November 2010 Archives

NewsRealBlog has a piece by David Yerushalmi titled "4 Rebuttals to Critics of Oklahoma's Anti-Sharia Law," a defense of the thinking behind the constitutional amendment adopted by an overwhelming majority of Oklahoma voters on November 2 as State Question 755.

Yerushalmi says that SQ 755 was poorly drafted (and explains why in detail), but the purposes of the amendment are legitimate, and he sets out to rebut four claims by critics: (1) that SQ 755 is a response to an irrational fear of something that poses no realistic threat to Oklahomans; (2) that the amendment was "driven only by a fear-mongering anti-Islamic narrative," a "cottage industry of Islamophobia"; (3) that outlawing sharia endangers other religious courts; (4) that "sharia" has no concrete meaning, making a ban meaningless.

Especially valuable is his explanation of the mechanisms by which sharia can become a real threat to American liberties under existing law:

Specifically, there are at least three ways for sharia to find its way into our courts and legal system in ways which would deprive Oklahomans of their federal and state constitutional liberties: comity, choice of law issues, and choice of forum/venue determinations. We will touch upon each of these in brief.

In dealing with comity, Yerushalmi explains why legislative action against sharia matters:

State courts are asked to recognize and enforce foreign judgments and private arbitral awards all of the time. This procedure for recognizing another juridical body's decision as binding is called granting comity to the foreign judgment. For our purposes, a private arbitral award is like a foreign judgment because it does not arise from a state court action.

Granting comity to a foreign judgment is mostly a matter of state law. And, almost all state and federal courts will grant comity unless the recognition of the foreign judgment would violate some important public policy of the state. This doctrine is called the Void As Against Public Policy Rule and has a long and pedigreed history....

Unfortunately, because state legislatures have not been explicit about what their public policy is relative to sharia, the courts and the parties litigating in those courts are left to their own devices to first know what sharia is, and second, to understand that granting a sharia judgment comity is ipso facto offensive to our way of life and the principles underlying our constitutional republic.

And, indeed empirically, we find published judicial opinions which accept comity for sharia-based foreign judgments and arbitral awards. And these published judicial opinions quite obviously only represent the tip of the iceberg since courts render these kinds of judgments all of the time through unpublished orders rather than published opinions.

While there are also published opinions where the courts have rejected the application for comity precisely on the grounds that sharia is offensive to Due Process and Equal Protection, the courts have ended up all over the map precisely because the state legislatures have not taken the time to carefully articulate their respective public policies on the recognition of sharia-based judgments. That the people of Oklahoma have chosen to do so, even if clumsily, is hardly grounds for criticism.

Yerushalmi has drafted a model uniform act called "American Laws for American Courts" and offers a free CLE course (an online, 40-minute, narrated PowerPoint) on the proposal and the problem it seeks to address.

The draft law appears to address the heart of the matter: We don't want the state's police power used to enforce judgments made under any system of law that does not include all the rights, privileges, and liberties guaranteed under our Federal and state constitutions. While waiting for the federal courts to address SQ 755, our Oklahoma legislators should consider passing the American Laws for American Courts act in some form as a substitute if SQ 755 is overturned or a clarification otherwise.

During the all-too-brief Thanksgiving weekend, I actually did unwind a bit. We had Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house, along with my sister and her family, and we celebrated my birthday (belated) and my dad's (early). I took the 14-year-old to the Friday night late showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The whole family watched The Sound of Music. We played a game of Clue: While everyone was getting very close to a solution, the four-year-old and I got there first: Miss Peacock, in the theater, with the dumbbell.

One of my birthday gifts was Dancing under the Red Star by Karl Tobien. It's the story of the author's mother, Margaret Werner Tobien and is told as a first-person narrative. I started reading it Thanksgiving night and finished it late Friday afternoon. It is a powerful but accessible story about life in Stalin's USSR and the experience of an American citizen who found herself a political prisoner, a resident of the gulag for 10 years.

Margaret "Maidie" Werner was born in Detroit in 1921. In 1932, her father, a committed socialist, decided to move his family of three to Gorky (Nizhni Novgorod) as part of a large group sent by the Ford Motor Company to help set up an automobile factory there. In 1938, Maidie's father was arrested as an enemy of the state, taken from his home in front of his wife and daughter, never to be seen again. Maidie and her mother survived as best they could, dealing with the privations of the war. In late 1945, Maidie herself was carried off by the NKVD, charged with espionage for Britain (because she had asked two British airmen to find out what they could about her father's fate), treason (because she had asked them to help her get out of the country), and propaganda against the state (because she told friends what life had been like in America). After months of interrogation at Gorky's prison and at Lubyanka, she was sentenced to 10 years hard labor and five years internal exile. During her time in the camps, she is assigned to a "cultural brigade" -- a troupe performing theater and dance for the prisoners of her own camp and nearby camps. Eventually, she makes her way to East Germany, escapes to the west (before the Berlin Wall), and returns to the United States, almost 30 years after she left.

The book is vivid with detail about daily life -- not only the hardships, but also the small mercies that kept hope alive and the ways prisoners found to make the best of their bleak circumstances. There are especially touching details -- Maidie's loud refusal to denounce her father in school; how people in the towns where the prison train stopped en route to the death camps would push cigarettes, candy, bread, fruit, and sausages into the ventilation slats for the prisoners; how Maidie managed to meet her mother very briefly, near the camp, in extremely unpleasant surroundings. The betrayals are striking, too. The Soviet system rewarded treachery. "Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you, and you sold me."

I was fascinated by this book, and I recommend it. It would be suitable for teens and older; while it touches on some mature subject matter, it does so in a delicate way (as you would expect from a story told by a septuagenarian lady born in the 1920s).


