out of business. This system has been doomed from the beginning.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, the only health insurer offering plans on the federal exchange in 2017, submitted the increases to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS will determine if the increases are reasonable. The increase requests follow many insurers reporting significant losses, lower than expected enrollment by the younger population and new customers being sicker than expected. ACA-compliant off-exchange individual plans sold by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma will see the same increases as plans sold on the exchange.

UnitedHealthcare, which was on the exchange last year, has withdrawn.

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Fobbed off

Kimberly Fobbs, you might infer from her yard signs, is running for Senate District 33:

Kimberly Fobbes yard sign, photo by Jameson Faught

“Republicans” being the third-largest word on the sign, you might think Fobbs is a member of the GOP. She isn’t; she’s the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Nathan Dahm.

Jamison Faught explains why this is happening:

In the 6th most Republican district (59.29% Republican to 27.82% Democrat), it’s not surprised that Democrats would try this.

In an era where a Democrat can actually win the Republican presidential nomination, I’m surprised we’ve seen so little of this sort of thing.

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Your 2016 State Questions

I can stand two of them, maybe. The other five, I want nothing to do with.

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Rattle and hum and more rattle

About two minutes after seven, I heard it: like thunder, but without all that aerial ballet.

And then I felt what must have been a groundwave, north to south, causing all sorts of unexpected jiggliness in my week-old bed and then moving on.

It came out like this:

I note that 5.6 is what we had on a November evening in 2011.

Pawnee, about an hour and a half west of Tulsa, got the worst of it:

But there were reports of falling bricks as far away as Oklahoma City.

Update, 7 September: USGS now says it’s a 5.8.

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The dreaded E30

Ten percent ethanol is on the ragged edge of acceptable for motor fuels. The jerks who push this stuff for a living want fifteen. But thirty simply will not do [warning: autostart video]:

State regulators say about 450,000 gallons of gasoline containing three times the acceptable level of ethanol was delivered to retailers across the Oklahoma City metropolitan area over the last week.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported Tuesday that they were notified by Magellan Midstream Partners that the problem resulted from an equipment failure at its Oklahoma City fuel distribution terminal.

Magellan says it is still working to determine the retail locations where the gas with up to 30 percent ethanol was delivered.

The Corp Comm’s position is that Magellan will have to locate all these stores and replenish their stock with proper fuels; Magellan, to their credit, is okay with that. They do, after all, have a reputation to protect.

As for me, I haven’t had to gas up since late June, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t get any of this adulterated stuff.

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Almost rhymes with “invidious”

Apparently the only reason we need these is because the state wants to bank the bulk of a five-buck new-plate fee:

Official 2018 Oklahoma license plate design

Me, I’m with this TLO commenter:

Why not use an image of mistletoe? A parasitic state flower seems more appropriate to represent our current government leaders.

Indeed. Then again, you’ve already seen my best thinking on the subject.

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How did he do that?

From page 7A in this morning’s Oklahoman:

Flooding in the Illinois Valley in December provided by Ed Fite, Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission

Really, Ed? You brought down that much flood water?

(Captioning is an art. So is punctuation.)

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As the dogs and the cats frolic together

We have here a curious case where The Oklahoman thinks some of us are insufficiently taxed:

[S]ome Oklahoma counties have failed to assess properties at market value and collect the associated property taxes.

A study prepared by the Oklahoma Tax Commission at the request of State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones and Oklahoma Watch found 52 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties failed to collect $192 million in property tax revenue in 2014. That shortfall was created by county assessors who didn’t appraise property at market values.

The big counties, which have their own systems, seem to be doing okay, but the smaller ones, part of a multi-county computer system, maybe not so much:

In Pottawatomie County, for example, the study concluded residential property valuations were 16 percent below market value, and commercial property valuations were 24 percent too low.

In Pittsburg County, residential properties were 19 percent undervalued and commercial property was 54 percent below market rates.

Assessors in 16 counties have done such a bad job that the state Board of Equalization has warned that those counties’ assessors could have their paychecks suspended and their offices taken over by the state. Those counties are Adair, Bryan, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Johnston, Latimer, McCurtain, Murray, Nowata, Okfuskee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Seminole and Texas.

