February 2005 Archives

Hunchback nation

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Were I a gambling man, I'd bet that we will see an epidemic of dowager's hump over the next 10 years -- more and more men and women with a pronounced forward curve of the upper spine. The cause won't be osteoporosis but cumulative deterioration of soft tissues caused by years of computer work. Chiropractic and massage, whatever temporary relief they may bring from pain, won't prevent or reverse the damage, because they don't address the cause.

TulipGirl's entry about computer exercises brought back to mind something I've been meaning to write about for some time. A little over a year ago I had a pain in the neck, aches in my shoulders, which sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies when I moved, headaches (especially behind the left eye), and occasional pain down the left arm. An MRI showed a bulging disc, probably impinging on a nerve root, and I was prescribed a course of physical therapy to help keep the disc in place and to stabilize my upper spine to avoid further problems.

I came into therapy believing that my shoulder muscles were too tight and needed to be relaxed, but the real problem was that they weren't tight and toned enough. The physical therapist explained that the problems had to do with a loss of the tone and stability of my upper back and shoulder muscles and the overstretching of back ligaments, all the result of spending far too much time with head craned forward and shoulders rolled inward, the natural result of working on something in front of you and below your line of sight.

Blogging like marital conversation?


Novice Gleeson guest blogger Bugga says marriage has prepared her well for one-way communication:

See, what this reminds me of is a wife (me) talking to a husband of many years. What I say is probably of vital importance to me, and I hope he is listening intently as I speak. Not quite hanging on my every word, but close.

Through the years he has developed a variety of expressions on his face, which have fooled me many times into thinking he actually heard what I said. He even makes the occasional "comment" just to show he is listening. Aha - we have been blogging all our married life and didn't know it.

So, Gentle Readers, I am on to you and I understand if you feel a need to tune out now and then. I will still love you. I still love my husband and he has probably only heard half of what I had to say.

Odds and ends

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Scooby Doo goes gonzo, maps galore, romance novel covers get retitled, and other assorted links -- after the jump.

A slight change of style

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I'm experimenting with a slightly different way of presenting blog entries. Unless the entry is really short, you'll just see a lead paragraph on the home page, followed by a link to the full story. The link will take you right to the point in the story where you left off. This change will make it easier for you to scan quickly and see what's been posted since your last visit. It will also give me a better idea of which stories attract the most interest, and might teach me to write more compelling leads. Let me know what you think about it. And if you've got other thoughts on the appearance and organization of BatesLine, you're encouraged to express your opinion in a comment on this entry.

Who's to blame for the mistake that forced the Tulsa city charter amendment off the ballot? The mistake, if it was a mistake, meant that the unanimous will of Tulsa's elected officials was thwarted, with only two ways to undo the damage: Schedule another city-wide election at a cost of $100,000, or delay the amendment until next March's city general election. Mayor Bill LaFortune's administration has given conflicting answers and doesn't seem anxious to pursue sanctions against the person or persons responsible for the damage to the democratic process.

Our own Sunday School class this morning was fascinating. As part of our church's missions conference, all the adult classes met together to hear David Vila, assistant professor of religion and philosophy at John Brown University. Prof. Vila spoke on the early history of Christian missions, from the beginning through 1300. In the course of his lecture, there were three recurring themes: How persecution of Christianity led to the spread of Christianity, the importance of apologetics (writings defending Christianity to the outside world), and the all-too-frequent reluctance of God's people, from Jonah to present day Christians, to take God's message of reconciliation to hostile nations. Vila also introduced us to some Arab Christian martyrs, theologians, and apologists from the Middle Ages, some with names that link them to familiar places in present-day Iraq.

Turkey ALA king

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One of the more notable reactions to the Tulsa World's legal threats against BatesLine came from Michael Gorman, the incoming president of the American Library Association (ALA). His response was not a defense of fair use and its role in public discourse, but a knee-jerk reaction, which, as it turns out, reflects a deeper lack of respect for blogs, the Internet, and the electronic availability and searchability of the written word. Karen G. Schneider has documented Gorman's reaction to the World controversy, along with his other controversial statements, on the blog Free Range Librarian.

How to skew an Internet poll

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A forum topic at MeeCiteeWurkor.com logs the back and forth of KTUL.com's web poll on the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, as it went from two-to-one against to slightly for in a matter of days. MeeCiteeWurkor explains the technical details of how web polls keep you from voting multiple times and how those limits can be nullified. As he points out, that's why KTUL has a disclaimer for its polls.

Dan Lovejoy has been all over this story: The Federal Department of Homeland Security has put veterans of some of the most invasive software and Internet companies in responsible positions overseeing the department's privacy issues. Nuala O'Connor Kelly, formerly Chief Privacy Officer for DoubleClick, is now Chief Privacy Officer for the Department of Homeland Security. And an executive from Claria (neé Gator) is on a Homeland Security privacy board. Many websurfers, myself included, installed Gator because it promised to help us more easily manage all the different usernames and passwords one acquires in the course of registering for this newspaper's website and that online banking service. It also would hijack your browser and pop up windows for its advertisers based on the site you were currently browsing. Dan reminds that Gator has been the subject of a number of lawsuits.

Dan has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out all he can. If the Cornyn-Leahy OPEN Government Act (S. 394) gets through Congress quickly enough, the FOIA request might not be too expensive:

Dan Paden of No Blog of Significance posted the first installment of notes from the Sunday School class he teaches at Sheridan Road Baptist Church. He writes a bit about how he prepares to teach and how he conducts the class, and then launches into a study of Hosea 11, beginning with this intro:

Think, please, of things that can be ruined. Have you ever seen a ruined house (try not to think of the state of your own house!)? Something utterly destroyed by termites and neglect? How about a ruined car--something allowed to rust away to nothingness, or made to run without oil or coolant? Ruined books (I've lent enough books out to know that it can be done!)? Appliances? Jewelry (a painful thought)? ...

Is your life like that? Is it possible to ruin it beyond all repair? Isn't it the case that you can--indeed, have--ruined your life? ...

And the worst is yet to come: unlike your house, your car, or your 'fridge, a ruined life is ruined beyond the reach of all human efforts at repair, for all time! But is human effort all that counts? Can God forgive your ruination of the life He gave you and repair it?

Well, can He? If you missed church today, or even if you didn't, go read it. It's good stuff, and the 19-41 class is very blessed indeed.

Show and kvell: Fractional interest


Some kid blog-bragging for a Sunday afternoon:

While we waited for our lunch at Delta Cafe, this is what my four-year old daughter drew, unprompted and unassisted:

A while back I noted that the Democrats' vacillating response to Islamofascism was driving otherwise liberal voters to become "9/11 Republicans". I wondered if these new Republicans would follow in the footsteps of the neo-conservatives of the 1960s:

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

Wizbang's Paul links to a recent indication that War on Terror Republicans are re-examining conservative views on other issues. In an op-ed on SFGate.com, Cinnamon Stillwell, who grew up in far-left Marin County, tells about the shift in her views, from being a Nader voter in 2000 to voting for George W. Bush in 2004.

Recall quid pro quo

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UPDATE: Chris Medlock has posted his account of this matter and how the story wound up in the Saturday World.

For the second time now, an quid pro quo offer has been passed along to Tulsa Councilor Chris Medlock: Support us on our pet issue, and we'll call off the effort to recall you from office. There's an interesting connection, one not immediately obvious, between the two offers that have been made.

Random notes

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I had a nice dinner out tonight with Mikki while her folks watched the kids. We went to Doe's Eat Place, which has only recently opened on Cherry Street. I should have done a bit of research first -- lots more food than we wanted and way more than we wanted to spend. It was a good meal, and we had a very good waitress, but two entrees, a small appetizer, and two sodas set us back about $50 before tip. (Note to non-Tulsans -- that is a lot to pay for dinner for two around here.) Doe's has a very limited menu -- for entrees, just steak and shrimp. The smallest steak you can order at Doe's (not counting the filet mignon) is two pounds of meat. It's expected that you'll be sharing that with someone, and we did, but still.... Doe's is a chain, but started as a place in Greenville, Mississippi, that served steaks and tamales. We had a half-dozen tamales (with chili) as an appetizer -- not bad.

After dinner, we had a leisurely browse at Borders, but left empty-handed. (We have plenty of books already. You have no idea.)

The highlight of Doe's (other than a chance to converse intelligently without kid interruptions) was an aviation map of Wales and southern England in the lobby. When we were told it would be a few minutes before we'd get a table, I said, "That's OK, I could stay here looking at this all evening." On the map I spotted RAF Shawbury near Shrewsbury in Shropshire (say that three times fast), where I spent a week on a job assignment in May 1999. The wait for the table gave me enough time to retrace my routes and remember a trip that featured lots of walking around the lovely Tudor city of Shrewsbury, a hurried evening visit to the international book town of Hay-on-Wye and a more leisurely day's drive through north Wales: A ride on the Talyllyn Railway, a narrow-gauge railway made famous by the Thomas the Tank Engine books, and a stroll to nearby Dolgoch Falls; a walk along Tywyn's beach; a couple of hours in The Village, a drive past the mirror-smooth waters of Llyn Gwynant; and a dinner of fish, chips, and mushy peas in a cafe in Betws-y-Coed. (When I first saw the mushy peas, I marvelled that they served guacamole in those parts.)

You can never tell whose fancy you're going to tickle with a blog entry, especially an entry that is not the usual stuff of the blog. My little homage to Dr. Gene Scott, television fundraiser (and occasional preacher) extraordinaire, went unremarked and unlinked, except by one blogger who hasn't owned a TV for nearly two decades. But then I got a very enthusiastic trackback from Sciolist of the Rough Woodsman, who echoes my sentiments about Doc's teaching on communion, along with his own remembrances.

Charles G. Hill gives a farewell salute to Robert Butkin, who is resigning as State Treasurer to become dean of TU's law school, which will allow him to work in the same town where his family lives. He's a Democrat I might have voted for, if I'd had the chance. (In 1994, I voted for his Republican opponent, whom he narrowly beat.) Butkin was unopposed in 1998, but my friend Rick Koontz and I wore Butkin re-election campaign T-shirts across the state on our weekend trip that summer to visit the remainder of Oklahoma's 77 counties which we hadn't yet visited. (Major County was number 77 for both of us.) When you handle billions in state funds, there are ample opportunities for kickbacks, and many of our State Treasurers took those opportunities. Robert Butkin has been one of Oklahoma's few honorable and honest State Treasurers. I hope we get another one like him.

NOTE: Blogs for Terri has a fact sheet on Terri Schiavo's condition and the history of her legal situation. If you're just learning about Terri's situation, the fact sheet is the place to start.

If you think the title of this entry is too melodramatic, just read the order Judge Greer issued today (Adobe Reader required). Terri's parents had asked for an indefinite stay pending their appeal of his February 11 order, a hearing of their petition to remove Michael Schiavo as guardian, and their intention to seek review of the case by the U. S. Supreme Court. Although the judge has given Terri three more weeks to live, he has set a "date certain" and will no longer grant any more stays to prevent his execution order from being carried out. If Terri's parents want a stay, they'll have to make their case to an appeals court. From the order:

The Court is persuaded that no further hearing need be required but that a date and time certain should be established so tha tlast rites and other similar matters can be addressed in an orderly manner. Even though the Court will not issue another stay, the scheduling of a date certain for implementation of the February 11, 2000 ruling will give Respondents ample time to appeal this denial, similar in duration to previous short-time stays granted for that purpose. Therefore it is

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Motion for Emergency Stay filed on February 15, 2005, is DENIED. It is further

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that absent a stay from the appellate courts, the guardian, MICHAEL SCHIAVO, shall cause the removal of nutrition and hydration from the ward, THERESA SCHIAVO, at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, March 18, 2005.

DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida, at 2:50 p.m. this 25 day of February, 2005.

Note the language of that next to last paragraph -- "shall cause," not "may cause." Judge Greer has sentenced Terri Schiavo to be starved to death for the crime of being unable to feed herself.

It is good news that the judge has granted three more weeks. Keep praying.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Grogan has had second thoughts about Terri's situation. Although he still believes that Terri lacks awareness, he points out that Terri is not dying and is not comatose. He also mentions that allegations of physical trauma causing Terri's condition haven't been fully investigated, and that her parents believe she could swallow again with therapy:

In a response to Bob Cox's remark, "Comprehensiveness is not part of the blogger's 'value proposition,'" Ron Coleman notes that the difference between mainstream media and blogs in this respect is more a matter of perception than reality:

The myth here is that the MSM does present a comprehensive picture. In fact, it doesn't. But unlike a blog, it pretends to. I am not saying blogs are better than newspapers, because in many important respects, they're not. But even when they are dishonest, they are honestly dishonest - you know the viewpoint of the writer by virtue of his other postings, his web rep, whatever. Whereas when the [New York Times] or the [Los Angeles Times] omits key information or context, the reader assumes he is getting "all the news that's fit to print" ... without really appreciating how "fitness" is being decided.

Another Tulsa blogger

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One more added to the blogroll:

No Blog of Significance: Dan Paden says it's mostly a place to post notes from his Sunday School class at Sheridan Road Baptist Church, but so far it's about everything else, including some sort of tangle with Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom about Kid Rock playing at a presidential inaugural ball.

Note to my single, female Tulsa readers: On a comment on this site, Mr. Paden claims to have knowledge of a "wide variety" of "excellent matrimonial prospects" who "have the advantage in looks." If you're wondering if all the good men are taken, Dan seems to think not and claims to know where to find them. Better hurry, though; he was hawking these prospects to an out-of-town blogger.

An AP story, found via Drudge:

In an investigation conducted secretly for months, the Kansas attorney general is demanding that clinics turn over the complete medical records of nearly 90 women and girls who had abortions.

Two abortion clinics are fighting the request in Kansas Supreme Court, saying the state has no right to such personal information. But Attorney General Phill Kline insisted Thursday he is simply enforcing state law.

"I have the duty to investigate and prosecute child rape and other crimes in order to protect Kansas children," Kline, an abortion opponent, said at a news conference.

Kline is seeking the records of girls who had abortions and women who received late-term abortions.

Sex involving someone under 16 is illegal in Kansas, and it is illegal in the state for doctors to perform an abortions after 22 weeks unless there is reason to believe it is needed to protect the mother's health.

So Kansas may see men held accountable for exploiting young teenage girls, and abortionists held accountable for killing babies that had reached viability. A salute to Phill Kline for having the guts to enforce the law in the interests of protecting the innocent.

The entry over at HFFZ is more cautious and circumspect in its conclusion, but it seems clear to me that Acting City Attorney Alan Jackere was in error in stating that the Oklahoma Constitution requires daily publication of notice a charter amendment for 21 days at least 20 days in advance of an election. The constitutional requirement applies to adoption of a charter, not to amendments, and the requirement gives cities the option of three publications in a weekly paper or 21 publications in a daily paper. Moreover, Mr. Jackere's opinion notwithstanding, there is nothing that forbids cities with a daily paper from opting for weekly publication.

Yet another misguided City Attorney's opinion overrules the law and the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives. His misjudgments always seem to promote the aims of the selfish development lobby. To be clear: There are plenty of good folks in the development business, but the people who control the Home Builders Association seem to believe they have the right to build anything they want, anywhere they want, and they have no respect for the property values of hundreds of thousands of people who own the homes they built and sold once upon a time. The selfish development lobby doesn't have any respect for the rules and procedures that were designed to protect everyone's property rights.

So when will Mayor Bill LaFortune let Mr. Jackere take his rightful place as a developers' attorney in the private sector and give us a City Attorney who believes his job is to serve the interests of all Tulsans? Probably never.

Baby got Book


Pocket-sized need not apply: Some guys are just into BBWs -- big Bible women. (12 MB Windows Media file, via X-ATI Guy.) Lyric excerpt:

I like big Bibles
And I cannot lie.
You Christian brothers can't deny
That when a girl walks in with a KJV
And a bookmark in Proverbs
You get stoked.
Got her name engraved
So you know this girl is saved.
It looks like one of those large ones
With plenty of space in the margins.

The "Tulsa World silliness," as Ron Coleman calls the World's legal threats against BatesLine, got more airtime on CNN's Inside Politics on Friday, talking about the Media Bloggers Association coming to my assistance. Bob Cox of the National Debate (and the founder of Media Bloggers Association) has video and a transcript excerpt.

Bob Cox was scheduled to be on MSNBC today to discuss bloggers organizing. He should have video up at some point.

Bob also has a thorough entry on the hard work of being a credentialed blogger at an event like CPAC:

As I attempted to sort out my role at CPAC, I reflected on a point made by Judith Donath of MIT coming out of the Harvard confab, "bloggers tell their readers what they think is interesting or important, but there is no attempt at comprehensiveness." I agree but I don't take that to be a bad thing. Comprehensiveness is not part of the blogger "value proposition". Blog posts are more like points of light, colored onto canvas by George Seurat; sometimes the result is a grand mess while other times the result is La Grande Jatte.

I soon accepted that my role at CPAC was not to determine the news or to fit my reporting into someone else's (an editor, a readership) larger definition of what is important about the event I was covering but rather to write about what I could see that seemed important to me and share that with my readers (and the readers on the CPAC feed aggregator). And so I wrote about what I saw: a heated argument between Michael Medved and Al Franken, a backstage look at a surprise appearance by Matt Drudge during Ann Coulter's speech, John Fund helping himself to laptops in Bloggers Corner because one of them was mine and other little tidbits of information that, taken together with other CPAC coverage by blogger, might bring blog readers a more personal view of the goings-on at CPAC.

MBA general counsel Ron Coleman (wearing his blogger hat) has a couple more comments related to the Tulsa World silliness here (on the perils of deep linking) and here (on the best way to protect your copyright).

Meanwhile, Okiedoke has had visitors from tulsaworld.com looking for passwords.

Time for a new look?

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Here's another opportunity for you to weigh in. I received a complaint recently that grey on white is hard to read. My wife thinks that the font is too big and spread out too far, which means you have to scroll, scroll, scroll to find everything. Some have suggested running two columns -- Tulsa stories in one column and everything else in the other.

What do you think? What would make your BatesLine reading experience more pleasant and productive? I look forward to your comments.

For your entertainment:

RetroCrush is presenting a list of the top 100 TV theme songs (mainly American TV). Numbers 100 through 20 have been posted already, and most entries in the list have links to websites about the shows. (Hat tip: Garfield Ridge via Ace.)

And that led me to this....

The official "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" website has clips of Carson as Carnac and other great moments from his years as Tonight Show host.

Randy Barnett, writing at the Volokh Conspiracy, urges libertarians to refocus on getting libertarian candidates to succeed within the two-party system:

Libertarians should stop thinking of parties as teams and think of them instead as the playoffs. In NFL football terms, The Democrats are the AFC and the Republicans the NFC. To get into the Superbowl, you have to survive the season and the playoffs in your respective conference. In effect, Libertarians want to form their own league which no one but themselves is interested in watching. And they assure themselves of never making the playoffs much less the Superbowl.

The analogy is apt, especially because of ballot access laws that institutionalize the two parties in many states (Oklahoma, particularly), the way legislative bodies organize themselves into majority and minority caucuses, and a voting system that penalizes third-party votes -- vote for a third-party candidate in our first-past-the-post system and you probably help your least favorite candidate.

In another post, he points out that the existence of the Libertarian Party drains libertarian activists from the two major parties, giving them less influence.

The same message applies to conservatives who are tempted to leave the Republican Party for, say, a minor party like the Constitution Party.

Speaking of ballot access, I'm proud to see that Owasso Senator Randy Brogdon is the Senate sponsor of a ballot access reform bill for Oklahoma. Sen. Brogdon has frequently demonstrated the courage of his convictions, and I predict bigger and better things for him down the road. At least I hope so.

Hooah Wife: "The journal of a Jewish moderate conservative military wife whose husband is deployed to Iraq." Home is "wherever the army sends us," but they're in Oklahoma for now.

Jack Lewis: Another Tulsa-area resident, and a prolific blogger on national and international news, with a very attractively designed website.

Linda's Thoughts: Yet another local blogger, mainly about faith and family. Her latest entry is worth a parent's consideration -- some thoughts about the teachable moment when a child is just settling into bed.

