Fair Tax, Bernest Cain, DelGiorno in a fat suit

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I had the pleasure of being Gwen Freeman's sidekick this morning on 1170 KFAQ.

Michael DelGiorno was at home, part of a reality TV segment that will run on NBC's Today later this month -- his pregnant wife is being pampered at a hotel, while Michael wears a pregnancy prosthesis and takes care of his toddler twin girls alone. (There are some photos of Michael in the fat suit on the KFAQ website.) We talked by phone to Michael and to his wife Andrea. He sounded helpless and beleaguered.

This morning we talked about the city budget crisis and the new mayor's staff.

We also talked to Congressman John Sullivan and national and local representatives of the "fair tax" movement, the effort to replace the federal income tax with a tax on new retail goods and service. The idea has a lot of appeal; click that link to learn all about it.

Valeska Littlefield, head of Life Network of Green Country, came in to help us celebrate the impending departure of Bernest Cain, a Christian-hating State Senator, who has been, as Chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee, the single biggest roadblock to pro-life legislation. Cain's ability to be that roadblock is thanks to existence of a Democratic majority in the State Senate.

The show will be repeated online all weekend. Here's a direct link to the KFAQ audio feed that works with Windows Media Player.

UPDATE (4/21/2006): There has been some reaction (see comments below) about the excerpt of Cain's 2003 comments, which are linked above -- specifically, that my characterization of Bernest Cain as anti-Christian or a Christian-hater is unfair. Here is a report from OCPA that gives more of the context of Cain's 2003 speech. I'm putting it here in its entirety just in case it disappears from the web. The full transcript of Cain's remarks and Charles Ford's reply was on the KFAQ website in May 2003, when I first saw them, but they don't appear to be on the site any longer.

Liberal Tolerance Watch
by Brandon Dutcher

Intolerance and Prejudice at the State Capitol

Living in the Bible Belt, and working as I do in the public policy arena, I see it all too often. People, often with good intentions, try to use the political process to impose their views on everyone else. They are intolerant of other viewpoints, they try to stifle diversity, and sometimes they can be downright bigoted.

I’m telling you, the left is really bad about this.

Consider, for example, the issue of school choice. As Cato Institute scholars Marie Gryphon and Emily A. Meyer pointed out in a recent study, America has a grand tradition of educational freedom. In fact, it’s a tradition that predates and is longer than our current tradition of delivering education through a government-owned-and-run monopoly. Many people today are trying to regain a measure of that freedom, mainly through policies which empower parents to choose the safest and best schools for their children, whether those schools are public or private.

These school-choice advocates celebrate diversity. They want parents and children to be able to choose from charter schools that emphasize core knowledge, specialty schools that focus on the arts, magnet schools that specialize in science and engineering, and more. Let a hundred flowers bloom. After all, students have unique needs and preferences.

What’s more, school-choicers celebrate religious diversity. They want to empower parents to choose Jewish day schools, which provide a rigorous faith-based education and help preserve Jewish continuity. Or classical Christian schools, which begin Latin in the third grade and logic in the eighth and equip children to love the Lord their God with all their minds. Or inner-city Catholic schools – often more racially integrated than their public counterparts – which turn at-risk kids into scholars.

The nation’s 27,000 private schools (nearly one in four U.S. schools) “by definition help fulfill the ideal of pluralism in American education,” says the Council for American Private Education. “They serve diverse populations, and are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural.”

But the left, for all its professed tolerance, cannot tolerate this sort of diversity, especially religious diversity. The defenders of the status quo prefer secular uniformity. Indeed, they insist upon it religiously. For some reason, school choice is OK for 18-year-olds (Pell Grants at Notre Dame, federal SEOG grants at Oral Roberts University) but not for 17-year-olds.

One journalist, a member of the religious left here in Oklahoma, is particularly hostile to school choice. He often puts derisive quotation marks around “Christian” when referring to Christian schools, and once lambasted a pro-school-choice governor, saying his “tortured rightwing brain” is all too “typical of brown-shirted rich kids privately educated.”

Remarkably, this ugliness goes unpunished. Indeed, the National Education Association has given its highest award to this man who calls Thomas Sowell “a disgrace to the human race,” and he is still a popular speaker at education workshops and conferences. One essay, in which he sniffs at “mantras and Hail Marys” and warns of ominous attempts to “construct new forms of theocratic education,” is featured on the welcome page of the Oklahoma Education Association’s web site.

