December 2011 Archives


Several recent poll results suggest that Texas Congressman Ron Paul could be in for a good result this coming Tuesday, the night that Iowa voters gather for Republican precinct caucuses, the first step in a series of conventions that will lead to the selection of delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Paul is running 1st or 2nd in the most recent five polls tabulated by Real Clear Politics, with anywhere between 17% and 24% support.

Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday night's straw poll of precinct caucus attendees, Iowa's delegates and alternates will not be bound to a presidential candidate, and there's at least one scenario in which the "winner" of Tuesday's straw poll won't have any representation at all in Iowa's RNC delegation.

Journalists who don't have the patience to read party rules or the intelligence to appreciate careful distinctions will wrongly assume that Iowa's RNC delegation will be allocated proportionately to the straw poll result (because that's how the Democrats do it) or that all the delegates will be awarded to the first-place finisher (because so many Republican primaries are winner-take-all).

This isn't a primary. It's a non-binding straw poll of those who show up for the precinct meetings. It's more representative of grassroots opinion than the Ames straw poll, because people don't have to be bussed in or pay a significant fee to vote. For the Iowa caucus straw poll, Republicans will vote near their homes, all over the state, for free. Turnout will be higher than Ames by an order of magnitude -- about 17,000 votes were cast at Ames, about 120,000 were cast on caucus night four years ago. Media interest in the outcome is reasonable, especially with no previous hard numbers from any state to indicate candidate strength, but media attempts to estimate delegate count based on Tuesday's GOP result are baloney. The true count of bound delegates on Wednesday morning will be goose-eggs across the board.

Oklahoma Republicans will have caucuses just like Iowa, only four weeks later. On February 1, we'll gather in homes, churches, and cafes, elect delegates to the county convention, vote on potential party platform planks, and conduct a straw poll. Turnout won't be as high, and there won't be any media attention, but functionally, there's no difference between the Oklahoma caucuses and the Iowa caucuses. Unlike Iowa, however, Oklahoma's delegates will be bound to vote for the statewide winner and congressional district winners in our presidential preference primary in March.

That's not to say that Tuesday's caucuses accomplish nothing beyond manipulating public opinion about the GOP horserace. Real decisions are made that will affect what happens in Tampa.

Each precinct will elect delegates to the county convention. The county conventions, held on March 10, will each elect delegates to the state convention.

At the state convention on June 16, state delegates will caucus by congressional district to elect three delegates and three alternates each to the national convention. The state convention as a whole will elect 13 delegates. Three ex officio delegates, Iowa's members of the Republican National Committee, complete the total of 28 delegates -- the State Chairman, the National Committeeman and the National Committeewoman.

At that June convention, a majority of delegates might decide to elect a slate of national delegates who are inclined to support a particular candidate. That could happen if no candidate has a majority of national delegates sewn up at that point.

More likely, by June the nomination will already be decided, and the privilege of being a national delegate will be bestowed on hardworking volunteers and generous donors to the state and county parties, for the most part without regard to their presidential preference. In 2008, John McCain finished 4th in the Iowa caucus straw poll with 13.7% of the vote, but at the national convention, all 40 Iowa delegates voted for John McCain. By the time the state convention was held in July (delayed a month due to massive flooding), John McCain was the only candidate who hadn't withdrawn from contention. Thompson and Guiliani dropped out in January, Romney dropped out in February, Huckabee in March, and Paul in June.

So back to the situation I suggest in the headline to this post. Let's say Paul's support holds and he finishes first in a close race, with about 25% of the statewide caucus vote. That vote won't be evenly distributed. Some precincts will have a majority of Ron Paul supporters in attendance, and I would expect those precincts to elect Ron Paul supporters as their delegates to the county convention and to pass platform resolutions reflecting Ron Paul's distinctive opinions.

But in this scenario, in the vast majority of precincts, Paul's support will be far below 50%. In these precincts, I would expect supporters of "Non-Paul" candidates to band together and ensure that no Ron Paul supporters represent them at the county convention. There will be exceptions -- a Paulistinian who is a long-time party activist or a community leader might be advanced to the next level.

At the county level, there may be a few counties with a concentration of Paul supporters where the majority of county delegates will be Paul fans and will elect their own to the state convention. But at most county conventions, Paul's support will be less than 25%, and "Non-Paul" delegates will band together to keep Paul supporters away from the state convention.

If Paul is to have any backers at all at the state convention, it will only happen if the campaign successfully mobilizes its supporters to constitute a majority of the caucusers at a majority of the precincts in at least one county. If Paul's 25% support is spread evenly across the state, he will have no delegates at the Iowa state convention and no delegates from Iowa in Tampa.

This outcome would not be the result of a grand establishment conspiracy against Ron Paul. It would be a reflection of how Paul polarizes the Republican electorate. While Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, and Gingrich supporters may disagree about the relative merits of their candidates, they are all likely to agree with each other and differ strongly with Paul supporters on issues like Iran, Israel, drug legalization, and whether 9/11 was an "inside job."

The supporters of these four candidates may likewise band together to prevent Romney supporters from advancing to the county convention, so that, if there's still an active contest in June, the convention would pick national delegates who will back the non-Romney and non-Paul candidate still in the race.

This sort of thing happened in Oklahoma in 2008. Ron Paul supporters dominated some county conventions and attempted to get their people elected as national delegates and placed on the statewide slate nominated by the state executive committee. A certain amount of stealth was used -- they didn't identify themselves as Paul backers when campaigning for delegate slots and they stayed away from his distinctive issues. They succeeded in capturing two delegate slots in the 2nd Congressional District, which was the first of the five district conventions. At the the 1st district convention, "Non-Paul" supporters circulated lists of Ron Paul backers seeking delegate slots.

Since the majority of delegates at Oklahoma's district and state conventions were conventionally conservative Republicans who backed Huckabee, McCain, Romney, and Thompson, they voted for their fellow conventional conservatives for delegate, and Paul backers were shut out. Although all the Oklahoma delegates were bound to vote for the primary winner (6 for Huckabee, 32 for McCain), the worry was that several state delegations full of Paul backers would have created a lot of upset at the national convention, reshaping the platform in disturbing ways and possibly overthrowing rules that bound them to vote for other candidates. In the end, the two Ron Paul supporters in the Oklahoma delegation, bound to vote for Huckabee, were released when he dropped out of the race, and they voted for Paul in the roll call, two of Paul's 23 delegates.

Ron Paul may "win" the Iowa caucuses straw poll by a narrow margin with a tiny plurality, and that result may boost fundraising and volunteer activity, but it won't boost his delegate count at all.

RESOURCES: The Green Papers website does a great job of getting the details right on the American political process. Some pages that served as information sources for this entry:

MORE perspective on Ron Paul:

Eric Dondero, long time Ron Paul aide, speaks out about the Ron Paul newsletters

David Bahnsen: The Undiscerning and Dangerous Appreciation of Ron Paul: "Ron Paul knows full well that his closest connections are a mixed bag of the most extremist sort of anarcho-capitalists...."

I spent several hours speaking with Ron Paul shortly after 9/11. He informed me that the Islamicist threat was a made up one, just as the Communist threat of the 1950's and 1960's was. He told me, to my face, in his own words, that Lew Rockwell and his people were the only ones calling a spade a spade: America did deserve what the Islamicists were trying to do to us, and if we simply learned to leave them alone, they would in turn leave us alone. It was among the most despicable and disappointing conversations I have ever had with another adult....

My concern is not Ron Paul's errors on this subject. My concern is that he has used the freedom movement to generate name recognition and fame, and then through sleight of hand converted the popularity over his limited government rhetoric to promote an agenda of anti-Americanism and military isolationism.

HotAir: Paul: I did write parts of the newsletters but not the bad parts. In a radio interview with WHO, Paul changes his story about his newsletters, and effectively disavows only a "total of eight or ten sentences" from his newsletter output, while claiming that he didn't see the edited newsletters and didn't know about the objectionable sentences for years. When I was writing a weekly column that someone else edited, you can bet that I read the published version of the story as soon as it hit the streets and squawked when an edit put something even mildly objectionable in my mouth. As I wrote on one such occasion in 2007:

When words appear under my byline, they are identified with me, and they speak for me, whether I wrote them or not. I don't appreciate having my name associated with opinions or attitudes I don't share....

I appreciate what copy editors do. I'm grateful when they fix my typos, add transitional sentences when I lurch too quickly from one idea to another, and make me look smarter, Charlotte's Web style, by putting brilliant headlines over my words. And when they get carried away, I'll handle it as I did this time -- let the readers know of the discrepancy and mend fences with the individuals who might have been offended by what someone else wrote under my name.

(Here's another example from my farewell to Michael DelGiorno;I protested the editor's gratuitous aside backhanding author Michael Wallis, whom I greatly admire.)

Christmas dissent

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Brian Ervin, former reporter (and a darned good one) for Urban Tulsa Weekly, has started a blog called, and his first entry asks some tough questions of his fellow Christians about Christmas:

Jesus said, "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it."

So when we say "Christmas is all about family" as an alternative to the commercialism that typifies the season, does that really honor Him? Howler monkeys and hyenas and wolves have "family values" all on their own, quite apart from any Christian influence.

When we celebrate this mish-mash of customs and obligations we call "Christmas," do we really do it to worship Him? Or is it just that these are a part of our cultural security blanket, and we do it out of childhood nostalgia or a sense of obligation to the people who inculcated those customs?

Julie R. Neidlinger has had her fill of Christmas, American style:

Church, which should be a place where the never-ending nails-on-chalkboard noise slips away, becomes its own monster. Pressure to be festive and solemn and then festive and then introspective at church services, as jerked about by worship leaders and sermons and well-meaning folks leaves me nothing but angry. This last Sunday, the sermon was wonderful and just as I began to mull it over in the difficult place in life I find myself, it was wiped from usefulness by a rendition of the Chipmunks Christmas song and wanting hula hoops because I guess Christmas is about the kids and we can't possibly leave the service without choking down something upbeat.

Don't miss that link in the above quote. It leads to Julie's account of a Christmas eve megachurch service that seemed to miss the whole point.

My own Christmas eve church experience this year (also at a megachurch, with the relatives we were visiting) began with clips from Rankin/Bass holiday specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, Jingle All the Way, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and, of course, A Christmas Story, displayed on the big screen in an endless loop until it was time for the Christmas concert to begin in earnest. Yes, concert -- the worship leader and his family, amped up so we couldn't hear the singing of our fellow audience members, and the lights down so we could keep our focus on the family at the front. ("What would Christmas eve be without the [worship leader's] family?" asked the senior pastor rhetorically. An actual worship service, perhaps?) And this was what they called the "traditional service."

There was one almost traditional touch: At the end, we sang "Silent Night" as candlelight spread through the audience, along with the sickly green-yellow glow of the glowsticks they gave to the small children (liability issues, presumably).

