January 2008 Archives

On Tuesday, I'm voting for whichever candidate has a shot at finishing first in Oklahoma ahead of John McCain. (At the moment, that appears to be Mike Huckabee.) I want to stop his momentum toward the nomination. Part of it is that I don't want anyone to steamroll to a majority of delegates by finishing first with only 35% of the vote in a bunch of states. Part of it is that none of the remaining candidates are consistent conservatives, and I'd like to give the delegates at the national convention the chance to come up with a better choice.

There are plenty of reasons to admire John McCain, both for his military service and his service in Congress. He is solid on the War on Terror. From a conservative perspective, he would still be a better pick for President than whoever the Democrats nominate. But there are plenty of reasons why a McCain presidency would be the worst of any realistic option remaining to Republican primary voters. Between now and Tuesday I'll post some of those reasons here. Here's the first one:

In 2001, when the GOP was hanging by a thread to a majority in the Senate, John McCain negotiated with Senate Democratic leaders about leaving the Republican Party and organizing with the Democrats, giving the Democrats the majority and putting key Senate committee chairmanships in the hands of extreme left-wingers. (Via Ace of Spades HQ.)

On January 31, 1958, the U. S. launched Explorer 1 into orbit, America's first successful satellite launch. The Soviets had already launched two Sputniks, including one with the dog Laika. Vanguard, our first attempt at matching the USSR, crashed and burned in December 1957. We could have beaten Sputnik into space, but President Eisenhower didn't want to use a military ballistic missile derived from the German V-2 for the civilian space program. When Vanguard failed, Wernher von Braun and his team at Redstone Arsenal got the go-ahead to use their Juno I rocket for Explorer I.

Cuffy Meigs has a blog entry about the Explorer I semicentennial, with newsreel clips (narrated by Ed Herlihy!) of the Vanguard disaster and the Explorer launch and links to more articles about the event.

(The Explorer launch newsreel also includes an item about the founding of the United Arab Republic, a union of Egypt and Syria, which began on February 1, 1958, and ended three years later.)

If you're interested in space history, you owe it to yourself to visit the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, one of the top space museums in the entire world, and just a four-hour drive from Tulsa. They have an excellent presentation of the Space Race between the United States and the USSR, starting with the German rocket program during World War II. The story is told with documents, text, movies, and artifacts, including a V-2, the Mercury Liberty Bell VII, Gemini X, and Apollo XIII capsules, and Soviet space vehicles and full-scale engineering models. The museum has the biggest collection of Soviet space artifacts outside the old Soviet Union.


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fake_pay-to-play_ad.jpg Via Michelle Malkin, I came across this Hawaiian political satire website called ZeroShibai.com. It may be the closest thing I've seen in the US to the quality of satire, tone, and wit you get in Britain's Private Eye. The humor is backed by what appears to be serious research on the issues. The website's perspective is anti-government-corruption, anti-racial-preferences, and anti-insider-deals. (Shibai is a local political term borrowed from Japanese and is used to mean lies.)

One of the biggest issues at the moment is a plan to create a Hawaiian native government, somewhat akin to tribal governments here in Oklahoma, which would control a large amount of Hawaiian land. According to the website, this new government would be funded by all taxpayers but would exist for the benefit of those with native Hawaiian heritage, and would duplicate services already provided by state and local governments. The lead article on January 31 (sorry, they don't seem to have permalinks for individual stories) suggests that the whole point is to leverage Haole guilt to create a bunch more phony-baloney jobs for political insiders.

The site got some heat from the state government over a satire of the "Kau Inoa" program that is enrolling native Hawaiians for eligibility to participate in the new tribal government.

ZeroShibai.com is worth visiting for a couple of reasons:

(1) The fake ads in the sidebar which skewer both political parties, the governor, Honolulu city government, developers, the teachers' union, and just about every other major interest group. A copy of one is on the right; I picked it because it's relevant to another story I hope to post later this evening.

(2) It's a great example of what local political satire could and should be. Imagine the sturdy research of OCPA or the Heritage Foundation, but delivered with biting wit. Maybe someone here in Tulsa could learn to do as well.

(3) If you're interested in sustainability, you'll want to read their front page item about agriculture in Hawaii by
David Wethington. What happens to Hawaii's food supply if there's a terrorist-related disruption on the mainland? As state government encourages more development at the expense of local agriculture, the situation is not self-sustaining.

Why all this chaos over a dock closing 2500 miles away? Because Hawaii has at best a 6 day supply of food in the wholesaler's warehouses - if there is no panic! Hawaii's governments at both county and state levels, have for decades stood by and watched local agriculture whither and die. Too many government officials, like many residents, have become addicted to the lifeline from the mainland. Now that the lifeline is cut, panic ensues and people die.

This does not need to happen! There is enough open land on Oahu, Molokai and Lanai that if turned to agricultural use, in time could supply the people of Hawaii with all the food they need. However, growing food takes time. Starting something the day of the West Coast dock closings is obviously far too late.

This author has said for decades that Hawaii is making several grave mistakes in our food management: The shackling of local agriculture; the conversion of huge tracts of ag land to residential; the ever growing dependence upon container ships to bring food to Hawaii; and the lack of any plan whatsoever of what to do in an emergency. We have no vast storehouses of food, just a few very vulnerable warehouses that will be exhausted in hours.

In combination, these actions have put Hawaii residents in danger. Only a very few understand this danger, the rest will find out only when their stomachs growl.

Oklahoma isn't as vulnerable as Hawaii, surrounded as it is by thousands of miles of ocean, but it's worth asking the question: If disaster or skyrocketing fuel prices made importing food into the state impossible, could we feed ourselves? For how long?

I just learned that one of my favorite barbecue places has a sparkling new website. Big Daddy's All American BBQ has locations at 46th St N. & Lewis, 11th & Garnett, Main Street in Jenks, and Houston & Aspen in Broken Arrow. (Earlier this month, the 11th & Garnett location moved across Garnett to the old Dairy Queen / Lot-A-Burger location next to Mazzio's.)

The food is not only delicious, it's a great value. My favorite, the pulled pork sandwich special, is $4.95 all day. (There aren't too many barbecue places in Tulsa that serve pulled pork.) It's a big pile of pulled pork between two pieces of white bread, with a generous serving of the side order of your choice and a fountain drink. You'll need a fork: There's so much meat that the bread will either fall apart or the meat will spill out. It is tender, moist, and nicely flavored.

Big Daddy's has ribs, too, and the standard range of barbecue meats, plus cajun boudain sausage, turkey, and chicken. There are stuffed baked potatoes with your choice of meats. For dessert, they've always got sweet potato pie and a choice of other treats.

Go check out the website, then stop by and treat yourself to some delicious barbecue at Big Daddy's.

(I know this entry must read like amateurish ad copy, but I have not received any compensation or freebies for writing this review. I just really like Big Daddy's food, and I can't believe how much you get for what you pay.)

Midtown Tulsa is on Preservation Oklahoma's 2008 list of the state's most endangered historic places.

Details will be released later tonight, along with the other locations on the list. Here's the Preserve Midtown press release:

Midtown Tulsa has been placed on Oklahoma's Most Endangered Historic Places List for 2008.

On Thursday, January 31, 2008, Preservation Oklahoma will announce the 2008 Endangered List at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum, 1400 Classen Drive, Oklahoma City, 6:00pm.

Since 1993, Preservation Oklahoma and the State Historic Preservation Office have sponsored the Most Endangered Historic Places List. It serves as a sample of the thousands of landmarks across Oklahoma in need of our attention. Three proposals were entered from Midtown Tulsa neighborhoods: Yorktown Homeowners Assoc., Maple Ridge Homeowner's Assoc and from the grassroots organization PreserveMidtown.

The purpose of this list is to inform a larger public about the property and to focus attention on the challenges historic places face. While the listing does not ensure the protection of the site or guarantee funding, the designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save these endangered sites.

Previous years' lists have included Downtown Tulsa and Route 66 motels. Tulsa is the site for the 2008 National Preservation Conference, presented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

At Tuesday's Republican caucuses in Tulsa County, a straw poll was taken. Here are the results:

Governor Mike Huckabee 28%
Governor Mitt Romney 27%
Congressman Ron Paul 25%
Senator John McCain 13%
Mayor Rudy Guiliani 4%
Congressman Tom Tancredo 1%
Congresman Duncan Hunter 1%
Alan Keyes .5%
Senator Fred Thompson .5%

You might notice that Congressman Paul had a strong showing of supporters at caucuses across the county -- more about that later.

The caucuses also selected delegates to the Tulsa County Convention on Feb. 23 and considered resolutions for the party platform. Note that the allocation of Oklahoma's delegates to the National Convention to presidential candidates is entirely dependent on the results of next Tuesday's primary.

A month with God

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Todd Seavey, a libertarian and atheist writer from New York, has mentioned in passing that February on his blog will be the "Month without God".

It got me thinking, and I think I'm going to make February here on BatesLine a Month with God.

A Month with God isn't intended as a response to Todd's idea -- anyway, I'm not really sure what he has in mind for his Month without God. It's more of a take-off or a spin-off. With Lent beginning on February 6th, it's a good fit.

The key word here is with. Christians believe that God is both transcendent and immanent, both infinitely beyond and above His creation and at the same time present with His people. One of the names given to the Messiah is Immanuel, which means "God with us." John the Evangelist wrote that God "became flesh and dwelt among us." Jesus promised His disciples that the Father would send another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to be with them forever. He told them after His resurrection that He would be with them always.

The transcendence and immanence of God are both affirmed in Scripture, but American evangelical spirituality tends to emphasize God's immanence nearly to the point of an over-familiar irreverence. Living here in Tulsa, the Word-Faith Capital of the World, God sometimes seems reduced to a being a combination of personal errand boy and Magic 8 Ball, handling all requests, no matter how trivial, and providing a constant stream of personal revelations to cover every decision, no matter how minor. I worked with a man who refused to set his alarm clock because he "had the faith" to believe that God would wake him up when He wanted him up.

When I swam the Rhine (or should that be the Forth?) and became a Calvinist, the pendulum swung the other direction, overreacting to the evangelical imbalance toward immanence with an imbalance toward transcendence. At times I feel I've become a practical Deist: God is sovereign, but it's hard to think of Him as being directly involved with or concerned with my day-to-day life.

The idea, then, behind a Month with God is to remember what God has said in His Word about His presence and His personal love and guidance in the lives of His people, and so to get that pendulum back where it ought to be in my own heart and mind. To that end, I intend to post something here in that vein each day in February -- a scripture passage, a hymn, an excerpt from devotional literature. Your suggestions are welcome, in the comments on this entry or by e-mail. We'll start on Friday.

To keep families in the center city, offer them real school choice. It's working in Cleveland:

When Citizens' Academy [a Cleveland charter school] surveyed its parents, more than 40 percent said the school -- consistently among the state's top performers -- played an integral role in their decision to remain in Cleveland. To Perry White, the East Side charter school's director, that means successful schools are as much an economic development issue as an education issue.

