June 2004 Archives

The Whirled's editorial board -- the propaganda arm of the Cockroach Caucus -- pooh-poohed the efforts of the City Council to formalize the powers granted to it by the City Charter to conduct investigations into the operations of city government. The investigatory power is one of the three critical roles the Council plays in our system of government -- representing the diversity of the city, making the laws of the city, and overseeing the execution of those laws. The Whirled labeled the members of the Cockroach Caucus "the grownups on the council" for resisting progress. The real grownups are the majority bipartisan coalition which continues to work toward the maturation of the City Council as an institution, the full realization of the City Council's role in the checks and balances of city government, something that was promised to the citizens of Tulsa when we approved the new Charter in 1989.

If the Council is going to exercise its responsibility to investigate, it must be able to enforce lawful orders, such as subpoenas. "Subpoena" comes from two Latin words which mean "under penalty." In the absence of a penalty for failure to comply, a subpoena is not a subpoena.

The Whirled incorrectly states that the Council would become judge and jury in cases of contempt or disruptive behavior. That indicates the Whirledlings haven't bothered to read the ordinances. (They actually get paid for their opinions. I don't get paid a penny for this, and I still take the time to read something before I comment on it. It's not that hard, but it does mean they'd have less time for sipping whiskey and swapping stories down at the Press Club.)

For you Whirledlings reading this, I will make it easy for you.

Here is a link to the text of the proposed ordinance to define contempt of Council and set penalties for said offense: CLICK HERE, KEN!

Here is a link to the text of the proposed ordinance to define disorderly behavior in Council meetings and set penalties for said offense: CLICK HERE, JULIE!

Notice that a charge of contempt of Council is simply referred to the City Attorney, who must decide whether to press charges. If filed, the charge would be heard in municipal court. The Council merely makes the charge, the roles of judge and jury are filled, appropriately, by a judge and a jury, not by the Council.

Article II, Section 4 of the City Charter empowers the Council to issue fines for disruptive behavior. (CLICK HERE, JANET!) The proposed ordinance defines the kind of behavior that qualifies as disruptive. The terms and conditions specified in the ordinance line up exactly with the terms of the Charter.

This is a typically lazy slap from the Whirled editorial board. They're uncomfortable with the idea of a Council committed to making government work for all the people, not just a favored few. We know what kind of councilors the Whirled likes, and we're glad their choices aren't in the majority any longer.

We are hopeful that the days of Tulsa as a banana republic -- a land of Marcos-style crony capitalism -- are numbered, thanks to diligent public servants like Councilors Henderson, Medlock, Turner, Roop, and Mautino.

Doing Tulsa time


Reader David Nalle writes to tell me about a new blog about Tulsa, entitled "Midwest Prisoner". The blog's writer is from here, left town as soon as he could, but has returned for family reasons, and is none too happy about it. Here's the tagline of his site:

Think prisoners only exist at Alcatraz or Devil's Island? ... Well think again. Here I am, a free thinker and spirit stuck in Tulsa, Oklahoma smack dab in the middle of the bible belt. This blog will catalog my musings on the local and state scene ... read on at your own risk!

Until recently, he was a frequent poster to the forums at TulsaNow.org, under the name "Davaz", but was booted off for spawing numerous threads on the same topic, which made the forums frustrating to use for the other participants. (He was admonished to no effect by the forum's administrator.) Full disclosure: I am a member of the board of TulsaNow, and while I didn't initiate the ban, I concurred with it, and it was not because of the content he was posting, but the spamlike way he was creating new threads. I'm glad he's started a blog, which is a better format for what he wants to say and the way he wants to say it. It will be a lot easier to follow his argument on a single page than scattered across dozens of pages.

It should be interesting reading, agree or not.

While Googling for a Robert Hall reference I found this insight, in the epilogue of an account of a cross-country bicycle trip taken by Illinois schoolteacher Robert Graham in the summer of 1999:

Without having exact measurements, I'm pretty sure that every foot of slope I coasted or screamed down was met with a corresponding slope I had to climb back up. When people take pictures of bicycle tourers they are always either running down a hill or pedaling easily across the flat. It looks like SUCH fun. But in terms of real time, that picture is way out of whack. Three days up the Sierras, twenty minutes down. Three days up the Rockies, three hours down. And innumerable mountains and hills in between. One hour up at 5 mph, two minutes down at 40 mph. And I don't even want to TALK about the Appalachians!

I'm working on a life analogy here. There is no way I would have enjoyed the thrill of the downhills without the pain of the uphills. Yes, I could have gotten a ride to the top of every hill and just ridden down. What a rush. But the pleasure wouldn't, couldn't have been the same.

American culture has been inundated with advertising that, no matter what the product, has told us over and over for years and years now that we DON'T have to climb the hill in order to enjoy the thrill of the drop. We've heard it so many times it has become a part of our cultural fabric. (And we're spreading it so successfully to the rest of the world!)

Problem: you can TRY to hide from truth, but you can't succeed. So we have a nation full of people who think they're happy. They MUST be happy. Why? Because the TV tells them 10,000 times a day that they ARE happy. Get your pleasure with no pain attached!! And get it NOW! No waiting!!! Who even hears anymore the few true preachers of the Word who are saying the opposite? It's a million against one. No contest. Game over.

But the gut doesn't lie: we feel crappy. We keep buying, using, consuming; keep finding steeper and steeper hills to go down, using stronger and stronger drugs...and it's all so temporary. Nothing makes the ache go away. And we have no idea why. (We used to vaguely remember, but we're in the 2nd television generation now. And the preachers have joined the circus.)

We wonder why our suicide rate is skyrocketing, why our mental health industry is exploding, why our pharmaceutical industries are on top of the stock market (are YOU making money off the nation's death throes?), why illicit drug use continues to plague us, why extreme sports are getting more extreme, why we have that dull blankness in the pit of our stomachs.

There's only one solution. You've got to climb the mountain in order to experience the full joy of zooming down the other side. The climb takes way longer than the zoom. And that's just how it is. People I know who are happiest understand this formula. It gets harder and harder to teach.

And there's more, about America, about fatherhood. Interesting stuff.

There's an interesting juxtaposition just now on C-SPAN 1 and C-SPAN 2. On C-SPAN 2, there's Ralph Nader, looking and sounding like he just crawled out of bed (did he have a stroke recently?). He's peddling the Michael Moore / Democrat Party / International ANSWER / Islamofascist / moonbat line about the war in Iraq -- Bush is engaged in "Messianic Militarism", and the war was all about contracts and cheap oil for his evil corporate buddies.

Meanwhile, C-SPAN 1 has Rand Rahim, the representative of Iraq's interim government to the United States, speaking and taking questions at the American Enterprise Institute today. In response to a pointed and hostile question, Ms. Rahim said that the war to depose Saddam Hussein was a humanitarian necessity for Iraq and a necessity for the stability of the region and the world. Asked about the somewhat clandestine handover -- if that undermined the idea that a real transfer of sovereignty had occurred -- she pointed to the reality of the security situation and expressed pride that the US and the interim government had stolen a march on the terrorists. Asked if the war in Iraq had made Americans less safe, she said that Iraq has become terrorism's last stand, which is unfortunate for Iraq, but she believes that, in Iraq, terrorism will be defeated. She said that the terrorists are not a resistance against the coalition, they are against Iraq and Iraqis, a fact demonstrated by their actions against contractors who are not from coalition countries, and their threats against the transfer of sovereignty. She said that the interim government needs to communicate this fact effectively to the Iraqi people.

Ambassador Rahim's only criticism of the coalition's now-ended oversight is the focus on reconstruction efforts that were capital- and technology-intensive, and thus out of reach for Iraqi firms and workers. Wages have improved dramatically, but only for those who are employed. In order to make more Iraqis stakeholders in a rebuilt Iraq, there should be a focus on labor-intensive reconstruction efforts that can make use of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi businesses and workers. That made me think of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which provided a structured environment for young men who would otherwise have been at loose ends, helped them earn money (most of which was sent directly home to their families), and resulted in the construction of needed infrastructure as well as public amenities. The need is infrastructure and the available resource is unskilled labor. While some infrastructure needed to be rebuilt quickly, and thus needed the technology and capital that Western firms could bring to bear, much of the infrastructure could be rebuilt at a slower pace, using old fashioned techniques that take advantage of a large labor pool.

Seeing rumpled Ralph Nader reminded me of an "internal memo" in National Lampoon's fake letters column sometime in the late '70s. It said something like this: "The last Robert Hall store has died in captivity. For now, have Ralph Nader, et al., buy their suits at K-Mart." Robert Hall was a discount clothing store -- Tulsa had one on the southwest corner of the Traffic Circle at Admiral and Mingo. It apparently was also a shorthand way to say that someone wore cheap clothes. Nice to see that Ralph still disdains haute couture.

A tale of two message boards


I received an e-mail about one of the two new Republican bulletin boards that has sprung up in recent days. I don't have much use for forums where people post under pseudonyms, particularly when politics is the topic. There's an old Internet proverb: "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." Is that message really from a Smith campaign insider? Is that Smith himself posting this nonsense, or is it an opponent's supporter posting under his name? These message boards provide an opportunity to spread disinformation, to trash reputations, to try to squelch the morale of your opponents' supporters. And by opponents I mean primary opponents. These boards tend to be circular firing squads. At best, there is some entertainment value in all the trash talk, but mostly I find it a depressing glimpse at the nastier aspects of politics. Having peeked in on a couple of the Oklahoma Democrat message boards, I was not pleased to learn of plans to set up similar boards for Republicans. I appreciated the good intentions of those who set them up, but I saw nothing good coming of it, and while the Republican boards don't seem to be as vicious yet as the Democrat boards, I see some disturbing trends, and the primary is still a month away.

But the first message linked in this e-mail I received was to a well-written and thought-provoking essay by Paul Hollrah contrasting President Reagan's funeral with that of another political figure a couple of years ago. Here's how it starts:

Michael Reagan, the late president’s oldest son, stepped to the podium, retrieved a folded page from his breast pocket, and after a few obligatory remarks in which he described the deep love and affection he felt for his departed father, he launched into a vicious attack on those in the Democratic Party and the liberal media who’d made his father’s life a living hell during his days in the Oval Office.

Not the way you remember the event? To say much more would give the plot away -- just go read it.

Paul Hollrah has been a Republican Party official in Mayes County (may still be) and has run for the legislature. Interesting that the best thing on a message board dominated by pseudonymity is something written under a real person's real name.

Pre-radio adventure


One of the few advantages of doing a weekly guest shot at 6:40 am instead of early evening -- everyone else in the house is asleep and less prone to be the cause of a pre-show crisis, like the one James Lileks had Monday, before his weekly chat with Hugh Hewitt.

"Credo", a teacher in a Catholic school in Australia, recounts a lively discussion about what was the greatest cause of death in the 20th century. His top student identified Stalin's purges, but when Credo asked them to consider a "non-event", the same student suggested abortion was the 20th century's greatest killer. He goes on to describe the discussion in the following class -- what he presented, and the debate that occurred between the students. His goal was to lead a substantive discussion about abortion, focusing on documented science, rather than theological perspectives, and to look at the social and historical factors involved in abortion's prevalence.

He goes on to describe the verbal pummeling he suffered from the mother of a student who defended abortion in that class session:

She spoke firmly but calmly at first, but escalated into fist-shaking and cursing (and I don't mean $%^*!, I mean she actually cursed me). She felt that it was inappropriate for me to have discussed the topic with the students given that it was a history class. I tried to explain my reasoning, and I - genuinely - apologised if she felt that her student had been disadvantaged by my decision to tailor the curriculum to my class's interests....

By this stage I was stunned. The other teachers in the room were all paying attention and one of them was shaking in fright. The mother had now left her seat and was standing in front of me, waving her fist.

