Politics Category

Liberty requires virtue

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From an essay in The Public Discourse by Robert R. Reilly, replying to an essay by Patrick Deneen, who claims that the Founders created a Hobbesian republic containing the individualistic, antinomian seeds of its own destruction.

However, he fails to mention that Madison, like almost all of the Founders, makes explicit that the principal condition for the success of the republic is virtue. In Federalist 55, he states:
As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.

Without the exercise of those qualities, Madison said, "the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another." Ironically, it is precisely the chains of despotism that Deneen suggests the Founders laid in creating a Hobbesian regime, the very thing Madison is rejecting here.

As Professor Thomas G. West points out in his superb new book, The Political Theory of the American Founding,

the founders' concern with natural rights and their concern with virtue did not belong to distinct categories of thought. Instead they thought of virtue as a condition of freedom and a requirement of the laws of nature. In the Virginia Bill of Rights, as elsewhere, we are told that "no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved . . . but by a firm adherence to . . . virtue."

The reason is that the key to republican government is not merely free choice. As we know from the Weimar Republic, people can freely choose anything, even Hitler. The key, as the Founding Fathers knew, is virtue.

Freedom is not divorced from nature; it is rooted in and limited by nature. Virtue is conformity with what is naturally good. That is why freedom, rightly understood, is freedom to choose the good. It is not license or licentiousness, which is unnatural, i.e., against nature. Only a virtuous person is capable of rational consent, because only a virtuous person's reason is unclouded by the habitual rationalizations of vice. Vice inevitably infects the faculty of judgment. No matter how democratic their institutions, morally enervated people cannot be free. And people who are enslaved to their passions inevitably become slaves to tyrants. Thus, the Founders predicated the success of democracy on the virtue of the American people. If there is any one thing on which the founders and the founding generation agreed, it was this. Without it, the republic would fail, and it is why it is failing now--not because of the Founding but despite it.

The TaxCutsNow bus tour is making a stop today, September 12, 2017, in Tulsa, from 12:50-1:20 pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel north of 81st & Lewis, just west across the street from the Mabee Center, for a rally in support of tax relief for small business owners. The tour is starting the day at a rally in Oklahoma City, then continuing east. The tour will conclude with a rally Friday at the headquarters of the IRS in Washington, D.C.

Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, Stephen Bonner, former CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and retired NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton are among the business leaders who have signed on with the Job Creators Network, which advocates for relief from taxes and regulations that inhibit the creation and growth of small businesses.

The Oklahoma bus stops and rallies are sponsored by Job Creators Network, Freedom Works, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma.

Preaching to the choir

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I was involved in a vigorous, in-person discussion the other night over the Nashville Statement. While everyone involved professed agreement with the historic Christian views of sexuality and sexual identity, some felt that the timing was poor, in the wake of the Hurricane Harvey catastrophe. Others couldn't see the point of a statement that would not persuade someone who was not already convinced of the Biblical position. I defended the statement, which I have signed, saying that Christian young people need to hear a clear restatement of Biblical truth on these issues, crafted to address the particular points of attack being used against Biblical truth, because otherwise young people are only hearing attacks on the Christian position with no responses. Sometimes, I said, the choir needs preaching to.

This entry isn't intended to get into the specifics of the Nashville Statement, but rather to defend the notion of speaking out when you have no reasonable expectation of swaying large numbers of people to your view.

Julia Galef posted four reasons to Twitter recently in response to those who ask why she bothers "arguing with people online, since I'm never going to get them to change their minds." It seems to me that the first and second are particularly applicable to the debate over the value of the Nashville Statement.

Reasons it can be worthwhile to argue with people on the internet, even if you have no hope of changing their minds:
  1. To change the minds of less-committed onlookers
  2. To give relief and comfort to onlookers who share your view and wish someone would stick up for it
  3. To set an example of "sharing one's opinion even if it's controversial," a value norm to reinforce even if you don't change anyone's mind on that particular issue
  4. To set an example of "polite and reasonable argumentation," again a valuable norm in its own right

I would add a fifth reason: To build toleration for your view. Friends of yours who disagree will learn that your view is held not just by strange people they see protesting on the news, but by someone they know and respect. Even if they still strongly disagree with your view, they will be less likely to cast someone who holds it beyond the pale of polite company, because they don't want to cast a friend -- you -- beyond the pale of polite company.

Now, this does not always work. I can think of a few "friends" I've lost because my views on social issues. But in general, it can help to shift the "Overton Window" in the direction of your perspective, which can encourage your allies to speak out, which ultimately can move your view from beyond the pale to controversial but tolerable to conventional wisdom.

I have some experience with this. When I got involved with city zoning issues almost 20 years ago, there weren't many people in Tulsa who thought about, much less supported, ideas like protecting walkability or neighborhood character with design guidelines or using small measures (Roberta Brandes Gratz's concept of "urban husbandry") to revitalize downtown. While these ideas still aren't universally applauded, they now have a significant and vocal constituency among civically engaged Tulsans.

RELATED:

Pastor Steven Wedgeworth writes: "Beware the cool shame. It has unexpected power over people, even those you wouldn't expect. The only way to resist it is with guns blazing."

When friends are saying things that are true but unpopular, truths that could subject them to social penalties, I want to be cheering them on and encouraging others to do the same, not discouraging them from speaking out.

I'm in Denver this weekend to cover the 2017 Western Conservative Summit, one of the largest annual gatherings of conservatives outside the beltway. It's sponsored by the Centennial Institute, a think-tank affiliated with Colorado Christian University.

While the speaker lineup is not loaded with presidential candidates as it has been in years past, there are some big names on tap. Tonight we'll be hearing from former UN Ambassador John Bolton, Sen. Cory Gardner, Centennial Institute director Jeff Hunt, and syndicated columnist Cal Thomas. You can watch the plenary sessions live online on the Centennial Institute YouTube channel.

The weekend includes a broad selection of workshops. I just attended a session led by Pam Benigno and Ross Izard of the Education Policy Center of the Independence Institute on how to have an impact on your local school district, and in a few minutes I'll head to a session provicatively titled "Why Conservatives Should Be Christians; Why Christians Should be Conservatives" led by Prof. Doug Groothuis of Denver Seminary.

I'll be live-tweeting the sessions, so follow me @BatesLine on Twitter. The hashtag for the conference is #WCS17.

Republican presidential electors have been deluged with pleas to vote for someone other than Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is still unfit to be President of the United States (as is Hillary Clinton, as is Gary Johnson, each in their own way). I wish that, when the Electoral College meets tomorrow in state capitols across the nation, enough Republican electors would vote for a stable, principled conservative candidate to deprive Trump of an electoral college majority, and that the House would then choose said stable, principled conservative candidate to serve as president. But it is not going to happen.

It's true that Trump has announced some good choices for his cabinet. Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator is a particularly welcome choice; Pruitt will execute the EPA's responsibilities without going beyond the agency's authority in law. On the other hand, Trump's pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is a globalist who sees national borders as obstacles rather than protections and who pressured the Boy Scouts of America to back down its principled stand against the Sexual Revolution. Trump's choice of a Goldman Sachs executive as Secretary of Treasury suggests that Trump's campaign rhetoric was just him saying whatever he thought he needed to say to win.

I like some of Trump's announced policies, but many of the policies I like are contradicted by other announced policies. It did not bother me a bit for him to take a congratulatory call from the president of the Republic of China, a nation attempting to hold on to what little territory it has left after the Communist revolution drove them off the mainland. It bothers me that he seems to accept or ignore Russia's aggression-by-proxy against Ukraine.

Trump is impulsive, too lazy or impressed by his own instincts to consider implications before speaking or tweeting, too easily distracted by insults to his pride to be entrusted with the power of the American presidency. Republican electors would be acting as patriots if they voted to deny him the office.

I wish I could depend upon Republican majorities in the House and Senate or the leadership of the Republican Party to act as a check on his most dangerous impulses, but I see nothing in their actions since Trump clinched the nomination to persuade me that they're willing to resist him. They see his apparent popularity as a bandwagon to jump aboard or at least as a steamroller to get out of the way of.

Is there a legitimate reason for electors to deny the presidency to Trump? It was the intention of the Framers of the Constitution that the selection of a president should be insulated from popular passions. They intended that the people would only select trustworthy men who would in turn choose a Chief Executive. But the framers didn't reckon on the rise of political parties and the idea of electors already pledged to support a specific candidate. They certainly didn't foresee a future in which a major political party was reduced to a hollow shell, a mere mechanism devoid of principle or platform, taken over by a pop-culture celebrity.

The expectation for over a century has been that voters in each state are really voting for president and vice president and only incidentally for a slate of electors who are pledged to vote for the preferred presidential candidate. Despite this expectation, and despite the laws and oaths that seek to turn this expectation into a legally binding commitment, electors have the freedom to vote as they see fit.

It's been claimed that voters chose these electors because they wanted Donald Trump to be president. I'm sure that's true for many voters, particularly in the once-reliably Democrat Rust Belt states that voted Republican this year and who saw Trump as the first champion for their concerns (even though Rick Santorum ran on the same approach to trade in 2012). On the other hand, many voters voted Republican only because they didn't want Hillary Clinton to be president, and they would be relieved if a conservative wound up as president instead of Trump.

In any event, the Republicans who were nominated to be electors were elected knowing that they would be expected to vote for the party's nominee. In Oklahoma, five electors were nominated by congressional district conventions when the nomination was still in doubt, and the other two were nominated by the state executive committee and ratified by the state convention after Trump's rivals dropped out of the race. These people were chosen because they were known by their fellow activists as committed to the party and its principles. These electors signed notarized pledges to vote for the nominee, and many of them have cited those pledges as reason enough to vote for Trump, no matter their personal view of Trump's character or instability. They aren't going to vote for another Republican, much less a left-wing Democrat.

Democrat calls for electors to vote for Hillary Clinton because she "won" the popular vote are either naive or disingenuous. Does anyone believe that Democrats would be calling for elector independence if Hillary Clinton had won Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania?

The popular vote is an irrelevant metric. The rules, as set out by the Constitution and the state laws that govern the election of presidential electors, make the presidential election into 56 separate contests -- 50 statewide contests, one in the District of Columbia, plus separate contests in the three congressional districts of Nebraska and the two districts of Maine -- each of which awards a varying number of "points." If the game was scored differently, the strategy would be different. If the Big 12 football title was awarded based strictly on point differential instead of won-loss record, you'd keep the first string in against a weak team and run up the score rather than resting your starters once the game was well in hand. If the World Series title was awarded based on total runs, you'd burn up your bullpen to stop more runs being scored, even if you're already down by 10 in that game. If the presidential contest were a national popular vote, candidates would allocate their resources differently. Voter behavior would change as well. A conservative who felt free to vote third-party or not at all because either Trump or Hillary led by a wide margin in his state might have cast an anti-Hillary vote for Trump in a national popularity contest.

And don't trot out the argument that the electoral college gives too much power to small states. Any inequality in the number of citizens per electoral vote is just a reflection of the inequality in the number of citizens per seat in Congress, a product of Congress's unwillingness, under Democrat and Republican majorities alike, to expand its numbers with the population for the last 100 years. (UPDATE: But see below: While a larger House would even out population per electoral vote, it wouldn't have changed the outcome of this election, because California was entirely responsible for Hillary Clinton's popular-vote lead.)

If you want #HamiltonElectors -- electors who fulfill the role envisioned by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 68 -- you have to have a system for electing them. As long as electors are nominated by political parties and as long as political parties select presidential nominees before the electors go before the voters, the status quo will prevail. Make it easier in your state for citizens to run as independent, unpledged electors, and then vote for them, if you want things to change. Abolish the state party rules and state laws that require elector nominees to bind themselves to a presidential candidate. I'll believe that Democrats want #HamiltonElectors and indirect democracy when they start calling for the repeal of the 17th Amendment and a return to indirect election of senators.

Even in its present desiccated state, the Electoral College still serves a couple of important purposes -- it acts as a firewall, restricting the effects of voter fraud in one state to that state's outcome, and it ensures that no one can be elected president without support from the breadth of the nation. Out-of-step, shrinking, but still-populous California cannot dictate to the rest of the nation who will be president.

But I still wish that Republican electors would vote for someone else -- perhaps Mike Pence -- instead of Donald Trump. (The choice of Pence would have some legitimacy, as he was nominated by the Republican Party, was on the ballot as the vice presidential nominee, and was not one of Trump's defeated rivals for the nomination.) I reject the argument that because a safety mechanism hasn't been used before, we can't use it now -- the same argument that was used against a delegate revolt at the Republican National Convention.

The electoral principles outlined by Hamilton in Federalist No. 68 are sound, but the system no longer produces the result Hamilton expected. The culture and its influencers will first have to regain respect for the value of indirect election, and states and parties will have to eliminate those practices which work against indirect election.

UPDATE: The electoral vote tally, according to reports from all 50 states and the District of Columbia: Trump 304, Clinton 227, Colin Powell 3 (Democrat electors in Washington state), Faith Spotted Eagle 1 (Democrat elector in Washington), Bernie Sanders 1 (Democrat elector in Hawaii), Ron Paul 1 (Republican elector in Texas), John Kasich 1 (Republican elector in Texas.) So a total of 2 Republican electors and 5 Democrat electors voted for a candidate other than the party nominee.

Four Texas Republican electors were no-shows, possibly because they did not want to vote for Trump, but felt bound by their pledges. The four vacancies were filled by a vote of the remaining 34 Texas electors. One Texas elector resigned following the November election rather than vote for Trump and was replaced by someone who would.

Three other Democrat electors tried to vote for someone else but were prevented: A Maine elector voted for Sanders but was forced to change vote to Clinton. A Minnesota elector submitted a blank ballot but was replaced by an alternate who voted for Clinton. A Colorado Democrat elector tried to vote for Kasich and was dismissed in favor of an alternate who voted for Clinton. A Fox 31 Denver news report has more on the intent behind the Colorado elector lawsuit.

MORE: Would a bigger House of Representatives have changed the outcome by reducing the small-state advantage in population per electoral vote? With 435 House members and 538 electoral votes, there are 3.6 times more people per electoral vote in California (677,345) than in Wyoming (187,875). If the House had 10,000 members -- getting us very close to the Article I minimum of 30,000 people per apportioned House seat -- there would be 10,103 members of the Electoral College, and the residents-to-electoral-vote ratio would be a maximum of 30,763 in California to a minimum of 28,025 in North Dakota, a difference of only 9.8%. Still, the result would be 5,699 votes for Trump to 4,404 for Clinton. That's assuming that all of Maine's 45 electoral votes went to Clinton and all of Nebraska's 63 electoral votes went to Trump, when voting by congressional district would likely have split off some of each state's vote for the other candidate.

Clinton's problem is that all of her national margin (2,864,974 more votes than Trump) came from her blowout win in California (4,269,978 more votes than Trump). Even if the entire nation chose electors by congressional district, Clinton likely would have lost, because her popular vote was highly concentrated. Her margins in Los Angeles County (1,694,621) and the five boroughs of New York City (1,670,027) are enough to account for her entire national lead. (If you're curious, the margin in Cook County, Illinois, was 1,158,659. Trump won Illinois minus Cook County. The three counties of Florida's Gold Coast -- Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach -- gave Clinton a 684,787 vote margin.)

IMAG0490.jpgA series of encounters led to an opportunity to appear on 612 ABC Brisbane (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's locally focused station) to talk about the aftermath of the U. S. presidential election.

In late October, I was walking in the Spring Hill neighborhood north of the Brisbane CBD, looking for an affordable alternative to the hotel's unaffordable laundry service. I came across two young men standing on a street corner with a small metal easel sign identifying one of them as Trevor Evans, the Member of Federal Parliament for Brisbane, who was holding a "mobile office" -- making himself available to any of his constituents who might want to bend his ear. I stopped and introduced myself, and we talked about the recent Australian elections, the looming US election, and the excitement I'd witnessed at Prime Minister's Question Time in Canberra the previous week. As the conversation wound down, I asked Mr. Evans if he knew where Brisbanites interested in American politics might gather to watch the returns. He had heard something about a gathering at the Norman Hotel -- thought it was being sponsored by AmCham, the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia -- but he'd be in Canberra on the day.

It wasn't AmCham -- I called, and they knew nothing about it -- but it took me until the day of the event to find out that the sponsor was the Australian American Association. The deadline had passed a week earlier. A phone call went to voice mail, but someone responded to a Facebook message and said come ahead.

As the results started to roll in, a 612 ABC reporter doing a live report from the party wanted comments from a Republican and a Democrat, so I volunteered. The Democrat was a woman who had moved to Australia 20 years or so previously but still voted back in the US. The reporter asked if Trump's apparent win was the last gasp of the white conservative Christian male.

A couple of days later, one of the AAA leaders phoned to say 612 ABC had contacted him in search of a Republican to participate in a studio discussion about the election. I was interested, so he connected me with Sunday morning host Rebecca Levingston, who filled me in on the topics she wanted to discuss. Rebecca told me that her go-to Republican had moved to Perth, and she likes to have guests in studio for these discussions.

Sunday morning I strolled across the Victoria Bridge to the 612 ABC studios in South Bank. Rebecca was at her desk in the bullpen, prepping for the show, and she showed me to the green room, where I was joined a few minutes later by my Democrat counterpart, Peter Axelrod, an aviation attorney originally from New York by way of San Francisco, who had settled in Brisbane about 15 years ago, and his wife, a native Aussie. We had a nice chat, and I was surprised to learn how small the general aviation sector is in Australia, given the vast distances that have to be covered. (This is a country where your doctor may make house calls by plane, and you might talk to your school teacher over the radio.) Regulation holds back the industry.

(Somewhat related: I met some Americans at the hotel who were private pilots and would be touring Australia by air -- this sort of thing. They had to do a checkride on their first day in country to qualify for the trip.)

We were led into the studio by the producer. Peter had come prepared with an article from NPR and some other material, which he had sent to Rebecca ahead of time, and which he let me look over. (It reminded me of the way I used to show up to my weekly slot on KFAQ with pages of background material.) Here's Peter and Rebecca in the studio:

IMAG0488.jpg

Rebecca was a very gracious host, who asked intelligent questions and was fair and balanced. If she had a political leaning, it wasn't apparent.

The conversation began with Rebecca asking for our reaction to the results. I said that I was relieved that Hillary Clinton would not be president, but apprehensive that Trump will be president. We also discussed prospective appointments (Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani were still possibilities in that first week after the election), presidential power and checks and balances on those powers, filibusters, Obamacare, the electoral college, election turnout, the National Popular Vote proposal, and the need for reform of the nominating process. The final section of the conversation was about the prospects for Trump's promises.

My favorite moment was using a cricket analogy to explain the electoral college and getting a laugh and a complement from Rebecca. The context: South Africa had beaten Australia in the first match of a three-match test series by 177 runs, the latest failure in a long string of Australian losses in international cricket. But if Australia would win the remaining two matches by one run each, they'd win the series, even though their run total would still be 175 less than South Africa's. That's because the series is won by winning a majority of matches, not by getting the highest run total. If the winning criteria were different, you'd use different strategy. (As it happened, Australia lost the second match, too, failing to score as many runs in two innings as South Africa managed in one. After a massive overhaul of the lineup, Australia won the third test handily by seven wickets.)

Here's the whole segment, which runs about 20 minutes.

612 ABC Brisbane was my preferred listening when driving around town or on excursions around southeast Queensland. I appreciated the conversational approach -- where guests had time to develop ideas -- and the variety of serious and silly topics. As I find them online, I hope to share some of the segments that I found particularly interesting.

You can listen to 612 ABC Brisbane on their website or via various apps. ABC Radio has an archive of interviews and conversations on Soundcloud, as does 612 ABC Brisbane.

My other favorite radio station was 1296 4RPH -- Reading for the Print Handicapped. Most of the station's schedule consists of volunteers reading articles from the local and national newspapers and a variety of magazines and books. The articles are often long-form essays, including political analysis, book reviews, and arts criticism. It was real food for thought while driving or taking care of routine tasks. They also carry BBC World Service during the overnight hours and daily broadcasts from two American evangelical broadcasters -- John MacArthur ("Grace to You") and Chuck Swindoll ("Insight for Living"). You can listen to 4RPH via the TuneIn radio app.

If you'd like to see where everything settled out after all the votes were counted, The Green Papers is the most meticulous online resource for detailed, nitty-gritty election information. There you will be able to see a comprehensive popular vote total, including every write-in vote tabulated across the nation. (David Limbaugh, a columnist and author, younger brother of the radio talk show host, received 6 write-in votes. Bernie Sanders received 1, in California.)

The proprietor of the site, Richard E. Berg-Andersson, wrote an analysis back in 2001 about possible approaches to reform or abolish the Electoral College.

Happy election day! Enjoy your freedom to vote now, before Hillary ships you to a concentration camp or Donald abolishes elections and renames himself Caligula II.

Polling_Place_Vote_Here.jpg

Polls in Oklahoma are open until 7:00 p.m. If you need help finding your polling place, if you'd like to study a sample ballot before you go, the Oklahoma State Election Board has a one-stop-shop online voter tool. Put in your name and date of birth, and they'll look you up in the database, find your polling place and show you a photo of it and a map, will let you see a printable sample ballot, and, if you're voting absentee, it will show you when your ballot arrived at your county election board.

OSEB will have live results available after 7 p.m. Keep in mind that absentee ballots are counted first at the county election board, and then individual precincts bring their scanning ballot boxes to the county election board for processing. Candidates and news outlets who send runners to the precincts to read results posted on the door will have results more quickly than OSEB.

OSEB also has this very handy list of every candidate and every proposition on the 2016 Oklahoma ballot, arranged by county.

Here's my printable cheat sheet for the election.

BatesLine_ballot_card-2016_general.pdf

My thoughts on specific races and questions:

Here's an archive of all of my articles about Election 2016.

Many thanks to the sponsors and supporters of BatesLine who made this year's election coverage possible.

All right, Bob, how 'bout a little music to keep the people happy! Take it away, Leon!

"There'll be cheerin' and hootin' and some friendly shootin' just to keep the spirit of this big occasion."

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys perform "Election Day" by Cindy Walker in the movie Wyoming Hurricane, starring Russell Hayden. Leon McAuliffe on vocals; Cotton Thompson, Bob Wills, and Jesse Ashlock on fiddle, Junior Barnard on guitar, Luke Wills on bass. And from the same movie, here's Cotton Thompson to deliver Cindy Walker's message for many of our candidates:

I hear you talkin', yes, I do,
But your talk-talk-talkin' don't ring true,
I'm listenin' politely, too,
But I don't b'lieve a word you say.

I hear you talkin', tellin' lies,
I can see it in those great big eyes.
I hear you talkin' wise,
But I don't b'lieve a word you say.

You say that I'm your honey-love,
That I'm all you're thinkin' of,
I hear you talkin', dove,
But you ain't been foolin' me.

I almost left the top line of my ballot blank.

When I was filling out my absentee ballot, I left the presidential race until the last. Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton nor Gary Johnson -- our only three choices in Oklahoma -- are fit to serve as president of the United States. Trump says some things that are pleasing to conservative ears, but his livelihood was built on saying one thing to close a deal and then doing another, leaving him sitting pretty and his business partners in the lurch. Clinton is utterly venal and corrupt, selling American foreign policy to the highest bidder, with the money laundered through the family's "foundation," and setting up a private email server, putting American secrets at risk, in order to hide her corruption from the reach of open-records laws. Johnson is a buffoon, a fake libertarian who sees no problem with the State punishing small-business owners who wish to run their businesses in accordance with the understanding of marriage that was near-universal just a decade ago. I'm frightened by how triumphant Trump or victorious Clinton might use their new power to punish their adversaries; both are vengeful and egotistical. I'm disturbed by the willingness of many conservatives to shift their positions and lower their standards in order to justify their support for Trump -- not merely holding their noses and voting for him, which is understandable, but enthusiastically embracing him.

I had pondered voting for Johnson anyway, as a protest vote, but Josh Lewis, writing at SavingElephantsBlog.com, talked me out of it, pointing out that giving the Libertarian Party, particularly in its current state, a permanent foothold in Oklahoma will only cause more problems for electing conservatives:

Suffice it to say for now, I am a conservative and recognize libertarianism as a competing ideology. A vote for Gary Johnson is a vote that will ultimately strengthen the libertarian brand. If you're an ideological libertarian this makes sense. But if you're only casting a "protest vote" it may have dangerous unintended consequences.

So I was going to leave the ballot bank, but as I stared at the space on the ballot, I looked at the three lists of seven names under the names of the presidential and vice presidential nominees:

  • Republican: David Oldham, Teresa Turner, Mark Thomas, Bobby Cleveland, Lauree Elizabeth Marshall, Charles W. Potts, George W. Wiland, Jr.
  • Libertarian: Erin Adams, Mikel Dillon, Joel Britt Dixon, Rex L Lawhorn, Ephriam Zachary Knight, Craig A. Dawkins, Mark C. DeShazo.
  • Democrat: Marq Lewis, Bill John Baker, Mark Hammons, Betty McElderry, W. A. Drew Edmondson, Jeannie McDaniel, Rhonda Walters.

These are the people we're voting for today: One set of seven who will meet in Oklahoma City in December and cast the only votes any Oklahoman will cast for President and Vice President of the United States.

I'm under no illusions: Each of these people were selected by district and state conventions because of their loyalty to their party. Barring some unforeseen catastrophe, they will be voting for the names above theirs on the ballot, which will lead either to a Trump-flavored catastrophe or a Clinton-flavored catastrophe.

ayatollah_edmondson_small.jpgBut what if no candidate appears to have won a majority of electoral votes? What if Utah goes for Evan McMillan, enough to hold Clinton and Trump short of 270? What if there finally emerges a scandal serious enough to chase Donald or Hillary into exile in Irian Jaya? What if (heaven forbid) one or both of the aged main-party candidates suffers a debilitating accident or health emergency? Would it still make no difference which set of seven electors are chosen by Oklahoma voters?

Under those unlikely circumstances, it would make a great deal of difference. I know many of the people running for elector, and I would trust David Oldham, Bobby Cleveland, and George Wiland to make a decision in the best interest of the nation. I would not trust Craig Dawkins, or Jeannie McDaniel, or Drew Edmondson, the former Ayatollah General.

It's taken me more time to describe my thought process than it took me to come to that conclusion. I had to decide to leave the race blank or mark it, seal up the ballot, get the affidavit notarized, mail it, and get on with trip preparations. I voted for George, David, Bobby, Mark, Teresa, Lauree, and Charles.

As is usual about three weeks before an election, I've received several requests for a voters' guide. Already voters who plan to be out of town are getting ready to cast an absentee ballot. If the presidential race weren't perplexing enough, we also have to decide seven state questions and whether or not to retain State Supreme Court justices and criminal and civil appeals court judges.

Even before I had a blog, it was common for friends to ask my opinion in the run-up to election day. One of the reasons I started a blog was to be able to "refer the honorable gentleman [or lady] to the answer I gave some moments ago."

I'm happy to be of service, and I'm honored by the trust BatesLine readers place in my judgment. But it takes time to do the research and to turn that research into writing. Although I'd be doing some of that research anyway, for my own use in voting, it takes much less time to read and study enough to decide my own vote than it does to gather and organize and present an article capable of providing the BatesLine readership with not only my opinion but my reasons and research, too.

My family and my employer have dibs on my time, and it seems my free time is quickly eaten up with yard work and laundry, and I'm behind on both. There's money invested, too, in hosting and domain fees -- the basics to keep BatesLine online -- and there's often some expense in doing research.

So before I invest that time in gathering and presenting this information to you, let me ask you, dear reader. What's it worth to you?

If the information you get here on BatesLine, particularly during election season, is valuable to you, there are some tangible ways to show your support:

The first way is to hit the PayPal tip jar over on the right sidebar. You can use your PayPal account or a major credit card to make a contribution to BatesLine. I don't have any totebags to send you in return, but I'll publish your name and donation amount on a list of contributors which will be prominently linked through election season (unless you ask me to withhold either name or amount).

The second way is to buy an ad on BatesLine. BatesLine readership is always at its highest in the run-up to an election, so it's a great time for a candidate (or any business that wants the attention of politically active Oklahomans) to run an ad. Even if you're not a candidate, you could still run an ad in support of your favorite candidate. (You're responsible for reporting it as an in-kind donation to the campaign.) Ads start as low as $30 a week for a text-only spot, $50 a week for a small ad with text and an image. There are discounts for multiple weeks.

Finally, if you need a good webhosting company, click the ad for bluehost. I get a small commission for new clients who sign up via my link. I've used bluehost for years, and I highly recommend their service.

That's the soft sell. Here's the hard sell, in the spirit of the late, great Gene Scott: I'm not going to blog about the Oklahoma 2016 election until you people GIT ONNA PHONES PAYPAL and demonstrate the value of the teaching.

Play "I Wanna Know"!

To put it more plainly, I'll start posting stories about the state questions and judicial races once there's been a response that indicates genuine interest.

While donations are welcome, a BatesLine ad is a smart move, giving you, your company, or your visibility with the thousands of Oklahoma voters who'll be dropping by over the next few weeks.

(NOTE: I reserve the right to reject ads or contributions. Reasons for rejection may be arbitrary or capricious but more likely will be so I can avoid posting something on my blog that advocates for a cause or a candidate that's anathema to me.)

Brett Farley resigned his post Saturday as Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Republican Party after the party chairman refused to issue a statement calling on Donald Trump to withdraw from the presidential race.

Writing on his blog, Farley said that he sent a message Saturday morning urging OKGOP chairman Pam Pollard to release a statement along the following lines:

"The Republican Party was founded to promote certain principles, rights and values that befit a free and moral people and to advance candidates for office who will defend them. It has been demonstrated finally and without question by this most recent revelation of what Donald Trump has said and what he said he does that he is wholly unfit to continue as the Republican nominee for President of the United States. We, the Republican Party of Oklahoma, join the growing chorus of party leaders and elected officials around the country in demanding that Mr. Trump withdraw as a candidate for president in order that the Republican National Committee may begin the necessary process to select an alternate nominee who will more appropriately represent our party and its members."

Farley explains his strong objections to Trump's conduct in the context of his role as a father of daughters:

I am the father of three daughters with a fourth daughter due in February. One of my greatest joys of late has been teaching my oldest daughter of twelve years about the sort of character and Christian ethic that befits a man worthy to call himself one day her husband and my son-in-law. I cannot and I will not, then, through some twisted logic attempt in the same breath to justify a vote for a man who is the quintessential opposite of everything I am teaching her to expect in a man. To put a finer point on it, I cannot bring myself to place a mark next to the name of a man whom I cannot trust to be alone in a room with my daughters.

Once upon a time the word 'party' meant more than simply a letter after a candidate's name. Not so long ago, membership in a political party meant necessarily that one ascribed to a set of principles and policies that he or she believed along with fellow members would aid our republic in creating a brighter future for our posterity. That word now clearly rings hollow.

If many of my Republican colleagues are to be believed, we have some sort of unholy imperative to cast a vote for a man simply for the fact that the letter 'R' follows his name, despite that that man has publicly professed values and positions in recent years -- and in many cases within recent months -- that are diametrically opposed to the very platform passed by the same delegates who gave him our party's nomination.

Farley dismissed the "Trump because SCOTUS" argument:

Never before has our party so willingly turned a deaf ear to history and practical political reality until now. Even in our best days, Presidents Reagan and Bush, solidly conservative Republicans, managed to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who gave the deciding votes in some of the most egregious decisions in the Court's history. Yet these same colleagues argue that we can trust a man who has broken promises to customers, business partners, wives and God himself to uphold his tentative pledge to nominate conservative justices.

Farley contrasted the GOP's rejection of Bill Clinton's sleazy behavior with the party's embrace of the same sort of sleaziness with an (R) after it.

December 17, 1998, my 22nd birthday, is a date I will never forget. It was the date originally scheduled for the impeachment vote by the House of Representatives for President William Jefferson Clinton. I recall vividly watching the television two days later at a Pizza Hut just off the campus of the University of Oklahoma as Republican members of the House voted finally to impeach. They did so after having concluded that the unbecoming behavior and subsequent obstruction and perjury by Clinton met the threshold for 'high crimes and misdemeanors."

Not even 20 years hence a majority of the members of that same party have nominated a man who publicly brags about that same felonious behavior. Not only has he refused to repent of his transgressions, Donald Trump celebrates them in the worst instance and, at best, offers a token apology that "some may have been offended." Is this what our party stands for today? Is this the man we want our children and grandchildren to look to as the exemplar of that "shining city on a hill"? I pray not.

In a Monday Facebook update, Farley stated that he "declined numerous on-camera and in-studio interviews because the story isn't about me; it's about the future of our party, our state and our country."

I respect Farley's willingness to take a stand at the cost of his livelihood.

I am disappointed in many of my Oklahoma Republican friends -- specifically our state party leaders -- who did not use the power at their disposal to stop Trump from becoming the nominee. The Oklahoma GOP executive committee could have nominated a slate of delegates to fight against Trump's nomination at the National Convention. Instead, Oklahoma GOP leadership decided to pretend that this was a normal year. They cooperated with rule changes that make it harder, if not impossible, for future conventions to block unfit candidates from receiving the nomination, that put our party's future at the whim of primary voters swayed by mass media.

We didn't have to face this disgusting dilemma between two major-party candidates who are both morally and ethically unfit to serve as George Washington's successor as our nation's Chief Executive.

RELATED: Evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem has walked back his earlier statement that voting for Trump was a moral choice and is now calling on Trump to step aside.

There is no morally good presidential candidate in this election. I previously called Donald Trump a "good candidate with flaws" and a "flawed candidate" but I now regret that I did not more strongly condemn his moral character. I cannot commend Trump's moral character, and I strongly urge him to withdraw from the election.

His vulgar comments in 2005 about his sexual aggression and assaults against women were morally evil and revealed pride in conduct that violates God's command, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). I have now read transcripts of some of his obscene interviews with Howard Stern, and they turned my stomach. His conduct was hateful in God's eyes and I urge him to repent and call out to God for forgiveness, and to seek forgiveness from those he harmed. God intends that men honor and respect women, not abuse them as sexual objects.

Some may criticize me for not discovering this material earlier, and I think they are right. I did not take the time to investigate earlier allegations in detail, and I now wish I had done so. If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump. I am grateful that Townhall.com has agreed to remove my earlier statement.

Grudem goes on to explain his dilemma: He is "deeply reluctant to simply walk away from the process in disgust, or vote for a write-in candidate," he is sympathetic to the concern that "voting for either candidate will destroy our Christian witness for the future," and he is concerned about the implications of a Clinton victory:

What if we fail to vote against the liberal support for abortion rights, government imposition of gender confusion on our children, hate speech laws used to silence Christians, and government-sanctioned exclusion of thousands of Christians from their lifelong occupations because they won't bow to the homosexual agenda -- will our failure to oppose these evils also destroy our Christian witness for the future? Will our grandchildren ask us why we failed to stop the imminent triumph of anti-Christian liberal tyranny when we had the ability to do so?

As to how I will vote, I honestly don't know at this point. The election is still a month away. I have friends on both sides who are surprised that I do not find this an easy question to decide. But I do not find it an easy question. I continue to pray and seek God's wisdom, and ask that God will yet provide a better solution.

Grudem concludes by calling on Christians to turn their eyes to God's sovereignty:

Though we may be tempted to become fearful or despondent, this turmoil in our nation provides a wonderful opportunity to renew our faith in God each day, "for kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations" (Psalm 22:28). We should continue to pray, mindful of what Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon long ago: "The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will" (Daniel 4:17).

Bureaucrats in the tank for Hillary, Trump's policy wonks quitting, why Ron Paul isn't backing the Libertarian ticket -- after the jump.

This has been out for a few weeks, but I thought it deserved to be noted here. Retired U. S. Sen. Tom Coburn, renowned for his adherence to principle and his often-lonely fight for fiscal sanity in Washington, has endorsed Jarrin Jackson, who is challenging incumbent Markwayne Mullin in Coburn's old 2nd Congressional District, and Jim Bridenstine, who is seeking re-election in the 1st Congressional District.

Here is the press release about Coburn's endorsement of Jarrin Jackson:

May 31, 2016 (Oologah, OK) - Today, former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn announced his endorsement of combat veteran Jarrin Jackson who is challenging Congressman Markwayne Mullin in Oklahoma's second district.

Dr. Coburn, who had endorsed Mullin in 2012, said, "I am proud to endorse Jarrin Jackson, a combat veteran who understands and has fought for our Constitution. He will stand up for us in Washington and not go along to get along. He also will honor a six year self imposed term limit."

Coburn's endorsement comes on the heel of recent comments Rep. Mullin made about a similar term limit pledge he made in 2012. Then, when running as a first-time candidate, Mullin pledged to serve no more than three two year terms in Congress. However, when asked recently if this would be the last time he ran for the office, Mullin said he is seeking the Lord's guidance and will instead do what he thinks is best for his family and District.

"Dr. Coburn's endorsement is important," Jackson said, "because it reinforces his reputation for integrity and courage. He not only served us with honor when he held office, but he continues to serve by insisting that other public officials do the same. It takes courage to speak truth to power, no matter the truth, no matter the power. I welcome his support, his example, and the opportunity to build upon his work."

Here is Coburn's endorsement of Bridenstine:

Jim Bridenstine is a man of his word. He faces unrelenting pressure from the political elite in Washington, yet he has never wavered in his commitment to the First District or our country. His courageous voting record is proof that he cares more about the long term health of our nation than his own political career. That kind of moral courage is rare in Washington today. I am proud of the work he does on our behalf and thankful for the sacrifices that he and his family make to serve. I wholeheartedly endorse Jim Bridenstine.

I agree with Tom Coburn. While I was very skeptical of Jim Bridenstine and his motives when he ran in 2012, he has proven to be as principled as he said he would be, working to remove unprincipled and cowardly leadership, fighting to defund Obamacare, Obama's executive amnesty, and Planned Parenthood, and at the same time building a relationship with his colleagues that has allowed him to advance our interests in the 1st District.

Mullin, elected the same year, has followed the opposite path, refusing to buck leadership, refusing to oppose funding for unconstitutional purposes, and now laying the groundwork to revoke his term-limits promise.

After 13 sessions representing south Tulsa's House District 67 and advancing the cause of the unborn, State Rep. Pam Peterson has reached her term limit. Several candidates are in the running for the strongly Republican seat. I'm proud to join former U. S. Sen. Tom Coburn, a resident of the district, in endorsing Scott McEachin for House District 67.

TULSA, OK - Former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn endorsed local small businessman Scott McEachin in the south Tulsa Republican primary for State House District 67 to be held on Tuesday, June 28th. The seat was formerly held by Rep. Pam Peterson (R) and is open this year due to term limits. Tulsa-HD67 spans from 111th street to the south to 81st street to the north and from Yale to Garnett.

"It takes a strong statesman to stop the encroaching federal government and address the major challenges facing our state. Scott McEachin has the knowledge of the Founders' intent and will always look to our founding documents as the final word on the limits of government authority" stated Coburn.

McEachin started a small business and has practiced oil and gas law in Oklahoma since the 80's. Scott and his wife Debbie have been active participants in the South Tulsa community for decades; their three boys attended Jenks public schools.

"Scott McEachin's experience in oil and gas has given him a critical understanding of the industry that is at the heart of our Oklahoma economy. Scott is uniquely qualified because he has a deep understanding of the issues and will prioritize our government operations to make Oklahoma a state that can lead the nation. I'm proud to say that I will cast my vote for Scott McEachin in the primary election on June 28 for our local state representative, and I encourage my friends and neighbors in House District 67 to do the same." - Dr. Tom A. Coburn, M.D.

Dr. Tom A. Coburn, M.D. represented Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995-2001 and represented Oklahoma in the United States Senate from 2005-2015. Coburn is a fiscal and social conservative, known for his opposition to deficit spending and for his opposition to abortion.

A general comment about legislative races: Much has been written about the embarrassment of the recently ended legislative session and the last-minute resolution of the budget crisis. The State Chamber of Commerce, Tulsa Regional Chamber, and Oklahoma City Chamber will try to convince you that it's the fault of social and fiscal conservatives for trying to advance their principles. In fact, the budget crisis is largely the fault of legislative leaders in thrall to the Chamberpots -- clinging to their corporate welfare tax credits, afraid to challenge administrative bloat and duplication in common and higher education. Had the Chamber encouraged their legislators to accept the end of ineffective corporate tax credits and to embrace the detailed savings ideas recommended by groups like Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), we could have resolved the budget crisis early in the session.

Moral of the story: On June 28, look for the Chamber label and vote for the other guy.

I've known Scott McEachin for a few years now and have always known him to be on the knowledgeable about public policy, principled, friendly, easy to work with, and I believe that District 67 and Oklahoma would be blessed to have him as a member of the legislature.

You can see and hear Scott McEachin speaking about the issues and his reasons for running on the videos page of his website, McEachinForHouse.com.

A subdued mood prevailed Saturday as 857 delegates convened at FirstMoore Baptist Church for the 2016 Oklahoma Republican Convention. (The 2012 convention drew approximately 1,400 delegates.)

The state convention in a presidential year has a national focus, electing two members of the Republican National Committee, electing 25 at-large delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention, nominating two electors (and alternates), considering amendments to permanent state party rules, and voting on a state platform, which will be forwarded to the national convention platform committee for their consideration. Once the state convention adjourns, the newly elected national convention delegates caucus to select a delegation chairman and two members each for the national convention platform, rules, credentials, and permanent organization committees.

The presumptive (and presumptuous) Republican presidential nominee scarcely rated a mention. Donald Trump might as well be called Lord Voldemort -- he who must not be named. In her farewell at the conclusion of the convention, State Chairman Pam Pollard urged the delegates to get involved to help defeat Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders, but wisely omitted any mention of the candidate who presumably will be the victor if they are defeated.

Trump signs and stickers were not much in evidence. Those displaying support for the egotistical oompa-loompa were few and far between.

My report will necessarily be incomplete. I was part of the check-in team, which processed about 600 delegates in a two-hour period, and then stayed to help with wrap-up as a handful of credentials problems were cleaned up. Tulsa-area software developer David Byte put together a solid, almost fool-proof, credentialing front-end and back-end system. Delegates were never kept waiting for more than 5-10 minutes during rare rush periods. A handful of counties had delegates who were issued badges but hadn't been recorded as checked-in, evidently a user error that could easily be guarded against next time. Because I was working at check-in, I missed all of the political speeches, so I couldn't tell you who spoke or what was said. To be honest, when the check-in system was packed up and loaded, I was tempted to call it a day, hop in my car, and head home. But there was important business to be done. Here's a summary of what happened.

Republican National Committee:

Incumbent Carolyn McLarty was re-elected to a third term as National Committeewoman, defeating Linda Huggard by a 75%-25% vote. McLarty is a leader among conservatives on the RNC, a founding member of the Republican National Conservative Caucus, and serves as chairman of the RNC's Permanent Committee on Resolutions. She was an early and enthusiastic endorser of Ted Cruz.

Steve Curry was elected to succeed retiring National Committeeman Steve Fair, defeating Richard Engle by a 60%-40% vote. Curry is chairman of the Oklahoma State Election Board and a former chairman of the Oklahoma County Republican Party. While Curry could be regarded as more of an establishment type, at least in temperament, than his opponent, many grassroots delegates (including myself) regarded Curry as a more trustworthy guardian of party values during a possible Trumpist dark age. Curry was willing to oppose a Trump nomination for RNC chairman; Engle dismissed the idea. Engle's credibility with party regulars was damaged by his eager participation in the 2012 "parking lot convention" -- an attempt by Ron Paul supporters to delegitimize the state convention that had just adjourned, at which the Paulestinians were defeated by a 60-40 supermajority.

Delegates and alternates:

The slate of 25 at-large delegates and at-large alternates was approved by an overwhelming roll call vote. (Attempts to suspend the rules to approve the slate by acclamation were rebuffed by convention chairman Greg Treat. A roll call vote was not taken in 2012, which Ron Paul supporters used as a pretext to challenge the convention's validity.) For the first time since 2004, no alternative slate was put forward. At the 2008 and 2012 conventions, Ron Paul supporters attempted to defeat the executive committee slate in hopes of electing fellow Paulestinians to the National Convention.

The rules have changed to make alternative slates more difficult to accomplish. The slate must be complete, filled out with people who had submitted paperwork to the state party, and with people who gave their consent to be included. By contrast, North Dakota voted on individual delegates, and the Cruz campaign was able to circulate a slate that included some who were on the executive committee slate and some who were not.

Had the Indiana primary turned out differently, we likely would have seen a concerted effort by the Cruz campaign to nominate a slate of loyalists and to turn out their supporters to defeat the executive committee slate and elect their own. With an open convention no longer seen as a realistic possibility and with the Cruz campaign in shutdown mode, that didn't happen.

The executive committee slate was an assortment of party activists and donors, typical of years past, going to Cleveland to be the studio audience for a week-long infomercial -- except that there did seem to be the sense that the delegates need to be prepared to defend against attempts by the Trump insurgency to water down the platform and the grassroots role in the party. The slate included a few vocal Trump supporters and a few committed Cruz supporters, but many in the delegation had endorsed other candidates in the March 1 primary or were silent.

Party rules:

A number of substantial amendments to the permanent state party rules were considered and were defeated. (A few housekeeping amendments were approved.) Party rule amendments must be proposed by a county convention and then approved by the state committee before going to the state convention for approval. The general sense was that the problems the rules intended to solve were better handled by the judgment of party leaders than additional rules and regulations. (Here are the current Oklahoma Republican Party Rules.)

A couple of the proposed amendments addressed the problems created by Republican popularity. Contested primaries are becoming more frequent, with challengers seeking to unseat incumbent Republicans over policy differences. Should party resources, such as voter databases, be equally available to all candidates seeking the GOP nomination or to none at all until the primary is settled? Former Democrats are changing parties to run for office -- how to distinguish between genuine conversions and conversions for political convenience? Should party officials vet candidates based on their views on the issues, such as commitment to pro-life principles? Here are each of the proposals. Only the housekeeping amendments were approved.

From Cleveland County: Clarifying that state committee meetings may be called for a location other than Oklahoma City.
From Cleveland County: Cleaning up sex-specific language about filling vacancies in party offices. Sex-specific quotas in state party offices were removed several years ago.
From Cleveland County: More cleanup of moot sex-specific language.
From Cleveland County: Removal of sex-specific language regarding executive committee appointments.
From Cleveland County: Clarifying budget committee appointments.
From Cleveland County: Clarifying that the highest-ranking Republican in each house is a member of the executive committee, aligning the rule with actual practice. (The rule previously specified the "floor leader" in each house, which is not the highest-ranking member when the party is in the majority.)
From Muskogee County: Cleaning up sex-specific language in several rules, largely duplicating several of the Cleveland County proposals.
From Tulsa County: Cleaning up sex-specific language in several rules, largely duplicating several of the Cleveland County proposals.
From Wagoner County: Adding several causes for removal specific to the state chairman and vice chairman, relating to involvement in a Republican primary. (Defeated.)
From Cimarron and Kay Counties: Forbidding Oklahoma GOP conventions and meetings from being held in a gun-free zone. (Defeated.)
From Cimarron and Kay Counties: Creating a pro-life committee, made up of one member from each county, to vet candidates for pro-life views prior to providing them with funding or support from the party. (Defeated.)
From Cimarron County: Prohibiting political lobbyists from participating in the Oklahoma Republican Party State Convention Process. (Defeated. It was pointed out that Tony Lauinger, head of Oklahomans for Life and a tireless lobbyist on his own dime for pro-life legislation, would be banned from the convention under the rule.)

Platform:

This year's platform committee was dominated by delegates from Oklahoma County, and it proposed a one-page statement of principles, followed by a handful of specific resolutions. The platform approved in 2015 was 25 pages long, and while many delegates agreed that the platform needs to be cleaned up and pared down, the two-page proposal was a Procrustean solution. A clear statement of principles is a good thing, but grassroots Republicans want to speak as a body on specific issues, as evidenced by the many individual platform planks proposed by precinct caucuses. The 2016 state platform committee seemed to discard all of that passion and hard work. A majority of delegates voted viva voce to postpone the 2016 platform indefinitely, killing the proposal and leaving the 2015 platform in place. The 2015 platform will be forwarded for consideration by the national platform committee.

Delegation meeting:

The at-large and district delegates elected Cruz supporters to both slots on the national platform committee (a job that requires an additional week's stay in Cleveland before the convention), to both slots on the permanent organization committee (which selects the convention chairman, parliamentarian, and secretary and sets the order of business -- normally non-controversial but possibly contentious this year), and to one of the two slots on the rules committee.

After a rally in Indiana yesterday, Ted Cruz crossed the street to talk to some Trump protestors. As the Trumpkins threw insults, Cruz responded with patience, logic, facts, and calm.

This is one reason among many that I am proud to support Ted Cruz for President. You may not like his political views, but you have to respect his willingness to speak respectfully and respond point-by-point to someone on the other side.

William Jacobsen comments on the event at Legal Insurrection:

The Trump supporter is rude and verbally abusive -- spewing the one-liners and insults he hears from Trump. Listen to the guy. Is there anything he or the crowd says that you couldn't image Trump saying himself and in the same manner?

This guy is the pro-Trump equivalent of Code Pink - full of insults but lacking in understanding or the willingness to understand. A sucker who thinks he is part of a great movement, but is simply being played by a master player. And unfortunately, he embodies everything that has gone wrong this electoral season.

Cruz doesn't get angry at the insults, though. Instead, he confronts the Trump supporter with facts that show that much of what Trump supporters use to attack Cruz actually more accurately reflects Trump.

It's another Ted Cruz moment for me.

Jacobson quotes a tweet by Tom Nichols that sums up the encounter:

Cruz: Trump said this. Trumper: No he didn't. Cruz: It was on national television. Go Google the clip. Trumper: Trump Trump Trump

Jacobson reminds us of a similar encounter last summer, when Code Pink protesters disrupted Ted Cruz's rally against the Iran nuclear deal:

Cruz could have reacted many ways. He could have shouted down the people shouting him down. He could have insulted them. He could have had security push them away.

But instead, he engaged. That's what was important to me. The confidence to engage rather than avoid. Standing face to face with hostile protesters was very Andrew Breitbart-like.

When you watch this video, forget who won the argument, but focus on Cruz's willingness to debate the leader of Code Pink, someone used to grabbing the spotlight. Cruz reduced Benjamin to a sideshow rather than center stage. It's almost as if she was not there.

Just before the Wisconsin primary, Tom Chantry, a Reformed Baptist pastor, wrote a thorough and fun-to-read account of Wisconsin political history and culture, aimed at his mostly non-Wisconsin readership. Reading it again, three weeks after the primary, and reading his follow-up pieces, I see that it isn't just solid political journalism, but some useful insights into the conservative path forward, drawing lessons from the success of Gov. Scott Walker and his allies in the Legislature at getting elected and reforming government in a conservative mold in a state with a history of far-left progressivism.

In the first article, Chantry explains how Wisconsin's liberals and conservatives are different from their national counterparts, and he provides a good summary of the rise of Scott Walker and the battles of the last six years. Especially interesting: What makes Wisconsin talk radio different from everywhere else.

In the 1980s a media revolution was touched off with the establishment of the Rush Limbaugh program, which was picked up in Milwaukee within a few months of its inception. Conservatism having been driven completely out of television and print news, radio became its home. Conservatives found that they were given a voice by Limbaugh and others who followed.

But after the last year it has become evident that the "conservative" radio hosts have only given conservatism a voice; they have not actually been that voice. Truth be told, they said so all along. Limbaugh gloats that he does not create conservatism, he merely reflects and amplifies it. That's another way of saying that national talk radio is not conservative at all, but populist. As long as populism involved patriotism, values, fiscal responsibility, and smaller government, the hosts appeared conservative, but with the emergence of the Donald, populism has pulled the so-called "conservative" media into the gutter....

Quite frankly, it would never have been possible to do in Wisconsin what Limbaugh did on the national stage. Most conservatives were hiding (politely) in their homes, trying not to offend their neighbors. There was little true conservatism to reflect or amplify. For conservative media to be established here, it took a determined, opinionated loudmouth. [Mark] Belling was that loudmouth.

It's hard not to listen to Belling if you live in Milwaukee. Other media is dying. The local newspaper is now printed on a postcard (or so it seems). If anything of substance happens in the state, Belling is often the guy who knows the whole background, the principle players, and the implications. His show is aggressive in a way that Limbaugh's never was. Belling doesn't care to give his listeners a voice. He wants them to become conservatives, now! Amazingly, it has worked. He has carved out a space for himself, and he's transformed Wisconsin media in the meantime.

Chantry lists a number of other conservative local talk show hosts in Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay and concludes:

What ties these voices together is their conscientious advance of conservatism over the last few decades in Wisconsin, a state which, remember, was very, very Blue. The conservatism they advance is principled and philosophically disciplined, not mere gut-reaction conservatism. With the exception of Belling (and sometimes McKenna) it is delivered in the voice of Midwestern courtesy, but it is serious, militant conservatism nonetheless. It has begun to make a mark.

Chantry provides a detailed but fast-paced overview of Scott Walker's rise and the Left's descent into gibbering madness in response. Regarding Walker:

There are four types of governor in America: conservative governors in conservative states, liberal governors in liberal states, moderate governors in various states, and Scott Walker. I cannot think of any analogy to his governorship: he has governed as a consistent (some would say far-right) conservative in the ancient home of American Progressivism, and he's won.

Corrupt and incompetent Democrat officials opened the door for Walker to win election, and he used the opportunity to govern effectively and efficiently, which allowed him to rise to the governor's mansion.

Here's part 2: The GOP race in the last week before the primary, in which he discusses the talk radio buzzsaw that Trump complacently strolled right into:

Two differences from the national scene are worthy of note. First, Wisconsin simply has no passive conservative media. Limbaugh and Hannity would have flopped if they had started on this stage, for reasons I described yesterday. Wisconsin's conservative media is another breed, and they are heavily invested in keeping Trump's non-conservative movement from invading the state's Republican party.

But second, and equally important, Trump didn't seem to know anything about this. It is no surprise to any of us; the hosts have been railing against Trump for weeks now. When I heard that Sykes would be interviewing Trump, I thought, "He really is mad!" He wasn't mad, though, just ignorant. His campaign isn't apparently doing much state-by-state research, and Trump walked into the Wisconsin talk radio buzz-saw unprepared.

And Chantry discusses Trump's ill-advised attack on Scott Walker in retaliation for Walker's endorsement of Cruz:

Now Walker remains exhibit A for Wisconsin courtesy. He did not say that Trump is a blow-hard, a clown, an aging lecher, a corrupt insider, and an entire fraud. When asked if his endorsement was intended as an anti-Trump statement, he continued to talk about Cruz. It didn't matter; everyone knows what Walker is likely to think of Trump.

Trump himself, who apparently has never discussed Walker with anyone but his New York elite liberal buddies, apparently doesn't think that matters. Apparently his genius campaign staff never told him that Walker has an 80% approval rating among the Republicans whose votes he is trying to win, because Trump immediately decided to attack him....

Then came the Wednesday morning rally in Janesville, where he convinced his minions to boo favorite son Paul Ryan. This was also the rally in which the young woman among the far-left Trump protesters was assaulted and pepper-sprayed by Trump supporters. If only she and others like her had realized that inside the event, Trump was repeating all their favored attacks on Walker!

That afternoon Mark Belling promptly cancelled a vacation, stormed into his studio, sent his guest-host home, and went to war against Trump. If you ever thought Belling is a crass jerk, you should have heard Wednesday's show! (He actually called Trump a "butthead" on the air.) Belling is, however, influential, and he has been hammering away on Trump, insisting that the insurgent candidacy threatens to undo all the conservative advances of the last few years in this state.

And part 3: The Wisconsin results.

Voters would do well to recall the maxim that all that glitters is not gold. Miners who get excited over the glitter of iron pyrite are identified by the mineral's common name: fools' gold. It is not what it first appears. Experts, though, whether gold miners or jewelers, are not fooled. The reason is their familiarity with the real thing. If you know what gold really looks like, pyrite isn't much of a substitute.

And honestly, that is the basic reason for Trump's collapse in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has its angry conservatives, but if they've been paying any attention at all, they've seen the real deal. It is easy to focus on Scott Walker; the truth is that the Wisconsin Republican party has been disciplined and conservative in the last six years. Assemblymen and senators passed Act 10; there have been many courageous acts along the way. Our conservatives have been pure, 24-carat gold.

In spite of serving in his second term as governor, Walker is a true outsider. He seems genuinely unconcerned with what his colleagues and the media think of him. Wisconsin conservative politicians are not play-acting; they have consistently articulated conservative principles. "Reform" is not an empty battle-cry in this state; we have watched one reform after another enacted. Next to serious conservatism, the Donald Trump dog-and-pony show is rather sad.

Donald Trump has come this far by reflecting and amplifying the anger of the electorate.... But anger itself is not a policy. Years ago Republicans laughed at Bill Clinton for "feeling our pain." We wanted to know what exactly he was going to do about our pain. But now, when Trump feels our anger, how do we respond?

One of the most striking elements of the Trump phenomenon is the utter absence of prescription. Trump supporters love to call talk radio and yell about their grievances. When they call Limbaugh or Hannity, the host responds, "Yes, I sense how angry you are." Gee, thanks, Dr. Phil! But when the same [sup]porters called the actual conservative hosts in Wisconsin, something else entirely happened. The callers were asked what they wanted to see done about the anger, or what they thought Trump would change. The exchanges that followed were embarrassing to hear.

The callers were quick to say repeatedly how bad politicians are, and how much they've taken advantage of the country, but they couldn't think of anything to do about it....They have no actual interest in Trump's alleged policies (I say "alleged" because I don't believe he is a complete idiot, either), but instead are drawn to his tone.