"To stem the exodus of families from Cleveland, we must leverage our best public schools -- charter and district -- as catalysts for creating neighborhoods of choice," White said. "The future of our city and region depends on it."

Josipa Peric can vouch for that. Peric, who works as a waitress, has a fourth-grader at Citizens'. Another son graduated from the school two years ago and was awarded a scholarship to attend University School, a prestigious private school.

Peric said she and her husband had planned to leave Cleveland and move to Eastlake with other Croatian immigrants. Through friends, they discovered Citizens' and transferred their two sons there from Catholic school. Now, they plan to stay in town and open a bakery here.

"We were planning to move, too, but the school is great," Peric said. "They are like family to us."

That kind of symbiotic relationship between parents and schools, which died in some neighborhoods decades ago, could be the greatest legacy of the charter movement.

When will Tulsa's business leaders -- people with an economic interest in the prosperity of the inner city -- start putting the pressure on our public school system to be more hospitable to charter schools?

Survey USA has a new tracking poll of 502 Oklahoma Republicans from Sunday which shows John McCain with 37%, Mike Huckabee with 28%, and Mitt Romney with 19%. That's an 11 point boost for Romney, a gain of 8 points for McCain, but a drop of only 3 points for Huckabee. Part of what we're seeing is the redistribution of Fred Thompson's 13% in the previous Survey USA poll from January 11-13. Giuliani's numbers also dropped from 11% to 6% -- I'd guess most of that went to McCain. The pollsters warn that Florida results today "can and will color what happens in Oklahoma and the other states voting on February 5. Expect further buffeting in future SurveyUSA tracking polls."

Keep an eye on the RealClearPolitics poll page for the Oklahoma Republican primary to see how the race develops.

Survey USA also polled Oklahoma Democrats -- Clinton leads with Edwards in second place. Clinton's margin has narrowed slightly in the last two weeks.

From a story in The Hill, about the possibility that John Edwards could be a kingmaker at the Democratic convention:

At the Democratic convention this August, delegates will be allowed to vote freely even if they are already pledged to a candidate, [Georgetown professor Stephen] Wayne explained. But he expected that Edwards's delegates would do his bidding.

Wayne said that Edwards's delegates have been "hand-picked" because of their loyalty.

"That loyalty would probably extend to the convention, though Democrats have a rule that would not impose loyalty," he explained.

Wayne, however, predicted that either Clinton or Obama would probably wrap up the nomination before the convention, but conceded "anything is possible."

If it's true that Democratic delegates aren't formally pledged to a candidate, that's news to me. In 1980, when Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter, Kennedy tried unsuccessfully to get a convention rule modified (rule 16(c), if memory serves) so that delegates were free to vote their conscience regardless of which candidate they had been bound to support.

Can anyone confirm whether Prof. Wayne is correct?

UPDATE: recyclemichael provides a link to this MyDD article, which cites specific party rules that seem to prove the point. And that article links to this August 12, 1980 New York Times article about Kennedy's rules maneuver at the 1980 convention. My memory was a bit off -- it was rule F(3)(c):

The rule that took force as a result of the vote reads as follows: F. Voting 3) Roll-Call Votes: (c) All delegates to the National Convention shall be bound to vote for the Presidential candidate whom they were elected to support for at least the first convention ballot, unless released in writing by the Presidential candidate. Delegates who seek to violate this rule may be replaced with an alternate of the same Presidential preference by the Presidential candidate or that candidate's authorized representative(s) at any time up to and including the Presidential balloting at the national convention.

You know that uneasy feeling when you've got a stomach virus? When your stomach is churning and you hope if you lie quietly it'll go away and be spared a disgusting and messy situation?

You know that feeling of relief when you finally expel what's been troubling you? That's the way many Oklahoma Republican insiders feel today at the news that State Rep. Lance Cargill has resigned as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Better out than in.

The direct cause of the resignation was revelations this week about Cargill's failure to file income taxes and pay property taxes in a timely fashion. This latest scandal was on top of alleged "pay for play" practices that began during his tenure as House Majority Leader, an investigation into the apparent movement of money between campaign funds to skirt fundraising limits, and rumors of immoral behavior at the State Capitol.

While many in the House Republican caucus have long had the desire to oust Cargill, it took a tax violation, just as it did with Al Capone, to force him out.

The honorable Republicans who went to Oklahoma City to change our political culture and help our state move forward saw Cargill endangering that project with his fundraising practices, which served his ambitions more than state government reform.

Last fall we learned that Cargill had raised $250,000 for his re-election campaign in the first six months of 2007. Here's how he did it, an example of the pay-for-play process at work:

Last legislative session, Cargill sponsored an ethics bill to outlaw campaign money from being given to lawmakers inside the state Capitol.

At the same time Cargill was proposing reforms, he was calling lobbyists at 15- minute intervals to the Oklahoma City office of Fount Holland, who conducts numerous Republican political campaigns. Cargill was asking lobbyists how much they would contribute to the House PAC, his own campaign and two other GOP-related entities.

The speaker said at the time that the meetings involved "potential contributors who we meet with all the time to try and raise financial support for our political efforts."

Something I wrote after the 2006 election, about the struggle in the Republican Party between fair-dealers and wheeler-dealers is worth revisiting today:

But there are worrisome signs that Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature are about to travel the same perilous path as their congressional counterparts.

Last Thursday the newly-elected House Republican Caucus reaffirmed Lance Cargill of Harrah as their nominee for Speaker of the House, choosing Cargill over Oklahoma City Rep. Mike Reynolds. Some Republican capitol insiders are worried about the result, seeing the potential for an Oklahoma version of the corrupt "favor factory" that brought down the Republican majority in Congress.

A series of articles in our sister publication, the Oklahoma Gazette, Ok City's alternative newsweekly, earlier this year explored lobbyist complaints that Cargill was running a "pay for play" system via his leadership PAC, Republican PAC to the Future.

Cargill, as House majority leader, controlled the flow of legislation, and the message came through loud and clear that if a lobbyist wanted his client's bill heard, he'd have to bring in some contributions to Cargill's PAC.

Cargill was dumped as majority leader in March. Behind the scenes, it's said that his abrasive leadership style and fundraising tactics were the reasons for the ouster.

Once freed from leadership responsibilities, Cargill, I am told, worked on using his accumulated PAC cash to win friends in the caucus. In June he won an election for speaker-designate, an election marked by irregularities and arm-twisting. Legislators feared losing important committee assignments or drawing a primary opponent in the next election if they openly opposed Cargill.

Already in the last legislature we saw questionable bills--special deals for special people, not sound policy--find their way through the process. There was the attempt to craft tax credits like those used for Great Plains Airlines to benefit someone who wants to redevelop Shangri-La resort. There were attempts by developers to use state law to override local zoning and planning ordinances.

These dodgy bills made it through most of the legislative process before they were discovered by citizens and stopped. They got as far as they did, winning cosponsors and floor votes, because legislators believed their colleagues, who told them, "Don't worry, this is nothing controversial."

It took a last-minute bipartisan public outcry to stop the bills.

Good riddance to Lance Cargill. Let's hope the Republican Caucus chooses a replacement with no ties to Cargill's machine.

MORE: Stay tuned to the McCarville Report for more developments from the State Capitol.

Long live the King

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Nobody loves me but my mother.
She could be jivin', too.

My wife and I had the pleasure of attending a performance tonight by the Undisputed King of the Blues, B. B. King. Mr. King is 82, but you'd have never known it. He was in fine, strong voice for a nearly two-hour performance. So was Lucille, his Gibson guitar. In between songs, he chatted with the audience like we were all sitting around the living room. His set included "Every Day I Have the Blues," "Nobody Loves Me But My Mother," "When Love Comes To Town," "Blues Man," "Rock Me, Baby," and, for a finale, "The Thrill Is Gone." At one point, he led the men in the audience in singing "You Are My Sunshine" and asked the ladies to give their men a kiss in response. His eight-piece blues band -- two trumpets, two saxes, drums, keyboards, guitar, and bass -- kicked things off with two instrumental pieces, somewhere between swing and blues, before B. B. made his entrance.

Sunday night he'll be performing in Eureka Springs, then Salina, Kansas, before heading into the Great Lakes states. He'll be back in this part of the country in April, with a date at Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth. The tour goes on into July.

Opening act was the Scott Ellison Band. Ellison is a terrific blues guitarist. As good as they were, I assumed the band must be touring with B. B. King, but they're from right here in Tulsa. Click that link for a list of the band's upcoming dates around Tulsa -- definitely worth going to hear.

MORE: Here's a review of B. B. King's performance in Chico, Calif., about a week ago. And click here to see a video from 1993 of B. B. King performing "The Thrill Is Gone." And here's one more, from 1968. The second song from this set is one he played tonight -- "I've Got a Mind to Give Up Living":

For nearly ten years, I've been urging Tulsa to enact a neighborhood conservation district ordinance. Sometimes they're called urban conservation districts or some other name, but these zoning districts are aimed at ensuring that new development in an established neighborhood is compatible with existing development. Unlike a historic preservation district, a conservation district doesn't require exterior features to reflect a particular style or era. Instead, conservation districts focus on issues like size, setbacks, height, and location of parking. Oklahoma City has had conservation districts since the early '80s, and the practice was expanded to cover areas like Bricktown and near-downtown mixed-use districts in the late '90s.

Conservation districts can also be used in unique areas of the city that need special protection -- for example, Tulsa ought to have design guidelines for development along the Arkansas River, so we don't wind up with more convenience stores that turn their backs to the river.

Conservation districts were discussed by Mayor Susan Savage's Infill Development Task Force, but she flinched at implementation. The idea has been slowly gaining momentum in the intervening years, particularly as the composition of the City Council has become more neighborhood-friendly and as more neighborhood associations realize that our current zoning laws do little to protect the essential qualities of their neighborhoods.

Monday night, Tulsa City Councilor Maria Barnes, who represents an area that could greatly benefit from conservation districts, is hosting a neighborhood leader meeting on the topic on Monday, January 28. It will be held at the Central Community Center in Centennial Park, 1028 E. 6th, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. TMAPC member and Yorktown neighborhood resident Michelle Cantrell, Susan McKee from the Coalition of Historic Neighborhoods, and Steve Novick of Preserve Midtown will be among the speakers. It's a good opportunity to learn about how the concept is used in other cities and how it might be applied in Tulsa.

Speaking of Councilor Barnes, I want to take this opportunity to address a strange rumor being floated around town. Someone is claiming that I am running her re-election campaign. (And they're saying it as if it would be a black mark on her!)

I am not running anyone's campaign. I don't have the time or the organizational skills to run anyone's campaign. Last time around I volunteered my time to help friends like Rick Westcott, Jim Mautino, John Eagleton, and Chris Medlock who were running for city office. Westcott and Eagleton were re-elected without opposition and Mautino and Medlock are retired from politics, so none of them need my help this time out.