Don Singleton: That's a name that will be familiar to many Tulsa computer professionals and hobbyists. Don is president of the Tulsa Computer Society and involved with Helping Tulsa, a group that refurbishes computers for schools, churches, public housing, and other non-profits. He just started blogging a couple of weeks ago, and has written several entries on social security reform.

A reminder: If you're on my blogroll, but your name doesn't rise to the top when you update, be sure that you're sending a ping to blogrolling.com -- check their website to find out how.

The mistake wasn't fatal?

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From tonight's Tulsa City Council meeting, about the proposed charter amendment to restore the zoning protest supermajority, a protection for property owners against arbitrary rezoning: Homeowners for Fair Zoning counsel Steve Denney just told the Council that the statute regarding the publication of a municipal election changed in 1996. The new requirement is three consecutive weeks, according to Denney, which is 15 days, not 22 days. So there is still time for proper notification. Alan Jackere, acting City Attorney, who seems to think that the City Attorney's office is a branch of zoning attorney Charles Norman's law firm, took issue with Denney's interpretation and said that there was a constitutional provision overriding the statute that Denney cited. Councilor Chris Medlock raised the possibility of seeking injunctive relief to allow the election to go ahead, given the clear and unanimous intention of the Council and the Mayor in support.

(UPDATE: You'll find links to the relevant statutes and constitutional amendments at this entry on HFFZ's news log.)

Brad Colvard, HFFZ president: "The Mayor's failure to stand up for Tulsa's citizens is noted." Colvard said he committed to support the bond issue, and still will, but asked if the city can't manage to get a simple measure on the ballot, why should Tulsans trust the city with $250 million.

Interesting: Chris Medlock noted that a speaker (Chris Jennings, if I heard the name correctly) against the charter amendment sat down next to Chamber CEO Jay Clemens and got an "attaboy". (Update -- 9:15 pm -- Bill Christiansen objects to Medlock pointing out what happened in the audience. Objection noted, Bill. We've all got your number, ducky.)

8:53 pm: Council just voted unanimously to move ahead with the bond issue on April 5th.

8:55 pm: Bill Christiansen wants to put the charter change on the next city-wide election, not in May -- can't afford another $100,000, he says. I think the $100,000 ought to come out the paychecks of whoever screwed this up. Starting with the Mayor.

Susan Neal is talking about "just folks" -- not just members of the development community -- who wanted to have a voice on the charter change proposal. Funny that none of these "just folks" are speaking out publicly.

Councilor Jack Henderson is saying that this sends a wrong message to the public -- that the Council can take a vote, but have it undone because of a clerical mistake.

Busby bombshell

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From tonight's City Council meeting: Tulsa City Councilor Roscoe Turner just announced that airport investigator Wilson Busby today submitted his resignation. There has been some concern about the appearance that the investigation is compromised by Busby's connections with Jim Burdge, the political consultant who is running the recall and who has run Councilor Bill Christiansen's campaigns. Councilor Turner himself, who was also a client of Burdge, said he also considered resigning as chairman of the investigation, and that he believes it is time for a grand jury investigation.

I am told that by people I trust that people they trust say Wilson Busby is an honorable man, and I have no reason to doubt that. But there are reports that Busby has gone beyond investigation and has been negotiating deals with various airport stakeholders. There are also concerns that there have been no tangible results from the investigation since the November election.

This happened in the course of an item put on the agenda by non-Councilor Randy Sullivan. Sullivan proposed a council consensus calling for confidentiality in this and future council investigations. Councilor Chris Medlock agreed with the need for confidentiality, but challenged Sullivan to specify what breach of confidentiality prompted his proposed consensus. Sullivan declined, revealing that his motivation for raising the issue was political.

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Sorry for the multiple posts earlier. Movable Type was behaving strangely, and it wasn't clear that the entry about the City Council meeting had been posted.

Big Council meeting tonight

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There are a lot of important issues on tonight's Tulsa City Council agenda.

  • The Mayor has nominated a replacement for planning commission member Dell Coutant (the only member that has respect for the Comprehensive Plan). His name is Owen Ard, and I understand that he lives in Maple Ridge neighborhood and is in real estate. Once again, the Mayor appears to be bowing to his Cockroach Caucus masters by NOT replacing the commissioner who most needs to go -- Joe Westervelt. That must have been some woodshedding they gave Bill out at Homebuilders' Hall.
  • Former District 7 City Councilor Terry Doverspike has been nominated to the Economic Development Commission to replace Jono Helmerich. While Doverspike may not be the Chamber booster that his predecessor on the Council, John Benjamin (now a Bixby resident), was, Doverspike is not likely to be the kind of skeptical outsider we need to oversee the spending of Tulsa's economic development money.
  • An item about allowing the Council to handle appeals from the City Board of Adjustment.
  • An attempt to put off the charter amendment and the city bond issue until May.

And there's more. It all starts at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall.

That's all for tonight...

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...and not just because no one's hit the tip jar since my Gene Scott post. I'm listening to a replay of Wednesday's Michael DelGiorno show, and he's going through some really interesting connections between political consultant Jim Burdge, campaign manager for Randy Sullivan, Bill Christiansen, and Sam Roop, and who owns the domain for the pro-recall Coalition for Responsible Government; and Wilson Busby, the investigator selected by Sam Roop to handle the Council's airport investigation, and whose law partner was an active supporter of Bill Christiansen -- allegations of favoritism for Christiansen at Jones Riverside Airport is the subject of FAA scrutiny. It's going to take some time to process it all.

A further reprieve


It appears that Florida Governor Jeb Bush has found a way to intervene on behalf of Terri Schiavo and stave off her husband's attempts to starve her to death.

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has filed a brief with Circuit Judge George Greer. The judge didn't allow a DCF attorney to speak during today's hearing, and DCF isn't saying what's in their filing, which is sealed, but the lawyers for Michael Schiavo and Terri's parents both said it had to do with allegations that Michael Schiavo abused Terri. This goes to the question of whether he is fit to act as her guardian and to make decisions about her care.

Judge Greer extended his stay until Friday at 5, and said he'd be considering whether to allow further tests to determine the level of Terri's awareness.

My friend Dave Russ sent along the official summary of HB 701, a bill that will help Terri and other similarly afflicted people:

Withholding or Withdrawal of Nutrition or Hydration from Incompetent Persons: Declares that an incompetent person is presumed to have directed health care providers to provide the necessary nutrition and hydration to sustain life; prohibits a court, proxy, or surrogate from withholding or withdrawing nutrition or hydration except under specified circumstances; provides that the presumption to provide nutrition and hydration is inapplicable under certain circumstances; conforms provisions to changes made by the act; declares that the act supersedes existing court orders otherwise applicable on or after the effective date of the act.

Effective Date: upon becoming law.

Florida readers, contact your legislators and urge them to move this bill along. Here's the committee that currently has the bill. Here's a link to the bill's status. And everyone, keep praying, especially for Judge Greer.

Gene Scott, RIP

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UPDATED after the jump with links to other blog reminiscences of Gene Scott. And don't miss my multimedia homage to Doc's fundraising style.

Another UPDATE 11/29/2005: The Wittenburg Door, a Christian satire magazine, has a short video of Gene Scott in one of his fundraising rants. My parody of him was extremely mild in comparison to reality.

It was the summer of 1986. I had just graduated from MIT and came back to Tulsa to look for a job, either here or in northwest Arkansas near my girlfriend. Dad had been laid off the previous September after 20 years with Cities Service and had taken a job in Abilene, Texas. Mom planned to move down there in a few months. My sister was back home after her freshman year at OU, and I had moved back home.

Since I didn't have to be up mornings, Mom and sister and I would tune in every night to watch KSHB out of Kansas City -- Uncle Ed Muscari's "All Night Live". I'd make a pan of Orville Redenbacher, and we'd watch "Twilight Zone", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", and the Three Stooges, interspersed with Uncle Ed talking on the banana phone, his cat Caffeina snoozing in front of him on the desk. At midnight we'd switch over and catch Letterman.

When Letterman went off at 1, if I wasn't ready to crash, I'd surf over and watch Dr. Gene Scott. I don't remember if he was on KSHB, or some other channel. He was strange, but strangely compelling, this preacher smoking a cigar, wearing one funny hat or another, shouting at his pledge-takers, showing the same ancient video of the Statesmen singing "I Want to Know" over and over and over again until he raised as much money as he felt was necessary before he continued his teaching. Another tune that got heavy rotation was "The P*ssant Song," a ditty devoted to all the carpers and complainers who criticized Scott's teaching and style.

Where was the money going? You didn't need to know. Gifts were payable to Dr. Gene Scott himself -- not a tax-exempt ministry. He could and would do with them as he pleased. He might buy expensive clothes, cigars, saddlebred horses. In his view, you didn't give for specific projects; you gave in appreciation for his teaching. The man lived large, but he also is said to have given generously.

Git onna phones!!!!


Now, the time has come for you people to demonstrate whether you value the blogging you've been receiving night after night. I'd like to blog to you about the airport investigation, the City Council recall, and the meaning of the Pyramids, but right now I'm lookin' over at the phones and not a one of 'em is ringin'. It's time for you to pick up the phone and demonstrate the value of the blogging with your tithes. I'm not doing any more blogging until you GIT ONNA PHONES!


Play "I Wanna Know"!


I.... I wanna know...
(I want to know that Jesus welcomes me there)
I do not want...
(I do not to be denied)
Well.... I wanna live (let me live) in that city so fair
That's enough (that's enough) for me to know.

I do not know (doot-do-doot-doot)
The day my Savior will come
I must be (doot-do-doot-doot)
Prepared to go-o
If from earth I know he'll call me, O Lord,
That's enough (that's enough) for me to know.

I want to know (a-know-know)
That Jesus welcomes me there,
I do not want (a-want-want)
To be deni-ied.
Let me li-ive, in that city so fair,
That's enough... for me... to know!


All right.... [click, click, puff] There are still five, six, seven Voices of Faith that aren't talkin' to one of you on the phone.

Play it again!!!! And GIT ONNA PHONES!

That's more like it. Now before we get to more blogging, I've got some video of my saddlebred horses at a competition....

Confused? See next entry. Hat tip to the Daffy Net for the audio and images. And (updated 11/29/2005) if you want a glimpse of the real thing, the Wittenburg Door has a short video of Dr. Gene Scott in full rant.

Do not adjust your set....


Some of you will get the next entry (above), and some of you won't. If you don't get it, just skip it.

In memory of w. euGene Scott, a pioneer of satellite television and religious broadcaster sui generis....

Assorted linkage

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Dean Esmay is blogging about Bouguereau again. (NB: Artistic depiction of busty substances.)

Dean's also blogging for Terri Schiavo:

Please click here and read this.

Come on. Are you all that certain you know all there is to know here that's important?

Are you really?

If you aren't all that certain, and if you have a weblog, do you think maybe you should tell your readers about this?

You guys know me. I'm no pro-lifer or religious extremist. I'm anything but. So, are you sure you know everything that's important to know here??

(This post stays at the top of Dean's World all day today. And by the way, click the links and read them before commenting, dammit!!!)

It's heartening to see that Terri's cause is just as compelling to those who are not suffering from the "unpleasant reek of fundy mindrot." Dean asks the question that cuts right to the heart of the problem. People hear bits and pieces on the news, they see that Randall Terry and the pro-life community is involved, they hear that the Schindlers are devout Catholics, they hear words like comatose and vegetative, and they reduce the whole situation to a template and invoke the appropriate knee-jerk reaction.

Meanwhile, Discoshaman is soliciting reader comments about whether marijuana should be decriminalized. He's also trying to figure out how best to label what kind of conservative he is. He coins the phrase "humane conservatism":

While Conservatism has gotten better at winning battles, it seems to have lost something of itself along the way. We've never agreed on our ultimate vision of things, but in decades past we had insightful, productive debates about it.

Conservatism is more than Grover Norquist's "Leave Us Alone" Coalition. It's more than the Chamber of Commerce. It's more than a handful of unconjoined reactionary sentiments. Unless we have some vision for the just, good society, how can we know what to conserve?

From my reading of Le Sabot Post-Moderne, I detect a certain crunchiness to Discoshaman's conservatism. (Thanks, Google -- here's evidence.)

The Penitent Blogger is back in America from her tsunami relief journey to southern India but finds herself on a second and emotionally more arduous leg of the same journey:

Once back home, I could barely look at the 400+ photographs without crying. I have not yet been able to sit down and edit the seven hours of video. Every single picture and image is a complete story that has to be written, and it is very overwhelming to me, a woman who until now had barely travelled up north, let alone visit a devastated third world nation.

However, I will begin this second leg of my journey now. We had the physical journey, now I must commit to the spiritual journey of not abandoning the tsunami victims in Tamilnadu, just because the press has now decided to report on something more titillating. Ten thousand people suffered horrible deaths in Tamilnadu, which means at least fifty thousand survivors have had their lives changed forever. We helped 100 orphans and families. How many more are out their needing assistance? Fr. Leo is right; ten dollars can feed an Indian child for a month, and I am going to feed as many of these children as I can.

You can help feed them, too, by clicking here.

Finally, if you're a homeschooler or (like me) sympathetic to the movement, this cartoon from the Arizona Daily Star will outrage you, but you'll appreciate the witty response by Jon Swerens of Kirkcentric. (HT: Dawn Eden, who says the abusive dad in the cartoon looks like "Richard M. Nixon reimagined as a vinyl-record store clerk.")

A commenter called MikeC, writing in response to a post on, of all places, the humor blog IMAO, proposes a common-sense approach to the ethics of Terri Schiavo's situation. The concept is brilliant, although his explanation isn't as clear as I'd like, so I'm going to paraphrase it:

Look at the two parties in this case -- Terri's husband and Terri's parents -- and the result each party is seeking. Then ask, for each party, what are the consequences of getting it wrong, if the judge grants their request.

What if Michael Schiavo succeeds in removing the feeding tube, but is wrong in his claim that Terri is a vegetable? A thinking, feeling woman will die a slow and painful death from starvation and dehydration.

What if the Schindlers succeed in taking over Terri's care, but are wrong in thinking that there is hope for rehabilitation? As MikeC put it, "they get to pay a bunch of medical bills and live with false hope." Terri, if she truly is PVS, isn't going to know or care.

If the judge decides for the husband and he's wrong, the consequences are cruel and irreversable. Terri will pay the ultimate price for her husband's error. If the judge decides for the Schindlers and they're wrong, the Schindlers will toil in vain, but they alone will bear the consequences.

Kramer, in "The Fusilli Jerry" episode of "Seinfeld":

"Have you ever met a proctologist? They usually have a very good sense of humor. You meet a proctologist at a party, don't walk away. Plant yourself there because you will hear the funniest stories you've ever heard. See, no one wants to admit to them that they stuck something up there. Never. It's always an accident. Every proctologist story ends in the same way... 'It was a million to one shot, doc, million to one.' "

I thought of that quote when I heard what happened at City Hall Tuesday morning. It seems to capture the difficulty the Mayor's administration has taking responsibility for their decisions.

Mayor Bill LaFortune's chief of staff Clay Bird came down to the City Council's Urban and Economic Development committee meeting to say that due to some freak oversight on the part of the City Clerk's office, necessary paperwork wasn't filed in a timely fashion, and therefore a proposed charter amendment won't be on the April ballot with the bond issue. The purpose of the charter amendment, which passed the Council unanimously, is to restore the supermajority requirement for a zoning change in which a formal protest is filed by a sufficient number of property owners affected by the change.

The committee meeting will be broadcast on TGOV (Cox cable channel 24) sometime between 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. tomorrow and every day through the rest of the week. I'm told it's must-see TV. Some of the Councilors seemed quite excited that the charter amendment would not make the April ballot. Now there's talk of delaying the bond issue yet one more month, to May, along with the charter amendment, the District 5 special election to replace Sam Roop and the recall elections in District 2 and 6, all on the same day, with the Cockroach Caucus hoping for a clean sweep -- stop the charter amendment, elect a John Benjamin crony in 5 and get rid of two good councilors in 2 and 6. The Cockroaches apparently hope that a single, relatively high turnout election will ensure that their deep pockets will overwhelm the volunteer efforts in support of Medlock and Mautino and the charter change.

I'm not buying the excuse that it was a mistake by the City Clerk's office. There have been too many coincidental mistakes -- agendas not getting posted and the like -- and they always seem to favor the Cockroaches. If it wasn't an intentional slip, perhaps it's because the City Clerk's office is too busy expediting the processing of recall petitions (which will please the Cockroaches) to handle other important business.

We hear that the Mayor got verbally beat up by some development lobbyists recently, and in the process of saying "uncle!" he promised to stop speaking out against the recall of Medlock and Mautino. If that's so, perhaps he also promised them to find a way to scuttle the charter change and speed up recall. The Mayor doesn't dare come out openly against the charter change and for the recall, beacuse he'd lose his political base, but if he supports the charter change and opposes the recall, he risks offending the men who might bankroll him to the next level of his 8-8-8 plan (eight years as mayor, eight as governor, eight as president).

It seems that the Mayor wants what the Cockroach Caucus wants, but he doesn't want the public to hold him accountable for enabling the Cockroaches to get their way. Like the proctologist's patient, he finds it easier to pretend it was all an accident. Sorry, I'm not buying that -- rectocranial inversions like that don't just happen spontaneously.

Terri's not the only one

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WriteWingBlog has links to several testimonies from people who have first-hand experience with acute rehabilitiation or with a misdiagnosis of PVS. Hyscience's Richard has a moving story to tell, and you can understand why Terri's situation matters so much to him. And Rus Cooper-Dowda's story is amazing -- like something out of Kafka -- you must read it:

In February of 1985, I woke up in a hospital bed in Boston, MA. I couldn't see very well and I couldn't move much -- but boy could I ever hear!

I heard a terrifying discussion then that I will never, ever forget.

Around the end of my bed were a "school" of doctors in their white coats, planning when to disconnect my ventilator and feeding tube. I immediately started screaming, "I'm here!!" No one but me heard me.

They did notice my sudden agitation. They heavily sedated me. For a time, everytime I woke up I would make as much noise and move as a much as I could to show them I was "in there."

And they would, in response, heavily sedate me...

I then started spelling the same word in the air, "Don't! Don't! Don't!...."

The doctors decided that the letters I was spelling in the air were repetitive seizure activity and just happened to occur most often when they were in my room discussing killing me...I even took to writing them backwards to make it easy for them to read...

I was using Technorati to see what bloggers are saying about the Tulsa World's threats against BatesLine. Chellee of Telling Deeds posted an entry calling the World's missive "wonderfully fascist" and praising Joel Helbling's wonderful parody of it.

What caught my attention was this comment from "Apathy Bear":

Yeah, I just checked out this guy's site. His blogroll's got some interesting links. "Club for growth" is not a good sign... Also, the guy's name-dropping people like Hugh Hewitt and Michelle Malkin. Malkin, for example, is an apologist for the Japanese internment of WWII. On the surface, Bate's claims appear legit; I have my reservations, however. I'll look into it some more. Something tells me that we're not getting the whole story from Mr. Bates.

Be sure to check out his take on the Terri Schiavo deal. I'm smelling the unpleasent reek of fundy mindrot here...

For the most part, left-leaning bloggers who've commented on the World's threats have focused on the copyright issue. They recognize that the matter affects every blogger, regardless of your ideology. So this comment shouldn't be taken as typical, but it is revealing of a certain mindset. He appears to have reservations about my credibility, reservations which are based entirely on his finding that I have conservative bloggers and organizations on my blogroll. It's as if he were saying, "I'd believe him if he were a Daily Kos reader, but Club for Growth supporters are shifty and dissembling." It really is another form of the World's blindness -- the idea that anyone with a different perspective must be stupid, unbalanced, or disingenuous.

And what about my "take" on Terri Schiavo is evidence of "fundy mindrot"? If "fundy" means someone who believes in the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, I plead guilty, but it doesn't seem to have eroded my mental ability enough to keep me out of MIT or Phi Beta Kappa or to stop me from writing software for the last 25 years.

Anyway, what's "fundy" about believing that you shouldn't kill a human being by depriving her of food and water? I'd hope every one would agree with that.