Finally, here's an interesting story about Christmas eve traditions from a religious group that doesn't observe Christmas: Slate: Benyamin Cohen: Holy Night: The Little Known Jewish Holiday of Christmas Eve. Seriously. It's about Jewish traditions that evolved from the 1500s or earlier, in the face of persecution, on how to keep oneself safe and holy on the Christian holiday.

MORE: Here's another Jewish Christmas tradition via a photo posted by GaelGreene on Twitter. The sign in the photo reads:

The Chinese Rest.
of the United States

would like to extend
our thanks to
The Jewish People

we do not completely
understand your dietary

But we are proud and
grateful that your GOD
insist you eat our food
on Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

Roundup 2011/12/28

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I got some potpourri for Christmas, so here's some potpourri for you -- an assortment of interesting articles from the last couple of weeks.

nov. 2004 006_edited
Photo by Lathyrus on Flickr

Warner Todd Huston: The newspaper typo that began NORAD's tradition of tracking Santa on Christmas eve in 1955.

James Lileks invites you to peruse a collection of Christmas ads and other ephemera from the '50s and '60s.

During the run-up to Christmas, Tweets of Old featured Santa letters published by newspapers a century or so ago on its Facebook page. One of the sweetest:

Dear Santa Claus,

I am not going to ask for much this Xmas for there are so many little girls and boys I know it would be impossible to carry them all lots of presents. Then you are getting old and I know it must be hard for you to get about.

I have a beautiful doll so please bring me a little bed for it, a rubber ball and just anything you have left after visiting the other children.

With best wishes to you and Mrs. Santa Claus, I remain.

Clyde Butler, Starkville, Mississippi, 1921

Gawker: The endlessly quotable Vaclav Havel (1935-2011): Havel was a playwright, dissident under Communist rule of Czechoslovakia, and the first president of liberated Czechoslovakia. *He had the media misfortune of passing away on the same day as Christopher Hitchens and Kim Jong-Il.) My favorite of the quotes listed:

"You do not become a dissident just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society."

Havel wrote a 2004 column about Kim Jong-Il and North Korea under Communism, comparing the stories of North Korean refugees to the news from Auschwitz escapees that alerted the world to the reality of the Holocaust:

Today, the testimony of thousands of North Korean refugees, who have survived the miserable journey through Communist China to free South Korea, tell of the criminal nature of the North Korean dictatorship. Accounts of repression are supported and verified by modern satellite images, and clearly illustrate that North Korea has a functioning system of concentration camps. The Kwan-li-so, or the political penal-labour colony, holds as many as 200,000 prisoners who are barely surviving day-to-day or are dying in the same conditions as did the millions of prisoners in the Soviet gulag system in the past.

The Northern part of the Korean peninsula is governed by the world's worst totalitarian dictator, who is responsible for taking millions of human lives. Kim Jong-il inherited the extensive Communist regime following the death of his father Kim Il-sung, and has shamelessly continued to strengthen the cult of personality.

He sustains one of the largest armies in the world and is producing weapons of mass destruction. The centrally planned economy and the state ideology of juche have led the country into famine. The victims of the North Korean regime number in the millions....

Innocent North Koreans are dying of hunger or are closed in concentration camps, as Kim Jong-il continues to blackmail the world.

Now is the time for the democratic countries of the world - the European Union, the United States, Japan and, last but not least, South Korea - to unify under a common position. These countries must make it perfectly clear that they will not make concessions to a totalitarian dictator.

They must state that respect for basic human rights is an integral part of any future discussions with Pyongyang. Decisiveness, perseverance and negotiations from a position of strength are the only things that Kim Jong-il and those similar to him understand.

Let's hope that the world does not need any more horrifying testimony to realize this.

An Investors Business Daily editorial ponders the outpouring of grief by North Koreans at the death of Kim Jong-Il:

The world witnessed a grotesque spectacle Tuesday as millions of North Koreans mourned the death of the world's most odious dictator. It's a classic demonstration of the dehumanization of communism.

In the free world, tears would never be shed for a monster like Kim Jong Il, the megalomaniac who ruled North Korea with an iron fist for 17 years, leaving a legacy of man-made famine, a network of Gulag prison camps for free thinkers, and bone-grinding poverty for workers unlike any other place on earth.

But in a reminder of what totalitarianism does to human minds, thousands of North Koreans -- mostly soldiers -- loudly wailed at the death of the tyrant known as "dear leader." It's a reminder this nation remains an enemy state of highly damaged individuals who have no understanding of freedom, a worrisome thing in a nation of nuclear weapons and evil intentions.

National Review Online, Hans von Spakovsky: Yes, Virginia, there really is voter fraud, as demonstrated by recent convictions of city officials and Democrat operatives in Troy, N. Y., for forging absentee ballots:

As for the constant liberal claims that voter fraud does not occur, one of the Democratic operatives who pled guilty, Anthony DeFiglio, told New York State police investigators "that faking absentee ballots was a commonplace and accepted practice in political circles, all intended to swing an election." And whose votes do they steal? DeFiglio was very plain about that: "The people who are targeted live in low-income housing, and there is a sense that they are a lot less likely to ask any questions."

Heavy manufacturing is making a comeback in the US, writes Joel Kotkin, and Oklahoma City is 10th on the list of best cities for industrial job growth. (Tulsa didn't make the top 50.) And, by the way, we need more engineering majors to fuel this growth.

Maybe there's something to this notion of the Anglosphere: The five most charitable countries in the world in 2011, in terms of giving money, volunteering time, and helping strangers are the USA, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Last year's top five were Australia, New Zealand, Ireland/Canada (tie), USA/Switzerland (tie). The ranking by the Charities Aid Foundation is based on the percent of the population that acts charitably, rather than the amount of charity. (Via Ace of Spades HQ overnight thread.)

Michelle Malkin: The Year in Obama Scandals -- and scandal deniers: Fast and Furious / Gunwalker, Solyndra, LightSquared, Carol Browner, the drilling ban, Obamacare waivers to cronies, voter fraud, and more.

Another Investors Business Daily editorial explains the light bulb ban (suspended for now) as another example of how regulation helps the politically connected big business at the expense of small business. (Via Michael Chamberlain on Twitter.)

Margaret Thatcher in the Commons on European monetary union (video). According to the description for this video, this speech on October 30, 1990, sealed Thatcher's downfall, betrayed by Europhile members of the Conservative Party, including members of her own cabinet, who had decided she was an obstacle to their dream of a single European state. (Anyone familiar with the evolution of the European Union and particularly with the way the ruling class in each country, from every party, ignore the objections of their countrymen to the loss of national sovereignty will understand the origin of similar fears in the United States of America.)

The American Bar Association punished a law school applying for provisional accreditation because officials spoke to the New York Times for an article about how ABA accreditation drives up the cost of a law degree. Time to bust up this cartel.

Jack Frank, maker of many wonderful films about Tulsa history, has posted home movie footage of a Christmas parade in downtown Tulsa, from sometime in the late 1940s. The vantage point is on the east side of Main Street, a hundred feet or so south of 6th Street, looking west across Main Street and northwest beyond 6th on Main. The only nearby building still standing is the former HQ of Public Service Company of Oklahoma on the southwest corner of 6th and Main.

The floats are elaborate, appear to be depictions of nursery rhymes, but there are no signs to indicate who the sponsors were.

Someone who knows vehicles might be able to pinpoint the date more precisely. The three long words identifying the business on the northwest corner of 6th and Main (where Dalessandros once was located) might be a clue as well.

Merry Christmas

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... from the extended Bates family to your family.

Michael Bates and family, Philbrook, 2011, with Santa and Mrs. Claus

Photo by Cole Elijah Cunningham, featuring Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus at Philbrook.


A call to prayer from King's College, Cambridge, and nearly 100 years ago:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

A hymn:

As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright
So, most glorious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom Heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin's alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.

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

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

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge, is available for listening online via BBC Radio 4.

Experimental surround sound recordings of Lessons and Carols from 1958 and 2007 are also available on the BBC website.

MORE: My reminiscences about Lessons and Carols.

Greenwood-Sanborn-1939-500.pngOne of the fun things about blogging for over eight years is when someone posts a comment or sends an email about a long-ago blog entry. Someone is searching on the web for information, perhaps about family or friends, and finds one of my entries, then writes a note to fill in more details, often with a touching personal story.

Yesterday, Brenda Terry posted a comment on my entry on the 90th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot, in which I talked about Greenwood after the riot -- its rebuilding and flourishing, followed by its second demolition in the name of urban renewal. She offered her own recollections and those of her mother. Brenda is the daughter of blues great Flash Terry; Rocky Frisco recalls sitting in with Flash's band on Greenwood back in 1957, one of the anecdotes I cited in my talk about Greenwood's post-riot rebirth.

Thanks Mike for the information posted on this site regarding Greenwood's Post Riot history.

I am actually the oldest daughter of Flash Terry, you mentioned him briefly in your presentation. Recently my mother spoke about musicians who visited our house in the late 1950's before they were famous (i.e. Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Blues Bland, but that's another story).

My mother grew up on North Owasso, west of Peoria during the late 40's after her mother died. Her mother, before she died in 1940, lived directly across the street from the Mt. Rose Baptist Church on Lansing. She speaks fondly of those days, and of Greenwood. Actually everyone you speak with about Greenwood who is old enough to remember the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's in those days, speak with a hint of pride in their eyes, and a longing for the unity and pride they experience is visible in their voices. One of the memories I have as a very small child in the late 50's, is of my aunt who lived in one of the rooming houses on Deep Greenwood (looks like one of the homes in the photos posted). She worked as a dispatcher for a taxi company. Even now I can remember how bustling and alive the area was back then. When I think of the history plowed down in the name of progress, my heart sinks. The neighborhoods were a testimony for strong and determined people, who in some cases, had fought their way up from the bonds of slavery. During Urban Renewal development, my great-grandmother's home (where I was born),and rental property were destroyed.

Years later, Dunbar Elementary School where both my mother and her children attended, destroyed. I am ashamed that every residence who had history in not only Greenwood, but North Lansing, Owasso, and other streets now under I75, did not make their voices heard, and more importantly make themselves understood. I was a teenager at the time with no interest in history, but since I began researching my family history, I have learned that to know our history is to understand ourselves. Without this knowledge we have no foundation and lack direction.

Thanks again and with deep regards, Brenda.

A bit of fun from 1968 -- a short film by Terry Gilliam, who would become, in 1969, the animator for Monty Python's Flying Circus and the only American member of the cast. Here he works his cutout stop-motion magic on an assortment of Christmas cards.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to fly a cockpit demonstrator for the new F-35 Lightning II aircraft, a multi-mission fighter designed to serve the needs of the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, replacing the aging fleet of A-10, F-16, F-18, and AV-8B jets. Development has had numerous challenges, and cancellation has been discussed, but the F-35 appears to be back on track.

