September 2004 Archives

Reform Alliance Town Hall: Part 2


Last night's town hall meeting for the City Council's Reform Alliance will be continued next Tuesday, at 7:30 pm, at Hicks Park Recreation Center, as Councilor Sam Roop speaks on his vision for the City and answers questions about his decisions. I encourage you to plan to be there and show your support for Councilor Roop, just as you did last night for the other four Reform Alliance councilors.

(UPDATED -- see note at the end of the entry.)

In my earlier entry, I guessed that there were about 2,000 at last night's town hall meeting on the Civic Center Plaza. This morning's Whirled's story claimed the number was 300, but we had at least that many packed into Aaronson Auditorium at 5:45 p.m. when it was decided to move up to the plaza, something that the Whirled's reporter must have observed as she tried to find her way into the room through the crowd at that time. Far more were up on the plaza already, and people kept arriving as the 6 p.m. start time approached. A teacher at the event told KFAQ that she sent out several people to count the crowd, and that they counted just shy of 3,000. I was told that someone with the library estimated 2,500. Obviously, it's in the Whirled's interest to downplay the rally and the strong show of support.

KFAQ has a story about the event on its homepage, headlined "Taking Back Tulsa". There's a slideshow hotlinked from the page. (The link doesn't work in Mozilla -- you can get straight to start of the slideshow here.) There are some great shots of the creative signs people brought to the event.

MORE: Although I take great exception to his characterization of Michael DelGiorno, "Average Joe" has a great summary of the event over in the Tulsa Now forums, and you'll find it here. He's been skeptical and critical of the Reform Alliance, but he clearly gained some insight from attending last night's event.

If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to register (it's free) and participate in the conversation.

UPDATE 10:00 pm: I am informed that the Whirled's estimate came from a fire marshal and a library official, that they have these estimates on tape, and that the fire marshal's count was taken as Chris Medlock concluded his remarks on the plaza. I am also told that there were only 147 chairs in Aaronson Auditorium, which would mean that fewer than 300 were in the room before we moved up to the plaza.

My point in what I wrote above was not to accuse the Whirled's reporter of deliberately low-balling the attendance, which I don't believe she would do -- although I could believe that higher-ups at the Whirled might -- but to say that with the crowd already present in Aaronson when she arrived about 5:45, a final, maximum crowd estimate of 300 doesn't pass the common-sense test. I've changed my first paragraph to clarify that. I do find it hard to believe that the number present on the plaza during the heart of the event was almost identical to the number present 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the event. As we moved upstairs, there were people on the plaza who hadn't yet made their way downstairs, and more who arrived before and after things got underway at about 6:10, as it took time for people to find a parking spot and make their way to the plaza.

I misunderstood the source of the estimates of 2,500 and 3,000, which I have second-hand, and I've corrected and clarified the first paragraph above to reflect that. I hope to be able to track the estimates back to the original source.

Whatever the actual number, it was a strong turnout, and it reflected the diversity of Tulsa's citizens.

Poor sports in a plain brown wrapper


Tuesday witnessed the gratuitous intrusion of politics on the Tulsa Whirled's sports pages. Dave Sittler, once a key member of the team that produced the city's best sports section in the late lamented Tulsa Tribune, has now been reduced to inserting irrelevant criticism of local politicians into his column:

STILLWATER -- You're familiar with the "Gang of Five," right?

No, not that city council Clown Band that seems hell bent on stunting Tulsa's growth. The group I'm referring to doesn't pose as serious a threat as those five 20th century-thinking city council members, who apparently would like to turn Vision 2025 into Vision 1925.

The Clown Band plays in the real world, which in this case they've turned into a five-ringed circus of nasty politics. Here in journalism's "Toy Department," we deal with the games that people are supposed to play for fun.

"Clown band"? It's obvious that Sittler hasn't done any original thinking here. He's just parroting phrases he's heard from Ken Neal and the rest of the inhabitants of the rubber room that houses the Whirled's editorial board.

I figure someone on the top floor thought, "We have some readers who only read the sports section. We need to make sure we properly indoctrinate them as well. Have Sittler insert some irrelevant slams at the Council majority. Better yet, send Sittler home and have a copy editor cut and paste a few grafs from an old Ken Neal editorial."

Or does this opening reflect Sittler's own view of the conventional wisdom? Ordinarily, you don't want to alienate half of your readers before you even get to your topic. Would Sittler open a column with some crack about Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard? Or some snide reference to Kerry's Purple Heart Band-Aids? Political humor usually finds its way to the sports page or the comics page once a characterization has become generally accepted as accurate. If Sittler believes that all of his readers have contempt for the Council's bipartisan Reform Alliance majority, he needs to get out more.

Forget the fact that it repeats inaccurate charges that apply more to the Councilors' critics than it does to them: How rude of the Whirled to inflict their political opinions on people who just want to relax and read about college football.

As Councilor Chris Medlock quipped on KFAQ Tuesday morning: "Penalty on the offense. Unneccessary roughness. Piling on. 15 yards and loss of subscription."

Elsewhere in the sports section, we see evidence that the Whirled is becoming more desperate for ad revenue, resulting in another unwelcome intrusion on the sanctity of the sports section. An alert reader pointed me to Tuesday's scoreboard page -- click here then scroll down to the lower right.

Here's the text of the ad starts off this way:

Tulsans take a stand


(NOTE: If you can't see the pictures, it's because your firewall or Internet security program doesn't permit "referrer" messages to be sent to the web server for this site. I have "bandwidth protection" enabled, which prevents another website from directly incorporating images from my site, and unavoidably a browser request without a referrer is handled as if it were an attempt at bandwidth theft.)

It was a magnificent sight. By 5:45 Aaronson Auditorium was packed to capacity -- easily 300 people in there, and more already gathered on the Civic Center Plaza, where KFAQ had their van parked. Michael DelGiorno was doing a live "emergency broadcast", preempting Laura Ingraham's syndicated show and setting the stage for the town hall meeting hosted by four members of the City Council's bipartisan Reform Alliance majority. At about 5:50, Councilor Chris Medlock addressed those gathered in the auditorium, and asked for a show of hands -- stay put or move outside to allow more people to hear. By a two-to-one margin they voted to move up to the plaza.

In the middle, you can see Councilor Roscoe Turner speaking. He was the first of the group to address the crowd, followed by Jim Mautino, then Jack Henderson, with Chris Medlock batting cleanup. As you look at that picture, keep in mind there are hundreds more off the right edge, going west into the plaza at least as far as the library entrance, more behind me, and more all the way to Denver. I'm guessing we had about 2,000, but that's just an educated guess. Here's another view, from behind the councilors looking west:

I couldn't take notes -- I had my daughter on my shoulders a lot of the time -- but there were many memorable moments. Jack Henderson went down a list of institutions that have come after the reformers, following the same pattern: "We don't have a personal problem with the Chamber of Commerce, but the leadership of the Chamber of Commerce seems to have a personal problem with us. We don't have a personal problem with the Tulsa World, but the leadership of the Tulsa World seems to have a personal problem with us." This group is not out to get anyone, but the fact that they ask questions seems to have a lot of people out to get them. Henderson pointed out that there had been councilors in the past who would ask tough questions. He thanked God that there were now a majority who would ask the tough questions.

Chris Medlock started by responding directly to the charges that have been leveled against them, then moved on to speak about the positive aims the reformers have for our city. Medlock made it clear that he was and is a supporter of Vision 2025; he simply wants to make sure that it's done right. Medlock pointed out that the city is very different than it once was, but we are still operating under plans drawn up in the 1970s. When our zoning code was developed, retail was dominated by Froug's and C. R. Anthony's and OTASCO and TG&Y; today, it's Home Depot and Lowe's and Wal-Mart. We can and must work together, without hateful rhetoric, to adopt reasonable reforms so that city government will work as it should for our people.

None of this is verbatim, but hopefully there someone will make audio available online before long.

I was impressed that the councilors stayed positive as much as they could, while defending their record. There were no verbal attacks on those who had been attacking them. There was no demagoguery. Medlock rebuffed a suggestion that DelGiorno made about marching on the VIP reception for the arena unveiling.

I'm fading fast here. It was a great event, and the Councilors, their families and supporters, the citizens who came out, and KFAQ radio should all be proud of the part they played in making this important event successful.

Conservative Karol has a conversation with the liberal Dawn Summers about Kerry's strategy for the rest of the campaign. The punch line is precious, and I would spoil it if I post even an excerpt here, so just go read it for yourself.

Our common forefather?


Captain Ed links to an interesting article from the Daily Telegraph -- all 6 billion of us may be descended from one man who lived only 3500 years ago.

Using a computer model, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology attempted to trace back the most recent common ancestor using estimated patterns of migration throughout history.

They calculated that the ancestor's location in eastern Asia allowed his or her descendants to spread to Europe, Asia, remote Pacific Islands and the Americas. Going back a few thousand years more, the researchers found a time when a large fraction of people in the world were the common ancestors of everybody alive today - while the rest were ancestors of no one alive. That date was 5,353BC, the team reports in Nature.

The researchers, led by Dr Steve Olson, stressed that the date was an estimate.

"Nevertheless, our results suggest that the most recent common ancestor for the world's current population lived in the relatively recent past - perhaps within the last few thousand years," he said.

He added: "No matter the languages we speak or the colour of our skin, we share ancestors who planted rice on the banks of the Yangtze, who domesticated horses on the steppes of the Ukraine, who hunted giant sloths in the forest of north and south America and who laboured to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu."

Now the phrase "most recent common ancestor" doesn't imply that he was the proverbial last man on earth. It just means that like every other person on earth, I have this guy as one of my many, many great100grandpas.

One generation before you, you have two ancestors, mom and dad. Two generations, it's 22, four grandparents. At 100 generations, if there were no overlap, if every one of your ancestors married someone without a common ancestor, you would have 2100 = 1267650600228229401496703205376 ancestors -- that's 1.2 nonillion. Since the world's population has never been higher than it is right now, there has to have been overlap -- cousins marrying cousins, even if very distant ones.

Arena unveiled behind a veil


Cesar Pelli's design concept for the new downtown sports arena was unveiled to the Downtown Rotary Club at noon. Seems funny to me that the unveiling of this publicly-funded project would take place at a meeting of a private club, but that seems to be the way this town operates.

Bob Poe: A gift for making enemies


A reader reminded me today that Bob Poe's wild rants against the City Council's Reform Alliance majority are nothing new. It's just the way he does business. His approach to conflict resolution seems to be, "If you don't agree with me, you're evil and must be destroyed."

At the beginning of his term as Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman, Poe, a lifelong Democrat, attacked Republican state legislators who had taken a pledge not to raise taxes. His tirade puzzled and offended conservative Republican legislators, who are focused on helping Oklahoma businesses prosper. These legislators expected to be working shoulder to shoulder with the leadership of Tulsa's Chamber of Commerce on crucial economic development issues like lawsuit reform and workers' compensation reform. Instead they find themselves dealing with an organization whose leadership is obsessed with raising taxes and boosting gambling as the solution to Oklahoma's problems.

Of course, Ken Neal and the Tulsa Whirled just love Bob Poe's tax hikes, and they love it when Republicans bail on their principles and support feeding more of your tax dollars to a bloated state government:

Poe called on Republicans to avoid signing "pledges" to oppose any tax increase whatsoever. ...

Poe said lawmakers ought to vote for taxes “now,” and promised he would support any Republican or Democrat criticized for a tax vote or any other
measure the Legislature might pass to help Oklahoma through a rough economic
time. ...

Did Poe’s public scolding of legislators help? Maybe.

Will the other major chambers in the state follow his lead?

Will they back him and pressure lawmakers to put aside partisan gain
(for once) and work for Oklahoma?

It’s hard to say. It’s seldom happened in Oklahoma history.

But Poe has certainly given them their marching orders.

Did you catch that? Poe gave the legislators a "public scolding" and gave them their "marching orders." Not private discussions, not cool reasoning, but public scolding. Isn't that the way to get off on the right foot with elected officials? Who could blame a Republican legislator for wanting nothing more to do with the Metro Tulsa Chamber as long as Poe is chairman? Hopefully, for the sake of all the Chamber's members, the next chairman will be able to mend some fences and build a cooperative working agreement with legislators and city councilors. Or perhaps the membership should take action now and rid themselves of a leader who is bringing their organization into disrepute.

(Side note: Ken Neal misidentifies Poe, a lifelong Democrat, as a "solid Republican." Who needs factchecking when the facts are inconvenient?)

There's been a lot of talk about how public "bickering" and harsh words are making the city look bad and frightening away potential employers. But all the harsh words and divisiveness seem to be coming from Bob Poe, the Tulsa Whirled, and other Cockroach Caucus stalwarts like Council Chairman Randy "You're Toast" Sullivan. Meanwhile, the Reform Alliance councilors ask questions, pursue their oversight duties, and work for fairness and oversight with a calm demeanor, and they're accused of "badgering" and "trickery."

Wouldn't the city be better served by Chamber leadership that respected the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box? The people of Tulsa said we no longer want a rubber-stamp City Council. The Chamber leadership and members of the good-old-boy network had the option of reconciling themselves to this change and working in cooperation with the new Council. Instead they are pursuing a scorched-earth policy, and they don't seem to care how badly it reflects on their city.

Wictory Wednesday: Alaska


BatesLine is now a part of the Wictory Wednesday effort, a weekly spotlight on a Republican candidate in a key Senate race, hosted by dozens of blogs.

The spotlight race this week is in Alaska, where incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Republican nominee, is up against Democrat Governor Tony Knowles. This race is currently rated by most observers as a toss-up. Here's what PoliPundit has to say about the race. The scenario will sound very familiar to Oklahomans:

In Alaska, incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski is locked in a tight race with former Democrat Governor Tony Knowles. The race is tight only because Knowles claims to be a “moderate.” You know what that means, don’t you? If he gets to the Senate, he’ll raise your taxes, cut defense spending, block President Bush’s judicial nominations, hug Michael Moore, and run for re-election every 6 years as a “moderate.”

Don’t let this happen! We don’t need one more “moderate” Democrat in the US Senate for the next 30 years. You can help Murkowski by donating to her campaign today.

After the jump is the list of blogs participating in Wictory Wednesdays. If you're a blogger and would like to join in, e-mail PoliPundit (a prolific political blogger) at

More Poe


Here's another tidbit making the rounds. Although I don't have dates of service, I am told that Bob Poe, chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, used to be the chairman of the Oklahoma Transportation Authority (OTA), formerly the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. This is fascinating, because Poe's firm has been a contractor to the OTA for over 10 years, serving as consulting engineer. Poe and Associates served as chief engineer on the Creek East Turnpike. It seems strange that someone could be both a board member of the OTA and the head of a company with large contracts with the OTA.

A similar situation existed with former OTA board member Bob Parmele, who is co-owner of Cinnabar, a company that, among other things, specializes in right-of-way land acquisition for roads and turnpikes. Parmele's Cinnabar has also done acquisition for Tulsa County projects, while Parmele has been a long time member of the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority (the fair board).

Makes you shake your head.

Time to take a stand


Tonight (Wednesday the 29th) at 6 pm, four of the five members of the Tulsa City Council's bipartisan Reform Alliance majority will give their perspective on the state of the city. The Mayor's "state of the city" address was delivered at a fundraising luncheon for the Tulsa Metro Chamber. The Reform Alliance's remarks will be in a public place -- Aaronson Auditorium on the first floor of the Central Library, 5th & Denver downtown -- to the general public, with free admission.

Councilors Jack Henderson, Chris Medlock, Roscoe Turner, and Jim Mautino will be speaking. Sam Roop, the fifth member of the alliance, has a conflict with a college course he's taking, so he'll be speaking at a town hall meeting the next night. Roop's absence will also help alleviate any possible issues with accidentally having a quorum present in violation of the Open Meetings Act.