I was tempted to ask her why she chose a Catholic school to educate her daughter, but thought better of it. Her voice got higher and she bellowed at me - "You're a man, you don't get a say, what would you know?" At that point, I lowered my voice and attempted to answer by giving my own personal experiences with abortion (sadly).

She cut me off with a statement that I will take to the end of my days:

"The world would be a better place if you had been aborted."

Start there, read that whole entry, then keep reading as he responds to comments from readers. In a more recent entry, Credo has photos and an excerpt from a BBC article -- amazing and precious images of babies in the womb using 4D ultrasound imaging -- kicking, eye-opening, toesucking, smiling, yawning, patting.

Hat tip to Swamphopper at the Rough Woodsman for the link.

It was pointed out to me that a couple of City Councilors (both members of the Cockroach Caucus) who were given the heave-ho by the voters back in March are still listed as members of committees overseeing the City of Tulsa's Vision 2025 projects. Specifically, David Patrick is still listed as a member of the City of Tulsa Project Oversight Committee, which has overall responsibility for all of the City of Tulsa's projects, and Art Justis is still listed as a member of the Events Center Design Committee.

I don't know whether these former councilors are actively participating in these two very important committees. They are the only councilors serving on those two committees, so whether they are active or not, the current City Council has no representation. They should be replaced with currently-serving councilors, preferably from the Council's working majority. It is early enough in the process that a changeover would not be disruptive. The simplest thing would be to replace each with the man who defeated him at the polls. There's something undemocratic about a defeated councilor continuing to represent the Council in overseeing the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars.

UPDATE: I am reliably informed that the former councilors are no longer participating on these committees, but no current councilors have been appointed to replace them.

Frank J. has more fun facts on offer today:

* It's a myth that Michael Moore never bathes... he just does it nacho cheese sauce.

* John Candy died soon after appearing in Canadian Bacon. It is unknown how many other people Michael Moore's films have killed.

* Though a millionaire, Michael Moore is often stopped on the streets by hobos who offer him hygiene advice.

Cheap shots, yes, but well-deserved.

Growing Up With Tulsa

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Came across this fascinating book online. Written in 1986 by a woman born in Tulsa in 1900, she writes about everyday life as she experienced it -- work, shopping, household chores, travel. It's called Growing Up with Tulsa, by Blanche Opal Kern Schad.

Mrs. Schad's family came to Tulsa in 1894 and built a house in 1898 at Cameron and Frisco -- still standing until knocked down in the '90s for the new county jail. That's the house where Mrs. Schad was born in 1900. (The same year her father was elected alderman.) Later they lived on Standpipe Hill, at Fairview and Detroit. Detroit was the boundary between white and black Tulsa -- black doctors and merchants lived on the east side of the street -- and she had a front-row seat for the 1921 riot. She also mentions another possibility for where the riot victims were buried -- one I had never read before.

She writes about the move from the old high school to the new (now old) Central High, about streetcars and jitneys, movie theatres before they had sound. She lived in what we now call Renaissance Neighborhood and White City. Her husband worked for Mid-Continent Oil (Sunray DX). She took the interurban to visit her sister in Mounds. There's wonderful detail throughout.

[Excerpt removed at Kathie Harrison's request. You'll have to follow the link to read it for yourself.]

Many many thanks to Kathie Harrison for transcribing this and putting it online.

What about the Chamber?


I started writing something about the Tulsa Metro Chamber and the money the organization receives from the hotel/motel tax. I accidentally posted the first couple of paragraphs when I merely meant to save the work in progress. Never fear -- I'll get it written and posted in the next day or so.

Also, I'm working on a travelogue about our trip up 66 to Miami to see Gilbert and Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore". I need to edit some photos for size and upload them before I'll be ready to post the whole thing. In the meantime, today is your last chance to see Light Opera Oklahoma's production of "HMS Pinafore" at Kendall Hall at the TU campus. Go see it! It's wonderful!

Sorry to use an unspeakably rude word in the header, but I need to get your attention.

You remember hearing about that group encouraging Christians to resettle in South Carolina, in order to reestablish "godly, constitutional government" in one state? Or the libertarian Free State Project, which aims to locate enough libertarians in New Hampshire to take over the political system there?

Well, an Islamofascist has come up with a similar idea for taking over a small European country and suicidal American leftists are swooning over this fellow. Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs blog (the chronicle of Islamofascism's war against the west) has excerpts from a Salon puff-piece on Belgian Islamofascist Dyab Abou Jahjah. Here's the Salon article's subhead:

Dyab Abou Jahjah’s Arab European League calls for sharia law, celebrates 9/11 and warned Belgian Jews to break with Israel or else. Is he defending Muslims’ civil rights — or inciting hatred?

Well, duh.

What is the Chamber?


NOTE: This is an incomplete entry, which I hope to finish soon. (I am a bit amused that this happens to be the 666th entry.)

There's talk of cutting the amount of money the Tulsa Metro Chamber gets from the City of Tulsa's hotel-motel tax, and increasing the scrutiny over how that money is spent. The Chamber has an annually-renewed contract with the City of Tulsa for promoting Tulsa as a tourism and convention destination and doing economic development work. For this work they receive just shy of 40% of the City's 5% hotel-motel tax, which amounts to $1.7 million this year.

Wednesday on DelGiorno's show, Mayor LaFortune responded to the proposals to cut the Chamber's take by defending the Chamber. He said that the Chamber has 2800 members and consists of most of Tulsa's business community. He went on to say that the City should help the Chamber, because the Chamber helps the City by promoting bond issues, the third-penny sales tax renewals, and other public funding initiatives.

But if the Chamber is merely the voice of Tulsa's business community, why are so many Tulsans from across the political spectrum disdainful or hostile to the Chamber as an institution?

Watch this space for answers....

Lileks on streetcorners


Lileks today has a gem of a paragraph on the different influences exerted on the development of streetcorners by the streetcar and the motorcar:

I love the small commercial nodes left behind by the vanished trolley car system – you can tell where the cars used to stop, because there’s always some old brick buidings from the 20s crowding the corners. Two stories – stores on the ground floor, apartment buildings for singles, old maids, drifters and lonely souls above. The antithesis of these corners are those strange intersections where once there stood four gas stations, erected in the bitter genocidal Gas Wars of the 60s. As much as I love gas stations, I regret those four-station corners – they demolish the peculiar humanism you get with four two-story brick buildings crowding the sidewalk. Even if the stations turn into other stores, which they often do, they have the tell-tale taint of a two-bay gas station sitting in the back of the lot like motionless lizards waiting for prey. If you want to reclaim the city, you have to knock it down and start again.

Strong language from the son of a gas station owner. But he's right. It's the streetcar stops, with the two-story brick buildings hugging the sidewalk, that have formed the basis for Tulsa's successful boutique-and-restaurant shopping districts. While jumping on the gas stations chime is fun (assuming they still have one), it's more fun to be able to look in the shop window because it's right next to the sidewalk. Also, the presence of the building right next to the sidewalk means you don't have to watch for cars suddenly crossing your path from that direction or muggers leaping out of a shadowy place. It's called a "street wall", and it's something that works at a subconscious level -- we're more comfortable walking next to a building, particularly with windows, than next to an open and undefined space.

The Weekly Wortman News


Okie Pundit points out the contradictions he sees in the recent mailer put out by Bill Wortman's campaign for the GOP nomination for the 1st Congressional District. The mailer is designed to look like a newspaper not connected with the campaign:

At the bottom of this story Wortman is qouted as saying, "this shows the institutional dishonesty pervasive in Sullivan's political career". Perhaps true, but odd coming from a candidate trying to make his political ad look like a third party newspaper.

There's more. And to see all of Wortman's mailer in all its glory, visit soonerpolitics.com and look at the top of the "Campaign Chatter" column. Soonerpolitics.com is a fascinating site, owned and operated by OU Political Science professor Keith Gaddie.

At the moment, the headline story on soonerpolitics.com is an analysis of who would likely win the White House in the event of a tie in the electoral college. But then if you're a regular reader of this site, you already know something about that.

The Tulsa Beacon has an extensive article detailing more problems with the management at Tulsa Airport, reported by the supervisor of landscape maintenance. There's a recurring theme: Governmental authority puts out a request for bids with estimated value so low and requirements so stringent that most potential bidders are deterred. One favored bidder applies -- perhaps the sole bidder, or else the other bids are disqualified on one technicality or another, or else the favored bidder bids less than he needs to do the job -- and is awarded the contract. Then the winning bidder isn't required to meet the terms of the contract, or is granted "change orders" to raise the ultimate value of the contract well above the original bid. That's the accusation anyway, and you hear stories like this about many public authorities in the area.

I love this quote from the whistleblower:

“The foxes are watching the hen house at the Tulsa International Airport,” Johnson said. “The Mayor believes if he supplies training that these foxes will become vegetarians and therefore they will stop eating the chickens. I do not care how well or how long you train a fox – he is always going to eat chickens. The foxes at the airport have believed for too long that they own the chickens and can do whatever they want with them.”

I've looked through the various Route 66 bulletin boards on the Internet and have yet to find a discouraging word about the way the International Route 66 Festival turned out. As noted earlier, out-of-town Route 66 aficionados had a great time and were very pleased. On the other hand, I continue to get this reaction from Tulsans -- almost verbatim: "I looked at the website and the brochures, and I couldn't get my arms around it. I couldn't figure out what it was really all about."

Here's a letter sent by the executive director of the National Route 66 Federation to the Mayor. This was posted on the Route66 Yahoo group:

I was disturbed to see this letter in Sunday's Whirled:

I enjoyed reading about Beryl Ford's memorabilia collection in a recent edition.

This is a tremendous asset for Tulsa. Whenever you read any of the books or watch videos about the history of Tulsa, many of the featured photos will say "from the Beryl Ford collection."

I recently learned that Mr. Ford needs to retire and sell all or part of his collection for his living expenses. And now the crusher: so far there is no buyer from Tulsa. Not the city, not a university and not the Tulsa Historical Society.

It looks like the collection might go to the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City.

Cannot someone or some group step up and stop this tragedy?

Richard Ryan, Tulsa

Unbelievable. And given the Whirled's tendency to run letters as much as a month after they are submitted, by now Mr. Ford's collection could be in a container ship en route to Buenos Aires, for all we know.

The Beryl Ford collection is impressive, and Tulsans ought to step forward to keep it in Tulsa and make its contents more accessible to the public, perhaps using digital archiving and the Internet. The Tulsa Historical Society seems like a natural match for this task. How about it?

I'd love to buy it, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't afford it, much less the cost of caring for it. But if enough of us go together, maybe we can make it happen.

Downtown housing misstep?


If we want to see downtown become once again a place that bustles with life from early in the morning until late at night, a place with stores and restaurants, it won't happen until there are more people living in and near downtown. The occasional visits from people going to the arena or attending night classes won't be enough to sustain new businesses. Just as retail followed the rooftops out to the suburbs, retail won't return until the rooftops are there.

One of the more sensible steps the city has taken to revitalize downtown are the efforts to encourage new housing in downtown. You could argue about whether any tax dollars should be spent on this effort -- we'll take that up another time -- but developing homes where people spend a lot of time should be a more cost effective way to revitalize than building big facilities that are only rarely used. In the last several city bond issues and third-penny sales taxes, voters have approved money for encouraging downtown housing development. Here's the description for the $4 million included in the current third-penny sales tax plan.

This project will continue the highly successful 1996 Sales Tax program which has resulted in two public-private developments in the core area. The Uptown Renaissance Apartments at 11th and Denver and the historic rehabilitation of the Tulsa Tribune Building converting it to loft apartments at Archer and Main. This funding will be used to attract additional public-private redevelopment, including sites recommended in the AeCom study area.

But money isn't going to make a difference if it isn't spent strategically, and there's concern that the latest expenditure from this fund is not going to be efficacious. The Tulsa Development Authority has opened negotiations with the owners of the Philtower building for their use of $1 million to convert nine floors (12 through 20) to 12 "loft" apartments.