This appeal is, however, rather limited in a state where policy prescriptions have born real fruit. Walker and the Republican leadership in Wisconsin have never appeared angry. (All the anger has been on the left. I say again, Trump's fury and that of his supporters looks radical and leftist to us.) Instead, they have actually done things. They have addressed the root of conservative anger rather than stoking the flame. This is a conservatism that leads somewhere, not a populism that leaves us panting when our tantrum is over. Once you've had the one, you've little desire for the other.

American politics has been reduced to mere symbolism.... The right in our country complains incessantly that the left only cares about symbolism and feelings, not substance and results. But in the wake of the Trump phenomenon, we have to ask how much of the right is also dominated by its feelings.

(As an aside, I have been one observer unsurprised by Trump's success among "evangelicals." Evangelicalism is not a movement concerned with truth and righteousness, but with how one feels. Trump's candidacy is pretty much identical to an evangelical worship service: light on substance, playing fast and loose with truth, but very emotionally satisfying. How was anyone surprised by his early successes? Trump is an evangelical!)

What is needed - not only by conservatism but by the country - is principled but practical leadership. Emotive conservatism, whether it is the "compassionate conservatism" of Bush or the angry populism of Trump, leads nowhere. We need less emphasis on our angst and more on policy; less on style and more on substance.

And to that end, I would suggest the number one change needed in the conservative movement: we need a radical revolution in conservative media. The era of Limbaugh and Hannity needs to end. I, for one, will not listen to either any more - not even in passing. We've had decades of reflection and amplification of our feelings, and where has it gotten us? Our federal government is more leftist than ever, the conservative electorate is angrier than ever, and now the therapeutic hosts are holding our hand sympathetically while we go about trying to nominate a B-list celebrity clown for the most powerful office in the world.

I can tell you from inside Wisconsin, it doesn't have to be this way. Conservative politicians don't need to be symbols of our anger, and conservative media doesn't need to be an empty sounding board. We can change this.

Yesterday, I saw a Politico story with this headline:

GOP rivals humble themselves before the party's elite

Cruz, Kasich and Trump team makes pitches as delegates dangle their support.

Knowing the three people who represent Oklahoma on the RNC, I can't accept the term "party elite." Oklahoma GOP chairman Pam Pollard, national committeeman Steve Fair, and national committeewoman Carolyn McLarty are long-time conservative grassroots volunteers who won the trust of a lot of other grassroots volunteers in order to be elected to their positions. They aren't wealthy, they aren't funded by special interest groups.

By profession, they're an accountant, a marketing director at a company that makes jellies and jams, and a retired small-town veterinarian, respectively.

Pam Pollard held a variety of low-level positions in the Oklahoma County Republican Party and the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women, rising to higher levels of leadership on the strength of her faithful service. She was a unifying consensus choice to step in when Randy Brogdon resigned the chairmanship last year. She is known as a stickler for fairness and following the rules. She's also a dynamite networker. Here she is at the 2004 Republican National Convention, with a blazer full of pins that she traded with delegates from other states.

Pam Pollard at the 2004 Republican National Convention

Steve Fair served many years as a lonely advocate for conservatism and the Republican Party in southwestern Oklahoma, a rural region that stubborn in clinging to their long-time Democrat voting patterns. Fair slowly built up a strong Republican infrastructure, nurturing qualified candidates who could run for office, first as a leader in the Stephens County party, then as chairman of the 4th Congressional District organization. For years, Fair has written a weekly newspaper column called "Fair and Biased," making the case for conservative ideas to southwestern Oklahoma voters. Fair is not running for reelection as national committeeman, which disappoints me greatly. (I have qualms about the two candidates seeking to replace him.)

Carolyn McLarty is a long-time leader in our state's Eagle Forum chapter. She is a founding member of the Republican National Conservative Caucus, is Chairman of the RNC Resolutions Committee, and has served as the Chairman of the Conservative Steering Committee -- working to organize conservatives on the RNC to resist moves toward the mushy middle.

These three Oklahomans aren't elite in any way except for the hard work they've exerted on behalf of conservative principles in the Republican Party.

UPDATE 2016/04/30: This blog entry received an approving mention and an extended quote in today's editorial roundup in the Oklahoman:

This election cycle has been dominated by claims that the Republican "elite" are at war with the "grass roots" of the party. In a recent post, conservative Tulsa blogger Michael Bates highlights how ludicrous that characterization is....

Indeed, the "elite" label has been applied so broadly one wonders who isn't among that group's alleged members.

Also, I've added links to Steve Fair's blog, and to the profiles of Fair and McLarty on gop.com.

CORRECTION: BatesLine incorrectly identified Robert Ford as Creek County Republican Chairman. He is in fact Creek County 1st District Committeeman.

Supporters of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz swept today's Oklahoma 1st Congressional District Republican Convention, winning all three delegate seats and all three alternate slots by wide margins.

Tulsa 9/12 Project leader Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, State Rep. David Brumbaugh, and Wagoner County Assessor Sandy Hodges were elected as delegates, and State Sen. Nathan Dahm, Creek County District Committeeman Robert Ford, and Oklahomans for Life president Tony Lauinger were elected as alternates.

While there was a visible Trump contingent present, led by Paul Nosak, the vote totals indicate it amounted to only about a quarter of the convention. Cruz campaign staffer Hudson Talley had come up from Houston for the convention and was handing out delegate slates to Cruz supporters. There wasn't really a whip operation at work -- no signals or signs -- which shows in the fact that only one of the six positions was filled without a runoff, and that one was only by a slim margin. Cruz (or at least no-Trump) supporters scattered their votes on each initial ballot, but coalesced in each runoff. Nosak, wearing a large Trump button on his lapel, was the distant runner-up in five of the six elections, but lost handily in each runoff. His best result was 31% in the final vote for the 3rd alternate position, after about a third of the delegates had gone home.

Oklahoma Republican State Chairman Pam Pollard spoke at length about the upcoming state convention, the process of electing the 25 at-large delegates, and the matter of binding delegates at the national convention. Pollard emphasized that OK GOP party rules and state law are in alignment and that delegates are bound until their assigned candidate is no longer an officially nominated candidate, alluding to often-discussed rule 40(B), which requires that a candidate have support of a majority of delegates from at least eight states to have his name entered into nomination at the National Convention. Pollard said that if all three candidates who won delegates in the March 1 primary -- Cruz, Trump, and Rubio -- were officially nominated for the 1st ballot, she would simply announce the result from the primary, without polling the delegates. Only if one or more of those three candidates ceased to have the support for nomination would she poll the delegation.

During the morning session, while the credentials committee was tallying registrations, U. S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and U. S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine addressed the convention. Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr led the convention in the Pledge of Allegiance but did not deliver a speech.

All Republican candidates who were present were given an opportunity to speak. While votes were being counted, delegates heard from incumbent Republican National Commiteewoman Carolyn McLarty and her challenger, National Committeeman candidates Steve Curry and Richard Engle (incumbent Steve Fair is not seeking re-election), Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado, recently elected to fill the remaining months of Stanley Glanz's unexpired term, and Luke Sherman, who is competing for the nomination for the next full four-year-term, Amanda Teegarden (Senate 39), Scott McEachin (House 67), Richard Grabel (Tulsa County Commission District 2), Michael Willis (Tulsa County Clerk), Allen Branch (City Council District 6).

Term-limited State Sen. Brian Crain and parliamentarian John Wright (former state representative) did a fine job of running the meeting efficiently and without controversy. The convention convened a little after 9 a.m. and adjourned shortly after 3 p.m.

By the numbers:

235 delegates registered at Tulsa's Renaissance Hotel for today's convention out of 419 allocated votes. Allocations are based on number of votes cast for the top-of-ticket Republican nominee in the last general election. Tulsa County had 181 delegates out of 320 votes allocated, Wagoner County had 34 delegates out of 46 votes allocated, Washington County had 18 delegates out of 38 votes allocated, and the portion of Creek County in CD 1 had 2 delegates out of 4 votes allocated. No one was present to represent the portion of Rogers County in CD 1, which had 11 allocated votes.

Fourteen candidates filed for the three delegate slots, which were filled in separate votes. Ballots were counted by county, reported in a roll call, then weighted based on the ratio of allocated votes to delegates voting for each county and summed. (Weighting is in accordance with long-standing state party rules. For example, each Tulsa County delegate's vote was worth 320 allocated / 181 actual or approximately 1.77 votes. Each Creek County delegate's vote was worth 4 allocated / 2 actual or 2 votes.) If no candidate had a majority of the vote, a runoff was held between the top two candidates, based on the weighted vote.

David Oldham was nominated to the Oklahoma Republican presidential elector slate, winning 48% on the first ballot over George Wiland and Peggy Dau. Wiland withdrew from the runoff because of the margin on the first ballot and in the interest of time. Dau was named Elector Alternate, who would replace Oldham on the ballot in the event of his death or ineligibility.

Delegate results:

1st Delegate: Cruz supporter Ronda Vuillemont-Smith finished first with 44% to 11% for Paul Nosak, who supports Donald Trump for president, with remaining votes scattered among the candidates. In the runoff, Vuillemont-Smith won with 76% to 24% of the weighted vote, 162-47 in the raw total.

2nd Delegate: Brumbaugh, state chairman for the Cruz campaign, received 43% on the first ballot to 17% for Nosak. In the runoff, Brumbaugh prevailed by 73% to 27% weighted, with a raw vote of 147-54.

3rd Delegate: Hodges finished first on the initial ballot with 42% to 20% for Nosak. In the runoff, Hodges won by 74% to 26% or a raw total of 153-50.

Alternate results:

1st Alternate: 1st ballot, Dahm 50.35%, Nosak 15.10%, Lauinger 14.99%. No runoff required. Dahm received 98 raw votes to 28 for Nosak and 28 for Lauinger with 36 scattered among other candidates.

2nd Alternate: 1st ballot, Lauinger 32.5%, Ford 26%, Nosak 22%. Raw vote was Lauinger 62, Ford 49, Nosak 41, other candidates 22. Runoff, Ford 50.22%, Lauinger 49.78%, 89-88 raw vote.

3rd Alternate: 1st ballot, Lauinger 48.3%, Nosak 18.8%, Debra Cook, state committeewoman for Washington County, 17.7%. Runoff, Lauinger 68.61%, Nosak 31.39%, 110-50 raw vote.

Donald J. Trump
‏@realDonaldTrump

How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary? Great anger - totally unfair!

7:28 PM - 10 Apr 2016

Michael Bates ‏
@BatesLine

@realDonaldTrump Is it unfair to good kicking teams that field goals are only worth three points?

8:19 PM - 10 Apr 2016

Michael Bates ‏
@BatesLine

@realDonaldTrump Grassroots conventions like Colorado's were how a majority of delegates were selected when Reagan won.

8:18 PM - 10 Apr 2016
John Hawkins
‏@johnhawkinsrwn

What does the fact that Trump's official campaign apparatus is an unorganized, embarrassing train wreck tell you about how he'd govern?

11:13 PM - 7 Apr 2016

Ted Cruz swept the field in Colorado this last week, as Republican grassroots delegates at congressional district caucuses and state conventions elected delegates to the National Convention who are officially unbound, but who have all declared their intention to vote for Cruz.

Jim Geraghty has an accurate and detailed explanation of Colorado's process:

Colorado had primaries until 2003, when Gov. Bill Owens and bipartisan majority in the state legislature eliminated them in presidential contests, contending it was a waste of money and that state parties should pay for them, not taxpayers....

On March 1, Colorado Republicans gathered at 2,917 precinct caucuses to select delegates to the County Assemblies and District Conventions. If you're a Coloradan with a view on the Republican primary, this is when you got to vote. At the County Assemblies, those delegates elect delegates to the Congressional District and State Conventions. (Colorado Republicans pick three delegates and three alternates from each of the seven congressional districts, and then another 13 to represent statewide.)

This is the way representative democracy is supposed to work: Voters choose representatives whom they know and trust to exercise good judgment as they face circumstances that could not have been foreseen.

Geraghty explains that in years past, Colorado conducted a non-binding straw poll on precinct caucus night, but when the 2012 Republican National Convention voted that, for the 2016 race, any such poll would have to bind delegates in some way, Colorado Republicans opted out, voting last August that no presidential preference poll would be conducted at this year's caucuses:

Republican National Committee bylaws do not allow states to hold non-binding preference polls. Any straw poll conducted at the caucus in 2016 would bind delegates to the poll's results, even if a candidate ultimately decides to suspend or withdraw their campaign.

"Eliminating the straw poll means the delegates we send to the national convention in Cleveland will be free to choose the candidate they feel can best put America back on a path to prosperity and security," Chairman Steve House said. "No one wants to see their vote cast for an empty chair, especially not on a stage as big as the national convention's."

(It should be noted that Iowa's caucus-night straw poll was also non-binding in years past. This year it had binding effect, because of the rule change approved at the 2012 national convention. Likewise, Minnesota, DC, Maine, and other states that held caucuses. Most opted to continue the presidential preference vote this year and to allow the vote to bind their delegates. Colorado, North Dakota, and Wyoming are among the few exceptions.)

I suspect Colorado's decision was influenced by the large field of credible candidates. Colorado wanted to have maximum flexibility to respond to changes in the field over time. They didn't want to send delegates to Cleveland bound to a candidate who had dropped out but was refusing to release his delegates. They may also have considered that a state with uncommitted delegates would have more leverage at the convention.

The Republican Party (unlike the Democrats) operates on a federal model, with the national rules providing a broad framework within which state parties have great discretion for choosing their delegates.

The Colorado process is the same one that was used in many more states back when Ronald Reagan was running for the White House. In 1976 and in 1980, Reagan supporters were in the majority at the state's six congressional district conventions and the state convention, While the national delegates were not bound to vote for Reagan in any way, they were elected by their state and district delegate peers precisely because they were declared and credible Reagan fans.

In those days, many primaries were non-binding "beauty contests" -- tests of a candidate's popularity that might influence the choice of the delegates.

This weekend Donald Trump also claimed that Cruz was "stealing" his delegates in states where he won primaries but failed to manage the process of electing loyalists as national delegates. That happened this weekend in Missouri, as Cruz supporters were elected to attend the national convention, although many will be obliged to vote for Trump on the first ballot.

I win a state in votes and then get non-representative delegates because they are offered all sorts of goodies by Cruz campaign. Bad system!

8:47 AM - 10 Apr 2016

In most states, grassroots delegates to congressional district and state conventions pick the live human beings who will attend the National Convention, even if a primary binds those delegates to vote for a particular candidate on the first ballot. (Every state has different rules as to how long a delegate will be bound -- through one ballot, multiple ballots, until the candidate releases his delegates.) Even if a delegate is bound to vote for a particular presidential candidate, he is free in every other vote taken at the convention, including the adoption of rules and the selection of a vice presidential nominee.

No one is getting offered goodies by the Cruz campaign. Most of the people who showed up at the precinct caucuses, got elected to county, district, and state conventions are Cruz supporters, so they elected national convention delegates who also support Cruz.

These delegates to the district and state conventions are mostly long-time grassroots Republicans. Some got involved back when Reagan challenged Gerald Ford in '76. Some became involved in the late '80s at the urging of the Christian Coalition, because they were concerned about abortion and other social issues. Some were energized by listening to Rush and by the 1994 takeover of the House and Senate. Some were stirred to action in response to 9/11. Some were inspired by Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012. The Tea Party brought some into the party. They all got involved to fight for conservative values, individual liberty, and a strong America at home and abroad. They stayed involved, volunteering to knock doors, make phone calls, or man the party booth at the state fair.

These district and state delegates are not big donors. They give of their time and their energy to elect good candidates. They have an investment of time and love. They study the issues and the candidates and draw their own conclusions. They aren't swayed by expensive TV ad campaigns. The fact that this sort of person tends to support Ted Cruz over Donald Trump should tell you something.

Most of these grassroots Republicans who serve as district and state delegates are just as disgusted with Republican leadership in Washington as Trump supporters are. They see Trump as someone who has been part of the problem. They see Cruz as someone who has challenged the establishment, who understands the issues, and who has a practical plan to address them.

Trump supporters can get involved, too, but it requires some commitment.

The anger and confusion about Colorado's process is a consequence of lazy, sloppy reporting about the nominating process. In most years, the idea that delegates are mere points on a scoreboard is a reasonable approximation to reality. In most years, at some point a bandwagon effect kicks in, causing candidates to drop out and later states to back the front-runner by ever-widening margins. That simplified model broke down this year, because Republicans aren't jumping on the bandwagon, because a credible and crafty challenger remains in the race, because it's increasingly likely that no one will have the nomination sewn up before the convention,

When we learn that a process is more complicated than we were led to believe, our response ought to be one of wonder and humility. But in Trumpistan, finding out that your uninformed understanding is incorrect leads to childish rage and blame-shifting.

I like the caucus and convention system of choosing unbound delegates. It means that the nominating process is in the hands of Republicans who were paying attention to politics before yesterday. Primaries put the power of nomination into the hands of voters (many of them not even Republicans) who are swayed by massive TV ad buys and whose perception of the candidates is entirely shaped by mass media.

MORE:

Melanie Sturm, a conservative columnist who was elected as a national convention delegate at the Colorado Third District caucus, gives her perspective.

Back on February 27, 2016, before the precinct caucuses on March 1, Colorado Republican Chairman Steve House explained the reasons state party leaders opted against a binding presidential preference vote the previous August:

At no time prior to this year has a straw poll bound delegates to specific candidates. Many thought that the 2012 straw poll bound delegates to winner Rick Santorum. In fact it did not....

This year the Republican National Committee requires that if a party conducts a straw poll it must bind delegates to the results.

Some ask why the Colorado GOP doesn't just comply and bind all of our delegates proportionally to the result of a straw poll. There are a number of reasons the executive committee decided against the poll this year and I won't go into all of them.

However, I want to share my most pressing concern with doing a binding preference poll. There is no such thing as a binding preference poll because when you actually award delegates via a poll it's not a poll - it's an election. The results could affect the outcome of the presidential race because this year the race is likely to be very close if not unsettled at the national convention.

So what's wrong with an election? Nothing if you are actually going to run it with all the precautions and security measures of an actual election. In our case we have over 2000 precincts in 64 counties where there is no uniformity of ballots, no uniform credentialing training process, no clarity on who actually counts ballots, no clear answer to who controls the tally sheets, and no uniform transparent process with integrity in the event there needs to be a recount. The prospect of awarding delegates through a straw poll with so many systemic loopholes and fraud risks is an unacceptable gamble given the stakes of this presidential election.

Picking our delegates through a controlled and secure four step process that is open to all registered Republicans is far preferable than an opaque straw poll. Something needs to change going forward but election integrity is still more important to me than any other factor....

Ari Armstrong, a newly registered Republican voter, writes about his experience

A completely fair headline of what happened this year would have been, "Colorado Republicans Select Presidential Delegates the Same Way They Did Last Time." But the reality of the situation is so much more boring that the trumped up version of it.

To return to my experiences with the caucuses: The woman elected in my precinct as a delegate to the state convention ran on an explicitly anti-Trump platform. She made this very clear, and she was elected by the rest of us with this understanding. Claims that the rest of us were somehow "disenfranchised" are ridiculous; we all got to vote for delegates, and everyone in the room had a chance to run to become a delegate (most didn't want to). It truly was a grass-roots process. I was elected as the alternate delegate to the state convention, also on an explicitly anti-Trump platform.

The simple fact is that the Republicans at my precinct caucus mostly disfavored Trump, and evidently that is true of most other precincts as well. Trump lost in Colorado because he's just not very popular here....

Should Colorado give up the caucuses in the future? As noted, I'm not totally sure, but I'd like to rebut one reason for saying we should. The claim basically is that, because people have to attend a meeting and then select delegates to conventions, who then select national delegates, the caucuses are not sufficiently democratic.

It is true that, to participate in the caucuses, you have to do more than mark an "x" on a piece of paper. You actually have to (gasp!) go to a meeting. If you want to become a delegate to a congressional or state convention, where national delegates are picked, you actually have to stand up and make your case to your fellow Republican voters (and pay a convention fee). I'm not convinced this is a problem. Arguably, it is a feature, not a bug.

Here's a story from 2012 about the national rule change that required any caucus straw poll to be binding, which in turn prompted Colorado's decision to cancel their straw poll.

MORE: Here's a good explainer from Jay Cost about the delegate election process and Trump's whinging.

Party conventions are open processes. Delegates to these gatherings are not handpicked by party bosses. They are regular Republicans who participate because they have the time and interest to do so. The Cruz team put in the effort to organize regulars loyal to its candidate; the Trump campaign failed to do so. Consider, for instance, the Colorado convention held earlier this month. Delegates to that convention were chosen at precinct caucuses held on Super Tuesday--and any registered Republican was invited to attend. That the Trump campaign failed to get its supporters to those caucuses is not the fault of the Cruz campaign, the Colorado Republican party, or anybody else except the Trump campaign.

The Republican party does not belong to its presidential candidates in the way that Trump presumes. In important respects, it still belongs to the party regulars who attend these conventions. Starting in the 1970s, the party organization began sharing authority with voters to select the presidential nominee, but sovereignty was never handed over to the electorate lock, stock, and barrel. The delegates to the national convention, chosen mostly by these state and district conventions, have always retained a role--not only to act when the voters fail to reach a consensus, but to conduct regular party business.

This is hardly antidemocratic, by the way. Party organizations such as these are a vital, albeit overlooked part of our nation's democratic machinery. The party regulars at the district, state, and national conventions do the quotidian work of holding the party together between elections: They establish its rules, arbitrate disputes, formulate platforms to present to the voters, and so on. It would be impossible to have a party without these sorts of people doing work the average voter doesn't care about.

And these people are hardly the "establishment" in any meaningful sense of the word. Consider the process in Colorado.... But the process was open to any registered Republican, and more than a thousand people served as delegates at the state convention. There were some big political players involved, naturally, but by and large they were just average people. The same goes for the state conventions in places like Wyoming and North Dakota. These meetings in Cheyenne and Bismarck are in no way beholden to, or the equivalent of, the power players working on K Street.

MORE: Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli responded assertively to accusations that the Cruz campaign was bribing delegates or twisting arms:

"You know what the goodies we're promising people are?" Cuccinelli asked. Then almost whispering like it was a big secret while partially covering his mouth, Ken Cuccinelli answered his own question.

"They can have their Constitution back. And they can have economic growth and a plan to actually execute it. And a candidate who can go head-to-head and defend it. Donald Trump won't even debate this issues because he can't debate them.

Ted Cruz has a plan to expand freedom, to create opportunity across America with a tax plan that wipes out special interest power. He has a plan to return security to this country. And we have a president where that's desperately needed to be improved."

UPDATED: Added a new tab to the spreadsheet to game out an alternative scenario: Cruz 45, Trump 40, Kasich 15 in remaining contests.

Despite the near-sweep last night for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz still has a plausible path to arriving at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland with enough pledged delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot.

SX021020.JPG

I've seen many hasty, sloppy delegate-count projections that make faulty assumptions. They often assume that future delegate allocations will be roughly proportional to future popular vote totals. That's easier than analyzing the rules of the states yet to vote.

Twenty-one states and American Samoa have yet to vote. I've looked at each state's rules (thanks to the venerable and detail-obsessed website The Green Papers) and applied one assumption, as a starting point for discussion: That the anti-Trump forces coalesce behind Ted Cruz, who manages a 51% win in every remaining contest. That's 51% of the vote statewide, 51% in each congressional district (if delegates are allocated by CD), 51% in caucuses and conventions.

51% is not a tall order. Trump did not manage to win a majority of the vote in any jurisdiction on March 15, with the exception of the Northern Marianas. Florida -- Trump's second home -- is the only state that he plausibly could have won in a head-to-head match with Cruz.

Many states remaining are plurality-take-all. A few are proportional, except that a 50% winner gets the grand prize of all the delegates.

There are three remaining caucus-and-convention states: Wyoming has to elect its 14 statewide delegates. American Samoa will pledge 6 (its RNC members will remain unpledged). Colorado will elect 34 delegates at its state convention: 14 will be chosen by the convention as a whole, 3 by each congressional district caucusing separately, and the ballots will show the presidential candidate to whom each delegate candidate is pledging his or her support. (Colorado will also send its RNC members unpledged.)

What people who have never been involved in caucuses and conventions fail to understand is that a majority of the delegates to a CD or state convention pick ALL the national convention delegates. Back in 1976, a majority of delegates to the Oklahoma Republican convention were Reagan supporters, which meant that they elected a unanimous slate of 36 Reagan delegates to the Republican National Convention in Kansas City. Based on the Wyoming county convention results, it seems likely that Cruz supporters will control the state convention. I would expect the Colorado and American Samoa conventions will go the same way -- if anti-Trump has majority support, and if Trump opponents coalesce behind Cruz, Cruz would win all of those delegates.

I've uploaded a spreadsheet to Google Docs showing the math. If Cruz has a bare majority of support in the remaining contests, he enters Cleveland with 1289 bound delegates, enough to win the nomination on the first ballot. That doesn't depend on any of the unbound delegates voting for Cruz. Trump would enter Cleveland with 734 bound delegates.

Notice too that I haven't allocated the Pennsylvania congressional district delegates. According to The Green Papers:

Rule 8.4 of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania's Rules states that all delegates elected by Congressional District "...shall run at large within the Districts and shall not be officially committed to any particular candidate on the ballot.".

Conceivably, the Cruz and Trump camps would endorse slates of delegates in each congressional district, which would allow us to apply the winner-take-all rule by CD, adding 54 more delegates to Cruz's total. (This table from the state election board will show you all the candidates who have filed to run for delegate in Pennsylvania.)

Varying the scenario a bit, suppose that Trump wins, say, 20 congressional districts, while still losing every statewide total. (I could imagine Trump winning heavily Democrat CDs in New York City with low GOP turnout, without making a dent in a Cruz win fueled by heavy upstate support.) Switch 20 CDs and the total going into Cleveland is Cruz 1239, Trump 794. Cruz would still have a majority of delegates bound to support him.

Even if Kasich stays in and pulls 15% of the vote, Cruz could win remaining contests with 45 to Trump's 40 and go into Cleveland with 1214 delegates to Trump's 800, just shy of what he needs for a first ballot win, but close enough to get over the top easily and to dispel any Trump claim to victory. That's because in most of the remaining contests, a plurality is enough to win all the delegates. If Cruz marshals his forces to get his delegates elected in the Pennsylvania CD contests, he could still enter Cleveland with a bound 1st ballot majority.

Trump can be stopped on the first ballot in Cleveland, if the majority of Republicans, who want to stop Trump, coalesce now behind Ted Cruz. Cruz can win the nomination outright, fair and square, based on the votes cast in primaries and caucuses, without changing the convention rules, without the appearance or reality of backroom deals, without risking a Trump-voter revolt over perceived unfairness. All that is necessary is for the #NeverTrump forces to coalesce today behind Ted Cruz.

AND ANOTHER THING: The first-ballot nomination scenario would have been even stronger for Cruz had Rubio and Kasich dropped out as late as last weekend. (It's evident now that the poll showing Rubio winning early voters in Florida was way, way off. The subsample size was 72, which has an MOE of 11.55%.) Cruz still might not have won Florida -- it's Trump's second homestate -- but he likely would have won the remaining Ides of March states. Claims by Rubio and Kasich supporters that a contested convention was the only way to stop Trump was self-serving and wishful thinking.

ONE MORE THING: By my count, there are 906 delegates that will be bound to one candidate or another by upcoming contests. In which of the remaining states can Kasich win a plurality? He's only done well in his home state and two very small New England states where he spent a lot of time. I could imagine Kasich winning a state like Delaware , Connecticut, or Rhode Island. Maybe Kasich takes a CD or two in New York; he only won six CD delegates in Illinois. So that's 70 delegates or so he might win. The remaining 836 are going to wind up either in Cruz's pile or Trump's, and in large blocks. Each contest will either put Cruz closer to a majority or Trump. Only a very precise and improbably result would produce a situation where Cruz and Trump are both short of a majority and close enough to each other that neither can claim a mandate. Choose ye this day....

WHAT ABOUT KASICH? There aren't enough delegates remaining to win for Kasich to win the nomination on the first ballot. He would have to sweep all remaining delegates and win some of those released by ex-candidates or otherwise unbound delegates to get the majority. He would have to prevent Trump and Cruz from winning a combined 1237 delegates; they already have 1114. A nomination that involves last-minute rules changes or other convention chicanery would be seen as illegitimate by a big chunk of the GOP electorate, dooming not only the GOP's presidential hopes, but likely ending congressional majorities as well. Also, Kasich's decision to skip the Utah debate after Trump punted it tells me that Kasich is playing a game, positioning himself for a job in a Trump administration and not serious about winning.

LINKS:

Ace links and explains one of the media's confusing oversimplifications:

One important thing to keep in mind is that a lot of times the media tells you this or that primary is "proportional."

In fact, they're usually not. Illinois and Missouri were supposedly "proportional." That was shorthand for "Winner take all in the statewide race, then winner take all per Congressional District."

In fact, these "proportional" races turn out to be Winner Take Most, because the statewide winner usually wins almost all -- or just all -- of the Congressional Districts too.

Thus such races can quickly become de facto Winner Take All races, despite the media calling the "proportional."

If someone wins statewide, they might have a massive margin in one CD and lose the rest, but it's more likely that support will be evenly distributed across CDs, barring some special local circumstances. If the race is close, like Oklahoma's 2008 primary, which was then winner-take-all by state and CD, it's more likely that the CD victories will be split. In '08, McCain narrowly won statewide, beating Huckabee by 36.6% to 33.4%, but Huckabee won the two congressional districts nearest Arkansas.

Listening to the Glenn Beck team do their back-of-the-envelope calculation on the March 16, 2016, show, I noticed (with much consternation) that they treated "Winner-Take-Most" (really Winner-Take-All by state and by congressional district) as if they were proportionally allocated.

Ace speculates that Cruz might have better odds of reaching a number shy of 1237, but high enough to be nearly tied. If Cruz and Trump split all 906 remaining delegates, they'd be tied at 1010. (Any Kasich wins of a state or CD would reduce that number accordingly.) 181 are currently bound to ex-candidates for at least the first ballot, unless released. 271 would be uncommitted and up for grabs. Exit question: What will the RNC do to stop Trump from buying delegates?

Derryck Green, an African-American writer currently pursuing his doctorate in theology and ministry, has written several recent columns at JuicyEcumenism critical of the way certain evangelical groups are falling all over themselves to embrace #BlackLivesMatter. Back in December, Green wrote that Intervarsity had been "seduced by compartmentalized justice" when it invited #BlackLivesMatter member Michelle Higgins to be a plenary speaker at Urbana 15, Intervarsity's triennial missions conference.

Christian leaders have a tremendous responsibility to be voices and examples of reason. Christian credibility is at stake. So it's a cause for concern when Christians engage in negligent and questionable behavior. Here it involves using racial guilt to manipulate Christians into supporting a movement that perpetuates a secular social and political narrative that consists of lies and racial paranoia under the guise of fighting racial inequality....

Further, if the goal is to reduce the racial disparities in education, people should not only advocate that poor children receive better quality education, they should also encourage the redemption and reconciliation of the black family. Not only would that contribute to the mitigation of academic disparities suffered by blacks, increasing the number of intact black families would also mitigate the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Blacks aren't locked up disproportionately simply and only because they're black. Blacks are imprisoned disproportionately because of the disintegration of the family and the collapse of the Christian moral value system.

Speaking of criminals, here's another fact: #BlackLivesMatter valorizes black criminality and sanctifies black criminals. The lives of everyday blacks don't matter to this movement, including the lives of blacks tormented by black criminals. This is why #BlackLivesMatter is a misnomer. The only black lives that matter to these social agitators are the ones killed by (white) cops, largely the result of the actions of the criminals themselves. Defending and honoring the lives of black criminals over the lives of blacks that aren't criminals, but in need of our attention, is despicable and unworthy of being called or legitimized by Christianity.

Green's most recent column looks at an article Mark Charles, a Native American activist, who wrote about his decision not to participate in communion at Urbana 15 and not to participate in a plenary session of prayer for persecuted Christians around the world. Green doesn't use the phrase "virtue signaling" but it fits the phenomenon that Green describes.

Moreover, supporting Black Lives Matter is lazy activism. Actually, it's not activism at all. It's a public display -- theater really -- to show the viewing public that you hold the socially acceptable view on this social/political trend to avoid being morally implicated or socially associated with the "problem" this organization claims to address.

To the point, I'm convinced that people don't really want to address racial discrimination and inequality -- where it actually exists. The waters are intentionally muddied so people can't see or think clearly about the issue -- in this case, directly addressing the "root causes" of racial disparities to lay blame on that which is responsible -- even if and when it means to do so implicates the suffering. Instead, this has become a cause without end -- for if it ends, people would no longer have the prospect of feeling good about themselves by marginalizing racism through public displays of fruitless, self-aggrandizing, abstract forms of "activism" that are nothing more than a therapeutic salve for our collective racial insecurities.

For whites -- Christian and non-Christian alike -- forthrightly addressing racial discrimination and inequality or the sake of the affected would mean no longer engaging in obligatory acts of charity that disempower minorities simply to absolve feelings of racial guilt. It would also mean rejecting the premise that the mere existence of racial disparities are themselves evidence of racism. In other words it means refusing the predetermined parameters of the current "conversation on race," which include being forced to acknowledge and admit white privilege and accepting blame for all that befalls racial minorities- and doing so knowing that baseless charges of racism will ensue. It will be difficult, but as Christians, in some respect, it's picking up your cross in pursuit and obedience of the one who died on it.

For blacks, again, Christian and non-Christian alike, candidly addressing racial discrimination and racial inequality means no longer willingly relishing racial victimization and helplessness, while using it as a form of power/social leverage to extract more white guilt in the form of continued and forced moral genuflections, and social reparation. Instead it means acknowledging responsibility and embracing the obligation to engage the same kind of self-determination our antecedents relied on for dignity and success in far more difficult circumstances than we face, in a country that was significantly more racist than it is today. This will be difficult as well -- very difficult actually -- because to choose self-determination over victimization and white guilt is considered racial betrayal, violating the unwritten rules of black racial solidarity that leads to racial excommunication. But, this too, is bearing one's cross in pursuit and obedience of the one who died on it.

Regarding that last point: After the 1921 Race Riot, the African-American residents of Tulsa's Greenwood District built it back better than it had been before, with much of the reconstruction complete within a year. Newspapers and other documents of the period (such as the 1921 Booker T. Washington High School yearbook) reveal the high standards the community had set for itself, in the face of tremendous government and private racial discrimination.

One more note: I was disheartened last year to see that an old friend of mine who works for a campus parachurch ministry was promoting Mark Charles and his revisionist view of Native American history. Campus ministries and many evangelical churches seem to believe that they must embrace the professional racism industry in order to earn a hearing among millennials.

On Monday, I walked over 17,760 steps, delivering flyers in support of Ted Cruz to my precinct and a neighboring precinct. Tuesday after work, my daughter and I stood with other Cruz supporters at 101st and Memorial, waving signs to remind homeward-bound commuters to vote.

You're welcome, Ted. You're welcome, America.

Cruz won statewide in Oklahoma and won four of five congressional districts. (Rubio won the 5th congressional district.) Because of proportional delegate allocation, Cruz won 16 delegates, Trump won 14, and Rubio won 13, of Oklahoma's 43 delegates. In Texas, Cruz won every congressional district, taking home 104 delegates, to 48 for Trump, and 3 for Rubio. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, we learned that Cruz also won Alaska. Arkansas was close enough -- a 2.3% margin -- that had Carson withdrawn earlier, Cruz probably would have won.

Trump's best results were in Massachusetts, where voters can pick a primary on the day of the election, and were in the heart of the old Confederacy -- Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. Trump topped 40% only in Massachusetts (49.3%) and Alabama (43.4%). Interestingly, Trump's best counties in Oklahoma were in the region once known as "Little Dixie."

Rubio got his first win of the campaign, with 36.5% of the vote in the Minnesota caucuses. (Cruz finished 2nd, Trump finished 3rd.)

The current delegate totals after Super Tuesday:

Trump 338
Cruz 236
Rubio 112
Kasich 27
Carson 8
Bush 4
Paul 1
Huckabee 1
Fiorina 1

(I rely on The Green Papers for accurate counts. The website has been paying scrupulous attention to delegate allocation rules since its inception in 1999, and I trust The Green Papers to stick to the facts.)

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in Oklahoma and Vermont and won caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, came close in Massachusetts, but Hillary won everywhere else.

Vic Regalado won the GOP nomination for the unexpired term for sheriff. He will face Democrat Rex Berry on April 5. I am hearing that second place finisher Luke Sherman intends to file for the full four-year term regardless of the outcome of the special election.

MORE: On his Facebook page, Luke Sherman announced his intention to file and run for the full four-year term:

I am grateful for the overwhelming support so many of you have shown me last night and into this morning. Despite spending three times the amount of money that we did, our competitor still couldn't convince voters and win the majority.

Today is the first day of the next leg of my campaign. We are moving forward to the June 28th primary to fill the next full 4 year term. I still believe that with the right bold leadership, the TCSO can be one the best law enforcement agencies in the country. Thank you all for your prayers and support. Katie and I are committed to bringing Tulsa County together. ‪#‎ShermanForSheriff‬

Bumped to the top through Tuesday. Originally posted on February 27, 2016.

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Oklahoma's presidential preference primary is this coming Tuesday, March 1, 2016, and I urge my fellow Oklahoma Republicans to join me in voting for Sen. Ted Cruz for President.

I've voted in every Oklahoma presidential primary -- the first one was held in 1988 -- and usually most of the good candidates are gone by the time it's our turn to vote. Only rarely have I been able to vote for the candidate I felt was the best choice. This is one of those rare, good years.

I want a president who understands what made our country a peaceful, prosperous, and powerful nation, what factors have undermined that peace and prosperity, and what the President can do to get us back on the right track. (It's also important to have a president who understands what is beyond his authority to affect.) I want a president with a clear understanding of the goal, a sense of urgency to take action, the strategic sense to plan the steps needed to reach the goal, the ability to persuade with clarity and conviction, and the mental agility to respond to attacks and adjust to changing circumstances, without compromising his principles.

Ted Cruz has demonstrated all of those qualities during the course of a distinguished public career. As the Director of Public Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, Ted Cruz built bipartisan support for measures that removed regulatory barriers to e-commerce, expanding consumer choice and opening new global markets to American small businesses. (You like ordering contact lens refills and wine over the Internet? Thank Ted Cruz.)

As Solicitor General of Texas, Ted Cruz represented the rights of Texans and all Americans, arguing nine cases at the U. S. Supreme Court (8 as SG, 1 as a private attorney) and submitting amicus briefs in many others. In the Medellin v. Texas case, Cruz successfully defended Texas's right to put a brutal murderer to death, despite an attempt by the World Court, with the Bush administration's approval, to stay the execution because the murderer was a foreign national. Cruz's amicus brief in the D. C. v. Heller gun-rights case, filed on behalf of 31 states (including Oklahoma), helped to put the Supreme Court on record that the 2nd Amendment guarantees the individual's right to keep and bear arms.

As a U. S. Senator, Ted Cruz kept his promise to oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants. Working with allies in the Senate and the House, Cruz used the amendment process to expose the the Gang of 8's assurances as hollow. When he offered to write their assurances into the bill as amendments, the open-borders bunch in the Senate showed their true colors and voted them down, which gave opponents the ammunition they needed to stop the bill in the House.

Cruz's push to defund Obamacare, using Congress's power of the purse as an effective check on the President's power, helped propel Republicans to a majority in the Senate at the 2014 election, even though it panicked Senate GOP leadership, who waved the white flag before the battle had even been engaged.

Cruz has shown political courage and an ability to persuade voters to look at issues from another point of view. While campaigning in Iowa, he held firm in his opposition to subsidies for corn ethanol, while also calling for removing bureaucratic limits on ethanol blends, and yet he still finished first in that corn-fixated state.

Among Texans who know him well, Cruz has been endorsed by his former boss (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott), his adversary in the 2012 Senate race (David Dewhurst), and his former competitor for the presidency (former Gov. Rick Perry).

Prof. Thomas Sowell, one of the intellectual giants of the conservative movement, has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, particularly in light of the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia:

Senator Ted Cruz has been criticized in this column before, and will undoubtedly be criticized here again. But we can only make our choices among those actually available, and Senator Cruz is the one who comes to mind when depth and steadfastness come to mind.

As someone who once clerked for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he will know how important choosing Justice Scalia's replacement will be. And he has the intellect to understand much more.

Cruz has received a couple of high-profile backhanded endorsements as well. The Left isn't afraid of Trump. The Left and the GOP establishment both know that Donald Trump can be shaped and moulded to serve their purposes. Former President Jimmy Carter said at a speech at Britain's House of Lords that he prefers Donald Trump to Ted Cruz, because Trump is "malleable" and Cruz is not.

"If I had a choice of Republican nominees -- let's just say, for instance, between Cruz and Trump -- I think I would choose Trump, which may surprise some of you. But the reason is that Trump has proven already that he's completely malleable. I don't think he has any fixed opinions that he would really go to the White House and fight for. On the other hand, Ted Cruz is not malleable. He has far-right-wing policies, in my opinion, that would be pursued aggressively if and when he might become president."

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, is another left-winger frightened by the thought of Cruz as President. Lefty Reich's knocks against Cruz only make me like Ted Cruz even more. (Emphasis added below.) The first item is practically a recitation of the GOP platform.

4 Reasons Ted Cruz is Even More Dangerous than Donald Trump.

1. Cruz is more fanatical. Sure, Trump is a bully and bigot, but he doesn't hew to any sharp ideological line. Cruz is a fierce ideologue: He denies the existence of man-made climate change, rejects same-sex marriage, wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, believes the 2nd amendment guarantees everyone a right to guns. He doesn't believe in a constitutional divide between church and state, favors the death penalty, rejects immigration reform, demands the repeal of Obamacare, and takes a strict "originalist" view of the meaning of the Constitution.

2. Cruz is a true believer. Trump has no firm principles except making money, getting attention, and gaining power. But Cruz has spent much of his life embracing radical right economic and political views.

3. Cruz is more disciplined and strategic. Trump is all over the place, often winging it, saying whatever pops into his mind. Cruz hews to a clear script and a carefully crafted strategy. He plays the long game (as he's shown in Iowa).

4. Cruz is a loner who's willing to destroy government institutions to get his way. Trump has spent his career using the federal government and making friends with big shots. Not Cruz. He has repeatedly led Republicans toward fiscal cliffs. In the Fall of 2013, his opposition to Obamacare led in a significant way to the shutdown of the federal government.

That all sounds pretty good to me. I especially like the fact that Cruz "plays the long game." Cruz has been the most successful fundraiser among the candidates, and he's done it with a massive number of relatively small donations. In the final quarter of 2015, Cruz received contributions from 300,000 donors, averaging $67 each.

Combine fundraising success with careful spending, and you have a campaign that can be there and be competitive all the way to the convention. One of my frustrations with Rick Santorum in 2012 was that he threw everything into winning Iowa, but didn't have the resources to continue momentum in other states. Ted Cruz is prepared to go the distance.

Here in Oklahoma, Ted Cruz has won the endorsement of the most consistently conservative of our elected officials, including Congressman Jim Bridenstine. I'm proud to add my name to that distinguished list, and I hope you'll join me at the polls on Tuesday to vote for Ted Cruz for President.


MORE:

John Stossel's report on the Cruz campaign's big-data-driven campaign, led by Oklahoma's own Chris Wilson.

UPDATE for the primary for the full-four year term: Luke Sherman has been endorsed by four of the other candidates in the special election primary, and he continues to have my support.

The race to fill the unexpired term of former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz has been a strange one for me. It's one of the few local races where I knew none of the candidates before the election, and I've only met two of them during the course of the campaign.

It's a strange election for everyone. The election is only for the term ending at the end of this year. Within a couple of weeks after the general election results are in, it will be time to file to run for a complete four-year term.

Today, Tulsa County Republicans will pick one of nine candidates to face the lone Democratic candidate, Rex Berry, in the April 5, 2016 special election. After listening to Pat Campbell's interviews with the candidates on KFAQ, reading the Tulsa 9/12 Project's candidate questionnaire, and listening to most of KRMG's debate, I've decided to vote for Luke Sherman to be our next Tulsa County Sheriff.

I've thought for quite a while that we needed an experienced lawman from outside the TCSO and the culture that had been so damaged by Glanz's failed leadership. That eliminated a few of the candidates.

Because this primary is first-past-the-post with no runoff, campaign strength had to be a tie-breaker among similarly qualified candidates.

I eliminated Vic Regalado almost immediately. The large number of high-dollar contributions from high rollers and the mysterious cluster of max or near-max contributions from executives and employees from one company is worrisome. Why so much interest in this candidate? What are they expecting from him? At the KRMG debate, when asked about his executive/administrative experience, important for a position that oversees dozens of deputies, jail officers, and other employees, Regalado talked vaguely around the issue. He could cite no concrete qualifications in this area.

John Fitzpatrick has an impressive resume outside of law enforcement, but his service in law enforcement has been limited to the TPD reserve officers' program. I'm also concerned about a developer and a developer's attorney among his prominent donors and endorsers: Joe Westervelt and Lou Reynolds. Do you suppose that foreclosures and the sheriff's power to appoint appraisers have anything to do with this?

A number of my friends are supporting Tom Helm. What crossed him off my list was an answer he gave Pat Campbell (about 10 minutes in) about why it took Eric Harris's death to bring problems in the TCSO to light. Helm said that people in the organization raised concerns. He said he was told that he would "have to deal with it." Evidently that's what he did. He left the sheriff's office, but opted to say nothing publicly that might have exposed the rot. He seemed to be rationalizing the decision to protect his paycheck by keeping his mouth shut. Hardly a profile in courage.

I've been most impressed by Luke Sherman. From his website, here's a summary of his experience as a Tulsa Police officer:

He has served in many roles during his 23-year decorated career with the Tulsa Police Department. He joined the department in September of 1992 and has been an officer, field training officer, supervisor, field training supervisor, academy instructor and firearms instructor.

Luke_Sherman-Sheriff-2016.pngIn 1995, Luke was selected to join the department's SWAT team, where he served as a tactical operator, assistant team leader and finally as the assistant team commander. During over a decade on the team, he took part in many successful high-risk missions.

As a corporal (1998) among other assignments, he led a successful city-wide task force targeting the rise in methamphetamine production, usage and sales. As a sergeant (1999), he has supervised field units and specialty squads throughout the city.

Since 2008, he has led the department's very active Fugitive Warrant's Unit and also is one of the leaders of the U.S. Marshal's Violent Crimes Task Force. Both of these units are responsible for the arrest of thousands of violent criminals related to on-going high profile investigations, as well as fugitives from the Tulsa area and from other parts of the U.S. He led a multi-divisional police operational group during the Good Friday shootings (2012), the Best Buy shooting (2012) and a "Stranger Abduction" of a 8-year-old girl in east Tulsa (2014). Luke's unit was successful in identifying, locating and arresting the suspects in these three high profile cases.

Luke is a nationally recognized figure to law enforcement communities across the United States and in several other countries. As a director for the National Tactical Officer's Association (NTOA), Luke has played a pivotal role in assisting and providing subject matter expertise to members of both the U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress in topics such as the Ferguson riot incidents and the topic of the militarization of police forces. As an instructor for the NTOA, he has provided nearly 5000 hours of instruction in topics such as active shooter, hostage rescue, high-risk warrants, civil disturbance, barricaded gunman, legal considerations in policing and SWAT, civil disturbance, team leader and command-level decision making.

Sherman's answers to questionnaires and his interview responses indicate intelligence and thoughtfulness. His responses to the Tulsa 9/12 Project showed an awareness of the non-law-enforcement aspects of the job. I was pleased to see this in one of his replies: "I am also looking into partnerships with other local agencies and redirecting some excess earmarked ad valorem funds that are not being used by Tulsa Technology Center and Tulsa Community College." While this will require considerable political capital, there is no doubt that the earmarked millage levies enjoyed by TTC and TCC provide them with more than enough money; elected county officials should give voters the opportunity to reduce the TTC and TCC levies and find a way to shift that revenue stream to more productive uses.

An honorable mention goes to Jason Jackson, who has an impressive record of service of nearly 20 years with the Jenks Police Department, degrees in criminology and religious studies from Liberty University, and experience as a pastor. Jackson also has given solid answers in interviews and questionnaires.

I've endorsed Sherman over Jackson because I think Sherman is better placed to beat well-financed but less-desirable candidates in this first-past-the-post primary, and because I think service in leadership roles in the police department of the state's second largest city is better training for sheriff of the second largest county than leadership in a small city's police force.

I encourage you to join me in voting later today for Luke Sherman for the Republican nomination for Tulsa County Sheriff.

Ted Cruz returns to Tulsa

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Ted Cruz speaks to Tulsa rally (SX021020)


Texas Sen. Ted Cruz returned to Tulsa today for his third visit of the 2016 presidential campaign. Despite the short notice and the early starting time -- 12:30pm, barely after most churches end their Sunday services -- Cruz drew a crowd of about 3,000 to Tulsa's Central Park Hall. The stop was the first of three events in the state today ahead of Tuesday's primary.

Crowd at Tulsa Ted Cruz rally (SX020958)

In his 30-minute speech, Cruz said that his campaign was about three things: jobs, freedom, and security. His discussion of jobs included extensive mention of immigration policy -- the job-killing aspects of illegal immigration and excessive use of foreign guest workers. The immigration problem was also mentioned in the security section, in which Cruz reaffirmed his opposition to citizenship for anyone here illegally.

Citing the verse from Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun, Cruz drew a parallel with the economic and foreign policy challenges faced by the nation in the 1970s -- "same failed economic policies, same feckless and naive foreign policies," and even the same countries involved -- then as now, Russia and Iran are mocking our leaders. But Cruz found hope in the comparison: "We remember how that story ended," with Ronald Reagan's election, a revolution that came from the American people and turned the country around.

In his concluding paragraphs, Cruz told the crowd that Oklahoma is a battleground -- he's running neck and neck here with Trump. While 65% of Republicans nationally say that Trump is the wrong candidate to face Hillary Clinton, supporters of other candidates have to pull together to beat him. Cruz said that his was the only campaign in a position to beat Trump on Super Tuesday. He urged supporters to devote these last 48 hours to the campaign, to use social media and to pick up the phone to call friends and neighbors and urge them to vote for Cruz on Tuesday.

For a full 20 minutes after the speech, Cruz worked the crowd, shaking hands and posing for photos. A veteran political observer on hand pointed out that no other candidate makes himself as available to the public as Ted Cruz does.

Ted Cruz listens to voter following rally (SX021038.JPG)

Most of the speech was devoted to a substantive discussion of policy, organized around the three themes of jobs, freedom, and security.

To put Americans back to work, Cruz said, we need to lift off the jackboot of government from the necks of small business. As a replacement for the burdensome Obamacare regulation, Cruz called for health insurance that is personal and portable and that keeps government from getting between us and our doctors. Cruz called for a simple flat tax and the abolition of the IRS.

Cruz pointed out that immigration is also a jobs issue. When Arizona passed a tough immigration enforcement law, many illegal immigrants left the state on their own. As a result, the state had to spent hundreds of millions of dollars less, because it was no longer paying to educate and provide emergency room care for as many illegal immigrants. Arizona's unemployment rate dropped, and workers in the construction trades saw their wages go up.

Cruz said that both parties had failed us on immigration. Democrats see illegal immigrants as a source of new voters. Too many Republicans, listening to Wall Street and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, see illegal immigrants as a source of cheap labor.

2013 was the time for choosing, when the "Gang of 8" bill -- which Cruz called the "Rubio Schumer Amnesty Bill" -- came before Congress. Rubio was sent out to evangelize for the bill to conservative media. (Trump was busy firing Dennis Rodman on Celebrity Apprentice at the time.)

Cruz reminded the audience of Trump's financial support for five members of the Gang of 8, part of a 40-year track record of funding open-borders Democrats, of the million-dollar court judgment against Trump for using illegal immigrant workers on the Trump Tower project, and of Trump's claim that he can't find Americans who want to work as waiters and waitresses.

Regarding security, Cruz said, "America has always been reluctant to use military force. We are slow to anger. But if and when military force is required, we should use overwhelming force, defeat the enemy, and get the heck out!"

Preceding the senator on the platform were State Rep. David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow), Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak, Congressman Jim Bridenstine, and national radio talk show host Glenn Beck.

MP3 AUDIO:

MORE:

Ted Cruz this morning on Face the Nation:

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Donald Trump's habit of using government to hound people from their homes to make way for his schemes isn't limited to the US. Ian Tuttle has documented Trump's efforts to make life miserable for neighbors of his grand Scottish golf resort -- a resort that has failed to live up to the ambitious claims made for it.

The story is like a replay of Local Hero, which was filmed just 35 miles to the north, but without the happy ending. In the movie, an American tycoon with Scottish roots wants to buy out a village on the North Sea coast and replace it with an oil refinery. The tycoon (played by Burt Lancaster) visits the site to close the deal with the lone holdout, a hermit who lives in a shack on the beach, to which he holds title. The tycoon falls in love with the seaside village and instead builds a marine research laboratory.

In the Trump version of the story, the tycoon bulldozes the dunes and blockades the "local heroes" who refuse to yield to his demands. A documentary about the ordeal, You've Been Trumped, was released in 2012 and is available for free online viewing on Hulu. (The photo above is a still from the follow-on film, A Dangerous Game, about the environmental and social impact of the golf resort industry around the world.)

In 2006, Trump proposed to build a golf resort on the North Sea coast in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. When local government denied his application to wreck a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (a shifting dune-scape unique to Scotland) to build his course, he went over their heads to the Scottish Executive which overruled local government. Alex Salmond, the local member of the Scottish Parliament and later leader of the Scottish National Party, facilitated the deal, claiming the project would generate 6,000 jobs nationally, 1,400 locally, but those plans haven't materialized.

As local MSP, Mr Salmond personally rang Scotland's chief planning officer while he was with the Trump lawyer after the plan was rejected by the local infrastructure committee in his Aberdeenshire constituency.

The man leading Scotland's drive for independence has seen little political or economic reward for his efforts, however. Mr Trump's plans for the Menie estate should have created thousands of jobs by building two golf courses, a five-star 450-bed hotel, 500 homes and 950 short-term lets.

To date, Mr Trump's own representatives put the number at only 200 new jobs - and Panorama estimates on the basis of the latest accounts (to December 2011), that only £25m has been spent with just one golf course and a temporary clubhouse to show for it so far.

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Once Trump had pushed local government out of the way, he tried to use government muscle to shove his neighbors out of the way, pushing the local government to get Compulsory Purchase Orders (equivalent of eminent domain) to buy out neighbors whose properties were not as grand and glorious as Trump thought they ought to be. When local government deferred, Trump began harassing his neighbors in various alleged ways: Cutting off water with construction "accidents," ignoring property boundaries, and building berms that blocked their view of the ocean:

ybt_online_ab_110811_pm_crop.jpgDuring a visit to his Scotland project on an episode of Donald J. Trump's Fabulous World of Golf, a short-lived reality show that aired on the Golf Channel in 2010-11, Trump announced that "there are some houses quite far away from the course" that "I don't want to see." The camera panned to David Milne's home, high on its perch. Announced Donald: "We are berming some of the areas so that you don't see the houses." And sure enough, construction crews spent a week piling earth in a "bund," a large ridge, around Milne's home, removing it from view -- and cutting off his view of the sea. (Similar bunds were piled up around Forbes's house, and around Munro's.) "Nobody has a problem with it!" said Trump, on Trump's Fabulous World of Golf. He then conceded, with a shrug: "I guess maybe the people who live in the houses have a problem with it."

The Aberdeen Voice published an update last month, ten years after Trump announced his plans for the area. Quoting local councilor Martin Ford:

"Mr Trump's grandiose and extravagant promises of jobs, money and enhanced reputation for the region - parroted by First Minister Alex Salmond's Scottish Government - have failed to materialise. "At Menie, little of the proposed resort has been built. None of the 950 timeshares. A 19-bedroom hotel in an existing country house instead of a 450-bedroom new build. One golf course, not two. A much smaller clubhouse than originally proposed. Under 100 jobs, not 6000. Around £30 million spent instead of the £1 billion investment pledged.

"Meanwhile, the unique dune system at Menie, a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest, has been sacrificed - the justification being the economic benefits Mr Trump and the Scottish Government said would come from the resort that hasn't been built.

"Mr Trump's neighbours on the Menie estate have had their lives disrupted by bullying and intimidation for most of the last decade.

Tuttle's story concludes:

It would be an extraordinary irony if Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination riding a groundswell of working-class anger toward "elites." In Scotland, Trump teamed up with "elites" in the local and national government in an attempt to railroad working-class residents out of their homes. In Scotland, Donald Trump was not against "special interests." He was special interests. As Susan Munro told Anthony Baxter: "I've been here a long time, near on three decades, that's a long time. Most of my adult life's been spent in this house, brought my family up here, my family was born here. And then this man, this foreigner, because he's got a few pounds American in his pocket, a bit of a name, and we're just cast aside, we're in the way."

MORE:

Local opposition website Tripping Up Trump (archived). The site includes accounts of other problem-plagued Trump developments around the world.

Website for the Trump International Golf Links. There is a single 18-hole course, a small hotel, and a couple of restaurants.

London Review of Books review of You've Been Trumped

Carol Craig's review of You've Been Trumped:

What emerges is the story of ordinary basic humanity versus greed and hubris. The local people value their heritage, community and environment but are pitted against those who are enthralled to wealth, fame, and power. The locals act with integrity and decency; the best that can be said about Trump is that he is a man who cannot be trusted.