Of course, trying to fix this will cause all manner of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

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Gentlemen clubbed

The sort-of-infamous town of Valley Brook, which occupies a quarter of a square mile surrounded on all sides by southeast Oklahoma City, is known mostly for strip clubs and speed traps. The town budget, tucked into the Oklahoman’s Classified section Tuesday, would seem to bear that out:

Valley Brook budget FY 2017

Wonder what that $125,000 in “transfers out” bought them.

The population of Valley Brook is somewhere around 800.

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Primary concern

If I’m discharged from the hospital on Tuesday, well, it occurs to me that the polling place for my precinct is on my way home, and if I’m actually able to walk, something I haven’t been in the last few days, I ought to drop in and fill out a ballot. I haven’t missed an election since 1990 or so, and I’d hate to start now.

Before you ask: Early voting started last Thursday; I wasn’t in any condition to leave the house. And earlier on, it would not have occurred to me to ask for an absentee ballot, because I didn’t have any expectations of being absent.

Addendum: Obviously this is not happening.

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Dragged into the next century

From 2010:

Last month, you’ll remember, privately-owned (but Senate-appointed) tag agents registered their displeasure with the state’s plan to process orders over the Web, which might put a dent in their business model.

Displeasure duly noted, the Oklahoma Tax Commission has now opened up that Web site and bestowed upon it the incredibly-obvious acronym CARS, which stands for “Convenient Auto Renewal System.”

At the time, I noted that this wasn’t likely to change my own habits; I have an agent of choice, and I’ve been going there for a decade or so.

Then again, I spent none of that decade in the hospital. And now that I’m at an appalling level of incapacitation, now is the time to learn the online stuff.

Elapsed time: about six minutes. Trickiest bit was on insurance verification, where they have options for either name or NAIC number of insurer: perhaps they never expected anyone actually to have the NAIC number. There’s a $1.50 fee. And some time next week, right about the time the old year tab expires, I should have a new one. I just hope I feel well enough to put it in place.

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Some limit that was

By any reasonable standard, Oklahomans could have been considered enthusiastic for term limits; when State Question 632 made it to the ballot in 1990, it passed with more than 67 percent approval. Has incumbent turnover increased? Not so much:

One knock on term limits is that they artificially remove lawmakers with institutional memory, people who’ve been around the block enough times to anticipate problems. That point is not without merit, but Oklahoma’s 12-year term limit for state legislators is hardly draconian. This year provides a reminder. In the House of Representatives, 19 lawmakers are being forced out by term limits. But another 11 are leaving voluntarily, meaning more than one-third of open seats have nothing to do with term limits. For many people, the allure of legislative office is eventually outweighed by the perceived benefits of running for another office or returning to the private sector well before term limits kick in. This is one reason the Oklahoma Policy Institute found the average length of service for House members was greater in 2014 than in 1990. While term limits may slightly increase legislative turnover, their impact appears marginal.

I wonder how much the fat raise given to legislators in 1997 — they now make $38,400 a year plus per diem — might be a factor; some of these guys, you wonder if they could survive in the private sector.

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Checking one’s hindsight (1)

Note: The following originally appeared in Vent #10, from this week in 1996.

Occasional Baptist counterexamples notwithstanding, the true religion of Oklahoma is football, which explains why two of the state’s Representatives (out of six) are former college football players who have little else to recommend them. The First District’s Steve Largent, recently stroked by America’s leading political magazine — People Weekly — is owned and operated by the Pat Robertson crowd, and this always plays well in Tulsa, which is, after all, Oral Roberts’ home base. Largent, therefore, will probably survive this fall. More troublesome for the GOP is Julius Caesar Watts, installed in the Fourth District seat after spending a couple of years on the Corporation Commission shilling for utility companies. In the House, he rails against all government programs except the one that enabled him to buy a distressed Midwest City apartment complex dirt-cheap. And remember all that yammering about how Congress shouldn’t exempt itself from the laws it inflicts on the public sector? Our friend J. C. has managed to exempt a mere 94 percent of his staff from the Fair Labor Standards Act. (Steve Largent, by comparison, has fully a third of his staff covered, which by this state’s standards borders on commendable. The Tulsa World covered all this during the spring, if anyone is curious.) Word is now out that Watts turned a profit on his investment with Hillary-like speed, which automatically arouses suspicion around Dustbury, and this could well cost him his seat come November.