Arena quest

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Mayor Bill LaFortune and the committee overseeing the construction of Tulsa's new downtown sports arena are starting Monday on a seven-city tour to gather ideas for our new arena. (Whirled story here, jump page here.)

It's interesting that most of the arenas the committee will visit are smaller, and all of them are more expensive:

Basketball Capacity
Omaha, Neb.
Qwest Arena
$291 million*
Green Bay, Wisc.
Resch Center
$45 million
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Van Andel Arena
$75 million
Columbus, Ohio
Nationwide Arena
$150 million
Raleigh, N.C.
RBC Arena
$158 million
Charlotte, N.C.
Charlotte Arena
$200 million
Duluth, Ga.
Gwinnett Center
$90 million
* Omaha's numbers include new convention center.

So the three arenas that are closest in size to what Tulsans were promised cost far more than has been allocated for Tulsa's arena, and the most recent arena costs twice what we were told to expect to spend on ours. Remember that the $183 million has to be divided between arena construction and renovation and expansion of the convention center -- the money allocated for just building the arena is closer to $125million.

The project director for Tulsa Vision Builders, Bart Boatright, has a solution for making up the difference:

The budget could be significantly expanded by private funding through the sale of arena suites, advertising and naming rights, Boatright said.

The story goes on to say that OKC's Ford Center naming rights went for $8.1 million for a 15-year deal. That won't quite cover the gap.

The problem with using the sale of luxury suites to offset construction costs is that those dollars have already been assigned to cover operating costs. The feasibility study done before the vote (see my analysis here) assumed the annual rental of 20 luxury suites and 2000 club seats at annual fees of $32,500 and $1,100 per year, respectively, as a major source of operating revenue. If these very optimistic assumptions were met, the study projects an annual surplus. But if they only manage to sell five suites and 500 club seats, the arena will lose nearly $1 million a year. If premium seat fees are assigned to construction costs instead of operating costs, the facility is projected to lose $1.6 million a year.

Another interesting thing -- Mayor LaFortune is quoted as saying he hasn't spent much time in arenas: "I've only been in two arenas in my life, so I really want to be there to get a feel for everything." (Tulsa has five arenas -- downtown, the Pavilion, the Reynolds Center, the Mabee Center, and UMAC. Which three hasn't he been in yet?) What that tells you is that attending spectator sports and major concerts isn't part of his life, although he enjoys playing basketball and going to smaller performances at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. I wonder how many people promoted this arena and voted for this arena thinking, "I'm rarely or never going to go there, but lots of other people will use it"? What if it turns out that the vast majority of Tulsans aren't interested in arena events?

Arena size matters


The Whirled is upset because the downtown sports arena may not be 20,000 seats. They are worried that if the size is downscaled we may not get the big tournaments and concerts that were promised. I'm looking for any indication of what was promised, and I seem to recall that an arena size as small as 15,000 was mentioned.

Nailing it down is difficult: The day after the election, all the content from Vision 2025 campaign website (vote2025.org) was rendered inaccessible -- the hot links on the home page were disabled. The Internet Wayback Machine (archive.org) doesn't have any snapshots of the contents of the site -- webmasters can deliberately program a website so that archive websites. It looks like a calculated effort to defeat any attempt to hold the proponents of Vision 2025 for the promises made to the voters.

They forgot about Google, which had captured several internal pages. I found this:

Tulsa Regional Convention / Events Center / $183 Million

This includes a much needed modernization of the existing convention center and the construction of an 18,000 fixed seat events center that, in combination, will provide state-of-the-art facilities that will make Tulsa a more attractive entertainment venue for conventions, trade shows, concerts, religious, sports and other large events, creating hundreds of new jobs for Tulsans and expected to generate an estimated economic impact of $92 million annually and $5.86 million in state and local tax revenues.

So there's the promise: 18,000 fixed seats. So it could seat more for concerts, but only 18,000 for sports events. Presumably the proponents felt that would be enough for to serve the sports events they want to attract.

(By the way, a search of the Whirled's archives reveals that the phrase "events center" has not been used in its pages since September 14, 2003, less than a week after the vote. Since then, they've gone back to calling it what it is -- an arena.)

I'm not happy that they have our tax money for their arena, but it's important that it be done right. The feasibility study revealed doubts that Tulsans would fill anything bigger than the Mabee Center, so maybe it would be better to build smaller but high quality, so we can make the most of Cesar Pelli's creativity. On the other hand, if someone can produce a serious feasibility study showing that a 20,000 arena will lose less money than a 15,000 seat facility, that ought to be considered, too, although it's hard to imagine.

Is the Mayor hamstrung?


Mayor Bill LaFortune acted late Wednesday to place Tulsa Airport Authority director Brent Kitchen on administrative leave with pay, apparently with a view toward removing him entirely. A lot of people, particularly those who were part of the Mayor's performance review team, have been asking him to clean house at the airport for months.

Because the Tulsa Airport Authority is a public trust and not directly a part of city government, it was unclear to me whether Kitchen was an employee of TAA or the City. Since the Mayor acted to suspend Kitchen, it appears that he is a city employee and therefore under civil service protection.

Here's the Mayor on why he acted and why he waited so long (jump page here:

Speaking at press conferences before and after a two-hour executive session of the Tulsa Airport Authority, LaFortune said the federal investigation yielded troubling management issues at the airport.

LaFortune said civil service regulations prevent him from going into detail about what triggered his decision to remove Kitchen. Likewise, he said, he couldn't estimate the timing of a settlement or the process the city would use to name a new airports director.

The mayor, however, said the federal investigation was key in his decision to remove Kitchen, who has been airports director since February 1988 and an airport executive since 1986. ...

As a former prosecutor and judge, LaFortune said, "You have to have all the evidence in your file. There are people who have opinions and people who can act on opinions in a public forum. I have to act on facts.

"You don't just fire people. It can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation costs if I don't act on facts."

Now, this gives us a useful insight into the Mayor's mindset. He seems to be applying a presumption that a city employee deserves to keep his job unless there is some iron-clad proof of malfeasance. That must be why nearly all of Susan Savage's department heads are still in place, more than two years after Susan Savage left office.

A lot of us who supported LaFortune expected him to start fresh with the best new ideas borrowed from successful mayors like Rudy Giuliani, Indianapolis' Steven Goldsmith and Jersey City's Bret Schundler. We also expected him to clean house and and replace the department heads with a team of people who believed in those ideas and would work wholeheartedly to carry them out.

The City Charter is an obstacle to cleaning house. Article X target="_blank">Article X includes a lot of detail about the civil service system that ought to be in an ordinance, where it would be easier to adjust. The charter enshrines the notion of seniority -- if jobs get cut in a department, first hired is first fired, even if the newest hire has needed skills.

Nevertheless, there is a system for dismissing or reassigning or demoting a civil servant, and hopefully the members of the civil service commission understand that the TAA administration is ultimately responsiblity for the mess there, and that failure of leadership is sufficient cause for removing those in charge.

But the Mayor must take the initiative to remove a department head. No one else can do it for him. Is his reluctance to act swiftly because he's a natural people pleaser, hesitant to make anyone mad at him? Or is he caught between a rock and a hard place, between the political imperative to respond vigorously to the mess that has been uncovered on the one hand and on the other hand, the desires of some of his political backers to maintain the status quo. Who was it who said, long ago: "So-and-so may be a crook, but he's our crook." There may be some powerful people who find it pleasant and profitable to deal with the current TAA administration and these folks would strenuously object to any changes. The Mayor may be looking for a way to say that his hand was forced -- he didn't pull the trigger, the FAA or the US DOT Inspector General or the Civil Service Commission did it.

The Right Nation


This past week National Review Online featured five excerpts from a new book by British authors about the distinctives of American conservatism -- The Right Nation by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. The authors are respectively the U.S. editor and Washington correspondent for the Economist.

From the fourth excerpt, "Right from the Beginning":

The life span of the American conservative movement is comparatively short. The life span of America's exceptional conservatism, on the other hand, stretches back to the country's birth. The United States has always had conservative instincts: suspicion of state power, enthusiasm about business and deep religiosity. But for most of its history America has been so comfortable with its innate conservatism that it has had no need of a political movement to articulate conservatism's principles or harass its enemies.

The article goes on to discuss the moderation of America's revolutionaries and to explain why the US has never had a potent socialist movement. And there's this interesting note illustrating that America isn't such a young country:

Galileo was offered a chair at Harvard University, which was founded in 1636, before Charles I had his head cut off.

Here's a comment that misses the mark, somewhat:

But because they conceive of themselves as a new nation, Americans don't feel any need to make a cult of newness in the way that some Britons and French do. They have not disfigured the center of Washington with aggressively new buildings, as modernists have felt the need to update London.

I'm not sure if they mean downtown Washington or the Mall. A couple of the Smithsonian Museums are aggressively modern. And a major battle in the War on Poverty involved the destruction of the old buildings where poor people lived and made a living and replacing them with modernist housing projects. (The places for these people to make a living were not replaced.) But in the authors' defense, the impulse to destroy came mainly from political elites enamored with European socialist solutions, not from ordinary Americans.

The other articles in the series are:

The Right Nation
A Different Conservatism
The Right Rules
Right Roots
Faith, Fortune, and the Frontier

A few more interesting quotes:

  • "Not only has America produced a far more potent conservative movement than anything available in other rich countries; America as a whole is a more conservative place."
  • "In no other country is the Right defined so much by values rather than class. The best predictor of whether a white American votes Republican is not his or her income but how often he or she goes to church.... Yet despite the importance of values, America has failed to produce a xenophobic "far Right" on anything like the same scale as Europe has. The closest equivalent to a European hard-Rightist is Pat Buchanan, and his political fortunes have waned rather than waxed.... In Colorado Springs, conservatives see immigrants mostly as potential recruits, rather than as diluters of the national spirit.

Fine and dandy


The City Council is going to consider raising traffic fines for most offenses by $5 at tonight's meeting. The stated reason is to cover the $2 increase in the assessment levied by the state Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET). CLEET gets a share of each fine assessed -- a sort of commission for training police officers to be more effective.

Someone called this to my attention and wonders if the city thinks officers aren't bright enough to handle numbers that aren't multiples of $5. He also recalls that just last year, preset fines were increased for most violations from $80 to $115. At the time, Police Chief Dave Been said that officers favored raising fines so long as the purpose was to deter offenses, rather than just to raise revenue. If that increase was punitive in intent, rather than a revenue enhancement, then it shouldn't be a problem for that extra $2 CLEET assessment to come out of that $35 increase. In any event, I don't see the need to raise an extra $3 per ticket. Now if someone wants to tell me that fines should be high enough to fund the municipal court system, but aren't, I'm listening. But fines aren't the right way to fund general functions of government.

I see that Dean Van Trease, outgoing president of Tulsa Community College, is getting a block of Boston Avenue double-signed in his honor. It would have been better to name the Downtown campus's vast swath of surface parking in his honor -- the Van Trease Treeless Expanse, perhaps. TCC has a single block of buildings, but four blocks of parking. No single institution has done more damage to downtown's urban fabric in the last ten years than TCC under his leadership.

You have to wonder how downtown benefits from TCC's presence and vice versa. When TJC (as it was then) had only its classroom building and no parking of its own, a nearby cafe or snack bar might hope to attract students for meals. A nearby variety store might hope to sell school supplies. Now TCC's downtown campus is a self-contained world with its own cafeteria and bookstore, and there are no nearby merchants because of TCC's vast moat of parking. So people zoom into downtown, park, go to class, maybe eat at the cafeteria, and zoom back out. If TCC were to relocate, there would be an opportunity to redevelop those parking lots into something useful and attractive. The only reason I can imagine TCC would want to stay downtown is for ease of access to the Tulsa Transit bus system, but surely bus service could be provided to, say, the TCC northeast campus if sufficient demand exists.

