December 2004 Archives

New server is up!


If you're reading this, you're seeing BatesLine on the new server at Total Choice Hosting.

UPDATE: The transition went seamlessly. Within 12 hours of signing up, the new account was active. Within two hours of requesting a transfer from my old server to the new server, the transfer was complete. Within three hours of pointing the DNS server to the new server, traffic was headed to the new place. All that plus four times the disk space and twice the bandwidth for the same price.

Thanks to all who wrote to offer BatesLine a new home, but for now the low cost, the familiar toolset, and 24-hour service of TCH are very appealing features. There may be other opportunities in the future, and I'll keep your info on file.

Next step: Can I upgrade to a newer version of MT without breaking all inbound links?

The night they said "Ni!"


Specifically, Ukraine said:

Фальсифікаціям. Ні!
Махінаціям. Ні!
Понятіям. Ні!
Ні брехні!

"Ні" ("Ni") is Ukrainian for "No." Those lines are from the theme song of the Orange Revolution -- no to fraud, no to machinations, no to prison rules, no to lies. Saying "Ni!" didn't do much good for the legendary knights of ancient Britain, but for Ukraine, "Ni!" felled a corrupt government and reversed a fraudulent election, which is much better than a shrubbery.

The latest results from Sunday's presidential rerun show that, with the count 93% complete, Yushchenko leads Yanukovich 53% to 43%.

The Club for Growth's blog links to an op-ed that says government economic development programs don't work, but they do encourage businesses to spend lots of time and money trying to game the system:

Yet, the sad truth is: Government economic development programs rarely have lasting benefits -- for the simple reason that they run counter to good business practices.

The most glaring flaw in these programs is the fact that they increase a behavior known to economists as "rent-seeking," a euphemism for business efforts to secure government favors. Businesses pay lobbyists, lawyers and consultants large sums of money to help them obtain economic development funds. Unfortunately, this makes less money available for higher priorities, such as capital investment.

Besides, when a business succeeds in gaining government favor -- the $40 million Texas Enterprise Fund provided Sematech for an "Advanced Materials Research Center," for example -- the recipient firm gains an unfair advantage over other businesses, both direct competitors and those competing indirectly for capital and workers. ...

The Government Accountability Office in Washington has attempted to measure the impact of economic development programs using sophisticated econometric modeling. The agency (then called the General Accounting Office) reported nearly a decade ago, in 1996, that it was "unable to find any study" by any reputable organization "that established a strong causal linkage between a positive economic effect and an agency's economic development assistance." Yet, the spending continues.

What should government do to encourage economic development?

Unsatisfying as it may be to the many proponents of economic development programs, government can best promote economic growth and prosperity by sticking to the basics: protecting private property rights, enforcing the law, providing basic services, and keeping taxes and regulations to a minimum. It should then do one final thing: Get out of the way and let the economy work.

How boring! How will the politicians take credit for creating jobs if we stick to the basics?

Meanwhile, Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune is off to Tiberias, Israel, to tell them that their 38,000 residents can be as prosperous as Tulsa if they raise local taxes and build a 20,000 seat arena downtown.

AG addresses conflicts of interest


Interesting article in today's Whirled about Attorney General Drew Edmondson's opinion issued in response to a question about conflicts of interest on state boards and commissions. You'll find the opinion, which was released on December 15, here. The Whirled article starts here and continues here. I haven't read through the opinion yet to see whether the Whirled article gives an accurate account of the opinion.

The question came from former State Senator Ben Robinson, and concerned the Environmental Quality Board, which oversees the state Department of Environmental Quality.

A couple of interesting points:

Mere abstention from voting may not be sufficient to avoid a conflict of interest. A board member could have considerable influence over a decision even without casting a vote.

Title 60 trusts are excluded from the constitutional provision on which the opinion is based, but some trust board members also hold positions on related city boards, which would be subject to the conflict provision. The story mentions that the board members of the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority, a public trust, and also board members of the Tulsa Utility Board, a body established by the City Charter, and the members of the Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust are also members of the Tulsa Airport Authority.

The story mentioned Councilor Sam Roop's potential conflict of interest involving a new business venture seeking to provide networking services to the city, and Councilor Roscoe Turner's service on the board of a charity which sought Community Development Block Grant funds. It was interesting that no mention was made of Councilor Bill Christiansen's status as an airport tenant, and the controversy over airport rules which seemed to put his sole competitor at a disadvantage.

The City Council majority was right to raise this issue and to demand full disclosure, not only for the bodies covered by this AG opinion, but for all city authorities, boards, and commissions.

Tabloid sermon


It's not every Sunday service that you hear the pastor read a poem called "I Want to Have a Space Alien's Baby." Not only did our pastor read said poem this morning, he read it twice. In a day or two you'll be able to find out for yourself what that had to do with the rest of his sermon, by going here and listening to the sermon.

In the meantime, you can read the poem here.

When he read this line:

"I spent a night beyond the moon
one time. Aliens are wonderful lovers.
You know that old song about slow hands?
They have six of them."

I nearly let out a belly-laugh, but no one else laughed (we're Presbyterian), so I held it in.

Believe it or not, the poem really is appropriate to the season. And here's something about the man who wrote the poem.

Blogging the Ukraine re-runoff


Discoshaman is live-blogging from Kyiv -- most recently from Yanukovich HQ -- and Orange Ukraine has lots of election news. Exit polling, which was conducted throughout the day (rather than just in the morning as the American exit polls were) show about a 15-point blowout for Yushchenko. There was a report of violence at one polling station. Polls closed at 8 p.m. Ukraine time.

Press releases in English on Yushchenko's site can be found here, but it's very slow to load. They are relaying reports of fraud -- ballot box stuffing, "dead souls" voting, busloads of soldiers going from one polling place to another. This time it may not be enough.

And I can't imagine a political leader in the world that combines toughness and loveliness better than Yulia Tymoshenko, co-leader of the Orange coalition. Wow.

Lessons and Carols


With everyone else exhausted and in bed, and me exhausted but not yet in bed, as I cleared away some dirty dishes, I treated myself to the Christmas Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge. The service, held annually (with a few war time exceptions) on Christmas eve since 1917, is a gift from the college to the City of Cambridge. The nine lessons are nine readings from the Bible which set the incarnation in the context of redemptive history, beginning with the fall of man in Genesis 3, the promises made to Abraham, the prophecies of Isaiah, the nativity narratives from Matthew and Luke, and concluding with the first chapter of the Gospel according to John, about the mystery of the incarnation. Interspersed are Christmas hymns, carols, and anthems, mostly traditional, some new but composed after the traditional style.

For many years, Holland Hall School held such a service at Trinity Episcopal Church downtown. As a student I was required to attend the service, grudgingly the first time, but gladly thereafter, and as a member of the Concert Chorus and Madrigal Singers I performed at two services.

As far as I can determine, the tradition was introduced to Tulsa by Father Ralph Urmson-Taylor, a Lancashire-born Anglican priest who came from Yorkshire to Tulsa in 1962 to be a chaplain at Holland Hall. I first encountered Father Taylor when I came to Holland Hall as a third grader, in 1971. For chapel, Father Taylor read to us from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and planted in my heart the seed of an openness to hear more of what C. S. Lewis had to say, a seed that bore fruit eight or nine years later, when I casually pulled The Abolition of Man down from a B. Dalton bookshelf.

(Fr. Taylor is also responsible for bringing another English seasonal tradition to Tulsa -- Trinity's annual Epiphany Procession, patterned after the annual service at York Minster. God willing, I'll be one of the singers at this year's service, January 2nd, at 5 p.m., at 5th & Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa.)

At the beginning of the service, after the processional, Father Taylor would read the bidding prayer. Confessing Evangelical has it as I remember it:

Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmastide our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Therefore let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child.

But first, let us pray for the needs of the whole world; for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in this our diocese.

And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us remember, in his name, the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and them that mourn, the lonely and the unloved, the aged and the little children; all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.

Lastly, let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore, and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom in the Lord Jesus we are one forevermore.

These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the Throne of Heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us: Our Father, which art in heaven...

That's a beautiful prayer, and I get goosebumps thinking about that next to last paragraph, and think of people like my Uncle Bud Hunt, who passed away earlier this fall -- a man with zeal for God's Word, for God's spirit, and a love for his fellow man that compelled him to proclaim the gospel to others -- now free from pain and delighting in the presence of the Savior he loved so dearly in this life. I think of the last verses of the Epiphany hymn, "As with Gladness, Men of Old":

Holy Jesus, every day Keep us in the narrow way; And, when earthly things are past, Bring our ransomed souls at last Where they need no star to guide, Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!

The King's College version of the bidding prayer is a bit different, as one would expect, with references to Mary, the patron saint of the chapel, to the college and city, and to the Monarch. As I listened, I noticed a difference that can't be attributed to differences in local conditions. Dealing with politics as I do, I tune in to what is said and what is carefully left unsaid. There's a difference in the fourth paragraph above. Here's the current Cambridge version:

And let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed; the sick in body and in mind and them that mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; and all who know not the loving kindness of God.

What's missing? First, the phrase, "because this of all things would rejoice his heart" -- the notion of being in the presence of Jesus, who would be pleased by our intercession for those in need. Second, the final phrase, "all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love," becomes "all who know not the loving kindness of God." Here again we have language that speaks of the Lord Jesus as one whom we owe love, one whom we may know, and one whose heart is grieved by sin. The language of the traditional prayer reminds the hearer that Jesus is not just a babe in a manger 2000 years ago, not an ancient, long-dead moral teacher, but our living Lord, to whom we owe allegiance and honor. And for what greater need can we intercede, than the need for all mankind to know, love, and obey Jesus?

Punny, without a grout


Eight-year-old Joseph unveiled a riddle of his own invention:

Q. What kind of roach should you use when you're sealing tile?

A. A caulk-roach.

Setup needs some work -- why should you use a roach to seal tile? -- but chuckleworthy nonetheless.

Christmas roundup


Some people are still blogging on Christmas. I tend to notice more now that I've organized my blogroll in most-recently-updated order.

Karol recounts her tough year -- several loved ones lost, back surgery, and enduring a significantly downward financial adjustment to pursue the field she loves, but she's still thankful:

It wasn't all bad. I was happy that President Bush won re-election, that I had the best friends anyone can ask for, that I loved my blog and my readers, that Peter remained a calming, happy influence in my life, that my mom and my brother are so good to me, that there were no terrorists attacks on US soil, that I got to spend a good length of time in Georgia and Colorado and that I remain alive in the greatest country in history.

Omar of Iraq the Model writes of the importantce of sacrifice:

It's never easy for us to see the blood of our brothers and friends being shed everyday but we should also remember that great goals to be achieved need great sacrifices and now it's our duty; we, who are still breathing must make sure that the priceless blood of our brothers and friends was not shed in vain and we should remember that the sacrifices they made were made for a noble reason.

Huge responsibilities are waiting for us; responsibilities towards the coming generations and responsibilities towards the brave ones who sacrificed their lives on the frontline.

We cannot let despair walk into our hearts now and we must keep the faith in our cause and keep the hard work until the dreams of our loved ones come true and I believe we should learn the lesson from the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ who offered his life for the cause he believed in and struggled for; freedom and justice.

He also links to this account of Christmas in Baghdad from a Sunni Muslim.

Today I went to my parents house and I took my daughter to their neighbor’s house because they have a daughter in her age and she likes to play with her, the neighbors are Christians and they are the best neighbor a person can have. I asked the mother if they will go to church in Christmas as they used to go every year, she said no with sorrow. She is afraid from attacking the churches in Christmas, but she said I know many will go what ever will happen since they will go to the house of God. I really hated myself at this moment and I did not know what to tell her, I told her that not only you are targeted, look what they had done in Najaf and Karbala two days ago, they are trying hard to tear us apart, but I don’t know who are they. I felt so silly that moment.

Swamphopper's four-year-old was paying attention to the Christmas eve sermon:

This morning while we were lighting our last Advent candle, we talked about how the Magi fell down and worshiped the Christ child and gave him gifts. I asked the girls what we could give Jesus for Christmas. To our surprise, our four-year-old, replied, "We can give him our sin."