Chellee's reply was quite decent:

I saw that the site has definite conservative ties. I'm not one to defend conservatives, except when it comes to constitutional issues. I believe in freedom of speech, and threatening someone in the name of copyright to shut them up doesn't sit well with me.

Terri Schiavo update

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Judge Greer issued a temporary stay until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday. Terri's parents are seeking the opportunity to have new neurological tests performed, taking advantage of recent advances to determine her level of awareness. Greer will hear their request Wednesday at 2:45.

The effort to raise money for an ad in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times to raise public awareness is nearing its goal. You can contribute here.

There's a video I haven't seen before, showing Terri responding with laughter and other vocalizations as her dad reminisces about how, when she was a girl, she would upset her mom by letting her lazy eye turn in. If you believe that Terri is comatose or in a persistent vegetative state, you need to watch this minute long video. And if you won't watch it, ask yourself -- are you just afraid of changing your mind?

I've seen an increasing number of references to a website that has the trial court's determination of Terri's condition. But it's the trial court's findings that are at issue -- suppression of evidence, ignoring evidence. Judge Greer's findings of a persistent vegetative state don't line up with the videos and the testimony of caregivers about Terri's responsiveness and vocabulary. As I understand it, even if Judge Greer had some hidden conflict or bias that is coloring his judgment in this case, his findings of fact wouldn't be overturned, as long as he follows proper procedure. We need to pray that he will have a change of heart or that he'll be removed from the case. The videos don't show someone who has constantly been in a PVS for 15 years. Doesn't Terri deserve a judge who will give her the benefit of the doubt?

Here's a list of e-mail addresses for submitting letters to Florida newspapers. And there's a link to an example letter.

More in later entries.

Another execution of the innocent


PiratePundit has some original reporting on a Texas case in which a hospital wants to stop treatment of an infant with a genetic disorder and to evict him from the hospital, despite his mother's wishes that treatment continue.

In Texas, a baby has been in effect sentenced to die. He is hospitalized with a disease called thanatophoric dysplasia. A website devoted to genetic disorders says that “Infants with this condition are usually stillborn or die shortly after birth from respiratory failure; however, some children have survived into childhood with a lot of medical help.” The child in question, Sun Hudson, is four months old and has obviously survived the danger of stillbirth and has not died shortly after birth. Sun’s mother wants him to live. Doctors at the hospital where Sun was born no longer want to supply him with the “lot of medical help” he needs, and plan to shut off his oxygen supply.

PiratePundit interviewed the mother's attorney and writes that this story is not about money (the patient is covered by Medicaid), not about an untreatable condition (the hospital boasts on its website about the resources of its genetics clinic for dealing with such conditions), and it's not about pro-life politics (the attorney isn't a pro-lifer and points out that Sun Hudson has already been born).

This is about one judge who has by any objective standard allowed no due process to the child who may soon be killed or to the child’s mother. Attorney Caballero subpoenaed hospital records of Medicaid payments for the child’s treatment. The judge quashed the subpoena (meaning that he voided it) and refused to allow the mother to view those hospital records. Caballero subpoenaed the person in charge of records who could testify about the medical bills and payment. Judge McColloch quashed that subpoena. Instead, the judge ruled that the mother, in seeking to save her child’s life from a deliberate cessation of medical treatment, had “no cause of action”. The judge made that ruling based only on the petitions filed, not allowing the mother’s attorney to conduct any discovery under the normal rules of court procedure. ...

Finally before the probate court, the mother was not given the opportunity to call any witnesses or present any evidence in an evidentiary hearing. Instead, the judge ruled that the hospital may discontinue treatment of the child, based on facts not even alleged by the hospital, specifically that the judge believed the child was suffering “significant pain.” According to Caballero, when he asked how the judge had reached that finding of fact without ever having heard any testimony or conducting a hearing on the merits of the case, the judge replied, on the record, that he “probably got it from the newspaper.” Having visited the baby in the hospital, Caballero flatly denies that the child is in pain. After reflection, Caballero asked Judge McColloch to recuse himself from the case. McColloch refused.

So this poor baby is stuck with a judge that doesn't seem interested in the facts. As I understand it, the appeals court will defer to the judge as the trier of fact, as long as he made no procedural errors. This is the same problem that Terri Schiavo faces -- you may have an unjust judge who suppresses important evidence, but you're stuck with him and his rulings as long as he follows procedure.

Hat tip to the Dalek Weblog, which I found because they also have an entry about the Tulsa World's legal threats against BatesLine: "Is Tulsa the new Bunker Hill?"

A lot of blogs have been getting hammered with trackback spam -- online c*s*nos, online p*k*r, and ph*nt*rm*ne -- over the last month. I tried to dodge it by renaming my trackback script, which stopped the stupider spambots, but one spambot was smart enough to figure it out, and I was still getting a dozen or more spam pings a day.

The spam trackbacks were all aimed at older entries. The spammers aren't really interested in being read; they are trying to increase the Google page rank of their websites. The rel="nofollow" patch is supposed to remove some of the incentive for doing that.

So I installed a plug-in called MT-Close2, which I read about in an entry on defeating trackback spam on the Learning Movable Type blog. MT-Close2 closes comments and trackbacks for entries based on user-specified criteria.

The downside is that it won't be possible for legitimate pingers to trackback to entries on BatesLine that are more than about two weeks old. The upside is that I haven't had a single spam ping since installing MT-Close2, but I am still getting legitimate pings. If you are trying to ping an entry and can't because it's more than a couple of weeks old, e-mail me at blog at batesline dot com, and I'll see what I can do.

Car-free cities?

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It's audience participation time -- I'm going to throw out a question, and I'd like to see your answers in the comments or via trackback.

There are cities like Tulsa where a car is an absolute necessity for survival. Nearly the entire city was built post-Model T, with the assumption that everyone had a car at his disposal -- very low density, no sidewalks, segregation of uses. A day's necessary travel may put 30 or 40 miles on the odometer. Even with a good public transit system, getting around would be inconvenient, and we don't have a good public transit system.

There are cities like New York where a car is an inconvenience. The city was built when most people had to get around on foot, and the public transit system is excellent (even if the natives don't believe it).

There are cities in-between -- most people get around by car, but it is possible and practical to live comfortably without one. I suspect this is true of a lot of college towns. Some parts of town would be inaccessible to you, but there is at least a densely-developed core where you can find housing, employment, shopping, and entertainment within walking distance. Savannah, Georgia, seems to fit this description.

So here's my question: In what American cities / metro areas is it possible to live comfortably, as an employed adult, without a car? I'm not looking for speculation -- I'd like to know if you've managed it yourself or know someone who has. I'd be especially interested to know of cities where people have managed to raise a family sans car. I'm excluding dorm-dwelling college students -- it's easier to get by without a car when you don't have to buy your own groceries, get to a job, or maintain your own dwelling. Also, by the phrase "live comfortably," I exclude having to walk five miles along an arterial street with no sidewalk and bad lighting to get to your job. Some folks here have to do that to survive, and I applaud their determination, but it doesn't make Tulsa a city suited for car-free living.

A couple of things prompted this. One is that I've been working on a piece about how urban design affects the independence of people with disabilities, inspired by the contrast between someone I met recently in New York and some folks I know here in Tulsa, and how easy or challenging they find it to get around on their own. I am coming to believe that every city of a certain size ought to preserve or recreate at least one area where car-free living is possible, for the sake of accommodating those who can't or shouldn't or choose not to drive.

The other thing that prompted this question is a post by Dawn Eden about her job search. She doesn't drive, so the job needs to be some place where you can survive without a car. That made me wonder if there are places besides older, bigger cities like New York where that is possible.

One more ground rule -- your anecdotal evidence should be from the last 20 years, more or less. Both my grandmothers got through most of their lives without driving, living within walking distance of the downtowns of Dewey and Nowata, Oklahoma, respectively, but in the '40s, '50s, and '60s, these towns offered all the basic necessities downtown, and many merchants would deliver. (Their husbands drove, so they weren't completely car-free, but most of the time a car was not at their disposal.) Now that everyone has a car, we'll drive several miles for better prices and better selection -- the small neighborhood store can't compete, and living car-free in a small town isn't an option any more.

I'm looking forward to your responses.

On death row

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The judge has denied all stays of execution, and it may be beyond the Governor's powers to grant clemency. Today at 1 p.m. Eastern time, the attorney of Terri Schiavo's estranged husband will order the removal of Terri's feeding tube and allow her to starve to death in a Clearwater, Florida, hospice.

There are still things that can be done to try to save her from that fate:

Here's what we need to do in order of priority:

1. Support (give and get readers to give) to place the [St. Petersburg Times] ad.
2. Email and telephone support HB701
3. Deluge Jeb Bush [Jeb Bush, jeb.bush@myflorida.com, 850 / 488-4441, 850 / 487-0801 (fax)]
4. Deluge President Bush
5. Blog like crazy to keep the information circulating.

The purpose of the ad, which would go in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times, is to break through the mainstream media and get the attention of Tampa area residents to hear the facts about Terri's condition.

I'll be making some phone calls to Tallahassee in the morning to the governor and legislators. I hope you will, too.

And if you're still not sure if Terri ought to be allowed to live, if you still buy the idea that Terri is comatose or in a "persistent vegetative state," please click here and see for yourself.

The latest issue of Forbes explains why cities keep building more convention space when the convention industry is shrinking. After one story of failure after another, we read this:

"The assumptions that go into feasibility studies are the problem," says Anne Van Praagh of Moody's. "The outside firms have no financial stake in the business."

Robert Canton, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers' convention and tourism practice, offers this defense: "We don't recommend to build or not to build. We're just being asked if there is a potential demand."

The answer is almost always yes. Out of 75 potential projects reviewed by the firm that Oregon hired, only 4 were deemed completely unfit. SAG partner Jeffrey Sachs says that is evidence of his shop's "objectivity." "You lose clients if you shoot down projects. They've already made up their minds by the time they come to us," he says.

Where do the experts get their rosy predictions? "We have to make a lot of assumptions. This industry isn't tracked very well," says Sachs. The most oft-cited data come from Tradeshow Week, which is owned by Reed Elsevier, a British company that also produces 430 trade shows. Its primary measure of the industry's health is its annual list of the 200 best-attended shows, making for a convenient survivor bias, and based solely on data from show managers who have an interest in masking serious declines.

Advisers' conclusions often fly in the face of logic. Consulting firm Convention, Sports & Leisure was hired by Cincinnati in 1999 to ask meeting planners what they thought of the city as a show destination. Only 39% answered positively, trailing perceptions of Kansas City (60%), Boston (56%) and Nashville (62%). CSL subtly encouraged construction by suggesting the city could improve its image. Cincinnati is under way with a $160 million expansion. A study for Minneapolis done by Coopers & Lybrand in 1994 went so far as to suggest that obvious obstacles to success like frigid temperatures and location could be overcome by "specific marketing efforts."

Read it, and, if your city is silly enough to dump more money into this dying industry, weep.

Spring is here


Everyone had the day off, so Grandma picked up the kids early, and Mikki and I had some time on our own. We had lunch at the Bangkok Restaurant, a very good Thai buffet near 31st and Harvard -- only $8 each, not including beverage, and plenty of spicy dishes, which we both enjoy. They had a lot of variety for a relatively small restaurant.

The weather was lovely. We drove up to Cherry Street, parked the van, and walked along, window-shopping. There's a specialty food store, LaDonna's Fancy Foods, at the northwest corner of 15th and St. Louis that had an amazing variety of pastas and cheeses. Have you ever seen sombrerini pasta? Me neither. Can you guess what they look like from the name? We walked from Troost to Peoria on the north side of 15th, back to St. Louis on the south side, then down to Swan Lake and back.

Katherine spotted our first two daffodils in bloom on Sunday, and a bunch more are close to popping. The pear trees have already put out their fuzzy buds, and the phlox is starting to bloom.

We'll have a few more cold nights, and probably in a couple of weeks, we'll get a freak 12-inch snow storm which will all melt the next day. But spring is really here.

UPDATE: A reader mailed in the name of the specialty food shop, LaDonna's Fancy Foods, which I've added above, and linked it to LaDonna's very fine website.

From the blogroll

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The St. Gabriel's tsunami relief team is back in northwest Arkansas from their trip to India. You'll find a long but preliminary account here, and some reflections on poverty and the people of India here. And they still need your help -- click here to find out how you can donate. (Hat tip: Penitent Blogger.)

Discoshaman exposes some of Gary "Baby-Unwise" Ezzo's many theological defects -- like Ezzo's belief that children are cleansed of sin by spanking. And he has some thoughts on socialism and social homogeneity.

Eric Siegmund says skip Starbucks' new Chantico -- for a real treat, pull up to a Texas Stop Sign for a chocolate covered strawberry blizzard. It's much better, and not that much worse for you. (Dairy Queen has almost vanished from these parts, but its many stores live on as used car lots and burger joints, most prominently as Big Edna's Burger World in the movie UHF. It was really Harden's Hamburgers, which later moved to another disused DQ. It was just down the street from where I worked. Once a fortnight I'd walk there for lunch, order a hamburger steak dinner, onions grilled in, Curly-Qs, and a Dr. Pepper, and do the Trans-O-Gram in the brand new issue of National Review. $2.99 with a coupon, and they gave you a new coupon with every meal. But I digress. Mmmmm. Onion burgers.)

Dwayne (AKA Mike Horshead) has some daytime photos of vintage Illinois signs, and promises to get some neon night shots on his next trip back.

Boyden McElroy has a rantish but reasonable take on nouthetic counseling, or rather, some of its proud practitioners.

Over at Samizdata, Brian Micklethwait writes of the music of Johann Strauss II, and that golden moment in history when pop culture and high culture meshed. (A favorite memory of our 1990 visit to Vienna: standing-room tickets to Die Fledermaus at the Volksoper. There's nothing like hearing Strauss in Vienna.)

That oughta hold you.

Great segment about the contrast between blogs and real journalism on the Daily Show -- you'll need RealPlayer and a high-speed connection to see it properly. (Hat tip: The Corner.)

Here's a transcript.

This item is from the satirical news blog ScrappleFace:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has, at least temporarily, saved the life of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, the Florida woman whose former husband, Michael, had planned to disconnect her feeding tube on Tuesday.

The 11th-hour reprieve came in response to a plea from the Schindler family to have Terri classified as a silver rice rat (Oryzomys argentatus), considered an endangered species by the state of Florida and the USFWS. ...

"If we can apply to get Terri classified as a different endangered species each month, we can give her several more years of life," Mr. Terry said. "I know it sounds dehumanizing, but under our laws a rat has more of a right to life than this woman."

Go read the whole thing.

(You've got to love a humor blogger who includes Calvin's Institutes and the works of B. B. Warfield in the list of Amazon recommendations on his home page.)

A glossary of zoning terms


A friend from the Kansas City area sends along this cynical dictionary of land use and zoning phrases. Some samples:

Campaign Contributions: The first step in the zoning process.

Citizen Groups: Rabble.

City Council: A governing body representing developers.

Developer's Attorney: 1. A golfing buddy of city council members. 2. A campaign manager for city council members.

Eminent Domain: A developer's philosophy: "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine."

Landscaping: The installation of trees, shrubs, and other plant materials in lieu of enforcing the proper zoning.

Master Plan: A fairy tale, updated yearly, which doesn't begin with "Once upon a time" and never has a happy ending.

Public Hearing: Private meetings between the governing body and developers--sometimes interrupted by uninvited citizens.

Zoning: The intended use of a land before a developer says otherwise.

Hugh Hewitt comments on a Washington Post story on the print media's response to circulation decline. Hewitt says you can't lay all the blame on more hurried lifestyles and the rise of the Internet:

Nowhere in the article is there any discussion of the contempt for most newspapers felt by millions of center-right readers, and the barriers to subscription or even reading put up by pieces like David Shaw's today, discussed below. The newspaper people blame the pace of daily life and the move towards internet consumption of information, and both are factors. But in an age of decline, the indifference to losses in reaction to ideological bias is a testament to the depth of that bias and the accompanying blindess to it.

I've written about the Tulsa World's blindness to their own bias. Every day, the World publishes a biased story or ignores a story because their bias blinds them to its significance, and in the process makes a few new enemies, people who decide that they would just as soon never give the Lorton family another penny for their worthless rag. The World demonstrates daily contempt for the conservative perspective on social issues, for evangelical Christianity, and for the notion that government should serve the people (not the other way around). They are losing circulation because they are out of step with the Tulsa market, but it's more comforting to believe that it's because they neglected to put all their content behind their firewall.

Today makes one week since I received a cease-and-desist letter from the Tulsa World, claiming that by linking to their articles and quoting from their articles (for the purpose of comment and criticism), I was infringing on their copyright. I posted their letter and my response, and notified some friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere. The story has received hundreds of links, including from most of the most-visited blogs, and was mentioned two days in a row on CNN's Inside Politics. BatesLine has gone from being about the 2000th most linked blog to, as of yesterday, the 178th most linked blog. This story is getting attention around the world.

So far, most local Tulsa media outlets have ignored the story. Only Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ and KTUL's website (but not the TV station) have covered the issue.

It's possible the other local media outlets just aren't hip to blogs and don't appreciate the broader implications of the World's legal attack. Maybe you, dear reader, can help educate them.

Take a minute today, call a TV station or a radio station, call OETA, call the Daily Oklahoman, and encourage them to cover the story. As more Tulsans know about this story, more Tulsans will be able to see through the Tulsa World's bias, and more Tulsans will know about alternative sources of news and perspective on local politics.

A reader calls my attention to an odd situation: The Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust (TAIT) has authorized $100,000 to pay the Pray Walker law firm to defend it in the lawsuit filed against TAIT by the Tulsa Industrial Authority (TIA) over the convoluted land deal designed to fund Great Plains Airlines. But it doesn't appear that Pray Walker has done anything in the case -- it hasn't even filed an appearance on behalf of its client or an answer to the claims of the plaintiff. Another very strange aspect of a very convoluted and fishy situation.

How convoluted was the land deal? As it was explained to me, the City, TIA, and TAIT all exceeded their authority in the way the deal was structured. They would have gotten away with it if Great Plains had succeeded, but it went belly-up with $7 million due on a loan from the Bank of Oklahoma, a loan that was backed by 30 acres of Air Force Plant No. 3, a facility with surrounding land that was transferred from the City to TIA. TAIT promised TIA that if Great Plains defaulted, TAIT would buy the 30 acres for whatever amount was still owed on the loan (no independent assessment was sought to determine if the price was fair), and TAIT intended to pay for the land by asking the FAA for an increase in passenger facility charges, under the guise that the 30 acres was being acquired for future runway expansion. The FAA saw through the whole thing (Acrobat Reader required), denied the request, and said you can't use passenger facility charges to subsidize an airline. The attorney who structured the deal and advised both parties, J. Richard Studenny, was finally sacked and is a defendant in TIA's suit.

Great Plains was a bad deal set up by Tulsa's politically connected, including the Tulsa World, which owned a significant amount of stock in the airline, but didn't disclose the fact at the time it was editorializing to urge Tulsa's City Council to put a city asset up as collateral for a loan to the airline.

For those of you just beginning to learn about Tulsa politics as background to the Tulsa World's legal threats against BatesLine, Tulsa Today published an analysis piece a few weeks ago that ties it all together -- the Great Plains Airlines deal, the way the Chamber of Commerce handles economic development funds, the development lobby, the effort to recall two Tulsa city councilors, and the Tulsa World's hostility to conservative Republican officials who seek to implement the principles they ran on.

You can read more in my archive of entries about Great Plains Airlines and other aspects of the mess at Tulsa's city-owned airports.

The Tulsa Beacon has a front page story this week with details of the reply from the FAA to the City of Tulsa about discriminatory practices at Jones Riverside Airport. The FAA believes that allegations of discrimination are well founded -- allegations that Councilor Bill Christiansen, who owns an FBO at the airport, has used his public office and connections with a member of the Tulsa Airport Authority to get special treatment with regard to leases and access and to implement airport rules that discriminate against his only competitor. Mayor Bill LaFortune has until March 14th to respond -- with action, not just promises -- or Tulsa may lose federal airport funds.

