February 2015 Archives

rino-768px.pngThe attempt to enlist Oklahoma in the National Popular Vote agreement, a left-wing attempt to subvert the constitutional method for electing the president, is back. In 2014, NPV legislation was rushed through the State Senate. Legislators were invited to junkets in tropical locations and other favorite vacation spots to discuss National Popular Vote. Lobbyists found emotionally resonant arguments and were able to get senators to make binding promises . Thus they won the vote on the floor of the State Senate. Within days, several senators had recanted their support, following an outpouring of anger from conservative grassroots activists, Republican party leaders, and conservative think tanks. The State House never took up the bill, which expired with the sine die adjournment of the legislature.

In previous entries, I've explained why NPV is a bad idea -- it undermines our Constitution, allows voter fraud in one state to affect the presidential result everywhere, and disconnects Oklahoma's popular vote result from the allocation of Oklahoma's electors. The Republican National Committee unanimously condemned the proposal. The libertarian Cato Institute and conservative Heritage Foundation and Eagle Forum oppose National Popular Vote, as does the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs. The Oklahoma Republican Party's platform has opposed the idea for years.

Despite the defeat, the leftists behind NPV continued their campaign. Local GOP consultants and sometime candidates Darren Gantz and David Tackett set up meetings between out-of-state NPV lobbyists and conservative grassroots activists. Legislators were invited on at least one more NPV junket -- Christmas season in New York City.

Lame-duck State Rep. Lee Denney, who also serves as speaker pro tempore, is the sponsor of this session's NPV bill. But what is going to happen on Wednesday is sneaky and underhanded.

HB 1686, the bill Denney filed to have Oklahoma join the NPV agreement, was sent to the Rules Committee. Another bill, HB 1813, was assigned to the Elections and Ethics Committee. Authored by Democrat Rep. Eric Proctor, HB 1813 originally dealt with ballot access for political parties, but the entire text of his bill has now been replaced by text from Denney's HB 1686 committing Oklahoma to the National Popular Vote. On Wednesday morning, February 25, 2015, the Elections and Ethics Committee will consider the bill.

This rush to committee is reminiscent of the speed with which the bill was rushed through the State Senate. NPV supporters seem to be hoping to sneak this through once again, before grassroots activists hear about it.

Here is a list of committee members. I encourage you to contact the members directly to urge their swift defeat of this measure:

Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, chair - paulwesselhoft@okhouse.gov
Rep. Donnie Condit, vice chair - donnie.condit@okhouse.gov
Rep. Gary Banz - garybanz@okhouse.gov
Rep. David Dank - david.dank@okhouse.gov
Rep. Charlie Joyner - charlie.joyner@okhouse.gov
Rep. David Perryman - david.perryman@okhouse.gov
Rep. Michael Rogers - michael.rogers@okhouse.gov

I also urge you to ask your Republican member of the State House to remove Lee Denney from her leadership position as Speaker Pro Tempore. There ought to be consequences for anyone who supports this betrayal of constitutional principles.

UPDATE: At the committee meeting, Rep. Denney laid over her bill, HB 1813. Chairman Wesselhoft expressed sympathy for her tough decision and said that the committee would remain the custodian of the bill, which could be heard next year if she wanted to bring it forward. According to State Rep. Glen Mulready, the committee chairman could not have forced a vote on the bill after the author laid it over. Because this was the last opportunity for a bill originating in the House to move out of committee, this particular bill is dead for this session.

Here is a direct link to the audio for the Elections and Ethics Committee meeting February 25, 2015. The chairman doesn't speak until 7:24 -- it's all background chatter before that.

NPV opponents cannot relax, however. This particular bill could get a committee hearing and a vote on short notice next session, still in time to affect Oklahoma's 2016 electoral votes. The NPV lobbyists are relentless, and I expect that they will continue to look for ways to woo legislators and activists.

There is also the possibility that the language could be inserted into a bill this year through the remainder of the legislative process -- possibly as a committee substitute for a bill that originated in the other house, possibly in a conference committee.

