March 2013 Archives

Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, will give three lectures in Tulsa this coming Wednesday and Thursday, April 3 and 4, 2013, on the life and work of G. K. Chesterton, the prolific early 20th century English writer and Christian apologist known as "the Apostle of Common Sense." His writing ought to be part of your education, particularly if you aspire to think and write clearly. His insights are timeless, as aptly applied to the politics, culture, and academia of today as they were a century ago.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013, at 2:50 p.m.
"The Influence of G.K. Chesterton on C.S. Lewis."
Oral Roberts University room GC 5112

Wednesday, April 3, 2013, at 7 p.m.
"Chesterton and the Christian Imagination"
Oral Roberts University room GC 4114

Thursday, April 4, 2013, at 7 p.m.
"An introduction to G.K. Chesterton"
St. Bernard Parish, Room G-8
4001 E. 101st Street, Tulsa


Chesterton (1874-1936) is hard to sum up, but here's Ahlquist's attempt: Who Is This Guy and Why Haven't I Heard of Him?. Ahlquist answers the latter half of that question:

Modern thinkers and commentators and critics have found it much more convenient to ignore Chesterton rather than to engage him in an argument, because to argue with Chesterton is to lose.

Chesterton argued eloquently against all the trends that eventually took over the 20th century: materialism, scientific determinism, moral relativism, and spineless agnosticism. He also argued against both socialism and capitalism and showed why they have both been the enemies of freedom and justice in modern society.

And what did he argue for? What was it he defended? He defended "the common man" and common sense. He defended the poor. He defended the family. He defended beauty. And he defended Christianity and the Catholic Faith. These don't play well in the classroom, in the media, or in the public arena. And that is probably why he is neglected. The modern world prefers writers who are snobs, who have exotic and bizarre ideas, who glorify decadence, who scoff at Christianity, who deny the dignity of the poor, and who think freedom means no responsibility.


Dawn Eden met Dale Ahlquist in 2004 and found him to be "a living epistle" of Chesterton:

The quality of Chesterton that is most noted by his fans, beyond his gift for insightful analysis and his counterarguments against heresies such as relativism, is his sense of wonder at the world. Over and over, in Orthodoxy, The Man Who Was Thursday, and, really, every other work of his that I can think of, he outlined the necessity of having a permanent sense of awe and gratitude for God's creation. I sensed that wonder in Dale, as well as an effervescent desire to carry out another one of Chesterton's dictums: that we should be happy.

(You'll have to visit the Wayback Machine to see the twin priests she mentions.)

QUOTATIONS by G. K. Chesterton, from the American Chesterton Society:

"The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice." - A Defense of Humilities, The Defendant, 1901

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it." - The Everlasting Man, 1925

"Progress is a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative." - Chapter 2, Heretics, 1905

"Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision." - Orthodoxy, 1908

"My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday." - New York Times Magazine, 2/11/23

"I still hold. . .that the suburbs ought to be either glorified by romance and religion or else destroyed by fire from heaven, or even by firebrands from the earth." - The Coloured Lands

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - ILN, 1/14/11

"Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God." - Christendom in Dublin, 1933

"The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal. There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man." - Chapter 19, What I Saw In America, 1922

"If you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will have no answer except slanging or silence." - Chapter 3, What's Wrong With The World, 1910

"For fear of the newspapers politicians are dull, and at last they are too dull even for the newspapers." - All Things Considered, 1908

"If there were no God, there would be no atheists." - Where All Roads Lead, 1922

"There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions." - ILN, 1/13/06

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - Chapter 5, What's Wrong With The World, 1910

"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." - ILN 8-11-28

"Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - ILN, 5/5/28

"The whole structural system of the suburban civilization is based on the case for having bathrooms and the case against having babies." -G.K.'s Weekly, 7-6-29

"Progress is Providence without God. That is, it is a theory that everything has always perpetually gone right by accident. It is a sort of atheistic optimism, based on an everlasting coincidence far more miraculous than a miracle." - Wells and the World State, What I Saw in America


G. K. Chesterton's Works on the Web
G. K. Chesterton quotations
A Chesterton reading plan

Citizens for a Better Vision was the grassroots group that led the successful opposition to Vision2, using a minuscule budget compared to the millions at the "vote yes" side's proposal. Now they're trying to influence the development of proposals to re-up city sales and property taxes for a new funding package for city infrastructure, a combined package that may top $800 million, with hopes that the ultimate proposal is one worthy of the voters' support.

Tonight, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at 6 p.m., at the Martin East Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett in Tulsa, Citizens for a Better Vision will host a meeting to allow the public to express their concerns and air their comments on the developing proposal to extend the City of Tulsa sales taxes (1 1/6 cent) and general obligation bond issue that have been devoted for the last few years to street repair. All mayoral candidates and all members of the City Council have been invited to attend the meeting.

There have been City Hall sponsored meetings ("City Hall in Your Neighborhood"), but, according to the Citizens for a Better Vision flyer, "all questions [at the official City Hall-sponsored meetings] are filtered through notecards and some citizen concerns are altogether ignored." In contrast, the flyer for tonight's meeting promises that "Everyone's Voice Will Be Heard!"


This meeting is a great opportunity to express your "must haves" and "dealbreakers" to the mayor and council, who must approve any package that goes before the voters. Here are a few of my requirements that have to be met before I'd support a funding package.

1. Streets only: No corporate welfare, no unfulfilled wishes from Vision2, only the construction and maintenance of streets. Anything else would have to be on a separate ballot item, preferably not even on the same ballot or the same day.

2. No permanent taxes: No more than a five year term before the tax sunsets.

3. A "Brown ordinance" with teeth: A clear and complete list of projects to be funded, with an estimated cost for each, and a basis for estimate for the cost of each. (The Brown ordinance was a key element in the passage of the first 3rd Penny sales tax in 1980, after a blank check tax was defeated by voters the previous year.)

4. Pay-as-you-go: No borrowing money against future sales tax revenues to fund current projects. By keeping it pay-as-you-go, all the money goes to projects, instead of bond fees and interest.

What are your dealbreakers for a new streets package? List some in the comments below.

One can argue about whether the death of marriage leads to big government or vice versa, but simply raising the topic shouldn't put one beyond the pale, should it?

OCPA has raised that question, and they're giving high school seniors a chance to do some deep thinking about a hot issue and maybe earn a college scholarship at the same time.

ocpalogo.jpgThe Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs will award $12,000 to five high school seniors in this year's essay contest. We asked students to answer the following question:

What impact, if any, does the structure of civil society, including family structure, have on the growth of government and vice versa?

The deadline is this Monday, April 1, 2013. For contest rules and an entry form visit

Some food for thought, along these lines:

There are those fiscal conservatives who believe that defending the traditional view of marriage and family, held nearly worldwide for millenia, is a losing cause, and so they advocate surrendering, so that the conservative movement can put all of its resources into the battle over the size and scope of government, which they presume to be more winnable.