Maria Barnes is a friend of mine, too. We became acquainted through the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, and for many years we served together as officers. I was proud to have her endorsement when I ran for City Council in 2002. I was happy to endorse her in her Democratic primary race against Jack Wing in 2006.

Just a handful of Tulsa's city councilors were first neighborhood activists and leaders. Terry Doverspike, Roscoe Turner, Jim Mautino, and Maria Barnes are the only names that come to mind. These are people who came into office having already dealt with code enforcement, INCOG, the Board of Adjustment, the TMAPC, and other city departments. I haven't always agreed with those councilors, but on the whole, I think it's a good thing to have that kind of experience and perspective on the City Council.

I'm happy to have a number of friends on the City Council and proud to count Maria Barnes in that number. I've spoken to her a couple of times on the phone recently, and I've also spoken to a couple of her opponents. I'm happy to talk to anyone running for city office who wants to pick my brain about city issues. But I'm not running Maria's campaign or anyone else's.

MORE: Here's a collection of links to past BatesLine and Urban Tulsa Weekly items about conservation districts. (The legislative bills mentioned would have damaged a city's ability to enact and enforce historic preservation districts and neighborhood conservation districts.)

November 2003: Hiding the agenda
December 2003: Even McDonald's can blend in
January 2004: Tom Baker: A bureaucrat to the core
January 2005: The video game test
January 2005: Historic non-preservation
July 2004: Whirled calls demolitions "improvements"
July 2005: Not so Safeway
February 2006: UrbanTulsa.com - 2006 City Council Questionnaire
April 2006: Mayoral responses to the Urban Tulsa Weekly questionnaire
May 2006: SB 1324 is still lurking
May 2006: UrbanTulsa.com - An Eye on City Hall
May 2006: Citizens' Commission starts winding down; SB 1324 update
May 2006: SB 1324, HB 2559, Susan Neal, and non-partisan elections
January 2007: Neal down and prey
October 2007: October 16th forum on neighborhood conservation and teardowns
November 2007: Conserving Midtown neighborhoods

Jackie Broyles is heartbroken, but Dunlap is determined to "take Fred Thompson and make Fred Thompson-aid":

You can bid on Jackie's painting of Fred on eBay. Don't miss the Q&A.

"Don't you want to see an old man's searing pain turned into a colorful conversation piece?"

A bit of 1970s British comedy to start the day: Marty Feldman brings his unusual pet to the veterinarian; Tim Brooke-Taylor plays the straight man.

"I looked him up in the Cattle Breeders Guide. He wasn't in there. I looked him up in the Standard British Book of Birds. He wasn't in there either. I finally found him in the Book of Revelation."

(Via Mark Evanier.)

Farewell, Fred

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It's official:

Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people.

James Taranto provides the traditional Bye-Ku:

They called him "tortoise"
But now the man with no hair
Has got out of ours

(That page has links to earlier Bye-Kus, and this page has Bye-Kus from 2004.)

For all the talk about lethargy and fire in the belly, what really seemed to be missing from the Thompson campaign was effective organization. Even for something as small scale as a race for City Council, you need someone with organizational skills and preferably some past campaign experience -- some idea of what needs to happen and when. There also has to be effective communication and coordination, and all this needs to be handled by someone other than the candidate, so that the candidate can focus on raising funds and meeting voters.

Supporters of Thompson are offering up numerous anecdotes that confirm that impression of the Fred 08 campaign. Fred had plenty of admirers who offered skills, time, and access to publicity, but the campaign had no effective means of harnessing all that good will.


I sent off a resume to the campaign in, oh, seems like about May, and never heard from them. Not even a thanks for your interest. I'd like to think there were a couple of things on my resume that would have caught their eye, and I was ready to move out of California (no great loss) but whatever. Obviously it didn't dampen my convictions that Fred was the right guy. Two weeks ago I was contacted about volunteering in California--speaking to media, that kind of thing--and I responded I'd be happy to. Nothing. Crickets.

Bryan Preston:

Early in the Fred Phenomenon I tried and tried and tried to lock in a sit-down with Fred to talk to Michelle on camera. This was last spring and summer, before his official announcement that he was even jumping in, when he lived in McLean, VA and wasn't running around the country campaigning. We were offering time here on Hot Air to make his case and show his stuff. But we could never get a straight answer out of the campaign. And this was in spite of the fact that I was promised more than once that we would get an interview, it was just a question of timing and logistics. It wasn't a case of getting the runaround. It just, from the outside, felt like there were an awful lot of moving parts that hadn't been attached to a functional machine yet.

It's surprising to me that the Thompson campaign never held (as far as I know) a teleconference to keep supportive bloggers in the loop -- many other campaigns have.

During the three-day filing period for the Oklahoma primary back in December, I became concerned when, at the end of the second day, Thompson's name wasn't on the list of candidates who had filed. I wanted to make sure the deadline hadn't escaped the campaign's attention, so I decided to call someone.

I went to the fred08.com website and could not find any contact information for a national campaign office. There were campaign offices listed for Iowa and New Hampshire, so I called the New Hampshire office. The apathetic-sounding young man on the phone said that the office's director was out, didn't know when he would be back, and not to worry, he was sure that the campaign knew about the situation and would take care of it.

I got better results when I called the Iowa office and spoke to a young woman who happened to be a native Tulsan. She promised to make some calls and to get back to me -- and she actually did. An e-mail to Steven Smith, who ran the Blogs for Fred mailing list, also got a quick response -- the campaign had filed already but had just learned that there was a problem with the paperwork.

At a Christmas reception I ran into a prominent Republican activist who had signed on early as a point of contact for the campaign in Oklahoma. I asked him how things were going and he gave me a kind of disgruntled shrug. He was hearing crickets, too.

About a week and a half ago I was contacted by Jamison Faught of the Muskogee County Republican Club. They were putting on a presidential forum, with representatives speaking on behalf of the Republican candidates. I was asked if I could show up that night to speak on Fred's behalf. Jamison told me that he had asked the Thompson campaign a month earlier to line up a speaker, and they contacted him the day before the forum to tell him they couldn't get anyone to do it. So Jamison took it upon himself to contact me and some other known Thompson supporters in Oklahoma to see if someone could step in at the last minute.

Remember that Thompson had been endorsed by Sen. Jim Inhofe, Congressman John Sullivan, Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud, former GOP state chairman Steve Edwards, and KFAQ morning hosts Gwen Freeman and Chris Medlock. Other activists and bloggers had announced their support for him. I'm amazed that the campaign did not have a list of available surrogates and well-connected activists to contact when opportunities like this arose. Not that I'm anything special, but I can string a few sentences together, and I have a means for getting information out. Within a few days of receiving a request for a speaker, Fred's supporters in Oklahoma should have heard from the campaign asking if we knew of anyone who could speak on his behalf at this event.

Steve Largent's 2002 campaign for governor had a similar problem. The professional campaign folks didn't seem to know what to do with the grassroots types who wanted to help Steve get elected. Contrast that with the Tom Coburn campaign two years later, which was very effective in leveraging grassroots support.

If any campaign should have been a model for Thompson, it was Coburn's successful campaign for Senate. Coburn entered the race reluctantly and late, in response to a great deal of encouragement from activists who were less than enthused about Kirk Humphreys. I wish I'd thought to make that point to someone in the campaign last summer, but I'm not sure I could have found the right person to carry that message where it needed to go.

For most of Fred's supporters (but not for all) the campaign's failure to plug us in effectively didn't dampen our desire to see him get elected. Thompson holds the right positions on nearly all the issues, and those positions have a solid underpinning in sound principle. Even when he's wrong on an issue, it's a difference of opinion on the application of a principle, not on the principle itself.

I'm sorry he's dropping out. He's still on the Oklahoma ballot, and I may still vote for him, but that will depend on how Florida affects the race. If a tactical vote for a different candidate can deprive the post-Florida front-runner of some delegates and momentum, I'll do that, as I think an open convention would be the best outcome for the Republicans this year.

MORE: Dan Paden weighs his options and settles on Huckabee.

Ace agrees about the core of Fred's appeal and tells Romney what he will have to do to pick up those voters:

A lot of former Fred supporters, and possible Romney supporters generally, acknowledge that Romney says mostly the right things. The trouble is, he seems to offer these glibly as crowd-pleasing platitudes, and they're not sure if he actually believes them.

Fred, I think, had a lot of enthusiasm because he didn't just say the right thing, he gave the right reason for believing the right thing (and the right subsidiary reason for believing the right reason). His conservatism, to many, was deeper. He didn't just have the conservative answer, but the underlying conservative assumptions supporting that answer.

If Mitt wants to seal the deal with a lot of conservatives out there, he'll offer a "What I Believe" type internet address, maybe 15 or even 20 minutes long, explaining his thinking. Not just the surface conservative conclusions, but the underlying conservative thinking. Heartfelt and inartful (not so much smiling, few applause lines, generally stodgy and somewhat wonky (at least in broad principles, not techno-wonky) and designed to appeal to conservative political geeks, not a general audience) would be the right tone.

Ace also has this intriguing entry on the "Dark Star" effect in political reporting: A reporter is made privy to a rumor about a candidate, believable but not substantial enough to report. He lets his colleagues in on the rumor, and it necessarily affects their attitude toward and coverage of the subject of the rumor, just as a large but invisible object like a black hole or dark star bends gravity. The effect can only be seen indirectly:

But the press also seems to suffer from the non-political bias of thinking they know more than they actually know, behaving as if a fact is "confirmed" when it hasn't been confirmed at all. And they don't actually print these Phantom Facts, knowing there's no actual confirmation of them -- technically abiding by the rules of journalism. But then they shape their coverage to reflect these unconfirmed Phantom Facts, putting these little nuggets of non-information out there through slant and angle.

Wouldn't it be far more honest to admit to this stuff right up front? Is it more "fair" or "honest" for the press to keep the rumors and beliefs secret from the public (and immune to refutation) while allowing these exact same rumors and beliefs to shape, distort, and (mis)inform its actual published news product?

"Immune to refutation" is key -- if the rumor isn't public, how can a candidate effectively rebut or refute it?

The rumor in Thompson's case is this, according to Fox News' Carl Cameron:

Back in March of 07 at the CPAC convention in DC several former Fred Thompson Congressional staffers told me Fred Thompson was thinking about a run. Some of his Tennessee cronies had been talking him up too.

I reported first that he was eyeing a White House bid. At the time several insiders told me OFF THE RECORD that it was largely a trial ballon to guage his popularity and float his name as a possible vice presidential nominee. I was sworn to silence.

Those insiders have now lifted the conditions on our conversations. From March to August of 07 through postponed announcement days, staff changes, firings, resignations and general disarray the Thompson camp was stunned by the incredibly positive response and didn't really know how to manage it. The trial balloon soared mighty high and he found himself being dragged into a race that he was not even sure how to run.

Today is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that overturned restrictions and prohibitions on abortion in all 50 states.

