General: April 2006 Archives

We had a late little league game tonight. Our boys won, beating a previously undefeated team by a huge margin. My boy struck out in his one at bat, but he handled his one defensive opportunity just as he should have and prevented a run from scoring. Good game, and nice weather for it, too. Back to springtime after several days of dry, dusty, windy, 90-degree-plus weather.

Between baseball, my wife's birthday, getting the taxes filed, getting my column written, and celebrating Easter Sunday at church and with family, it has been a busy several days. Tonight I had planned to relax -- sort and fold laundry and watch Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which I checked out of the library today.

I haven't seen it in years, but I've been thinking about that movie ever since reading this intriguing blog entry, which brought to mind General Ripper's concern about precious bodily fluids: "I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence." I have been following that entry and its several followups, extensive comment threads, and rebuttals on other blogs, and hope to post some thoughts of my own Real Soon Now from a perspective that hasn't yet been heard from. But not tonight, dear; I have a headache. Rest assured that any of my emissions on the subject (likely nocturnal; I don't usually blog during the day) will be properly deposited here and not wasted elsewhere.

Anyway, I got a phone call right at 10, and it completely changed the direction of my evening. So this is all you're getting tonight, except I did update the link to my latest Urban Tulsa Weekly column, which is about what I would do if I were Tulsa's zoning czar.

Meanwhile, if you're a Tulsan, go visit Chris Medlock's blog -- several new entries, all worth reading, including this funny anecdote from his last day at City Hall.

If you're not a Tulsan, or if you are but don't feel like reading about Tulsa, visit Julie R. Neidlinger's Lone Prairie Blog for some pointed, witty takedowns of modern fads in evangelical church growth circles. Her latest has to do with churches that marginalize children, and it's called First Church of the Millstone.

Good night.

I had the pleasure of being Gwen Freeman's sidekick this morning on 1170 KFAQ.

Michael DelGiorno was at home, part of a reality TV segment that will run on NBC's Today later this month -- his pregnant wife is being pampered at a hotel, while Michael wears a pregnancy prosthesis and takes care of his toddler twin girls alone. (There are some photos of Michael in the fat suit on the KFAQ website.) We talked by phone to Michael and to his wife Andrea. He sounded helpless and beleaguered.

This morning we talked about the city budget crisis and the new mayor's staff.

We also talked to Congressman John Sullivan and national and local representatives of the "fair tax" movement, the effort to replace the federal income tax with a tax on new retail goods and service. The idea has a lot of appeal; click that link to learn all about it.

Valeska Littlefield, head of Life Network of Green Country, came in to help us celebrate the impending departure of Bernest Cain, a Christian-hating State Senator, who has been, as Chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee, the single biggest roadblock to pro-life legislation. Cain's ability to be that roadblock is thanks to existence of a Democratic majority in the State Senate.

The show will be repeated online all weekend. Here's a direct link to the KFAQ audio feed that works with Windows Media Player.

UPDATE (4/21/2006): There has been some reaction (see comments below) about the excerpt of Cain's 2003 comments, which are linked above -- specifically, that my characterization of Bernest Cain as anti-Christian or a Christian-hater is unfair. Here is a report from OCPA that gives more of the context of Cain's 2003 speech. I'm putting it here in its entirety just in case it disappears from the web. The full transcript of Cain's remarks and Charles Ford's reply was on the KFAQ website in May 2003, when I first saw them, but they don't appear to be on the site any longer.

Liberal Tolerance Watch
by Brandon Dutcher

Intolerance and Prejudice at the State Capitol

Living in the Bible Belt, and working as I do in the public policy arena, I see it all too often. People, often with good intentions, try to use the political process to impose their views on everyone else. They are intolerant of other viewpoints, they try to stifle diversity, and sometimes they can be downright bigoted.

I’m telling you, the left is really bad about this.

Consider, for example, the issue of school choice. As Cato Institute scholars Marie Gryphon and Emily A. Meyer pointed out in a recent study, America has a grand tradition of educational freedom. In fact, it’s a tradition that predates and is longer than our current tradition of delivering education through a government-owned-and-run monopoly. Many people today are trying to regain a measure of that freedom, mainly through policies which empower parents to choose the safest and best schools for their children, whether those schools are public or private.

These school-choice advocates celebrate diversity. They want parents and children to be able to choose from charter schools that emphasize core knowledge, specialty schools that focus on the arts, magnet schools that specialize in science and engineering, and more. Let a hundred flowers bloom. After all, students have unique needs and preferences.

What’s more, school-choicers celebrate religious diversity. They want to empower parents to choose Jewish day schools, which provide a rigorous faith-based education and help preserve Jewish continuity. Or classical Christian schools, which begin Latin in the third grade and logic in the eighth and equip children to love the Lord their God with all their minds. Or inner-city Catholic schools – often more racially integrated than their public counterparts – which turn at-risk kids into scholars.

The nation’s 27,000 private schools (nearly one in four U.S. schools) “by definition help fulfill the ideal of pluralism in American education,” says the Council for American Private Education. “They serve diverse populations, and are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural.”