In 2010, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a pro-life Christian and founder of an inner city classical Christian school, told the Weekly Standard:

that the next president, whoever he is, "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We're going to just have to agree to get along for a little while," until the economic issues are resolved.

In September 2010, Mike Pence (then a congressman, now Governor of Indiana) responded to that perspective:

To those who say that marriage is not relevant to our budget crisis, I say, you would not be able to print enough money in a thousand years to pay for the government you would need if the traditional family continues to collapse.

Phyllis Schlafly calls the divide between fiscal and social issues "phony":

Contrary to politicians who want to call a truce about social issues, there is absolutely no way to separate social and fiscal issues; they are locked in a tight political embrace....

That's because the social issue of marriage, and its importance to our society, has become a tremendous fiscal issue. The problem of marriage absence is now costing the taxpayers even more than national defense....

It is obvious that when the mother of these children has no husband to support her and her babies, she calls on Big Brother Government. You and I then pay the bills for what is labeled welfare. It's not poverty that causes broken families; it's the absence of marriage that causes poverty and puts kids below the designated poverty line. Social issues cause fiscal expenses.

Columnist Mark Steyn speaking at Hillsdale College in March 2012:

Anytime I went into an ABC show all the people said, "How can Rick Santorum be a credible presidential candidate? He's so weird." Then I actually asked what's weird about him. He's weird because he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. He's weird because the family is the basic building block of society. In fact, it was non-weird for almost all of human history. What's interesting to me is not Santorum's weirdness, but the fact that so much of what he says is now presumed to be weird. I think he's right on the basic issue, which is that the crisis America faces is not primarily an accounting problem or a bookkeeping problem. We're broke for a reason. This country is the most broke nation in history because it is not the republic of limited government and self-reliant citizenry De Tocqueville observed two centuries ago. So he's right in the extent that the [financial] brokenness is a symptom of the problem not the problem and in that sense I don't find Santorum half as weird as 90 percent of his critics.

Today, March 23, 2013, the Tulsa County Republican Party held its biennial convention at the Jenks High School Performing Arts Center. In the spring of each odd-numbered year, Oklahoma Republicans gather in precinct caucuses, where they elect precinct officers and elect delegates to the County Convention who elect a county party chairman and vice chairman, two State Committee members, and two Congressional District Committee members to a two-year term. The county convention also elects delegates to the state convention, where a state chairman and vice chairman are chosen for a two-year term. 375 delegates were present.

(There is also a quadrennial series of meetings at the precinct, county, district, and state level, for the purpose of election national convention delegates and members of the Republican National Committee.)

Because of a change in the state party rules, there are no longer any gender quotas in precinct, county, and state Republican offices. Where we used to elect a state committeeman, state committeewoman, district committeeman, and district committeewoman, we now simply elect two members to each committee, which changes the political calculus considerably. All nominees for a particular committee were on the ballot for both seats. A coalition of Ron Paul supporters and Tea Party supporters united around a consistent slate, to the point that the candidate designated for the second seat voted against herself and for the designated first-seat candidate when the first seat was up for election. They had a near-majority in the hall with enough other supporters to prevail.

Here are the results:

Chairman: Mike McCutchin, the current vice chairman, was elected chairman without opposition.

Vice Chairman: Joanne Tyree, a long-time party and campaign volunteer, was elected vice chairman without opposition.

State Committee: There were six candidates for two seats: Bruce Baker, Rachel Brewer, Joanna Francisco, Charlotte Harer, Chris Medlock, T. C. Ryan. Ryan, 28, and Francisco, 44, were elected. Both were active in support of Ron Paul for president, and Ryan was also very involved in the successful Stop Vision 2 campaign.

Ryan fell just short of a first-round victory for the first seat with 48%; Francisco and Baker were eliminated and Medlock withdrew in support of Harer. Ryan received 60% of the vote on the second round to win. For the second seat, Medlock, Brewer, and Baker withdrew and urged support for Harer; Francisco won.

District Committee: The winners were Don Wyatt, 66, one of the incumbents, who also runs Boondoggle Blog, and Amanda Teegarden, 57, of OK-SAFE. The other candidates were incumbent committeewoman Donna Mills and Aaron Brewer.

A straw poll was taken in the Tulsa Mayor's race and the Tulsa County Commission District 3 special election, which will both be on the June 11 primary ballot. Although the mayor's race is officially non-partisan, Bill Christiansen and Dewey Bartlett Jr are both registered Republicans; Bartlett Jr was even a leading member of "Republicans for Kathy [Taylor]" in 2009; and both are vying for the support of Republcans. The District 3 race is likely to be settled in the primary, as it was the last time the seat was open in 2006. The results:

Tulsa Mayor: Former City Councilor Bill Christiansen 114, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr 56.

Tulsa County Commission District 3: Ronda Vuillemont-Smith 102, Ron Peters 24, Don Crall 17, Terry Simonson 6. Vuillemont-Smith heads the local 9/12 Project chapter and was a leader of the opposition to Vision2. Ron Peters is the former State Representative for District 70. Don Crall is from Bixby. Terry Simonson is former county commission chief deputy and chief of staff to Dewey Bartlett Jr.

Brandon Perkins announced his candidacy for the District 3 seat at the convention; his name was not on the straw poll ballot. I believe that he is a member of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and the brother of Mark Perkins, who ran as an independent for mayor of Tulsa in 2009.

The convention voted overwhelmingly to approve the report of the Platform Committee and voted to send all county convention delegates as Tulsa County's delegates to the state convention.

There were some technical hiccups with registration which delayed completion of the credentials report, but we managed to adjourn at about 5 p.m., an hour later than planned but well before our move-out time.


Randy Krehbiel reported on the convention for the Tulsa World. 375 delegates checked in Saturday morning and were issued credentials; Krehbiel gave the number as 300. While I'd agree that the contested elections were a better indication of the shifts in the party than uncontested elections, having served four years as Tulsa County's state committeeman, I don't agree that the "state and district committee members... are ultimately responsible for party policy," at least not to the level of influence that that statement implies. They are indeed members of the county party central committee, along with the chairman and vice chairman, but the chairman has the power to appoint the executive committee, and he is the party's public face, and it's the county committee, consisting of all the precinct chairmen and vice chairmen, that officially governs the party between conventions.

Both the state committee and district committee are mainly focused on the nuts and bolts of party governance -- holding conventions, filling vacancies in party offices, making recommendations on rules changes -- rather than on governmental policy. The state committee is the governing body of the state party between conventions, but Tulsa County's two votes are a mere drop in the bucket; every county has two members, and all the Republican legislators, members of Congress, and statewide elected officials are also members of the state committee. The state committee meets quarterly, mainly to hear reports on party fundraising and activities. If the chairman or vice chairman resigns, the state committee elects a replacement, and that's happened fairly often in the last 10 years. The state committee meets right before the state convention to vote on whether to recommend proposed state rules changes to the convention, which must approve any rules changes.