Reviews on Amazon, including a detailed synopsis
Reviewed on Blogful of Books
Reviewed on Small World Reads
Reviewed on Curmudgeonalia

This week's Urban Tulsa Weekly cover story, by reporter Mike Easterling, is a look back at Dewey Bartlett Jr's first year as mayor of Tulsa. Easterling spoke to the Mayor himself, to chief of staff Terry Simonson, to several city councilors, to urbanist and developer Jamie Jamieson, and to me. What's striking is that only Bartlett and Simonson give good grades overall to the Bartlett-Simonson administration. Five of the nine councilors, all Republicans, were willing to speak on the record, and all were disappointed, on balance, particularly with his failure to treat the councilors as partners, rather than adversaries. These are councilors who had high hopes for his administration and who agree with his stated policy goal to make intelligent reductions in city spending. As I note for the article, he has managed to alienate all nine city councilors, an unprecedented feat for a mayor.

In his conversation with Easterling, Bartlett tells an anecdote about the literal nightmare he had the night after his swearing in, followed by the waking nightmare of learning the next morning from Finance Director Mike Kier of the depths of the city's financial crisis. What it reveals is that Bartlett had not been paying attention. Councilor Bill Martinson had called attention to the problem back during the budget process in the spring of 2009, noting the Taylor administration's overly optimistic expectation of a recovery by the end of calendar year 2009, an expectation that allowed them to postpone hard choices until after the election.

For his honesty and persistence, Martinson was targeted for defeat by Kathy Taylor. Bartlett did not back the fiscal conservatives on the Council in their effort to face facts; instead he endorsed Kathy Taylor for re-election and ignored the fiscal crisis during his campaign. In so doing, he entered the mayor's office without the mandate to do anything except not make political contributions to Barack Obama.

The Save Our Tulsa bunch -- SOTs for short -- see the conflict between mayor and council, and they think the solution is to pack the council with their kind of people and then maybe pass a tax for some new "visionary" project. They've misdiagnosed the problem, and they offer a remedy that will only make matters worse. The problem is in the mayor's office, and, short of resignation or removal, the way forward is for the mayor to call his SOT buddies and his supporters who are suing the councilors personally and tell them to back off. That's a minimum first step to get executive and legislature working together again.

You can find great Christmas gifts and wonderful eats and treats -- from the usual to the unusual -- by patronizing City of Tulsa businesses as you do your Christmas shopping. The money continues to circulate in the local community, keeping people working and generating the sales tax revenue that local government needs to do its job:

ShopTulsa, an initiative to educate the public on the benefits of buying locally, launched its campaign and website last week and offers a video explaining why buying locally makes a difference:

"The video is a wake-up call," said Blake Ewing, owner of The Engine Room PR, which is leading the effort. "We wanted to show people visually how we can all benefit from spending our money, when we can, within the city limits of Tulsa-- especially during the holiday season."

Since 2008, the city has lost nearly eleven million dollars in tax revenue toward the general fund. For Tulsans, this cut in funding directly impacts their city, from the number of policemen staff to lighting the city streets. ShopTulsa hopes to shine the light on just how little it takes for Tulsans to make a big difference in their city.

"Shopping Tulsa" simply means buying products within the city limits. The more money spent within the city, the more money will stay there. Although supporting local businesses keeps the most dollars in town, even shopping at franchises or national chains within the city limits helps.

ShopTulsa will also have its inaugural Black Friday Party at 8 p.m. on Nov. 26 at The Blue Dome Diner. The party will be open to the public and will feature live entertainment along with swag bag giveaways to the first 200 attendees and the chance to win $10,000 of raffle prizes provided by local merchants.

A free raffle ticket will be given to each attendee, and more tickets will go to those who show a Black Friday receipt for at least $50 from a local store at the door. The party's band lineup and raffle prizes will be announced at the press conference.

For more information on ShopTulsa and how to get involved, or for resources on how to shop locally, please visit or call Allison Broyles at 918.949.3860

Here's the video Blake Ewing mentioned:

Shop Tulsa from Shop Tulsa on Vimeo.

I received an email last night from a BatesLine reader asking if I had deliberately censored a comment he posted a couple of weeks ago or if the comment didn't post because of a technical error.

The answer was neither. I wrote back: "It was a worthwhile comment, and had I noticed it earlier, I would have approved it earlier. I likely overlooked the notification email. Checking pending comments in the content management system, I noticed several from four different regular commenters over the last couple of weeks that I missed seeing. I owe you and them an apology for my lack of attention to the blog and its readers."

Some of these comments I had seen and thought I had approved at the time. Others I had not seen. While, on balance, it's probably a good thing I don't give this blog the obsessive attention I did five or six years ago, things have swung too far the other way.

I moderate comments to filter out spam and the occasional abusive comment. I reserve the right to publish or not publish a comment for any reason whatsoever (including my own neglect), and there's no guarantee that your submission to post a comment will result in its publication. Publication of a comment does not imply my endorsement of the sentiment expressed or any facts alleged by the commenter. The opinions expressed are those of the commenter and do not necessarily represent my views.

In general, however, if you offer a comment in good faith, even if I don't agree with it, my aim is to post it promptly. Thank you for taking the time to read BatesLine and for caring enough to respond with a comment.

Here's a 10-minute profile of legendary Texas Playboys steel guitarist Herb Remington, who tells about his audition for Bob Wills, his opening night flub at the Santa Monica Pier, Bob Wills's generosity, life on the road, how he covered his mistake on a record, and his big hit, "Boot Heel Drag."

And here's Herb talking about the Tiffany Transcriptions and demonstrating the components of Boot Heel Drag before playing it straight through.