That was actually a quote from our pastor in his Christmas Eve sermon last night. Who says children aren't listening as they sit and doodle during church?

Charles Spurgeon reminds us of something we ought to take care of before bedtime, something we're likely to forget on a feast day:

Amid the cheerfulness of household gatherings it is easy to slide into sinful levities, and to forget our avowed character as Christians. It ought not to be so, but so it is, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Come, believer, in what have you sinned to-day? Have you been forgetful of your high calling? Have you been even as others in idle words and loose speeches? Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice. The sacrifice sanctifies. The precious blood of the Lamb slain removes the guilt, and purges away the defilement of our sins of ignorance and carelessness. This is the best ending of a Christmas-day—to wash anew in the cleansing fountain. Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it be so good to-night, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood; to them sin, great as it is, is nevertheless no cause for despair, since they draw near yet again to the sin-atoning victim, and their conscience is purged from dead works.

More about our Christmas day later.

A thought


I'm always gratified to see my friends triumph over adversity and discouragement. It would be even more gratifying if I weren't the source of the adversity and discouragement.

Out of the mouths of babes...


On the way to Christmas Eve service tonight:

Joe: "Dad, what does PCA stand for?"

Dad: "Presbyterian Church in America."

Joe: "What are the initials of the Presbyterian church for Democrats?"

Twenty-five "friend of the court" briefs have been filed on behalf of the homeowners in Kelo v. New London, the eminent domain abuse case before the U. S. Supreme Court. You can read all the briefs here on the Institute for Justice website. Here's a press release with excerpts of several briefs. The list of amici bears out my earlier comment that eminent domain abuse makes strange bedfellows. First on the list is Jane Jacobs, author of the landmark book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Others include the American Farm Bureau Association, AARP, NAACP, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, and a number of free-market policy thinktanks and property rights groups.

The most surprising entry is a brief jointly issued by the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors. Here's an excerpt:

While NAHB include property owners and development interests, its primary goal is to preserve opportunities for housing. Affordable housing projects have proven to be helpful to support the widely-recognized public purpose of redevelopment of a blighted area or slum. Additionally, many NAHB members participate in non-blight redevelopment projects at the local level.

However, NAHB recognizes that housing will almost never afford a community with the economic development benefits that a commercial application will. If economic development as a sole justification for public use is decided using a rational basis test with deference to local legislative bodies, then the door is left open for local governments to abuse their eminent domain powers and take developable land from NAHB members as they could from any other property owner. Therefore, NAHB must adhere in this case to its long-standing objective to protect private property rights from abuses by local government.

Translation: Sometimes we like condemnation, because it gives us a chance to build new houses where there used to be old houses. The problem is that a house will never bring in as much tax revenue as commercial property occupying the same footprint. That may tempt government to take land we want to develop for homes and develop it instead for more lucrative commercial uses.

I have only skimmed the brief, but it seems to oppose banning public condemnation for private use altogether, advocating instead for heightened review and application of a "clear and convincing" evidence standard for cases where public condemnation will put property into private hands. This brief and several others make the case that deferring to the legislature regarding the definition of public use effectively disables the protections of the public use clause of the 5th Amendment.

Hat tip to Eminent Domain Watch, which also reports that the Bush Administration is considering filling a brief in support of the City of New London.

Eminent domain abuse -- using the power of the state to take land from ordinary folks and make it available to the politically connected -- is an issue that brings together social and economic liberals and social and economic conservatives. Both ends of the economic spectrum see the injustice of it, and liberals hate to see the power of the state used for special favors for big corporations, while conservatives hate to see government wielding such raw power on anyone's behalf. It's part of a continuum of issues, involving government doing special favors for special people, rather than serving all of its citizens. These issues bring left and right together, and create the kind of bipartisan coalition that now enjoys a majority on Tulsa's City Council.

While I've blogged about condemnations of eminent domain abuse from libertarian and conservative sources, a reader sends along an article from Mother Jones, a thoroughly left-wing publication, involving an eminent domain abuse case that was new to me. The case is set in Norwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. The article details how easy it is to get a neighborhood -- any neighborhood, no matter how nice -- designated "blighted." In this case, the developer paid the city to conduct an urban renewal study on the area he wanted -- a preliminary step to condemnation. The developer also set up the deal to ensure maximum peer pressure on the owners who did not wish to sell: If all owners sell willingly, everyone will be paid 35% above market value. If even one owner holds out, every property will go through condemnation. The article is well done, and they've also got an interview with an Institute for Justice attorney and a story about a reunion for a New Haven, Connecticut neighborhood lost to urban renewal in the '50s. Well worth reading.

(Reminds me of something I came across while browsing through the National Lampoon Newspaper Parody at the bookstore a couple of nights ago. I'll tell you about it later.)

Came across a couple of entries that more or less end up making the same point.

In NRO's The Corner, Kathryn Lopez posts an e-mail from a reader about a recently-published acting manual (The Power of the Actor: The Chubbuck Technique) which acknowledges the natural protective instinct toward a child in the womb and the emotional impact of abortion on a woman. One excerpt from the book:

She needed an inner object that would duplicate the severe trauma of a mother violently losing her baby. We'd worked together for many years and I knew that she'd had an abortion. This experience caused her such acute distress that it produced out-of-control shaking and weeping whenever she talked about it. I suggested she use the abortion as the inner object for the scene. She did and out poured all of her rage, sadness, terror and horrific guilt that most women feel when they have had to abort their unborn child.

And this: Dawn Eden has been reading Witness by Whittaker Chambers and came across a very moving passage about his wife becoming pregnant and their decision not to abort the child, despite peer pressure within the Communist Party to do so. Their decision was a triumph of God-ordained human sentiment over the cold, inhuman dictates of an inhuman ideology: "Reason, the agony of my family, the Communist Party and its theories, the wars and revolutions of the 20th century, crumbled at the touch of the child." Dawn has an extended excerpt, which you can read here.

"Not a single identified investor"


That's the observation of the Downtown Guy, an Oklahoma City blogger focused on that city's downtown, about the announcement that the backers of "The American" (aka "The Big Indian") have nearly raised enough money to build the monumental statue. Downtown Guy says sculptor Shan Grey's excuse for not naming any of the investors is flimsy and that reporters should have dug deeper.

Tulsa Today has an analysis and excerpts from the Tulsa County grand jury report on the death of Shawn Howard, owner of Deadtown Tavern. The grand jury indicted Terry Badgewell for first degree murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The grand jury also had criticism for District Attorney Tim Harris' handling of the case, particularly the failure to notify the victim's family before the decision not to prosecute was publicly announced.

Videoblogging Tulsa

| features photos and video taken around Tulsa, particularly concerning local politics. This page has lengthy video excerpts from last Thursday's Council meeting and the debate over reappointing Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the water board, including Councilor Jim Mautino's speech, in which he lays out the facts about the TMUA's neglect of areas within Tulsa city limits while they rush to serve the suburbs. The site also has extensive coverage of problems with the airport noise abatement program. Good to see a site devoted to eyewitness coverage of local events.

Coburn assigned to Judiciary

| has the full list of Republican Senate committee assignments from the leadership, subject to confirmation by the Senate Republican caucus. Sen.-elect Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas have been assigned to Judiciary, replacing Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Larry Craig of Idaho. This is great news, a bit of compensation for having to put up with Arlen Specter in the chair. Coburn has also been assigned to Homeland Security / Government Affairs.

Our senior Senator, Jim Inhofe continues as chairman of Environment and Public Works and will be third-ranking Republican on Armed Services, behind John Warner and John McCain.

Thanks to Adam, an editor for, who is also a native Tulsan, for the tip. Adam is a self-described social moderate, and when asked by a commenter why he most wanted to see social conservatives on the Judiciary Committee, he replied:

My preference for judges is for ones that will not make law from the bench. For example, I support most gay rights initiatives, but I don't want a judiciary to impose those rights. I support a higher level of environmentalism than the Bush administration, but I don't want judges imposing it. And on and on.

Furthermore, I think Roe v. Wade is a flawed ruling (regardless of my view on the legality of abortion) and should be overruled or at least curtailed. These two will definitely side with me on that one.

I appreciate Adam's respect for the Constitution.

Service interruption


If you can't get to BatesLine at some point in the next two weeks, don't panic.

I've been putting it off, but I've got to get moved to a new server this week. I've picked one out. Now it's a matter of signing up, installing blog software, and migrating everything to the new server. I've been toying with the idea of a site redesign as well, maybe even changing to different blog software. I might even enable contents, but only if I can install a dozen layers of anti-spam protection. Between this and the press of last minute Christmas preparations, expect blogging to be light this week, and at times the site may disappear altogether. (Current advertisers: If there is a lengthy hiatus or interruption, I'll make sure you get your money's worth.)

If you can't reach this site, check my backup site to find out what's going on, and how long I expect the main site to be down.

Content might change in the new year, too. Something happened this last week, something I'm not supposed to talk about, but it was like a kick in the gut, and it's taken away my desire to write about local politics, except in the most general way. It's getting harder and harder to know who can be trusted, who is trying to spin me, and who is telling the truth. Maybe after some rest over the holidays, I'll be ready to go again. But maybe not.

(Just to be clear, I am as certain as ever that I cannot trust the Tulsa Whirled, the bureaucrats at the Tulsa Metro Chamber, or the rest of the Cockroach Caucus.)

In the meantime, there's plenty to be said about plenty of other topics, as you may have noticed over the last few days. I've been wanting to do a series on underappreciated cities, and I've got a few lined up to write about. Back in July, I was in Montreal and took a bunch of pictures to illustrate how good urban design contributes to the liveliness of a city. Maybe I'll finally get around to publishing them. And there are hundreds of articles in my backlog of interesting things that I could blog about, things that keep getting pushed aside out of a sense of obligation to write about City Hall. I intend to continue to post something new every day.

This blog started out as me writing about things that interested me. Local politics began to dominate when I got involved in the opposition to the Vision 2025 tax increases. But as one guy with a demanding job and a family (also demanding), I cannot cover City Hall with the depth and breadth that the subject deserves. I'm thankful to see other blogs taking up the topic.

What is really needed is for the Tulsa Beacon or KFAQ to invest in a full-time City Hall and County Courthouse reporter, someone with investigative skills and a good understanding of city and county government. Until that happens, we're dependent on news-gathering organizations that we can't trust. TGOV's broadcasts of council and commission meetings make it possible to "report" on the event from the comfort of your own home (in pajamas, if you like), but it's not the same as being there and seeing what doesn't get caught by the tape.

That's all for now.

UPDATE: A few folks have e-mailed to express concern, and while I don't think it's appropriate for me to say too much more, I do want to allay some concerns that were expressed. I have not been threatened in any way. It has to do with politics, not personal life. Things are fine with my job and family. Maybe the best way to describe what happened is to call it a friendly-fire incident, which is why it was discouraging in a way that a frontal attack from the Cockroach Caucus would not have been. I'm not going to write about the specifics, because to do so wouldn't be constructive, and in fact would hurt the very cause I was trying to help. It was just the sort of thing that makes one wonder what exactly was the point of all that exertion.

Pretending to care what you think


Sandra Langenkamp has a guest op-ed in Sunday's Whirled outlining a process for developing a vision for the future of our region. She recommends first gathering the great and the good -- former public officials, Chamber officials, bureaucrats -- to reach a consensus about what needs to be done. When do ordinary citizens have a chance to be heard?

Once a level of consensus is gained through these early conversations a process then would be established to obtain broad citizen participation.

A steering committee would be selected from the four early participating groups, which would select chairmen for the issue areas and assign appropriate staffs. The individual topic group chairman and staff would invite citizen participation. A one-year deadline would be stated for development of a mission statement, recommendations, implementation strategy and assignment to the appropriate group for fulfillment of the goals.

In other words, once all the important decisions have been made, then we'll "obtain broad citizen participation," whatever the heck that means.