I will give TCC credit for their adaptive reuse of Central High School's Manual Arts building, which fronts Cincinnati. On the other hand, TCC tore down the old Cadillac dealership -- a multi-story building designed to hold cars -- for surface parking.

TCC is by no means the only guilty party in the deconstruction of downtown Tulsa, but it is the single biggest offender. Long ago some mayor or some other city leader should have sat down with TCC, the nearby churches, and businesses and come up with a parking plan that would meet everyone's needs while stopping the continued conversion of the southern part of downtown into a desert.

Pair of sixes paradox


There's an interesting divergence of opinion about Tulsa's recent International Route 66 Festival.

Many of the Tulsans I spoke to found the promotional information confusing, and if they went, they were surprised by the light turnout and couldn't figure out how it differed from any other street festival. You had your streets blocked off, your food vendors, your local musical acts, your kids' area, your difficulty finding a place to park -- like Mayfest without the art. My wife got frustrated trying to figure out the schedule, and wrote a scathing e-mail to the promoters; I put together a schedule like a TV-grid to help us and others sort out what we wanted to do and where we needed to be. One friend said she saw the ads for the festival but could never get the sense of what it was all about, so she didn't bother going. Many others we spoke to hadn't heard of it at all. Our family went and had a good time, but it's clear we didn't get as much out of it as we might have, had the essence of the festival been more clearly communicated. And although we enjoyed it, we had the sense from the numbers we saw that it was not a successful event.

The apparent failure of the festival has led some to question the wisdom of the $15 million for Route 66 development included in Vision 2025. If Route 66 is such a tourist draw, shouldn't we have seen an acute influx of tourists for this international festival, which includes the annual meeting and banquet of the National Route 66 Federation? If they weren't wandering around Brady Street, where were they?

On the other hand, we're told that the National Route 66 Federation regards the festival as a success and would like to come back. On Tuesday's Michael DelGiorno show, Mayor LaFortune read an e-mail from author Michael Wallis, enthusing about the festival. He's been to dozens of events all along the highway, so surely he would have an idea if this event was successful. The Steinbeck Banquet -- the annual awards banquet of the National Route 66 Foundation -- was reported to have twice the attendance as the previous year in Springfield, Illinois. The J. M. Davis Gun Museum in Claremore reported higher than normal attendance.

So how do we account for the divergent perspectives?

Route 66 ho-hum?


Michael DelGiorno expressed his boredom Monday morning during our weekly chat, as I tried to explain the part of the Route 66 festival that most excited me as an old highway enthusiast. I can't imagine why he doesn't find mid-60s Borden's Cafeteria postcards exciting.

Tulsa will likely never be a mainstream tourist destination. We will likely never make the list of 1000 places to visit before you die. But that doesn't mean we can't make some money from the tourist trade.

The key is niche marketing. There are aspects of the history and culture of Tulsa and the surrounding region that appeal to market segments that are narrow but full of people passionate about their special (not to say peculiar) interests.

Route 66 is one of those niche markets, probably one of the broader niches, as evidenced by websites about the topic in Portugese, German, French, Finnish, Swedish.

This German page describes Route 66 as "Die legendärste Straße Amerikas - Mythos der unendlichen Freiheit" and warns that it's only for absolute "Amerikafreaks." (Love those German compound nouns.)

Beyond Route 66, Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma can appeal to people interested in cowboys and Indians (and art inspired by them), the Charismatic movement (ORU and Rhema), oil exploration and the roughnecks and boom towns and overnight millionaires of oil's heyday. There are even severe weather aficionados who dream of visiting Oklahoma and chasing a storm. I met a German some years ago, in a woolen shop in Ardara, Ireland, who wanted to do just that.

To exploit these niches, however, Tulsans (and mainly those who have been paid handsomely to sell Tulsa to the rest of the world) have to stop being embarrassed by what makes us different. It does us no good for our tourist brochures to focus on amenities (like the ballet, the opera, and upscale shopping) which are wonderful for those who live here but don't really set us apart from other cities.

Meanwhile, thanks to Private Eye's "Funny Old World" column, we learn that looking for that edge in the competition for the tourist dollar is a concern the world over. Councilors in the Polish seaside resort of Ustka believe that an uplifting program of crest enlargement holds the key to attracting visitors. Note that the town's mayor carefully chooses his words to avoid giving offense to any mermaids amongst his constituents.

Found some lovely images of the Glass House restaurant, now known as the "World's Largest McDonald's" over the Will Rogers Turnpike near Vinita. Linked from the same page is a picture of the Turner Turnpike Midway, showing the Howard Johnson's and the pedestrian bridge.

On our frequent trips to visit relatives in OKC, we'd stop and get a kick out of "running over" the cars and trucks. The HoJo had a souvenir shop with the usual collection of generic trinkets stamped with the word Oklahoma, along with a lot of Indian stuff, and, of course, car bingo. Coming back to Tulsa, we'd always walk over the bridge to get to the vending machines at the filling station (Phillips?) on the westbound side -- none of us liked HoJo Cola.

These pictures are on a site primarily devoted to the "Oasis" over-the-highway restaurants built on Illinois toll roads.

Jesus in Beijing


Eve Tushnet reviews a new book by David Aikman, the former Peking bureau chief for Time magazine, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power.

If Aikman's assessment is accurate, China is being transformed from the inside out, and the nation may make a smoother transition to liberty because of it. The rise of Christianity and the rise of capitalism are rebuilding mediating institutions and networks of trust that had been destroyed by Communism as a matter of policy. In the West, civil society preceded civil liberty. In the Third World and in liberated totalitarian societies, the reverse has often been true, with disastrous effects.

This month marks 15 years since the remarkable demonstrations in Tienanmen Square. Our hopes were dashed to see the regime's brutal crushing of dissent, but of course God causes all things to work for good -- even the oppression of tyrants -- and perhaps the delay of freedom and democracy prevented chaos and a return to even fiercer oppression. God's words to the Israelites in Exodus 23:28-30 comes to mind:

I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

Let's keep China's Christians in our prayers.

Reagan in his own voice


Audible.com offers for download five and a half hours of Ronald Reagan's radio commentaries from the late '70s, with introductions from cabinet members and associates like George Shultz and Ed Meese. This is going on my wish list. (Amazon offers an abridged CD version.)

We had a lengthy dinner table conversation about Reagan's legacy with my seven year old son. The toughest part was explaining the background: communism, the Cold War, ICBMs, inflation, the energy crisis. Later, Joe let me read to him from Reagan's autobiography, which begins with a sketch of his 1985 first meeting with Gorbachev. We read that and the opening chapter, about his first seven years, moving around Illinois as his dad followed job opportunities. He mentions that the course of his own life would have been very different had he been hired by Montgomery Ward to run the sporting goods department in their new Dixon store. That closed door kept him free to pursue his dream of radio broadcasting, which in turn led to everything else.

I was raised to believe that God has a plan for everyone and that seemingly random twists of fate are all a part of His plan. My mother -- a small woman with auburn hair and a sense of optimism that ran as deep as the cosmos -- told me that everything in life happened for a purpose. She said all things were part of God's Plan, even the most disheartening setbacks, and in the end, everything worked out for the best. If something went wrong, she said, you didn't let it get you down: You stepped away from it, stepped over it, and moved on. Later on, she added, something good will happen and you'll find yourself thinking -- "If I hadn't had that problem back then, then this better thing that did happen wouldn't have happened to me."

All about annexation


The City Council says the issue is dead. Seven councilors -- everyone except Neal and Baker -- voted for a consensus against the idea of annexing all the area within Tulsa's north fenceline in one fell swoop. I'm watching "This Week @ City Hall" -- Chris Medlock and Roscoe Turner are talking about areas in their districts that have been within the city limits for decades but still lack connection to city water and sewer services. Their point is that we need to maintain and in some cases install infrastructure to ensure continued investment in the areas already within our city limits. Tulsa is "doomed" to be a core city -- we are nearly surrounded by the boundaries or fencelines of other cities -- so we had better make it the best core city possible. Opponents of grabbing all the north area at once also point out that we have yet to extend roads, water lines or sewer lines to the large area of Wagoner County we annexed a few years ago.

Industries in the Cherokee Industrial Park have expressed opposition to annexation, as it will mean higher property and use taxes. Some have suggested that their opposition is merely an opening gambit in the renegotiation of tax incentives that are set to expire soon. Residents don't want to give up the freedoms they have in an unincorporated area -- raising farm animals, burning trash instead of paying someone to haul it off, even setting off fireworks.

Meanwhile, the Mayor continues to push for annexing the entire area at once. In a speech to neighborhood leaders at the "Mayor's Night Out" event last Tuesday, he was at his loudest and most animated when he urged neighborhood leaders to contact their councilors in support of annexation. In support of annexation, he expressed concern that unincorporated areas would be developed anyway, but not to the standards required for construction within the city limits, which would cause problems for the city when the area is finally annexed.

The Whirled is the only other cheerleader for annexation, and the editorial board has blasted the councilors who oppose annexation with a fury that makes me suspect they have some business interests at stake.

Lortondale on the web


When you're talking about the historic preservation of buildings, the standard for "historic" is 50 years. That's the minimum standard for consideration for inclusion on the National Register for Historic Places.

The Lortondale neighborhood, east of Yale between 26th & 28th Streets, has attained the necessary age. In the early '50s, the homes represented a dramatic departure from traditional homes, with their low-pitched roofs, glass walls, and bright colors. (The neighborhood was developed on part of a farm that had belonged to the Lorton family of Tulsa Whirled fame, thus the name. The brick gate posts for the farm still stand along Yale.)

Several Lortondale residents with an interest in mid-century architecture discovered each other on Internet forums devoted to the topic, and now they've set up their own website at www.lortondale.com, which features the history of the neighborhood and photos of some of the homes.

Don't be too surprised to see this neighborhood seek historic status sometime in the future -- an entire neighborhood of architect-designed homes in a unique style is a rare thing.

Damning with faint praise


Charles Krauthammer writes that the liberal media are focusing on Reagan's sunny and optimistic personality as a way to trivialize his real accomplishments. But they miss the heart of the matter:

Optimism? Every other person on the No. 6 bus is an optimist. What distinguished Reagan was what he did and said. Reagan was optimistic about America amid the cynicism and general retreat of the post-Vietnam era because he believed unfashionably that America was both great and good -- and had been needlessly diminished by restrictive economic policies and timid foreign policies. Change the policies and America would be restored, both at home and abroad.

He was right.

Krauthammer reminds that, in his presidency, Reagan's optimism was interpreted by the media as a sign of dangerous simple-mindedness. Now it's being used as a way of praising this beloved leader without acknowledging that the man they derided has been vindicated by history.

Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for the link.

Kicks, some missed, on 66


We made it to the International Route 66 Festival Friday night for a couple of hours, and again this afternoon from 1 to about 8. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The street music was consistently good, and the organizers were wise to alternate stages and not allow simultaneous concerts. Nothing ear-assaulting, all family-friendly stuff.

  • Pawnee Bill (actually the Pawnee County Assessor, I was told) was out on Brady Street offering kids rides on his horse. Katherine was in little girl heaven, leaning forward, gripping the saddle horn, and beaming. Joe enjoyed his ride, too. The Pawnee Bill Wild West Show, by the way, will be performed June 19th & 26th west of the town of Pawnee.

  • Nice to see new developments in Brady Village, like the glassblowing studio and Caz's new restaurant.

  • The open houses today were fun -- we went up to the roof of the Tribune Building and looked in a couple of the available units; looked around the restored first floor and mezzanine of the Mayo Hotel; and had a tour of Boston Avenue Methodist Church. The Boston Avenue Church tour was very well organized and presented, with a guide to lead us around to about eight different stations, and a guide at each station to explain the history and symbolism of the art work and architectural details. At the first station they helpfully had photos of two Oklahoma wildflowers -- the tritoma and coreopsis -- which appears in stylized versions throughout the church. Katherine quickly became a skilled coreopsis-spotter and discovered that coreopsis is fun to say. At the eight station we got the straight scoop about who designed Boston Avenue Church, and how she got the job. The building is a dazzling work of art.