NPV opponents should continue to press legislators to declare their intentions on this proposal, regardless of the bill number to which it gets attached. Because it is an interstate compact (as they called it last year) or (as they're now calling it) an agreement among the states, the states all must adopt the same language. It is what it is. There's no possibility that the bill could be "improved" in the legislative process. So there's no good reason for a legislator to be agnostic about how he or she would vote. The NPV proposal is well-defined and unamendable, and conservative voices in Oklahoma and nationwide are unanimously in opposition. When the State Senate passed the NPV compact bill in 2014, lefty blogs cheered and conservative websites mourned. If a self-described conservative legislator is hesitant to take a stand on this issue, I'd hesitate to trust them on any other issue or for any elective office.

ADDED at the top because of its valuable info:

Thomas F. Madden reviews The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam by Jonathan Riley-Smith

On September 11, 2001, there were only a few professional historians of the Crusades in America. I was the one who was not retired. As a result, my phone began ringing and didn't stop for years. In the hundreds of interviews I have given since that terrible day, the most common question has been, "How did the Crusades lead to the terrorist attacks against the West today?" I always answered: "They did not. The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism."

That answer has never gone over well. It seems counterintuitive. If the West sent Crusaders to attack Muslims throughout the Middle Ages, haven't they a right to be upset? If the Crusades spawned anti-Western jihads, isn't it reasonable to see them as the root cause of the current jihads? The answer is no, but to understand it requires more than the scant minutes journalists are usually willing to spare. It requires a grasp not only of the Crusades but of the ways those wars have been exploited and distorted for modern agendas....

It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe's lacklands and ne'er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed "turn the other cheek" into "kill them all; God will know his own."

Every word of this is wrong. Historians of the Crusades have long known that it is wrong, but they find it extraordinarily difficult to be heard across a chasm of entrenched preconceptions. For on the other side is, as Riley-Smith puts it "nearly everyone else, from leading churchmen and scholars in other fields to the general public." ...

Riley-Smith describes the profound effect that Sir Walter Scott's novel The Talisman had on European and therefore Middle Eastern opinion of the Crusades. Crusaders such as Richard the Lionhearted were portrayed as boorish, brutal, and childish, while Muslims, particularly Saladin, were tolerant and enlightened gentlemen of the nineteenth century. With the collapse of Ottoman power and the rise of Arab nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century, Muslims bound together these two strands of Crusade narrative and created a new memory in which the Crusades were only the first part of Europe's assault on Islam--an assault that continued through the modern imperialism of European powers. Europeans reintroduced Saladin, who had been nearly forgotten in the Middle East, and Arab nationalists then cleansed him of his Kurdish ethnicity to create a new anti-Western hero. We saw the result during the run-up to the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein portrayed himself as a new Saladin who would expel the new Crusaders.

Christianity Today: The Real History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden

So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression--an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity--and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion--has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed's death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt--once the most heavily Christian areas in the world--quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

Gov. Jindal on the President's comparison of modern-day ISIS to the Crusades of the 11th through the 13th centuries:

Bobby Jindal on Friday released a statement responding to the president's remarks on Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast in which he cautioned Americans from getting on a "high horse" when taking a stance against radical Islam because people have committed "terrible deeds" in the name of Christianity, too.

"It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast," Jindal said. "Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today."

Ace on the intellectual depth of Obama's National Prayer Breakfast comments:

But Obama doesn't deliver that; Obama delivers the same low-IQ, trite, Marxism for Dummies sh** that all glittering mediocrities like himself traffic in, for they can not manage any better.

Charles Krauthammer makes this point, mostly, when he says Obama's remarks were simultaneously "banal and offensive," and says further that these remarks are "adolescent."

Indeed. These are the Deep Thoughts of the Fourteen Year Old.

But I would go one step further. All fourteen year olds are not alike; some are clever and bookish and and full of interesting ideas (if not yet any wisdom).

And some are rather dull-witted and just want to sound like they may be clever. And these slow-witted 14-year-olds tend to just repeat, in a twittering high pitched pre-pubescent voice, a dumbed-down version of Recieved Wisdom they've heard from "Cool Adults."

All the "Cool Adults" the adolescent Obama knew were radicals and communists, and he has done far more pot than thinking since he heard these banal cliches, so what you're hearing is Obama straining to remember, through a pottish haze, what his dull 14-year-old boy brain heard from his communist benefactors in the late sixties and early seventies.

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