Movable irony


I was amused to see that Sunday's Tulsa World features an Associated Press story about Ben and Mena Trott, the founders of Six Apart and creators of Movable Type, the content management system that powers this and many other blogs.

By the way, you will notice that the link above (and links in other entries today and yesterday) is to a story on the part of the Tulsa World's website which is open to anyone, not just to subscribers.

Cat-ma and dog-ma

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Today was the first day of our church's annual missions conference. This is not the typical missions conference, with slideshows about specific missions work in specific countries. Instead, the aim of the conference is to shake up our understanding of the purposes of God, the central message of the Bible, the main point of the Christian faith. The aim of the conference is to help us replace cat theology with dog theology.

What's the difference between dog theology and cat theology?

A dog says: "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me. You must be God."

A cat says: "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me. I must be God."

Recall is a "total crock"

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That's the phrase that Tulsa County Republican Chairman Don Burdick used in his valedictory speech on Friday at the monthly Tulsa County Republican Men's Club luncheon. (Burdick is not running for re-election.) Burdick pointed out that most of the signatures on the recall petitions seeking to remove two Republican city councilors, Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, came from Democrats, and the signatures included the names of the two former Democratic city councilors who were defeated last March, Darla Hall and Art Justis.

A Tulsa World analysis of the signatures on the petitions also reveals that the overwhelming majority of the signers didn't bother to vote in the last city election (63% in District 6, 74% in District 2). So much for forfeiting your right to complain if you don't bother to vote. One wonders what those people were told to convince them to sign a petition.

The threshold for signatures is ridiculously low (25% of the number voting in the last city election), and the standard for cause is non-existent -- it makes me wonder if recall was designed by the framers of the charter specifically as a means to harass and, if necessary, overthrow the Council if the local oligarchy ever managed to lose control of the body.

Do a thought experiment with me: Imagine that the charter required that all of the signatures to meet the 25% threshold must come from people who actually voted in the last city election. Councilor Smith loses to Challenger Jones by a resounding 60-40 margin. If the defeated incumbent could convince little more than half of his voters to sign a recall petition, he could at least torment his replacement by putting him through another election. Never mind that 60% voted for the winner, and another 15% are content to wait until the next general election to make a change -- a tiny minority of those who voted can force the district to go through at least one more election. At the very least, the recall is going to distract the winning councilor from accomplishing what he set out to do.

The reality is worse than that. Only 8% of the voters in the last District 2 election and only 9% of the voters in the last District 6 election bothered to sign the petitions. Over 90% of the people who bothered to vote are content enough with their representation to wait until the next general election, when they can decide for themselves who will serve as city councilor, but their wishes are being overturned by a tiny minority afflicted with sour grapes.

A recall has another advantage over a regular election for sour grapes losers like Darla Hall and Art Justis. A recall election is treated under the ethics laws as an issue campaign, not a candidate campaign. There is no limit on individual donations, and corporate contributions are permitted. If you're a loser with ties to the Cockroach Caucus, they can raise and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to trash the reputation of the guy who beat you.

I was amused by a couple of quotes from the sour grapes losers in the World's story. Darla Hall denied playing a role in the recall effort, but she was named as a circulator of the petition back in November in a story in the westside's Tulsa County News. Art Justis is quoted by the World:

"It boils down to the fact that I really don't like either one of these men," he said. "It's not that they ask questions, it's the way they do it. They're power-hungry and are looking to upset a process that works well."

The only hunger for power I see is on the other side of the argument. Does the process work well? It may have been working well for Mr. Justis's campaign contributors, but his constituents didn't seem to think it worked well, nor did a majority of the voters in a majority of the Council districts. That's why we wound up with a majority on the Council challenging the process for the first time ever.

The recall is not a popular uprising against corrupt or incompetent public officials. The recall is the city establishment trying desperately to cling on to the power they've been misusing for decades.

At least a couple of bloggers are taking a tongue-in-cheek contrarian view of the Tulsa World dispute.

Mike of OkieDoke says I'm too harsh in my criticism of the World's cease-and-desist letter:

Come on, Michael, lighten up. The Tulsa World didn’t get to be the only daily in town through quality, unbiased reporting and openness to criticism. It took a lot of scheming and legal work to gain the extensive influence over local news the World enjoys today. And besides, they already get accused of more serious shenanigans like making up facts in covering elections.

Mike educates us about the World's "Word Witch" and their bizarre backwards-running presidential vote totals. And he helpfully includes contact information: "If you support the right of Tulsa World’s efforts to preserve their professionally crafted opinion dynasty by denying First Amendment rights and criticism from regular folks, contact the paper’s ‘guiding lights’ and give them the support they justly deserve."

Joel Helbling of Chez Joel seems to think that the Tulsa World was too gentle, too timid, too polite in approaching me with their claims of copyright infringement. He has composed a much more impressive form letter that Big Media can use to put bloggers in their place. It begins like this:

Dear Mr. Scumbag Uppity Blogger:

I am writing on behalf of ____________ Publishing Company, publisher of ____________, Main Stream News Media Newspaper, Informer of the Realm, Apostle to the Smug, Mouthpiece of the French. We are perturbed to learn that despite our continuing Magnanimity© in allowing you to publish your insular epithets on the Internet™ at ____________ (your so-called "blog"), you have flouted our beneficence and strained our considerable patience by reproducing. You have also reproduced (in whole or in part or not at all) the wisdom of articles and/or editorials from ____________ newspaper and/or have jury-rigged egregious and nefarious hyper-links™ on your "website" which direct your cretinous so-called "readers" to ____________'s fascinating and irrefutable content.

The tone bears a striking resemblance to Vogon poetry. The icing on the cake is Joel's headline:

"blogger bates behemoth, behemoth blandly blubbers"

Joel's latest entry features a couple of quotes from Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels With A Donkey in the Cevennes about magnanimity in persecution and the value of an honest friend, offered "as a salute to all the bloggers I admire and respect, especially those fighting legal battles today." Thanks, Joel.

Where's all the Tulsa stuff?


I've laid off the Tulsa blogging today -- other news has caught my attention -- but I'll get back to it tomorrow. In the meantime, Bobby of Tulsa Topics has been blogging about more shabby treatment inflicted on a neighborhood association, with the aid of the neighborhood's own city councilor.

Bobby also makes sure the Tulsa World knows precisely whom to contact about the copyright infringements found on the pro-recall Coalition for Reprehensible Government's website. And he reports that now even subscribers can't get to the PDF files on the World's website. (TRACKBACK: Ron Coleman comments over on his blog.)

Homeowners for Fair Zoning has more about the misuse of continuances as an anti-neighborhood tactic in zoning cases.

On the TulsaNow forums, there's talk about the released plans for widening I-44 between the river and Yale. I'm disappointed to see that there is no provision for mid-mile crossovers, which means that the expressway will continue to be a kind of Berlin Wall separating north from south, with bottlenecks at the section line "checkpoints."

Dawn Eden has an entry about Planned Parenthood's objection to a Bush administration requirement that organizations must explicitly oppose prostitution in order to qualify for global AIDS funds. Not too surprising that PP would object to any policy aimed at encouraging sexual restraint.

What I found really shocking was something mentioned in a quote from an article by Population Research Institute president Steven Mosher:

"While USAID is not perfect," Mosher writes, "many in the agency would have difficulty accepting the notion, bruited about by both [the World Health Organization] and [International Planned Parenthood Federation], that abortion ('termination of pregnancy') should be used to prevent the spread of AIDS. After all, half of all babies born to HIV-positive mothers do not have the disease. As for the half that do, their plight does not justify killing them in utero, any more than it would justify killing them after birth. The position of WHO and IPPF that the spread of AIDS can be checked by abortion is no less reprehensible as saying that abortion should be used as a means of population control�an idea that many nations have forcefully rejected as genocidal."

Read that a couple of times, and let it sink in: The World Health Organization and the International Planned Parenthood Federation advocate killing the babies of HIV-positive mothers because there is a chance that the babies might be HIV-positive. Forget about the success in Uganda and elsewhere of programs that encourage abstinence and fidelity. The abstinence approach for containing AIDS is no good for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood's approach means plenty of victims to offer to their god, not to mention plenty of funding to "process" all the victims.

And, good grief -- the WHO is supposed to be in the business of preventing deaths caused by infectious disease -- encouraging immunization, developing safe supplies of drinking water, improving sanitation and nutrition. This approach to AIDS prevention is like preventing the spread of chicken pox by pumping Zyklon B into kindergarten classrooms.

US taxpayers have already donated over a billion dollars to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The Gates Foundation has given $150 million.

Here's one paper from the WHO website that advocates abortion as a way to "prevent" mother to child HIV transmission: "Anti-Retroviral Regimens for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV-1 Transmission: the Programmatic Implications." I'm sure there's more documentation to be found. Dumpster-divers, on your springboards!

The old joke is that Presbyterians sing "Que Sera, Sera" for their hymn of invitation. Discoshaman explains why this isn't so -- why Calvinism isn't fatalism, and how it can be some of the greatest evangelists of all time were men thoroughly convinced of the Reformed doctrines of grace:

God is working everything that happens in the Universe according to his own divine plan and will. But He's chosen to work out this will through means. No Calvinist believes that God makes robots of us. The Westminster Confession itself says that God does no violence to our wills. Instead He works through our own actions -- both good and evil ones.

So how does this work out practically? Take prayer as an example.

God has ordained that prayer changes things. When I pray, God really does hear and respond to it. But if God has a purpose to be accomplished, there WILL be prayer for it. God ordains both the ends, and the means to accomplish it. Far from fatalism, I have the comfort of knowing that my prayers fit perfectly into the gracious plan of God.

Evangelism is the same. God has ordained the foolishness of preaching as his primary means of reaching the lost. So I can never say, "Ah, no need to evangelize. God'll save them anyway." No, He won't. I'm responsible to preach both in season and out. But it is true that if God has ordained that someone will hear the Gospel, it WILL invariably be preached to them. Again, both means and ends.

A commenter challenged Discoshaman to list some of the practical implications of being a Calvinist, and he promised to post a reply.

A great book explaining, in layman's terms, Reformation theology and its implications for the Christian life is Michael Horton's Putting Amazing Back into Grace. We used it some years back as the basis for a small group discussion. Horton came to Calvinism from a form of revivalist evangelicalism, with its emphases on lists of dos and don'ts and exclusive focus on man's responsibility for salvation -- the discovery of the doctrines of grace, as clearly set out in Romans and Ephesians, indeed throughout the scripture, revolutionized the way he lives out his faith.

One of the most comforting and challenging aspects of Calvinism is its understanding of providence. We learn to see God's hand in everything, that God not only works through direct intervention but more commonly through the ordinary workings of cause and effect. God even works through our sin and folly to accomplish his purposes.

I have a strong tendency to wallow in regret, to look back over foolish decisions, some of them made decades ago, some just days ago, and say, "if only." Ancient follies can make me blush or cringe as if I had just committed them. Recent follies even more so: I saw the doctor a while back because my heart would start racing from time to time. I checked out healthy, but then I realized that I would induce the condition every time my mind turned to what I had done to inflict apparently irreparable damage on a once-close friendship.

The doctrine of providence teaches me that, however I got to this point, I am exactly where God, in his goodness and mercy, wanted me to be at this point, and my task is to be thankful in all things and to be faithful to his calling in my present situation, not to continue to flagellate myself over what I did, or carry bitterness over what others did, to get me to this point. Acting on that knowledge goes against the grain of my personality, but I am called to believe that God works all things for good. Christians who believe that God is somehow handcuffed by the choices we mortals make cannot share in that comfort.

In the silly simile department, Cheat Seeking Missiles has a collection of howlers written by high schoolers. A few samples:

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

If you need a fright rather than a laugh, Ace has the definitive photo of Democrat political consultant Susan Estrich. Don't be sipping anything when you click that link. Commenter Ray Midge notices a resemblance to another TV monster.

Next week, a Florida hospice may stop giving food and water to a young woman who, because of injuries to her brain suffered 15 years ago, cannot feed herself. They will let her starve to death, because her husband wants her dead, and because a judge will tell them that it is OK to starve her, because her husband says so.

I say "young" -- she's my age, 41. Her name is Terri Schiavo. You have probably read about her in the news or heard about her on TV, but what you have read and heard is probably wrong.

Terri Schiavo is not comatose, nor is she in a "persistent vegetative state". She is awake, and she responds and interacts with those around her, although her ability to express herself and to interact is limited by her injury.

Terri Schiavo is not on life support. She is not on a ventilator, a heart machine, or dialysis. Her autonomous bodily functions all work without assistance.

Terri Schiavo does not have a terminal illness. She doesn't need anything more than you or I do to keep on living. She just needs help getting food and water in her.

Terri Schiavo is not a burden to her husband; at least she need not be. Her parents made a very generous offer that would keep him financially whole and allow him to "move on," if only he would commit her to their care. He rejected the offer. He just wants her dead.

Because of her injuries, Terri cannot speak and she cannot feed herself, but it's possible that some of that ability could be restored with proper therapy, creating new pathways in the brain to replace those that were damaged. That seems to have happened for Sarah Scantlin, a Kansas woman with similar limitations, who began speaking again last month after being unable to speak for 20 years. Sarah had a nurse working with her to encourage her to try to speak. Terri has been denied access to therapy by her husband, who simply wants her dead.

I have had nightmares -- maybe you have, too -- where I find myself in a dangerous situation and I try to shout for help, but I can't. For all my exertion, no sound comes out of my mouth.

Imagine that situation in real life. You are completely aware of your surroundings, but for some reason are unable to move, unable to speak. You are hungry and thirsty, but no one is coming to feed you, and you have no way of summoning help. You are as helpless as a baby, more helpless really, because Mama isn't coming to see what's wrong. She would if she could, but Mama isn't being allowed to come and help, and you are fully aware of this.

We don't know Terri's degree of awareness, although the videos of her reactions to her parents and other loved ones makes it apparent that she is aware. We learned recently that some brain-injured patients who appear oblivious to their surroundings are in fact hearing and understanding what's happening around them. Brain imaging revealed the same sort of activity in these patients' brains as in a healthy person's brain when the patient was listening to a loved one recount memories of shared experiences. The same sort of test could reveal Terri's degree of awareness, if only her husband would permit it.

Someday it could be you -- fully aware but unable to communicate. Wouldn't you want someone to speak out on your behalf if they tried to starve you, to cause you to suffer a prolonged and agonizing death?

You can speak out for Terri and others like her. If you're from Florida, contact your state legislators and urge them to expedite passage of HB701, the Florida Starvation and Dehydration of Persons with Disabilities Prevention Act. If you're not from Florida, you can help, too: pray, urge friends and family in Florida to act, and correct misstatements about Terri's condition in your local media.

You'll find much more information and points for action on blogsforterri.com and terrisfight.org.

Here's the round-up on this week's Okie blogger bash consortium writing assignment. I picked newspapers as the topic of the week:

Good stuff, all around, but I will have to give the nod to Charles for a great bit of history writing about the Oklahoma Journal. Along with the nod, he gets the baton. Watch Dustbury for next week's topic.

Congratulations to the Tulsa World on taking responsibility for protecting access to online material that they claimed they wanted to protect. Now, if you follow a link to a PDF page, such as this one picked at random from a Google search, you get a PDF file that says "PDF permission denied!" with instructions and links to log in for access. Some PDF files, pertaining to special reports, are still accessible, but I assume they correspond to freely avaliable HTML files.

A website owner is within his rights to limit access to his online content, but he is also responsible to take technological measures to enforce those limits. If you put something on the web, you have to assume that anyone can and will get to it, even if you don't make it easy to navigate to the page.

This move contradicts the claim by World publisher Bobby Lorton that the PDF files were premium content, but they had no way to protect them. As I said in reply, they could if they really wanted to. It appears I was right.

This move marks the World's further retreat from Googlespace. Put up enough barriers for people to find out what you have to say, and pretty soon people will cease to care.

UPDATE: One more thought -- this move also demonstrates that a link to website content in no way interferes with the ability of the website owner to control access to that content. I haven't changed a thing on BatesLine -- all of the links to pages on tulsaworld.com are still there -- but now only tulsaworld.com subscribers can read the content.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for Responsible Government, which is pushing to recall Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, continues to display the full text of 69 Tulsa World articles on a single page, and the full text of a further seven articles on another, apparently unchallenged by the copyright owner, who claims to be unaware of the infringement.

I used to love newspapers

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(Per assignment.)

Really. I used to really enjoy sitting down with a newspaper. I'm out of the habit now, and I'm getting to where I hardly read papers online. Some scattered reminiscences:

My great-grandmother, Minnie McGee, could have been a syndicated columnist. She had been writing letters to the Nowata Daily Star under the name Aunt Millie. Her letters usually began with, "I may be wrong -- I usually am...." They were really little op-eds, and the paper liked them well enough that they ran them, despite a policy against publishing anonymous letters. Family lore holds that she was offered a syndication deal, but turned it down.

I grew up with the Tribune and the Sunday World. Dad didn't get around early enough to read the paper over breakfast, and he could always find a copy of the Daily World at work to read, so we didn't subscribe to it. (Was that OK?) The Tribune he had time to read when he got home from work. I learned to read upside down so that I could read the funnies before he was done with them.

In college, our fraternity subscribed to the Boston Globe and later added the tabloid Herald at the urging of some brothers native to the area. Scattered about the fraternity commons you'd also find the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal -- and the Tulsa Tribune. I subscribed by mail so I could keep up with politics back home -- I kept my voter registration in Oklahoma and voted by absentee ballot. During a prolonged stay in the infirmary, a fraternity brother brought by a paper every morning. Sunday afternoons at the fraternity were lazy and quiet, brothers slumped on the chairs and sofas in commons, paging their way through the Sunday editions, while gnawing on fresh bagels from Kupel's Bakery. (Our ZBT chapter had a bagel chairman responsible for making the Sunday morning run to Kupel's.)

I still appreciate it when I'm traveling and the hotel provides copies of the local paper, instead of or in addition to USA Today. Hampton Inns are usually pretty good about that. I enjoy getting a sense of the local politics, and, if I visit often enough or stay long enough, to begin to know who the players are. Even if the presentation is one-sided, you can still get a feel for what the big issues are.

I loved reading the English-language Filipino newspapers during my summer in Manila. Despite 50 years as an American possession, they had developed a completely different set of English phrases for talking about the political process, plus you had the Filipino habit of referring to politicians by their nicknames, even in the classier papers. "Ninoy" -- Benigno Aquino -- was much in the news that summer of 1983, as he prepared to return home from exile in the United States. (A visit to the websites of Manila's papers reveals that a lot of homogenization with the rest of the English-speaking world has taken place.)

My favorite British paper: The Daily Telegraph.

That's all I got. Other Okie bloggers are writing much better stuff on the topic, and I'll post links tomorrow.

Coming up later

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I'm taking a quick break from work for a quick update. I typically post only in the late evenings, after work and family obligations, and that will be the case this evening as well. Over the course of the weekend, I hope to post some updates on local issues -- the FAA's scrutiny of Jones Riverside Airport, the recall petitions filed against Councilors Medlock and Mautino -- plus an essay on urban design and disability, some updates on Terri Schiavo's situation and what you can do to make a difference, some thoughts on evangelicals and Republicans in New York, and some reaction to the blogosphere's reaction to the Tulsa World's attack on bloggers.

To tide you over until then, check out the blogroll to the right -- the blogs at the top are the most recently updated. And here are some links of interest:

  • Peggy Noonan has an essay in the Wall Street Journal on bloggers and old media: "The Blogs Must Be Crazy".
  • Here's a great Cox and Forkum cartoon: "Pajamas at the Gate". Compare that to Wednesday's Pat Oliphant cartoon, also about bloggers.
  • Hyscience has the latest on Terri Schiavo's fight not to be starved to death. There's a crucial court hearing on Monday, and pressure needs to be brought on Florida's public officials to give Terri justice at long last.
  • Just as he did for the Republican National Convention, Wizbang's Kevin Aylward has set up a blog aggregator for bloggers covering the speeches and panel discussions at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. You'll find it at www.cpacbloggers.com.
  • You'll want to read Kevin McCullough's CPAC coverage as well, and listen to his radio show for interviews with newsmakers and fellow bloggers. Friday's show will repeat all weekend until he goes live again Monday at 1 p.m. Eastern time.
  • Joel Helbling has posted a nicely organized summary of stem cell research discoveries over the last three months, and he plans to add to it as he has time. Mainstream media tends to blur the distinctions between embryonic stem cell research, which is controversial because it involves the destruction of human life, and research on stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood or adult tissues, which does not involve the destruction of life. Joel's table makes those distinctions very clear.