  • It was nice to see that full-time Brady Village businesses were allowed to make a buck. I can remember Mayfests in the past where they may as well have placed a dropcloth over downtown for all the good it did the year-round businesses.

  • The kids enjoyed the "Kids Korner" activities, especially the reptiles exhibit Friday evening.

  • Lots of friendly and helpful volunteers. One exhibitor told us how much he appreciated that Tulsa had volunteers available to man his booth to give him 20 minutes to stretch his legs and get a bite to eat. He also said the festival organizers worked with exhibitors to get them their preferred locations as much as possible.

But what, you may ask, made this event different from all the other street festivals we see through the course of a year. Yes, there were car tours of the highway and a 66 theme, but that could have been done for a purely local celebration of the old road (which isn't a bad idea). What is the essence of the International Festival, which will go with the festival to another city next year, something Tulsans will only have readily accessible for these few days?

The Expo.

We discovered it belatedly. It is not given a place of honor on the website or in the program, but if you are a Route 66 or old highway enthusiast, this is where you need to be.

Five collectors were there with albums of postcards and maps and room keys and posters. Sadly most were not for sale, but was able to buy a couple of Borden Cafeteria postcards, which I will scan and post here sometime in the future. One collector, from Arizona, had road atlases from the '20s and '30s, and a 1950 map of Tulsa from the Triangle Company. The postcard collections were a chance to look back at places that are gone and signs that have been changed -- the Downtown Best Western Motel, actually on the north side of 11th at Columbia; the Town and Country near the turnpike gate; the Flamingo Motel -- the motel is there but the neon flamingo is gone; the Park Plaza Courts, torn down in the '80s. Since they aren't willing to part with them, I wish these collectors would scan and post these cards on the web.

There are some wonderful new books out, and the authors were there to sell and sign copies.

  • Bob Moore and Rich Cunningham have published an atlas and guidebook aimed at setting out the best way to drive the old road (without having, as they say in the foreword, a four-wheel drive, a lawyer, and two months to drive the road). They use GPS data, odometer settings, and high resolution topographical maps to help guide the would-be 66 cruiser.

  • Scott Piotrowski has compiled the many routes 66 has taken through Los Angeles County in Finding the End of the Mother Road (website should up shortly).

  • Shellee Graham has a new book about the late lamented Coral Court Motel near St. Louis and a book of postcards from the highway.

  • Russell Olsen has just published Route 66 Lost and Found a book of paired images -- an old postcard image or photograph, and a photo he took recently of the same place from the same vantage point. The Shady Rest Court on Southwest Boulevard, just north of downtown Red Fork, is one of his subjects. (Still there, believe it or not, but without a sign.) His website offers the book and individual photos for sale.

  • Ghost Town Press in Arcadia (home of the Round Barn) has published Oklahoma Route 66, a big book of maps and photos, including some pictures taken where law-abiding angels fear to tread. They've got a picture of one of Max Meyer's gas stations and one of his tourist cabins, too.

The entrance to the expo features Cyrus Avery's map of the national highway system, highlighting roads passing through Oklahoma, and a couple of his letters relating to the struggle to get a good number for the diagonal route from Chicago to LA. Next to those were some wonderful sketches of late '30s Tulsa by Paul Corrubia (more here) -- I had never seen these before.

A group called Friends of the Mother Road had a table. This group restores historic signs and other artifacts along Route 66. They were selling a children's book about the highway to raise money for their work.

Each of the state Route 66 associations had a booth, with brochures and things to give away. I note that the site of Times Beach, Missouri, once notorious for dioxin contaminiation, has been rehabilitated and has been developed as Route 66 State Park. (Here's another view -- Times Beach should be named a national monument to chemophobia.)

By the time we got to the Expo -- nearly 5 this afternoon, because we wanted to do the building tours before they closed at 4 -- there were only two hours left. The collectors were packing up their things and it looked like they weren't planning to come back on Sunday. The other booths didn't seem to be going anywhere, so hopefully they will still be around Sunday, but there's nothing in the festival website to indicate if that's the case.

One other downside -- all the booths appeared to be cash only. I didn't notice any credit card equipment.

A number of things fell through the cracks, which is to be expected. In another entry, I'll relay some thoughts on what could have been better.

Funereal notes

  • One of the nice things about state events -- funerals, inaugurals, and such -- is that it's a rare opportunity for good music to get some public exposure. Choral music usually takes a back seat to orchestral works and opera. It was a treat to hear choirs at the Capitol, at the National Cathedral, and at the Reagan Library. Peter Wilhousky's arrangement of the Battle Hymn of the Republic is a favorite. William Harris's "Faire is the Heaven", which preceded the entry of the casket into the Cathedral, was a perfect fit for the occasion. And there's something thrilling about hymns and baroque music played by a brass ensemble.

  • It's also a treat to watch the replay of the services on C-SPAN, without commentary. I listened to the Cathedral service on the radio while at work, and found myself switching back and forth between KFAQ, KRMG, and KWGS trying to find the station with the least amount of annoying chatter. Brian Gann did a fine job of describing without being obtrusive as KFAQ simulcast the audio from Fox News Channel, but when they switched to Fox News Radio, we had to listen to John Gibson speak in all the wrong places. Announcers please note: Hymns and anthems are not bumper music or filler. They are an integral part of the service. Likewise, the liturgy is not fluff. You can wait until former Senator John Danforth is done with the opening words of the service ("I am the resurrection and the life") to tell us that John Danforth is speaking. American broadcasters could learn a few things from the way the BBC covers these sorts of events.

  • John Derbyshire, on NRO's The Corner: "It was, as the English say, a lovely funeral. The British, in fact, used to boast that they did this kind of thing -- pomp and circumstance -- better than anyone. I don't see how that boast can any longer be maintained. This was done as well as it possibly could have been." But I think that the pomp and circumstance was a reflection of President Reagan and in accordance with his wishes, as he understood the importance of tradition and the place of formality and manners. Recall his first inaugural, when the dress code was not business suits but morning dress. (And many of us learned for the first time that black tie is not appropriate for formal events in midday.) Insisting on the full pomp and circumstance of tradition for his inaugurations, rather than trying to remake the ceremony in his image, was not an act of egotism but an act of respect for the nation and the institution of the presidency.

  • Along the same lines: A reader's e-mail to The Corner: "So I'm sitting in my home office, lump in throat, tears on cheeks. Watching the precision of the honor guard and the unbelievable reverence and beauty of the moment. And it dawns on me: he's done it again. He has an entire nation realizing again how beautiful this country is. Its people. It's respect for things great. Tradition. Class. There could not have been a departing gift so powerful. His first lesson to me in 1980, when I was 10. His last, today."

  • The most often played soundbite from President Bush Sr's eulogy was the moment where he says, his voiced choked, "As his vice president for eight years, I learned more from Ronald Reagan than from anyone I encountered in all my years of public life." But I think it was the words immediately preceding that got him choked up, because they choked me up too:

    And to the Reagan kids -- it's OK for me to say that at 80 -- Michael, Ron, Patti, today all of our sympathy, all of our condolences to you and remember, too, your sister Maureen home safe now with her father.

    That heaven is a place where we are in the immediate presence of God ought to be overwhelming enough, but the thought of heaven as home, where we are reunited to those who passed on before us, touches something deep. And I wonder if President Bush's thoughts turned just then, as mine did, to the little one who's been waiting for him there for fifty years.

Reagan's economic record


Much of the focus of the last week has been on Ronald Reagan's role in the demise of Soviet Communism, but his economic achievements are just as impressive. If you're my age or older, you remember the '70s when double-digit inflation and double-digit mortgage rates seemed to be a fact of life, when gas prices skyrocketed, and it seemed like things would only get worse. Now we take the absence of inflation and low interest rates for granted, and gas prices are well below their 1970s levels in constant dollars.

Critics of Reagan's record charged that the gap between rich and poor grew, that the jobs created were low-paying, that the tax cuts helped only the very wealthy, that homelessness became epidemic because of his policies, and that the Reagan years were a decade of greed and neglect.

National Review Online now features the contents of its 1992 special issue, "The Real Reagan Record", which answers those charges. The articles are chock-full of numbers, graphs, and analysis from economists. Well worth revisiting.

Maybe I should have titled this "a cult gathering to worship the career of 6-6-6", which was the heading to one of two negative replies I received to my notice of the gathering at Paddy's to toast the life and work of Ronald Reagan. We partook of the cultic food (jelly beans), and passed around graven images of our departed leader. The big tables in the back of Paddy's would have been large enough for sacrificing a liberal in memory of Ronaldus Magnus, but it would have been out of keeping with the spirit of the event.

About 30 folks showed up. I was sick abed most of the day but managed to recover sufficiently to attend, and anyway I figured Guinness and camraderie would complete the recovery.

A couple of people present actually met the president and more than just once. Architect Joe Coleman was a delegate to the 1976 and 1980 Republican national conventions, and he brought along some wonderful pictures -- one of him with President and Mrs. Reagan, and several from the time he escorted Nancy around Tulsa during a campaign visit.

Former County Clerk Joan Hastings brought some photos of her with President Reagan. She told about a fundraiser held at the Fairgrounds, where the organizers severely underestimated the number of tickets that would be sold. It was $100 a plate for a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Joan's solution was to send a runner out to McDonald's and come back with 100 Big Mac certificates, which Reagan signed. Naturally, people were happier to have Reagan's autograph than chicken, mashed potatoes and a spork to eat them with. One gentleman (Joan mentioned the name, but I can't remember who) went away emptyhanded, but later received a handwritten note: "Good for one Big Mac. Ronald Reagan."

Ron Barr called our attention to a remarkable aspect of Reagan's effort to defeat the Soviet Union -- hurting the USSR's source of hard currency by working with Saudi Arabia to drop the price of oil and sabotaging the Soviets' ability to deliver fossil fuels by selling them and allowing them to steal flawed technology. He mentioned two books by Peter Schweizer: Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism and Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union.

State Rep. Pam Peterson told us of a wonderful surprise she received earlier this year. An ORU student at the time, she was part of a crowd of students that met Ronald Reagan in 1976, when he came to Tulsa to campaign for Jim Inhofe. (Inhofe was running for Congress that year.) She had no idea that a picture existed of that moment when she was getting Reagan's autograph. But Tony Lauinger, head of Oklahomans for Life, was there too, that day in 1976, not far away, and someone had snapped a black-and-white photo of the scene, probably for the school newspaper or yearbook. Earlier this year Tony thought he recognized her in the photo and gave her a copy of it. Pam didn't have a copy with her Thursday night, but she's got a copy framed on the wall of her House office.

The rest of us present never had that brush with greatness, but all had been inspired by Reagan's courage to stand for the truth. In the mid '70s, conservatism was homeless in American politics. Conservatives felt their concerns were being ignored. No one was calling for the rollback of communism, and even containment was a thing of the past; instead the USSR's expansionism was a fact of life we'd just have to accommodate. No one was calling for shrinking the federal government or reducing the tax burden, and no leader expressed a realistic hope for ending our economic doldrums. Both parties supported abortion, and driving religion out of the public square, and the decline of the traditional family was seen as unavoidable. Neither of the national parties held out hope for significant improvement.