Here's video from Lockheed Martin of ship suitability testing for the F-35B, the short-takeoff, vertical landing version of the new Lightning II aircraft, aboard the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, in October 2011. The two test aircraft completed a total of 72 successful short takeoffs and 72 successful vertical landings -- no catapult needed to launch, no arrestor wire needed to land. The tests occurred on schedule. More at the official F-35 website.

Not Mitt, not Newt

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The Daily Oklahoman used Sunday morning's editorial to shout at Oklahoma Republicans to rally 'round Mitt Romney. In a nutshell, the editorialists said we need to stop wasting time flirting with other possibilities. We need to forgo the frivolous notion of a competitive primary season. Instead, ve musst alles goosestep in lockstep in support of the Only Candidate Who Can Restore America's Greatness. "Now!" they shouted. Heil Romney!


Yes, that is the wire-service photo that the Oklahoman used to illustrate their online endorsement. My copy appears to have a rectangular smudge.

We in the Heartland wait and watch as the Republican debates rage on -- as if we will all text in our votes and pick a winner to stay on the island. This must stop! It is maddening to those of us with strong conservative convictions in the middle of the country. It is enabling Obama to fatten what is already the plumpest campaign war chest in history while the Republicans drain their resources battling each other.

We believe in the primary system, but even a good system can be detrimental when carried too far. To unseat the incumbent, we need total focus on November, not sideshow politics that will dilute the Republican efforts.

Hear that, Republican grassroots volunteers, contributors, and voters? Your deliberating about the best candidate for our party's nomination is mere "sideshow politics." Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated!

Good people do the right thing at the right time regardless of party politics. They don't wait for others. The time to unite behind Romney is now, not after Iowa or New Hampshire or the Oklahoma primary in early March. Now!

"Dad-blast it! I said, now! now! now! you cretinous mob!"

I was fascinated to see that there was a joint editorial meeting involving Romney and the Oklahoman and the Washington Examiner. Were Oklahoman editorial writers summoned to Washington for an audience? Or were they conferenced in on speakerphone? Did Oklahoma not even rate a visit for an endorsement?

There has been a steady stream of Romney endorsements in recent days. It's almost as if a desperate candidate, conscious that he is no longer regarded as inevitable, conscious that a majority of Republican voters want someone besides him to win the nomination, is trying to restart the bandwagon. What do you suppose he is saying behind the scenes to these editorial boards and elected officials to get them to jump to his side?

Even columnist Ann Coulter has gone from saying Romney would lead us to sure defeat against Obama to saying he's the most conservative candidate in the race and the best one to beat Obama, while insulting conservative Tea Party voters in the process.

Romney's fluidity in moving from one position to its near opposite on social and fiscal issues makes it hard for me to trust him. In 2007, Joan Venocchi of the Boston Globe documented Romney's extreme flip-flops on abortion.

Paul Rahe says Romney a chameleon and documents even more statements of the earlier version of Romney which contradict the current Romney's views on a wide range of issues. Rahe's conclusion is that he can't be trusted and that he's not that hot a candidate anyway.

I cannot see how any conservative can support Mitt Romney. I can see how conservatives might vote for him - certainly, if he is the only alternative to Barack Obama, and also if there is no other plausible Republican candidate, as Ramesh Ponnuru argues on National Review Online. But if we do vote for him, we should not lie to ourselves about what we are doing, and we should keep the heat on him if he is elected.

I should perhaps add that I do not regard Mitt Romney as a shoo-in. He is not an especially accomplished politician. He is a man who won one election. When he ran for Senate, he lost. When he considered running for re-election as Governor, he chose not to do so because he knew that he would lose. When he ran for the Republican nomination in 2008, he lost. If you watch his debate with Ted Kennedy and his interview with Bret Baier and consider the manner in which he misrepresented Romneycare in the Las Vegas debates, you can see why he lost. His responses, when he is not mouthing boilerplate that he has memorized, seem contrived. He is evasive and sometimes petulant. One can see him calculating with regard to what would best play with the general public, and what he says and does is often inept. He often looks like what he is: a man with no political principles who is pandering, and he is actually pretty bad at pandering. He is not quick in discerning which way the wind is blowing. He spent the last four years preparing for the 2011/12 campaign, and he blundered and blundered badly in the manner in which he positioned himself for the race. It is perfectly possible that Barack Obama will make mincemeat of him in a televised debate. Ted Kennedy did.

Michael Barone, who went to high school with Romney, relates a quote from a Romney colleague:

Asked by friends what Romney was really like, one Bain Capital veteran responded, "Which four or five of the Romneys do you mean?"

Flexibility of strategy and tactics are fine; flexibility of principle is not.

Rahe writes that Newt Gingrich is no better than Romney -- the two are "peas in a pod":

In short, Gingrich is a lot like Romney. Neither man recognizes that the source of our problems is government meddling and the distortion that this produces in what would otherwise be a free and relatively efficient market. What they think of as a cure is, in fact, the disease. Fannie and Freddie, with the help of a Federal Reserve Board that kept interest rates artificially low for a very long time, produced the subprime mortgage bubble and the subsequent economic crash. If healthcare is outrageously expensive and health insurance can be hard to get, it is because of the manner in which the federal and state governments structure and regulate the market. What these managerial progressives in their desperation to manage the lives of the rest of us fail to understand is that the intellectual presumption underpinning the aspiration to "rational administration" that they embrace is the principal cause of our woes....

It is a scandal that the Republican Party cannot do better than these two at a time of opportunity like the one in which we live.

The last word goes to Mark Steyn, who believes that neither Romney nor Gingrich is capable of the kind of leadership we need in these perilous times:

So, for me, it's not enough merely to replace Obama: He's a symptom of the problem, rather than the underlying cause. The ship of state has become encrusted with barnacles upon barnacles, and, if the next guy isn't committed to getting rid of them, we're still going to sink....

This next term is critical for America, not just because (if the IMF is correct) it may mark the end of America's long run as the world's leading economy but because, if Obamacare is not repealed in the next four years, it will never be repealed.... Once the Obamacare goodies kick in, getting back across the Rubicon will be a tough job. Nothing in Mitt's past suggests he's got either the stomach for that fight or the savvy to win it....

So, if these are "crazy and extraordinary times," go with the crazy, right? Newt certainly thinks bigger than Mitt, but unfortunately he thinks in the same direction of unbounded micro-managerial faux-technocracy.

Steyn's concluding paragraph sums up the reason behind my futile attempt to get Tom Coburn to file for the Oklahoma primary. It seems we're stuck with two mediocre choices before the voting begins (and it has nothing to do with Mitt's Mormonism or Newt's adultery):

It's a tragedy that the Republican nomination has dwindled down to a choice not worth making. Yet not a single real vote has yet been cast. Iowa and New Hampshire will do us all a favor if they look beyond the frontrunners and keep genuinely conservative candidates in the game.

Me? I'm pulling for Santorum.

TalyllynRailway.pngAmongst the cache of educational short-subject films available at the Internet Archive, I came across this documentary of a narrow-gauge railway in northwestern Wales, the Talyllyn Railway, being kept alive by preservationists. The documentary was released in 1965, but was filmed in the early 1950s.

The railway opened in 1866 mainly for the purpose of hauling slate seven miles from the mines to the sea, but also carrying passengers. The mines having closed, the railway was shut down in October 1950, but reopened by volunteers the following May 1951 and has been continuously operated by volunteers for the 60 years since.

I had read about the Talyllyn Railway in my then-little boy's single-volume collection of Thomas the Tank Engine books (aka The Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry). When work brought me to Shropshire in May 1999, I took the opportunity for a day in north Wales, including a ride on the Talyllyn, from Dolgoch Falls to the top of the line at Nant Gwernol and back, followed by a drive to the seaside at Tywyn and the museum at the end of the line.

The melancholy harmonica of the documentary's theme brings to mind the theme of the long-running Yorkshire sitcom Last of the Summer Wine.

MORE: The filmmaker, Carson "Kit" Davidson, has an interesting biography. He's still around, living near Rutland, Vermont, and editing submissions to medical journals.

A U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) money-laundering and forfeiture complaint filed Thursday, December 15, 2011, in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York lists a Tulsa company, Ace Auto Leasing, Inc., as the recipient of over $20 million in wire transfers from Lebanese financial institutions with links to Lebanese terrorist group Hizbollah ("The Party of God").

The DEA news release describes the alleged money-laundering scheme:

DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara announced today the filing of a civil money-laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint (the "Complaint") alleging a massive, international scheme in which Lebanese financial institutions, including a bank and two exchange houses linked to Hizballah, used the U.S. financial system to launder narcotics trafficking and other criminal proceeds through West Africa and back into Lebanon. As part of the scheme, funds were wired from Lebanon to the United States to buy used cars, which were then transported to West Africa. Cash from the sale of the cars, along with proceeds of narcotics trafficking, were then funneled to Lebanon through Hizballah-controlled money laundering channels. Substantial portions of the cash were paid to Hizballah, which the U.S. Department of State designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997. As alleged in the Complaint, the Hizballah-linked financial institutions involved in the scheme include the Lebanese Canadian Bank ("LCB") and two Lebanese exchange houses - the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company and Ellissa Holding - and their related subsidiaries and affiliates.

The two exchange houses are listed as defendants, and their assets, along with the assets of 30 used car dealers in the United States (including Ace Auto Leasing, Inc.), are named as defendants in rem.

A New York Times graphic from Tuesday, December 13, 2011, depicts the complex flow of money in the alleged money-laundering scheme. Funds from car sales in west Africa and profits from European drug sales wound up in Benin, where the funds were shipped to exchange houses in Lebanon. Some of those funds went to Hizbollah, some money went back to the US via the Lebanese Canadian Bank to buy more used cars, which were shipped to west Africa for sale.

According to page 49 of the DEA complaint (75-page PDF), Ace Auto Leasing Inc. received 219 wire transfers totalling $20,241,183, with the following breakdown by originator:

Hassan Ayash Exchange 4
Mohamad Hassan Hammoud 42
Fadi Hammoud 5
Fadi Star 43
Khodor Fakih 6
Ali Fakih 4
Fakih for General Trade 11

Pages 34-35 of the complaint explain what the Hassan Ayash Exchange is:

E. Hassan Ayash Exchange Company

46. The Hassan Ayash Exchange Company is a money exchange based in Beirut, Lebanon. The Hassan Ayash Exchange is owned and controlled by Mahmoud Hassan Ayash ("Hassan Ayash") and his son, Hassan Mahmoud Ayash. The exchange's principal office is located adjacent to the Caesar Park Hotel in Beirut, which is owned by Ayman Joumaa.

47. Wire transfers originating from the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company totaling approximately $141,522,091 were sent to United States accounts for the purpose of purchasing or shipping cars between in or about January 2007 and in or about January 2011.

48. Hassan Ayash and the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company facilitate bulk cash transfers and money laundering by, among others, Ayman Joumaa and Joumaa's narcotics trafficking and money laundering network.