But the left, for all its professed tolerance, cannot tolerate this sort of diversity, especially religious diversity. The defenders of the status quo prefer secular uniformity. Indeed, they insist upon it religiously. For some reason, school choice is OK for 18-year-olds (Pell Grants at Notre Dame, federal SEOG grants at Oral Roberts University) but not for 17-year-olds.

One journalist, a member of the religious left here in Oklahoma, is particularly hostile to school choice. He often puts derisive quotation marks around “Christian” when referring to Christian schools, and once lambasted a pro-school-choice governor, saying his “tortured rightwing brain” is all too “typical of brown-shirted rich kids privately educated.”

Remarkably, this ugliness goes unpunished. Indeed, the National Education Association has given its highest award to this man who calls Thomas Sowell “a disgrace to the human race,” and he is still a popular speaker at education workshops and conferences. One essay, in which he sniffs at “mantras and Hail Marys” and warns of ominous attempts to “construct new forms of theocratic education,” is featured on the welcome page of the Oklahoma Education Association’s web site.

I suppose none of this should surprise us. After all, Gryphon and Meyer remind us, it was religious prejudice – specifically, anti-Catholic prejudice fueled by an influx of immigrants in the 1830s and 1840s – which inspired the establishment of public schools in the first place. In addition, state constitutional Blaine Amendments, “adopted during the rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment in the 19th and early 20th centuries” and now enshrined in some three-fourths of state constitutions (including Oklahoma’s), prohibit tax money from flowing to “sectarian” schools. The left, apparently without embarrassment, defends these amendments heartily, as they are among the most significant barriers to school choice in the states.

The Arizona Supreme Court pronounced that state’s Blaine Amendment “a clear manifestation of religious bigotry.” Justice Clarence Thomas has opined that “hostility to aid to pervasively sectarian schools has a shameful pedigree that we do not hesitate to disavow. … This doctrine, born of bigotry, should be buried now.”

Many of our friends on the left are working tirelessly for a more just and tolerant America, one that respects diversity. They would do well to recognize that educational freedom, as Gryphon and Meyer say, is “critical to an intellectually diverse and tolerant society.”

Rhetoric Insults Thousands of Oklahomans
In last year’s legislative session, Senator Scott Pruitt (R-Broken Arrow) co-authored a tort reform bill for teachers. When the bill was being considered in the House, a Democrat attached an amendment which would require a disclaimer to be placed in all textbooks in which evolution is discussed. The disclaimer would state in part that evolution is “a controversial theory which some scientists present as scientific explanation for the origin of living things,” although “no one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact.”

The amended bill passed the House by a vote of 92-9, and was being reconsidered on the Senate floor May 6. Sen. Bernest Cain (D-Oklahoma City), a Unitarian with a graduate degree in theology and a prominent member of Oklahoma’s religious left, was offended by the bill and argued against it. According to a transcript posted on the Web site of KFAQ, a talk radio station in Tulsa, Sen. Cain made the following remarks:

“I just resent people continually, every time they bring a bill out here, trying to force their religion down other people’s throats. Now, this is what this is coming from. … Because he [Senator Pruitt] believes, basically, that his religion ought to be the dominant religion and that his religion ought to say to the rest of the religions what should be in the textbooks of our public schools. … We should not continue to let this religious, far religious views, try to force their way down on us.

“I got a quote the other day that I got from Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler. And I don’t have the exact words, but here’s basically what it says. He says, in our government we are going to put Christians in key positions of responsibility because there has been too much liberal access going on out there and we are going to straighten up and make sure that the Christian culture is back in control. Now folks, they took Jewish people and they took them out and they strung them apart, they killed them, they mass murdered some of those people, and all of the ideas that were behind that were, and they were doing this while they were having Christian music going on, while they were having hymns. They killed thousands of Jews while they were doing hymns. That is what happens when you let the right wing of the Taliban come in and try to dictate to the State how we should run our business.

“We should try as much as possible to keep ourselves separate from the religious group. I am telling you, we have got this new mindset that you can be a Taliban, you can be a religious fanatic, and you can bring it to the Senate, you can bring it to the House, you can bring it to the government, it doesn’t matter, it’s all right, we just turn our heads, it’s not that bad. That’s what they did when Hitler came along. They let him come in and he brought in his ideas, he said we’re bringing Christian values back. But was it all Christian values? No, it was everything against Christian values. And that is what I am afraid of from these extreme right-wing religious fanatics who want to bring their religious viewpoints and bring them into the Senate. …

“But no, this is another one of Senator Pruitt’s bills trying to take the religious idea and force it down on the rest of us. … I say we ought to reject this thing and say it right now, we’re not going to let extreme, extreme religious groups come in here and run our government.”

Don’t you just love it when liberals engage in nuanced, responsible discourse? They’re always so careful to be tolerant of the viewpoints of others.

It’s interesting to note that the amendment was not ambitious at all. It merely said evolution should be taught as a theory. It did not mandate the teaching of intelligent-design theories or creationism.