Les plays, Mary sings Alabamy Bound (via Ace of Spades HQ):

Here's a version of the same song from another legendary steel guitarist (mentioned by Remington in his Santa Monica story), Noel Boggs:

Congratulations to Oklahoma 2nd District Congressman Dan Boren for being named whip of the 54-member Blue Dog Coalition, the congressional caucus for Democrats who claim to hold mainstream values.

Nevertheless, when the new Congress takes its first vote, Boren will, for the fourth time -- which is to say, at every opportunity -- vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House and for her far-left cronies to control key House committees.


Thanks to the defeat of many of his colleagues, Boren's vote for Pelosi will be for naught.

Bring on the LFL!

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Finally, a women's pro sports league a heterosexual male can get excited about:

The 10-team league features seven-on-seven tackle football in which women are clad in helmets, shoulder pads, bras, panties and garters.

But the mayors of Oklahoma's two largest cities aren't excited about the Lingerie Football League coming to town:

"I don't think that's anything (Tulsa) is going to want to have," Mayor Dewey Bartlett said Tuesday afternoon. "Women running around in their underwear tackling one another. It's like mud wrestling."...

After the league announced its intentions to expand into Oklahoma City for the 2011 season, Mayor Mick Cornett expressed his disapproval last week, saying "there were too many problems to list" and that the team wouldn't be allowed to play in a public facility.

Like all pro sports -- all -- the LFL is in the entertainment business. If people find them entertaining, they'll buy tickets. If not, they won't. That's the way it ought to work. Government shouldn't be in the business of promoting spectator sports or impeding them. Like movie theaters and live music clubs and pubs and dance halls, pro sports teams should pay the full cost of having a place to present their particular form of entertainment.

Of course, since government got in the business of subsidizing entertainment by the majority-forced extortion of tax dollars to build arenas and ballparks for minor league hockey and arena football teams and "major" league women's basketball teams, I suppose it makes our elected officials feel entitled to dictate what kinds of entertainment can use these publicly financed facilities. And from time to time, these officials scold their constituents for failing to patronize these particular forms of professional entertainment, sentimentally known as "not backing the home team."

I'm amused by Cornett's refusal to allow LFL to play in a public facility. He apparently had no problem with WWE's Monday Night Raw this past March 1 at the Ford Center, hosted by Cheech and Chong, which is WAY CLASSIER than girls playing football in bikinis. And Mayor Bartlett Jr hasn't said boo about the fact that Cheech and Chong are performing their pot-themed, potty-mouthed humor at the Tulsa Convention Center, in the same hall where he was sworn in a year ago.

Don't get me wrong. I like some of Cheech and Chong's comedy (the classic "Sister Mary Elephant" sketch, for example) and movies (Things Are Tough All Over). But I fail to see how stoner comedy is somehow an order of magnitude more dignified than lingerie football.

If the LFL can pay the rent, let them play BOK Center or the old Assembly Center.

And Mr. Mayor, let's add a $10 a ticket fee to all events to reimburse the taxpayers for the cost of building a venue where entertainment businesses can make money.

(P. S. to the LFL: If you do locate here, don't even think about the possibility of a palindromic team name.)

TSA grope-gate

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Links on the TSA's "enhanced pat-downs," the "alternative" to the scanner that shows you naked.

boingboing: Man at San Diego airport opts out of porno scanner and grope, told he'll be fined $10K unless he submits to fondling. The man got cellphone video of his encounter with TSA officers. (Here's a transcript of the first of three segments.)

PNC-Minnesota Bureau: Rape Survivor Devastated by TSA Enhanced Pat Down (NOTE: The link leads to the "Pagan News Collective" website, and the rape survivor quoted below is a Wiccan; thus the "Goddess" reference.)

"He started at one leg and then ran his hand up to my crotch. He cupped and patted my crotch with his palm. Other flyers were watching this happen to me. At that point I closed my eyes and started praying to the Goddess for strength. He also cupped and then squeezed my breasts. That wasn't the worst part. He touched my face, he touched my hair, stroking me. That's when I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped. There's no way I can fly again. I can't do it."

If you dress modestly, your modesty will be violated. This woman (a commenter on the previous article) was willing to go through the scanner, but the TSA didn't like her choice of clothing:

I was pulled aside for a pat down in Phx's Sky Harbour Airport in October. They pulled me aside because I was wearing an ankle-length skirt. The agent told me that the TSA cannot specifially tell people what they can and cannot wear, but they will do pat downs on every person wearing ankle-length skirts on planes. The female agent told me I had two choices: I could go to a room and strip NAKED in front of a TSA officer, or they could pat me down in full view of the other passengers. She said the pat down would require her to touch my genitals. Well, gosh - be groped in public or naked alone in front of a stanger? Such options. When I said neither option was great, she said I wouldnt be escorted from the airport if I didnt comply. Duress much? I have to give you my full name, my birthdate, my gender and now I HAVE to let you humiliate me in public (or oogle my naked body in provate)?? Wow. This cant be the only way.

If only she had worn a burka, she'd have been left alone.

Melissa Clouthier tells of a harrowing TSA encounter from 2002, when unfeeling TSA agents separated her from her baby daughter in a stroller and her two-year old autistic son with a tendency to roam:

My son was walking away from me, looking after the direction his dad went and wanting to follow. He was about twenty five feet away from me, when I tried to go get him, the TSA agent restrained me and said,"Ma'am you need to stay here."

When I tried to explain about my son, she would have none of it. I was reduced to yelling to him to stay, don't go anywhere.

Hysteria rose in my throat. At this point, being felt up by the female agent mattered little to me. My children were separated from me, my son shuffling around, my daughter sitting 20 feet away in a stroller, hundreds of people milling through the Houston airport and I was terrified that someone would grab one or both of my children and I would be helpless to stop it.