Watching this film, the ordinary people of Scotland (and some local artists) are a credit to the country. But institutional Scotland comes out of it very badly. It isn't simply Trump, and by extension, the politicians who supported him that are shown in a negative light: the local police, local university (who gave Trump an honorary degree), and Scottish arts organisations, who refused to fund or show the film, are also discredited. The mainstream Scottish media who failed to cover the story adequately are also shamed by this film.

Yesterday, on Twitter, Trump issued a veiled threat against the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, for donating to an anti-Trump super-PAC.

I hear the Rickets family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $'s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide! 8:42 AM - 22 Feb 2016

News reports note that the donation was not secret at all but has been disclosed in accordance with federal election laws.

UPDATE:

HBO Real Sports has done a segment about Trump's broken promises in Scotland:

Hat tip: The Right Scoop.

policememe.jpgTravis Yates, a Tulsa Police Department major, has written an editorial questioning President Obama's silence after a number of recent assassinations of police officers around the country. In just the past week, Yates says, seven police officers were killed, six of them "were gunned down by assailants."

Yates notes Obama's frequent practice of speaking to the nation about suspected cases of police abuse, which began early in his term, when a Cambridge, Mass., police officer arrested Harvard Prof. Henry Gates as he was trying to break into his own home. Obama addressed the matter at length in a White House press conference, saying, "the Cambridge police acted stupidly."

He was quick to speak out on local police matters when his friend, Henry Gates, was arrested and while the President eventually called the arresting officer to apologize to him, it was odd to see the President of the United States speak out on a local police matter when he did not know all of the facts.

Personally, I chalked it up to a rookie mistake and didn't think much of it. Others had immediate concerns. Law Officer Columnist William Gage was one of those and he stated "this was insight into the President's psyche and overall view of law enforcement." Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu said "that's his lens on how he sees our heroes and our protectors."

Obama has also spoken out about police controversies in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, and elsewhere.

Yates praises the White House for sending Vice President Biden to the funeral of NYPD Detective Rafael Ramos, who was killed in an ambush shortly after the Ferguson riots, but that is the only law enforcement funeral to which the Obama White House has sent a representative. Yates echos questions raised by many other law enforcement officers about Obama's silence.

It has been a very tough time for law enforcement and while there is no doubt a sensitivity towards any perceived attack against the profession, we believe there is merit for the belief that President Obama has been silent when it comes to the violence heaped against the profession.

We see it as a balancing issue. Simply put, the President is unbalanced on the issue. He has repeatedly shown that he is quick to talk and act when he believes law enforcement has done something wrong but slow when law enforcement are the victims or need support for their mission.

President Obama still has time to regain his balance with law enforcement. As one officer said to us this week, "these are domestic threats killing your domestic troops, Mr. President. When will you hear our cries for help? Or will you continue to remain silent."

We say the President does not have to stay silent. We ask him to speak loudly in support of the men and women protecting the homeland.


Donald Trump in Tusla

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On Wednesday, I attended the Tulsa rally for presidential candidate Donald Trump with former Alaska Gov. and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, held at ORU's Mabee Center. I was there as a member of the news media; I received an email at 7 pm the night before the event saying that I was credentialed to attend.

Obviously, this isn't a breaking news report (five days later). You've read the stories and seen the clips, but I hope to tell you about things you missed by not being there.

After waiting in line for over 30 minutes in a cold lobby (during which I got to visit with Matthew Vermillion of Forty-Six News), we received our misprinted media badges ("Tusla" instead of "Tulsa"), got wanded by the Secret Service, and were finally allowed inside the arena.

Trump later tweeted a claim that 15,000 were in attendance and another 5,000 turned away. As the official Mabee Center seating charts indicate, the arena holds 8,400 in the stands in the expanded end arena configuration that was in use. There were no seats on the floor -- the back 1/4th was devoted to media, the other end was occupied by the stage, leaving the middle half for standees. A wedge of seats behind the stage was blocked off with curtains.

I was standing on the front rail of the media area, just to the right of the camera stand. At noon, the official starting time of the event, the standing area was perhaps 2/3 full; the lower bowl of the arena was 90% full, and the upper seating was perhaps half full. People continued to trickle in over the next hour, while we waited for the event to begin, with more upper level seats filling in and more standees, but there was still a significant amount of empty space at the back of the standee area. Based on that, I would have guessed about 8,000 in attendance. The Tulsa Fire Department said that 8,937 people were allowed into the building.

According to Tulsa Fire Department, which assisted in crowd control, 8,937 people were allotted seating. Event doors were closed once the crowd reached that number.

A fire official says additional supporters were not allowed inside the event to ensure safety.

(Why is the fire department interested in the size of a crowd? A public gathering place has to have adequate exit routes to evacuate everyone in the building safely within a certain window of time. Even if there were the space to squeeze more people in, the fire marshal would shut the doors to new arrivals once the facility's maximum permitted occupancy had been reached.)

I was in the building from 10:00 on, so I can't speak to how many were turned away, but people kept coming in right up until Trump was introduced at 1:07, and there were still empty seats and space available in the standee area. People might have been turned away because they couldn't be screened quickly enough, or perhaps because some emergency exits had to be closed for security reasons, requiring a lower fire-safety limit than the normal capacity.

It's hard to generalize about the people in attendance. A wide range of ages were represented (although many of the younger people I noticed in the standee area turned out to be protesters, holding up a banner reading "Trump makes America hate again"). Most appeared to be normal Oklahomans, with only a handful seeming to be fanatics. One young bearded man, stationed in the back of the standees, frequently shouted things like, "We love you, Sarah," as he waved his rally signs. He seemed to determined to attract attention. One lady in the press area had a dress papered over with pictures of Trump. Another standee was sporting a "Putin/Nugent 2016" t-shirt. The people I saw certainly didn't fit political consultant Rick Wilson's lurid characterization of Trump supporters.

Two things stood out to me about the crowd: It was almost all Caucasian (maybe one person out of 200 was not), and very few were people were GOP activists. I spotted four folks in the crowd that I knew from 25 years of local Republican Party involvement -- two activists who were big supporters of former Congressman John Sullivan, a consultant from Jim Bridenstine's first congressional campaign, and Dan Keating, brother of the former governor and Trump's state chairman.

While people filed in, we listened to loud bluegrass covers of U2 hits like "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." At 11:45 Keating kicked things off with a few remarks. Word-Faith televangelist Cathy Mink of Len Mink Ministries gave the invocation. Before she got around to praying, Mrs. Mink called Trump "a David raised up to defeat Goliath" (Vera Coking would have begged to differ) and a "friend of Israel and a defender of Christians." She exclaimed, "Just think -- we will be able to shout Merry Christmas everywhere once he gets to the Oval Office." (What's keeping her from doing that now?) She concluded by claiming the "Prayer of Jabez" on Trump's behalf. The brief prayer for expanded influence and blessing, recorded in the midst of genealogies in 1st Chronicles 4:10, was a publishing sensation around the turn of the Millennium.

A group of three men (unidentified) led the Pledge of Allegiance. A young blonde woman sang the National Anthem in the Whitney Houston standard melismatic fashion, with some in the crowd singing along quietly). And then, as Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" began to play, this voice came over the sound system:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that as President of the United States, Mr. Trump will continue his lifelong defense of the right to free speech in America. As a matter of fact, he supports the First Amendment just as much as he supports the Second Amendment. [Wild cheers.] However some people have taken advantge of Mr. Trump's hospitality by choosing to disturb his rallies by using them as an opportunity to promote their own political messages. [Boos.] While they certainly have the right to free speech, this is a private event paid for by Mr. Trump. We have provided a safe protest area outside the venue for all protesters.

"If a protester starts demonstrating in the area around you, please do not touch or harm the protester. This is a peaceful rally. In order to notify the law enforcement officers of the location of the protester, please hold a rally sign above your head and start chanting "Trump! Trump! Trump!" [Chanting.] Ask the people around you to do likewise until officers remove the protestors. Thank you for helping us to make America great again! [Wild cheers.]"

It was now about 11:50. And then we waited for 77 minutes, listening to an eclectic playlist, blasted at high volume that began with Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," followed by "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera, the aria "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's Turandot (sounded like the Harry Secombe version), Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," Adele's "Skyfall."

Did the campaign pick "Music of the Night," or was it an ORU student or staffer making subtle commentary?

Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar
And you'll live as you've never lived before

Softly, deftly, music shall surround you
feel it, hear it, closing in around you
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness which you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night

At about 12:15, an aide came out to the podium, adjusting the microphone and checking for water bottles, giving some hope that things would be underway soon. As if taunting the audience, the sound man played the Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want." (More commentary?) That was followed by "Memory" (from Cats), "Hey Jude," "Rocket Man," and then back through the rotation again. As we passed an hour after the scheduled start, many on the north side (nearer the public entrance) were standing in anticipation while those on the south side stayed seated.

When the sound man cut short "Rocket Man," the crowd cheered in anticipation, "Eye of the Tiger" started up, and the PA announced, "The next President of the United States, Donald! J! Trump!" Trump spoke briefly, introduced Palin, who spoke for about 20 minutes, and then Trump returned to the stage, speaking for about 35 minutes.

About halfway through Trump's speech, people started leaving the arena, a few here and there, and then a steady stream -- maybe students who had a class at 2:00 pm, maybe audience members whose curiosity to see Trump in person was sated and who were ready to move on with their day after investing three or four hours in this event.

I won't recap everything that Trump and Palin said -- there are plenty of sources for that information -- but I'll hit a couple of highlights.

Palin repeatedly referred to Trump as a commander: "Are you ready for a commander who will allow us to make America great?"

The strangest thing that came out of Palin's mouth was her implication that her son's Track's wartime experience -- and the failure of the Obama administration to properly appreciate the troops -- was to blame for his recent arrest on domestic violence charges. That didn't get much reaction.

She got the crowd going again with talk of the "complicity of both sides of the aisle" -- pushed by the donor class -- in open borders, crony capitalist budgets, and lousy trade deals. In response to charges from "the GOP machine" that "we're not conservative enough," Palin asked, "Is it conservative to watch safety nets turn to hammocks?" She asked similar questions about open borders, trillion-dollar blank checks to Obama, and trillions in added debt. She encapsulated the GOP's Trump problem: A failure by congressional leadership to keep faith with the people who returned them to majority status opened the door for someone, as Palin put it, "ballsy enough to put issues on the table." (Which line got a huge cheer.)

It was striking that, with one exception, the two did not criticize any of Trump's rivals for the nomination. Trump's shots at Cruz earlier in the week had brought criticism from conservative talk radio. He may also have held back because of Cruz's popularity with Oklahoma conservatives.

The one shot Trump took at a rival was aimed at Jeb Bush. Trump trumpeted the latest poll numbers from Florida, which showed Trump at 48, Cruz at 16, Rubio at 11, and Bush "down in the toilet." Bush, he said, "is a stiff, no question about it." Referring to recent TV appearances of conservative pundits, Trump said Karl Rove looked "like a boiler waiting to explode." "You take the glasses away from George Will, and he's a stupid-looking guy."

Trump also took potshots at the camera crews at the back of the room, calling them "disgusting" because they only showed the crowd when a protest erupted. KOTV News on 6 anchor Terry Hood took offense, responding on Facebook:

Ok, so I'm watching the Trump video and this part was upsetting to me. The "disgusting" photographer he was talking about from Channel 6 is one of my best friends. His job was to keep the camera on Trump because we were live streaming his speech. We had another photog shooting the crowd and still another covering his arrival and departure from the airport. None of them deserve to be called names by this man.

About halfway into Trump's speech, around 1:45, I noticed that people began leaving in twos or threes. The stream of departures grew as time went on. (Trump continued to speak until 2:06.) I imagine many people had expected to be done early enough to make it back to work or to class by 2:00 p.m.; perhaps others had had their curiosity satisfied and were ready to get on with the day.

As the speech entered its second half, a few more protests erupted. It seemed as if the protesters figured that time was running out to get the attention they wanted.

Trump concluded by repeating like a mantra "We're going to win!"

RELATED:

Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip "Dilbert," is also a trained hypnotist and is a student of the art of persuasion. In his blog, Adams has been analyzing Trump's methods of persuasion, and he has come to the conclusion that Trump is unbeatable. In his latest post, Adams says that National Review's latest issue warning its readers that Trump is not a conservative is in reality a capitulation. "You'll see a lot of debate on whether Trump is a true conservative or not. That is argument by definition. It is the linguistic equivalent of throwing your gun at a monster because the magazine is empty." Earlier, Adams explained why Palin's endorsement is "probably a home run":

Trump's biggest obstacle is his perceived lack of empathy, along with voter suspicions about his motives. Palin's endorsement says, in effect, that she doesn't see anything dark in his soul. You can dislike Palin's politics, but she is ridiculously likable on a personal level. And that likability probably translates into some sort of irrational trust about her people-judging skills.

Kurt Schlichter: Trump is Going to Break Your Heart

As a young man, I learned that sometimes that hot chick you're dating is also completely crazy and, as much fun as it is to go out with her, it's going to end badly. That's Donald Trump, the super hottie of the "I Hate the GOP Establishment with a Burning Passion That Has Rendered Me Insusceptible to Reason" crew. He's sexy, he likes to party, and he certainly puts out - in the sense that he fulfills your fantasies about giving it to the RINOs good and hard.

That intensely troubling metaphor aside, the point is still valid. Donald Trump is not a keeper, not the one you want to marry. He's never going to make you happy. For now, he's going to say what makes you happy, and for now he's going to make a lot of the right people go nuts, but if you get hitched he'll cheat on you with the liberals. At the end of the day, you'll walk out of the courtroom wearing a barrel while Trump and the pool boy jet off to Tahiti on your dime....

He's using you, and he's going to toss you away when he's done and never look back. Break it off before it's too late - this is just a fling, and if it keeps up one day you're going to find your wallet missing and probably your car too. And you'll wake up with a political rash.

Donald Trump is out for one thing, Donald Trump's personal aggrandizement. He cares nothing about you. He cares nothing about your aspirations and dreams. Don't misunderstand him when he pays attention to you. He's just trying to get what he wants from you, an earthshattering ego stroke....

You can do better. The failures of the Republican donor and consultant class created Donald Trump. They made you furious, and you have every right to be furious. They have treated you like dirt and it's no surprise you picked up The Donald on the rebound. But the answer to being treated like a doormat by a bunch of buttoned-down twits is not to embrace somebody who believes in exactly nothing of what you believe in. You can totally do better. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and they aren't all named Jeb.

Trump doesn't want to make America great. He doesn't want to make you great. He wants to make you tell him that he's great. He doesn't love you, any more than the stripper in the Champagne Room loves you when you've still got money in your wallet....

Derek Hunter: Trump or Get Off the Pot:

Everyone wants America to be great again, but it's going to take more than embroidery on a baseball cap to make it happen. It's going to require a deep respect for the Constitution and the limits it places not only on government, but specifically on the office of the president. I see nothing that leads me to believe Donald Trump respects or even is aware of that concept.

In his daily life he doesn't have to work with anyone - his word is law. He says jump, and his children and the team of lawyers he pays ask how high. It may be great for business, but it's the antithesis of what our government is supposed to be.

That's why I want specifics. I'm not looking for a dictator I agree with. I'm looking for a leader who can restore what Obama, and Bush before him, and Clinton before him, eroded. I'd love it if it were done quickly, but I demand it be done legally. For that to happen I need some specifics.

The example of Obama must be rejected, and it must be rejected the right way. The next president must get things done by leading Congress, resisting the urge to bypass Congress when it won't go along and using the bully pulpit to rally the people to support his initiatives. Persuade the people, and you persuade their representatives.

Caleb Howe: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Need To Take a Class In Trump Politics. Howe examines the defensive, lawyerly arguments Cruz and Rubio used to deal with challenges to their votes on immigration reform and concludes that they should follow Donald Trump's approach -- own your position and don't apologize. For example, here's how Howe thinks Trump would have dealt with Bret Baier's interrogation of Cruz:

That's right. He would have shrugged it off. He would have made a face and said "come on Bret. Look it's very simple. I was trying to get what I wanted from a negotiation. I wanted to stop what they were doing and I got news for you, I did it." And if Bret pressed him again, he would have waved his hands and said "I make deals. OK? That's what I do. I know deals. And I worked this deal, and I won this deal, and that's what Americans care about."

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas): Washington Establishment: Merry Christmas, Trump!

What do you give a billionaire who has everything and is running for president?

The Omnibus spending bill in Congress is over 2,000 pages and spends another $1.1 trillion we don't have. A handful of members of Congress and their staffs, the White House and insider lobbyists wrote it over the past six weeks, and outside this small circle, no one had seen it until Wednesday.

In other words, business-as-usual in Washington again. Merry Christmas, Donald Trump....

In 2014, Americans entrusted Republicans with Senate and House majorities to stop the Obama agenda, but Republicans refused to get in the driver's seat of Congress. Instead, they offer this back-room, bloated bill to hike spending by another $50 Billion. It is strongly supported by Obama, Pelosi, and Reid - and strongly opposed by nearly every major segment of the Republican Party....

So whether you care about life and liberty, about national security and our borders, jobs and even stopping ObamaCare, Washington has a message for you: Donald Trump is right.

On issue after issue, this Omnibus spending bill proves Donald Trump's point - Washington is not working for the American people, especially conservatives in the heart of the Republican Party. This country needs a strong leader who is not afraid of fighting against the status quo, business-as-usual, America-be-damned attitude in the Capitol.

The Washington Establishment wishes you a Merry Christmas, Donald Trump. May you have a blessed, successful New Year.

Fred Thompson, RIP

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fred_thompson-rip.jpg

Tribute image posted on Facebook by National Review

I was sad to hear of the passing, on Sunday, of actor, lawyer, and former U. S. Senator Fred Thompson, who was felled by lymphoma at the age of 73. My condolences to his family and friends, with my thanks for supporting him in his service to our country.

Writing for Commentary, John Podhoretz tells Fred Thompson's story through the lens of his research into a 1993 profile of Thompson, who was then preparing to leave acting and run for Senate. It is worth reading in full. Many other blogs have quoted the passage about Thompson's regrets over his prosecution of moonshiners while serving as an assistant U. S. Attorney. I was impressed by his account of Thompson's self-education in political philosophy and how it served him well as he entered electoral politics many years later:

I asked him what it was that had made him a Republican. He said that when he was working at nights behind a motel desk, he needed to stay awake, and he began to read National Review. Eventually that led him to William F. Buckley Jr.'s oeuvre, and to Hayek, and to Whittaker Chambers's Witness, and to Richard Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences, and to other works that helped him develop a philosophy about the centrality of the individual and the dangers of an overreaching state -- the same overreaching state he would serve in prosecuting those moonshiners a few years later....

But it was philosophical conservatism that had captured his attention in his college and law-school years. His election in 1994 as part of the Gingrich Revolution was not only due to his attractiveness, his resume, and his literal star power, but because he was intellectually in tune with the changes being wrought to the GOP. The very qualities that made him a memorable performer and a good senator--that combination of amiability and steel--did not really include the consuming ambition to rise to the top.

I was impressed, too, at the easy way he wore stardom:

The thing about Thompson was, he continued to work as a lawyer throughout his career as an actor in The Hunt for Red October, No Way Out, Days of Thunder, Cape Fear, and other pictures. Among other things, he was one of the three trustees of the Teamsters pension fund, which had been seized by the government. So though he rose to the point where he was likely making close to half a million dollars per picture, he was not dependent on that work for his livelihood -- and there were things he did not wish to do.

That included cursing on the screen. He had a fight (I recall him saying it lasted several days) with the famously temperamental producer Joel Silver on the set of Die Hard 2 because the script called for him to use the F-word. His contract specifically said he would not use profanity. Silver didn't care and simply could not imagine Thompson would make trouble on this score. But unlike other Hollywood players, Thompson viewed acting as a lark, and was able to stand his ground.

Podhoretz noted the conflict between the demands of high-stakes politics and Thompson's temperament, a temperament better suited to observation than action:

Thompson was not suited to the task of running for the presidency, I think, because he had an essentially ironic view of the world and its workings. In the last years of his life became one of Twitter's best political tummlers, issuing forth perfectly crafted one-liners about the absurdities of the Age of Obama. On September 23, only five weeks before his untimely death yesterday at the age of 72, he offered this: "Obama at a school in Iowa: Students 'shouldn't silence' guest speakers who are 'too conservative.' Yes. That's what the IRS is for."

As longtime BatesLine readers will recall, I was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Thompson's 2008 run for president, as was much of the conservative blogosphere. Thompson was well-informed on the issues, well-grounded in principle, willing to speak politically-incorrect truths and not back down, but in a reassuring, avuncular manner and with a dry wit (which he continued to display after the campaign on his own radio show and his Twitter account).

Here he is from 2007, discussing amnesty and the border fence:

As blogger See-Dubya noted on the occasion of Paul Harvey's death:

One more thing: back when Fred Thompson was just flirting with running for President, one of the things that excited me the most about his candidacy was his ABC radio addresses he gave while sitting in for Paul Harvey. I thought that was a politically brilliant move that really showcased Fred's strengths-authentic, no-BS Heartland conservatism. I wasn't the only one-I kind of trace the groundswell of interest in Thompson back to his time broadcasting from Paul Harvey's chair, and likewise the deflation of the Thompson bubble to the time he left it.

Here in Oklahoma, Thompson managed to win the endorsement of Sen. Jim Inhofe, then-U. S. Rep. John Sullivan, local radio talk show hosts, and other prominent officials and activists.

Alas, Thompson's skills as a leader didn't match his skills as a communicator. Although he was accused of lacking "fire in the belly" (an accusation he ably rebutted), the real problem is that his campaign team was unable to organize and capitalize on the grassroots goodwill he enjoyed. His departure from the race brought forth numerous anecdotes about the disconnect between Fred 08 HQ and supporters. The Fred 08 letdown is why I feel compelled to look not only at policy positions but the fundraising skills and campaign logistics required to reach the finish line as I decide which of several good candidates will have my support for 2016. Perhaps a more ambitious, higher-strung Fred would have been better able to push and direct his campaign team, but would a more ambitious, higher-strung Fred still be Fred?

(No Fredhead was as enthusiastic as Jackie Broyles, fictional co-host of Red State Update. His response to Thompson's withdrawal involved gasoline and matches. The latest "Ole Timey Country Down Home Red State Update Podcast 'n' 'Em" remembers Fred Thompson by Dunlap reading some of his pithy recent tweets as Jackie laughs and sobs.)

After the campaign, Thompson began a syndicated radio talk show with his wife Jeri as his co-host. Many of his interviews with newsmakers are available on the Fred Thompson YouTube channel, which also has video from his 2008 campaign.

Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post reviews the career of "one of the most talented politicians of his generation":

Former senator Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.) died Sunday at 73. He will be remembered by most Americans as an actor who became a politician. But he also was one of the most gifted pols of his generation, possessing a natural ability that helped him win a Senate seat with ease but also led to his underwhelming 2008 bid for president....

The buzz around Thompson was considerable in those first few years in Washington, as many Republicans viewed him as the second coming of Ronald Reagan, another actor-turned-politician. Thompson was regularly picked by his party's leaders to deliver their message du jour and was seen as someone who was simply biding his time until he ran for president....

I've always thought of Fred Thompson in basketball terms -- and not just because he was 6-foot-6. He was like a tremendously gifted hoops player who played the game because he was good at it. But he never really LOVED the game. He could take it or leave it. Just like when a supremely talented basketball player either doesn't live up to his supposed potential or walks away from the game at a young age, Thompson's unwillingness to take full advantage of the tremendous natural political gifts he was given was met with exasperation by both less-talented politicians and the staffers who tried to get the best out of him.

But that was Thompson. He always had those abilities, so they didn't seem as amazing to him. And if he was "wasting" them, well it was his life. "I can live, I will be happy either way, you decide," he once said on the campaign trail in Iowa. "I'm not even trying to say that I'm better than everybody else. ... I am just saying that what you see is what you get. I'm doing it my way -- just like I have done everything else in my life."

While Thompson had every right to live life as he chose, and it's understandable that anyone would prioritize family (particularly young chlidren) over public life, what's missing from Thompson's quote here and Cilizza's analysis is a sense of stewardship of one's gifts and abilities. I can't help but think that, had Thompson put in the work to develop in his areas of weakness, his strengths would have made him the man of the hour in 2008. His grasp of conservative principle was both intuitive through his small-town Tennessee upbringing and grounded in his extracurricular law-school reading. His commanding and reassuring presence, familiar through his work in Hollywood, might have been able to sell conservative policies to low-information voters in a way that John McCain and Mitt Romney never could.

As we honor Thompson for his significant contributions to the public good as prosecutor, corruption-busting attorney, senator, presidential candidate, and commentator, the sense of unrealized potential should challenge us all to examine our own gifts and opportunities and ask what we should be doing to amplify our impact on a nation that desperately needs conservative influence and leadership (even if they don't know it yet).

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Cilizza links this ad from Thompson's 1994 campaign for Senate, which he says shows "Thompson at the height of his powers":

WSJ Editorial Board remembers Sen. Thompson's investigation of the Clinton campaign-finance scandals as "his finest role":

Younger readers who want to know what a second Clinton Presidency would be like could do worse than inspect the volumes of sleazy facts that Thompson and his investigators uncovered. There was Mr. Clinton's refusal to implement a Nafta trucking provision in return for Teamsters money; one-time Commerce official John Huang who midwifed illegal contributions from Lippo Group employees; fixer Harold Ickes's fantastic vanishing memory; the Lincoln Bedroom cash machine; Mr. Gore and the Buddhist Temple of money, and so much more.

Thompson's committee became the main source of public information about the scandal that played a crucial role in re-electing Bill Clinton because Mr. Clinton's Attorney General Janet Reno refused to appoint a special prosecutor and the Justice Department brought relatively few charges. Had the offenses been committed by Republicans, the press corps would have called for heads on pikes but the Clintons stonewalled their way to survival as usual.

Cilizza's colleague Justin William Moyer explains how a legal case Thompson took out of pity for a woman persecuted by the local political machine became his inadvertent ticket to Hollywood:

In 1976, Marie Ragghianti, a mother of three who put herself through Vanderbilt University, was appointed chairman of Tennessee's parole board by Gov. Ray Blanton (D). Yet she ran afoul of Blanton when, after learning the governor took cash in exchange for a convict's clemency, she started voting against his recommendations. In 1978, she was fired after what turned out to be a largely groundless investigation of her expense records. She was also put under state surveillance, set up for DUI charges and falsely alleged to have stolen credit cards.

So, Ragghianti went to see a Tennessee lawyer she had seen on TV during Watergate: Fred Thompson.

"I tried to talk her out of a lawsuit," Thompson wrote. "They could make her life miserable in ways that she could not understand." Another problem: "Marie had uttered the most terrifying words that a lawyer can ever hear: 'I am broke.'"

But Ragghianti's story tugged at his heartstrings.

"The more I thought about it, the more I knew she was right about one thing: What they had done to her was cruel and unfair," Thompson wrote. "... I never did like Blanton anyway. It would be fun to rattle his cage."

When Hollywood decided to make this David v. Goliath victory into a movie, and they couldn't find the right actor to play Fred, they asked Fred to play Fred, which turned into a career:

"When they needed some middle-aged guy who'd work cheap, they'd call me for a little part and I'd go out there two or three weeks and knock one out," he said in 1994.

Some said he was a natural -- or, at least, a natural for the parts he played.

"Literally, I don't think Fred ever acts," Tom Ingram, a longtime friend who worked on Thompson's Senate campaigns, said in 2007. "He played himself in 'Marie,' and he's been playing himself ever since."

WSJ quotes from Thompson's 2007 op-ed on the positive economic effect of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts:

In fact, Treasury statistics show that tax revenues have soared and the budget deficit has been shrinking faster than even the optimists projected. Since the first tax cuts were passed, when I was in the Senate, the budget deficit has been cut in half. . . .

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this success story is where the increased revenues are coming from. Critics claimed that across-the-board tax cuts were some sort of gift to the rich but, on the contrary, the wealthy are paying a greater percentage of the national bill than ever before.

The richest 1% of Americans now pays 35% of all income taxes. The top 10% pay more taxes than the bottom 60%. ...

To face these challenges, and any others that we might encounter in a hazardous world, we need to maintain economic growth and healthy tax revenues. That is why we need to reject taxes that punish rather than reward success. Those who say they want a "more progressive" tax system should be asked one question:

Are you really interested in tax rates that benefit the economy and raise revenue--or are you interested in redistributing income for political reasons?

The Daily Signal has collected 31 of Fred Thompson's best quotes, including several of his recent Twitter aphorismata:

5. "After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood," he said in a speech before the Commonwealth Club of California.

14. "Some of our folks went to Washington to drain the swamp and made partnership with the alligators instead."

23. "On ABC, Josh Earnest said that the economy is 'building momentum'. Well, Josh, things that are rapidly going downhill often do that."

29. "NYC reports it's struggling to keep booming population of stray cats under control. Tough one. Have they tried cat-free zone signs? "

Peter Suderman at Reason:

He went on to play numerous other roles in the following years, including a memorably grave Navy Admiral in The Hunt for Red October and a key supporting part as an air-traffic-control director forced to deal with a chaotic terrorist attack in 1990's Die Hard 2.

Neither of those roles were showy, and you can easily imagine lesser performers disappearing into the parts. But they played to Thompson's strengths; he projected authority, responsibility, and competency, even as everything went to hell around him. You could imagine Thompson--or at least the character he played--being in charge, and being good at it....

Thompson sought to capitalize on that same impression in his 2008 run for president, but he could never quite pull it off. In the debates, he never seemed quite well enough prepared, and the presidential persona he was obviously aiming for never quite stuck. At heart, Thompson was always a character actor, not a leading man.

At the same time, his unwillingness to dig too deep into the role was unexpectedly endearing. He wanted to be president, but he was not mad for the job or what it might bring. As George Mason Law Professor Ilya Somin said in a Facebook post last night, it may be that Thompson's "most admirable qualification for the presidency was that he clearly did not want the office nearly as much as most other candidates, and largely lacked their obvious lust for power."

Like all politicians, he was an actor playing a part. But unlike so many, he didn't let it consume him.

Andrew McCarthy, National Review:

He was one of the great gentlemen it has been my privilege to know. Fred would have been a great president because - and today's candidates could take a lesson from this - he cared more about America than about being president. He was not the best candidate, but he would have been the best incumbent.

John Fund, National Review:

In or out of office, Fred Thompson stayed true to the conservative principles he believed he had made America great. He always thought a major reason Republicans lost the presidency in 2008 was that they had aided and abetted runaway government spending. Republicans had to commit themselves to smaller government, he contended, because Democrats are incapable of following through on ever being fiscally prudent. "Their political coalition needs more revenue like a car requires gasoline," he told me as he ran for president. "Reagan showed what can be done if you have the will to push for tough choices and the ability to ask the people to accept them." Fred Thompson never made it to the White House, but he nonetheless showed a strength of character and a grounded belief in common sense that left his country a better place.

From the Left Coast:

Concerns raised over lack of diversity in SF school election results

There's a bit of controversy surrounding student elections at a San Francisco middle school after the results were immediately withheld by the principal because they weren't diverse enough.

The incident happened at Everett Middle School in San Francisco's Mission District. The voting was held Oct. 10, but the principal sent an email to parents on Oct. 14 saying the results would not be released because the candidates that were elected as a whole do not represents the diversity that exists at the school....

According to Principal Lena Van Haren, Everett Middle School has a diverse student body. She said 80 percent of students are students of color and 20 percent are white, but the election results did not represent the entire study body.

"That is concerning to me because as principal I want to make sure all voices are heard from all backgrounds," Van Haren said.

The story quotes the mother of a 7th grader who is unhappy about the principal's decision:

Parent Bianca Gutierrez said the experience has made her son, a 7th grader, rethink his run for class representative. She said he is discouraged and does not want to be a part of the process anymore.

"That should have been something [discussed] prior to elections and prior to the campaigning process," Gutierrez said.

I wonder what voting system they used. Were representatives elected by grade or by homeroom? Was it first-past-the-post or some form of runoff? When constituencies are geographic, a certain amount of diversity is built in, but grades or homerooms at a school are all likely to have about the same proportion of different groups as the overall population. With such a homogeneous population distribution, a voting system designed to produce a plurality or majority result will likely give the most popular faction in the school all the seats.

If geography isn't a factor, and you're trying to produce a result representative of the diversity of the electorate, the Single Transferable Vote method may be the best method. With STV, if the council has M members elected by V voters, a faction of V/(M+1) voters (a number known as the quota) is sufficient to elect a representative.

It sounds like Principal Van Haren would like to classify students by ethnicity and have each ethnicity elect a proportional number of representatives, an approach that brings the final years of apartheid South Africa to mind. What makes STV superior to other forms of proportional representation is that it allows each voter to decide what kind of diversity is most important to him or her, and it also allows the voter to decide which candidate will best represent his or her priorities. A voter could decide that she cares more about having a student council representative who shares her love of Tolkien than having a representative who shares her ethnic background or her year in school. Instead of being assigned a constituency by some bureaucrat, in STV each voter effectively selects his own constituency.

Like instant runoff, in the STV system each voter casts a preferential ballot, marking "1" next to his first choice, "2" next to his second and so on. In instant runoff voting, counting, elimination, and transferring continues until one candidate has a majority of the ballots cast, because the aim is to produce a single candidate acceptable to a majority of voters. In STV, candidates are elected as soon as they can reach the quota of ballots -- V/(M+1).

Ireland uses STV to elect members of parliament from multi-member districts (each with 3, 4, or 5 representatives), which provides a combination of local representation and proportionality. It's also used for European Parliament, Assembly, and local elections in Northern Ireland, where the system ensures that both Unionists and Nationalists are represented, along with a range of opinions within each broader group.

MORE:

CJP Grey has a "Politics in the Animal Kingdom" video which illustrates the process of STV in multi-member districts.

Politics is about change. If you don't believe change is possible, you're not an advocate for politics; you're simply a guy taking a check, discussing which other guys should get checks.

Ace posted this over a week ago, in reaction to John Boehner's resignation, but it's still worth your time and attention. He explains why Boehner's entire leadership team should be purged and urges Freedom Caucus members and other House Republican outsiders to block them from remaining in leadership.

...Under no circumstances should the Freedom Caucus permit McCarthy, Scalise, or Cathy McMorris Rogers -- all the Boehner Warriors who have brought GOP morale to all-time lows -- to serve in any leadership position. A purge is a purge. To permit any of this crew to profit from their disasters would show the GOP to be what many of us strongly suspect it is -- basically, the Teachers Union for RINOs, an organization devoted to protecting its members jobs and not to serving its alleged constituents.

4. And on that point, note that if McCarthy, Scalise, and McMorris Rogers merely advance one step each in the leadership, then the only person to have paid any price here is Boehner; the rest of them will actually benefit from the Freedom Caucus forcing them out.

They should not benefit. We keep saying, of Obama, that failure ought to have consequences; how can this team be characterized as anything other than complete failures?

Are we rewarding Republican failures while claiming Obama should be held accountable for his own?

At the heart of the GOP failure is the failure to offer Republican voters any hope that things can be better. Congressional Republican leaders offered a great deal of hope in 2014 that GOP majorities in both houses could block and reverse Obamacare and executive amnesty; voters responded enthusiastically, giving Congressional Republicans a clear mandate to block Obama's lawlessness, and the Congressional GOP leadership proceeded to let them down, offering one excuse after another and acting like we were fools to believe their promises of action and resistance.

The fecklessness, failures, and flat-out betrayals of the current GOP leadership has destroyed all hope in the GOP. And a political movement without hope is not a political movement at all; it is simply an advocacy organization for getting a very small number of people cush jobs in the federal government.

If there is to be any hope permitted to the rank and file of the Republican Party, then we need big changes that permit us the illusion and fantasy of hope, without which we are nothing at all, just dejected former Republican voters.

Hope requires a change -- Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Cathy McMorris-Rogers are no change at all; they are simply John Boehner's less accomplished inferior employees.

Ace concludes:

I find it increasingly difficult to write about politics now, you may have noticed; it's because I can no longer even pretend to care which a[-----]e is in which federal sinecure.

I think many people feel the way I do.

And if you want to entice the alienated back into the fold, you have to at least let us dream of the possibility of actual change.

That requires allowing us hope -- and not simply doubling-down on the current crop of failures and fainthearts we are obligated, sourly, to call our "leadership."

Hope is a silly illusion, but it is a necessary, sustaining silly illusion.

Faint heart never won fair lady, fellas. Nor have fainthearts ever contributed anything to society, except cowardice and inertia.

Read the whole thing, which includes an analogy involving the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror."

In recent years, social media has facilitated the rapid spread of outrage. A few representative cases:

In nearly every instance, a difference of opinion within a community becomes a topic of conversation for outsiders, who amplify the issue, creating a "shame storm" that pressures the community's leaders, unaccustomed to worldwide scrutiny, into acting precipitously. In some cases, the outrage has its origins entirely outside the community.

For example, the Deborah Brown School hair code case: The affected student was upset, because the code forbade wearing dreads. The parents backed the student rather than the school and called a local TV news, which was happy to have a juicy controversy to broadcast. The local news story was shared through social media, where posters vented, characterizing the African-American leadership of the school as a bunch of self-hating racists, insisting that the school's rules were unreasonable, and demanding that they be changed at once. Perhaps under pressure from donors or from the sponsoring university, the charter school caved and changed its rules.

Bloomberg columnist Megan McArdle wrote recently about the "shame storm" phenomenon:

Twitter makes it absurdly easy to shame someone. You barely have to take 30 seconds out of your day to make an outraged comment that will please your friends and hurt the person you've targeted. This means it is also absurdly easy to attack someone unfairly, without pausing to think about context -- or the effect you are having on another human being much like yourself. No matter what that person did, short of war crimes, you probably would not join a circle of thousands of people heaping abuse upon a lone target cowering in the center. But that is the real-world equivalent of what online shame-stormers do.

This sort of tactic may buy silence, though it is likely to be the most effective on people who already agree with you and simply said something infelicitous. What it cannot buy is community, beyond the bonds that build between people who are joined in collective hate. With the exception of Lehrer -- who clearly realized he'd done something wrong without needing to be told -- the people whom Ronson interviews do not think that they were the victims of perhaps excessively harsh justice; they think they were victims of abuse. They often recognize that they did something stupid, but they don't think they deserved to be fired after having their lives dissected and their character impugned by thousands of people who had never even met them.

Writing at The Federalist, Mark Fitch advises that the Internet amplifies the apparent size of the community of the outraged and that those claiming to be offended often are pretending -- what they really feel is a lust for power:

It is often quite easy to feel that you are greatly outnumbered and that the entire world is against you, particularly if you have the gall to air your beliefs in the public realm (or be caught in it, in this situation). Social media can seemingly explode with anger at your mention of a political or cultural position that goes against whatever the Video Music Awards are advocating this year. You are beset by Legion.

But are you, really? Two thousand people is a drop in the bucket of the overall population, but when they all turn and look at you it can feel overwhelming. While outrage is nothing new in cultural or political fights, the Internet's ability to allow individuals to reach people they have never met or places they have never been perpetrates an illusion. Memories Pizza was deluged with one-star ratings by people who had never been to the establishment or sampled its pizza.

It was recently revealed that nearly 70 percent of the criticism lobbed at Rush Limbaugh (which is ample) comes from a small group of activists that have devoted their lives to attempting to make his miserable. However, to view coverage of Limbaugh in television and Internet media, you would think that the entire country is listening and vastly offended at everything he says. You would see and hear what appear to be great swaths of civilization amassing against this radio host. But this is an illusion born of spirit, not of substance, and it is meant to influence the spirit of others. It is necessary to separate the corporeal reality from the illusory zeitgeist.

Few people have time to be so incensed, and those that do should not drive culture. Their offense is an illusion. Their feelings may matter to them, but need not drive discussions and certainly shouldn't attain such grandiose proportions. Ideas can be debated and talked through, and individuals who maintain a decorum of objective detachment can often find common ground. But fight with a spirit, with irrational rage, and there is no way to find commonality.

The anonymity of the Internet allows this illusion to truly reach its greatest power as a single individual can assume any number of Internet personas that can spew any amount of nonsense and vitriol with no accountability or personal reflection whatsoever. The pseudo-anger and the Internet's ability to instantaneously connect users can often give the impression of widespread outrage, when really hardly anyone has noticed.

We should treat the purveyors of social media outrage as the tantrum-throwing toddlers whose tactics they have adopted. The more they fuss, the longer it will be before their demands are considered (if ever).

Businesses and other organizations should proactively put in place policies that require an inviolable cooling-off period prior to action taken in response to public outcry. Leaders of organizations caught in the crosshairs of a social media frenzy need to insist calmly that any changes will be handled through the organization's normal processes, after the mandatory cooling-off period -- no sooner than 30 days after the frenzy has died down, which should be long enough that the mob gets distracted by the next outrage du jour and the organization can consider the matter carefully.

The organization should then calmly examine the consider the issue in terms of general principle. Is there a consistent principle or rule behind the demanded action? If we apply that rule consistently, what other actions would be required and what precedents would be set? If we take all those consistent actions, is the result really desirable, or should the rule be modified?

During the Brady Street / Brady District controversy, I suggested that the city appoint a commission to look at the history behind all of Tulsa's names, decide on criteria that make a name unacceptable, propose substitutes for unacceptable names (preserving, I hope, Tulsa's orderly street-naming and numbering system), and propose a means for covering the cost of renaming. The public would adopt or reject the renaming and its attendant costs by an up-or-down vote. I went through a catalog of names that, by the standards applied to Brady Street, would have to be changed.

Of course, the mob will resist any effort to generalize or take a deliberative approach to the outrage du jour. They are practicing Rule 13 of Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals:

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and 'frozen.'...any target can always say, 'Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?' When your 'freeze the target,' you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments....

Local news editors can help dampen the effect of the mob by declining to "doorstep" the targets of these frenzies, pressuring them for a response. They should put themselves in the shoes of the business and organization leaders that have been targeted by the mob. Someday they may be targeted; wouldn't they want to be given space to respond after due deliberation?

One more thing: Most people who fly the Confederate flag nowadays do not do so to express hate. When the Confederate flag was painted on a car named "the General Lee" for a TV series it was not intended to express hatred toward anyone, but pride in Southern accents, Southern cooking, Southern folkways, and Southern hospitality. That an online mob can so quickly cow politicians and corporations into bowing to their will, based on the meaning they impose on this symbol, is a frightening thing, not a great day for America.

Who gets to decide what a symbol should mean? The Nazis used the Star of David as a symbol of shame and persecution. The Israelis took that star and fly it proudly on their national flag. The enemies of Israel consider that flag and that star to be symbols of racism and oppression. If the enemies of Israel demand the suppression of the Israeli flag and star, should retailers cooperate?

Happy Independence Day!

Take 10 minutes to listen to a reading of the Declaration of Independence, from the Monticello website, read by Thomas Jefferson Williamsburg re-enactor Bill Barker.

founding.com has an annotated version of the Declaration of Independence, with links to explanations of the the specific historical context behind the text.

As today's 239th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence approached, I observed some ambivalence about the usual celebrations among conservative writers. In the last month, we have seen the rule of law turned on its head, with the judicial branch rewriting Obamacare to save it and inventing a new right while discarding precedent after precedent the legal basis upon which substantive due process claims were considered in the past. Like the Red Queen of Wonderland, the Court majority screamed "Sentence first, verdict after!" Having determined the desired outcome, they invented a tortured legal path to their destination. The ability of the people to decide their own laws was swept away. The people seem to have no recourse, no defense against this supra-legislature, this Washington oligarchy which not only fails to defend their rights but attacks them.

We may take a bit of comfort in the fact that this victory was achieved by deceiving the American people: Had the President been honest about his desire to redefine marriage, he would not have been nominated in 2008, much less elected, and would not have been in a position to advance to the Supreme Court lawyers who lied, under oath, about their opinions on the topic.

But there was deception on the other side, too. Americans kept electing Republicans who talked big about defending our liberties and reforming our runaway Federal government, but time and again they have demonstrated what might be generously called a lack of courage but what we fear is really intentional betrayal.

From Thomas Sowell:

When any branch of government can exercise powers not authorized by either statutes or the Constitution, "we the people" are no longer free citizens but subjects, and our "public servants" are really our public masters. And America is no longer America. The freedom for which whole generations of Americans have fought and died is gradually but increasingly being taken away from us with smooth and slippery words.

From law professor John Yoo:

Obergefell short-circuits the political process. Instead of campaigning to persuade majorities in each of the 50 states, as it had done in some states, gay-marriage advocates only had to convince five justices to impose a single rule on the nation. While many may welcome Obergefell's result, its method takes a fundamental question away from the realm of democratic self-government and transfers it into the hands of five men and women who never stand for election and hold their jobs for life....

But instead of allowing the political process to run its normal course, the Supreme Court decided to rewrite Obamacare. On behalf of a six-justice majority, Roberts concluded that Congress could not possibly have intended such a draconian limit on tax credits. It must have meant to give the subsidy to everyone, because that would have made for a more effective overhaul of the health-care system. In other words, the court ignored the plain text of the law passed by Congress to write a better one. The justices may have better legal talents than the average legislator, but our Constitution does not give them the responsibility to make the compromises and judgments reserved to the legislative process.

Sadly, Roberts penned the central dissent in Obergefell on the ground that the majority was rewriting the Constitution. "Under the Constitution," he wrote, "judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be." But if he wonders where his colleagues got the idea to assume the power of a supra-legislature, he need only look at his own opinion in King v. Burwell. This fault, however, is not his own, or in our stars, but is common to a court that is slowly, but surely, taking away the right of our democracy to govern itself.

Even at the local level we see elected officials, the Fairfax County, Va., school board, in this case, acting like an oligarchy, insisting upon using the public schools to indoctrinate children in the mores of the Sexual Revolution, over the protests of the public that put them into office.

SX018063-Fireworks-RazorWire.jpg

Should we celebrate this 4th of July?

Luma Simms, who immigrated from Iraq as a child, says she's celebrating the 4th differently this year:

After the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision, I've been ruminating over my naturalized home and wondering if there's a way to give my children a better life, the way my parents assumed that coming to America would give me a better life. The morality of Obergefell is one issue. But beneath all that, what has deeply concerned me is the stark lawlessness of it all....

The fourth of July celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was never just an excuse for a backyard barbecue for me. It was a day I observed with deep gratitude and a certain amount of solemnity. It was a celebration of what our predecessors in this land had done, the course they had set us on and the paths they had opened for us.

The Declaration of Independence says some truths are self-evident. Five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court say that we make up our own truths....

The Declaration of Independence says we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court overlook the real and true rights human beings possess and say that man gives man rights--worse, that they as the high court of this country are the ones which posit what is a right and what is not, as their reality changes faster than any written law they might be called upon to interpret....

The Declaration of Independence says that among the rights our Creator God gives us are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Five justices of the Supreme Court of these United States have said and continue to say that life is not a universal right. That women can end the life of a child in their wombs. They have upheld and continue to hold to decisions that undermine the life of the weak, the poor, and the outcast. They say: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life," yet they deny those being killed the right to even suggest they might have a concept of existence that includes themselves. In short, these five reduce the "pursuit of Happiness" to access to sex without boundaries.

The Declaration of Independence says government derives just power from the consent of the governed. Five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have trod upon the people's voice and have usurped power for themselves.

So, as I read the Declaration this year, I boldly affirm its words. There has indeed been "a long train of abuses and usurpations" by this court. They have undermined and invalidated the legal and ethical foundations our Founders went to war to win for us, their posterity. And this makes my celebration this year more a focus on the inspired spirit of man that would stand and recite to the world not only the litany of injustices that its "leaders" exercise upon the people daily, but the logical conclusion of these injustices: that the people could suffer them no longer.

The blogger called "Weirddave," who has been writing a series on fundamental concepts at Ace of Spades HQ, acknowledges the problem:

There is really no argument about it, the fundamental principles upon which this nation was formed have been eroded or eclipsed to the point where the greatest Democratic Republic in history, a model for the world and a beacon for freedom, is now nothing more than another damned dirty Oligarchy, impoverished peons subservient to a greedy ruling class. In short, we've reverted to the norm. American exceptionalism is dead because America isn't exceptional anymore, we're just like all the rest of the countries in the world, just like all the rest of the countries throughout history. We are no longer sovereign citizens, we're are subjects of a ruling elite.

...The Fourth of July holiday celebrates the Declaration of Independence, the document where America declared it's freedom and boldly stated it's grievances against an out of touch ruling elite. We'll have fireworks, fellowship, celebration, and community. Flags will be raised, rockets shot, anthems sung and BBQ eaten. It's all one great big orgy of Americana, and although most people aren't even aware of it, they are celebrating a dead letter, an antiquated concept, an ideal that has been killed by an unelected cadre of black robed tyrants, cowardly legislators more interested in power than oaths and an executive drunk on the power to destroy everything that he is honor bound to safeguard. It's Independence Day! Time to celebrate our independence from the values that made us great! Who cares? It sure feels good, don't it?

You don't buy the idea that America is ruled by an oligarchy alienated from its people? How else would you describe a situation where five robed judges dismiss the opinion of the majority of the public, an opinion shared by nearly every age and society, as grounded in irrational animus, and use that contempt as a basis for invalidating laws passed by Congress and a majority of the states.

The writer calls on Americans to remember their birthright, as set out in the Declaration of Independence, and he urges his readers to Read the Whole Thing. After reprinting the text of the Declaration, he continues:

That document was written 239 years ago by an assembly of the brightest human minds ever joined for one purpose in the history of mankind. Those men accepted the challenge presented by an uncontrolled aristocracy seeking to rule over all people, as had been the case throughout history, and calmly and clearly destroyed the idea of an oligarchy. What a brilliant victory for mankind, for liberty, for freedom for self expression.

Unfortunately you and I are living in the era of Revolution 2: The Oligarchy Strikes Back. Make no mistake, the oligarchy has struck back, hard. Most of the freedoms guaranteed to We The People by the follow up document to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, have been abandoned or overturned.... A small cadre of elites, both elected and unelected, has managed to almost completely gut the rights that we are born with. They have succeeded because we have been too busy to notice, or too lazy, or too afraid. The majority of us, Nock's "Mass Man" (what we call LIVs today), have been complicit in their own enslavement. All of this has already come to pass. It is done. Over. Finished.

He urges us to reread the catalog of tyrannies, the facts the Founders "submitted to a candid world" and to note how many apply to us today.Then he challenges us with the memory of the Founders and those who followed in the defense of liberty:

We stand metaphorically on a dusty battlefield of American history. Around us lie the tattered remains of various flags that other Americans have held high as they did their bit to establish or preserve the birthright; Gadsden. Goliad. Gonzalez. Culpeper. 1st Naval Jack. Appeal to Heaven. Behind us the dark eyes of those who came before us watch, in each eye a silent question burns: "What are you made of?". The time has come. We must answer that question with our Lives, our Fortune and our sacred Honor.

A reader asked columnist Matt Walsh to write something upbeat for Independence Day, something to remind everyone that America is still great. Walsh demurred:

I could write patronizing, pandering nonsense telling you everything is fine, this country is awesome, and the future will be bright and filled with lollipops and puppy dog farts. But what good would it do, besides win me some PR points? If you want hope, it needs to be planted firmly in truth, or else it's like administering morphine while you die of kidney failure. It'll make you feel better for a time, but it won't save you....

Walsh cites a long list of indicators of cultural decline and argues against any claim to national greatness based on the past or any hope for future greatness based on a vain belief in national destiny:

But it's a matter of historical record that America was a great country, and an exceptional one. And it's also a fact that the historical record is just that -- history. We have to stop resting on the laurels of our great-grandparents and pretending that somehow, because they came off the boat from wherever and persevered through the Depression, we get to mooch off their greatness for eternity. Frankly, our great-grandparents would be disgusted at our country now, and ashamed of it, and of us. Their greatness was their own. We don't deserve it and have not earned it....

Yesterday someone on Twitter told me that America will "always" be great, no matter what happens or what we do. Others have insisted it's divine destiny that America reclaim its greatness. But this kind of talk isn't patriotic; it's paganism. It paints this country like it's literally the Kingdom of God. As if, out of all the thousands of countries that have existed since the dawn of time, ours is the first that really will last forever. This is to make Americanism into a religion. It's idolatry. It's foolishness, especially considering the Romans and the Greeks felt exactly the same way yet even they were evidently wrong.

We have no guarantees, nor should we seek them. The Lord, in His wisdom, might see fit to smite America from the Earth, like Sodom and Gomorrah. Can't say I'd blame Him. Or maybe He will lead us through this dark age to true greatness. I don't know.

(Looking at the history of the 20th century, it's as if we suddenly decided, sometime after World War II, that civilization was nice and all, but it's hard work, so let's chuck it.)

We ought to celebrate Independence Day for the sake of honoring and being stirred to action by the memory of those who put everything at risk for the sake of liberty, while humbly and soberly acknowledging that we have fallen far short of preserving their legacy.

We ought to celebrate Independence Day, because the Declaration of Independence represents ideals worth celebrating, ideals that are opposed by the architects of our national decline.

A writer at Vox posted yesterday that we should regard American independence as a tragic mistake. The post was riddled with historical inaccuracies, but the gist of it was that this whole checks-and-balances thing gets in the way of Progress like restrictions on fossil fuels.

Yesterday, a friend who works in Christian campus ministry posted an approving link to a Native American activist who blogged about how he made a stink about a chain restaurant's display of the Declaration of Independence. He made a stink because the Declaration includes the words "Merciless Indian Savages," which he claims means that the "foundations of the United States of America are blatantly unjust."

When our server, who was also Native, came to the table, I asked if I could show him something. I stood up and pointed out that 30 lines below the famous quote "All men are created equal," the Declaration of Independence refers to Natives as "merciless Indian savages."

The irony was that the restaurant was filled with Native American customers and employees. And there in plain sight, a poster hanging on the wall was literally calling all of us "savages."

That's literally untrue, and it's telling that he chooses not to quote the entire sentence containing that phrase:

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

It is the last item in the Declaration's list of grievances against King George III, and from "has endeavoured" to the end of the sentence, the words are straight out of Thomas Jefferson's "rough draught."

George III had, through his agents in America, stirred up rebellions among slaves and attacks against the colonists by certain Indian tribes. This was not out of any British love for slaves or Indians; these groups were convenient proxies to harass the colonists. This statement is an indictment aimed at George III, not Indians. (Ignore the commas, which were not applied in 1776 with the same rules used today.) The phrase "merciless Indian savages" is qualified by the restrictive clause "whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

This sentence tells us what the Continental Congress thought of the particular Indian nations who were incited by the British against the settlers; it says nothing about what the Congress thought of other Indian groups or about Indians generally. The same American founder who wrote the phrase in question wrote the following in his first State of the Union:

Among our Indian neighbors also a spirit of peace and friendship generally prevails, and I am happy to inform you that the continued efforts to introduce among them the implements and the practice of husbandry and of the household arts have not been without success; that they are becoming more and more sensible of the superiority of this dependence for clothing and subsistence over the precarious resources of hunting and fishing, and already we are able to announce that instead of that constant diminution of their numbers produced by their wars and their wants, some of them begin to experience an increase of population.

Those are not the words of a bigot or a racist.

And yet the activist in question stretches a specific phrase referring to specific people who had attacked innocent settlers so that he can conclude that the "Declaration of Independence is a systemically racist document" along with the rest of our founding documents, and therefore of course the whole system must be overthrown.

The institutions of this nation may be systemically racist, but I do not believe a majority of the citizens are. However, in a nation that is systemically racist, anti-racism is less about personal racist attitudes and more about a willingness to change the system.

(He also misreads the apportionment clause of the Constitution to bolster his case. But Indians weren't counted toward apportionment not because they weren't seen as human, as he claims, but because they were citizens of other sovereign nations and therefore not taxed. And he claims that American settlers, including the Protestant dissenters who settled Plymouth Colony, were really carrying out a 15th century papal bull to subjugate the pagans.)

It is sad that a manipulative misreader of American history with a radical political agenda can gain a hearing among goodhearted people like my friend. Does this also indicate a problem with modern American evangelicalism -- having internalized the Leftist guilt trip and anxious not to seem wedded to political conservativism for the sake of reaching Millenials, must they credulously accept whatever Leftist grievance-mongers claim?

The only antidote is for Americans to understand our history -- not the malevolent caricature concocted by the Left, but the original documents and context -- and to be unafraid to correct the misconceptions being promoted by professional ax-grinders.

In a similar context in 2007, Michael Medved wrote:

The notion that unique viciousness to Native Americans represents our "original sin" fails to put European contact with these struggling Stone Age societies in any context whatever, and only serves the purposes of those who want to foster inappropriate guilt, uncertainty and shame in young Americans.

One of the most urgent needs in culture and education for the United States of America is discarding the stupid, groundless and anti-American lies that characterize contemporary political correctness.

Rush Limbaugh, Jr., father of the radio talk show host, wrote an essay on the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, "The Americans Who Risked Everything":

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

It is reasonable to be disappointed in the direction of our national culture, but we should rekindle the Spirit of '76 in our own hearts. We should reacquaint ourselves with the words of the Declaration of Independence and the brave men who signed their names to it, pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, and we should resolve to be as bold in the defense of our liberties as they were.

James Madison, writing to George Turberville, 2 November 1788, about the prospect of another Constitutional Convention before the ink was dry on the 1787 Constitution:

"You wish to know my sentiments on the project of another general Convention as suggested by New York. I shall give them to you with great frankness . . .