It is important that everyone who supports their efforts on our behalf show up tonight and show that support publicly. As Michael DelGiorno said this morning, it's no longer a time just for praying and forwarding e-mails, it's time to show up and stand up. You might even want to bring a small sign -- emphasize the positive, why you support what these councilors are doing.

These five councilors have been under a sustained and coordinated attack. Why? Simply for doing their job -- asking questions, exercising oversight over city departments and boards and commissions. Like a dentist discovering a rotten tooth, the Council's gentle probing has produced screams of pain as it finds pockets of decay.

And yes, the Whirled's spinning notwithstanding, the probing has been gentle. Watch the Council meetings and committee meetings on TGOV channel 24. (This week's schedule is here.) The Reformers ask their questions and raise their concerns politely and with a calm demeanor. When questions are dodged, the Reformers press for answers firmly, but without losing their cool. They have demonstrated grace under intense pressure, and I think all of them would credit God's grace for sustaining them through all of the attacks.

Last week's debate over the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority's (TMUA) $18.5 million revenue bond issue is a great example. (You can catch this one last time Thursday morning on channel 24 -- the rebroadcast begins at 8 am, and the bond issue discussion starts about an hour or so into the meeting.) The Reformers asked questions of Paul Zachary from the Public Works department, Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray, Tulsa Deputy Mayor Steve Sewell, and the head of Owasso's economic development agency.

In the course of the questions, Chris Medlock and the other Reformers made it clear that they do not want to cut off water to the suburbs, and they are willing to sell more water to the suburbs, but they want to ensure that it is at a rate that is fair to Tulsa. At the Mayor's request, the Council voted to delay considering the TMUA bond issue for at least two weeks. Some councilors wanted to proceed with approval for the non-controversial items and defer consideration of the suburban water lines only. After receiving assurances from Paul Zachary that the two week delay would not jeopardize critical projects such as dam repair to Lake Spavinaw and Lake Eucha, the Council voted 6 to 3 to continue the issue to a future meeting. The Reform Alliance split on the issue, with Medlock and Roop agreeing to delay the issue, Henderson, Turner, and Mautino not wanting to delay the projects that have unanimous support, demonstrating that these men are truly exercising independent judgment, not marching in lockstep.

Called on account of volcanic ash


Scott Sala has been hearing that Mount Saint Helens in Washington State may erupt again, and remembers what it was like after the 1980 eruption in his hometown of Spokane, Washington:

Later, at home, I standing outside watching it rain ash. For hours and hours that ash came down. Dad was careful enough to give us those little white dust masks when we went outside - usually to shovel the driveway in some bizarre summer recast of winter's most horrid routine.

The disaster was almost cool to live through, not really being that dangerous, and breaking up the monotony of daily routine. TV became fun to watch, conversation was exciting and dirt was suddenly valuable. We bottled up that ash and still have it packed away somewhere.

Back then, I used to read the minor league baseball standings and scores religiously, and I remember the scoreboard entry the next day for the Pacific Coast League game that was to have been played at Spokane: "ppd. volcanic ash".

Who is Bob Poe?


Robert C. Poe is the current Chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, who has gained attention recently for his denunciation of the Reform Alliance majority on the Tulsa City Council. He is the owner of Community National Bank and Trust Company, Poe & Associates (a civil engineering firm), Penterra Co., and Pittman Poe and Associates, Inc.

Poe is a lifelong registered Democrat and an outspoken advocate of higher taxes, such as a gas tax increase (to build roads that would create work for his engineering firm), as well as the proposed tobacco tax that would eliminate city sales taxes on cigarettes, hurting the City of Tulsa and other local governments. That's probably why the Whirled editorial board praises him for his tireless efforts lobbying the Legislature.

Randy Sullivan: "You're toast"


At about 9:30 Sunday evening, Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock was relaxing, watching a movie and eating ice cream with his family when he got a call from Council Chairman Randy Sullivan.

We've written about Randy Sullivan before. He is not related at all to Congressman John Sullivan or to Dan Sullivan, who is running for election in State House District 71. Randy Sullivan is serving his second term as City Councilor for District 7. He was elected chairman this year over significant objections, and despite the fact that his side, the Cockroach Caucus, was defeated in the city elections. He made threats that ended a private school's efforts to buy the old Children's Medical Center for their new campus. He was F&M Bank's point man on the 71st & Harvard rezoning and tried to prevent homeowners from getting a fair hearing in that case.

So in his phone call to Chris Medlock Sunday night, Randy Sullivan had a simple message for Medlock, which managed to be understood, despite his slurred speech: "You're toast." The recall effort is going forward and Medlock and Mautino are the targets. Randy Sullivan said he had been asked by the Tulsa County Republican Party chairman to join other Republican city officials in signing a statement pledging cooperation and renouncing all efforts to recall city officials. He refused. He would only sign such a statement if Medlock would agree to four concessions. Medlock stopped him at that point. (Through another source, Medlock learned of the concessions -- approval of the Owasso and Sperry water lines and approval of the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the TMUA.)

Randy Sullivan had already publicly expressed his contempt for the Reform Alliance majority on the Council, in response to a question at last Thursday's Tulsa Press Club luncheon, at which Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe spoke. Sullivan expressed his agreement with Poe's attacks on the reformers.

Back in May, Randy Sullivan incorporated Lake Sunset LLC, which is a real estate development company. You don't suppose he stands to benefit financially from new water lines into north Tulsa County?

Wouldn't it be nice if someone else were head of the legislative branch of our city government?

Recall phone survey: whodunit?


I have received confirmation from multiple reliable sources about the source of the funding for last weekend's automated phone survey targeting the five Tulsa City Councilors who comprise the bipartisan Reform Alliance majority. The clear intent of the calls was to identify voters who would be willing to sign a recall petition to bring down one or more of the reformers. The ultimate goal appears to break the Reform Alliance majority, and replace it with a majority which will preserve the special deals and special privileges that have dominated Tulsa city government over the past two decades.

I have been told that the phone calls were funded by the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa (HBA). They've decided to target Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, and the only thing that would get them to stop is if the Council confirms the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA) board and approves funding for a new water line to Owasso and a feeder water line to Sperry. The message has been passed on to the councilors in question. (I am told that Council Chairman Randy Sullivan is the message boy.) Needless to say Councilors Medlock and Mautino and the rest of the Reform Alliance have too much character and courage to go along with what amounts to extortion.

What we appear to be seeing is an attempt to overturn the City of Tulsa's election results because the City Council majority is looking out for the interests of Tulsa. Whoever is ultimately behind this wants to continue to control Tulsa's water supply to their own financial benefit. In all likelihood, they've been joined by those who want to derail the investigation of the airport in order to protect their business interests. It appears to be a coup d'état funded and led by people who believe that the City of Tulsa should be their own cash cow.

Why would the Home Builders Association be involved in this effort, especially when the two councilors in question have been strongly supportive of extending infrastructure and encouraging new development in east and west Tulsa?

Find the forger


A reader calls my attention to William Safire's latest New York Times column, in which Safire points out that the forged Texas Air National Guard documents which were used by Dan Rather as the basis for a "60 Minutes II" story aren't just a dirty trick, they constitute a felony violation of Federal law, namely:

Whoever, having devised any scheme or artifice to defraud transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. " U.S. Criminal Code, Chapter 63, Section 1343.

Pointing us back to the "third-rate burglary" at the Watergate back in 1972, Safire says that we must not be satisfied with the political fallout -- like the Watergate burglary, this appears to be a violation of the law in an attempt to influence the outcome of a presidential election:

What should CBS do now? First, release Rather's interview with Burkett in its entirety; viewers are entitled to the outtakes now. Next, let Mary Mapes, at the center of all this, speak to reporters. Third, expend some Viacom resources to track down the possible original sources, including the man whose name Burkett says he "threw out" to mislead CBS.

Appointing independent reviewers should not be a device to duck all others' questions; that's Kofi Annan's trick to stonewall his oil-for-food scandal. But lacking the power of a grand jury's subpoena or testimony under oath, victimized CBS cannot put real heat on the perpetrator or conspirators. We have hard evidence of crimes by low-level operatives here - from wire fraud to forgery - as well as the potential of high-level political involvement. Is no prosecutor prepared to enforce the law?

Conservatives should stop slavering over Dan Rather's scalp, and liberals should stop pretending that noble ends justify fake-evidence means. Both should focus on the lesson of the early 70's: from third-rate burglaries to fourth-rate forgeries, nobody gets away with trying to corrupt American elections.

Who would investigate and prosecute such a crime? As a violation of federal law, it would come under the Department of Justice, through the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U. S. Attorney's office. Charges would probably be brought in Texas, whence the forged documents were faxed. Congress couldn't do anything directly in this case, although they could bring some political pressure to bear on the Department of Justice to pursue the matter. A note to your congressman would be a way to ensure that the matter isn't ignored.

What's the difference?


An interesting point from Roger L. Simon:

What Do the UN and CBS Have in Common?

They are both conducting internal investigations - the UN of Oil-for-Food and CBS of Rathergate.

Second question: What's the difference between an "internal investigation" and a "cover up"?

Sorry, folks, I'm a bit burned out on politics. I have a couple of entries started about the Tulsa City Council, and I will finish them over the weekend, I promise. In the meantime, I've got other things on my mind, some of which you see below.

Taking the sin out of singleness


Funny, poignant -- For the Day of Atonement, Esther Kustanowitz presents a somewhat tongue-in-cheek litany of repentance for the single and dating. The first line of each three-sentence stanza is to be read by the men, the second by the women, and the third by both together. Some sample stanzas:

We have rejected you for being too fat or too plain. We have rejected you for being too short or too bald. We have judged you according to external appearances and drawn assumptions from the superficial.

We have told you that you were "like a sister" to us. We have told you that you were "a really great guy." We have lacked the fortitude to transition friendship into romance, and consigned you to the torment of "The Friend Zone."

We have eschewed dating in favor of hot wings and professional sports. We have eschewed dating in favor of Cosmos and "Sex and the City." We have escaped into comfort zones of food, alcohol and television to avoid potential heartbreak.

We have bantered too freely, creating a perceived depth to dialogue that was meant only at face value. We have flirted without follow-up, using subtle encouragement to convey enigmatic interest. We have left you in confusion, pondering the true intentions of our fearful hearts.

We have proposed second dates we had no intention of confirming. We have accepted second dates we had no intention of attending. We have chosen a slow fadeout over honesty, denying you the dignity of a truthful closure.

I remember some of that (especially "the torment of the Friend Zone"). Nice to have all that far back in the rear-view mirror.

You can find Esther's blog, My Urban Kvetch, here.

Updated links 2009/06/02

From an episode of "Round the Horne", the classic British comedy radio sketch show from the late '60s

As I got up to leave, he offered me a limp hand.

"Have a limp hand."

"No thanks, I've already got two."

For Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) Dawn Eden features an article written by her mom Rachel in reply to one of Dawn's readers. Like Dawn, Rachel and her husband Ron are Jews who follow Jesus. (You can find links to their accounts of their spiritual journeys on the left-hand side of Dawn's blog.)

Rachel's article deals with replacement theology, the notion that there is no longer any place in God's economy for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Rachel cites numerous passages of scripture, including the 11th chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans. You really have to stand on your head to read those passages as referring to anything other than the natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (And I have seen this done, metaphorically speaking.)

This paragraph particularly impressed me:

I LOVE being Jewish. I grew up with a meaningful, joyous and restful Sabbath. Our family spread a white tablecloth on the table, dined on traditional foods, sang Grace and hymns together. We celebrated all of the Festivals of the Bible; Passover, the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot a.k.a. “Pentecost”), and Sukkot (Tabernacles). We built a booth, a Sukkah, and ate in it for eight days. We learned Hebrew from the age of five. When I became a believer, I became a Biblical Hebrew teacher. I love that I can unravel some of the wonderful secrets of the Hebrew Bible because I understand how many of the words are related to each other. And I love sharing these secrets with other believers. My family still celebrates all of the Festivals or Leviticus 23, and we are amazed at the Lord’s fulfillment of each. Most people think that Communion is just about wine and bread memorializing Christ's death on the cross. Yet He Himself is the Paschal (Passover) Lamb, and He told us at that last Seder to "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22, Matthew 26, Mark 14). It makes sense, since He made great preparation for that Seder, and that He wants us to do the entire thing in remembrance of Him.

My college fraternity was founded as a Jewish society, later becoming non-sectarian. Our chapter was about a third Jewish, two-thirds Gentile. Although I had had Jewish friends in high school, it was much different, and fascinating, to observe first hand the variety of ways that these young men practiced their faith. The Jewish guys in the fraternity came from a variety of backgrounds -- from laid-back LA agnostics to strictly observant Long Island Orthodox and the whole spectrum of belief and practice in between. Some kept strictly kosher, cooked meals in their own kitchen, and used separate sets of pots and dishes for meat and dairy. At the other extreme, I saw someone eat ham and cheese on matzoh during Passover. But for all that diversity, everyone observed the principal holidays -- Pesach and Yom Kippur.

After graduation, I attended the weddings of a number of my Jewish fraternity brothers. The ceremonies, the traditions, and the blessings made me wish I had as rich a tradition to draw from, and it sparked an interest in Anglican liturgy, but that tradition doesn't have an equivalent to the Jewish emphasis on family worship, which is evident in the paragraph I quoted above.

We did what we could to tap into some sort of tradition, and it seemed reasonable to draw on the Book of Common Prayer as the common cultural heritage of the Anglosphere, whether or not we were Anglican ourselves. Mikki and I used the ceremony from the 1979 Episcopalian BCP for our wedding ("Dearly beloved" and all that), with the traditional vows, and we even made the Bible Church pastor who presided wear his doctoral robes over his suit, since he refused to wear a cassock. (Had I known better then, I probably would have chosen the traditional version from the 1662 BCP.) Writing your own wedding vows just seems wrong to me -- as if the happy couple were inventing marriage on their own terms, rather than following in the footsteps of the billions of couples who had gone before. (Are the origins of today's marriage debate to be found in sappy self-authored '60s ceremonies?)

From time to time, we tried, in our early married years, to use the BCP evening prayer service for our family worship time, but it was hard to stick with it. At least, the attempts have given me a lasting appreciation for liturgy and the benefit of reading prayers written by others, the sort of thing that was mocked as rote, inauthentic, mere formalism in the Baptist church I grew up in.

Evangelical family worship is pretty much "roll your own", and even if you adopt or develop a satisfactory pattern, there's something missing, because it doesn't connect you with the community of faith. In fact, it sets you apart, because it's unlikely that anyone else is using the same pattern as your family. I appreciated what our pastor did for our church this last Advent -- he wrote and distributed a short home liturgy, which our family used each night to light the Advent candles. (Katherine, then three years old, would break in at the same point each night. As I would read the written prayer which began, "O God, as light comes from this candle," she would stop me and say, "No, Dad, you mean, 'As God's light comes to this candle.'") It was nice to have something that was both theologically sound and prescribed, something that connected us to other church families who were following the same liturgy. We continued to use the Advent service, adapted somewhat, through Christmastide, but ran out of gas when we reached Epiphany -- I was sent out of town for two weeks, and we were without a plan for continuing.

While I greatly appreciate the freedom we have in Christ to observe holidays or not, and to decide how to observe them, there are times I wish I could say we're celebrating in this way because our people have been celebrating in this way for centuries.

The music of "The Doomsday Machine"


Of today's Bleat, James Lileks says, "I think this will be the stupidest, most geeked-out thing I’ve ever written."

Lileks reminisces about the record bin at Woolworth's, about the soundtrack album for "When Eagles Dare", about Star Trek (the original series):

When that last episode of Star Trek aired you could almost imagine the Enterprise towing the prospect of additional cool sci-fi off into the inky star-flecked void with it. From here on it was Hee Haw and the Jeffersons. But by 1973 Trek was running in syndication, and I watched them all with slavish devotion. I had to leave halfway through every episode, though; had a paper route.

Naturally, I quit the paper route.