She goes on to promote the laughable idea that a committee of ex-chairmen of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission could be formed to run the whole thing. Oh, and yes, that would include her. A bunch of developers and developers' toadies, who are there to ensure that developers get what they want, regardless of the impact on other property owners, would decide the future of our region with minimal public input. You betcha.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that the American way to make those decisions is through the elected representatives of the people. Let those running for Mayor and City Council and County Commission outline their visions of Tulsa's future. Let the voters vote for the candidates whose vision lines up with their hopes and dreams. Then the elected officials can debate, consider, propose, compromise, and make decisions. It's fashionable to say that such important matters should be removed from the realm of dirty old politics. Personally, I prefer politics, specifically representative democracy, to other methods of choosing between oppposing views. I think politics is much better than knives and guns, much better than oligarchy, much better than autocracy. It's much better than a bunch of unaccountable swells pretending to listen to us.

Augustine v. Pelagius


BBC Radio 4 is running a series of three historical debates -- modern scholars championing the arguments of one of the principals in an important dispute from history. The first program pits St. Augustine of Hippo versus Pelagius on the question of original sin, grace, and the possibility of human perfection. You can listen by clicking here. (Real Player required.)

Dawn Eden links to an interview about the Roman Church's view of the salvation of infants who die without baptism. In that system of doctrine, baptism is required for the washing away of original sin, and that has led their theologians to theorize variously that those dying without benefit of baptism are doomed to hell or consigned to limbo. The article reports that in October Pope John Paul II commissioned an in-depth study of the issue.

Plenty of Protestants have wrestled with this issue as well. I have wondered why it is that, given the higher rates of infant mortality that must have prevailed in Bible times, the Scriptures never deal directly with the fate of children dying in infancy or in the womb.

In looking at what great thinkers and preachers in the Reformed tradition have had to say about the subject, they consistently affirm that those dying in infancy are among God's elect, and by the saving work of Christ on the cross, they are welcomed into the presence of God. Some examples:

  • A sermon by Charles Spurgeon.
  • A section from Lorraine Boettner's Reformed Doctrine of Predesitination.
  • Thoughts from Reformed Baptist pastor John Piper.

Perhaps the clearest and most satisfying answer I've seen is this one by Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His answer seems to hinge on a key difference in the Catholic and Reformed understandings of the effects of original sin. Original sin is present in all of Adam's descendants, making us mortal and making us "utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil." (That's from chapter 6 of the Westminster Confession of Faith. That link will take you to the annotated text with proofs from Scripture.) But when the Bible speaks of eternal judgment, we will be judged according to our deeds:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Although they share in the common corruption of the human race, that corruption has not come to fruition in those who die in infancy. On that ground, and on analogy with other scriptures, Mohler argues that these infants will be saved and therefore are evidently among the elect. This echoes a similar argument in a 1907 book, The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb -- justice would not be satisfied if punishment were inflicted on one who could not understand the reason for punishment.

In the movie "Minority Report," the police determine who is going to commit a crime and arrest and punish the potential criminals before the crime is committed. God doesn't operate that way. He doesn't punish potential or likely or future disobedience, only actual disobedience. There's a passage -- can't remember exactly where at the moment -- that says that God waited until the wickedness of the Canaanites had reached its fullness before bringing the Israelites up from Egypt to conquer the land.

I've written more here than I intended, and less than I should to give this sensitive subject its due. To those who have lost a child in infancy, I offer this with a prayer that God will use these words to comfort you that your child is safe in His arms.

Ohio ain't Ukraine


A couple of weeks ago a college fraternity brother of mine, who just came across my blog, wrote with a question about my support for the demonstrators and a new election in Ukraine:

I see a lot of material there devoted to the current situation in the Ukraine. One certainly hopes the best for those people struggling against a cold war era attitude for a fair and reformed democratic government. Nevertheless, as "blue" voter (in a very blue county in a rather red state), I find the support for protesting close election results in other countries on your obviously "red" website bemusingly ironic. By extension, should all those of us who live in large cities (all very blue in the north and west) be out en masse to protest that things didn't quite go our way?

Still, recalling our debates on theology in college, I refuse to believe that the aims and hopes of Americans are as starkly divided as the manipulators of elcetoral dynamics on both sides would have us believe. But how do we proceed? We have in the past in this country worked through compromise and consensus, even if that leads to such despicable temporary solutions as counting slaves as 3/5 of a person. Despite Bush's first term promise to be a "uniter not a divider," I see little evidence that he means to seek consensus on any issue.

So I ask you to consider if our roles were reversed in this election. What would you do? Should I be marching in the streets like the Ukrainians?

In my friend's mind, the situations are parallel -- both countries elected a president of the party in power by a slim margin, disappointing a large number on the other side, who believe that the victor is part of a corrupt system. Supporters of Yushchenko are protesting, in his view, because "things didn't quite go [their] way."

There are some aspects of the situation in Ukraine that my friend may have overlooked:

  • The runoff election was marked by massive fraud, particularly in the region of Donetsk, where Prime Minister and government-supported candidate Victor Yanukovich was once governor. Yanukovich supporters were bused from one polling station to another to cast multiple votes. Thugs stole ballot boxes and threatened opposition supporters. The Central Election Commission never released results by polling station. The Ukraine Supreme Court ordered a rerun of the runoff election because the runoff was too marred by fraud to make it possible to determine who actually won.
  • The opposition presidential candidate was poisoned with dioxin, probably while dining at the home of the head of Ukraine's Secret Service.
  • The Ukrainian government under President Kuchma has shut down opposition media, and may have ordered the 2000 murder of Internet journalist Georgy Gongadze.
  • According to Jane's Intelligence Digest, 500 Russian Spetsnaz special forces were deployed to the vicinity of Kiev during the election aftermath, at the request of current Ukrainian President Kuchma. Twenty of the Russians serve as his personal bodyguard. (Hat tip: TulipGirl)

I don't remember anything like that happening in the US presidential election. Opposition media outlets, including federally-subsidized NPR and PBS, were going full-blast at the President all the way to the election. John Kerry wasn't poisoned. Thugs didn't steal ballot boxes. "Voter intimidation" was limited to poll workers who didn't smile with sufficient warmth when asking for picture ID. And if there was a busload of voters being driven from polling place to polling place, it probably wasn't full of Republicans.

If Yushchenko had lost a close vote in an honestly run election, there wouldn't have been hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets of Kiev. The Orange Revolution is about more than an election. Discontent with years of gross corruption and suppression of basic civil liberties is finally surfacing. Ukraine is a great nation and it could be a prosperous and free nation if the hands of the "oligarchs" are finally removed from the national till.

Textbook payola


Donald Luskin posts a message from reader Jameson Campaigne about corruption in textbook purchasing decisions. Some excerpts:

At a meeting of the nuns who chose elementary reading texts for the diocese schools in Chicago some decades ago, the head honcho nun praised a look-say basal reading series that nearly destroyed American literacy, and a voice from the back of the room quipped, "C'mon Sister, we know they buy you a new car every year!" ...

The cartel even conspires to prevent competition by lobbying through state laws which say, roughly, no state money can be spent on a textbook series with a copyright older than "X" years. In other words, a tried-and-true textbook series which really teaches kids how to read -- like that of the small firm Open Court, which consequently was forced to sell its superb program to McGraw Hill -- has to be scrapped or completely revised every "X" years, at the cost of $20+ million, an amount only the giants can afford.

The reasonable desire for every child to have his own textbook, combined with a belief that newer is better, provides fertile ground for textbook profiteers. Campaigne makes the point that centralized purchasing decisions make a publisher's job easier: Instead of having to convince someone in every school district to buy its books, it can target its marketing campaign (and possibly bribery) on a handful of individuals in each state. He advocates eliminating federal involvement in education and reducing the state role to administering tests and providing funds in the form of vouchers, so that parents can reward the schools that perform best. Campaigne quotes Wheeler's Law: "The way to get rid of corruption in high places is to get rid of the high places."

Textbook publishers don't make any money if schools are content with the books they have. It becomes essential for the publisher's bottom line to encourage new research revealing that their previous edition is inadequate and must be replaced. Universities are happy to receive funding to conduct such studies and to reach the conclusions desired by their sponsors. The mainstream media turns a blind eye to all this because many media conglomerates include a textbook publishing division.

Parents and children just want something that works.

Hat tip to Ace of Spades, who linked to that article, commenting on President Bush's failure to communicate clearly on this issue:

But Bush has this tendency to speak in shorthand, and it gets him into trouble. This person actually supported Bush's call to return to older, more effective ways of teaching children to read, but because he didn't make a very strong effort to explain what phonics was, this person thought he was calling for some newfangled and untested pedagogy. When in fact he was doing the opposite: calling for a rejection of the newfangled pedagogy, now tested and found wanting, and calling for a return to the old ways of teaching reading, the exact methods she favored.

Bush is the Great Miscommunicator, alas.

For speaking in shorthand, no one could beat Bob Dole, who chose to deliver all his 1996 campaign speeches in Senatese. It's easy to forget that not everyone is working from the same frame of reference.

Eating Tulsa


Just came across this fairly new website -- Eating Tulsa. A group of friends meet about once a week to try a locally-owned restaurant and then write a review for the site. You can register and contribute your own comments as well. Cool logo, too.

Dining out: Binh Le, Billy Sims


We recently ventured out to a couple of restaurants we hadn't visited before.

Binh Le is a Vietnamese restaurant at 31st and Joplin (west of Sheridan), in a converted QuikTrip. (You could never tell if you didn't know already.) When Ri Le Restaurant lost its lease at 31st and Yale in 2002, Ri Le's son-in-law Binh Le opened up down the street with the same menu and recipes. We had the hot garlic chicken and hot ginger beef -- both delicious -- and the imperial rolls, which are like egg rolls, but in a rice wrapper, steamed, not fried, and served with peanut sauce. They don't use MSG, the place is smoke-free, and, as a bonus, they proudly display a photo of President Bush along with a certificate of thanks from the National Republican Congressional Committee for a 2003 contribution. Yes, a portion of your meal purchase may go to support keeping the U. S. House in Republican control.

1978 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims recently opened a barbecue (pardon me, "Boomer-Q") place in The Farm Shopping Center. It's filled with memorabilia of Billy's years with the Oklahoma Sooners and the Detroit Lions, and, in an inclusive gesture, there are OSU, TU, and ORU pennants on display. Menu items have been given themed names: Ordering "Smoked Jayhawk" will get you a serving of chicken, and you cannot get Texas toast -- you have to ask for "Okie Bread." I had the "Pulled Razorback" (pulled pork -- revenge for the '78 Orange Bowl) which, for my tastes, is the ultimate test for a barbecue place -- few sell it, and of those that do, even fewer do it well. This was moist, tender, and flavorful and the dinner serving was generous. My eight year old was quite pleased with his smoked bologna ("Arkansas Steak") sandwich. Souvenir cups feature a picture of Billy as a Sooner and his college and pro rushing stats. If you need to visit the facilities, you'll be greeted by a red and white commode, with an inverted longhorn head at the bottom of the bowl as a handy target.



The whole family went to see "Polar Express" in IMAX 3D last night. It's very impressive technically -- falling snow seeming to whirl around you, soaring with an eagle, zooming with the train down the world's steepest grade. It was way too intense and suspenseful for our four year old, who kept protesting that she was "too tired" to watch the movie -- which is her way of saying she's scared, but she won't say she's scared because she's a big girl and her big brother isn't scared. She spent a lot of the movie in Mommy's lap, facing away from the screen, occasionally looking back over her shoulder.

The movie is like a journey into a Thomas Kinkade painting -- everything's all warm and glowing. I did get drawn into the movie, although on reflection the story's a bit thin, and disbelief unsuspended itself at several points. When I saw thousands of identically-dressed elves massed in North Pole's central plaza, I sort of expected to hear praises to Kim Jong-Il. And when the main character whispers to Santa what he wants for Christmas, I leaned over to my wife and said, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!"

A bit of accidental humor comes in a scene in Santa's monitoring room, when the elves on duty are alerted to a boy being naughty: He put gum in his sister's hair on Christmas eve. The boy's location: Maplewood, New Jersey, which happens to be the location of the school district that has banned perfomances of religious holiday music this year.

The South Orange and Maplewood school board shouldn't have any qualms about showing this movie at school. It is devoid of any religious references, other than the frequent use of the word "Christmas." No creches, no angels, no wise men, and especially no Jesus. In "Polar Express," Christmas is all about believing in Santa.