3. If a General Convention were to take place for the avowed and sole purpose of revising the Constitution, it would naturally consider itself as having a greater latitude than the Congress appointed to administer and support as well as to amend the system; it would consequently give greater agitation to the public mind; an election into it would be courted by the most violent partizans on both sides; it wd. probably consist of the most heterogeneous characters; would be the very focus of that flame which has already too much heated men of all parties; would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who under the mask of seeking alterations popular in some parts but inadmissible in other parts of the Union might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundations of the fabric. Under all these circumstances it seems scarcely to be presumeable that the deliberations of the body could be conducted in harmony, or terminate in the general good. Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of America, and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned. . . .

Retired Chief Justice Warren Burger, writing in 1988, during his service as chairman of the Commission of the Bicentennial of the U. S. Constitution:

I have repeatedly given my opinion that there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey. After a Convention is convened, it would be too late to stop the Convention if we don't like its agenda...Our 1787 Constitution was referred by several of its authors as a 'miracle.' Whatever gain might be hoped for from a new Constitutional Convention could not be worth the risks involved....

Eagle Forum has a section of its website devoted to the problems with a proposed Article V Convention (sometimes called a "Convention of the States").

Our 1787 Convention was developed by men who were classically educated and immersed in a culture suffused with the teaching of Scripture. The Great Awakening had produced a revival of religion and a reformation of manners throughout the American States. The Framers of the Constitution understood the innate dignity of man and his innate depravity. They read the ancient historians on the strengths and weaknesses of Athenian democracy. They read histories and contemporaneous accounts of the rise of the Roman Republic and its decline into dictatorship and empire. The evolution of Britain's constitutional monarchy and her brief experiment with republicanism was in the not-too-distant past.

Anyone seriously believe that a new Constitutional convention would be populated by delegates with the same depth of education and capacity for complex thought?

We have judges who are quite happy to twist constitutional language to suit the social and political aims of the Cultural Revolution. How will more words stop them? We have senators who won't block judges of the aforementioned type, out of fear of being thought judgmental and obstructionist. We have citizens who twice elected a President who had described his purpose as "fundamentally transforming the United States of America." What kind of men and women will they elect to a Constitutional Convention?

Tulsa Community College has for several years offered a program to Tulsa County high school graduates called Tulsa Achieves: Free tuition and fees for up to 63 credit hours or three years, which ever comes first. To qualify, you have to have a C average or better in high school and enroll in TCC for the fall after you graduate.

These scholarships are primarily funded by the property taxpayers of Tulsa County and the sales and income taxpayers of Oklahoma out of the TCC budget:

The FY 14 budget includes the following components: approximately 34.4 percent from local appropriations; 32 percent from state appropriations; 31.6 percent from tuition and fees; and 2 percent from grants and other sources.

So the same families that send their young adults to TCC on a Tulsa Achieves scholarship are paying the property taxes (either directly as owners or indirectly as renters) and sales taxes to fund the scholarship. The same board of directors that pays for the scholarships are also in control of institutional costs. If the board were to allow spending to spiral out of control, the same people would have to decide whether to make up the difference by cutting the number or scope of Tulsa Achieves scholarships, raising tuition, or seeking outside funding. Raise tuition or cut scholarships too much, and students drop out. There's no disconnect between funding and spending, and that creates an incentive to keep costs under control.

President Obama has proposed federal funding to cover all community college tuition. I haven't seen a description of the funding formula, but the effect is almost certain to be the same as any situation in which a third party is paying the bill.

Right now TCC tuition plus fees is about $130 per credit hour, not counting flat fees on top of that. 30 credit hours per year is roughly what you'd need to take in order to graduate in two years with an associate's degree. So for the sake of example let's round it off to an even $4000 per academic year in tuition and fees.

So the federal government comes along and says we'll cover community college tuition and fees for qualified high school graduates. TCC would realize that they could phase out the Tulsa Achieves program or end it altogether. They wouldn't lose any students because the net cost to the student will remain the same, but now TCC would have an extra $4000 a year per student to play with. They could raise salaries, increase administrative perks, pay for more conference travel, build fancier facilities.

Then, suppose TCC should raise tuition and fees from $4000 to $5000 -- a 20% jump and far faster than the rate of inflation. A few adult learners may yelp, but not much, since they're only taking a course or two, not a full load. The students who qualify for free tuition from the federal government won't feel it at all. And now TCC would have even more money to spend on salaries, perks, travel, and facilities. They would regard it as "other people's money," even though it's really money ultimately but indirectly coming from Tulsa taxpayers and from the grandchildren who will have to repay the money the feds borrowed to fund "free" community college.

With a federal guarantee of free community college, would there be any pressure on TCC to control costs? No. If the federal government tried to limit reimbursement under the program to the original tuition baseline, there would be protests that the government is going back on its promise of free tuition.

I don't know how many Tulsa Achieves students have attained two-year degrees or gone on to four-year degrees. I don't know how many of those students would not have received a degree without the help of Tulsa Achieves. But I do know that Tulsa County residents are getting more educational opportunity for their tax dollars because the same board that determines the scope and size of the grants also has to account for the cost that those grants have to cover.

MORE: The New York Times' David Brooks points out that retention is a much bigger problem than tuition cost for underprivileged students trying to get an education:

The problem is that getting students to enroll is neither hard nor important. The important task is to help students graduate. Community college drop out rates now hover somewhere between 66 percent and 80 percent.

Spending $60 billion over 10 years to make community college free will do little to reduce that. In the first place, community college is already free for most poor and working-class students who qualify for Pell grants and other aid. In 2012, 38 percent of community-college students had their tuition covered entirely by grant aid and an additional 33 percent had fees of less than $1,000.

The Obama plan would largely be a subsidy for the middle- and upper-middle-class students who are now paying tuition and who could afford to pay it in the years ahead....

In short, you wouldn't write government checks for tuition. You'd strengthen structures around the schools. You'd focus on the lived environment of actual students and create relationships and cushions to help them thrive.

We've had two generations of human capital policies. Human Capital 1.0 was designed to give people access to schools and other facilities. It was based on the 1970s liberal orthodoxy that poor people just need more money, that the government could write checks and mobility will improve.

Human Capital 2.0 is designed to help people not just enroll but to complete school and thrive. Its based on a much more sophisticated understanding of how people actually live, on the importance of social capital, on the difficulty of living in disorganized circumstances. The new research emphasizes noncognitive skills -- motivation, grit and attachment -- and how to use policy levers to boost these things.

The tuition piece of the Obama proposal is Human Capital 1.0. It is locked in 1970s liberal orthodoxy. Congress should take the proposal, scrap it and rededicate the money toward programs that will actually boost completion, that will surround colleges, students and their families with supporting structures. We don't need another program that will lure students into colleges only to have them struggle and drop out.

Brooks mentions several specific challenges:

Community colleges are not sticky places. Many students don't have intimate relationships with anyone who can guide them through the maze of registration, who might help bond them to campus....

A quarter of college students nationwide have dependent children. Even more students at community colleges do. Less than half of community colleges now have any day-care facilities. Many students drop out because something happens at home and there's no one to take care of the kids.

My late mother-in-law, Marjorie Marugg-Wolfe, saw this need many years ago when she began working with "displaced homemakers" -- women who found themselves suddenly widowed or divorced and in need of a job. She founded the Benton County, Arkansas, Single Parent Scholarship Fund and helped begin similar funds statewide and nationwide. The fund helps with costs beyond tuition -- it may be books, childcare, or car repairs -- anything that might otherwise force a student to drop out. The aid is provided in the context of relationships with mentors and peers. Because the funds are raised and distributed by a private organization, funds are distributed according to compassionate judgment rather than rigid rules. Thousands of students in Benton County have been helped since the program's inception.

Rather than spend money our federal government would have to borrow and establish another federal bureaucracy, it would be better for state and local higher education officials to encourage more of these private scholarship funds to be established.

From the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog:

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R., Okla.), who just took the reins of the panel, said he is open to considering raising the gas tax as a way to help pay for the dwindling Highway Trust Fund that keeps up the nation's roads and other transportation infrastructure.

"Everything is on the table," Mr. Inhofe said in a Wednesday briefing with reporters to preview his committee agenda. He said his top priority is passing a long-term transportation bill, whose spending runs out at the end of May.

With gasoline prices at lows not seen since 2009, some political observers and business executives say now is the ideal time to raise the 18.4 cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline and the 24.4 cent-a-gallon tax on diesel fuel, which haven't increased since 1993. The taxes are the main source of revenue for the highway trust fund.

Mr. Inhofe didn't say he supports raising the gas tax, and he refutes referring to it as such. "It's not a tax," Mr. Inhofe said. "It's a user fee."

He also said this period of cheap gas isn't really a window of opportunity given it could close sooner than Congress is going to act. "You don't know what's going to happen to the price of gas," Mr. Inhofe said.

It doesn't sound like Sen. Inhofe is gung-ho for boosting the Federal gas tax, but he's more open to the idea than he should be. If the gas tax is collected as a "user fee" for those who travel our interstate highway system, then the money collected should be spent only on the interstate highway system. If lower gas prices create an opportunity to raise gas taxes, leave that to state and local governments, who can then prioritize spending among local needs -- widening local highways, rebuilding bridges, installing sidewalks, building bike lanes, funding mass transit.

Sending locally-collected money to Washington just so congressmen and senators can send it back home is a ridiculous game. The money comes back with strings attached, is often politically directed, and often gets spent on wasteful projects that are only pursued because the money is "federal" and treated like a windfall. (I-40 relocation in Oklahoma City is a prime example.)

I'd love to see our new Republican majorities reduce the federal gas tax and federal diesel tax to what is required to fund upkeep on the two-digit interstates -- the trunk roads that are the backbone for shipment of goods around the US. Then states can choose -- or not -- to raise local fuel taxes to match the cut in federal taxes.

Oklahoma 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine has reversed himself and announced his opposition to John Boehner's re-election as Speaker. But other Republicans are sticking with Bridenstine's earlier analysis that Boehner cannot be beat.

But critics of the anti-Boehner rebellion who say the announced challengers -- Louis Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho of Florida -- cannot win the speakership themselves are missing some historical perspective. Gohmert, Yoho and company can get what they seek -- someone besides Boehner as speaker -- without becoming speaker themselves. They don't have to be viable alternatives. They are stalking horses.

The most famous example in recent history of this scenario was in the 1990 ouster of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Despite leading the Conservatives to a landslide third general election victory in 1987, she was losing popularity over the "community charge" (the so-called "poll tax"), and pro-European-integration Tories saw an opportunity to take her down. Thatcher had handily defeated a challenge the previous year by a back-bench MP, but enough votes were cast against her to reveal some weakness.

In 1990, former cabinet member and rabid Europhile Michael Heseltine had no chance of being elected party leader, but he challenged Thatcher for the leadership as a stalking horse. Thatcher won a majority on the first round of balloting, but missed outright election under the rules by four votes, forcing a second round. Wounded by the sizeable minority opposed to her continuing as leader, Thatcher was persuaded by allies to withdraw, which opened the door for John Major to enter the race and win. Heseltine finished a distant second behind Major. Although Major was an ally of Thatcher, he was considered more conciliatory and more open to bringing Britain (disastrously) into the European exchange-rate mechanism. Thatcher's enemies got their way, even though their initial challenger did not become prime minister.

The same scenario would likely play out if Boehner failed to get the majority on the first ballot. Unable to win a majority of the vote, he would have to withdraw, and the Republican caucus would have to find a candidate that everyone, especially the anti-Boehner rebels, would be willing to support. The resulting compromise candidate would likely be someone who supported Boehner in the first round but is seen by his colleagues as a stronger leader and negotiator.

BACKGROUND:

The Washington Post is keeping a whip count.

The Daily Signal reports on the last time a Speaker election went beyond the first round and lists other notable challenges to official party nominees for Speaker:

The last time Congress failed to immediately elect a speaker of the House was 1923. Still chafing from the heavy-handed speakership of Joe Cannon, the progressive wing of the Republican Party forced nine ballots before allowing Frederick Gillet to become speaker in exchange for policy compromises.

Freedom Works explains why House Republicans should replace Boehner and lists Boehner's 10 worst votes as speaker.

Challenger Louis Gohmert gives Breitbart Texas a list of John Boehner's broken promises to conservative congressmen.

Erick Erickson says Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan is the man who could rally opposition and block Boehner. Will he be Horatius at the bridge? And Erickson calls out Republican freshmen who are backing away from their campaign pledges to oppose Boehner:

First, in the whirlwind of Washington you will often be pressured to just do something. That something is always constructed in a way to act as opposed to refrain from acting. Sometimes, however, not acting is a more powerful thing to do.

Second, remember that you are accountable to your constituents. You work for them, not the other way around. You are their employee and your job review comes up on a two year schedule in the House and a six year schedule in the Senate.

Third, and above all else, remember that there is a God and one day you will stand before Him. Long after the voters ceased assesses you, you will stand in judgment. This world will pass away, but what you do here will be measured on that last day. Eternal things matter most and selling your soul to Washington at the expense of God or your family will eventually catch up to you.

Pollster Pat Caddell says that his polling shows 60% of Republicans want a new Speaker and a third of Republicans are ready to bolt from the party, believing that the party leadership does not share their views and values.

Matt K. Lewis says you have to trade favors and build loyalty over a long period of time to be successful as an "insurgent." He points to the groundwork that Newt Gingrich laid for his rise to Minority Whip and then Speaker.

What is more, Gingrich began working with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in 1979 as part of an effort to take the majority, and later took over GOPAC. Both organizations were focused on helping elect new Members to Congress. This means that newly-elected Republicans would be indebted (and thus loyal) to Gingrich. Aside from his brilliance as a visionary thinker, Gingrich spent years assiduously cultivating support and planning for a majority.

Now ask yourself this: Is there a serious conservative House Member today who does so many favors for Republican candidates that they will be loyal to him when they are elected? By definition, the people interested in accumulating power -- and capable of pulling off this sort of logistical feat -- tend to be establishment types. It's tempting to say this is a Catch-22, but it doesn't have to be this way. As Morton Blackwell says, "You owe it to your philosophy to study how to win."

Nevertheless, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the ability to win a leadership position -- and one's commitment to ideological purity. Some of this is probably structural and self selecting, but I can't help lamenting the fact that the most charismatic and inspirational conservatives also tend to be among the least organized.

As a newly-sworn-in freshman in 2013, Bridenstine voted against Boehner and for then-Majority Leader, now ex-Congressman, Eric Cantor instead, one of 12 Republicans to vote for another candidate. Had four more Republicans joined them, Boehner would have been denied re-election on the first ballot.

But as recently as November 15, 2014, Bridenstine, who won re-election without any opposition from either party, announced in an op-ed that he would support Boehner for a third term as Speaker, seeing no practical way to stop his re-election after the caucus renominated him:

An effort to replace Speaker Boehner would require several steps, each offering very little chance of success. The first step would be to rally enough Republican dissenting votes to block a 50-percent-plus-l vote on the floor. The Republicans have a historically high 60-seat majority in the newly elected 114th Congress, possibly higher as midterm election vote counts continue. With this large of a majority, the probability of securing enough dissenting votes is remote, especially after a private nomination meeting.

If 30 or more Republicans voted for someone else and Speaker Boehner did not get a 50-percent-plus-l vote, a second private meeting of the Republican Conference would occur. At that meeting the dissenting members would have to withstand pressure from the balance of the Republican conference. The minority of Republicans would have to offer an alternative candidate who the majority of Republicans would accept. The probability that there would be 30 or more dissenters is virtually zero, and likewise the chance that the majority of Republicans would capitulate to the minority is near zero.

If the minority of the conference somehow prevailed, there would be another vote on the floor, again requiring a 50-percent-plus-1 majority. This time, members of the original majority would vote against the new Republican nominee to block the minority. The process would be in shambles, the public would be outraged, and Democrats would be strengthened. If this impossible scenario happened, it would be the worst outcome for those of us who have been fighting for the conservative movement.

My goal has always been to do what is right for our country, regardless of the political consequences. In my first term, with a smaller Republican majority, I voted against Speaker Boehner on the floor believing that we could deny him a 50-percent-plus-l majority. However, Rep. Boehner was elected as several potential dissenters succumbed to pressure. While that effort may have been the right move under a smaller Republican majority, it is not the right move under a larger majority.

In his January 2, 2015, press release, Bridenstine explains that Boehner's support for the CR/Omnibus cost him Bridenstine's vote:

Like President Obama, Speaker Boehner must have heard voices that didn't vote. Together they crafted the CR/Omnibus, a $1.1 trillion spending bill which funded the government for 10 months and blocked our newest elected Republicans from advancing conservative policy and delivering on campaign promises. With this vote, Republicans gave away the best tool available to rein in our liberal activist President: the power of the purse. The power of the purse is Congress' Constitutional strength.

For the next 10 months, the CR/Omnibus will fulfill Obama's ambition of creating an even larger constituency of dependency on Obamacare. The President's goal has always been to create as much dependency as possible before enforcing the destructive employer mandate. The CR/Omnibus hands the liberals that victory. This is unconscionable after watching the campaign rhetoric that won such decisive victories for the GOP....

The Constitution requires the President to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. He has refused to enforce the laws on border security, Obamacare, illicit drugs, and the release of detained terrorists. His activism in his last two years has accelerated to include executive amnesty, initiating international climate deals without a treaty, and establishing an embassy in Cuba without consulting Congress. When our Constitution is under assault and House Republicans give away our Constitutional power of the purse, they share the guilt of abandoning our founding principles.

(Bridenstine actually could have stopped the CR/Omnibus by voting against the rule to bring it to the floor, but rejected that tactic, thinking it unlikely to succeed. As it happened, one more vote against would have been sufficient to stop the bill.)

THE AFTERMATH:

Louis Gohmert's statement:

This was always about one thing -trying to have a Speaker who was sensitive to the will of the American voters. As I repeatedly made clear, this was never about one person.

We knew that if everyone were present, we needed 29 votes for anyone other than the current Speaker. If we achieved that, then either after the first ballot or second, we would have a conference of only Republican members of Congress to likely agree on a compromise candidate. The goal was to have a new Speaker with wisdom and honesty to lead the Congress. The fight does not end today. ...

After being told that we should now all come together and work together, we have been told late today that two of our Congressmen are being taken off of the committee they were on, simply for voting like their voters wanted. So, it appears before we can work together, we are now going to have another fight. It would be a shame if the Speaker of the House who has so much power is a sore winner."

Erick Erickson, a leading voice calling for Boehner's ouster urges grace toward those who voted for Boehner's re-election.

Leon H. Wolf urges conservatives to take heart:

The simple fact is that what happened today in the Speaker election is unprecedented in modern politics. Speakers of the House who gain seats do not face defections on this order, or anything even remotely like it. The fact that Boehner had 25 (at least) defections despite the absence of a credible challenger speaks volumes about the fact that the culture in the GOP Caucus is changing - even if it is changing slower than some would like to see it change.

I got some flak for pointing out that Bridenstine could have blocked the CR/Omnibus by voting against the rule to bring it to the floor -- he would have been the one-more-vote the opposition needed. It was suggested that noticing this is nitpicking his tactics when I should be applauding without reservation. But at the time, Erick Erickson and others believed the key vote was the vote against the rule. If the CR/Omnibus reached the floor it would pass, because it would receive enough Democrat votes to make up for any Republican defections. A Politico article about the revenge planned by Boehner and his lieutenants against GOP dissidents appears to confirm the substantive importance of the vote on the rule:

The House Republican leadership is carefully reviewing the list of members who voted against the speaker and those who opposed a procedural motion in December on the so-called "crominibus," the $1.1 trillion spending package to keep the government open through to September. Top Republican sources suggested that the process could take months to unfold.

While I applaud Bridenstine's leadership in the attempt to defeat Boehner, his decision not to use the power in his hand to block CR/Omnibus was a surprising move toward pragmatism over principle, as was his decision back in November to support Boehner as the GOP caucus's nominee for speaker. When a planet wobbles, astronomers look for an object exerting gravitational pull. Whose pull made Jim Bridenstine wobble?

Law professor Josh Blackman has done a detailed analysis of the legal advice given to President Obama regarding his executive order effectively granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. The White House's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) drew some very fine distinctions that have escaped the attention of the popular press.

The gist of it is this: No, a president can't simply decide not to enforce a law on the books. Prosecutorial discretion has to be exercised on a case-by-case basis. The administration may adopt guidelines that prosecutors should consider when deciding whether or not to prosecute, but a policy that precludes automatic application to an entire class. Some relevant quotes from the OLC memo:

We advised that it was critical that, like past policies that made deferred action available to certain classes of aliens, the DACA program require immigration officials to evaluate each application for deferred action on a case-by-case basis, rather than granting deferred action automatically to all applicants who satisfied the threshold eligibility criteria....

Finally, lower courts, following Chaney, have indicated that non-enforcement decisions are most comfortably characterized as judicially unreviewable exercises of enforcement discretion when they are made on a case-by-case basis.... Individual enforcement decisions made on the basis of case-specific factors are also unlikely to constitute "general polic[ies] that [are] so extreme as to amount to an abdication of [the agency's] statutory responsibilities." Id. at 677 (quoting Chaney, 477 U.S. at 833 n.4). That does not mean that all "general policies" respecting non-enforcement are categorically forbidden: Some "general policies" may, for example, merely provide a framework for making individualized, discretionary assessments about whether to initiate enforcement actions in particular cases. Cf. Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292, 313 (1993) (explaining that an agency's use of "reasonable presumptions and generic rules" is not incompatible with a requirement to make individualized determinations). But a general policy of non-enforcement that forecloses the exercise of case-by-case discretion poses "special risks" that the agency has exceeded the bounds of its enforcement discretion. Crowley Caribbean Transp., 37 F.3d at 677....

Further, although the proposed policy is not a "single-shot non-enforcement decision," neither does it amount to an abdication of DHS's statutory responsibilities, or constitute a legislative rule overriding the commands of the substantive statute. Crowley Caribbean Transp., 37 F.3d at 676-77. The proposed policy provides a general framework for exercising enforcement discretion in individual cases, rather than establishing an absolute, inflexible policy of not enforcing the immigration laws in certain categories of cases.

In another entry, Blackman imagines President Rick Perry issuing an executive order to "to defer all prosecutions for any tax payer that pays at least 17% of their flat tax, even if the old brackets suggest they owe more" among other discretionary steps.

MORE: This week's "cold open" on Saturday Night Live featured a new Schoolhouse Rock video: Who needs a bill when you can issue an executive order?

Last last week, NRO's Charles C. W. Cooke traced the transformation of Barack Obama from the 2008 senator who wanted to rein in the executive branch to the 2014 president who has gone well beyond the actions which he had condemned in his predecessor's administration:

Noting in 2008 that he "taught constitutional law for ten years," and in consequence took "the Constitution very seriously," Obama determined that "the biggest problems that we're facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all." "That," the candidate assured his audience, is "what I intend to reverse when I'm president of the United States of America."...

And yet, just one short year after he had told students that he was hamstrung by the rules, the president did precisely what he said he could not, refusing to "enforce and implement" those "very clear" laws and abdicating disgracefully his "appropriate role as president." Obama called this maneuver "DACA," although one imagines that James Madison would have come up with a somewhat less polite term.

Evidently, the new approach suited the president. Soon thereafter, he began to make extra-legislative changes to Obamacare, without offering any earnest legal justifications whatsoever; he responded to Congress's refusal to raise the minimum wage by rewriting the Service Contract Act of 1965; and, as a matter of routine, he took to threatening, cajoling, and mocking Congress, and to informing the country's lawmakers that by declining to consent to his will they were refusing to do "their jobs." In Obama's post-2011 world, it seems, legislators are not free agents but parliamentary subordinates possessed of two choices: either they do what he wants, or they watch him do what he wants. Refusing assent seems to be regarded as an entirely illegitimate option. This, it should be perfectly obvious, is the attitude not of the statesman, but of the mugger. "Give me your wallet," the ruffian says, "or I will take it by force." That progressives who once championed the man for his calm and his virtue have taken to twisting themselves into knots in his defense should tell us all we need to know about their broader sincerity -- and his.

At The Daily Signal, Hans von Spakovsky explains how Obama's amnesty differs from Reagan and Bush 41 executive orders related to immigration:

In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), which provided a general amnesty to almost three million illegal immigrants. According to the Associated Press, Reagan acted unilaterally when his Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner "announced that minor children of parents granted amnesty by [IRCA] would get protection from deportation." In fact, in 1987 former Attorney General Ed Meese issued a memorandum allowing the INS to defer deportation where "compelling or humanitarian factors existed" for children of illegal immigrants who had been granted amnesty and, in essence, given green cards and put on a path towards being "naturalized" as citizens. In announcing this policy, Reagan was not defying Congress, but rather carrying out the general intent of Congress which had just passed a blanket amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants....

The Bush administration relaxed these technical requirements under a "Family Fairness" policy to defer deportation of the spouses and children of illegal immigrants who were allowed to stay in this country and seek naturalization through the IRCA amnesty. Shortly thereafter, Bush worked with Congress to pass the Immigration Act of 1990, which made these protections permanent. Significantly, the Bush policy and the 1990 Act affected only a small number of immigrants-about 180,000 people-in comparison to Obama's past (his 2012 implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program) and anticipated unilateral actions that will affect millions of immigrants.

Congressman Raul Labrador said on MSNBC that House Republicans and Democrats were close to a bipartisan deal on immigration, but the White House put a stick in the spokes:

"[The House bill] was something that would be acceptable to the House, would include all of the areas of immigration we needed to do. It was going to include border security, interior security, and the more the White House heard about what the House was doing, the more they interfered. His chief of staff, the president's chief of staff at the time, decided to call House Democrats and tell them that they needed to stop negotiating with House Republicans because they wanted the only vehicle for immigration reform, they want it to be the Senate bill. The president is in essence telling the American people it is only the Senate bill that is the only vehicle for immigration reform and that nothing else is acceptable."

Jonathan Gruber is the MIT economics professor, often called the "architect of Obamacare," who has said publicly that Obamacare's passage owed much to the "stupidity of the American people" and that its authors necessarily obfuscated the impacts on taxpayers in order to get the bill passed.

"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage," Gruber said. "Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass."

Gruber added that he wished "we could make it all transparent," but said the bill would not have passed if not for the administration's art of deception on key features of the law.

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes," Gruber said. "If you had a law that made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed."

The University of Pennsylvania deleted the video but restored it after public outcry. Three additional videos have surfaced of Gruber making the same argument in different appearances.

On MSNBC's Morning Joe, former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean expressed outrage at Gruber's comments:

"The problem is not that he said it-the problem is that he thinks it," Dean said. "The core problem under the damn law is it was put together by a bunch of elitists who don't fundamentally understand the American people. That's what the problem is."

You may recall that Gruber was cited earlier this year as stating on at least seven occasions that Obamacare subsidies were intended as an incentive for states to set up their own Obamacare exchanges. If a state refused to set up their own exchanges, the subsidies would be denied to the citizens of that state, who would, Gruber hoped, pressure their state politicians to establish a state exchange. Now Gruber calls that provision of the law a "typo," but it is the central issue in Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's challenge to the Obamacare law.

House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker when the bill passed, is now claiming never to have heard of Gruber. But Hot Air has a screen grab from Pelosi's website and a video clip showing that Nancy Pelosi cited Jon Gruber as an authority in arguing for Obamacare's passage.

Here's Pelosi on November 5, 2009, citing Gruber's analysis of the Democrats' Obamacare bill.

MORE:

Gruber is also described as the architect of Romneycare, the Massachusetts socialized medicine program on which Obamacare is based. Mitt Romney should have been smart enough to know that if you want a reform grounded in economic reality, you go to the University of Chicago or George Mason U. You don't go to the statists and socialists that define the economic department at my alma mater.

Keith Hennessey writes that Obamacare is far from the only government program that has been enacted by hiding subsidies and costs. Hennessey has a long list that only scratches the surface. Hennessey writes:

Apparently Dr. Gruber thinks it's OK to lie to American voters when his allies are in power to enact policies that he wants but the voters wouldn't. He then says American voters are "stupid" both for not agreeing with his value choices and for not figuring out the deception.

I disagree.

When you strip away all the complexity, economic policy is ultimately an expression of elected officials making difficult value choices. If over time these officials make value choices that do not reflect the values of the people whom they represent, they can, should, and will be replaced.

When these same elected officials, and those who advise them, deliberately construct policies to hide value choices that would be unpopular were they transparent and explicit, we end up with two terrible outcomes. We get policies that do not reflect our values, and we re-elect representatives who are lying to us.

The National Journal's Ron Fournier, who emphatically identifies himself as "not 'on the right,'" objects to efforts to spin the story as one in which only conservatives are outraged:

[Gruber] called you stupid. He admitted that the White House lied to you. Its officials lied to all of us--Republicans, Democrats, and independents; rich and poor; white and brown; men and women.

Liberals should be the angriest. Not only were they personally deceived, but the administration's dishonest approach to health care reform has helped make Obamacare unpopular while undermining the public's faith in an activist government. A double blow to progressives....

Last year, The Post helped document how Obama and his advisers knowingly misled the public during his 2012 reelection campaign by repeatedly saying that, under Obamacare, people could keep their doctors and keep their health plans. To knowingly mislead is to lie.

"It's hard to know what might have happened if the truth had won the day," writes Post columnist Kathleen Parker. "But we do know that truth squandered is trust lost."

And so even I have to admit, as a supporter, that Obamacare was built and sold on a foundation of lies. No way around it, unless you're willing to accept a political system that colors its lies--the reds, the whites, and the blues.

STILL MORE: In a June 2012 interview with PBS Frontline, Gruber tells us that the decision to mislead on employer-provided medical insurance went all the way to the top.

Here's what Gruber says in the video:

Now, the problem is, it's a political nightmare, ... and people say, "No, you can't tax my benefits." So what we did a lot in that room was talk about, well, how could we make this work? And Obama was like, "Well, you know" -- I mean, he is really a realistic guy. He is like, "Look, I can't just do this." He said: "It is just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phases and other things?" And we talked about it. And he was just very interested in that topic.

That ultimately became the genesis of what's called the "Cadillac tax" in the healthcare bill which I think is one of the most important and bravest parts of the health care law and, um, doesn't get nearly enough credit.

In that same PBS Frontline episode, Gruber explains the three key elements that made Romneycare in Massachusetts "work": A relatively low number of uninsured, an insurance market "destroyed" (Gruber's word) by a previously-adopted requirement to ignore pre-existing conditions, and most of all, $400 million a year in Other People's Money:

Third, we had a major source of financing in place, which we had formerly had a pretty powerful senator named Ted Kennedy who had been delivering about $400 million a year in slush funds to our safety-net hospitals that the Bush administration was threatening to take away.

The Romney administration, to their credit, went to Washington and said, "Can we keep this money if we use it to cover the uninsured?" And the Bush administration, to their credit, said yes.

So those pieces pulled together made a really interesting opportunity to actually cover the uninsured and fix a broken, non-group market on the federal dime. And that was a really unique opportunity, which I think Romney as a kind of management consultant was excited to take advantage of.

EVEN MORE:

Long-time Boston Herald political columnist Howie Carr says that Gruber (MIT '87, Harvard Ph.D. '92) is just another goober from Cambridge.

Do you realize that every last one of the many disasters that has befallen this nation in the last half-century can be traced right back here to the banks of the Charles River?

C'mon down, Jonathan Gruber, economics professor at MIT. He's the moonbat who, after engineering the ongoing fiasco that is Obamacare, then took a nationwide victory lap in which he repeatedly described the American people as "too stupid" to realize the Democrats were destroying their health care.

Maybe he's right about our stupidity. After all, he cashed in $392,000 worth of federal no-bid contracts to wreck the best health care system in the world, plus another $1.6 million or so in various state wrecking-ball contracts.

This goober, I mean Gruber, now says that when he sneered about how stupid Americans are, he made a mistake. Oddly, he made the same "mistake" five times (and counting). When you say something publicly five times, it's part of your stump speech.

Nice Deb is compiling all the Gruber videos and links to stories and transcripts.

The Conservative Voices blog is self-hosting the Gruber videos, just in case they get taken down on other sites. The Gruber category has entries with individual videos as well. (Gruber's speech to the University of Rhode Island Fall 2012 Honors Colloqium has been deleted from URI's YouTube account, for example, even though they had submitted it to amara.org to crowdsource the transcription of the video.)

NRO's Rich Lowry wants to thank Jonathan Gruber:

He has done us all a favor by affording us an unvarnished look into the progressive mind, which values complexity over simplicity, favors indirect taxes and impositions on the American public so their costs can be hidden, and has a dim view of the average American.

Complexity is a staple of liberal policymaking. It is a product of its scale and reach, but also of the imperative to hide the ball. Taxing and spending and redistributive schemes tend to be unpopular, so clever ways have to be found to deny that they are happening. This is what Gruber was getting at. One reason Obamacare was so convoluted is that its supporters didn't want to straightforwardly admit how much the law was raising taxes and using the young and healthy to subsidize everyone else.

Gruber crowed about the exertions undertaken to make an unpopular tax on expensive health-insurance plans, the so-called Cadillac tax, more palatable. It was levied on employers instead of employees. No one realized, Gruber explained, that the tax would be functionally the same even if not directly imposed on workers. This wasn't a one-off deception. This kind of sleight of hand is crucial to the progressive project, which always involves imposing taxes, regulations, and mandates at one remove from the average person so he or she won't realize that the costs are passed down regardless.

Most liberals would never come out and call Americans stupid in a public forum, as Gruber did. But the debate between conservatives and liberals on health-care policy and much else comes down to how much average Americans can be trusted to make decisions on their own without the guiding, correcting hand of government. An assumption that Americans are incompetent is woven into the Left's worldview. It is reluctant to entrust individuals with free choice for fear they will exercise it poorly and irresponsibly.

It was a good day, a better day that anyone expected, a real wave election.

The reaction of my local liberal friends on Facebook reveal their contempt for the state where they live, their bigoted opinions of conservatives, and their disconnect from political reality. One wrote a very apt "chin-up" post -- the sort of things I've seen conservatives write to console each other after a loss -- but she ended it with this weird attempt at a barb: "And to those of you gleeful over the election results, I just want to remind you that our President is STILL BLACK." I imagine she imagined people like me shaking our fists and gritting our teeth at those words. (Never mind that the first African-American was just elected to the Senate from a Southern state since reconstruction -- and he's a Republican. Never mind that her party never elected an African-American to statewide office or congress during almost a century of dominance in Oklahoma -- but the GOP has.) Now if she'd said "STILL A SOCIALIST" or "STILL A MISERABLE FAILURE AT HOME AND ABROAD" -- that would have spoiled my gloating a bit. But if she thinks the president's ethnic background is the source of conservative dislike, she and her pals are going to continue to lose elections. So much for the soi-disant "reality-based" community.

I spent part of my Tuesday in a library in Hialeah, Florida. I was in the area on business, free during the day but working during the night. The library was in a large city park where I'd hoped to attend a rally with Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Jeb Bush that I'd read about online, but I had misread the date. (I think it had been two days before.)

When I arrived and pulled into the parking lot, I found two teams of electioneers, one Democrat and one Republican, handling out pamphlets and ballot cards. An older couple with the Democrat group stopped the car in front of me to chat with the driver and give her some literature. Another Democrat electioneer waved me around the blockade.

Once parked, I walked toward the library and heard an older man calling out to me. He was with a group of a half-dozen volunteers -- both young and old -- holding signs for Republican candidates. He handed me a card for Gov. Scott, a card for the GOP county assessor candidate, and a card listing all the GOP candidates in Miami-Dade County. All three cards were in English on on side and Spanish on the other. The man said to me, "Please vote for Gov. Scott. It's important!" I gave him a thumbs-up and walked on.

This must have been a key precinct, because near the entrance was a reporter in a suit holding a microphone and talking to a camera, occasionally interviewing voters.

Inside the library, I had a view through interior picture windows to the polling station set up in the library's meeting room. I pondered the possibility of pulling a reverse Kathy Taylor -- voting in-person in Florida and absentee in Oklahoma -- but I could see that I'd be thwarted by Florida's racist voter suppression laws. Florida does not have election day registration, and with photo ID required, I couldn't very well pretend to be someone else.

I was pleased to see that Florida, like Oklahoma, uses scanned paper ballots. Voters are given a big green folder to carry their ballots privately from the voting carrels to the ballot box scanners. I watched as several waves of voters came and went. Election workers walked the floor, directing incoming voters to the sign-in desk and helping voters with finished ballots feed them into the machines.

That evening I spent an hour after the polls closed at the Miami-Dade Republican watch party at a Cuban restaurant on the western edge of the city. We ate fried plantain chips, carnitas, empanadas, and tequeños while cheering the results. The crowd of about 60 -- but this only one of many GOP watch parties around Miami, I learned -- were especially pleased that the local Democrat congressman, Joe Garcia, had conceded defeat to Republican school baord member Carlos Curbelos. We all held our breath as Gov. Scott maintained his narrow lead over the oompa-loompa-colored flip-flopping former governor, Charlie Crist.

More analysis will have to wait, but here are a few post-mortems worth your time:

The New York Post's Michael Goodwin called for a repudiation of Obamaism ("a quasi-socialist commitment to a more powerful government at home and an abdication of American leadership around the world") and the voters delivered.

Via Ace, a good Washington Post story on how the GOP national apparatus upped their game to win the Senate this year.

The finger-pointing begins: Chris "Tingle Up My Leg" Matthews says Obama lost the midterms because he's surrounded by yes-men.

Pro-immigration-law-enforcement Democrat Mickey Kaus notes that Democrat supporters of amnesty lost their seats.

Philip Klein notes that almost half of the Democrat Senators who voted for Obamacare are gone -- four more lost on Tuesday and one more is likely to lose in December.

MORE:

Some Republicans are saying that, since this was Pres. Obama's attitude toward Republicans in 2009, this should be our newly elected Republicans' attitude toward the Democrats:

(For the record, I liked the Depp version better than the Wilder version and this scene is one of the reasons why, but it works for the current purpose.)

On October 27, 1964, Ronald Reagan gave this televised speech in support of Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.

Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down--[up] man's old--old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course....

Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights [are] so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes from the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a "more compatible use of the land." The President tells us he's now going to start building public housing units in the thousands, where heretofore we've only built them in the hundreds. But FHA [Federal Housing Authority] and the Veterans Administration tell us they have 120,000 housing units they've taken back through mortgage foreclosure. For three decades, we've sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.

Read the whole thing. It's as relevant as it ever was.

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An alumnus of Tulsa's Holland Hall School may hold the key to control of the U. S. Senate. Sean Haugh, Holland Hall Class of 1979, is the Libertarian nominee for Senate in North Carolina. He is on the ballot with Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican State House Speaker Thom Tillis.

While Hagan is consistently polling below 50%, she still leads Tillis by 3.4% percentage points in the latest RCP average. In the latest Rasmussen poll, Hagan leads Tillis 48% to 46%, with 2% preferring "another candidate." A month ago, the gap was 45 to 39 with 6% preferring another candidate. The latest USA Today poll has a 0.4% lead for Hagan, with 4% preferring Haugh. NBC News' latest, from a week ago, had Hagan up by 4%, with 7% preferring Haugh.

Republicans are concerned that Haugh may act as a spoiler; if he were out of the race, the theory goes, most of his voters would prefer the Republican to the Democrat. The third-party spoiler effect has been claimed in the 1992 presidential election, with Ross Perot drawing disaffected Republicans; the 2000 presidential election, with Green Party nominee Ralph Nader accused of taking votes from Al Gore; the 2002 Oklahoma governor's race between Brad Henry, Steve Largent, and Gary Richardson; and last year's Virginia governor's race. The counterargument is that third-party candidates attract many voters who would otherwise stay home.

The Third Party candidate may not be drawing support in the way observers assume. In that USA Today poll, 9 of the 22 respondents who preferred Haugh said they would vote for Hagan if Haugh were out of the race, while only 4 would move their vote to Tillis; the other 9 were undecided or refused to answer. That's an exceedingly small subsample with a very high margin of error, but it suggests that Haugh may be helping to keep the race close rather than helping to protect the Democrat incumbent.

Sean Haugh graduated from Tufts in 1983 and spent much of his post-college life working as a Libertarian Party organizer and activist. He served as the executive director of the North Carolina Libertarian Party and the political director of the national party. He was the party's Senate nominee for this seat in North Carolina in 2002. He retired from politics in 2010 and now delivers pizza for a living.

Haugh's campaign manager is Rachel Mills, who served for six years as Ron Paul's communications director in his Washington office and worked on his presidential campaigns. In a blog entry, Mills explains that she offered her skills to Republican Greg Brannon, who lost to Tillis in the primary, and then offered to help Tillis, but both campaigns ignored her:

I met with (Republican Senate primary candidate) Greg Brannon first in January of 2013 and detailed my experience, and let him know I was available to him in any capacity he needed. Anything at all. He seemed really enthused, thankful - blessed, even - to have someone like me available for his team. But as soon as he brought on an official campaign manager, I got the old "We'll call you." treatment. I never heard back. When I finally said heck with it and volunteered to help with a mailing, it was made very clear to me that I was not welcome to even do that. Perhaps I'll never know why I was good enough to work side by side with Ron Paul for 5 years, but not good enough to lick envelopes for Brannon. Greg Brannon lost.

After it was clear Brannon wasn't having me, I approached Tillis. Told him I'd like to help him reach out to the liberty folks and bring the party together. I'm a pragmatic type and see this as a great approach. If you want them, let me help you understand them and figure out how to appeal to them. Let's ask for their vote. "That sounds great. We'll call you." I waited a long time. I even went to his primary victory party and met all the key people in person. I was sincere in my offers to help. I understand though, that he had a ton of resumes flying around his head, of course, and by no means was I a shoe-in or entitled there either. I do think I would have been a smart hire. Fine to disagree.

Then Sean called. Together we developed a very simple way to spread a tangible, common sense liberty message, straight to the people, non-focus grouped, what you see is what you get, delivered by an everyman, not a politician. Sean and I together have the political experience to know the rules enough to properly break them - hence the beer on camera, the casual demeanor, etc. We are also on a shoestring so we have to consider what Sean can do well - and that is to just be himself.

Sean might not win, but look what we've accomplished together! A Washington Post reporter flew down JUST to interview Sean in my toy-strewn basement! And that was just the beginning. He's had lots of national attention on all the major networks and is polling much stronger than expected. He's even included in a debate! It's been very professionally, though not financially, gratifying.

Mills concludes that the Republican establishment may have to learn the hard way, through some lost elections, that they can't take libertarian-oriented voters for granted.

Sean Haugh's YouTube channel is the heart of his voter outreach efforts.

About the title of this blog post: Sean was two years ahead of me at Holland Hall. It's impressive to see how little he seems to have aged. A few grey hairs, deeper lines on the face, perhaps, but otherwise much as I remember him. It looks like the haircut and glasses are pretty much the same style. We reconnected some years ago when he was back in Oklahoma on behalf of an initiative petition to improve ballot access for Libertarians and other third parties. More recently I've been keeping up with his opinions on Facebook and Twitter (@EmperorSean).

When we were both in school, a freestanding chalkboard was left in the Commons, next to the southeast stairwell, after a school-wide lecture, students began to use it as a kind of graffiti wall. Jim Ringold began writing short, upbeat commentaries on the board, signing his essays with "The Friendly Philosopher." Sean Haugh responded with a cynical take on school life, signing his screeds with "The Unfriendly Philosopher." At some point, I began writing on the board, becoming "The Unfriendly Philosopher's Apprentice" and inheriting the title when Sean graduated.

Toward the end of sophomore year, I had decided to run for student council vice president. The vice president was in charge of stocking and maintaining the school's pop machine. (I don't remember if it was Coke or Pepsi or a mixture of the two, but the families who owned the rival bottling plants each had children at HH.) Sean agreed to support me, but he insisted that, if I won, he'd be able to load the machine with Foster's Australian Lager, as a sort of final, pre-graduation act of defiance. I didn't win (Stacy Schusterman and Pam Bloodgood did), and even if I had, as a teetotaler in a teetotaling Baptist family, I wasn't likely to let that happen.

MORE:

Haugh, Hagan, and Tillis were part of a televised Senate debate tonight -- watch it online here. Tillis seems to say, "Sean is exactly right," as part of every answer.

Rebecca Berg of the Washington Examiner has a sympathetic profile of Sean Haugh. Berg confirms my impression of the non-evolution of Sean's style from his days at HH.

On Wednesday, Sean Haugh had just finished a live interview with Fox News when he headed to breakfast at a Waffle House outside of downtown Raleigh.

"I'm pretty sure I know exactly what I want," Haugh said, glancing quickly through his 1970s-relic glasses at the laminated menu....

Haugh is a perplexing and interesting political oddity. He dresses like he hasn't shopped for new clothes for decades. His campaign has consisted mostly of YouTube videos in which he drinks beer in his campaign manager's basement and chats about politics. He recently berated one commenter on his Facebook as an "ignorant moron."

And, in recent public polling, he has been winning as much as seven percent of the vote.

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Michael Ramirez, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning and senior editor at Investor's Business Daily, will give a free public lecture on Thursday, September 18, 2014, at 7 p.m., at Oral Roberts University in Zoppelt Auditiorium. Ramirez's lecture, "Editorial Cartooning, Journalism and a Citizen's Responsibility," is presented by three ORU departments: History, Humanities and Government; Communication, Arts and Media; English and Modern Languages.

Ramirez has been honored four times (2006, 2008, 2011, and 2014) as editorial cartoonist of the year by the National Cartoonists Society.

At noon on Friday, BatesLine is proud to host a small luncheon with Michael Ramirez. Seats are extremely limited; cost is dutch-treat. If you're interested, please email me using mailbox 'blog' at this domain.

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Scott_Pruitt_AFP_Dream14.JPGFriday, at Americans for Prosperity's Defending the American Dream Summit in Dallas, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt sat down with the BatesLine team for a wide-ranging conversation about the issues that his office is pursuing on behalf of Oklahomans. Pruitt discussed the EPA's proposed expansion of the definition of "waters of the United States" which would put vast new territories under EPA regulation, the role and responsibilities of a state attorney general, and recent events affecting school choice and curriculum in Oklahoma. Pruitt also spoke at a panel discussion on the legal status of Obamacare and addressed a dinner for Oklahoma's 200 conferees, in which he also discussed the IRS's settlement of a lawsuit with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, affecting church tax exemptions and freedom of religion.

This entry is the first in a series. Many thanks to Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma and AFPOK Executive Director John Tidwell for the opportunity to attend and for arranging the interview with Attorney General Pruitt.

Earlier in the day, Pruitt addressed a well-attended panel session on Obamacare, its effects, and its legal status. His fellow panel members included Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute, Christina Herrera of the Foundation for Government Accountability, and Simon Conway, British refugee and talk show host at WHO in Des Moines, who told us how the UK's National Health Service killed his father.

Pruitt spoke about Oklahoma's lawsuit, Oklahoma v. Burwell and Lew, which George Will has called the most consequential Obamacare case still pending. Oklahoma contends that the Affordable Care Act does not authorize IRS and HHS to grant subsidies or impose mandates in states that have not set up an exchange. Pruitt reviewed the timeline of Obamacare's passage and the importance of the "four little words" in Section 1311 -- "established by the state" -- to corralling the votes necessary to get Obamacare through the U. S. Senate. The four words were intended to give states the incentive to set up exchanges, but 34 states have refused.

Pruitt noted that, because Oklahoma's challenge was still at the District Court level when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in NFIB v. Sibelius, Oklahoma was able to amend its suit. The focus of Oklahoma's case is not constitutional, but rather that the Federal Government's implementation of the law is in violation of the law passed by Congress and signed by the President.

At the moment, the case sits in the Eastern District of Oklahoma before Judge Ronald A. White. Asked by OCPAC's Charlie Meadows about the delay, Pruitt said it may be because the judge was waiting to see what the District of Columbia Circuit Court would do with Halbig v. Burwell. A panel of three judges in the DC Circuit Court ruled 2-1 that the plain language of the law authorized the subsidies and mandates only in states that established exchanges, in accord with Oklahoma's arguments. The ruling is stayed pending further appeals.

If Oklahoma's case is successful, Pruitt said that the very fines that Hobby Lobby had been facing had it lost its case ($1.2 million a day) would be overturned. The employer mandate is invalid in Oklahoma because Oklahoma has not set up an exchange.

MORE from my notes: During his morning presentation, Pruitt harked back to his service as a policymaker in the State Senate and pointed out that "health insurance does not equate to health care." Politicians like to brag about expanding coverage and eligibility, but "at the end of the day, you have to have a physician... willing to be paid for the service to deliver the care that's needed for that patient." Politicians can expand eligibility, but if reimbursement rates are too low, you have the kind of access problems we see in the UK. "We as conservatives need to remind the left that just by expanding health insurance doesn't mean that you've actually solved health outcomes." Pruitt said we also need to keep in mind that when the payor primarily becomes the government, medical inflation skyrockets.

During our interview, Pruitt elaborated on that point: The more government has become involved as payor, the system has become more bureaucratic, more costly, with a lower quality of care. He recalled Oklahoma's expansion of Medicaid eligibility under the Federal SCHIP program for families up to 200% of the poverty level, but at that time, as he remembers it, only two pediatricians in Tulsa were providing care under that program's reimbursement rates. More kids were eligible, but they couldn't get into see the doctor.

Pruitt asked why, if we had a system covering 85% of the public, we had to remake the system for 100%, rather than find a way that met the needs of the remaining 15%. The Obamacare system is moving us toward a two-tier system like that of the UK where your mandatory taxes and premiums pay for an insufficient service that limits access, but those who can afford to pay more can access higher-quality health care in a timely fashion. I pointed out that that's not unlike our two-tier education system, where parents who want better for their children pay twice -- tuition on top of the taxes they're forced to pay. That led into a discussion of Arne Duncan's revocation of Oklahoma's No Child Left Behind waiver and the court ruling against provisions of the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Act -- more about that in a future installment.

Just a quick update between sessions at Americans for Prosperity's Defending the American Dream 2014 Summit in Dallas.

Yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Dr. Ben Carson, and Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn addressed the conference. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Jeb Hensarling are on tap for this afternoon.

Last night, Oklahoma's 200-strong delegation heard from Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Labor Commissoiner Mark Costello. Both spoke about federal incursions upon state and private action in violation of federal law and the Constitution. Pruitt discussed the work of his office's federalism unit, particularly as it applies to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's decision to revoke Oklahoma's "No Child Left Behind" waiver because the state repealed Common Core and the IRS's settlement with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which may change the way the IRS evaluates whether a pastor's speech violates a church's tax-exempt status. Costello spoke of the US Department of Labor's push to criminalize family farmworkers and force privately-held companies to publish safety records online, and the EPA's regional haze regulations.

Time to head to another meeting. More later.

afp_dad14_logo.jpgIn a few hours, Americans for Prosperity's 2014 Defending the American Dream Summit will be underway. Over the next two days, attendees will be hearing from headline speakers like Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Dr. Ben Carson. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will be on a panel discussing the legal status of Obamacare -- the differences between the law Congress passed and the deviation the Obama administration is implementing.

The summit is sold out, but you can watch the general sessions online between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm Central each day. Twitter is the best place to follow events as they unfold; keep an eye on the #Dream14 hashtag.

The Left has a tendency to suppress facts either because they believe it will embolden their ideological enemies, or they are concerned that the facts will lead people to unauthorized conclusions.

Here are a couple of recent examples. I will add more as I come across them.

The National Post reported recently on a study by neuroscientists that shows rote memorization lays an important foundation for higher-order reasoning in children:

In effect, as young math students memorize the basics, their brains reorganize to accommodate the greater demands of more complex math. It is a gradual process, like "overlapping waves," the researchers write, but it clearly shows that, for the growing child's brain, rote memorization is a key step along the way to efficient mathematical reasoning.

The news story's writer framed this as a finding that was "sure to inflame the math wars" between "fundamentalists" and their "popular and progressive" opponents.

As a scientific justification of rote learning, the study seems likely to further polarize the controversy over math teaching styles, in which arithmetical fundamentalists are squared off against the popular and progressive forces of "discovery-based" learning, in which students are encouraged to find their own ways to the right answer.

By illustrating the benefit of repetition and memory, and showing how it serves as a stepping stone to mature calculation, the research is likely to embolden the fundamentalists, who have only recently started to win back lost ground.

Jenks middle school principal Rob Miller has a popular blog where he evangelizes for the idea that the billions we spend on education shouldn't go to teaching actual content. Here he is talking about the Howe school district in LeFlore County, which got a failing grade from the State Department of Education because of its students' poor test scores, despite having all sorts of cool classroom technology:

But what happens if bringing back more traditional teaching strategies actually brings their scores up? This will simply empower the naysayers and it will be very difficult to return to the district's original vision for 21st century teaching and learning-processes that create globally competent critical thinkers instead of just good test takers.

God forbid we should empower the naysayers! You can't be a "globally competent critical thinker" unless you've mastered fundamental facts about math, geography, history, grammar, and logic. Those are the building blocks for competent critical thinking, but Principal Miller and the Howe school leadership seem to want to skip right by the "boring" basics in favor of gee-whiz technology.

Whoever wins the August 26 runoff for District Attorney in Tulsa County, I'm pretty sure we'll be better off than Austin, Texas, which is stuck with Democratic DA Rosemary Lehmberg, who was arrested in April 2013 for Driving While Intoxicated with a .239 blood alcohol level. Lehmberg disgracefully treated the law enforcement personnel who arrested and processed her. Sentenced to 45 days in jail, Lehmberg refused to step down, displaying a Clintonesque "brazen it out" approach to the consequences of her disregard for the law. Lehmberg identifies herself as a homosexual.

The night of her arrest, Lehmberg was driving in a bike lane, braking erratically, and swerving into the oncoming traffic lane, prompting a driver to call 9-1-1. Lehmberg pulled into a church parking lot, where a sheriff's deputy was parked and writing reports.

He described Lehmberg as "disheveled" and "disorganized," testifying that she grabbed at him and his flashlight. Malinger said Lehmberg told him she had not been drinking.

The DA had a bottle of vodka under her purse in the passenger seat, Malinger said.

Surveillance footage from the church parking lot showed Lehmberg fail field sobriety tests and put into handcuffs.

Deputy John Ribsam was in the patrol unit that took Lehmberg to central booking at Travis County Jail. Lehmbeg told him from the back seat she had two vodka sodas, he said. Ribsam testified Lehmberg "ordered him" to take off her hand cuffs because she was the DA, cussing at him to remove them.

As the District Attorney for the county that contains the state capitol, Lehmberg oversees the state's Public Integrity Unit, handling the prosecution of elected officials accused of corruption. After Lehmberg refused to resign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry used his line item veto to deny funding for the unit, on the grounds that someone publicly displaying such a lack of integrity should not be prosecuting other officials on public integrity charges. For this veto, Perry has now been indicted by a grand jury for abuse of his office.

Here are several videos showing Lehmberg's behavior when she was arrested and booked for DWI.

During her ride to jail, she told the driver, "You have just ruined my career.... My career is over." She's still in office and still empowered to go after Rick Perry and other Republicans. I guess she underestimated the willingness of Austinites to stand by a lesbian Democratic elected official, no matter how badly behaved.

When they meet next year, Texas legislators may want to consider whether they should continue to give the voters of Texas's most left-wing county the power to wage political war by prosecution against the conservatives their constitutents elect to serve in the State Capitol.

MORE:

Andrew McCarthy says the Perry indictment is "politics as combat," similar to what was done to Tom DeLay (whose conviction was ultimately tossed out by a higher court), but Democrats no longer feel compelled to accuse a Republican official of an actual crime. Exercising legitimate executive authority -- vetoing a bill -- becomes a crime.

In the American Spectator, Dallas-based columnist William Murchison writes about the criminalization of political disagreement:

We may imagine if we like that a grand jury in one of America's most liberal counties concluded, without bias or rancor, that one of America's best-known conservative politicians illegally vetoed funding for that same county's "public integrity" unit, presided over by a DA convicted of drunk driving. It was illegal for the governor to use his legal power? That seems essentially the narrative the jury bought from [Special Prosecutor] McCrum.

Austin, where conservatives feel like Southern Baptist missionaries in western Iraq, doesn't cotton to a Republican governor who doesn't cotton to the hand-tooled, leather-bound liberal agenda. Nor can the capital city be described as grateful to Perry for his part over the last decade in keeping Texas safe from liberal policies. Democrats hold not one single statewide office in Texas. You can see from any political perspective how the very mention of Perry's name in Austin might bring on dyspepsia, if not angina.

New York political blogger Rusty Weiss has an item about Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik's announcement that he has quit Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Tkazyik stated his reason:

It did not take long to realize that MAIG's agenda was much more than ridding felons of illegal guns; that under the guise of helping mayors facing a crime and drug epidemic, MAIG intended to promote confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens. I don't believe, never have believed and never will believe that public safety is enhanced by encroaching on our right to bear arms, and I will not be a part of any organization that does.

As Mayor of Tulsa, Kathy Taylor was a charter member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a signatory to the group's initial statement of principles. She participated in the initial summit of 15 mayors in New York, a Midwest MAIG summit in Milwaukee, and joined other MAIG members in Washington to urge Congress to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment. During her 2013 campaign to regain the mayor's office, she minimized the significance of her participation in the group.

While supporters of 2nd Amendment rights will welcome Mayor Tkazyik to the club, we may wonder why it took him so long to get here. I am unable to find his name or his city's name on MAIG rosters prior to 2009. He shows up as a MAIG member in this NRA-ILA list from 2010. But by 2009, a dozen mayors had quit MAIG, several explicitly denouncing the group as "attempting to erode all gun ownership, not just illegal guns." He also signed this MAIG letter from 2012 following the Sandy Hook attack.

I've noticed that when a politician resigns from or denounces politically inconvenient organizations, it's often right before a run for a higher office.