49. Hassan Ayash has stated that he has family ties to Hizballah, including Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah. Hassan Ayash has further stated that his connections to important people in Lebanon help him provide services for clients of the Hassan Ayash Exchange. Hassan Ayash requires that an existing client of the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company vouch for a prospective client before the prospective client can establish an account with the exchange to transfer large amounts of money.

Here's what pp 47-48 of the complaint states about the other names mentioned above:

c. Khodor Fakih is a Hizballah member from Kafra, Lebanon, who now works in the car business in Cotonou, Benin. Khodor Fakih and Ali Fakih are believed to own and control Fakih for General Trade. From approximately January 2007 through early 2011, Khodor Fakih, Ali Fakih, and Fakih for General Trade wired approximately $2,589,325 to the U.S. relating to buying and shipping cars.

d. Fadi Hassan Hammoud and Mohammad Hassan Hammoud own and operate Fadi Star, a shipping company in Cotonou, Benin. Mohammad Hammoud is a Hizballah supporter from Kafra, Lebanon, and has done business with Khodor Fakih. From approximately January 2007 through early 2011, Fadi Star, Mohammad Hassan Hammoud, and Fadi Hassan Hammoud wired approximately $11,382,906 to the U.S. relating to buying and shipping cars.

KTUL seems to be the first local news outlet to pick up this story. They interviewed DEA Agent Derek Maltz:

He says the investigation is still ongoing and it's questionable whether or not the dealership owners knew they were helping Hezbollah.

"We do not have detailed specific information on what these car dealership owners knew we will investigate it jointly with our partners in the United States and hopefully we will shut them down," says Maltz.

KRMG ran a story recently contrasting the approach that outgoing and incoming members of the Tulsa City Council take to their jobs. The story features outgoing councilor Jim Mautino and incoming councilor Karen Gilbert.

When asked about controversy over the trash contract, Gilbert demurred:

"I'm not going to talk trash," Karen Gilbert quipped when KRMG began to ask her about ongoing issues.

"That's kind of a touchy subject right now," she added, and she says until the trash board finalizes its presentation to the council, she's not ready to state an opinion.

As for the water issue, Gilbert says she and the council will address that question when the trash question has been put to bed.

So despite the fact that the trash service issue has been under discussion for more than a year, during which time she was a candidate for office and presumably asked about the issue once or twice, despite the fact that radical changes are proposed to a system with which most Tulsans are quite pleased, Gilbert hasn't formed an opinion, at least not one she's willing to share, and won't until, apparently, the untouchable TARE board tells her what to think about the plan they devised.

Meanwhile Jim Mautino was proactively researching issues of concern to his constituents right up until the end of his term:

On the trash issue, he said it's a "done deal" and that the city will award a contract that will force residents to go to once-a-week service, which he says is less efficient and more expensive than the twice-a-week service which 80 percent of the city currently receives.

The other 20 percent of the city in the northwest part of town currently gets service only once a week and that service is provided by the city, Mautino says, not a private company.

And in that area, the city is losing money, he maintains, because the bins get overfilled, the trucks have to make more trips back and forth rather than staying on their routes because they get full so much faster and the workers tire more quickly.

Despite the evidence available right at hand, he maintains the city plans to award its contract to a company that will institute once-a-week service.

As for water treatment, Mautino is among several Tulsans who fear the city's plans to go to a chloramine-based treatment system is also a done deal, despite the fact that the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority has a meeting set for December 14th to hear arguments on the issue.

One of the things that seemed to annoy City Hall bureaucrats about the old council was their habit of raising new issues to be discussed, explored, and acted upon. From the bureaucrats' perspective, this meant more work and their own priorities displaced by the councilors' pet issues.

Nearly all of the outgoing councilors had certain priorities that were inconvenient or outright obnoxious to the administration, the authorities, and special interests. Jim Mautino was concerned about animal control, food truck sanitation, chloramines in water, and encouraging new, high quality development in east Tulsa. John Eagleton pushed for computerization of municipal citations and court records, limiting the growth of the city budget, and integrity in the Mayor's and City Attorney's office. Maria Barnes was particularly interested in protection of midtown neighborhoods from commercial encroachment and inappropriate redevelopment. Roscoe Turner's key issues included the impact of airport noise on nearby neighborhoods and possible pollutants from a burn facility at a cement plant. Fiscal matters, such as the rapid growth of the public safety budget, were a major focus for Rick Westcott. Bill Christiansen led a task force about improving communication between the city and neighborhoods in the zoning process. Chris Trail was concerned about prostitution and human trafficking that might be taking place in Tulsa's massage parlors.

(Trail's noble but ultimately futile attempt to require massage parlor owners to be accountable for criminal activities in their facilities is the topic of a news story by Jennie Lloyd in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly.)

Although the specific issues varied, in each case these councilors were willing to spend time outside the scheduled meetings to read, to talk to citizens, to commission research from the council staff (and actually read it), and then to keep pushing for action. That's pretty much a recipe for annoying city officials.

It won't be necessary for Burt Holmes or Ben Latham to sit in the front row of the audience and hold up "YES" or "NO" signs to tell their city councilors how to vote. These councilors won't need to attend secret meetings with Chamber lobbyists.

WhatMeDewey.jpgIf Gilbert is representative of the new crop of councilors, they'll be content to be spoon-fed information from the mayor, the department heads, and the members and staffers of authorities, boards, and commissions. The string-pullers need only work behind the scenes to manipulate those who are generating the information that the councilors are consuming. The Complacent Councilors won't seek out alternative perspectives, and they'll be inclined to dismiss any alternative points of view that are brought to them by citizens, because those citizens aren't "experts." They'll vote the "right" way every time, and the department heads, authority members, and mayoral assistants won't have to answer any questions that make them uncomfortable. Never mind that the result may be uncontrollable spending and a decline in our quality of life -- at least those councilors won't be bickering!

And these new Complacent Councilors won't need to devote as many hours as the old Council did. Committee and council meetings will be shorter. There will be no need to read all the backup material, to meet with interested parties, to seek out in-depth research. All they'll need to read is the recommendation at the bottom of the "Request for Action" cover sheet and vote accordingly.

Despite the massive turnover on the City Council, I'm hopeful that the four members who weren't part of the Cockroach Caucus push to take over the Council -- two old, two new -- will continue to ask questions, seek alternative sources of information, look at practices in other cities, and bring new ideas to the table. But proactive councilors should expect to endure the same kind of strident pushback from the mayor, ABC members, bureaucrats, and the Cockroach Caucus that their despised predecessors suffered.

MORE on complacency:

An excellent article on strategies to overcome complacency on the Leadership and Management website identifies nine "forces that reinforce complacency and help maintain the status quo." Here are a few:

  • A lack of sufficient performance feedback from external sources.
  • A kill-the-messenger-of-bad-news, low-candor, low-confrontational culture.
  • Human nature, with its capacity for denial, especially if people are already busy or stressed.
  • Too much happy talk from management.
  • Internal measurement systems that focus on the wrong performance indexes, or no systems at all.

Tulsa certainly has a low-candor, low-confrontational culture, and the defenders of the status quo exploited that negative character quality in their campaign to paint the old City Council as a bunch of counterproductive bickerers. The councilors and their allies in the community (including me) did not succeed in countering the "bickering" meme. It was so universally accepted that two different colleagues congratulated me on the day after the city primary, assuming incorrectly that I would be happy with an outcome that fired four incumbents.

As kids send emails to Santa, as we update our own online wish lists and peruse the lists of our loved ones, Bartlesville-based ministry Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is asking Christians to include on their gift lists their brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering persecution.

By persecution, I don't mean Christian store clerks in America who are forced to say "Happy Holidays!" or school children prohibited from singing Christmas carols, as sad as that is. We're talking about meeting the physical needs of Christians who have been beaten and imprisoned, the families of Christians who have been killed, whether by the government, by criminal gangs, or by vigilante mobs (with the government's implicit permission), Christians whose homes have been burned, Christians whose generosity has been repaid with betrayal. Out of our abundance, we can be used of God to provide them with comfort and encouragement.

vomso_201110_03_christmasCare_small.jpgVoice of the Martyrs is offering two gift packs that you can purchase for them to deliver to Christians in North Africa. A Christmas Care Pack ($25) is a backpack filled with a new set of clothing, toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.), school supplies (including notebook, pens, crayons), treats, vitamins, Christian story books, coloring books, and a toy. VOM hopes to distribute 10,000 of these.

For $75 you can give a North African church leader or evangelist a Village Outreach Pack a small library of materials to help them more effectively teach their neighbors about Jesus. The packs include a DVD player, DVDs, tracts, Bibles, and Christian literature. VOM hopes to raise enough money to distribute 3,000 of these.

General donations to VOM allow the organization to fund legal aid, medical treatment, housing, clothing, and other help to those directly suffering persecution and their families.

Whether or not you can give, you can pray with VOM's weekly prayer updates. At, you can learn about individual Christians who are imprisoned for their faith, so that you can pray for them and their families, advocate on their behalf (petitioning the imprisoning government, raising public awareness), and, often, send notes of encouragement to prisoners.

There are countless worthy ways you can share Christ's love with others during the Christmas season, including many opportunities here in Tulsa. But don't forget your brothers and sisters who share in Christ's sufferings as they steadfastly proclaim His Name.

The Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA) is working hard to rebut concerns that Tulsa citizens have about the addition of ammonia, in the form of chloramines, to our drinking water, in advance of the final discussion on the issue at today's (December 14, 2011) 2:30 pm TMUA meeting at Tulsa City Hall. Here are the some of the latest statements from TMUA chairman Rick Hudson, as reported by KRMG:

He told KRMG, "We have to do this," or else "we'll be subject to very severe fines."

He notes that the EPA has approved the use of chloramines and calls it "safe and effective." (See link below)

He also says studies by the city and an extensive study by the City of San Francisco "debunk" several objections that have been raised regarding health and environmental considerations.

The San Francisco chloramine "study", it appears, is not research specifically about the impact of chloramines on humans or the environment, but a bibliography of articles that may have some bearing on the topic. I found only two papers on the list that appeared to involve tests on human subjects, and it was limited to a particular kind of impact, as you'll see:

Wones RG, Deck CC, Stadler B, Roark S, Hogg E, Frohman LA. Effects of drinking water monochloramine on lipid and thyroid metabolism in healthy men. Environ Health Perspect. 1993 Mar;99:369-74.

Wones RG, Deck CC, Stadler B, Roark S, Hogg E, Frohman LA. Lack of effect of drinking water chlorine on lipid and thyroid metabolism in healthy humans. Environ Health Perspect. 1993 Mar;99:375-81.