To mark the day, there's a special Blogs for Life event happening at Family Research Council HQ in Washington, overlooking the annual March for Life. Kevin McCullough, who can be heard on BlogTalkRadio and read online at Townhall.com is broadcasting live from Blogs for Life today at 1 p.m. Central Time. The live call-in number is (347) 205-9765.

There are two fronts (at least) in the fight to protect innocent human life in the womb -- the political front and the hearts-and-minds front. We are closer than ever to having a Federal judiciary that recognizes Roe v. Wade and its companion decision Doe v. Bolton as, in Fred Thompson's phrase, "bad law and bad medicine." Sadly, the prospects of progress on the political front in the Federal realm are not looking good right now. (There's still hope of progress on the margins in states like Oklahoma, where pro-life bills have enjoyed broad bipartisan support and newly installed Republican committee chairmen have allowed those bills to progress.)

But if you follow the BatesLine linkblog, you've already seen that there is encouraging news on the hearts-and-minds front. Stephen Chapman's latest column, "The Growing Aversion to Abortion," shows changes in attitudes reflected in public polls and a declining abortion rate:

In 2003, Gallup found, one of every three kids from age 13 to 17 said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. More revealing yet is that 72 percent said abortion is 'morally wrong.'... The report on abortion rates from the Guttmacher Institute suggests that the evolution of attitudes has transformed behavior. Since 1990, the number of abortions has dropped from 1.61 million to 1.21 million. The abortion rate among women of childbearing age has declined by 29 percent.... In 1990, 30.4 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion. Last year, the figure was 22.4 percent.

Chapman presents one explanation for the shift in opinion:

This growing aversion to abortion may be traced to better information. When the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, most people had little understanding of fetal development. But the proliferation of ultrasound images from the womb, combined with the dissemination of facts by pro-life groups, has lifted the veil. In the new comedy "Juno," a pregnant 16-year-old heads for an abortion clinic, only to change her mind after a teenage protester tells her, "Your baby probably has a beating heart, you know. It can feel pain. And it has fingernails."

"Juno" has been faulted as a "fairy tale" that sugarcoats the realities of teen pregnancy. But if it's a fairy tale, that tells something about how abortion violates our most heartfelt ideals -- and those of our adolescent children. Try to imagine a fairy tale in which the heroine has an abortion and lives happily ever after.

On a partly personal note: One of the speakers at this morning's Blogs for Life session was author Dawn Eden. It was three years ago today that she and I were in Oklahoma City at a blogger bash, a chance for her to meet a number of blogpals she had made here in the state. It was a tough time in her life: Just four days before, she had been fired from her job as a copy editor at the New York Post, mainly because of the ardent pro-life views she expressed on her blog.

As that door closed, many others opened. Since that time, Dawn has published a highly regarded and successful book on chastity for single young adult women and has had the opportunity to speak to groups across the U.S. and overseas. It's exciting to see how God has given her ever-broadening scope to use her gifts to influence and educate on important issues, such as the sanctity of human life, which are dear to her heart. On the acknowledgments page of her book, she mentions the editor who fired her and the reporter who pushed for her firing and cites Genesis 50:20: "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."

You'll want to check out her recent entry, Supreme Irony.

MORE: In a lovely "coincidence," the Academy Awards nominations came out today and Juno, notable for its pro-life elements, was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (for Jason Reitman), Best Actress (Ellen Page), and Original Screenplay (Diablo Cody).

If you don't know about the case of Ezra Levant, you should. Here is his account of when he was called before the Alberta Human Rights Commission to respond to complaints from radical Muslim leaders that he had published the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammed in his magazine two years ago.

I told [human rights officer Shirlene McGovern] that the complaint process itself was a punishment. Even if I was eventually acquitted, I would still lose -- hundreds of hours, and tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills. That's not an accident, that's one of the tools of these commissions. Every journalist in the country has been taught a lesson: Censor yourself now, or be put through a costly wringer. I said all this and then Officer McGovern replied, "You're entitled to your opinions, that's for sure."

But that's not for sure, is it? We're only entitled to our opinions now if they don't offend some very easily offended people.

One of the complainants against me is someone I would describe as a radical Muslim imam, Syed Soharwardy. He grew up in the madrassas of Pakistan and he lectures on the Saudi circuit. He advocates sharia law for all countries, including Canada. His website is rife with Islamic supremacism -- offensive to many Canadian Jews, gentiles, women and gays. But his sensitivities -- his Saudi-Pakistani values -- have been offended by me.

And so now the secular government of Alberta is enforcing his fatwa against the cartoons.

It's the same for Mohamed Elmasry, the complainant against Maclean's magazine for publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book, America Alone. Egyptian-born Elmasry has publicly said that any adult Jew in Israel is a legitimate target for a terrorist attack, a grossly offensive statement.

Both the Canadian and B.C. Human Rights Commissions are now hearing his complaints against Maclean's.

Here's the ironic part: The laws that the Muslim extremists are exploiting to suppress criticism of Islam by a publisher who is Jewish were put in place at the urging of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who intended the laws to target people Levine describes as "invariably poor, unorganized, harmless neo-Nazi cranks and conspiracy theorists."

Levine says that Soharwardy tried to have him arrested three times; the police refused, but the human rights commission was happy to take up the case.

What a strange place Canada is in 2008, where the police care more about human rights than the human rights commissions do, where fundamentalist Muslims use hate-speech laws drafted by secular Jews, and where a government bureaucrat can interrogate a publisher for 90 minutes, and be shocked when he won't shake her hand in greeting.

You can see clips of Levant's appearance before the human rights interrogator and more information about the situation on his website, ezralevant.com.

UPDATE: iowahawk has captured the situation with this spoof of Thought Crime Commissar McGovern's report of the interrogation of Levine.

James Lileks asks a reasonable question:

But what if we could move the same number of people for 25% of the cost? Would it be acceptable if the ride took 25% longer? I'm talking about buses. (Again.) Light rail is much nicer than buses, of course, and that's why people want the state to spend huge sums of money on the project. It's simply cool to see a light rail train sliding up to the new high-tech station; it's not cool to see a bus lumber up to the curb chuffing and sighing, disgorging passengers by a busted bench and a bent sign. Light rail makes people feel modern and urban and part of a smart, well-managed community, and that's why we're willing to spend billions on these lines, even at the expense of other transit options. It's all emotional.

Via Dustbury. You can read my recent UTW column about rail transit here.

State of the race

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Moxie is puzzled:

I'm having a tough time understanding exactly WHO is voting in the Republican primaries and caucuses. Because it should be Republicans.

How is it that McCain, Romney and Huckabee keep winning, when good, solid conservatives like Duncan Hunter, Fred "sleepy" Thompson and RUDY barely register?

I wouldn't count Rudy as a good, solid conservative, but still, she has a point.

We haven't had one primary yet in which only registered Republicans are allowed to vote.

New Hampshire has registration by party, but allowed independents ("undeclared voters") to vote in either primary.

Michigan and South Carolina don't have registration by party. Michigan's Democratic primary was meaningless, so Democrats would have been tempted to vote in the Republican primary. South Carolina's Democratic primary isn't until next Saturday, so centrists may have decided to go ahead and vote in the Republican primary.

Florida's is the first primary where you must be a registered Republican to vote in the Republican primary.

Tonight's result is interesting because it appears that McCain and Huckabee each won three of South Carolina's six congressional districts. Huckabee won everything north of I-20 toward the mountains; McCain won everything to the south toward the ocean.

South Carolina is winner-take-all by congressional district. It is also one of the states that has been penalized with the loss of half its delegates for going too early, but it's not clear whether the lost delegates will be taken from the statewide delegates or from the congressional district delegates. If it's the former, then Huckabee wins 9 delegates and McCain wins 15. If it's the latter, then Huckabee wins 3 and McCain wins 21. I'm going to bet that the former method is used, but it may depend on which candidate has the most supporters in the state's Republican hierarchy.

CNN is keeping a delegate count and they are kind enough to show their work, detailing which delegates come from which states. I think they're wrong, however, in estimating the makeup of Iowa and Nevada delegations based on straw poll results at their caucuses. The preferences of the actual delegates elected to the convention won't be determined until those delegates are elected in April (for Nevada) and June (for Iowa).

An accurate delegate count should only include those delegates who are bound by primary results plus the announced preferences of delegates who have already been elected to go to the national convention. That means delegates bound by the New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina primaries, plus the announced (but unbound) preferences of the 12 national delegates elected by Wyoming's county conventions two weeks ago, plus any announced (but unbound) preferences of Republican National Committee members who are national convention delegates ex officio.

NH: McCain 7, Romney 4, Huckabee 1
MI: Romney 20, McCain 7, Huckabee 3
SC: McCain 15, Huckabee 9

So that's McCain 29, Romney 24, Huckabee 13.

Add in the
Wyoming results: 9 of the delegates elected at their county conventions said they support Romney, 3 said they support Thompson, and 1 said he supports Hunter. They are free to change their minds between now and the national convention in September, and they may well do so. Adding them in anyway, we get to Romney 33, McCain 29, Huckabee 13, Thompson 3, Hunter 1.

CNN says they've surveyed RNC members and 6 support Romney, 3 support Huckabee, and 1 supports Giuliani. They are free to change their minds before the convention.

I wonder if CNN is only surveying RNC members who have already been re-elected. Two of Oklahoma's three RNC members won't be running for re-election; their replacements will be elected in May at the state convention.

Still, counting those in, we end up at Romney 39, McCain 29, Huckabee 16, Thompson 3, Hunter 1, Giuliani 1. 1,191 is how many you need to be nominated.

So McCain leads in terms of bound delegates, Romney leads when you include elected, unbound delegates who have announced a preference.

Florida's 57 delegates will go to the candidate with the highest vote total -- winner-take-all statewide.

On February 5, here's how it breaks down. (Delegates bound by the primary vote listed in parentheses. * means RNC members are bound.)

Winner-take-all, statewide: Arizona (50), Connecticut (27), Delaware (24*), Montana (25*), Missouri (58*), New Jersey (52*), New York (87), Utah (36*), West Virginia (18)

Winner-take-all, statewide and by congressional district: California (170), Georgia (72), Oklahoma (38)

Proportional allocation: Alabama (45), Arkansas (31), Massachusetts (40), North Dakota (26*), Tennessee (40)

Elected, but unbound: Illinois (57)

Montana and West Virginia are odd cases. Montana holds county conventions involving about 2,000 party officials statewide. A presidential preference poll will be taken and the winner will control all 25 delegates. West Virginia is holding a state convention. A roll call will be taken and if no one has 50% or more, they hold a second ballot with the top three candidates, and if necessary hold a third ballot with the top two. The candidate that prevails takes 18 delegates. Nine more will be allocated in the May primary.

Illinois has a "beauty contest" primary, but voters also elect national delegates, whose presidential preferences will be listed on the ballot. It appears that, like the Wyoming delegates, presidential preference may help a delegate get elected, but he isn't bound to stay with that preference at the convention.