Guess that was more than a quick update....

Fun "facts" about blogs


For your amusement: If you're wondering what this "blog" thing is, Frank J. has some timely warnings. For example:

* Blogs can simply turn on you at anytime for any reason. They attack without thought or provocation. Thus, make sure to always stay away from them and to disparage them in the media.

* A blog will use a dark art called the "hyperlink" to "link" to what you say in an attempt to slander you. If you see any blog using a hyperlink against you, immediately contact law enforcement to get them to stop.

* If you see a geeky looking male or a slutty looking female in front of a laptop, he or she could be a blogger. Don't make eye contact or say anything in front of them or they will destroy you.

"I'd be hiring him"


I am highly complimented by this comment from "Sven Haagendaas" in response to Rhetorica's post on the World's attack:

Aside from the stunning ignorance from a newspaper about fair use, what's amazing to me is how the World jumped on the wrong side of a debate about transparency and just keeps digging.

Here's Bates' devastating (and fact-based!) takedown of a World editorial on it's conflict of interest in the airline "scandal." No wonder they don't want him using their own words against them!

If I were the World's owners, I wouldn't be suing Bates, I'd be hiring him. The guy got me interested in Tulsa politics, and I live 1,500 miles away.

If the World's goal were rebuilding credibility and readership, they would hire folks like me to bring some new perspective and energy to the paper. But the folks who run the World are quite happy with the fossilized perspective they already have -- just ask editorial page editor Ken Neal.

The following letter from my attorney is en route to the Tulsa World tonight, in response to their allegations of copyright infringement and threat of legal action against BatesLine. I am represented by Ronald D. Coleman, general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association. Many thanks to Bob Cox of the National Debate (and a founder of the Media Bloggers Association) for contacting me about the organization, and many thanks to Ron Coleman for working with me. If you are a blogger engaged in coverage or criticism of the media, you should join the Media Bloggers Association.

Here is the text -- a PDF of the letter is linked below.

February 17, 2005


Mr. John R. Bair
Vice President
Tulsa World
315 South Boulder
P.O. Box 74103-3423
Tulsa, OK 74102-1770
RE: Batesline.com

Dear Mr. Bair:

I am general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association (www.mediabloggers.org) and write on behalf of Mr. Michael Bates, in connection with your letter of February 11, 2005.

The World's complaint appears to be twofold. Let us dispose of the first issue quickly -- the claim that Mr. Bates's website "has inappropriately linked . . . to Tulsa World content." Why a newspaper with a website would want to prevent Internet users from gaining access to that website, regardless of the referral source, is a question best left to the World Publishing Company's board of directors. But while Mr. Bates's links may be "inappropriate" in the view of your newspaper, Mr. Bair, there is no legal basis whatsoever on which the World may prevent it.

Regarding the World's claim that Mr. Bates is reproducing copyrighted material in whole or in part in violation of the Copyright Act, this accusation must be rejected as well. Not only does the First Amendment protect Mr. Bates's activities, but the Copyright Act itself includes a "fair use" exception, granting parties the ability to use copyrighted material without permission from the owner for purposes of commenting or criticism. Mr. Bates's use of excerpted material from the World is obviously fair use and constitutionally protected speech.

Your organization's attempt to intimidate a small media competitor and a critic with the threat of legal action over his free speech is ironic, but it is unfortunately not unique. The Media Bloggers Association Legal Defense Project was formed expressly for the purpose of providing legal advice and counsel, and if necessary to assist in securing local counsel, for webloggers and others whose freedom of expression is threatened by established institutions who act as if the purpose of the First Amendment were to protect a sort of media monopoly. It is not.

We write therefore to advise the World that Mr. Bates is represented by counsel and by the Association, and that any further attempts to silence him, including the filing of meritless litigation as threatened by your letter, will be vigorously defended, including to the extent appropriate by the seeking of sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 in connection with the filing of meritless litigation claims.

Very truly yours,

Ronald D. Coleman

You'll find a PDF of the letter here.

The Everlasting Phelps believes that the Tulsa World has gone too far in pressuring the hosting provider for Tulsans for Election Integrity and has opened itself up for legal action:

This sounds to me, as a layperson, as an open and shut case of tortious interference with a contract:
The causing of harm by disrupting something that belongs to someone else -- for example, interfering with a contractual relationship so that one party fails to deliver goods on time.

TFEI had a contract with it's hosting provider. That contract has now been broken because Tulsa World sent a fraudulent and malicious letter to the hosting provider.

Phelps goes on to list the elements of tortious interference under Oklahoma and argues that at least two of the three have been satisfied.

UPDATE: More from Fire Ant Gazette on this topic.

For our mutual convenience, I've set up a new category which contains everything I've posted so far about the legal threats I received from the Tulsa World and the reaction from the blogosphere. As updates are posted, you'll still find them on the home page, but they'll also be here, in a category archive called "Tulsa World", and I encourage other bloggers to link to it.

Blogs for Terri


Over on the right side of the home page, I've posted the blogroll for the Terri Schiavo blogburst, an effort to use the blogosphere to rally support for her plight and pressure on those who could act to stop her from being deprived of food and water, which is scheduled to happen on February 22, just five days away. Click here at Hyscience to find out how you can join the effort.

Wittenberg Gate is sponsoring a bloggers' round up, collecting the best blog entries about Terri's situation and posting them on Sunday.

Hyscience also links to an affidavit from one of Terri's nurses in 1997 about Terri's responsiveness and commission at that time. If she had received adequate physical therapy, who knows how much she may have improved.

Dawn Eden is like an oyster...


...she takes the painful grit of her own past and turns it into pearls of God's grace. Here's the latest example. Go read it.

"...to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."

The number three result on Google for "Tulsa World" is this.

The number four result is this.

The number five result is this.

Kevin McCullough reveals that big league radio talker Sean Hannity doesn't have a clue about blogs.

I'm grateful to ktul.com, the website of Tulsa's ABC affiliate, for taking an interest in the Tulsa World's threats against this blog and other bloggers and websites. I was impressed that they were able to reach World publisher Bobby Lorton and get comment from him for this afternoon's story.

Here's what Lorton said in response to my statement that linking can't violate copyright, because nothing is being copied:

Lorton says Bates is opening a channel to PDF, or Portable Data Files, hosted on the Tulsa World website. Lorton says those files are owned by the Tulsa World and should not be free, but that they cannot lock the files.

"One way to stop it is to pull the PDF files, and I don't want to do that," Lorton said.

The World's website is unlike any other newspaper site with which I'm familiar. Some content -- theater listings, classifieds, and some special sections -- is free, but HTML-formatted versions of the articles from the current week are only accessible to subscribers. The firewall for current stories was added a few years ago; I forget exactly when. Before that, current stories were available without registration of any kind.

The World provides a selection of stories from each section in their wireless edition -- you don't need a subscription to access any of those stories.

Stories older than a week are in an archive which goes all the way back to 1989, and they cost 50 cents each (if bought in bulk). The same archive is available for free at Tulsa City-County Library branches. If you needed to search the World's archive, you could go to the library, do a search, then e-mail every story of interest back to yourself for later review at your leisure.

The World allows Student-Voices.org to publish the full text of a selection of their news stories and some editorials, mostly about local government. They have stories going back about a year. No subscription or registration is required to read these stories.

You also don't need a subscription to access PDF files of every page of every edition of the Tulsa World going back to sometime in early 2003. A Google search for PDF files on tulsaworld.com returned 3,510 results.

Balloon Juice actually phoned the Tulsa World's web editor:

I spoke to Scott Nelson, the Tulsa World Web Editor (They can be reached at (918) 583-2161), and tried to make sense of their policy, and got nowhere. I am even more confused with what they are trying to accomplish than before I called.

According to Mr. Nelson, you need written permission to print the article and must print the article in full. I responded that I didn't want to copy a whole article, just a quote, and he said that was not allowed and would be copyright infringement. When I asked why, he said it was their policy so that things wouldn not be 'taken out of context.' ...

He also said, contrary to the letter to Bates Online, that linking was allowed, which leads me to believe that Mr. Bair, the Vice-President, was perhaps a touch overzealous or using terms he was not familiar with. Who knows.

Yes, M'am


The kids have been listening to a CD from the library: "Yes, M'am: Respect for the Elders" by storyteller Diane Ferlatte. It's a collection of fables and tall tales, all with some sort of moral about showing respect in word and deed, but told memorably with vivid and humorous detail. In one story, "The Talking Eggs," two sisters were confronted with bizarre situations and nonsensical commands -- an old woman who took her head off to braid her own hair, talking eggs, a two-headed cow that needed milking. The sister who complied with respect was rewarded; the sister who insisted on her own way was left empty-handed. Last night at dinner, the kids wanted to listen to the story with me, but instead my wife had them tell as much of the story as they could remember. This evening at dinner we actually listened to it, and I remember thinking, "We listened to this last night," because the children had hardly forgotten a single detail. That's a mark of great storytelling. Time will tell if the stories' lessons will make their mark as well.



Here is one of my favorite responses so far to the World's demands. A blog called Christianity and Middle Earth has posted a tongue-in-cheek letter in response to Tulsa World VP John Bair:

I am writing on behalf of batesline.com, a weblog described as Reflections on the News by Michael D. Bates. We have recently learned that you and/or your secretary have reproduced (in whole or in part) Mr. Bates's name, address and the name of his website and have inappropriately typed said name, address and website name on your letterhead.stationery, and presumably, although I do not have the evidence immediately at hand, also typed it onto a first class envelope which was then sent through the mail, which act may be a further violation of federal statutes. ...

Therefore, we hereby demand that you immediately remove any BatesLine material from your files, to include unauthorized URLs for that website, and cease and desist from any further use or dissemination of Mr. Bates’s copyrighted material. If you desire to use (in whole or in part) any of the content of batesline.com or Mr. Bates’s name and address, you must first obtain written permission before that use. If you fail to comply with these demands, Mr. Bates’s vast network of blog-friends will not be amused and will probably make enough of a bloggy fuss to discourage such imbecility in the future.

Read the whole thing.

Bobby Lorton speaks

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Just time to link this: KTUL's website has a new story with comments from World publisher Bobby Lorton and reaction from me.

Funny: He doesn't want me to quote the paper out of context, but he doesn't want me to link to the whole story so people can read it in context.

Whirled threat update

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More nastygram reports:

The Tulsa World sent the same threat of legal action to the hosting provider for www.tulsansforelectionintegrity.com, the website for Tulsans for Election Integrity (TfEI) the opposition to the recall of reform Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. TfEI was told they had 24 hours to remove links and quotes or their service would be cut off. They'll be looking for a new provider, one less susceptible to the World's pressure. Chris Medlock writes about it here.

As far as anyone is aware, the World has not sent a similar letter to the Coalition for Responsible Government (CfRG), the campaign to get rid of Medlock and fellow Councilor Jim Mautino, which has, on this web page alone, the full text of 69 articles from the Tulsa World archives.

TulsaNow, the civic organization, has also received the letter, concerning its popular and lively discussion forums. You can read the TulsaNow forum discussion here.

FAA to cut Tulsa off?


Nothing official yet, but I am hearing that the Federal Aviation Administration is mightily displeased with the City of Tulsa's response to the FAA's questions about charges of discriminatory rules and practices at Jones Riverside Airport designed to favor fixed-base operator Christiansen Aviation over its competitor, Roadhouse Aviation. Christiansen Aviation is owned by Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen, who has the support of and generally votes as a member of the Cockroach Caucus. The buzz around at City Hall is that the FAA is so displeased with the inadequacy of the city's response that Tulsa has been threatened with a cut-off of certain federal airport funds, and that the FAA believes that airport rules have been enforced in a discriminatory fashion in order to favor Councilor Christiansen's business.

Many, many thanks

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I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the outpouring of support I've received in the 24 hours since I posted the Tulsa World's nastygram and notified friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere. Trackbacks galore (you can find them at the bottom of the original entry), a radio interview with New York talk show host Kevin McCullough (which will run again online at 1:20 a.m., 4:20 a.m., 7:20 a.m., and 10:20 a.m.), a mention on CNN's Inside Politics, many hits on the PayPal tip jar (prompted and led by Michelle Malkin), an Instalanche (size yet to be determined), and many, many supportive e-mails.

There's some big news about to break, having to do with some of the cozy Cockroach Caucus ties I mentioned. I hope to have something I can report on it by mid-morning.

In the meantime, for the first time ever, I'm opening this post up for comments. I reserve the right to remove anything that exceeds the bounds of good taste and politeness, but I want to give you all a chance to weigh in.

Welcome new readers

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Welcome to all of you who've come to read about the legal threats made against this blog by the Tulsa World (or Whirled, as I prefer to call it). You'll find that entry at this link, along with a summary of other blog commentary on the matter.

To give you more of a sense of the mindset of the newspaper, here are two of my recent entries -- a partial rebuttal to an editorial about the Tulsa City Council and an account of a speech by the World's editorial page editor Ken Neal.

I hope you'll take a look around -- BatesLine has a focus on local news in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but I also write about world news, national politics, city planning, right-to-life and other cultural issues, and faith, all from a Christian and conservative perspective, with a bit of whimsy thrown in from time to time.

World vs. Whirled?


The BatesLine stylebook, such as it is, decrees that the monopoly daily newspaper in Tulsa be consistently called the Tulsa Whirled. I am bending that rule during the course of the present controversy for the sake of those who may be Googling for information, using the paper's legal name. I will still work in the occasional reference to the Whirled, just so I don't get used to typing it the other way. It's really a better fit. "It's a new Whirled every morning...."

As I mentioned, there's another Tulsa blogger who was targeted with a nastygram by the Tulsa World -- City Councilor Chris Medlock, who is also the target of a recall petition which was filed today. Chris responds to the World's threats here.

The thing that is most interesting isn't that the World has decided to protect what they view to be copyrighted material, but rather the timing of their inquiry. Some of you may still want to cling to your illusions that our paper of record is the unbiased and free press formed by your hours of watching "Lou Grant" rather than doing your homework. However, this paper is locally owned and quite willing to use its influence to make or destroy those in our community the Lorton's like or detest, in that order.

To send this letter right in advance of the deadline for the filing of the recall petitions convinces this public servant (complete with Target logo on the back of all of my suits and sweaters) that our morning paper wants to hamstring our ability to comment on their obvious bias.

He goes on to point out (and link to) evidence that the pro-recall Coalition for Responsible Government is using entire stories and photographs from the World without any indication of permission.

He's got two other new entries up on his blog, about the political situation.

  • His thoughts on the filing of the recall petitions.
  • Chris answers the question, "Are you unemployed?" Nope, he's working full-time as a councilor, a job that pays less than $18,000 a year.

Tulsa is blessed to have a Councilor possessed of such intelligence and good humor, someone who loves the city enough to forgo a higher salary and devote himself to public service.

If you want to contribute or participate in the opposition to the recall, visit the website of Tulsans for Election Integrity, the official recall opposition group.

Today on CNN's Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff, the legal threat to this blog from the Tulsa World made the "Inside Blogs" segment of the show. Here's a link to the show transcript -- the blogs segment is about 1/3 of the way down. The segment featured CNN blog reporter Jacki Schechner and Washington Post media critic Howie Kurtz. Schechner says the story has been "rising all day" in the blogs, and particularly mentions Wizbang's Kevin Aylward, who published the letter he sent to World VP John R. Bair, author of the nastygram.

I liked Howie Kurtz's take on the World's threat:

It sounds like [Bair]'s saying nice little site you got here, it would be a shame if anything happened to it. But, you know, if this blogger is really just picking up bits and pieces from the biggest newspaper in Oklahoma's capital [sic], and putting his own comments on it, everybody does that these days.

I do that every day on WashingtonPost.com. I provide the links. Other news organizations like that because it drives traffic to their sites.

Schechner concluded by saying, "Well, that's what they were saying, that he's linking. And really that's not infringement or anything. So we'll keep an eye on it and see if this gets any bigger."

UPDATE (3/10/2006): CNN.com still has the transcripts to the BatesLine mentions on Inside Politics:

February 15, 2005
February 16, 2005
February 18, 2005

Recall petitions filed


This morning at 9:30, the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 filed supporting petitions for the recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. According to the City Charter, the City Clerk now has 20 days to certify that the petitions are sufficient, after which CfRG would have an additional 10 days to gather additional signatures should they fall short of the number needed. The City Clerk then has five more days to report to the Council, and at that point if there are sufficient signatures, the Council must call an election at the earliest date permitted by state law, which means no sooner than 60 days, and then only on certain Tuesdays each month -- it looks like the recall election would be in June.

To read more about the recall, here's the category archive on the topic.

I'll be on the air today at 1:20 p.m. Central Time with New York City radio talk show host (and friend) Kevin McCullough. You can listen live online, or hear the repeats every three hours for the next 24 by clicking on the "Listen" icon on the right-hand side of Kevin's blog.

Kevin writes:

A blog swarm may be necessary to let TULSA WORLD (insert Griswold joke here) know that they may be a relatively unimportant voice in the editorial of the world - but that's no excuse for their shoddy, immoral, and repugnant behavior towards BatesLine or any other blogger. ...

It's possible that TULSA WORLD has had their head in the sand for the last four months while bloggers decapitated CBS and CNN but if this piddly, sad, excuse of a newspaper wants to be next in line for a can of whoop-blog, they are off to a great start...

Be sure to tune in early and keep listening after to hear more of Kevin's show.

NOTE to those of you who normally skip the Tulsa stuff here: Please read this entry. This is not just about the sordid little world of Tulsa politics. This is the old media trying to intimidate their critics in the new media into silence. It has repercussions for any blogger engaged in media criticism. It strikes at the heart of what blogs do. I'd appreciate your help in putting the blogosphere's spotlight of shame on this legal threat.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock wasn't the only one to get a special valentine from our friends at the Tulsa Whirled. The Vice-President [sic] of the Tulsa World has threatened legal action against me for "reproduc[ing] (in whole or in part) articles and/or editorials" and for "inappropriately link[ing my] website to Tulsa World content." ("World" is the legal name, although here at BatesLine we call it the Whirled, in the spirit of Private Eye's renaming of the Guardian as the Grauniad.)

Here's the actual letter (click to enlarge):

Here's the text of the letter:

Dear Mr. Bates:

I am writing on behalf of World Publishing Company, publisher of the Tulsa World. We have recently learned that your website, www.Batesline.com, has reproduced (in whole or in part) articles and/or editorials from the Tulsa World newspaper or has inappropriately linked your website to Tulsa World content.

The Tulsa World copyrights its entire newspaper and specifically each of the articles and/or editorials at issue. The reproduction of any articles and/or editorials (in whole or in part) on your website or linking your website to Tulsa World content is without the permission of the Tulsa World and constitutes an intentional infringement of the Tulsa World's copyright and other rights to the exclusive use and distribution of the copyrighted materials.

Therefore, we hereby demand that you immediately remove any Tulsa World material from your website, to include unauthorizedlinks to our website, and cease and desist from any further use or dissemination of our copyrighted content. If you desire to use (in whole or in part) any of the content of our newspaper, you must first obtain written permission before that use. If you fail to comply with his demand, the Tulsa World will take whatever legal action is necessary to assure compliance, Additionally, we will pursue all other legal remedies, including seeking damages that may have resulted as a result of this infringement.

We look forward to your immediate response and cooperation in this matter. Please acknowledge your compliance by signing below and returning to me.


John R. Bair
Vice-President [sic]
Tulsa World

As I wrote regarding the same letter sent to Councilor Medlock, excerpting copyrighted material for the purpose of criticism is covered by the fair use exemption, and linking to content cannot be a copyright violation because nothing is actually copied. The threat is empty, an attempt at using intimidation to silence my criticism of their editorials and news coverage.