The EPA penalties to which Hudson refers have to do with a relatively new EPA regulation governing disinfection byproducts (DBP), the Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule, which was finalized in late 2005 and is tied to the passage of the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The aim of the rule is to reduce certain byproducts of chlorinated water -- trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids -- which may be linked to an elevated risk of bladder cancer and possible developmental and reproductive risks. The rule is expected to reduce the number of bladder cancer cases by 280 per year (of which 26% would be fatal), at a projected nationwide cost of $79 million for implementation. Opponents of the use of chloramines say that other disinfection methods, such as activated charcoal filters, would be safer and just as cost effective.

Tulsa has a Schedule I system (serving more than 100,000 people), and it must begin compliance monitoring of the Stage 2 DBP Rule by April 1, 2012.

Jeannine Kinney sent along an email from water system consultant Bob Bowcock, who will be speaking about chloramine risks and alternatives at the TMUA meeting this afternoon. Bowcock addresses the San Francisco study and his passionate concern about the use of chloramines. Bowcock says that we have information about chloramine DBPs today that was not available when he oversaw the chloramination of the Los Angeles water supply in the mid-1980s.

You are correct... [the San Francisco study] is not a study it is CYA. I will be bringing factual information about real studies; chloramine DBP are significantly more toxic than Chlorine DBPs.

That is a simple fact... accepted by USEPA, CDC and AWWA. They have the information... the big question everyone is struggling with is... now that they have the information what will they do with it? Drinking water regulations evolve... the regulation of DBPs has been an ongoing process since 1979. If Tulsa... armed with this new information chooses to add ammonia knowingly to their drinking water they do it with knowledge we didn't have last year, three, five ten or twenty years ago... they do it with the full and complete factual knowledge that they will be harming people and causing property damage. If they can do that and sleep at night... God Bless them.

Remember, I personally turned on the ammonia feed pump in Los Angeles, the largest chloraminated system in the United States in 1984. I did not know what I was doing then would cause the harm I know it does now. I will fight, not just today, but everyday to right the wrong I know I contributed to.

They know that what they are about to do is wrong; they can however make a choice to do what is right. A choice to add ammonia to the drinking water in Tulsa in 2011 is a sin beyond reproach.

Drinking TapTulsa's water authority is planning to replace chlorine with chloramine as primary disinfectant this coming February. In response to growing concern about the harmful effects of chloramine on people and plumbing, tomorrow, December 14, 2011, the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA) will hear a presentation about the hazards of chloramine and better alternatives by Bob Bowcock of Integrated Resource Management.

If you're concerned about health, environmental, and plumbing problems caused by chloramine, tomorrow is the most effective opportunity to demonstrate that concern, by showing up at the TMUA meeting, Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 2:30 p.m., 10th floor of Tulsa City Hall, 175 S. Cincinnati.

Before founding IRM, Bowcock headed water utilities in Azusa and Huntington Park, California, worked for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and designed and built water treatment and distribution systems in South America and southeast Asia. Bowcock made a presentation on chloramine to the Tulsa City Council in October, at the invitation of Councilor Jim Mautino. You can watch that presentation online -- the item begins at 1:30:10 and ends at 3:02:00.) According to Jeanine Kinney, a citizen who has been watching this issue closely:

Mr. Bowcock is dedicated to help the TMUA realize that using Chloramine in Tulsa's water, as a secondary disinfectant, is not in the best interests for Tulsa's water consumer's. Mr. Bowcock is perplexed because Tulsa can use a safe alternative and DOES NOT need to go to Chloramine. Mr. Bowcock stated that Tulsa has by far some of the best water in the country and that it would be a shame for the TMUA to ruin it with Chloramine.

The contract for the conversion was awarded at the November 16, 2011, TMUA meeting, but it could still be cancelled.

It's my understanding that the chloramine conversion is being driven by new EPA mandates, but that there are safer alternatives that will meet the new mandates. I'm wondering why Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. hasn't asked Senator Jim Inhofe, ranking Republican and soon to be chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, to push for the EPA to back off these new regulations that are forcing cities to make costly modifications to their water systems for no gain in water quality.

You can read more about chloramine and its hazards in this earlier BatesLine story,which has links to other web resources on the topic.

Photo, "Drinking Tap" by TounoTouji, on Flickr. Creative Commons license.

An investigative reporter gets to the truth: Can men and women be "just friends"? The answers are curiously uniform by sex. (Hat tip to Verum Serum.)

A Liberty University a capella group performs their version of an Autotune the News classic: " Carol of the Bed Intruder." (Again, hat tip to Verum Serum.)

One of the pleasures of reading the New York Press online, back when it was one of the earliest alt-weeklies on the web, was William Bryk's weekly historical column, "Old Smoke." Bryk later wrote a column for the too-short-lived New York Sun. Each week Bryk took the reader on a fascinating journey into some obscure piece of New York history with a present-day connection.

Bryk's columns, at least selected pieces from 1998 to 2003, are now back online at a new website, City of Smoke. A few examples to whet your appetite:

Judge Crater: "The Missingest Man in New York." I can remember when Judge Crater was right up there with Amelia Earhart as a synonym for "missing person." (He got shoved aside by Jimmy Hoffa.)

The Brooklyn Dodgers: "Dem Brooklyn Bums Go West." The story behind the Dodgers' departure for Los Angeles, a rare defeat for Robert Moses, the uncrowned king of New York.

Dr. John R. Brinkley: "The Unsubtle Knife." Brinkley, a promoter of quack surgery, promoted his businesses with his million-watt border radio station XER, just across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas.

Alas, perhaps my favorite edition of Old Smoke, from 2002, is not yet on the new site, although it is still available on the New York Press website: The story of early Oklahoma defense lawyer Moman Pruiett, the subject of a book titled He Made It Safe to Murder. (The New York connection? A revival of Oklahoma! was opening on Broadway that week.)

MORE: If you enjoy Bryk's writing on New York City history, you're sure to enjoy Kevin Walsh's Forgotten New York, which documents with words and photos physical remnants of the New York of the past throughout the Five Boroughs and beyond. His most recent essay is a tour of Calvary Cemetery in Queens.

UPDATED 2014/05/04 with changed New York Press URL.

Three recent documentaries critical of K-12 education in America are now available for online viewing. Each film dramatizes the failures of public education, the efforts by lower-income parents to secure a better education for their children, and the ways that bureaucracy and entrenched interest groups work to thwart those efforts. (Hat tip to Ace of Spades HQ.)

The Cartel (92 minutes) is available for free streaming on Hulu and is also available for instant streaming to Netflix subscribers.

Teachers punished for speaking out. Principals fired for trying to do the right thing. Union leaders defending the indefensible. Bureaucrats blocking new charter schools. These are just some of the people we meet in The Cartel. The film also introduces us to teens who can't read, parents desperate for change, and teachers struggling to launch stable alternative schools for inner city kids who want to learn. We witness the tears of a little girl denied a coveted charter school spot, and we share the triumph of a Camden homeschool's first graduating class.

Together, these people and their stories offer an unforgettable look at how a widespread national crisis manifests itself in the educational failures and frustrations of individual communities. They also underscore what happens when our schools don't do their job. "These are real children whose lives are being destroyed," director Bob Bowdon explains.

The Lottery (80 minutes) is also available for free streaming on Hulu and for instant streaming to Netflix subscribers.

In a country where 58% of African American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, The Lottery uncovers the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to flee the system every year. The Lottery follows four of these families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in a charter school lottery. Out of thousands of hopefuls, only a small minority will win the chance of a better future.

Directed by Madeleine Sackler and shot by award-winning cinematographer Wolfgang Held, The Lottery uncovers a ferocious debate surrounding the education reform movement. Interviews with politicians and educators explain not only the crisis in public education, but also why it is fixable. A call to action to avert a catastrophe in the education of American children, The Lottery makes the case that any child can succeed.

Waiting for "Superman" is not available on Hulu, but is available for instant streaming to Netflix subscribers. It's notable as a critique of the public school system from the left side of the political spectrum.

It was a morning like any other -- as Academy Award winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim was taking his young children to school -- that he was moved to act. Like many parents in America who are lucky enough to have the means, Guggenheim's children were headed that morning to an expensive private school, where he was assured they would find themselves in an invigorating environment with talented teachers devoted to bringing out the best in them.

But as he drove past the teeming, troubled, poorly performing public schools his family was able to bypass, Guggenheim was struck with questions he could not shake: What about the kids who had no other choice? What kind of education were they getting? Where were the assurances that they would have the chance to live out their dreams, to fulfill their vast potential? How heartsick and worried did their parents feel as they dropped their kids off this morning? And how could this be right in 21st Century America?

I would hope that anyone seeking a position on a school board will have seen these films and be prepared to talk about how they and the school system they seek to serve. Here in Tulsa County that should mean to encourage and facilitate the creation of new charter schools and to stop trying to use lawsuits to obstruct voucher programs like the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program.

The Tulsa Art Deco Museum has a physical location now, in the Philcade Building on the southeast corner of 5th and Boston, and there's an opportunity this afternoon, Saturday, December 10, 2011, to see a preview of coming attractions:

Just a friendly reminder that today, between 4pm and 6pm is our first event at our new museum "starter space" inside the Philcade at the corner of 5th and Boston downtown. Though it's a tiny space, we are excited to begin transforming it into something wonderful and fun. While checking out our new digs you will be able to also see the beautiful evening gowns, worn by live models, that were created by OSU fashion design students. The gowns were inspired by Tulsa's wonderful Art Deco buildings. There will also be "pop-up" shopping inside the spectacular Philcade and across the street in the Thompson building, and we will have a small museum gift shop open inside the lobby as well. Oh, and Santa will be in the lobby so bring the kids!

The gift shop will be open Wednesdays in December from 10 am to 7 pm.

Mike McCarville has two stories from the State Capitol about dissatisfaction among rank-and-file Republican members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives with the way Speaker Kris Steele is using (or abusing) his power. Steele has one year remaining as speaker. Republicans have already picked T. W. Shannon to succeed Steele in 2013; they rejected Steele's anointed successor, Jeff Hickman.

Back in early November, Steele removed Broken Arrow Rep. John Trebilcock from his chairmanship of the Energy and Utility Regulation Committee. Trebilcock wrote on Facebook on November 4:

Speaker Kirs Steele just removed me as Chairman of the Energy Committee. Clearly, if I had supported his choice in the recent Speaker's race to replace him, I would remain as chairman. This is unacceptable Pay to Play trading of votes and punishing members for voting their conscience. Extremely saddened that someone i once considered a friend has let his office diminish him as a person.

The Republican caucus's retreat in Shawnee this week would have been the opportunity for members to air these sorts of concerns, but instead it's reported that Steele filled the meetings with presentations and position papers, limiting any opportunity for discussion to the tail end of the retreat. Panhandle Rep. Gus Blackwell wrote a scathing email to his colleagues protesting the way the meeting was conducted:

Obviously, our caucus retreat was not intended to be an opportunity for our caucus to discuss, debate, or decide policy. Instead, our caucus meetings have become carefully orchestrated and planned events, with little or no time for the actual discussion of caucus business.