That's why Ronald Reagan was such a breath of fresh air. For a younger generation, it was the radio commentaries that first brought Ronald Reagan to our attention. Someone was affirming our understanding of the world, validating our hopes, and assuring us that our hopes weren't impossible. That someone was capable of carrying those hopes to the White House and leading us in making them a reality. That revival of hope was even more profound for those behind the Iron Curtain, when Reagan's clear rhetoric cut through the usual diplomatic blarney. I'll close with this tribute from Natan Sharansky in the Jerusalem Post:

In 1983, I was confined to an eight-by-ten-foot prison cell on the border of Siberia. My Soviet jailers gave me the privilege of reading the latest copy of Pravda. Splashed across the front page was a condemnation of President Ronald Reagan for having the temerity to call the Soviet Union an "evil empire." Tapping on walls and talking through toilets, word of Reagan's "provocation" quickly spread throughout the prison. We dissidents were ecstatic. Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth – a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us.

At the time, I never imagined that three years later, I would be in the White House telling this story to the president. When he summoned some of his staff to hear what I had said, I understood that there had been much criticism of Reagan's decision to cast the struggle between the superpowers as a battle between good and evil. Well, Reagan was right and his critics were wrong.

Moral compass


In response to the previous entry, Steve Carr sent in this eloquent tribute:

Ronald W. Reagan was indeed a good man and a heroic figure in times when the United States of America had begun to question where it was going - he was truly a moral compass for us and the world in the manner in which he led, and more importantly, in the manner in which he lived. He treated everyone as if they were his best next door neighbor. We in Tulsa would do well to live that and treat all Tulsans as our neighbor and to continue building our shining city.

This week we say farewell to a man whose bold leadership reshaped our nation and the world. We mourn with his family at his passing, but it is also fitting to celebrate a long life well lived and recall happy memories. Many of us were inspired by Ronald Reagan to become actively involved in politics.

There's going to be an informal gathering tonight at 7:30 in Tulsa at Paddy's Irish Restaurant and Pub to toast the life and accomplishments of President Ronald Reagan. You're invited to join us -- bring along a favorite Reagan quote or anecdote to share. If you've got memorabilia from his campaigns or his administration, bring that along, too. We won't be doing a formal program, just sharing memories.

Paddy's is on the northwest corner of 81st & Memorial.

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Gail Heriot challenges the notion that the initiative petition process has been subverted for the benefit of powerful special interests. She cites a soon-to-be-published article analyzing the subversion hypothesis:

It seems that there are real differences in the fiscal policies of initiative and non-initiative states. Initiative states spend less than non-initiative states. Initiative states concentrate more of their spending at the local level. And initiative states raise a greater portion of their revenue through fees rather than through taxes. The subversion hypothesis, however, gets no support from Matsusaka's research. In each case, the initiative states move public policy in a direction that it consistent rather than inconsistent with popular will. Voters tend to want their state governments to spend less money, etc. Hence, instead of subverting the true popular will, the initiative process appears to be giving that popular will a means with which to influence public policy.

I think that is certainly true here in Oklahoma. Initiatives are not often used -- most of the ballot questions we get are referenda from the legislature, required in order to approve constitutional amendments. Only 366 initiative petitions have even been submitted since statehood, and many if not most of those have been ruled legally or numerically insufficient. There appear to have been fewer than 10 over the last 10 years, and it looks like about half never made it to the ballot.

But initiatives gave us term limits, a ban on cockfighting, and set the bar higher for tax hikes -- all issues with popular support, where there was insufficient political will or clout to accomplish them in the legislature. One somewhat recent initiative was clearly the work of a special interest group -- that was the petition to legalize casino gambling, which went before the voters in February 1998. The original sponsors of the drive lost interest once it was on the ballot and it lost by a three to one margin. If, say, a company tried to use an initiative petition to give itself an indirect advantage over the competition, voters would pretty quickly see through the effort. The company would find it a lot more cost effective to lobby 149 legislators than a million voters.

Thanks to Zik Jackson for making me aware that the page-to-page navigation was broken on the schedule grids for this week's International Route 66 Festival. That's fixed now. Hope you find them useful, and please let me know if you find broken links or missing or wrong information.

"Parachuting" is a political manuever in which a candidate moves into a district just in time to be eligible file for office in that district. This technique involves removing a potential candidate from a district where he doesn't stand a chance into a district where his party lacks a viable candidate. There seems to be an emerging pattern involving parachuting and the children of wealthy Democrat trial lawyers.

Mitchell Garrett (actually David Mitchell Garrett Jr), son of wealthy Democrat trial lawyer David Garrett has been parachuted into House District 23 to run against State Rep. Sue Tibbs. Tibbs came within 120 votes beating incumbent and beloved TV personality Betty Boyd in 1998, beat Boyd in 2000, and then drew no opponent two years ago.

Junior Garrett registered to vote in Muskogee County on December 6, 1996 (age 25), and was still registered to vote at his dad's address in Muskogee (2601 W Broadway St) as recently as March 2004, even though he had also registered to vote in Tulsa County on October 24, 2003. He has not, to date, attempted to vote in both counties.

David M Garrett Sr's attorney in his felony sexual battery case is Clark Brewster, whose daughter Cassie Mae Brewster was parachuted into House District 77 in 2000 for an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Mark Liotta, a Republican who has built a strong personal rapport with voters in his majority-Democrat northeast Tulsa seat. In September 1999, she was registered to vote at 1316 S Jamestown Ave in House District 78. Sometime between then and April 2000, she registered at an apartment in the district at 8024 E 4th Pl, and then later that year at 449 S Allegheny. I'm told she moved out of the district shortly after losing the election, although she didn't move her registration for a couple of years.

Another recent example of parachuting is Brad Carson. He registered to vote in Rogers County, in the 2nd District, on January 7, 1999, and began his run to replace Tom Coburn later that same year. Prior to that he was registered to vote at 3042 S. Detroit Ave, Tulsa, in Tulsa County, where he registered on August 12, 1994. In May of 1998, there were in addition to Carson two Republican men registered to vote at the same address, possibly housemates, possibly previous renters who never bothered to change their registration after moving. I am not aware of any evidence that Carson lived in the 2nd District prior to 1999, and I don't believe he ever claimed to live there. He was born in Arizona and is a graduate of Jenks High School. His ads, if I recall correctly, referred to his family's deep roots in the 2nd District, but never to his personal roots.

And yes, Republicans do this too, although it doesn't seem to be as frequent among Republicans.

Everything I've described here is legal (except perhaps for being simultaneously registered to vote in two counties). With respect to Congress, there is only the requirement to reside in the state, although people don't usually like to vote for someone who lives elsewhere. In the UK, this sort of thing is unremarkable -- traditionally most of the politicians lived in the London area and might have no connection to the districts they represented, although this has begun to change.

Oklahoma first day of filing


Speaking of ballot access, the first day of filing for the 2004 Oklahoma general election is over. With so many open seats, thanks to term limits, filing has been heavy.

There are two more days for filing, so I wouldn't read too much into the absence of a name on the list, particularly if the candidate has filed ethics paperwork and has a formal campaign organization. It may just be more convenient to coordinate filing with some other appointment in Oklahoma City. Over the next two days, we'll see the rest of the previously announced candidates sign up. The party organizations know where they're covered and where they're not, so you will see some arm-twisting and cajoling to limit the number of races where a candidate goes unopposed. There will also be a few self-starters who decide "what the heck" at the last minute.

A few interesting notes:

Virginia Blue Jeans Jenner has filed for the Democrat primary in House District 12.

So far, Tulsa County incumbents are mostly without opposition. The exceptions are Nancy Riley (SD 37), Sue Tibbs (HD 23), John Smaligo (HD 74), and Roy McClain (HD 71). Roy is known at the Capitol as "Dead Man Walking" since his win in 2002 over former State Rep. Chad Stites in an ordinarily Republican district. It's assumed that the GOP will retake the district with a solid, scandal-free candidate like Dan Sullivan, who filed today.

Wanda Cruson of Kingston is at 75 the oldest candidate for State House so far. She and her husband were honored at the 2003 Oklahoma Republican Convention for their many years of service in various areas, including candidate recruitment. And now she's a candidate herself, the sole Republican in a Democrat-held open seat in south central Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Libertarian Party reports that their request for an injunction in their ballot access case will come before a district court judge this Friday. Even though I'm a Republican, I've always thought there was something unfair about giving two parties official status and requiring other parties to recertify themselves after each election. While Libertarians are able to file for office, in Oklahoma they may only file as Independents, and that is how they will appear on the ballot. A third party has to file a petition to attain official status, which allows people to register under that banner and allows the party name to appear on state ballots.

The fairest thing would be to have a separation of party and state. Leave it to each party to decide how to select its nominees. If a party wishes to hold a primary, it can pay the state to cover the cost of the election and to manage its membership list. Instead, a party could choose to certify its own members and conduct its nominating process by mail, online, through in-person voting that it staffs and manages itself, or through a system of caucuses and conventions.

For the general election, the ballot could completely omit party information, making it each party's responsibility to publicize the candidates it endorses. Alternatively, the state could set some minimal standards for party certification, and the ballot could list each endorsement each candidate receives from a registered party. As in New York State, a candidate might be endorsed by multiple parties.

But my pragmatic side doesn't want to see the door opened to general elections with large numbers of candidates as long as we have a system of voting that malfunctions when more than two candidates are on the ballot. A system like Instant Runoff Voting is the only way to allow voters a wide range of choices while ensuring that the majority rules in the outcome of the election. Instant Runoff Voting is "spoiler-proof," eliminating one of the traditional arguments against easy ballot access, and freeing voters from any worries about wasting votes.

Club for Growth blog


The Club for Growth, which has endorsed Tom Coburn for Senate, has a blog, which I found through a trackback from ScrappleFace's obit for President Reagan.

The Club's blog has an entry about Citizens Against Government Waste's 2003 ratings of members of Congress. Tulsa's Congressman John Sullivan had the highest 2003 ranking of Oklahoma's U.S. House delegation. His lifetime rating of 83 is just behind Ernest Istook's 84. The House as a body got a 50 rating for 2003 -- in 19 of 38 votes "the taxpayers won."

The Club for Growth blog also has an entry with links to photos and audio clips of Ronald Reagan.

Curses! Foiled again!


Front page story (jump page here) in the Whirled yesterday reports on the ongoing investigation into the Tulsa Airport Authority and their involvement in the Great Plains Airlines deal.

Federal investigators are accusing Tulsa airport officials of inflating the cost of a runway project by about $10 million and linking it to a land purchase they could not justify.

The investigators suspect the money was going to be used to clear up a problem bank loan on the land, and that could have allowed officials to camouflage a potentially illegal subsidy of about $7 million to now-bankrupt Great Plains Airlines.

Documents obtained through an open records request show that investigators concluded the airport may not even need the land for the runway extension.

It apparently was connected to that project only after Great Plains' financial health deteriorated.

That plan was foiled by information officials supplied to the investigators as part of a yearlong probe into airport operations.

The story mentions that Federal investigators are focused on a memo written by airport trust counsel Richard Studenny, outlining how to circumvent laws against direct subsidies by airports to airlines, by concocting a land deal and keeping it small enough to evade Federal scrutiny. Now it appears that the airport authority inflated the cost of a runway expansion project in order to justify a passenger fee increase to the FAA -- the extra money would have been diverted to cover the default of Great Plains.

Let me spell it out for you: Our airport authority wanted to tax Tulsans and people visiting Tulsa -- anyone flying through our airport -- to compensate for the money lost in the Great Plains scheme. While many of those responsible have moved on, we need a clean sweep of the airport management. An "ethics training class" is not sufficient to make an ethical person out of someone looking for ways to deceive and evade the laws. That boils down to character.

This excerpt from negotiations at the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit is on CNN's website for its "Cold War" miniseries. I got a smile out of it.

Secretary General Gorbachev: We are for parity in general. In the information field, for example, or in film. Almost half of the movies showing in our theaters are American. Soviet movies are hardly ever shown in the United States. That is not parity.

President Reagan: We do not have any ban on your movies. The film industry is a free business, and if someone wants to show your films he can do it.

Secretary General Gorbachev: I see that the President avoids this question and goes into talk about business.