Why would a big ol' daily paper, with over 100,000 daily circulation, send a nastygram like this to someone who gets about 1,000 visits a day? And why now? Here's a little background, especially for you out-of-towners:

The Tulsa World has been the only daily newspaper in town since September 30, 1992, when its publisher refused to renew its half-century-old Joint Operating Agreement with the Tulsa Tribune then bought the Tribune and shut it down.

The World is more than just an observer of the local scene. It is an integral part of the tight social network that has run local politics for as long as anyone can remember. This network, which I have dubbed the Cockroach Caucus, has pursued its own selfish interests under the name of civic progress, with disastrous results for the ordinary citizens of Tulsa and its metropolitan area. The World, and the way it wields its influence in the community, bears a strong resemblance to the Dacron Republican-Democrat, the fictional subject of the National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody.

The Cockroach Caucus is most recently infamous for convincing state and local elected officials to pour $47 million in public funds into Great Plains Airlines. This airline promised to provide non-stop jet service between Tulsa and the coasts, but in the end was not much more than the Mrs. Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Co. It went bankrupt, leaving local taxpayers liable for millions in loan guarantees. Many leading lights of the Cockroach Caucus, including World Publishing Company, were investors in Great Plains Airlines.

The Cockroach Caucus has wasted tens of millions in public funds on failed economic development strategies, at a time when tens of thousands of Tulsa high-tech workers had lost their jobs, ignored the plight of small business, and has bent and sometimes broken the rules of the land use planning system to favor those with political and financial connections. The same small number of connected insiders circulates from one city authority, board, or commission to another, controlling city policy, but beyond the reach of the democratic process.

Many people in this city are fed up with the World and its allies. For the first time, in Tulsa's March 2004 municipal elections, Tulsa's voters elected a bipartisan majority of councilors who were not endorsed by the newspaper, five councilors committed to reforming city government so that it serves the interests of all Tulsans, not just a favored few. Alternative media outlets played a significant role in helping these reform councilors get their message out and win election -- principally, Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ; the Tulsa Beacon, a conservative weekly newspaper; and this blog. These same sources continue to subject the World's content to critical review on a daily basis. Now all three of us have received some sort of threatening letter from the World.

The empire is striking back. Leading a broader Cockroach Caucus effort, the World has engaged in a sustained campaign in its news pages and editorial pages against the reformers, painting them in the worst possible light. Two of the five-member Reform Alliance majority on the Council, Republicans Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, have been targeted for recall from office by a shadowy group calling itself the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004. No criminal wrongdoing or negligence is alleged -- they are being targeted because they have voted the "wrong way". They have pursued reforms and investigations that the Cockroach Caucus seems to find threatening to its interests. (The Coalition for Responsible Government used copyrighted World photographs and articles in the Tulsa Tribunal, crypto-racist smear tabloids targeting Mautino and Medlock, but have apparently faced no similar threats from the World.)

The deadline for the submission of recall petitions is this week. I believe the World is hoping to silence alternative low-budget media voices as the recall campaign proper gets underway, so as to create a clear channel for the pro-recall campaign, which will continue to have the tacit support of the World alongside a massive paid-media campaign.

I am not concerned for myself. I believe I have respected the World's copyrights within the fair-use exemption. Let the World name the specific articles in which it alleges that I have exceeded fair use. I have violated no law by directing readers to the Tulsa World's own website to read the Tulsa World's own content as the World itself presents it. I am seeking legal advice for dealing with the matter.

The World deserves the scorn and ridicule of the blogosphere for using bullying tactics against its critics. Let's give it to 'em.

TRACKBACKS: Thanks to fellow bloggers who are showing their support. Click on the links to read all that they have to say on the matter.

Joe Carter of evangelical outpost asks "Did someone at the WPC lose their mind? ... It takes a special brand of idiot to bully a guy with a megaphone. But you have to be a world class moron to push someone around who has thousands of compatriots with megaphones."

Ace writes "the next phase in this battle [between new and old media] is nonstop legal harassment. They've had a monopoly for 50 years and they're not giving it up without a fight... or at least without calling in their lawyers."

Kevin of the Primary Main Objective knows the World and says they're worthy of contempt rather than pity.

Matt of Nerf-Coated World provides some guidelines for bloggers on fair use.

Scott Sala of Slant Point asks "Does the paper intend to only sell its news to those who like what it has to say? Will conversations on the street condeming the paper now be monitored, and those individuals barred from buying future copies?"

Dan Lovejoy calls the World a "fossilized fecolith of the dinomedia."

Charles G. Hill gets to the heart of the local political situation and the World's part in it:

If it weren't so pathetic, it would almost be tragic. There are many cities like Tulsa, where a favored few seek to maximize their profits at the expense of everyone else; what makes Tulsa different is the World, which evidently would rather be a conspirator than a crusader. The people of Tulsa are the poorer for it.

Top-ten blogger and columnist Michelle Malkin reacts to the World's attack: "Can you spell U-N-H-I-N-G-E-D?" And she hit my PayPal tip jar! Thanks!

Thanks to all of my "compatriots with megaphones." Watch this space as more bloggers pick up the story.

UPDATE 9:14 AM: Ironically, I didn't link to the Tulsa World's website anywhere in this entry. That was unintentional (subconsciously trying to protect myself?) but I've fixed it with a link up near the top. Wouldn't want anyone thinking I'm scared.

UPDATE: You'll find a quick intro about this site and me via this link.

UPDATE (12/28/2005): Here is the category archive of all entries related to the Tulsa World.

Given the entry I'm about to post and other blogosphere-old-media confrontations that have been in the news in the last week or so, I've decided that the topic de la semaine for the Okie Blogger Bash Consortium will be newspapers. Entries are due by midnight Friday night / Saturday morning.

A remarkable story from Hutchinson, Kansas:

HUTCHINSON, Kan. - For 20 years, Sarah Scantlin has been mostly oblivious to the world around her — the victim of a drunken driver who struck her down as she walked to her car. Today, after a remarkable recovery, she can talk again.

Scantlin's father knows she will never fully recover, but her newfound ability to speak and her returning memories have given him his daughter back. For years, she could only blink her eyes — one blink for "no," two blinks for "yes" — to respond to questions that no one knew for sure she understood.

"I am astonished how primal communication is. It is a key element of humanity," Jim Scantlin said, blinking back tears.

Sarah Scantlin was an 18-year-old college freshman on Sept. 22, 1984, when she was hit by a drunk driver as she walked to her car after celebrating with friends at a teen club. That week, she had been hired at an upscale clothing store and won a spot on the drill team at Hutchinson Community College.

After two decades of silence, she began talking last month. Doctors are not sure why. On Saturday, Scantlin's parents hosted an open house at her nursing home to introduce her to friends, family members and reporters.

This is a remarkable story, coming at a time that a judge in Florida is ready to allow Terri Schiavo to die of starvation and dehydration, simply for being in the same condition that Sarah Scantlin was in a month ago.

Scantlin still suffers constantly from the effects of the accident. She habitually crosses her arms across her chest, her fists clenched under her chin. Her legs constantly spasm and thrash. Her right foot is so twisted it is almost reversed. Her neck muscles are so constricted she cannot swallow to eat.

Note that last problem. The story doesn't say, perhaps doesn't say on purpose, but if she cannot swallow to eat, she must be getting tube feedings, same as Terri Schiavo. No one seems to consider that "artificial life support" in this case. Maybe that's because, in this case, her caregivers actually love her and want the best for her. The story mentions that Sarah Scantlin began to speak again because someone was trying to encourage her to speak:

The breakthrough came when the nursing home's activity director, Pat Rincon, was working with Scantlin and a small group of other patients, trying to get them to speak.

Rincon had her back to Scantlin while she worked with another resident. She had just gotten that resident to reply "OK," when she suddenly heard Sarah behind her also repeat the words: "OK. OK."

Quite a contrast from Terri Schiavo's situation -- her husband has kept her away from every opportunity for rehabilitation.

Let's go back to the lead sentence of the article for a moment: "For 20 years, Sarah Scantlin has been mostly oblivious to the world around her." How in the world do they know that? Just because she was unable to speak -- "locked in" -- evidently without the motor skills to speak or communicate beyond eye blinks doesn't mean she was unable to take in everything around her. Let me point you to a story in last Tuesday's New York Times:

Thousands of brain-damaged people who are treated as if they are almost completely unaware may in fact hear and register what is going on around them but be unable to respond, a new brain-imaging study suggests. ...

"This study gave me goose bumps, because it shows this possibility of this profound isolation, that these people are there, that they've been there all along, even though we've been treating them as if they're not," said Dr. Joseph Fins, chief of the medical ethics division of New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Fins was not involved in the study but collaborates with its authors on other projects.

Fascinating that last week's study and this news should emerge as Terri Schiavo's life hangs in the balance. It's as if Someone is trying to send a message.

Hat tip: Catholic Ragemonkey.

Here's what other blogs are saying about this story, according to Technorati.

In today's column, Michael Barone writes that we now know how the Internet will impact American politics, and it seems to be good for the Republicans.

Best blogs for breaking news


A couple of weeks ago, Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno asked me to compile a list of five to ten top, must-read blogs. That's difficult, because the best blogs at any given moment vary with the hot story of the moment, based on which bloggers are in the best position to cover the story.

For example, when the Ukraine election drama was in progress, the best sources for information were Le Sabot Post-Moderne and TulipGirl, a pair of blogs run by an American couple who live in Kiev, blogs that most of the time focus on theology and family life. During the election crisis, they provided on-the-scene original reporting, links to local news sources, links to pronouncements from the government and the political parties, and links to other bloggers covering the same story.

To find out which blogs are covering the hot stories, you can go to certain key blogs that are frequently updated with links to breaking news. These are the Energizer Bunnies of the blog world, and you can expect to see at least a dozen posts a day.

The Command Post is actually a group of topic-driven blogs on Iraq, the War on Terror, elections and politics, among others. It has a large number of contributors, and it seeks to go in-depth on the few topics it covers.

Redstate.org has its main blog, plus lots of "member diaries", from which the best entries are promoted to the main blog.

Some old media outlets have their own group blogs, where any editor or regular contributor to the magazine is able to post to the blog. Because so many people participate, you get exposure to a variety of topics, plus some interesting commentary and debate:

Not a group blog, and updated only once a day, is OpinionJournal.com's Best of the Web Today. It's a good source for the hot stories of the last 24 hours.

To find out who's blogging about a particular story or topic, go to Technorati, a blog search service. Enter a keyword or phrase, and you'll get a list of blog entries on the topic, most recent first.

In a future entry, I'll tell you about some specialist blogs -- individuals and groups that focus on a key issue.

Disclaimer: I will not vouch for everything that these bloggers write, but I believe them to be diligent and generally reliable. You may occasionally find offensive content, but the same goes for the rest of the Internet, TV, radio, newspapers, the backs of cereal boxes, etc. Viewer discretion advised.

Pro-marriage rally today in New York


Be in prayer, too, for a pro-marriage rally today at City Hall Park in New York City, a protest of a New York judge's decision that same-sex marriage is required by the state's constitution. Radio talk show host Kevin McCullough is one of the instigators of the rally. After the rally, Kevin will be talking about it on his show, which you can listen to live on the web, beginning at noon Central Time, and in continual repeats for the next 24 hours.

Blogosphere prayer requests


Please say a prayer for Marcia Morrissey, wife of Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters -- she's in the hospital tonight for a pancreas transplant. I met Ed during the Republican National Convention -- a great guy. He has risen to the top of the blog world by being consistently there with the big news. He's set up to blog from the hospital, but we'll all understand if he slacks off for a while.

Kevin McCullough asks for prayers for his wife's mom, who is undergoing tests to see if cancer has returned after nine years in remission.



Lesson of the day: Save your work frequently and do not go back and forth between editors with different keyboard shortcuts. I just managed to kill a lengthy post, which I was just about to publish, by using an Emacs command (Ctrl-W -- meaning, cut region) in a Mozilla window (where it means close tab, destroying all my work in the process).

Whirled threatens linkers

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Councilor Chris Medlock has received a nastygram from John R. Bair, Vice President of the Tulsa Whirled, alleging that Medlock has intentionally infringed the Whirled's copyright by reproducing articles in whole or in part and by linking to Whirled articles without authorization. The Whirled demands that Medlock "cease and desist" immediately; if not, the Whirled will take legal action to enforce its copyright and will seek damages.

This is a blatant effort at intimidation, and the Whirled doesn't have a legal leg to stand on.

Providing a link to content on the web does not constitute a violation of copyright because no copying has taken place. I've been amused (but complimented) to get requests for permission to link to BatesLine. My usual reply is, "That's what it's there for."

Here's a link to a summary of a court case on this topic. The judge concluded that no copyright violation had occurred because there was no copying involved:

[Judge] Hupp went on to describe the process of hypertext linking: "The customer is automatically transferred to the particular genuine Web page of the original author. There is no deception in what is happening. This is analogous to using a library's card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently."

Such hypertext linking, therefore, does not involve the reproduction, distribution or preparation of copies or derivative works. Nor does such linking constitute a "…display [of] the copyrighted work publicly…," as the web page called up by the user is the original web page created by the author.

Saying, "Go here and read this idiotic editorial by David Averill," does not violate any intellecutal property law, unless the Whirled has trademarked the phrase "idiotic editorial by David Averill."

Quoting from an article for the purpose of commenting on it is within the notion of fair use of copyrighted material. Stanford has extensive information on what constitutes fair use and how the courts have ruled in the past. The fair use exemption exists in the interest of public debate and discourse -- otherwise, a publisher or author could freeze out effective criticism by denying permission to a critic. And that's exactly what the Whirled appears to be attempting.

It's interesting that the letter did not come from the law firm that represents the Whirled, which suggests that they know they haven't a leg to stand on and are simply trying to throw a scare into Medlock. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

On being an X-er


X-ATI Guy's latest entry explains why his site speaks to more than just those who were once involved with Bill Gothard's Institute of Basic Life Principles or Advanced Training Institute. Ordinarily I'd just put up an excerpt, but you need to read the whole thing:

X-ers hold a unique place in Christianity. Whether one's background is IBLP or some other Christian subculture that emphasizes individual performance over Christ's grace, we've endured a level of spiritual scarring--a hardening of the soul. Some of us don't make it, and they become the spiritual washouts, the reprobates, the backslidden untouchables. Others of us realize the problem was in the system, and once we exit the system, we begin the rehabilitative process of discovering God's grace for the first time.

But leaving the program is not enough. The residual effect of the indoctrination controls our perception of God in unhealthy ways. Freeing yourself from years of harsh judgment and performance-based Christianity is a messy process; it is often accompanied by rage, substance abuse, moodiness and long nights of inner reflection. Exiting the Matrix is not pretty. At times, our suspicion of systems of though[t] makes it difficult for us to assimilate truth. Which, of course, provides plenty of ammunition for those still in the Matrix to condemn the X-er. "He has left us because he was not one of us."

God's love is powerful, though, and eventually we discover the joy of a life redeemed by Christ.

For those of us who have unplugged from the system, there's no going back. Supporters of the system label this abandonment as "rebellion," "anger," "pride," and "judgmentalism." If we speak out against the system, we're told to forgive those who have offended us--to go and share how we were damaged. We're advised to move on and get over our hurts. We're frequently told that we're bitter. But you're talking bitterness, and we're talking freedom.

We're told that unity in the Christian world is more important than individual suffering. But since when was the program we left interested in Christian unity? Systematic conformity is more like it.

Our intent is not to judge people, but to judge error. And we make no claims of a special insight into Scripture or a unique connection with God that sets us apart from other believers.

Have we been hurt, misled and damaged? Yes. Are we healing and experiencing God's grace? Yes and yes. That's the ethos of the X-er revolution.

I've never been involved in any of Gothard's ministries, but through college I was a FAT participant in Campus Crusade for Christ. FAT stood for faithful, available, and teachable. "Faithful" meant if your staff discipler asked you to do something, you did it. "Available" meant you didn't get involved in other campus activities or even allow your studies to absorb your free time -- your time was reserved for ministry activities. "Teachable" meant you didn't question the Biblical basis for what was presented; you didn't challenge what you were being taught.

Why would I put up with this? I longed to fellowship with other Christians who were serious about living a dedicated Christian life -- something I didn't see in my home church. Recently I read through Whittaker Chambers' explanation, in the book Witness, of why he, or anyone else, would become a Communist. From my Crusade experience, I could understand the desire to be dedicated to a cause worth living for and worth dying for.

As a committed Crusader, I thrived on the affirmation I received for jumping through the prescribed hoops. Jumping through those hoops had some value. I studied and memorized Scripture. Leading singing at Friday night meetings built my confidence in front of a crowd. Leading small group Bible studies forced me to deepen my own knowledge of scripture. Going on summer missions projects forced me out of my comfort zone. But the affirmation that I was becoming a "man of God" and a "spiritual giant" was what kept me going.

I came to trust my staff disciplers, to believe that they had my spiritual best interests at heart. Looking back years later, I can see that their principal concern was building me into a useful tool for the movement, at whatever cost to preparing me for a lifetime as a Christian in the real world, and all the decisions that entails. (UPDATE: My wife, herself a Crusade veteran, suggests that I don't mean it quite the way it comes across, and she's right. My staff disciplers were not cynical manipulators seeking to use me for their own ends. They simply couldn't distinguish between the best interests of the institution and the best interests of the Kingdom of God. I will add that my first discipler, a senior student, was more focused on building in his disciples a foundation for living the Christian life, less focused on building the Crusade organization.)

One of the things that comes toughest to me as an X-Crusader is believing that I can trust a mentor, that someone out there would be able to help me sort through my options without steering me in a direction that fulfilled his own agenda.

I like X-ATI Guy's comment: "At times, our suspicion of systems of though[t] makes it difficult for us to assimilate truth." Crusaders were sold a systematic approach to the Christian life that only works within Campus Crusade. It makes it hard to buy into any attempt to apply scripture and define the normal Christian life. Cynicism is an easy reaction.

It's a long process of recovery, learning how to live a life motivated by grace instead of the desire to please others.

This week's Oklahoma Blogger Bash Consortium entries on childhood diseases are in:

John Butler has passed the baton to me. I'll think about a topic for this week and announce it here Monday evening.

UPDATE: Charles Hill has posted his submission.

A breath of fresh air from Karol:

Isn't there something to be said for politicians taking a side of an issue, us voting for them based on where they stand, and then them representing our interests in elected office?

We are forever being told that some issue is too important to be left to the politicians, too important to allow it to become politicized. And some folks are just unnerved by vigorous debate.

There are indeed those fundamental, inalienable, absolute rights which should not be subject to the whims of politics. Those genuine rights aren't in competition -- my exercise of my freedom of speech doesn't require anything of you. All that is required is for the government not to infringe on those rights.

Beyond those basic freedoms, we enter the realm of trade-offs and competing interests, where what I seek may very well undermine your aims and vice versa. Politics is our way of arbitrating between those interests and setting the rules of the game. I much prefer deciding such matters through politics; the alternatives are tyranny and revolution. When the really important matters are removed from the realm of politics, ordinary people lose hope of change, opposition goes underground and becomes extreme, and government moves from openness to hidden, often corrupt, influence.

We shouldn't be ashamed of politics.

Some people object to applying the label "pro-abortion" to anyone. "Pro-choice" is preferred, "pro-abortion-rights" is acceptable, but even the head of the local Planned Parenthood chapter back in Tulsa told me with a straight face that she considers herself "pro-life." All she and her allies want is to ensure that abortion is, in the words of Slick Willie, "safe, legal, and rare."

If no one is really pro-abortion, then why do abortion clinics get a special exemption from rules that apply in every other surgical environment? Dawn Eden calls attention to a letter from Virginia State Senator Ken Cuccinelli (a Republican) about the failure of his abortion safety bill, which was "passed by indefinitely" in the Senate Health and Education Committee by a 9-6 vote. Cuccinelli begins his letter with the story that moved him to propose the bill:

Please imagine a young woman who goes into a surgeon's office to have a simple procedure performed. The surgeon performs the procedure, but punctures a large blood vessel during the surgery, causing the young woman to lose a significant amount of blood. Perhaps the surgeon is not aware of the bleeding or does not make an attempt to mend the blood vessel, nor does he call 911 for emergency help. He leaves her in the chair, tells a nurse to look after her, leaves the office and goes home for the afternoon. A while later, when the nurse on duty cannot revive the young woman, she calls 911. When the paramedics arrive, they cannot get a gurney to her because the halls and doors are too narrow. When they finally reach her, it is too late to save her. The final indignity occurs when they have to literally fold her body around corners and doorways to get her out of the building.