The main concern of the district committee -- which consists of two members from each county in the district -- is putting on the quadrennial congressional district convention that elects three delegates and three alternates to the national convention. The district committee also elects a district chairman and vice chairman. In Oklahoma, congressional district chairmen have traditionally been involved in candidate recruitment for state legislature, an especially important role in the 1990s when the GOP was in the minority.

Oklahoma State Sen. Rick Brinkley is also a pastor as well as the head of the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau. His pastor's heart shines forth in frequent thought-provoking posts on his Facebook account. He was kind enough to allow me to share a post from March 14, 2013, pondering the legislature's deadlines -- and life's deadlines. With the recent passing of my accomplished mother-in-law, I found it particularly resonant.

I'm exhausted. Today was the final deadline for Senate Bills to be passed off the floor & sent to the House.

rick_brinkley.jpgUnlike the Federal Government, the Oklahoma Legislature is required to work on a strict schedule. Every three weeks is a deadline week. Any Bill not making the deadline is dead. This ensures that things get done. No one can sit idly by while the deadlines pass. It also forces individual legislators to make tough decisions regarding their own Bills. Sometimes you have to let bills which aren't that important to you go in order to get other bills through the process by the deadline. The entire session must be over by the last Friday of May....that day is called "Sine Die"....which means "Without assigning a day for future meeting"....anything not completed by that day is dead. There's also the rule that each "legislature" is actually two years. The rules state that if a bill is killed in committee or on the floor, it cannot be brought up again until the next legislature, which this year means it could not be brought up again until 2015. If a legislator feels his/her Bill may fail when voted upon, he/she will hold the bill until the next year in order to work on it to get the votes to pass it. It causes you to look at the bigger picture of taking risks on a bill that is important to you. I, personally, think these deadlines are great.

Without deadlines, there is rarely a sense of urgency to get things done. I hope I lead my life the same way.

If you do not realize that there is a deadline on your life, you may sit idly by and watch your life unfold before you without even participating in it.

Just like Oklahoma's legislative rules:

*Sometimes you have to prioritize what is important & let things go that keep the really important things from being accomplished.

*Other times you have to place a hold on really important things to make sure you get them right. You never want the important things to fail because you didn't take the time to execute them properly.

*At some point your "Sine Die" will arrive. There will not be another day assigned to you. Everything you have not accomplished will die with you, unless you plant those dreams in the next generation to accomplish in your stead.

Every day you are living, you are one day closer to dying. Let me say that again, at the end of today you will be one day closer to dying. Have you met your deadlines & made the important things the important things?

Your life is also run by a deadline. Make sure you get everything accomplished that you can. But, realize the important things aren't things, they're the people in your life. Your deadline is 24 hours closer to arriving. Get stuff done, but celebrate life with those you love along the way.

RELATED: In March 2011, I wrote about life's intermediate deadlines and the value of having a bucket list for each distinct season of life, with a particular focus on a bucket list for traveling as a family.

(NOTE: As a student of Latin, I was surprised to hear "sine die" pronounced for the first time by a legislator. In school it would be pronounced "SIH-neh DEE-eh," but in the legislature they pronounce it "SIGH-knee DIE.")

Time to tame the tabs. Here are a few articles worth your notice:

Natasha Ball has compiled This Land's list of 50 Best Spring Break Things to Do in Oklahoma. For all my years and all my travels, I see plenty of items that I have yet to accomplish and many more that I have yet to share with my kids.

rockwell_header.jpgSomething not on her list because it's not in Oklahoma, but worth a visit, and only about 2 hours east of Tulsa: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Beautiful setting in a wooded ravine. Architecture that looks like the lair of a Bond villain. And for the next two months, through May 27, 2013, a wonderful exhibit of the art of Norman Rockwell -- full-sized paintings, many of them covers he did for the Saturday Evening Post.

General admission to the museum is free, sponsored by Walmart. Admission to the Rockwell exhibit is $12 for adults; children 18 and under and museum members are admitted at no charge. There's an audio tour of the Rockwell exhibit at no extra charge -- well worth taking. It's an iPod Touch; you key in the number of the painting you're viewing for narration, sometimes including Norman Rockwell himself, a member of his family, or one of the models for the painting. We were there about a week ago and really enjoyed it. We needed two hours just to see the Rockwell exhibit.

Promoting your hometown for tourism is a tricky business. It may be a nice place to live, but why would anyone want to visit there? The Oklahoma-based blog Small Biz Survival has notes from a talk by Roger Brooks of Destination Development International on how to market a community, listing the common pitfalls of small-town marketing, most of which apply to places like Tulsa, too:

The first fact he mentioned is about how we search when we're looking for somewhere to go. We search on activity first, then location second. So we'll search "mountain biking western Oklahoma" or "sailing southern Ontario." Brooks' examples showed people searching on an activity and then a town name.

"Have you ever gone anywhere because they 'have something for everyone' or they are the 'gateway to' someplace else?" Brooks asked.

Brooks urged asking these questions:

  • What do you have that the people you are hoping to attract can't get or do closer to home?
  • What makes you worth a special trip?
  • What sets you apart from everyone else?

It's long been a frustration to me that the tourist materials produced for Tulsa by a branch of the Tulsa Regional Chamber focus on Tulsa's sophistication and the kind of amenities you'd expect to find in any large American city. These brochures and booklets might reassure people who are thinking about relocating to Tulsa, but they won't attract visitors from around the country or around the world. On the other hand, Tulsa's truly unique features and history get downplayed. Brooks addresses the psychology that produces a generic and ineffective marketing message, and includes a list of phrases that should be banned from your tourism brochure, including so much to do, center of it all, best kept secret, outdoor recreation, and playground.

Streetsblog looks at why enclosed malls are dying even in small cities, like Effingham, Illinois.

Steve Lackmeyer at The Oklahoman covers what looks like defiance from Oklahoma City's public works department over the implementation of Project 180, the program to make downtown streets safer and easier to navigate for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike.

At the Washington Free Beacon, there's a review of Detroit: An American Autopsy, a combination of investigative reporting and personal narrative on the decline and fall of a once-great metropolis. "An American Autopsy often reads like an old detective novel. There are mustachioed homicide detectives, hit men, con men, grifts and drugs, greed, and corruption."

Next American City reports on a Brookings Institution study of Amtrak ridership: Shorter trips (under 400 miles) have more riders and make more money than long-distance runs.