RELATED: Someone linked to this on Facebook. An engineer has been pondering the problem -- How do you keep a handgun out of the reach of children, but readily available when needed for home defense? -- and has developed a product that seems to meet the need, called The Gun Box:

The video is a little out of date: The FAQ page on the website says that the project is fully-funded and they are in full-scale production. The Gun Box sells for $279 and initial delivery is slated for March 2014.

Patrick Hruby, writing in Politico Magazine, calls the NFL the "National Freeloader League," in an open letter to the infatuated congressmen who let the NFL make billions and still claim non-profit status:

So: Your relationship with the National Football League. It's toxic. Not for you, of course. You seem happy, like a bunch of starstruck fans. And we understand--we're fans, too. Professional football is fun, and no doubt a far better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than rushing around to grovel for cash at half a dozen fundraisers. The league throws a terrific Super Bowl party, too, and given the choice, who wouldn't prefer Denver-Seattle and a tub of guacamole over voting to repeal Obamacare for the 5,000th time?

But we digress. Back to the toxic part. While you're enjoying the epic Richard Sherman vs. Peyton Manning matchup this weekend, the NFL is pulling a fast one on us. Dodging taxes. Pocketing government handouts. Passing the buck on workplace injuries. Mooching harder than one of Ronald Reagan's welfare queens. Adding insult to injury--come to think it of it, it's probably the other way around--the league also is peddling a potentially dangerous product to our children with almost no oversight.

The mention of "starstruck fans" reminds me of the normally fiscally sober Oklahoma Republican legislators who fell all over themselves to include professional basketball teams in Oklahoma's "Quality Jobs Act," so that the new NBA owners could claim a tax credit.

How does an organization with $9 billion in revenue manage to claim non-profit status?

Your predecessors modified the law to specifically exempt "business leagues, chambers of commerce, real-estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues." (Somewhere in heaven, an NFL lobbyist just got his wings.) As Senator Coburn has repeatedly noted, the letter of the reworded 501(c)6 law violates its spirit. Lumping pro football in with boards of trade makes no sense. "It's a ruse," he says of the filing status that also applies to the PGA Tour and the National Hockey League. "Compare the NFL to other trade associations. They don't qualify at all. They're not promoting a trade. They're promoting themselves."

There's more, and you'll want to read the whole thing.

Last September, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn introduced legislation to strip the tax-exempt status from professional sports organizations with annual revenues greater than $10 million:

Today, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) introduced the PRO Sports Act, S.1524, which would amend the tax code to prohibit professional sports organizations with annual revenues over $10 million from enjoying the same tax-exempt, 501(c)(6) status as industry trade associations and public interest groups.

"Tax earmarks are essentially tax increases for everyone who doesn't receive the benefit. In this case, working Americans are paying artificially high rates in order to subsidize special breaks for sports leagues. This is hardly fair," Dr. Coburn said. "This bill would require major professional sports leagues to be prohibited from qualifying as non-profit organizations under the tax code. This would help give all Americans, not just athletes and owners, a break and pave the way for the kind of tax reform and job creation our economy desperately needs."

Currently, a number of professional sports leagues have central offices registered as 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organizations allowing for the opportunity for their revenue to be tax-free. Leagues qualify for the tax-exempt status by stating their purpose is to help promote their respective sports and membership instead of themselves. The PRO Sports Act will not impact leagues' 501(C)(3) charitable organizations.

A backgrounder on the bill points out that other "public interest groups" have been stripped of 501(c)(6) status because they exist mainly to secure benefits for their members rather than serve the general public interest. AAA is one such example listed in the piece.

At this point, Coburn's bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, and no further action has been taken. No wonder he's discouraged and ready to pack it in.

Here's the latest in a long series of the Obama Administration's spiteful shutdown of private businesses and open-air monuments.

The Cliff House, a landmark San Francisco restaurant and tourist attraction overlooking the Pacific Ocean, privately owned and operated without federal tax dollars and accessible by city streets, has been forced by National Park Service brownshirts to shut its doors, putting Americans out of work and depriving the Federal government of lease revenues paid by the restaurant and which help to preserve the historic site. The restaurant had decided to reopen to staunch an estimated $10,000 daily loss for each day the restaurant was closed, but the NPS, under orders from Washington, forced them to close once again.

Here is the full statement from the Cliff House ownership:

News Alert from Cliff House October 8, 2013 Cliff House closes doors (again)

In response to the Federal Government shutdown the Cliff House had decided to reopen its doors, Monday, October 7, 2013. While this bold move challenged the shut down order, the Cliff House, a privately owned business that does not depend on any tax dollars or federal funding, must have income in order to survive and meet its obligations to the public visitors, its employees, and the Park Service.

As of tonight, end of business day, Cliff House will once again shut its doors due to a mandate by the Federal Government. While the local Park Service officials have been sympathetic and helpful in relaying the Cliff House's concerns to Park Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the decisions are driven by D.C. which instructed that the facility must close.

So, despite its efforts to remain open and constant communication with the Park Service, the Cliff House had no choice but to close or face severe consequences which would have impacted the entire operation which the local operators of The Cliff House have worked so hard to maintain over the past 40 years.

The Cliff House operates 365 days a year and employs 170 staff most of whom are furloughed. Even though the Cliff House is not open for business there are daily operating costs, which include maintenance of the iconic Cliff House building, ironically for the benefit of the Park Service in addition to the visiting public.

Having been shut down for four days the Cliff House has already assumed considerable financial loss and will continue to incur losses of approximately $10,000 per day for so long as the shutdown order remains in force. Outreach has been done to donate unused food to local charities that would have otherwise gone to waste.

The Cliff House recently celebrated 150 years, is loved by the locals and is a
world-wide destination.

Cliff House
1090 Point Lobos
San Francisco, CA 94121

Oklahoma First District Congressman Jim Bridenstine will be the featured speaker at the August meeting of the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly (TARA) on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

TARA meets at the Golden Corral, 71st and Mingo, just west of US 169. The group gathers at 6 for dinner, announcements at 6:45 and the featured speaker at 7:00. You're encouraged to arrive early to get a seat; a large crowd is expected. Dinner prices are $10.49 for adults, $9.89 for seniors, not including tax and tip.

TARA is the local affiliate of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA). Calling itself the "GOP wing of the Republican Party," the organization and its affiliates seek to hold Republican elected officials to the conservative principles on which they run.

A few thoughts:

I'm disheartened by the outraged reaction from my liberal friends, who are certain that justice was denied, and that a racist murderer has been set free. NBC, CNN, President Obama, and other public figures and opinionators did race relations and common sense in America a grave disservice in the way they depicted the event, distorted the available evidence, and framed it as a racially motivated killing. If you stopped listening and made up your mind at that point, I can understand why you'd be outraged by Zimmerman's acquittal.

But the testimony in the trial, from both prosecution and defense witnesses, paints a very different picture. Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain in an gated townhome community that had experienced several recent burglaries, noticed an unfamiliar man, dressed to match the description of suspects in those crimes. He called 911, described the person, tried to keep him under observation, and requested that the police check out the situation. Meanwhile, Trayvon Martin was on the phone with a friend, complaining that he was being followed by a "creepy-ass cracker." Rather than call 911 and report a stalker, rather than get back to the townhome where he was staying as soon as possible, it appears that Martin chose to confront Zimmerman, wrestling him to the ground and beating Zimmerman's head against the pavement. One witness said it looked like a mixed-martial arts move called "ground and pound." Zimmerman, pinned to the ground, had no means escape, feared for his life, and shot.

Zimmerman is from a mixed-race family and was an outspoken supporter and organizer on behalf of a black homeless man who had been mistreated by local police. He supported President Obama's election. Yet he has been portrayed as a racist who stalked and killed Martin because of his race.

An NBC edit of the 911 call gave the impression that Zimmerman volunteered the race of the person he was watching. In fact, Zimmerman only identified race in response to a question from the dispatcher. NBC retracted the edited version and fired those responsible.

CNN transcribed a comment on the 911 call, putting an old-fashioned, seldom-heard, four-letter racial epithet in Zimmerman's mouth. Monosyllables can be easy to mishear, particularly on distorted low-bandwidth recordings, and once an authoritative source like CNN asserts the identification of an authoritative word, it's hard to hear it as anything else. But CNN later retracted their transcript, and concluded that Zimmerman had said, "It's f***ing cold." Others believe he said, "F***ing punks." But by the time the correction was made, many had already pegged Zimmerman as a racist vigilante and were beyond persuasion.

The use of years-old photos of Zimmerman and Martin also shaped public opinion in a way that framed Zimmerman as a hateful, racist thug who should have had no reason to see baby-faced Martin as a suspicious character.

However the confrontation began, once it advanced to Martin straddling and beating Zimmerman (as corroborated by eyewitnesses and Zimmerman's injuries), it became a matter of self-defense for Zimmerman. All the preliminaries became irrelevant at that point to Zimmerman's guilt or innocence. Zimmerman said he believed his life was in danger, believed Martin would grab Zimmerman's gun and use it against him, so Zimmerman grabbed the gun and shot.

Wikipedia has a detailed, heavily footnoted, and dispassionate summary of the evidence and varying accounts of the incident. Will Saletan at Slate describes the case as a tragedy of misperception and overreaction by both Zimmerman and Martin. The New York Times has a series of aerial photos showing the progression and location of events leading to the shooting.

This case has been portrayed as being about race in America, but there's no evidence that racial animus drove Zimmerman's actions. But if Martin did in fact confront Zimmerman and initiate the struggle that led to the shooting, I have to wonder if Martin's response to Zimmerman's surveillance was conditioned by the racial grievance industry and a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude that he owed no one an explanation of who he was and why he belonged there.

Some may say that, as a white man, I am blind to the realities of race in America, and the suspicion that surrounds blacks, particularly young black men. But as a man, particularly as a man who wears a beard, I am continually aware that my presence in an unfamiliar place could be a source of worry to others, and that my expression, gait, demeanor, and dress can either reassure or stoke fears.

My favorite form of exercise is walking, and I would much rather walk through a historic neighborhood admiring homes than perambulate an oval indoor track. I'm interested in cities and neighborhoods and development, and when I travel I like to walk or drive through interesting areas and take pictures. I know that my strolling and staring and picture-taking may trigger worries, and that I need to be ready to give a calm and confident answer to anyone who questions what I'm up to.

In 2008, I was driving back from visiting relatives near Lawrence, Kansas, at night. As I passed through downtown Ottawa, I was taken by the beautiful neon of the Plaza Theater and stopped (no one behind me) to roll down the window to take a photo. A police officer spotted me and pulled me over. He asked me what I was drinking (Diet Coke) and why I was taking pictures. He thought I might be casing the jewelry store next door to the theater. I was tired and a bit shaken up, but I answered him calmly, and my calm demeanor, along with the sleeping toddler in the back seat in his car seat, set the officer at ease, and I proceeded onward to my destination. What if, instead, I had been incensed at his unwarranted inference, and had responded with hostility?

I recall another occasion many years earlier, when I worked at Burtek. I would sometimes pick up some lunch at a drive-thru (usually Lee's Chicken, Arby's, or Burger Street) and drive to McClure Park, about a half-mile from work, find a shady spot to park the car, and I'd eat, read the paper, and listen to Paul Harvey on KRMG (or if I was late getting away to lunch, KGGF's later broadcast) on the car radio. Once I parked under a tree along the south side of 7th Street, the northern boundary of the park. I noticed a woman who appeared to be from a nearby house striding with determination toward my car. She shot me a nasty look, walked around behind my car, and made a show of writing down my license plate number. I don't recall how I reacted, but I think I asked in a loud voice if there was a problem. She simply walked away. It was odd, but I figured out later that there must have been a burglary or some other suspicious activity nearby, and my presence marked me as a suspect. I think I avoided parking on 7th for a time after that, even though I had every right to park there and there were some very nice shade trees to park under. I didn't want to give anyone a reason to suspect me of wrongdoing.

If I find myself walking down a street with just one person ahead of me, particularly if the other person is female, I will adjust my pace or even cross the street to make it clear to the other person that I'm not going to approach. It's a matter of being considerate and thoughtful of the way my actions will be viewed by others.

Trayvon Martin didn't deserve to die for seeming to be suspicious and that wasn't why he died. He died because of a fight in which he physically beat another person and put the other person in fear for his life. A simple "can I help you?" followed by a gentle explanation would have avoided the confrontation, the fight, and the shooting.

MORE: Robert Stacy McCain reports that Martin's possession of stolen goods and marijuana were treated as disciplinary incidents rather than juvenile crime, in an effort by school police officials to reduce the Miami school district's crime stats:

Both of Trayvon's suspensions during his junior year at Krop High involved crimes that could have led to his prosecution as a juvenile offender. However, Chief Charles Hurley of the Miami-Dade School Police Department (MDSPD) in 2010 had implemented a policy that reduced the number of criiminal reports, manipulating statistics to create the appearance of a reduction in crime within the school system. Less than two weeks before Martin's death, the school system commended Chief Hurley for "decreasing school-related juvenile delinquency by an impressive 60 percent for the last six months of 2011." What was actually happening was that crimes were not being reported as crimes, but instead treated as disciplinary infractions.

McCain says that, had Martin been taken into custody as a juvenile offender in Miami, he would not have been in Sanford, Florida. Instead, he was suspended from school, and he was sent to stay with his father's girlfriend in Sanford.

Breitbart.com reports that Obama's Department of Justice provided logistical support for anti-Zimmerman protests in Florida.

STILL MORE:

I missed this, but Detective Christopher Serino testified that George Zimmerman responded with relief when told Serino mentioned that the altercation may have been captured on video:

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara questioned Serino about Zimmerman's fourth interview with police, when Serino teamed up with Officer Doris Singleton for a more aggressive line of questioning.

Serino stated that, during that interview, he suggested to Zimmerman there were surveillance cameras in the area of the shooting that could have captured the attack.

Zimmerman responded, "Thank God, I was hoping somebody videotaped it."

Singleton, also present during the interview, testified that she did not find any significant differences between Zimmerman's oral and written statements, and found no evidence Zimmerman had any ill will, spite or hatred toward Martin. Singleton added that Zimmerman appeared to be in shock when he learned that Martin was dead.

This YouTube video has the relevant section of Serino's testimony beginning at 30:38. And Legal Insurrection has a detailed account of Serino's testimony.

A year ago, Jack Cashill published a detailed timeline of Trayvon Martin's last hour, based on the 7-11 surveillance camera and phone records.

Miss_Anne_Elk.jpgDr. Wendy Sullivan, acting administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (the parent agency for the National Weather Service), questioned the value of earlier warnings for those in the path of a tornado, suggesting that the early warning might lull residents into a sense of complacency.

Sullivan was testifying before the Technology Subcommittee of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, responding to a question from U. S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine. Bridenstine asked whether increasing tornado warning lead times to as much as an hour was a priority for NOAA. Dr. Sullivan's response was surprising:

There's a significant response question as to what people would do with one hour.... What do we need to understand about how to present and communicate that so that it doesn't become something someone heard and got busy with some thing else and by the time the hour came they were immersed in... a video game and the tornado ran right over them.

Sure, you have to be concerned about how to communicate urgency and move people to action, but the point of early warning is to prompt people to take action right then. For a sufficiently powerful storm, with an hour's warning you would have hope of getting out of the path of the storm or getting to a neighbor's storm shelter or to the big shelter that your neighborhood school may have some day. An hour would give emergency planners time to evaluate the best course of action for citizens in the path of the storm, time to redirect traffic that might be passing through the danger zone.

I have my doubts about whether we'll ever be able to know an hour in advance that a tornado is coming or where it's headed, but if we could know, wouldn't we want to pass along the information to the public, rather than withhold it for fear they might misuse it. Dr. Sullivan's answer amounts to saying, "We won't warn the provident and wise because the foolish and impulsive will ignore us."

noaa_wendy_sullivan.PNGThe photo above is not Dr. Wendy Sullivan. It is Anne Elk [Miss], a paleontologist with a new theory about the brontosaurus. Actually, it's John Cleese in a dress and a wig, in the 31st episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. That's Dr. Sullivan to the left.

okgop2013.pngConservative political pundit Fred Barnes will be the keynote speaker at the Oklahoma Republican Party's pre-convention gala dinner, Friday, April 19, 2013. Gov. Mary Fallin and former Gov. Frank Keating will also speak, and Keating will serve as emcee.

Tickets start at $50 per person, with proceeds going to support the ongoing work of the Oklahoma Republican Party. For $125 per person ($225 per couple), you can attend the reception and have a photo-op with Fred Barnes.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of the Weekly Standard, co-founding the magazine in 1995. He has been a Fox News contributor since 1996. You may have first encountered him along with Mort Kondracke as regular panelists on "The McLaughlin Group" in the 1990s; the two then co-hosted Fox News's "The Beltway Boys."

I predict that Mr. Barnes will be warmly welcomed by Oklahoma Republicans, and not merely as a fellow conservative, but also (for perhaps the majority of us) as a fellow follower of Christ. He lives out his faith in often-hostile territory -- both in the DC metro area and in the realm of mass media. He understands first-hand, in a way that many of his right-of-center media colleagues do not, the aspects of the Christian faith that have motivated so many Oklahoma Christians to be involved politically, but also that one's Christian faith is much, much more than one's political involvement.

Barnes is an evangelical Anglican, a long-time member of The Falls Church, which withdrew from the Episcopal Church USA for the mainline denomination's radical departures from God's Word and which was recently evicted by the mainline denomination and the courts from its historic home. In 2007, Barnes and his wife Barbara left The Falls Church to help launch a new evangelical Anglican church being planted in Alexandria by The Falls Church. Barnes wrote about the experience of being involved in church planting in the Wall Street Journal.

Many thanks to the Oklahoma Republican Party for sponsoring BatesLine.

MORE:

Fred Barnes archive at The Weekly Standard: His latest column asks why the Republican Party gave up our best issue and stopped talking about growth.

And here's Barnes, along with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and others, speaking in support of Birthmothers, a ministry that connects women in unplanned pregnancies with a supportive friend and the emotional and physical resources they need to bring their children into the world.

In 2008, I encountered Fred Barnes in a St. Paul elevator on the way to hear a talk by Fred Thompson.

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 thomas.loc.gov, 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.

MORE:

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.

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 WelchOK.com, 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.

TiffanyTranscriptions.com: "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?)

If you feel squeezed there's a reason -- 13 federal tax increases hitting the middle class so far this year. This video from the Heritage Foundation spells it out:

Two foolish Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature have succeed in moving forward a bill that would subject Oklahoma's electoral college votes to the results of the national popular vote. State Sen. Rob Johnson and State Rep. Don Armes are the sponsors of SB 906, and on Thursday, February 20, 2013, the Senate Rules Committee moved the bill forward with a "do pass" recommendation. Republican Senators Don Barrington, Cliff Branan, Rob Johnson, Rob Standridge, Ann Griffin, Ron Justice, and Bryce Marlatt and Democrat Senators Constance Johnson, Jabar Shumate, Al McAffrey, and John Sparks voted in favor; Republicans Rick Brinkley, Kim David, Eddie Fields, John Ford, Jim Halligan, Clark Jolley, and Gary Stanislawski, and Democrat Charles Wyrick voted against.

Two of the "aye" Republican votes are assistant majority floor leaders and one is the Rules Committee chairman. All seven Republican bozoes who voted for this should be removed by their caucus from any positions of responsibility. They have voted to make Oklahoma's electoral votes hostage to the depredations of the legendary vote fraudsters who reign over places like Chicago, New Orleans, and Philadelphia.

Among the many advantages of the Electoral College system is that it creates a firewall against fraud. We don't have one election for president but 51 separate elections. No matter how many fraudulent votes are manufactured in Chicago, it can only affect Illinois' electoral votes; it won't have any effect on the outcome in Florida or even neighboring Indiana. In fact, we'd be well-served to have even more firewalls, with each congressional district choosing an elector, as is already done in Nebraska and Maine, so that Chicago fraud would only affect Chicago congressional districts. Electoral vote by congressional district would give urban areas influence in predominantly rural states (e.g. Lawrence/Kansas City, Kansas) and would give rural and suburban areas influence in states with large urban concentrations (e.g. upstate New York, Orange County, California, downstate Illinois).

Thanks to Brandon Dutcher for the Twitter tip on this story.

carson_benjamin.jpgDr. Benjamin S. Carson, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was the featured speaker at this morning's National Prayer Breakfast, and he delivered a powerful, inspiring, and wide-ranging 25-minute message which touched on the self-discipline and education necessary for self-government, the urgent need to avoid the moral decay and fiscal irresponsibility that led to the fall of ancient Rome, the dangers of political correctness, and the need to give as much honor to academic achievement as we do to athletic achievement.

Regarding that last point, Carson spoke of his Carson Scholars Fund, which is designed to treat academic high achievers as the stars that they are, with trophies and recognition and college scholarships. The fund also sponsors reading rooms in elementary schools, where children have access to a wide range of books to help them develop their reading skills in a welcoming environment.

Carson spoke about how reading transformed his own life. He and his brother would not apply themselves to their school work, but his mother prayed that God would give her wisdom to help her sons learn. She then restricted their TV viewing to a minimal amount and required them to read two books each week from the library and to write a book report about each. She dealt with complaints from her sons and resistance from other mothers, who told her that keeping her boys inside and reading would make them hate her, but she stuck to her plan. Eventually, he came to love reading, and his reading taught him that he could control his own destiny, and that the poverty he hated need be only temporary.

In the course of the speech, Carson compared Alexis de Tocqueville's account of education and literacy in 19th century America to the state of education today; he cited the Biblical tithe, with its standard percentage for all, as a model of the fairest and simplest approach to taxation; and he commended individual Health Savings Accounts as a means to provide access to care for all while controlling costs and encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health. Carson suggested that the government could fund HSAs for those who cannot afford to fund their own.

Carson presented all of his thoughts as mere common sense informed by history, without wading into the usual terminology of ideological or partisan debate.

Hat tip to fellow blogger Nice Deb, who has video of Dr. Ben Carson's speech and links to reporting and commentary on the speech.

Photo of Dr. Ben Carson courtesy carsonscholars.org.

A friend posted tonight on Facebook that it was embarrassing that U. S. Sen. Jim Inhofe voted against the confirmation of his former Senate colleague, John Kerry (D-Mass.), as Secretary of State. Comments in reply generally agreed with this sentiment, casting aspersions on Oklahoma and Oklahomans in general. The embarrassed friend stated further in the comments, "It is astounding to me that I don't know anyone who will admit to voting for him, but he keeps winning."

I've voted for Jim Inhofe at every opportunity since his last run for mayor. One commenter made a subtle point, referring to Inhofe: "Perhaps he recalls Winter Soldier. And Kerry throwing somebody else's medals over the White House fence. And referring to Bashar Assad as a 'reformer.'"

Here's an essay from 2004, when Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president, about John Kerry's decades of flirtation with corrupt and vicious left-wing dictators. The essay quotes then Sen. Zell Miller, a Democrat who spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention:

For more than twenty years, on every one of the great issues of freedom and security, John Kerry has been more wrong, more weak and more wobbly than any other national figure.

I don't always agree with Jim Inhofe. Some of his interventions in local politics have been particularly irksome to me, but I'm proud to vote for a senator who believes that a lifelong apologist for thugs and dictators should not represent America to the rest of the world.

Blog roundup 2013/01/28

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Notes hither and thither:

If you're a fan of beautiful cartoon art, you should make at least a weekly visit to Whirled of Kelly, which features the art work of Walt Kelly, most famous for the comic strip Pogo. Blogger Thomas Haller Buchanan has been running a series of Sunday strips from 1952, scanned in color from the newspaper. The sequence involves Albert telling a fractured fairy tale called Handle and Gristle. The January 2013 archive also includes scans of Story Book Records from 1946: The discs were illustrated by Walt Kelly, and he's the reader on the recordings.

Nice Deb's Sunday tradition is a hymn, and this week it's a metrical setting of Psalm 23: The King of Love My Shepherd Is.

Maggie's Notebook has a bizarre story: The State of Delaware is stripping its county sheriff's departments (all three of them) of the power to make arrests and enforce the law. This despite a constitutional provision that says that "the Sheriffs shall be conservators of the peace within the counties respectively in which they reside." Only one of the three sheriffs, from Sussex County, is objecting to the change.

Route 66 News reports on a new Route 66 Dining and Lodging Guide, handy for finding comfortable, historic, and locally owned along Route 66. (I love Jack Rittenhouse's guidebook, but it's old enough to collect Social Security, and Michael Wallis's book is old enough to drink.)

Yesterday was Gun Appreciation Day, with huge rallies at state capitols across the nation to remind officials that millions of Americans are determined to protect their right to keep and bear arms, a right with roots in the English Common Law long before the passage of the 2nd Amendment that enshrines it. (Hat tip to Ace of Spades HQ.)

Did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr., applied for a concealed carry permit? Did you know that white officials in Alabama abused their discretion to deny him that permit? King and his team owned "an arsenal" of weapons to protect him against the forces that sought to harm him.

An interesting related quote from King about tyrants and oppressors:

Martin Luther King Jr. once said of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred World War II pastor, "if your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi. But if you enemy has no conscience, like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer."

Bonhoeffer, a German pastor, theologian, and pacifist, joined a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler, but was captured and executed when the plot failed.

WikiQuote has a long list of quotations from America's Founding Fathers and others regarding the right to keep and bear arms. George Mason, in 1788, in Virginia's debate on ratifying the Constitution of the United States:

Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.

Patrick Henry, during the same debates, arguing against adopting the Constitution in the absence of a bill of rights:

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined....

Happy will you be if you miss the fate of those nations, who, omitting to resist their oppressors, or negligently suffering their liberty to be wrested from them, have groaned under intolerable despotism! Most of the human race are now in this deplorable condition; and those nations who have gone in search of grandeur, power, and splendor, have also fallen a sacrifice, and been the victims of their own folly. While they acquired those visionary blessings, they lost their freedom. My great objection to this government is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights, or of waging war against tyrants. It is urged by some gentlemen, that this new plan will bring us an acquisition of strength--an army, and the militia of the states. This is an idea extremely ridiculous: gentlemen cannot be earnest. This acquisition will trample on our fallen liberty. Let my beloved Americans guard against that fatal lethargy that has pervaded the universe. Have we the means of resisting disciplined armies, when our only defence, the militia, is put into the hands of Congress?

Noah Webster, arguing in support of the Constitution in the pamphlet An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (1787):

But what is tyranny? Or how can a free people be deprived of their liberties? Tyranny is the exercise of some power over a man, which is not warranted by law, or necessary for the public safety. A people can never be deprived of their liberties, whlie they retain in their own hands a power superior to any other power in the state....

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force at the command of Congress can execute no laws but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive. In spite of all the nominal powers vested in Congress by the constitution. were the system once adopted in its fullest latitude, still the actual exercise of them would be frequently interrupted by popular jealousy. I am bold to say that ten just and constitutional measures would be resisted, where one unjust or oppressive law would be enforced. The powers vested in Congress are little more than nominal; nay real power cannot be vested in them nor in any body but in the people. The source of power is in the people of this country and cannot for ages, and probably never will, be removed.

Meanwhile, at the New York State Legislature, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin was asked not to share a list of gun control measures floated by Democrats in the legislature as "it really has the capacity to dampen the enthusiasm to compromise." (Video at the link.) The list included a statewide database for all guns, a seemingly reasonable measure that has been used in other countries to lay the groundwork for later confiscation.

MORE: Susanna Gratia Hupp, a survivor of the Luby's massacre, explains why the number of bullets in a clip doesn't matter, and how the rules that discourage keeping a gun on your person at all times cost her parents their lives.

STILL MORE: Newly elected Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm has authored three bills to protect the rights of Oklahomans to keep and bear arms. One bill would treat our vehicles as an extension of our homes, allowing a firearm to be in the car without the need of a special license to carry.

Maggie's Notebook quotes extensively a column by Larry Elder, a Chicago native. It's not the gun culture that results in hundreds of murders every year in places like Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia; it's the fatherless culture.

Have seen only one press release so far from our congressmen and senators on the "compromise" they approved yesterday. Both Oklahoma senators and four out of five congressmen voted in favor of the Senate version of the bill, which raises income taxes on individuals and small businesses, does not extend the payroll tax cut, and does not cut spending, instead adding $4 trillion more to our national debt. Only one Oklahoma congressman, James Lankford, voted with the majority of House Republicans against the bill; Sullivan, Boren, Lucas, and Cole voted in favor. This appears to be the final roll call for Sullivan and Boren.

Here's the statement from Tom Coburn's office:

While this bill is far from perfect, it does prevent massive tax increases while making tax cuts permanent for 99 percent of Americans. Congress and the president, however, have a lot of work to do to address our long-tern spending problem. Our debt - which is 120 percent of our economy if you count federal, state and local debt - is still the greatest threat to our national security. We will never address that threat until Congress and the president acknowledge that the only way to save entitlement programs is to change them.

MORE: Jim Inhofe defended the bill on KRMG, describing it as a choice between the compromise with its flaws and the cost of doing nothing.

Has anyone heard any comment from the two incoming Oklahoma congressmen, Jim Bridenstine and Markwayne Mullin?

UPDATE 2013/01/03: Jim Inhofe tells Human Events that he's now Mitch McConnell's biggest fan:

"Why any conservative could not look at this bill and rejoice is beyond me," the senator told Human Events--in fact, phoning us early Thursday morning from a Midas muffler shop in Tulsa where he was having work done on his car. Inhofe had just finished with more than a dozen interviews on Sooner State talk radio on the bill and, as he told us, "one of our popular talk show hosts here in Tulsa, Pat Campbell, had been a vigorous opponent of the measure but I think I turned him around."

"When 99 percent of the taxpayers get a very large reduction in their taxes, you can't say it's not a conservative victory," he explained. "I think that many were upset because the bill didn't have spending cuts. Well, this was a tax bill and cutting spending is the next step, along with dealing with sequestration, so we don't disarm America. We'll deal with that shortly."

Inhofe cited the high income threshold on the capital gains rate, the limitations on the imposition of the death tax, and the fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax as far better than the alternative with the expiration of the George W. Bush era tax cuts.

For his part, Pat Campbell, host of the morning show on 1170 KFAQ, wrote on Facebook about Inhofe's comments: "Now this takes balls!" Campbell also wrote, "I still think this deal is a disaster!"

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn issued this statement Sunday evening, December 30, 2012, regarding negotiations over the renewal of expiring tax cuts approved during the George W. Bush Administration. Emphasis added:

No agreement has been reached because too many politicians in Washington want to raise taxes in order to grow the government rather than decrease the deficit. If politicians want to raise taxes and stop spending cuts without offering alternative cuts, which is precisely where we are now, they should have the courage to be transparent and make that case publicly, not in secret.

We're stuck because many in Congress want to move toward Clinton-era tax rates but not Clinton-era spending. According to numbers provided by the White House, total federal spending is more than twice what it was during Bill Clinton's final year in office. As a percent of GDP, federal spending was 18 percent then compared to 24 percent now. If Congress wants to turn off sequestration we should replace those cuts with smart, targeted cuts. Our government throws away at least $350 billion every year through waste, fraud and duplication. Replacing across-the-board cuts with targeted cuts would not be difficult if Congress had the courage and political will to act.

In the final few hours before the fiscal cliff, Senate Majority Leader Reid should offer the American people an open, transparent and unlimited floor debate in the United States Senate. I have no doubt that if a balanced plan was brought to the floor in this fashion it would pass by an overwhelming margin.

The news release reminds that Coburn issued his own $9 trillion deficit reduction plan, Back to Black, in July 2011.

SOMEWHAT RELATED: Dave Barry's 2012 in review:

Speaking of troubled, in ...

December

... there is much fiscal-cliff drama in Washington as Congress and the White House -- after months of engaging in cynical posturing and political gamesmanship while putting off hard decisions about a dangerous crisis that everyone knew was coming -- finally get serious about working together to come up with a way to appear to take decisive action without actually solving anything.

MORE: Sen. Coburn appeared on CBS Face the Nation Sunday, December 30, 2012, with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

Mother Jones, a left wing magazine, has been reporting on a feud at FreedomWorks between former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, the chairman of FreedomWorks, and his allies on one side, and FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe and his supporters on the other. Kibbe and Armey co-wrote Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto in 2010. Armey's resignation from FreedomWorks was announced in early December. Stacy McCain has the story and the links.

Reports say that Armey attempted to get Kibbe removed but that the board encouraged Armey to leave with a reported payout of $8 million.

Dick Armey at the March on Washington, September 12, 2010, S3016625

FreedomWorks was arguing for Tea Party ideals for many years before the Tea Party came into existence in 2008. The group has positioned itself as a servant to the Tea Party movement, providing training, research, and networking to help Americans turn their concern about Washington's fiscal insanity into effective grassroots action.

FreedomWorks has been an effective watchdog, helping to vet candidates by digging deep into their records on fiscal issues, calling attention to the Romney campaign's power grab at the 2012 Republican National Convention rules committee, critiquing the Boehner debt plan and facilitating the grassroots development of an alternative. FreedomWorks VP for health care policy Dean Clancy provided the rationale for states to exercise their prerogative not to set up an Obamacare state exchange.

Matt Kibbe at BlogCon 2012, S3016535

I have gotten to know FreedomWorks mainly through a series of BlogCons -- informative workshops for bloggers. I marched with Dick Armey at the 2010 March on Washington and enjoyed the hospitality of the Kibbes at a post-march gathering at their home. I've had the pleasure of getting to know some of their great staffers, analysts like Dean Clancy, and organizers like Tabitha Hale (now with the Franklin Center), Sarah Desprat (now with Twitchy), and Kristina Ribali. FreedomWorks has made it possible for me to meet and get to know fellow bloggers from coast to coast. So it's worrisome to hear reports of turmoil.

The dispute, as I understand it, centers around this question: Should FreedomWorks judge every politician by their free-market principles, praising when possible, castigating when necessary, without regard to the politician's party affiliation or political connections? Or should FreedomWorks be pragmatic, take it a bit easier on old friends who wield power at the Capitol, even when they oppose us on our key issues? The former view seems to be held by Kibbe and his allies; the latter by Armey and his supporters.

A few reactions:

1. Why aren't the two factions working with their friends in the blogosphere and legacy media to get their side of the story out? Why is Dick Armey telling his story to a far-left magazine, rather than American Spectator? Why haven't Matt Kibbe and FreedomWorks communicated with the many bloggers who attended one or more BlogCons?

2. Back in 2010, I was surprised to learn that Armey was involved with FreedomWorks, particularly with their emphasis on holding elected officials accountable, even the Republicans. Armey won a seat in Congress in 1984 as an economics professor and came to Washington as a reformer and an outsider, but a decade in Washington changed him. Armey gets much of the blame for the failure of the 1997 attempt by Tom Coburn, Steve Largent, and others to oust Newt Gingrich as speaker. The coup and Armey's double-cross is described in detail by Coburn in his book Breach of Trust. In light of that history, I found many of Armey's statements in Give Us Liberty highly ironic. If the reported reasons behind the FreedomWorks dispute are true, I can't say I'm surprised about Armey's departure.

3. If someone can come up with $8 million to pay someone to go away, why doesn't there seem to be money in the conservative movement to sustain the conservative voice in new media and legacy media?

MORE: Since writing this, I've found a couple of right-of-center sources that covered this dispute back at the beginning of December: The Blaze had a story on December 4, mainly regarding the nature of the payment to Armey -- from a private party, not from FreedomWorks or its affiliates. A search for blog entries about this dispute mainly turns up items on left-wing blogs. The same day, Ace of Spades HQ had an item linking to the initial story in Mother Jones.

Roll Call had an item about two other senior resignations from FreedomWorks following Armey's departure, as did Outside the Beltway. Dave Weigel kicked himself for getting scooped.

Erick Erickson wrote about the story today at Red State:

Armey was willing to go in and try to take charge, but was willing to give up the fight for money and then run off to a left-wing publication to tell his side of the story.

If Dick Armey and his friends are concerned about "harm" "done to the movement," perhaps they should not be willingly talking to a left-wing publication that has been pretty clearly looking to harm the conservative movement and bring down conservative groups.

UPDATE 2013/01/03: Blogger Rusty Weiss notes the attempted intervention of Armey and his allies on the board in support of establishment GOP candidates -- for example, Orrin Hatch, whom FreedomWorks attempted to defeat in the nomination process. Weiss notes the irony that Armey had, in April 2012, signed a letter with Kibbe and Armey ally C. Boyden Gray opposing David and Charles Koch's efforts to gain control over the Cato Institute, as it would harm Cato's credibility and "undermine our community's intellectual defenses."

UPDATE 2013/01/09: Dick Armey tells the Daily Caller he thought he was talking to Media Resource Center (a conservative group that documents left-wing bias in media, headed by L. Brent Bozell), not Media Matters (a left-wing, George Soros-funded group headed by David Brock).

And here's the leaked packet from FreedomWorks December 2012 board meeting, containing budget and financial reports and other statistics, shows a tremendous growth both in donations and in number of people engaged with FreedomWorks in some way. By every measure, 2012 was a wildly successful year for FreedomWorks.

On Monday in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Oklahoma's free-market policy think-tank, hosted a forum on health care, highlighting the value of transparency and direct payment in medical pricing, and the accomplishments of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City in providing high-quality health care for reasonable prices.

The Surgery Center, founded in 1997, began posting its prices online a few years ago. The prices only apply to those paying up front (either on their own behalf, or covered by a self-insuring employer), but not to those who have the Surgery Center file an insurance claim for payment. The flat fee covers fees for the surgeon, anaesthesiologist, and facility, initial consultation, and uncomplicated follow-up care. Any hardware and implants needed are quoted in advance and priced at cost -- no markups. The center's website sets out the rationale behind their approach:

It is no secret to anyone that the pricing of surgical services is at the top of the list of problems in our dysfunctional healthcare system. Bureaucracy at the insurance and hospital levels, cost shifting and the absence of free market principles are among the culprits for what has caused surgical care in the United States to be cost prohibitive. As more and more patients find themselves paying more and more out of pocket, it is clear that something must change. We believe that a very different approach is necessary, one involving transparent and direct pricing.

Transparent, direct, package pricing means the patient knows exactly what the cost of the service will be upfront. Fees for the surgeon, anesthesiologist and facility are all included in one low price. There are no hidden costs, charges or surprises.

The pricing outlined on this website is not a teaser, nor is it a bait-and-switch ploy. It is the actual price you will pay. We can offer these prices because we are completely physician-owned and managed. We control every aspect of the facility from real estate costs, to the most efficient use of staff, to the elimination of wasteful operating room practices that non-profit hospitals have no incentive to curb. We are truly committed to providing the best quality care at the lowest possible price.

The forum began with a screening of a short Reason.TV story about the Surgery Center.

It's remarkable that the chairman of the ear, nose, and throat department at Integris Baptist Medical Center, but "prefers to do his procedures at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma."

Some companies have found they can provide better employee surgical care more cost effectively by paying places like Surgery Center directly (and in some cases also paying for travel costs and lodging) rather than paying for conventional insurance.

The forum was broadcast on Ustream and is archived for watching at your leisure. The session starts at 4:40 into the video, introduced by OCPA vice president for policy Brandon Dutcher. You can find it embedded on the OCPA blog or directly on the Surgery Center of Oklahoma's Ustream channel.

(Note to the cameraman: Next time don't be so shy -- get up close!)

Pat McGuigan's story on Oklahoma Watchdog about the forum includes a note on how the center deals with people who can't afford the published price (even though it's typically far more affordable than the same procedure at a non-profit hospital).

In dialogue with CapitolBeatOK, [Surgery Center founder] Dr. [Keith] Smith said the center's approach is helping to restore an old-fashioned medical ethic for provision of charity care. Many referrals to the hospital come from churches and other groups helping the poor. Patients are encouraged in those cases to pay what they can, while physicians and anesthesiologists can (and often do) waive their fees for individuals in need.

Surgery Center does work with insurance companies, but that triggers a separate pricing structure. Dr. Smith explained, "We take on a lot of risks when we file with insurance companies, so we have to charge for that risk."

MORE: Dr. Smith has a frequently updated Tumblr blog commenting on health costs and policy.

Forbes staffer William Baldwin has a list of 11 states in a "fiscal death spiral" because the number of takers exceeds the number of makers and because of high levels of debt and unfunded pension liabilities. For those 11 states, Baldwin says, if you have to live there, fine, but don't buy a house and don't buy municipal bonds in those states.

New Mexico has the worst taker to maker ratio, followed by Mississippi, California, Alabama, Maine, New York, South Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, Hawaii, and Ohio. Here's the complete list. Note that Federal employees are excluded from the total, as state spending is the issue.

UPDATE: I removed the video as Forbes seems to have changed it to start automatically.

Illinois Governor Mark Quinn offers a clear and creative explanation of the crisis faced by his state as a result of decades of underfunding contributions to public pensions:

Quinn avoids casting blame on the public employees or their unions, putting the blame instead on politicians who didn't worry about making the public pension funds actuarially sound. What goes unsaid is that the politicians were buying public employee union support (volunteers, endorsements, campaign funds) with more generous pensions and retirement benefits, while not paying the political price of asking taxpayers to pay enough additional taxes to cover the additional costs of those expanded pensions and benefits.

Other pages on thisismyillinois.com go into a bit more detail about the depth of the crisis and its causes. One interesting stat: There are now more people drawing from Illinois state pension funds as retirees than contributing as current employees. That situation is likely to worsen as pension liabilities force cuts in headcount for current operations. As with Social Security, Illinois politicians assumed, wrongly, that they'd always have more people paying in than taking out. But lifespans have grown and government employees have retired at earlier ages.

This is not an Illinois problem. I'm reminded of a Reuters story that I linked last week about the crisis in the City of San Bernardino, California -- the result of "a vicious circle of self-interest":

Yet on close examination, the city's decades-long journey from prosperous, middle-class community to bankrupt, crime-ridden, foreclosure-blighted basket case is straightforward -- and alarmingly similar to the path traveled by many municipalities around America's largest state. San Bernardino succumbed to a vicious circle of self-interests among city workers, local politicians and state pension overseers.

Little by little, over many years, the salaries and retirement benefits of San Bernardino's city workers -- and especially its police and firemen -- grew richer and richer, even as the city lost its major employers and gradually got poorer and poorer.

Unions poured money into city council elections, and the city council poured money into union pay and pensions. The California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers), which manages pension plans for San Bernardino and many other cities, encouraged ever-sweeter benefits. Investment bankers sold clever bond deals to pay for them. Meanwhile, state law made it impossible to raise local property taxes and difficult to boost any other kind....

A couple of weeks ago, I was showing my six-year-old son the maps of past presidential election results on 270towin.com. We scrolled through the years, as the nation's early parties came and went, noticed odd split-state results, and then looked at the projected map for this year, with red, blue, and beige states.

He wanted to figure out which way the beige swing states would go, so he had me scroll back and forth through the 2000, 2004, and 2008 maps, and for each state he picked the party that had won a state most often of the last three elections. (Not sure why he didn't want to go further back; maybe years that begin with 1 just seem too weird to him.)

Here's his map: Romney 285, Obama 253. Romney takes FL, VA, NC, OH, CO, NV, NH; Obama takes PA, MI, WI, IA.

2012_Electoral_Prediction_MAFB.PNG

My own guess? I think Obama wins NV, Romney wins WI and IA, plus one of the Maine congressional districts. Philadelphia voter intimidation keeps PA in Obama's column. Romney 296, Obama 242.

Comedian Steven Crowder is at the church trunk-or-treat, and he's only trying to be fair. The kids don't think its fair.

"I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." -- candidate Barack Obama to Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbach, 2008.

Brak for President!

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"A vote for Brak is a vote for beans everyday!"

The original ad from 1952:

"We don't want John or Dean or Harry.
Let's do the big job right.
Let's get in step with the guy that's hep.
Get in step with Ike."

Many more presidential TV commercials here from 1952 to the present : "The Living Room Candidate."

Interesting story from Reuters earlier this week: The IRS has filed an objection to the bankruptcy plan of Solyndra, the failed solar panel manufacturer that had been backed by Federal loan guarantees and the investment arm of the George Kaiser Family Foundation:

Solyndra's bankruptcy plan could prove a further embarrassment to the administration if it is seen rewarding risk-driven venture capitalists ahead of unsecured creditors such as suppliers and laid-off staff.

In its court filing on Wednesday, the IRS opposed Solyndra's plan. If approved by creditors, a holding company would emerge from bankruptcy with no employees or business operations - but as much as $350 million in tax breaks that could be used by Solyndra's investors, including Argonaut Ventures.

Argonaut is the investment arm of a foundation tied to the Democratic fundraiser, Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser. Most of the tax breaks would come in the form of Net Operating Losses (NOLs) which could be used to offset future taxable income.

Meanwhile, under the bankruptcy plan Solyndra's creditors would receive pennies on the dollar, the IRS said, adding that the principal purpose of the plan is "tax avoidance."...

The IRS cited emails from Kaiser to one of the venture firm's managing directors.

"I would go a long way to preserve the NOLs," Kaiser wrote in December 2010.

As Argonaut, Solyndra and its tax professionals worked to determine the amount of tax breaks available to Solyndra, the company's chief financial officer was advised to delay a particular transaction which would have reduced the available NOLs by $100 million, the court filing said.

Thumbnail image for IVoted.jpgToday, October 12, 2012, is the last day for Oklahoma residents to register to vote for the November 6, 2012, election. You can download a voter registration application and print it, but you have to sign it (swearing an oath that you are eligible to vote -- in general, 18 years old, a U. S. Citizen, and a resident of Oklahoma, not a felon, not incapacitated) and submit it to the election board for processing and approval.

The Tulsa County Election Board, 555 N. Denver Ave., will be open until midnight tonight to register voters. Other counties may also have extended hours; here's a list of county election board locations and phone numbers and county election board email addresses.

I'm really not trying to encroach on Tasha Does Tulsa's territory -- she has the definitive guide to Tulsa area pumpkin patches, by the way -- but there are so many interesting things to do in and around Tulsa this week that I decided to put a bunch of events into one big entry.

artur_davis_ocpa.jpgOn Wednesday, October 10, 2012, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs will hold its annual Liberty Gala at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel. Featured speakers are former Congressman Artur Davis and political analyst and author John Fund.

Also on Wednesday, from 6:15 to 8:00 pm at the Schusterman-Benson Library, 3333 E. 32nd Place, the League of Women Voters will conduct a Senate District 39 forum between the incumbent, Senator Brian Crain, and the challenger, neighborhood leader Julie Hall.

Also on Wednesday, and only on Wednesday, October 10, 2012, Cinemark Tulsa, 10802 E 71st St, will show Gone with the Wind, at 2 pm and 7 pm. It's part of a series of landmark films -- next Wednesday they'll show Mary Poppins.

Trinity Episcopal Church, 501 S. Cincinnati Ave. in downtown Tulsa, is hosting Gloriae Dei Cantores (Singers to the Glory of God). Tonight, Tuesday, October 9, 2012, they will present a workshop on Gregorian chant at 7:30 pm, followed by a sung service of Compline (prayers at the close of day) at 9:00 pm in Trinity's beautiful Gothic Revival sanctuary. Both events are free and open to the public.

Then on Thursday, October 11, 2012, at 7:30 pm at Trinity, the Gloriae Dei Cantores will present the annual Thomas Matthews Memorial Concert. Matthews was the long-time organist and choirmaster of Trinity and a renowned composer of choral anthems. The concert will be followed by a gala reception. The event is free and childcare will be available.

The Tulsa Hackathon begins Friday night, October 12, 2012, at 6 pm and runs all night long and all day Saturday until 9 pm, at the Tulsa Fab Lab, 710 S. Lewis Ave. App developers will gather for a 24-hour marathon design and coding session, fueled by pizza and beer, to develop new apps for Tulsa's benefit.

Thumbnail image for Johnnie-Lee-Wills-Rompin'-FrontUG.jpgSaturday night, October 13, 2012, 7 pm to 9 pm, music historian John Wooley will present his weekly western swing broadcast on Public Radio 89.5 KWGS, "Swing on This," live from Cain's Ballroom, with a dance in honor of bandleader Johnnie Lee Wills' 100th birthday. The Tulsa Playboys will be joined by Cowbop, a California western swing band. It's a benefit for KWGS, and reserved table seats are $40, available at Cain's box office, Ida Red, Reasor's, and Starship, or by calling 866-977-6849.

20120127-Coburn-Levin-PSIhearing.jpgA Senate subcommittee staff report just released says that state and local fusion centers, backed by "somewhere between $289 million and $1.4 billion" in federal funds, "have been unable to meaningfully contribute to federal counterterrorism efforts" and that the U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "does not adequately oversee its financial support for fusion centers." Many centers, the report states, "didn't consider counterterrorism an explicit part of their mission, and federal officials said some were simply not concerned with doing counterterrorism work."

The report is the result of a two-year-long bipartisan probe into federally-funded fusion centers instigated by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, prepared jointly by the majority and minority staff of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The report will be released Wednesday morning, October 3, 2012, on the subcommittee's website.

The investigation looked at "more than a year's worth of intelligence reporting from centers, conducting a nationwide survey of fusion centers, and examining thousands of pages of financial records and grant documentation." Despite combing through 13 months of fusion center reporting, the "Subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot.

The report cites money wasted on SUVs, televisions, and surveillance equipment unnecessary to the mission, non-existent fusion centers that nonetheless are funded by DHS, and worthless "intelligence reports" that waste the time of DHS counterterrorism analysts, including some that, contrary to law, reported on U. S. citizens lawfully exercising their 1st Amendment rights.

Worse yet, "senior DHS officials were aware of the problems... but did not always inform Congress of the issues, nor ensure the problems were fixed in a timely manner." DHS conducted two assessments of fusion centers, in 2010 and 2011, finding "widespread deficiencies" and "ongoing weaknesses." When the Senate subcommittee requested a copy of the 2010 assessment, "DHS at first denied it existed, then disputed whether it could be shared with Congress, before ultimately providing a copy."

Fusion centers are funded by DHS through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs and provides support services through its State and Local Program Office (DLPO). While fusion centers may be useful for state, local, and tribal governments to pursue traditional criminal investigations, the purpose behind federal support for fusion centers was because of their potential value in supporting DHS's counterterrorism efforts, by spotting threat information to be shared with and analyzed by DHS.

MORE: G. W. Schulz of the Center for Investigative Reporting has been covering stories of wasteful Homeland Security spending for years. Schulz and fellow CIR reporter Andrew Becker have an analysis of the Senate report on fusion centers.

The nation's vast network of anti-terrorism "fusion centers" for law enforcement have produced shoddy, untimely and often useless intelligence reports that have done little to keep the U.S. safer, a scathing U.S. Senate report concludes.

The 141-page report, a copy of which was obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, identified problems with nearly every significant aspect of the Department of Homeland Security's more than 70 fusion centers, which were designed for law enforcement to coordinate their intelligence gathering.

The report marks one of the most blistering indictments to date of the Department of Homeland Security's domestic intelligence operation. The department, investigators conclude, "has not attempted to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the value federal taxpayers have received for that investment."

(Tulsa readers will no doubt recall the very thorough features and investigative stories that Schulz produced for Urban Tulsa Weekly as the paper's city reporter about seven years ago.)

pray_campaign_button.jpegAuthor Eric Metaxas, who has written biographies of two men whose fervent Christian faith impelled them to act decisively and sacrificially in the realm of politics -- William Wilberforce of England and Dietrich Bonhoeffer of Germany -- calls Christians in America to fast and pray for the 40 days leading up to our general election. That means starting this Thursday, September 27, 2012 (links added):

We often worry and/or complain about what's happening in our nation, but can we doubt that God wants us to pray about it in a concerted way? Can there be a time more conducive to focusing our attentions than the 40 days before this extremely important election? Exactly how we do this is up to each of us -- perhaps you could fast one day per week, or gather with friends to pray once per week -- but won't you join me in this, believing and knowing that God longs for His people to take their concerns to Him -- to be anxious "for nothing" and to pray boldly and with faith and trust Him with the results? So many people wonder: "What can I do?" We can do this. If the church has forgotten that God answers prayers, there really is no hope. Jesus said: "Ask and it will be given unto you." So won't you join me in asking? And please tell your pastors and friends about this. God bless you. And may God bless America for His purposes -- so that we can be a blessing to the rest of the world.

If you plan to be part of a concerted season of prayer and fasting leading up to the election, let us know about it in the comments below or send me an email.

In case you missed it, here's the video of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, serving as Democratic National Convention chairman last week, presiding over a vote to amend the Democratic national platform on two controversial points -- the restoration of a reference to God and to Jerusalem as Israel's capitol -- that had been removed by the Platform Committee:

It seems fairly clear that there were not two-thirds in the affirmative on any of the three attempts at a vote.

It's not clear to me what the woman next to Villaraigosa -- the parliamentarian, I assume -- meant by "gotta let them what they're gonna do." It could be taken as, "All you can do is call for the vote; it's their decision." Or it could be taken as, "Let them holler, but the ruling is there to be read off of the teleprompter."

Two things are striking about the wide shots of the crowd -- how empty the convention hall was and how small it was. At the Republican National Convention, all the delegates were on the arena floor, with guests and media in the stadium seats. The Democrats used the stadium seats to accommodate the delegates.

When the mainstream media were too busy lining up to service Slick Willie for old time's sake (metaphorically speaking), blogger Jeff Dunetz did the heavy lifting we used to expect reporters to do. Dunetz compared this year's platform with 2008's and uncovered the dropping of the reference to God and the reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, along with three other key pro-Israel points in the 2008 platform regarding Hamas, the status of Palestinian refugees, and the pre-1967 borders. For his efforts, Dunetz was called a troll by Dave Weigel, a member by his own admission of the mainstream media herd too busy enjoying the show to dig into the substance of the convention.

There were, reportedly, 15,000 members of the media in Charlotte, of whom maybe 14,980 could have given a damn about the party platform. On Tuesday night, when the Obama campaign and the DNC released its platform, none of the bigfoot media outlets in town spent time on the text.

Shame on them for missing the meat of the story.

But Tuesday morning, Jeff Dunetz already had the story, and by Wednesday it had caught fire, forcing the Obama campaign to go into damage control mode. Not paying close attention to the DNC, I was tipped to the scandal by a Jewish friend who announced on Facebook that, despite his dislike for Romney's economic policies, he could not bring himself to vote for Obama, because of these platform changes.

It amazes me that President Obama's team wasn't watching the platform committee deliberations closely enough to squelch these changes in committee. This last minute fix suggests that the Obama campaign was happy with the changes, until they were frightened by the public outcry from many of their supporters, or that the campaign simply doesn't have its act together.

By the way, although the reference to Jerusalem was restored, the other three pro-Israel points were not restored. It will be interesting to see whether the platform change (and its obvious rejection by rank-and-file Democrats) will be sufficient to win back the pro-Israel voters who announced plans to drop Obama over these changes.

P. S. I'd like to say the Republicans were better than the Democrats, but something very similar happened at the Republican National Convention the week before, with Speaker John Boehner appearing not to hear accurately the delegates objecting to a radical change to the Republican party rules pushed by a Romney ally.

Somehow tonight around the dinner table we got to talking about the Electoral College -- the 538 people who really get to vote for President of the United States. I talked about the two groups of seven Oklahomans that will be on our November 6 ballot -- seven pledged to vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, seven pledged to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden -- about how Oklahomans will vote for one group or another, and the group with the most votes will gather in Oklahoma City in December to cast their ballots for president and vice president. Those ballots will be sent to Congress, where they will be opened in early January and counted in a joint session of Congress, and if a candidate gets at least 270 electoral votes, he will become president.

As I describe how electors vote, my 12-year-old daughter came up with a great question: What if an elector doesn't vote for the candidate he's pledged to vote for? I told her about faithless electors in the past, like the fellow in 1976 who voted for Ronald Reagan instead of Gerald Ford, but that they had never swayed an election. I told her about the year she was born, 2000, when it was close enough that as few as two faithless electors would have changed the result, and there was talk of Democratic efforts to pry loose a few Bush electors by threatening electors with exposure of embarrassing personal information. A faithless elector might be subject to fines, but it wouldn't change the effect of his vote.

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My daughter's response to all this was that it would be important for the Republican Party not to choose Ron Paul supporters as electors. I told her that Oklahoma's Republican elector candidates had already been picked and explained how one was chosen at each congressional district convention, and two were chosen at the state convention. Larry Williamson, a long-time party volunteer who had supported Santorum in the primary, was nominated from our district. He spoke about the history and importance of the electoral college and pledged to support the party nominee. He won over a handful of other candidates, including our nominee from 2008 -- she'd already had a turn. I explained that we try to pick people with a long history of party involvement and loyalty, rather than someone who is new and whose loyalties aren't yet proven.

She also asked about what would happen if Ron Paul supporters broke off to form a third party -- another great question. After the dinner dishes were cleared away, I opened the laptop and showed her the map of the 1992 presidential election, and how Bill Clinton won the presidency with only 43% of the vote nationwide and a majority only in his home state of Arkansas and the District of Columbia. I told her about George H. W. Bush's broken promise on taxes, Ross Perot's candidacy and how it siphoned off enough votes from Bush in enough states to allow Clinton to win a plurality and the electoral votes.

We looked at the 2000 vote, too, when the Green Party took enough votes in New Hampshire alone to have flipped the state and the election to Al Gore. I showed the kids the 1968 map -- the last time a third-party candidate (George Wallace) won electors by finishing first in a state. In many states that Nixon won, it's plausible that Wallace pulled enough votes to keep Humphrey from winning -- enough votes might have changed to give Humphrey the win in a head-to-head battle.

That led to a conversation about runoffs. We looked at the 1992 Georgia Senate election, when the Democrat incumbent, Wyche Fowler, finished just ahead of Republican Paul Coverdell, but with a Libertarian in the race, no one had a majority. Three weeks later, the Republican won the head-to-head runoff with the Democrat. Then we looked at the 1991 Louisiana governor's race, when incumbent governor Buddy Roemer, whom polls showed beating each of the other candidates in a head-to-head matchup, finished a close third, leaving Louisiana voters a distasteful choice in the runoff between "the crook" (Edwin Edwards) and "the Klansman" (David Duke).