So that's 812 more delegates bound and another 57 elected but not bound on Super Duper Tuesday.

The Oklahoman is reporting that State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan and his wife Lori McMahan have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges which include racketeering, conspiracy, and fraud.

The nine-count indictment alleges Jeff and Lori McMahan received jewelry, trips and excessive contributions to Jeff McMahan's first campaign in 2002.

In return, the auditor granted special favors to former abstract company owner Steve Phipps, according to the indictment.

McMahan's office regulated the abstract industry until Jan. 1. The Legislature last year created a separate agency for that purpose amid reports of McMahan's ties to Phipps.

It's interesting: The Oklahoman story notes that McMahan is the second statewide official to be indicted on corruption charges in recent years -- Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher was indicted in 2004 and is now doing time. I find it strange that the Oklahoman doesn't also mention that both of these officials are Democrats.

UPDATE: The Tulsa Whirled didn't name that party either.

YouTube has already succumbed to the Church of Scientology's pressure, but you can still see the nine-and-a-half minute video of "Tom Cruise on Tom Cruise, Scientologist" on Gawker. (Via Wizbang.) Here's what Gawker has to say:

You have to watch this video. It shows Tom Cruise, with all the wide-eyed fervor that he brings to the promotion of a movie, making the argument for Scientology, the bizarre 20th-century religion. Making the argument is an understatement. The Hollywood actor, star of movies such as Mission Impossible, is a complete fanatic. "When you're a Scientologist, and you drive by an accident, you know you have to do something about it, because you know you're the only one who can really help... We are the way to happiness. We can bring peace and unite cultures." There's much much more. Let me put it this way: if Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch was an 8 on the scale of scary, this is a 10.

If you want to save a copy for yourself, here's a download link. And here's one for another segment of the same video, about his setting up a Scientology detox center in Manhattan after the September 11, 2001, attacks. (It's still on YouTube.) And another one of his speech at an awards ceremony, in which he speaks to dead L. Ron Hubbard. (It's also still on YouTube.) Right-click on the links and "save target as." (You'll need a player like VLC which can play .flv files.)

Congratulations to City Auditor Phil Wood and City Councilors Rick Westcott, Bill Martinson, and John Eagleton on their re-election. Filing for city office has closed and no opponents filed in those races.

There will be four primaries in three districts -- Democrats in Districts 1, 4, and 8, and Republicans in District 4. The winner of the District 1 primary will be elected. There will be five general elections -- Districts 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9. For your reference, here's a handy-dandy printable tournament bracket in PDF format (73 KB).

Here's the official list from the Tulsa County Election Board website:


Phil Wood
3622 South Yorktown Place
Tulsa, OK 74105


Jack Ross Henderson
2014 N Rosedale
Tulsa, OK 74127

Emanuel Bernard Lewis
527 East Seminole Street
Tulsa, OK 74106

Mike McConnell
2455 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74106


Rick Dalton Westcott
2508 W 68 Pl
Tulsa, OK 74136


Roscoe Harry Turner Sr.
3415 E Haskell St
Tulsa, OK 74115

David Edward Patrick
5712 E. Tecumseh
Tulsa, OK 74115


Rocky R. Frisco
1332 S. Florence Place.
Tulsa, OK 74104

Maria Veliz Barnes
1319 S Terrace Dr
Amended 01/15/08 Tulsa, OK 74104

Jason Eric Gomez
2716 East 13th St
Tulsa, OK 74104

Jay M. Matlock
1124 S. Columbia Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74104

John Lee Nidiffer
4731 E. 22nd Pl.
Tulsa, OK 74114


William Edward Martinson, Jr.
3521 S. Darlington Ave
Tulsa, OK 74135


Dennis K. Troyer
12811 E. 13th Place
Tulsa, OK 74128

Kevin Leroy Boggs
1127 S. 157th East Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74108


John M. Eagleton
5748 E. 62nd St.
Tulsa, OK 74136


William L. Christiansen
5106 E 86th Place
Tulsa, OK 74137

Austin Hansen
10081 S. Sheridan Rd. #817
Tulsa, OK 74133


G. T. Bynum
3607 S. Florence Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74105

Paul Tay
4004 S Toledo
Tulsa, OK 74135

Philip Morgan Kates
4604 E 32nd ST
Tulsa, OK 74135

Roger Lowry
4623 S St Louis Ave
Tulsa, OK 74105

Earlier tonight, Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes interviewed Sen. Fred Thompson on their Fox News program. Hannity kept coming back to horse-race type questions and to the baseless allegation that Thompson, in taking on Mike Huckabee during last Thursday's debate, was only acting as a stalking horse for John McCain.

Hannity asked three times, in one form or another, whether Thompson would now "go after McCain," who is leading in the South Carolina polls. Each time, Thompson replied that he already has been drawing distinctions between his positions and McCain's, had done so during Thursday's debate, and would continue to do so. He pointed out that Huckabee had been in the lead before Thursday and so that's where he focused his attention, but not exclusively. Thompson's response was clear, and it debunked the idea that he was somehow in cahoots with McCain.

Just a few minutes ago, at about 11:30 central, Hannity was interviewing Newt Gingrich, and Hannity said that he'd asked Thompson three times if he was going to go after McCain, but Thompson didn't answer the question.

I can't find video of either interview yet, but I'm sure they'll be posted, and I'll add links here when they are available. In the meantime, Hot Air has video of Thompson from Fox News (you know, Hannity's channel) and a transcript of his conversation with Glenn Beck, both from earlier today, making it clear where he thinks McCain is wrong on the issues.

If Hannity had been watching his own network, he wouldn't have badgered Thompson for no good reason or gone on to mischaracterize the interview.

I've become accustomed to checking RealClearPolitics every day for the latest polling numbers for key early primary states, and as a Fred Thompson supporter, I was anxious to see the impact of his stellar performance at last Thursday night's Fox News debate on the South Carolina polling numbers.

All other signs say that it made a difference. The campaign met and far exceeded its fundraising goal to pay for TV, radio, and voter contact efforts in South Carolina. (They've upped the goal twice and need $75,000 to meet that third goal of $1,000,000 raised in a week.) There are reports of standing-room-only crowds and people being turned away from his campaign appearances. Hundreds of supporters have come to the state on their own dime to volunteer for Fred.

But we haven't seen the polls change because there hasn't been any polling in South Carolina since the January 10 debate. Not a single poll. Michigan has had six polling firms -- three national and three in-state -- in the field with surveys since January 10. Florida, whose primary is still two weeks away, has had two polls in the field since Thursday.

Because South Carolina is a winner-take-all primary by congressional district, perceptions of a candidate's chances will have an impact on voter decisions. Many voters will limit their decision to those candidates who are within striking distance of first place, to have a chance at impacting who receives the state's delegates. Polls showing a post-debate Thompson surge would help persuade voters who like him on the issues that he has a chance of winning.

Is there really no polling going on in South Carolina? Are poll results being withheld for some reason? Or is there some truth to Scott Ott's latest satirical news story?

UPDATE: As a couple of commenters note, Rasmussen has new numbers for South Carolina showing Fred Thompson gaining and Mike Huckabee falling back, both in a virtual tie for second with Mitt Romney and far behind John McCain.

Also, Survey USA has polled Oklahoma about our February 5 primary. Click the links to see the Republican results and the Democratic results, including crosstabs. A couple of things stand out -- the Thompson gender gap, softness of Huckabee's support, and the difference in Huckabee's support between western and eastern Oklahoma. (Hat tip: The McCarville Report.)

While doing some research for my next column, I came across links to the platforms adopted by the Oklahoma Democratic and Republican parties at their 2007 state conventions. Both are in PDF format.

Oklahoma Republican Party Grassroots Platform 2007
Resolutions Committee Report to the 2007 Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention

The Republican platform is almost twice as long as the Democratic document. Republicans will consider a new platform at their 2008 state convention in Tulsa. Democrats will not act on a platform again until 2009.


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My wife, who handles the prayer chain e-mail list for our church, just became aware of an online way for friends and family of someone who is undergoing a medical crisis to stay in touch and informed and to provide support and encouragement.

It's called CaringBridge, and it's a free service funded by a non-profit. In a few short steps, you can set up a website for a patient -- yourself or someone close to you. You can create journal entries and upload photographs. You can choose whether the site should be open to anyone who knows its name or whether visitors will also need a password. (User sites are blocked from search engine indexing, so someone can't google their way into it.) Visitors to the site can leave messages of support and encouragement on the guestbook, and they can sign up to receive an e-mail alert when new information is posted.

It's a bit like a blog or a MySpace page, but it's geared for the specific purpose of allowing a patient or the loved one of a patient to keep friends and family up to date without the hassle of managing e-mail lists. A single e-mail pointing people to the webpage is all it takes.

If you were wondering whatever happened to Don McCorkell, the former Democratic state representative from north Tulsa and 2006 candidate for mayor, he's been busy making a movie.

Shall We Gather at the River? is a documentary about factory farming and its impact on the environment, with particular concern for the effect of concentrated chicken farming on Oklahoma's waterways.

Here's the description from the film's website:


Scientists and health officials have raised grave concerns about so-called "factory farms". They have been called "mini Chernobyls" causing vast environmental damage and risk to human health. The film starts in the U.S. with a brief look at our history and how we got from a country of family farms to one dominated by multinational corporations with gigantic factory farms--literally cities of animals. The film examines the impact of urbanizing animal populations without a way to handle the vast amounts of sewage generated. A report card comparing lax environmental and health standards in the U.S. to the strict ones in Europe is presented. The impact of permitting arsenic in feed in the U.S. is dramatically exposed in a segment on Prairie Grove, Arkansas, which may earn the reputation as the "Love Canal" of factory farming because of the deaths of young children in the area from cancer. The overuse of antibiotics in the U.S. (prohibited in Europe) is examined critically with an explanation of how that use is dramatically reducing the effectiveness of antibiotics for human use. The vast difference between the U.S. and other developed nations in the regulation of food borne illness is exposed (for instance salmonella has been virtually eliminated in Scandinavia and is present in a high percentage of poultry sold in the U.S. In Japan 100 percent of beef is inspected for Mad Cow disease. In the U.S. less than 1 per cent is inspected. The vast amount of waste generated by these facilities is destroying rivers, lakes, and even parts of oceans. The film exposes the political influence, intimidation, threats, corruption, false advertising, and delaying tactics that have made the U.S. the dumping ground of this industry. The film presents solutions that could be effective.

You can see a trailer for the film on the Shall We Gather at the River? website.

Don Singleton, the longtime president of the Tulsa Computer Society, has launched a new tabloid newspaper called Tulsa High Tech. The first issue is out, and you can find it at library branches, coffee houses, and other locations around town, including Coffee House on Cherry Street, DoubleShot Coffee Company, and Shades of Brown.