After all, we can’t have “extreme, extreme religious groups come in here and run our government.” And certainly Sen. Cain, known for his mainstream views, can recognize an extremist when he sees one. An extremist is one of those far-out people – “the right wing of the Taliban,” if you will – who actually believes a Creator made the world. Fortunately, according to a Tulsa World-sponsored poll in 2000, this fringe element is limited to: a majority of whites, blacks, and Hispanics; a majority of people in every income level; and a majority of liberals, moderates, and conservatives. “A strong majority of the state believes in creationism,” the Tulsa World reported. “The poll showed that support for creationism was solid in almost every political and demographic subdivision.” Indeed, belief in creationism was higher among registered Democrats than registered Republicans.

Nevertheless, if you’re one of those “fanatics” whose religious convictions lead you to a particular view about abortion, or the death penalty, or the lottery, or taxation, or sex education in the classroom, don’t bother bringing your “religious viewpoints … into the Senate.” Unless you’re a member of the religious left.

How’s that for tolerance?

BatesLine orientation

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It occurs to me that there may be a few more readers here than normal over the next couple of days, and some new reader orientation is in order.

This blog has been around since May 1, 2003. I started it as a place to note interesting things I encountered on the World Wide Web (the textbook purpose of a weblog), comment on politics, and post the occasional family photo. Tulsa politics has become the central focus of BatesLine, but I still touch on the other topics you see listed on the title image, which was inspired by the famous map of the London Underground. Lately, I've been consumed by the election, but ordinarily you'll find entries about Western Swing music, global news, national politics, Tulsa history, theology, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Over the course of nearly three years of blogging, I've added a lot of content and have tried to find an easily navigable way of presenting it. The masthead, just below the title, provides some convenient links. Over to the left, there's a link to a PDA-friendly version of the homepage -- excerpts from the ten most recent entries with as little ornamentation as possible. Over to the right, distinguished with a white background and red text, is my "spotlight" -- a place to link the current entry to which I most wish to draw your attention.

My blogging led, starting in the fall of '03, to a weekly appearance on Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno Show. (My normal slot is Tuesday mornings from 6:10 to 7:00, but I will also be on tomorrow morning from 6 to 8 as part of a panel discussing the city elections.) If my regular schedule changes, you'll see it updated on the masthead.

Last fall, I began writing a weekly column for Urban Tulsa Weekly. You'll find a link on the masthead to my latest column, a summary of all my columns with links to each, and a link to G. W. Schulz's profile of me. If you want to get an idea of who I am and what makes me tick, that's a good place to start.

Below the masthead, there's a quick link that will take you beyond the rest of the front matter directly to my latest blog entry. Below that, you'll find the titles of my most recent ten entries with links to each.

Next is the most recent ten entries of my "linkblog". I set this up last October both as an exercise in web programming and as a way to note web items I found interesting, without having to think of a clever title or add a lot of commentary. There's a link to a complete archive of linkblog entries.

Finally, we get to the blog proper. Most entries are presented on the main page in their entirety, but sometimes you have to click a "continue reading" link to read the whole thing. Comments are welcomed, but I reserve the right not to post your comment -- here's a link to the BatesLine commenting policy.

The Technorati tags under each entry give you a way to see what other blogs have been commenting on a given topic. For example, this link will take you to most recent blog entries tagged Bill+LaFortune.

Now to the sidebar: At the top, you'll find my Okie Blog award for Best Political Blog and the cover from the UTW profile (that link also leads you to the profile). Next is my e-mail address, cleverly obscured to defeat spammers. I'm a member of the Media Bloggers Association, an organization of bloggers who comment on the mainstream media. In February 2005, the group helped me deal with legal threats from the Tulsa World.

The Tulsa Bloggers button leads to a page displaying the latest articles from bloggers who write regularly about Tulsa news and politics. Below it is a link to the UTW feature story I wrote about these bloggers in January.

You can advertise on BatesLine! It's cheap -- $10 a week, $20 a month, or $45 for three months. For a mere tenner your ad gets over 10,000 views a week.

I also participate in a free ad exchange called Blog Ad Swap, the creation of Danny Carlton aka Jack Lewis.

Below that there's a tip jar -- your donations help cover hosting fees and research expenses.

The "Best Posts of 2005" button takes you to a collection of excellent blog entries compiled by Jeff Faria aka Mister Snitch. If you've never dabbled much in the realm of blogs, this would be a good place to start.

Below that, there's a button linking to information about this fall's Okie Blogger Roundup, the first-ever large scale gathering of Oklahoma-based bloggers.

The "Blog Ecosystem" section gives you an idea of how BatesLine fits into the grand scheme of things in the blogosphere. I'm a "Large Mammal", which puts BatesLine roughly in the top 1,000 blogs worldwide. Clicking that will give you a list of blogs that links to me. Technorati's "Blogs That Link Here" and "Who Links to Me?" do the same thing, but differently.

(More later.)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the General category from April 2006.

General: March 2006 is the previous archive.

General: May 2006 is the next archive.

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