I suppose none of this should surprise us. After all, Gryphon and Meyer remind us, it was religious prejudice – specifically, anti-Catholic prejudice fueled by an influx of immigrants in the 1830s and 1840s – which inspired the establishment of public schools in the first place. In addition, state constitutional Blaine Amendments, “adopted during the rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment in the 19th and early 20th centuries” and now enshrined in some three-fourths of state constitutions (including Oklahoma’s), prohibit tax money from flowing to “sectarian” schools. The left, apparently without embarrassment, defends these amendments heartily, as they are among the most significant barriers to school choice in the states.

The Arizona Supreme Court pronounced that state’s Blaine Amendment “a clear manifestation of religious bigotry.” Justice Clarence Thomas has opined that “hostility to aid to pervasively sectarian schools has a shameful pedigree that we do not hesitate to disavow. … This doctrine, born of bigotry, should be buried now.”

Many of our friends on the left are working tirelessly for a more just and tolerant America, one that respects diversity. They would do well to recognize that educational freedom, as Gryphon and Meyer say, is “critical to an intellectually diverse and tolerant society.”

Rhetoric Insults Thousands of Oklahomans
In last year’s legislative session, Senator Scott Pruitt (R-Broken Arrow) co-authored a tort reform bill for teachers. When the bill was being considered in the House, a Democrat attached an amendment which would require a disclaimer to be placed in all textbooks in which evolution is discussed. The disclaimer would state in part that evolution is “a controversial theory which some scientists present as scientific explanation for the origin of living things,” although “no one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact.”

The amended bill passed the House by a vote of 92-9, and was being reconsidered on the Senate floor May 6. Sen. Bernest Cain (D-Oklahoma City), a Unitarian with a graduate degree in theology and a prominent member of Oklahoma’s religious left, was offended by the bill and argued against it. According to a transcript posted on the Web site of KFAQ, a talk radio station in Tulsa, Sen. Cain made the following remarks:

“I just resent people continually, every time they bring a bill out here, trying to force their religion down other people’s throats. Now, this is what this is coming from. … Because he [Senator Pruitt] believes, basically, that his religion ought to be the dominant religion and that his religion ought to say to the rest of the religions what should be in the textbooks of our public schools. … We should not continue to let this religious, far religious views, try to force their way down on us.

“I got a quote the other day that I got from Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler. And I don’t have the exact words, but here’s basically what it says. He says, in our government we are going to put Christians in key positions of responsibility because there has been too much liberal access going on out there and we are going to straighten up and make sure that the Christian culture is back in control. Now folks, they took Jewish people and they took them out and they strung them apart, they killed them, they mass murdered some of those people, and all of the ideas that were behind that were, and they were doing this while they were having Christian music going on, while they were having hymns. They killed thousands of Jews while they were doing hymns. That is what happens when you let the right wing of the Taliban come in and try to dictate to the State how we should run our business.

“We should try as much as possible to keep ourselves separate from the religious group. I am telling you, we have got this new mindset that you can be a Taliban, you can be a religious fanatic, and you can bring it to the Senate, you can bring it to the House, you can bring it to the government, it doesn’t matter, it’s all right, we just turn our heads, it’s not that bad. That’s what they did when Hitler came along. They let him come in and he brought in his ideas, he said we’re bringing Christian values back. But was it all Christian values? No, it was everything against Christian values. And that is what I am afraid of from these extreme right-wing religious fanatics who want to bring their religious viewpoints and bring them into the Senate. …

“But no, this is another one of Senator Pruitt’s bills trying to take the religious idea and force it down on the rest of us. … I say we ought to reject this thing and say it right now, we’re not going to let extreme, extreme religious groups come in here and run our government.”

Don’t you just love it when liberals engage in nuanced, responsible discourse? They’re always so careful to be tolerant of the viewpoints of others.

It’s interesting to note that the amendment was not ambitious at all. It merely said evolution should be taught as a theory. It did not mandate the teaching of intelligent-design theories or creationism.

After all, we can’t have “extreme, extreme religious groups come in here and run our government.” And certainly Sen. Cain, known for his mainstream views, can recognize an extremist when he sees one. An extremist is one of those far-out people – “the right wing of the Taliban,” if you will – who actually believes a Creator made the world. Fortunately, according to a Tulsa World-sponsored poll in 2000, this fringe element is limited to: a majority of whites, blacks, and Hispanics; a majority of people in every income level; and a majority of liberals, moderates, and conservatives. “A strong majority of the state believes in creationism,” the Tulsa World reported. “The poll showed that support for creationism was solid in almost every political and demographic subdivision.” Indeed, belief in creationism was higher among registered Democrats than registered Republicans.

Nevertheless, if you’re one of those “fanatics” whose religious convictions lead you to a particular view about abortion, or the death penalty, or the lottery, or taxation, or sex education in the classroom, don’t bother bringing your “religious viewpoints … into the Senate.” Unless you’re a member of the religious left.