U. S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TexasFreshman U. S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been unjustly trashed by two left-wing political websites, Politico and Wonkette, over his request to remove a resolution declaring Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week from a group of resolutions to be approved by unanimous consent, so that he could honor a request from a staffer of his who suffers from MS to review and offer revisions to the language of the resolution.

Politico, at least, posted Cruz's side of the story, albeit under the false and misleading headline, "Cruz opposes MS resolution."

"The Senator, like many of his colleagues, will not grant consent to call up and pass a resolution or bill at the last minute without time for review," spokesman Sean Rushton said in a statement. "The Texans who sent him to Washington expect nothing less."

After the story was posted about Cruz's opposition to the resolution, his office pushed back harder.

"Senator Cruz does not oppose the substance of the MS resolution, and he never did," his spokesman said. "Unfortunately, the sponsors of this resolution circulated their request for unanimous consent less than 48 hours before they wanted it passed. A member of Sen. Cruz's staff--who herself suffers from MS--asked for time to review the language, and to perhaps suggest revisions to the language, as is typical. It appears that Senate Democratic staff, instead of working to ensure unanimous consent, instead decided to leak this story to try to malign Senator Cruz."

I know this must shock a lot of people, but there are elected officials who believe they have an obligation to their constituents to read legislation, even routine legislation, before they vote on it. It's a hallmark of the Tea Party movement.

The Wonkette headline went further: "Hero Senator Ted Cruz Will Death Panel Everyone With M.S." Blogger Rebecca Schoenkopf called Cruz a "total Anchor Babby" [sic] and speculated that Cruz objected to the phrase "expanding access to medical treatment," ignoring the statement from Cruz's office that he "does not oppose the substance of the resolution, and he never did."

The Wonkette blog entry refers to House Resolution 95. They assume this is the resolution which Cruz held up, but that doesn't even seem possible. According to, the Library of Congress's online bill tracker, it hasn't even been passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to which it had been referred the day it was introduced, on March 4, 2013, and it hasn't been passed by the House or sent on to the Senate. It does not appear that any similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate. So the resolution which Cruz held may not bear any resemblance to H.Res.95. Even if it were, if the resolution was obviously worthy of passage, why hasn't there even been a committee vote on H.Res.95? Wonkette's report doesn't add up.

Looks to me like the Left will stop at nothing to tear down conservatives with political charisma, particularly those like Ted Cruz who belong to an ethnic minority group which the Left believes it owns.


Debra Heine, blogging at The Conversation, writes about Ted Cruz and the MS Awareness Week resolution:

The left-wing media complex has found its new bete noir for the 2013/2014 political news cycle, and that dubious honor goes to Republican rising star, Ted Cruz. Note that the left always targets those they perceive to be the greatest threat to its Statist goals, and even though Cruz is only a freshman Senator, he's been off to a rip-roaring start.

Because he dared to ask hard questions about the President, Benghazi, Chuck Hagel, and Feinstein's gun bill, Ted Cruz earned himself the top spot as the left-wing media's favorite whipping boy.

DaTechGuy writes that Cruz is a target because he's effective, and he backs up the statement with videos and links, pointing particularly to his confrontation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein over her proposed assault weapons ban and Sen. Harry Reid's apparent capitulation on the issue a few days later.

It was June of 1994, and we were chilling out in our room at the bed and breakfast in Inveraray, Scotland, watching TV, and this came on. We had seen a Mr. Bean episode on the flight over, and here he was again, on "Blind Date," the British version of "The Dating Game." The spoof episode was filmed for Comic Relief, the comedy fundraising organization for Third World relief projects.

Just in case you don't read the insert in your city water bill:

There will be a household pollutant collection event on Saturday, April 13th, 2013, and Sunday, April 14th, 2013, on the north side of Expo Square, Gate 7, off of 15th Street, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. both days. Accepted items include

  • household cleaners and toxins,
  • yard-care products,
  • pesticides,
  • acids,
  • caustics,
  • thinners,
  • household flammable liquids,
  • all fluorescent light bulbs,
  • firearms ammunition (.50 caliber or smaller),
  • smoke alarms,
  • thermostats, oil,
  • antifreeze,
  • oil-based, aerosol, and hobby paints,
  • prescription medications.

Not accepted: Latex paint, commercial waste, radioactive waste, pressurized gas cylinders, water reactive chemicals, explosives and dioxins. (You can dispose of latex paint by opening the can and letting it dry completely, then disposing with other trash.)

(Does anyone else remember approving a permanent, year-round hazardous waste collection facility as part of a "Third Penny" sales tax package? We'll explore what happened to that idea in a later entry.)

100px-Seal_of_Tulsa,_OK.pngThe following weekend, April 20-21, 2013, are free landfill days for City of Tulsa residents, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day at the Quarry Waste Management Inc. Landfill on 46th Street north, 1.5 miles east of US 169. You must show a utility bill or driver's license with an address within Tulsa's city limits. Tires are accepted with the state mandated fee -- $1 for motorcycle and bicycle tires, $3.50 for tires to 19.5" inside diameter, $2.50 for agricultural tires not more than 14" wide and 44" in diameter.

Finally, free mulch is available at the City of Tulsa's mulch-processing site, 10101 East 56th Street north (just east of Mingo Road), open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., except City holidays. (Strictly speaking, there ain't no such thing as a free mulch. Your trash fees pay for this.) You can also drop off yard waste, as an alternative to disposing of green waste with normal trash pick-up.

(Note to the person who edits the water-bill insert: Rather than print a 103-character URL that someone will have to type in, work with the IT department to set up a short, memorable URL -- something like "" -- to redirect to the page.)

GETTING THERE: Click this link for a Google map showing the three City of Tulsa waste disposal locations mentioned above.

Johnny_Gimble-Texas_Fiddle_Collection.jpgI thought I read some sad news about legendary western swing fiddler Johnny Gimble tonight, and I'm hoping I imagined seeing it. I'll hold off on publishing what I thought I read until I can confirm it, but in the meantime please remember Johnny and his family in your prayers, and please enjoy the following tribute to this great musician.

Johnny Gimble's big break came in 1949 when he was hired to play for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. After a few years playing professionally, he became a barber, playing as a sideline until 1968, when he moved to Nashville to become a studio musician. Gimble appeared on several of Bob Wills's recordings for Kapp Records. Some of the best cuts from that period were collected by MCA on The Best of Bob Wills, which includes a version of "Milk Cow Blues" with no vocal except Johnny Gimble scat-singing along with his fiddle solo.

Gimble was one of the six Texas Playboys who performed on Merle Haggard's tribute to Bob Wills, and Bob Wills picked Gimble and Keith Coleman to play fiddle on the 1973 album that would become known as "For the Last Time."

Even if you're not a western swing fan, you may have heard Johnny Gimble as a guest on "A Prairie Home Companion." Gimble is also a virtuoso on the mandolin, and there are some wonderful videos circulating of an "Austin City Limits" episode featuring Johnny Gimble, Tiny Moore, and Jethro Burns on mandolin, David Grisman on drums, and Eldon Shamblin on rhythm guitar.