The 2011 Republican Caucus Retreat in Shawnee stands as an outstanding example of what I am writing in this email. After a first day of tours and dinner, no caucus business was transacted. The second day had time for a breakfast with a political presentation, a 30-minute museum tour and five and one-half hours of other presentations, before staff was asked to leave and we actually began "caucus business." Our discussions as a caucus lasted less than 45 minutes out of the over 15 hours of scheduled activity.

Blackwell finally had the floor, at the very end of that 45 minutes, to discuss the removal of Trebilcock and Steele's firings of senior House staff, but after 10 minutes he was cut off by a hasty motion to adjourn:

As a senior member, who has been Acting Speaker, Speaker Pro-Tempore, Chair of three different committees, and who has served on every Republican leadership team except the present one, I would think I would be allowed to have more than two responses to speak on a topic I requested be discussed and which strikes to the very core of how we operate as a majority. However, I wasn't, neither was Rep. Trebilcock or any other members of the caucus.

An anonymous blog (caveat lector) called Oklahoma Truth Council has a description of those final minutes of the caucus retreat:

Before Steele could counter the accusation that he punished Trebilcock and in turn lied to the entire Caucus body about it, another Representative stepped in trying to diffuse the controversy. Apparently, Rep. David Dank couldn't stomach the conflict and consternation in the room and attempted to end the meeting. Seeing that the Caucus was obviously still divided by the heated Speaker-elect race, Rep. Weldon Watson, Republican Caucus Chair, agreed with Dank and gaveled the meeting closed.

This is where things get even more interesting. House leadership allegedly tried to end the Caucus meeting without a vote, just by fiat. When those wanting to take Steele out for a walk over his mafia style leadership skills raised the point that Caucus can't end without a vote due to a tabling motion, Watson held a vote, but only allowed legislators to vote in the affirmative and then again gaveled the meeting closed while legislators fumed.

Thus the reference to the "half-voted on" adjournment motion and Dank carrying a bucket in Blackwell's email.

(UPDATE: Peter Rudy (@WatchdogOK) tweets to say that bucket of honey also refers to a statement made by Dank in the Tax Credit Task Force hearings: "Dank says the task force isn't anti-business and doesn't think all tax credits are bad. But he went on to compare some tax credits to 'the huckster who took a bucket of manure, put a layer of honey on top and sold it as a bucket of honey' to taxpayers.")

The limited opportunity to debate and discuss led Oklahoma City Rep. Mike Reynolds to call for the Oklahoma Republican Party to set the rules for the caucus:

"The recent caucus was just another example of the abuse of members time for the speakers convenience. Discussion was supposed to occur about the House agenda during the upcoming session. Instead the Speaker chose to present position papers on what were apparently his favorite subjects. While they may have been informative, that is not why most members chose to take the time to participate in this meeting. Had these position papers been presented on the House floor there is no doubt the Speaker would have asked his close associates to 'move the previous question' to cut off debate.

"There appears to be only one way to eliminate the arrogance that is displayed by this leadership team. The caucus rules of the House Republicans must be drafted by the Oklahoma Republican Party. This will allow for meetings open to the public and honest discussion, rather than intimidation and statements that might not be factual, but can't be discussed outside of caucus because of 'confidentiality rules.'

I didn't like this style of operation when the Democrats had an overwhelming majority in the legislature, and I don't like it any better when Republicans do it. It's bad enough for major policy decisions to be made in caucus, behind closed doors, out of the public eye, with the expectation that party members will uphold the caucus's decisions on the House floor. It's worse when the caucus isn't given opportunity for debate, but are expected to follow the decisions of an even smaller and more closed group, the leadership team, under threat of losing committee chairmanships, being denied a fair hearing for their legislation, or having leadership recruit and finance a primary opponent.

It seems to me that legislative leaders who use these heavy-handed tactics do so because their motives, goals, and actions won't stand up to public scrutiny. It looks like a classic battle between fair-dealers (those Republicans who believe in limited government with everyone playing by the same rules) and wheeler-dealers (those RINOs who would use government power to benefit their cronies, who in turn fund the continuation of their political power).

Every member of the State House represents the same number of people. Every member deserves to have his bills heard and to speak his mind, even if he's a member of the minority party or a member of the majority party on the outs with his own leadership. It's a matter of showing due respect to the citizens who elected him. Legislative leadership ought to be about facilitating the will of the majority while respecting the rights of the minority, not extorting obedience.

Back in May 1989, I recall watching an amazing event on OETA's weekly legislative highlights show. A 30-year-old Democrat State Rep. from Claremore, Dwayne Steidley, had moved to declare the speaker's chair vacant -- a revolt by disaffected Democrats against an increasingly autocratic House leadership under Democratic Speaker Jim Barker and Majority Leader Guy Davis.

What most impressed and appalled me was a speech by Poteau Rep. Jim Hamilton, who urged his fellow Democrats to settle their disagreements with Barker within the privacy of the caucus, not out in front of everyone. I recall Hamilton speaking about his own act of disloyalty to the caucus in the past and how he was rightly punished for it. I described the debate in a lengthy email to a couple of friends and wrote that Hamilton deserved the Li Peng Faithful Party Hack award for his performance.

In 1989, Democrats held a 69-32 advantage in the House. But in the previous election cycle, 12 incumbent Democrats had been beaten by candidates running as reformers, not beholden to Barker. When the vote to oust Barker was taken, only 25 Democrats stuck with him; the rest joined with the Republicans to give him the sack by a vote of 72-25. Of the 26 freshmen in the Legislature, 24 voted to boot Barker. (Freshmen were rarer in those days before term limits.)

Reading news stories at the time, it's clear that tactics like those
being complained about today were at the root of the revolt:

""We didn't expect to be in the speaker's office every week or down with the governor, but we represent a district, and those people are entitled to input,'' said state Rep. Gary Maxey, D-Enid, a former Garfield County special district judge.

Maxey, who defeated eight-year incumbent Homer Rieger, said he entered the House hoping to listen and learn.

But it soon became apparent that a large group in the House was not involved in the process, said Maxey, 34.

From an Oklahoman editorial after the ouster:

Standing in the shambles of his once all-powerful leadership team, Barker, the feisty, diminutive Democrat from Muskogee, was unbowed. He accepted his historic ouster with class. But he couldn't resist pointing out the House members never could have pulled if off in a secret, Democratic caucus with no Republicans to help and no recorded votes.

Statements by Davis showed even more disregard for the rights of the minority party, or for the majority opinion of the Democrats and Republicans in the House, for that matter. As a member of the leadership team, Davis said, "You have to put pressure on people to do things that they really don't want to do, and then sometimes the leadership makes decisions that the membership don't agree with.''

He told his local newspaper, The Durant Democrat, that "you have to twist arms to get votes ... The role I had called for me to be tough, to do what was necessary to keep the thing moving, to get the votes when it was necessary ... '' After almost six years of playing ball, meekly following the leader like sheep or caving in under the political pressure, most House members finally had enough and staged the successful rebellion.

A story a week before the revolt, about the defeat of a rules change backed by the Speaker, a harbinger of his ultimate defeat, noted that the Speaker had held only one Democratic caucus meeting that year. It also mentions accusations that Speaker Barker had used his power to retaliate against members who had challenged him publicly:

Many of those same members who supported [Cal] Hobson [for a leadership post] -- Reps. Linda Larason of Oklahoma City, Carolyn Thompson of Norman and Don Ross and Don McCorkell of Tulsa -- got together again in March to sign a letter to Barker asking him not to link higher education funding to criticism of the Legislature by a state regent.

That incident was also seen as a challenge to Barker and may have set up what happened in the last week.

Most of the people who signed the letter were left off the budget-writing conference committee, perhaps the most important committee at the Capitol.

Barker denied that they were being punished, though some of them thought otherwise and were more than a little upset about it.

The same patterns seem to be at work, now that Republicans have almost as overwhelming a majority as the Democrats did 22 years ago. If voters get the sense that their Republican representatives are sacrificing the best interest of Oklahoma for the sake of favor with the Speaker and his corporate sponsors, they're likely to replace their reps with more independent thinkers, or they may dump the GOP altogether. It happened before, and it could happen again.

I'd like to think that Republicans are smart enough and ethical enough to avoid the same traps that tripped up the Democrats, but we saw in 2006 at the Federal level that that isn't true. But perhaps, if grassroots Republicans put the pressure on their state representatives to work for openness and fair dealing in the caucus, we'll avoid the same fate here in Oklahoma.

NOTE: The links above to Daily Oklahoman stories from 1989 about the Jim Barker ouster are available to Tulsa Library cardholders via NewsBank.


"Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Collection. USS Maryland (BB-46) alongside the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37). USS West Virginia (BB-48) is burning in the background."

Here are links to historical audio and photos and personal stories worth reading about the Japanese Empire's attack on the U. S. Naval Station at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, and the war that followed:

The USS Oklahoma was hit by torpedos and capsized that day, and 429 of her crew lost their lives. The Naval Historical Center has photos of the USS Oklahoma through the years, on-board and close-up photos of the USS Oklahoma's earliest days, photos of the Oklahoma after the attack, and photos of the effort to salvage the Oklahoma.

Major Van Harl tells the story of the day the USS Oklahoma died and those who died on board helping others to survive.

There is a website for USS Oklahoma survivors and family members, which has a photo of the USS Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island.

KOTV News on 6 spoke to three Pearl Harbor survivors members of Tulsa's Last Man Club about their experiences. (Video at the link.)

[Retired Captain Bob Norman] Norman was 21 years old and serving on the USS Nevada when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was in his quarters when the bombs hit, nine in all exploded on the Nevada. He remembers being surprised but says his men were ready.

"No, no, no, no...the word chaotic we didn't even know about. Orderly? Yes. We went to general quarters and everybody went to the battle stations," Norman said.

Gene Meeker was 18 years old and also in the Navy. He and Joe Allsup were at an air station on the other side of the island, 16 of his fellow airman died during the attack.

Meeker worries that the stories of Pearl Harbor are fading away as time passes, he hopes today's generation takes time to learn of that infamous day.

"It's history, that's what I can say, it's really history," Meeker said.

Norman agrees and says the lesson from Pearl Harbor is to always be prepared.

"The big word is be alert at all times to what's going on," Norman said.

KTUL spoke to Arles Cole, a survivor from the USS West Virginia.

He says December 7, 1941 started out as just a normal Sunday morning, none of them saw what was coming....

"I have to go back sometimes and pass by a lot of those memories," says Arles Cole.

He's visited Pearl Harbor many times but admits that to go back physically is a lot easier than going back emotionally.

"It's hard to go back in memory," says Cole. "I go back in nightmares, I go back in memories."

He still relives the scenes that are filled with loud noises, moments of death and shadows of his comrades.

"They are there, I see them, my friends," says Cole.