One way to avoid that sort of problem is multiple runoffs, removing one candidate each round, which my daughter observed would take forever. The alternative vote (instant runoff voting) is another way to solve the problem, and we looked at the seven-candidate 2011 Irish presidential election, which went through four counts, to see how that system works.

We looked one year's results in California, which featured a long list of odd parties, including Communist candidate Guy Hall. Yes, there's a Communist Party in the U. S., and they used to run their own presidential candidates. Nowadays they just encourage their members to vote for Democrats.

The six-year-old boy was mainly interested in the meaning of the different colors on the maps. My daughter wanted to know why the Democrats were red and the Republicans blue, contrary to what she usually sees. I told her that it made more sense for Democrats to be red, since red symbolizes socialism and communism all over the world, while blue is the color of Britain's Conservative Party. Dave Leip of U. S. Election Atlas says his color scheme has nothing to do with ideology or symbolism; he picked a scheme when he started his site circa 1996, before the famous 2000 USA Today map of results by county which brought about a standardization on Republican red and Democrat blue.

MORE: Great comment from pollster "Blue Pat" McFerron, who also remembers when red was reserved for communism & socialism and blue was for capitalism.

The last three evenings were occupied with an election night watch party (disappointing results, but some good conversation late into the night that only confirmed my conviction that Oklahoma is much the poorer that someone as principled, intelligent, and sincere as Shane Saunders won't be serving in the state legislature next year), dinner with visiting customers, and grading Greek papers.

There's a lot I'd like to say about the rules changes that Romney's forces pushed through the Republican National Convention Rules Committee last week and the convention as a whole on Tuesday, but no time to say much now, so I'll point you to four articles that cover the important details and correctly comprehend the significance of what came to be tagged on Twitter as #goppowergrab.

First, just a few points from me:

1. This wasn't about Ron Paul and his supporters. It was about shutting down grassroots conservatives of all stripes -- old timers and newcomers alike -- in favor of the wheeler-dealers and K Street insiders.

2. It wasn't about 2012. It was about 2016 -- protecting Romney from a conservative challenger if he turns out to be a RINO in office -- and 2020 -- letting the next establishment candidate sew up the nomination as quickly as McCain did in 2008. The rules don't just govern this convention; they govern the party until the next convention, and they set precedent for future rules.

3. Too many conservatives want to know why we wind up with candidates like Dole, McCain, Romney, but then they dismiss rules disputes as "inside baseball," not worth noticing, not worth fighting about. Folks, it all starts here. Rules shape the race. Rules shape the structure of the party and the distribution of power. If you want to debug the system, you have to analyze the source code.

4. I had been trying for some time, without much success, to get conservative bloggers to pay attention to this issue. Back in January I'd suggested to a conference planner that the "inner workings of the Republican Party" should be a panel topic at the next conservative bloggers conference, with a panel made up of bloggers who, like myself, had been involved in Republican Party politics:

I see a lot of frustrated commentary from conservative bloggers about the GOP, often anthropomorphizing the party as a monolithic entity, when it's really a complex system of individuals, forces, rules, and institutions. Rather than blame the party as a whole and attack the symptoms with no lasting impact, conservatives need to identify and target the causes of the problems we see, and conservative bloggers can play an important role in providing context and directing activist energy in productive ways.

More recently I suggested that any bloggers who could be in Tampa before the convention began should report on the Rules Committee meeting, as I had done in 2004 and 2008, specifically mentioning the possibility of an effort to undo the primary calendar reforms that governed the 2012 primary cycle, reforms that this time around prevented a super-frontloaded national primary. As far as I know, no conservative bloggers reported from the meeting itself, and there weren't any conservative-leaning news outlets there either. Live tweets (which I captured with the GOP 2012 Rules Twitter list) were coming from reporters with Buzzfeed, CNN, Huffington Post, and Politico.

If more conservative bloggers and reporters had been paying attention from the beginning, and if Team Romney and the Rules Committee knew we were paying attention, perhaps some of the Romney changes would not have been put forward by the Romney people or won the Rules Committee's approval.

All that said, here are four well-done articles on the controversy and its aftermath:

Washington Examiner's Tim Carney: Republican leaders trample their grass roots in Tampa

Michelle Malkin: RNC Power Grab: The Aftermath

FreedomWorks' Dean Clancy: Romney's "RNC Power Grab": What Really Happened

Mark America: Becoming a Top-Down Party of Nothing

I hate to have to miss the Republican National Convention this year, but it's especially tough to miss the convention's Rules Committee proceedings the week before the convention. I was one of a handful of reporters and bloggers covering the 2004 and 2008 Rules Committee proceedings, and I suspect I was the only one covering them that had served on GOP rules committees at the county, congressional district, and state level.

So I had half an eye on my Twitter stream on Friday as the 2012 Republican National Convention Rules Committee was in session. A handful of new and old media reporters, occasionally joined by actual rules committee members, were live-tweeting the event: Zeke Miller of Buzzfeed, Jon Ward of the Huffington Post, Peter Hamby of CNN, James Hohmann of Politico; Chris Brown, rules committee member from Alabama, Iowa State Chairman A. J. Spiker, and Oklahoma rules committee member Stuart Jolly, head of Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma.

At the meeting, Mitt Romney's forces, spearheaded by former Bush 41 chief of staff John Sununu as committee chairman and Bush 43 / Romney lawyer and lobbyist Ben Ginsberg, pushed a bushel basket full of significant changes to the way the Republican Party selects its presidential nominee and elects delegates to the national convention. While the GOP's presumptive nominee is expected to have some influence over the conduct of the convention, I've never seen such a extreme attempt by a nominee to subvert the fundamental structure of the party. It reminds me of Tony Blair taking a metaphorical ax to the House of Lords after his election in 1997.

Some background: At each quadrennial Republican National Convention, the delegates to the convention approve a set of rules to govern the convention itself and the party until the next convention four years later. That includes defining the nominating process and the formula for delegate allocation to be used four years hence. The vote on the floor of the convention is usually a formality, a voice vote, over in a minute with no debate. The full body of convention delegates are voting on the recommendation of the convention rules committee, a group consisting of two delegates (one male, one female) selected by each state delegation. The convention rules committee meets the week before the convention. The committee chairman is appointed by the RNC Chairman, usually in accordance with the wishes of the presumptive nominee. There is typically one committee member who is there specifically to push the nominee's preferred rules.

Taken as a whole, the Romney "reforms" are designed to undo the reforms approved between the 2008 and 2012 convention, which slowed down the nominating process and subjected the eventual nominee to a great deal of scrutiny. The Romney rules would compress and front-load the calendar once again to protect any future establishment-backed candidate from enduring a similar level of scrutiny, favoring the next-in-line Republican with the biggest fundraising and name recognition advantage and hindering any insurgent campaign from building on a surprise win in a small, early state. The Romney "reforms" would also put control of delegate selection in the hands of the presidential campaigns and increase the threshold for putting a candidate's name in nomination from a plurality of five state delegations to a majority of eight state delegations.

The Romney rules would also allow the Republican National Committee to amend party rules in between conventions. This would be a radical departure from Republican Party practice; the GOP passes rules at the national convention and they remain in force for four years. In 2008, however, a precedent was set to allow a one-time, limited-purpose amendment: A commission was established to recommend new rules and a new calendar for the 2012 presidential nominating process, with an up-or-down RNC vote on adopting the report as a whole.

This time around the Romneyites got rules committee approval for most of their proposals, but some were altered and one failed outright: An attempt to raise the threshold for a minority committee report from 25% to 40%. Opposition to the Romney coup was led by Virginia national committeeman Morton C. Blackwell, the Republican National Committee's institutional memory and founder of the Leadership Institute. From live tweets of reporters on the scene, it appeared that most of the support for the Romney Revolution came from northern, small state, unsuccessful parties, while successful, large, southern state parties opposed the rules changes.

Since convention delegates are apportioned to each state by population with bonuses for Republican electoral success, a win for RINOs in the rules committee, where Massachusetts has as much power as Texas, is no guarantee of a win on the convention floor.

Following adjournment, minority reports were circulated and appear to have received signatures from enough rules committee members (at least 25%) to move forward. The current rule requires a signed petition to be presented to the chairman, vice chairman, or secretary of the rules committee within an hour of the approval of the majority report in order to come before the convention as a minority report. I have not heard whether or not this was accomplished, but there was one report that John Sununu went into hiding to avoid being served with the report by the deadline.

According to a letter from RNC member Morton Blackwell of Virginia to state delegation chairmen, even if the minority report moves forward, the support of at least six state delegations will be required to force a roll call vote. Blackwell states that tremendous pressure is being applied to rules committee members to get them to retract their signatures on the minority reports.

Romney's heavyhanded efforts, by way of Sununu and Ginsberg, to reshape the party in a top-down direction will undo months of fence-mending with the grassroots conservatives whose enthusiasm he needs to win in November. Whether a minority report comes before the convention or not, there's a good chance for some effort to defeat the proposed rules. Even if the challenge to Romney's rules fails, he will have provoked exactly the kind of prime-time conflict presumptive nominees usually seek to avoid, all in an effort to insulate himself and future establishment candidates from grassroots influence and accountability.

Supporters of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul should join together to oppose Romney's rules coup.

If you happen to know someone in Tampa as a delegate to the convention, drop them an email or Facebook message and encourage them to vote against the Romney majority report and to support the minority report. It may also help to contact your state Republican Party headquarters to register your concerns. The phone number for Oklahoma Republican HQ is (405) 528-3501. Email addresses for the state chairman and vice chairman, national committeeman and national committeewoman are on the Oklahoma GOP's contact page.

I will consider the actions (or failures to act) of our state party leaders and delegates on these matters a litmus test that will influence my support for their future ambitions and initiatives.

LINKS:

The Republican Party rules approved in 2008, as amended by RNC adoption of the commission report in 2010.

My GOP 2012 Rules Committee Twitter list.

Shane Vander Hart, Caffeinated Thoughts, Mitt Romney's Assault on the Grassroots at the RNC:

Mitt Romney's legal advisor, Ben Ginsburg, has been attacking grassroots activism within the Republican Party during the Convention of the Rules Committee that met Friday prior to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL. I was told late yesterday that one of the amendments that he offered and was passed by the committee changes the RNC rules so that the presumptive nominee and the state party can decide who the delegates are that can go to the national convention. The language of the rule states that the presidential nominee and state party can disavow any delegate.

These are essentially the people who write the platform. Think about the implications of this: If the nominee is anti-life, he or she, can essential disavow any pro-life delegate. If he is in favor of same-sex marriage, he can disavow those delegates. This gives the nominee too much influence over the party and it diminishes the grassroots who choose the delegates to send. It is a top-down approach which favors the establishment.

Letter from Dave Nalle of Republican Liberty Caucus opposing the Romney power grab:

The presidential nomination, which was supposed to be the focus [of the convention], is taking a backseat to a growing controversy over an attempt by a small group of elite party insiders and the Romney campaign to fundamentally change the rules and structure of the party to disenfranchise grassroots Republicans activists and turn the GOP from a party of the people into a party of top-down governance from a select class of professional political organizers.

Buzzfeed: Romney Executes Republican Party Power-Grab:

The Republican National Convention Rules Committee voted 63-38 to approve a new rule allowing granting the Republican National Committee -- and Mitt Romney -- sweeping new powers to amend the governing document of the GOP.

The move came at the encouragement of Mitt Romney supporters on the committee, including Romney's top lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who stressed that it would grant "flexibility" to Romney and the committee to adapt to changing political environments. The rule allows the RNC to amend the party's rules without a vote by the full Republican National Convention. And it offers the Republican Establishment a new tool to keep at by Tea Party initiatives that threaten to embarrass or contradict party leadership and stray from a planned message....

Virginia delegate and RNC member Morton Blackwell strenuously objected to the proposed rule change, calling it "the most awful proposed amendments I've seen presented to this committee."

"This is dangerous, it amounts to a power grab," he said. "We are abandoning the historic process by which are rules are adopted."

The Romney allies waited until Friday to propose the amendment, choosing to avoid giving the opposition time to organize by proposing it at the preliminary Rules meeting on Wednesday or during more than three years of RNC Rules Committee discussions.

Business Insider: There Was Major Drama At The GOP Convention Friday, And It Ended With John Sununu Fleeing The Building:

The drama Friday centered around a contentious meeting of the powerful Rules Committee, where Romney's campaign lieutenants, led by his legal counsel Ben Ginsberg, pushed through several changes that would give Romney broad authority over the Republican nominating process.

According to one source who was at the meeting, the saga ended with former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, the committee chair, hightailing it out of the building before committee members could submit dissenting minority opinions, or "minority reports."...

"The rules say that you have an hour after the meeting, but within 15 minutes, we couldn't find [Chairman Sununu] anywhere," Ryan, a Ron Paul supporter and member of Maine's delegation, said. "Finally, we asked an RNC official if they had seen former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu. He said, 'John Sununu! Everyone's looking for him! But he left the building.'"

Buzzfeed: Grassroots Backlash Against Romney Campaign's Rules Changes

The Republican National Convention Rules Committee revolted against the Romney campaign on Friday, after more than six hours of domination by top Romney lawyer Ben Ginsberg.

Ginsberg, who had forced through a series of amendments to make it more difficult for an insurgent candidate to earn delegates to the national convention and earn a spot on the convention ballot, tried to raise the threshold for obtaining "minority reports."...

Drew McKissick, a delegate from South Carolina objected, noting that the rules change could also apply to that same contentious rules committee meeting if approved.

"He is systematically trying to prevent minorities from having even any remote opportunity of being heard," followed Virginia delegate Morton Blackwell to rave applause from the committee. "This is wrong, it's gonna hurt us, it's gonna hurt our presidential candidate."

After being publicly rebuked, Ginsberg withdrew his amendment, prompting further cheers from the committee.

Michael Duncan, FreedomWorks: Stop the Establishment from Rewriting the RNC Rules:

As you may know the Romney camp is pushing new rules that would strip grassroots activists of any meaningful ability to participate in presidential politics. The process has always been bottom-up, but Romney officials have rewritten the rules so that the nominee can stifle any dissent on the platform committee and even unseat delegates. Make no mistake, this will weaken the process by which Republicans chose their candidate for president and push the grassroots out of the party process....

Please locate the phone number of your State Republican Party Headquarters below, call them immediately, and tell them to oppose Romney's new rules that strip grassroots activists of the ability to participate in the Republican platform process.

I was encouraged to come across a new poll showing conservative former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz pulling ahead of establishment moderate Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the race to be the Republican nominee for Texas's open U. S. Senate seat. Dewhurst finished first in the May 29 primary, but fell short of the required majority, with 45% to Cruz's 34%, so Dewhurst and Cruz will be on the July 31, 2012, runoff ballot.

The new PPP poll, taken on July 10 and 11, has Cruz at 49% and Dewhurst at 44%. This is a dramatic reversal from the same pollster's final pre-primary poll, which gave Dewhurst a commanding 59%-34% lead in a runoff with Cruz.

This reversal has happened despite Dewhurst's strong political pull and establishment support. The Lieutenant Governor is said by many to be the most powerful office in Texas, and anyone with interests at the State Capitol would be foolish not to endorse Dewhurst, as he would be in a position to punish them should he lose this election and remain as Lt. Governor. As http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/301055/will-fear-decide-texas-senate-race-katrina-trinkoNational Review's Katrina Trinko wrote back in May:

In Texas, the lieutenant governorship is a hugely powerful position. Its occupant is the leader of the state senate, meaning he appoints committee chairmen and members, determines the order in which bills are taken up, and decides which committees get to handle specific pieces of legislation.

At the very least, everyone has to be aware of the sway Dewhurst will have if he remains lieutenant governor. And according to state insiders backing Dewhurst's most prominent rival, former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, it goes beyond that: They say the Dewhurst campaign has made it clear that those who want to see their legislation pass if Dewhurst remains lieutenant governor had better back Dewhurst for senate. The Dewhurst campaign denies this categorically.

One source familiar with Texas politics who supports Cruz says that he knows "a number of significant donors" who also have business interests in the state and have been "told by their lobbyists in Austin, 'Don't dare give money to Ted, don't endorse Ted . . . because if you do you'll never get anything else through in Austin.'"

So despite the leverage for arm-twisting and the list of endorsers that "reads like the Chamber of Commerce directory for the State of Texas" and includes public employees organizations/unions, Dewhurst's star is falling fast. Cruz, meanwhile, has donations from a broader array of Texans, plus endorsements from national conservative leaders and organizations, the troops on the front lines of the fight in Washington for fiscal sanity, traditional values, the sanctity of human life, 2nd Amendment rights, and a strong national defense.

Cruz's endorsers include FreedomWorks for America PAC, Club for Growth PAC, Eagle Forum PAC, Dr. James Dobson, Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Pat Toomey, Sen. Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, former U. S. Attorney General Ed Meese, Phyllis Schlafly, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity. When Dewhurst supporters said that Cruz was backed by Washington "insiders," Cruz replied, "I've got to say that if Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, James Dobson are DC insiders...hallelujah, we have truly turned this country around."

Cruz's big turnaround gives me hope in the Oklahoma 2nd Congressional District runoff. As in Texas, we have a big-money candidate, Markwayne Mullin, with backing from establishment, corporate-welfare types, versus a grassroots candidate, George Faught, who has the support of grassroots Oklahoma conservatives and national conservative leaders who want a principled, knowledgeable leader to help fight for the conservative cause in Washington.

Faught has endorsements from Mike Huckabee, Gary Jones, Phyllis Schlafly, Citizens United Political Victory Fund, Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund, Family Research Council's Action PAC, Concerned Women for America PAC, David Barton of Wall Builders, and Mike Farris, head of the Home School Legal Defense Fund.

Last week Mullin was touting an endorsement from Doug Cox, arguably the most liberal Republican in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Cox frequently votes against pro-life legislation, supports government funding for Planned Parenthood, and was a leading advocate for a bill that would allow someone with a gender identity disorder to rewrite history by changing his birth certificate to match his delusions. What does it tell you that Doug Cox would rather have Mullin in Congress than George Faught, who helped to expose and defeat Cox's gender-bender bill?

Mullin's campaign is promoting an internal poll showing their man ahead by a margin similar to the lead Dewhurst held six weeks ago. Those numbers should change as conservative 2nd District voters take a closer look at Mullin's associations and backers. If Ted Cruz can turn those numbers around in six weeks, so can George Faught.

A group of 75 U. S. Senators and U. S. House members, led by Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and Rep. Jim Jordan, have written a letter to the National Governors Association urging against the implementation of state health care exchanges. Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. James Lankford are among the 12 senators and 63 congressmen to sign the letter to the governors, which was released today, July 2, 2012.

The letter provides more backup for the assertion that the ObamaCare employer mandate cannot be enforced in states without a health care exchange. The letter makes a strong case that states with an exchange will spend more tax dollars establishing and running it and will make it more expensive to do business in those states.

The full text of the letter, followed by a list of signatories:

Dear Governors:

The Supreme Court has ruled significant parts of the Medicaid expansion of the President's health care law unconstitutional as well as ruling that the individual mandate violated the Commerce Clause and will therefore be implemented as a punitive tax on the middle class. This presents us with a critical choice: Do we allow this reprehensible law to move forward or do we fully repeal it and start over with commonsense solutions? The American people have made it clear that they want us to throw this law out in its entirety.

As members of the U.S. Congress, we are dedicated to the full repeal of this government takeover of healthcare and we ask you to join us to oppose its implementation.

Most importantly, we encourage you to oppose any creation of a state health care exchange mandated under the President's discredited health care law.

These expensive, complex, and intrusive exchanges impose a threat to the financial stability of our already-fragile state economies with no certainty of a limit to total enrollment numbers. Resisting the implementation of exchanges is good for hiring and investment. The law's employer mandate assesses penalties - up to $3,000 per employee - only to businesses who don't satisfy federally-approved health insurance standards and whose employees receive "premium assistance" through the exchanges. The clear language of the statute only permits federal premium assistance to citizens of states who create a state-based exchange. However, the IRS recently finalized a regulation that contradicts the law by allowing the federal government to provide premium assistance to citizens in those states that have not created exchanges. The IRS had no authority to finalize such a regulation. By refusing to create an exchange, you will assist us in Congress to repeal this violation which will help lower the costs of doing business in your state, relative to other states that keep these financially draining exchanges in place.

State-run exchanges are subject to all of the same coverage mandates and rules as the federally-run exchange. Clearing the hurdles of crafting an exchange that complies with the 600 plus pages of federal exchange regulations will only result in wasted state resources and higher premiums for your constituents.

Implementation of this law is not inevitable and without the unconstitutional individual mandate it is improbable. Join us in resisting a centralized government approach to health care reform and instead focus on solutions that make health care more affordable and accessible for every American. Let's work to create a health care system of, for, and by the people, not government or special interests.

Sincerely,


Here is the complete list of signatories:

House

Bachmann, Jordan, Paul, Roe, Wilson, Duncan, Akin, Hensarling, Garrett, Mulvaney, Walsh, Walberg, Stearns, Ross, Gowdy, Emerson, Franks, Buchson, Rokita, Broun, Boustany, Huelskamp, Scalise, Amash, Olson, Canseco, Price, Blackburn, King (IA), Adams, DesJarlais, Landry, Gingrey, Lankford, Miller (FL), Guthrie, Manzullo, Bono Mack, Ellmers, Pitts, Benishek, Calvert, McClintock, Jenkins, Gohmert, Flores, Bilbray, Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Buerkle, Denham, Lungren, Harris, West, Long, Westmoreland, Fleischmann, Aderholt, Poe, Labrador, Neugebauer, Pompeo

Senate

DeMint, Lee, Johnson (WI), Coburn, Graham, Vitter, Paul, Cornyn, Sessions, Rubio, Toomey and Shelby

MEANWHILE: The Daily Disappointment urges immediate implementation of an Oklahoma health-care exchange.

My inbox is filling with responses from Oklahoma officials and policy influencers to the ObamaCare ruling.

From the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs:

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the vast majority of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reemphasizes the need for action at the ballot box and the need for Oklahoma policymakers to protect patients and taxpayers from the law's harmful side effects, according to researchers at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA). "While it is difficult not to be disappointed by the Court's decision," says law professor Andrew Spiropoulos, OCPA's Milton Friedman Distinguished Fellow, "there is a silver lining to the black cloud of state intrusion that hangs over us. The fate of the President's scheme and our liberty now rest where they should -- in our own hands and ballots. No constitution or court can save us if we are unwilling to save ourselves." "Now that the Court has upheld key parts of this unaffordable, irresponsible, and wasteful law, it is more important than ever for Oklahoma's political leaders to advance state-led and patient-centered reforms that help the poor, the sick, and the taxpayers," adds Jonathan Small, fiscal policy director at OCPA. Mr. Small, who formerly served as director of government affairs for Commissioner Kim Holland at the Oklahoma Insurance Department, says state policymakers must advance genuine reform. Specifically:
  • Oklahoma lawmakers should move immediately to limit spending and should not expand the state's budget-busting Medicaid program (expansion is allowed by ACA but not required).
  • Lawmakers should stop raiding the InsureOklahoma program (to the tune of more than $120 million to date) and instead should shift the emphasis in Medicaid toward getting participants onto private health insurance. "We need to empower people to escape from the Medicaid ghetto," says Mr. Small, "and give them the dignity of having their own health insurance."
  • Lawmakers and the private sector must build state-based firewalls -- such as a state-based, almost exclusively private-sector-operated insurance marketplace -- to minimize the intrusion of the federal government into the insurance market in Oklahoma.
  • Given the penalties for employers not providing coverage -- which are more desirable than the mandate-heavy high-cost ACA plans -- state lawmakers should plan to cease offering state-employee health coverage if ACA is not repealed. The penalty for not providing the coverage will be significantly less than continuing the state's current high-cost plans.
  • Policymakers should encourage transparency in medical pricing, of the sort practiced by the Surgery Center of Oklahoma.
  • Policymakers should equalize the tax treatment of individually purchased insurance and employer-provided insurance.

"I can attest firsthand that when politicians in Washington try to take over health care, the side effects are painful," says Mr. Small [see video below]. "This new middle-class tax increase -- possibly the largest in American history -- will only serve to do more harm to families."

From John Hart, spokesman for Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn:

Dr. Coburn will be reviewing the ruling and will respond with an updated plan to repeal and replace this unworkable law. The Court affirmed Congress' power to tax people if they don't eat their broccoli. Now it's up to the American people to decide whether they will tolerate this obscene abuse of individual liberty.

Hart reminds that in 2009 Coburn authored a conservative alternative health care reform law, the Patients' Choice Act, with Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

From 1st District Congressman John Sullivan:

I strongly disagree with the courts decision to uphold the individual mandate - I fear this ruling will forever change the relationship between the federal government and the people in this country.

Nowhere in the U.S. constitution is Congress given the power to force Americans to purchase a good or a service or to enter into a contract. By signing Obamacare into law, the President and Democrat leaders told the American people they don't have a right to choose what health insurance plan best meets their needs - I strongly disagree. Regardless of the Supreme Courts ruling, Obamacare is still a bad law and must be repealed - it is hurting our economy, spending trillions of dollars we don't have to spend, killing American jobs and putting the federal government between doctors and their patients. I will continue fighting to repeal the law in Congress, however I am also confident the American people will vote to repeal this law at the ballot box in November by making Barack Obama a one term President.

From Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin:

Oklahomans have voiced their opposition to the federal health care bill from the very beginning, having approved a constitutional amendment to block the implementation of this bill in our state. We believe that, rather than Big Government bureaucracy and one-size-fits-all solutions, the free-market principles of choice and competition are the best tools at our disposal to increase access to health care and reduce costs.

I'm extremely disappointed and frustrated by the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the federal health care law. President Obama's health care policies will limit patients' health care choices, reduce the quality of health care in the United States, and will cost the state of Oklahoma more than a half billion dollars in the process.

Today's decision highlights the importance of electing leaders who will work to repeal the federal health care law and replace it with meaningful reform focused on commonsense, market based changes.

From State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee), candidate for Congress:

"I am extremely disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling on ObamaCare, but as I did before in Oklahoma City I am ready to fight again in Washington for our precious freedoms. This ruling allows another huge expansion of federal bureaucracy and intrusion into the lives of individuals. The Court this morning in essence gave the American people two choices: either get used to health control and rationing as the huge federal bureaucracy chokes off our liberties, or completely repeal this outrageous overreach that has already spawned 18,000 pages of new job-killing federal regulations. Repeal can only be accomplished by electing proven conservatives who have demonstrated that they understand the issues and will take the fight to preserve our liberties to Washington.

"The people of Oklahoma spoke loud and clear in 2010 that they did not want ObamaCare in Oklahoma. I took their voice and their fight to the state capital and stopped it in its tracks, when others wanted to give in and take federal money to start implementing ObamaCare. I understand the issues and recognize the assault on our freedom that this represents.

"Send me to Washington D.C. and I will not rest until ObamaCare is repealed and our liberty is restored. What the Supreme Court failed to do for the country today by declaring this law unconstitutional, I will work alongside other conservatives in Congress to accomplish legislatively--its complete repeal--beginning on my first day as a representative of the people of Oklahoma in Congress."

This weekend I was invited to Providence, Rhode Island for the Future of Journalism Summit, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Heritage is a well established national policy think-tank, while the Franklin Center is only about three years old, founded in response to a "falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government." Franklin supports state capitol news organizations in 39 states, often partnering with state policy think tanks. There are two Franklin-affiliated state capitol reporters in Oklahoma: Peter J. Rudy at Oklahoma Watchdog and Patrick McGuigan at CapitolBeatOK.

The event was designed to bring together New Media bloggers and Old Media journalists. I shared a cab from the airport with Andrew Malcolm, a veteran national and foreign reporter and now a columnist for Investors Business Daily. Last night, after the sessions were finished, I was in a group that wandered over to downtown Providence to watch their WaterFire event, a group that included Jim Geraghty, political reporter for National Review, Rob Port of Say Anything, North Dakota's authoritative state politics blog, David Guenthner of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and several Franklin Center staffers from around the country.

SD005292

The days were taken up with informative sessions. Here are just a few examples:

We heard about efforts to combat vote fraud (and efforts to thwart efforts to combat vote fraud) from National Review's John Fund, who has written a book on the subject, and Quin Hillyer of the American Spectator, who was a an aide to Louisiana Congressman Bob Livingston when Livingston successfully fought to add a voter roll cleanup provision to Bill Clinton's Moter Voter law.

Bill Beach, director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, gave us an overview of the wide range of federal data available online. He also told us about the early days of his career, when processing government data for analysis involved hours of data entry work and going to the lab in the wee hours of the morning to process stacks of punch cards.

It was encouraging to hear Mark Morano, a former Senate Energy and Commerce Committee aide under Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, explain how thoroughly and completely the anthropogenic global warming scare has been debunked, despite the institutional weight behind the discredited theory.

SD005189Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch told us the ins and outs of Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and how to pry loose information the government doesn't want to release. He also treated us to an example of unnecessarily redacted information: A field report on Ted Kennedy's 1961 visit to Latin America, a credentials-building trip for his run to take his big brother Jack's vacant U. S.Senate seat. The document was unredacted in bits and pieces in response to a series of requests, revealing Kennedy's desire to hobnob with Lauchlin Currie, a Soviet intelligence source during his time in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, and Kennedy's all-night rental of a brothel in Chile.

After Friday's session we attended the first-ever Breitbart Awards, honoring Duane Lester of All-American Blogger as blogger of the year (that's me with Duane in the photo below), Philip Klein, senior editorial writer of the Washington Examiner as professional journalist of the year, and Andrew Marcus, as citizen journalist of the year. Political journalist John Fund delivered a challenging keynote speech, and several friends and associates of the late Andrew Breitbart paid tribute to the many occasions when he encourage them to be bold in the face of adversities. I was especially moved by a speech by Brietbart.com writer Dana Loesch. Loesch spoke of intimidation attempts she endured after she wrote about a confrontation involving SEIU members and a Tea Party member -- people showed up on her doorstep, tailed her as she drove to and from the grocery store -- and she was ready to quit and retreat to normalcy, out of the spotlight. A phone call from Breitbart fired her up and kept her in the fight.

Many thanks to the Franklin Center and the Heritage Foundation for the opportunity to be a part of this conference.

Michael Bates with Duane Lester, All-American Blogger, at the Future of Journalism Summit, June 8, 2012, Providence, RI

Here's Merle Haggard, singing lead and doing his best imitation of Bob Wills' hollers, with three Texas Playboys: Johnny Gimble playing fiddle, Tiny Moore (next to Merle, holding a fiddle) and Eldon Shamblin (playing his Stratocaster) singing harmony.

Let's send this one out to Elizabeth "Fauxcahontas" Warren in Massachusetts.

Tiny Moore was best known as a virtuoso mandolin picker, but he was also a terrific vocalist. Tiny was only given the chance to sing lead on a few Texas Playboys recordings, but he shared lead vocal duties with Bob's youngest brother Billy Jack Wills in Billy Jack's Sacramento based western swing band (1952-1954). Eldon Shamblin, a brilliant and creative rhythm guitarist, also served as arranger and band manager for the Texas Playboys, and sang on trios and quartets from time to time. Tiny and Eldon, teamed up with steel guitarist Herb Remington on the triple guitar arrangements of big band tunes on the Tiffany Transcriptions recordings. Tiny, Eldon, and Johnny had all performed, along with Joe Holley, Alex Brashear, and Johnnie Lee Wills on Merle Haggard's 1970 album A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (Or, My Salute to Bob Wills), and Tiny and Eldon toured with Merle Haggard for a few years.

Many thanks to See-Dubya for the tip.

Nancy_C_Newman.jpgWilliam_Basil_Newman.jpgI am exactly as Cherokee as Ms. Warren: Family lore says that my great-great-grandmother Nancy Catherine Boyd was a half-blood Cherokee. (Note the high cheekbones.) She was born in Ohio, but the story is that there was a community of Cherokee in Ohio who had moved there to get out of the way of white expansion into Cherokee lands in the South; many then, it is said, moved to Indian Territory to rejoin their relocated people in their "permanent" home. Nancy married William Basil Newman, who refused to let Nancy enroll with the Dawes Commission, because he didn't want his wife owning land (an allotment) in her own name; and thus old Basil deprived all his descendants of the benefits of Cherokee citizenship, or so the story goes.

Ali_Rashad_Richey-Mugshot-20050920.jpgGeorgia Politcs Unfiltered has several updates regarding Georgia Democratic Party political director Ali Rashad Richey, the topic of an entry here late last week. (The link texts below are the titles of the posts at Georgia Politics Unfiltered.)

The second item includes a scan and partial transcript of the police report from Richey's 2007 arrest.

The third item has a scan of a letter written by State Sen. Gail Buckner, owner of the property whose address matches that on Richey's 2010 jail booking record, in which she offers to a DeKalb County judge to "take supervision over Ali Richey to see that he completes all of the requirements of the court and to help prevent him from getting into any other issues that would bring him before the court."

Blogger Andre Walker asks a speculative question, in reaction to this information about Buckner's letter: "What does Ali Rashad Richey have on you people? What kind of dirt does Richey, the political director for Georgia Democrats, have on the party leadership? Rashad Richey must have a proverbial smoking gun under lock and key in a safe deposit box somewhere. How else does one explain the fact that Democrat Party leaders keep saving Rashad Richey's [posterior]?"

The last item in the list above links to a news report about Richey by WSB-TV in Atlanta. While the WSB report frames the story as a dispute between bloggers and the Democratic Party of Georgia, the story shows what appears to be copies of the arrest records and a list of charges are shown on screen, which would suggest that the station did its own research on Richey's interactions with law enforcement.

WSB interviewed Mike Berlon, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. Berlon said Richey was "probably one of the best political directors in the country" and had a "very bright political future." That's interesting in light of the fact that Democrats hold only about 35% of the seats in each house of the Georgia legislature, Democrats did not win any statewide elections in 2010, and Democrats won only 5 of 13 seats in Congress. As recently as the 1970s, Georgia was practically a one-party state, dominated by the Democrats. I suppose it could be worse for Georgia Democrats, but not by much.

Berlon said that he got a copy of the arrest record, "just to make sure we hadn't missed something. Mr. Richey's never been convicted of a felony.... There's nothing out there that rises even close to the level of a felony."

The WSB story shows YouTube videos that they say show Richey speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party. "He also has a radio talk show, but Berlon says he doesn't consider Richey a public figure and said they're considering legal action against the bloggers who are hinting he's a convicted felon and calling for his firing."

Note the phrase "they're considering" -- not "Berlon is considering" or "Richie is considering." Now, it's possible that WSB misquoted Berlon, but if the quote is accurate, it indicates that Berlon is speaking here on behalf of the Democratic Party of Georgia. If that's not the case, Mr. Berlon needs to clarify the point.

The significance of "public figure" status is that it can be libel, in a technical sense, to publicize the truth or express an opinion about someone if it would cause people to think badly of them. The First Amendment trumps such laws, and the U. S. Supreme Court has established that it's not even libelous to make a statement that is false about a public figure, as long as it was done without actual malice. Here, of course, we are talking about facts in the public record about a public figure.

I haven't read any bloggers hinting that Richey is a convicted felon, and nor have any bloggers called for his firing, as far as I'm aware, but there have been comments on what Richey's employment with the Democratic Party of Georgia says about the organization's leadership and about Democratic Party politics in America generally.

Ali Rashad Richey is clearly a public figure. You can't have a "very bright political future" if you're not a public figure. You can't be a political party spokesman or official if you're not a public figure. You can't be a radio talk show host without wanting people to know who you are and what you think and therefore being a public figure. You certainly aren't going to have the state chairman of a major political party talking on TV about the party prosecuting lawsuits on your behalf if you aren't a person of public significance and interest.

I've never met Ali Rashad Richey. I've never met blogger Andre Walker. I've never communicated with either one of them. I became interested in this story because it was already a matter of public interest and bore at least some superficial similarities to stories involving the Oklahoma and North Carolina Democratic Party organizations. If Ali Rashad Richey isn't a public figure, then why would bloggers outside Georgia think it worth their time to write about him?

MORE: Here's my March 25, 2009, column on SLAPPs -- Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation -- the abuse of legal process to shut up a political critic.

And here is a blog entry about then-Tulsa City Councilor Eric Gomez's threat to sue neighborhood activist Julie Hall in 2009 and Gomez's answer at a candidate forum to a question about suing his constituents.

Among other steps, AfP is calling on President Obama to stop playing politics with American energy and approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The ad makes multiple references to a September 9, 2010, story in the Washington Times, which establishes that the funds created more jobs abroad than at home.

Only about $20 billion of the allotted funds have been spent - the slowest disbursement rate for any category of stimulus spending. Private analysts are skeptical of White House estimates that the green funding created 190,700 jobs.

The Department of Energy estimated that 82,000 jobs have been created and has acknowledged that as much as 80 percent of some green programs, including $2.3 billion of manufacturing tax credits, went to foreign firms that employed workers primarily in countries including China, South Korea and Spain, rather than in the United States.

Peter Morici, a business professor at the University of Maryland, said much of the green stimulus funding was "squandered."

"Large grants to build green buildings don't generate many new jobs, except for a few architects," he said. "Subsidies for windmills and solar panels created lots of jobs in China," but few at home....

Mr. Sherraden said the problem with job leakage overseas promised only to get worse, because governments in Europe and Japan - which in years past spent lavishly on renewable energy - now are drastically cutting back their green subsidies as they try to pare enormous budget deficits.

With the United States left as the only major developed country still flooding the market with government funding, competition from overseas suppliers promised to be more fierce than ever, Mr. Sherraden said.

"It is impossible to guarantee that clean-energy stimulus is not leaked abroad," he said. "We have to recognize that we are funding job-creation programs in Germany, Spain, Japan and China."

Ali_Rashad_Richey-Mugshot-20050920.jpgNormally, I wouldn't post about Democrat Party politics in Georgia, but there are some interesting similarities to the recent allegations about former Oklahoma Democrat Party chairman and former North Carolina Democrat Party executive director Jay Parmley.

Consider this as a possible pattern: A senior Democrat state party staffer gets caught in some sort of particularly nasty legal trouble, something that reflects very negatively on his character, on the party, and on the judgment of the party leaders who hired him, but instead of giving him the heave-ho, party leaders and donors help with the cover up, including spreading a bit of money around. Maybe they even find him a nice gig somewhere else. The parallels aren't perfect in each of these cases, but there seem to be some resemblances. And it raises the question: Why would party leaders and donors find it worthwhile to spend money and take the risk to protect such a malefactor?

The latest situation: It appears to be the case that the political director of the Georgia Democratic Party, Ali Rashad Richey, has a long history of arrests and jail time, as recently as 2010, when it appears that he spent nearly a month in the DeKalb County Jail, the result of a probation violation from an earlier offence. At the same time, Richey was being paid $4,000 a month by the Gail Buckner for Georgia Secretary of State campaign. Buckner was a long-time state representative, was the Democrat nominee for Secretary of State in 2006 but lost the general election, won a state senate seat in 2008, and ran for Secretary of State again in 2010, losing the nomination in a runoff.

Andre Walker Georgia Politics Unfiltered began writing about this story about a week ago, reporting that Richey had been arrested 12 times in Fulton and DeKalb County, going back to 1998. But Walker provided no links or specifics to back up the claims he was making.

Blogger Nice Deb began doing some digging and came up with the specifics, which she documents in her story about Georgia Democratic Party Political Director Rashad Richey.

I did some digging, too, and found a positive link between Rashad Richey the political operative and the Ali Rashad Richey named in these court records. (*See NOTE at end of this entry regarding the word "recidivist.") The address listed on that 2010 jail booking record is a house at 1834 Carla Drive, Morrow, Clayton County, Georgia.

The house is owned by Gail Buckner (go here to search the county land records), and it's the same address listed on the Buckner campaign's 1st quarter 2010 expenditure report, as the address of "Raschad Richey," paid $4,000 on January 29, February 26, and March 26, 2010, for "campaign work." It was also listed as her "district office" during her stint as state senator.

(Note: A free login here is required to view DeKalb County arrest records, such as the above link.)

The same address was used by Richey to register Democracy In, LLC on March 3, 2010, just two days after the release date in the above-mentioned DeKalb County arrest record.

Thinking through the long list of Oklahoma Republican Party chairmen, vice chairmen, and staffers I've dealt with over the years, I don't think any of them had more than a speeding ticket, much less a long rap sheet. And I can't think of any candidate who'd have been willing to pay a political consultant for cooling his heels for a month in the pokey.

MORE: Warner Todd Huston comments:

For some unknown reason, the state Democrat Party of Georgia's Political Director, one Ali Rashad Richey, is a man with a long arrest record and no one seems the last bit worried about it in the Peach State -- neither politicians nor the media. This man's arrests are for such offenses as burglary, assault, battery, driving offenses, and violation of probation. In fact he's been arrested at least 12 times in the last decade.

Are Georgia Democrats so used to convicted criminals in their midst that no one cares about this?

Photo at top from the DeKalb County website

NOTE: In the original version of this entry, I used the phrase "Ali Rashad Richey the recidivist" as an alliterative allusion to the fact that Richey had been arrested numerous times, as documented by DeKalb County jail records noted above. I am led to understand that in certain jurisdictions the term "recidivist" has a technical meaning that applies only to those convicted of felonies. This was NOT my understanding of the word when I used it, and it was NOT my intention to imply that Richey had been convicted of or charged with any felony offense. The term "recidivism" is not defined in Oklahoma law as far as I have been able to determine, and it is mentioned a few times in Oklahoma statutes as an undesirable phenomenon to be measured and deterred, referring generically to violating the law after some previous violation. To avoid any misunderstanding, I have replaced the word "recidivist" with a phrase less likely to cause confusion.

BatesLine is pleased to welcome a new advertiser: John Sullivan for Congress. First elected to replace Steve Largent in a 2002 special election, Congressman Sullivan is seeking re-election to his sixth full term. His ads highlight his consistent conservative record, as evidenced by ratings by conservative watchdog groups like Numbers USA (enforcement of immigration laws), Club for Growth, Citizens against Government Waste, and National Taxpayers Union (fiscal conservative, tax and budget), National Right to Life (sanctity of human life), National Rifle Association (Second Amendment rights), and the American Conservative Union (full range of conservative issues).

I've known John Sullivan since long before I started blogging, before I became any sort of public figure. I first met him sometime in the 1990s, during his time as a state representative, when, as a member of the small Republican minority in the State House, he championed the effort to eliminate the sales tax on groceries. I encouraged him to run for State Senate when the seat opened up in 1996, but for family reasons he opted to stay in the House. When Steve Largent resigned his congressional seat in 2001 to run for governor, John phoned me, a precinct chairman, to let me know that he was running.

John Sullivan, Michael Bates, 2006At the beginning of that special election, John Sullivan was running a distant third in the polls. First Lady Cathy Keating was the best known candidate and the odds-on favorite. But conservative grassroots activists liked what they saw in Sullivan and rallied around him, and I joined them in putting my name on his hundreds-long list of endorsements. A month or so later, I got a call from one of his campaign volunteers, someone I'd worked with on Sue Tibbs's campaigns, asking if I could pick up the campaign's data processing work. Thanks to the hard work of the candidate, his campaign team, and his team of volunteers knocking doors and making phone calls, John Sullivan came from a distant third to finish first in the primary, close enough to an outright majority that Cathy Keating opted to withdraw rather than continue on to a runoff. Sullivan won the general election handily over his Democratic opponent and hasn't faced a significant primary or general election challenge since then.

When I ran for City Council in 2002, newly elected Congressman Sullivan was the guest of honor at a fundraiser. I'm proud to consider John a friend and to continue to be a part of his team. We have had a small number of disagreements -- it was a mistake for him and Sen. Coburn to vote for the revised version of TARP in 2008 -- but we've been in agreement on nearly every controversial congressional issue, including some issues, like strict immigration enforcement, that put him at odds with Chamber of Commerce types.

His primary opponent has an impressive resume and is a likable person. But it strikes me that it's much easier to oppose something like TARP in hindsight, years after the frightening global financial circumstances that led to its adoption, than to speak out against it at the time. For all the years I've been involved in local politics, I can't recall any occasion when this gentleman has taken a controversial public stand on any issue, prior to his decision to run for Congress. He seems to be the latest victim of a group of Republican political consultants who have been trying unsuccessfully for years to find someone to unseat Sullivan.

Those who have known me for a long time know that I haven't hesitated to drop support for an incumbent Republican and back a primary challenger when circumstances warrant. But in John Sullivan we have a consistent, across-the-board Oklahoma conservative with growing seniority and influence in House leadership. I'm pleased to support his re-election and to have his support as an advertiser on BatesLine.

rino-768px.pngThis post has been percolating in my brain for a couple of months, and the topic for even longer, but other business has prevented its completion until now.

As I read conservative blogs, I see a great deal of understandable frustration with different aspects of Republican Party politics: The National Republican Senatorial Committee's support (later withdrawn) for Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio. Dede Scozzafava getting the Republican nomination in NY-23 and then withdrawing in favor of a Democrat to stop a conservative from winning. Some bloggers are upset that Christine O'Donnell and Sharon Angle won Senate nominations, some are upset about the lack of general election support for Angle and O'Donnell. Bloggers are bummed by the candidates remaining in the presidential race, the candidates who dropped out, and the candidates who never got in.

The common thread in all this discontent is that at some point, someone will blame "the Republican Party" for the problem. Back in mid-February, when I started writing this post, I gathered a few examples. It was that point between the first few primaries and Santorum's early February caucus sweep and Super Tuesday, by which time the presidential field had boiled down to four candidates, each unacceptable in some way, and none of them fully reflective of the zeitgeist that produced the Republican congressional landslide of 2010.

For example, here's a tweet from Jimmie Bise, Jr.:

*We* will fix the godforsaken mess they have made of our country. The Republican Party has one option -- do what we say, or pay. Hard.

From a February 16, 2012, blog entry by Melissa Clouthier:

The Republican party has consistently chosen big money candidates....

The Republican party continues to cling to big government ways and means.

The Republican party leaders cannot articulate conservative values...

Before the Tea Party came along, the Republican Party was a hot mess. The New York, California, Nevada, Ohio, and Colorado GOP (just to five states off the top of my head) stunk. Calcified, self-protective, hierarchical, detached, and consumed by infighting, it's rich that people want to blame the Tea Party for failure when the Tea Party new blood is coming in and attempting to right the sinking ship.

Two years ago, I wrote that Mitt Romney was a weak candidate and that the GOP leadership should be looking, and intently, for better alternatives. They chose to travel the path of least resistance.

As for me, I'm not particularly attached to any of the candidates. It would be nice for a GOP complainer to make an affirmative conservative, or even Republican (read the party planks) case for Mitt Romney. I have yet to see it. But I do see a lot of pre-emptive blaming of the Tea Party.

Sorry, the GOP needs to look for another scapegoat. Looking in the mirror would be a good start.

Stacy McCain responded:

The GOP (with a break for Ronald Reagan) has been just as sold out to Progress as the Democrats for the last century. The party planks had become a joke. The GOP has gerrymandered our culture with the Democrats in exchange for creating a Ruling Class. One can nearly see where the Democrats had a point, calling the GOP hypocritical for showing affinity with the Tea Parties.

And more from Melissa a few days later:

That might have been true if the Republican party hadn't already burned every bridge with the base. They didn't just burn them though, they torched them and put conservative heads on spikes along the way. (Not sure about that? What happened to Sarah Palin couldn't have happened if the Republican hierarchy, lead by John McCain hadn't sat on their hands.)

The Republicans have been pushing back at the conservative base. They insulted them with No Child Left Behind and creating loads of agencies in a post-9/11 world and sealed the deal with government bailouts of banks, Wall Street, GM, and every sort of shifting money from taxpayers to irresponsible institutions and people.

Dan Riehl painted with a slightly narrower brush with his use of the "establishment" modifier:

After significant Tea Party-fueled gains in 2010, for all practical purposes, the establishment GOP has ignored and even tried to mitigate that force with little more than lip service as repayment for their support. Now, they want to kick out the Christian asses that sit in their phone banks and the Christian soldiers that do the grunt work for their campaigns.

It's as if two significant constituencies are begging the GOP to man up and, if you'll pardon the phrase, win one for the Gipper, while a feckless D.C. bedridden GOP sinks its head into the pillow and whimpers, we're not up to the task.

These are signs of a very sick party. We may soon find out whether, or not, it's terminal. At present, the prognosis is already not very good.

Again from February, Jen Kuznicki asked, "Am I To Understand That Value Voters Are Being Rejected By The Republican Party?"

Does the Republican Party think that without touching on the cultural decay of our country, all at the hands of liberals, they will be able to win in November? Perhaps. I have seen the friendliness of local Republicans toward liberal Democrats who have said, "I used to be a Republican, until they started in with the social issues." It is as if the Republican Party would rather have liberals in the party to replace the value voters.

It seems to me that they attack Rick Santorum for actually naming the culprits. He is being thrown overboard for the Republican Party's asinine attempt to bring liberals and neo-liberals, (Ron Paul types) into the party with seats at the table and notebooks in hand.

At about the same time, Ace fretted that the Republican Party wasn't really serious about winning and was more interested in being a protest party obsessed with ideological purity

I believe the party wants to lose.

I believe the party has decided the problems facing us are so big that they cannot be overcome.

I believe the party has decided, maybe subconsciously, maybe consciously, that we are not up to the task, and the best thing to do is just duck out and Blame the Other Guys. Let them Own Their Problems.

If that's the plan, let me know. We don't have to contend very hard at all if our goal is to lose.

Easiest thing in the world, losing. Even easier when you've gotten practice at it.

I believe the party does not think it is capable of working positive good in policy. If so, I take it as knowing itself best, and perhaps it's time for a new party.

Now, many of you are nodding your head in agreement, and I share the frustration expressed by these conservative bloggers with the current political situation. But I respectfully disagree with their assignment of blame to this entity called the Republican Party. That's not because I think that this entity called the Republican Party is blameless, but because I think it doesn't exist.

OKGOP-logo.jpgTo put it into terms a software engineer might understand, "Republican Party" is not a useful abstraction. It encompasses too wide a range of people and institutions and forces. There are party officials at the precinct, county, state, and national levels. There are the elected officials: legislators and county commissioners and mayors and congressmen and senators. There are the consultants and fundraisers and strategists. At the federal level, there's the RNC, the NRCC, and the NRSC, and there are parallel organizations in every state.

There are the big-dollar donors, and there are the phone callers, door-knockers, and envelope stuffers. There are the party auxiliary groups -- National Federation of Republican Women, Republican men's clubs, National Federation of Republican Assemblies, Young Republicans, College Republicans. There are those focused on getting the language in the county platform just so, and those who manage the logistics for the county convention. And then there are the millions of voters who register as Republicans or who take the Republican ballot or who vote Republican in the general election but otherwise have no connection to party matters or political campaigns.

All these individuals and groups have their own motivations and interests often in conflict with one another. All of them can be said to be "the Republican Party" in the sense that my blogpals use the term, but none of them can be said to be "the Republican Party" to the exclusion of the other groups.

To anthropomorphize the GOP, to treat it as a person with volition, emotion, and intellect, is to fail to think things all the way through. It's a sign of not digging deeply enough to find the real actors and the motives that drive the problems we all observe. A political party in America is a playing field over which interests compete. It's an empty vessel waiting to be filled.

I write as someone who has been involved in the nuts and bolts of Republican Party politics as an active participant or an observer since I was 12. I've been a precinct chairman, a state committeeman, a delegate to county, congressional district, state, and national conventions, a member of the county and state party executive committees. I've been picked by the state executive committee to be on the official at-large delegate slate, and I've been on the executive committee interviewing and voting on those at-large delegates. I've chaired platform and rules committees at the county and state levels and sat in as an observer at the last two Republican National Convention rules committee hearings. I've been the Republican nominee for a city council seat. I've provided technical support to more campaigns than I can count. I was around for the last big wave of newcomers in the late 1980s; those newcomers are the folks in charge of the party nowadays.

On the other hand, I'm not on good terms with Tulsa's current Republican mayor, I backed the second-place candidate for governor, and I often find myself at odds with big Republican donors when it comes to local issues. I worry that our massive majorities in the State Legislature will be taken captive by crony capitalism, the same hubris that led to our 2006 downfall in Washington. I can hardly be said to be part of the Republican establishment.

I am a Republican for one reason: It is where American conservatives make their political home. Conservatives of any sort -- social, fiscal, defense and foreign policy -- are no longer welcome at all in the Democrat Party.

I'll be going to BlogConCLT this coming weekend in Charlotte, N. C., and I'm looking forward to the opportunity, outside the official sessions, to visit with my fellow conservative bloggers -- both party insiders and outside observers -- about the forces behind the problems identified above and what practical steps can be taken to give conservative principles the best chance of prevailing at the ballot box and on Capitol Hill.

A member of the Project Veritas investigative journalism team went into a District of Columbia polling place last Tuesday and was offered a ballot by a poll worker who assumed he was U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Man: "Do you have an Eric Holder, 50th Street?

Poll worker: "Let me see here."

Man: Xxxx 50th Street.

Poll Worker: Let's see, Holder, Hol-t-e-r, or Hold-d-e-r?

Man: H-o-l-d-e-r.

Poll Worker: D-e-r. Okay.

Man: That's the name.

Poll Worker: I do. Xxxx 50th Street NW. Okay. [Puts check next to name, indicating someone has shown up to vote.] Will you sign there . . .

Man: I actually forgot my ID.

Poll Worker: You don't need it; it's all right.

Man: I left it in the car.

Poll Worker: As long as you're in here, and you're on our list and that's who you say you are, we're okay.

Man: I would feel more comfortable if I go get my ID, is it all right if I go get it?

Poll Worker: Sure, go ahead.

Man: I'll be back faster than you can say furious!

Poll Worker: We're not going anywhere.

Holder is seeking to block implementation of Texas's voter ID law and has denied that there is a problem with in-person voter fraud.

IVotedFraud.pngThe Department of Justice calls this video a "manufactured example" of voter fraud, but had this been a real voter fraud effort, there would be no evidence at all that it had occurred. Holder might have shown up later in the day to vote for his boss in the DC presidential primary and been turned away as having already voted, which would reveal that a fraudulent vote had been cast. The only hope for catching the culprit would have relied upon whether the poll worker had a sharp enough memory to recall the appearance of one among thousands who had asked for a ballot that day. An organized fraud effort would use publicly available voter records to identify infrequent voters unlikely to show up on the day of the targeted election.

Opponents of voter ID laws claim that there's little to no evidence that this sort of fraud exists, but that's usually because the sorts of tests you might do to uncover it are either against the law or are not pursued by authorities. What Project Veritas is doing here is probing the system, the way TSA might try to send someone through airport security with contraband, to see if the screening process is adequate and is being correctly carried out by the agents. Perhaps fear of being embarrassed by an independent investigation will spur election boards to be conducting such probes themselves. If they really cared about election integrity, they'd be probing the system already.

The problem here is not with the poll workers but with the rules they have to follow. John Fund notes:

There is something surreal about the voter-ID issue. As James O'Keefe demonstrates, it is comically easy to commit voter fraud in person, and, unless someone confesses, it's very difficult to ever detect. With absentee balloting, there is a paper trail that makes it easier to uncover fraud, making it a problem that even some critics of photo ID will admit.

Voter ID support usually breaks along partisan lines, but Fund tells of one Democratic legislator who has bucked his party for getting a voter ID law passed:

State Senator Harold Metts of Rhode Island got a photo-ID law put on the books in his state last year after he was told by several constituents of a pattern of voter fraud in his home town of Providence. Indeed, his own state representative and her daughter had their votes stolen by someone voting in their names in one election. "The old system was not set up to readily weed out fraud, and it would be very hard to prove," he told the Woonsocket Patch newspaper. Metts, the state senate's only African-American member, says that he took a lot of heat from national Democrats for getting the ID law approved by an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. But he says party loyalty only takes him so far. "It's time to stop crying wolf and make the voter-ID law work for those on both sides of this issue who want to ensure the integrity of the system, while guarding against disenfranchisement."

I'm thankful that Oklahoma, at long last, has a voter ID law, thanks to the tireless efforts of State Rep. Sue Tibbs.

I received word from Chris Medlock that Ron Paul supporters won all three national delegate slots and all three alternate slots at the Saturday, March 31, 2012, Oklahoma 5th Congressional District Republican Convention. Medlock reports that turnout was light (only about 200 delegates), and that runoffs for each delegate slot favored the Ron Paul supporter by about a 52% to 48% margin, meaning that higher turnout by the non-Pauls could have meant a complete shutout of the Ron Paul fans.

In the March 6, 2012, Oklahoma primary, Ron Paul finished fourth in the 5th Congressional District with 10.4% of the votes cast.

Although the three delegates are bound by state party rules and the results of the March 6 primary to cast one vote each for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, if no presidential candidate gains a majority of delegates on the 1st or 2nd ballots at the Republican National Convention, or if their candidate releases his delegates, the delegates would then be free to vote their personal preference. It is possible that if enough Ron Paul supporters are elected to go to Tampa, they could pass party rules that would free all delegates from any binding commitments.

I am hoping to get specific numbers -- ballots cast, voting by round -- to analyze what happened. I am told that the 5th CD used a different runoff method than we've used since 2000 here in the 1st CD, and it's possible that their runoff method would allow the will of the majority of delegates to be thwarted, depending on the number of candidates in the race. The 1991 Louisiana governor's election is a classic example of a two-person runoff for a large field resulting in two finalists who are each loathed by a majority of the electorate.