Here is a biographical documentary from 1981, with a lot of great music, including several songs filmed at the Caravan Ballroom in Tulsa, where the house band included Eldon Shamblin, Billy Dozier, Glen "Blub" Rhees, and a trumpeter who looks like a very young Mike Bennett. (And I'm kicking my 17 year old self, wondering why I didn't make it down to the Caravan.) You'll also get to hear Johnny play mandolin and sing, backed by steel guitarist (and Texas Playboy) Maurice Anderson, and singing with Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel. The film includes some cuts that you'll find on his 1981 album, "The Texas Fiddle Collection," which every fan of fiddle music and western swing should own.


Johnny Gimble 2007 interview with British western swing aficionado Graham Lees

Johnny Gimble newspaper interview from 2010

Bob Wills Radio, an amazing collection of interviews with western swing musicians, has a two part interview of Johnny Gimble by Stacy Phillips. Here's a transcript of an excerpt and direct links to the audio:

Johnny Gimble on Bob Wills Radio, part 1
Johnny Gimble on Bob Wills Radio, part 2

Happy Pi Day! This evening at 6:28 Eastern time, applicants to MIT will learn whether or not they've been admitted. For those hopefuls and anyone else in need of worthwhiling away a little time, some links of interest:

Tyson Wynn, who runs local news site, has been bombarded with complaints from Canadian animal rights activists and their allies about a nearby event that he knew nothing about and has nothing to do with. Among other things, these people have threatened never to vacation in Welch (pop. 619). Tyson offers some advice on how not to advocate for your cause.

Aerogramme Writers' Studio: Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling: From some of the most compelling storytellers of our time. Rule 9 begins, "When you're stuck, make a list of what WOULDN'T happen next."

Somewhat related: Ace ponders the Mystification/Revelation Model of Teaching. First you puzzle and frustrate your student, then you relieve his frustration with a solution. You're going to be much more interested in information if it answers a question that's bothering or intriguing you. Ace sees this technique used in good movie storytelling. Seems to me that Jesus' parables fit the same pattern.

My Tulsa friend Erin Patrick gets a mention in a Wall Street Journal article about grown kids who stay on their parents' family plans for phone and digital entertainment. Erin's daughter is on the family phone plan; her 16-year-old son is paying for some of his own subscriptions out of the money he earns. "Ole Buttermilk Sky": A song-by-song description of a British CD collection of mid-1940s recordings by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, mainly songs from the Tiffany Transcriptions that were not included in Kaleidoscope's LPs. The article by Tom Diamant includes some interesting info on the Crosley Transcriptions (aka Presto Transcriptions) and how to tell a sloppy re-issue from a careful dubbing.

Did you know that Southern Hills Country Club is in a low-income "food desert"? The U. S. Department of Agriculture has an interactive food desert map. That SHCC is in a low-income food desert is an example of the hazards of aggregation. I guess the number of households in the apartments on the east side of Lewis north of 71st outnumber the households in the massive homes backing up to the golf course, but they're all in the same census tract.

StateImpact has a Google Map of municipal water rates in Oklahoma. It's not close to complete, but interesting nevertheless.

Rex Brown says in-home filters may be the cause of your slow DSL internet and offers a solution -- an outdoor splitter where your phone service comes into the house.

Warren Buffett praises John Maynard Keynes, but his father Howard Buffett was a friend of libertarian economist Murray Rothbard, who sent a copy of his Panic of 1819 to Howard for Warren. Thinking that Warren must have lost that copy, economist Mark Thornton sent him another.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal documents the rising popularity of home-brewing among Christians. One of the churches mentioned appears to be part of the conservative Presbyterian Church in America (although they take pains to hide their affiliation on their website; I deduced it from where their pastoral staff went to college and seminary); there's an elder at our local PCA congregation who makes some very nice beers. (An unanswered question: Why do home brewers and craft brewers feel obligated to go overboard with hops?)

Former Mayor Kathy Taylor should get a "pants on fire" rating for her campaign's ads claiming that she brought BOK Center in on time and within budget.

During my conversation this morning with Pat Campbell on 1170 KFAQ, Pat asked me about Kathy Taylor's claims that, as mayor, she completed the BOK Center on time and within budget. The question Tulsa voters should be asking is, "Which budget?" It's easy to come in within budget when you boost it by a third. Not only was the BOK Center over budget, the overage tied up close to $100 million that might have been used to complete the low-water dams promised in the Vision 2025 sales tax.

As for schedule, the arena was supposed to be complete by late 2007, according to the Tulsa County commissioners' October 2004 Vision 2025 newsletter. It actually opened in August 2008.

(Here's a direct link to the podcast of my segment on Pat's show.)

The original combined budget, as approved by voters in 2003, for the new arena and improvements to the convention center was $183 million. The final taxpayer-funded budget was $228.5 million, and the decision to go over the original budget was made by Kathy Taylor shortly after the beginning of her term in 2006.

Taylor's predecessor, Bill LaFortune, selected star-chitect Cesar Pelli to design the new arena, and Tulsa Vision Builders -- Manhattan Construction and Flintco -- were selected to do the work. In April 2006, Taylor's first month in office, bids for construction materials were opened and came in way over budget. $68.9 million had been budgeted, but the lowest bid was $101 million.

Kathy Taylor had a choice: She could go back to the architects and engineers and asked them to scale back the arena to fit the budget. Instead, Taylor asked the Tulsa County Vision Authority for more money. She got more money, but it came at a high price.

The Tulsa County Vision Authority was defined by the ballot resolutions for the Vision 2025 sales tax. The board consists of the three Tulsa County commissioners, three suburban mayors appointed by the county commissioners, and the Mayor of Tulsa. The authority has the power to "approve any deletion or addition of projects from those listed above and any major change in scope of any such project following a public hearing by such trust." The Authority wasn't called into existence until Kathy Taylor came looking for more Vision 2025 tax money.

A July 18, 2006, news story reported the combined budget need for the arena/convention center as $241.7 million, with about $15.4 million covered by naming rights and other private sponsorships. On July 18, 2006, the newly constituted Vision Authority met and approved allocating an additional $45.5 million (out of an anticipated $104 million surplus) for the arena and convention center.

The price for that money was a commitment that any other surplus Vision 2025 money would fund improvements in the suburban municipalities. This commitment was affirmed by County Commissioner Randi Miller a year later, in July 2007, and last year by John Smaligo on Pat Campbell's May 23, 2012, show, both times in the context of explaining why the Vision 2025 surplus couldn't be used to fund the low-water dams promised by Vision 2025.