Here, from the advertising rate card, is a kind of mission statement for the paper:

Tulsa High Tech is a new free newspaper which is solely advertiser supported. It will be distributed throughout the greater Tulsa area, covering information for the novice computer users, end users, small business owners, developers, and IT Professionals. We will include news on many different "High Technology" related organizations in Tulsa including Tulsa Computer Society (TCS), Tulsa Users of Macintosh Society (TUMS), Tulsa AutoCAD (TAUG), ASM Tulsa, Microsoft IT Pros of Tulsa (OKITP), Tulsa Java Users Group, Tulsa Linux Users Group (TLUG), Tulsa Small Business Server User Group (Tulsa SBSers), Tulsa SQL Server Group, Tulsa SharePoint Interest Group (TSPIG), TulsaDevelopers.NET, and other computer organizations, as well as graphic art, amateur radio, and other engineering, science, or other technology related organizations. We are offering to list their meetings and publish other information about their group in return for their members helping us take copies of the newspaper to businesses near where they live or work.

While there are a number of computer and technology-related user groups and classes around town, there hasn't been a central place to find that information. That is the niche that Tulsa High Tech seeks to fill.

The premier issue includes a review of Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, a story on how to recognize "phishing" e-mail scams, a profile of Helping Tulsa (an organization that refurbs computers for use by non-profits here and overseas), a "Beginners' Corner" column covering some e-mail basics, a review of a 3D visualization program called Vue.

You may be wondering, in this age of e-mail and the World Wide Web, what point there is in putting out a technology newspaper. The answer is that many of the people who would benefit most from connecting with local computer user groups and classes are those who are least able to find those resources online. A tabloid paper at the local wifi coffee shop or library is an accessible way for computer users to find the help they need.

Don would like to know if others share his vision for this kind of publication. If you would like to advertise, help distribute papers, or otherwise make this paper happen, please contact him via the Tulsa High Tech website.

P.S. Don compares Tulsa High Tech to the I/O Port newsletter published in the late '90s by TCS. But of course, a few regular features of I/O Port won't appear in the new paper as times have changed. He's posted a PDF of the June 1999 I/O Port issue. It's a real walk down memory lane from the days of dial-up, complete with BBS listings and access numbers for local Internet service providers like Internet Oklahoma (IOnet), Galaxy Star, Telepath, and Webzone.

MORE: Don Singleton has posted a couple of comments; I think they're worth reposting out here.

Michael, thank you very much for mentioning TulsaHighTech

If anyone is with a group that would like to be listed in TulsaHighTech, if they want an ad in the paper, or if they know of a place that would be willing to distribute the paper, and if they can pick up some for it, they can email me at donsingleton@cox.net or call me at 622-3417

One other thing in the premier issue was an announcement for a Photoshop Workshop that Paula Sanders is hoping to start. This is one reason why I feel Tulsa needs a regular paper like TulsaHighTech, because she tried to publicize her new workshop in the Tulsa Whirled and they did not even run her listing, even though they had it way before the deadline, and it was sent directly to the person in charge of the column. She is going to hold one additional meeting in February, but if no one shows up again she is going to drop the idea.

This is not just a Photoshop class, it is an effort to create a high level exchange of ideas and techniques between established artists that use Photoshop.

Emphasis added. There's value in promoting cross-pollenization of ideas among computer users.


There are far more important things to write about, but this news is too, too exciting.

The Tiffany Transcriptions feature some of the most exciting, liveliest Texas Playboys music on record. These selections were recorded in San Francisco in the mid '40s for use by radio stations. Those who were around then have said that the Tiffanies come closest to capturing the band's live sound. Songs that were left off Bob Wills's commercial recordings -- such as covers of popular big band tunes like "Take the A Train" -- found a place here, featuring Eldon Shamblin's tight arrangements for steel, mandolin, and guitar. Even standard western swing tunes got special treatment, with longer and more spontaneous improvisations, like Junior Barnard's proto-rock-n-roll guitar solos.

Nine of the 10 discs were first issued by Kaleidoscope as LPs, then reissued by Rhino as CDs. A 10th disc, featuring the vocals of the McKinney Sisters, was only issued on CD. Over the last three or four years, Rhino has dropped one disc at a time from their catalog, leaving only Vols. 1, 2, and 5 in print last I checked. Out-of-print volumes have been fetching $60 to $100 on Amazon.com.

But very recently, Warner Music Group began selling DRM-free MP3s via Amazon, and that includes the Rhino catalog. All 10 volumes are available for download at the low, low price of $9.99 each. (Vol. 10, which has twice as many songs as the other volumes, is $10.99.) You can buy individual songs for 99 cents each.

I bought a couple of later Bob Wills albums via Amazon MP3 for my dad's birthday (Together Again and Mr. Words and Mr. Music, both from the early '60s when Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan reunited for a time), and I was pleased with the quality (256 kbps) and the ease of downloading. Because the files are DRM-free, there are no obstacles to playing them on any digital media player.

Volume 5, linked on the image above, is my favorite so far, but I haven't heard them all yet.

Mitt Romney cliche count

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From last night's Late Night with David Letterman:

(Via Hot Air.)

I received an urgent e-mail from Jamison Faught of the Muskogee County Republican Club. They're holding a presidential forum tonight, with a supporter of each Republican presidential candidate speaking for 10 minutes on the candidates behalf. He'd like to have a speaker there to represent Fred Thompson, and he contacted me to see if I could help. I can't make it, so I'm throwing the appeal out to you -- if you'd be willing to speak on Fred's behalf, and can be at Jasper's restaurant at 1702 W Okmulgee St. in Muskogee at 7 p.m. tonight, please call Jamison Faught at [redacted] ASAP.

UPDATE: Richard Engle, an Oklahoman and president of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, will be speaking on Thompson's behalf.

(Faught told me that he asked the Thompson campaign a month ago for a speaker, but only yesterday did they notify him that they couldn't find anyone, which raises this nagging question: Shouldn't the Thompson campaign have known that Engle, a fairly prominent activist in his role as head of the "GOP wing of the Republican Party," was one of their supporters and notified him -- and me, and other Oklahomans who signed up as Friends of Fred on the website -- that there was need for a speaker?)

... or the Oaxaca caucuses.

Bill Richardson, D-Mexico?

Photo by Tulsa County GOP Vice Chairman Frazier Henke.

(If you don't get the joke, look at the text that C-SPAN posted under Richardson's name. The mistake remained uncorrected for the full length of Richardson's concession speech to his supporters.)


A little break from politics:

Our littlest one turned two years old on Friday. His use of words has exploded in the last few months, although he mostly says the beginning sound of each word, which is adorable, of course. (That's him in the photo, during a visit to Pops on Route 66 back in November, smiling after a sip of Boylan Natural Cane Cola.)

Fire truck becomes fie kuh, for example. Train is "tshoo tshoo wai." Initial S isn't there yet -- snake, snowman, and snowflake become nay, no-mah, and no-feh, respectively. Sock is chah, where that first ch is a voiceless velar fricative pronounced in the back of the throat like a Hebrew "ch." So before he can "go ou-chai" (go outside) he "nee chah an tsioo" (needs socks and shoes).

Some of his most endearing words are starting to evolve. "Da-da" is becoming "da-dee." "Ja-ja" has become "gwahmah" and will be "grandma" before too long.

For months, he would hear and understand the word "car" but he would always pronounce it by making a car sound -- vocalizing on a high and rising pitch and vibrating his lips together. "Do you see the big car?" "Beeg blblblblblblbl!" But about a week ago he stopped, started saying "cah" consistently, and even substituted a less impressive "vroom" for his standard car noise. I managed to cajole the old sound out of him last night, but he did it almost sheepishly.

As we would look at books and pictures, every man with a long white beard he would call "Bah" -- my dad, his grandpa. Pictures of Santa Claus were "Bah", too, which is easy to understand. Now, after Christmas, he makes the distinction between his grandpa and "Sah Caw."

Still, every man with a hat in a black and white picture is "Dah Whee." We were looking at old family photos on the wall, and I was showing him pictures of me and my wife when we were small. He would say the names as he looked at the photos. There's a black and white one of me next to my grandparents' house in Nowata, probably about three years old, wearing a little hat and suit. So he called the boy in the picture "Dah Whee."

"Dah Whee" is Bob Wills, whose music is often heard in our house. Our two-year-old recognizes the cover of Wills's For the Last Time album, which shows a 68-year-old Wills in a cowboy hat, but he also recognizes as Bob Wills the smiling man in the big cowboy hat, as depicted on the cover of Charles Townsend's biography of Wills, San Antonio Rose. The boy will sometimes request "Dah Whee" music when he's eating in his high chair or when it's naptime. (Leon McAuliffe and Johnnie Lee Wills are acceptable substitutes.) Sometimes he will ask to sit in my lap when I'm at the computer and ask to watch a Bob Wills video (like this one from 1951 of the "Jo-Bob Rag" and "Liberty"). (But his favorite website is the one with the funny kitty pictures.)

Last night, my wife was putting him to bed. He wanted to hear the "Blue's Clues" CD, but his older brother, sleeping in the same room, protested, and Mom was worried that it wasn't conducive to sleep. When she asked, "How about something else?" the toddler said "Dah Whee," which was just fine with our eleven-year-old fiddler. She started the CD and walked out of the room to the opening notes of the Texas Playboy Theme. As she passed the crib, she heard a little voice saying "Ahhhh-haaaa!"

A press release today from Fred Perry, recently installed as this year's chairman of the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners:

Commissioner Fred Perry today announced that he will be recommending Daryl Woodard as an appointment to Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority (TCPFA), generally known as the fair board.

"In my opinion, and that of many others, Daryl is one of the top business people in the Tulsa area. During the last three decades he has demonstrated great vision and entrepreneurial skills in the information technology (IT) field while founding and leading several very successful companies in the IT arena. As we continue to upgrade and streamline the fairgrounds, Daryl's entrepreneurial spirit, technical skills and business talents will be of great value to Expo Square." Commissioner Perry said.

Woodard is CEO and President of W.T.I. which is a holding company for several companies he has started or acquired. All are in the information technology field providing Computer System Integration, Wide Area Networks, Electronic Telephone Directories, Electronic Catalogs, Educational and Publishing Services. They are primarily located in Tulsa, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis and Wichita. Woodard has served on a number of boards in the past. He has served as the President for the Tulsa Chapter of YPO (The Young Presidents Organization), was an original member of the Executive Advisory Board of the University of Tulsa, College of Business Administration, was President for all the national MicroAge Franchises and numerous other civic organizations. A 1977 business graduate of the University of Illinois, he is married and has four children.

If approved by the Board of County Commissioners, Woodard will replace Clark Brewster who has served on the TCPFA for the last two years.

"Clark has been an asset to the board. As an owner of race horses himself, he has made significant suggestions regarding the horse racing side of the fairgrounds operations and structure that will be beneficial for years to come. This change is no reflection on Clark's abilities. He is a very smart and capable person. I certainly wish him well and hope he remains involved with the fairgrounds." Perry said.

The TCPFA trust document, allows a newly elected chairman, with the approval of a majority of the Board of County Commissioners, to either reappoint a current member, if the member is up for appointment, or to appoint someone else. Perry said he plans to put the appointment on the January 14th Board of County Commissioners meeting agenda for a vote.

