Oklahoma Politics: April 2005 Archives

A watchword for activists

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Bunny Chambers, Oklahoma's Republican National Committeewoman, closed her remarks with this quote from Edward Everett Hale:

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.

Oklahoma GOP convention notes

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Some odds and ends from this weekend:

Gary Jones and Dana Murphy were reelected without opposition to another two year term as chairman and vice chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. They've both done a great job, demonstrated by electoral success, another well-run convention, and money in the state party's bank. There was some buzz around the convention about Dana running for statewide office next year. Dana came close to winning the Republican nomination for Corporation Commission in 2002, enduring some nasty attacks from fellow Republicans with a Christ-like spirit of forgiveness. Oklahoma would be greatly blessed to have Dana Murphy as an elected official.

The two-year-old Reed Center is a lovely facility for a smaller convention, but it's inexcusable that such a new venue would lack wireless Internet capability. That's going to become a competitive disadvantage, and I hope the folks planning renovation of Tulsa's convention center include WiFi in their plans. It doesn't add that much to the cost, and it's a way to tell tech-savvy exhibitors and convention-goers that you understand their needs.

Arizona Congressman J. D. Hayworth used about half of his Friday night speech to focus on immigration. He said that we embrace legal immigration, but border security is a national security issue. He will object to attaching any sort of illegal immigrant amnesty to the emergency supplemental defense appropriations bill, even if it means voting against the bill.

Tom Coburn focused on fiscal responsibility during his convention speech. He plans to offer amendments to the upcoming $81 billion emergency supplemental appropriation. The supplemental won't go against the spending caps, and $19 billion of that $81 billion is not to be spent until 2008. Must not be much of an emergency, but by including money in the out years, it will allow appropriators to go back later and grab the money for spending this year, without violating any spending caps, since the money has already been authorized. Neat trick! Coburn also said communication about personal retirement accounts has been terrible. Americans aren't being told that this money is still within Social Security, completely voluntary, and a no-risk proposition. He said that Social Security reform was "intended to protect our children from us." Medicare is an even bigger problem, with an unfunded liability equial to the private net worth of the United States.

Tom Cole surprised me with a thoughtful and relatively brief speech. When I think of the Norman congressman, I think of his years as a tough, competitive political operative. It's easy for me to forget that he is, after all, a fellow social and economic conservative. Cole mentioned that he was a student of British history before entering politics, specializing in the Victorians. He said that the Victorians made the modern world, ending slavery, ending aristocracy as a governing principle, and making countless technological and scientific advances. He called Winston Churchill the last great Victorian -- born and first elected to Parliament during her reign. Alluding to Churchill's famously brief "Never give up" speech, he reviewed the history of the Republican Party, saying after the electoral disasters of 1964, 1974, and 1992, people like the delegates never, never gave up. Cole was (as far as I heard) the only speaker to mention Terri Schiavo, saying how proud he was of Tom DeLay and congressional Republicans for showing leadership by addressing her situation, without anything to gain politically by taking it up. Cole noted that not a single Senate Democrat was willing to take to the floor to defend their efforts to block legislation to help Terri.

Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony reviewed the long history of Oklahoma Republicans standing up for public integrity and for open and honest government -- against the good ol' boy system, against the bribery of Supreme Court justices in the '50s and '60s, against bribery in the 1980s County Commission scandal, against stolen elections, against special deals for special people, against decisions made in smoke-filled rooms. Regarding stolen elections, he mentioned a 1960 congressional race in northwestern Oklahoma, when strange doings in a recount led to a Republican defeat. Unfortunately, Tulsans know that not all elected officials who call themselves Republicans share Commissioner Anthony's commitment to openness and serving the public interest rather than special interests. After the speech, someone reminded me of the attacks Commissioner Anthony suffered when he was first elected to the body that regulates public utilities -- slashed tires and death threats. In light of that no one should be surprised at the heat being thrown at the reformers in Tulsa.

The convention ended about 3:40 p.m., the earliest in my memory. The afternoon speakers had mercy on the audience, which began to drift away after the vote to reelect the chairman and vice chairman.