While the commitment to use any remaining surplus for the wish lists of the suburbs was not formally adopted, the Vision Authority's structure effectively gives the suburban mayors veto power over any proposal to change the Vision 2025 budget.

I'll be on 1170 KFAQ Wednesday morning at 7 with Pat Campbell to talk about mayoral candidate and former Tulsa mayor Kathy Taylor's record during her term from April 2006 to December 2009.*


Taylor is claiming to have "cut wasteful spending," but in fact the general fund budget under her reign climbed from $215,413,000 (LaFortune's last budget, FY2005-2006) to $255,271,000 (FY2008-2009), an 18.5% increase in just three years, about twice the rate of inflation over the same period. Her final budget ($244,511,000 for FY 2009-2010) was only slightly lower in response to the worldwide fiscal crisis, despite Councilor Bill Martinson's warnings, only 4% below its high water mark; spending had to be cut more drastically after she left office.

I'm sure we'll be talking about Taylor's budget record and about her decision to join Mayor Michael "Nanny" Bloomberg's Mayors against Illegal Guns, a group that wanted the federal government to be able to keep records of lawful gun purchases, and her pledge for local implementation of the provisions of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming, among other low-lights of her term. Almost certainly we'll talk of how Taylor surrendered to a questionable lawsuit so as to force Tulsa taxpayers to pay $7.1 million owed by defunct Great Plains Airlines, a locally based carrier that claimed it would fly non-stop jets from Tulsa to the coasts but which never got farther than Albuquerque. The Oklahoma Supreme Court set aside the Tulsa-Great Plains judgment in 2011.

What we cannot forget, however, is that Dewey Bartlett Jr., the current mayor, was OK with Kathy Taylor's record. In 2009, when Taylor was running for re-election -- before she decided to bail out -- Dewey Bartlett Jr endorsed Kathy Taylor for re-election:

Dewey Bartlett Jr endorses Kathy Taylor for Mayor of Tulsa

"Tulsa has always had a history of great leadership from the business community. Kathy's tireless, visionary style is yet another example of non-partisan leadership that focuses on the future of Tulsa. I am proud to support her re-election efforts." Dewey Bartlett Jr., President Keener Oil and Gas Company

Recently, Dewey Bartlett Jr was asked by KFAQ's Pat Campbell, whether he would endorse fellow Republican Bill Christiansen if he himself failed to make the runoff. Bartlett Jr's reply: "Absolutely, I think the Republican philosophy of conservatism... is the type of philosophy we need to run this city... we have to have that." And yet in 2009, Bartlett Jr supported re-electing a Democrat, specifically a big-spending, gun-grabbing believer in anthropogenic global-warming malarkey, without even waiting to see who her Republican opponent might be.

And not only did Dewey Bartlett Jr endorse the Kathy Taylor who improperly gave away $7.1 million in our taxes to Bank of Oklahoma, Dewey Bartlett Jr actually praised Taylor and BOK for this Great Plains Airlines raw deal, and then he voted for it, as a member of the Tulsa Airport Improvements Trust. (Click the link to watch the video.)

Dewey Bartlett Jr, Tulsa mayorI don't know how to account for the cognitive dissonance between Bartlett Jr's 2009 endorsement of a big-spending, leftist Democrat running for re-election and his 2013 statement that we need the "Republican philosophy of conservatism" running Tulsa. I'd call him Dewey Gump, but I think it'd be an insult to Forrest Gump, who was a better judge of character and seemingly more aware of his surroundings.

MORE: Taylor for Tulsa has been running misleading Facebook ads to juice up the number of "likes" for Kathy Taylor's campaign page. The ads tell you to click "Like" if you like little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks, slow moving trains, and rain, among other things. A recent example -- a picture of the Tulsa skyline with the caption "Click 'Like' if you support a mayor committed to reducing crime in Tulsa." This is a misleading ad, and should be reported as such by clicking the X that appears when you hover your mouse over the ad, then click "Hide this ad," then click the circle next to "Misleading."

*The odd length of term was the result of the switch from mayoral elections in the spring of even numbered years to the fall of odd numbered years.

Former House District 70 representative Ron Peters has announced his candidacy for the Tulsa County Commission District 3 seat being vacated by retiring Commissioner Fred Perry.

In 2003, Peters was one of six Republicans to support a state lottery, breaking ranks with the vast majority of the GOP caucus. Had Peters and one other Republican voted no, the lottery would have failed. In 2004, Peters was one of only five Republicans supporting casino gaming, and once again, had two of the five defected to the other side, the measure would have failed.

In a 2006 UTW column, I singled out Peters as an incumbent in need of a Republican challenger, mainly for his bills that would have damaged local control and homeowner input into land use and zoning issues. That year, Peters co-sponsored two bills (SB 1324 and HB 2559) to interfere with city policy on special exceptions and historic preservation districts.

Ron Peters, who represents House District 70 in midtown, is one of those who need to go. Off the record, his Republican colleagues will tell you that he is one of the least cooperative, least trustworthy, least principled members of their caucus. They'd be happy to see him go.

Peters was one of a half-dozen Republicans who broke with the party to support the lottery and the introduction of full-fledged casino gambling, with all their accompanying social ills.

SB 1324 and HB 2559 are not his first assaults on homeowners' rights and local control of land use issues. In 2005, Peters and Crain co-authored HB 1911.

In addition to the Board of Adjustment provisions that made their way into SB 1324, the earlier bill would have removed notice requirements for property owners within a redevelopment (i.e., urban renewal) district. Owners would not have had to be notified about public hearings regarding redevelopment plans affecting their property. It also would have removed a requirement for redevelopment plans to be approved by the City Council.

Peters hasn't had a challenger since he first won the seat in the 2000 Republican primary. A conservative Republican challenger could unseat him, if only one would step forward.

Peters' list of endorsers on his announcement press release reads like a who's-who of midtowners who regularly push for higher taxes and less democracy. Don Walker was co-chairman of the failed Vision2 Tulsa County sales tax scheme. Larry Mocha, has an op-ed in the Sunday paper pleading for Oklahoma to implement Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

Many on Peters' list supported the failed and divisive 2005 recall attempt against Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino; compare his supporters to the list of donors to the pro-recall Coalition for Responsible Government 2004. Or compare the list on Peters' press release to this list of supporters of "Save Our Tulsa" and this list of advisory board members for "Tulsans for Better Government," both groups that pushed for the election of at-large city councilors, a move that would have concentrated power in wealthy midtown neighborhoods at the expense of the rest of Tulsa.

The first name on Peters' list is Bob Dick, the former County Commissioner for District 3. Conservatives were happy to see Dick retire in 2006. In 2005, I wrote a column for UTW cataloging the County Commission's fondness for sole-source contracts under Bob Dick's leadership. In 2002, the Tulsa World reported on Dick's "dear friend" John Piercey and the loans he had obtained through the Tulsa County Industrial Authority (whose board consists of the three county commissioners) to buy apartment complexes.