And the TSA agents did not care. As I write this, my heart is pounding....

The TSA regulations make average citizens miserable while the real medicine-an Israeli-type profiling would actually make a security difference. But no. Security placebos for Americans.

I share this story to provide additional evidence of the overreach of the TSA. It's time for Congress to clip back these inane regulations.

It's time for Americans to resist this tyranny. When average Americans have more to fear from their government than from some radical Muslim terrorist jerk, the balance has been tipped.

I have managed to avoid flying very much this year, despite a lot of travel, although I haven't been able to avoid it entirely. I actually like being up in the air, and I get a window seat as often as possible so I can watch the scenery and try to deduce our location. But I hate the process of getting from the ticket counter (actually quite painless these days) to the plane. For all the restrictions and all the advanced technology, you have to get even more undressed and undone now for the nekkid scanners than you do for the X-ray machines. I have to pack once to get my stuff to the airport, repack and rearrange to get through security in an efficient manner, and then rearrange again, particularly if it's a small plane and the roll-aboard has to be gate-checked.

We have a pretty good idea of the sort of person who would try to blow up a plane while on board. While we might still need X-rays and metal detectors to deter the old-fashioned kind of hijacker that just wanted a free trip to Cuba, the new-fangled suicide hijacker should be more easily detected. Offer every male passenger between the ages of 18 and 45 a pulled-pork sandwich or a beer; if you won't consume either one, you get the special scope-and-grope. (Some non-yeasty alcohol would be provided for Passover.)

Clearing out my browser tabs and clearing my conscience of failing to write a blog post about each one:

Gabriel Malor, co-blogger at Ace of Spades HQ, will be on 1170 KFAQ with Pat Campbell at about 6:30 to discuss the CAIR lawsuit to stop Oklahoma's anti-sharia amendment.

Joe Miller is just a hat shy of looking like Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs in Treasure of the Sierra Madre (or the parody of the character in a Bugs Bunny cartoon): "Say, pardon me, but could you help out a fellow American who's down on his luck?" The stubble probably cost him the election. Either shave it off or grow it out to a respectable length. "Miami Vice" has been off the air for 20 years.

Tulsa Public Schools to consider eliminating schools: KRMG news story says the Tulsa district has 90 schools, same as the 1960s, but we have only half the students today that we did 40 years ago. The student population stat sounds right, but the school count can't possibly be the same: TPS has closed plenty of schools since peak baby-boomer enrollment, including more than a dozen I can think of off the top of my head: Mason High School; Bates, Lynn Lane, Lincoln, Lowell, Longfellow, Pershing, Revere, Franklin, Riley, Ross, Whittier (or Kendall -- they merged) Elementary Schools; Horace Mann Jr. High, Wright Jr. High (repurposed as an elementary). Did I miss any? I can't think of the name of the old elementary school near 45th and Peoria that now serves as home of the Tulsa Ballet.

Brandon Dutcher at Choice Remarks links to a HuffPo entry by John Thompson about the projected low number of graduates for African-American males in Oklahoma City Public Schools neighborhood high schools. Thompson calls this a crisis, but he uses too many qualifiers to exclude too many students who are being educated successfully in OKC public schools (e.g. students at charters like Harding High School, magnet school students, students in inner-suburban districts), and he fails to give us numbers as bases of comparison (how many total African American male students in neighborhood high schools are there?). Oh, and he's wrong to equate neighborhood schools with non-selective schools. Charter schools can't select their students, either. There's probably a story here, and it may be jaw-dropping, but it needs a teller who'll be more careful handling the numbers.

Thompson links to this interesting map of the OKC metro area showing population as color-coded dots - whites are red, African-Americans are blue, Asians are green, and Hispanics are orange. Each dot represents 25 people. Thompson says it shows racial segregation, and while it's true that there's a predominantly African-American area between the Santa Fe tracks and I-35 as well as a rural African-American area in NE Oklahoma County, and undoubtedly this reflects the official and unofficial segregation of earlier decades. But a look at the big version of the map shows blue dots scattered through out, alongside red, green, and orange.

Here's the Tulsa race and ethnicity map from the same set. Note how colorful the ORU campus is.

Cassy Fiano writes that feminist blogger Jessica Valenti is a big ol' chicken for refusing to participate in a panel discussion that includes just one conservative woman.

Sarah Palin to freshman Republican congressmen-elect:

Remember that some in the media will love you when you stray from the time-tested truths that built America into the most exceptional nation on earth. When the Left in the media pat you on the back, quickly reassess where you are and readjust, for the liberals' praise is a warning bell you must heed. Trust me on that.

Ed Morrissey recounts a Clarence Thomas anecdote about justices reacting to social pressures and remarks:

With that in mind, the freshman class should steel themselves that getting the job done right will mean few plaudits in the media in the short run, even fewer speaking invitations, and no medals or plaques from lobbyists and Academia. Their reward will be a more secure, less indebted, and fiscally restored United States of America, and the gratitude of a nation in the long run for restoring sanity and accountability. And frankly, that should be enough.
Warner Todd Huston reports that mainstream media's coverage of a crooked Maryland county politician has (once again) neglected to identify the crook's party affiliation.

Muslim extremists protest Armistice Day in London. And J. E. Dyer comments on the shifting of Britain's place in the world as the U. S. under Obama has distanced itself from the Special Relationship the two countries long enjoyed.

Tim Bayly writes about the new NIV's further slide away from scripture and toward political correctness.

"Zombie," a blogger known for documenting through photographs the nauseating obscenity of festivals and protests in the Bay Area, is documenting a political and geographical form of obscenity: The gerrymander, the deliberate drawing of district lines for political advantage.