Long time Bleat readers are probably thinking Oh fer chrissakes he’s not going to bring up the fargin’ “Doomsday Machine,” again? Hello! Rigel to Lileks! Enough! It’s just a TV show! Of course. But now I know why it made such an impression then, and why I enjoy it now. A few months ago a reader emailed me re: a bleat concerning music cues in TV; he said the Trek music cues were actually scored to the individual episodes. I thought that was odd – they seemed to recycle the same cues over and over again. They didn’t write scores for individual episodes, did they?

Well, imagine my surprise. There were a few scores written for specific episodes, and their highlights were recycled over and over. On Amazon I found the soundtrack for “The Doomsday Machine,” and of course I snapped it up. It arrived last Wednesday. To my surprise this score, written for the “Doomsday” episode, is the source of half the series' cues. But they're intended to belong together, and that’s one of the reasons the episode works like few others: it has a unique symphonic score. Played start to finish, it holds together.

Lileks favors us with images from the episode and brief excerpts from the episode's soundtrack and commentary like this:

Sol worked hard on this one, and it burrowed its way into the brains of untold Trek lovers. Put it this way: he’s the reason that several dozen million people subconsciously associate a rising melody on a bassoon with Spock’s arched eyebrow.

Although I left Trekkiehood behind years ago (just after freshman year in high school, if I remember correctly), these orchestral cues clear away for a moment all the things we love to ridicule about the original series -- Bill Shatner's scenery-chewing, the cheesy special effects, those expendable redshirts, and all the other cliches -- to let me recall the magical hold Star Trek had on my young imagination.

Why does reading a Whirled editorial invoke the same reaction in me as getting a whiff of dirty diaper? It's an annoying and disgusting task, but it's gotta be dealt with. Especially when, in the course of shooting off their mouths without getting their facts straight, the editorial board accuses the Reform Alliance councilors of shooting off their mouths without getting their facts straight. Yes, the Mayor is in Germany on an eight-day Chamber-funded junket, right after his "State of the City" speech before the Metro Tulsa Chamber, and at a time when the City is reconsidering how best to oversee the way the Metro Tulsa Chamber bureaucracy spends our tax dollars for economic development.

Details and a point-by-point rebuttal after the jump.

Everything under the sun


Even if you aren't Anglican and aren't classically inclined, you will still enjoy the Classical Anglican Net News, a link-heavy news blog that covers the Anglican and Episcopalian world, faith, and culture, but everything else under the sun as well. A headline, a link, and a pithy comment -- more than 100 every two or three days. Some recent samples:

HU'S ON first-- becomes China military chief. Abbot & Costello ensues .... (reuters)

THE LORD'S MUSIC AND THE DEVIL'S WORDS-- Ray Charles, 1930-2004 .... (steynonline)

HE WENT TO PAKISTAN to become a fighter, martyr, but he returned home a Christian .... (

AL QAEDA wants to nuke a U.S. city. There are simple ways to stop it .... (

THE ROOTS of Pentecostal Scandal—Romanticism Gone to Seed .... (CT)

That last article was pretty interesting and I may blog about it, if I get the time to do so.

CANN -- links to hundreds of interesting articles, plus links to Morning and Evening Prayer in accordance with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Doesn't get much better than that.

"They can't poison all of us!"


And you thought Tulsa politics was rough....

Discoshaman of Le Sabot Post-Moderne is back from his blogging hiatus and is covering the election in Ukraine:

The Ukrainian people are facing an incredibly decisive election in a few weeks. Unlike in Russia, they've actually been blessed with a clear choice between an oligarch-supported thug (Yanukovych) and a genuine, if flawed, reformer with a proven record (Yuschenko.) And I really think they're going to elect the thug.

Yanukovych's people have hired criminal gangs to beat Yuschenko supporters. They have attacked pro-Yuschenko journalists and arsoned their offices. They own most of the TV stations, and issue Soviet-style temniki to tell their pet journalists exactly what to report. They've hired Nazi groups to march in support of Yuschenko. It looks now like they organized a fatal bombing in a local market in order to discredit Yuschenko. They have used the organs of government to arrest, harrass and investigate Yuschenko's major supporters. And then there are the "accidents" involving Yuschenko people and Kamaz trucks.

The Ukrainian people by and large know that there is a massive disinformation campaign going on. They know that Yanukovych's oligarch friends are stealing the election. The outrage factor? About two on a ten scale.

He goes on to put forward an explanation for this lack of outrage.

There's more about the campaign here:

We hit the big Yushchenko rally yesterday in European Square. He had been poisoned, and spent last week in a Vienna hospital recovering. His opposition is suspected in the attack. His voice was still weak and his jaw seemed tight as he spoke. It was in Ukrainian, so I didn't perfectly understand, but it was awesome when he called out to the crowd, "But they can't poison all of us!"

Let's keep Ukraine in our prayers.

UPDATE 9/25: More on Ukraine from NRO here.

Carson up by 1%, Bilyeu drops to 2%


The third week results of the Wilson Research Strategies / KWTV poll are online here. Key results:

  • Bush gains 5%, Kerry drops 5% -- now a 64% - 24% race
  • In the Senate race, Sheila Bilyeu drops from 6% to 2%, which probably reflects the fact that she was in the news this week. Undecided drops from 19 to 17. Coburn is up 3% from last week, Carson up 2%. The race is now at 40% for Coburn, 41% for Carson. Margin of error is +/- 4.4%.

A quick glance at the internals shows Carson leading or tied in every congressional district except District 1. More analysis later.

The Reform Alliance majority on the Tulsa City Council is pressing ahead with efforts to reassert the City of Tulsa's oversight of the millions of hotel/motel sales tax dollars that the City gives to the Tulsa Metro Chamber bureaucracy every year. The money is to pay the Chamber bureaucracy to promote economic development, conventions, and tourism.

Please note the phrase "Chamber bureaucracy". I don't have a quarrel with the hundreds of local businesses that join the Chamber in hopes of supporting local business or networking with other businesses. What's controversial is the Chamber's bureaucracy -- the full-time staff who spend the money that comes from chamber dues and government contracts, like the economic development contract with the city.

As happens with many organizations over time, particularly organizations with paid staff, the Chamber bureaucracy has lost sight of its purpose and seems more concerned with preservation of its perks and power than with providing the services it ostensibly exists to perform.

Mayor LaFortune in his "State of the City" attack address last week did his best to blur the distinction between the businesses that pay dues to the Chamber and the Chamber bureaucracy, trying to characterize the desire of the Council's reform majority to oversee the Chamber bureaucracy as an attack on the integrity of the Chamber's membership. He knows better, and he has whispered plenty of comments, directly and through surrogates, to make reform-minded Tulsans think that he didn't trust Chamber bureaucracy and planned to reform its relationship with City government. But now it appears to serve LaFortune's purposes to make the City's business community think that the Reform Alliance is hostile to their interests. (LaFortune is currently in Germany on a Chamber-paid junket.)

The Chamber's economic development bureaucracy is led by Chamber Senior VP Mickey "No Idea" Thompson, who said last fall that he had "no idea" how to attract the kinds of information technology jobs that we lost in the thousands at WorldCom and Williams.

For over 20 years the Chamber bureaucracy has served as a vendor to the City of Tulsa, providing economic development services, at a cost to taxpayers of over $70 million dollars. During that period Tulsa has suffered two major economic downturns -- the oil bust in the mid-'80s and the tech wreck and aerospace downturn of the last three years. During that period, most of the corporate headquarters we once hosted have slowly drifted away. Some have suggested that it's time we fired this economic development vendor and hired someone who can do the job.

It's funny too that city tax money is paying for a regional economic development effort, which may or may not benefit the City of Tulsa's growth and the growth of its sales tax base. It is interesting that the CEO of the Chamber, Jay Clemens doesn't even live in the City of Tulsa -- he lives in Broken Arrow.

While it may be able to handle the nuts and bolts of wooing businesses, the Chamber bureaucracy has demonstrated an inability to think and act strategically. That's why the Council wants to put the Economic Development Commission, a board appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council, in charge of developing an economic development strategy and coordinating and overseeing the various city-funded economic development efforts.

To the Mayor's credit, he did reactivate the EDC, as required by city ordinance. The Council majority wants to make sure it will have the authority to do what needs doing. Too much money has been spent, to too little effect. The Mayor has seemed strangely reluctant to support the Council's efforts, and in his speech he denounced any reappraisal of the City's relationship with the Chamber bureaucracy, as noted above.

There's a concept called SMART goals -- the acronym stands for Sustainable, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible. It's an approach to goal-setting that focuses on concrete results, not pie in the sky. The Chamber bureaucracy seems to have focused on inputs -- what it has attempted, as opposed to what it has achieved in the realm of economic development. (The lack of achievement, we are expected to believe, is entirely due to circumstances beyond its control.) The EDC should set SMART goals for what the Chamber bureaucracy will accomplish with the taxpayer money it receives. If it can't measure up, time to look for someone else to do the job.

One more thing: The City Council should require a full annual audit of all the Chamber's finances. I have worked for companies that are Federal contractors, and the Federal government has the right to look at balance sheets, hourly rates, and timesheets to ensure that the government isn't paying for work the contractor is doing for other customers. Because money is fungible, and there is the potential for redirecting government funds from the intended government project to something else, the government must be able to look at records for the contractor's entire business. The City should apply the same standard to major City vendors like the Chamber bureaucracy.

Brad Carson is a liberal


All documented at The site's mission statement:

This website is dedicated to outlining Brad’s real record in Congress. So while Brad may run as fast and furious as he can to the right, hoping the dust he leaves behind will cover over his liberal past, this website will clear the air so you, the voters, know Brad’s real record, rather than his rhetoric.

Hat tip to former Tulsan Adam Doverspike, who runs the excellent unofficial blog covering Tom Coburn's campaign for Senate and contributes to group political blog

Those mysterious phone calls


More about those Saturday phone calls targeting certain Tulsa city councilors for recall -- here's another report from Council District 6:

"This is a brief survey about Tulsa city government. Do you support the decisions being made my your city councilor Jim Mautino? Press 1 for yes and 2 for no."

Caller ID was blocked.

Also learned that these calls were received in Council District 1, directed at Councilor Jack Henderson, which means that all five members of the Council's Reform Alliance majority are being targeted.

Channel 2 reported on the phone calls tonight on their 5 and 10 PM broadcasts. The story included an interview with Tulsa County Republican Chairman Don Burdick, who denounced the targeting of the three Republican councilors and asked for those responsible to come clean. Democratic officials were unavailable for comment. The story led off the 5 pm news. (Channel 2 archives the last two weeks of news broadcasts, and the September 19th broadcasts should be up in the next day or two, linked from this page.)

Finally this pithy comment from the TulsaNow forums, by someone going by the handle "sendoff":

Whoever is behind this is squirming like a leech with salt poured on it. These attacks are beyond absurdity, and are becoming downright comical.

1st District debate wrap up


A few more notes, scribbled on paper (got tired of writing on my PDA):

On the UN -- Dodd said the US should pay its dues.

Sullivan said that the UN is nothing more than a debating society. The UN passed plenty of resolutions dealing with Saddam Hussein but never enforced them. The US should withhold its dues. Sullivan pointed to the oil-for-food scandal -- money intended for humanitarian relief was skimmed off the top to build palaces for Saddam. Sullivan mentioned seeing a report that someone connected with the UN was burning documents dealing with Saddam's WMD program.

On gun control -- Dodd said he got 100% on the NRA questionnaire. He said we don't need new laws but need to enforce laws on the books, although he went on to ridicule the expiration of the assault weapon ban, which suggests he would favor a new federal law to reinstate the ban.

Closing statements -- Dodd advised voters: "Vote your own interests. Look out for you." (So much for "ask not what your country can do for you.")

This is necessarily sketchy -- hard to listen and compose at the same time, but I thought you'd enjoy seeing the notes as I took them tonight. Overall impressions:

  • The new Jewish Community Center is a beautiful facility.
  • The crowd was rather small -- maybe 150 -- and mostly partisans for one candidate or the other. One observer thought that there were only a handful of audience members who were there as members of the Jewish community, but he expected much more interest in the Senate forum coming up in a few weeks.
  • John Sullivan's debating skills have improved markedly since his first race for Congress. He spoke with confidence and passion. The passion was particularly in evidence in his discussion of American policy towards Israel, which reflects his voting record.
  • Doug Dodd was his usual polished broadcast-professional self, for the most part, although he seemed unusually incoherent and inarticulate at a few points, particularly in discussing the Jewish people and the issue of abortion. On abortion, he at first said the the government shouldn't interfere in the decision, but then he hinted that there was nothing that could be done anyway with Roe v. Wade in effect, so no point in Congress debating it except to pass a constitutional amendment. There was something too about revisiting the definition of viability based on scientific advances.
  • Dodd was more open in his embrace of left-wing ideas -- opposing a ban on partial-birth abortion, opposing the defense of marriage against activist judges, treating Israel's elected government and Palestinian terrorists as morally equivalent (the code phrase for this is "being an honest broker"). His use of the phrase "our so-called coalition partners," referring to our allies in the Iraq war, speaks volumes about his view of foreign policy. I guess Britain and Spain and Poland don't count to Doug Dodd -- only the opinions of France and Germany matter.

In the words of Kris Kristofferson, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Having already lost twice to John Sullivan, and with the national Democratic committees unwilling to put money into his race, Doug Dodd no longer feels compelled to campaign as a centrist, as he did in his first two races. He's letting his colors fly.

More 1st District debate


Raw notes:

This is turning into the Doug Dodd show: Given a chance to ask one question of Congressman Sullivan, Dodd went on to ask two follow-ups without any objection from the moderator. Sullivan handled it well, did a fine job defending Medical Savings Accounts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Dodd on Israel: "part of our book is the book that Judaism uses" - unusually inarticulate. No reference to or condemnation of Palestinian terrorism.

Sullivan points to a record of support in Congress for Israel. The US shouldn't tell Israel what to do in peace negotiations. Until Arafat is dead nothing is going to happen. He's a thug and a terrorist. The Palestinian leaders don't want peace. They were given 95% of what they wanted and rejected it.

Social issues:

Dodd: "I am pro-choice." Would have voted against a ban of partial-birth abortion. "My church tells me" that marriage is between a man and a woman, but that should not affect the state's view of marriage. Opposes marriage amendment, both state and federal.

Sullivan: Prolife - life begins at conception. Supported ban on partial birth abortion. Supports federal marriage amendment.

Dodd accuses Sullivan of not listening and not quoting him accurately. Dodd gives mixed messages on Roe v. Wade - stuck with it - no point in discussing it short of a constitutional amendment, could adjust trimester in light of scientific advances in viability.

Dodd said if there were no charitable deduction, there'd be no incentive for giving.

Sullivan: Every taxpayer deserves tax relief. Tax relief is driving the GDP.

It's the 1st Congressional District debate between incumbent John Sullivan & three-time challenger Democrat Doug Dodd.

In opening statements, Sullivan emphasized his role in obtaining early funding for advanced airport security equipment and for increasing the depth of the McClellan-Kerr Navigation Channel, which connects Tulsa's port to the Mississippi.

Dodd appears to be trying to tag Sullivan with Tulsa's job losses.

First question: What can we learn from Israel about dealing with terrorism? Sullivan answered the question, Dodd used the question to launch into the Israeli-Palestinian situation, stating that in recent years
America hasn't been an "honest broker."

Dodd on Iraq -- It's a mess. Don't have enough international support. Slighting reference to our "so called coalition partners."

Sullivan focused on Saddam's mass graves and use of WMDs on his own people, and the progress made -- schools open, free elections on the way. A free and stable Iraq is good for the Middle East and good for the United States.

Dodd referred to our troops in Iraq as occupiers, not liberators.

More to come....