Based on his record and his list of supporters, I'd suspect that Peters will vote to put another county tax on the ballot, will work against transparency and competitive bidding in county government, for gimmicky approaches to economic development, will support the appointment of anti-neighborhood types to the three county seats on the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, and will subordinate the needs of unincorporated Tulsa County to the wants of Midtown Tulsa's Money Belt. Those of us who believe in limited, transparent, and responsive government will be looking for a better candidate for the Tulsa County Commission District 3 seat.

Last year the City of Tulsa changed the secondary disinfectant used in our drinking water from chlorine to chloramine, a derivative of ammonia. The change was to meet EPA regulations intended to eliminate a carcinogenic by-product of chlorine disinfection (trihalomethanes), but the replacement method has its own unpleasant side effects: Chloramine-treated water can't be used in fish ponds or for dialysis, it can cause rubber plumbing parts to deteriorate, may leach lead from old pipes, and there are concerns that it hasn't thoroughly been tested for health effects on humans.

A group called Tulsans Against Chloramine attempted unsuccessfully to persuade the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority to stop the conversion to chloramine and opt for a safer method of disinfection. Since the conversion, TAC has been continuing to work to educate the public about their concerns and building pressure to reverse the decision.

Tulsans Against Chloramine have invited candidates for Tulsa mayor to attend their meeting this Tuesday night, March 12, 2013, at 6:30 at Hardesty Regional Library, 8316 E 93rd St, Tulsa. The speaker will be Robert Bowcock, an expert on the use of chloramines in public water supplies.

Join Tulsans Against Chloramine for a meeting to discuss the CHLORAMINE in our water supply and what WE can do to reverse the decision. The Tulsa Mayoral candidates have been invited to attend this meeting. We feel it is important for them to know our concerns and to have the most up to date information regarding Chloramine.

Let's make Tulsa a city that does the right thing for the health and property of its people as well as our environment.

Our guest speaker is Mr. Robert Bowcock, who is a national water specialist and an American Water Works Association member for over 30 years. He conducts environmental investigations with Erin Brockovich. Mr. Bowcock is working with TAC to stop the use of Chloramine and move towards a safer alternative for the Tulsa area.

Please join us to make a difference in our community.

abigaillitle.jpgTen years ago today, I awoke to radio news reports of a bus bombing in Haifa, Israel, killing 17 and injuring 53, including many school children. To us it was more than a report of a distant tragedy: Dear friends from MIT, working for the Baptist denomination in Israel, lived there with their five children.

Later in the day we got the terrible news that our friends' 14-year-old daughter, Abigail Litle, was one of those murdered when a 20-year-old Palestinian man boarded the bus she was on and detonated a shrapnel-laden vest.

The massacre got little attention in the American media, despite the fact that an American citizen was a victim, as if Palestinian mass murder was so ordinary as not to be newsworthy. But two weeks later, the media went nuts over the death of Rachel Corrie, a foolish young American woman who stood herself in front of a bulldozer to protect the infrastructure of the Palestinian murder machine.

The anti-Israeli terrorist group Hamas took credit for the Haifa massacre, and it was later learned that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein sent $25,000 as a reward to the family of the murderer.

In a just world, anyone involved a plot to massacre innocent civilians would be food for vultures. But in 2011, two of plotters of the Haifa bus mass murder, serving life sentences, were among those to be released in a prisoner exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Fadi Muhammad al-Jabaa, sentenced to 18 life sentences for plotting the suicide bombing of a Haifa bus in 2003, in which 17 passengers were murdered, will be released and deported to Gaza. The list also includes Maedh Abu Sharakh, also convicted of plotting the Haifa bus bombing.

These men walk free, but the United States could prosecute them and others complicit in the murder and maiming of American citizens. A group called the Parents Forum for Justice (PFJ), American citizens whose children are victims of Palestinian terrorism in Israel, have called on Attorney General Eric Holder to enforce the 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act and related laws against using explosives to harm American citizens overseas:

Fadi Muhammad al-Jaaba, Maedh Abu Sharakh and Majdi Muhammad Amr, sentenced to multiple life terms for planning a 2003 Haifa bus bombing that claimed the lives of 17 people, among them 14-year-old American schoolgirl Abigail Leitel, were also let go in the deal and should be indicted by the US, the PFJ letter said.

"[Since their release] we have had to endure the sight of these unrepentant killers not only walking free but also being embraced as heroes, celebrated and honored by the communities to which they have now returned, and by the US-funded Palestinian Authority."

The group says that despite US anti-terror laws and assurances that authorities are investigating their cases, the Department of Justice has so far failed to indict or prosecute a single terrorist.

This is telling: According to Nathan Lewin, a former official in the US Department of Justice, the DOJ has extradited and prosecuted terrorists under these laws -- just not Palestinian terrorists who murdered Americans in Israel:

Prosecutions have been brought in American federal courts against individuals responsible for bombings that killed Americans in the Philippines, Colombia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Many of the individuals accused of these crimes were brought here for trial following their extradition, on the request of the United States, from foreign countries. American prosecutors have not, however, charged the Hamas perpetrators of bombings in Israel such as the 2001 and 2003 bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa, even though American citizens were murdered in these attacks. They have relied on the Israeli legal process to arrest and punish the perpetrators.

Tamimi, al-Jabaa, Sharakh, Amr, and Dar Musa were prosecuted and convicted in Israeli courts. They and other perpetrators of these murders received either multiple sentences of life imprisonment or long prison terms. Until they were released by Israel's government under duress in order to bring Gilad Shalit home, they expected to spend the rest of their lives in Israeli prisons. They are now free in Jordan or Gaza.

The Department of Justice should now indict, extradite, and put to trial in United States courts, under American law, these killers of American citizens.

Don't hold your breath. The U. S. federal bureaucracy seems institutionally hostile to Israel's right to existence and self-defense. I would like to say that things are better under Republican administrations, but that's not true. An op-ed in the Jerusalem Post noted that the State Department's 2004 report on human rights didn't name any of the victims of Palestinian terrorism in the previous year:

Of course, it duly notes that the PA security services have themselves conducted terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Yet aside from condemning every action Israel has taken to combat terrorism and thereby equating actions aimed at protecting Israeli citizens with terrorism, the report does something even more offensive.

The report very sensitively gives the names of a dozen or so Palestinian children who died during Israeli assaults against Palestinian terrorists who used these children for cover. Yet, grotesquely, while the names of Palestinian children are listed, the report provides not one name of any Israeli victim of Palestinian terrorism. Not the Ohayon children, not 14-year-old Abigail Litle who was murdered on a bus on her way home from school and not the names of hundreds of other Israeli men, women and children who were murdered last year.