The first of two recent posts -- Gerrymandering 101 -- explains what gerrymandering is, why it's done, and the different types of gerrymanders:

This essay explains in no uncertain terms how manipulating district boundaries can lead to a complete subversion of true representative government....

You may have wondered how America overall tends to prefer conservative policies (pollsters like to say "We're a center/right country") yet we often have a liberal or at least Democratic majority in the Congress. How can this be? Gerrymandering. It's so powerful that it has at times fundamentally altered the political slant of our government.

Zombie includes some simple but effective illustrations, explains how gerrymandering can backfire (as it did in the 2010 election), and notes an additional factor promoting the practice: the racial "packing" mandated by the Federal Voting Rights Act, which has created some of the most bizarre "map monsters," as Zombie calls them.

In part 2, we're given a look at the ten most gerrymandered U. S. House districts, with evocative names like "rabbit on a skateboard" and "water skier checking email on his Blackberry" plus a bonus set of 20 districts that shouldn't even be legal, as they are not contiguous (they use bizarre over-water boundaries to satisfy -- technically -- the contiguity requirement).

Zombie challenges Republicans, with the upper hand in the upcoming decennial redistricting, to do better than the Democrats in drawing compact, reasonable districts. In a representative government, voters choose their representatives. In gerrymander-land, elected officials choose their constituents. True representation begins with fairly drawn districts.

Oklahoma's congressional districts are pretty good by comparison, probably because they were a compromise between a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature. It's tough because the Oklahoma City and Tulsa's metro areas are each too big to fit in a single district, so some of each metro area has to be joined to more rural areas adjacent. The plan also took into consideration the location of Oklahoma's four principal military installations (Fort Sill, Vance, Tinker, and Altus AFBs) -- districts 3 and 4 each cover two of them. While the lines had to be drawn so that the districts had exactly the same population (+/- 1 person), they managed to stick close to county boundaries, which makes the districts simpler to understand.

What are your nominations for the most gerrymandered Oklahoma legislative districts? Leave a comment below.

Jamison Faught, the Muskogee Politico, has painstakingly put together a series of maps illustrating the county-by-county results of the 2010 Oklahoma general election.

The maps are pretty and telling. The darkest red continues to be wheat country, the northwest quadrant of the state, plus Kay and Washington Counties, a traditionally Republican era even when the Democrats dominated state politics. The lightest red (and sometimes blue) area is Little Dixie, roughly south of a line from West Siloam Springs to Wewoka and east of a line from Wewoka to Durant. As you might guess from the nickname, this is the most traditionally Democrat area of Oklahoma. This is Carl Albert and Gene Stipe country.

But the maps highlight one notable exception to the Little Dixie bloc: McCurtain County, in the southeast corner of the state. Anyone know why that is?

McCurtain County elected a Republican for House District 1: Rusty Farley beat incumbent Democrat Dennis Bailey, a rematch of the 2008 election. Bailey was a cooperative extension service agent for over 30 years. Bailey had raised $21,149 by October 18, plus another $2,000 by the "last-minute" disclosure deadline of October 26. Farley had raised $170 by October 18 and didn't file a last-minute report. Jamison Faught points out that only 12% of voters in the district are registered Republican. How in the world did this happen?

Not only did Farley win in McCurtain County, but the county stands out in red contrast to the rest of Little Dixie in many other races. More McCurtain County voters voted straight party Republican than straight party Democrat.

Jamison's State House and State Senate maps show the gains Republicans made this year, term limit opportunities in the House in 2012, and which Senate seats are up for election in 2012.

Several of the statewide maps show some hometown pride. The only four counties won by Jari Askins were near her home base of Duncan. Kenneth Corn, Democrat candidate for Lt. Governor, managed to win his home county of LeFlore and neighboring Haskell County; meanwhile, his Senate seat went Republican. I'm going to guess that AG candidate Jim Priest has some personal connection to Pontotoc County.

For your next task, Jamison: The Oklahoma State Election Board has posted precinct-level election results for the 2010 general election. Have fun with it!

Federal Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, a Clinton appointee to the Western District of Oklahoma and former Democrat legislator from Oklahoma City, blocked the Oklahoma State Election Board from certifying the landslide passage of SQ 755. SQ 755 forbids Oklahoma courts from looking to "the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law." The injunction is in response to a lawsuit filed by Muneer Awad, the state director of CAIR. (Awad doesn't show up as a registered voter in Oklahoma as recently as August of this year.)

Miles-LaGrange's decision makes no sense. Even if there were a constitutional issue with the new amendment, the proper remedy is to enjoin the law's enforcement. Halting certification of the vote would make sense only if there were alleged constitutional violations in the voting process.

Commentary elsewhere:

Gabriel Malor, at Ace of Spades HQ. Malor, an attorney who is originally from Oklahoma, points out that the amendment plainly does not say what the CAIR complaint

Jeff Goldstein writes:

Here's what this ruling means: the people are allowed to play at republican democracy, with their quaint little ballot initiatives. But in the end, we have philosopher kings -- in the person of unelected judges -- who will do the real deciding for us....

Whether you like the law or not; or whether you believe it necessary or not; whether you believe it passes the Lemon test or not; what is at stake here is the court's ability to tell you directly that what you've said and meant is not what you've said and meant -- and that what you've voted to establish into law is potentially unconstitutional on the basis that others who know what you meant can make the text show that it means something other than you designed it to mean.

My first reaction? Yuck.

Governor-elect Mary Fallin today announced the selection of the two co-chairs of her transition team, Devon Executive Chairman and former Oklahoma State Chamber Chairman Larry Nichols and Senator Glenn Coffee.