A moral distinction

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Dennis Schenkel draws an interesting parallel to politicians who support abortion rights while proclaiming themselves "personally opposed" to abortion:

I think some politicians have no idea what kind of nonsense they are speaking when they suggest that they are personally opposed to something that is gravely evil, but that they believe it to be a matter of personal conscience. They even believe their Church backs them up on this, and not without cause, since sometimes the same nonsense can be heard spewing from the lips of a priest.

One way to determine whether a difficult moral position is consistent and permissible is to compare it to another, similar moral problem, one in which there is no question about what is right or wrong, and see what we can learn from the comparison.

Consider the case of the hypothetical, fictional German citizen in the 1930's and 1940's...let's call him Johannes Kerrymeister, to make up a name completely at random. Being a faithful Catholic, Herr Kerrymeister is personally opposed to the wholesale slaughter of innocent Jews and others whom society deems to be non-persons.

I'll let you read the rest of it here.

I think this amazing ability to straddle the fence on profound moral issues is rooted in the post-modern rejection of objective truth in the moral realm -- "it may be true for you, but not for me". John Kerry tries to cloak his moral confusion and moral cowardice under the guise of nuance and sophistication.

Increasingly, the key difference between the Republican Party and the Democrat Party seems to be between those who believe that there exist timeless and universal standards of right and wrong and those who do not. This is not to say that voters, candidates, and activists are perfectly sorted between those parties based on that principle, but that seems to be the trend. Some political analysts have noticed a correlation between voting for Democrats and holding loose attitudes regarding sexual morality. As more and more people with strong religious convictions no longer feel at home in the Democrat Party, those who are hostile to religion and who reject moral absolutes have become dominant in that party.

Even among social liberals, you have a contingent of "9/11 Republicans" -- people who hold secularist views on sexual morality, but who are willing to apply the word evil to Islamofascist terrorism, in contrast to other social liberals who seem to fear that measuring anything, even terrorism, by an absolute moral standard will grant a foothold for absolute moral standards to be applied to sexual mores.

That latter group may have a point. In the 1960s, certain liberals were appalled at the weak-kneed, apologetic response of some of the their fellow liberals to oppressive, imperialistic Soviet Communism. Over time this core group of "neo-conservatives," which had broken with the mainstream of liberalism over foreign policy, began to question liberal orthodoxy on domestic policy. Their movement away from liberalism was accelerated by the left's hysterical response to their "apostasy" from the true liberal faith. Time will tell if today's "9/11 Republicans" become tomorrow's "neo-neo-cons".

Who is Sheila Bilyeu?

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Many political observers were surprised at Shiela Bilyeu's filing for the Oklahoma U. S. Senate being vacated by Sen. Don Nickles. Ms. Bilyeu gave a home address in Virginia, which would seem to make her ineligible to run for the office -- even Hillary Clinton and Alan Keyes bothered to get an address in their new home states before filing for office. But no one challenged her candidacy, so she is on the ballot as an Independent. She has consistently attracted around 5 or 6 percent in the polls, apparently as a placeholder for the "None of the Above" voter.

In the process of writing that previous entry, I came across her name at the top of a list of former candidates for the Green Party nomination for president. Here's what Politics1 has to say about Shiela:

Sheila Bilyeu was one of only two candidates who qualified for the Statehood-Green Party Presidential primary ballot in the District of Columbia. However, it appears she is only running as a "favorite son" candidate. In the DC primary, she lost of David Cobb by a 2-1 margin. Bilyeu was previously a 1986 candidate in the Democratic primary for Texas Governor against incumbent Mark White (but she captured only 4% of the vote). Bilyeu's 2004 candidacy was limited only to the DC contest. She placed 11th (last place) at the Green convention with 2 delegates on the first ballot.

Oklahoma blogger Awe Contraire considered supporting Sheila, but learned a bit more about her:

Well, sure glad I held off recommending independent Sheila Bilyeu for Senate. I was reflexively turning to her because, basically, she is not Coburn, who is a rabid neo-con, or Carson, who is a DINO (Democrat in name only), and is against the war in Iraq and thinks we need better funding for human services. Unfortunately, she also thinks she has a radio in her head implanted by the feds who send her derogatory messages via satellite.

Bilyeu herself replies in the comments:

Before you write me off you should search for the truth and if you did you would find that I do have a radio type device in my head. An xray could confirm it for you. If I was crazy there are plenty of people who would have been glad to put me away. JUST PLEASE SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH AND CARE ABOUT JUSTICE FOR ALL. THANKS.

It's not every candidate who offers to have her head examined.

Here's a link to the Oklahoman article that Awe Contraire links to -- free registration required.

Updated dead links on 2015/11/23, with the help of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. (Support historic preservation of online content with a tax-deductible donation.) Ms. Bilyeu contacted me via Facebook last week with the following request: "Would you please delete anything in the past regarding my political envolvement." I thanked her for her polite request, but I don't delete information from my website without a very good reason, particularly if it pertains to a current candidate for public office. There is a website for a Shiela Bilyeu campaign for U. S. Senate in Arizona. The copyright date on the site is 2015, and the home page states, "Please help me raise money to run against John Mc Cain in Arizona."

Electoral vote projections


There are a couple of fascinating web efforts to track the polls in individual states, in order to put together a clearer picture of the presidential election as it is actually conducted, not as a single nationwide race, but as 53 separate contests. (That's 49 winner-take-all states, plus the District of Columbia, plus the state of Maine, where separate elections for elector are conducted in the state's two congressional districts, and two at-large electors awarded to the statewide winner.)

The Electoral Vote Predictor updates the electoral map daily with new state poll results. The "Votemaster" (I can't find anywhere on the site where he identifies himself) admits to being a Kerry supporter, but he seems pretty scrupulous about sticking with hard data. Right now he has Bush at 327, Kerry at 211.

The daily update includes analysis of the day's new polls, plus a lot of intelligent discussion of the challenges faced by pollsters, like today's update which deals with the impact of the increasing use of cell phones on phone polling. If you want to play around with the numbers yourself, you can download the raw data in Excel format. There's even a way to look only at the polls done by a particular pollster.

And the Votemaster has a projection of how the votes will come out on November 2nd, using linear regression to predict the outcome in each state. He cautions that the data is still pretty "noisy" and won't be very useful until October. At the moment, his model has Bush at 315, Kerry at 172, with 51 votes in states (New York, New Jersey, and New Mexico) that are projected to be exact ties. Again it's early, and his projection has Kerry winning Tennessee.

This site is an example of what the Internet can do so much better than the traditional news media -- provide a quick overview if that's all you want, but allow you to drill down as deep as you care to.

Election Projection is another site devoted to tracking individual state polls. Scott Elliott, the self-styled Blogging Caesar, is an unabashed Bush supporter. He updates his site's projection once a week, but you can subscribe to a daily update for $40. He also posts regularly to a blog on his homepage.

Electoral Vote Predictor links to a fascinating page on the comprehensive political website Politics1 which shows the ballot access status of all minor party candidates. Oklahoma has only one possible minor party ticket -- the Libertarians, if they win their court challenge to Oklahoma's very stringent ballot access law. The list of every known major and minor party and its nominees, with links to more detailed bios and analysis can be found here. The bottom of that page has links to many other useful and interesting political resources on the web.

I should also mention the site of University of Virginia polisci prof Larry Sabato, which covers races for Governor, Senate, and House, as well as the presidential election map.

And I can't close an entry on politics without reminding you of one of my daily reads:, by OU polisci professor Keith Gaddie. He is overseas and hasn't been updating lately, but if you haven't visited before, it's worth reading back through his archives.

The attack moves to the phones


Just got word that an automated phone survey is going out today. So far it has been received by people in four Tulsa City Council districts: 2 (Chris Medlock), 3 (Roscoe Turner), 5 (Sam Roop), and 6 (Jim Mautino). The number is showing up on caller ID with a 212 area code, which is Manhattan. The survey is a single question asking for a touch tone response: "Do you have confidence in your City Councilor, ? Press 1 for yes, 2 for no." I haven't heard whether anyone is receiving more than one question, but it seems that different households are getting asked different questions. Another question that was received: "Do you agree with the tactics used by Councilor Chris Medlock?"

It's obvious this is connected with a recall effort. We don't know yet who is behind this and how comprehensive the coverage is. Are they targeting registered voters, people who vote in city elections, or random voters? With some help from you, we can figure it out pretty quickly.

By the way, it would be useful if you answer the question as if you oppose the councilor. Then it will be possible to learn what they are doing with this information. It would also be interesting to learn if a "no" answer leads to further questions.

If you get such a call or know someone who did, please e-mail me at blog AT batesline DOT com, and provide the following information:

  • The exact question that was asked -- word for word, if you're able
  • The number on caller ID
  • Your name, address, zip code and phone number -- this will allow me to analyze the pattern of the calls

This looks like a very expensive operation. It would be interesting to know who is paying for it. If the money is coming from the Chamber, it is effectively being paid for with tax dollars, since the Chamber commingles money from the City and money from other sources. It may very well be an attack in response to Council efforts to bring some accountability to the way the Chamber spends taxpayer funds on economic development efforts. Whoever is behind it obviously feels they have a lot to gain financially by getting rid of the Reform Alliance.

UPDATE 6:00 PM: A call received by a voter in District 6, who relays the gist of the phone call. This is not necessarily verbatim because of background noise:

This is a brief survey about Tulsa city government. Do you support the decisions being made my your city councilor Jim Mautino? Press 1 for yes and 2 for no.

[After pressing 2 for no, the following two questions were heard.]

Would you support a recall election for Jim Mautino? Press 1 for yes, press 2 for no.

Would you sign a petition for a special recall election? Press 1 for yes, press 2 for no.

Pretty clear what the Cockroach Caucus is after.

My question is this: What are the roaches so afraid of that they would spend huge amounts of money on this campaign? Some of the roaches are Republicans, if in name only -- why risk party unity at a time when the party needs to pull together to elect Tom Coburn and gain the majority in the State House?

The motto of the Cockroach Caucus seems to be "rule or ruin".

Sand Springs history


Ruth Ellen Henry, the programs and public information coordinator for the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum, wrote about an entry I posted a year ago August about the history page on the website. The page was mostly blank, except for a notice about a contest for information to put on the history page, and I put forward a worthwhile idea I hoped someone would undertake -- documenting basketball legend Marques Haynes' memories of growing up in Sand Springs, before his old neighborhood is demolished.

Since last year, the domain has changed hands and now points to a class reunion website. While may not have had anything on its history page, Sand Springs (the real thing, not an attempt at a commercial website) has a dedicated group of citizens who have developed a wonderful history museum in the lovely and historic Charles Page Library at 6 East Broadway downtown. Our family visited the museum a few years ago during one of the city's herb festivals. I particularly enjoyed learning more about the Sand Springs Railroad, which still exists as freight line, but was once also an interurban passenger line, connecting downtown Sand Springs with downtown Tulsa, finishing as a streetcar down Archer Street to Greenwood Avenue. (Passenger service was ended in the '50s because it interfered with the more lucrative freight service.)

In her e-mail she let me know about an interesting upcoming exhibit, and more about the neighborhood of Booker T. Washington school:

It seems ironic that you would be talking about Marques Haynes at this particular time. We are opening an exhibit in our West Gallery on Tuesday, October 12, entitled "And The Crowds Roared: Athletics in Sand Springs" This exhibit features the following Nationally Acclaimed Athletes:

Jerry Adair, former professional baseball player and OSU Hall of Fame athlete

Bennie "The Wizard" Osborn, American Drag-Racing Hall of Fame inductee 2004

Johnnie Mae Young, "The Great Mae Young", WWWF Hall of Fame inductee 2004

Marques O. Haynes, Basketball Great, inducted Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998

Yes, we would love more information on Marques. Vision 2025 is going to do much more along the Keystone Corridor than take Marques Haynes' former high school. Believe me, ALL their former school friends who not only went to school at the Booker T. Washington School, but taught there as well. Ask all the folks at the First Baptist Church and The Centennial Baptist Church who have worshipped there every day of their lives. MUCH PRECIOUS HISTORY exists in that area. In fact, Mr.. Bates, my grandparents came to Sand Springs in 1919 and brought my mother to that area to run a little grocery business in the Sand Springs Hotel that sat right there on South Main. Broadway Baptist Church, now at 10th and Adams and one of the largest churches in Sand Springs started in that hotel.

Charles Page donated that land as a refuge for victims of the Tulsa Race Riot and gave them lumber to build. It is a precious part of our history....but....the people voted for the proposition and in America...the majority rules.

We would love to have your assistance in preserving our history. We will write anything you want and not care one cent about payment. WE HAVE A PRECIOUS STORY TO TELL and we are doing the very best we can on a daily basis to keep the story of Charles Page and his vision for this city growing.

His motto: THINK RIGHT!!!

That says it all.



Very interesting: I had never known that about Charles Page and the riot victims.

I know the museum would appreciate help in documenting the history of this area before it falls to the bulldozer, and before those who remember it in its heyday have passed on. If you have the time to help or have memories or artifacts to preserve, get in touch with the museum. This link will take you to the museum's webpage, where you'll find contact information and hours of operation.

Sand Springs is justifiably proud of its history, and they've done a better job than Tulsa, in many respects, of preserving that history. Kudos and best wishes to the staff and volunteers.

Fake memos came from Abilene Kinkos


Kevin McCullough has done some digging and may have a lead on the forger. The suspect is one Bill Burkett. And Scott Sala has some perspective from his time working for Kinkos, and links to other stories.

Meanwhile, Tim Blair sympathizes with Dan Rather's lament:

Life is so unfair. Dan tries to bring down a President with some fake documents, and all these stupid people want to do is talk about the fake documents when the real story is the crucial information contained ... in the fake documents.

Late-night fun in flyover country


Karol and Jessica (Halliburton's Sweetheart) flew from NYC to Dallas last weekend for a conservative film festival. Here's how they wound up their wild weekend:

Jessica and I spent our last night in Dallas at some sort of house music/sushi bar with two guys who are launching a online conservative 'tv' station this week. At 3am, the four of us ended up at Wal-mart snapping photos with a disposable camera and playing with soccer balls and talking Care Bears. Our flight was supposed to leave the next day at 5am but we called (from the Wal-mart, actually) and got it changed to a noon one.

They have discovered what we do for late-night entertainment out here. How can they be content with NYC nightlife now that they've sampled the electric atmosphere of a Supercenter at 3 am, as the aisles bustle with shelf-stockers?

Here's a contest for my readers: Rewrite lyrics for either of Petula Clark's '60s anthems about urban nightlife -- "Downtown" and "I Know a Place" -- to fit a late-night visit to a Wal-Mart Supercenter. I have no idea what the prize will be, beyond public recognition.

UPDATE: Jessica's blog is back and her account of the trip is up -- part 1 and part 2:

The boys were kind enough to provide true Texan entertainment at 3 a.m. by taking us to Wal-Mart. Highlights of our adventures in the glorious store were rapping to a toddler's speech education toy, posing for pictures with T-shirts that said 'Your future ex-girlfriend' and discussing which women's granny-like undergarments we preferred. And I couldn't think of a better way to say goodbye to Dallas.

Jessica hearts Waffle House, too. (Another of flyover country's late night hotspots!)

Bill Dyer, a Texas attorney who once defended CBS against a libel suit, says that Dan Rather and CBS are no longer victims of fraud in the Memogate case but have become complicit in fraud:

On Thursday, September 9th, I wrote a post entitled, "Burden now on CBS to authenticate its documents lest it become a co-conspirator in fraud."

In hindsight, I was clearly wrong.

I gave CBS News and Dan Rather the benefit of the doubt — the presumption that they did not know the Killian memos were forgeries when they ran their hit piece on "60 Minutes II" on the previous evening. I argued that because of the doubts immediately raised about the authenticity of the memos, CBS ran the risk of becoming a co-conspirator in the fraud perpetrated by whoever forged them.