Still, if you can overlook that deficiency, it's an impressive film to see in IMAX 3D, and a family-friendly evening's entertainment.

UPDATE: Here's a review of the movie by Adeodatus. This quote will give you a sense of where he's coming from:

Let me say up front that I am not a big fan of the Santa myth as it has come down to us. About this time of year a few years back J. looked out the window on the drive to school and asked if Santa Claus was real. Sure he was real, I told him. I saw his bones in a box.

He goes on to compare "Polar Express" to other secular Christmas programs like "The Grinch That Stole Christmas" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

OOPS: Forgot to hat-tip Swamphopper of The Rough Woodsman for the link to Adeodatus's review.

Here's a fake news item about Google's plans to index rare books. It has an eerie relevance to events in Tulsa this week.

Google Brings 'Thrill of Public Library' to Your Desktop by Scott Ott

(2004-12-14) -- A cooperative venture between Google, the internet search engine company, and several major universities promises to bring "the thrill of the public library" to home and office, making it easier for millions of ordinary people to access the contents of books that few want to read.

"Studies show that 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year, and 58 percent of adults never read another book after high school," said a Google spokesman. "When this project is complete, we'll place tens of thousands of volumes of classic literature at their fingertips, where they can fail to read them in the privacy of their own homes."

If the project succeeds, the source said, public libraries could dispose of their collections of flammable dust-magnets (trade jargon for 'books') and could finally focus on their primary mission -- reheating homeless people while they surf the net at broadband speeds.

"And for those who enjoy a lazy afternoon reading a book, doing so online will enhance their enjoyment of this leisurely pursuit," said the Google source. "In fact, with a dial-up internet connection it could take as long as three leisurely minutes just to turn the page."

Scott Ott posts several satirical news items every day at (Unlike some humor sites on the Internet, you won't encounter vulgarity, obscenity, or profanity at He has published a book of his best political satire, called Axis of Weasels. It's perfect for Christmas gift giving, and you can order it here.

Watery business


This evening the Council will once again consider the Mayor's reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority, the quango that controls Tulsa's water. It's been amazing to see how much anger has been directed at the Council majority for refusing to approve the reappointment, and how much energy has been spent trying to change their decision.

A passing mention in today's "Bleat" by James Lileks may help to explain why it matters so much to some people. He's writing about the historical novel Pompeii, by Robert Harris.

The hero is the local official in charge of the water supply for the cities around Pompeii, and most of the book concerns his efforts to fix a break in the aqueduct. ... Of course, water is a commodity, so there’s corruption of the “Chinatown” variety.

That's a reference to the 1974 film starring Jack Nicholson, set in Los Angeles in the early 20th century, and loosely based on controversies surrounding the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which carried water from the Owens River valley to the San Fernando Valley, making it possible to develop the valley, and making some land speculators very, very rich.

Here's the plot summary from IMDb:

Hollis Mulwray is a chief engineer of the water department. Ida Sessions, pretending to be his wife Evelyn, asks P.I. JJ Jake Gittes to investigate his adulterous ways. Jake takes photos of Hollis with a young lady. Hollis then turns up murdered, which Jake decides to investigate. Jake finds more than he was looking for. He discovers a plot to buy cheap, unwatered land for low prices, water the land, and sell it for millions of dollars. The plot is masterminded by one Noah Cross, who is Evelyn's father and Hollis' one-time business partner. His investigation leads him to an affair with Evelyn and a discussion with Noah Cross, both of whom seem curiously interested in the girl Hollis was seen with.

Subtract the murder and adultery subplots, and what you have left is a plot to direct public resources to help certain connected developers become very wealthy. The vehemence of the effort to keep Cameron and Reynolds on the water board make some folks wonder if something like that could happen here.

If you care about this issue, tonight is the time to show up and be heard -- 6 p.m. at City Hall.

I am expecting some extra-special spin from the Whirled this morning about the defeat of the Tulsa library bond issue and property tax rate increase. No doubt they will find some way to blame it on Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. It'll be something like: The City Council clown band has so devastated confidence in local government that the momentum from Vision 2025 has been water line annexation historic relationship with the Chamber get a rope. (I didn't say they'd be coherent.)

Does this vote mean that Tulsa Countians hate libraries? Do they hate downtown?

If I were to go to my boss and ask for a raise, and say, "You pay me a good salary, plenty to live on, but you aren't paying me the most that you possibly could. If you gave maxed out my salary, I could keep my house, car, and wardrobe fresh, vibrant, and up-to-date," he would probably say, "That's nice. Now get back to work." It wouldn't mean that he hated me, or that he didn't appreciate my work, or didn't think I was worth what he pays me. It means that he doesn't see a compelling reason to spend more for my services.

The Tulsa City-County Library system seems to do a good job with the money they've been given. They provide a valuable service to the community. The vast majority of Tulsans don't begrudge them the funding they currently receive or the bond money they've used to expand and improve their facilities and collections. I haven't heard anyone calling for a reduction in the library's millage rate or for selling off the library buildings.

(The only knock I've heard against the library's actions concerned a month-long pro-gay-rights exhibit on the Central Library's main floor, just across from the children's section -- and I think that happened some years ago.)

Tulsans see that the library system is well-funded and well-maintained. They see that over the last six years, since the last bond issue, every branch has been expanded or given a facelift, and new branches were built. Some of the same branches that were upgraded over the last six years would have been abandoned for newly built facilities if the bond issue had passed -- Broken Arrow's library, for example.

I am hearing rumblings that the defeat of the library tax hikes has city officials in a panic, fearing that this may spell trouble for the City of Tulsa infrastructure bond issue that we are supposed to be voting on sometime early next year. Those officials underestimate their constituents. We will support a bond issue if we believe the money is really needed, not just because it would be "nice."

Tulsa County voters approved the Vision 2025 sales tax increase because they were convinced that it was an emergency and we had to "do something." (True, the solution didn't actually address the problem.)

Tulsa County voters turned down the Health Department's 0.75 mill increase in February 2002, even though it was billed as a measure to fight "bioterrorism" and expand services. Voters read a week earlier that the Health Department's revenues had nearly doubled over a ten-year period. The previous fall, they read about special performance bonuses given to a third of the health department's employees, and you couldn't miss their big new building, at 51st & 129th. Tulsa County voters reasonably concluded that the Health Department had enough resources to protect us against epidemics and food poisoning, which is what a public health department is all about.

No libraries will close, no librarians will be laid off as a result of the vote. The message of the library tax defeat wasn't "we hate taxes," or "we hate libraries," it was, "we love you, but you don't need any more money right now."

FYI, here are the precinct-by-precinct results. I haven't looked at them that closely, but opposition appears to have been very widespread.

The rumor is that Tulsa City Council Chairman Randy Sullivan will push to delay a vote for the city infrastructure bond issue until after a vote is held to recall Councilors Mautino and Medlock. The excuse will be that the political atmosphere is just too poisonous because of the recall -- using the failure of the library vote as Exhibit A -- and passage of the bond issue may be in jeopardy. Isn't that a bit like blaming the dog for the results of having had cabbage, pinto beans, and cauliflower for lunch? The poison in the air has been put there by Chamber Chairman Bob Poe, the Whirled, Randy Sullivan, and the Coalition for Reprehensible Government. The way to clear the air is for Sullivan and his masters to stop pursuing the recall and focus on what really matters to the citizens of Tulsa -- things like smooth residential streets and replacement of aging and inadequate water and sewer lines.

The bond issue is already months overdue, thanks to footdragging by the Mayor's Office. There are reports that Mayor had planned to ask the Council to suspend its rules and authorize the vote on the bond issue on the first reading tonight, so that the bond issue could be on the ballot in early March. Talk about putting things off until the last minute. At the moment, I don't even see the bond issue on the agenda on the council's website. It doesn't seem to have been discussed since a draft was presented to the Council's Public Works committee back at the beginning of October.

The city has a backlog of infrastructure projects that runs into the billions. The city's policy has been to fund these needs with a third-penny sales tax renewal every five years and a general obligation bond issue, also every five years, but roughly halfway between third-penny renewal elections. The last city general obligation bond issue vote was in August 1999. If Randy Sullivan has his way and pushes the bond issue out until April or May of next year -- scarcely a year before time for the next third-penny vote. That would be a very irresponsible move on his part, and it would demonstrate that getting rid of two of his colleagues means more to him than attending to the needs of the city.

UPDATE: Chris Medlock responds to this morning's Whirled story. Bobby Holt and Charles G. Hill tee off on the Whirled's editorial on the failure of the library vote.

Taking the joy out of Joyland


This is just evil:

Dino Paspalakis was sure his business was secure. For 17 years, as co-owner of Joyland Amusement Center, a popular arcade in Daytona Beach, Florida, he's been pouring his money into upgrades, drawing a consistent clientele, and carrying on the family business. His father opened the arcade in the 1960s, after working every snack bar on the Daytona Beach boardwalk to make money to buy it, Paspalakis, 40, says.

But now he faces a threat. The city of Daytona Beach, using a legal doctrine called eminent domain, is trying to take the property and give it to developers to build high-rise condos and hotels. In February [2004], they told me they'll be seizing the land. Developers are pushing out [independent] shops, he says.

That's from the January 2005 issue of Entrepreneur magazine, in an article warning small business owners that they may face the same threat. Hat tip to Eminent Domain Watch for publishing the story online.

The power to tax

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If you live in an incorporated area of Tulsa County, you are in the jurisdiction of seven separate entities with the power to levy property taxes, namely:

  1. Your municipality
  2. Your school district
  3. Tulsa County
  4. Tulsa City-County Library
  5. Tulsa City-County Health Department
  6. Tulsa Community College
  7. Tulsa Technology Center

The library system currently receives 5.32 mills. Once you apply the assessment ratio and homestead exemption, the owner of a home worth $100,000 pays $53.20 in taxes every year to support the library. The library's budget gets bigger automatically as property values rise.

The first of two items on today's ballot is a permanent increase in the library's millage of 0.8 mills. For that $100,000 homeowner, that's another $8 a year. For the library, that represents a 15% increase in the tax rate, a 15% increase in the budget even if property values don't increase. The tax increase will not expire but would have to be expressly repealed if the people don't want it anymore.

The second item is a $79.1 million bond issue, which will also increase property tax by an estimated 2 mills over the next fifteen years. That's another $20 a year for the $100,000 homeowner.

So if both propositions pass, the $100,000 homeowner would be paying about $80 a year in taxes for the library system.

The question in my mind is not whether the library system is a good use of tax dollars, the question is whether the library system is the most needy or worthy recipient of the additional money they seek. As I watched a presentation today by a library official about the vote, I came to the conclusion that it is not.

The presentation made it clear that we have a very good system, with nearly every library in the system either new or significantly refurbished and expanded, mostly using funds from the 1998 bond issue. The presentation spoke not of replacing decrepit or dangerous buildings, but instead of keeping facilities "fresh." The current Central Library building is in excellent shape, and the library official confirmed that the building could indeed be expanded upwards by two stories, while pointing out that doing so would mean closing Central Library for a year or more and far from fixing the parking problem, it would create more demand for the library's limited spaces.

The library system is not in jeopardy. They are not short of funds. The facilities are in good shape. The library system is seeking to max out its allowed operating millage in hopes of expanding staff and services, but its current level of service is well funded.

The library system has been largely unscathed by the budget crises of recent years, thanks to its dedicated funding source. I can't justify giving the library system more money when many other more critical government functions are short of funds -- e.g., the jail. We need to reserve that taxing capacity for other parts of local government with greater needs. That's why I'm reluctantly voting no on both propositions today.

MORE: Bobby Holt is also voting no.


  • I've updated the entry about the death of renowned Boston radio talk show host David Brudnoy with links to obituaries published today on the websites of National Review and the American Spectator.
  • I'm a long-time Netscape, then Mozilla, user, and I've finally upgraded to the new Mozilla Firefox web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client. An unexpected delights: Firefox is the first browser I've used that correctly handles the little icon file -- so now I see a little bird's head on the address bar when I visit Dustbury, and on this site, a little icon I devised, drawn from the site logo. Thunderbird includes an RSS aggregator -- the ability to see the latest posts from the feeds favorite blogs and news sources as if they were messages in a mailbox. I've started adding in the feeds of the sites on my blogroll -- this will make it easier to keep up with the latest posts from my favorite bloggers. A nice feature of the aggregator: It shows the author of the post, useful if you're reading a group blog, but only enjoy the work of one or two members of the group.