I was disappointed to see that both are from Oklahoma City, so talented Tulsans and other Oklahomans are likely to be overlooked for Fallin administration positions. More than that, I was disappointed not to see a Tom Coburn-style limited-government conservative as one of Fallin's picks.

Now, both are accomplished men, Coffee as a leader in the Oklahoma State Senate and Nichols in the oil and gas business, but the message I received from these appointments is that the Fallin administration is going to follow the wheeler-dealer Republican path, as I had feared.

Republican officials tend to divide into wheeler-dealers and square-dealers. Square-dealers are in earnest about reducing the size and scope of government, simplifying the tax code, and reducing red tape. What rules there are should be fair to all and equally applied. The market, not the government, should be picking winners and losers.

Wheeler-dealers pay only lip service to the professed Republican values of limited but effective government. For wheeler-dealers, big, complicated government is good, because it can be used to reward political supporters and to punish political adversaries. It's a modern version of the Jacksonian spoils system, but instead of rewarding their voters with government jobs, the victorious team rewards its campaign contributors with tax and regulatory changes to give them an advantage in the marketplace. In theory, the campaign dollars will continue to flow from these favored contributors and from those hoping for such favor, as they come to understand that you must pay to play.

Wheeler-Dealer Road leads to scandal, corruption, and ejection from office. That's the path that congressional Republicans went down in the mid 2000s (Enron, Jack Abramoff), and the path that former Oklahoma Speaker Lance Cargill and his consultant buddies started us down. The result: Congressional Republicans lost their credibility and their majority in 2006, and the free-market ideals that Republicans professed (but didn't practice) were discredited. But Oklahoma Republicans of the square-dealer variety rejected Cargill's leadership, corrected course, and continued to grow their majority, producing last Tuesday's breathtaking result.

Fortunately, the Oklahoma legislature has a number of stalwart square-dealers who will call their colleagues to account. One of them is State Rep. David Dank, who has a must-read op-ed in the Monday, November 8, 2010, Oklahoman. A few key points:

To deliver what we promised, we must take at least five clear actions.

First, our conduct must be above reproach. Oklahoma has experienced too many sordid scandals throughout its history. Voters are right to demand good character from their elected officials, and anyone who violates that trust should be shunned....

Finally, the new Republican super majority must be worthy custodians of the public's money. It's theirs, not ours, and we must be held accountable for how we spend it. Our model should be Oklahoma's outstanding Sen. Tom Coburn, and that should start with a careful examination of tax credits to assure that only those that actually create jobs are enacted or retained.

I was honored to receive a strong vote of support from my constituents in District 85 on Election Day. But I am also old enough to know that today's approval can become tomorrow's rejection for those who fail to keep their promises.

Republicans have a unique opportunity to remake our state -- but only if we honor that public trust we were handed last week.

MORE: Fallin names economic team: Bob Sullivan, David Rainbolt, Gary Sherrer.

There's an effort in Indiana to "rethink redistricting". Here are the principles they espouse for fair redistricting:

  • Keep communities of interest together
  • Create more compact and geographically uniform districts
  • Reduce voters' confusion about who represents them by following already existing political boundaries such as county and township lines
  • Not use any political data including incumbent addresses for partisan reasons
  • "Nest" two house districts under the existing lines of a senate district

The five principles are similar to ideas I espoused in a Tulsa Tribune "Point of View" piece on redistricting I wrote way back in 1991, "Those Districts Belong to Us." (A Tribune editorial ten days later marks the only time in history that a local daily newspaper editorial has said I "had it right.")

With the new influx and the scarcity of Democrats in the legislature, it ought to be possible to draw sensible new legislative lines. In 2001, Democrats would take a chunk of suburbia and combine it with a vast rural area. The idea was to maximize the number of rural, presumably Democrat voters and to divide up the presumably Republican suburbs and minimize their ability to elect their own. That's no longer necessary. If you have 70 seats, there's no point in drawing crazy lines to get your yield up to 80 or 90. The new districts ought to be more compact and more uniform. No more 60-mile long, 5 mile-wide gerrymanders (or Marymanders, either).

Take a look at this map of State House districts after the 2001 lines were drawn. Notice how many mostly rural districts extend a finger into the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas -- 22, 25, 27, 28, 41, 47, 51, 55, 56, 57; 13,16, 36.

How Republicans in the legislature handle redistricting will be an early indication of their commitment to doing the right thing for the people of Oklahoma. Taking a fair approach to redistricting means preserving the right of voters to fire their representatives. It's a matter of accountability and fairness to the voters; fairness to the minority party is merely a side effect.

What I am NOT advocating is to create intentionally competitive districts. Nor should they be tweaked to maximize GOP seats. Lines ought to be drawn with regard to communities of interest, without regard to the party registration of the inhabitants.

I've got some thoughts but am too tired to articulate them in any detail right now, so here are a few bullet points:

There's lots of reasons to rejoice, particularly in Oklahoma. Every statewide office in Oklahoma is in Republican hands, and they're all good hands, to boot.

Given that the GOP already had control of both houses of the Oklahoma legislature and was in no danger of losing either, I hadn't been paying close attention, so I was floored to learn that Republicans had a gain of 8 House and 6 Senate seats. Republicans beat 5 House incumbents and won three open seats, including House 66 (Sand Springs to midtown Tulsa).

In the Senate, Josh Brecheen beat an incumbent Democrat in Little Dixie (!), 57-43, and Kim David won Senate 18 -- a seat that has belonged to the Easley family (fils et mère) for eons. Republicans won 7 of the 10 Senate seats on the ballot. There were 4 unchallenged D seats, but 10 unchallenged R seats, making the total GOP take in this election 17-7.

Partisan breakdown in the upcoming 53rd Oklahoma Legislature: 70 R - 31 D in the House, 32 R - 16 D in the Senate.