As I wrote earlier, Virginia Sen. George Allen delivered this morning's keynote speech at the Oklahoma Republican Convention at the Reed Center in Midwest City. During the speech, he praised Oklahoma's Republican leaders, looked back at what was achieved during his term as Governor of Virginia, reviewed the 2004 successes of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which he headed, looked at what's been accomplished since the election, and looked ahead to some of the legislative challenges yet to be addressed. Except for the skillful way he worked in his gubernatorial accomplishments, it was the sort of speech you'd expect from a U. S. Senator, and didn't strike me as an effort to position himself as a presidential contender. (It's a bit early for that, anyway. He is likely to face a tough re-election challenge from Gov. Mark Warner in 2006.)

Allen was introduced by Oklahoma's senior U. S. Senator, Jim Inhofe. Allen began his speech by saluting many of Oklahoma's elected officials by name, a daring move -- he bobbled only a few (Congressman "Lewis" instead of Lucas). He spoke about Oklahoma's athletic accomplishments. He said that Oklahoma has produced more astronauts than any other state. (Per capita or raw numbers?) He dropped the names of famous Oklahomans in entertainment, past and present, praised our congressional delegation, spoke of Inhofe as "an unflinching leader," celebrated Tom Coburn's successful defense of Don Nickles' senate seat, and congratulated us on gaining the majority in the State House of Representatives. Remembering Tuesday's 10th anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing, he praised Frank and Cathy Keating for their "poised leadership" at that time.

Allen called the armed forces our "most valuable players." He said called the current death gratuity of $12,000 a "paltry, miserly, insulting amount" and said he introduced legislation to increase that amount to $100,000 retroactive to October 2001.

Blogging will continue to be light for the next couple of days, as my wife and I head to Midwest City's Reed Center for the Oklahoma Republican Convention and some kid-free relaxation. I'm hoping to be able to live-blog some of the proceedings. Tonight Arizona Rep. J. D. Hayworth will be speaking at a banquet honoring J. C. Watts, and the keynote speaker tomorrow will be Sen. George Allen of Virginia. A political blog from his homestate (named Sic Semper Tyrannis after the Commonwealth's motto) has contacted me, asking me to report on his speech. He's a potential presidential candidate in 2008, and it will be interesting to see how he's received by grass-roots Oklahoma Republicans. Oklahoma will hold is presidential primary the first Tuesday in February, so we should be receiving a lot of attention from the contenders.

The Oklahoma Republican Party still has its struggles, but we've rescued the State House, held on to both U. S. Senate seats and four of five congressional seats, won every county in the state for George W. Bush, and have hopes of capturing the State Senate and Governor's Mansion in 2006. I give thanks for our situation every time I read something about the New York Republican Party on Slant Point like this or on Alarming News like this. Actually, there's a sign of hope in that Slant Point entry, and I hope to write more about that later.

"Doverspa" of RedState.org commented on my earlier post about voter fraud that fellow RedState.org contributor Erick Erickson has helped draft a tough voter ID bill currently working its way through the Georgia legislature. Here's the Macon Telegraph story and Erick's entry on the bill.

The Republican-controlled Oklahoma House has passed several important pro-life bills, but they're being held up by a Democrat Senate committee chairman, according to Rep. Kevin Calvey's "Capitol Update":

House Republicans Move forward with Pro-Life Legislation, despite Senate Maneuvers

Joined by a woman who shared her personal story about abortion, House Republican leaders said today they would continue to press for pro-life legislation during the 2005 session.

"These issues surpass party lines," said Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Del City), author of House Bill 1543, the Women's Right to Know and the Family Protection Act. "Unfortunately, Senate leadership today attempted to brush off these issues entirely by passing a watered-down bill at the eleventh hour.

"Senate Democrats apparently do not realize the widespread support across the state for these measures. They've garnered bi-partisan support here in the House, and it's time for the will of the people to be respected."

Three pro-life measures have bogged down in the Senate after receiving overwhelming support in the House weeks ago. Earlier today, a Senate committee passed a watered-down measure, in an attempt to distract attention from core reforms.

The bills that have failed to receive a hearing in the Senate are:

* HB 1257 - The Oklahoma Unborn Victim of Violence Act, a "Laci & Conner Peterson" law.
* HB 1258 - Establishes a criminal punishment for anyone other than a physician who distributes a pill to induce an abortion.
* HB 1543 - Women's Right to Know and the Family Protection Act.