I am sure you are thinking that the scenario I describe simply does not happen in our world of modern medicine. And you would be right about nearly any medical facility licensed to do business in the Commonwealth. I say "nearly any" because the unfortunate truth is that something like this occurred two years ago in a Northern Virginia abortion clinic that resulted in the death of a young woman. While the details are still unknown, when I heard about this tragedy I was moved to do something to ensure that it would not happen again.

In following up on this tragedy, I learned some startling facts. I did not know that abortion clinics are not regulated, nor are they required to be inspected by the Virginia Department of Health. If there is a problem at an abortion clinic, it is only uncovered if someone lodges a complaint. I also learned that the same abortion clinic mentioned earlier had three other emergency ambulance visits in the six months prior to the death of one of their patients. It turns out that just about all of the Northern Virginia abortion clinics were making similar 911 calls to save their own patients.

Be sure to read the whole letter.

You'll notice the pattern: Destroying innocent life takes precedence over medical safety, letting a patient make an informed choice about surgery, and letting parents to know about and consent to surgery on their children. Our nation's leaders have also given abortion a special exemption when it comes to the right to assemble peacably and protest, and I don't know any political movement other than the pro-life movement that has been targeted for harassment using the RICO statutes. Under Cuccinelli's bill, abortion clinics would have been subject to about 40 regulations -- the same sort of regulations that outpatient surgery clinics must comply with. Who could believe it's really too burdensome to prohibit dermatologists from performing abortions?

As I read of the bill's death by committee, my first thought was that surely the Democrats are still in charge of the Virginia Legislature, and that's why such reasonable legislation can't make it out of committee. This sort of result is a regular event in the Oklahoma Senate, where Democrat Senate Health Committee chairman Bernest Cain blocks pro-life legislation, despite the strong pro-life convictions even among members of his own party. (Sen. Cain, you'll recall, is an embittered ex-Christian who compared Christians to Nazis and the Taliban a couple of years ago. That his Democratic colleagues allow him to retain his responsible position puts the lie to their claim that at the state level at least, Democrats are still in step with Oklahoma values.)

But Virginia's problem seems to be an infestation of RINOs. Republicans have a majority in the Virginia Senate, and of the nine votes to kill the bill, two Republicans, Committee Chairman H. Russell Potts and Frederick M. Quayle voted along with all seven Democrats. Potts is talking of leaving the Republican Party to run as an independent for Governor, and he broke with his Republican colleagues to support a record $1.5 billion tax increase. (Interesting how self-professed social-liberal-but-fiscal-conservatives usually turn out to be fiscal liberals.) Quayle made the news last March when he proposed an amendment to a bill banning nudist camps for teens; Quayle's unsuccessful amendment would have allowed camp owners to be designated in loco parentis, so that teens would be able to attend nudist camps without their parents or guardians present.

This underscores the importance of Republican party primaries. It isn't good enough to hold a majority if key members of your caucus are philosophically out of step with the party's central values and work to undermine good legislation. Conservative activists need to identify good Republican primary challengers to these RINOs and help them get an early and strong start.

It's often argued that we must tolerate RINOs because there are seats too liberal for real conservative Republicans to win. Sen. Cuccinelli is an example of how wrong that thinking is -- a pro-life stalwart and a key advocate of TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) legislation, he won in Fairfax County, a liberal, affluent area in the suburbs of DC.

There ought to be consequences for these two Republican state senators who stood in the way of a floor debate and vote on such reasonable legislation. A failure to act will undermine the confidence of grass-roots conservatives in the party and will come back to bite the GOP as candidates seek volunteers and contributors among conservative activists.

Dissin' Terry


Just got word that City Hall has confirmed the rumored staff moves I reported earlier: Mayor Bill LaFortune is appointing City Councilor Sam Roop as Chief Administrative Officer, and Mayoral aide Clay Bird will become Chief of Staff. There's one additional bit of information: Fire Chief Allen LaCroix will do double duty as Chief Operating Officer. Good men all, but the Mayor seems to have stuck to one of his guiding principles: Don't hire anyone who could outshine you. He missed a chance to add energy, ideas, and experience to his administration, and in the process may have permanently alienated a key ally.

The biggest surprise for many City Hall observers is that Terry Simonson was not named to one of these key posts in the Mayor's office. The buzz for a couple of months was that Simonson, who had served under the two previous Republican mayors (Jim Inhofe and Dick Crawford), would be brought on board to try to bring some focus and direction to the last year of Bill LaFortune's term. Some say that the push to put Simonson on the Mayor's staff was coming from Terry's old boss, Sen. Jim Inhofe. (Folks who heard Inhofe's appearance on Thursday's Michael DelGiorno Show remarked that he was unusually willing to comment -- and not in a positive way -- on city matters, a topic he usually sidesteps. The subtext to his comments might well be expressed by this Walt Kelly poem.)

Although a lot of folks had qualms with his coziness with former City Councilor and Chamber-Pot-in-Chief John Benjamin during his 2002 campaign for mayor, people know that Simonson has done some serious thinking about how City Hall ought to be run and how to make city government more efficient and effective. His thoughtfulness is evident in his many op-eds for Urban Tulsa Weekly and on his own website in the during his last run for Mayor. Although I don't always agree with him on policy, there's no doubt in my mind that his presence on the Mayor's team would have been a good thing for the city and a good thing for Bill LaFortune. Had LaFortune been wise, he would have found a way to get Terry on his staff from the first day of his administration.

Instead of being offered a key role on the 11th Floor, there's a rumor that Simonson has been offered the job of interim airports director, which brings with it the thankless task of cleaning up the mess left by Brent Kitchen and the Savage administration. In that position, he'd be based out at Tulsa International Airport, well out of the City Hall loop.

Meanwhile, some folks are asking if there is some connection between Sam Roop's new job and his reversal on the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Board. It's hard to imagine that the Mayor would have hired him if he had stuck with his initial "no" vote.

(I wish I could claim credit for the headline, but it's by another amateur punster from Tulsa.)

City Hall shuffle


I have it on good authority that Mayor Bill LaFortune plans to appoint Clay Bird as his chief of staff and City Councilor Sam Roop as the City's Chief Administrative Officer.

This is an interesting move as it throws the balance of power on the Council into question, and it may represent an attempt to break the Reform Alliance majority by other means, as the recall effort seems to be faltering. Depending on how soon the appointment takes place, the new City Councilor will either be chosen in a special election or appointed by the remaining members of the Council. Replacing by appointment would be a messy business, with the Council split 4-4 between the Reform Alliance and the Cockroach Caucus. Unless the City Attorney's office comes up with yet another creative interpretation of the City Charter, a vacancy before March 14, 2005, means that a special election will be called to fill the seat. (An example of a creative interpretation -- saying that because it's less than a year before the 2006 election filing period the vacancy must be filled by appointment.)

If Roop takes the job, it will also remove him as a possible primary challenger to LaFortune in 2006. It will be interesting to see if other possible challengers are handled in a similar way.

Meanwhile, the Cockroach Caucus seems to be attempting an end-around to break up the Reform Alliance. Councilors Bill Christiansen (District 8) and Randy Sullivan (formerly a resident of District 7, which is now unrepresented) have been seen schmoozing Councilors Roscoe Turner and Jack Henderson, the two Democrats in the Reform Alliance, and it's rumored that the South Tulsa Rotary Club (of which Sullivan and Christiansen are members) is promising a substantial amount of money for projects in north Tulsa, the area represented by Henderson and Turner.

If the strategy is to buy Turner's and Henderson's loyalty, it won't work, and it demonstrates the Cockroach Caucus's contempt for their integrity and the Caucus's failure to understand what motivates their service. It would be easier for certain special interests if all public officials were venal, but the rest of us can be thankful that at least a majority on the Council have higher motives.

A rumor has reached me that Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune may veto the charter change proposal that was passed unanimously by the City Council last week, which would keep the proposal off the April bond issue ballot. The proposal would restore the ability of property owners affected by a zoning change to file a protest petition. A sufficient petition would require the zoning change to receive supermajority approval by the Council. The charter change would restore a long-standing protection against arbitrary and capricious changes which can damage property values, a protection that was removed by a slanted City Attorney's office ruling -- a ruling that had to do more with positioning for a lawsuit than with fair interpretation of the law.

If Bill's going wobbly again, it means his developer buddies, who are used to getting whatever zoning change they want, have been beating down his door, probably threatening to come after him like they've gone after Councilors Medlock and Mautino. If you want the chance to vote to restore this protest petition protection, you need to let the Mayor know you expect to see it on the ballot, and if it isn't there you'll feel betrayed. As Brad Colvard pointed out to the Council, the charter change proposal will help the infrastructure bond issue pass, because it represents a promise to the people that the City has kept. If the proposal is taken off the ballot, it would be a breach of faith with the citizens of Tulsa, and I believe it will damage the bond issue's chances -- as well as Bill LaFortune's future prospects.

Someone has said that Bill LaFortune is like a pillow -- he bears the imprint of the last person who sat on him. I'd like to believe that assessment is wrong, but it's up to the Mayor to demonstrate otherwise. You might wish to give him some encouragement in that direction: MayorLafortune@ci.tulsa.ok.us

Pox and nits


John Owen Butler has declared this week's Okie Blogger Bash Consortium topic to be childhood diseases. I punted last week's, a topic (voting) about which I have had quite a lot to say, but you can find links to last week's entries here. I especially liked Jan's entry on voting for judges. I do wish judicial candidates would at least declare their philosophical leanings.

On to childhood diseases: I had horrible tracheal bronchitis at age 6 months, so much so that Mom was worried I wouldn't survive and so had way too many studio pictures taken of me.

Kindergarten was the year of chicken pox -- I vaguely remember taking a bath in tepid water with baking soda -- and the tonsillectomy.

The tonsillectomy was kind of fun. It was my first trip to the hospital. It was going to be in St. John, but when Mom found out she couldn't stay with me in the room, they moved me to St. Francis. After the surgery, I got to soothe my sore throat with a popsicle (orange, if I recall correctly) and was given a little stuffed goat. (Mom and Dad, feel free to write in with details I've forgotten.)

I missed all the major childhood diseases. I got mono in 7th grade, but, sadly, not because I'd been kissed. (I won't tell you how long it was until I had been, because it's too pathetic, although not atypical for a nerd boy like me. The young lady responsible reads this blog.)

Most of the interesting childhood diseases we heard about belonged to my mom's kindergarten students. It was always exciting to hear about the year's first case of chicken lice at Catoosa Elementary School and the joy of combing the children's hair, checking for nits.

Our kids have suffered from various upper respiratory ailments, including allergies and mild asthma, but all those immunizations have kept the bad stuff away, thank God. Wander through a hundred-year-old cemetery some time, note the large number of child graves, then praise God for working through scientists and physicians to turn childhood mortality from a sad but common occurrence into a rare tragedy.

TRACKBACK: Inkling of the Rough Woodsman links to this post and takes on anti-immunization zealots.

From the latest newsletter of the Annals of Improbable Research, a medical journal article deemed worthy of our attention:

"Demonstration of Oesophageal Reflux Using Live Snakes," A.C. Johnson and S. Johnson, Clinical Radiology, vol. 20, no. 1, January 1969, pp. 107-9.

"I bid you now skidoo"


If the Happy Homemaker's collection of vintage valentines isn't enough for you, Michele Catalano has more here. She calls them creepy, but some of them are kind of sweet, in a weird sort of early 20th century way. (Not the one with the electrocuted puppy, though. That's just horrible.) And they had anti-valentines back then, too. More here.

(Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)

In the same sweet Valentine's Day mood, Michele doesn't hold much hope for Cathy and Irving's future. (Not for the faint of heart or tender of ears.)

Tale of the tape


Dear Fry's Electronics, please, please, please open a store in metro New York. Tomorrow would be nice. Tonight would be nicer.

If any of my dear readers knows where I can find electrically-conductive tape for sale in the metro New York area, I would love to hear from you. If you can even tell me where to find the kind of electronics store that has every conceivable potentiometer, resistor, capacitor, and diode -- a mecca for electronics hobbyists, repairmen, and tinkerers -- Nerdvana, in other words -- that's the sort of place that is most likely to have what I need. E-mail me at blog AT batesline DOT com

It is a point of common knowledge back home that in New York you can buy anything imaginable from anywhere in the world. Don't let me down, Gotham.

On the town


Spent some time Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in Greenwich Village, the picturesque and historic neighborhood that was rescued from ruination in the early '60s by a band of "anti-growth, anti-progress" meddlers who stopped Robert Moses' plans to turn the area into freeways and parking lots. (Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, was a leader in that fight. Here's a good interview with her that tells some of that story.)

(You Tulsa folks, read those articles and tell me if you don't think the rhetoric from the "pro-progress" bunch sounds a bit familiar.)

Tuesday evening I showed up on my own for Tuesday Night Trivia at the Baggot Inn, a pub on West 3rd Street. I was welcomed onto a team by Jill and Corey, two-year regulars at the competition, and we were joined later by Barry, Frank, and Nick Sarames. (Nick got a mention - with his last name badly misspelled - in Wednesday's New York Observer profile of Dawn Eden. I recognized him when he came in - while at the Will Rogers Memorial, Dawn remarked on Nick's resemblance to the Oklahoma legend.)

Corey came up with our team's name, taking a shot at the prize for the funniest name: "Michael Jackson: From Kiddie Pool to Jury Pool." Eleven teams competed through five rounds of 10 points each -- general knowledge, current events, top 10, audio round, visual round. My principal contributions were recognizing a list of area codes as belonging to the state of Texas, and knowing that Sen. Jon Corzine was planning a run for governor of New Jersey. There was considerable controversy over which baseball team Tropicana Field was built for. A couple of teams pointed out that Tropicana Field (aka the Suncoast Dome) was built to lure the San Francisco Giants to Tampa Bay, but the official accepted answer was the team that plays there now -- the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In the top 10 round, the team gets a half-point for getting one of the items anywhere in the list, and another half-point if it's in the right place. Nick drew from his encyclopedic knowledge of pop music to rattle off Madonna's first ten top-forty hits in order -- forgetting only one, and putting the team on the path to triumph.

The audio round required recognizing 10 songs based on 30 seconds of the guitar riff. Easier than I expected -- all of them had been hits. The final, visual round involved 10 photos of guys who go by Al (e.g. Gore, Capone, Roker, D'Amato, Kaline, Franken) -- a half-point for knowing the last name, a half-point for knowing the full first name.

Our team led after the first three rounds with 25.5 points and finished with 43 points, a solid victory. The prize: A $25 bar tab for the team, which left us with $12 bucks and a tip to cover between the six of us. One of my teammates said there are other trivia nights at other pubs, some for considerable cash prizes, but the competition is cutthroat and one or two teams dominate -- Tuesday Night Trivia is much friendlier and much more fun.

(This is the second team trivia triumph I've been a part of in a little over a year. Last January I was invited to join my best friend from school and some other classmates and friends of friends on an existing team at the annual Holland Hall Trivia Night. The team had run close in previous years, but last year we blew the competition away. For winning each of us won a $25 gift certificate to In the Raw Sushi and a couple of passes to Philbrook Museum. Pretty nice. The trophy, a gold-spray-painted wooden shoe atop a gold-spray-painted foam-core obelisk, was susceptible to spontaneous disassembly. It spent some time in our living room, but another team member planned to take it along for a climb up Mt. Kilamanjaro. He didn't say which of the twin peaks he planned to climb.)

Wednesday night I headed to the monthly meeting of one of New York City's two Young Republican clubs. (This was the official party-sanctioned club.) There I caught up with Scott Sala of Slant Point, and we had an interesting conversation about local Republican party politics and the inner workings of the party machinery here and back home. Scott was a credentialed Republican National Convention blogger; we first met up at a Communists for Kerry rally in Union Square the Saturday before the convention. I chatted with Judith Weiss of Kesher Talk, too -- we met at a blogger event just before the convention. I spoke to a Republican city council candidate named Bob Capano, who is running against an incumbent Democrat in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn in this year's elections. I also met a woman who said she's planning to attend the 2005 Texas Blogfest in Dallas in March.

It was a nice break to get into the city and to renew some acquaintances, meet some new folks, and walk down some pleasant city streets.

Homeowners for Fair Zoning has posted an announcement for its annual meeting on February 21. In addition to organizational business, there will be an update on the lawsuit over the City's improper rejection of the 71st & Harvard zoning protest petition. That entry includes a proposed rewrite of the group's mission statement, making it more about general principles -- the current statement is focused on the 71st & Harvard case.

The HFFZ news blog also takes a shot at the Tulsa Whirled for David Averill's Sunday op-ed ("Big lies from a sad little paper"). Visit the HFFZ home page to find links to video and audio clips of key City Council and planning commission meetings which illustrate the contempt in which ordinary citizens and their rights are held by many of our elected and appointed officials.

Dawn's side now


Five days after Women's Wear Daily printed outright lies about her dismissal from the New York Post, blogger Dawn Eden's side of the story is out in today's New York Observer (the February 14, 2005, edition). George Gurley's interview of Dawn Eden, "Eden in Exile," is online here. Not only does it tell her side of what led to her dismissal from the Post, but it is also a comprehensive profile of her life and worldview.

The tension between her faith and the culture of what is perceived to be the "conservative paper" in New York is illustrated by her boss's reaction to a magazine interview:

The Post hired her full time in 2003. She loved editing and writing punning headlines. But she landed in hot water after giving an interview to Gilbert, a G.K Chesterton magazine, in which she talked about her faith and working at the Post.

She said her boss, chief copy editor Barry Gross, chided her, telling her, "Some people already think the Post is conservative, and we don’t need New York readers also thinking it’s a Christian paper and that there are Christians working there."

It's hard to imagine that there can be a part of America where Christianity is so marginalized.

There's no doubt in my mind that it was Dawn's dogged exposure of Planned Parenthood and its ilk that magnified a minor matter into her firing, which speaks volumes about the true values of the New York Post and the Murdoch empire.

I'm sure Dawn will fill in the pieces of the story that were left out in days to come.

UPDATE: Dawn has posted her initial comments and corrections on the story. The comments from readers make for interesting reading, too.

MORE: Saint Kansas links to an LA Times story which reminds us that in some countries the consequences for blogging your mind can be a lot worse than losing your job. (The link comes at the end of this funny and pointed Saint Kansas entry, on tolerance and diversity and the We Are Family Foundation.)


Kevin McCullough believes Dawn has a case for wrongful termination, and he helpfully supplies e-mail addresses and phone numbers if you want to give a piece of your mind to those responsible for her firing.

Gawker thinks profile writer George Gurley is smitten. (Not hard to understand, if he is.)

Wes isn't surprised that Dawn was let go, and explains why.

UPDATE 2006/05/03: Replaced the link to the Observer's main site with a link to the archived version.

Just now learned about this website, Operation: Information, which has a voter's guide for today's school board election in the Union school district. The site belongs to a group called Oklahomans for School Accountability.

NYC Mayor endorses gay marriage


Kevin McCullough reports on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement that he supports gay marriage, made at a black tie event hosted by a national gay and lesbian organization. (Click the link and scroll to the bottom of the page, past the Super Bowl coverage.)

In his comments, Kevin gets to what I think is the heart of the issue, a point that is often missed even by advocates of the traditional definition of marriage:

The advocates of "gay marriage" or redefining marriage to include same sex unions wish to have society, and even those of different religious persuasion be forced to recognize their sexual unions and more than that to give approval of such unions in relationship to employment, housing, etc.

Make no misunderstanding about this...this issue has nothing to do with supposed "equal rights". Gay couples can already, in every state, create any legal and binding contract that spells out everything from inheritance, to hospital visitation, to tax incentives. No this is not about equal rights... this is about mandated sanctity, and the desire to ultimately punish anyone who believes this behavior to be morally wrong.