President Reagan: Our government cannot control the film market. If you want to inundate us with your movies go right ahead. How our movies get to your country, I do not know.

Secretary General Gorbachev: It is an interesting situation, simply a paradox. In your country, the most democratic country, obstacles arise to showing our movies, while in our country, a totalitarian country, almost half the movies being shown are American. How can you reconcile this, that the Soviet Union is an undemocratic country but your films are being shown?

President Reagan: There is a difference between free enterprise and government ownership. You have no free enterprise, everything belongs to the government and the government puts everything on the market. In the United States we have private industry, and other countries have the right to sell their goods, movies and so on. You have the right to set up a rental organization in our country to distribute your movies, or to lease some theater. But we cannot order it.

Three giants


Recently, John Derbyshire called us to look back 25 years, to 1979. He recounted the seismic shifts of that year, including John Paul II's visit to Poland, Margaret Thatcher's election as Prime Minister of Britain, and Reagan's announcement in November that he would seek the presidency.

The miserable shuffling retreat had been stopped. Western civilization had turned to face its enemies, both those inside the walls and those without. The war that then commenced is not yet over. Perhaps it never will be; but it was in 1979 that we got our nerve back, picked up our discarded weapons again, and resolved to fight. This was the year it all changed, the year the ice cracked.

How amazing that God would bring those three leaders to power in three successive years. All three of them survived (were preserved through) assassination attempts. All three of them were ridiculed as throwbacks, out of step with modern realities. Each of them worked to push back the forces of totalitarianism threatening the West from without and the forces of despair, relativism, and moral collapse that were eroding the vitality of Western culture from within.

Now one of these three giants has laid down his earthly burdens and entered in the glorious presence of his Lord. The other two are no doubt soon to follow, frail and afflicted as they are. It's a good time, 25 years after that momentous year, to reflect on how different the world is today because of their strength and determination.

It must have been on the minds of a lot of folks this Sunday morning. It was certainly on my mind. There are so many reasons to be thankful to God for the life and work of Ronald Reagan. Here's one that came to mind Saturday night, and filling in as worship leader this morning, I wanted to share it with the congregation, but in a way that didn't detract from the purpose of our gathering together, which is to glorify and worship God, not to glorify man.

During announcements at the beginning of the service, I called attention to the list on the back of the bulletin of the missionaries our church supports. Notice how many times you see Ukraine in the list. Twenty years ago, the idea of Christian missionaries openly preaching the gospel and planting churches in any part of the USSR would have been unthinkable. But, in His providence, God raised up a leader who called evil by its real name and worked to defeat it. And because of that, hundreds of millions of people are free to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. God willing that will happen again, and the door will open for a billion more souls. We ought to give thanks to God for bringing this to pass.

I didn't mention his name; for those who were old enough to remember, I didn't need to.

As noted earlier, my lovely wife got fed up with the lack of a comprehensive schedule for this week's International Route 66 Festival, which made it difficult to plan to participate. In the spirit of lighting a candle, rather than cursing the darkness, I have created schedule grids for the next week, beginning Monday, June 7, with the opening of Chautauqua 2004, which has Route 66 as a theme, and going through the close of the Route 66 Festival on Sunday, June 13.

(By the way, in response to my wife's e-mail, someone with the festival coordinator e-mailed back saying if we'd send along our mailing address, they'd be happy to send us a festival brochure. So if there's info in the brochure which isn't on the website, why not post a PDF of the brochure on the website? How hard is that?)

As I disclaim on every page, this is not an official schedule, just my attempt at organizing info from various sources so as to be able to make the most of the festival's opportunities. I tried to include as many official websites and phone numbers as I could find. Consult official sources for official schedules and details.

The schedule grids are not very artistic -- just the HTML produced by Mozilla Composer with a minimum of tweaking. If you find a broken link, missing info, or bad info, e-mail me at route66 AT batesline DOT com and I'll fix it. I may have made mistakes, things are subject to change, your mileage may vary, etc. Hope you find it useful, nevertheless.

A lot of local organizations have rescheduled events to coincide with the festival. Cain's Ballroom has some special concerts scheduled, including that great western swing band Asleep at the Wheel. The Leake Car Auction and the Tulsa Pow-Wow will happen next weekend, and Light Opera Oklahoma will begin its 2004 festival with two performances of "HMS Pinafore". There's a lot of great stuff going on all over town.

Here are the grids:

Monday, June 7
Tuesday, June 8
Wednesday, June 9
Thursday, June 10
Friday, June 11
Saturday, June 12
Sunday, June 13

Sometimes you find the best insights in the comments on the best blogs. Found this comment on Samizdata, in response to this challenge from a British reader: "Is the US Constitution such a sacred cow that you lot in the US will be shocked at someone in the UK who questions its utility?"

It isn't that we mindlessly revere our constitution, or the utility of any written constitution. It's the particulars of our constitution that we treasure. Ours was basically written by a bunch of crabby, cynical, argumentative political junkies, dilettantes, cafe intellectuals, rabble-rousers and gentlemen farmers who disliked and distrusted government and people who seek power. There's some stupid stuff in there (it's been a while since we worried about having troops billetted in our homes), but it's held up remarkably well because it's not about particulars, it's about human nature. The checks and balances thing, for example, is a blueprint for pitting groups of vain ambitious men against each other in the hopes that none of them get much done.

How often do people who dislike government get to build one?

We began to disobey it before the ink was dry. So, as you point out, it's hardly an ironclad defense of liberty. But it helps. It's significant that when they want to break free of its restraints, our public figures are still compelled to pretend to see something in it that isn't there, and write heavily-footnoted rulings about how the thing that isn't there really is if you squint and turn your head on one side.

Posted by S. Weasel at June 2, 2004 11:37 PM

Spot on. "It's not about particulars, it's about human nature," is reminiscent of the conservative proverb, "Human nature has no history."

(That last bit about "the thing that isn't there really is if you squint" makes me think of conservative Presbyterian arguments for infant baptism, but, as with the judges and the Constitution, at least they feel obliged to pay their respects to the original authoritative document.)

Ronald Reagan, RIP


President Ronald Reagan, the man of faith who led this country out of malaise and into prosperity and secured victory in the Cold War, passed away a couple of hours ago at his home in California, surrounded by his family.

Tributes are pouring in all over the web. Visit National Review's The Corner, Kevin McCullough's blog, the Town Hall C-Log, and the Heritage Foundation's tribute site for remembrances. I'll have more later.

Below is the first entry from my wife, Mikki, an open letter about the upcoming International Route 66 Festival. She's been able to post to this blog since we started it, but today's the first time she felt compelled to write something, specifically about her frustration with the website for the festival. We want to support the festival with our attendance, we want to be a part of this big event, and we want to use the opportunity for our kids to learn about the highway and its significance to American history. But trying to find out what's happening when, what our options are for any given day or hour, has been frustrating.

Note what she says about awareness of the festival -- none of the friends she mentioned it to knew it was happening.

Back a few months ago, an organization I belong to sought out a representative from the festival to come and talk to us about it and about opportunities to participate and volunteer. I'm told it was a challenge just to get phone calls returned. The lady who came to speak to us had a presentation about the history of the road, but the festival details were sketchy, and she didn't know anything about volunteer opportunities, nor was she prepared to take the names of potential volunteers.

I hope this thing is a success, for the sake of Tulsa's reputation. If it flops for lack of local participation, I expect that Tulsans will be scolded for not supporting the festival, but it seems to me that the blame will belong to the festival's organizers for failing to get the message out.

Dear Route 66 Festival webmaster,

Please put a calendar on the festival website that makes it possible to click on each day, and choose which events I might want to attend.

That would make the festival and your website simple - and user friendly. Our family could actually choose something to try almost every day of the event - and even the hidden events that are early - like the Chautauqua events. Visitors to Tulsa could make the most of their stay here.

ExpoSquare has been able to do a calendar listing of events for years! People can look at the day; see an event, and click for details and a location. It can be found on the top of the home page by clicking on "Events Calendar". The calendar is in simple text. No time would need to be wasted with pretty pictures. All it needs is links to events, on the days they happen. If the morning events were listed first, that would be icing on the cake.

This website had been really frustrating me for over a week. Any church or organization can put a calendar page with a listing of events on each day - except for this one. Your website seems to require someone with a master planner or calendar to sit and write each possible event down on our own calendar - and then choose.

Examples of frustrations – Kid’s Korner - 10 events are listed - WITHOUT ANY TIMES OR PLACES!!! - just pretty music as if to say - HA HA - YOU CAN'T FIND IT. If there are links there, they aren't coming up today.

I sincerely hope that someone who cares about attendance and our reputation can come up with a prominent item on the home page with a day by day event guide - SOON!! Once again, I am embarrassed to be a TULSAN.

Of course, Tulsans may not notice. I mentioned the event to 6 people around town and on the phone yesterday. The only one who had heard about the Route 66 Festival had plans to be out of town before they knew of the event. The others were slightly interested, and totally uninformed. I mentioned the website - but I may not any more.

It is an AWFUL website for planning participation. I really want to know who planned this website. That way I can be sure NOT to recommend their services. I just can't imagine missing a master calendar for a supposedly international event.

PLEASE ADD A CALENDAR!!! And if you think this is hard, imagine us trying to figure out which days and events our family will attend. A jigsaw puzzle is much more enjoyable then deciphering your online events guide.

Mikki Bates

City politics


There's a bunch of local stuff, like annexation, that I need to write about, and that you will want to know about, and I will, but I'm out of energy for now. See you tomorrow.

Swinging the states


Politics! Maps!! A new web toy from the folks at Opinion Journal gives you a clickable map to develop your own electoral college scenarios of the upcoming election. A click on a state rotates it from the Republican to the Democrat to the undecided column. (Alas, they insist on coloring Republican states red and Democrat states blue, following USA Today's 2000 county map, despite the fact that red, as the color of the socialist parties throughout the western world, properly belongs to the Democrats.) A shift-click on a state shows you the percentage outcomes for the last six presidential elections. You can use any of the last six elections as your starting point, or use their default, putting high-margin-of-victory states in one column or the other, and leaving the rest for you to sort out.

For more insight, you might want to read Slate's series on the swing states, which just began with a look at bellwether Missouri. See also Best of the Web Today from Thursday with a roundup of recent polls and Friday's edition, with the latest bookmakers' odds.

Larry Sabato has an interesting analysis, based on 2000 results plus trends apparent from mid-term elections.

There's a realistic scenario that could leave us deadlocked. (Click the image below to see the map.) If Kerry wins everything north of the Mason Dixon line, plus West Virginia, the upper Midwest (Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois), the west coast and Hawaii, plus New Mexico and Bush wins everything else, it's a 269-269 tie.

If there's a tie and we have no faithless electors, it goes to the House of Representatives as a state-by-state vote. If the current House makeup holds, Bush gets the votes of 29 states: AL, AK, AZ, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, UT, WY.

Four states are even-steven: MN, MS, TX, WI. Texas could go either way, as the new redistricting created several incumbent vs. incumbent battles. And several states have a one-congressman difference that could swing the other way. Note that several states are unlikely wins for Bush at the top of the ticket, but are heavily Republican in the Congressional delegation.

(My state-by-state evaluation of the partisan balance of each House delegation was done in a hurry, with info from Politics1 which features lists of likely candidates for each federal and state race, links to newspapers in each state, and images of buttons from campaigns past. (Oklahoma's entry has a picture of the Bud Wilkinson for Senate button. An article in Oklahoma Monthly suggested that if Bud hadn't run down the Rural Electric Administration during his campaign, he would have won that Senate race and would have been positioned to be Nixon's VP and ultimately President.)

What's up with Chalabi?


