The Blog for Oklahoma Forum
Oklahoma's weekly, statewide discussion program, Oklahoma Forum, provides civil, meaningful discussion of news and issues that impact citizens statewide. Hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Dick Pryor and produced by Emmy Award-winner Mickie Smith, Oklahoma Forum is more than sound bites and spin. It is purpose-driven television - seeking answers, providing insight – about life in Oklahoma and its people.
Written by Dick Pryor on Thursday May 7, 2009
(Left to right: Host Dick Pryor, with guests Commissioner of Agriculture Terry Peach, State Veterinarian Becky Brewer and Director of ODA Lab Mike Talkington)
No surprise - the weather is the biggest concern of Oklahoma farmers, as per Terry Peach. What with floods, ice, snow, freezes, drought, wildfires and tornadoes, it’s tough out there. One county extension agent (in Kingfisher County) predicts the grain crop in that county took a 60-80% loss from the spring freeze. The good news is that commodities are in demand world-wide, so Oklahoma farmers have the chance to do well financially if they can produce the corn, wheat and soybeans foreign markets require.
Becky Brewer discussed the steps Oklahoma takes to stem outbreaks (and the ensuing panic) from things like the H1N1 influenza virus. She asks that we not refer to it as the swine flu, because it creates a false impression that pigs are to blame. Actually, it is a swine/bird/human strain which even H1N1 doesn’t adequately describe. In any event, this flu event continues to evolve. Unfortunately, the pork producers have taken the rap. Pigs, too. This being characterized as “swine flu” has cost the pork industry many millions (it’s a $15 billion per year industry in the U.S.). At least it’s not as bad as Egypt, where the pigs of that nation were ALL slaughtered. Talk about commitment (as that old pig joke goes). But, it was all unnecessary.
Mike Talkington, I found out, does analytical research at the ODA lab. Such things as making sure Oklahoma products are safe and accurately advertised. It’s one of the reasons Made in Oklahoma products are so good.
We also got into the 2008 Farm Bill, which the Obama administration is looking at changing to limit subsidies. They hope to save about $1 billion per year for the next ten years, but the possibility of changing subsidy formulas, understandably, has caused a lot of negative reaction.
Agriculture is huge in Oklahoma, and we are glad to be able to devote an entire program to discussion of some of the issues facing farmers. At OKF, we appreciate rural Oklahoma and the significant contributions of our friends and family in farming communities. We didn’t cover everything involving Oklahoma agriculture, but it’s a start. Take a look.
Until next time,
Written by Dick Pryor on Friday May 1, 2009
(Left to right: Host Dick Pryor, David Cid, Kerry Pettingill)
Oklahoma is no stranger to extremism and the violence that can result. But now, just over fourteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, a new report indicates that our state is one of the top three national hotspots for radical extremist activism. The report, issued on Tuesday by the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, warns that rightwing extremism is on the rise, due to factors such as the slumping economy, anger about the government, the election of the nation’s first black president, and fears over gun control.
A couple of weeks ago, some veterans groups complained that a new assessment published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security put veterans in a bad light by claiming that some disaffected military personnel with combat training could be susceptible to recruitment by rightwing extremist groups. The assessment concluded that those veterans are valued in radical organizations and could become leaders. The MIPT assessment reached the same conclusion, and its Acting Executive Director, David Cid, told me there is a concern that empowered “lone wolves” could turn to violence.
Kerry Pettingill, Director of the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, said the DHS report left the wrong impression about veterans. (DHS Director Janet Napolitano apologized to the American Legion and admitted the report was issued prematurely.) However, Pettingill is also aware of the influence of “hate groups” in Oklahoma. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are nineteen locations in Oklahoma that are home to various radical organizations. The SPLC’s latest report also indicates that the number of extremist groups in the nation is growing.
Pettingill and Cid also discussed leftwing extremism, the subject of another less-discussed DHS report issued in January of this year. It’s clear that after a few years of declining influence, extremism is moving back to the same levels as the 1990’s, and perhaps beyond.
Sunday’s show again illustrates that while much of our concern is about foreign terrorists, the enemy sometimes comes from within.