But Dan Rather and CBS News had become co-conspirators by the time of their broadcast. ABC News has revealed that two of the experts whom CBS News consulted before running the broadcast — Emily Will from North Carolina and Linda James of Plano, Texas — could not and would not authenticate the fraudulent Killian memos, and expressly told CBS that. ...

Dan Rather and everyone else at CBS News who had direct managerial authority over, and supervisory involvement in, the production of last Wednesday night's "60 Minutes II" broadcast about the Killian memos must be fired. Not retired. Not pensioned off. Not allowed to resign. Not given 30 days' or even three days' notice.

They must be fired — instantly, effective immediately, "for cause" and "with prejudice," forfeiting all unvested future benefits from their employment. They should be escorted by security personnel from the building, with their belongings sent to them in due course after they've been screened for relevant evidence. All of their computers, files, and other items of potential evidentiary value must be segregated immediately and secured under lock and key with a tight and explicit chain of custody. There must be no spoliation of evidence permitted.

This must be done publicly — before the close of business on Wednesday, September 15, 2004, and preferably before noon.

If it's not, then the executives who failed to do the firings should be fired before the close of business on Thursday, September 16, 2004.

He also calls for Congressional investigations. I have serious doubts about this, because of First Amendment concerns, and because it would recast the issue as a partisan squabble and take the focus off of CBS's credibility. There are remedies for fraud, and there is always the power of the free market to discipline any wrongdoing.

You'll find thorough detail and rationale on Bill Dyer's website. Hat tip to Charles G. Hill for the link.

It's (hardly) a conspiracy!


A goofy notion of recent vintage is that the Reform Alliance majority on the Tulsa City Council is part of a conspiracy to obstruct the implementation of Vision 2025, and that in particular the Council's unwillingness to proceed to condemn two properties on the arena site is all about obstruction -- thwarting the will of the people!

Over on the Tulsa Now Forums, Onslow Stevenson Wakeford III of Jenks (who uses the handle 'swake') presents his conspiracy theory:

The people who were against 2025 are working to make it less successful so that no more such projects are ever passed. Additionally they are attacking the entities who were behind 2025. They are using the city council, and radio to launch these attacks. Their targets are the Mayor(every chance), the Newspaper(Again, every chance, the media bias), The Chamber(economic development funds), INCOG(zoning fights) and the City Council that was sitting when 2025 was passed (now mostly gone and Roop was flipped). Watch, the next two targets are going to be the County Commission and DTU. Oh wait, BooWorld just mentioned that the county commission. So it begins and now everything makes sense. This was and is all about 2025. The anti tax groups lost the election and are going to grind the city to a halt as payback. They are going to make very sure that no tax like this ever passes again. That is why no real reasons can be given for all the votes by the council, it’s not about those votes so much as the larger mission. Reform is a code word for Anti-2025.

There are a lot of problems with this theory, the first being that the two Reform Alliance councilors who were on the Council last fall were outspoken supporters of Vision 2025. I debated against Sam Roop during the Vision 2025 campaign, and back in 2000, the night before the Tulsa Time vote. I also debated Chris Medlock on Vision 2025. Medlock did oppose Proposition 1 -- the $350 million corporate welfare check for Boeing, which is now moot -- but he supported the other three. Although Medlock had questions about oversight and governance of the Vision funds, he did not allow that to get in the way of his advocacy, and waited until after the vote to raise the issues. (I think that was foolish, as after the vote passed there was no longer any leverage to insist on proper safeguards.)

I made the point many times during the campaign that most of the projects were reasonable ideas that could have been funded as part of a renewal of the "4 to Fix the County" sales tax, the City of Tulsa's third-penny for capital improvements, or a capital improvements bond issue which would replace bonds that are being retired. Revenue bonds could be used if you could make a business case that a facility would make enough money to pay for itself. There was a way, if our civic leaders were willing to be creative, to fund important projects without increasing the tax burden during an economic downturn.

The central objection from the Vision 2025 opposition was to the tax increase, not to the projects themselves. Now that the tax increase is a fait accompli, and most of the future tax revenues are already committed to bondholders, those of us who were opposed are concerned to make sure that what was promised to the citizens of Tulsa County is delivered, that the process is handled in an open and fair fashion, and that the taxpayers get good value for money. That's why, although I opposed building the arena, I offered some suggestions for where the arena could be located to have a more positive impact on downtown.

With regard to the arena land acquisition, several specific points need to made.

(1) Tulsa's elected officials never held a public hearing or voted to approve a specific arena location. Although the fact that land acquisition has already begun renders this point moot, it needs to be raised. While the 1st-3rd, Denver-Frisco location has been discussed for years (since before the 1997 Tulsa Project), the location wasn't written into the ballot propositions, wasn't approved by the Dialog-Visioning Leadership Team, wasn't approved by the County Commissioners, and wasn't approved by the City Council. And I am pretty sure, although I can't pinpoint the date or time, that Mayor LaFortune expressed an openness before and after the vote to considering alternative locations, in response to concerns about the drawbacks of the proposed site.

(2) Bob Poe's ranting about losing $10,000 a day notwithstanding, the arena project is not being delayed by the Council's refusal to proceed with condemnation. The building hasn't even been designed, and owners of properties on the periphery of the site have been told that they won't have to vacate their buildings until early spring 2005. I don't know if they've even done the necessary geological study. There is time to handle this in a way that respects those who are being displaced. And even if there were a delay of a few weeks, demolition and clearance could proceed on the other properties. And it's not as though this is an essential public facility like a fire station. No one's going to die if it opens in February 2008 instead of January 2008.

(3) To the extent that there have been delays, it appears that they have been caused by an unwillingness by the Public Works Department to respond in a timely fashion to requests by the City Council for information -- the Council still does not have the actual appraisal reports, which were requested weeks ago.

(4) This is not an ordinary condemnation. Many condemnation proceedings involve strips of land for road widening -- condemnations which leave the improvements on the property and most of the parcel intact. When condemnation involves displacing homes and businesses, it's appropriate for the Council to give the matter careful scrutiny, to ensure that property owners are being treated fairly, and to try to save condemnation for a last resort.

Paul Uttinger, an architect, posted a great reply to the conspiracy theorists on the Tulsa Now Forums (scroll down and look for "booWorld", which is Paul's screen name). Here's an excerpt:

There may be a conspiracy among the 38% of those who voted against this particular Vision 2025 proposition last year, but I'm not part of it. And I don't remember the resolution including any specific design or location for the events center. I remember discussion of the 2nd & Elwood location as the probable site, but I saw nothing set in writing. That's one of the reasons I voted against the question. It was far too vague for me. I like to see good designs well done. Lately Tulsa does not have a good track record in such matters.

I think the reform council is good for the city because it's getting people interested and more involved in what's going on. Split decisions by the council don't bother me at all. In my opinion, they're as good or better than the rubber-stamping by previous councils. According to the mayor's speech yesterday, the arena project is on schedule. I don't think it is unreasonable for Mr Medlock to ask to see copies of property appraisals. He's not my councilor, but I think that he is a good representative for his district and he is looking into long term issues that will affect all Tulsans. Remember, Tulsans are paying for this arena whether they voted for it or not. Not only will we pay for the initial design and construction, but we'll pay for any revenue shortfall for decades into the future. That's why I want the project to be the very best it can be. ...

I'm not part of a conspiracy trying to attack the Tulsa World. I'm just an individual who is disheartened and sickened to read about their plans for "improving" the downtown by demolishing the Skelly Building for a private parking lot.

I'm not conspiring to attack INCOG concerning zoning matters. I'm just one individual who had his property rezoned against his wishes to less than 10% of its previously allowed density while boundaries were drawn 30 feet away in two directions for districts 10 times the density of mine. I'm just one individual who spent many hours of vacation time attending public hearings in which INCOG staff had the first and last word, in which INCOG staff gave planning commission members incorrect information regarding my property, and in which INCOG staff members lied to the city council about my property.

I'm not part of a conspiracy attacking the mayor, but I'm very disappointed that he chose to reappoint Joe Westervelt to the planning commission.

I'm not opposed to change. To the contrary -- I think it's about time for some fundamental changes in how public officials conduct "our" business.

Well spoken, Paul.

The Outside World


We were having Joseph tell us about the Bhil people of India -- he learned about them in missions class at church.

Katherine, our four-year old, spoke up:

"Dad, someday I'd like to visit the outside world."

"The outside world?"

"Yeah, the outside world. Someday I'd like to go there."

Mom: "Katherine, where do you think the outside world is?"

"It's in Oklahoma City!"

Lightbulb goes off -- I took Joseph with me to OKC when I went for the Republican State Committee meeting on Saturday. We went around Bricktown with my sister and her boys, who live in town, and my parents, who were down for the weekend. I guess her big brother had been talking about the shooting gallery and the fish tank at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.

By the way, even though it was an interesting place to visit and browse -- camo onesies for your toddler! -- the only money we spent was about $1 each on the shooting gallery, although we were mightily tempted by this little beauty, especially now that the assault weapon ban has expired. (I'm pretty sure it would be considered an assault weapon.)

To whom does the Mayor answer?


Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune delivered the annual "State of the City" address today.

When the President reports on the State of the Union, he addresses a joint session of Congress, the elected representatives of the people of the United States of America.

When the Governor delivers a "State of the State" address, he addresses a joint session of the Oklahoma Legislature, the elected representatives of the people of the State of Oklahoma.

But when the Mayor of Tulsa speaks on the State of the City, he speaks not to the City Council, the elected representatives of the citizens of Tulsa, but to the Tulsa Metro Chamber, at a fundraising banquet for the Tulsa Metro Chamber.

You'd think he would want to demonstrate some independence from this organization, which is, after all, a vendor to the City of Tulsa (as Councilor Jim Mautino rightly identified it), providing unsuccessful economic development services to the City, which are paid for by $1.5 million annually in hotel/motel sales tax revenue. As a private organization, the Chamber is not required to give a detailed accounting of how that money is being spent, and is not required to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not commingled with dues and privately-raised funds. Money is fungible.

As always, keep in mind that when we speak of the Chamber, we don't mean to disparage the thousands of Tulsa area businesses and institutions that are members of the organization. Most join simply because it's what you do. But the Chamber as an institution, particularly the economic development department, seems to have long ago lost track of its purpose and has become a stagnant organization focused on maintaining its power and perquisites.

The Chamber is paying to send the Mayor on a trip to Germany in the name of economic development. Is the Chamber lobbying the Mayor with taxpayer dollars to keep the taxpayer dollars flowing its way?

I could not be at the speech, which was not open to the public anyway. I did hear a few audio excerpts of the speech. I understand from eyewitnesses that the Mayor was introduced by Chamber President Bob Poe, who delivered a vigorous verbal attack on the City Council's Reform Alliance. Unfortunately, the person recording the event for TGOV 24 (the staffer referenced here) didn't happen to record that segment for our enlightenment. The Mayor didn't refute or disagree with anything Mr. Poe (a Democrat) said and in fact piled on, declaring his commitment to keeping the Chamber on the City government teat and denouncing anyone who disagrees.

I would welcome additional details, and would welcome a recording of the event (including Poe's remarks) even more.

There is more to be said, but the most important question is this: To whom does Bill LaFortune answer? To what constituency does he consider himself accountable? From what I heard of his speech, he gave an unequivocal answer today. Too bad for the rest of us.

The Doyen of Dustbury


Charles G. Hill of the mythical Oklahoma City of Dustbury ought to be on your daily reading list, assuming he isn't already. I've plugged him in the past, but he's had too much good stuff lately not to remind you to pay him a visit. Here's a sampler of some recent output from this fount of common sense down the turnpike.

  1. Some observations about an older neighborhood and urban renewal:
    Now the roads through there aren't great, and I suspect the rest of the city's infrastructure is probably an upgrade or two behind schedule, but this struck me as a relatively nice, if obviously not at all upscale, neighborhood. (I spot-checked a couple of houses for sale, and you can still buy in around here for thirty-five to fifty-five thousand.) Professional worriers, faced with a few blocks like this, would undoubtedly start screaming "Blight!" and calling for intervention. And indeed, there's room for improvement, starting with what appears to be, at first glance, a higher-than-average crime rate. But I am becoming persuaded that the kiss of death for any neighborhood comes at the exact moment when the studies and the surveys and the recommendations start coming out and the focus shifts from "How can we make this area better?" to "How can we get these people out of here?" I, for my part, am loath to tear up an area of affordable housing just because it's not pretty.

  2. An open letter to a Muslim friend on the 3rd anniversary of 9/11:

    It's simply this: while the tides of history roll over everyone, they don't necessarily maintain an even depth. We are at war, Mo. And we are at war, not because of something you did, but because of things that were done ostensibly in your name, and in the name of your God. Until such time as we can weed out every last terrorist who claims to be doing the will of Allah, it is only prudent to assume the worst. Professional complainers call this "racial profiling"; the real world calls it "self-defense."

    (In the same entry, Charles links to this revealing quiz.)

  3. A look at an at-large council in a big city:

    Turns out that Austin has a council-manager form of government, something I'm familiar with, but there's a twist: all six of the council members are elected at large. Which means that whatever power base she's built up in her section of town (just north of the University) doesn't mean a whole lot, since she's got to make her pitch to the entire city of 650,000.

    I admit to being unable to understand why this is supposed to be a Good Thing. If each of the council members represents the whole city, why do they need six of them? The traditional complaint about ward representation, as used in Oklahoma City and more recently in Tulsa, has been that it encourages members of the council to think about neighborhood needs rather than the needs of the city as a whole, but the fact remains: neighborhoods do have different needs. Residents of Balcones Drive in northwest Austin don't necessarily have the same concerns as residents of Springdale Road on the east side.

  4. And an earlier comment on Ken Neal's Whirled rant about ward politics in Tulsa:

    "In effect," says Neal, the current system demands that councilors "are elected to try to put their district ahead of the overall welfare of the city." I don't live in Tulsa and don't have a grounding in Nealspeak, but I'll attempt a translation: "How can we do Great Things for this town if we keep having to piddle around with the petty needs of mere citizens?" ...

    And I'm still concerned with Neal's tossed-off phrase: "the overall welfare of the city." If you can't get five councilors to buy such and such a proposal, maybe it's not so good for the overall welfare after all, huh?

    There's a great comment on the same entry from McGehee:

    In my opinion, the opinions of editors and columnists at any major city's most widely-read daily newspaper should be disregarded out of hand -- especially in terms of civic reform.

    Media opinionmakers tend to be members of the local elite, and what they regard as "the overall welfare of the [community]" is almost always whatever enhances the wealth, position and comfort of their circle.

    And on the national scene this same phenomenon plays out on that scale. So...

    Charles had a visit to the hospital last week (duly reported on his blog) and I was happy to see that he was back at the keyboard the same day. Glad to have you back in the saddle, or at least hovering gingerly over the saddle...

Catch me in two days


Robin Juhl had the great idea of contacting Frank Abagnale, world's foremost expert on forgery and embezzlement, to ask his opinion on the alleged Texas Air National Guard memos presented by Dan Rather on CBS's 60 Minutes II. Abagnale's early career as a forger and embezzler was the subject of the movie, "Catch Me If You Can". The reply from Abagnale's firm contained this tidbit:

I can tell you that [Abagnale] sent an e-mail to Neil Cavuto of Your World on Fox News Network (he knows him personally) that stated: "If my forgeries looked as bad as the CBS documents, it would have been "Catch Me In Two Days".

(Hat tip to Little Green Footballs for the link.)

Coburn, Carson in dead heat

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The latest poll numbers from Wilson Research in the Oklahoma U.S. Senate race shows conservative Republican Tom Coburn 2 points behind liberal Democrat Brad Carson. It appears that Carson's ad campaign trying to redefine himself as a conservative has had some impact. All the cross-tabs are available in this PDF file.

The overall numbers: Coburn at 37%, Carson at 39%, Bilyeu at 6%, and 19% undecided. Margin of error is +/- 4.4%. From last week, that's a 5% drop for Coburn, a 3% gain for Carson, a 2% gain for Undecided, and a 1% gain for Bilyeu.