You may have been puzzled as I was about the raid on the home of Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, on friendly terms with the US, and once seen as a prime candidate to lead the new Iraq. Chalabi has been accused of involvement with Iranian intelligence, and his apparent fall from grace is being applauded loudly by anti-war voices on both the left and the right. These same voices are claiming that the Bush administration and the "neocons" in the Defense Department (that's code -- what they seem to mean but won't say out loud is "the Jews who are subverting American interests for Israel's interests") were duped by Chalabi, who used bad intelligence to persuade America to go to war with Saddam, to the ultimate benefit of the regime in Iran.

On closer examination, these events in Iraq, and the corresponding debates among American talking heads, appear to be mere proxies for power struggles back in Washington. William Safire wrote last week:

The three factions controlling Iraq - long suspicious of one another - are now on the brink of open tribal warfare. Not Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds - I mean the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA.

Reporter Joel Mowbray, who has kept a close eye on the State Department's game of footsie with uncooperative Arab regimes, writes that the State Department's careerists opposed the war and want to see the President fall from power -- discrediting Chalabi helps the overall goal of discrediting the war. Meanwhile, the CIA was embarassed by Chalabi a few years back.

Chalabi, you see, has been hated by State and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for different reasons, for years.

State’s diplomats have long resented the Iraqi’s promotion of a war against Saddam that none of them wanted. And Chalabi’s push for a strong, secular democracy in the heart of the Arab world would threaten the most cherished of all State Department objectives: stability.

Although the CIA largely shares State’s worldview, its contempt for Chalabi is personal. In the mid-1990’s, the CIA organized a ham-handed coup attempt against Saddam. Chalabi warned them it wouldn’t work. He was right—and said so publicly. The CIA fumed. Bad blood has existed ever since.

In striking Chalabi, State and CIA are not simply attacking him, but his allies inside the administration, the decision to go to war in the first place, and most significantly, President Bush himself.

And that’s not unintentional.

Mowbray goes on to illustrate how career bureaucrats at State are working to undermine the President's foreign policy objectives:

David Gelernter writes in Opinion Journal about the fulsome praise being heaped by the leftist media on World War II veterans. He says the vets deserve better than the repetition of a trite phrase: "If we cared about that war, the men who won it and the ideas it suggests, we would teach our children (at least) four topics." The four topics are "the major battles of the war, ... the bestiality of the Japanese, ... the attitude of American intellectuals, ... [and] the veterans' neglected voice." Names like Corregidor and Anzio should mean something to our children. The stories of those who fought should be as readily available as the memoirs of those who reported on the war. Regarding the intellectuals Gelernter writes:

Before Pearl Harbor but long after the character of Hitlerism was clear--after the Nuremberg laws, the Kristallnacht pogrom, the establishment of Dachau and the Gestapo--American intellectuals tended to be dead against the U.S. joining Britain's war on Hitler.

Today's students learn (sometimes) about right-wing isolationists like Charles Lindbergh and the America Firsters. They are less likely to read documents like this, which appeared in Partisan Review (the U.S. intelligentsia's No. 1 favorite mag) in fall 1939, signed by John Dewey, William Carlos Williams, Meyer Schapiro and many more of the era's leading lights. "The last war showed only too clearly that we can have no faith in imperialist crusades to bring freedom to any people. Our entry into the war, under the slogan of 'Stop Hitler!' would actually result in the immediate introduction of totalitarianism over here. . . . The American masses can best help [the German people] by fighting at home to keep their own liberties." The intelligentsia acted on its convictions. "By one means or another," Diana Trilling later wrote of this period, "most of the intellectuals of our acquaintance evaded the draft."

Why rake up these Profiles in Disgrace? Because in the Iraq War era they have a painfully familiar ring.

Dewey, of course, is the father of modern American public education.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing has answered the call by telling the story of the Battle of Midway and the brave men of Torpedo Squadron 8, all but one of whom flew to their deaths that day.

First performance of the Oklahoma Boast and Roast was tonight. The highlight of the evening was Jacques Chirac singing, "I'm proud to be a Frenchman." (OK, it was actually journalist Pat McGuigan.) I won't give away the lyrics here, but it must be seen. There's just something about verbally abusing the French. And Glenpool City Councilor Zik Jackson did a great job as Bill Clinton at the Pearly Gates.

Second performance is Saturday night, in the Assembly Hall of the Tulsa Convention Center, 7 p.m. $15 -- profits go to help the Tulsa County GOP and the Blue Star Mothers. Come early -- a number of local and statewide candidates will have information tables for your perusal.

Tulsa Gas Prices online


Blog Oklahoma links a site called TulsaGasPrices.com, which features reports of the lowest gas prices in the metro area. Curt's Oil and Flying J are the best today at $1.769 / gallon. (And Flying J offers WiFi for as little as $1.95/hour!)

Apropos of ASL, our three-year-old is interested in the notion of different languages and is aware of two -- Spanish and sign language, which she calls English. Any spoken language that isn't what we speak around the house she considers Spanish. We have a few bilingual and foreign-language children's books around the house. I don't speak Spanish, but I pronounce it well, and it's fun to read a Dr. Suess book as if I'm the announcer on Univision. Katherine does not appreciate it when I read in another language and she scolds me.

But sometimes she likes to show off the bit of Spanish she knows, like she did on Mother's Day, for the Peruvian lady who joined us for lunch at my Mom's house, telling her the Spanish names for the colors of her crayons.

And sometimes she will tell us what some word is in Spanish -- which is often a random selection of sounds, including a flipped 'r' and ending in a vowel -- followed by the word in "English" -- which is some sort of hand signal, sometimes accompanied by a cluster of foreign-sounding syllables.

Signing abortion

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After Abortion links to this visual dictionary of American Sign Language, which uses little QuickTime films to illustrate words. Near the top of the index are the words "abort" and "abortion". The signs are described respectively as "One hand grabs something from the other hand and throws it away," and "The hand takes a hold of something and then throws it off to the side." In both signs the hand goes from flat to balled, as if wadding up something to discard it. One commenter describes it as "a clawed ripping away and tossing."

Brian Micklethwait reports on Samizdata that the British free-market think-tank Civitas is nurturing the development of a chain of local and affordable private primary schools, called the New Model Schools.

A look at their curriculum reveals that their approach is similar to that of the classical Christian school movement in the US. They will be drawing on proven techniques for teaching basic skills, using direct instruction rather than the "child-centred discovery approach" favored in state schools. Storytime will draw on the best of Western culture -- "Bible stories, classic myths and legends, and other traditional tales" -- to build cultural literacy, including a basic knowledge of history and geography. Discipline will be grounded in Judeo-Christian ethics:

The New Model School has no problem with the idea that there are immutable moral laws and that, even with well-behaved children, there will always be a need for sensible rules....

The New Model School will be Christian in ethos, and will treat Judaeo-Christian ethics as an authoritative set of principles to be aspired to, rather than simply as one lifestyle choice among others.

During "reception year" -- for six-year-olds apparently -- the children will be in school three hours a day. By the end of the year, they will have learned phonics and high frequency sight words, and will be able to read a complex sentence. They will also be able to add and subtract two-digit numbers.

Their approach to education means you don't need extensive and expensive facilities like a pool or a computer lab or a campus. Local school organizers will be responsible to find an affordable place to hold classes. The aim is to keep the cost per pupil for reception year below £1000 (about $1800) a year.

The only thing I see missing is a hands-on component, something Regent Preparatory School (my son's school) provides through nature studies and art and music classes. This aspect of learning is emphasized in classical Christian schools influenced by the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason.

It is wonderful to see a think-tank going beyond simply making recommendations for government action and instead stimulating and guiding private action to fill a glaring societal need. As these schools are established and prove their worth, they should create pressure for public schools to drop the educational fads they've been embracing. In the meantime, British society needs the kind of educated citizens that these schools should produce if it is to have any capable civic leadership in the future.

When international watchdog groups say our troops are "degrading" or "humiliating" prisoners in Iraq, it's natural to assume they are referring to behavior like that uncovered at Abu Ghraib prison. But is that assumption correct?

Samizdata features an enlightening letter from Gabriel Syme, writing from Basra, Iraq, about Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross, in their function as watchdogs over the treatment of prisoners.

He praises the concept of independent civilian organizations keeping an eye on the military as a brake on social pressures within the military, pressures that unchecked could lead to abuses. These private organizations serve as a backup in the event that the military's internal checks fail. He suggests that this is an example of the robustness of the Anglosphere's institutions. "In this context, one could think of Amnesty International checks as a sort of moral separation of powers."

But he goes on to say that AI and the ICRC have "completely lost perspective" in their reporting on prison abuses, which will ultimately undermine their moral authority and thus their effectiveness in performing their vital role. Syme cites this example:

As an anecdotal example that [I] know of from a man working on the reports AI compile on us: They complained that Iraqis in Umm Qasr (British/US administered detention facility in the South) where being degraded because their food was handed out in plastic bags rather than delivered on some kind of trolley or plate. The Iraqis were not bothered, the food was perfectly good, but this was thought to be "degrading". This is an important point - when one of these reports comes out and accuses anyone of "degrading" or "humiliating" behaviour, etc, it is essential to dig deeper and see exactly what they mean.

Syme goes on to analyze how this loss of perspective has come about. The groups seem to apply skepticism only to statements by military personnel, not to claims from Iraqis, even though there are powerful incentives (including financial) and no penalties for claiming to be a victim of abuse.

Go read it all, and browse through the latest offerings on Samizdata.

Get your kicks on US 62?


US 62 North South sign near Waterboro

Charles of Dustbury lists some of his life's ambitions (them that are printable, or nearly so). One of them is to drive a couple of the diagonal U.S. highways that are still official: US 62 from El Paso, Texas, to Niagara Falls, New York, and US 52 from the Canadian border in North Dakota to Charleston, South Carolina.

Never thought about 52, but US 62 has fascinated me for a long time. It is the only even-numbered U.S highway that stretches from border to border. It isn't coast to coast, but it does begin and end at a water boundary -- the Rio Grande and the Niagara River.

It passes Carlsbad Caverns and near Mammoth Cave. It covers the flat arid lands of the Texas panhandle, the Ozark mountains, and the hills of Ohio. It passes through ten states -- the shortest segment is in Illinois, through the town of Cairo, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

In Oklahoma alone, it passes through diverse terrain -- cotton fields and the Quartz and Wichita Mountains in western Oklahoma, Green Country and the Cookson Hills in eastern Oklahoma. Two state capitals are on 62 -- Oklahoma City and Columbus, Ohio, as are at least two tribal capitals (Tahlequah and Okmulgee). (Anadarko is home to Indian City USA, but is it a tribal capital?)

Memorial Day 2004


As the nation pays special tribute to those who served in World War II, here's an account of the ocean crossing of a troop convoy. My great Uncle Floyd Bates would have been a part of this convey. He was with the 127th Infantry in New Guinea. The convoy left San Francisco on April 22, 1942, headed for Port Adelaide, Australia.

What followed was almost six weeks at sea. One of the ships could only make 9 knots, consequently the convoy could only go that speed. Because of sea sickness, I could not go on deck for about the first week, and the heavy swells stayed with us until at least Hawaii (we never made land).

One day out, we were joined by the cruiser Indianapolis, which would act as escort. Aboard the Scott, the destination was not known (although it was rumored to be Melbourne or Brisbane, Australia).

En route, the troops were miserable. The orders of the day included three meals down promptly followed by three meals back up. The deck had salt water showers and the heads of the ship sloshed with vomit. The crew of the ship also occasionally played pranks on us.

One that stands out occurred on May 6, 1942, when the crew announced that there would be fishing the next day and a sign-up sheet was posted. The next day, on May 8, it was announced that "suckers" were caught and the list was of signees posted. As it turned out, the ship had crossed the International Date Line and there was no "next day" to go fishing.

Uncle Floyd, who received two Purple Hearts, passed away at the end of last year, one of the many WWII vets that didn't live to see the completion of a national memorial honoring their fallen comrades. You can read my account of his funeral here.

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