I'm pleased to see the change. While I'm sure that Brewster's knowledge of the horse industry has been beneficial in Expo Square's pursuit of horse shows, he has also been on the board during one of its most controversial periods, with the decision to grant, without competitive bidding, an extension to Murphy Brothers' midway contract, the hiring of Rick Bjorklund as the new CEO of Expo Square, the decision to oust Bell's Amusement Park, and the battle over the City of Tulsa's decision to annex the fairgrounds. Brewster was the leading advocate of the new no-bid Murphy Brothers contract.

Brewster was appointed by Randi Miller to complete Cinnabar and Infrastructure Ventures Inc. executive Bob Parmele's unexpired term. On the positive side, early in his two-year tenure, Brewster put a spotlight on the excessive use of change orders by Expo Square contractors, which seemed to him a reward to contractors for serious errors and omissions. The result was changes in the Phase 4 Expo Square contracts.

You may recall Brewster's speech at a City Council meeting about fairgrounds annexation, in which he was PWNED by Councilor John Eagleton, who called Brewster's bluff on the terms of Expo Square's contract with the Arabian Horse Show:

I'm told that both Fred Perry and John Smaligo made public commitments during their campaigns for County Commissioner last year that they would not reappoint Brewster to the fair board.

Perry's choice for the board, Daryl Woodard, is a frequent contributor to Republican campaigns. He was also a supporter of the Tulsa County sales tax increase for river projects, sending his employees an e-mail urging them to vote for the new tax.

If Woodard's appointment is approved by the full County Commission next Monday, it will mean that three of the five members of the fair board are new within the last year. (Perry and Smaligo are the other two new members.) I'm hoping that will mean positive changes to the way the board does business.

Tonight Fred Thompson was on Fox News on "The O'Reilly Factor," and he spoke about national security, the situation in Pakistan, and why he's the only consistent conservative in the race.

Today on his program, Rush Limbaugh asked conservative evangelicals to consider Fred Thompson:

My question for you evangelicals is this. If you're looking for a real conservative, why are you supporting Huckabee? He's completely discredited himself. What about Fred Thompson?

Thompson has the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee PAC, which is making an independent mailing to voters in South Carolina in support of his candidacy.

And in a new video on the Fred '08 website, Thompson talks about moving on to campaign in South Carolina and gives a brief outline of the principles at the heart of his platform.

Even if you're not in an early primary state, there are several ways you can help the Fred Thompson campaign. The campaign is halfway to its goal of raising $540,000 dollars by Friday to fund ads in South Carolina. You can help by making a contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more.

Even if you can't contribute financially, the campaign would like Thompson supporters to sign up as "Friends of Fred" -- they'd like to enroll 50,000 new members by Friday.

If you're already a Friend of Fred, the campaign is asking you to help make phone calls to prospective voters in early primary states. There's a big push tomorrow to make calls into South Carolina between 5 and 9 p.m. Eastern time (4 to 8 p.m. Central).

Sorry, Rudy: If an immigration reform bill allows illegal aliens to stay in the country and become citizens, it's amnesty, even if they have to pay a financial penalty. Fred Thompson spells it out in last night's WMUR-Facebook-ABC debate:

(Here's a transcript of the ABC Democrat debate. Here's a transcript of the ABC Republican debate.)

Earlier today on NBC's Today Show, Thompson responded to yet another stupid "when ya gonna drop out" question by refocusing on his key issues -- addressing the threat of terrorism and the looming entitlement crisis. When reporter Lester Holt pressed, Thompson took a shot at the mainstream media for uncritically broadcasting a rumor of his impending withdrawal, a rumor that likely was started by a campaign that stood to benefit by knocking Fred down by a few points.

FRED THOMPSON: I'm not going to engage in that -- further beating the process issue to death. We're talking about the future of our country here and the fact that our worst enemies are trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons and we're bankrupting the next generation. That's what I'm talking about. The rest is all speculation and I don't engage in it.

HOLT: It's a fair point you make; you don't engage in it. But you were the victim of some rumors on this subject of your viability and questions if you would drop out. How much did that hurt you?

THOMPSON: Well let's think about that. It did hurt me, and the media lapped it up. It was put out by another campaign; made no sense at all.

HOLT: Which campaign?

THOMPSON: A few days before the election and made no sense at all, and I was coming strong, and the media took it up, and spread the rumor, and probably cost me two or three points in Iowa. So the lesson there is not, you know, politicians being politicians. The lesson there is that the news media really ought to check these stories out and come to me, and ask me, and take my word for it.

One commenter at the previous link wrote, "I would consider voting for Fred just for the entertainment value of watching him spend four years slapping around the drooling half-wits in the MSM."

By the way, Fred Thompson is in second place in the delegate count. Yesterday, twelve Republican county conventions in Wyoming elected the first twelve delegates to the Republican National Convention. The voters in these county conventions were the committeeman and committeewoman for each precinct, plus delegates selected by precinct meetings in December.

Eight counties elected a Mitt Romney supporter to represent them in the Twin Cities, three counties elected a Fred Thompson supporter as delegate, and one county chose a Duncan Hunter supporter. Two more delegates will be elected at the Republican state convention on May 31.

One delegate-electing county (Laramie) also elected an alternate delegate, and the eleven counties that didn't elect delegates each elected an alternate. Of the twelve alternates, five support Romney, one each support Thompson, McCain, and Hunter, and four are uncommitted. An alternate only gets to vote at the national convention if his corresponding delegate is unavailable.

The Wyoming delegates are not bound to stay with their announced preference, unlike many states (e.g. Oklahoma) where delegates are bound to support a candidate based on the primary election result. Nevertheless, the candidates for national delegate announced their presidential preference in their speeches to the county conventions, which undoubtedly influenced the result.

No national delegates were selected at Iowa's caucuses on Thursday, and the results of the Republican straw poll will likely bear no resemblance to the preferences of the 37 national delegates who will be elected at the Iowa state convention on June 14.

(A tip of the hat and a deep bow to The Green Papers, a website which has, since its founding in 1999, devoted itself to providing the nitty-gritty details about the process that the mainstream media glosses over.)

Brian Ervin has the story in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly about the attempt to ban Southwestern Oklahoma State University employees from using the word "Christmas":

While there wasn't an outright "ban" on the holiday or its mention, [SWOSU spokesman Brian] Adler said university employees were told to refrain from including "Merry Christmas" in e-mail tag lines, which are only to include an employee's name, title and contact information.

Adler insisted that whatever "ban" SWOSU imposed on Christmas was confined to e-mail signatures, but not from e-mails themselves, nor from any other means of expression.

He said the policy was implemented for the purpose of ensuring that the "Merry Christmas" greeting wasn't mistaken by recipients as a sentiment officially expressed by the university, rather than from the individual sender, to the exclusion of other holidays or of well-wishing for students and university affiliates of other faiths.

That story doesn't match what Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel was told:

As Staver explained, it all started on the Wednesday before Christmas when Liberty Counsel received a call from Weatherford City Councilor Warren Goldman, who told them of SWOSU banning Christmas on Edmondson's advice.

The Liberty Counsel front man told UTW that he's never had any direct information about the AG office's responsibility for the policy, but said he spoke with the SWOSU Provost, Dr. Blake Sonove, who confirmed to him that the policy was in place and that it was implemented upon advice from Edmondson.

He also said Admissions Coordinator Connie Phillips, Human Resources Director David Misak and Vice President of Finance Tom Fagen each confirmed the same.

Edmondson's involvement may have been a misunderstanding on Councilor Goldman's part, although, if Staver's accounts of his conversations with SWOSU staffers is correct, it was a widespread misunderstanding.

"In my conversation with Dr. Sonove, I told him, 'Your attorney isn't the one who's going to foot the bill for these lawsuits,'" Goldman explained.

"I don't remember exactly how the conversation went," he continued, explaining that when Sonove mentioned something about the state Attorney General ultimately being responsible to defend against potential litigation against the state university, Goldman left with the impression that Edmondson had been the source of the bum legal advice.

"That was a misperception on my part," said Goldman.

Taking the new information from Ervin's story with the earlier statements by university officials, I'm still persuaded that some official at SWOSU tried to pull a fast one and got caught.

Getting closer to fulfilling a new year's resolution to get a link to my weekly column posted here in a timely fashion: This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is an overview of all the elections Tulsans will be voting in this year. Here are the key dates; read the story for more background on each of the races:

January 14, 15, 16: Filing for Tulsa City Council and City Auditor.

February 5: election for school board, Tulsa Technology board, and presidential preference primary. Filing was in December.

March 4: City of Tulsa primary.

April 1: City of Tulsa general election, including charter amendments. Tulsa Technology Center board runoff, if needed. (No Tulsa County school board race drew more than two candidates, so all of those races will be settled on February 5.

June 2, 3, 4: Filing period for federal, state, and county offices.

July 29: Primary for federal, state, and county offices.

August 26: Runoff for federal, state, and county offices.

November 4: General election for federal, state, and county offices.

Romney ad, vapid and creepy at the same time:

Via Ross Douthat, who writes:

With five or so hours to go till the Iowa Caucuses, Mitt Romney has to be judged the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, but it's awfully hard to find anyone not named Hugh Hewitt who seems excited about the prospect. More than enough ink has been spilled on how his political inauthenticity, his consultant-ish pursuit of ideological correctness, has undermined any excitement surrounding his candidacy, replacing it with the resigned, "he's the best we can do" thinking that undergirds the NR endorsement and others like it. (David Brooks' column this weekend offers, I think, the last word on the subject.) For my part, though, the most alienating and off-putting quality of the Romney campaign hasn't been what's he's said, but how he's said it - the words he's chosen and the tone he's employed, which have made following the Romney campaign the equivalent of listening to nails drawn across a chalkboard.

Lest you think that was just an artifact of filming an ad, I experienced the same creepy feeling watching Romney's post-caucus interview on Fox News.

Meanwhile, Ed Rollins, a political adviser to Mike Huckabee, did his boss no favors, first by talking within eavesdropping distance of a reporter for Townhall.com:

At a hole-in-the wall Des Moines eatery, Mike Huckabee's campaign chairman loudly bashed their top rival presidential candidate Mitt Romney and made several predictions to two national television reporters....

-He distinctly talked about going negative in South Carolina and told someone on the phone to "put some good in there if you have to, with the bad. Do what you gotta do."

-Rollins let the f-bomb fly twice and told his blonde female dining companion a joke about flying the Confederate flag in the South Carolina state capitol.

-Rollins indicated several times their campaign was the victim of "dirty tricks" and that they were being unfairly outspent.

Then by showing his posterior to Chris Wallace on Fox News:

Note to Ed: Your team won tonight.

Some notes from tonight's Iowa coverage:

Republican results are here on iowagop.net, which features an interactive map showing results by county. If their server is swamped, try the Washington Post site instead. You can find Democratic statewide results here at iowacaucusresults.com. The site also has precinct results by county for each precinct.