A proverb about troubleshooting


A bit of wisdom found in an unexpected place -- page 2-1 of the Harris NightHawk Series 1000-4000 Maintenance Guide.

Why keeping a problem log is essential to troubleshooting:

"Remember that facts which are not written down have a habit of adjusting themselves to fit the theory of the moment."

You need to take a break from the malls and the traffic and the holiday events that have been Santa-ized for your protection. You need to sit for an hour or so in a beautiful Gothic Revival church and listen to the words of Scripture and ancient prayers and hymns set to beautiful music.

This is what you need:

The Coventry Chorale under the direction of David Rollo will present a Christmas Concert on Monday, December 20, 2004 at 7:30 p.m. in Trinity Episcopal Church, 501 S. Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa. Music to be performed on the concert includes Motets for the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. The featured work to be sung is the "Midnight Mass for Christmas" composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Tickets may be purchased at the door the night of the concert. Admission price is: Adults - $10.00; Students/Seniors - $5.00. For more information please call 663-8555 or contact srnotas at yahoo dot com

As the old carol says:

O ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow
Look now for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.

The members of Coventry Chorale aren't angels -- they just sing like them.

Library vote Tuesday

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I love books, and I love libraries. The first really impressive library I ever set foot in was the Central Library downtown, and it is an awesome sight for a small fry as he walks down the center aisle of the plaza level to the main staircase.

Some kids are latchkey kids; I was a library kid. When I was in middle school, Central Library was where I went every Wednesday, when school let out early at 2:20. I took the MTTA bus from 26th Street and Birmingham to 5th and Boston, walked down 5th to watch the construction work on Bartlett Square and the Main Mall, got a 7-Up and a fig bar at the sub sandwich shop next to the Christian Science Reading Room on the west side of Boulder between 5th and 6th, then headed to the library, found a desk on the east side of the reference section on the mezzanine level, and spend a couple of hours browsing through maps and newspaper microfilm, before heading to the Cities Service Building to meet Dad at 5 for the ride home.

My wife and kids make heavy use of the library -- so heavy that I sometimes complain that I feel bound to read the library books to the kids first, rather than that books we already own. My wife loves the fact that she can search for and request books online and have them delivered to the local branch, and then renew them over the web. We have a good library system, a true civic asset.

That said, I've got some heartburn with Tuesday's bond issue. When a new Grand Central Library was first proposed, it was going to be an urban building -- something that looked like it belonged downtown -- located in the "East Village" area as a catalyst for development, and tied in with the Centennial Walk, the Tulsa Tablets, and other urban amenities. Now it appears we will be approving a suburban-style spaceship building, complete with useless plaza, designed for easy expressway access -- and that means no likelihood of stimulating nearby redevelopment, as patrons will zip back home on the expressway rather than venture out on foot.

The original proposal for Grand Central Library had it within a few blocks of Tulsa Community College, several churches, the Village at Central Park, and existing commerical development in the Blue Dome district and around Home Depot. In that context, it would have helped to connect several disconnected, but important, islands of activity downtown.

The location chosen by the library commission is 11th and Denver -- decades ago a bustling commercial corner at the crossroads of US 66 and US 64, but decimated by urban renewal. It is near residential areas -- Riverview Neighborhood just across the IDL, Central Park Condominiums, and Renaissance Uptown apartments -- but the nearest commerical development may be the QuikTrip at 15th and Denver. Sitting as it does up against the Inner Dispersal Loop, the edge of downtown, the 11th and Denver location won't be as effective as the East Village area as a connector between centers of activity.

There has been some discussion of the fact that Dan Schusterman, donor of the land on which the new Central Library would sit, also owns (or rather, various companies and LLCs connected with him own) a considerable portion of the land between Denver and Cheyenne, 7th and 11th. He may be hoping that the new arena at 3rd and Denver and the new library at 11th and Denver may enhance the perception of the area enough to allow him to sell his other land at a premium to developers. Paul Wilson, president of Dan Schusterman's Twenty-First Properties, was a member of the Dialog/Visioning Leadership Team.

For what it's worth, I understand the complaint that a new Central Library should be located closer to the population center of Tulsa County. I disagree. It makes sense for the main city-county library branch to be near the seat of government for both city and county, especially in its function as repository of government documents. Tulsa needs one densely developed urban district, and within the inner dispersal loop you have the land, the street grid, and the zoning rules that are most hospitable to that kind of development, and you don't have to worry about offending the neighbors. A well-designed and well-sited library could make a significant contribution to creating that kind of place. Better at 11th and Denver than in the middle of a massive parking lot at, say, 51st and Mingo.

I guess I had hoped for something more like this -- Chicago's Harold Washington Library Center, the Chicago library system's main branch. We don't need that much space, but it is a beautiful building. Built in neo-classical style, it's proof that modern public buildings don't have to look like flying saucers or Dr. Seuss inventions. You can build something stately and dignified if you pick the right architect and give him the right instructions. And you can build something that will last you not 40 years, but hundreds of years, if you do it right.

Something else Chicago is doing right -- free WiFi in the libraries. Instead of waiting on a library computer to open up so you can access research databases, you can BYOL (bring your own laptop), freeing up the library computers for those who don't have their own computer. What I'd really like is a secure way that would allow Tulsa County residents to access research databases, such as Tulsa County land records, for free from home, 24/7, rather than having to get to the library during normal hours.

Two more things that bug me about this bond issue: (1) It could have gone on the November ballot and saved us the cost of an extra county-wide election. (2) The Tulsa City-County Library system has its own property tax revenue stream. That's good for the library system's independence, but it makes it impossible for public officials to balance the desire to expand and improve the library with the need to take care of public safety and deteriorating roads and water lines. The library didn't have to consult with city or county officials before launching their effort to keep their current share of property tax, build more facilities that cost money to maintain and operate, at a time when maintenance and operation money is hard to come by.

Bobby Holt has some thoughts over at Tulsa Topics, and he links to a discussion on TulsaNow's forum.

Here's a PDF of the sample ballot. There are actually two ballot items -- one to increase permanently the library's property tax rate for operating costs, the other to authorize bonds for library construction and capital improvements. So you can pick and choose.

Oh thank heaven... for BBC7


BBC7, the digital radio service featuring comedy, drama, and kids programs, runs repeats of classic British radio comedy like "Round the Horne," "Hancock's Half Hour," "The Burkiss Way," "I'm Sorry I'll Read that Again," and "The Goon Show," audio versions of TV shows like "Dad's Army" and "Steptoe and Son," and comedy quizzes like "The News Quiz," "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue," and "Just a Minute" -- the latter involves speaking about an arbitrary subject for one full minute without hesitation, repetition, or deviation.

But until recently BBC7 went off the air from about midnight UK time until 7 in the morning -- in other words from 6 pm until 1 am Tulsa time -- the only time I could listen. And even if I was up late (not uncommon), the first programs of the day were the kids' shows.

Now BBC7 is not only 24 hours a day, but you can "listen again" to shows that aired in the course of the last week. So now you can hear a pre-Python John Cleese, along with all three of the Goodies before they were Goodies, on "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again" at any convenient hour, day or night. Or listen to Rambling Syd Rumpo nadger his cordwangle in brilliant digital audio on this week's edition of "Round the Horne."

Comprehensive NYC transit map


This is pretty cool. Someone has tried to combine all the various transit services in the NYC metro area on a single diagram (not a scale map), in the fashion of the London Underground diagram. The standard maps from the various transit services (MTA, NJ Transit, Port Authority) generally only show you their own services, so it's useful to know -- for example -- that you can drive in from the Jersey burbs, park your car near the Lincoln Harbor development in northern Hoboken, take a Hudson-Bergen Light Rail car to Hoboken station, then catch a PATH train to Herald Square for some shopping at Macy's, then hoof it over to Penn Station for Amtrak to anywhere.

Could've used this a week or so ago.

[Hat tip to the Map Room.]

Welcome new advertisers


I'm happy to welcome two new advertisers to BatesLine this month. offers a range of T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, and other ways to show your support for President Bush and the Republican Party, with images that include the presidential results by county and state. Save a trip to the mall. ProGOPGear may have just the unique gift your hard-to-buy-for relative will appreciate.

Kevin McCullough is a New York-based columnist, blogger, and radio talk show host on the Salem Communications Network, who brings a conservative Christian perspective to the news. I got to know Kevin when I linked to a report of a Defense of Marriage rally that Kevin helped organize. Kevin was kind enough to blogroll me shortly thereafter. I got to meet him, and even spent a few minutes on air with him, during the Republican National Convention. Clicking on that ad will take you to Kevin's blog, from which you can get to his columns and (on the left hand side of the page) a link to listen live to his radio show, or catch a repeat as it cycles every three hours from the time he signs off until the next show begins.

Thanks to the advertisers, and thanks to you readers for clicking those ads to show your appreciation for their support.

Follow the bouncing ball


Over on Ephemeral Isle, we learn that Monday is Rover Appreciation Day. Not Rover, the dog, or Rover, the British car marque, but a big, white spherical thing that fans of a certain '60s cult TV show will remember, and that gave this son of a fan of that certain '60s cult TV show the nightmares for a time.

After Monday, look for the item in the December archive here, along with a charming account of a tea party held by the 2 1/2 year old daughter of the curator of Ephemeral Isle.

Ukraine-blogger Discoshaman of Le Sabot Post-Moderne will still be writing about the political situation as the repeat presidential runoff approaches, but he is returning to his usual assortment of topics, including theology from a Reformed (Calvinist) point of view and American politics. In this recent entry, he comments on Jerry Falwell's plan to reestablish the Moral Majority:

Evangelicals have a chance to do both the country and themselves a favor -- let this thing die a mercifully fast death.

I desire to see true spiritual revival in our nation, with an accompanying improvement in the moral atmosphere, the sort of transformation that happened 100 years ago in Wales.

But Jerry Falwell's approach didn't work before and won't work now. (See the book Blinded by Might, by two leaders of Falwell's Moral Majority in the '70s and '80s.) In fact, he's a distraction. Voices from the past like Falwell and Pat Robertson make for convenient, walking, talking strawmen for the left-leaning mainstream media to present as the authentic voice of modern Evangelical thinking and then to tear down.

Falwell should gracefully retire from the public arena and leave the field open for abler voices. Will he? Not if he is in love with seeing his face on television. Not if he's drooling over the thought of restarting the vast flow of money that can be generated through passionate direct mail appeals -- "send us $20 and we'll transform American society."

How can Evangelicals convince the mainstream media that Jerry Falwell is not our pope? Not giving him any money would be a start.

Washington Post profiles Tom Coburn


There was a fascinating, sympathetic profile of Senator-elect Tom Coburn in today's Washington Post. (Hat tip:

Some highlights:

When the "Marvelous Seven" new Republican senators are introduced to the media, reporters ignore the others and swarm around Coburn like bees to soda pop, waiting for him to fizz. But he is prepared. Dr. Coburn, what about partial birth abortion? they ask the senator-elect from Oklahoma. Dr. Coburn, what about gay marriage? What about values, Dr. Coburn?

But he resists unleashing one of his prophetic warnings from the campaign about "rampant lesbianism" or abortion doctors getting the death penalty or the venality of your average Washington politician. Instead, he says he'll be cautious, observant, collegial: "I promise you I'll be sleeping every night with that rule book," he says, meaning "Riddick's Senate Procedure," a 1,500-page manual. ...

The subject that truly obsesses Coburn, the one he comes back to over and over, is not homosexuality or abortion, but fiscal responsibility -- spending, the deficit, entitlements. To Coburn, fiscal issues are moral ones. "It is evil to spend your kids' money, spend away their future," he says about the ballooning deficit. "It is good to be frugal. This is good and evil, black and white. Stealing from your kids is wrong. I don't care who you are."

In his book, Coburn reserves his greatest contempt for Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), then chairman of the House Transportation Committee and a "grandmaster of pork." During his last year in Congress, Coburn nearly shut down the House by threatening to attach 130 amendments to an agriculture appropriations bill he thought was too larded up.