Valeska Littlefield, an outspoken pro-woman advocate and Tulsa resident, today joined lawmakers as she shared her story about having an abortion. HB 1543 would require more thorough counseling for women considering an abortion, a common-sense measure Littlefield said would have changed her decision.

"I regret having had an abortion," said Littlefield. "It is a decision that has affected my entire life. If I had known more at the time, I would have decided to see my pregnancy through."

Other pro-life advocates also spoke in support of Calvey's measure. "The legislation proposed by Representative Calvey is very modest, but badly needed," said Tony Lauinger, state chair of Oklahomans for Life. "The substitute passed this morning in a Senate committee fails to address the urgent need for a woman to be given comprehensive information about the development of her unborn child."

"These measures represent the culture of life in our state, the core values of hardworking Oklahomans," said Rep. Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa), the author of HB 1257, a measure to institute a "Laci & Conner Peterson" law in Oklahoma. "And we're not going to relent just because a powerful Senator has decided to ignore the concerns of voters."

HB 1543, the Women's Right to Know and the Family Protection Act, passed the House overwhelmingly in early March. Calvey says the informed consent law would require that a woman considering an abortion would be told by a physician about the medical risks involved with specific procedures, as well as developmental information about the unborn child.

HB 1543 also requires the knowledge of a parent before a minor can receive an abortion. Currently more than half the states in the nation have informed consent laws.

"Oklahomans don't want to see these pro-family issues put on the backburner," said Rep. Lance Cargill (R-Harrah), the House Majority Floor Leader and a strong advocate for pro-life legislation. "These measures offer common-sense solutions to problems, and they should be passed quickly."

Representative Thad Balkman (R-Norman), chair of the House Republican Caucus agreed: "Every Oklahoman understands that criminals should be held accountable for their acts, and that parents should have the right to know about a child's decision. It's time to act on these issues for the betterment of our state."

The powerful senator to whom Rep. Peterson refers is Bernest Cain, Democrat chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee, who infamously compared pro-life Christians to Nazis and called them "the right wing of the Taliban."

Here's a conversation Don Danz had at his polling place last Tuesday:

Me: Hi. (smiling)

Poll Worker 1: Last name? (smiling)

Me: Danz...Don Danz. (now with dead serious expression and tone) But, I'm not really him. And, you can't do anything about it because you can't ask for my ID. (I sign my nameÖor at least my alias for that precinct)

Poll Worker 2: We donít care. (hands me my ballots)

Poll Worker 3: The state of Oklahoma doesn't care. (everyone exchanges knowing smiles and small chuckles as it's obvious I'm making a point with which the workers agree)

Me: (after having voted) We'll I'm off to go vote in a few more precincts.

Poll Worker 2: Good luck.

Oklahoma has no way to prevent voter fraud and no practical way to detect it if it occurs. Requiring photo ID to vote would not be foolproof, but it would prevent someone walking in and voting under someone else's name. Republican legislators have tried to pass such a requirement, but the Democrats have always blocked it, claiming it would intimidate minority and elderly voters. Don says that's hogwash:

This is not only untrue but, also, incredibly insulting to blacks and the elderly. I guess blacks and old people donít use checks or credit cards either because they are too scared someone will want to see some ID. What a load of crap.

The only real reason to oppose checking identification is that in some places Democrats rely on widespread voter fraud in order to be elected. There simply is no other reason to oppose mandatory photo identification before voting.

Oklahoma election officials are justly proud of our optical ballot readers, which gives us the ability to obtain quick and accurate results while still having a paper record of each vote, preserving the option of a manual count. But a ballot reader is like any other computer -- Garbage In, Garbage Out -- and it can't detect a ballot cast fraudulently. We've had too many close elections that could have been swayed by even a tiny amount of fraud: House District 78 in 2004 was decided by less than 30 votes; the 2002 Governor's race was decided by less than three votes per precinct.

In a voting system that is truly one person, one vote, only an eligible voter would cast a ballot, each voter would vote only once and would vote only in the district in which he currently lives. Oklahoma has no requirement to ensure that any of those conditions are met. For the sake of democracy, it's time we fixed that.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Politics category from April 2005.

Oklahoma Politics: March 2005 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Politics: May 2005 is the next archive.

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