As it happens, neither Largent nor Watts had anything to worry about in the ’96 election, or the next two. Largent gave up his seat in 2002 to run for Governor, but was beaten by Brad Henry. Watts left in 2002 to sort of return to the private sector; he’s now CEO of the no-longer-scandal-ridden charity Feed the Children.

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Punchline to the world

Some people think of this state as a laughingstock. Others cry over its failings. Me, I figure what goes around eventually comes around.

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Number deleted

There was some brief outcry earlier this week when Governor Fallin signed House Bill 3167; apparently some people thought this meant that speed limits in this state were canceled. It means, of course, nothing of the sort:

The speed limit set for the turnpikes, interstates and other state highways was erased in a bill, signed by the Governor Monday. That doesn’t eliminate current speed limits, but eliminates the maximum that was once set by law.

House Bill 3167 deletes the section of the law prescribing a maximum speed limit.

It replaces it with the following: “On a highway or part of a highway, unless otherwise established in law, a speed established by the Department of Transportation on the basis of engineering and traffic investigations used to determine the speed that is reasonable and safe under the conditions found to exist on the highway or part of the highway.”

Before that, there was a hard limit: 75 mph and no more.

ODOT, for its part, isn’t suggesting anything:

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation did not request the bill and did not oppose it, said Terri Angier, an agency spokeswoman.

The department has “no intention of raising any of the speed limits across the board on any of the highways, but it allows us to look at specific situations, if requested,” she said.

We’ll see 80 on the Turner Turnpike by this time next year. And the nimrods who currently drive 84 in a 75 zone will — well, actually, I’m not sure what they’ll do. About eight years ago, during a brief blast down a Texas highway posted at 80, I seldom saw anyone going much faster than 82 or 83.

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Dollars here, dollars there

The apparently not-dead-yet Ted Cruz — at least, that’s the name in the From field — has issued this blurb on behalf of Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma’s 1st District:

There are hundreds of congressional races taking place across the country this year, but this election in Oklahoma is especially important.

Jim Bridenstine is one of the top conservative leaders in the House today and he isn’t afraid to stand up to the powerful interests in Washington.

He has fought to stop Obamacare, to defund President Obama’s executive amnesty, and to stop Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayer money.

Time after time, Jim has stood with me and other conservatives in Congress to defend the Constitution, and now he needs your help.

The Washington establishment has recruited a candidate to run against Jim in the June 28th Republican primary election. He’s a threat to the Beltway insiders so they are determined to defeat him.

*Please join me in supporting this outstanding conservative leader by making a contribution to his campaign today.*

Some of us down here in Soonerland are, shall we say, suspicious of solicitations for out-of-state money. And we know this is going out of state, because Ted Cruz and/or his fellow travelers in this particular PAC didn’t send this to me; it was sent to good old Roger Green in Albany, New York, who isn’t the least likely person on earth to send a contribution to the Jim Bridenstine campaign, but he’s a long way from the top of the list, if you know what I mean.

There is no Democrat running in the First District, which should give you an idea of how this area skews politically. (There is an Independent in the race.) Tom Atkinson, the “establishment” Republican candidate, actually considered running against Bridenstine two years ago, but eventually thought better of it. With Bridenstine vowing to serve a maximum of three terms — he’s completed two — Atkinson may actually get a chance in 2018.

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Didn’t need this after all

From page A5 of yesterday’s Oklahoman:

Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan is giving campaign donors their money back.

The District 2 commissioner secured a third term earlier this month when the deadline passed without an opponent filing for the seat. Maughan says he returned $75,810.11 to 372 donors after deducting expenses.

Maughan had geared up for a challenge after others announced plans to run. Maughan says each donor got back about 79 percent of what they contributed.

I suppose the scary aspect of this is that it takes about a hundred grand to run for County Commissioner, at least in a county this size. (There are 77 counties in Oklahoma, each divided into three districts.)

Still, this is a far better return on investment than a donor normally gets without Actual Graft.

Maughan’s campaign Web site is still up, though it probably doesn’t cost a whole lot.

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