The headlines called the budget passed by Congress last month the stingiest in years on domestic spending. But Coburn views it as business as usual, stuffed with pet projects. "Everyone's tickled," he says. "But they just added 2,000 bucks to everyone's debt, not including Social Security. We're proud of that? We ought to be disgusted."

There's a good deal of biographical info in the story as well. Worth reading.

Whirled endorses Medlock


Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock takes a trip down memory lane, back to his special election primary run for State House District 69 in 1994, back when the Tulsa Whirled editorial board actually liked him, and gave him their endorsement:

ON Tuesday, Republican voters in Tulsa's House District 69 will pick someone to represent them in the state House of Representatives. They should do themselves and the rest of Tulsa a big service by picking Chris Medlock.

Of the three GOP candidates, Medlock is the clear choice. At 35, he is a well-educated marketing and research analyst for the T.D. Williamson Co. ...

He is intimately acquainted with the need for adequate higher education facilities for Tulsa. He has been a staunch supporter of public school reform and new business development.

He also will provide Tulsa with another strong voice against crime. Articulate and knowledgeable on legislative issues, Medlock is exactly the kind of young person Tulsans should be encouraging to enter the political arena.

The voters in District 69 should have no hesitation in voting for Chris Medlock.

What's changed in ten years? As Chris himself notes, in 1994, he was considered the least conservative of the candidates, which would have won the admiration of the Whirledlings. Over the intervening years, Chris moved to the right, part of an even longer journey from a liberal, irreligious upbringing. Once pro-choice, Chris is now decidedly pro-life. Once a Unitarian youth minister, Chris is now part of a Presbyterian congregation. Having known Chris for nearly six years, I suspect several factors played a part: reading socially conservative thinkers and authors like Bill Bennett and Robert Bork, the experience of being surrogate dad to two teenage girls (a Russian exchange student who "adopted" Chris and his wife Cheryl, and the daughter of his late brother, who died the Saturday before his first election to the Council), and the prayers of conservative Christian friends in the Republican Party, who admired his energy, intellect, and boldness, and hoped to see those abilities put to the service of better principles.

Those prayers have been answered. Chris Medlock is the kind of city councilor we've needed for a long time, and the fact that powerful, shadowy forces have lined up to try to remove him from office is an indication of how sick and corrupt Tulsa's political culture is.

When first elected, Chris did not expect to be viewed as a radical. But as he witnessed the City's treatment of ordinary citizens, as he observed the way city trusts, boards and commissions operate, as he looked at the ineffectual economic development efforts of the Chamber bureaucracy, he could not in good conscience let the status quo continue without accountability.

Chris never expected to be at odds with Mayor Bill LaFortune expected to work side-by-side with Mayor Bill LaFortune to help the Mayor implement his promised reforms. But as Chris pursued his principled course, and as the Mayor purged voices for reform from his inner circle of advisors and chose to listen to the siren song of the Cockroach Caucus, they naturally found themselves on opposite sides of issues like economic development reform.

The Whirled and its publisher and their allies are pursuing their own interests, which are rarely and only belatedly disclosed. Chris didn't set out to alienate the Whirled, but in pursuing what is best for our city, he has come up against the cozy arrangements that suit the Whirled and the shadowy bunch backing the recall just fine.

An anonymous commenter to Chris's entry tracks the Whirled's decline over the same period. To paraphrase the Whirled circa 1994, the readers should have no hesitation in canceling their subscriptions. And the voters should have no hesitation in supporting Chris Medlock through this recall attempt.

Last day to vote for blog awards


I had ignored the 2004 Weblog Awards, partly because I wasn't nominated, partly because I hadn't realized how many people I know were nominated. It was possible to vote in each category every 24 hours over the 12-day voting period, but at this point you have the opportunity to vote once in each and every category.

One of the blogs on my blogroll with a good shot at finishing first in a category is The Gleeson Blogomerate, a beautifully designed and relatively new blog by Sean Gleeson and family, who live in the Oklahoma City area. Kevin McCullough, radio talk show host and a friend to this blog, is a nominee in the same category (Best in the 1000-1750 bracket), although well back in the pack. You can vote for the Gleesons or Kevin here.

I haven't met anyone in the 250-500 bracket, but I do link to King of Fools, who may have been the first convention blogger of 2004, with his coverage of the Texas Republican Convention.

I do know, and recently met up again with, two bloggers in the 100-250 bracket -- Karol Sheinin of Alarming News (formerly Spot On) and Scott Sala of Slant Point -- both convention bloggers and politically-active New York City conservative Republicans. You can vote for them here.

Ace of Spades (whom I recently met and have linked to a couple of times since then) is leading the top 100 bracket by a wide margin, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind some help padding his lead here.

Tim Blair may be one of the few blogs to win a category with an actual majority of the vote. He leads the Best Australia or New Zealand blog category, with Arthur Chrenkoff, famous for his good news roundups from Iraq and Afghanistan, well ahead of the pack in second place.

I'll stop there. Go browse and vote. If nothing else, the process will expose you to some excellent blogs that you haven't yet encountered.

A look back at the BoA appeal issue


Bobby Holt of Tulsa Topics has a very useful entry, in which he mines the City Council minutes online to look at the last time the question of appealing Board of Adjustment zoning decisions came before the City Council, back in 2001. Good work, and thanks, too, Bobby, for the kind words.

David Brudnoy, RIP


Sad news that Boston radio talk show host David Brudnoy has died, age 64. For the last 18 years, Brudnoy was an evening talk show host on WBZ, and was on other Boston TV and radio stations for 15 years before that.

I don't remember listening to Brudnoy in college. I think I first came across him during business trips and visits to friends back east in the first few years after graduation. WBZ, a 50,000 watt clear-channel station, can be heard throughout the northeastern US at night. Whether I was in Boston, Providence, or Philadelphia, I'd tune in to catch his show.

What I tuned in to hear was an intelligent man with a pleasant voice interviewing authors about books on politics, history, and culture -- books he had actually read before the program -- and engaging in thoughtful discussion with callers. Brudnoy's politics were libertarian, a welcome contrast to the dominant left-liberal trend in Boston politics. Even if the show's topic was something I had not known or cared about before the program, I always came away happy that I took the time to listen, feeling that I knew something that I hadn't known an hour earlier.

Brudnoy was a homosexual, which he revealed after nearly dying 10 years ago from an AIDS-related infection, but he did not make his sexual preference the focus of his identity or his radio program.

To give you a flavor of his show, here's a link to a transcript of a segment about Scientology. And here's his review of Michael Moore's film "Bowling for Columbine." Talkers Magazine ranked him as one of the 25 all-time greatest radio talk show hosts -- their profile of Brudnoy is here.

Activist talk radio is important, especially in a town like Tulsa, where the media has been dominated by a single viewpoint for too long. There's a need to rally support for important causes, and to cultivate a sense of outrage to replace the sense of resignation in the face of rampant abuse of power -- to give people the confidence that they can change things. That's something Michael DelGiorno does so well on KFAQ every morning, and I'm thankful that he's there to do it.

David Brudnoy wasn't an activist talk show host, although he was an able and articulate advocate for his point of view. He dealt with plenty of controversial issues, but never in a polemical way.

Tulsa could use a show like Brudnoy's, too, as a complement to the activist approach. I've always thought that if I ever had the chance to host my own radio talk show, David Brudnoy's approach to talk radio would be a model from which I would draw.

UPDATE 12/13/2004: Two obits on conservative websites say what I was attempting to say much more clearly and colorfully. National Review Online has published an obituary by Thomas Hibbs. Hibbs writes:

Brudnoy was simply the best radio host I've ever heard in any market or on any part of the AM or FM dial. In most markets, FM talk is National Public Radio, where guests have an opportunity to develop their positions at a leisurely pace and where there tends to be little in the way of heated exchange and little listener interaction. AM talk is loud, fast-paced, with a lot of give and take between host, guest, and callers. It's a caricature to describe NPR shows as inducing somnolence and AM radio as generating headaches of the sort caused by having too many teenage siblings in a car at one time. But there is a kernel of truth in each description. Brudnoy combined the virtues of both styles of radio talk while avoiding their vices.

In most major markets, talk radio is increasingly dominated by the national shows, such as NPR, Rush, Hannity, and Ingraham. Brudnoy could and did devote a great deal of attention to national politics, but he spent as much time on local issues and seemed especially to relish the personalities and political and cultural intricacies of Boston. ...

He was a model of the way to hold one's own position, to argue vigorously on its behalf, and yet to engage other points of view with tact and seriousness. And listeners found themselves caught up in the argument, agreeing or disagreeing with Brudnoy on any number of topics. A libertarian who articulated his views with rigorous clarity, Brudnoy did not feel the need to score ideological points at every step in the conversation. Besides, one never had to agree with him to profit from listening.

The American Spectator has a tribute by W. James Antle III. An excerpt:

There were plenty of hosts who could effectively mock the Clinton administration, rail against Hillary's health care power grab, and attack the day's legislative outrages (remember midnight basketball?). What set Brudnoy apart, aside from eloquence and polemical skills that put most of his peers to shame, was his ability to go beyond such well-worn subjects. His show was no less interesting when he was interviewing antique collectors, obscure academics, and authors of books on subjects that would have otherwise made my eyes glaze over.

Many libertarian pundits praise liberty and excoriate the state, but talk about nothing except politics and government. Brudnoy celebrated life -- films, theatre, travel, wine, classical music, literature -- and demonstrated an encyclopedic knowledge of virtually all subjects, with only one notable exception -- he was charmingly ignorant of professional sports and relentlessly tweaked Boston for its obsession with athletics.

Which is not to overlook how scathing he could be in his political analysis. Brudnoy's position on welfare payments to unwed mothers was, shall we say, Charles Murray-esque. He skewered multiculturalism by insisting, "One culture, one country." He derisively referred to the Clintons as "Bubba and Evita" and was equally critical of the "Almost Lifelike Al Gore."

NRO also has David Brudnoy's 1995 article for the magazine about living with AIDS and his brush with death the previous year.



Over on The Corner, someone wanted to know if there were any Christmas carols that mention dogs. As a fan of Walt Kelly's comic strip Pogo, I of course remembered that each year Pogo and friends sang the Christmas classic "Deck Us All with Boston Charlie," while resident canine Beauregard always insisted that the correct lyrics began with "Bark Us All Bow-Wows of Folly." You can find all variations on the theme here, on the official Pogo website.

Also on the website was a link to this eBay auction, which closed Wednesday, for an extensive collection of Pogo paperbacks, Christmas cards, phonograph records, comic books, figurines, buttons, and other paraphernalia. The winning bid was $24,211.42, a bargain by the looks of it. It's worth clicking that link, just to look at the thumbnails of what was for sale. Good thing I didn't see it until after the auction had closed....

Darrowing experience


James Lileks had a great "Bleat" on Wednesday, some thoughts about where Clarence Darrow, celebrated defender of Scopes and Leopold and Loeb, and his rejection of moral responsibility have led our society. I liked this paragraph, on the important distinction between public and private conduct (asterisk added):

I am the last person to roam the streets in my Cotton Mather costume, and I've lost my enthusiasm for the adolescent glee that comes from pointing out other people's hypocrisies. All I have are my pathetic attempts to draw a distinction between private and public – that is, Howard Stern saying those oh-so-naughty! words on the public airwaves vs. Stern saying what he wants on subscription radio, or Hustler Honey sex-shows in the Superbowl half-time vs. private rentals from the satellite hot-mama feeds. I suppose it comes down to this: you should have to seek these things out instead of having them come to you. Otherwise the coarsening of the public arena continues unabated, and the good & decent fathers who fought hard for Howard Stern’s right to say sh*t – literally – find themselves without an argument when the billboard across from their kid’s elementary school uses the same words. Today’s crusading moderate is tomorrow’s prude.