Republicans won every contested DA election. Having Republican DAs in rural Oklahoma is a very big deal. That, plus the election of Gary Jones as State Auditor, may mean that shenanigans by county and municipal governments, school boards, and various other boards and authorities will get the scrutiny they deserve. Rex Duncan, former State Rep., is now DA for District 10 (Osage, Pawnee), and Brian Kuester won his second attempt for DA in District 27 (Wagoner, Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah). Alan Gentges, the Democrat nominee for 1st District Congress in 2008, lost his race for DA District 11 (Washington, Nowata) 27%-73%. (Here's a map of the DA districts, which for some reason don't match the judicial districts.)

All the state questions went the way I'd hoped. 744 was deservedly crushed. The NEA blew a lot of money, and we can hope it will deter them from trying anything so foolish in other states.

At the county level, Ken Yazel won re-election as County Assessor (Nancy Bolzle is now officially a perennial candidate), and we kept Wilbert Collins from returning to the County Commission; John Smaligo retained that seat. Republicans need to clean house in 2012.

Nationally, the Republican victory was not as big as I had hoped, but it was still very impressive, with the Dems now below 200 seats in the House. Our Senate success was limited in part because 2004 was a good year for the GOP, so we had fewer opportunities to pick up seats. The distrust earned by the NRSC (endorsing RINOs like Charlie Crist over good conservative candidates like Marco Rubio) left them with fewer dollars to spend on GOTV.

I was in the room Tuesday night, at about 11 pm, when Francisco Canseco gave his victory speech. Returns were slow to come in, the gap was only a few thousand votes, so it took a while before victory was assured. Although I missed being with old friends at watch parties in Tulsa, it was exciting to have had a small part (making phone calls Monday night) in defeating a Democrat and getting Nancy Pelosi fired as speaker and off that Gulfstream jet.

NRO political analyst Jim Geraghty tweeted on Wednesday:

Bizarre feeling this morning. In short, this is the most frustrating overwhelming landslide victory of all time.

Despite all the good news, I felt the same way. More about that in another post.

Corrected: Republicans have 32 seats in the State Senate, not 24 as I first wrote.

Happy Election Day! Polls open across Oklahoma at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Results should start rolling in soon after. The state election board website will update results as they are received from the county election boards. These will lag the results from media sources, as TV and radio stations send runners to precincts to read the results, which are posted on each precinct door shortly after the polls close. To be included in the state election board's numbers, a precinct's results have to be taken to the county election board to be read into the state election computer system.

The Tulsa County Election Board promises to have live Tulsa County election results on the web.

A few resources as you go to vote:

If you run into any difficulty voting or spot any irregularity, contact the your county election board (and get some cell phone video or photos if you can). The phone number for the Tulsa County Election Board is 918-596-5780.

You may see petition circulators for Save Our Tulsa outside polling places. By state law they are not allowed any nearer than 300' -- the length of a football field -- of the ballot box. If you see a circulator within this zone, notify the precinct officials and/or call the election board and the sheriff's office. For more on this issue, read the letter by attorney Greg Bledsoe of Tulsans Defending Democracy.

Posted 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, November 2, 2010. Postdated to remain at the top of the blog through poll closing time.

My picks for the final congressional result:

House 276 R - 179 D (Republican net gain of 98.)

Senate 52 R - 48 D (Republican net gain of 11: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.)

Remember: You can still help be the wave. In Tulsa, you can be a sign waver or make get-out-the-vote (GOTV) phone calls. Call Jed at 580-239-2988 or Jason at 918-261-4309 to volunteer, or just stop by Tulsa County GOP HQ.

FreedomWorks would like your help making GOTV phone calls in key races across the country.

At the very least, you can personally contact 10 of your friends and encourage them to vote. It makes a difference.

Even though I'm in San Antonio on business for a bit, I still found one more thing to do to help. I went to Frederico Canseco HQ, along with about 50 other volunteers, and dialed almost 200 numbers this evening. It was fun, and it's always interesting (to me, at any rate) to learn about new campaign processes and technologies. Canseco is challenging a two-term Democrat incumbent, Ciro Rodriguez. You may remember the YouTube video of Rodriguez swatting a bunch of papers at a constituent. Canseco is favored to win.

City Council Attorney Drew Rees has had an up-close and personal view of John Eagleton since his election to the Tulsa City Council in 2006. The blatant lie in Linda Morrissey's radio ad -- the claim that Eagleton has no significant legal experience -- has motivated Rees to speak up in support of Eagleton:

I have worked with John Eagleton for over four years. I have observed him in very stressful and contentious times. In every instance, he did not fold under pressure, and did what he believed was right. I have seen John in the courtroom, where he beat some of Tulsa's best attorneys. I have seen him be a solitary vote against a proposal and end up being vindicated in the end. He has been tried by fire and sustained his integrity. He is honest, fair, unbiased, and a very good attorney. Things I look for in a judge.

This is the first time I have openly supported a City Councilor in any campaign. Ms. Morrissey's radio commercial is why. She knowingly lied about John's legal experience, (she said he has "reportedly insignificant legal experience," when she knows he has over 25 years in as a practicing attorney, including his work as an assistant D.A.).

She also ridicules his public service as a City Councilor. I know the pressures of running for office. It is a crucible which reveals who you are and how you will act under stress. If someone cannot maintain their honesty and integrity during a relatively minor judicial race, how quickly their honesty and integrity will fold under pressures from campaign donors, death penalty decisions, or the other intense pressures which every judge must face during their tenure. She has shown she cannot withstand those pressures. John did withstand those pressures and much stronger ones.

Tulsa needs John Eagleton as a judge. He will do what is right, and treat everyone fairly. That is why I am asking you to vote for John Eagleton for judge.