By naming Palestinian victims while not giving names of Israeli victims, the State Department report follows in the path of the general climate that has gripped us for the past 40 months. This general climate is characterized by the dehumanization of Israelis and Jews by the international community.

Last year Rachel Corrie's family sued the Israeli Defense Forces. In the run-up to the trial, the US State Department told Corrie's family "that the Israeli government has not been thorough or credible in their investigation of her death" and expressed its condolences over the dismissal of the family's suit.

Maybe this attitude is a carryover from the 1940s, when the State Department was riddled with Communists working to keep America on the sidelines as their Stalinist and Maoist comrades enslaved hundreds of millions of eastern Europeans and Chinese. Their modern counterparts must want to see Israel pushed into the sea, since at every opportunity they push for Israel to appease terror groups like Hamas and they express sympathy with the murderers and their allies. The continued existence of Israel and the Jewish people, testifying to the sovereignty of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, must be terribly offensive to leftists who want us all to worship government as our god.

What of the Litle family? About a year ago, freelance journalist Nicole Schiavi interviewed the Litles for Charisma magazine:

Now, almost nine years removed from the tragedy that tore one of their children from them, the Litles have further settled in Israel rather than return to the relative safety of America.

The family's grieving and healing process included entrenching themselves in the land they call home. The family applied for residency--a right due them as victims of terrorism; Heidi trained to be a medic and volunteered with the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross; their children all have joined the army.

Josiah, the oldest, joined a combat unit. Hannah serves in Israel's navy. Elishua took up fencing and duels with an Israeli national team. He and Noah, the youngest, will be drafted in the next few years.

"They all want to serve," Heidi says. "They all think it's the right thing to do."

After losing one child to a war not their own, it wasn't easy for the Litles to watch their children volunteer for the army--mandatory for citizens, but not incumbent upon residents. Despite that, Philip believes it is part of the family's responsibility of living in Israel.

"I've enjoyed the protection of the state of Israel the whole time I've been here," he says. "My children feel very much that they have enjoyed that and that it's the right thing to serve what they see is their country. If other children serve to make me safe, then my children have no special privileges."...

The Litles counted the cost before they crossed the Atlantic, yet no one could have imaged that cost would be Abigail, the second child and eldest daughter, who was 7 months old when they arrived in Israel.

"We felt called to come here, called to tie our lives to the people. Abigail's death is a part of the struggle," Philip says. "It is something to be expected when you choose to identify with a people and live your life for their benefit."

In a 2009 interview, Heidi Litle, Abigail's mother, spoke about how their Christian faith gave them the hope they needed to stay together after the tragedy. She also answered a question about the ongoing attacks from Palestinian terrorists:

I guess I'm not convinced that the political issues are the real issues involved, that it's really an issue of people's hearts. When hatred is being sown in people's hearts, nothing can come from it but war.... I think that Israel should be allowed to defend herself from the hatred that's being poured out on her.

Please keep the Litle family and the families of other victims of Palestinian terrorism in your prayers, and work and pray for the defeat of those who are sowing hatred in the hearts of young Palestinians.


Remembering Abigail Litle, a victim of hate: My March 2003 column on the Haifa massacre.

Remembering Abigail Litle, a victor in faith: The reflections of Philip Litle, Abigail's father, on her death and funeral from April 2003.

BatesLine post on the fifth anniversary, with links to other commentary.

Giuliano Meiotti includes Abigail Litle in a long list of victims of Palestinian violence who had been actively working to promote peace and coexistence. Abigail was part of the "Children Teaching Children" program which brought together students at Israeli and Arab schools.

In March 2003, former Middle East correspondent Tom Gross reviewed the New York Times coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and found a blind eye to Palestinian attacks on civilians that impedes prospects for peace:

On the next day (March 5), another American Baptist, 14-year-old Abigail Litle, was among 16 people killed by a suicide bomber on a bus in Haifa, Israel. The story and photo caption in the March 6 Times, tucked at the bottom corner of page 1, made no mention of Abigail's name. Neither the headline nor the photo caption indicated that an American had died, or that the suicide bomber had deliberately chosen a bus packed with schoolchildren, or that a majority of those killed had been teenagers....

The lack of prominence given to Litle's death is one small example of what has become a familiar pattern at the Times. The paper downplays Israeli suffering, and de-emphasizes Yasser Arafat's responsibility for the suffering of Israelis and ordinary Palestinians alike.

On March 21, 2003, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) mentioned Abigail Litle in his speech in support of the Koby Mandell Act (S. 684, 108th Congress), creating an Office for Overseas Victims of Terrorism in the Department of Justice.

Tomorrow (Saturday) night, March 2, 2013, the historic Cain's Ballroom at 423 N. Main St. in downtown Tulsa's Bob Wills District will ring with the music that made it famous. Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, led by vocalist Leon Rausch and guitarist Tommy Allsup, will headline the annual Bob Wills Birthday Celebration. The Tulsa-based western swing band the Round-Up Boys will open the dance. It's an all-ages, family-friendly event. Doors open at 6, show starts at 6:30.

Bob Wills, Tommy Duncan, and a horse read a newspaper

Rausch and Allsup have over a century between them as western swing musicians. Both were with Johnnie Lee Wills and His Boys in the 1950s. Rausch joined the Texas Playboys in 1957 and took over as band leader when Bob retired in 1964. Allsup produced the Liberty Records albums that brought Bob Wills and vocalist Tommy Duncan back together after a decade apart, produced the final album (For the Last Time) and played guitar and bass with the band. Allsup was also a sideman for Buddy Holly, backing Holly on hits like "Heartbeat" and "It's So Easy" (that's Allsup with the famous guitar lick) and touring with him through the January 1959 Winter Dance Party tour. (Allsup lost a coin toss with Richie Valens for a seat on the plane.)

The resurgence and on-going popularity of western swing owes much to the advocacy of Merle Haggard. In the first flush of mega-stardom, Haggard took the opportunity to promote the music and musicians that had shaped his music. Haggard produced albums of Jimmie Rodgers (Same Train, Different Time), gospel music (Land of Many Churches), and, in 1970, he gathered six Texas Playboys (Johnnie Lee Wills, Eldon Shamblin, Johnny Gimble, Tiny Moore, Alex Brashear, and Joe Holley) to join his band for A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (or My Salute to Bob Wills). That led to a reunion and recording for Capitol (unreleased) at Haggard's Bakersfield home in 1971, this time with Bob himself on hand and many of his sidemen from Tulsa in the 1930s and 1940s. That in turn led to the final 1973 album for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, which included Haggard as vocalist on several tunes, putting the music back in record bins and on the radio.

Shamblin and Moore joined Haggard's band, playing with the band off and on through the '70s and '80s. Here they are, along with Johnny Gimble, on Pop Goes the Country with a strikingly hirsute Ralph Emery, singing "Cherokee Maiden":

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