During a recent visit to the northeast, it was startling again to see all manner of "adult" magazines on open display at newsstands on the street corner, with no attempt even to conceal the covers. I bragged to a friend who lives up there about QuikTrip, Tulsa's homegrown convenience store chain, which many years ago completely banned pornography from its stores. It's nice to know I can bring my children into any QuikTrip and not worry about what they might see. (I'm also proud of QuikTrip for making the security of employees and customers a priority in the design of their stores and their operating procedures, for their top-tier gasoline, for clean restrooms, for cheap sodas, for carrying the Tulsa Beacon, and for those tasty Hotzi breakfast sandwiches. But I digress. Ain't that right, Lamar?)

Most of us out here in red-state America aren't asking for everyone to be moral. We just ask for decency in the public sphere -- decency, from the Latin word which means "fitting" -- which is really about common courtesy and respecting each others sensibilities. When we are told that we must allow our bourgeois sensibilities to be confronted by tawdriness and turpitude, preferably funded by our own bourgeois tax dollars -- well, we don't take kindly to that, and we go vote for people and parties that do understand the meaning of decency.

P.S. is one of my favorite sites on the web. Be sure to visit the Institute of Official Cheer, his collections of motel postcards, restaurant and diner postcards, and a tribute to his hometown of Fargo, North Dakota, in 1950. And buy his books: Interior Desecrations and Gallery of Regrettable Food I asked for and got both of them for my birthday!

An accountant writes to tell me about an interesting case discussed at a recent tax law seminar. The case is F&M Bancorporation & Subsidiaries v. Oklahoma Tax Commission, No. TC-99331. Here's how the case was summarized in the seminar materials.

An Oklahoma bank holding company established an investment subsidiary which was organized and had its principal office in another state. The subsidiary presumably had substantial equity capitalization. It acquired mortgage notes receivable that had been generated in Oklahoma by a bank subsidiary of the holding company. The investment subsidiary did not report any income to Oklahoma and the holding company did not report any of the investment subsidiary's income or dividends to Oklahoma.

My correspondent adds:

Further information I gathered would indicate that the subsidiary was established in Delaware.

What the above is saying is F&M generated loans in OK then transferred those assets to a Delaware subsidiary. Then F&M did not pay OK income taxes on the income derived from the loans originated in OK.

The state of OK was a double loser here. The people with the loans more than likely deducted the interest expense on their OK income tax returns and F&M did not report the interest income from the loans on their OK tax return.

Being a fiscal conservative I think that is great, because OK would have just wasted the additional revenues on things like oh say, Great Plains Airlines. But, it kind of makes F&M not look like the greatest corporate citizens...

So far F&M has won the case. The OTC has asked the OK Supreme Court to review the case. They have not accepted nor rejected the case as of yet.

Who is the chairman of F&M Bancorporation? According to the F&M Bank's 2001 annual report, it's Robert E. Lorton, who is also chairman of the F&M Bank and Trust Company, and Chairman and Publisher of World Publishing Company, publisher of the Tulsa Whirled.

I don't take offense that a business would seek ways to minimize its tax liability, but it is amusing that this bank would be trying to avoid Oklahoma state tax, while the editorial board of the Tulsa Whirled, headed by the same man, never met a tax it didn't like, and frequently complains about the constitutional protections that make it hard to raise taxes on Oklahoma businesses and residents.

New Tulsa blog: Tulsa Topics


I was excited to discover a new blog about Tulsa. Bobby Holt, who set up the websites and blogs for the Lewis Crest Neighborhood Association and the Homeowners for Fair Zoning, has launched Tulsa Topics. Here's a bit from his introductory entry.

Many hands make light work. The more Tulsans keeping an eye on local politics, the better. Be sure to check the above blogs, as well as Chris Medlock's blog and the TulsaNow forums, to keep up with local news and politics.

UPDATE for searchers looking for Tulsa blogs: Since I first published this, many more Tulsans have started blogging about local news and politics. For a whole collection of Tulsa blogs, visit (12/13/2005)

In response to a Seattle pastor who claims that President Bush is the Antichrist, Ace of Spades reposts his "Top Ten Mandated Changes to Make Christianity More Politically Correct and 'Inclusive'". (Warning: contains one mild vulgarity.) An excerpt:

7. Placards displaying "John 3:16" outlawed at sporting events; spectators wishing to display their spiritual beliefs may substitute oversized foam-finger bearing the corporate slogan "Dude, You're Getting a Dell!"

5. Christ's words are modified to make them less "harsh" and "hostile" to non-believers; "I am the Way and the Light" changed to "I am the Way and the Light, if you believe in that kind of thing, and assuming that's your bag"

Mark your calendars. The City of Tulsa Board of Adjustment's (BoA) role in the zoning process will be up for discussion and a public hearing before the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC), a week from today, Wednesday, December 15, at 1:30 p.m., in the City Council chamber.

This hearing was instigated by Councilor Jim Mautino, who is concerned about the impact of some BoA decisions on homeowners who cannot afford to make an appeal through the courts. He believes the City Council should be the first line of appeal on BoA decisions. The Council didn't agree to that point but did agree that the issue deserves scrutiny, and they voted to direct the TMAPC to study the issue and make recommendations.

While the BoA is described as "quasi-judicial" -- applying the law, not making it -- the zoning code gives the BoA broad discretion to decide whether a proposed variance or special exception will be injurious to the interests of nearby property owners. If you have a BoA horror story, a case where City Council review of a BoA decision would have been helpful, come prepared to talk about it, with as many specifics as possible. It may be that for certain circumstances where special exceptions are permitted, City Council review is appropriate.

I believe the root problem is that Tulsa's land use planning system is broken, that it doesn't serve developers or homeowners, that it "protects" against threats that aren't threats at all, throws obstacles in the way of innovative approaches to development, while allowing practices that really do harm property values and the quality of life, and that it isn't producing a livable and sustainable community. We may still need to patch the system for the time being, but we need to have an honest and open conversation, with everyone around the table, having checked their cherished assumptions at the door, about a better system to replace the one we've got.

In the meantime, be there next Wednesday and be heard.

(Here, here, and here are earlier entries on the topic.)

Dawn's latest


About a month ago, I wrote, "if you are concerned about our fallen culture's attacks on the dignity and sanctity of human life, of marriage, and of sex, you need to bookmark the Dawn Patrol and visit once a day." Apparently, a lot of people have been taking that advice -- more likely from National Review's The Corner than from me -- and Dawn Eden has risen in the blog ecosystem from "Marauding Marsupial" to "Large Mammal" over the last month. That puts the Dawn Patrol in the top 600 blogs in the world, and the actual rank might be even better than that, since her stats are divided between two different URLs that point to the blog.

Dawn continues to dig into Planned Parenthood's activities -- most recently linking to a study showing that PP and other abortion providers aren't reporting cases of statutory rape (child sex abuse) to the authorities, and writing about a New Zealand woman who almost bled to death using a do-it-yourself abortion pill method recommended by Planned Parenthood.

I particularly want to call your attention to a couple of recent entries. Having written about some of the promotional items that Planned Parenthood uses to promote its message to teens, she turns her attention to some of the funnier items put out by a pro-abstinence supply catalog. She begins:

On these cold and lonely December nights, when I think about how nice it would be to be able to sit by the fire with my husband—that is, to have a husband...and a fireplace, though the husband alone would do in a pinch...

At this point, I'm expecting something like the "Top 10 Reasons a Fire in the Fireplace is Better than a Man." (Reason 5 -- A fire doesn't go out just as you're getting warmed up.) Instead she introduces us to Abstinence Gum, Abstinence Balloons, Abstinence Mints, and this:

But if you really want to celebrate your chastity in a fun and stimulating way that will not remind you at all of anything having to do with sex, there's the Abstinence Sucker:

"Want a unique giveaway item for your next class or abstinence presentation? These suckers, in cherry flavor, are a fun way to get the message to teens: Don't Be a Sucker! Save Sex For Marriage. Bulk pricing available."

Cherry flavor. Lovely.

Then there's this -- really the latest in a series she started last spring of spiritual lessons drawn from the ordinary stuff of life -- "The Truth in Small Things" (see here, here, and here), although she doesn't label it as such . It's so nicely put together that I'm afraid I'll spoil it by excerpting it. I'll just tell you that she draws some profound relationship lessons from being recently diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia. Just go read it.

Jim Rice, a Tulsa businessman, commissioned a song in support of the "Gang of Five," the alliance of reform-minded Councilors given a majority by the voters nine months ago. Two of those councilors are being targeted with a recall petition by entrenched special interests, whose ultimate aim is to grab back control and have a City Council that will serve those special interests without question.

The song is a parody of the Merle Haggard hit "Fightin' Side of Me" and Homeowners for Fair Zoning has the song on its multimedia page. It's a word of warning to the members of the Cockroach Caucus, and to others, like Mayor LaFortune, who play footsie with the Cockroach Caucus -- don't mess with our councilors, who are doing their best to serve all Tulsans, not just a favored few.

Rice was on the Michael DelGiorno show on KFAQ 1170 this morning talking about why he commissioned this song. He owns Central Towing and Recovery, and he's one of several towing company owners trying to get the city to use more than one service. Right now, if Tulsa Police needs a car towed, they call Storey Wrecker, which has an exclusive five-year contract. Cities as large as Oklahoma City and as small as Catoosa, the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol use multiple towing services, rotating calls among them, which improves response time, and spreads the work around. The City Council reformers heard the concerns of Rice and other wrecker owners and put the issue on the agenda to gather information and discuss whether there might be a better approach.

Towing for municipal governments can be a lucrative business, particularly if the towing company has the right to sell off unclaimed vehicles. The Chicago Sun-Times did an investigative series on the City of Chicago's towing business, and found that the city was selling unclaimed cars to the towing company (whose owner is a major donor to Mayor Daley's campaigns) for scrap prices, less than $130 each, no matter how new or well-maintained the car was. The towing company turns around and auctions the cars off at market values and pockets the difference. The owner of the unclaimed car is still stuck with the responsibility for whatever fines prompted the car being towed and for towing and storage fees -- none of the profit the towing company makes goes to satisfy those debts. The system is ripe for abuse and the Sun-Times documents several cases.

Meanwhile, Rice said on KFAQ this morning that he was called at home on his unlisted phone number by Tim Bartlett, an employee of the City of Tulsa in the Public Works department, who pushed for him to support the recall effort against Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. Rice said that Bartlett suggested that Rice's efforts to get city business would be frustrated if he refused to play along.

There is something very wrong about a city employee, protected under civil service with the intention of insulating him from politics, using that position to coerce others to participate on one side of a political issue. Even if Bartlett was calling from his own phone on his own time, it was his position with the city that made his warning/threat to Rice credible. The matter should be investigated, and if Bartlett made such a phone call, it ought to cost him his job. It ought also to cost whoever -- his boss at Public Works, perhaps? -- put him up to making the call.

At some risk to his business, Rice didn't agree to play along with the Cockroach Caucus, and instead decided to find a way to show his support for these councilors who were willing to hear the concerns of local business owners.

Music can do far more than mere words to rally support and boost morale. Thanks to Jim Rice for giving us a battle hymn for the cause of reform in Tulsa.

Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock have just submitted their responses to the preliminary recall petitions. The response, limited to 200 words or less, must be submitted by the target of a preliminary recall petition within five days after the official has been served with the preliminary petition. The response will appear side-by-side with the 200-word reasons for recall on the supporting petition. The City Clerk will approve the form of the supporting petitions, which must be signed by 488 qualified District 6 electors in the case of Jim Mautino, 622 District 2 voters in the case of Chris Medlock.

Here is the response submitted by Councilor Chris Medlock. The response submitted by Jim Mautino is identical, mutatis mutandis:

Councilor Jim Mautino and I are honored that you, our constituents, elected us as your voice in city government.

We both took an oath to be good stewards of your government. We further promised, during our campaigns, to ensure that Tulsa’s city government serves all Tulsans and not just a favored few.

We promised to serve you with integrity. By keeping these promises, we have angered many who have previously benefited financially from old practices.

We agree with Mayor LaFortune who said recall “hampers our effort to find real solutions to the problems facing” Tulsa.

We agree with the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa when they say this recall:

  • Would be a waste of time, energy and money.
  • Contains accusations in this petition that do not specify reasons for recall which are consistent with Oklahoma law.
  • Effectively disenfranchises you, the residents of District 2.