Some interesting internals:

  • The more educated, the more likely to support Coburn -- Coburn leads 45-36 among those with a post-graduate education, 43-34 among college graduates, 39-37 among those with some college, but trails 28-45 among those with a high school graduation or less.

  • Coburn only leads 49-26 among self-described conservatives.

  • Coburn only leads 55-24 among Bush supporters, 56-23 among Republicans.

  • Coburn leads in four of the five congressional districts -- the exception is CD 2, where he trails 25-58.

  • Coburn leads in only one age group -- 25-34, where he leads 55-27.

  • Marriage amendment supporters are almost evenly split, favoring Coburn 42-38.

The poll also covers the presidential race (Bush leads 59-29) and five of the state questions.

UPDATE: Charles of Dustbury teases a few more interesting details from the data.

Blogs bust CBS


I'm enough of a contrarian to resist writing about something just because everyone else is. And I'm lazy enough and busy enough not to want to duplicate what others are handling in such a thorough fashion.

But I feel like I've been neglecting my responsibilities to you, dear reader, by not saying anything about this huge story that has been dominating the blogosphere since the middle of last week, and has now made the leap into print and broadcast media. At least a part of my readership comes straight to this site and perhaps never ventures beyond, despite the long blogroll on the right-hand side of the home page.

In a nutshell: CBS's "60 Minutes II" presented what it alleged were memos written in 1972 and 1973 by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, George W. Bush's superior, in the Texas Air National Guard, suggesting that pressure was applied to give Bush a more favorable evaluation than he deserved.

Some noticed that the memos had some odd features for documents banged out on a typewriter over 30 years ago -- a proportional-spaced font, unusual in typewriters, was the first clue that something was amiss. Then someone noticed a superscript 'th' in an ordinal number and curly single quotes, instead of straight apostrophes -- the sort of thing that happens automatically when typing a document in newer versions of Microsoft Word. Closer examination revealed that the vertical pitch (distance between lines) matched the default in Microsoft Word, but couldn't be produced by a typewriter.

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs went so far as to open up Microsoft Word, and without changing the margins, tabs, font, font size, or any other setting, he typed one of the memos and found that everything lined up perfectly with the document CBS claimed was an authentic typewritten 1973 memo.

There's a lot more to the story. Some defended authenticity of the memos by trying to come up with scenarios under which such a memo could have been produced in the early '70s. In response, people who worked with early printer and word processor technology, forensic document analysts, and other experts came forward to answer speculation with the reality of the technology of the time. Bloggers provided a focal point for relaying expert testimony. doing original research, and exposing contradictions.

I encourage you to dig into the details. Here are some places to start:

The New York Sun has a story on how this story developed and the role played by blogs.

Power Line has been all over the story from the beginning. And there's some great analysis as well, such as this item about the apparently new willingness of the mainstream media (MSM) to sacrifice its credibility for political ends:

So we have entered a new era. We now know that our richest and most powerful news organizations are willing to blow themselves up--to destroy their own credibility, once considered a news organization's most precious possession--to achieve a political goal. The landscape will never look quite the same again. Those of us who still value truth must look at the mainstream media in a new, more skeptical and critical way, taking nothing for granted. Because, like suicide bombers, the mainstream news organs will go farther to achieve their political goals than we ever imagined.

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has a summary of all of his entries on the memo scandal to that point, although he has since posted more.

Bill of INDC Journal sought out a forensic document examiner, Dr. Philip Bouffard, to render an opinion on the likelihood that the documents were authentic.

AllahPundit has a plethora of links, commentary, and detail.

Hugh Hewitt has been all over this. And John Fund summarizes the story in the Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Joseph M. Newcomer, an expert in electronic typesetting since its advent in the '70s, came forward with a detailed analysis of the memos, with everything you could want to know about fonts and spacing.

Old-media op-ed titan William Safire weighs in here (registration required).

On the lighter side, Scott Ott has uncovered a suspicious 1972 e-mail, and Frank J. thinks he's discovered another forgery.

And a friend sends along a link to a Shockwave animation that puts the whole thing in a nutshell.

Tragedy of the Bunnies

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Ever tried to explain the important socio-political concept of the Tragedy of the Commons to your toddler? The Internet comes to the rescue with a Macromedia Flash game called the "Tragedy of the Bunnies". When all the bunnies are owned in common, the bunnies all get caught and sold in the first round, because it's in everyone's interest to grab as many as they can, while they can, without regard for the future. Then there aren't any bunnies When everyone has a number of privately owned bunnies, protected against bunny-thieves, each bunny farmer has an incentive to sell a few, but keep most around to multiply.

Hat tip to Iain Murray for the link.

Why these two men?


The full-throttle media campaign to reappoint Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority continues at the top of the front page of today's Metro section in the Tulsa Whirled (jump page here). Mayor LaFortune wants to call a special meeting of the City Council to specifically respond to Councilor Sam Roop's stated reason for refusing to support the reappointments, namely that the TMUA's settlement of the water-quality lawsuit against poultry producers succeeded only in enriching the attorneys who handled the case and failed to get any money to reimburse the City for the extra expense of treating chicken-poop-befouled water.

Clearly, the Mayor is hoping to get Roop to break his public commitment not to support the reappointment of Reynolds and Cameron. Roop, along with Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, signed a letter to the Mayor communicating that commitment.

Why this insistence on getting these two men back on the TMUA? Surely the Mayor could find two other Tulsans to nominate as replacements. Cameron and Reynolds would probably be glad to move on to other things at this point. The Mayor's (and the Whirled's) refusal to move on is odd.

Also odd was this week's unprecedented letter from Richard Carter, the Mayor of Broken Arrow:

Normally, I would not comment about happenings in our neighbor city, but the treatment of Jim Cameron and Louis Reynolds by some of the Tulsa City Council members went far beyond my tolerance level.

As chairman of the Regional Municipal Utilities Authority this past year, I have worked with and come to know both gentlemen quite well, and have witnessed firsthand their dedicated service.

They both spend many uncompensated hours working for the benefit of Tulsa citizens and have always demonstrated to me the highest level of competence and integrity.

Mr. Cameron and Mr. Reynolds deserve kudos, not condemnation, and it puzzles me as to what self-serving motive some city coun cilors think they will satisfy by denying the reappointment of these two dedicated, public-spirited volunteers. I sincerely hope that Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune will submit both their names again and that the Tulsa City Council will approve them both.

I don't have a problem with Mayor Carter praising these two men, but his slap at the City Council makes no sense. No one on the City Council has condemned Cameron or Reynolds. The majority simply voted no when their names were submitted for reappointment. No one has mistreated these men. They aren't losing salary or benefits. They aren't being deprived of anything to which they are entitled. Their terms have expired and the majority on the City Council believe it's time for a change. Next, please.

At the heart of the reappointments dispute is a debate about whether the TMUA's policies are fueling suburban growth at the expense of the City of Tulsa. And given that fact, it doesn't bolster the case for reappointment to have the mayor of Tulsa's biggest suburb writing to criticize Tulsa's elected officials.

J. M. Branum quotes approvingly from Margaret Cho's account of the Sunday, August 29, 2004, protest in New York City:

. . . There were police all over the street. More than were necessary, and more than I thought actually existed. I am sure they had a major recruitment rush before this week, because their uniforms were ill-fitting and too new, and they all had an awkward nervousness to them. Every once in a while, you would see a grey suited delegate speedily walking alongside on the other side of the barrier. Often, they would be hiding their badges with their hands as they almost ran back to the safety of Madison Square Garden.

There was a small group of delegates sitting near the entrance, watching the enormous crowd go past, with glum but semi-stunned looks on their faces, as if they were watching their empire crumble, which is exactly what was happening.

Nice attempt at mindreading there, Margaret.

Now this protest occurred on Sunday, the day before the opening of the convention. Delegates didn't go to Madison Square Garden on Sunday. There was nothing for a delegate to do there, and I doubt that delegates would have been admitted. The only thing that would have been happening there on Sunday was last minute preparations for the start of business the following day. Delegates and guests had a separate credential for each session -- numbered 1 through 5. Number 1 was for Monday morning, the only morning session. We didn't have a number 0 credential.

Where were the delegates? Were we being protected from reality, as Mike from Little Axe suggests?


On Sunday afternoon, delegates were still en route to NYC in many cases. Those of us who had already arrived were going to church, sightseeing, attending welcome brunches, and getting ready to see a Broadway play -- the NYC host committee provided matinee tickets for all the delegations. And I doubt that many delegates were wearing grey suits on a warm summer Sunday afternoon.

After reading some of the protest websites before the convention, I told people that the radicals seemed to think that we would stroll the sidewalks of New York looking like Rich Uncle Pennybags, with cane, top hat, tails, monocle, spats, and furs. All of us members of the Halliburton board of directors, we were undoubtedly assembling to plot the next round of plunder, rape, and pillage, but the mighty protestors would confront us and shock us and send us scampering back to the Hamptons (um, no, all rich liberals out there) or Bel Air (ditto).

So Margaret Cho spotted a hotel manager or a security supervisor or a salesman from Macy's mens' department, taking a break and watching the wackos pass by, and imagined him into a plutocrat quaking with fear at the fall of the ancien regime.

If it makes you feel better, Margaret, you're welcome to believe you made a struck a blow against the system and left a deep impression on the nation's kingmakers, but the reality is that we delegates (who aren't very powerful anyway) were busy having fun that day, and we missed seeing you. Sorry. Better luck in four years. If I see you then, I promise to sneer at you through my monocle, whack you in the shin with my walking stick, and leave you in a cloud of exhaust as my Bentley speeds off, so you can feel properly victimized.

Remembering again


I've already touched on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks over the last few days, but I cannot let the day pass without pointing you to the New York Times' "Portraits of Grief", a collection of brief profiles of the people who died in those attacks.

Here's a link to the profile of my friend Jayesh Shah, which highlights the close relationship between Jay and his younger brother Niloy. You have never seen two closer siblings, and no one can ever remember seeing a cross word pass between them. Close in age, they came from India to America as small boys, and made the adjustment to the new world together. They went to high school, college, and grad school together, and both ended up working for Amoco in Houston. They were separated when Jay took the opportunity of a lifetime -- an executive position with Cantor Fitzgerald in New York -- but they still spoke daily, talking over the previous night's sports news or their kids' latest antics. Was it the affection between two brothers, the love of a husband for his wife, the love of a dad for his children -- is that what the terrorists set out to extinguish?

Jay and the Shah family are of the Jain religion. At the heart of that religion is a n avoidance of violence against any living thing. Jains are vegetarian, and some Jain monastics go so far as to sweep the ground before them to avoid crushing an insect as they walk. Ironic that someone of that faith should be the victim of such an extreme and deliberate act of violence.

The Shah family went through sixteen days of hoping against hope that Jay had survived. Jay's name showed up on a survivors list on the Internet. The family got to New York as quickly as they could, and went from hospital to hospital. Through the whole process, Niloy communicated with friends and family via e-mail, sharing his hopes and fears.

All the searching was in vain. On September 27, Jay's body was recovered and they had the comfort of certainty about his fate. The family was now able to hold the traditional last rites. A memorial prayer service was held a couple of weeks later in Houston, which I was privileged to attend.

This is the story of one man and his family, and the profound loss of a brother, husband, son, father, and friend. I tell it because it is important to remember why we are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and may find ourselves fighting in other places that harbor and sponsor terrorists. Although we desire to live at peace with all men, governments have a divine commission to use force to oppose evil. We cannot hope to enjoy peace as long as there are those who would seek our deaths for the crime of being alive and free.

Before I close, let me point you to a couple of places to stir your memories and your resolve:

  • Tom Junod's Esquire article about "The Falling Man" -- the search for the man captured on film as he fell from the World Trade Center. (Hat tip to Matthew for the link.)

  • Here Is New York, an extensive online gallery of photographs of the day and its aftermath.

Cheney coming to Tulsa

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Just got word: Vice President Dick Cheney will be in Tulsa on September 24 for campaign and fundraising events. Details to follow.

Another Democrat for Bush


Dan and Angi (who have Something to Say) call our attention to an essay by another Democrat who is not only endorsing George W. Bush for re-election, but also endorsing a continued Republican majority in Congress (and citing conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in his rationale). The Democrat in question is science fiction writer Orson Scott Card:

Now, as a Democrat, what can I say to that except that, because my party has been taken over by an astonishingly self-destructive bunch of lunatics who are so dazzled by Hollywood that they think their ideas make sense, I have to agree that right now, any President but Bush and any Congress but a Republican-dominated one would be disastrous.

As a Democrat, I would hope that a solid trouncing of our fanatic-ruled party at the polls this November would serve as a wakeup call and remind Democrats that they only get to do the things that the Democrat Party exists to do if they get enough votes to control the White House and Congress. Which requires that you have serious candidates and embrace serious issues that most Americans, not just tiny pressure groups, care about.

Card goes on to make an interesting point about machine politics at the local level, and why he won't be voting straight party Republican all the way down the line:

No condemnation now I dread


The City Council has again chosen not to proceed with condemnation against the owners of two properties within the land that someone designated as the site of the new arena. (As Councilor Medlock has rightly pointed out, the site was never the subject of a public hearing. Nevertheless, it's location is now fixed, for better or worse.) There are ongoing concerns about the fairness of the appraisals, and the Council very reasonably wants to see the actual appraisal reports on the properties in question, and who specifically did these appraisals.

Notwithstanding Councilor Susan Neal's concerns, construction of the arena is not being delayed by continuing negotiations with the remaining property owners. We don't even have a design concept for the arena yet, much less a complete site plan, engineering work, and design. We have time to do this right, in a way that makes these property owners whole for their displacement, and I'm glad the Council is following this course.

Recall process

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During my appearance this last Tuesday on KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno show, I was asked by Michael to look into the City of Tulsa's recall process. While Mayor Bill LaFortune, Councilor Chris Medlock, and I were all up in New York at the Republican National Convention, there were a number of people calling Michael's show wanting to launch a recall effort against the Mayor.

A recall is not a tool to be used lightly, but it does provide a check against official wrongdoing or neglect of duty when such conduct falls short of criminal conduct. Having supported Bill LaFortune in the 2002 Republican mayoral primary over other worthy candidates, it grieves me to think that he has become so estranged from the city's grassroots that some are unwilling to endure his continuation in office for another 19 months. It appears to many observers that he has not fulfilled the promises of reform and cooperation with the City Council which won him the support of so many Tulsans. In fact, it seems that he has aligned himself with those who want to preserve the status quo at City Hall regardless and set himself in opposition to the Council's Reform Alliance majority.

Article VII is the article of the City Charter dealing with recalls. Here's the timeline of the process, using maximum times for each step:

Tulsa remembers 9/11


Tomorrow, on the third anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America, Trinity Episcopal Church will host a citywide service of remembrance, featuring a performance of Gabriel Faure's Requiem. The Requiem will be performed by singers from Coventry Chorale, the Trinity Church Choir, and many other local choirs.

Trinity Episcopal Church is at 5th & Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa. Parking is available on the street, and in the church's lot at 6th & Detroit. The performance will begin at 8:46 am.

On the first anniversary of the attacks, Tulsa was one of hundreds of cities around the world to participate in the Rolling Requiem, performances of Mozart's Requiem beginning at 8:46 am local time. The Rolling Requiem was a one-time event, but it has spawned annual remembrances in many cities.

Faure's Requiem is a favorite -- I wrote something about it, and about the spiritual benefits of pondering the words of the Requiem, last summer, which you can read here.



So right, Karol:

Headline: Madonna Dedicates 'Imagine' to Russia...

No religion, no possesions? I think Russia may have tried this already.

I am working on some entries to wrap up last week's Republican National Convention, specifically to touch on some important stories that were overshadowed by the nightly speeches and pageantry of the event.