I've been flipping back and forth between C-SPAN and C-SPAN2, showing a Democratic and Republican caucus respectively. To C-SPAN's credit, they're showing the whole caucus including the non-presidential bits -- such as platform debates and officer elections.

The beginning of the C-SPAN-televised Republican meeting in Carroll, Iowa, featured speeches by local Republicans on behalf of individual candidates. A young law student supporting McCain gave the most eloquent speech. The local chairman spoke for Romney, but his speech was faint praise -- Romney made things a little better in Taxachusetts. No one spoke for Huckabee -- would he have finished first if someone had? Thompson was represented by a young man who said The totals for the four Carroll, Iowa, Republican wards that were meeting together: McCain 95, Romney 74, Huckabee 67, Thompson 46, Paul 23, Giuliani 22, Keyes 2, Hunter 0

The GOP meeting is over, but a small number of Democrats in Des Moines Precinct 53 have stayed around after the presidential vote to debate platform resolutions. A white female college student, an Obama supporter, is arguing for a resolution that affirmative action should be based on income, not race, or else it's eliminated altogether. She says it's wrong that she should be ineligible for certain full-ride scholarships at her school just because of the color of her skin. A black teacher who says he was hired to come to Iowa from New England to help his school meet affirmative action goals is arguing in support of race-based affirmative action because race is still important. The motion was defeated.

We were eating dinner with Fox News on in the background. My 11-year-old son, a Harry Potter fan, looked up at B-roll of a Republican candidate's campaign appearance and said, "Who is that guy that sort of looks grey? I thought it was Lord Voldemort." Can you guess which GOP candidate it was?



UPDATE: Huckabee just walked to the podium to the Liberty Bell March. (You know, the Monty Python theme.) Chuck Norris is visible behind Huck's left shoulder. (Or is it that Huck is at Chuck's right hand?) I can't find the right image online, but my son and I both think Mike Huckabee looks like Mr. Tweedy from Chicken Run.

If you were listening to 1170 KFAQ this morning (I was on with Gwen Freeman, filling in for Chris Medlock, who had lost his voice), you'd have heard producer Elvis Polo taunting me and Gwen about a story on the Politico website, speculating on what would happen if Fred Thompson didn't finish strongly in tonight's Iowa caucus. This isn't the first time that Politico has posted a story seemingly designed to demoralize Thompson's supporters and shift the focus away from issues. (The last time this happened, video came out showing that Politico reporter Roger Simon's account of the event was wrong and misleading.)

Thompson debunked the story on several media outlets and told a rally this morning that it's time to "shock the world." The best way to help make that happen is to use your phone to encourage Iowa Republicans to turn out and support Fred Thompson. If you're a Thompson supporter, if you've watched the videos and read the position papers and are convinced, as I am, that he's the right man to be our next president, take some time this afternoon to phone for Fred.

The presidential straw poll that will get most of the attention at Thursday night's Iowa precinct caucuses is only a small part of the business that Republican voters will conduct. On the home page of the Polk County Republican Party website, chairman Ted Sporer outlines what will happen at caucus meetings on January 3. Since it is on the homepage, and therefore likely to be replaced with something new after Thursday night, I'm taking the liberty of putting the entire text here.

Season's Greetings.

We have seen months of candidates campaigning here in Iowa with ads on the television surveys over the phone, and literature in the mailbox. Finally the caucus season is upon us! The race is fluid and Republicans are ready to pick their nominee. All eyes are upon Iowa Caucuses, the First in the Nation, on January 3, 2008.

Thank you for visiting our site. As hard as it seems to believe, the 2008 Caucuses are almost upon us. The Republican Party will caucus on January 3, 2008 at 7:00 o'clock, p.m. The Democrats are convening at 6:30 so please disregard any information that you might have seen or heard that our caucuses are at the same time, they're not.

With so much at stake and so much Republican interest in each of our candidates we expect a large turnout. You should try and arrive early, around 6:30. Most of the larger precincts will have more than one check in lines but delay is always possible. We are also sharing some facilities with the Democrats and we want to allow everyone time to get organized and to participate.

You must be a registered Republican who is at least seventeen and one half years of age to participate. You may only caucus in the precinct in which you are registered to vote. You can register as a Republican at your precinct caucus-voter registration forms will be available. However, you can only be registered in one place at a time so a new registration form on caucus night will void any earlier form. Please remember, completing a fraudulent voting registration is a crime.

The Presidential Straw Poll is only one of the many items of business that will be conducted at your caucus. You will also elect:

Two members of the Polk County Central Committee. Central committee members form the backbone of our volunteer force. The term of office is two years. Central committee membership has nothing to do with your support for a Presidential candidate. As a central committee member you will be asked to serve on a subcommittee and to provide service to the party at events and for political projects such as our vote by mail program.

Delegates to the county convention. Each precinct has an allocated number of delegates, ranging from a low of 1 to a high of 33. The CountyConvention is March 8 at West Des Moines Valley High School. The gavel falls at 10:00 a.m. Delegates at the County convention will elect a smaller group of delegates to the Third Congressional District (April 26 in Grinnell) and State Conventions (June 13-14 in Des Moines).

Alternates. Each precinct elects alternate delegates who will represent that precinct at the County convention if the elected delegates cannot serve.

Junior Delegates. Each precinct will also select junior delegates to the County Convention. Junior delegates are those interested young Republicans who will not be old enough to vote in the November 2008 general election.

Platform Convention Delegates. Each committee will elect one person to represent that precinct at the Platform Convention. The platform convention is January 19 at Valley Southwoods in West Des Moines.

We have included information about the Polk County Caucuses on our website. Please check each of the three links to the right for more information.

Thanks again for visiting our website. Victory in 2008 begins with the Iowa caucuses. Please feel free to contact us with any remaining questions.

Ted Sporer

Polk County Chair

Other links on the site list the locations of each of the 183 precinct meetings (mostly in school classrooms) and set out the order of business. (The order of business seems to have been put together by a pro-life group. On the item for electing delegates to the county convention, it states, "It is perfectly proper to ask anyone running where they stand on the right to life issue." And on the next item, "Discussion of Platform Issues," it states, "It is at this time that you will want to submit the Pro-life Resolution so that it can be voted on.")

The process will be slightly different in smaller counties. Russ from Winterset describes the process in Madison County:

Madison County's got somewhere around 17,000 people (accoring to the 2000 census), and my contact is thinking that this year will be an overflow crowd like '88. Our countywide caucus will be held at the Winterset High School auditorium, with the individual precincts breaking down & voting in classrooms after the joint presentations, and a crowd of more than 800 or so will mean it's "standing room only". Assuming that the county's 50-50 split between the two parties (Iowa's teetered between the parties lately, so that's probably a fair cop, if you count affiliated voters only), that means that a 10% turnout will give us somewhere around 600 people (assuming 1/3 of voters are Rep, Dem and Ind).

At the beginning of this post I referred to the presidential straw poll. For Republicans, at least, the vote that will be taken at these caucuses is completely non-binding. The allocation of delegates to presidential candidates won't happen until the state Republican convention in June. (See the Green Papers entry on Iowa Republicans for details of the process.)

The process for Iowa Democrats is different: Precincts will pick delegates to their county conventions based on presidential preference, but delegates to the national convention won't be chosen until the state convention in June, and only then will it be known with any certainty how many delegates are pledged to each candidate.

For both parties, any attempt to allocate Iowa's delegates to candidates prior to June will almost certainly be incorrect.

The Iowa caucuses aren't that different from the way delegate selection was handled in Oklahoma prior to the establishment of a presidential preference primary in 1988. If memory serves, Oklahoma's Republican caucuses were often held before Iowa or New Hampshire. We just didn't market them as well.

SeeDubya is fed up with talking heads and pundits who are too busy trashing the style of Fred Thompson's campaign to pay due attention to the substance of the man and his principles:

Let's lay this moron-meme to rest right now. I don't care if you're for Fred or not, and I don't care if you attack his issues or his record. Actually, scratch that. I'd love for pundits to start talking about his policy positions and his voting record! Exactly which aspect of his plan for border security or social security do you disagree with? What part of his rhetoric rings false? Which part of his doctrine of resolve, or his understanding of first principles do you disagree with, and which candidate's principles are better? That's a debate, and that's what we're supposed to be having now.

"Fire in the belly" is a completely meaningless statement. It's subjective and irrefutable--or, more precisely, it's unfalsifiable. You can't prove it, and beyond what I've laid out here you can't disprove it, so it just hangs around like a bad smell. It's the recourse of political commentators too lazy or too biased or unable to come up with serious objections to Fred. From now on when I hear pundits trot out that canard, I'm going to ask whether they really want their own jobs--you know, whether they're a just little bit lazy, whether they're just phoning it in, and whether they've got any fire in their own bellies.

SeeDubya begins the post with a long list of sacrifices and efforts Thompson is making, which ought to be enough to prove to any honest observer that Thompson thinks he's the best choice for president and is working hard to convince voters of that fact. But the mainstream media narrative is set even for much of the conservative media: Every ill-timed yawn or apparent frown becomes more "evidence" that Fred Thompson really doesn't want to be president, so you don't need to listen to his ideas or policies, and you don't need to bother to give him money or volunteer for his campaign.

Monday morning on 1170 KFAQ, Gwen Freeman and I talked about top stories at the state and local level. These were my top 10 local stories, in no particular order:

  1. Defeat of the proposed Tulsa County sales tax for Arkansas River projects
  2. ORU: Professors' wrongful termination lawsuit and resignation of Richard Roberts
  3. December ice storm
  4. Tulsa Police Department: tenure of interim chief David Bostrom and rehiring of former chief Ron Palmer
  5. Illegal immigration: Tulsa County Sheriff's Office qualifies under 287(g) to hold illegal immigrants for deportation; Tulsa City Council passes new policy for checking immigration status of people taken into custody for felonies and serious misdemeanors
  6. City Hall move to One Technology Center
  7. Centennial celebrations, including the Belvedere unearthing in June
  8. City of Tulsa annexation of the Tulsa County Fairgrounds (will go into effect at the end of 2008
  9. Arena: first city budget accounting for arena expenses, at the expense of police academy and golf courses; decision not to demolish convention center arena
  10. Bell's removal and demolition

We didn't cover these, except to go through the AP's list, but on the state level, these were the stories I thought most notable, beyond those above:

  1. Oklahoma's centennial
  2. Passage of HB 1804 on immigration enforcement
  3. Sidetracking of HB 1648 (competitive bidding for PPPs, killed by big construction lobby)
  4. Former State Sen. Mike Mass pleads guilty, turns state's evidence
  5. Indictment of TABOR petition leaders (the "Oklahoma Three")
  6. Power-sharing in the Oklahoma State Senate

My list tends to be political, and I have probably overlooked sports, business, and human interest stories. What would you add to these lists of top local stories?

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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February 2008 is the next archive.

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