MORE: What happened at the CD 5 convention is a continuation of the Ron Paul campaign strategy I wrote about in 2008

If the government seized all the mansions in Beverly Hills, the cost of every Super Bowl ad and the salaries and winnings of every major league athlete, the wealth of the Forbes 400 and the global profits of the Fortune 500, how long would it finance federal spending? Blogger Iowahawk took pencil to paper and figured it out last year, reporting his results as "Feed Your Family on $10 billion a Day."

Motivational guru Tony Robbins took Iowahawk's post, updated the numbers for this year, excised some of the "inflammatory" turns of phrase that might offend moderates and liberals, and turned it into an effective data visualization.

To his credit, Robbins not only mentions his source but puts Iowahawk's web address on screen.

The cool thing about the Internet is that, if you do something brilliant, people will find it.

Thumbnail image for rino-768px.pngThere's a theory being circulated among conservative bloggers and Tea Party activists that we shouldn't worry about the likelihood of bailout-backing, mandate-loving, flip-flopping Mitt Romney winning the nomination. Anyone can beat Obama, the theory goes -- even with Romney unable to run against Obama on Obamacare -- and if we focus on electing more solid conservatives to Congress they'll be able to keep Romney in check and push him to be more conservative.

But that's wishful thinking, divorced from political dynamics in the real world. Far from being shaped by conservative activists and legislators, a Republican executive tends to reshape the party in his own image. This is true at every level of government, but especially true when there's a Republican president. Republicans have a tendency to defer to the executive of their own party. They find it much easier to resist and block bad ideas from a Democrat executive than from a leader of their own party.

Even before winning the presidency, the nominee begins to shape the party in his own image. His team has a great deal of influence over the platform, the convention rules, the party rules for the next four years, and who gets to speak at the convention. Delegates on the convention committees are under a great deal of pressure to conform to the presumptive nominee's wishes. (That's another reason why a convention without a presumptive nominee would be a good thing.)

A Republican President of the United States is titular head of the GOP. He gets to pick the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who in turn has a great deal of influence over who staffs the party and which consultants are hired. The president has political appointments in the executive branch, ambassadorships, and federal judgeships to hand out. The president has superstar fundraising power: His blessing and support can open the floodgates for a candidate, and his disfavor can cause funding to slow to a trickle. And heaven help a Republican legislator if the Republican president, governor, or mayor opts to back your primary opponent.

But I think the tendency to defer to the executive goes deeper in the Republican mindset than mere access to money and power. Perhaps it's rooted in the long decades when we could elect Republican presidents, but we were in the minority in Congress.

When a Republican is the executive, many legislators and party officials see their job as defending and upholding the Republican executive, rather than holding them to account. It's much easier for GOP party leaders and legislators to oppose a bad idea if a Democrat proposes it. If a Republican official proposes a bad idea, the best you can hope for from Republican party leaders and legislators is silence.

I've seen this at work here in Tulsa. In 1997, a Democrat mayor proposed a 3.5 year, 1/2 penny sales tax and increases in hotel/motel and car rental taxes to fund a new downtown arena, stadium, and natatorium and expansion of the convention center -- $140 million in local tax increases. The county Republican Executive Committee unequivocally opposed the measure, and it failed at the polls.

In 2000, the same Democrat mayor proposed a rehash of the previous project, with some minor differences and funded entirely by sales tax -- 7.5 years, 1/2 cent, to raise $263 million. The county Republican Executive Committee unequivocally opposed the measure, and it failed at the polls.

In 2003, a Republican mayor and a Republican county commission chairman backed a sales tax hike to fund an arena that was about four times bigger and porkier than the plans the Democrat mayor had proposed. 13 years and a full-penny, county-wide sales tax increase for a total of $887 million. This time the Republican Executive Committee fell silent. Many members of the Executive Committee were now political appointees at City Hall and the County Courthouse, and they wouldn't wish to embarrass their bosses. Other Republicans were simply worried that opposing the initiative of Republican elected officials would divide the party. (Never mind that these officials were dividing the party by betraying fiscal conservatism.) Major Republican donors backed the plan and made it clear that there would be consequences if the party or elected officials opposed it. One Republican activist who led the effort against the Democrat mayor's initiatives became outspoken in support; after the election he wound up with a job funded by the new tax. The tax passed.

More recently, in 2009, Tulsa elected a Republican mayor. This gentleman had endorsed the Democrat incumbent for re-election before she opted not to run, despite her embrace of global warming and anti-gun hoohah and the runaway budget growth under her watch that left the city in fiscal peril in 2009. Many Republican leaders ignored the apparent lack of conservative convictions in this candidate and lined up behind him because he was the son of a former governor and senator and had money to self-finance a campaign. (Sound familiar?)

He won the primary and the general election. Tulsa's new Republican mayor then set about demonizing and alienating the Republican supermajority on the City Council. Rather than defend the Republican councilors or at least try to make peace, leading Republican funders and their allies attacked the councilors as bickerers, sued them, and created a redistricting plan that cut them off from their core constituencies, completely drawing the Council's strongest fiscal conservative out of his own district.

Any Republican Tea Party senator or congressman that dares to oppose President Romney's big new entitlement program is likely to meet a similar fate.

The same calls we are hearing now to unite behind our leader will only become more strident and carry more weight with a Republican in the White House and the power that comes with incumbency.

The same arguments being deployed today to get conservatives to fall in line behind Romney's candidacy were used to get conservatives to back Dubya's expansions of government (think No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and of course, the TARP Bank Bailout), and the same arguments will be used to rope conservatives into backing any big-government policy President Romney wants to pursue. We'll be told that opposing the president will damage his presidency, will weaken the Republican Party, and will strengthen the liberals. We'll be told that Romney's policy may be awful, but it's a much better option than what the liberals propose, and those are the only choices on the table.

I'm saddened by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's decision yesterday to endorse Romney and to call for an end to the competition for the presidential nomination. Does Sen. Rubio not remember when the National Republican Senatorial Committee called for everyone to line up behind Gov. Charlie Crist, because Crist's nomination was inevitable, and it was important to avoid a messy primary that would damage the party's chances in November? Isn't Sen. Rubio glad that activists and donors didn't take that rotten advice?

MORE: The best hope for conservative policy at the federal level is to stop Mitt Romney from winning the Republican nomination. The only way to do that is to keep him from getting enough delegates, and the only way to stop him from accruing delegates is to support the candidate running closest to him in the polls.

Romney can't get enough bound delegates to have a majority until June 2. If Santorum can win 365 more bound delegates -- and there are more than enough delegates still to be bound in the south, border states, and midwest to make that possible -- Romney mathematically can't lock up 1144 before the convention.

Rick Santorum is the only man standing in the way of Romney's nomination. A Santorum win in Wisconsin is crucial; you can help by making calls from home now through Tuesday.

STILL MORE: A friend remarked recently that Romney seemed Reaganesque, and noted that both Reagan and Romney changed their minds about abortion rights. There's a crucial difference: Reagan's change of heart against abortion put him at odds with mainstream GOP thinking of the time and hindered his candidacy in 1976. Romney's changes of position always coincide with whatever will help him win.

OKGOP-logo.jpgThe following Statement of Principles was adopted as part of the 2012 Tulsa County Republican Platform at the Tulsa County Republican Convention on Saturday, March 24, 2012. It is identical to the Statement of Principles section in the 2011 platform and is nearly identical to the Statement of Principles in the 2003 platform, differing by only 20 words or so. The 2003 statement is not original to that year, but constitutes a consolidation of the preamble to the platform as a whole and preambles to individual sections as found in the 2001 platform. Much of the text almost certainly predates 2001. It is the work of many people over many years.

STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

"God who gave us life gave us liberty." - Thomas Jefferson

The United States has attained its position as a world leader and champion of freedom by protecting our God-given liberties.

We believe our rights come from our Creator. We believe in the unalienable rights of the individual. It is a government's first duty to protect these God-given rights: to life; to liberty; to property; to the pursuit of happiness.

Government is but one institution among many that exist to serve the common good. Families, religious communities, businesses, the press, and a host of voluntary societies have their roles to play in meeting the needs of society. As Republicans, we seek to reform government so that it performs its proper role with excellence and efficiency, while leaving room for the other institutions of society to thrive.

We believe that today's government is too large and intrusive, exceeding its proper scope, doing things for which individuals and private organizations are best equipped. We believe families, communities, and institutions of faith can best teach the American values of honesty, responsibility, accountability, hard work, compassion, and mutual respect.

We believe that the functions of government should be handled at the level nearest and most accountable to the people. The Tulsa County Republican Party seeks to apply these time-honored principles at all levels of government:

  • Faithful adherence to the U.S. Constitution as originally intended;
  • The sanctity of human life, from the moment of conception to its natural end;
  • The equality of all people before the Law - that individuals should be judged without regard to race, gender, creed, disability or age;
  • Public integrity - enforcing and administering the laws justly, in the fear of God;
  • Restoring and preserving Judeo-Christian morality in our culture;
  • Respecting the dignity of each individual and the integrity of families;
  • Fiscal responsibility and restraint;
  • Defense of property rights;
  • Promotion of free markets, free trade and freedom throughout the world.

At the Federal level, we call for maintenance of a strong national defense, protection of our freedom of religious expression, and protection of our rights as law-abiding individuals to keep and bear arms.

We support the right of Americans to retain their hard earned wages through the substantial reduction of the federal income tax rate and the establishment of a fair system of taxation.

We believe in personal responsibility and individual accountability. We desire to limit government involvement in the lives of families and individuals. We believe that a sound, traditional family unit is essential to the strength, stability, and success of our nation. We will defend the institution of the family against those who seek to use the levers of government to undermine or redefine it.

We believe inefficient government programs have displaced individual responsibility, compassion, and involvement in our communities. We will work to reform or eliminate impersonal, inefficient and redundant programs, while encouraging individuals, families, and private organizations to exercise their civic responsibilities, act with genuine compassion and offer assistance and care to people in need.

We believe it is the right and responsibility of parents or legal guardians to direct the upbringing and education of their children, without interference, regulation, or penalty from the government.

We therefore support the right of parents or legal guardians to choose the method of schooling for their children, whether public, private, charter, home schooling, or other means of education, without interference from the government at any level.

In our public schools, we seek to restore academic excellence. We believe the primary goal of our educational system should be to teach proficiency in the essential subjects, not to indoctrinate children in a worldview at odds with our nation's heritage.

We believe the best choices are not always the easiest, and that decisions which take commitment, sacrifice and perseverance result in more honorable, longer-lasting solutions. We believe the Republican Party provides the best opportunity to translate these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

The intent of this section is to set out the timeless principles that motivate our involvement in the political process as Tulsa County Republicans. The remaining pages of the platform consist of detailed platform planks, applying these principles to current concerns.

This year's platform committee approved a draft containing a preamble which replaced the statement of principles. Gone from this preamble were any references to the sanctity of human life, the importance of marriage and the family (as traditionally understood), religious institutions, and other mediating institutions to the health of our society. There were no mentions of public integrity, education, parental rights, or morality.

Eleven members of the Platform Committee, led by Steven Roemerman, signed a minority report, proposing to replace this new preamble with the Statement of Principles from previous years, which you see above. Here is the text of the motion:

Whereas conservative social values such as the sanctity of human life, marriage, and the family and public integrity are core values of Tulsa County Republicans and therefore warrant prominence in our party's platform,

Whereas social issues have had prominence in the Statement of Principles for our Tulsa County Republican Platform for many years, but have been omitted from the Preamble submitted in this year's proposed platform,

We, the undersigned members of the Platform Committee to the 2012 Tulsa County Republican Convention, offer this minority report to the Convention, to wit, amending the Platform Committee's report to substitute the Statement of Principles from the 2011 Tulsa County Republican Platform (attached) in place of the committee's proposed Preamble.

After debate, the motion was approved by the convention by an overwhelming margin. The resulting platform consists of the above Statement of Principles and the individual platform planks that had been approved by the 2012 Platform Committee.

During my remarks (which, like Roemerman's, focused on the issue at hand and did not cast aspersions at any individual or question anyone's motives), I quoted Congressman Mike Pence, who was quoted in a recent column by Mark Steyn (well worth reading in full):

To those who say we should simply focus on fiscal issues, 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 collapses.

(In a similar vein, Phyllis Schlafly's latest column is titled "Phony Divide Between Fiscal & Social Issues.")

I will have more to say about this in the next day or two, but for now I wanted to get the substance on the record.

MORE: Here is the Tulsa County platform committee majority report (1 MB PDF), with the Preamble (the section that was replaced) highlighted.

Tulsa County Republican activists gathered today at the Union High School Performing Arts Center to decide on delegates to the congressional district and state Republican conventions and to adopt a platform that will inform the work of platform committees at the state and national conventions. The only dispute in the peaceful and surprisingly brief convention involved restoring the long-time "bold colors" Statement of Principles to lead off the county platform, in place of the watered-down "pale pastels" preamble that had been approved by this year's committee. (I'll detail that dispute in a separate entry, but thanks to Steven Roemerman and several other members of the platform committee for their willingness to present a minority report.)

After the chaos at many Missouri county caucuses last Saturday (see first-time attendee Duane Lester's account of the Nodaway County caucus) and reports of strife at the Oklahoma County convention earlier in the month, there was some nervousness about a conflict in Tulsa between newcomers supporting Ron Paul and long-time conservative activists at our convention.

As it happened, the convention went very smoothly, starting with the final gathering of the rules committee before the gavel this morning. The rules committee, made up of supporters of a variety of presidential candidates, unanimously approved a couple of final tweaks to the rules. And although a SNAFU resulted in an earlier version being printed distributed to delegates, only one delegate, a Ron Paul supporter, got upset by the lack of an accurate printed copy, and the upset didn't last long. The platform dispute I mentioned didn't break along lines of presidential preference, but boiled down to an old-timer who has been trying for years to water down the platform and got farther this time than ever before.

The need to hear and resolve 30 credentials appeals delayed the start of official business by nearly an hour and a half. The appeals panel of five heard from people who tried to attend their caucus, but it wasn't held at the advertised time and place, people who were elected as county delegates but whose name was left off of the precinct's delegate list, and a couple of people who just registered to vote and thought they should be able to participate.

While waiting for the credentials committee to complete their work, we heard from Congressman John Sullivan on his energy-independence efforts, Corporation Commission chairman Dana Murphy and Commissioner Bob Anthony, Oklahoma's longest-serving statewide official, State Auditor and Inspector (and former GOP state chairman) Gary Jones, state chairman Matt Pinnell, Tulsa County Commission chairman John Smaligo, Insurance Commissioner John Doak, and State Senator Rick Brinkley, among others.

The oddest moment of the day: After concluding his speech and starting up the aisle away from the stage, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr stopped at my row, extended his hand to me for a handshake, waited for me to look up -- I was typing on my laptop and wasn't paying close attention -- and said, "Where'd you get all that gray hair? What happened?" I shook his hand and gave him a puzzled look in return. (I've had all this gray hair for about seven years. I don't dye it.)

But once started, things rolled quickly, with adjournment coming at 2:45 pm, more than an hour before the expected close of business. The reports of the credentials (who's qualified to vote in this convention), rules (how we conduct business in this convention), and delegates (who will we send to the next level of conventions) committees were adopted with near unanimity.

Four proposed changes to the state party rules were approved for recommendation by wide margins -- these will be brought before the state convention in May. The proposed rule changes would:

  • eliminate any gender quotas on members of state and district committees,
  • remove the right to seats at the county convention for precincts with no voters and for precincts that fail to hold caucuses by the state deadline,
  • require that only elected county convention delegates and elected officials can be delegates for their counties at the district and state conventions, and
  • require Republican candidates to declare their areas of disagreement with the state party platform.

In their pre-convention session, the rules committee adopted two last-minute changes. One of the changes was to allow candidates wishing to address the convention (including some candidates challenging incumbent Republicans) a few minutes to speak during the lunch break.

The other change simplified the process of determining who would go as Tulsa County's delegation to the state and congressional conventions, where national convention delegates are selected. If the county voted to send an "open" delegation to both higher-level conventions, those delegations would consist of every delegate elected by their precinct to the county convention, rather than requiring delegates to sign up. While it is theoretically possible that a thousand or so delegates would show up to share Tulsa County's 331 votes, the usual situation is that a fraction of the total will show up, particularly to the state convention. This approach to filling the delegate list broadens the possible pool of Tulsa County delegates, improving the likelihood that we'll be able to claim all of our votes. And, at my instigation, we made this form of open delegation the default, in the event that delays or disruptions prevented the convention from electing delegates before adjournment. (This topic deserves an entry of its own for a full explanation.)

County Chairman J. B. Alexander, Vice Chairman Mike McCutchin, convention chairman State Sen. Dan Newberry, convention parliamentarian former State Rep. John Wright, convention secretary Melinda Voss, and credentials committee chairman Ted Darr deserve much credit for the smooth convention. Following state rules strictly and developing and following strict guidelines to cover ambiguities in the state rules may be the difference between a peaceful convention and a contentious convention.

standupbanner.pngAmericans will rally in 140 cities across the nation at noon tomorrow, Friday, March 23, 2012, to protest the Obamacare HHS mandate requiring nearly all private health insurance plans to cover "all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs," overriding an employer's moral convictions.

Tulsa's rally will be held at LaFortune Park, 5801 S. Yale Ave. Speakers will include Tulsa constitutional attorney Leah Farish. In 2005, Farish received Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Law Project's Mary Beth Tinker Award for her successful defense of the right of a Muslim high school student in Muskogee to wear a headscarf at a public school.

Dozens of pro-life and religious liberty organizations have joined forces to organize this nationwide event, including the Pro-Life Action League, Concerned Women for America, and the Becket Fund for Religous Liberty.

Social liberals often complain that social conservatives want to use government power to impose their views on everyone else. As the Obamacare HHS mandate demonstrates, it's the other way around: Lefties want to use government to force everyone to conform to their moral judgments. We need to stand up for religious liberty if we want to preserve it.

Pipeline monument, Cushing OK
As President Obama visits Cushing, Oklahoma, tomorrow, conservative Oklahomans will gather tomorrow morning in Cushing to voice their support for a common-sense energy policy that allows exploration and development of America's energy resources.

The Obama administration has been blocking the development of the Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Canada to Oklahoma and the development of oil reserves under the Gulf of Mexico and on Federal lands in Alaska. As a candidate, he announced that under his energy plan, electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket.

This morning on TV, CNN prominently displayed the headline "Obama to fast-track Keystone XL pipeline." In fact, Obama's denial of the necessary permit to build the pipeline from Canada to the US still stands. TransCanada decided to go ahead with the pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf (which doesn't require the President's permission), and now it appears that the president wants to stage a photo op to take credit for that.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner balked at the idea that President Obama could claim credit for speeding up the approval process of the southern segment of the pipeline. "This is like a governor personally issuing a fishing license," Brendan Buck said. "There is only a minor, routine permit needed for this leg of the project. Only a desperate administration would inject the President of the United States into this trivial matter. The President's attempt to take credit for a pipeline he blocked and personally lobbied Congress against is staggering in its dis-ingenuousness. This portion of the pipeline is being built in spite of the President, not because of him."

Here is the email blast from Americans for Prosperity about Obama's visit to Oklahoma and tomorrow's rally:

It's not enough that President Obama refused to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, denying thousands of jobs and lower gas prices at the pump. Now he's coming to Cushing, Oklahoma to grandstand credit for a private sector energy success - and he hopes you aren't paying attention.

Prove him wrong.

Join Americans for Prosperity tomorrow morning when President Obama visits Cushing.

Click here to register for our rally!

Let's show the President that we are paying attention and we aren't going to let him off the hook. AFP will show up with a simple message: stop playing politics with America's energy.

What:We Can't Wait Rally in Cushing
When:Thursday, March 22nd @ 8:30 a.m.
Where:  Fechner Pump and Supply, 1402 North Little Street in Cushing, OK
Who:You and your fellow Americans for Prosperity activists

Just a few weeks ago Obama said that oil is a "fuel of the past." Now he's talking out of the other side of his mouth and thinks no one will call him on it.

Economists have found that the Keystone XL pipeline that Obama is halting could create over 100,000 jobs, increase refining capacity by 700,000 barrels, lower prices at the pump, and bring millions in tax revenues to Oklahoma and the surrounding region.

America needs commonsense energy policy - not political grandstanding.

Help AFP call out the President and demand real energy solutions.

Photo credit: Pipeline monument, Cushing OK by roy.luck, on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license

MORE:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin didn't cancel her spring break vacation plans to rush back to welcome Pres. Obama to the state, and some are complaining that she's being disrespectful and even racist by not doing so. I used Storify to capture a Twitter conversation between myself, Jennifer James, Steve Lackmeyer of the Oklahoman, Joe Fairbanks, with a few others.

Gov. Fallin issued a statement about the president's visit:

"I am pleased that President Obama is able to make his first visit to the great state of Oklahoma this week and to personally see the good work going on in Cushing. The TransCanada pipeline to be built there will connect Oklahoma to oil markets on the Gulf Coast, resulting in the creation of more than 1,000 Oklahoma jobs. This project will help to bolster our energy industry and security for years to come.

"I am glad the president supports the construction of the pipeline connecting Cushing to the Gulf. Impeding the progress of something which is so obviously beneficial to both the economy and the energy security of the United States would have been nothing short of irresponsible.

"Unfortunately, President Obama and his administration are practicing exactly this kind of obstructionism on the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried oil from the Canadian oil sands and several U.S. markets to Cushing. As a result, the United States must go without the hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that would have otherwise been available to stimulate our economy. Just as importantly, the administration's decision undermines U.S. energy security and alienates our closest trading partner, Canada.

"I hope that while President Obama is in Oklahoma he takes some time to listen to our citizens, many of whom work for the energy industry which he claims to support. I think they will tell him that - far from supporting the responsible domestic production of American-made energy - his administration has undermined it at every turn. Rather than embracing the truly remarkable technological breakthroughs that have resulted in the discovery of an additional 100-year supply of natural gas, the president and the EPA continue their hostility to basic and time-tested practices like hydraulic fracturing. The president and his party in Washington continue to support an aggressively anti-energy agenda that will severely hamper the American economy and put the United States at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the world.

"In Oklahoma, we recognize that the energy industry is an important ally in job creation and economic development. We believe that American energy is a resource, not a hazardous waste. My great hope is that some of that attitude will rub off on our president, who has lost his way on energy policy and so many other issues."

MORE: U. S. Rep. John Sullivan talks about the Keystone XL pipeline and Obama's visit on Fox and Friends this morning. Sullivan calls Obama's about-face on part of the pipeline a "con job," comparing it to Al Gore taking credit for inventing the internet. Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy notes that the absence of the northern part of the pipeline would require oil from the Canadian tar sands to be shipped by other means, such as the Warren Buffett / Berkshire Hathaway-owned BNSF railroad.

ricksantorumlogo.jpgAlthough the Oklahoma primary is behind us, Oklahomans who support Rick Santorum can still make a difference, through the miracle of modern technology. The Santorum HQ at 6969 E. 71st St. in Tulsa will be open for volunteers to make calls to voters in Tuesday's primary states. Alabama and Mississippi are both considered too close to call, with a danger that conservative votes split between Santorum and Gingrich would allow Romney to finish first. For more information on helping call from Tulsa, phone 918-928-7776.

You can also make phone calls from home into primary states via callfromhome.ricksantorum.com.

Here is a spreadsheet with the results by congressional district, as reported on the Oklahoma State Election Board election night results website. I've combined the results into a workbook with two tabs, one for Republicans, one for Democrats.

Final Republian delegate tally appears to be Santorum 14, Romney 13, Gingrich 13. In the Democrat primary, the delegate result is Barack Obama 35, Randall Terry 7, Jim Rogers 3.

Turnout was way off from 2008 in both primaries. This wasn't unexpected in the Democrat primary with an incumbent president on the ballot, but Republican turnout dropped from 335,054 in 2008 to 286,523 in 2012 -- about a 15% drop in a more exciting primary. Perhaps it was the barrage of negative ads, mainly from Romney and Paul attacking Santorum, and from Gingrich attacking Romney. (I never saw a Santorum ad in Oklahoma.)

Originally published March 5, 2012. Bumped to the top on March 9.

The presidential election is at the forefront for anyone who pays attention to politics, but what happens with state and local elections has as much of an impact on your daily life as the current Occupier of the White House. Filing for this fall's elections in Oklahoma is only about one month away.

One week after the presidential primary, American Majority will hold a candidate training seminar at Reasor's in Jenks, Tuesday evening, March 13, 2012, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

Details and registration info after the jump.

First Love, a local band featuring the singing and songwriting talents of Camille and Haley Harris, wrote a fight song for the Rick Santorum campaign. The song "Game On!" came together in the wee hours of this past Sunday night / Monday morning, after they heard Rick Santorum speak and met him at Grace Church in Broken Arrow on Sunday evening. It's a catchy song, and the girls have great pop voices with a bit of a folk edge.

The song has received some national attention, earning a thanks from Rick Santorum on his campaign blog:

What a great anthem for our campaign -- I haven't been able to get the song out of my head! I feel so blessed to have such ardent supporters of our vision for America's future, and am grateful to the entire Harris family for their continued faith in our campaign.

The song has been mentioned by bloggers for Time, The Hill, the Houston Chronicle, Buzzfeed.

I met the Harris girls and their parents Tuesday night at the Santorum watch party. They were being interviewed on an online radio talk show as I sat nearby uploading the latest results by congressional district to the Santorum national campaign team. I thought I remembered seeing another video by First Love, a western swing song.

Sure enough, Haley and Camille sang "Blue Bonnet Lane" (one of my favorite Bob Wills tunes) with the Tulsa Playboys back in January:


IVoted.jpgTimestamp set to keep this post at the top until the polls close at 7 p.m.

It's presidential primary election day in Oklahoma, with polls open across the state from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Both parties have a primary today. Click here to see the full list of candidates. Republicans have a choice of seven candidates: Santorum, Gingrich, Romney, Paul, Bachmann, Huntsman, and Perry. Democrats have five options, including President Obama, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, and Midwest City resident Jim Rogers, who was the 2010 Democratic nominee for U. S. Senate.

Click "Continue reading" for details on today's municipal elections, how to find your polling place, showing ID at the polls, how delegates will be bound, and where to find up-to-the-minute election results.

ricksantorumlogo.jpgI had decided some time ago that when Oklahoma's turn to vote came around, I would cast my vote as necessary to block Mitt Romney's progress toward the Republican nomination. Whoever was ahead of Romney in the polls or the closest to beating him would get my vote.

(Dan McLaughlin, aka Baseball Crank, in his recent entry "Mitt Romney, the Unconvincing Convert," details four of the problems with Romney -- "the unconvincing nature of his political conversion, the hazards of becoming enamored with candidates whose primary rationale for running is their money, the unprecedented difficulty of winning with a moderate Republican who lacks significant national security credentials as a war hero or other prominent foreign policy figure, and Romney's vulnerability arising from his dependence on his biography" -- and at that blog entry, you'll find links to McLaughlin's 2007 series on Romney's electoral liabilities.)

But as the presidential field narrowed and the Oklahoma primary approached, I've come to the conclusion that the last remaining conservative alternative, Rick Santorum, is not merely the best tactical vote, but the candidate closest to my views on economic, social, and defense and foreign policy issues and the best candidate to fight and win the general election against the incumbent.

On economics, Rick Santorum supports bold entitlement reform and immediate action to address the climbing national debt, not kicking the can down the road for another decade as some have proposed. He rightly identifies the importance of manufacturing to economic recovery, particularly for the middle class, and his corporate tax plan, combined with regulatory reform, would make it easier for manufacturers to bring jobs back to the US. His personal income tax plan is a significant simplification over the current complicated tax code -- two brackets, five deductions -- but it has the advantage of being politically plausible. It's not the sort of shocking departure that would be easy to demagogue. It retains the deductions that most taxpayers use and expect.

As a senator, Rick Santorum was a leader on the issue of welfare reform, understanding the moral and economic imperative of helping Americans by helping them move from dependency into self-sufficiency.

Energy is a major focus of Santorum's speeches. He sees the controversy over hydraulic fracturing, a practice that dates back to World War II, as nothing more than the Green Left's latest fundraising gimmick, now that manmade global warming has run out of gas. Santorum rightly identifies the political agenda behind the Obama administration's restrictions on energy exploration, production, and transportation. To Obama and his allies, higher prices are a feature of the Obama energy policy, not a bug.

On foreign policy, Santorum understands the essence of the threat faced by western civilization and is willing to give it its proper name. Santorum says the "Global War on Terror" is a misnomer. Terror isn't an enemy; it's a tactic used by the enemy, which he correctly identifies as radical Islamism. A President Santorum will not bow to foreign potentates.

When asked by an ORU student to contrast his foreign policy with that of Ron Paul, Santorum said, "I believe in peace through strength; he believes... well, maybe I'll just say, he doesn't. I believe that America is the source of stability in the world.... If we do what Congressman Paul has suggested.... there are forces in the world that would replace us, that would not have our best interests in mind. There wouldn't be a vacuum." He noted that radical Islamists, China, and Russia are poised to move in in response to American disengagement from the world.

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The media has made Santorum out to be the social issues candidate, but social issues haven't been the focus of his campaign materials or his speeches. His thoughts on social issues line up perfectly with the majority of Oklahomans, and while other candidates (including President Obama) pay lip service to these issues but shrink back apologetically when challenged by the liberal media, Rick Santorum patiently defends his views, which are grounded in first principles. Santorum was a leader in the fight against the barbaric practice of partial birth abortion and in the effort, inspired by the plight of Terri Schindler Schiavo, to protect the incapacitated from being starved and dehydrated to death.

Yes, Rick Santorum has made some disappointing compromises during his 16 years in Congress. But so have the Oklahoma politicians who have endorsed Romney, a man whose entire political career has been about morphing his political positions for political expediency.

(When a planet wobbles from its predicted orbit, astronomers know to look for a hidden force pulling on the planet. It's how we discovered Neptune and Pluto.)

Some Republicans are laundry-list conservatives -- they can check all the right boxes on the candidate survey, but they miss the heart of the matter. As I wrote about the 2010 governor's race:

In my years of involvement in conservative and Republican politics, I've noticed that there are those politicians who profess support for the laundry list of conservative positions on the current list of hot issues and then there are those who understand the issues of the day in terms of the bigger picture -- a coherent philosophy of government, society, and human nature and a view of the long-term consequences of today's decisions. Elected officials in the latter group seem less likely to be led astray; when a new issue comes along, they have a philosophical compass to guide their decisions, while members of the former group are susceptible to lobbyist suasion.

I'd rather have a laundry-list conservative in office than the left-wing equivalent, but I'd much rather have a leader who sees today's issues in terms of our future liberty and prosperity, guided by a coherent conservative philosophy.

Rick Santorum is that kind of leader. It shows in his personal life and in the politically costly stands he has taken, common-sense stands that sent the nasty, radical Left into conniptions.

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Like Ann Coulter used to believe, before she drank the Jim Jones powdered drink mix, I believe that Romney would be a disaster as the GOP's general election candidate. He doesn't provide enough of a contrast to Obama on the big issue that drove the big Republican gains in 2010: Obamacare and the need to repeal it before it comes into full effect. Back on September 7, 2011, the Wall Street Journal editorial board called Romney's economic plan "surprisingly timid and tactical."

The attempt by Romney fans to end things quickly and create a bandwagon through endorsements underscored his inability to withstand scrutiny. The best hope of the Romney camp was to dishearten conservatives, to crush their hope of a conservative alternative, to convince them to surrender early on to the inevitability of the Romney nomination and not waste their contributions and volunteer time on another candidate.

Romney is this year's "it's his turn" candidate, the latest representative of a 24 year pattern in which Mr. Second Place becomes front runner for the next go-around, attracting endorsements and cash from bandwagon-jumpers who like to bet on a sure thing. States leapfrogged each other on the primary calendar in hopes of having some voice in the process, but the plurality-takes-all delegate allocation rules in most states made an early win essential for all but the most well funded candidate. In 2008, the race was all but over by Valentine's Day. Romney threw in the towel the day after Tsunami Tuesday. Republicans then spent the next 10 months with a bad case of buyer's remorse, mitigated only for a week or two after McCain's vice presidential pick.

Despite brazen violations by a few states, the new GOP rules for 2012 have had the desired effect of slowing down the process, allowing for more states and more Republicans to have a meaningful say in the choice of a nominee, providing time for voters to take a close look at potential nominees before they have the nomination practically sewn up.

Back in December, when Rick Santorum was barely polling above Jon Huntsman and Buddy Roemer, I dismissed him as an also-ran, handicapped by the 2006 loss of his Senate seat and his unwise endorsement of Arlen Specter.

But as I wrote that, Santorum, accompanied by his wife Karen and their children, was working harder than any other candidate, campaigning in every county in Iowa. His persistence paid with a first-place finish on Iowa caucus night, a shoestring campaign finishing just ahead of the candidate with all the money in the world.

Unlike the other not-Romneys who emerged and faded under scrutiny, Santorum has shown staying power. I believe it's because his positions on the issues are really what he believes. They aren't calculated for the sake of political expediency. Santorum has thought through the big issues that challenge our nation.

Even if I haven't persuaded you to support Santorum on his own merits, I hope you'll consider the tactical case for a Santorum vote in Oklahoma.

If you're an Oklahoma conservative who doesn't want a nominee who has flip-flopped on all the big issues, who has rejected and embraced Reagan and the conservative movement on an as-needed basis, voting for Rick Santorum is the best way to block Romney's momentum and keep the Republican Party's options open. If you're an Oklahoma fan of Gingrich or Paul, voting for Santorum is the best thing you can do to block Romney and keep your man's candidacy viable.

Tactical voters have to begin from the starting point of the latest polls. Who is in a position to finish first? Who is in a position to win delegates? The number of tactical voters is small enough that you can only hope to tilt a closely balanced race. In a recent poll, Santorum was leading statewide and in each congressional district. Right now, what's in the balance is a win for Santorum big enough to deny Romney any Oklahoma delegates under Oklahoma's proportional delegate allocation rules. It's an important step toward knocking out Romney and opening up the race.

In Georgia there's a different answer to that question, and if I lived in Georgia, I'd cast a tactical vote for Newt. If I lived in Virginia, where only Romney and Paul are on the ballot, I'd vote for Ron Paul. But in every other Super Tuesday state, including Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee, Santorum is the best tactical choice.

But I think that if conservative Oklahoma voters will listen to his speeches and compare his record to the other candidates, you'll come to the same conclusion that I've reached: Rick Santorum is the best candidate to carry our conservative Oklahoma values into the general election and on to the White House.

EARLIER BatesLine ARTICLES:

This is a preliminary report, mainly so I can get the audio and some photos online. I plan to transcribe additional quotes as I have opportunity.

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Sen. Rick Santorum spoke to a standing-room only crowd of about 1000 people at Grace Church last night, March 4, 2012, focusing attention on his energy and tax plans and the importance of Republicans nominating a candidate who presents voters with a clear choice in November.

The backdrop for the event were big video displays with the slogan, "The courage to fight for American jobs." At the heart of the speech was Santorum's emphasis on promoting job growth by supporting the development of domestic energy resources and a simpler tax system.

Santorum called for throwing out the tax code and replacing it with two rates, 10% and 28%, and retaining only five deductions: children, charities, pensions, healthcare, and housing. "Maybe I'm for a simple tax code for a selfish reason.... Unlike everyone else in the race, I actually do my own taxes."

Corporations would be a simple net profit tax with a single rate of 17.5%, half the current maximum rate. (The US maximum rate will be the highest in the world as of April 1 when Japan is set to cut their rate.) In order to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, Santorum proposes a rate of 0 for manufacturing and processing.

He noted that the complex tax code puts small businesses at a disadvantage to larger rivals, as it's harder for a small business to find the loopholes that big companies use.

On energy, Santorum focused on Obama administration obstruction of energy exploration. He mentioned a visit to a shale oil well-head Tioga, N. D., and the hindrance caused by the lack of a pipeline that could bring that oil more efficiently to market.

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Santorum, accompanied by his wife and three of his children, expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome they've received in Oklahoma. Noting that Gingrich and Romney both have home states with primaries on Super Tuesday, while his home state of Pennsylvania won't be voting, "if I feel like I have any home state up on Super Tuesday, it's here in Oklahoma."

After the speech, Santorum worked the rope line taking pictures with everyone who wanted one. Later, he and his family posed with Jim Bob Duggar and family, here from Arkansas to campaign for Santorum.

Shortly after Santorum began to speak, he was interrupted by a heckler, who, I was told, was an Occupod. (I mistakenly tweeted that the heckler was a Paulbot, which was not the case.) The heckler was shown the door. From my side of the auditorium it was impossible to make out what the heckler was shouting.

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1170 KFAQ morning show host Pat Campbell kicked off the event by explaining his break with usual practice in endorsing Santorum, rather than revealing his choice after the election. (Co-host Eddie Huff has also endorsed Santorum.) Campbell was a new talk show host in Erie, Pa., in 1994, when Santorum ran against an appointed incumbent Democrat to win a seat in the Senate. Campbell said Santorum is the only politician he's ever endorsed.

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Campbell spoke about the mockery being directed by the mainstream media at Santorum's faith, specifically comments he made in a 2008 speech at Ave Maria University:

But the reality is those things that Rick Santorum talked about at Ave Maria -- I believe them, you believe them. When they laugh at Rick Santorum, they're laughing at us. They don't get us. We're flyover country.... If Rick Santorum, his wife Karen, and their children were to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma, tomorrow, they'd fit right in, because he is one of us. He gets it. All of the things that we cherish and hold true and sacred, Rick Santorum holds true and sacred.

Campbell stated that Santorum presents the strongest contrast in the general election to Barack Obama, noted the endorsement Santorum received from Jim Inhofe, and called on the audience to volunteer, explaining the importance of getting Santorum over the 50% mark to win all of Oklahoma's 40 delegates.

In her introduction, Rep. Peterson called Santorum "the real deal... the most authentic conservative that is running today... a sincere, authentic, genuine conservative, and he's been that way for years, and he hasn't changed."

Peterson recalled meeting Ronald Reagan in Tulsa in 1976, when the conventional wisdom said that Ronald Reagan was too conservative to be elected, and Gerald Ford was nominated because he would be electable. Ford went on to lose to Jimmy Carter. "We had to wait four years for a real conservative" to be the Republican nominee in 1980. This time around, Peterson said, "we do not have four years to wait for a real conservative to run for president." She concluded by calling on the audience to "stand to your feet, cheer, shout, and welcome the best choice for president of the United States, Rick Santorum." The audience complied enthusiastically.

AUDIO:

I started recording in the middle of Pat Campbell's introduction -- sorry, forgot to start the recorder before the meeting began. For the sake of completeness, I have my recording of Santorum's speech below, but KFAQ has much better audio at this link. (Unfortunately, they don't have the introductory material.)

20120304_A_Pat_Campbell_Intro.mp3

20120304_B_Pam_Peterson_Intro.mp3

20120304_C_Santorum_Speech.mp3

MORE COVERAGE:

Pat McGuigan reports for Capitol Beat OK on Santorum's visit to the State Capitol earlier in the day.

State Rep. Mike Reynolds, an Oklahoma City Republican, introduced the former Pennsylvania senator at the rally, at one point recalling Santorum's vigor in defending the U.S. against "radical Islam" in an appearance at the University of Oklahoma in Norman several years ago. Santorum remembered, "Mike Reynolds was talking about that event I did in Norman some five or six years ago I think it was. Gosh, here were all sorts of protestors. It was very hostile. I never expected that in Oklahoma."

The Occupods were in OKC, too, but they were harder to budge there:

A group of a dozen demonstrators disrupted the first half of Santorum's speech with a "mic check" -- the prelude to a verbal attack on the candidate. The group tore Santorum signs, screamed at him as he gave his speech, and denounced his views repeatedly. After about 20 minutes, Capitol police met quietly with the demonstrators and encouraged them to leave, which they did.

KOTV News on 6's Emily Baucum has a good video synopsis of Santorum's Tulsa speech. You may be able to spot me snapping some of the pictures you see above. (Hat tip to reader Art Fern.)

OKGOP-logo.jpgIn the wake of the Michigan Republican presidential primary, in which Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney won an equal number of congressional districts, each worth two delegates, there was a dispute over whether the two at-large delegates should be divided between Romney and Santorum (since no candidate received a majority of the statewide vote) or both given to the candidate who received the plurality. Had the Michigan Republican Party published its delegate allocation rules in advance of the primary, the dispute and the consequent accusations of bad faith could have been avoided.

In doing my own research on delegate allocation in each state, I have noticed that state party websites rarely have updated information about anything, and they're especially bad about not posting rules, resolutions, and other "party business" documents.

In light of that problem, and in order to avoid a repeat of the Michigan mishegoss, I urged Oklahoma Republican Party leadership to publicize Oklahoma's allocation rules in advance of Tuesday's primary. This evening, Oklahoma GOP vice chairman Pam Pollard sent me the official 2012 National Delegate Award Methodology (PDF). This methodology was approved last year by the Oklahoma Republican State Committee, which is the governing body of the state party, consisting of the County Chairman, Vice Chairman, State Committeeman and State Committeewoman from each county, and all Republican state and federal elected officials.

Some key points (my paraphrase of the official rules):


  • The three Republican National Committee members (Chairman Matt Pinnell, National Committeeman James Dunn, National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty) will not be bound by the primary result.

  • It takes a majority (50% + one vote) to win all the delegates in each congressional district (3 each) and statewide to win all 25 at-large delegates.

  • If no one has a statewide majority, the 25 delegates will be split among all candidates with at least 15% of the statewide vote in proportion to their share of the vote among the candidates with at least 15%. If rounding results in an unallocated delegate, it will go to the top vote-getter.

  • In any congressional district, if three or more candidates get 15% of the vote, the top three candidates get one delegate each. If only two get 15% of the vote or more, the top candidate gets two and the second-place candidate gets one. If only one candidate breaks 15% or if a candidate gets 50% or more, he will get all three delegates

After the jump, the full text of the document:

Fellow Rick Santorum supporters, your help is needed today. From Oklahoma Santorum HQ:

The Duggars Are Coming Back To Tulsa

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar want your help.

The stars of TLC's reality television series invite you to come help this Sunday afternoon. We will be reaching out to Oklahomans, to get out to vote this Tuesday for Rick.

Teams all across Green Country are organizing to impact the state with sign-waves from 3-5pm. Others are manning the phone banks in our headquarters from 2-5pm.

The many volunteers of the Santorum Oklahoma campaign are thrilled to see so many great people coming to Rick Santorum's side during this important election for the future of our nation.

Tulsa area volunteers; please meet at the headquarters at 2pm.

Santorum Tulsa HQ is at 6969 E 71st Street, just east of Mai's Tailor Shop and behind Señor Tequila's Restaurant.

You may be thinking that because the polls show Santorum with a big lead in Oklahoma, you don't need to help, but you'd be wrong. If Santorum can win 50% statewide and 50% in each congressional district, he gets all of Oklahoma's 40 delegates at stake. Less than 50% only wins a share. And a shellacking of his rivals -- winning by large margins -- would help him win big in the next round of primaries.

This just in from Santorum Oklahoma HQ.

Sen. Rick Santorum will return to Oklahoma for two campaign stops on Sunday, March 4, 2012.

Oklahoma City: 3:30 p.m., north steps of the State Capitol.

Tulsa: 6:30 p.m., Grace Church, 9610 S. Garnett Road.

ricksantorumlogo.jpg

Santorum at ORU (portrait crop) (MDB20765)
Some friends of mine, long-time local conservative activists, have endorsed Rick Santorum in next Tuesday's Oklahoma presidential preference primary. They've notified their friends of their endorsement, but for their own reasons can't make the endorsement public. They are however willing to share their rationale, and I think it's worth your time to read.

They also remind that early voting ("absentee in person") is available at your county's election board at the following times.

Friday, March 2, 2012: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 3, 2012: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Monday, March 5, 2012: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Whether you vote early at the county election board or on election day at your precinct's polling place, you must bring a government-issued form of identification -- either your voter ID card or some government issued ID with your photo and an expiration date after the date of the election. The state election board explains what kind of ID is allowed by law.

The Santorum campaign in Oklahoma could use your help. They are making personal phone calls to Oklahoma voters and need more workers to reach all the people they hope to reach. Phone the Oklahoma HQ at 918-928-7776 to find out what you can do. There are opportunities all over the state. A team of Texas volunteers is coming up to work along the southern tier of Oklahoma. (Texas's primary has been delayed until May 29, the result of a court battle over congressional redistricting.)

If you're a homeschooler, by volunteering for Santorum you'd be supporting the first homeschool dad to serve as president since perhapsTeddy Roosevelt. And what better way to teach the importance of civic involvement and how our election process works than to spend a few hours as a campaign volunteer.

I've put the full text of the activists' endorsement after the jump, but here are some of the key points:

  • Santorum has signed the Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge
  • Santorum's endorsement by the Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee devoted to promoting pro-life candidates: "Among the field of strong pro-life candidates in the GOP primary, one stands out as a proven leader in this great human and civil rights cause of our time. Rick Santorum communicates the vision and has exhibited the strategic and tactical prowess the pro-life movement must have in order to succeed. Women and children deserve his leadership, grounded as it is in affirming the dignity of every person. At this inflection point in the primary process and a tipping point in history on the abortion issue, the Susan B. Anthony List endorses Rick Santorum for the Republican nomination for President."
  • Santorum's A+ lifetime NRA rating and strong career ratings from many other conservative organizations.
  • In line with the mainstream of conservative activists on 2nd Amendment rights, energy production (a major theme of his Tulsa speech), illegal immigration, national defense and foreign policy, and cultural issues in military policy.
  • My friends weren't sure about Santorum's position with regard to Israel, since he didn't address it in his ORU speech, but here's an oped he wrote for National Review in May 2011: Israel in Peril. His concluding paragraph:

    Israel has long enjoyed the support of the United States. Our mutual ties have been historical, cultural, religious, and strategic. Today those ties have been put in more doubt than at any other time in the history of our relationship. Israel hasn't changed, the United States has. But the United States, a large and powerful country, is not in danger of disappearing. The same cannot be said of Israel and it is to our shame that we have increased that risk for the Jewish state. One can only hope this dangerous turn in our foreign policy will change. In the meantime, it is the duty of each and every American citizen who abhors terrorism and supports freedom to stand up and say, "I support Israel."

    Now here's the full endorsement from my activist friends:

    Pioneer new media entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart died today, age 43. He is survived by his wife and four young children.

    Breitbart began his online career working for Matt Drudge at the Drudge Report, then launched his own network of news and commentary websites: breitbart.com, breitbart.tv, Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, Big Peace.

    Active on Twitter, Breitbart was fond of retweeting unhinged leftist attacks against him.

    His final tweet, at 11:25 pm Pacific time last night, says a lot about him -- willing to be bold in confrontation, willing to back off from a misstep.

    I called you a putz cause I thought you werebeing intentionally disingenuous. If not I apologize. @CenLamar @dust92

    S3016667

    BatesLine photo: Rev. C. L. Bryant interviews Andrew Breitbart for Bryant's film "A Runaway Slave," on the west lawn of the Capitol at the 2010 9/12 March on Washington.

    I met him only once and briefly, although I had the pleasure of hearing him in person at a couple of conferences, most recently at RightOnline 2011. The Right Scoop has video of the full speech, in which he describes his journey from reflexive Los Angeles liberal to conservative warrior.

    I say to my wife, "Do your remember when I was a waiter, I was light-hearted, and I went to movies. I don't do that anymore." My goal now is to take down the institutional Left.

    Fellow bloggers talked about how approachable he was and how happy to help conservative new media activists expand their reach. Kerry Picket of the Washington Times remembers:

    Andrew was willing to take shots that were considered strategically risky and dealt with any blowback that came his way as a result of some of those risks. Budding citizen journalists found it amazing that Andrew would not only give out his e-mail address to strangers he met at conferences but also his personal cell phone number.

    At RightOnline, he walked with a small group of people over to Netroots Nation, the hard-left activist conference which was being held at the same time in Minneapolis. (Netroots Nation types had already crashed RightOnline and were causing a headache for hotel staff as they tried to provoke a confrontation.) In this video, as he's en route, he does a bit of satire of leftist attitudes, then explains to a questioner his role in the conservative movement.

    At the time, Kerry Picket of the Washington Times posted a series of videos of Breitbart's reception by Netroots Nation, which featured a rabid Daily Kos blogger claiming that one of Breitbart's employees was responsible for an alleged racial incident.

    Breitbart lived intensely, accomplished much, gave a platform to an army of conservative activists, confronted the Left relentlessly, and was under constant attack in return. Give thanks for his life and work, and pray for his bereft family.

    MORE REACTION:

    Josh Treviño has a tribute at the Grauniad, recalling the driving philosophy behind Breitbart's network of sites:

    [The cultural left] trafficked in self-assured righteousness, a vibrant network of transmitters and supporters, and a belief in the moral inferiority of their opposites.

    With these things, they crafted and pushed narratives that crushed conservatives every time. Andrew Breitbart was going to bring those methods, and more important, that aesthetic to the right - and see which side won when it was main force on main force.

    On Fox News this morning, Breitbart's fellow conservative web pioneer, Jonah Goldberg, who was starting National Review Online when Breitbart was working for the Drudge Report, reacts to news of the death of his friend and compatriot.

    AP aggregation of tributes to Breitbart.

    MORE: A very thorough bio of Breitbart, which includes how he met his wife, the odd interest they had in common, and how his father-in-law got him listening to Rush Limbaugh:

    Breitbart first met Susie Bean at a karaoke bar in 1988. He'd heard about her from their mutual friend, Mike, who phoned Breitbart at Tulane to tell him that he'd met Breitbart's future wife. When he and Susie landed back in Los Angeles four years later, they bonded over their shared appreciation of Chris Elliott's genius. Breitbart was nearly as smitten with Susie's father, the actor Orson Bean, as he was with Susie. And vice versa. "I was very taken with him," said Bean. A former liberal who had been blacklisted as a Communist in the 1950s, Bean was also the person who introduced Breitbart to Rush Limbaugh. Breitbart spotted a copy of The Way Things Ought To Be on the coffee table. "I said, 'Did you read this for giggles?' " Breitbart said. "He said, 'Have you listened to Rush?' I said, 'Yeah, he's a Nazi or something.' He goes, 'Are you sure you've listened to him?' " When Breitbart's favorite radio station started playing grunge--which he despised--he flipped to talk radio instead. "At first it was like a foreign language to me. But over time, it started to make sense."

    STILL MORE:

    Sarah Rumpf has a compendium of links to dozens of Breitbart tributes by conservative bloggers.

    On Twitter, Jimmie Bise, Jr. (@jimmiebjr), reflected on his opportunity to spend time with Breitbart at CPAC just a couple of weeks ago, an opportunity he passed up because his "bitter and wicked inner critic" told him he wasn't worthy. (I used Storify to capture those tweets in sequence and in a more permanently accessible form.)

    The nice thing about running your own website is you get to decide which ads run alongside your words.

    This morning I received notification from BlogAds of an ad submission "paid for by the Ron Paul Presidential Campaign Committee, Inc." (Saber Communications submitted the ad.) They wanted to run the "Rick Santorum is a Conservative Fake" ad on BatesLine through the primary. It would have been worth $200. I turned it down. I'm not going to run Ayatollah Ron Paul's garbage on this website, not for $200,000.

    Ron Paul is in no position to judge anyone's conservatism. Although he is pro-life, he's a liberal on most social issues and an appeaser on foreign policy. I believe the culture of a campaign is a reflection on the candidate, and his followers' practice of taqiyya (lying for the sake of advancing the cause) and their messianic devotion to him says much, none of it good, about the man.

    The modern conservative movement has been described as a three-legged stool -- social, fiscal, and defense. Santorum and Gingrich are the only candidates who are consistently conservative in all three areas, and Santorum is the most conservative candidate in the race with a chance of winning the nomination and beating Obama.

    ricksantorumlogo.jpg

    Here's the only Ron Paul ad you'll ever see on BatesLine.

    Oral Roberts University has posted video of their recent town hall events, sponsored by the ORU College Republicans, with Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich:

    Rick Santorum speaks at Oral Roberts University, February 9, 2012

    Newt Gingrich speaks at Oral Roberts University, February 20, 2012

    Santorum at ORU (MDB20793)SoonerPoll.com has released a poll of 300 likely Oklahoma Republican presidential primary voters (deemed likely because of voting history). 278 said they planned to vote in the March 6 Super Tuesday primary. Margin of error is +/- 5.66%. The survey occurred over a nine-day period (February 8 - February 16).

    The result:Santorum 38.5%, Romney 23.0%, Gingrich 18.0%, and Paul 7.6%, with 12.9% Don't Know / Refused.

    Because Oklahoma's primary is in March, the new national Republican rules require allocation to be proportional. 25 delegates will be allocated based on the statewide result, and 3 delegates will be allocated based on the result in each congressional district. You must have at least 15% to get any delegates, and if you break 50% you get all the delegates. Based on the results of this poll (and with the understanding that the congressional district subsamples are so small the margin of error is enormous), Santorum would get 12 statewide delegates, Romney 7, Gingrich 6. Santorum would win all the delegates in the 1st and 2nd CDs and two of three in CDs 3, 4, and 5. Romney would win one delegate each in CD 3 and CD 4; Gingrich would win one delegate in CD 5. The grand total would be Santorum 24, Romney 9, Gingrich 7.

    If Santorum could get key endorsements in central and western Oklahoma (paging James Lankford), he would have a shot at sweeping all the delegates.

    You may recall that in 2008, Mike Huckabee won the 1st and 2nd CDs, while McCain won the other three plus the statewide vote by a narrow margin.

    Question 4 has got to be a typo. I hope the callers didn't read the question like this, but here's how it's presented in the poll result:

    4. As you know, the Republican Presidential preferential primary election is February 5, 2008, do you plan to vote in that election?

    planned_parenthood_mammograms.jpgThe Washington, D.C., based blog Alexa Shrugged weighs into the debate over the Obamacare mandate that would force church-owned institutions to fund insurance coverage for contraception, abortifacients, and abortion even if such funding violates the principles of the owners. Alexa has posted three installments in this series, marshaling facts, figures, and reason to counter some of the wild claims made by the left.

    This issue is a gut check for conservatives: Will we acquiesce in the Left's framing of the issue (aided and abetted by the mainstream media) as a question of banning contraception or endangering women's health, and shrink away from any further debate in hopes the issue will go away? Or will we stay in the debate, defending religious liberty, keeping the focus on the egregious attempt by the Obama administration to force its values on religious Americans and the institutions they've built and funded with their own money? Precisely because this is a liberty issue, it ought to win the support of libertarians and social liberals and moderates. If you're an Obama fan, you may think government power will only be used to coerce conservatives to do what you want, but once that power is there, once the precedent is set, it could be used to coerce you to violate your own conscience.

    Here are links and excerpts for the articles in Alexa's series so far:

    Part 1: Controlling the Birth Control Debate

    Hey liberals: You know that if the Obamacare law has the power to mandate the right to free birth control, it also has the power to ban it, right? As Rush Limbaugh said, "Obamacare could ban contraception. Once Obamacare is implemented, the government can make any change unilaterally it wants." As in, the next president, (oh, let's REALLY give them chills!) maybe Santorum, can not only change that mandate, but replace it with whatever other mandate he wants because the law gives him that power. As they say, "A government big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away."

    If the government can force insurers to cover birth control for free, and can force you to buy health care, what CAN'T it force companies and citizens to do? I am very afraid that if the Supreme Court does not declare Obamacare unconstitutional we will find out.

    Part 2: Debunking the Myth that 99% of Women Are Using Birth Control

    First of all, if this is true, clearly there is no crisis of accessibility or cost - 99% is as universal for coverage as you'll ever get. And if 99% of women already have a way of getting or paying for birth control, then why in the world do we need to make it free through an Obamacare mandate?? ....

    #5: The fact sheet says "only 7% of women aged 15-44 are at risk for unintended pregnancy but are not using contraceptives." This does not address WHY these women are not using contraceptives - maybe they don't care either way if they get pregnant - but Democrats seem to assume it is because they're not handed out for free. So, we're forcing EVERYONE to subsidize ALL women's birth control for Obamacare - including those who can pay, those who already get it free or at a discount - because up to 7% of women "at risk" are not using it???

    Part 3: No, Planned Parenthood, Birth Control is NOT "Basic Health Care"

    Unlike abortion, which stops a beating heart and ends a life, I am pro-choice when it comes to contraception. However, contraceptives are, on the whole, not a health care need, but a lifestyle want. The vast majority of women don't use contraception because they need to prevent pregnancy for their health but because they don't want children at that particular point in time in their lives, for whatever reason, that's fine to me...

    Alexa lists a number of cancers and other dire side effects linked to hormonal contraceptives:

    Even Planned Parenthood lists the serious and potentially fatal side effects for contraceptives with estrogen like the pill, the patch and the NuvaRing as heart attack, stroke, having a blood clot in the legs, lungs, heart, or brain, or developing high blood pressure, liver tumors, gallstones, or yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice). (Interesting aside - Planned Parenthood lists these risks under the section labeled "What are the Disadvantages of xxx" and not under "How safe is xxx." Seems like it should be the opposite. Or both.)...

    I encourage you to click through and read all three articles. I've just added Alexa Shrugged to the BatesLine blogroll, so you'll see new items in the series as they're posted.

    MORE: The Heritage Foundation's blog has excerpts from the testimony of two women, Oklahoma Christian University senior vice president Allison Dabbs Garrett and Calvin College medical director and physician Dr. Laura Champion, who testified last week at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate. A key quote from Garrett:

    There is a vast difference between the right to make a purchase for oneself and requiring someone else to pay for it.