Earlier this year, StoryCorps recorded the memories of Waco, Texas, resident Frank Curre. He remembers that day vividly and wishes he could forget. He was cooking on board the USS Tennessee when the first blasts came. He was topside when the USS Arizona was hit and later that day was part of the effort to find the dead and wounded.

"That ship come 12 to 15 foot in the air, broke in two and settled back down," he says. "If you'd had a bag of popcorn and you'd went out here in the breeze and threw it up in the air -- that was bodies that went out all over that harbor."...

I still have the nightmares, never got over the nightmares. And with God as my witness, I read my paper this morning -- and right now, I can't tell you what I read. I can't remember.

But what happened on that day is tattooed on your soul. There's no way I can forget that. I wish to God I could.

December 7, 1941, radio reports from Honolulu station KGU, NBC, and CBS. The second KGU report mentions the USS Oklahoma.

Photos of the damage on ships at Pearl Harbor

(Photo and audio links via Ace of Spades HQ.)

Neoneocon reflects on the resolve of the American people in response to the attack and doubts that we are capable of the same will to victory today. She lists some little known quotes from FDR's speech the following day; hard to imagine those words in the mouth of a modern American president.

Despite the loss of life and armament in the attack, it could be said that America got off easy. blogger Bookworm's mother was a 17-year-old living in Java in 1941. Her story is one example reminding that the attack on Pearl Harbor was part of a larger campaign by Japan to dominate the entire Pacific. Preston tells of the indignity, deprivation, torture, rape, and murder suffered by the people of those lands that Japan occupied during the war, reminding us of what we were fighting:

The women were not decapitated, but they were subjected to terrible tortures. After the men were taken away, the women and children were loaded in trucks and taken to various camps. The truck rides were torturous. The women and children were packed into the trucks, with no food, no water, no toilet, facilities, and no shade, and traveled for hours in the steamy equatorial heat.

Once in camp, the women were given small shelves to sleep on (about 24 inches across), row after row, like sardines. They were periodically subjected to group punishments. The one that lives in my mother's memory more than sixty years after the fact was the requirement that they stand in the camp compound, in the sun, for 24 hours. No food, no water, no shade, no sitting down, no restroom breaks (and many of the women were liquid with dysentery and other intestinal diseases and parasitical problems). For 24 hours, they'd just stand there, in the humid, 90+ degree temperature, under the blazing tropical sun. The older women, the children and the sick died where they stood.

There were other indignities. One of the camp commandants believed himself to have "moon madness." Whenever there was a full moon, he gave himself license to seek out the prisoners and torture those who took his fancy. He liked to use knives. He was the only Japanese camp commandant in Java who was executed after the war for war crimes....

By war's end, my mother, who was then 5'2″, weighed 65 pounds. What frightened her at the beginning of August 1945 wasn't the hunger, but the fact that she no longer felt hungry. She knew that when a woman stopped wanting to eat, she had started to die. Had the atomic bomb not dropped when it did, my mother would have starved to death.

CORRECTION: I misidentified the author of the post about a mother living in Japanese-occupied Java. It was written by "Bookworm," a blogger for the Pajamas Media blog PJTatler; I saw the link when it was tweeted by Bryan Preston and mistakenly thought he had written the article.

THE REST OF THE STORY: Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who led the first wave of the attack on Pearl Harbor, became a follower of Christ in 1950 and a traveling evangelist, the result of reading a pamphlet by Jake DeShazer, one of the pilots in Doolittle's raid on Tokyo, who had become a Christian while in a Japanese prison camp and later returned to Japan as a missionary. DeShazer's pamphlet led Fuchida to read the Bible. Jesus's forgiveness of those who crucified him and DeShazer's forgiveness of his brutal captors led to Fuchida's conversion.

Though my country has the highest literacy rate in the world, education has not brought salvation. Peace and freedom -- both national and personal -- come only through an encounter with Jesus Christ.

I would give anything to retract my actions of twenty-nine years ago at Pearl Harbor, but it is impossible. Instead, I now work at striking the death-blow to the basic hatred which infests the human heart and causes such tragedies. And that hatred cannot be uprooted without assistance from Jesus Christ.

He is the only One Who was powerful enough to change my life and inspire it with His thoughts. He was the only answer to Jake DeShazer's tormented life. He is the only answer for young people today.

More about Fuchida and DeShazer in this Christianity Today story. Click here to read Jake DeShazer's remarkable story and the pamphlet he wrote that touched Mitsuo Fuchida's heart.

Leigh Goodson is a candidate for Tulsa Public Schools Election District 5, a seat currently held by Brian Hunt, who has opted not to run for re-election.

Goodson is involved in what looks very much like an arm of Tulsa's Cockroach Caucus. She's a member of the board of the Center for Legislative Excellence. She and her husband Mark R. Goodson have given a total of $2,500 to CLE, their largest state political contribution.

Here's the full list of CLE board members. While the CLE's goals are laudable -- lobby effectively at the State Capitol for Tulsa's share of state funding for roads, hospitals, and higher education -- you may recognize on this list the names of several who have been actively involved in the effort to reshape (I'd say mutilate) Tulsa's city government over the last several years:

Robert C. Poe, Co-Chairman
Larry Mocha, Co-Chairman
Connie McFarland, Membership Chair
Jay Helm, Contributions Co-Chair
Pete Regan, Contributions Co-Chair
Richard Riddle, Treasurer
Howard Barnett
Guy Berry, III
John Brock
Joe Cappy
Len Eaton
Patty Eaton
Leigh Goodson
Heather Griffin
Kell Kelly
Kris Langholz
Robert Lorton
Jim Orbison
Jody Parker, Emeritus Board Member

Leigh Goodson, a registered Democrat as of this July, has also contributed to Grow Oklahoma PAC, Prosperity PAC, and Oklahoma Rising, as well as individual candidates Lucky Lamons, Brian Crain, Mark McCullough, Dan Newberry, Eddie Fields, and Mary Fallin. Neither she nor her husband, Mark R. Goodson, show up in the database of donors to Federal campaigns.

She is currently serving on the Sixth Grade Task Force. She is listed as "Leigh Goodson, Ph.D., OSU Center for Health Sciences and Chair of the Teacher Leader Effective Committee, The Foundation for Tulsa Schools." (Here is a list of the board of the Foundation for Tulsa Schools.)

In 2006, the Journal Record profiled Leigh Goodson as an "Achiever under 40," listing her as vice president for enrollment management and marketing at Oklahoma State University Center For Health Sciences:

Goodson started her career as an admissions counselor, moving up the ladder to academic adviser, director of medical school admissions and dean of students before being named to her current position as vice president of enrollment management and marketing for the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences (OSU- CHS).

Each position in higher education has allowed me to help others overcome obstacles to their educational goals, she said....

Goodson earned a bachelor's degree in political science from OSU in Stillwater; a master's in organizational communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas; and a doctorate of philosophy in educational research and evaluation from OSU....

Her community involvement includes serving on the board of the YMCA of Greater Tulsa. She also led in the development and remains a member of the Camp Takatoka Advisory Board. Goodson volunteers with Riverfield Country Day School and Eliot Elementary School, and is a member of the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church.

The Journal Record profile mentions two children who were 7 and 4 in 2006.

According to news reports, Goodson was in Leadership Oklahoma Class 23.

My gut feeling, from looking at the above information, is that Leigh Goodson is an insider, likely to be a supporter of the status quo. I could be wrong, and she might be a true reformer who supports charter schools, vouchers, classical curriculum, and traditional teaching methods. Still, I'd feel better about this election knowing I'll have at least one other choice on my ballot come February.

You want to make a difference, Tulsa Tea Partiers? Here's your chance. Run for this open seat, Election District 5, or run in Election District 6 against a 16-year incumbent (Ruth Ann Fate) who has been an obstacle to expanded school choice for Tulsa children. Remember: The filing deadline is today (Wednesday, December 7, 2011) at 5, and you need to allow time to fill out paperwork and get it notarized.

Not many more people filed for school board in Tulsa County on the second day of the three-day filing period. Three seats (in Skiatook, Sperry, and Broken Arrow) that had no candidates after the first day now have one candidate, and one seat (and only one) in Skiatook has a contested race. That leaves seats in Collinsville, Owasso, Glenpool, and Keystone with no candidates whatsoever.

Wednesday is the last day of filing. Deadline is 5 p.m. Our public schools matter. If nothing else, they should matter to you because your property taxes are paying for them, and you drive by the resulting capital improvements every single day. You have a rotten school board, you get architectural monstrosities like the new Clinton Middle School, which earned national recognition as James Howard Kunstler's Eyesore of the Month for March 2010.


Every school board seat should have a competitive race.

Here are the four seats that have changed since yesterday:

(Click for JPEG map of Broken Arrow board districts.)

Broken Arrow Office 2 - Five year term

Steven R. Majors
3000 S. Ash Ave
Broken Arrow, OK 74012


Skiatook Office 1 - Four-year unexpired term

Patricia Pippin Ceska
14421 N. 50th W. Ave.
Skiatook, OK 74070

Susan Ridenour (appointed incumbent)
9543 W. Rogers Blvd.
Skiatook, OK 74070

Skiatook Office 2 - Five-year term

Tim Allen (incumbent)
426 W Cherokee Pl
Skiatook, OK 74070


Sperry Office 2 - Five-year term

Mechelle Beats
11505 North Lewis Ave
Skiatook, OK 74070

A1615-ClintonHighSchool.jpgNot only is this the filing period for Oklahoma's presidential preference primary, but it's also the school board filing period, and every school district in the state has at least one seat up for election in 2012. Filing for a school board seat takes place at the election board for the county in which the school district is headquartered. Filing closes at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 7, 2011.

In most independent (K-12) districts, this is the year for Seat 2 in the five-year rotation. In dependent (K-8) districts like Keystone, Seat 1 is up for election to a three-year term.

School districts with more than 10,000 average daily membership (Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Jenks, Union, Oklahoma City, Putnam City, Edmond, Lawton, Mid-Del, Norman, Moore), vote on board members by board district. In smaller districts, members must live in the designated board district, but they are elected by the entire school district. School districts with fewer than 1,800 ADM may opt to elect all members at-large.

The state's two largest districts, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, each have seven districts, each of which elects a board member to a four year term. This year, Seats 5 and 6 are up for election in Tulsa.

Oklahoma City is on a slightly different schedule (Seats 3 and 4), and they have one extra member, a board chairman elected at-large, former State Sen. Angela Monson. Tulsa is the only other district in the state eligible to have an elected chairman (must have at least 30,000 average daily membership) but so far the school board has not opted to activate that position.

Tulsa Technology Center (aka the Vo-Tech) has one of seven board seats up for election to a seven-year term.

School board elections have very low turnout, an order of magnitude smaller than a city council election for a district of roughly the same size. An organized campaign could easily unseat an incumbent or win an open seat. At the beginning of 2011, both Tulsa incumbents were unseated by newcomers.