In the meantime, here are some reading assignments:

Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes a column almost daily, presented in blog form on the website of radio station WMCA. The conflict between the Christian worldview and other worldviews is at the heart of many of his columns. On his front page today:

  • A review of Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, a book that aims to explain what a worldview is, the distinctives of a Biblical worldview, and how so many Christians are able simultaneously to hold a secular worldview while affirming the tenets of the Christian faith.

  • A critique of The Teen Code, an eye-opening book by a teenager on parent-teen communications:

    The underlying message of the book is that parents can indeed parent their teenagers, so long as we parent them as they will allow themselves to be parented. Now, armed with advice from an adolescent expert, parents are told that we must just accept the fact that vast areas of our children's lives are off limits, and that we should treat our teenagers as autonomous individuals who happen to live in our homes and are doing their best to negotiate around our discipline and moralizing. America's parents owe a debt of gratitude to young Rhett Godfrey for his new book. The Teen Code serves as a prophetic warning and an all-too-accurate description of the teenage mind at work.

  • A critique of Bill Clinton's sermon at Riverside Church a week ago Sunday, in which he exposes a doctrine of "Biblical ambiguity" at the heart of Clinton's remarks -- the Bible can't be understood, so we don't have to worry about obeying its precepts. Mohler contrasts this with the traditional Christian view of Biblical perspicuity -- God made the Bible so that man could understand what God wants us to know about him and what he requires of us.

  • An essay titled "Oprah Winfrey: Agent of Moral Insanity", about a recent Oprah show promoting the notion of teenage transexualism.

Mohler's got several more essays showing that the left is actively and consciously engaged in a culture war -- the culture war is not the product of rampant right-wing fears but a real conflict over the control of cultural institutions.

And saving perhaps the best for last, an essay reminding Christians of our duty to be engaged in the political process, grounded in the distinction between Augustine's City of God and City of Man:

Thus, Christians bear important responsibilities in both cities. Even as we know that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, and even as we set our sights on the glory of the City of God, we must work for good, justice, and righteousness in the City of Man. We do so, not merely because we are commanded to love its citizens, but because we know that they are loved by the very God we serve.

From generation to generation, Christians often swing between two extremes, either ignoring the City of Man or considering it to be our main concern. A biblical balance establishes the fact that the City of Man is indeed passing, and chastens us from believing that the City of Man and its realities can ever be of ultimate importance. Yet, we also know that each of us is, by God's own design, a citizen--though temporarily--of the City of Man. When Jesus instructed that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, He pointed His followers to the City of Man and gave us a clear assignment. The only alternatives that remain are obedience and disobedience to this call.

Love of neighbor for the sake of loving God is a profound political philosophy that strikes a balance between the disobedience of political disengagement and the idolatry of politics as our main priority. As evangelical Christians, we must engage in political action, not because we believe the conceit that politics is ultimate, but because we must obey our Redeemer when He commanded that we must love our neighbor.

Go read it all, and add Al Mohler to your daily reading list.

The Outsiders

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Ken Neal's weekly rant in Sunday's Whirled takes a new tack in his ongoing campaign against the Tulsa City Council's Reform Alliance. (Nice to see that the term I coined is taking hold -- let's see if the Whirled starts referring to the rest of the Council as the Cockroach Caucus.)

He has now concluded that this majority of meddlesome troublemakers is the result of a structural problem with our form of government -- it makes it too easy for the wrong sort of person to win:

When the average voter turnout per council district is but 2,500 or so, outsiders can shape the election with relatively small amounts of money and that is what happened last spring. Tom Baker, Tulsa's former fire chief and one of the most knowledgeable and reasonable of councilors, barely won with a 24-vote margin.

There was a concerted effort to beat all the sitting councilors because of zoning decisions at 51st and 71st Streets and Harvard Avenue. In both cases, councilors had little choice under the law but to approve the zoning changes.

A slight change in the way Tulsa elects a council would make it much harder for a few well-heeled activists to shape the election.

I could spend all night dissecting the internal contradictions in those three paragraphs. Ken, are they "well-heeled" or are they spending "relatively small amounts of money"? Either way, the point is clear -- the current system makes it possible for well-organized grass-roots campaigns to succeed, and in the Whirled's eyes, that's a bad thing. It means that the Council might be run by "outsiders", strangers to the corridors of power, who will interfere with all the cozy insider deals and relationships that have traditionally characterized Tulsa city government, certainly over the last 20 years.

So Ken's solution is to change the City Charter dramatically, by making five of the Council seats elected at-large, with the remaining four seats elected from much larger districts. Instead of council districts of 44,000 population (already bigger than a state House of Representatives district), five of the councilors would represent all 400,000 residents of the city -- more than half the size of a congressional district -- while the four district councilors would represent 100,000 each, as many people as in one and a half State Senate districts.

Convention impact

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"The Republicans came to town with the Ten Commandments in one hand and a $100 bill in the other, and they didn't break either." -- New York State Senator John Sabini, Democrat from Queens, in the September 4, 2004, New York Post.

Local politicians love to be able to tell voters that they've created jobs, and for forty years or more, the pursuit of convention business has been a favorite way to spend city dollars in hopes of drawing tax dollars to the city from visitors -- people who come, stay, spend, and leave before they become a burden on the city's infrastructure. Despite plenty of evidence that cities rarely make back in increased tax revenues what they spend on the operating cost of convention centers, not to mention the initial capital cost of building or expanding a convention center, or the extra financial incentives offered to major conventions, local politicians still push for higher taxes to finance ever bigger and fancier convention facilities, adding to a glut of underutilized facilities.

I've followed the antics of convention center promoters for many years. In 2000 I led a successful opposition campaign against a convention center expansion and new arena for downtown Tulsa. The project was to be funded by a city sales tax increase and it was sold as a way of generating new convention business for Tulsa, filling empty hotel rooms, and preventing us from becoming a "fourth-tier" city in the competition for national conventions and trade shows. If we voted for the expansion, we were told to expect $100 million in additional direct spending annually -- a threefold increase over the actual direct spending numbers at the time. In debunking their numbers and making our case, we depended heavily on the research done by Heywood Sanders, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the nation's leading expert on convention center economics, who has made a career of comparing the claims of feasibility studies to the results produced by new and expanded convention centers.

Tulsa's arena and convention center package was ultimately sold to the voters in 2003 as part of a billion-dollar package of corporate welfare ($350 million to Boeing for an aircraft assembly plant), parks, university facilities, street improvements, and assorted other pieces of pork, collectively known as Vision 2025, and funded by a 1% sales tax. In the 2003 vote, promoters talked as little as possible about the convention center and arena, and instead pointed to the city's dire economic circumstances -- second only to San Jose in job losses in the wake of the tech bubble's bursting -- and convinced the voters that "we have to do something," never bothering to provide an economic rationale for their claims that Vision 2025 would pull us out of the doldrums. When they did respond to projections that the convention center would run an even bigger operating deficit after expansion, the convention center promoters would claim that increased sales tax revenue generated by additional visitor spending would more than make up for the deficit.

For all that I've read about convention center economics, I don't often go to conventions, so it's been interesting to have an inside look, as a delegate, at a "pearl of great price" in the convention industry -- the kind of event that cities would give everything to attract. And they often have.

New York City has been a great host, and I would love to come back to New York for the 2008 Republican convention, but I wouldn't blame New Yorkers for rolling up the welcome mat. Mind you, not because of political differences, but because an event of this magnitude may cost far more than any economic benefit.

Early estimates from New York City's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) put the net economic impact of last week's Republican National Convention at $255 million, but the numbers are based on economic models and standard industry figures for delegate spending, not actual receipts, using $220 per person per day for five days as a spending estimate for the 47,000 visitors. And that $255 million is a net number -- $341 million in spending, less $86 million in lost retail activity.

It's hard to tell how close those numbers are to reality. Our room was $155 a night, and I'd estimate that my wife and I spent another $50 a day on food and taxi or subway fare, plus incidentals. Four young women in our delegation shared a single hotel room to save money. A lot of additional money was spent on us by various corporations and politicians at the breakfasts and receptions we attended, but I suspect that would still leave the total well shy of the number used by the EDC. Last month, New York City's comptroller estimated that the city would lose $309 million on the convention, the result of all the disruptions and inconveniences connected with the event.

Looked at through the eyes of a convention planner, a national political convention is an odd combination of a trade show and a SMERF event. SMERF stands for social, military, educational, religious, and fraternal organizations. These are the least coveted conventions, because delegates are attending on their own behalf and are spending their own money, not traveling on expense accounts, and accordingly they stay at budget accommodations (or double up in luxury accommodations) and look for restaurant bargains. Like delegates at most SMERF events, RNC delegates paid their own way to New York, as did thousands of volunteers. But then there were also thousands of media staff, campaign staff, and Republican party staff who were at the convention for business reasons and so were traveling on someone else's dime. Economic impact calculations had better take the dual nature of these conventions into account.

The New York papers have had fun recounting delegate penny pinching. A New York Post article featured complaints from hotel concierges who were getting "God bless yous" instead of gratuities in thanks for their assistance. One indignant concierge blasted the thrifty delegates: "They even ask where the nearest Laundromat is so they can wash their own clothes. Look, if you can't afford to travel, don't come." We didn't go to the laundromat or let the hotel do our laundry -- it would have been cheaper to buy replacements. As a way to save money on drinks, we brought along an insulated, leakproof piece of luggage which can be used as a cooler. We bought 6-packs of Diet Cokes for $2.99 each from a nearby drugstore, and filled the cooler with just enough ice from the hotel's machine to keep the sodas cold.

Merchants and restaurateurs near Madison Square Garden suffered badly during the convention, as did Broadway. I wonder, too, about the impact of a nearly empty Javits Center. The Republican committee meetings the week before the convention used only a tiny fraction of the Javits Center, but the rest of the cavernous center was left empty, presumably for security reasons.

New York City taxpayers bore a large chunk of the security costs of this convention -- as much as $15 million out of an expected total cost of $65 million. (The rest of the money comes from the Federal Government.)

Unlike most cities that chase convention business, New York City can plausibly claim that even losing money on this convention, particularly one that draws from every state in the union, can help the city in the long run. Thousands of delegates who had never been to the city, or hadn't been since the bad old days, pre-Giuliani, came away with very positive impressions of the city and are more likely to return and to excite their friends and relatives about visiting. Someone attending a convention in Wichita, let's say, might feel that he had exhausted the tourism potential of the city in the course of a week-long meeting. Nice city, but no plans to return. Most Republican delegates in New York left with a sense of unfinished business, unable to exhaust the possibilities that New York City offers in the handful of free hours we had each day. We will be back.

Beyond the economic impact, the presence of tens of thousands of Republicans had a positive impact on the small but mighty band of local conservatives. Blogger and political consultant Karol Sheinin wrote, "I love the convention being in my city. All the regular rightwing events are on steroids, with more people than ever and a great vibe." Beyond regular events, like the New Criterion's Tuesday evening gatherings at Fitzgeralds, special events connected with the convention, like the National Review cocktail hour cum mosh pit at Turtle Bay, "The Right Stuff" comedy show, and the Club for Growth's events, gave local conservatives a chance to find each other, as they emerge from the catacombs.

Who knows but that a few more such boosts may help develop a thriving conservative social scene in New York City? Shouldn't the capital city of capitalism be the capital of conservatism, too? Conservatives from the rest of the country should offer, out of the goodness of our hearts, to gather annually in Manhattan for a major political shindig -- not so major that it shuts down whole neighborhoods, but major enough to draw the biggest names and the brightest rising stars, a week-long celebration of conservatism. Just like a national convention, but minus the convention sessions, which just get in the way of all the parties and receptions. Yes, we could have it on some cruise ship in the Caribbean, but it would encourage our New York brethren more to have it in their midst. I'm willing to sacrifice for the cause. How about you?

Electric Bouguereau


A lot of bloggers have had Bouguereau on the mind of late:

Eight days ago, Mikki and I were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, getting a whirlwind tour, in between church, brunch, and a Broadway play, from Dawn Eden. We started in the European painting gallery, and as we entered the first room, Dawn pointed out a couple of works by 19th century French painter William Bouguereau, "The Proposal" and "Young Mother Gazing at Her Child". I mentioned that Tulsa's Philbrook Museum had a prominently displayed work that I thought was a Bouguereau -- "The Shepherdess", which has pride of place in the first gallery. The name of the artist of that work was one of the few questions that stumped our team at the Holland Hall School trivia night back in January (we won decisively).

Late last night I verified that Bouguereau was the artist of the painting at Philbrook. Meanwhile, Dean Esmay was composing an essay on culture and female beauty (another topic I blogged about yesterday), and the heart of the piece was an appreciation of a certain 19th century French painter:

Back in the late 1800s, there was an artist who I believe truly captured the beauty of the female form. In my mind, he should be revered as much as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and maybe even Da Vinci. He was a truly great artist. Perhaps he is forgotten because his work came just before the explosion of the expressionists, the cubists, the dadaists, the abstractionists, and so on. Perhaps he was just too old-fashioned, for he was completely overshadowed by the modern artists. But he should be remembered.

Who was he? His name was William Bouguereau. ...

I see two things when I see William Bouguereau's work. First, I see a man who drew in the classical style at a time when it was out of fashion, archaic, and underapreciated. This is tragic enough. Yet I also see an artist who, more than any other, appreciated the grace, the beauty, and the poetry of the feminine form, the true feminine form.

Women--real women--aren't they beautiful?


Dean's entry includes a selection of Bouguereau's work and a link to an essay and online gallery of more than 200 paintings.

Hat tip to Charles of Dustbury for the link.

Hat tip to World Net Daily for the link to this story:

Cantor Fitzgerald Securities, a bond trading firm that lost two-thirds of its workers in the World Trade Center attack, has sued Saudi Arabia for allegedly supporting al-Qaida prior to the Sept. 11 attack through financing, safe houses, weapons and money laundering.

The company, in a $7 billion lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and made public Friday, also named dozens of other defendants, including numerous banks and Islamic charities, in a bid to hold them accountable for its losses in the terrorism attack.

Jayesh Shah, who was a Tulsa Memorial High School and University of Tulsa graduate, was Vice President of Technology for Cantor Fitzgerald's eSpeed division, working on the 103rd floor of the north tower on September 11, 2001. I knew Jayesh through, of all things, Hal O'Halloran's radio sports talk shows in the late '70s and early '80s. He was a very smart guy with a great sense of humor and very devoted to his family and he is missed by all who knew him. I'm happy to see that his employer is pursuing those parties who may bear some responsibility for the attack, but who have yet to be held accountable in any way.

If you've missed the news about the taking and murder of hostages by Islamist terrorists at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, Russian Federation, you will want to read this timeline by Michele at the Command Post.

And many people, including Charles of Little Green Footballs, are linking to a remarkable Daily Telegraph opinion piece by the general manager of Arabic satellite TV station Al-Arabiya, which begins like this:

It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.

The hostage-takers of children in Beslan, North Ossetia, were Muslims. The other hostage-takers and subsequent murderers of the Nepalese chefs and workers in Iraq were also Muslims. Those involved in rape and murder in Darfur, Sudan, are Muslims, with other Muslims chosen to be their victims.

Those responsible for the attacks on residential towers in Riyadh and Khobar were Muslims. The two women who crashed two airliners last week were also Muslims.

Bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world, were Muslim.

What a pathetic record. What an abominable "achievement". Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies and our culture?

This piece was originally run in Arabic in a pan-Arabic newspaper.

Protest warriors


One of the unreported stories of the Republican convention was the effort by a pro-American group called Protest Warrior, who tried to infiltrate the radicals' protests with some contrarian signs:

"Except for ending slavery, fascism, nazism, and communism, WAR HAS NEVER SOLVED ANYTHING"

"Protect Islamic Property Rights Against Western Imperialism -- SAY NO TO WAR!" -- the poster depicts a woman in a burka being dangled from a choke chain.