Watch Sunday - and let me know what you think.
Until next time,
Written by Dick Pryor on Friday April 24, 2009
We hope you watch Oklahoma Forum on Sunday, April 26 when we discuss the First Amendment and the Ten Commandments. We are currently working on pulling together our next program: The Rise (and Threat) of Extremism. No doubt many of you have heard about the Department of Homeland Security’s most recent assessment of the threat posed by extremism in the United States.
Some veterans and veterans groups are among the people bothered by the release of the report and what it means. But, we’ve found there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Certainly, there’s much more to it than just one report. The federal government, and the state Department of Homeland Security, are concerned about the threat of extremism from the right, the left and everywhere in-between. And, there’s reason for concern in Oklahoma.
That’s the BIG TOPIC on Oklahoma Forum on Sunday, May 3. You won’t want to miss it!
Until next time,
Written by Dick Pryor on Thursday April 16, 2009
In this day of what Jim Lehrer of PBS calls “shouters and clowns” holding forth on some broadcast talk programs, Thursday’s taping of Oklahoma Forum served as a reminder of the value of well-reasoned, meaningful discussion where people can “disagree without being disagreeable.”
The big topic for the program (airing on April 26th at 1:00 p.m.) was the First Amendment and the Ten Commandments. Specifically, we discussed the role of the Ten Commandments in the development of American law, and the legal and ethical issues related to the posting of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the State Capitol.
The guests were Andrew Spiropoulos, professor of Constitutional Law at the Oklahoma City University School of Law; Joseph Thai, professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law; and Dr. John Starkey, Millhouse Professor of Theology at the Oklahoma City University Wimberly School of Religion and Graduate Theological Center.
Instead of focusing on HB 1330, the bill that would allow a privately-funded Ten Commandments monument to be erected on the state capitol grounds, we talked about the importance of the Ten Commandments in our system of laws, government endorsement of religion, and the major Supreme Court cases relating to public displays of secular and sectarian text and images. Toward the end of the program, we briefly touched on the latest U.S. Supreme Court case addressing the matter of “government speech.”
We’ve found that often the best programs don’t end when the red camera lights go off, and such was the case for this program. As soon as it ended, Joseph Thai posed a question to his Con Law colleague Andrew Spiropoulos, and the ensuing discussion from each of them was fascinating. It was the kind of thing that you just sit back and enjoy.
The discussion continued for more than 20 minutes and carried over out into the hall. We all agreed that we were just getting started on this weighty topic and needed to get back together for Round 2. Clearly, these three learned men are passionate about their work and the importance of religion and our Constitution. And, as often happens on Oklahoma Forum, they walked away realizing that despite some stark differences there is actually much common ground.
Sorry you couldn’t hear the post-program talk, but the show itself is a good one - useful information for citizens and policy-makers alike. Be sure to watch at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 26.
Until next time,
Written by Dick Pryor on Monday April 13, 2009
Sunday’s program, Tracking Oklahoma’s Weather, gave us the chance to talk about one of our favorite discussion topics - the weather. This year has seen the gamut of weather in Oklahoma, including damaging wild fires caused by dry conditions and high winds.
OETA meteorologist Ross Dixon and Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey were the guests. Gary does a lot of work in crunching weather data and applying the information for various uses - business and agriculture, in particular. He looks at historical trends (hind-casting) and develops patterns to help predict what the weather is likely to be.
Ross uses that data in determining his forecast, and also relies on the information provided by the NOAA forecast center and storm prediction center in Norman. We are fortunate to have such advanced scientific teams and data available to us here in “Tornado Alley.”
Of particular interest, Gary and Ross discussed climate change, or what is sometimes referred to as global warming. Originally a skeptic, Gary told me that overwhelming data indicates the earth is indeed warming. Ross agrees (he’s been a global warming critic for years), but Ross and Gary disagree on the amount of influence of man on the warming that has occurred in recent decades. That disagreement is what makes for interesting debate. If you’re interested in Oklahoma’s weather (and who isn’t?) be sure to watch Oklahoma Forum when you have a chance.
Until next time,