Drew Rees

On Eagleton's website is a long list of community leaders who endorse him, including State Sen. Randy Brogdon, Tim Harris (the sitting District Attorney, in his individual capacity), former DA Chuck Richardson, current City Councilors Jack Henderson, Rick Westcott, Roscoe Turner, and G. T. Bynum, Sally Bell (current GOP chairman), Jerry Buchanan (former GOP chairman), Reuben Gant (Greenwood Chamber of Commerce), and many more.

While I encourage you to vote straight Republican in Oklahoma -- in every race I've looked at, the Republican is the best choice -- there are a few races where I want to underline, bold, and otherwise call attention to my endorsement, because the stakes are so high and the GOP candidate is far and away the best choice. A prime example: Gary Jones for State Auditor and Inspector.

Our previously elected auditor, Jeff McMahan, is now in prison, thanks in large part to Gary Jones's investigation, performed on his own time and on his own dime.

McMahan's appointed successor, Steve Burrage, appears to have ties to the old Stipe-Phipps-McMahan political corruption machine. From Steve Fair's blog entry about the auditor's race:

Shouldn't voters know that Burrage's bank was the one used by former State Senator Gene Stipe and Steve Phipps to funnel taxpayer dollars to their non-existent dog food plant? In the interest of full disclosure, shouldn't the paper tell voters his brother was Stipe's lawyer?

It is curious that Gov. Henry would reach into Antlers, the tiny seat of Pushmataha County in southeast Oklahoma, to pick a new auditor, when it just happened to have been home to the abstract company owned by Steve Phipps and Gene Stipe and the Rural Development Foundation that was central to the scheme. What are the odds?

Even though he's on the state's time and dime, Burrage hasn't been able to complete the Broken Arrow school district audit as scheduled. According to Jones, Burrage hasn't completed a single county audit.

I believe that we have barely scratched the surface of government corruption in Oklahoma. There are so many ways you could hide the scams and ripoffs: transferable tax credits, no-bid single-source contracts, large contracts structured into smaller ones to stay under the threshold requiring competition.

Here's a great way you could enrich yourself, if you were a county commissioner, at the taxpayer's expense: Form an LLC to handle bond management services, but be sure you aren't listed as a registered agent. As a member of the county's industrial authority, you vote to hire that LLC to handle the county's bond business. The LLC charges higher than customary rates for bond management, and you get the profits. Sure, the taxpayer gets less value for his taxes because too much is going to bond-related expenses, but you deserve it.

Now if you're a taxpayer and want to uncover such shenanigans, you need Gary Jones, CPA, as State Auditor. He has the intellectual firepower to look at a financial statement and to know where to start digging. He has the persistence to keep digging in the face of resistance. In fact, he knows that resistance means you've found the right place to dig. Gary Jones has the courage to step on toes when he needs too, even when those toes belong to fellow Republicans.

I trust Gary Jones to find waste, fraud, and abuse, so that taxpayers can keep more of their money and so that the money we send to our state capitol and our county courthouses is used truly to serve the citizens, not to line someone's pockets.

Read more about Gary Jones and his opponent on the Gary Jones for Auditor website. In this article, Gary rebuts Burrage's mudslinging attacks.

The clubby insiders are doing all they can to oust County Assessor Ken Yazel. It might be because he's the only county official who has opposed county tax increases for frivolities. It might be because he insists on assessing fair market value for everyone, even the very wealthy. It might be because he not only professes to support transparency, he lives it, making county property records, which are public records, available in a convenient way to the public.

I got a mailer Thursday from Nancy Bolzle, the unqualified Democrat running against County Assessor Ken Yazel, and I'm planning to hold onto it for a long time. It contains what may be the definitive list of Money Belt RINOs -- the kind of Republicans for whom money and connections mean more than principle. On this list you will find Republicans (in name, at least) who supported Money Belt Democrats like Susan Savage and Kathy Taylor for Mayor. Some of the list's members backed the recall effort against Republican City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. I see several names that were involved in Tulsans for Better Government -- the first group to push for at-large councilors -- and TBG's successor, Save Our Tulsa, Dahlink. These RINOs like non-partisan elections, because the only party that matters to them is the kind that Danna Sue Walker writes about in the society column monopoly daily newspaper. They aren't the kind of Republicans that support limited government. Big government is dandy as long as it's run by themselves, their associates, and those who are beholden to them.

There are lots of homebuilders and developers on the list. It might be because of social connections, or it might be because, if you own a lot of real estate, you'd like to have some control over the person who controls your property tax level.

It's hard to find comps for a house worth, say, $25 million, so -- hypothetically speaking -- if you own such a house, you might want an assessor who will use her discretion to lowball your assessment, in gratitude for all the exciting parties she'll get to attend in your $25 million house. (The taxes for the little people will have to go up to make up the difference, but that's no skin off your nose.) You probably wouldn't want the assessor to be an old Marine major who insists on fair treatment for the great and lowly alike and who could care less about your fancy parties in your fancy house.

There was a robocall Sunday night smearing Yazel, coming from a shadowy organization called "Tulsans for Truth." The message started with "I'm not Sarah Palin but I AM a Republican." I guess we won't find out until after the election who has funded this group. I have my guesses. I won't be surprised to see a list of Vanguard corporate officials and other business partners of Mr. Kathy Taylor -- the same ones that helped Chris Trail beat Bill Martinson. These Money Belt RINOs (and DINOs) don't want smart people like Bill Martinson and Ken Yazel in government, watching how your money gets spent.

I hope you'll vote for Ken Yazel, and you'll call 10 of your friends and tell them to do the same. It's important for taxpayers to have at least one true friend at the county courthouse.

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