My wife met one of the Protest Warriors on her flight to NYC -- an aviation science student at Oklahoma State University. He dropped me a line yesterday, pointing me to some links to photos and anecdotes on the Protest Warrior website:

As far as anecdotes, we were called fascist and Nazis quite often which are both leftist theories contradictory to conservative ones and, when trying to explain to them this fact they would turn violent. They don't really care for being cornered in a debate. One notable event that comes to mind is a group of protesters protesting for free speech were telling us we didn't belong there and that we shouldn't be allowed to say what we were saying. Others were saying stuff such as: capitalism is for the greedy and socialism is the only true way to go about things. These are people that have jobs and are consumers of goods and services, plain hypocrisy if you ask me.

The Cool Blue Blog (hat tip to Candace) has a first-hand report of the August 29th march.

Beauty on beauty


Candace, one of the bloggers I met in NYC, has some thoughts worthy of pondering in an entry titled "Women do a lot of stupid things to feel beautiful". After a long list of said stupid things that includes overconsumption of alcohol, extreme blisters, starvation, vomiting, and credit card debt, she writes:

And why? All these things do is give us tear lines. They cross our faces with sadnesses that don't belong there. They take the beauty we got here with and chew on it until it's unrecognizable, and then they spit us out on the feet of our fathers, who tried so hard to protect us.

I should mention, because it's relevant in this context, that Candace is a lovely young woman. (I hope the Fatha of da Revolution will not send me to Siberia for noticing.)

There were several interesting comments on the entry, including this one from Missie:

it's always been my hypothesis such woman lacked affirmation from their father at a time when their self-identity, and thus self-esteem, was being established.... i'm very well aware that despite the petty things i do to feel EXTRA beautiful, none the less, I still am because long time ago, my father, through endless compliments and gasps of delights each time he saw me for the first time that day, made feel like i was a bombshell. t[o] solve this dilema, it is my belief, woman realize who made them and therefore rest in the assurance of his great craftmanship.

As a father of a little girl -- only four years old now -- I love to watch her dance like a ballerina and to see her delight in wearing a pretty dress. And she delights in the praise of dad, mom, and grandparents. We must continue to affirm her as often as we can, but the day will almost surely come when all our affirmation will be unable to outweigh the doubts cast by her peers. I can only hope we do our best to impart the true nature of beauty:

Do not let your adorning be external -- the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing -- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

The end of that comment is significant too -- we need to help our little girl realize that she is God's handiwork, and thus can "rest in the assurance of his great craftmanship."

Candace has more good stuff -- including another first hand account of the Communists for Kerry rally and her mom's thoughts on the hostage situation in Russia.

Top RNC speech excerpts


John Hawkins of Right Wing News has his top 10 speech excerpts from last week, plus some honorable mentions.

And the RNC convention website can rewind you to any day of the convention for text, audio, and video of the speeches.

Smells like Charles Wesley


An observation for a Sunday morning.

You can sing Charles Wesley's hymn, "And Can It Be," to the tune of the verse of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

The question is, "Should you?"

The answer is, "No."

Screed on singing traditional hymns to "modern" tunes will follow when I'm feeling especially screedy.

Party poopers


There were complaints in the press and on various gossip blogs that Republican delegates are a bunch of dull party-poopers -- we didn't stay out late and we didn't attend parties. Here's an item from Friday's Page Six column in the New York Post:

September 3, 2004 -- THE Republican delegates seem to have run out of gas when it comes to parties. An Independence Bank bash at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden was canceled at the last minute yesterday for lack of attendance. "You can't do a party there for less than 125 people at approximately $125 a head. I'm told that 200 to 300 conventioneers were originally expected," said our source. RNC parties at the Bronx Zoo, Snug Harbor on Staten Island, and in Queens were also under-attended. "The only party that was packed today was the governor's event at the Fulton Ferry Pier in Brooklyn, right in front of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory," we're told. Not only the outer boroughs are being shunned. Gov. Pataki invited 800 GOP backers Monday night to Tupelo Grill, right across from Madison Square Garden, to eat, drink and get merry while watching Rudy Giuliani's speech. "Only 50 people showed up," said our informant. "But the gov didn't exactly lose his appetite. Instead of savoring the mini-quiche made especially for the occasion, he demanded a cheeseburger with all the fixings."

And this bit from Cindy Adams in the same paper:

CONVENTIONS run from 7 to 10 p.m. Theoretically. Because BS flows like Niagara, they last through 11 p.m. Result? The after-parties, like for Rudy, Arnold, the Bushes, the gov, all begin at midnight. Everyone's exhausted and hungry. Restaurants lose money, since this kills the dinner hour. The original 7-to-10 p.m. concept was for prime-time newscasts. There's no longer nightly network coverage because no longer are folks glued to the screens unless they're TV repairmen. These rah-rah conventions no longer even have a raison d'etre because all's decided beforehand so I asked "Law & Order" actor/Sen. Fred Thompson why not change that 7-to-10-p.m. deal? And he wisely replied:

"I have no idea."

Cindy's a bit off on the timing -- the convention was planned to end at about 11:00 pm EDT every night. That was not an accident. The aim was to get the main speakers -- Giuliani on Monday, the First Lady on Tuesday, Cheney on Wednesday, and the President on Thursday -- going right at 10:00 pm EDT. That would maximize live viewing across the country -- 7 o'clock on the West Coast, and toward the end of prime time everywhere else. This was typically the only hour carried by the major networks. The President was the only one to go beyond 11, and that just barely, followed by another 15 minutes or so of the balloon drop.

But what worked well for the networks didn't work well for the delegates. After the session it was far easier to get on our buses, rather than wander out into the city beyond the barriers. Monday afternoon at the end of the first session was the one time I tried to walk directly out, and I got stuck trying to cross 34th Street at 7th Avenue, as the police were giving priority to the convention buses -- I finally backtracked and walked around to 8th Avenue.

Particularly from Tuesday night on, with protests near the convention site, we faced the choice of riding on buses with police escorts and traffic priority returning us straight to the hotel, or leaving the secured area on foot and walking into the middle of a police-protester confrontation that might keep us from going anywhere for a while. The easy choice was to take the bus and leave from the hotel if we wanted to go out.

Scheduling and security worked together to dampen attendance at outside events, whether during the day or late at night. The evening sessions gobbled up a six-hour block of time from the time we left the hotel until we returned -- all of which was spent within the security perimeter or on the bus. Once you were inside the Garden, the thought of passing through security again was a strong disincentive to dropping in on another event. For the same reason, delegates tended to avoid MSG during the day -- you showed up as late as possible while still arriving in time for the speakers you wanted to hear.

As for parties, we were invited to some afternoon and early evening events -- all but one of them specifically for the Oklahoma delegation, and that other invite came from our congressman. There were rumors of some great after-parties -- John McCain hosted a "Wednesday Night Live" party headlined by SNL star Darrell Hammond -- but no one I knew was invited. The master schedule we were given at the start of the week had long lists of events, most of them labeled "private". I started to go through the whole schedule and mark interesting possibilities, but so many were marked private that I dropped the idea. We might have been daring and shown up to crash a party, but we were too worn out and hungry to waste time and energy showing up at an event only to be turned away.

That's the general, here are the specifics. Let me take you through my week and I think you'll understand.



To the folks who inhabited Blogger's Corner this week: If you think it was distracting to write in a small poorly lit area, surrounded by a dozen other bloggers, next to the main entrance to the media area, try blogging with Sesame Street's Elmo chatting up a storm on the computer game my daughter is playing in the next room.

Processing.... please wait


Back home on the non-stop from Newark today with Mikki and a few other delegates including Mayor Bill LaFortune, who spent most of the flight snoozing in an aisle seat near the back. I was envious -- I had only had about 3 hours of sleep but could not sleep on the plane because of the continual traffic up and down the aisle. (I could comment about the irony of the Mayor of Tulsa being on the non-stop flight, which was on Continental -- the result of a company responding to market opportunities -- and not Great Plains, the airline that lobbied for millions in government support on the promise of providing direct flights to the coast, a promise it never fulfilled. But I won't.)

I return home with a pile of newspapers I never got through during the convention. Because I was in the middle experiencing the event directly, I haven't had much time to find out what other observers have been saying. I'm especially interested in the feature stories that have been written -- how the delegates responded to New York and vice versa. I want to take another couple of days to sum things up -- what it's like to be on the floor, how a major convention affects a major city, delegates as party-poopers and lousy tippers, the rumored contenders for '08, the moderates who spoke.

Mikki and I finished packing this morning, shipping a box of convention stuff back and just getting our checked luggage under the weight limit, thanks to all the tote bags and books we were given by various sponsors.

Before catching the shuttle to the airport, Mikki and I had time for a brief visit to Ground Zero, a chance to remember September 11, and to remember Jayesh Shah, a graduate of Tulsa's Memorial High School and the University of Tulsa, who was in his office atop the north tower when the plane hit. Jay left behind a young wife, two daughters and a son, and a younger brother who was his nearest and dearest friend. I prayed silently for his family, and looking at the list of heroes, I picked a name at random and prayed for that family too. We spent some time at the east fence, then walked down to Battery Park to view the globe that once stood on the World Trade Center plaza.

This election is about one thing and one thing only -- winning the war on terror. Whatever other disappointments I may have in the administration, George W. Bush is committed to preemptively defeating terrorism while John Kerry seems to want to wait for another attack.

RNC photos from the Daily Oklahoman


Finally got pointed to the photos of my wife Mikki that were in the Daily Oklahoman earlier this week. We rode to Newark airport with Oklahoman assistant photo editor Steve Sisney, who showed us a slideshow of the photos he took of the convention, and pointed us to the Oklahoman's online gallery which currently features Steve's photos of RNC events. Mikki's two pictures are here and here. And here's Real Media video from KWTV channel 9 in Oklahoma City.

And you can find an archive of Daily Oklahoman coverage of the RNC by going to their homepage and clicking the RNC tab.

The photos were taken at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, where volunteers from several delegations boxed food Tuesday morning, as part of the convention's "Compassion Across America" emphasis. (Mikki went; I stayed behind to try to get my phone upgraded so I could blog from the convention floor.) Throughout the summer leading up to the convention, each state delegation was asked to adopt a local charity, with every delegate giving time, materials or money to the cause. The organizing committee in New York City was also engaged in service projects around NYC all year long. (Here's a press release about the emphasis.

People who went agreed that the trip was worthwhile, but there was some disappointment because in the end only about 25 minutes was spent working. There were problems finding the location, which added another hour or so to the ride over, and no one had a point of contact to call for directions. Once there, they were given an introduction to the work of the food bank, which was informative, but cut into the time available for work. They had to leave early enough so that the First Lady of Oregon could get back for an event at 2.

A contributing factor to some of the difficulties was the inability of the organizers to meet on Sunday to finalize plans and work out details. The planned meeting at Madison Square Garden couldn't happen because the protest parade had stopped in front of the Garden, and security locked the building so that no one could go in or out.

As Mikki noted in the KWTV story, the people who came for the convention are active back home in their communities in many different ways. This event could only dramatize in a small way the more significant contributions that are made the other 51 weeks of the year back home. I'll add that the political efforts made by the delegates -- running for office, organizing, campaigning, contributing money to candidates, and the giving of time, money, privacy, and energy involved -- are an expression of compassion toward their fellow citizens, even if it can't be deducted as a charitable expense.

Mission accomplished



The story of the convention is this: The convention closed last night without a major incident. No attacks, no riots, no explosions. Just a handful of hecklers in the hall, drowned out by delegates who started chanting "Four More Years" at the first sign of a disturbance. The speeches hit the marks and made the points that needed making. In the end, the delegates felt like we were doing our job as well, providing support with our cheers and applause.

New York City did its job. I would have the 2008 convention back here, if New York would have us -- but I would understand completely if the people of this city didn't want to deal with a summer of preparations and a week of serious inconvenience.

I'll write more later. We fly home later today.

Touring around


There's a lot of competition for the time and attention of delegates - more events and special exhibits than delegate-hours to go around. One of our delegates, Rodd Moesel, went on a "green tour" of lower Manhattan - he was the only delegate along with 15 city officials. He met a rep from General Motors' Allison division, who asked if we might have use for a couple of buses. They were looking for opportunities to show off their new hybrid vehicle technology in the form of these diesel/hybrid buses, particularly to city leaders.

One of the buses took us up to the New-York Historical Society for a tour of their new exhibit on the life and death of Alexander Hamilton. This impressive exhibit includes portraits of his contemporaries by Stuart, Peale, and others, documents from his life and career, and the pistols used in the duel 200 years ago this July. There's a wonderful love letter he wrote to his future wife and the farewell letter he left for her before the duel should he not survive. There are two life-sized bronzes of Burr and Hamilton in firing position - Hamilton is shown wearing sunglasses.

These artifacts give you a sense of the political reality of the day - the turn of the 19th century was not just marble busts and powdered wigs.

The exhibit opens next week and will run for 6 months, then it will tour 40 cities across America, with facsimiles instead of original documents. Mayor LaFortune spoke to the curator about bringing it to Gilcrease - it would be a great fit with Gilcrease's collection of early American documents.

Over on MSNBC's website, they present side-by-side videos comparing delegates dancing at the Republican and Democrat conventions. The Republican video begins and ends with two Oklahoma delegates -- Erica Lewis, a career consultant from Stillwater, and Joy Pittman, an attorney from Tulsa. Joy was also on the convention platform committee.

I got an inordinate amount of camera time last night because I happened to be standing right in front of the two delegates mentioned above and three or four more attractive young female delegates.

Meanwhile, John Derbyshire reports his experience being in the hall for last night's proceedings:

The delegates were whooping and hollering, punching the air, jumping up and down. Readers, **I** was jumping up and down. The heck with that British reserve — I'm an American now, and a Republican, and I can holler and jump with the best of them. Zell Miller, unfortunately, is not a Republican — but he had explained that point to everyone's satisfaction, and no one held it against him. By the time he finished, nobody in the hall held anything against him. Whatever he was for, we were for. Whatever he was against, we were against. This was a real star turn, the best speech of the convention so far — better than Arnie, better than Rudy. It was an honor and a privilege to be in that hall when Zell Miller spoke.

Now if we can just get Derb in a chorus line with the Oklahoma delegation....

(Here's the direct link to the Shockwave file.)

Convention coverage highlights


Wizbang's Kevin Aylward has a great summary of Zell Miller's responses to Hardball's Chris Matthews and his usual rude interviewing style. Sorry I missed it, but Kevin's selection of quotes from Miller makes me feel like I was there. My favorite: "I wish we lived in the day that I could challenge you to a duel."

Redstate and Captain Ed both wonder whether the Miller speech was too fierce. I really appreciated finally hearing a speech delivered with passion, but I understand that we live in Pony-Tail Guy's world now, and we don't like politicians who say harsh things or speak in harsh tones. The Republicans (me included) loved it. Zell in '08!

That's all for now. Check out for more.

and Arlen Specter. Go here to see them both.

Heckler hustled out


I heard some outcry - not loud at all - and then a rush of security, followed by a rush of press. Whoever it was was quickly hustled out gate 67.

I wonder if it would have been less distracting to let the fool holler. A single unamplified voice doesn't carry very well in here.

Media update

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Big media day for the Bateses. I've been profiled by Gawker. The Daily Oklahoman has a picture of Mikki on the front page, packing boxes at a food bank as part of Tuesday's "Compassion across America" event. If the photo is online, you'll find it at I'm told that I'm in a picture of the Oklahoma delegation in the Tulsa Whirled. And Scott Sala of Slant Point has posted an interview with me about last week's committee meetings.

The laptop has been in and out of a coma all day, so I have been unable to update, to fix a couple of glaring errors in earlier entries (apologies to Jay Nordlinger for linking his name to Derb's archive), and to link to the excellent coverage by the other convention bloggers. Go over to for all their latest.

W is officially nominated


and the MSG floor is bouncing.


What's the resonant frequency of this floor?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2004 is the previous archive.

October 2004 is the next archive.

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