Jim Mautino and I thank you for allowing us to serve you as Tulsa city councilors. We promise to continue to work hard ensuring your business in city government is conducted with integrity.

Evangelical Christianity doesn't have a Pope or a Presiding Bishop to speak with authority on behalf of such a diverse movement, which includes entire denominations like the Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention, megachurches like Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, parachurch ministries like the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Prison Fellowship, independent seminaries and colleges like Wheaton College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and individual congregations and individual believers who belong to denominations that are not as a whole identified with evangelicalism. While it would be tough to come to a commonly-agreed definition, groups like the National Association of Evangelicals and the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization have made an effort.

With all this diversity in the evangelical movement, it's disheartening to see Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson plopped in front of a camera every time the media needs a spokesman from the evangelical community, when there are far more credible and eloquent spokesmen who can communicate effectively beyond the evangelical subculture with the rest of the world. I cringed when I saw a recent talk show pitting Falwell against Al Sharpton. Our faith deserves better representation.

David Wayne, the Jollyblogger, writes about the recent column by David Brooks, in which he says the media and the Democrats should acquaint themselves with the real leaders and voices of influence in the evangelical community. As an alternative to Falwell and Sharpton, Brooks nominates John R. W. Stott, the rector emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London:

[Stott] was the framer of the Lausanne Covenant, a crucial organizing document for modern evangelicalism. He is the author of more than 40 books, which have been translated into over 72 languages and have sold in the millions. Now rector emeritus at All Souls, Langham Place, in London, he has traveled the world preaching and teaching.

When you read Stott, you encounter first a tone of voice. Tom Wolfe once noticed that at a certain moment all airline pilots came to speak like Chuck Yeager. The parallel is inexact, but over the years I've heard hundreds of evangelicals who sound like Stott.

It is a voice that is friendly, courteous and natural. It is humble and self-critical, but also confident, joyful and optimistic. Stott's mission is to pierce through all the encrustations and share direct contact with Jesus. Stott says that the central message of the Gospel is not the teachings of Jesus, but Jesus himself, the human/divine figure. He is always bringing people back to the concrete reality of Jesus' life and sacrifice.

I have read some of Stott's books, including Basic Christianity and Baptism and Fullness, and have had the privilege of hearing him preach at All Souls, including a wonderful sermon, just before New Year's Day 1992, about living in the tension between "the already and the not yet," the reality that God's Kingdom is at hand, but has not yet been fully consummated. He has a wonderful clarity of thought and expression.

But there are other evangelical leaders, and in particular, American evangelical leaders, who are well equipped to speak intelligently to matters of faith in a cultural and political context. To name a very few: Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship, Marvin Olasky of World magazine, Al Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Cal Thomas. Behind giants like these is a deep bench of columnists, pastors, seminary professors, and bloggers who combine passion for the truth with wit, precision of thought and expression, and compassion.

Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear important moral issues discussed with the sophistication of thought and expression that these issues deserve?

UPDATE: Comments from readers after the jump.

I have a good excuse when something newsworthy happens, and I don't get around to writing about it for days or weeks or ever. It's just little ol' me writing this thing, and I have plenty of other responsibilities that have a higher claim on my time.

I don't know what the Tulsa Whirled's excuse is. The Whirled has a huge staff, plenty of paper, plenty of ink, and plenty of webspace if they run out of paper and ink on a given day.

Saturday the Whirled finally did a story about the League of Women Voters press release opposing the recall of two Tulsa City Councilors. The League's statement was released on Monday, November 22. The Whirled's story was buried on an inside page at the back of the first section, in the edition with the lowest circulation in a given week, 12 days after the League's statement was released.

Today the Whirled published a story about a City Council committee meeting (jump page here) that happened on Tuesday, five days earlier, at which meeting the possibility of increasing the upcoming bond issue amount from $238 million to $250 million was discussed. The story headlined the Local section of the Sunday edition. The headline, "Bond issues may keep council at odds" suggests that that rowdy "Gang of Five" is arguing and bickering for no good purpose. The story itself doesn't convey that impression at all. It mentions Councilor Chris Medlock pushing for $450,000 in funding for a new bridge over Fred Creek -- the existing bridge acts as a dam and exacerbates upstream flooding. Medlock's proposal is supported by the Mayor. The story quotes Councilor Jim Mautino as concerned about the higher bond issue amount causing a net increase in property taxes. Nothing in the story suggests that there were any heated words or significant disagreement -- no one was "at odds". And isn't it interesting that only Medlock and Mautino are quoted. I think the intention was for the reader to read the headline, glimpse the names Medlock and Mautino in the body of the story, and move on without reading it, but with a mental association between the words "at odds" and these two councilors.

Story delays, story timing, story placement, headline selection -- just four more ways the Tulsa Whirled practices media bias to advance its business interests and those of its cronies.

In the Days Inn, Edgewood, Maryland


Found on the table, in a plastic sheet protector:


In ancient times, there was a prayer for the "Stranger within our gates."
Because this Inn is a human institution to serve people, and not solely a money-making organization, we hope God will grant you peace and rest while you are under our roof.

May this room, and Inn be your "second" home.
May those you love be near you in thoughts and dreams.
Even though we may not get to know you, we hope that you will be as comfortable and happy as if you were in your own home.

May the business that brought you our way prosper.
May every call you make and every message you receive add to your joy. When you leave, may your journey be safe.

We are all travelers. From "birth til death" We travel between eternities. May these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best.

If things go wrong, we want to know. If things go right, we want to know. We are here to show you what Maryland hospitality is all about. Sit back, relax, let your hair down and enjoy.

We hope you stay with us is a pleasant one and that we will be able to serve you again in the future.

The Staff and Management.

L'Abri Jubilee


L'Abri Fellowship, the network of study centers founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer, will, in 2005, celebrate the 50th anniversary of its beginnings in Switzerland.

L'Abri (the word means "shelter") was established as a place for people "to seek answers to honest questions about God and the significance of human life." The Schaeffers, sent by the Bible Presbyterian Church to Europe as missionaries, just after World War II, sought to respond effectively to the cultural and spiritual trends in an increasingly secular continent. Students come for a few months and spend their days in study, helping with the practical work of the community, and engaging in conversation with the staff and fellow students.

Here's the L'Abri philosophy in a nutshell, from the webpage of L'Abri in Rochester, Minnesota:

The centrality of L'Abri teaching is that Biblical Christianity is true, and that it offers sufficient evidence to say 'it is the Truth'. It can be proclaimed and known without committing intellectual suicide or simply having to say 'just believe'. Because Christ is Lord of all life, Christianity speaks to all areas, not to only what might be called 'religious'. True spirituality is seen in lives, which, through Christ's redemption, are free to be fully human. Therefore, Christians can and should realize the implications and relevance of a Biblical worldview in the arts, sciences, politics, etc. If Christianity is 'the Truth', it will stand up to examination and provide satisfactory answers, and on this basis your questions will be taken seriously and addressed honestly.

World Magazine has just set up a sub-blog devoted to testimonials and reminiscences from those who studied at L'Abri, particularly during the Schaeffer years. It should make for challenging reading, as the church continues to struggle with the question: "How do you confront the culture with the truth of Scripture, when the culture rejects the very notion of truth?"

I never spent any time at L'Abri, but Francis Schaeffer's books have shaped the way I view the world and my faith. If God is there and if He has spoken to mankind, those facts should affect every aspect of life. Here are a couple of sites where you can learn more about Schaeffer: The Shelter and The Francis Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary. And here is a 1982 sermon called "A Christian Manifesto," based on the book of the same name.

Still swamped....


Too swamped with work to do any writing tonight, but here are some links to check out:

TulipGirl reports that the Ukraine Supreme Court has invalidated the fraud-ridden presidential runoff election and has directed that a new runoff election between Yushchenko and Yanukovich will be held by the end of December.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock takes a detailed look at the legal issues surrounding the attempt by the Cockroach Caucus to recall him from office. Interesting that the Tulsa Whirled doesn't bother to run the statement by the League of Women Voters opposing recall, but does bother to have its city reporter call and try to intimidate brave Deanna Oakley with threats of lawsuits.

By the way, I hear that at the Council meeting last night the Oakley question was asked again by several people in several ways of Councilor Randy Sullivan, and he continued to refuse to answer publicly. Councilor Tom Baker reportedly let loose with a strident verbal attack on the citizens who were asking the questions, an attack greeted with boos and jeers from the audience. Guess he's decided not to run for mayor after all. The Council repeat tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. on cable channel 24 ought to be worth watching.

There's plenty more bloggy goodness if you'll explore my blogroll, on the right-hand-side of the home page.

Back online


Thanks to Jace Herring and the crew at BlogHosts for getting us back online. BlogHosts and their customers were offline for about 15 hours because of a server problem. Even though BlogHosts is going out of business at the end of the month, they're still devoted to fulfilling their responsibilities as a hosting provider.

Meanwhile, I got a mention in the Whirled this morning, so I'm told. No time to write more this morning, but you can read what I wrote about Lake Sunset LLC here.

You just thought the 2004 election was over!

Louisiana has a unique election system. There are no party primaries, but all candidates of any party face each other on election day. If someone gets 50% of the vote, he is elected; otherwise, the top two candidates are in a runoff a few weeks later.

This year two Louisiana Congressional races are on the runoff ballot this Saturday (another Louisiana peculiarity), and Republicans are poised to win both and achieve a 6-1 lead in the state's U. S. House delegation.

This Wictory Wednesday, BatesLine joins hundreds of other blogs in asking you to contribute to Dr. Charles Boustany, Republican candidate for Congress in southwest Louisiana's 7th District. You can donate to the campaign by following this link. Dr. Boustany is a heart surgeon and, if elected, would be the first Republican ever elected from the district.

You'll find a list of all the Wictory Wednesday blogs on the lower right of my homepage, along with information about how bloggers can participate.

In other blogs


Not much time to write tonight, but there's plenty worth reading on other blogs:

Dawn Eden received a polite inquiry from a Swiss reader in response to her frequent posts on matters of sexual morality: "I'd really like to know why some Americans praise chastity and abstinence. Most Europeans think of sexuality as something natural, not as something that should be suppressed." Dawn allowed her readers to respond, and she posts several at the above link, and more here. It's good to see a discussion of the presuppositions that underlie views of sexual morality, and so many respectful answers, without a trace of condescencion, given in response to a respectful question.

Scott Sala of Slant Point writes about the upcoming election of a new chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party. Will the New Jersey party organization continue to be about patronage and position, or will it rediscover the priority of fighting and winning elections? He also writes about a plan to make free Internet access available in NYC housing projects, but it's not really full Internet access, but access to a specific content provider, with access to content from sponsors pushing a particular point of view, such as this item aimed at pregnant women:

You have three choices: --You can choose to have the baby and raise the child. --You can choose to have the baby and place the child for adoption. --You can choose to end the pregnancy. There is no right or wrong choice.

The Ace of Spades tells us about "A Liberal Who Doesn't Want (Much) To Call You a 'Retard' Anymore", which is progress. He makes some great points about how liberalism is integral to many liberals' sense of themselves as good people, and that attitude makes it impossible to have a civil discussion with those who don't share their politics.

Ukraine bloggers Discoshaman and his bride TulipGirl got a mention in John Podhoretz's Tuesday column about the pessimism of the Left in the New York Post.

Right now, in Ukraine, we are witnessing a genuine democratic revolution against the post-Soviet status quo, with hundreds of thousands of ordinary people refusing to allow an election to be stolen by kleptocratic thugs.

And who is celebrating this spontaneous, powerful and entirely progressive uprising? The Right, and no one but the Right. The good news is being blasted out of Kiev by conservative bloggers (particularly the married couple "Tulipgirl" and "Discoshaman") and promoted by conservative bloggers stateside.

Bloggers on the Left largely greeted the uprising with skeptical distance and worry. Because the president offered his moral support to the uprising, obsessively anti-Bush commentators seem reflexively to be skeptical of it.

Podhoretz failed to list their URLs -- is that a Post stylebook issue?

Better stop there -- be sure to check out Discoshaman and TulipGirl for the latest Ukraine news -- they've posted a lot in the last couple of days and link to still more.

About this Archive

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

November 2004 is the previous archive.

January 2005 is the next archive.

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