    And another pithy quote on the topic, from Frank J. Fleming (@IMAO_) on Twitter:

    If you want contraceptives to be a personal matter, you probably shouldn't force other people to pay for it.

    There have been many comments on problems with the count in the straw presidential poll taken at the Maine Republican municipal caucuses. Results from certain caucuses were excluded because the caucus was held outside the dates specified by the state party rules. In one case, a caucus was delayed because of bad weather, but the state party opted to announce the straw poll results on the date expected by the media, even though not all caucuses had been held.

    Some supporters of a certain presidential candidate are convinced that the problems were deliberately designed to favor the former governor of a nearby state and deprive their candidate of the opportunity to claim a win. Many seem to believe that a caucus straw poll is just another way to have a primary, and they're upset that the results can't be certified like a real primary election.

    The way Maine selects its delegates is like nearly every other state Republican party -- a series of caucuses and conventions beginning at the local level and working up to the congressional district and state level where delegates and alternates to the national convention are elected. What makes Maine, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri and other states different is that their elected national convention delegates may vote as they please. In Oklahoma and most other primary states, the national convention delegates elected at state and congressional district conventions are bound by the result of the presidential preference primary. (There are a few states, like Illinois and New York, where voters vote directly for delegates, who may be pledged to a specific presidential candidate.)

    Before 1988, Oklahoma's delegates were unbound, as in Maine, but they were elected based on their allegiance to the candidate preferred by most state and district convention delegates. My recollection is that all of our delegates in 1976 and 1980 went to Reagan, despite a strong minority in 1976 that preferred Ford. (I was at the 1st Congressional District convention in 1976 at Nathan Hale High School Auditorium. Dad was the lone Wagoner County delegate and convention secretary that year, and in the minority as a Ford fan. In 1980 I attended both 1st District and state conventions.)

    In the days when most delegates were unbound by primaries, it was important for caucus-goers to elect people they trusted, who shared their values, to be delegates at the county convention, and so on up the chain to the national convention. Someone running to be a national delegate might pledge to back a particular presidential candidate, but it was important to pick someone whose values you trusted, as the delegate always had the option of changing his mind at the convention. In the weeks leading up to the 1976 convention, Ford and Reagan targeted their campaigns at the 2,259 delegates, trying to hold on to their own and pry some loose from the other side. (The final tally was Ford 1,187, Reagan 1,070, Elliot Richardson 1, with 1 abstention. Here's the 1976 Republican roll call, as it appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, on Aug 20, 1976. All of Oklahoma's 36 delegates went to Reagan.)

    In a state like Maine that doesn't bind its delegates, the straw poll is just an extra -- a way to check the mood of the state's Republican grassroots activists, using the excitement of the presidential campaign to boost caucus turnout, and fodder for a press release and national attention.

    Here's a comment I posted at Maggie's Notebook and, in a slightly different form, in response to Slublog's post at Ace of Spades HQ:

    I don't think this was by design at all. Precinct, county, and state Republican Parties are largely run by volunteers. In a year with less attention focused on every caucus, a sloppily tallied straw poll or a county convention rescheduled for weather would be no big deal.

    It's important to distinguish between the caucuses and the straw poll taken at the caucuses. They're two different things. Even if there were no straw poll, even if there were a primary, there would still have to be caucuses as part of the process of electing Maine's delegates to the Republican National Convention. Municipal and county caucuses elect delegates to the state convention who, in turn, elect delegates to the national convention.

    So if you're going to have all these Republicans gathering anyway, why not take a straw poll? And why not use the straw poll to drive up caucus participation?

    What went wrong in Maine is that the national media, hungry for any numbers at all in a month without primaries, made a big deal out of the results, and the Maine party was unprepared for the onslaught of attention and the media's expectation of a rigorous result.

    The only poll that really matters is a poll of Maine's elected delegation to the Republican National Convention. That won't be determined until May 6.

    RELATED:

    The Green Papers on the history of the formulas used to apportion national convention delegates to the states, and the origins of bonus delegates and super delegates.

    St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press - Aug 19, 1976: 6th District Delegates Held Tight for Reagan: Describes a delegate who was a Ford backer but won his seat by pledging to vote for Reagan; he held to his pledge despite pressure to flip.

    Spokane Daily Chronicle - Aug 19, 1976: State Delegate Gets Revenge: Anida Pithoud, National Committeewoman from Washington state, ousted from her post by conservatives at the state convention, delivered a seconding speech for Ford and was happy to see the Reagan majority the the Washington delegation disappointed. She complained that conservatives had been trying to take over the state party's central committee for 10 years and complained about the Reagan-bots in familiar terms:

    She was one of only seven Ford delegates in the 38-member delegation. She maintained Reagan was able to capture the other 31 because of the participation of many people who "came in only on account of Reagan and will disappear now."

    The (Pomeroy-Middleport, Oh.) Daily Sentinel - Jul 22, 1976: Reagan Raiding Ohio Delegates: Reports that Reagan had sent operative Jeff Bell to Ohio to lure away some of Ford's 91 delegates, while the Ford team went after Reagan's six Ohio delegates, arguing "that the President has a better chance of beating Jimmy Carter in November."

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will be speaking at ORU's Mabee Center next Monday, February 20, 2012, and in Oklahoma City as well. Here are the details from an email from the Oklahoma Republican Party:

    Tulsa - 2:00 pm
    Mabee Center, Oral Roberts University
    7777 S Lewis Avenue
    Tulsa, OK 74136

    Oklahoma City - 6:30 pm
    Jim Thorpe Museum
    4040 N Lincoln Boulevard
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105

    This event is free to listeners of a certain talk radio station -- and everyone else.

    Newt Gingrich and Callista Gingrich, September 11, 2010, S3016602

    BatesLine photo: Newt Gingrich and Callista Gingrich introduce the premier of America at Risk: The War with No Name, at the Newseum in Washington, D. C., September 11, 2010.

    Rick Santorum at ORU audio

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    Expect a Miracle (MDB20804)

    Here is the complete audio in MP3 format of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's speech at Oral Roberts University's Mabee Center in Tulsa on February 9, 2012. The links lead directly to MP3 files. This audio came from my personal audio recorder, so the quality could be better. I'm posting it because no one else seems to have recorded or posted the intros, the Q&A, Santorum's closing remarks, or the final ORU disclaimer.

    Rick Santorum listens to a question from ORU College Democrats president Jonathan Townsend (MDB20781) by Michael Bates, on Flickr

    And if you prefer to download it all at once, here's the entire Rick Santorum at ORU program, from Kara Evans' first introduction to her final disclaimer.

    Permission is granted to use excerpts of this audio, under the following conditions: (1) Provide a link to this entry; (2) cite www.batesline.com as the source of the audio; (3) email me at blog at batesline dot com with a link to where you've posted it.

    ORU College Republicans president Kara Evans, State Rep. Pam Peterson applaud Rick Santorum as he prepares to speak at ORU Mabee Center (MDB20761) by Michael Bates, on Flickr

    ORU College Republicans president Kara Evans, State Rep. Pam Peterson applaud Rick Santorum as he prepares to speak at ORU Mabee Center

    Photos Copyright 2012 by Michael D. Bates. All rights reserved.

    MORE: Don't miss Katherine Bates' guest opinion on Rick Santorum's visit.

    I'm still working on my comprehensive report of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's speech at Oral Roberts University. In the meantime, I'm pleased to introduce a new contributor to BatesLine, who provides her own concise and insightful perspective on Santorum's visit to Tulsa. (I'm especially pleased to have a contributor who needs no editing whatsoever.)

    Santorum sincere, straightforward
    by Katherine Bates, apprentice pundit
    Special to BatesLine

    Katherine-20120207-250px.jpgAuthentic. Sincere. Straightforward. People who heard Rick Santorum speak at the Mabee Center on February 9, 2012 used all of these words. During his short speech, he captivated listeners, and received over ten standing ovations. He could hardly get more than a sentence out without the audience applauding. He spoke clearly, and he conveyed his points very well. Santorum is an amazing speaker, and doesn't avoid talking about certain issues or topics like most candidates.

    One thing that stood out was his speech on equality, and that our rights are endowed by our CREATOR, and not by the government. So should the government be able to take away our right to choose our doctors, and our health insurance, and our medications? His answer? No, absolutely not!

    Another topic Santorum spoke about was Affordable Energy. With gas prices today, this topic appealed to everyone.

    At the end of his speech, he answered questions for ORU students. He delivered his answers well, and was patient with each of them. Though other candidates might have cowered away from these topics, Santorum had an immediate and firm answer as each question was thrown at him. In my opinion, we need someone like Santorum, who had his values straight from the beginning, for the next president of the United States.

    Katherine Bates, 11, is a Tulsa-based writer, the author and illustrator of The Toads' Spring Fling, a children's story book, and Katrina, a science fiction short story. She has studied writing with Tulsa-based author Gina Conroy at Augustine Christian Academy and the Institute for Excellence in Writing through the Classical Conversations homeschool program. She is a member of the Tulsa County Impact 4-H Club.


    Photo by Bland Bridenstine

    UPDATE: Because of expected crowds, the Tulsa event has been moved to the "Baby Mabee", the TV production studio just to the east of the Mabee Center on the ORU campus, and the Oklahoma City event has been moved to the Magnuson Hotel and Meridian Conference Center, just south of I-40 on Meridian (this is several miles west of downtown OKC; Republicans will recognize it as the frequent location for state conventions).

    santorum3.jpgRepublican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will be in Oklahoma this Thursday, February 9, 2012, for Oklahoma Republican Party "Victory 2012" events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Here are the details:

    Oklahoma City - 9:00 am
    Magnuson Hotel and Meridian Conference Center
    737 S Meridian Ave
    Oklahoma City, OK 73108

    Tulsa - 1:30 pm
    "Baby Mabee", east of the Mabee Center, Oral Roberts University
    7777 S Lewis Avenue
    Tulsa, OK 74136

    Oklahoma GOP chairman Matt Pinnell writes:

    We are thrilled to welcome another Presidential candidate to the Reddest State in the Country! If you can win Oklahoma, you can win the conservative vote nationwide. We welcome our Republican candidates to Oklahoma over the coming weeks as they compete to win our "Reddest State" primary.

    The state party hopes to see all the GOP presidential candidates appear at Victory 2012 events in the weeks leading up to the March 6 Oklahoma primary.

    The Oklahoma Republican Party is asking for you to RSVP if you plan to attend either event.

    Oklahoma has such a strong homeschool community (today is Home Educators' Day at the State Capitol), that I'd hope for a big turnout by homeschooling families for their fellow homeschooling dad.

    Some links of interest regarding the presidential campaign:

    Newt Gingrich had to know that he was not going to finish first in Florida and Nevada, so why not be prepared with statement that puts a positive spin on the results in preparation for likelier victories in the south on Super Tuesday? Stacy McCain chalks it up to Newt's narcissism:

    The characteristic trait of the narcissist is his inability to accept responsibility for his own failures. Everybody likes to believe that they deserve credit for their successes, but no one wants to believe that they are at fault when they screw up. This is normal. Yet the damaged ego of the narcissist makes it impossible for him to acknowledge his own contribution to his failures. He cannot even admit to himself that he is at fault, which is why he attempts to focus blame on scapegoats.

    And so when Newt starts pointing the finger, blaming others for his failures, portraying himself as the victim -- of Goldman Sachs, "money power," George Soros, "the elite media," Mormons (!) and a "blatantly dishonest" opponent -- even his supporters ought to recognize these unseemly eruptions as symptomatic of Gingrich's narcissistic tendencies.

    Why do you think I warned you against jumping onto his bandwagon?

    Victor Davis Hanson thinks Newt should have stuck with what was working for him:

    Newt Gingrich's post-Nevada caucus speech included about three minutes of inspired moments about issues and ideas in his usual imaginative and intellectually robust style. So why does he not just stay with that -- given that he often seems more dynamic and glib than Romney in his attacks on Obama, and not long ago gained ground despite the attacks against him? Instead, he now turns ad nauseam to the tired reasons why he loses -- yes, including lots of Mormons in Nevada -- and ends up as Richard Nixon not going to get kicked around any more.

    Hanson offers Newt a history lesson for perspective:

    I don't understand why he thinks now losing to Romney in 2012 is solely due to Romney's innate deviousness in a way McCain beating Romney in 2008 was not -- given that Romney was about the same in both 2008 and 2012. Gingrich seems oblivious to the fact that McCain's style and history gave him advantages over Romney's money and hardball in ways Gingrich's own proven liabilities apparently do not.

    Of course, it was McCain's Turn in 2008, and in 2012, it's Romney's Turn. The "It's His Turn" phenomenon partly reflects, on the part of Republican state and local leaders in places like New Hampshire and Florida, a preference for the familiar and a desire to get on the winning team early, but it also reflects four years of political capital building -- attending fundraisers for state and local parties and candidates, and collecting IOUs to be redeemed when the primaries roll around. Newt could have been doing that for the last 14 years, as the man who led the first Republican takeover of the House in 40 years, but I suspect he hasn't done much of it.

    The Nevada Republican Party finally has all the results in from its 1800 precincts, and Romney, as expected, finished first without about 50% of 32,961 votes cast. Turnout in this binding caucus poll fell far short of 2008, when Romney won 51% of 44,315 votes cast in a non-binding caucus poll (for entertainment purposes only, as they say when they publish sports book odds in the paper). Unsurprisingly, Ron Paul's best showing was in the Kingdom of Nye, Art Bell's home county, home to Area 51.

    According to the Green Papers, Nevada's delegates will be bound proportionally to the poll result, with no minimum threshold. They calculate the result to be Romney 14, Gingrich 6, Paul 5, and Santorum 3. The BatesLine delegate count:

    Romney 73
    Gingrich 29
    Paul 8
    Santorum 3
    Uncommitted 2 (Huntsman's NH delegates)

    Romney still needs 971 delegates for the nomination, and no one can clinch the nomination before April 24.

    MORE:

    Buzzflash asks, "Why didn't Ron Paul's caucus strategy work in Nevada?" Likely answer: You can't win unless you have more supporters than everyone else, no matter how stealthy or strategic you are:

    The Paul and Romney campaigns were the only ones to have a legitimate ground game in Nevada. The fact that Paul didn't easily outstrip Gingrich, who lacked Paul's months of preparation, doesn't bode well for his long-term strategy.

    This news is likely to shock a few Ron Paul supporters: A Bilderberger is the biggest donor to Ron Paul's associated super PAC.

    The largest donor to a SuperPAC supporting Ron Paul is Peter Thiel, the sort of ultra-wealthy, super-national figure Paul and his supporters love to hate.

    Thiel -- who gave $900,000 to the pro-Paul group Endorse Liberty -- made his fortune as the co-founder of PayPal; he was also an early investor in Facebook, and is now a major player in the world of high-tech venture capital. He's also a devoted libertarian and devoted Republican: He hosted a fundraiser for the confrontational gay conservative group GOProud at his grand apartment off Union Square in 2010.

    Thiel is also a member of the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group, the elite, invitation-only conference that's the frequent subject of conspiracy theories.

    Your opportunity to shape the Republican Party's principles, personality, and personnel begins with tomorrow's Republican precinct caucuses.

    Republican caucuses for most Tulsa County precincts will be held tomorrow morning, Saturday, February 4, 2012, at 10 a.m. Most of the rest of Oklahoma will hold precinct caucuses on Monday evening, February 6, 2012.

    For the sake of convenience and efficiency, most Tulsa County precincts will be gathering at central meetings grouped by State House district. Some, however, will be held in individual homes, as was the tradition in years past.

    Here is the current list of Tulsa County GOP precinct caucus locations and precinct officers.

    This is not a comprehensive list, but here are the default locations for the House District central meetings. There are many, many exceptions. Saturday at 10 a.m. is the default time, but again, there are many exceptions. Consult the link in the previous paragraph or contact Tulsa County GOP headquarters at 918-627-5702 for definitive information about a specific precinct:

    HD 11: New Life Assembly of God, 12215 N. Garnett, Collinsville
    HD 23: Martin Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett, Tulsa
    HD 29: Crossroads Church, 2525 W. Main, Jenks
    HD 36: New Life Assembly of God, 12215 N. Garnett, Collinsville
    HD 66: Charles Page Library, 551 E. 4th St, Sand Springs
    HD 67: Hardesty Regional Library, 8316 E. 93rd St, Tulsa
    HD 68: Crossroads Church, 2525 W. Main, Jenks
    HD 69: St James Presbyterian Church, 11970 S Elm, Jenks (at 1:00 pm Saturday)
    HD 70: Kaiser Library, 5202 S. Hudson Ave., Tulsa
    HD 71: Brookside Baptist Church, 3615 S. Peoria Ave, Tulsa (at 2:00 pm Saturday)
    HD 72: Kendall-Whittier Library, 21 S. Lewis, Tulsa
    HD 73: Kendall-Whittier Library, 21 S. Lewis, Tulsa
    HD 74: New Life Assembly of God, 12215 N. Garnett, Collinsville
    HD 75: Southpark Community Church, 10811 E. 41st St, Tulsa
    HD 76: Arrow Heights Baptist Church, 3201 S. Elm Pl, Broken Arrow
    HD 77: Kendall-Whittier Library, 21 S. Lewis, Tulsa
    HD 78: McKay Law Office, 2301 S. Sheridan, Tulsa
    HD 79: Memorial High School, 5840 S. Hudson, Tulsa
    HD 80: Arrow Heights Baptist Church, 3201 S. Elm Pl, Broken Arrow
    HD 98: Southpark Community Church, 10811 E. 41st St, Tulsa

    In Oklahoma, the main job of a Republican precinct caucus in a presidential year is to elect delegates to the county convention and to consider issues to include in the party platform. You can also put your name forward for consideration to serve on the county convention's platform, rules, and credentials committees.

    On March 24, the county convention will elect delegates to the 1st congressional district and state conventions, and will approve a county platform. The 1st congressional district convention (on April 14) and state convention (on May 12) will elect delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.

    There will also be, at least in Tulsa County, a presidential straw poll that has as much weight and significance as the Iowa caucus presidential straw poll in January -- which is to say, it's non-binding. (Oklahoma delegates to the national convention will be bound by the results of the March 6 primary.)

    Although precinct officials are scheduled to be elected only in odd numbered years, this year many precincts will also be filling vacant precinct officer positions, as the redrawing of precinct lines has moved some officers out of their old precincts and left some precincts without officials.

    I'm hopeful that grassroots conservatives will show up to these caucuses to ensure that the Republican platform stands firm on conservative principles at all levels of government, rejecting on the one hand a squishy, apologetic, and barely conservative party and rejecting on the other hand a party in thrall to wacky conspiracy theories.

    Newt Gingrich is challenging the plurality-takes-all allocation of Florida's 50 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Mitt Romney finished first in the January 31st primary with 46% of the vote, which means, according to rules adopted by the Florida state party rules, Romney gets all 50.

    Republicans in Florida and from other states were complaining about the rule violation long before last Tuesday's primary. From January 25, in the Tampa Bay Times:

    All it takes is a registered Florida Republican to file a protest with the RNC, and the party's contest committee would have to consider the issue when it meets in August just before the convention.

    "August is going to be a very tense month for those of us on the committee on contests. We could be the group that everybody loves or everybody hates," said Fredi Simpson, an RNC member from Washington state who sits on that committee and also helped write the rules.

    Like other RNC members, Simpson thinks the rules clearly bar Florida from being winner-take-all. At an RNC meeting in August, members of the Presidential Nominating and Selection Committee passed a resolution calling for the RNC to enforce its rules for proportional delegates on states like Florida that set primaries earlier than April.

    "Florida ought to be proportional, and it is up to the RNC legal office to figure out how they do that. That was absolutely the intention when we wrote that rule," said Pete Ricketts, an RNC member from Nebraska who served on the RNC committee appointed in 2008 to draw up delegate selection rules for 2012....

    Marc Cross, a GOP state committeeman from Osceola County, has already written to the RNC, urging it to review the matter, but the RNC has taken no action.

    If Florida were allocated proportionally, Gingrich would be leading in delegates, by a big margin, and that lead would be guaranteed all the way to February 28, even if Romney got every single delegate in Nevada.

    What's more likely to happen is a big mess that won't get cleaned up until right before the national convention in Tampa, and maybe not even then. The rules adopted by the RNC for the 2012 presidential primary process have succeeded in slowing down and lengthening the primary season, but the new rules failed to cover a number of scenarios, and the result could be a pre-convention mess involving a key swing state.

    So let's explain the numbers first and then the rules mess.

    In a statewide proportional allocation, Romney would have 30 Florida delegates, Gingrich would have 20, as Romney received roughly 60% of the combined Romney-Gingrich total. I'm assuming here the use of the typical 15% threshold, which a candidate would have to exceed in order to receive any delegates at all. Under that scenario, Santorum, Paul, et al., would not receive any delegates.

    It should be noted that RNC rules don't mandate a maximum threshold to be considered proportional. Democratic Party rules mandate 15%, and many state Republican parties (including Oklahoma) have followed suit. New Hampshire uses 10%. Theoretically, Florida could've set 40% as the threshold; Romney would have received all the delegates under that scenario.

    The two states combined, under the Florida GOP's existing rule: Romney 52, Gingrich 23. (Romney won 2 South Carolina delegates by winning a single congressional district.)

    The two states combined, under a proportional rule for Florida: Gingrich 53, Romney 22.

    Add in the New Hampshire results, and the revised total would be Gingrich 53, Romney 29, Paul 3, Huntsman 2.

    (A combination of proportional allocation statewide and proportional allocation by congressional district would give yet a different total, but without results by congressional district, it's impossible to calculate.)

    Florida has already been penalized for holding a primary prior to March 1. According to the rules of the Republican National Committee that govern the 2012 presidential nomination process, a state that binds delegates in any way prior to the March 1 loses half their allotted delegates, and their RNC members (state chairman, national committeeman, national committeewoman) won't be seated at the convention.

    Florida's rules originally called for some of its delegation to be allocated winner-take-all by congressional district, and the remaining delegates winner-take-all based on the statewide primary result. But they also approved a rule that said, essentially, that if the RNC takes away half our delegation because of our early primary, we'll treat the remaining delegates as "at large" and will give them all to the statewide winner.

    But there's also a rule requiring any state (except the four "carve-out" states) binding delegates prior to April 1 to allocate delegates proportionally. The rule doesn't specify how that should be done.

    The four "carve-out" states are Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. They're allowed to bind delegates as early as February 1, and they're not subject to the proportionality rule. That's why Newt's challenge to the Florida allocation won't cost him any delegates in South Carolina, which was allocated winner-take-all statewide and by congressional district. Two of the carve-out states, New Hampshire and South Carolina, lost half of their delegates by going before February 1. (Iowa lost nothing, because they didn't allocate any delegates as a result of the caucus night straw poll. The real Iowa delegate decisions are made at the June state convention.)

    The response by the RNC's general counsel to the question about Florida says, in effect, there's not much more we can do to them:

    By holding its primary on January 31, Florida has violated Rule 15(b). Like the other states in violation, Florida is suffering the mandatory penalties under Rule 16: loss of fifty percent of its delegates and alternates, and the RNC members from Florida cannot serve as delegates. In addition, the RNC Rules Committee imposed every available discretionary penalty - penalties related to convention seating, guest privileges and hotel location. Thus, all of the penalties authorized under the Rules have been imposed on Florida.

    The rules governing the 2012 process were the product of a committee appointed after the 2008 convention. Rather than have a fight at the 2008 convention over a new primary calendar, the convention rules committee rejected the recommended plan by the RNC rules committee, approved a rule creating a special committee to present a proposal for an up-or-down vote by the Republican National Committee.

    Here is the rule change recommended by the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee in June 2010 and approved by the RNC in August 2010:

    Rule No. 15: Election, Selection, Allocation, or Binding of Delegates and Alternate Delegates

    (b) Timing.

    (1) No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held. Except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes at any time on or after February 1 in the year in which a national convention is held and shall not be subject to the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this rule.

    (2) Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held, shall provide for the allocation of the delegates selected on a proportional basis.

    (3) If the Democratic National Committee fails to adopt a presidential primary schedule with the dates set forth in Rule 15(b)(1) of these Rules (February 1 and first Tuesday in March) by December 31, 2010, then the dates in Rule 15(b) shall revert to the dates set forth in the Rules as adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention.

    You'll notice that they don't define the term "proportional basis."

    The enforcement clause is Rule 16, which calls for the 50% penalty, loss of automatic seats for RNC members, and other potential penalties to be imposed by the RNC's standing committee on rules. That rule doesn't negate the "proportional basis" rule, but it also doesn't provide for additional penalties in the event a state violates both the proportional basis and calendar rules.

    (You can read the complete Rules of the Republican Party here.)

    Newt Gingrich is right to say that Florida has violated the proportionality rule. We'll see whether the Committee on Contests has the guts to enforce it.

    Florida turned out as expected, but as I wrote right after South Carolina, there's no need for anyone of the remaining candidates to head for the exits. Mitt Romney's campaign is restarting the inevitability bandwagon. Pundits are falling over each other to be the first to declare that it's all over, that there's no path to victory for anyone else. (Haven't the pundits ever heard of suspense? That people stay interested only until they know the final outcome?)

    Those of us who bother to read the rules by which the game is played know that the 2012 campaign has just begun. Only 87 of a possible 2286 delegates have been bound to a candidate at this point. 59 delegates -- 7 in New Hampshire, 2 in South Carolina, and 50 in Florida -- have been bound to Mitt Romney. He needs 1,085 more to clinch the nomination, and the earliest possible date he can mathematically accomplish that (assuming all other candidates drop out now) is April 24. More likely, because of many proportionally allocated states, it would be late May or possibly June 5 before anyone could cross the finish line. (Click the graph to see it full-size.)

    BatesLine-2012-GOP-Cumulative-Delegates.PNG

    The Associated Press includes Iowa in its count, but Iowa doesn't elect delegates until June, and, as I noted before the caucus, there's no necessary or mechanical connection between the caucus straw poll results and whom the delegates will support at the Republican National Convention.

    The AP count also includes certain "super-delegates" as pledged to candidates, presumably based on public declarations of support. The members of the Republican National Committee -- state party chairman, national committeeman, and national committeewoman from each state and territory -- are ex-officio convention delegates. A few states require their RNC members to be bound by the result of the primary, but most send their RNC members unbound. RNC members from states that have been penalized for holding a primary too early -- New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Michigan -- won't have a vote at the convention.

    The basis for the above chart is in the BatesLine GOP Delegate Count spreadsheet. I've followed the comprehensive information on delegate allocation found at the Green Papers website, differing only in treating any delegates elected based on their declared presidential preference as bindable delegates. For example, the Green Papers treats all 66 Ohio delegates as unpledged because they aren't legally bound to vote for a particular presidential candidate at the national convention. My count treats all the Ohio delegates (except the three RNC members) as bindable delegates, since the delegates are nominated by a presidential campaign and would have a significant personal stake in voting for the candidate who made it possible for them to attend the national convention.

    The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating interactive graphic, with stair-steps showing how allocated Republican delegates accumulate over time in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. It's striking to see how far to the right everything has moved this year. The massive step up on Tsunami Tuesday (February 3, 2008) has moved a month to the right for 2012 and is not nearly as tall. (It's even shorter now that Texas's primary has been moved from Super Tuesday to April, delayed by a redistricting lawsuit.)

    What's especially striking is how flat February is. From February 1 to February 27, only 119 delegates will be allocated, according to the WSJ's graphic. But they're including, incorrectly, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, and Nevada in that total. Those states hold precinct caucuses to elect delegates to county or state legislative district conventions. A presidential straw poll will be held, but, as in Iowa, it won't be binding.

    2012-GOP-Delegates-WSJ.PNG

    The Green Papers uncharacteristically gets one wrong, stating that Nevada's delegates will be bound, proportionally by the results of the presidential preference poll. (That appears to be based on this Republican National Committee summary of all allocation rules, which also gets Nevada wrong.) But the FAQ page on the official Nevada GOP caucus website makes it clear that the final result is contingent on the multi-stage process of electing delegates to the county, district, and state conventions:

    All Delegates and alternate delegates elected at the precinct caucus will meet in March at their county conventions. The county convention will then elect delegates to represent them at the State Convention on May 5-6th. And it's at the State Convention where the delegates and alternates get elected to the Republican National Convention on August 27-30th.

    Since delegates generally vote for other delegates who support the same candidate as they do, it's advantageous for a candidate to elect as many people as possible as delegates at the precinct caucuses. The more delegates a candidate has after the precinct caucuses in February, the greater the chance they will have the most delegates from Nevada to the National Convention on August 27-30th.

    (UPDATE 2012/01/23: In the comments, Nevada blogger Michael P. Chamberlain mentions that he spoke to a state party official about the allocation rule:

    I received confirmation today from the [Nevada Republican Party]'s Caucus Director that Nevada's delegates to the National Convention will be allocated (and bound for the first ballot) by the state-wide results of the Presidential Preference Poll that is part of the caucus on February 4.

    I've asked Michael to see if he can get some additional details: The text of the basis (rule, resolution) that defines how delegates will be allocated, whether there will be a threshold, and how rounding is handled.)

    So where does that leave the race?

    Romney still has a poll lead in Florida, and money matters because of the ten media markets that a candidate must cover, so let's figure that he wins. Given that, what will the pledged delegate count be on February 28, going into Arizona and Michigan?

    Romney 59
    Gingrich 23
    Paul 3
    Huntsman 2

    In this scenario, Romney will have only 59 of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.

    Remember that Iowa's delegates are not pledged. New Hampshire's were allocated proportionally. It appears that Romney won a single South Carolina congressional district, and with it, two delegates.

    On to February 28:

    Michigan's 30 delegates would have been allocated by congressional district (3 each, winner take all) and statewide (proportionally with a 15% threshhold), but it has lost half of its delegates for jumping the gun, and it's unclear how that will affect allocation. Arizona, in the same boat, opted to shift to Winner-Take-All statewide. Romney's father George was governor of Michigan and an auto executive, so he's likely to win nearly all the delegates either way.

    I've already seen a couple of tweets suggesting that Santorum may as well get out of the race now. That would be silly. As former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted on Saturday night:

    Santorum's thought bubble: I can win this because Newt will blow up Romney, & Newt will also blow up Newt. That leaves me.

    Were I in Rick Santorum's inner circle, I'd suggest he spend most of February raising money and focused on winning Arizona and preparing for a few Super Tuesday states (like Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee). A good showing in some of the February non-binding caucuses would be a good thing, too.

    Santorum has an entire month to promote his recent endorsements by evangelical leaders. They came too late to affect the Stop-Romney tactical move to Gingrich in South Carolina, and they haven't yet arrived in a way that connects with the targeted voters. An email in a homeschooling mom's inbox about an endorsement by a particular leader she admires, forwarded by another mom in the homeschool co-op, will have far more impact than the 10-second generic mention of "evangelical leaders" on CNN a week earlier.

    February also gives Santorum plenty of time to position himself as the most electable candidate remaining in the race. Romney doesn't excite the party's core voters. Democrats and Independents already think they know Newt, from the 1990s, and they don't like him. The phrase "First Lady Callista Gingrich" may begin to sink in and worry Republican voters, too.

    If Santorum were to win Arizona and Romney win Michigan, Santorum would pass Gingrich for second place in the delegate count going into Super Tuesday:

    Romney 89
    Santorum 29
    Gingrich 23
    Paul 3
    Huntsman 2

    By my count, 420 bound delegates will be allocated on Super Tuesday, March 6, and by GOP rules it has to be done by some proportional method. It would be mathematically impossible for anyone to reach a majority of bound delegates until after the April 24th primaries, and that's only if someone sweeps the board. Since many of the April states also use proportional allocation, that's unlikely.

    The good news for those of us not in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Florida is that we'll still have a meaningful choice to make when it's our turn to vote. If nothing else, we can keep voting to frustrate the front runner of the moment, to ensure no one locks up the nomination before Tampa.

    And if it turns out that we're still not happy with our choices in a month's time, there are some interesting scenarios. I haven't checked, but I suspect there are still many late-season primaries for which the filing deadline has not yet passed, meaning someone new could get in, take a bunch of delegates, and be in a strong position to contend for unpledged delegates leading up to the national convention. Many early states will still have dropped-out candidates on the ballot; one of them could revive their campaign, or people could use one of the ex-candidates as a place for none-of-the-above supporters to vote their preferences.

    Thanks to Sarah Palin, Not Romney won South Carolina by giving Newt Gingrich a plurality of the vote.

    Newt Gingrich's 1st place finish in South Carolina halted Mitt Romney's winning streak of one and deflated the notion that Romney is inevitably going to be the nominee.

    Romney's best assets in this race were his inevitability, his money, and his hair. He's still got the last two, but the first one is badly depleted. There's a certain sort of Republican: They're looking for the front-runner, ready to jump aboard his bandwagon. It's important to them to be on the winning team as soon as possible. Some may be hoping for federal appointments, anything from White House intern to federal district judge.

    It appears that Romney pushed hard right before and after Iowa to lock in as many endorsers as he could, pointing to his money and organization, already in place in key states. Santorum may have finished first by a few votes, but Santorum had put everything he had into Iowa. Gingrich didn't seem to be thinking beyond the next state. Romney will win South Carolina, the pitch went, by a big margin, and if everyone else but Ron Paul didn't drop out then, they would yield to the inevitable after Florida 10 days later.

    What disrupted that momentum was the fact that most conservative Republicans don't trust Romney, and they wanted to stop him. The turning point for South Carolina may have been Tuesday, January 17, 2012, on the Hannity show when Sarah Palin identified how they could do that:

    If I had to vote in South Carolina, in order to keep this thing going, I'd vote for Newt, and I would want this to continue, more debates, more vetting of candidates, because we know the mistake made in our country four years ago was having a candidate that was not vetted, to the degree that he should have been so that we knew what his associations and his pals represented and what went into his thinking, the shaping of who our president today is.

    (When I first heard this clip, I thought Palin had begun to criticize the process that led to the nomination of her running mate, John McCain, and maybe she was headed there and caught herself. Barack Obama got plenty of vetting -- his nomination battle didn't end until June; McCain had his nomination clinched in March, thanks to winner-take-all primaries in which he won slim pluralities, and buyers' remorse quickly set in.)

    You'll recall that in 2008 some national talk show hosts tried to get Republicans to vote strategically on Tsunami Tuesday to stop John McCain. The mistake they made was pushing Romney based on national polling showing him in second, ignoring the individual state polls, which had Huckabee a close second to McCain in Oklahoma and several other states.

    This time around, only one state was voting, and there was a clear second place candidate, Gingrich, who was close enough to have a chance to pass Romney. If you run your mouse along the RealClearPolitics graph of South Carolina polls, there's an inflection point: Beginning on January 18, the day after Palin's comments aired, Newt's numbers began to rise. Rasmussen had Gingrich at 21% on Monday and at 33% on Wednesday.

    The shift to Newt began well before his Thursday evening confrontation with CNN's John King over Mrs. Newt II's comments on ABC. Despite the wishful thinking of the adultery-based community, Newt's win in South Carolina is not a rebuke to his aggrieved second wife. I'm surprised no pollster thought to ask if their support for Newt was mainly a vote to stop Romney.

    stopsopa.jpgBatesLine was offline yesterday, Wednesday, January 18, 2012, in protest of two draconian bills that could be used to suppress free speech on the Internet. In the course of the day, in which major sites, like Wikipedia, and thousands of minor sites went dark, many members of Congress spoke for the first time about the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

    Sen. Inhofe's statement in opposition to PIPA:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - On a day when many internet websites have blacked out their content in opposition to measures being considered by Congress, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), joined the effort by announcing his opposition to those same bills. In the below statement, Inhofe outlines his opposition to S.968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (also called the PROTECT-IP Act or PIPA). PIPA's related bill in the House is H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA):

    "While I believe that the intellectual property rights of American companies deserve substantial protection under the law, S. 968, the PROTECT-IP Act, is not the answer to the problem of online counterfeiting and piracy. I share the concerns of America's technology companies, industry leaders, and the many citizens who have voiced their concerns to my office. It is clear to me that this bill will inflict too heavy a burden on third-party non-infringing entities and could do serious harm to one of the last vestiges that is relatively free from government regulation, the Internet. When addressing intellectual property rights, Congress must be careful to also protect the freedom of speech and flow of information that the Internet provides. Additionally, I have concerns with creating yet another private right of action, which will be used by plaintiffs to stifle Internet innovation, and with requirements in the bill that could negatively impact the Internet's reliability and performance."

    ###

    Congressman John Sullivan statement on Facebook:

    I appreciate the thousands of comments, emails and phone calls today on SOPA. Like my constituents, I also have significant concerns that this legislation, as currently written, limits our First Amendment right to free speech on the Internet. I do believe Congress should address legislation to protect intellectual property rights, BUT must be mindful that the bills intended to protect honest American innovators are not doing more harm than good.

    Here's what I had posted as the sole accessible page on the site yesterday:


    It's not hard to imagine a member of Tulsa's Cockroach Caucus using influence in Washington to turn a bogus charge of intellectual property violations into the Attorney General ordering a DNS blackout of BatesLine. To help you imagine what that might be like, BatesLine is going dark today. All attempts to access other BatesLine pages will lead back to this page.

    Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is one of seven Protect IP Act (PIPA) co-sponsors who last Friday asked Majority Leader Harry Reid not to hold a vote on PIPA, because of the outcry against the bill. Jim Inhofe does not have a public position on the issue, according to OpenCongress.org, nor does Congressman John Sullivan. (UPDATE: Inhofe issued statement in opposition to PIPA, the Senate bill, today, and Sullivan posted a statement on Facebook. See below.)

    From Wikipedia, a leader of the SOPA/PIPA blackout:

    The Wikipedia community has blacked out the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours on January 18th to raise awareness about legislation being proposed by the U.S. Congress -- the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate -- and to encourage readers to speak out against it. This legislation, if passed, will harm the free and open Internet. If you are in the United States, let your congressional representative know what you think of the proposed legislation by clicking here....

    SOPA and PIPA are real threats to the free and open Internet. Although recent media reports have suggested that the bills are losing support, they are not dead. On January 17th, SOPA's sponsor said the bill will be discussed and pushed forward in early February. PIPA could be debated in the U.S. Senate as soon as next week. There is a need to send a strong message that bills like SOPA and PIPA must not move forward: they will cause too much damage.

    Although the bills have been amended since their introduction, they are still deeply problematic. Among other serious problems in the current draft of the bills, the requirement exists for US-based sites to actively police links to purported infringing sites. These kinds of self-policing activities are non-sustainable for large, global sites - including ones like Wikipedia. The legislative language is ambiguous and overly broad, even though it touches on protected speech. Congress says it's trying to protect the rights of copyright owners, but the "cure" that SOPA and PIPA represent is worse than the disease....

    ...in its current form, SOPA would require U.S. sites to take on the heavy burden of actively policing third-party links for infringing content. And even with the DNS provisions removed, the bill would give the U.S. government extraordinary and loosely-defined powers to take control over content and information on the free web. Taking one bad provision out doesn't make the bills okay, and regardless, Internet experts agree they won't even be effective in their main goal: halting copyright infringement.

    Clear Lake, Iowa, 2008, IMG_0685

    BatesLine photo of a front porch with bunting in Clear Lake, Iowa, September, 2008

    Smitty at The Other McCain links to a Buzzfeed story about Ron Paul's strategy to dominate caucus states:

    Paul is following the roadmap set by Barack Obama's 2008 strategy: Start early, learn the rules, and use superior organization and devoted young supporters to dominate the arcane but crucial party procedures in states your rivals are ignoring -- states where caucuses and conventions that elect the delegates who will ultimately choose the Republican candidate. The plan begins in places like Minnetonka, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb where Paul has based his state headquarters, and where staffers have already begun running "mock-auses" -- practice runs for Minnesota's February 7 caucuses....

    Paul has, says his campaign chairman Jesse Benton, "offices, staff and strong organization" in ten caucus states besides Iowa: Colorado, Washington, Maine, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and North Dakota. (Alaska and Hawaii are also a caucus states and prime Paul territory.)

    Those states together will award 419 of the 2,286 delegates who will choose a nominee in Tampa in August. They operate under complex, individual rules that favor the prepared....

    In Iowa, Paul's devoted cadres are up against activists supporting other Republicans. In the next ten caucuses, they're virtually all alone.

    The article goes on to note that Paul backers have been working within the local party organizations in many of these states, volunteering to work at headquarters, working for candidates in local races, and forming alliances with non-Paul backers. Being personally liked and being viewed as a valuable volunteer, not a monomaniacal Paulbot, would help a Paul backer advance through the levels in a caucus/convention state with the support of non-Paul activists.

    Smitty's reaction to the linked Buzzfeed story:

    This is really an argument against "Arcane Rules". We all love to hate on professional politicians, but it is truly a full-time job just to understand the basics of how the sausage is made. Complexity favors the insiders....The two things we have to do, going down the road, are: involve more people, and stamp out complexity. Systems need to be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

    My response to Smitty is that the rules are only arcane to those who don't bother to read them. Iowa's rules are simple: precinct caucuses elect county convention delegates, county conventions elect state convention delegates, state conventions elect national convention delegates and alternates (three each by the delegates from each congressional district, the remainder by the full convention).

    When the mainstream media oversimplifies the process or tries to fit caucus rules into their primary-oriented framework, they make it all look much more confusing than it is.

    What confuses the ninnies in the mainstream media -- the guys who trot out words like "arcane" and "complex" -- is that Tuesday night's "vote" is a non-binding straw poll, so there's no correlation between straw poll percentage and the presidential preference of Iowa's delegation to Tampa, which won't be chosen until June. As I explained recently, Ron Paul could easily "win" Iowa but wind up with zero Iowa delegates.

    Different rules in each state is a reflection of federalism and the freedom each state Republican Party retains to decide how to apportion its allotted number of delegates. On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic National Committee imposes certain rules on all state parties, requiring proportional representation for caucuses as well as primaries.

    Every Republican presidential campaign should have at least one supporter in each state with enough state party experience to understand how the system works and what the rules are. If a candidate can't muster a single savvy activist in a state, probably best to skip it.

    It should be pointed out that every state has complicated aspects to the process of selecting delegates and binding them (or not) to presidential candidates. Oklahoma awards delegates by congressional district and statewide results in the presidential preference primary, but the people who will serve as delegates are selected by a separate sequence of precinct caucuses and county, district, and state conventions. I won't explain open delegation vs. closed delegation and fractional voting, but they're in our rules for a reason.

    Idaho was cited in the Buzzfeed story as an example of arcane rules, but from the participant's point of view, it's simple -- you show up and vote for your favorite presidential candidate, and if he's eliminated for lack of support, you vote for your next favorite. What's complex is the counting method, which seems to be designed to help grassroots conservative candidates against the establishment default and well-organized fringe candidates.

    Here are the Idaho Republican Party rules for their caucus process, and here are answers to frequently asked questions about the Idaho caucus process.

    What's different about Idaho is that the delegates are bound by the caucus presidential preference vote, and the voting process is designed to ensure that the winner of the delegates is acceptable to a majority of caucus participants, not just a bare plurality. Idaho GOP leaders apparently want to avoid giving all the delegates to someone who barely finishes first in a divided field -- the sort of thing that happened in many states in 2008, when "stop McCain" forces were split between Romney, Huckabee, and a few other candidates, and McCain won winner-take-all states with two-thirds of voters preferring some other candidate, and thus quickly rolled up an insurmountable lead in delegates.

    At the Idaho county caucus, you'd be free to vote for your favorite in the first round, knowing that if your favorite doesn't have much support, you'll still be able, in the subsequent runoffs, to help one of the candidates you find acceptable get your county's delegates and block the candidates you find unacceptable from winning anything. The system enables mainstream fiscal, social, and foreign policy conservatives to coalesce around one candidate and thwarts hurts the Bob Dole / John McCain / Mitt Romney "It's my turn"-type candidate, and the Ron Paul-small-but-dedicated-following type from using divide-and-conquer to win with a small plurality. I like the approach. It looks like a good plan. It will be interesting to see how it works in practice.

    MORE about tonight's Iowa caucuses:

    Iowa Caucus Characters

    Flickr montage of caricatures of Republican presidential candidates by DonkeyHotey (CreativeCommons attribution)

    Stacy McCain talks to 13-year-old Sarah Santorum, who says, "Our prayers are paying off," and remembers her as an 8-year-old in tears at her dad's 2006 concession speech. (Stacy also gives a valuable reporting tip -- "You get the best quotes when you just talk to people, instead of interrogating them in a confrontational manner. Be informal and friendly, put people at ease and listen to what they say.")

    For The American Spectator, McCain has a piece on the Santorum surge in terms of voters, donors, and media interest, and Jeffrey Lord looks back at Santorum's defeat for reelection to the U. S. Senate in 2006.

    Don Surber looks at the electability argument and says Santorum would bring more electoral votes to the GOP than any other candidate.

    Pete Ingemi, DaTechGuy, looks to U. S. Naval History to note that nothing succeeds like success. A surprising finish by Santorum in Iowa will raise the money and volunteer support he needs in later states.

    Jeff Dunetz has more from former Ron Paul aide Eric Dondero about Ron Paul's reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

    John G. Geer says don't blame attack ads; Newt's history is the reason for Gingrich's slide.

    Todd Seavey ponders just plain libertarians, paleo-libertarians and paleo-conservatives, thickness, Catholicism, and political changes that have made a fusionist libertarian like himself, less willing to compromise with conservatives this time around. Also, he posts a photo of Ron Paul in a 1970s Houston Astros uniform (the one with the red and orange color bands and the groovy font).

    Shane Vander Hart speculates about attacks launched by groups with untraceable names or misappropriating the names of genuine organizations. These groups tend to go after which ever conservative is rising in the polls

    Vander Hart predicts that tonight's winner in Iowa will have under 25% of the vote and thinks Santorum will win narrowly. With a high number of undecideds, Vander Hart says to watch for the effect of neighborly persuasion at caucus meetings:

    In the last Des Moines Register poll it indicated that 41% of voters could still change their minds. That's pretty significant. Which leads me to one of the things to watch for tonight - don't underestimate the significance of a neighbor or friend speaking on behalf of their candidate of choice. At each caucus site every candidate will will have the opportunity to have somebody speak on their behalf. You literally have people who are undecided, and you also have those whose support is soft. Hearing a neighbor or a friend speak may be a tipping point for some voters. Who speaks could make a difference - a respected member of the community or a college student who is a first-time caucus goer? It matters.

    That leads me to this MRC video posted by Pat Dollard -- a radio discussion of how leaders in the Iowa Republican party could block a Ron Paul victory. The discussion makes it sound sinister, but it's natural to think that grassroots conventional conservatives will do their best to prevent dividing their vote among four different candidates so that neither Ron Paul nor Mitt Romney will finish first and claim a win with a tiny minority of the vote. At a conventional election, a voter deciding among similar candidates has to guess about his fellow voters and decided which of the acceptable choices has the best shot at winning. At tonight's caucuses, it will be apparent from signs and stickers which candidate among Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich, and Perry is closest to the front of the pack. I could imagine county chairmen comparing notes by text message to see if these four candidates each have areas of strength or if one is much stronger than the other three across the state. In the latter case, the smart thing for party leaders to do would be to push the leaners and undecideds to support the potential breakout non-Romney, non-Paul candidate.

    RESULTS tonight:

    Des Moines Register has an interactive map with a county-by-county break down, raw vote totals, and precincts reporting by county.

    The Gazette (Cedar Rapids) has a Google map overlay for Iowa caucuses results, so you can see counties with respect to major highways and cities.

    WaPo's Chris Cilizza has a scorecard of Romney targets by county, based on the 2008 results, assuming Romney needs a 10% improvement to win.

    Here's The Fix's list of six counties to watch tonight.

    Stacy McCain arrived in Iowa early last week, wearing out tires and shoe leather in search of underreported stories. (His archive of coverage is tagged "Fear and Loathing in Iowa.") McCain anticipated the Santorum surge, which seems to be peaking at just the right moment for tomorrow night's straw poll.

    A Stacy McCain question prompted one of the more interesting candidate answers in recent days, with Santorum calling out Ann Coulter, pointing out that the bill he opposed that included the eVerify system was the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill, which conservatives on immigration opposed.

    Stacy McCain is also writing about Iowa for The American Spectator.

    As always, RealClearPolitics has the latest poll numbers from Iowa. PPP has Paul at 20, Romney at 19, and Santorum with 18, but Santorum has the "Big Mo":

    The momentum in the race is completely on Santorum's side. He's moved up 8 points since a PPP poll earlier in the week, while no one else has seen more than a one point gain in their support. Among voters who say they decided who to vote for in the last seven days he leads Romney 29-17 with Paul and Gingrich both at 13. Santorum's net favorability of 60/30 makes him easily the most popular candidate in the field. No one else's favorability exceeds 52%. He may also have more room to grow in the final 48 hours of the campaign than the other front runners: 14% of voters say he's their second choice to 11% for Romney and only 8% for Paul.

    It's not hard to imagine Bachmann supporters shifting to Santorum as they see an opportunity to hand a victory to a fellow social and fiscal conservative. Gingrich and Perry supporters who are more anti-Romney and anti-Paul than pro-their-guy may switch to Santorum as well.

    Caffeinated Thoughts has already been on the ground in Iowa. The Iowa-based blog has been covering the candidates and the activists involved in the Iowa caucuses from a local perspective:

    Caffeinated Thoughts' Shane Vander Hart points out an interesting factoid from the Des Moines Register's final pre-caucuses poll, quoting this passage from the DMR report::

    But the four-day results don't reflect just how quickly momentum is shifting in a race that has remained highly fluid for months. If the final two days of polling are considered separately, Santorum rises to second place, with 21 percent, pushing Paul to third, at 18 percent. Romney remains the same, at 24 percent.

    iowa.gif

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MORE perspective on Ron Paul:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Roundup 2011/12/28

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

    nov. 2004 006_edited
    Photo by Lathyrus on Flickr

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

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

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

    Dear Santa Claus,

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

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

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

    Clyde Butler, Starkville, Mississippi, 1921

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Not Mitt, not Newt

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

    HeilRomney.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Me? I'm pulling for Santorum.

    CoburnPresidentYardSign.pngDear Sen. Coburn,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sincerely,

    Michael D. Bates

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

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

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

    BatesLine is pleased to welcome an ad from the Oklahoma Republican Party for the 2012 Oklahoma Straw Poll:

    As we recently announced, the Oklahoma Republican Party is holding our inaugural Oklahoma Straw Poll. Many states hold presidential straw polls every four years creating national publicity and financial support for their respective state, but we thought it was about time the reddest state in the country had one of its own!

    Straw polls are important because many times they serve as the first indicator of the strength of a candidate's organization and message.

    We want to give Republicans from all across Oklahoma an opportunity to make their voice heard.

    From November 21st until December 5th, donate $5 to the OKGOP to vote in the Oklahoma Straw Poll. Many Straw Poll voters can end up paying hundreds with travel costs, etc in order to vote in their states' poll, but we are making a way for you to support your candidate and do it from the comfort of your own living room!

    The deadline for voting in the Oklahoma Straw Poll is Monday, December 5, 2011, at 5:00 pm. Click the ad at the top of the page to vote.


    OK_Straw_Poll_Banner-485.png

    This is a great opportunity for Oklahoma Republicans to have a voice, and the money goes to a good cause. Whatever you may or may not like about the national party, the Oklahoma Republican Party is a low-overhead, grassroots-run organization that has produced amazing results.

    There's a reason that the Republican nominee won all 77 counties in 2004 and 2008, that Republicans swept all statewide offices in 2010, and controls supermajorities of both houses of the legislature, after decades in the minority. Yes, Oklahoma voters are conservative, but a voter's views make no difference unless that voter turns out on Election Day. After a disheartening defeat in 2002, Oklahoma Republicans elected Gary Jones (now our State Auditor) as chairman, and Jones instituted a massive turnout effort for 2004, involving hundreds, perhaps, thousands, of local volunteers dropping voter information packets on the doorstep and making calls to remind people to vote. Matt Pinnell ran that successful program, and he's now chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.

    Beyond turnout efforts, the state party provides training for potential candidates and their helpers and runs the state and district conventions that will elect Oklahoma's delegates to next year's Republican National Convention. You can vote in the Oklahoma Straw Poll and contribute your $5 (or more) knowing that the money will be used effectively.

    Vote now!

    Two similar bills targeting online piracy, the PROTECT IP Act (S. 968) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (HR 3261), threaten free speech by putting unprecedented and unchecked power in the hands of the Attorney General, according to an analysis in Conservative Daily News. Under the current circumstances, with the Left in control of the Department of Justice, these bills, if passed into law, would be a particular threat to conservative blogs and websites:

    The most catching part of SOPA, is that it allows the Department of Justice, run by Attorney General (AG) Eric Holder mind you, to pursue court orders for websites "outside" of US jurisdiction accused of enabling or hosting pirated content on their website.... Once a court order is obtained, the Attorney General could then direct a US web based companies to suspend business with the company or face the possibility of federal prosecution. The AG would also have the ability to direct search engines from blocking the IP in a search. The bill would also make it a felony to stream unauthorized copyrighted content.

    ...Can't you see it now? All the liberals will be scouring the Internet, with the music and movie industry's best interest at heart no doubt, looking at every conservative blog and website they can find regardless of importance with sole purpose of locating "pirated" content.... The Justice Department will request the court order to shut that blog down with the individual facing the potential of fines and restitution. Not a bad way to break the spirit. Lets not forget about all the new litigation that will ensue.

    Blogs regularly make fair use of small excerpts of copyrighted material for the purpose of comment, and it would be easy enough for the DOJ to misconstrue that fair use as theft of intellectual property. Once shutdown, a website owner would have to go to great expense to reverse the DOJ block; in the meantime, his point of view is blocked from the internet.

    The threat is bigger than the possibility of a leftist DOJ blocking conservative sites. Liberals should be concerned that some future administration could use PROTECT IP / SOPA to target their websites. It's not hard to imagine allies of Orrin Hatch, the Senator from Disney, using this law to shut down blogs promoting his conservative primary challenger. PROTECT IP / SOPA would be another tool in the tool box, along with SLAPP suits, for well-funded crony-capitalist cabals of both parties to shut down bloggers who oppose and expose them.

    I'm happy to see that no Oklahoma legislators are sponsoring these bills; I hope they will oppose them vigorously. While most of the Senate sponsors are either Democrats or squishy RINOs (like Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain), I'm disappointed to see names of conservatives like Marco Rubio (R-FL) on the list. The support is somewhat understandable based on the stated intent of the bill -- to protect businesses that have invested in intellectual property from piracy -- but no amount of good intentions can make up for putting internet blacklisting power in the hands of one politically appointed official.

    The best way for the music and movie industries to dampen down piracy is to make their content more easily and affordably available. If someone can watch episodes of a long-gone but favorite TV series on Netflix, or pay for and download MP3s of an out-of-print album from Amazon, they won't go hunting for pirated copies online.

    Call your senators and congressman and urge them to oppose this threat to free speech. I consider these bills a key vote for determining my future support.

    MORE: No article on online piracy is complete without "The IT Crowd" parody of anti-piracy warnings.

    From Rusty Weiss at Newsbusters:

    Bill Randall is a candidate for Congress, running in North Carolina's 13th Congressional District. Mr. Randall also happens to be an African-American. In early October, Randall had a campaign billboard vandalized with a spray-painted, vulgar phallic symbol, accompanied by the letters "KKK". It was the kind of message that would normally launch the media into full-blown racial apoplexy.

    One small problem. Bill Randall is a Tea Party Conservative Republican.

    Randall filed a complaint over a month ago with the local sheriff, issued a news release, but the local daily, the Raleigh News & Observer, has ignored the story, despite having covered similar acts of political vandalism in the past, according to Weiss's research, including one incident that occurred just 10 days after Randall's sign was vandalized.

    One TV news station, albeit not in the same market, did cover the story, showing part of the graffiti (the KKK) and obscuring the obscene part. (Via breitbart.tv.)

    Randall grew up in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans and served 27 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of Command Master Chief.

    Randall was the Republican nominee in NC-13 in 2010, when the district was heavily Democratic, receiving 44.5% of the vote against a four-term Democratic incumbent. This time around the legislature has redrawn the district to be predominantly Republican (and drawn the incumbent into a different district).

    The aforementioned News & Observer scolded the Randall campaign in an October 28, 2010, editorial (Tulsa Library NewsBank link) about the campaign's "overzealous" poll monitors, watching early voting to ensure against voter fraud. Early voting would make it possible for someone to show up and vote in one person's name at the early voting location (no ID was required in NC), then show up again on Election Day and vote in your own name at your usual polling place. The N&O editorial pooh-poohs the risks of this sort of fraud, but Tulsans have heard of this sort of thing happening.

    MORE:

    Here's a link to the Bill Randall for Congress website.

    Publius Forum has a video from the Randall campaign, spoofing the media double-standard and lack of interest in this case of hateful vandalism. (The video shows the graffiti uncensored.)

    Thurber's Thoughts has more about Randall and notes the broader problem with the liberal backlash against the growing number of African-American conservatives who are running for office or are otherwise active in the political sphere. She mentions two speakers at last week's BlogCon '11: Deneen Borelli of the National Center for Public Policy Research and PJTV video humorist Alfonzo Rachel -- both conservatives who happen to be African-American and who spoke at BlogCon about the hostility directed at that combination of characteristics.

    The challenges facing African-Americans who move from left to right is documented in an upcoming film, which was previewed at Blogcon. A Runaway Slave focuses on the Reverend C. L. Bryant, a Baptist minister who served as president of an NAACP chapter and is now active in the Tea Party movement in Shreveport. The slavery Bryant calls all Americans to escape is an enervating dependency on government. Here's a preview:

    See the update below about what happened shortly before the hearing was to begin.