Exactly. The movement is all about forcing everyone, whatever their moral or religious convictions, to treat such a relationship as if it were a real marriage.

On the same topic, Scott Sala, blogger and Republican activist in New York City, says he's had enough of having a RINO as mayor:

This is huge. Not just nationally, but locally. If ever - EVER - there was a time for Republicans to take back their party in this city, this is it.

I signed up last week to volunteer for Bloomberg's campaign, out of party support when a signup sheet went around at a Young Republican event. Tonight, I emailed the guy to scratch my name off permanently.

This announcement will cause Bloomberg to lose his final allies on the Right in NYC. His only friend now is his money. The $250K he sent to the Conservative Party so they won't run a candidate? Return it!

All we Republicans need now is a Club For Growth ready to wage a "Pat Toomey" against Manhattan's "Arlen Specter." Who is this Toomey? That's what's irking me. Let's pull Badillo back in. Retract your endorsement, Herman, please.

Scott for Mayor!

NOTE: Kevin McCullough has reupped as an advertiser on BatesLine. Kevin told me yesterday that of the many blogs he's advertised on, from well-known to obscure, BatesLine ranked second in terms of click-thrus for the cost. That means BatesLine is great value for your advertising dollar. Thanks, Kevin, for the vote of confidence! And if you'd like to advertise on BatesLine, start the process by clicking here.

Be sure to show your appreciation for Kevin's support of BatesLine by clicking his ad. From the ad you can click through to read his blog and also to listen online to his daily radio talk show on WWDJ and WMCA New York. You can hear the show live from noon to 3 Central Time or as it repeats continually between live shows.

I just found a brand new blog called NOTES, written by Bowden McElroy, a fellow Tulsan, Christian therapist, and sometime pastor.

I have just started perusing his site. He has collected a list of other bloggers' entries on Christian counseling and plans to begin a dialogue by responding to them. His first in the series is on the biological basis for behavior.

This is going to be fascinating reading.

He was kind enough to link to BatesLine as one of the blogs he reads regularly. He paid me a wonderful compliment: Although he's a little burned out on politics, he finds BatesLine "refreshing." Thanks a million!

Admirable Twin


Downtown Guy of Oklahoma City reminds us that there's an opportunity for Tulsa to top our zoo's victory in Microsoft's America's Favorite Zoo competition by boosting a local landmark in Hampton Inns' "Save a Landmark" competition.

The landmark in question is the Admiral Twin Drive-In, the last surviving drive-in theater in Tulsa. Our family had a fun evening there last summer, watching "Shrek 2" in the evening summer breeze. The Admiral Twin was featured in the movie "The Outsiders," based on the novel by native Tulsa author S. E. Hinton. In fact, it was the very theater that Hinton thinly disguised in the book.

The concession stands, restrooms, and playgrounds are in rough shape, and the walk-up seating in front of the concession stands (featured prominently in the movie) are long gone.

The drive-in has tough competition for the $20,000 prize -- the Bridges of Madison County -- so vote early and vote often.

Averill waste of newsprint


Bobby of Tulsa Topics alerted me to David Averill's front-page op-ed in Sunday's Tulsa Whirled.

A full fisking of Averill's nonsense will have to wait, but I have to point this much out: For months, the Whirled has been saying we have to get rid of the Reform Alliance city councilors because elected officials in neighboring cities don't like them and their determination to serve the City of Tulsa's needs first. Now that state legislators representing Tulsa's suburbs have spoken in opposition to the recall and in support of Councilors Medlock and Mautino, Averill is claiming that they are doing so in pursuit of a hidden agenda to keep Tulsa in turmoil and drive growth and development to the suburbs.

It's hard for me to imagine Fred Perry and John Wright, Nancy Riley and Randy Brogdon, Rex Duncan and Scott Pruitt, all sitting around in a dank, smoke-filled room, plotting to destroy Tulsa and boost the suburbs by propping up controversial councilors.

(By the way, Mr. Averill, check your facts: Randy Brogdon was Mayor of Owasso. Rodney Ray is the city manager of Owasso and has been for years.)

So tell me again, Mr. Averill, is it good or is it bad that officials in neighboring towns like our City Councilors?

I can't resist picking one more piece of low-hanging fruit from Averill's screed:

Every time they act to make zoning reclassifications more difficult — as they’ve done with a proposed City Charter change — they limit the chances for redevelopment that is so critical to Tulsa’s future.

The proposed City Charter change, which will be on the ballot in April, doesn't make anything more difficult than it should already be. It restores a protection for property values that is enshrined in the Oklahoma statutes and that was approved, not by our current bunch of "radicals," but years ago under the old city commission form of government. A deliberate misreading of the charter by the City Attorney's office -- saying that the requirement of a majority vote precludes imposing a supermajority in special cases -- has forced the Council to propose a charter change to restore this important safeguard against arbitrary and capricious zoning changes.

The Council voted unanimously in support of placing the proposal on the ballot, although the "Bought and Paid Four" spent a lot of energy arguing that it should not be placed on the same ballot as the bond issue. Brad Colvard of Homeowners for Fair Zoning pointed out to the Council that the charter change proposal will actually help passage of the bond issue, because it represents a promise made and kept by the City Councilors and the Mayor, all of whom expressed a desire to remedy the situation nearly a year ago.

More rebuttal later.

Rescued from "table for one"


I enjoy traveling and seeing new places, but my current trip has been spent mainly in a computer room or in my hotel room, or traveling through the dreary industrial wasteland between the two. As I mentioned, this has been a particularly solitary trip, and dining alone, often a welcome break from constant interaction with others, has been a real drag. "Table for one" gets pretty depressing after a while.

So I want to send special thanks to some people who have been kind enough to invite me out for a meal and some good Christian fellowship.

Sunday morning, after a wonderful time of worship and teaching -- not the kind of traditional service I normally prefer, but nevertheless one that really spoke to my needs -- I caught up with WMCA talk show host and blogger Kevin McCullough and his lovely wife, and they treated me to a delicious Italian brunch and some great conversation (also about faith, family, and politics, as well as radio). I met Kevin during the Republican National Convention, and he has been a great friend to BatesLine, giving this site an honored spot on his list of premium blogs and also advertising here.

Many thanks to the McCulloughs for their friendship.

More on the vo-tech board race


After my entry last week about Tulsa Tech Board member Jim Baker's reelection campaign, and after mentioning him again this morning on KFAQ, I've heard from some friends who have positive things to say about Baker's challenger, O. M. "Bud" Sanders, Jr. I'm told that he's anti-recall, which is good, and that he would be the first board member in a very long time to be first elected to office, instead of getting on the board by appointment.

I haven't received any info by e-mail from him yet, but would be happy to post it when it comes in. In the meantime, he can be reached at 446-5194 or on his cell phone at 633-5032 if you have questions for him. His e-mail address is ombudsand@aol.com.

UPDATE: Here's Sanders' website from his previous campaign for State House. My wife spoke to him and said that he was concerned that there hasn't been an election for this seat in over 15 years, as board members have been appointed to fill vacancies but haven't faced opposition at election time. He also feels that it is wrong that Tulsa Technology Center is getting away from serving high schoolers (the original purpose of the Vocational-Technical education system) and trying to be more of a community college on a padded budget.

Greg and Susan Hill have put together a comprehensive guide to Tuesday's school board elections around the Tulsa area, complete with the names and phone numbers of all the candidates, and the precincts voting in the Tulsa County school board districts. (I converted their Word document to HTML -- unfortunately, the conversion made the tabs come out funny. Sorry.)

The Hills urge voters to call candidates and ask them their positions on the issues. School board elections are traditionally low turnout, and if enough reform-minded voters turned out to vote for a reform-minded candidate, some positive changes could be accomplished.

Newark arena to cost $310 million


Earlier this week, the City of Newark, New Jersey, and the New Jersey Devils signed an agreement to build a new arena in downtown Newark for the hockey team. The arena will hold 18,000 fans and will cost $310 million, $210 million from the city, $100 million from the team. It's supposed to be completed in time for the 2007 NHL season, not long from when Tulsa's similarly sized arena is scheduled to be complete.

Granted that cost of land and cost of labor is higher in Newark than in Tulsa, but it still ought to concern the folks running Vision 2025, given that they have less than $200 million to spend on the same size arena, with the added burden of carrying out starchitect Cesar Pelli's grand vision.

Q.U. is in session


On Friday, 1170 KFAQ launched "KFAQ University" -- aka Q.U. -- an on-the-air civics class airing every Friday morning at 6 a.m., and available any time on the Internet in MP3 format, along with class notes and bibliography.

The point of Q.U. is to give listeners the foundation for understanding how our political system works and how to be effective participants in the system.

The lecturer is State Senator Scott Pruitt, and the topic for the first class was, "What would cause men to risk all for an experiment? The motivation behind the revolution." Pruitt profiles George Washington and Patrick Henry and what motivated them to seek independence from England. I've listened to the first session, and it's very well done. (And regular listeners to KFAQ will be amazed that Pruitt speaks with almost no interruptions.)

Thanks and congratulations to KFAQ for the start of a worthwhile effort.

Way back on Monday, I attended the Downtown Kiwanis club luncheon as the guest of my friend John Eagleton. Ken Neal, editorial page editor of the Tulsa Whirled was the speaker of the day. John knew I'd be interested in hearing Ken speak, since I've written about him and the emissions of his editorial board quite frequently.

Ken has a folksy voice and manner. He spoke very briefly about the paper and the editorial section he oversees, and then threw it open for questions, what he called a "horsewhip the editor" session.

I had a pile of questions I could have asked, but narrowed it down to just one. He had just been asked a question about the mix and selection of syndicated columnists on the op-ed pages, and in fact, they now have a decent assortment, including some of my favorite conservative columnists -- writers like Thomas Sowell, James Lileks, and Paul Greenberg.

I commended Mr. Neal on the diversity of his syndicated columnists but asked why there was a lack of diversity of opinion on local issues. He seemed puzzled by my question. I pointed out that you never read Julie DelCour writing that Ken Neal was wrong about something or Ken Neal writing that David Averill was wrong about something. The board is uniformly supportive of any tax increase -- something Neal openly acknowledged a few weeks ago. The board is also uniformly negative about the reform majority on the Tulsa City Council.

His reply was about what I expected: The Whirled is a private company, not a public institution. We have the right to push our opinions and our ideas.

I wasn't questioning the Whirled's right to publish what they wished, just suggesting that the lack of diverse opinion on local issues was a flaw in need of correction. Neal went on to cite the decades of experience of each of the editorial board members, many of them with years of experience covering City Hall. Because they're all so intimate with the way City Hall works, naturally they're all in agreement over how City Hall ought to be run.

The answer to the next question shed further light on the matter. Kiwanis Club president Rick Brinkley very delicately and politely asked a question about the ethics of the Whirled's coverage of Great Plains Airlines, in which World Publishing Company was invested. Brinkley pointed out that as a matter of practice broadcast media disclose potential conflicts of interest: If ABC reports on a new film from Disney, they make mention of the fact that Disney is ABC's parent company. Neal brushed aside the comparison to broadcast media and said that they have all sorts of ethical standards that cover any conflicts of interest they may have as journalists, although he avoided the issue of conflicts of interest involving the newspaper's owners and their other business interests.

Regarding Great Plains Airlines, Neal pooh-poohed the idea that the newspaper abused the readers' trust in order to help anyone get rich. Neal pointed out that the Lortons, owners of the paper, are already rich. (And we all know that all wealthy people are contented with the amount of wealth they have.) Neal said, "Everybody in town thought it [public subsidy of Great Plains] was a great idea. It was a Chamber deal."

That says it all. Neal and company have a huge blindspot when it comes to dissenting opinion. They sit in their bunker on Main Street, with their decades of listening only to the conventional wisdom, and they honestly can't see any other way of running the city. The city's problems are of course not the fault of the powers-that-be and their policies, but the fault of the people who are doing the complaining.

It's cliched to refer to Pauline Kael's quote about Nixon's landslide -- "No one I know voted for him" -- but it fits this bunch.

In fact, there were many voices objecting to the city's financial involvement with Great Plains, including two then-City Councilors, Randi Miller and Clay Bird, who voted against the deal. A story in the Whirled some time back used their no votes as a way to needle Sam Roop and Roscoe Turner, councilors who voted for the deal but are now critical of it and are involved in the investigation of the airport.

To the Whirled editorial writers, and their allies in the Cockroach Caucus, city politics is utter simplicity. If it's a "Chamber deal," it must be good, and of course, "everybody in town" thinks it's a good idea. Anyone who disagrees is by definition a naysayer, an anti-progress crank, and therefore is beneath notice, no matter how well he can argue his position. The result is an inbred intellectual environment with imbecility as a predictable result.

No wonder the Whirled is so mystified and threatened by the presence of a majority of dissenters on the Council. They don't understand that there are tens of thousands of Tulsans unhappy with the way the city is being run and looking for leaders with fresh ideas.

One more interesting quote from the Q&A session: In response to a question about changing Tulsa's form of government, Neal said, "When you don't have a strong mayor, and you have a strong-mayor system, you run into problems." Neal advocates adding three at-large councilors and making the Mayor a member of the Council as well. The purpose behind such a move would be to make it much more difficult for grass-roots leaders to secure a majority on the Council.

ReligionJournal.com reports that a small-town Illinois pastor was questioned by FBI agents about a sermon he delivered on Memorial Day last year, in which he compared the victims of abortion to the casualties of war:

"I shared the number of people who have died in wars versus the number who had died through 'legal' abortion since 1973," Steele said. "I stated that we are in a different type of war that is being fought under the 'presupposition of freedom.'"

Steele said that he went on to name an abortion clinic in Granite City, Ill., a city just outside St. Louis, and pointed out that they perform as many as 45 abortions per week.

Somebody in the church that day apparently misunderstood Steele's "different type of war" comment to mean that he was actually calling his congregation to a physical war against abortion clinics, so he or she placed an anonymous phone call to the FBI.

A comment, in a different sermon, about his willingness to go to jail for the truth added fuel to the fire:

The informant allegedly told the FBI that in addition to Steele calling for a war against abortion clinics, he also said he was willing to go to jail over such a cause.

Steele said that he had spoken about his willingness to go to jail, but that he made those remarks in a different sermon that dealt with homosexuality from the same sermon series.

"I had mentioned a pastor in Canada who had been arrested for speaking about homosexuality in his church," Steele said. The pastor said he went on to tell his congregation that "if speaking the truth means that we go to jail, then by golly, that's where I'm going to be and I'm going to save you a seat next to me."

In the end, no formal investigation was done. The FBI agents were gracious, the pastor was gracious, and the matter was dropped. No harm, although anticipating the FBI's visit must have been nervewracking for the pastor.

It's possible the informant was confused or possessed of an overactive imagination. It's also possible that this was intended to be a means of harrassment, creating a chilling effect to keep this pastor and others from preaching on social issues. It will be worth watching to see if there are more investigations of pastors, and how diligent the FBI is at filtering out complaints intended to intimidate faithful preachers.

(Hat tip: TownHall.com)

During our weekly visit, Michael DelGiorno of KFAQ asked me to put together a list of five to ten blogs you ought to be reading every day. One blog that will be on that list is Little Green Footballs, which specializes in covering the the spread, influence, and activity of the Islamofascist movement around the world. LGF was one of the blogs that inspired me to start my own back in May 2003.

The New York Sun has profiled Charles Johnson, the man behind LGF. Read the profile and learn how 9/11 drove a pony-tailed musician and web designer to become a relentless tracker of the enemies of Western Civilization.

(Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.)

Recall racism


Last night I was given a copy of the latest edition of The Tulsa Tribunal. You'll recall that a couple of weeks ago a four-page tabloid by that name was sent to homes in Tulsa City Council District 2, aimed at getting voters in the district angry enough to sign a recall petition against Councilor Chris Medlock. (You can find links to images of that paper here.)

Now the Citizens for Reprehensible Government have blanketed Council District 6 with an edition aimed at smearing Councilor Jim Mautino. I understand that the District 6 version was delayed because, after the District 2 edition went out, the Tulsa City Attorney's office sent a "cease and desist" letter to the recall pushers, telling them they were not authorized to use the city's seal on their campaign material, which also featured the Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma on the banner. (Then-Councilor Anna Falling got considerable heat for using the City Council seal in connection with her privately-organized curbside recycling pilot program.) The already-printed District 6 papers had to be destroyed and a new edition printed, sans seals.

Like the anti-Medlock version, the anti-Mautino version uses Tulsa Whirled photographs without credit and without permission. Most of the same articles are there, and in some cases it looks like they just did a find-and-replace to insert Mautino's name. They even recycle the bizarre "councilor in a Columbine trenchcoat" attack that they used against Chris Medlock, although they dropped the sly Mein Kampf reference.

The most interesting addition is the article focusing on the connection between Councilor Mautino and his fellow freshman, Councilor Jack Henderson. Henderson is also part of the Reform Alliance majority (AKA "Gang of Five"), and has worked closely with Mautino and the rest of the Council majority to work for needed reforms. I'm inclined to think that it's a hopeful thing when a conservative Republican white councilor and a liberal Democrat black councilor, from different parts of the city, can find common ground and work together for the common good of their constituents and the city as a whole.

The Tulsa Tribunal disagrees. The article paints Jack Henderson, former head of the local NAACP chapter, as a "rabble-rousing community organizer for many years, keeping a high profile for his attacks on the Tulsa Police Department and any other public organization that he could accuse of racism." They depict Mautino and Henderson as teaming up to block Tulsa's progress. The accompanying photo shows Henderson and Mautino smiling together outside the City Council meeting room.

What does this tell us about the thinking of the pro-recall bunch? The unavoidable conclusion is that the pro-recall forces believe that the residents of east Tulsa (historically a predominantly white, blue-collar area) are racist hayseeds who will be shocked and appalled that their city councilor has teamed up with "some uppity knee-grow."

It's also evident from the way they describe him that the pro-recall forces themselves regard Jack Henderson as someone who "doesn't know his place." While I disagree with Jack on many issues, I honor his persistent efforts to make sure the concerns of the African-American community in Tulsa receive the attention they deserve. Every part of Tulsa needs a councilor willing to stand up for the interests of his own constituents. And I admire the way he stands fast with his allies on the Council in the face of the sustained attacks against them.

The latest Tulsa Tribunal is the latest evidence of a pattern: What we are witnessing is the collapse into incoherence of a city establishment that is out of ideas, out of energy, and out of control, but is unwilling to be out of power. Some might call it a Götterdammerung -- the twilight of the gods -- but it reminds me more of the demise of Rumpelstiltskin.

As I promised -- if Tulsa-area school board candidates will send me their contact information and something about their candidacy, I'll post it, in advance of next Tuesday's school board elections. Here's the first and only candidate who's taken me up on the offer so far.

Dr. Jim Baker is the incumbent member of the Tulsa Technology Center Board of Education for Office 7.

First, here is Dr. Baker's contact information: Phone number 918-299-3491, e-mail is jim.baker@att.net

You'll find his bio after the jump.

I received the information from Jonathan Goodwin, someone I met when I was helping to make get-out-the-vote effort at Tulsa County Republican HQ. Jonathan is now working with Dr. Baker's campaign, and he tells me that Baker, a two-term incumbent, is the conservative candidate in the race. He pointed out that Baker's opponent, Bud Sanders, ran in 2002 as a Democrat in State House district 68 against Chris Benge, the Republican incumbent. In that race, Sanders supported a general tax increase and was endorsed by the unions and the Tulsa Whirled.

Overpromise and underdeliver


My apologies to those of you who've been waiting patiently for me to write about what I said I would the other day. Work has consumed more time than normal, and it's about to get worse for the next few days. I'll do what I can to keep in touch.

Here's an MP3 of my visit with Michael DelGiorno and Gwen Freeman from this last Monday morning. We talked about the GOP press conference in opposition to the City Council recall, "Tulsa Talks," upcoming school board elections, a City Charter amendment proposal, and blogging -- including mentions of some of my personal favorite news-oriented blogs (the ones I could think of on the spur of the moment).

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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