(OCPA's Brandon Dutcher, writing at Choice Remarks, calls for moving school board elections to November and cites five examples of bad public policy resulting from our current low-turnout school elections, which can easily be dominated by special interests like teachers' unions.)

Here in the Tulsa district, it's vital that our two seats are filled by strong advocates for school choice. Ruth Ann Fate has been hostile to the expansion of charter schools in the Tulsa district, and Tulsa is far behind Oklahoma City in offering a range of choices to parents. If we want families to stay in central, west, north, and east Tulsa, rather than flocking to the suburbs, we need to offer superior educational choices.

Don't forget that school boards in Jenks and Union voted to sue the state in order to strike down a law, the Nicole Lindsay Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Act, that helps students with disabilities get the kind of education they need. Jenks, Union, Tulsa, and Broken Arrow had been sued by parents of special-needs kids for refusing to carry out the law.

The Sand Springs board voted unanimously to express support for Jenks and Union's countersuit. Every incumbent on the Jenks, Union, and Sand Springs boards should retired by the voters for their lawless and selfish attitude.

Here's who filed on the first day in Tulsa County (reformatted from the candidate list on the Tulsa County Election Board website). Note that so far, no seat has drawn more than one candidate, most of those filing are incumbents, and for seven of the 19 seats there are no candidates whatsoever.

(Click for PDF map of Tulsa board districts.)

Tulsa Election District 5 - Four-year term
(open seat; Brian Hunt is not seeking re-election)

Leigh Goodson
2845 E. 32nd Pl.
Tulsa, OK 74105

Tulsa Election District 6 - Four-year term

Ruth Ann Fate (16-year incumbent)
7014 E 60
Tulsa, OK 74145

(Click for PDF map of Sand Springs board districts.)

Sand Springs Office 2 - Five-year term

Mike Mullins (incumbent)
3309 Maple
Sand Springs, OK 74063

Sand Springs Office 4 - Two-year unexpired term

R. Bo Naugle (appointed incumbent)
19310 West Highway 51
Sand Springs, OK 74063

Sand Springs Office 5 - Three-year unexpired term

Jackie Wagnon (appointed incumbent)
713 East 11th Street
Sand Springs, OK 74063

(Click for JPEG map of Broken Arrow board districts.)

Broken Arrow Office 2 - Five year term


(Click for PDF map of Bixby board districts.)

Bixby Office 2 - Five-year term

Wendell Nolan (incumbent)
17967 S. 71st E. Ave
Bixby, OK 74008


Jenks Election District 2 - Five-year term
(Click for PDF map of Jenks board districts.)

Jon Phillips (incumbent)
10808 S. Erie Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74137


Collinsville Office 2 - Five-year term



Skiatook Office 1 - Four-year unexpired term


Skiatook Office 2 - Five-year term



Sperry Office 2 - Five-year term



Union Election District 2 - Five-year term
(Click for PDF map of Union board districts.)

Patrick Coyle (incumbent)
3817 S. Yellow Pine Ave
Broken Arrow, OK 74011


Berryhill Office 2 - Five-year term

Jeff Blair
6240 W 39 St.
Tulsa, OK 74107

(Click for text description of Owasso board district boundaries.)

Owasso Office 2 - Five-year term



Glenpool Office 2 - Five-year term



Liberty Office 2 - Five-year term

Craig Crystal
20704 S Braden Ave
Mounds, OK 74047


Keystone Office 1 - Three-year term


(Click for PDF map of Tulsa Tech board districts.)

Tulsa Technology Center Board District No. 7 (Zone 7) - Seven-year term

Jim W. Baker (24-year incumbent)
11938 S. Ash St
Jenks, OK 74037

Photo of Clinton Middle School from the Beryl Ford Collection.

CoburnPresidentYardSign.pngDear Sen. Coburn,

Today, Monday, December 5, 2011, marks the opening of the three-day filing period for school board seats in Oklahoma. It's also the filing period for Oklahoma's March 6, 2012, presidential preference primary. I am writing to urge you to file, to put your name on the Oklahoma ballot as a "favorite son" candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

In 40 years of watching presidential politics, I've never seen so many credible candidates leave the race (Pawlenty, Cain) or rule themselves out (Daniels, Ryan, Christie, Palin, Giuliani, Jindal, Jeb Bush, etc.) so early in the process, before a single real vote has been cast. At the same time, I've never seen Republican activists so reluctant to commit to a candidate. We're wary of investing our time, our money, and our hearts in a candidate that won't stay in the race for long. Here in Oklahoma, we're used to having our choices severely narrowed before our turn to vote; in 2012, Iowa and New Hampshire may know the same experience.

The remaining options are less than attractive. Mitt Romney is not a reliable conservative on any issue. Rick Santorum couldn't win re-election in his own state, and he endorsed RINO Arlen Specter for reelection over a solid fiscal conservative primary challenger, Pat Toomey, in 2004. Rick Perry can't seem to think on his feet, and there are some trouble things in his record as governor, as recent as his obstruction, subtle but effective, of Rep. David Simpson's anti-TSA-groping bill. Michele Bachmann says all the right words but doesn't display much depth of thought. Jon Huntsman seems to be more interested in impressing the mainstream media than connecting with the Republican base.

Ron "Free Bananas!" Paul's foreign policy views are naive and dangerous. In every interview I've heard of Gary Johnson, he seems to have a terminal case of the giggles. As incumbent governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer finished third to a crook (Edwin Edwards) and a Klansman (David Duke), and finished fourth in a comeback try four years later. Roemer naively believes that limiting campaign contributions will limit the influence of money in politics, but as long as politics has so much power to influence results in the private sector, money will find a way to flow into politics.

Coburn-BreachOfTrust.jpgNewt Gingrich is the leading anti-Romney of the moment. Gingrich has serious character problems, of which his serial polygyny is a mere symptom. (Isn't it ironic that the Mormon in the race, not the Baptist-turned-Cathoic, is the husband of one wife?) As you documented in your book Breach of Trust (and Bob Novak in his autobiography), Gingrich's character flaws extended to his leadership of the House of Representatives. For all his brilliance in the 1994 campaign to retake the House, his failures as speaker turned the Republican caucus from principled reform to careerism for the sake of power, laying the groundwork for the moral collapse of the Republican majority, the Pelosi speakership, the Obama presidency, and our current fiscal crisis.

Beyond his failures as a husband and as a congressional leader, Gingrich is a big-government conservative in an era where government must shrink to make space for private sector can grow. Being a visionary is a fine thing in the private sector, but as a self-proclaimed "Teddy Roosevelt Republican," Newt offers big ideas that depend upon massive government investment and intervention.

Sen. Coburn, you expressed your worries about Gingrich as recently as Sunday morning:

"The thing is there are all type of leaders. Leaders that instill confidence, leaders that are somewhat abrupt and brisk, leaders that have one standard for the people they are leading and different standard for themselves," Coburn said on Fox News Sunday. "I found his leadership lacking."

The best hope for across-the-board (fiscal, social, and defense) conservatives is for another candidate to emerge, but it's too late (believe it or not) for another candidate to enter and compete effectively in the primaries. Filing deadlines have already passed for New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and Missouri. Oklahoma, Ohio, Louisiana, and Michigan close filing this week. By the time we know the result in New Hampshire, even more deadlines will have passed. Although Iowa has no filing deadline (the caucus straw poll is not binding), a win there would require creating a grassroots GOTV organization ex nihilo in less than a month.

Tom Coburn speaking on health care fraud, by Medill DC, on FlickrBut there is still a way for a "player to be named later" to become the Republican nominee. "Favorite son" candidates could file in each state, giving Republican voters a way to vote for "None of the Above" and to deny a majority of delegates to any of the currently active candidates, none of whom seem to have the right stuff to win the nomination, win the general election, and then steer the country decisively away from the fiscal Niagara Falls just around the next bend in the river.

I'm asking you, Sen. Coburn, to run in Oklahoma's primary as our favorite son.

Sure, any random Republican with the intention of serving as a placeholder for "None of the Above" could cut a check for $2,500 to put his name on the ballot. But Joe Random would have to raise huge amounts of money to publicize his reasons for running and to convince Oklahoma voters that he could be trusted with their votes.

You wouldn't have that problem, Sen. Coburn. The media, both local and national, would give a Coburn favorite son candidacy significant coverage. Oklahoma Republican voters already know and trust you (your TARP vote notwithstanding -- an error, but well-intentioned), and they know you are not driven by a lust for power. And if a win in Oklahoma turned into a national groundswell for a Coburn nomination, the vast majority of Oklahoma Republicans and fiscal conservatives nationwide would be very, very pleased.

If you should win the Oklahoma primary, as I expect you would, Oklahoma's 43 delegates would give you a seat at the table in deciding the outcome of a deadlocked national convention, helping to ensure that the Republican nominee is someone who understands the fiscal crisis that looms over our nation and who is prepared to act decisively to deal with it.

Please think it over, Sen. Coburn. Talk to your wife, your children, your closest advisers. Pray about it. Then get someone to the State Capitol, Room B-6, by Wednesday at 5 with a notarized form and a cashier's check for $2,500 -- for Oklahoma's sake, for America's sake.


Michael D. Bates

P. S. Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates has a poll (311 Republican primary voters, Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, 2011, margin of error: +/- 4.3%) showing Gingrich with a commanding lead in Oklahoma -- 39% for Gingrich, everyone else in single digits, and 21% undecided. In August, Gingrich was at 5%. If you don't want Gingrich's lacking leadership at the top of the Republican ticket next fall, Sen. Coburn, you need to give voters a better alternative now.

Newt Gingrich 39%
Undecided (volunteered) 21%
Herman Cain 9%
Mitt Romney 9%
Rick Perry 8%
Ron Paul 7%
Michele Bachmann 5%
Rick Santorum 2%
John Huntsman 1%

Photo of Tom Coburn by Flickr user Medill DC, used under Creative Commons license.

Just four more days until the Niña and the Pinta, historical recreations of Christopher Columbus's two caravels, sail out of Muskogee's Three Forks Harbor and down the Arkansas River to their next destination. The ships serve as touring maritime museums, traveling around North America to teach about Columbus, seafaring, and the Age of Discovery. Sponsored by the Columbus Foundation, the ships were built in Valenca, Brazil, using the same sort of methods that would have been in use five hundred years earlier. Niña was built 20 years ago, Pinta 6 years ago.

The Nina, at Muskogee's Three Forks Harbor
My two younger kids went with a group of their fellow Classical Conversations homeschoolers to tour the ships just before Thanksgiving. The heavy fog, which later burned off, added to the sense of history. Crew members explained the different parts of the ship and what life at sea would have been like in the late 15th Century.
On board the Nina

Below decks on the Nina

Here's a link to schedule, hours, and ticket information for the Niña and the Pinta. December 7 is listed as the final day in Muskogee. Three Forks Harbor is part of the Port of Muskogee, on the east side of the Arkansas River just south of US 62.

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