How’s that for tolerance?

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» Liberal Tolerance Watch from Don Singleton

That is much better than the Secular Humanism that the public school pushes, where Christianity is something to be feared, and Judiasm something that is ignored, and where the only faith that might even be given any consideration is Islam, and then o... Read More


Dan Paden said:

The Fair Tax seems like a great idea to me; I've had a review of it half-written for over a month. The pitiful part is that it'll take a monumental upheaval in Washington to get it passed.

I got to hear part of the show; you always do a good job. I like Mr. DelGiorno, but it's also nice to be able to hear Gwen complete a sentence once in a while.

susan said:

P.J.'s reporting on Kathy Taylor is getting dull.

Kathy Taylor worked on Good Friday .. ...so did lots of people around Tulsa!

P.J.'s Sunday local story "No rest" for the newly elected ..... do you honestly think Kathy Taylor is not getting any rest? That is such a misleading statement.

Did Kathy Taylor purchase her new office furniture with her own money?

susan said:

You should have your own "Michael Bates" 30 minute radio talk show each day -- The Michael Bates radio talk show -- KFAQ 1170 should offer you a show.

Just think how interesting it would be each day to take a story out of the newspaper and discuss it with the real facts.

Bledsoe said:

Michael, because many of us on the left value your opinions on so many issues, I hope you will permit us to strongly disagree with you regarding Bernest Cain. I asked Gary Allison to draft the comments below. It is a sentiment in which I fully concur.

Greg Bledsoe

In Defense of Bernest Cain

Recently (April 14), Michael Bates attacked Senator Bernest Cain (Dem. OKC) on Radio (1170 KFAQ) and his blog site (http://www.batesline.com/archives/002512.html). His attack falsely accused Senator Cain of hating Christians by offering two irrelevant pieces of evidence. First, he decried Senator Cain's success in keeping Oklahoma's State Senate from voting on laws that would unconstitutionally interfere with women's Constitutional Rights to determine whether give birth. Second, he denounced a statement of Senator Cain's that referred to Adolf Hitler being able to get Christians to participate the Jewish Holocaust and expressed Senator Cain's concerns that atrocities are often committed when "you let the right wing of the Taliban come in and try to dictate to the State how we should run our business." Neither Senator Cain's opposition to unconstitutional restrictions on the right of women to determine whether to be pregnant, nor his historically accurate observations about how some Christians participated in the Holocaust and the dangers of church/state unification reflect hatred toward Christians.

Almost from our nation's founding, Americans have intensely debated whether women have the rights to determine whether to be pregnant or to give birth once becoming pregnant. This debate intensified after the United States Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that women have a conditional right to end their pregnancies before giving birth. As a result, a variety of views have been put forward, including the polar extremes--that all women are entitled to unrestricted access to birth control or that women should never be allowed to have birth control; that women may terminate their pregnancies at any time for any reason or that women may never terminate their pregnancies for any reason--and many variations in between them. Each of these views has had many Christian supporters and many Christian opponents. (By Christian, I mean a person who is a sincere adherent of a Christian denomination, regularly attends worship services and supports his/her Church's activities). Given this diversity of Christian views about birth control and abortion, support for or against any position on these issues cannot possibly be deemed pro-Christian or anti-Christian. Senator Cain's effective campaign to keep Oklahoma from enacting unconstitutional restrictions on access to birth control and on women's rights to determine whether to give birth shows him to be pro-Choice. It is not evidence of Christian-hating.

It is unfortunately true that Christians have participated in many atrocities, including the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust of World War II, and the religious civil war in Northern Ireland. Statements that remind us of these atrocities reflect a hatred of these sins, not a condemnation of an entire religion.

Moreover, most such statements are not simply about Christian wrong-doing but rather are a part of a broader warning about the dangers of not maintaining a healthy separation of church and state. The Cain statement Bates decries is such a statement, because it closes with a reference not to Christians but to the Taliban as a generalized statement of concern over attempts by some religious people to break down the United States' traditional church / state separation.

As such, it is in the tradition of James Madison's great "Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (http://www.lonang.com/exlibris/misc/remonstrance.htm), which contained the following condemnation of religious establishments:

"Because experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries, has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

A Framer of our First Amendment's Religious Freedom Clauses, Madison was certainly not a Christian-hater and neither is Bernest Cain.

In fact, those of us who have followed and revered Senator Cain's public service know that his every act as a State Senator has been guided by Jesus' call for us to help one another and especially to help those in need. Accordingly, Senator Cain has called on all of us to support policies consistent with Jesus' blessings on those who help the helpless, as stated in Mark 25, verses 34-40:

"Come, you who are blessed by my father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' "Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 14, 2006 4:06 PM.

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